Tuesday, August 16, 2016


We went to visit my parents this past weekend, so of course we popped out to the farmhouse to see where things were at there. The first thing we noticed was the roof: new shingles!

My mother, just so you know, is either the most meticulous, artful, patient person in all of the known universe (she did raise me, so) or she's completely off her rocker (again, she did raise me, so).

She's still in the process of stripping every bit of ancient paint from that house - so far she's been at it since May 1 and she's done all the door and window headers, plate rails, window sill plates, baseboard quarter rounds and half of the doors themselves. I'll show you some pictures of the piles of stuff she's been working through so you can fully appreciate the gargantuan nature of this task.

It's a bittersweet thing. The paint job in there was kind of amazing - pastel yellows and minty greens and bubblegum pinks everywhere you looked. Maybe not everybody's taste, but pretty adorable. For example, these are the door headers from a few of the different rooms (they all have matching radiators!):

But paint doesn't last forever, so my mom loaded up a trailer with everything she could pry from the walls, took it all home, and is carefully stripping it. She's done so much that her thumb no longer bends. Like, actually. It's frozen straight from overuse. You could say she's invested in this project.

Here's a lovely picture of the gunk she's scraping off this wood:

Isn't that nice?

But underneath the chipping, old paint and all of that gunky stuff? This:

Beautiful, right?

One of my favourite little transformations is the front door.



Slowly but surely, she's working her way through that whole house. Some of the wood will be repainted - there's a little girl in Frontier who has laid claim to one of the second-floor bedrooms, and everyone has started referring to it as her room. Mom wants to paint it and wallpaper it similarly to how it looked back in the day. Pink and flowers and all that. She's on the lookout for vintage light fixtures and pretty rugs and wallpaper. The goal, as I understand it, is restoration, not so much remodelling.

Her other little pet project this month, when she wasn't stripping paint, was restringing a vintage chandelier for the entryway. She got it second-hand for $40. Probably because no one else in the world (again, patient, meticulous, maybe crazy) wanted it. Did I mention it was in a million pieces when she bought it?

Here are the first few pictures she sent me, along with a witty caption about her new 'puzzle':


However, I can attest to the fact that she finished it; I'll save the after pictures for when it's hanging in its place.

That's that for now; this was a lot of pictures to scroll through. Dad sent me home with a bunch of the moving pictures though, and I'll upload those later. The process of moving a 100-year-old house 228 km is actually pretty fascinating.

Until then, here's an adorable picture of my adorable parents:

Monday, August 08, 2016


Did you hear me sigh this morning? It was pretty loud; you probably thought it was wind or something. You probably thought, Huh. That's funny-sounding wind.
Nope. Just me. 

It started as a wee ache in my poor sweet heart that kind of slipped from my lips as I lay in my bed half awake, but as I gained consciousness and became aware of where I was and where I was not going today, the sigh grew up into a plough wind that gusted from my bedroom window and blew all the birds and airplanes right out of the sky.

It's the day after the Regina Folk Fest, and every year when I wake up the day after Folk Fest, I sigh like that.

There she goes, being all melodramatic about live music again.

As per usual. I don't know how else to be about it.

For those who don't know, Folk Fest is a yearly thing that happens right in the centre of my city, in Victoria Park. It's three days long and all of the stuff that happens during the day is completely free. There are food vendors and interesting booths with art and jewelry and all the usual festival-ly stuff, and there are fascinating people - all supremely happy because, hey, everyone is at a free music festival - and there are three stages of music (four, if you count the kids stage) (I don't). Sometimes, the stages have straight-up concerts on them, and sometimes they have workshops, which are when three or four bands learn each others' songs and perform them together. I don't know which I like better; it depends on the bands I guess.

Like, yesterday, we saw the Strumbellas playing with a band from Winnipeg called the Dirty Catfish Brass Band, and that was really cool and I hope the Strumbellas look into just absorbing the brass band permanently into their little organization there. But I also say this as a firm believer that every single band, regardless of genre, needs some horns. A trumpet or something.

(I said this to someone once and their eyes bugged out and they said something about trumpets being so annoying and obnoxious. Like trumpets are the belligerent jerk on a city bus. But do you know why belligerent jerks are belligerent jerks? Because they don't know how to express their souls, I think. I think belligerent jerks are just sad inside. And trumpets are the saddest, most soulful instruments around if you just listen to them. And I like sad, soulful music. So. Trumpets.)

