To Do List

We’re not in Kansas anymore

After several days of packing and cleaning and unpacking and cleaning and more cleaning, I find myself feeling like my To-Do list is too long to justify time spent sitting down and blogging. Here’s a peek at my list: Wash walls in every room Paint every room Paint trim in every room Wash the rest […]

New house!

It’s official: The Search is OVER!!

New house!
This is the only picture we have right now... meet our new home!

Yup, you heard me. Johnathan and I are no longer searching for apartments. WE FOUND ONE!!!

John told me when we started this process that most people look at eight to ten places before finding the right one. We thought number four was it. Then I thought number six was it. But really, it was number nine. Go figure.

Our future new little place (it’s ours as of May 1st) is a whole house! It has three small bedrooms with closets, a private fenced-in backyard, a renovated kitchen and bathroom, new windows, nine-foot ceilings with fabulous original trim around the windows and doors, a full finished basement, lots of cupboard space, enough space to squeeze in four cars (Hey, we each have winter and summer cars. Don’t judge us. Or maybe judge Johnathan. He has two summer cars and a motorcycle on the road. And a couple more vehicles in a barn waiting to be restored, and… you get it.), and character!

When I posted my Adventures in Apartment-Hunting post last week, we had been recently disappointed with the loss of number four. Then I got excited about number six, but Johnathan knew there was something better out there. He kept up the vigorous Kijiji (and Padmapper.com, thanks, Michelle!) search, having me call places to make appointments for when he was done his work day.

John had to pull off the road to call me after he went through what will be our new place. This from a man who was already on his way to my house, and who doesn’t like to make phone calls. This was an excited man.

He’s also a considerate man: instead of telling them he’d take it on the spot, he told them he had to make sure I’d like it, too, and that he would bring me with him first thing the next morning. True to his word, we were there at 9:00. AM. On a Saturday morning. It’s about an hour and fifteen minutes to drive from my place to our new place. Plus shower time. ::yawn::

new house, other side
Imagine this with our vehicles and without the canopy over the door...

But it was totally worth it. That man also has good taste. It has everything we need. Well, except a dishwasher. But we WILL find some way around that, or I don’t know Johnathan at all!

The only thing that matters now is that we know where we’re going to land. Our patience and hard work have paid off, and we are no longer slaves to Kijiji!

PS: It’s in London. We’re moving to London. Not sure how I overlooked that fact when I first posted this. Oops!

search tools

Adventures in Apartment-Hunting

search tools
The implements of our search.

Johnathan and I have been actively looking for a place to live in London for two weeks now. Honestly, house/apartment-hunting could be a part-time job!

Each day, we spend a couple of hours, together and apart, searching Kijiji for new or updated ads offering places for rent. We have made many phone calls and sent many emails and spent a lot of time driving around looking for “For Rent” signs.

Being the people of discriminating taste that we are, we have a pretty well-defined idea of what we’re looking for:

  • Preferably an apartment in a house or duplex, not an “apartment building”, pretty definitely not a high-rise. They’re not “homey” enough.
  • Parking for at least two cars, if not three. We each have old cars that we’d like to have on the road in the summer. One set of vintage wheels apiece, plus one car for longer distances equals three cars. We know that’s a lot for renters to ask, but there it is.
  • A dishwasher. I have lived without one for most of my life, and as much as I hate doing dishes, I can live with it more easily than John can. To save our sanity, a dishwasher is pretty high up on our list.
  • It has to be located so that John can easily get out of the city to work (his work is about 20 minutes past the outskirts of the far southeast corner of the city). That means we’re not looking at anything that’s not in the southeast, regardless of whether it would be awesome. Driving more than 30 minutes to work and to school is about as much as we’re willing to do. Ideally, I would be able to catch a bus to school, which adds another location dimension to our search.
  • We have a limit to how much we are willing to pay, even if a place is freaking amazing. We both have school debt, after all, and we don’t want to be renters forever. AKA we want to save money. But we want to live in a nice place. These desires don’t always mesh.
  • At least two bedrooms. Some people can live in studio lofts or one-bedroom places and not lose their sanity or their patience with each other, but we are not those people. Plus, I want an office that I can hide all of my schoolwork and creative junk in.
  • Character preferred. This goes back to our issue with the apartment buildings: they tend to be pretty “cookie-cutter”, without imagination or individuality. This is not a requirement, but it is a preference for sure. You know you would love to live in a place that didn’t look like every other place you’ve ever lived!
  • Laundry. For more than four years now, I have had to take my laundry to a different town to wash! For whatever dumb reason, my apartment doesn’t have laundry facilities, and the crossroads I live in is so tiny it doesn’t even have a gas station or convenience store, let alone a laundrymat (WordPress is telling me that spelling is wrong, but “laundromat” doesn’t seem quite right, either). I would love to be able to wash my clothes from the inside of my own house! But again, it’s not a deal breaker for me.
  • Access to outside space. (This list is getting long, right?) We would really love to be able to sit outside on summer evenings, to barbecue, perhaps to plant a thing or two. Things that are not always possible in apartment buildings.
  • Landlords that aren’t idiots. Very simple.

