White Supremacy

I've been talking, thinking, threatening this for awhile. And I've finally done it.

I've ditched all things white that were beginning to consume my diet, pollute my eco-system and take up excess cargo space therein. I've been feeling really sick lately and my suspicion has been that it's a digestive issue.

So I decided to start eliminating, starting with the evil whityies. But I suppose I should clarify - it's not all things white so much as most things white. On Wednesday, I cut out coffee, dairy, sugar and gluten from my diet. By Wednesday night, I was back to an espresso shot with a wee sprinkle of sugar-in-the-raw in it. On account of the fact that I had my weekly Artist's Way meeting at the local Starbucks and well, I'm weak and insipid when it comes to sniffing coffee fumes. By Thursday morning, I was drinking my morning with coffee mate versus 1/2 and 1/3 creamer. So I'm still consuming about 4 tspns of brown sugar a day but that is it. It beats having to pop aspirin for awhile.

But the gluten and dairy - those are two culprits I want to focus my energy on steadfastly avoiding. So far, so good - I'm more conscious about grabbing whole foods although I still haven't figured out what to do about the grains. I'm just tickled that corn tortillas with salsa is an acceptable, gluten-free snack.

Anyhoo, we'll see how it goes.

And no small conicidence, we've just joined a local swim and tennis club (nothing like an aversion to wearing a bathing suit in public to fuel motivation for an elimination diet) and the kids are busy getting up to speed with swim lessons. They are both 2-3 years behind their peers in swimming ability, from what I've been able to gauge. In fact, Holy Son towers over most of the others in his swim class, including his instructor, a junior or senior who happens to go to his school. But he's cool with it and I'm hoping that with a few weeks of intensive lessons under their swim belts, they'll both be much more comfortable in the water. And of course, a summer spent hanging at the pool should help matters, as well.

I do not relish the fact of hanging by the pool, however. I hate water, as in I can't stand getting my face wet or having anyone splash nearby me. And I'm not a comfortable swimmer although I will consider taking lessons to push past some of my aqua/hydrophobia. Because I would like to take up swimming as a form of exercise now that we have this membership.

I like this time of year though. Where all thoughts are eyeballed to the summer season ahead and the advent of no school. School activities are winding down - Holy Son had his final orchestra concert last night. They played the Pink Panther theme song and he ended up winning an award for Best Sense of Humor amongst his orchestral peers.

Holy Daughter is gearing up for her year-end ballet recital and is still actively nagging us to register her in a summer feis, which is an Irish dancing competition where they compete for trophies.

And I'm gearing up to have nothing on the schedule, which explains why I haven't made any summer plans yet. I am feeling very anarchistic and anti-social lately. There are a handful of visit plans we would, could, should be making back home due north, but to be honest, we have such a crazy, busy schedule for 9 months of the year that I just feel no desire to travel any distance in excess of an hour by plane, train or automobile. And if this sounds rather anal-retentive, so be it. I'm pooped out ~ physically and figuratively.

Which is why like my good friend, Theo LeSieg and his pal Alice Low, I, too, like the things that summer brings. I say, bring it on.

And speaking of bring it on, tonight is date night with Holy Hub - no kids for the entire night. Can you believe we haven't even made a definitive plan for the evening yet? How to tell we've been married 20 years?


Dispatches from the Wet Coast

I'm convinced Mother Nature is either:

a) drunk and stoned on too much Fijian kava
b) on an impromptu sabbatical
that did not permit training a suitable replacement in time
c) a very sick and twisted demi-goddess
d) going through menopause

I'm going with (d) ~ final answer. How else to explain the hot flashes followed by extreme dip in temperature in these parts lately? No word of a lie, we've experienced a 50 degree climate dive just in this past week. This time last week, it was 100. Today, it's 50, cold and yucky.

Has to be menopause but let me assure you, there ain't nothing musical about it, unless you count the raindrops pissing on the tin can outside, which are causing that annoying clink, clank, ting, tang sound. Oh yeah, and the dim strains of my whining while the background viola gently weeps.

All hail the long weekend - literally, figuratively and meterologically. For many of us secular
folk, the May long weekend is sacreligiously set aside not to commemorate the Queen's birthday (Canadians just recovered from their long weekend in her honour just last weekend - but God save the old bat, she's ancient, what of it?)

