I Now Pronounce You…

It’s been many moons since The Big Guy and I vowed to fight over blankets and morning routines. Sometimes I look back and shake my head over the things that were deemed important and necessary to have a wedding in the early 90s.

Although there was some small movement away from traditions, (we didn’t have a traditional receiving line – GASP THE HORROR!)  we were pretty conventional. Except, when it came to my name.

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I was drawn back to a conversation I had with my future in-laws about 25 years ago, after reading this article. It seems crazy to me that a quarter of a century after I hyphenated my name, there is still a debate about women taking their husbands’ surnames.

It never occurred to me NOT to take TBG’s name. I just didn’t want to have to give up MY name. For some men, the issue of a woman refraining from linking last names is too big a picture. They need to look at the root of the matter; you are asking someone to change what they call themselves. I was Sarah B for the first 21 years of my life. I was actually called that in classrooms when there was more than one Sarah and we had to tack on the first letter of the last name to distinguish between me and Sarah K. It was a small school and it we knew it was going to be a long year whenever we realized we were in the same class – the only two Sarahs.

I don’t recall a specific moment when I decided I was going to keep my name. I do remember thinking for a while before getting engaged, that there were no males to carry on the family name. It was important to me to carry that on, and to preserve my identity. I had also done some research into the family I was joining and learned that there were not one, but two previous Sarahs. I’d be Sarah The Third with this last name. I didn’t really think about my future kids, but figured we’d sort that out down the line. I know when I told my father of my plan, he was quietly pleased.

But the aforementioned conversation with my soon to be in-laws took place about six months before the wedding. There was a discussion about the service and how we would be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Big Guy. My oh-so helpful future brother-in-law, who knew of my plan, said, “That’s if Sarah takes TBG’s name.” Two pairs of eyes were on me.

“You AREN’T taking our name?” asked my future MIL with a look of disbelief on her face. My FIL didn’t speak but had an equally perplexed expression.

“No, it’s not that,” I tried to explain, “I’m actually going to hyphenate my name.”

Silence.

“Did you tell TBG this?!” demanded his mother. I stated that we had talked about it, and that he was in complete support. Conveniently, TBG was not in the room for this charming exchange.

This was more than shocking to my future parents-in-law. I don’t think they personally knew of any other woman who had done this, and it was outside their understanding. I’m sure for them it was an insult, but they could have chosen to see it as a young woman who had a more independent mindset, wanting to demonstrate her commitment to her husband, while still being autonomous. It had nothing to do with how much I cared for my fiancé. In fact, the idea that he was supportive of this, and wasn’t threatened by it, made him all the more attractive to me. Gotta love an open-minded man!

On the day of our wedding we were introduced as “Mr. Big Guy and Mrs. Maiden Name – Big Guy.” An easy way to let our family and friends know how I was addressing myself.

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When it was time to have children, the agreement was that they would only have their father’s surname. If they decided they wanted to have a hyphenated name, we would pay to change it. TBG agreed.

Traditionally, women were considered the property of men – that’s why her father would hand her off to her husband on her wedding day; a transfer of ownership – and with that was a name change. Times have changed and the issues surround the surname have become somewhat complicated. When a woman divorces, the dilemma is there – do I change my name back to my maiden name? Do I want to have the same name as my children?

In this era of women fighting for, and being recognized equally in most modern relationships, it seems a little dated to argue over what she calls herself. And a little archaic to insist she have the same moniker as her spouse. Welcome to the 21st Century!

 

 

 

 

Clean up in Aisle Five!

One of the more mundane life jobs that I really don’t mind, is doing laundry. I love the feeling of accomplishment when the piles of clean, folded laundry are before me.

The same cannot be said for grocery shopping. Trying to figure out what we need for the coming week. Trying to figure out what I’m going to feel like cooking four days from now. Trying to spend less than $300 a week, which is only possible while First Born Son is away at work. LOVE YOU SON!

Then there is the experience of acquiring the groceries. There’s the hauling of the empty bins and bags so that I’m environmentally responsible. Next, I have to make my way through a sea of humanity to vie for the same bundle of green onions as the person beside me. I shop at two stores; one that packs my groceries for me – and I only go to trusted cashiers who won’t demolish my bananas, and another where you are forced through like cattle in a chute and need to bag your own groceries with speed and dexterity that is best demonstrated on Survivor.

Grocery shopping brings out the worst in people, myself included.  Thoughtless individuals leave their carts unattended in front of a display of discounted canned soup, while doubling back 20 feet to find the crackers they passed by.  I’ve witnessed kids trying to shoplift, couples have full-blown domestics and countless meltdowns – and they weren’t all from children.

