Travel Prep.

When my brother and I were teenagers, there came a time when our parents figured they could go away and leave us on our own. Their instructions were minimal.

Feed the dog.
Water the plants.
No parties.

We had it down.

Today I get an email from my dad, who is going to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas with his girlfriend and her 16-year-old daughter. It’s considerably more than the lists of yore. He’s got instructions of what to do if my grandmother dies and he can’t get back or they can’t get ahold of him. It has what to do if he has a medical emergency and I have to invoke Power of Attorney. It’s a lot grislier than the teenage lists.

Aside from the fact that the new instructions are a reminder that mortality is creeping towards all of us, unseen and gimlet-eyed, it’s a reminder that I’m an adult. Now I have to deal, so I will.

Not to say that I didn’t when I was younger. At one point when Mom and Dad were away, something happened with the front door lock and I had to go buy and install another one. Cue frantic flapping from my mom, who couldn’t seem to believe that I could have handled it.

And I can handle it now. Hell, thanks to my mom, I even know not to buy an urn at the funeral home. I know to go to Chinatown.

First Blood.

This post is inspired by Stephanie, and also brought to you by the letters P M and S.

I got my period the summer I was twelve. I’d done sex ed in school and several of my friends had their periods. It wasn’t something I was expecting, though. I was flatter chested than anyone in my class, including some of the boys. I lived my tree-climbing, Duran-Duran listening life, and menses were far on the distant horizon.

Except then I went wilderness camping with my father and brother. Some eight hundred miles of highway away from Vancouver. Then twelve miles down a gravel road. And then another three miles by boat. We were really in the wilderness.

I woke up and there was blood on my nightgown. I thought, “Oh. My period. Right. How do I deal with this?” Because of course, I had not brought any pads or tampons or anything.

So I went to our bathroom facilities (teepees made of random poles and plywood bleached silvery grey by the weather) and considered my options. I knew Dad had a trip to a nearby town (about 50 miles away) planned, so I couldn’t just shuffle off to the teepee every half-hour to change wads of toilet paper. I needed a plan.

Luckily, the Kootenays are drier than Coastal BC or I would have been stymied. But in the interior, things get tinder dry. There was moss.

Yes. My first sanitary pad, adhesiveless and bulky, was a wad of moss wrapped in toilet paper. Thank God we spent most of the travel day in the car.

Dad had a surprise in store for us. Mom was flying into a small airstrip to camp with us. This was the most unexpected thing in the world: My mother hated camping.

My mother brought pads. She said she’d ‘had a feeling’ I needed them, when I finally got around to telling her that night, as we washed pots in the lake. In terms of embarrassing to a twelve-year-old, this is about as embarrassing as it gets.

Embarrassing or not, I was grateful for her foresight then. I am even today. A girl should only have to wear makeshift maxi pads made of moss as long as she has to.

Some Cars: An Amateur’s Guide.

I had a very steep learning curve yesterday.

Given the fact that all I knew about my job was that it entailed driving a lot of cars around, I think I didn’t come off as too stupid, too often. I hope, anyway.

I drove a lot of cars. Here’s what I can say about them.

Mini Cooper: This car has no suspension. Apparently it is cool to arrive at your destination rattled and jiggly. The dashboard is pretty, but confusing to the eye. I had to stare for thirty seconds to determine what the gas gauge was.

MPV: No branding can disguise the fact that it is a mini van. I thought I heard the echoes of the soccer team as I drove it. Seats remind me of my grandpa’s La-Z-Boy.

Toyota Matrix: Kind of cool, comfortable to drive, and less wimpy than I expected. Easy stereo controls.

Pontiac Sunfire: Feels cheap and plasticky. Engine may be powered by tired gerbils. Stereo also weak.

Toyota Corolla: Handles like a Buick, or what I remember a Buick handles like. The best stereo of all of them. Good bass.

I’m eager to see what I drive next.

Car Jockey.

I have a new job!

Not to say I quit my old one, because I love it. But it starts at 3:30, and there were a lot of hours in the day when I was looking at pictures of kittens on the Internet instead of bringing in cash, or, say, even writing.

