Moment (May Be Morbid for Some Viewers)

My family keeps things. This has recently become a bit of an issue in light of the fact that Dad is slowly working towards downsizing to a condo on the Sunshine Coast.

This summer, Bo, Carol and I went bravely into the attic to decide which books to keep and which to junk. A lot of Bo’s philosophy stuff is in there, and I couldn’t have told which was valuable and which wasn’t, so I needed him there. Also, I discovered, he needed to be there in order to insist that we save all the Star Wars books he’d had since childhood. I think we managed to part with the Star Wars flip-n-fold storybook, but I think that was the only one. He has a problem. These tacky, yellowing books are completely valueless to anyone but him.

Oh, Shit. Shit. I’ve just looked over to see my collection of spines-taped-up-to-hold-in-the-pages, yellowing, Skye O’Malley romance novels. Maybe I have a problem as well.

Well, it would go with the family affliction.

There’s a certain woven Haida cedar basket in the attic that contains the ashes of our paternal grandfather. When he died, (about a decade ago) my grandmother was just edging into the beginnings of senility, and so she never really made a decision as to what to do with his remains. She had suggested burying them under a Clematis bush (he loved Clematis), but as my mom pointed out, what if the bush died? How would we feel then?

So grandpa went to the attic. I usually say Hi when I’m passing by to get a book or the makings of a Fur Trader costume for a student, but mostly, he’s not an issue.

Carol’s sitting on the bed, sorting through a pile of books. Bo comes out with Grandpa’s basket and plonks it squarely down on her lap. “This is our Grandfather.”

I look up briefly, “Carol, meet Grandpa, Grandpa, Carol.”

Then I notice her face. That expression is why the English language contains the word, ‘rictus’.

Sorry, Carol. I’d feel worse, but it was pretty funny.

Ambrosia Salad

Incident at work tonight: I was teaching a writing class and we’re doing descriptive writing. Now, I’ve seen the materials at the level of ESL these girls are doing, and, quite franky, it’s bollocks. They don’t have any sophistocated adjectives yet, and getting them to make their own is like pulling teeth.

Solution: I bring in some of my personal photographs. I don’t tell the kids who these people are, but they have to describe the scene, in the context of what they think is happening, and then relate what happened to the ‘characters’ the day the picture was taken. It sounds ambitious, I know, but it captures their imaginations far better than “Describe your bedroom” does. Especially since they’ve all done that about three times before they’ve even been in Canada a year.

So student N hands in her draft, about a photo I took more than a decade ago, of Jenny, Pia and Mac sitting in Jenny’s backyard, drinking and talking.

N has turned Jenny into her Protagonist, and Jenny has (allegedly) decided to have a picnic with her friends. Jenny goes to Safeway (in the draft) and comes home with Chicken Caesar salad, English Muffins, Snapple, and Ambrosia Salad.

“Ambrosia salad?” I look at N.
“Yeah, you know, it has the marshmallows in it.”
I giggle, because I can’t help it. “Ambrosia salad is disgusting.” I think for a minute. “Um, N, is it…White People food?”
She giggles a little as well. “Koreans don’t eat it.”
(Of course not, I think. Marshmallows in Jello, with, oh, say, celery and maraschino cherries? I don’t think so.)
“N, Ambrosia salad is, like, Old People food. Have you ever seen anyone under the age of fifty buying it?”
“My ESL Teacher says it’s delicious,” She protests. Her turn to think. “But she’s about sixty.”

The problem is that White People Food (they call it Canadian Food) is largely a mystery to your average Korean International student. And their moms, actually. They know there’s stuff that goes on bread, and stuff that goes in sandwiches. This means that, for politeness’ sake, I have eaten a butter-and-mayo baguette, a cinnamon-raisin breakfast bagel (egg and cheese within), and a peanut butter, lettuce, and ham sandwich. Bleurgh. But what am I supposed to say? “You’re learning my culinary culture wrong.”? How could I?

No one’s served me Ambrosia Salad. Yet.

I’m an Adult.

I called COIT carpet cleaners.

My thought process was something like this:

April: Hmm, I need to get one of those machines you can get at Safeway. That’s, what, sixty bucks? I need to clean these carpets. It’ll only take about four hours to do it right.

May: Ew, these carpets are gross if looked at in strong light. But first, I need to pay my Student Loans. Oh, Hell, I forgot to buy groceries. OK, maybe later.

June: I’ll do it as soon as I have extra money and time.

July: I’ll do it as soon as I have extra money.

August: This is disgusting. I’ll do it in September, when I can budget for it.

September: with a >whoosh< soundtrack I don’t have time!

October: I’m tirty-three fricking years old. I can hire some professionals to come in. (calls COIT) The guy comes within the hour to tell me how much, and what they’d like to do.

Me: (Opens door) Sorry about the mess.

COIT Guy: It’s nothing. (Lots of spiel about how professional services remove, like 90% of the crap in the carpets, blah, blah.) I realize how good this sounds and make a mental note to get out and have more fun. Then: “Do you have any areas where there were Incidents?”

Me: Uhm…(pointing to coin-sized areas on the floor) Here’s a spaghetti sauce Incident. Here was a red wine Incident. This is an Incident that involved soy sauce and a sudden cat on the lap. (Belatedly, I wonder if he means, like, incident incidents, you know, like a Frat Boy vomited 3 litres of stomach acids and beer on my floor. But COIT guy seems happy with my explanantion.)

CG: How did you find out about us?

Me: Well, my dad was getting his carpets done, so he gave me the number. But a long time ago, when I was working at a marine fuel station, I served the boss of the company when he was out on a boating holiday. We got to talking, ‘cause I told him I’d seen vans that said COIT on them around Vancouver. So you’re the guys I know for this kind of thing. (I am such a nerd!)

CG: Then you know it’s a local company.

He mentions that they’d do the bedroom for free. It doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, but what the hell, I’ll say yes.

I ask how long it will take.

Coit Guy: (appraisingly) About an hour.


Bottom line: I’ve arrived. People will come to my house early in November, for about an hour. My carpets will be the spotless light Oatmeal colour I can kind of remember.

Now, I’m going to go have some Metamucil and castigate hooligans in the spirit of my new adulthood.

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