The checkout process is just as painful. Customers who ring through all their purchases and then realize they forgot their wallets at home are the BEST. A close second are those who clip coupons. There’s a special place in hell for them.

One of my part time jobs as teen was working in a grocery store, so perhaps I’ve carried over some latent issues from the 80s. Forgive me.

But by far, my favourite grocery store tale was just a couple of weeks ago. There I was, minding my own business, about half done the weekly torture session that is grocery shopping. As I approached the end of the aisle, I noticed a staff member chatting with a customer who has a small child in a grocery cart. They appeared to know each other, and immediately I constructed a plan to get around them without hitting them.

The customer turned toward me as she sensed me drawing near.

“HOLY FUCK!”  she yells. YELLS.

<PAUSE> For those of you with delicate constitutions, this blog post features the word “fuck”, which is not part of my personal vocabulary because I don’t like saying it, but apparently I have no issuing writing it. Conduct yourself accordingly. <PLAY>

In the nanosecond that she yells this, I engage the Fight or Flight reflex. I must be a heartbeat away from a tragic canned fruit stoning. Perhaps there’s a tsunami of 2% milk bearing down on me?! I actually flinch and glance over my shoulder.

“YOUR HAIR IS FUCKING AWESOME!”

<PAUSE> Knowing that I don’t use this word with any kind of regularity, I do find it interesting to see how it is employed by those who do. On the very rare occasion that I have used this word, it has been during extreme duress with the utmost urgency. Not that that’s an excuse, Mom.<PLAY>

I’m in shock that this woman is offering this kind of language a) in the public place, b) with a child within earshot, c) about something as innocuous as HAIR.

I do what I do best when faced with public embarrassment; pretend like everything is normal.

“Oh, thanks!” I offer, trying to negotiate between her hind end and the industrial shelving that offers every kind of cake mix known to man.

“No, really! I love the colour! And it looks so…” she gestures wildly around her head. “I wish I could wear my hair like that. FUCKING AWESOME!”

I smile and squeeze through the narrow channel, pointing my cart to freedom. The customer turns back to her employee friend and continues to extol the virtue of my truly exceptional coiffure.

For the record, this is what the fuss was all about…

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…and I can give you the name of my hairdresser so you can have FUCKING AWESOME hair too.

BTW – I now wear a peaked cap to the grocery store.

Bathroom Part II

I believe that your relationship will survive anything, if it can survive a renovation.

I say this with ample experience. We had a massive renovation/addition at our previous home that involved our back entrance, master bedroom, kitchen and adding an ensuite. That was almost 15 years ago! Things are looking good for us!

While you “lived” through our emergency bathroom reno from last year, I’m thrilled to let you know that, yes gentle reader, we hate ourselves enough to subject our marriage and family to ANOTHER bathroom renovation. Thank Sweet Baby Jesus that there are only two bathrooms in this house.

Mercifully, there is no dire, structural emergency prompting this reno. Thanks also to the experience (also known as “character building”) of the first bathroom, we are far more prepared for the cost. This time, we are PREPARED!

So let’s start at the beginning…

SHOWER

This is the “shower”, which is only 3/4 of a standard shower, made more difficult to access by the dumbass door which only allows you a foot and a half to squeeze through. The Big Guy and First Born Son took to this bathroom when we moved in, which makes ZERO sense because neither of them can fit under the door frame never mind the shower head. Since the last reno made the upstairs bathroom too “nice”, Second Born Son has taken to showering down here too. Again, at 6’2 this is not logical. ANYWAYS!

TUB

To the right of the door is the Jacuzzi tub. Yes folks Jacuzzi – trademarked and everything. I’m pretty sure this was the first generation, if not the prototype. I tried using it once, and dared not to activate the jets as a quick pre-soak inspection told me everything I needed to know about the condition of the calcified tube work. We were also fairly suspect of the condition of the wiring for the motor after 30+ years.

I’m going to assume you judged me for my poor choice of wall color, but that’s ok, because now you can see there isn’t much you can do with calf-scour brown tiles. Yes, those ARE the same tiles from the upstairs reno. So observant you are! Gold star! 1-inch tile was all the rage in 1983.

You might think the tiles are my favorite feature of this area, and I would say “No, good sir, you are mistaken!” It’s the du-lux hand-held shower modification. It ALWAYS leaked and because a Jacuzzi is not designed to be “shower tub”, water that didn’t hit directly dead centre of the tub, and ended up on the top of the tub, and was instantly redirected around the walls of the enclosure to the floor. Basically, if you tried to bathe in this beast, you’d have a flood on your hands or a fire. Good times.

CLOSET

Here you get a much better angle of the aforementioned shower basterdization modification. You will also see the staining in the tub. Did I mention we have crappy water? Fear not, we spent a small fortune on that too. Nothing like investing in new bathrooms and having them look like century-farm indoor plumbing within a year!

