Once again, Stitchman throws mom off her game

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stitchman got married.

The middle son — so named because, as a child, he could wind up with a wound requiring sutures simply by breathing, it seemed — once again managed to throw his mother off her game.
And that’s not an easy task.
The news came between interviews. I dashed into the office to check e-mail, hoping I’d heard back from a contact I needed to talk to.
The message light on the phone was flashing.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to ignore that red beacon?
Punched in the requisite numbers and heard this:
“Well, hi there. You’re kinda hard to reach. I didn’t want to leave a message, but I guess I have to. I’m getting married today. So you should call me.”
Who cared if I had 10 minutes to make it downtown, find a parking spot and arrive in time for an interview?
This was a mommy moment.
It was also a panic moment when I realized the son had just five days earlier moved into a new house and I didn’t know the phone number.
Would he pick up his cellphone?
He never seems to answer it.
I bet he’s got call display and is just dodging his mother.
Surprise — he answered.
“You’re what?”
It must be said now that this son, along with two of his siblings, lives in Ontario.
“Hey. Yeah, we’re getting married. I didn’t want to leave you a message because I figured you’d just freak out, but I’m getting married in [pause] wow, an hour.”
Damn it. He’s done it again.
He’s left me grasping for words, unable to say anything that doesn’t resemble babbling.
“Oh. Wow. Wow. Married.
Couldn’t stop crying.
It’s not good to start bawling in the office, especially after you’ve just let out a loud “what?” that has garnered attention.
It’s bad for the image of Mother Goose to the rookie goslings here.
This is likely a good time to mention he’s only 22. He would have me omit the “only,” but that just goes to show he really is only 22.
Apparently, he and his high-school sweetheart, with whom he bought the house, had called the local justice of the peace office to find out when they could arrange a wedding.
They were given two options: pull it all together in 48 hours or wait at least two months.
They opted for the quick schedule, taking advantage of having a week off, theoretically to unpack and get the house arranged.
His older brother found out first, thus receiving about 36 hours’ notice.
His big sister, who was apparently as difficult to reach as I was, had about 11 hours’ notice — and at least eight of those were spent sleeping.
Me? I got an hour and the realization I wouldn’t be there for the first of my children to wed.
I got to spend the day thinking about the time he fell of his tricycle — that was five stitches.
And a year later, when he fell carrying a log, smacking himself in the forehead.
That was another seven stitches.
There were other times — the kid is a klutz like his mother and a hockey player like his older brother, so he was doomed to have cuts and bruises.
Those were mommy moments, too, ones where I could hug him and tell him everything was going to be just fine.
That he’d be just fine.
I didn’t get that chance this time.
There’s been no mommy hugs.
No chance to actually share in his emotions, as I did when he was little.
It was a lot like his first day of kindergarten — a time to let him go and make his way in the world he has created.
And realize Stitchman really has grown up.


Power prevents Kamloops from getting a ward system

Friday, August 22, 2008

If anyone needs a reason why Kamloops should consider a ward system, just do the math.

According to the 2006 StatsCan census, there are 33,500 people living on the North Shore and 42,676 on the South Shore.

If every single voter on the North Shore went into the polling station on Nov. 15 and picked the same eight names for councillor and all the voters on the South Shore did the same thing, choosing eight other names, the South Shore would determine the makeup of the next city council.

Want another reason?

Only one councillor — Joe Leong — lives on the North Shore. All the others, including the mayor, are on the other side of the river, most of them downtown or in Sahali.

Here’s yet another reason.

In the nine North Shore polling stations, Leong outpolled Arjun Singh in eight of them and Peter Milobar in four. Yet, at the end of election day in 2005, Leong finished 43 votes behind Singh and 1,364 votes behind Milobar.

If wards had existed in 2005, it’s likely Peter Sharp might have retained his seat, since he came in as high as fourth in one poll, seventh in two more and eighth in two others.

By this point in the column, if he’s reading it, I’m sure John O’Fee is already writing another e-mail because we’ve been engaged in an interesting dialogue in recent weeks about the idea of a ward system.

To me, it makes sense. It’s the ultimate representation by population concept. To O’Fee — and most others sitting around that horseshoe every Tuesday — you don’t have to live in a neighbourhood to care about it.

In fact, O’Fee, in one of the e-mails he’s sent, said it’s offensive to suggest that “one doesn’t care about an area of town unless one lives there.”

Sorry to offend, then, but you do have to live in an area to understand it, to know what makes it work and what disrupts its community feeling.

You need to be seen by your community as one of them, someone who walks those sidewalks that need repairing, who notices the streetlights that have burned out and not been replaced and who can at least understand — and perhaps explain to other council members — why some projects the city approves aren’t met with overwhelming gratitude in some neighbourhoods.

The buzzword with this council and others like it is “consensus.”

Everybody talks about an issue and then, through some divine intervention, they all come to a decision.

It’s a good theory, but one could argue, consensus isn’t always to be found with a council that has Singh as a member.

He thinks outside the box — way outside sometimes — and too often during this council’s term he’s been criticized or belittled for his ideas.

That’s not consensus to me.