If you got through that list, you’re a true fan. Either that or very curious.

It is one thing to have a well-formed idea of what you’re looking for, and another thing entirely to actually find it.

So far, we have been through six places, and tonight we add another. Three of them were absolute crap: stale smoke filling the hallways, stained carpets, holes in the walls, sketchy neighbourhoods, the reek of cat pee, shoddy renovations, or a lack of renovations… You get the picture. Blech. These ones were places that we looked at on Kijiji and looked nice enough to view in person. Be warned: don’t believe everything you see on Kijiji! Sometimes pictures lie.

apartment-hunting
We can identify...

 

Three have been nice. One was really cool, but much smaller than we thought. So small that a queen-size bed would not make it up the stairs to the bedroom. So small that the lovely spiral staircase was barely wide enough for our hips. Eek.

Another was a house in the perfect area, with the perfect amount of space and storage, a yard, parking, a dishwasher, renovated kitchen and bathroom, nice landlord… perfect! After making a decidedly intense effort to see the place and fill out the application in record time, and make sure the landlord knew of our interest, he gave it to someone else. Major letdown (and all you HIMYM fans saluted the worthy officer Letdown).

The other night, we saw a place that came close: lots of storage, 2 bedrooms, renovated bathroom and bedrooms, gas fireplace, new floors, parking for 2 cars, friendly landlords… but not a renovated kitchen. No dishwasher. No good outdoor space.

And still, we continue the search. We’re practically Kijiji experts now. We know how to refine our searches. We know what Kijiji needs to do to improve its service (the ability to search by location!!). We can skim the list of ads and know which ones to click on and which ones to avoid (anything with “students!” in it).

I can’t wait until we are done the hunt: it’s exhausting, and gets fairly discouraging at times!

I have to believe that the perfect place is out there, and we only have to find it. I hope that happens soon.

Planning Packed Meals… on the cheap.

(Please accept my apology ahead of time for the wonky alignment of photos and text. I have spent way too much time trying to get them to line up, and so I’m giving up. Hopefully everything makes sense anyway.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m one of those people who doesn’t function well when I don’t know where my next meal is coming from. Ask my friends. They all have funny stories about me asking what the plan is for the next meal or two, and what we’re going to take with us.

I’m also a planner. If I don’t have a plan, a strategy for a day or a span of time, I feel a bit lost. If I don’t know that I’m going to need money for something and find myself without any, that’s a problem. Or, if I don’t prepare myself to be spontaneous during a certain period of time, and I’m expecting something non-spontaneous, it takes me a while to adjust my outlook.water bottle

Needless to say, I like to be prepared for meals, whenever possible. At home, that means I keep my favourite ingredients stocked at all times. But when I’m going to be out for a day, it gets a bit more complicated. Most people buy food, but eating out, especially on my university campus, is a great way to spend rather than save.

Now that I’m in my third year of university, I have got lunch-planning pretty much down to a science.That’s a really good thing, because I also have to save my money more than ever.

So. My strategies.

