mommy nearest

So, my mother is coming to visit this afternoon. I’ve known about this for a while, but waited to plead for help because of the snowfall warnings earlier this week: even though my mother is taking various forms of public transportation the entire way, snow would have made her cancel her trip for safeties. No snow and the (confusing) phone call this morning means we’re still on, and I’ll pick her up at 4pm from the bus station.

Ed and I have lived in Vancouver for 6 years, and this will be her third visit. She made one trip to our first apartment in East Van, one to our place in North Van, and now our condo. If the past has told me anything, this will likely be her only visit to SPARTA – she’s just not fond of traveling.

As the clock nears 4pm, I’m getting really antsy. Do I look okay? Will she say I’m fat? Will she find fault with our home? Will she hate the pot roast I meticulously planned and arose at 6:30am to prepare? I don’t hold that much weight in what she thinks, but she’s awfully vocal with those opinions and I really don’t want to spend the next 4 days being criticized at every turn. Tomorrow is daunting; I have the day off to spend with my mom and Ed has to work so I’m on my own. What do you do with someone who has no hobbies other than lottery tickets? How do you solve a problem like my mother? Where are the singing nuns when I need them?

Other things currently up my ass at the moment:

I want to go somewhere for Dine Out Vancouver, but almost every menu I look at features lamb, duck, or the inside parts of a pig (belly, cheek, etc). In some horrible cases, all three are served in one tragic meal. I don’t like those things! I want to eat the pig, not the insides of the pig!

When petulantly pouting about the kind of blogs that seem to attract all the swag, it was pointed out to me that all the sites that marketing companies contact to do giveaways and samples have two things in common: one, they’re all family-friendly – very few, if any, spend any time talking about the vagina – and two, they don’t write bitchy blog posts calling out marketing companies for being stupid. Sure, they’re often boring, badly written, borderline illiterate Geocities leftovers, but hey! You could get a free cell phone or camera! Oh BOY!

Yeah, I know. It’s just hard not to be bitter sometimes. With this blog’s 10th anniversary coming up in March, I should probably just accept and embrace the idea that I’ll be underground forever – I’m not willing to clean up (and dumb down) my act just for the sake of swag, and I still manage to do alright for my readers out of my own pocket. You like me even though I can’t give away stuff often, right? (lie if you have to)

Lastly, where’s my package? It’s been “with delivery courier” since 10:10 this morning.

Two hours until mom. On the up side, that means it’s 4 hours until pot roast! Hooray!

keep on truckin'.

forward march

One of my fondest memories of elementary school was being a Patroller. In our school, being in Patrol meant you were a Big Deal – only the best and brightest were allowed to be on Patrol; it wasn’t a free for all that anyone could sign up for. Each morning, noon and night our little troops would head out to the two intersections our school monitored, and made sure people safely crossed the street/through the tunnel. We were respected and envied (more often than not we were also the teacher’s pets), and we got to do really cool things (leaving class early was particularly fun) all because we were All About Safety.

There’s an elementary school near our house, and every morning I see Patrollers at the intersection. I can’t help but compare them to my memories of being on patrol though, and this morning I mentioned to Ed that I was annoyed that the patrollers were so .. so .. sloppy. He looked at me strangely, so I went on to explain:

My elementary school patrol was run by the Grade 6 teacher, Mr. Nichols, who just happened to be an ex-Marine (or whatever the Canadian equivalent of that is). He ran the school patrol like a drill sergeant – we marched. In formation. We had uniforms, marching practices, and would stand at attention and at ease. Each patrol team had a leader, who would shout out commands when pedestrians approached the intersection: Attention! Flags up! Forward march! At ease! When heading out, we would line up (Fall in!) in order at the cloak room, stand one arm’s length away from the person in front of us (Arms up! Arms down!) and march to our station in unison the whole way (Left! Right! Left! Right!), doing the whole thing in reverse on the way back. While at our stations, we would stand at attention or at ease (full military at ease;  legs shoulder width apart, arms behind the back, flag rolled up against our right foot and extended at an angle away from our body), looking straight ahead. There would be no goofing off on patrol; Mr. Nichols would check up on us. If we were caught looking sloppy or marching out of step, we’d be in really big shit and kicked out of patrol after a single warning.

Each year, our school patrol (consisting of kids in grades 4-7) would march in the Victoria Day Parade. We had a strict, all-white uniform (horrible itchy polyester pants that Mr. Nichols provided somehow and a white shirt) and wore our bright orange safety vests and hard hats. Leading up to the parade in May, we could regularly be seen out in the field practicing our marching and saluting – Mr. Nichols would pull us out of class so we could march in formation, round and round. He would shout commands at us, become very angry if we messed up, and treated us all as though we were Cadets, not tiny public school students who liked the perks that came with being in patrol.

.. apparently, this was not normal. I honestly didn’t know until recently that all school patrols were not run like this – I thought everyone had the same experiences we did, and that kids today (in addition to being on my lawn) were just lazy and sloppy. My memories of being a patroller are far from a negative thing; I loved Mr. Nichols and had a great deal of fun during those years. It helped that I was totally his favourite, but I really respected him and under his command, we were the most disciplined elementary school kids ever. When our entire school traveled to Vancouver to attend Expo ’86, Mr. Nichols hand-picked his best patrollers for his group and off we went, in uniform and marching all over the place. In retrospect, we probably looked weird and hilarious – I know this because I have pictures of myself in patrol uniform that I’ll try to remember to scan – but they were some good times, and not just because I got the Patroller of the Year award four years in a row.

I’m pretty sure Mr. Nichol died some time ago; in the early 90s if I remember correctly. He wasn’t an old man when he was a teacher, but he was also not a seasonal chicken and this memory is 25 years old. If so, or even if I’m wrong and he’s still out there somewhere running a rest home as though he were in the Marines, I hope he knew how much my 11-year-old self thought he was awesome, and my 36-year-old self still remembers him with affection (and how to salute in time without missing a step). School Patrols today are totally missing out on being awesome!

HAH I just looked up a list of Drill Commands, and we totally used most of these (replacing guns with flags)! I remember being allowed to stand easy (so we wouldn’t pass out after standing at attention for so long; that actually happened once) and performing right wheels on the field. Oh, the memories!



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