Nor to pay homage to the American war dead (so sue me - I'm Canadian - we pay our respects 11/11 of each year). The May long weekend, for as long as I can remember, has always been about going camping. And invariably, said camping has always entailed rain, snow, hail, sleet, and all other manners of foul weather. We so live in the wrong corner of the world.

And so it is with great cynicism that we head out this evening for wilderness parts slightly due north where the snow still flies.

Getting out of Dodge will be so sweet and to be honest, even if it is raining, we've come a long way from the days of being holed up in a tent. I'm still really digging our tent trailer - which is our camping home away from home.

Between you me, the wall, and every Googler searching cyberspace for tent trailers and shitty weather patterns, rainy day weather whilst camping is often an ironic excuse to seek shelter inside the tent trailer, play games and eat Spitz. Not to mention a fine opportunity to stare out in abject pity and bemusement at the drowned-rat tent city campers next door, who make it pithily obvious that this is their first time camping, if only because they failed to remove the REI and Joe's price tags from their gear, and because they're still struggling to figure out how to button down the hatches and set up all their tarps. I love playing Rear Window out our canvas peephole by alternating my spyglass between the ruling class motorhome types with their satellite TV hookup on one side, and the peasant tenters on the other.

Poor souls, I think to myself of the peasants, ever while moving a few inches away from the furnace register that is at that very moment pumping too much heat through the cozy confines of our Coleman camp shack. But, of course, trailer trash that I am, I don't really feel overly concerned with their wellbeing. We've more than done our time and crime roughing it in the great outdoors and I gladly pass the tikki torch to the likes of such intrepid types.

Two decades of layering clothes and looking like the abominible snowman meets Mary Poppins on her first camping expedition is more than an initiation period. I've shivered in tents playing cards in torrential rain, I've stood at the fire holding a golf umbrella while Holy Hub cooked, and I've sat in the car fogging up the windows and watching the rainstorm pelt down, all the while
wondering why exactly "they" claim camping is supposed to be fun. And what I've come to realize in zen realism fashion, is that washing dishes and drinking moonshine by the light of the same in the great outdoors in the freezing cold is one of the best hand and belly warmer combos ever.

The little schmidtlets love camping.

Holy Son, despite being a boy scout on the chase for Eagle, is perhaps the penultimate fan of the tent trailer. He can invariably be found hiding out, playing his Nintendo DS or cards or eating
snacks or whatever. Anything to avoid being outside. This cracks me up. And ever the doting mother, I feel compelled to keep him company inside.

Holy Daughter, on the other hand, is the postergirl for her father's motto - which essentially reads as: "if you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." So suffice to say, she's always out exploring the environs out and about in whatever State Park village we happen to find ourselves temporarily living in. Rain, shine, cold, hot - she's out there.

And Holy Hub? Well he's like the grand Bhodhisattva of Camping. He achieved his black belt in
camping sometime circa early 90s in the Canadian Rockies. It was a self-appointed status - but then enlightenment of any kind is rather like that, isn't it?

Yes, without him, the rest of us Schmidts are essentially up Schmidt Creek without a paddle in the great outdoors. He handles everything with great adroitness if not a few well-poised mumblings. From set-up to tear-down to open-fire cooking to gourmet Dutch oven delights to propane stove lighting and water duty and lantern lighting and midnight hour bonfire stoking and firepit pyrotechnics, he da man. He is to Coleman what the Marlboro Man was to

And me? Hmm, I guess you could say that I'm like the Martha Stewart of camping. I handle the other important things - you know, the fru fru stuff like sleeping bag making and fidgeting with curtain ties and tent trailer sweeping and picnic table cloth clipping and table setting and dish washing and reading and striking just the right pose with my giant purple plastic wine glass, as I sit and smile pleasantly at passerbyers from my campchair perch in front of the fire.

We're camping in the Snoqualmie-Mt. Baker Forest District at the very edge of the mountains this weekend and apparently, our particular campground, while open, has only just been ploughed clear of the white stuff ~ a testament to the freakishly long winter we had this so-called spring. So we'll be camping and hiking in the snow. Indeed, it must be the May long weekend.

