Archive for May, 2008

Camping on the mind

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Reid has been talking about camping a lot lately and pretending to camp often. In addition to choosing camping over planting last weekend, we have been spending lots of time in “tents”. Pillows and blankets are the preferred building materials or maybe they’re just what Reid has on hand. Of course, Reid considers her quilt pulled over her head, without any support other than an extended arm, to constitute a tent. On Thursday I even got Reid dressed while she laid under her covers. She was delighted to dress in the “tent” and perplexed by my assertions that I was not able to dress for work while laying under blankets. Reid was sure that if she helped me I could manage but I turned into “Super Mean Mama” and went to my own room to dress.

We’re going to miss the KOA free camping night in May but we’ll have to get ourselves organized for another weekend in the not-distant future. There’s a KOA with cabins just about an hour from Ottawa. I like having the camping experience without the hassle of setting up a tent or trailer, especially without the need to find a place to store them. My memories of camping as a kid are almost all about being outside – playing, exploring, riding bikes, eating (especially eating!), sitting around the camp fire, swimming – with the occasional memory of falling asleep in a bunk in the trailer while listening to bigger people at the campfire. Reid can build her own memories when we stay in a cabin. I think I might be too old to learn to camp in a tent and a trailer would make me feel guilty on all of the weekends we don’t use it. I have enough in my life to cause me guilt.

All this to say, if you’re looking to go camping this summer, head over to our part of Ontario or even Quebec. We’ll bring the marshmallows

Big and little bosses

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Reid listens to Ken and me discussing bits of our workday sometimes. She sees Ken’s boss every once and a while when he gives Ken a ride to work. Reid has met my boss only once, although she has met one of my “big bosses” a couple of times at the so-called seasonal party that happens on Christmas Eve. Still, the names of various people come up and Reid asks about the hierarchy. We’ve explained our direct managers, their bosses, the Assistant Deputy Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Ministers by a series of references to the boss, medium boss, bigger boss and biggest boss and the Minister (hey, we live in Ottawa and she might as well be familiar with our little part of the country). The Ministers don’t come up that often and we explain them as “the people who help make rules for our country”. I have an image of wooden nesting dolls sometimes but it works for Reid. Once she has situated the person’s name in the hierarchy of bosses, Reid follows the conversation quite well. She usually concludes any conversation about one of our bosses, however big, with “But I’m your littlest boss, right?” This tells me two things:
1. She seems to think promotions are based on height. My career progress would be limited if this were to be instituted.
2. Reid is pretty confident of her place in our family’s hierarchy.

Giant Tiger, big fear of tigers

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Reid and I went to Fabricland last night, hoping to take advantage of the buy 1 meter, get 2 metres free sale. A couple of doors down from Fabricland is a Giant Tiger store with a great big, smiling tiger face on the sign. Once, almost a year ago, when we were in a Giant Tiger store, a clerk told us that it was too bad that we hadn’t been in earlier because there had been *a tiger in the store*, this last delivered in an excited voice. Apparently the experience is burned in Reid’s memory because as soon as she saw the tiger sign, she told me that she didn’t want to go in the tiger store. I assured her we weren’t and parked far from the Giant Tiger. Reid kept talking about the tiger and how she doesn’t like tigers in stores when we were first fabric hunting. I explained that the clerk in the other store had been referring to a person dressed as a tiger but Reid didn’t look convinced. Or maybe it just didn’t matter one way or the other. She isn’t very keen on mascots, generally. I think that might be a good thing – why trust a person you can’t see just because they have a big head and plush or soft body?