Here you can appreciate how the owner/builders maximized the use of space. Not only did they have a shower installed that could only fit adolescent girls, but they also crammed the world’s smallest linen closet. As we were going to update our doors, TBG pulled this one off as well, only to find out YOU CAN’T ORDER DOORS THIS SMALL ANYMORE. Son of a Doorknob! Yes, I did suggest he go back to the repurpose area of the landfill to reclaim the old door. No, he did not do it. I’m hitting Pinterest hard for a solution. I’m open to suggestions y’all!

SINK TOILET

This is the image that gives me nightmares. We have removed the toilet already, to protect the more sensitive readers amongst you. What remains is what a raw plaster wall looks like when you don’t paint before the plumber comes…30 years later, that is. The shower is to the right of the sink. Not a big room, but a main one as this is the one our guests tend to use. That’s right, we allowed friends and extended family to use this space looking the way it did. Hey, we don’t discriminate!

It was right about this time when I came with an idea! “I’ve got an idea” no longer fills TBG’s heart full of fear, but rather a knowing dread that this “idea” is going to involve him. And perhaps some money.

Originally we were going to close in the dinky shower and use it for a closet, but then I thought, “Why waste the storage space in the bathroom?” While the shower was tiny in its current form, it would make a great pantry for the kitchen which is across from the outer wall!!

Thankfully TBG agreed and made it so.

SIDE BY SIDE

Apparently I like plaster dust throughout my house, because let me tell you, this did it! The attempt at tarping you see in the image on the right was noble, but not as effective as one would hope. Therefore, I’ve suspended any house cleaning until this project is complete. It’s been a month with no end in sight. Don’t drop by, we are days away from being condemned for being a public safety hazard.

DOORWAY

Here he is. The Creator of the dreams I come up with. He spends all his spare time, such as it is, working on this. No comments on the kitchen floor – he doesn’t have time for a kitchen reno right now.

Next year darling???

 

The Circle Of Life

As with any spring around the Boweryville, the flowers are blooming,

the sun rises and sets,

and my dog is murdering wildlife.

This is Cane. He’s truly loveable, unless you are a rodent or other small mammal. Yes, that is a dead groundhog between his legs.

Every spring, it’s the same thing; the temperatures rise, the animals start moving, and before you know it, Cane has a carcass on the lawn. Think I’m kidding?

This was April 30 2016. This is a spinal column of a cow. He found this treasure in the field behind our house thanks to the local farm who spread it on the field. Yes, it’s caked in manure, and yes, he’s eating it. Because for him, this is a like a double stuff Oreo with a layer of chocolate fudge.

THIS is the jawbone of a cow. It goes with the spinal column above. We think. There was also a leg bone, but I think you are getting the point by now.

Cane really likes bring his hunts home. It’s like a form of bragging.

This is a raccoon. This lil’ darlin’ was dropped LITERALLY at our front door last year, the night before Mother’s Day. I’m going to assume it was his idea of a gift. The Batman logos on the patio add a certain je ne sais pas.

This is Cane and his brother Roman looking for the next victim. A little thing like a wood pile isn’t going to stand in his way.

He just starts pulling out pieces of wood.

Now, you might think this is no biggie. He’s a big dog with a keen hunting instinct, which is to be expected from a working breed like German Shepherd. However there is a small issue. Literally, tiny.

WHAT. A. FACE!

This is Eco. He’s Little Sister’s dog. He’s adorable, and while he’s a little bigger than this now, it’s certainly no groundhog. We did arrange for a cousin meet and greet a couple of weeks ago, with all humans on deck, ready to extract Eco from Cane’s grasp. It did go well, with no blood shed, but Cane made it very clear near the end of the playdate, that he’d had enough, and this little nipper needed to be packed up before he became a Timbit.

So now that it is spring, we’ve come to expect that the days to get longer, the temperature to rise, and the bodies to stack up.

 

 

Looking For The Answers

The tone in her voice said it all.

“So, what do you think?!”

Aside from the fact that I had no answers for her, the question bounced around my head. She has questions. Heck we all have questions. I find myself questioning myself more and more lately. Which, I find rather ironic, given the fact that I’m “middle aged” (if I live to 90) and you’d think I’d have my shit figured out.

Nope.

While I’ve gained confidence compared to my early adult years, I certainly would have thought that I would have more answers, more stability and more clarity about the future. I have, thankfully, have developed more confidence in myself, my abilities and my relationships. This, sadly, does not extend to other areas of my life.

Is this the point where the mid-life crisis settles in? When you get frustrated enough with the plan you set out for yourself when you were mere “child” in your 20s that you say “F it” and sell off everything to move to a Caribbean island?