So. Starting tomorrow at 7AM (yikes!) I’m a car jockey for the Co-operative Auto Network. It means I drive the cars from their locations all over the city to get serviced. When they’re done, I drive them back again. It’s a no-brainer, but that’s what I’m looking for. I don’t want to exhaust my brain before I start teaching, or there won’t be much left of me to do a good job teaching.

I intend to be a good car jockey.


I knew Tony from the bus. When you take the same bus as much as I do, you get to know the other regular riders and drivers by sight. Tony takes my bus. He has very poor vision, has a cane with a red tip, but I think he can see very bright things. He always moves slowly, as though he has to think hard about how to place his next step. He is quite overweight and navigates with a kind of ponderous grace I’d associate with someone twenty years older than mid-forties, which is where I’d place him.

Today he was at my bus stop. I could have walked to the lumber store, but I’d gardened all day and I wanted a chance to just stand for a bit.”Is the bus coming?” he asked.

“Not yet, but I’ve only been here two minutes. The new ones are so quiet, aren’t they?” You can’t hear them coming, which is a big peeve, if you like to read while you wait, like me. Or, like Tony, if your vision isn’t so good.

Well, we started in on an epic conversation about the buses and somehow got onto snakes as pets. That’s when an old lady in a sand-coloured sedan rolled up: “Tony, you want a ride?”

He turned around. “Mom?” He excused himself and went to the car. He got himself inside, and she eyeballed me. Beckoned. “You want a ride?”

“I’m only going to Broadway,” I answered.

“So’s he. Hop in!” So I got a ride from Tony’s mom. Of course, I will discourage anyone and everyone from getting into a car with a stranger, but I didn’t think I was in any danger from an old lady and her sight-impaired son. And hanging out with Tony was fun.

It was great! Turns out Tony’s an avid gardener, and we talked about that. When we got to Broadway, we walked and talked at Tony’s pace.

“I never could grow a thing until three years ago,” he admitted.

“What happened?”

“I spent thirty eight days in Saint Paul’s Hospital.”

“Oh my!”

“Yeah. I had what I thought was a pimple. On my bum.”

What? “Oh, ow.”

“Yeah. It turned into an abscess. It’s called a fistula.”

Um. What do I say? “Oh no.”

“It was actually a pus-filled sac that reached to under my scrotum.”

Did he say…Yes. He did. He’s talking about his scrotal area. “That must have been awful.”

“Yeah. but the doctor I saw in St. Paul’s did some tests, and I was in the O.R. the next day.”

“Thank goodness! So how did that start you gardening?”

“Well, I just started to learn and understand more. I love to grow things, but I don’t care if the plants actually give vegetables. I just love to see them sprout, to grow. It’s therapeutic.”

So. Despite not having a lot to contribute about scrotal-encroaching fistulas, I made a new gardening friend today.

Friday Confessions.

There’s only one this week. I mean, I AM going out in a bit to buy seeds, with the seed catalogue in my hand, and I will be happy to ask n0ob questions of David Hunter’s helpful staff. You all know I am nerdy and okay with it.

But there’s this: I am angry at myself. I’ve been eating crap every night. I’m talking biscuits and butter. I’m talking potato chips. I’m talking popcorn. I’m even talking the decadent evil that is E’s Special Kraft Dinner. Carrots and fruit and salad don’t cut it. I’m mad because I don’t need the calories, and I don’t need the crap. I’m not even that hungry. I’m just eating.

Anybody else got some crap they don’t need?

Going To Seed.

Quick question: Do you think it would be too nerdy if I took the seed catalogue when to the store when I’m buying seeds?

I want to be sure I’m getting the right stuff.

Washed Out.

The couple on the main floor of our house have a new baby boy! His name is Moss. At first I was ambivalent about the name, but now it’s beginning to grow on me. (Cymbal crash!) Did you see what I did there?

Anyway, the new mother’s mother has come from Nova Scotia to stay for two weeks, to help out. And her version of helping out seems to be washing everything in the house, possibly repeatedly.

Since she arrived a week ago, the washer and dryer have gone almost nonstop from 8am to 9pm. I know that the arrival of a new baby means more laundry, but how can one infant necessitate an extra five loads a day, every day?

I’m looking forward to consistently warm showers when the New Grandmother is gone. So are the rest of the denizens of the house, I’m betting.

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