Terry Lake has said an at-large election system can benefit by having strong neighbourhood associations to identify needs.

Can anyone name a truly strong neighbourhood association in Kamloops?

They tend to spring up around issues — always contentious ones — and then, when the dust settles, so does the time and energy involved to keep an association viable and really doing something beneficial for the area.

There are strong associations in the city that influence city council, but they’re not neighbourhood-based.

They’re business-improvement associations and, when they show up at a council meeting, or host a golf tournament, you can bet the politicians pay heed.

Finally, if you need another reason why a ward system should be considered in Kamloops, there’s always that issue we don’t like to talk about — money.

A citywide campaign costs a lot of cash; mayoralty candidate Murphy Kennedy estimates he’ll spend up to $30,000 in his run for the mayor’s seat.

In 2005, Singh and Jim Harker each spent around $5,000, an amount the average Joe Citizen might find a bit daunting.

Having a smaller area in which to campaign would make it easier for some of those people out there who care about their city and want to get involved, but just can’t afford to put their names up for nomination.

Until then, though, expect to continue hearing a ward system wouldn’t be good for the city. It’s in the interests of the people who we keep electing to ensure the system doesn’t change.


Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And now, the rest of the story

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Got the new car. First test drive is after we've paid for it, loaded it up, discovered it has a tape deck in it -- who still listens to tapes?? -- gone back to the dealership and had them pull the CD player out.

My little family must have music to travel.

I offered to sing. Apparently that wasn't an option.

So off we head, about two more hours till we get to the lake, sunshine, rest, no telephone, no TV, no Internet -- my idea of heaven.

And sure enough, we got there with little problem, just some tense nerves.

You see, we were also towing our boat and apparently the first time you drive a new car, it's not recommended you do it loaded up with suitcases (except mine, of course), kayaks, a boat on a trailer, kids, dog and no music.

But rest we did. The youngest fished every day, the teenager caught minnows, floated, swam, dad worked on his tan and mom -- well, I read a lot of books and did my best to avoid a sunburn.

(There's a reason for this. The first time the hubby and I went on vacation, I covered up, slathered on lotion, put on a hat, went down to the lake, put my feet in the water and promptly fell asleep. A few hours later, we were looking for a medical clinic to look after what we were eventually told were second-degree burns.)

Midway through the second week, confident in his boat-driving skills, the hubby, youngest and I headed up the lake to a bay that had been described as Hawaii-like.
Shoulda known then something was going to happen.

We're edging in to the shore and the hubby decides to hop off and tow us in with the nifty boat rope I was told to never lose.

Sounds simple? Should have been. Except for the fact that his trunks got caught on a cleat, he fell off the boat, went underwater -- and came up without his glasses.

Not cheap sunglasses that could be replaced. His I-must-have-to-read-see-drive-work glasses.

We looked.

And we looked.

The hubby didn't look that well, but he could be excused, since he couldn't see.

We looked until the hub and the youngest declared them gone forever and headed up a hiking trail.

I, however, had been re-reading a Jeffrey Deaver book with his oh-so-cool protagonists Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs. The thing about Amelia, you see, is when she examines a crime scene, she walks a grid.

So that's what I did.

Walked one way for a distance, stopped, took a step to the side and walked back.
Did this for a long time, way past the time when the hubby had declared me nuts to keep looking.


Found them.

Intact, fine, wet but at least we had them and the rest of the vacation wouldn't have to be done with me reading road signs aloud.

Later that day, we took the boys out tubing. We'd been doing it throughout the vacation, no problems, but on this day, one of those green cords (they all have different colours and, I assume, different functions) ricocheted off its hook.
Didn't seem like much; we stopped the boat, hooked it up again and the boys enjoyed the rest of the ride.

The next day, though, the teen said he thought the bilge pump was working overtime.
Sure enough, we were taking on water. Out comes the boat, back onto the trailer but no worries -- we were going home in two days.

So finally, the end of our somewhat memorable vacation. It had replaced the burned-feet-couldn't-walk vacation and had also surpassed the let's-go-camping-in-the-wilderness trip we took a few years ago.

The one where I forgot to pack a can opener.

And bug spray.

But I took my suitcase!

Anyhow, the hubby's packing up the car to get a jump on our final day. He's outside for quite a while when he comes stomping in, cursing up a storm.
Seems his glasses -- the ones I found in the lake -- had kept sliding down his nose.
He decided to rectify this.

He decided the way to do this was to bend them.

He came in holding one half in one hand, the other -- well, you get the picture.

Good thing we packed duct tape.

How I spent my summer vacation

The teenager foresaw it.

He was the first one to note that the Bass family had actually left at the appointed time for two weeks at the lake. This never happens. He wondered aloud what it could mean.

Just outside Kamloops, the CD player died. Now, for a family that must travel to the strains of Steely Dan, CCR and Metallica, this was very, very bad.

If only we’d known.

Somewhere south of Clinton, the husband said he could smell smoke. Ever the intrepid reporter, I suggested there must be a wildfire somewhere nearby. But, being cautious car owners, we stopped in Clinton, looked under the car, saw a teensy-weensy drip that could not be identified and one bigger one, definitely cold water — has to be the air conditioning.