<PAUSE> For the record, my particular skill set is apparently highly coveted and in one week there were two job postings in Jamaica alone that were TAILOR MADE for my skills and abilities.The Big Guy had to talk me off that ledge, let me tell you! <PLAY>

So when “she” came to me with her question, I thought, “She must think I have my act together!” Followed by “Boy, do I have her fooled!”

What did I actually SAY to her? That her decisions are hers alone to make. That this is the beauty of life; that we are the only ones who get to have that kind of power to make those decisions. This also prevents us from hating the individual who gave us the advice.

This doesn’t make our decisions any easier, and leaves us with the nagging questions…

Can’t Keep Up With The Stupid

So how ’bout those Americans, eh?

Honestly, I’ve written this entry dozens of times in my mind. I come up with witty observations while I’m making dinner. It’s something I think of before I fall asleep. Yet, I’ve waited two weeks before saying anything about the political End of Days that has taken place south of us.

I guess I didn’t want the posting to be stale, and since the shit-show has been evolving daily, it’s truly hard to keep up. After all, I work full time. And require food. And sleep; unlike the latest “Leader of the Free World” who manages to offend, alienate and terrorize all while maintaining a robust Twitter presence. I’ve felt frustration, anxiety, annoyance, anger and confusion – and that was just the first day of the new administration. Did I mention I don’t even LIVE in the United States of America? However, the saying from my high school History class has stuck with me; Canada is the Mouse and the U.S. is the Elephant. If the Elephant has a cold, the Mouse sneezes. This circus most definitely impacts us.

Never before have I explained the concept of the Electoral College vs the Popular Vote as many times as I have in the past three weeks. I’m sure it’s the result of outright disbelief by some people to comprehend how a Democratic society in this day and age could find itself HERE. HERE is the intersection of Pissing Off The Lefties Street and Pissing Off The Rest of the World Boulevard.

<PAUSE> Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not Pro Hillary for the sake of a vagina. She, too, had issues as a person and as a candidate. However, the overlooking of issues for the male candidate versus the magnification of the issues of the female candidate was fairly self evident. For as long as I live, I will never forget the grace and poise that woman had as she attend the Inauguration for her opponent. While many feel she should have declined the event, as the former First Lady, she would attend with her husband, who, sadly, was a much of a hindrance as anything else. So before you go nuts in the comments, know that “Team Girl” is not my motive. <PLAY>

You might wonder how this happened, too. How do we go from being shocked about a Republican candidate mocking a physically challenged reporter to Executive Orders like ticker-tape confetti? Simple. Because we thought he hit rock bottom when he did THAT. Then the videotape came out where he referenced his unabashed ability to access women’s private parts – or so he thought – and we thought THAT was rock bottom. Then there was the failure to provide taxation documents – THAT was rock bottom, right? Nope? Ok. How about the Mexican wall? Nope. Immigration? Nope. Environment? NOPE! Sweet Baby Jesus, even when the dust settled from the election, people kept on saying,  “You have to give him time. Campaigning is different from leading.” Then we heard the Inaugural Address which was, effectively, setting everyone up for more of the same spew.

I’m sure the logic in the voting booth was that he couldn’t be THAT bad. Or perhaps the logic was that if you gave him enough rope, he’d hang himself. But then he decides to make his key appointments from the very slime covered remnants of the swamp he vowed to drain. A majority of white, older, males, who individually are in a tax bracket equivalent to some of the entire “inner cities” he purports to champion.

But you know, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. He didn’t let any grass grow. Minutes after lunching with the very people he threw under the bus in his Inauguration Address, he trotted up to the Oval Office and started signing Executive Orders like a boss! He also had numerous pages removed from the White House website. You know, deadweight content like Environment, LGBTQ, Women’s Issues.

The yuge “crowds” of his inauguration were eclipsed by the massive protests the next day when the Women’s March took place. Not only were the haters out in full force on social media, but the new president also took a pause from his smoking pen to express how much LARGER his crowds were the day before.

Really?

This is what gets your attention? A bunch of women (and notably men) wearing pink knitted cat hats? Interesting….