1. I always carry a bottle of water. Most public places have water fountains, and it’s much more environmentally-friendly and wallet-friendly to use a re-usable water bottle than to buy bottles of water. Mine is a well-used flexible plastic Vapur bottle that I purchased at The Warwick Lodge Shoppe in Bayfield, but they’re available at many stores now. It’s lightweight and compact.

almonds

2. I always carry healthy snacks. This term, it’s mostly just a small container of my trusty raw almonds, but I have also carried containers of dried fruit such as bananas and apricots. I usually have a granola bar or two on me as well, and perhaps a bit of candy for when I get a craving for something sweet.

Insider’s tip: The best raw almonds that I have found for the best price are the Kirkland brand from Costco. I’m lucky to have a boyfriend with a membership. 🙂

granola bars3. Buying in bulk is great for saving money and time and mental energy. I got this gigantor box of granola bars at Costco. –>

tuna4. There are a couple of different approaches for packing meals. I use a combination of leftovers and things that I can eat on my favourite crackers. Cheese, slices of tomato, and individual cans of flavoured tuna are a few of them.

5. This is a no-brainer, but I like to make big batches of foods that will freeze and re-heat well, such as this huge batch of broccoli soup I made yesterday. I’ll put it into smaller, microwaveable containers to take with me for lunches this week.

container of soup

egg container6. Another great quick, easy, and healthy snack-ish meal component is boiled eggs. They are good for one week in the fridge. Here are some instructions for how to get perfectly boiled eggs. I put my boiled eggs in this handy-dandy container that I got at a Mountain Equipment Co-op store –>

7. For those times when I am just too busy to get all domestic and make things ahead of time, I keep a few packages of a perhaps not-so-healthy but filling meal that I can prepare the night before, such as these pasta dinners by Knorr.

knorr sidekicks

8. For dessert, a batch of cupcakes baked-ahead is a great idea. Or some pudding or yogurt in a container. Don’t forget the spoon!

I often have muffins in the freezer, or other breakfast-y concoctions that I can merely thaw and eat, or sometimes reheat and eat.

container of cupcakes

9. Sometimes I get on a salad kick where I will only take salads to school for lunch. For those times, having a container like this one relieves a lot of the annoyance of taking salad. If you add the dressing ahead of time, the lettuce wilts. So you have to take an extra container of dressing, which takes up extra space. Then you have to fit some unwieldy container of salad into your lunch bag to keep the veggies fresh… etc. etc.

salad container 1

This container was about $10 from Winner’s, but is made by a company called Fit & Fresh.

It’s great because it has all of the parts you need for a great salad container!

It comes with an ice pack that fits either into the lid or into the inside lower level, in the same space as the salad itself.salad container 4

salad container 3

There is a special container for dressing, where it will stay (most of the time) until you turn the container around in its spot (open it) and release it directly into the salad. Genius!

And there you have it!

It’s worth spending money on containers and gadgets that are going to make your planning and saving easier!

10. Finally, for those that are like me and love their coffee (or tea), and want to save pennies and trees, get a travel mug. Make your hot morning beverage at home. Splurge on a coffee maker with a timer. Or set everything up beforehand so all you have to do is turn the machine on in the morning.

I sometimes take a travel mug with coffee in the morning, and a thermos with loose tea for later in the day, that I just have to add hot water to.

travel mugAgain, spending $10-$15 on decent-quality gadgets and containers will save you money and time, and you will be able to commit to better-quality coffees and teas as well.

My personal favourite place to buy travel mugs is Starbuck’s. Their mugs are as close as I have ever found to being leak-proof, and I have no qualms about dropping a full one in my schoolbag (upright, of course) to take out to the car or across campus. Plus, they’re usually cool-looking. Bonus!

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Today started out nicely. I slept in and had a late breakfast with my man. The middle of my day wasn’t as productive as I had hoped (as per usual), but I returned some emails, did a bit of reading, and put readings and due dates for 3 of 5 courses in my planner.

I didn’t have time to do all the get-pretty things I normally do, but I figured I was presentable enough and left the house with might have been just enough time to get to class on time. Again, the usual.

