Friday, June 29, 2012

Saving Graces

Barbara: Deb and I were talking today about those times when life in general makes things so densely busy we don’t have time for our own personal stuff. I know we all have those times—some of us are smack in the middle of them now, some have had many in the past, and some will have many in the future. You know, when you are doing for others, for life, for work, for responsibilities—even if you love, honour and respect all of these things—and you start to cut back on the things that make you tick and pretty soon, you’ve given away all your precious reserves of energy. You have been (or allowed yourself to be) drained dry.

I was wondering if we thought about these times in our lives and maybe identified the one or two things that we can do for ourselves, that are a kind of “bare minimum” in terms of personal recharging, then maybe these things will become non-negotiable from now on. I mean, not only would we not dream of driving our cars without gas, but we simply couldn’t even if we wanted to. So when the car flashes the “low fuel” light, we may think, Shit, I don’t have the time or money right now to run to the station and fill ‘er up, but, damn, I have no choice, I have to get to xyz. Maybe if we know what fuel works to keep us sane—and while we may still protest “I have no time”—we will force ourselves to get to that particular station—and fast. Because otherwise we might run out of gas and stutter to a stop by the side of the road, with a busy signal from CAA (the road-side assistants) and no passing vehicles to help us, and we have to sit there, helplessly stranded, no good to anyone.

I’m not talking massages and spa treatments here (although for some of you that may indeed be a bare minimum!), I’m talking about the daily vitamins: tennis, a favourite TV show, a walk, gardening, a bath.

I have a few rechargers, although on a crazy day, I sure as hell can’t do all of them. That said, I want to remember to do at least one of them! Just a stop at the station. Just a quick run up to the pump, a retrieval of the nozzle, a slow filling up. Then back to the busy business of living.

My basic replenishers are these: a 20-minute uninterrupted read (to feel replenished, FB or Twitter posts don’t work, it needs to be a few pages of a book or a substantial article in the paper—it has to be a real thing in my hands that I am reading), 1 hour of creative writing (this is maybe my top rejuvenator, although, if I’m not “done” when I need to walk away, I must make sure I appreciate the hour and don’t resent the hours I no longer have), yoga (my one class a week will recharge me for my whole next week. But if I miss even one class, I am really going on empty after that), and—very new for me—10-minute meditation.

If I can do even one of these things, I can do do do for everyone and everything else. What about you?

Deb: Wowzer, Barb, this is so bizarre that you should do this now. Inspired by my friend Neil and his wonderful publications, “Enter Laughing”, I am starting tomorrow to take my tea and breakfast outside and sit. Just sit. No newspaper. Just sit. Then later, add paper. Then sit. Then no matter what else the day brings, I have given that to myself. I emailed him and told him how he had inspired me and in the process we have had a nice e-chat back and forth. That was the added bonus.

Dear Readers: Kelly from NJ—who you'll see often in our comments’ section—felt so moved by your support over the recent past, and so badly wanted to make sure you all knew it, that she asked if we wouldn’t mind adding this to one of our posts. Here’s Kelly!

Kelly: In the past two weeks I have realized something about this blog and our family of comment posters. I’ve experienced much needed support with my Mom’s surgery and then the overwhelming support encouraging me to feel welcome and safe sharing just about anything. (Just as long as don’t call anyone ugly :)  ) When I first found this blog I thought of it as just a diary that had characters who could talk back to me. Boy has that changed in the past two weeks! I now clearly view everyone here as family. <3 I was thinking about how this blog now feels like we are all gathered in our own private coffee house just sitting around chatting about any and everything. Sitting and confiding and laughing and crying and all just knowing that you have people just a click away who will listen, offer support, and all without a single thought of judgment. You guys were there in that coffee house ready and willing when I was alone in that hospital waiting room a week or so ago. And then again when I was learning that sharing can result in people respecting and listening and encouraging me! So a HUGE ‘Thank You’ to all of you comment posters, Deb and Barbara! You guys have boosted my confidence and have been such a loving bunch of people. I am so glad to have found you all! <3 Truly a life changing experience.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Superpowers

Deb: What Superpower would you most like to have?
1.   To be able to fly!!!
2.   To be able to speak every language on earth and in the universe
3.   The power to teleport myself anywhere!
4.   (stolen from my husband) To make people who are mean, racist, aggressive or simply piss me off, POO their pants at the most inopportune times!
5.   The ability to bring peace to the world and have a snappy Superhero outfit to do it in!