It has been revealing to see how some people have reacted to this historic and peaceful demonstration. The anger, negativity and entitlement knows no bounds. We had people hating on Madonna and other celebs who DARED to share their political views. (I guess they forgot their leader used his celebrity as a launch pad for his current career foray.) Ironically, no matter how you feel about Madge or her music, the broad has a Right to speak her mind since, guess what, SHE’S AMERICAN – and Freedom of Speech is still a thing – at least at the time of this posting. One particularly insightful meme pointed out that Madonna is the last person a woman should listen to regarding women’s rights, because, after all, she has used her body and her sexualized persona to advance her career. Um…hate to tell you, but that’s the point – it’s HER choice to do that. She wasn’t pimped out by a man, or, for that matter, another woman. How she used her body is HER Right! Don’t want to watch her bump and grind? No problem, but don’t try to convince me you are ok with a serial molester who sexualizes his own daughter as President, but find The Material Girl’s gyrating upsetting and offensive. #PotmeetKettle

However, the most disturbing aspect of this new reality is the relationship with the Media. I was trained in the lost Art of Journalism (I’m sorry but I can’t tolerate the fascination with celebrity as “real” news – it’s part of what got us where we are today.) The minute you see someone discrediting numerous media outlets in favor of those with open biases, you have a problem. Journalists are being arrested in America! Remember when we were horrified when that happened in countries ruled by dictators? Sorry – I didn’t say “Spoiler Alert”.

From day one the objective of this office has been to start the process of gas lighting the public and conditioning them to accept only one outlet, one source of information – the Oval Office. It has already started. “What do you mean the crowds weren’t yuge? They WERE yuge! THAT photo was taken when people were still filling in hours before.” Terms like “Alternative Facts” are coined. That’s not a thing people! Let’s not allow “Alternative Facts” to become a thing!!

You end up with the long time supporters who continue drinking the Kool Aid, and then the confused (those who voted for him looking for jobs, but blithely ignoring the nasty stuff) will fall into the Emperor’s New Clothes scenario – no one will speak the truth for fear of reprisal. And THIS is how we got to this messed up intersection. No one wanted to call him out on his bullshit when they had the chance because they didn’t think anyone would take him seriously. His particular brand of negativity has given permission to a certain level of individual who is easily threatened, likely due the remarkable low level of self-esteem he/she possession. Yet another trait he/she share with their leader.

You think I’m crazy? Anyone who feels the need to defend the size of his hands during a Presidential Campaign has a mammoth inferiority complex that he is constantly battling with his ongoing barrage of b.s. Same thing goes for his bullying tactics. Why does he do this? Because he’s truly uneducated. Yes, he has a degree from Penn State, but it he wouldn’t be the first graduate to have a less than authentic diploma and educational experience.

Let’s talk about being educated – life long learning, adapting to changing times, learning from others, accepting new concepts. You know, qualities you would want in a national leader who is going to represent your population on an international stage. The minute he said Mexico was paying for the wall, I turned to The Big Guy and stated, “He’s going to tariff them.” Should have put money on that. You know, if you go around slapping countries in the face, you should fully expect to get payback – and you’ve only been hitting the international community one at a time. You better layer up on the bronzer, ‘cuz this could be a knock out when the rest of the world returns your favor. Except for Russia, because, you know, Putin will be selling tickets to that show.

When it comes to strengths, he has two, if you can call them that. He knows how to incite fear, and then flame the fearful mentality; and he knows a great deal about ego. This is why he has opted not to surround himself with experienced and knowledgable experts on topics such as national security, but his own posse of Yes-Men and Women who are there to stroke his ego and assure him his hair looks GREAT…really GREAT!

He is ignorant. He’s a dinosaur from another era that managed to say the right combination of lies to make the public believe one version of himself, while he presents another version behind closed doors. And sadly, he doesn’t even care that we know he’s lying to us.

What he has been exceptionally good at is pissing people off. Figures released today indicate he has set a record for hitting a disapproval rate in eight days. Obama was over 900 days and George W. Bush was 1,200+ days. Hey, I say when you find your strong suite, stick with it! These are interesting times. Buckle up Buttercup!

P.S. You will notice I have not indicated the subject by name. That is deliberate. I’m far from afraid of fallout (because I’m sure The Bowery Girl is on his browser Favorites) I just refuse to feed his vanity – and feel that a deliberate omission of his name is just what will itch him where he can’t scratch. Yup – I’m a cow that way.

Secrets & Lies

I have a confession to make. It’s rather awkward to share, and I hope you will be understanding and won’t rush to judgement.

I have been lying to my husband. For weeks. I have also been keeping things from him. I’m not sorry. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

You see, I felt very strongly about something, and I knew he wouldn’t necessarily agree, so I just went behind his back, did what I wanted to do. He never saw it coming.

We had a surprise 50th Birthday Party for The Big Guy.

I knew I was going to have to be deceitful when I heard TBG’s response to my question regarding his milestone birthday. When I asked him how he wanted to celebrate his birthday, he replied, “I don’t want a party, if that’s what you are asking. Let’s just go out for a nice meal with the boys.”

I new in my heart, when I smiled and nodded in agreement, that I would not, could not agree to this. I knew that I would go against my husband’s wishes.

Tough noogies I say.

