Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Winds of Love

I will start with two unrelated observations:

1. It is very windy outside (seriously).

2. My wife comments from time to time that I have never blogged about her.

Now I will craftily, yet subtly, intertwine these two ideas. Try to keep up.

It is a howling night out tonight, and my wife is gone to Bible Study. I am at home recuperating after a day of teaching. Because Courtney does not share my love for certain types of classical music, I am now blaring Nimrod from Elgar. She would be plugging her ears right now if she were here.

It is a cozy night for writing. Beautiful music is playing, soft lamp light fills the room, and the wind beats against this house. My memory takes me back to another windy occasion. (Here’s where I phenomenally connect point one and two).

Courtney and I are in Ottawa. We are dating and we are in love. It is spring. Before you get the idea that we are running hand in hand together in slow motion through daisy fields, let me fill you in on the scene. We are there with 15,000 other people to protest abortion. It is a very windy, rainy day, much like today.

I notice that Courtney does not like getting the bottom of her pants wet and furthermore she does not like to step on the wet hem of her pants either as we walk through the streets of Ottawa. I slowly get used to stopping every twenty steps to re-roll her wet pant legs so that she does not step on them. We join the protest on Parliament Hill and join the throngs as we begin to parade through the streets of downtown Ottawa. Courtney and I are walking hand in hand. We each have an umbrella, and Courtney is particularly proud of hers because it is full of polka dots. The umbrella is useless, we realize, as the wind turns the umbrella into something a newly neutered dog would wear around its neck.

We are about half way through the march. We are falling behind because of those wet pant legs of Courtneys’ and the need to roll them up. I notice with alarm that we are in front of a large group of people that are carrying a banner that stretches across the street. They are walking in perfect unison and their street-wide banner is perfectly straight. We are in the middle of the road and Courtney decides that it is time to roll up her pant legs once again. The banner is suddenly upon us. The banner then surrounds us. The middle banner people half to stop so that Courtney is not trampled, but the people who are holding the ends of the banner missed the memo saying that they are stopping for a girl who has to roll up her wet pant legs.

We make it back to Parliament Hill. We are being pelted by the driving rain, but that doesn’t really matter. We are not there for our enjoyment – we are simply there to remind our Government that we have not forgotten about those little babies in the womb who have no voice or no protection.

It is good to be there on that windy day. It is good to be there with Courtney and to know that she is the one for me. We like to laugh about her holding up the march and almost getting trampled by a giant banner.

Now as the wind blows, and as Adagio in G blasts through my speakers, I look forward to Courtney coming home and telling me about her day.

The end.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You're Still Eating?!"

Lunchtime in the classroom is always a spirited affair. After devotions, there is a scramble for the lunches and then a race to the microwave. Food is thrown in and nuked into oblivion. I won’t try to describe what goes on in that microwave. I wisely steer clear of the microwave and use the toaster where I usually have two slices of bread with jam (and sometimes tea too because as Maria Von Trapp sings: tea is a drink with jam and bread).

My students eat very quickly. Sometimes I feel like I am watching a group of boa constrictors unhinge their jaws and swallow huge animals whole. A student will have a giant Kaiser bun in their hands. In a flash the bun will be gone and a Kaiser bun shaped lump will slowly make its way down the student’s neck.

No need for utensils either – they are like speed bumps! How do the students eat their left over Sunday soup? The Tupperware container is brought close to the student’s face. A sucking ‘wet-vac’ sound ensues and in an instant the soup is vaporized. Pudding cups are no obstacle for my utensil-less students either. A couple jabs of a pen through the top of the pudding cup, a good squeeze at the bottom and a swipe of the tongue removes any traces of pudding.

Most of the lunches are not actually tasted. I’ve always wanted to carry out an experiment where I sneakily exchange the Kaiser bun for a hunk of Styrofoam. Would the student actually notice the switch? I doubt it.

I am at the other extreme however. I am a very slow eater. If ever I am eating with a group of people, it can be guaranteed that I will be the last one finished. My students are often astounded that I am still eating my toast at the end of the lunch recess, but then again, they would probably jam (get it?) the entire slice in their mouth and swallow. My slow eating can be blamed on the family dinner table when I was just a wee laddie.

There was always something exciting to talk about at the dinner table. My sister Becky filled us in on the latest adventure of one of her classmates. My other sister Ally made odd groaning noises and complained about the food. She would then take her knife and fork and dissect her food – anything with a hint of green had to be removed. Ranch dressing would then douse whatever was left. My brother Scott would tell us about why he was unjustly given another detention that day, and Derek would announce the type of bird he had spotted on the way home from school. I was the news correspondent of the group. I would usually watch the six o’clock news before dinner so I was always up to date about what was going on around Canada and the world. Dinner time was never rushed and we were never told to hurry up and eat (except for Ally).

Dinner time was a peaceful affair except for a certain calamity which struck from time to time. Spills. Mom and Dad are patient and loving people, but whenever we spilled something, everything went bezerk. Mom and Dad would spring into action. Mom would go for a cloth and Dad would starting giving a lecture. “That’s it! You’re all grounded... forever!” Mom would interrupt frantically by this point. “The CRACK!” came a half-demented yell. This was the worst-case scenario of a spill. The kool-aid would ooze its way down the table to where the table leaves joined together. The juice would then spill through the crack and onto the floor. We would watch with horror filled eyes as the kool-aid hit the crack and began dripping through to the floor. Dad would continue his tirade “Not only are you grounded, but... but you’re going to eat on the floor from now on!” Again Mom would interrupt as she began wiping. “This is going to be sticky for weeks!” she would bemoan. After the spill was cleaned up, everything would return back to normal and dinner would continue.

One evening we were eating and Dad was feeling pangs of thirst. There was only milk at the table, and Dad wanted juice. He slipped away from the table and began making a new pitcher of juice. We carried on with our dinner conversations. Ally had the floor and was finishing up her critique of the food. “...the beans are gross too. I don’t like the potatoes. The cauliflower is yucky.” Suddenly a weird gurgling sound punctuated the air and interrupted Ally’s grievances. We listened as we heard a spraying sound followed by a wolf howl from the kitchen. We turned around to see what was going on. Dad had made juice, but mistakenly took the jar of vinegar that was on the counter for water. He had created a new flavour – orange and vinegar juice and was the first and only person to try this concoction. The show wasn’t over though. In desperation to get the vinegar taste out of his mouth, Dad ripped open a roll of Fruitella and frantically fumbled with the wrapper. Fed up with the wrapper, he popped the Fruitella in his mouth – wrapper and all.

We were generally respectful children, but we didn’t stop laughing until the next morning.

Mom was a great cook, but dinner time was never really about the food on the table, but rather about who was sitting around the table. I guess this has never changed and is why I continue to plod my way through meals. Yes, I could probably eat my toast a lot faster (not in a matter of nanoseconds like my students mind you), but again – for me it’s not about the food on the table, but who’s there with you. I couldn’t ask for more interesting table companions than my students.