Anyway. My purposes for writing this blog post are twofold: 1. I took too many pictures of Folk Fest for Instagram and 2. I needed an outlet for my post-festival sadness. 

Also, I guess, to make my case for Trumpets.

Oh, AND, to tell you about some good music that you should listen to.

And, of course, for future me to look back on fondly. 

So, a little something for everyone - something for me, something for you, something for trumpets.

On Saturday, Barclay had to work, so Sullivan and I went without him. Sullivan loved it, and I loved having him there. He's good company. He likes to watch what's going on on the stage and ask me about the different instruments ("Is he playing a bongo drum, Mom?" "Yep." What's that thing?" "A saxophone." "Satsabone. What's a satsabone do?")

Here's a picture of us that must have been taken by the paparazzi:

I even braved the kids stage with him for a whole hour, for a comedian named Al Simmons, who Sully refers to as Fish Guy because at one point in the act there was a fish and that's how kid brains work.

I remember walking past the kids stage in festival years past and pitying the parents sitting there with their children, missing the fun at the grown-up stages. I vowed I would never be one of them. Now, I have learned never to make vows. And I have learned that the fun of seeing your kid have fun is funner than the fun of seeing yourself have fun.

On Sunday, Barclay stayed home with Sullivan for a few hours so I could go to the festival by myself. I haven't done this since... let me see. It would've been the year Ohbijou was there, so, 2010? I usually have some combination of family or festival friends with me at all times, but this year everyone was busy - honeymoons, injuries, kids, etc - so I went solo.

I brought my friend Melanie Dale's book to read in between sets and stage hopped to my heart's content. It was pretty wonderful and I might make it a practise to always take in a few shows at RFF by myself from now on. I did regret, however, that I had no one to pinch excitedly when Iskwe covered Bjork's Army of Me. I smiled at the woman beside me though, and she returned it. So. A friend.

I think I covered all of my genres in the two hours I was there by myself - brassy pop punk and straight-up brass band and soft, acoustic indie and dancey, electronic hip-hop, among others.

My favourite set of the day was from a band called The Royal Foundry, and if you ever get a chance to see them live, absolutely, absolutely do. I give them ten out of ten and both of my thumbs and five stars. Their set was completely captivating.

Here, watch this, this is them:

Also, fun facts: The frontpeople are a married couple (awww), and the lead singer, Jared Salte, is the son of Arlen Salte, who was my favourite musician when I was five and who I saw live every single summer as a child. He sang a song called When the Ducks Go By, and I think it's probably playing in the background in the majority of my home videos.

That's all very cute, isn't it? This is the actual circle of life.

Barclay and Sullivan joined me for the last couple sets of Sunday, and that was great too.

We finished the day off with pirogies from Baba's, and that was just one more in a long string of solid choices we made this weekend. 

Bye for one more year, RFF.

PS: In case anyone cares, my current wishlist for RFF 2017 is:

Snarky Puppy, MewithoutYou, Gruff Rhys, Fiona Bevan, Bear's Den, The Milk Carton Kids, Seinabo Sey, and Aqualung. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Please, Okay?

I think I made a mistake when I admitted on my blog that I was writing a novel.

The more I think about it, the more I think: yes. That was absolutely a big, dumb mistake.

Who knew that writing a novel would feel like such a private, personal thing? I did not. I wrote about it, initially, because I didn't realize how much I would dislike talking about it to real people. I talked about it to long-distance friends and online people quite a bit, and I really liked that, so maybe I thought talking about it to real, in-person people would feel the same. Maybe I also sort of forgot that people I know actually read my blog - there was a time when the only people who read here were Crystal Kimber and a handful of women from Korea and Scotland.

I still remember the day my dad called after coming across this post somehow, like, "Hi, Suzy. Your mom and I aren't so sure you should be wandering into back alleys on the advice of homemade posters promising you the best time of your life." I should've learned my lesson back then. Not about back alleys - though that is, also, for sure a valuable life lesson that my dad was right about - but about writing things online without expecting that real-life people will read them and then want to discuss them with you.

Because it's really, really nice of people to read here and it's super wonderful of them to take an interest in what I'm doing and ask me questions about it. I'm for sure not mad about it - it would be quite silly of me to put stuff out there and then be mad at people for wanting to talk about it with me.