If only. Ten minutes north of Clinton, smoke is pouring out the back end of the car. We pull off into a rest area, wait for the white puffs to abate, put the car into gear — and don’t go.

I’ve never seen my hubby stand at the side of a highway, right thumb high in the air and it’s a sight I never want to see again. Fortunately, he looked so darn, well, out of place that the nice man whose car was the only one at the stop facing south took one look, sighed and told me not to fear. He’d rescue him and take him back to Clinton.

I got my first sunburn of the summer sitting on a picnic table with the kids, the dog — and a dead car.

It took more than an hour but eventually, the hubby was back with Joe the mechanic. Joe’s no slouch; he could see the trail of transmission fluid for a long ways back on the highway, curving to the right and stopping in a puddle under the car.

Up goes the hood, in go six litres of transmission fluid — and none comes out. This looks good, but no, Joe says we need to let the car cool off for several hours. So he tows us back to Clinton, we wait . . . and wait . . . and wait some more.

Sure enough, several hours later, the car’s got its gears back, we all pile in and off we go.

Made it about 45 kilometres when, somewhere on a two-lane stretch of asphalt surrounded by nothing but trees, we learned Joe wasn’t really right about that waiting thing.

This time, a couple in a truck — no doubt seeing the look of complete anger and despair fighting for space on my face, stopped and took the hubby off to the nearest town, 100 Mile House.

The boys, dog and I sat in the car.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

After about two hours, I couldn’t get the plot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre out of my head. Desperation took over and I decided there had to be some spot, some tiny piece of land, somewhere on that highway where cellphone service could be found.

Apparently it’s an area about one foot square near a break in the trees. Phone the hubby. Tidying up the language, the conversation went like this:

“Sweetheart, where are you?”

“I’m in 100 Mile House at the Ford dealership. It’s closed.”

“Sweetheart, where is the tow truck?”

“It’s coming. They’ve only got one and it’s somewhere on Highway 24 but the driver said he’d get to you soon as he could.”

“Sweetypiehunnybunch, might you have some idea how long we will get to enjoy the wonderful stifling heat here in this scenic area of our wonderful province?”

“No idea. So sorry.”

“Well, snookums, guess I’ll go back to the wonderful sense of heat and boredom that I so very much wanted to experience on this vacation.”

Another hour went by. We continued to wait.

And wait.

Tow truck arrived. Up went the car onto the back of the truck.

He looked at us.

“How’re you all getting to town?”

Well, gee, I thought you’d be driving us too. Apparently I have thought wrong. How best to express this concern?

“With you, I thought.”

“The three of you and the dog too? I don’t know . . .”

Those of you who know me can imagine the verbal debate going on in my head. This is a time that requires tact, diplomacy, a bit of dumb-blonde-please-rescue-me stuff that I don’t find easy to pull off.

Before the role-playing had to begin, though, the driver asked me if it was my cab pulling up behind us.

I thought he was being a smart-ass and was about to reply in an appropriate manner when . . .

“Daddy to the rescue!” the youngest yelled out.

And sure enough, the hubby — having heard the actual words that were spoken in the tidied-up version earlier in this column, was worried that perhaps mom was losing it a bit out on the highway with the dog, the kids, the dead car


And waiting.

So, fulfilling his role as pater familias, he had hopped into a cab and headed out to rescue his family and get them to 100 Mile.

Dad and the dog were accepted into the tow truck. Cabbie, boys and I headed to the Ramada Inn.

Now, you’d think a hotel room in 100 Mile wouldn’t be that hard to get. Not for us, though. We chose to break down on the weekend of the annual show and shine.

The Ramada was full, the Super 8 was basically full — that last available room suddenly wasn’t when the desk clerk saw the dog — so off we went to the 99 Mile Motel.

New movie plotline popped into my head — The Devil’s Rejects.

But the place was clean and they didn’t mind the dog.

Time to unload the clothes since we’re gonna be there for a while.

Off comes the boys’ suitcase.

Next comes the hubby’s.

Mom’s is the beige one.

It’s not there.

Apparently it was never packed into the car.

The hubby looks at me.

He looks at the car.

He looks back at me.

Back at the car.

It’s hard to read what’s going through his mind but I’m sure it wasn’t eased when I broke out into that laughter that’s reserved for those times when you think nothing more can go wrong — and something does.

Sunday, we discovered The Bargain! Store, which had a sale of women’s summerwear.

Got some nifty shorts, tops, a bathing suit, all those things that were sitting at home, carefully folded in the beige suitcase.

Monday morning, 7:30 a.m., the hubby and I are at Sunrise Ford, peering in the windows.

The office doesn’t open until 8 a.m., so we pressed our downcast faces up against the door and stared until someone opened up.

“That’s our dead car over there. How much is a transmission?”

He told us.

“How much is that car in the used-car lot there?”

He told us.

Didn’t open a door, didn’t even test-drive it. Told the salesman — a former Kamloops cop, he said — we were trusting him.

“Sold,” my sweet hunnybunch said.

And then we were off for what remained of a peaceful two weeks at the lake.

No more problems could possibly happen, could they?

Ah, that, as they say, is another story.