Weeks of planning went into a week of setting the scene. Firstly, TBG’s birthday was celebrated the way HE wanted over the Christmas Holidays. A nice dinner with his little family. We even had the wait staff sing to him. We celebrated with presents on his ACTUAL birthday, which happened to fall on a Wednesday. Ironically, he was sick this year, and didn’t go to work. Anyone who knows him knows that it had to be fairly serious for him to miss a day of work. He actually ended up missing two days of work.

Then there was the advertisement we put in the local paper – eluding that this was the extent of the extravagance.

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But it wasn’t until the following weekend that the ultimate deception took place. Although he still wasn’t at 100% per cent, he agreed that we would go to the movies; something we had hoped to do, but never got around to over the holidays. Just as we were about to head out the door, his brother, sister-in-law and niece showed up. SURPRISE! TBG is shocked, confused and thrilled. He thinks the surprise is that they have come for a visit, but they have brought quite a bit of food for just us….

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They got to work at putting up the decorations I had stashed away. Within 20 minutes, we had another vehicle pull in – then another – and then it hit him, we were in the midst of PAR-TAY! The food I had told him was a pro-active food prep for the following week, WRONG – was actually for the people who came to the door every 20 minutes or so. Instead of having a typical surprise where the guest of honour is brought in to a fully amassed group of friends and family, I asked them to come whenever they could, which meant a steady stream of people from 3 p.m. onward.

It. Was. PERFECT!

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The gifts, while appreciated were unnecessary. I say that because I don’t drink beer. Little Sister and her hubby, Thing 2, gave TBG 50 Beers for 50 Years. He was spoiled by many of his guests.

One of my favourite gifts was the large container of ornaments given by dear friends of ours, who also read this blog…they wanted to help TBG with next year’s Christmas tree after reading what happened to this year’s tree. Perfection!

It was a wonderful time. The pool table was well used. The food was snapped up and the cake was eaten.

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While TBG was thrilled to see so many friendly faces who wanted to celebrate how awesome he is, he found himself unable to go to sleep once the last pair of tail lights left the driveway. He questioned every action that had taken place for the past few weeks. As much as he enjoyed himself, he couldn’t believe that so much had taken place right under his nose.

“So there’s no more surprises?” he asked, after piecing together the puzzle.

“Nope, that’s it,” I replied, relieved.

…other than my secret family and off-shore bank accounts….

 

Reality Show Revelation

Days after our spectacular Christmas tree fiasco, we found ourselves the day before Christmas Eve Day. That’s an awkward way of saying Dec. 23. Second Born Son was at work because it’s high season in the grocery business, First Born Son was in the kitchen cleaning up some dishes. (Yes, that was my Christmas Miracle!)

Me and The Big Guy? We were in the living room discussing decoration placement for the rest of the room, since the tree was the only thing that was completed. You could say we left things a little 11th hour this year.

FBS calls me to the kitchen repeatedly, quickly, and I can tell by the tone, that we have a problem. He points at the sliding glass doors off the kitchen where Cane is anxiously looking to come in. He has his left paw up in the air and there’s enough blood in the snow on the deck for transfusion.

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We let him in the kitchen to inspect the damage, and the hemorrhaging continued inside. The same towels that mopped up water the week before, were now used to mop up blood. Once we got his heart rate down, the bleeding did subside and we were able to determine the source of the injury. It was the outside pad of his left paw. A clean slice on an angle that ran so deep you could see parts of the pad I’m fairly certain were never meant to be exposed.

Thankfully, and due to our history with Cane and Roman, we have a fully stocked First Aid kit just for the dogs. We managed to clean things up and wrap it. This was now around 9 p.m. and TBG and I decided to call the vet clinic rather than throw him in the truck for 45 minute drive. After the phone consult it was scheduled to take him in the morning when we wouldn’t have to pay double the rate. After all, once Cane was wrapped, he told us he was ready for bed, thankyouverymuch!

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The morning visit confirmed what we feared; that you can’t stitch a pad, and this was going to be a long healing process for Cane.

This made for a “fun” Christmas season; trying to keep a large dog inside and inactive while entertaining family.

<PAUSE> Cane was a model patient at the vet clinic. For a large, large-breed dog, he’s remarkably gentle, especially when he knows you are trying to help him. No snarls, no snapping, just one little whimper when they cleaned out the cut. <PLAY>

Christmas came and went and with it some interesting family interaction. Now folks, I can’t get into too much of what I’m referencing here, because honestly, I don’t need a law suit right now, but believe me when I say statements were made by certain individuals that were cause for “shock and awe-ful reactions!” Gotta love the holidays! I’m setting money aside for counselling for the boys!

This was followed up by an opportunity to educate my father in law, whose understanding of burning garbage over the years at the family farm, needed some updating now that he lives in town. We are hoping our neighbours are still speaking to us after learning what he was trying to dispose of in our light paper burning barrel. I’m fairly certain the black smoke billowing from our property was visible from space.