It wasn’t until I was in my car driving down the highway towards school when I realized I needed to get gas. Argh. I didn’t budget time for that! But I had no choice, so I stopped in the first town that had a gas station, which happened to be full serve. When the attendant didn’t come out right away, I got out and started to walk towards the pump. The attendant met me there. I asked for the measly amount of $10 – just enough to get me there and maybe part of the way home again – and walked back to the driver’s door. Locked. I hip-checked it because it was partly open. Locked. I checked my pockets. No keys. I checked the passenger door. Also locked. My keys dangled unobtrusively from the ignition. Awesome.

I explained to the attendant what had happened. He tried his keys. Nothing. Other customers started calling out names of locksmiths in nearby towns. I thanked them and decided to go inside and try calling CAA. I do pay them every year, so it would make sense for me to actually use their services. The man inside (who didn’t speak very good English) suggested I try the garage across the street: perhaps the mechanic could jimmy my lock open.

The mechanic said he had the kit, but not the know-how. He did, however, have a car identical to mine in the shop. I asked him to try the key to it, just in case it might work. He hiked back across the street with me, but no luck.

So I called CAA. Because I was blocking the gas station from receiving business at one of the pumps, they deemed my case a priority one and said the service person would be there within 30 minutes.

I tried to call my boyfriend, but I couldn’t remember his number and called the same wrong number twice. Dang technology, allowing our memories to go soft!

Luckily, I have a friend that lives around the corner. She gave me a glass of water, a magazine, and a friendly face. Ahh. Then back to the weird ghetto Indian/Huron County restaurant/gas station I went. Soon enough, the CAA guy was there and had my door open in a snap. I was finally able to pay for my $10 of gas, and was embarrassed that I had caused them such hassle for such a measly amount of money, so I tipped them $5.

On the road again!

By this time, my class had already started and I still had about 40 minutes left to drive, plus parking and all that, so I knew I’d be about an hour late. On the way, I got hungry, and decided to rummage in my lunch bag for a snack. What I found instead was a lunch bag soaked in leaking broth from a container of delicious homemade soup. Gah! It had not only soaked my lunch bag, but also my pencil case, wool mittens, and planner. Also awesome. There I am, late for class, trying to drive AND clean up a soup spill before it wrecks my books.

Then, not long after I was satisfied that my books would be fine, I found myself several cars behind a snowplow going the doddering speed of 50 km/hr in an 80 zone (which means I usually do 100). Plows are always slower than general traffic, but not THAT slow, and usually they can be passed without too much fuss. Not today. I did 50 for the majority of my trip to school. Again with the awesome!

After using the washroom and taking the only seat available in class (right in the very front in front of the professor) and doing my best to figure out where the lecture had gone for the first hour, I got a basic grammar quiz back. 77%. Really?!

But on the plus side, because I got to school after 4, I got to park in a prime parking lot where my car is usually unwelcome. And I experienced a delicious “Mexican” salad. And I treated myself to a large skim decaf latte.

As Monty Python taught us, always look on the bright side of life! (and we all whistled the tune together…)

A Day in My Life, June 2008

I had a sudden desire today to chronicle and compare the different stages of my life, as I look back and notice that my life in June 2008 is remarkable different from that of June 2007, June 2006, June 2005, and so on.

I invite you to be a witness on this journey.

June 2008 finds me 27 years old, living in a two-bedroom second-floor apartment in the only apartment building in a tiny town in East Huron County called Brucefield. This town is known for it’s flashing light, yellow if you’re driving between Clinton and Exeter on Highway 4, or red if you’re coming from either Seaforth or Bayfield. There is one elementary school, one church, one drive-in restaurant, two mechanic shops, one Asian/Home Decor/B&B/Lunch Room location, and one fire station.

My apartment overlooks a cornfield, the view of which is mostly obstructed by a lovely birch tree. Said tree helps me feel more confident walking around in my apartment in less-than-decent clothing on summer nights. After all, who would be driving by slowly enough whose gaze could penetrate the birch branches in the split second I happen to be passing through my dining room, several feet from my beautiful picture window?