We didn’t find any buy one, get two fabric that we liked but I did find some 75% off drapery fabric that was suitable. I want to use make some produce bags, like Andrea at A Peek Inside the Fishbowl suggested. I’m also going to make a table cloth. The drapery fabric is much better than the cotton I was looking for would have been. Reid was well-behaved while we shopped and super good for the 15-20 minutes we were at the cashier. There was only one person ahead of us but the cashier was having lots of difficulties. I think maybe I would have bought Reid a treat as a reward but we would have had to go to Giant Tiger to pick it up ;+)

Gearing up for gardening

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Reid and I went to Lee Valley on Saturday in search of a vermicomposter but they don’t sell them. The fellow next to me recommended the rolling compost bin but since we have one that is full, I stuck to my guns (for now). We also stopped at the Ritchie’s Feed and Seed where I asked about them as well. The fellow referred me to Arbour Environmental in the Glebe. Reid and I needed to purchase some seeds as well. There were many, many beautiful seed packages to choose from and Reid wanted to put most of them into our cart. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration but only slight. We chose corn, squash and beans (the 3 sisters) to plant together and carrots, cantaloupe, cauliflower, pumpkin and tomatoes. We also picked up some broccoli sprouts and cow beans so that we could watch them germinate. We chose some cat nip seeds; we didn’t want Clio and Leo to feel left out. I chose 3 kinds of seed potatoes, including some that produce a blue-purple potato while Reid picked some elephant garlic bulbs. Finally, we picked up soil and sheep poop, the latter was the highlight of the trip for Reid, and we headed home discussing the other sorts of animal poop that could be used in gardens and if there was any kind on animal poop that couldn’t be. At the time, I couldn’t think of any but I was thinking of farm and zoo animals. Thinking about it now, I imagine domestic cat poop would be off limits. Not that I’d thought of sorting the litterboxes or anything.

We took our seed packets with us to Eddie’s for breakfast on Sunday so that we could admire them and plan our planting. It’s hard to plan with a kid who is more interested in gathering her favourite seeds in front of her than in reading the packets to see if they need to be started indoors or if they go straight in the ground. Reid was kept busy while we waited for our food to arrive and that was even more important than planning.

Once home, we brought the soil, sheep manure, seeds, pots, and tools to the driveway and began our work. Reid was most interested in playing with R again. I suggested that he might like to ride on her John Deere pedal-less tricycle or the John Deere ATV, if Reid was willing to share. She was and we brought both up from the basement. Then, Reid waited for R to appear while I mixed the soil and put it into pots. I expected Reid to want to be the planter-in-chief but she came over only when I commented on how small the cauliflower seed was compared to how large cauliflowers grow to be.

R and his mom came out to play and Reid’s interest in me and what I was doing waned further. A boy from a couple of doors down stopped to see what we were doing. He introduced himself as “B”, asked me, “Parlez-vous francais” (Do you speak French?) and told me with a grin, “Je parle franglais tres bien.” (I speak franglais – the blend of English and French common in bilingual places – very well.) He didn’t speak any English or franglais to me, though, only beautiful French. His parents are diplomats from I don’t know where but his accent was the sort I heard on the cassette tapes in elementary school. (How is that for dating myself ?+)

B asked if I was planting flowers or vegetables and did I need any help. I said his help would be welcome and then he put down his soccer ball and got to work. We planted many more seeds than I needed but B’s enthusiasm was contagious. Once finished with the planting, B told me that he had to leave once he’d watered the seeds. Ken had tried to patch the hose but there were too many holes and so he was still swapping out the hose. I went inside for water because, really, B had earned the right to water his work.

Throughout the planting, Reid wandered over now and again to plant a few seeds, quiz me on what B and I were planting or just check on things. She pretended to go camping, lying on the driveway with Eeyore and a blanket. At one point, she and R played with umbrellas. Reid really loves umbrellas and can pretend it’s raining with great enthusiasm and realism. It’s much better to play *rain* than to play *in* the rain. I’m sure that if you asked Reid she would tell you that *we* planted seeds on Sunday. I tell Reid often that simply by behaving, she is helping me with a task and so I would agree that we had completed the task together. I’m looking forward to more warm and sunny days in the driveway and front yard, getting to know the neighbour kids and playing with Reid.