It was that day, just after lunch, that FBS made his declaration.

“We need to have our own reality show!”

“We’re pretty boring, bud. I don’t think anyone would want to watch us,” I chuckled.

Then he made his case. He figured the Christmas tree would be one episode, the dog would be another, and there had been enough crap going on in our world in recent weeks that it would most definitely be enough fodder for a first season. He pointed out we had all the right personalities that would make for good viewing.

“After all, if that family can have their own show, and it’s all written for them…our stuff is real!” I thought he meant Duck Dynasty. He actually meant Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

I reflected on this comment later in the afternoon and chuckled to myself. I think I’ve grown used to the “crazy” to the point that it’s become our “normal”.

After all, we have had a much drama as anything on TV. My father goes in for high risk surgery on a Friday, which takes much longer than estimated, but he survives. The next morning TBG’s mother passes away. SBS breaks his arm TWICE. The same arm – a year apart. We buy a new house, TBG gets a great job offer a month later, which he takes, and the following week I’m laid off of my job.  My mother and my sister move THE SAME WEEKEND – then my father in law moves a month and a half later! We decide to go on our first family vacation in 8 years and our furnace is condemned a week before we leave. Oh, did mention this is in NOVEMBER?

Maybe the kid is on to something!

I can recall catching up with a friend a couple of years ago, and she was stunned with the collection of events.

“If I didn’t know you, I would think you were making this up!” she stated in awe. It wasn’t a compliment.

I’m going to keep his little suggestion in my back pocket, for the next mini crisis. I’ll grab my cell to record while I’m juggling the chaos!

Without Tradition, We Have Nothing

Anyone who has read The Bowery Girl for any length of time knows that we really like Christmas and take our decorating rather seriously.

When it comes to Christmas trees, we like them big, and we like them to be real.

And we aren’t above risking life and limb to get the “perfect” tree!

It has involved going out into the wild yonder with a saw in hand. Then there was the task of getting it into the house.

But this year’s tree was truly unique. As Little Sister now lives at my parents’ former home, we didn’t think it would be cool to hike back and steal a tree. We’ll let them get their boxes unpacked before we start helping ourselves. You know, manners.

So we went to the neighbours of my parents’/my sister and brother in law, who, ironically, own and operate and Christmas tree farm. I’ll let you think about that. Yes, we have been slogging trees out of various bush areas for the past several years when we could have simply selected a pre-cut tree while sipping hot chocolate and cider under twinkle lights while being serenaded by festive music.

Yup. That’s how we do things around here. The hard way.

Which takes us back around to this year’s tree. Once again, we needed the “perfect” tree. Something that had the ability to inspire the Christmas Spirit even in the most jaded of Grinch-like hearts. It needed to be the one thing that people remembered about The Bowery Girl Christmas, because, once again, we were hosting at least one side of the family.

Yes, we were asking A LOT of one tree.

So when I came upon a stunning blue spruce, full and lush and standing well over 7 ft tall, I   knew I was in love. The Big Guy questioned whether or not it was too tall. I think he forgot about this tree…

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To be clear, that tree is above the eavestrough.

First Bon Son was not nearly as convinced.

“I don’t like it,” he declared, no particular reason given.

Second Born Son was more accommodating. He gave it his blessing.

To appease everyone, we purchased a smaller, Charlie Brown-like tree in a pot that we can plant in the spring. The boys agreed they would put one single decoration on the tree, although I did lend them a star and some garland so it didn’t look so naked.

After the appropriate pruning and trunk trimming, the blue spruce was in the corner of the living room awaiting embellishment. I was particularly excited because TBG agreed to a new colour scheme for our Christmas decor. Instead of the red, green and gold we had used for the past 22 Christmases, this year we would go gold, silver, white and rustic – burlap bows and pine cones.

FBS left before the decorating began, declaring that he had contributed enough to the family tradition. It was his silent protest since he still didn’t approve of a perfectly beautiful blue spruce.

This left SBS and TBG to help put the new decorations on the tree. I strung the new ornaments and the two of them placed them on the tree. When it was done, it was stunning.

Breathtaking, wouldn’t you agree? The colour and textures were spot-on. We wrapped up the Sunday evening in our jammies, admiring the afternoon of work we had put in. I take a photo and text it to FBS, who is back at college. He begrudgingly admits it looks good.