I enjoy living alone, though sometimes I do wish someone was there to care whether I came in or not, or to wonder where I was, or to motivate me to do dishes, finally! My neighbours are understanding and quiet, the area is safe, and I actually have a place to call home. MY home. I’ve immensely enjoyed painting and decorating my apartment, putting all of my good taste to good use in a place where I’m the boss, now and forever.

Another addition to my life is that of Trixie the Toyota, a pretty, dark-green 1997 4Runner who goes with me everywhere I go. She hauls the accoutrements of my life and hobbies without complaint. She has survived being rolled over in the ditch after skidding out on an icy country road, being hit-and-run by some unknown person, a not-so-successful attempt at backing up a trailer, and carrying some of my more treasured furniture.

Not so enjoyable are the bills that go with being established and mobile, namely cell phone, rent, insurance, hydro, phone/internet, groceries, gas, repairs, etc. I can’t say as I ever yearned for that part of nesting, but I take it in stride, usually. I’ll be much happier when I can finally get my tax returns done (for the past 2 years), pay off my credit card, and have money set aside for winter tires.

I have spent more than a year at the same job, as a server at The Brew’n Arms English pub and restaurant in Bayfield, Ontario. Earlier this year, I graduated to keyholder and Dining Room Manager, as well as Kitchen Painter and Orchid-Caretaker extraordinaire. My bosses are wonderful people who have become friends and family, as well as the most understanding and flexible supervisors anyone could ask for. They make me want to stay and do my best for them, for their business, for their town.

Last year at this time, I was also working as a drywaller, and, shocker! I don’t miss it a tiny bit. I do enjoy my refined house-painting skills, which I have recently put to good use in a “cottage” in Bayfield, and hope to expand as a second job. If you hear of someone looking to hire a house painter, give them my number!

I’m not attending church because I couldn’t handle the one I had called “home” for years. I’m generally fed up with the institution that is what church has become, with all its expectations and traditions and legalism. I would enjoy a faith-based community of believers that is honest and open, a group that can laugh and be reverent in an informal way. I really could expand this paragraph to a whole essay, but suffice it to say that I have not encountered such a community, but I still seek to hold onto my beliefs. I am discovering more of what life is like on “the other side” (outside the Christian bubble), and it’s very educational, despite occasionally dangerous.

If it were possible to live on coffee, I’d do it.

I’ve joined the wonderful realm of BlackBerry, as I once dreamed of doing. And I’m paying for it, too.

Writing is still my best communication method.

I rarely see earlier than 10 AM, or close my eyes earlier than 1 or 2 AM. I’d like to change that.

The music in my life has developed over the past year as well. I am the youngest voice of the all-female cover band, Cactus Jam, and I love it, despite playing mostly Legions. I was also privileged enough to be part of Noted!, a project sponsored by the United Way in my county, which is helping to boost the music careers of the 17 women chosen to participate. We got to record 14 tracks in a professional studio, and a great-sounding CD is the result. This past winter I also ventured out to sing a few times at Open Mic nights at a local pub, and have been the featured soloist at two church events.

This year finds me recently motherless, a drastic blight on anyone’s life, and definitely on mine. It has changed so many things and finally propelled me into nesting in the first place. It also made my brother and I guardians of our youngest brother and launched me further into the land of disabled children in Ontario. I now have a lawyer, communicate regularly with several case workers, get all kinds of official mail, and have to return junk mail still addressed to Mom.

June 2008 also finds me blonde, and with an even greater fashion sense. I love that about growing older! I predict I’ll still be stylish in my 80s. If I’m not, remind me of now.

I’ve discovered I love flowers and plants, doing the Toronto Saturday Star crossword, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz, premium beer, CBC Radio, brie on melba rounds with semi-dried tomatoes in duck confit, Dollarama’s plain candles, serving dessert, mom’s old couch and armchair (with my apartment’s decor built around them), C&E used furniture in Goderich, Americanos from The Bean, and living in Huron County!!! (Sorry, but that deserved more than three exclamation points)
Being Sarah Elizabeth takes different shapes all the time, and I’m enjoying the process. Here’s to another year!