Although having said that, Western Canadians had a lovely long weekend last Saturday-Monday. Temperatures were in the high 80s and into the 90s.

We will not be so lucky - we'll be packing our gortex and boots and toques and gloves - ready to brave whatever Mother Nature's alternate deems fit to dole out. Suffice to say we'll definitely be running the trailer furnace this weekend, God willing.

And failing the gortex, there's always alcohol. One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer on Holy Hub's end and a bottle of shiraz and some Baja Tango orange cream liqueur on mine equals three sheets to the Cascadina mountain wind. All that much better, I suspect, to numb the effects of near-hypothermia.

Yes, it's a veritable how-to manual on how to be a happy camper and other exciting and schmidty tales. Full story at 11.


Mom's the Word

I'm reading The Thirteenth Tale right now. The best gauge I have for books that truly captivate me is that I get annoyed when real life and circumstances impose themselves upon my reading time. I hate having to put these rare books down to eat, sleep and honour appointments and schedule commitments. The Thirteenth Tale is such a book.

I love 'word nerd' authors. It becomes immediately obvious that Diane Setterfield is one. I suspect it's her study of French literature that has honed her sense of the particular in sentence structure. She selects only the most fitting words and phrases to describe her characters and scenes, or so it seems. And then there is the placing and slant synonymic of her word choice. Whereas some authors might stick their pronouns in conventional places, she seems to mix them up and thus, toy with both the semantics and the reader, thereby conveying "a certain ambiguity in the expression." She does this on page 141, with Charlie Angelfield's epitaph, which reads:


Yes, it's a good book, a very fine book. I am now at the Middles section of the book, which follows, most naturally, after Beginnings, of course. Her chapter on The Friendly Giant was splendid. Like all Canadian children of a certain age and form, I came of age with The Friendly Giant. And so it is that I relate in part and mythic imagination.

Here is a slice from the chapter.
"Tell me..." the stranger began, and I suspected he had needed to pluck up the courage to ask his question. "Do you have a mother?"
I felt a start of surprise. People hardly ever notice me for long enough to ask me personal questions.
"Do you mind? Forgive me for asking, but--How can I put it? Families are a matter of...of...But if you'd rather not--I am sorry."
"It's all right," I said slowly. "I don't mind." And actually I didn't. Perhaps it was the series of shocks I'd had, or else the influence of this queer setting, but it seemed that anything I might say about myself here, to this man, would remain forever in this place, with him, and have no currency anywhere else in the world. Whatever I said to him would have no consequences. So I answered his question. "Yes, I do have a mother."
"A mother! How--Oh, how--" A curiously intense expressed came into his eyes, a sadness or a longing. "What could be pleasanter than to have a mother!" he finally exclaimed. It was clearly an invitation to say more.
"You don't have a mother, then?" I asked.
Aurelius's face twisted momentarily. "Sadly--I have always wanted--Or a father, come to that. Even brothers or sisters. Anyone who actually belonged to me. As a child I used to pretend. I made up an entire family. Generations of it! You'd have laughed!" There was nothing to laugh at in his face as he spoke. "But as to an actual mother...a factual, known mother...Of course everybody has a mother, don't they? I know that. It's a question of knowing who that mother is. And I have always hoped that one day--For it's not out of the question, is it? And so I have never given up hope."
"It's a very sorry thing." He gave a shrug that he wanted to be casual, but wasn't. "I should have liked to have a mother."
"Mr. Love--"
"Aurelius, please."
"Aurelius. You know, with mothers, things aren't always as pleasant as you might suppose."
"Ah?" It seemed to have the force of a great revelation to him. He peered closely at me, "Squabbles?"
"Not exactly."
He frowned. "Misunderstandings?"
I shook my head.
"Worse?" He was stupefied. He sought what the problem might be in the sky, in the woods, and finally, in my eyes.
"Secrets," I told him.

On a lighter maternal note, I found the fatherly sequel to the Mom Song made legendary in Youtubeland....check it out. She's captured dadsense in minutia, I think.

And Happy Mother's Day weekend to all mothers great and small out there. May you bear no secrets.