But if you've ever asked me in real life, "Hey, how's that novel going?" you might have noticed my lips curl back and my eyes cross and my gut suck right in to my spine as I stammer:

"It, uh, it uh, it's...just not. I don't know. I'm busy doing other things. I don't want to talk about it."

And while I'm talking, I'm thinking, This is the most embarrassing thing ever. I don't know what I'm saying. I don't know how to talk anymore. Am I saying, 'Blub blub blub blub?' Like, I can't even admit that I'm working on it. It's so ridiculous. It feels exactly like someone is asking me if I still like to play with Barbies and I'm admitting that, yes, I do like to play with Barbies still and that is what I do with all of my free time lately. Just playing Barbies all day every day. Giving them names and dressing them up and making them marry Ken over and over and over again. Why did I admit to this ON THE INTERNET?

Let's pretend in real life that this whole thing doesn't exist. Please, okay? I am seriously considering publishing it under a pseudonym and never admitting to anyone I know in real life that I did it. It might seem counter-intuitive to bring it up again on here just to say to forget about it, but every time someone asks me The Question in real life I pretty much swallow my nose and turn into a blubbering idiot, so there's zero chance of me tactfully saying, "You know what? I'd prefer not to talk about that at this time - I actually shouldn't have brought it up in the first place."

I would love to know if I am the only person who feels this way. Like, if I'm passionate about something, is it completely weird to also not want to talk about it ever at all? It it weird to want to keep that thing in a completely separate little personality box that I only show to a couple of people and keep away from pretty much everyone else? Blub blub blub blub?

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Harold and Harv

It would seem that I've made a couple of new friends. It would seem that I won them over with my parallel parking skills.

I met them about two months ago. I was pulling into a parking spot downtown, in front of a place I go every Tuesday. It was a small spot, just barely the size of my car, but I was feeling confident that day. I did all the necessary preliminary maneuvers, but as I shoulder checked, I noticed these two old men sitting on the sidewalk on colourful lawn chairs. My first thought, which feels silly to admit, was that I was worried about having an audience. As though everyone is always watching what I'm doing, as if anyone cares.

A while back, I remember saying to a friend that I sometimes wondered what strangers thought of me when I passed them in public - I mean, I have thoughts about strangers when I pass them, so why wouldn't they think about me too? But she gave me this look of disdain and told me I was full of myself. Maybe I am.

Still, parallel parking is a different beast when you have an audience. It just is. I don't know why; it's not like it reflects badly on your character if you can't back into a parking spot on your first try. It only feels that way. Right?

So anyway, I got super into this parallel park. I accessed my 16 year-old brain and imagined my driver instructor's ghost in the passenger seat (I'm not sure if he's actually dead, but, probably. I mean, he's a driver instructor. He gets into cars with teenagers for a living).

"Don't get worked up over it," said my imaginary ghost driver instructor. "Just line up that thing with that thing. Yeah, like that. Now turn that, yeah, like that. Okay, don't overdo it. Yup. There it is. There it goes. Just slow. Crank it. Go there. Good job."

And before I knew it, I had completed the most perfect parallel park of my life. It was beautiful. I felt my face glowing and resisted the urge to glance over at the old men for approval.

But when I looked over at my ghost instructor, it was my friend instead, and she had that look on her face again. "You're so full of yourself. No one is thinking about you." So true. They probably hadn't noticed. I blinked away all the apparitions and flung open my car door...

...to the sound of uproarious, two-person applause. The two old men were ecstatic. They had probably five teeth between the two of them, and I could see them all. They had a dog too, and even it was impressed.

"That was amazing," crowed one of the men. He had a long white beard and his voice was thin and tinny, like he'd almost used it all up. "You should be a truck driver!"

"Yeah," said the other, the one holding the little dog, "I've never seen anything like it!"

I laughed and carried on my way, basking a little in their adoration. I thought that would be that.

But they were there the next Tuesday too. They had an electric scooter flipped on its side with its wheel off. They were sitting beside it on their lawn chairs, looking at it.

"It's you!" said the bearded man as I exited my car. "Look what I've done here!"

I looked.

"I've gotten a flat tire. Luckily, Harv here can fix anything with wheels."

Harv, the one with the dog, nodded emphatically, but did not move. "I can," he said.