Hip Hip Who Cares?

It’s 1:56 am, almost two hours into one of my life’s milestones. You guessed, a birthday. The big 2-7, not that I look it, according to people everywhere. One of the ironies of life, I suppose.

Mac Forums sent me an email congratulating me, and the Facebook team is wishing me a great day. Kind of unbelievable, isn’t it, that I haven’t met the Facebook team, and that Mac Forums isn’t even a person, and they remembered my birthday?

Better yet, I seem to have thought I’d forget my own birthday. When I checked my BlackBerry a few minutes ago, I found an alert from my calendar that said “Birthday!” and gave me the options to Open, Dismiss, or Snooze (5 min.) I chose dismiss, which brings me closer to my point.

25 was a great birthday (Norway, 90 people I didn’t know, me standing on a chair while they all sang to me a song in a language I didn’t know and clapped their hands and spun around and tweaked their noses. Yes, they were adults). The ones before that were pretty fun. On what I think was my 23rd, I innocently and inadvertently ordered a pi

In which I Unexpectedly see the Bottom of my Truck

Today was one of those days, which for me happen more often than not, in which you wake up before you should, for whatever reason, struggle to get to sleep again, only to wake up later than you’d hoped, sluggish and achy, but with ample reason to get a move on.

The getting-a-move on (which should’ve included showering, food, coffee, etc.) was distracted by my recently-acquired internet, specifically email and the all-consuming allure of Facebook. Finally, with only 20 minutes left before I was supposed to be somewhere, I dressed and got ready.

I would write about getting stuck in the parking lot, again, but, you might be able to tell from my tone, it happens a lot, which is why I have a bag of cat litter in the back of my Toyota 4Runner–one of my downstairs neighbours introduced me to its traction-lending properties. It’s now more all over the back of my truck and not so much in the bag, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Wary of the sketchy winter condition of the road I would normally take, I took a substitute, which was acceptable and safe. The trouble happened when I turned off of it on the other side, however. Only a few hundred metres onto the road, which I assumed was well-enough traveled as to melt any underlying ice, I was beginning to speed up again when I felt the wheels lose their traction under me.

I knew immediately I wouldn’t be able to regain control, but I tried anyway. “Steer into the skid” always runs through my head in such moments, not that they are plentiful, but I can’t figure out which way is into the skid. Sure enough, traction was not to be had and control not to be regained.

Before I could predict what would happen, I found myself spinning to face the direction I had come. Powerless as I was to stop the skid, momentum carried me across the (thankfully) empty opposite lane and into the snow-filled ditch on the other side, where it promptly deposited my beautiful Trixie Toyota on her passenger side. I was left hanging by my seat belt, gravity having dropped my loose belongings against the passenger door, except my BlackBerry, which, of course, I had grasped tightly throughout the whole ordeal.

The passenger window all of a sudden seemed very far below me, brownish plow-cast snow packed tight against it under the weight of the vehicle. Something took over and I knew I had to get out. Seatbelt unbuckled and feet on the frame of the passenger-side door, I tried to open the driver’s-side door, but couldn’t lift it and get myself out at the same time. Who knew doors were that heavy?!

A black-toqued man in a Jeep had been behind me, had seen the whole thing, and was now hurrying across the road towards me. With him holding the door up, I was able to hitch myself out of the car. Momentarily stunned and beginning to shake, I paused, unsure of what to do next, till he calmly directed me to slide down the roof into the snowbank on the other side. I started to cry as I followed him to his car, where he immediately began calling people to help.

My brain cleared enough to call Mo, the friend I was on my way to meet. Telling her about the ordeal that had just occurred both gave license to my emotion and helped me process it. I knew she’d come and help me with whatever I needed, but meanwhile I was in good hands. Matt, my rescuer, called a tow truck and the police, then waited and chatted with me in the warmth of his Jeep for them to arrive. Meanwhile, countless numbers of people driving by slowed to peruse the scene, or come to a full stop to ask if everyone was alright. Matt started simply nodding and pointing at me as I smiled and waved from the passenger seat. Nothing like a car in the ditch to bring out the concerned citizens of the H.C.!

