Spring Song Gallimaufry
April 15, 2005
tell you…if there was ever a doubt in anyone’s mind that
Felix Mendelssohn and I don’t have much in common - aside from
the penchant for the piano, although, even there we differed
markedly, he, with his delicate, fragile etudes, and me, without them
– all such suspicion would be put to rest upon hearing my loud,
and somewhat vulgar, ode to spring. Well, “oath” to
spring might better describe what I recently had to say about this
period of time that comes slap-bang between the complaints about the
cold and the bitching about the heat, Yukoners never really being
happy unless they have something to mutter about. Old Felix loved
spring. Otherwise, he would never have written his delightful Spring
Song, that exquisite melody, so evocative of sun and flowers and
sweetness and light that you want to puke, looking out at the sloppy
mess this last storm brought us.
happened to March roaring in like a lion and going out like a lamb,
I’d like to know. Seems, more and more, that March tippy-toes
in right after the Rendezvous thaw and then goes baling over into
April, dragging along our well-chewed carcasses with every intention
of using us to fertilize the May flowers that might, or might not, be
coming after those April mixed-rain-and-snow showers.
Snow and muck and slop,
Okay, now I’m
aside, I’m feeling pretty good these days. Alright, the diet’s
not going well and the hair’s a constant source of discontent.
Christmas’s elegant ‘do’ is getting kind of limp
and scraggly and lately I am reminded of one of Phil’s more
eloquent malapropisms, that I am looking, these day, “like the
raft of God.” But a quick call to Dede, the Miracle Worker up
at the Cutting Edge, will take care of the raft thingie and a
whirlwind of spring cleaning activities should add impetus to the
care and conditioning of the old bod. All that stretching and
scrubbing’s got to be good for something more than just
removing a bit of soot and ash, right? And as the house emerges,
shiny and clean, from its heaps and piles of winter detritus, I get
that familiar and pleasant housewifely cramp that signifies a job
speaking of soot and ash, not to mention dust, small dead insectsand
a few speckles of something gross and unidentifiable, all bound
together with the greasy miasma of several years of frying bacon and
pork chops, you’ll be glad to hear that I finally have dealt
decisively with the Venetian blinds.
recall, from many other redundant lamentations on the subject, my
difficulties, over the years, in the care and cleaning of those
otherwise perfectly acceptable window treatments. After years of
dusting, wiping, vacuuming, swiping, spraying, scrubbing, rubbing,
straightening, bending, re-bending, and, so help me, ironing
the damn things, last Tuesday, I’d had enough. How tough could
it be to buy and put up new blinds? I worried a bit about perhaps
having to replace the hardware that holds them in place, me being
notoriously un-handy with screwdrivers and hammers and all, but
decided I’d cross that bridge if, and when, I came to it.
Burning my other bridge, I hauled down the offensive articles
and hurled them, without ceremony, into the trash. Then, I measured
and re-measured the windows, checked the catalogue for approximate
prices and sallied forth on my quest.
what? More stores don’t have them than do. The ones that do,
don’t carry a whole variety of sizes or colours. The ones that
do have sizes and colours want ten times the catalogue price plus
they’d have to come and install them – for a little bit
extra. Naturally, with my impeccable style and taste, I was mightily
swayed towards these pricy little darlings. Reason prevailed,
however, when I realized that eight dollars or eighty dollar, they
were still going to be impossible to keep clean and it’s always
easier to justify throwing out a cheap problem than an expensive
one. I finally found what I was looking for and hurried home to
rejuvenate my kitchen windows.
one end of a new blind, I found that the hangers fit the
circumference perfectly, hallelujah, so I didn’t have to take
them down and try to install new ones. But When I tried to slip the
other end into…Oh,oh. No amount of effort or cursing helped!