TBG decided he was ready for the nest around 10:30 p.m. and, as every good owner of a real Christmas tree knows, he unplugged the lights. While he was under the tree, the festive masterpiece went from a 90 degree angle to a 45 degree angle, only saved from further horizontalness by the black leather love seat that broke it’s fall. This sudden stop, however, launched the brand new glittered star from the back corner of the living room, clear across to the opposite end of the space. The TV dogged a bullet…as it were. A third of the ornaments were on the floor. Of those, half were broken. We could tell because the shards were floating across the hardwood laminate floor in the water that had been in the stone filled bucket we were using to anchor the tree.

TBG swore, jumped up, grabbed the tree and yanked it upright. It fell over. He swore again. More broken ornaments. More ornaments the floor. 98% of the water is now creating a tsunami across the living room. TBG said all the words. ALL of them.

SBS launched from the couch and grabbed dry towel in our house. Unfortunately, due to an old war wound, my back prevented me from doing anything other than holding the tree, which seemed to be incapable of staying vertical.

Upon inspection, it became clear that the tree was rather off balance. Almost all of the ornaments are on the front side of the tree. When TBG unplugged the lights, he disengaged the only thing keeping that thing upright.

SBS is moping the floor like he’s getting paid. I’m trying to evaluate how many ornaments have been lost, how many I can salvage and how many are still on the tree, when TBG turns to me and asks to hold the tree. I oblige. HE SHAKES THE TREE. FOUR MORE ORNAMENTS FALL ON THE FLOOR AND SHATTER.

I look at him in disbelief.

“Are you FREAKING kidding me?!?!”

Without missing a beat he replies, “I wanted to see if the trunk shifted in the bucket.”

I shoot him the death stare.

It took another half an hour to get everything picked up, the floor mopped up and the dehumidifier strategically placed in the middle of the room. Ever my son, SBS made the perfect observation.

“You know, it could be worse,” he said, “this could have happened at 3 in the morning and we might not have heard and woke up to the tree on the floor and the floor would have been ruined.”

So proud. He was absolutely right. Except his father begged to differ. He was heading back to the shower in an attempt to de-adhese himself of all the sap on every square inch of him. TBG is in the pit of despair. It’s like someone gave him a lump of coal after telling him that  there was no Santa Claus. And that he’s allergic to chocolate. And there’s no gravy for Christmas dinner. It was THAT BAD.

Which I understand, because the tree is a sad shadow of it’s former self.

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You thought I was exaggerating, didn’t you. I sent this photo to FBS. He texts back, “I told you there was something wrong with that tree.” He’s lucky he’s an hour away.

Back on the home front, we have glitter in the floor, in the loveseat, in parts of our bodies that we didn’t realize were exposed to glitter. I’m fairly certain I’ve eaten more than a peck of glitter.

TBG’s foul mood continued once he was re-bathed and tucked into bed. He relived the moment over and over again. Ranted about how upsetting the incident was. How his ENTIRE CHRISTMAS WAS RUINED!

<PAUSE> Not kidding. He said that. You should note, he’s weeks away from his 50th birthday. Not 5. Forty nine. <PLAY>

Throughout this so-called Christmas Catastrophe, I’ve been the voice of calm. THIS is when I finally lose it.

“SHUT UP! I’m the one who picked and bought the ornaments. I’m the one who will have to replace the old ones. I never yelled or blamed you for making it front heavy. SBS is absolutely right; we could have found it in the morning and the floor would have been ruined!”

“Well,” he said, “we won’t know about the floor until the morning.”

I take a fist and drive it into his stomach.

I then remind him about the real trees we had before having kids when we were at our previous home. It always fell over. There was the decorating of the tree, and the redecorating of the tree after TBG picks it up off of me. The answer was to anchor the tree in the corner to the hinge of the front door we never used. We simply had to find another solution for this house.

Three days later, when TBG had finally cooled down enough to discuss the “tree situation”, and I had purchased the replacement ornaments, and it was certain that the floor wasn’t ruined – just really clean; we tried decorating 2.0. And counter balanced with a tractor weight wrapped like a gift.

Some families have traditions of eating certain foods at Christmas. Some have specific songs they always play. We have a collapsing Christmas Tree.

Hope your Holidays were magical, and dry…..

 

Sweet 16

This entry is 10 days late.

It’s 10 days late because life get stupid around here this time of year. Which is exactly how it was 16 years ago when Second Born Son was born. Parades, presents, wrapping. And then a newborn baby.

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Happy, happy, happy, until he wasn’t. Then he was VERY unhappy. But most of the time he was a joy. Looks nothing like his brother, acts completely different, and yet there’s such a bond between the two of them, especially now.

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It was a big enough shock to the system when First Born Son got his driver’s licence. Now we get to put SBS behind the wheel!

It’s so easy to celebrate everything that SBS brings to our family; the humour, the sass, the movie trivia.

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Yes, I had nightmares!

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The Big Wee-ner!

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Happy 16th Birthday SBS. We adore you!