The police officer arrived first, and led me to his car to wait for the tow truck. The way things proceeded, I didn’t get the chance to thank Matt and shake his hand. I hope I get the chance to thank him properly someday. Maybe I’ll track him down and offer him and his wife fish and chips at The Brew’n Arms.

It’s so odd to see the bottom side of something as large as a truck facing you, especially one you’ve had for only a couple of weeks. I felt strangely protective and concerned. I did have a great view of my spare tire, though, which I was previously unaware of!

When Trix was hauled out, she was running fine and only showed a few dings along her right side, which was incredible for what had happened. Still, Tow Dude Steve and Mr. OPP thought it best that I get it towed directly to the garage for a check-up, just in case. Mr. OPP very considerately drove me to my destination, after writing down the particulars of coming for Fish ‘n’ Chips at TBA.

Mo was surprised to find that I was still willing to sing with her when I arrived late to the lunch event she had invited me to. Sing I did, however, heartened by whatever adrenaline seems to drive me in the wake of a crisis.

If flipping my car was the most unexpected event of the day, certainly the most intriguing (though expected it was not) was finding the woman who had taught me half of Grade 5 and all of Grade 6 sitting on the other side of Mo. Ironically enough, it was in her class, during one of the many music hours she made us participate in, that the student sitting beside me turned to me and matter-of-factly stated, “You know you can’t sing, right?” “Yeah”, I replied.

Over 12 hours later, I am driving a car rented from the garage, while Trixie awaits a full inspection of her driveability. I expect to bring her home tomorrow. I was blessed to in Mo’s care for the rest of the afternoon and evening, a treatment complete with tea and cookies and dry socks, not to mention the delicious and inspiring dinner.

Today I am thankful for cushioning snowbanks, kind strangers, cops that expect spin-outs in this weather, the gift of music, good food, and for friends. And today I join the ranks of those who are wishing for spring to come as soon as possible!

This. Life. Now.

Since winter returned to our town, an outdoor rink has been set up in the park across from my mother’s house. This afternoon, two weeks after my mother died, I’m watching the skaters glide effortlessly and gleefully over the ice and realizing that I’m used to my life feeling more like that than this.

Not even sure I want to dig around the murky depths of my brain to imagine a word picture for “this”, I can at least say it’s not effortless or gleeful. Picture the opposite of effortless and gleeful and you might have a bit of an idea what these days and weeks have been like and what the near future promises to hold.

“This” involves a lot of tension and stress, worry and hard work, sickness and grieving, loneliness and depression, deadlines and expectations. “This” is something you only expect to see in the movies, never in your own life. And things don’t turn out in real life as well as they do in the movies, in case you were still living in that unrealistic bubble. Sorry for breaking it.

“This” means feeling as if you may never land gently, as if you will never again be whole, and sometimes as if everyone depended on you and everyone will let you down. “This” is knowing that you desperately need the strength and peace of your faith and at the same time seeing that your life and emotions are so much like a tenuous high-wire that one wrong circumstance could send you grasping in another direction, any direction.

“This” is so unlike skating.

GrownUpVille: Reality in Fast-Forward

I have little time to write today because I’m in Responsibility Hyper-Drive.

My mom’s health has taken a turn for the, uh, more serious, so as not to say “worse”, and she’s currently unable to take care of many of the everyday things of her life. That leaves me, a single, unsettled 26-year-old doing what no one in my station in life should have to do: paying Mom’s bills, rearranging lawyer’s appointments, becoming the primary contact for my younger siblings, etc.

If you thought I was mature and strong before this, look out! I will be able to take on pretty much anything, even perhaps a stray satellite falling to earth at thousands of miles per hour, aimed somewhere between your house and mine. I’ll be able to talk about finances and invalid care and insurance and parenting with the experts, having substantial experience already.

Wow I can’t even think clearly enough to be as witty as I’d like to be in this post, so I’ll sign off. But not before I tell you how adorable I look in my new fake glasses from Claire’s, with my hair straightened with my new fancy HotTools flat iron!