Those blinds were exactly ½ inch wider than my old ones.
down with one of my chins in hand and stared morosely at my stalled
work-in-progress. Dang! Now what?
hearts and gentle people, I’ll tell you now what! It is not
for nothing that I am the daughter, and also the mother, of
carpenters and the wife of the original Mr. Fixit, with strong ties
to a couple of master mechanics, and not forgetting a son who is
pretty useless in the home repair department but intrepid in most
five minutes of doubt and deliberation, I marched to the store room,
found Phil’s ratty old electric jig saw, laid my four brand
new blinds across the kitchen sink, whacked that extraneous bit from
each header and hung them up. Well, I say ‘whacked’ but
in fact, I sort of jiggled and chewed those inches off, nearly losing
a digit or two in the process… you’ll remember my
disclaimer about screwdrivers, etc…but ‘whacked”
or chewed, they fit. And they look great.
my list, tarpaper repairs to the old tool shed. It means getting up
on a ladder but I can do it. I can.
my sons are always giving me the fishy eye when I tell them I don’t
always need them to come and bail me out, there’s a little
group of people I could always depend upon if I needed a little shot
of hero worship. They are my four oldest granddaughters: Deanna and
Nicole Schonewille, Amy Davignon, and Torie Gerard. They spent a
lot of time when they were small, cooking or cleaning, hiking,
crafting, or simply being, together. After we moved to town from
Johnson’s Crossing, I instigated a monthly get-together that
they dubbed a Grannie Party.
would run scared and find comfort with one of the boys while we’d
have a supper of pizza or hot dogs and fries, and watch a Disney
movie and sing silly songs and play games and eat snackies until
midnight. They’d all sleep together on our big Dania-Down
duvet on the front room floor and in the morning, they’d roust
me out at some ungodly hour and we’d eat hotcakes and bacon and
I’d take them home and send Phil the All Clear. As they got
into their teens, they maintained their strong ties with me but the
Grannie Parties got to be a thing of the past.
month, Nicole phoned one night and “booked” me for the
following Friday night.
like to have supper with you, curried chicken, please, but make lots,
I might bring my friend, Greg.” In the next several days, I
got wind of the truth, that three of the girls (Torie being away at
university) were coming for a G. P. and truth to tell, I was a little
apprehensive. These were young ladies now, in their late teens and
early twenties, and though I see them all the time, I had not had the
pleasure of their undivided attention for quite a number of years.
curried chicken I could do but the drinks had me a bit baffled. Pop?
Beer? Coolers? And what about a video? And what else would we do?
tell you, I should never have worried.
arrived laden with food and drink and games and goodies. After
scarfing down the best part of my big batch of chicken and rice, we
cleared off the table and launched into an hour of the deadly and
hilarious Spoons, then chose up sides and segued directly into the
only slightly more decorous, Cranium
this time, their favourite uncle, Keel, crashed the party and added a
manic air to the already jovial tone. In his free-wheeling style, he
began the directing of pace and content of the game until at last the
girls had had enough. Tying a knot in his male arrogance, they took
him down and directed him to fixing chips, with salsa and
cheese, and blending up more drinks. With Keel relegated to menial
kitchen chores and out of our hair, we finished our game and settled
down to talk about work and relationships and the situation in Iraq
and Iran and look at old videos of the JC years and tell stories on
didn’t stay over. Amy had to work in the morning; Nicole had
early-the-next-day plans with Greg and Deanna had promised to meet
her guy at the bar if it wasn’t too late. The Dania-Down duvet
had long since gone to someone who’d needed it more than I did,
abundant hugs and kisses, I waved them goodbye around midnight and
went in to ponder the passing of time. It just didn’t seem so
long ago that they had been little girls, squabbling over who got the
red crayon or which one got to be next to Grannie while we worked or
played or walked or who got to ride on Uncle Keel’s shoulders
if he came with us on our nature hikes. Now, they are independent and
interesting young ladies who could bring their own crayons, if
required, as well as their own drinks to a party; who still want
Grannie’s to be on their team; who are perfectly willing
and capable of tying that knot in their Uncle’s or anyone
else’s arrogance, should it be necessary.
should ask them to come and help with the tarpaper.