I had Sullivan with me. The bearded man, whose name I would come to find out was Harold, called him over. "Come and see this! I bet you've never seen anything like this before!" Sullivan had not.

They were there the following Tuesday as well. Harv had had knee surgery that week and was in a great deal of pain but was still his chipper self. "Guess what happened today, little lady! This dog ran away!"

"Oh no!" I said, sympathizing. "And you've just had knee surgery so you couldn't chase him!"

"It's okay!" said Harv. "He came back! He only went just right there!" He pointed to a spot a few feet away.

We chatted for a bit, and I went on my way.

They're there every single Tuesday. I know lots of things about them now, about their families and their surgeries and that dog. They live in the apartment building behind their lawn chairs; from what I've gathered, Harv lives on the second floor and Harold lives on the first. They think Sullivan is the coolest and he thinks their dog is the coolest.

Today, as I was putting Sullivan into his car seat, Harold called to me to not drive away until he'd come back, and then he disappeared into his building. When he came back he handed me three small toys - a car and two little action figures. They looked really old. He said, "These are for Sully. Don't let him play with 'em yet, he could choke. But maybe give 'em to him in a year or something."

And I thanked him and he looked so happy to have made me so happy, and to have made Sully happy too, in advance. It was all just really nice.

There's not really an ending to this story. I'll probably see Harold and Harv next week. I just wanted to write it all down because I like it. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Prerogative

I don't always believe in blogging for no reason. And I don't always believe in talking about blogging in blog posts. And I don't always believe in blogging, period. But today, I guess, I do. I can change my mind.

When one of my younger cousins was just learning to speak, we liked to ask her, "Hannah, what is it when a woman changes her mind?"

And Hannah, in a tiny little toddler voice, would squeak out some of the only words in her fledgling vocabulary: "It's a woman's prerogative." Just like that, like a sweet little parrot. We'd all laugh and coo and she'd beam, not understanding what she'd said but understanding that it was what we'd wanted her to say, whatever it was, and it was all very adorable.

It's what I think about whenever I change my mind now. It's my prerogative.

Sullivan's at that stage now, the talking and not always understanding and parroting and coming up with his own strange strings-of-words stage. It's my favourite. He's always using these big hand gestures and stuttering and trying to figure it all out. He says stuff out of the blue.

"Mom, you're going to wreck dad's heart." (I don't know where he got this combination of words from.)

"Mom, I love you when you're sleeping." (Okay...I don't...I don't know where he got this combination of words from either.)

"Winnie the Pooh is so polite!" (True.)

"Mom, you look dumb."

Obviously, we have to have talks sometimes. Like, when he said I looked dumb, for example, I was, you know, startled. At first. And then I realized how often I slouch into the kitchen on my way out the door and say to Barclay, "Ugh. I look so dumb."

So, obviously, I need to stop doing that.

I explained to Sullivan that we don't call our mothers dumb, and he looked confused for a minute and said, "Do you look fantastic?"

And I looked confused for a minute and said, "Okay, sure."

And he said, "Does dad look dumb?"

And I said, "We don't call anyone dumb, okay?"

And he looked confused again and said, "Can we call the dishwasher dumb?"

And I looked confused again and said, "I don't...think so? I mean. Well, yeah. But no."

Like, who put me in charge of this?

But it really is a fun age. He's still super into drumming and would watch instructional drumming videos on YouTube for hours if I let him - like, I put on a straight-up video of a guy standing in front of a drum set talking about paradiddles and he leans into the screen, unblinking, and when it's over he says, "Again." He made his own the other day too; I should upload it in case any of you want to learn how to drum. The other night I heard him talking to himself as he was falling asleep: "Hi. What's my name? Is my name Neil Peart? Yeah! It is! I am Neil Peart!"

Anyway. I also wanted to update you all on the gardening situation (I totally just typed "guardenting," thank goodness for autocorrect, what is wrong with me): I planted some fruits and vegetables in planters on my back porch and they're all alive still. I promise to update you again the next time something this exciting happens.

Lastly, I turned 29 on Monday, so that's a milestone I guess. I'm pretty old and pretty young now, compared to five year-old and 95 year-old me. I tried out Snapchat the other day and now I think I'm going to quit it because it makes no sense at all to me. I'm Instagram age. That's okay with me. Time to start exclusively wearing shoes that are good for my feet and yelling at the kids who play tag on my front lawn.

It's my prerogative.