1. Invisibility (I love the idea of watching people (in public places, okay, not weird, peeping stuff) and truly observing the complexities of human nature.
2. Flying.
3. Underwater flying.
4. Outer space flying.
5. The ability to make people really really laugh (and, no, “at me” does NOT count!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Deb: I’ve been thinking about death lately and, in doing so, have been thinking about life. Ultimately when you lose someone in an untimely fashion, it raises the question of the randomness of the universe and, as such, the randomness of our lives. By that, I don’t mean to say that our lives themselves are random. Most of us have rich lives filled with purpose and plans, dreams and determination to succeed.

It’s just that after our friend Paul died I couldn’t help but think about fate. Destiny.  Was his death pre-ordained? Was that the day he was supposed to leave this life? Or was his death random? Was it literally an accident and all that “accident” implies? I couldn’t help delving into this concept in my mind and in conversation with my husband this week.

Paul had asked us if we would come up to his town, which is two hours away from our home to do an improv show with him. We had done the show before and had a wonderful time. He called it ImPros Versus Joes and it lovingly pitted professional improvisers against willing and talented student improvisers. The thing is, he asked us to come up the week before Christmas. Much to our regret now, we did not go. My Mum had been in the hospital for eight weeks, only getting out a few weeks before Christmas. That left us with very little time to get Christmas together and we simply had to beg off, saying we would come through the winter or in the spring. Of course that is now an opportunity lost forever and there is nothing we can do to change that. That isn’t the heart of this post, but I was just using it as an illustration for my ponderings around this concept. Colin and I got into an interesting discussion about this the other day and I will tell you before I go any farther that neither of us settled on an answer. Not that there is an answer for this. But neither of us settled on our answer, our definitive thoughts. As such, I want to include you in the discussion. 

I got to thinking, What if we had gone and done the show that day? What if, in doing so, we had a fun laugh-filled dinner with Paul and Linda, which led to writing a show for the four us, which led to the four of us working over the Victoria Day weekend when Paul died, far away from the scene of his accident. So. Would he have died anyway? Would something else have happened because it had to, because it needed to, because it was his time?

I don’t mean to indicate that our presence might have saved his life. What I am trying to put forth is the concept of the universe shifting. Our going that day would have shifted it. A little or a lot, but it would have shifted it. Or in the real case scenario that day, Paul’s turning the car around at the end of his driveway to go back for the cell phone he forgot would have shifted it. It would have shifted it by seconds or minutes, but would it have changed the outcome?

Is death random? Is our life pre-ordained? Is it all mapped out for us? Or do accidents happen? People talk about going toward the light and then turning back, only to wake up after surgery to find that their heart stopped for x number of minutes. The prevailing thought is “it was not their time.” Do you believe that? I had a full day of chores today and in the middle of them ran into my friend Ed whom I adore. I called his name out on the busy street three times. He heard me on the third shout and we stopped and chatted for a half hour. The conversation quickly turned to our friend Paul and this very subject of the randomness (or not) of the universe. Ed said to me, “That is so odd that you called and called to me because when I was a block away from you I thought I heard a man calling me and I looked around and no one was there.” Then he said, “I am so glad you kept calling me because I thought it was just my imagination again.” So I asked him, “Do you think that our personal universe just shifted, yours and mine?” We both agreed that it probably had. But to what degree? I wondered as I drove home about just how much it had shifted. Was it simply two friends who were destined to meet up? Would something awful/wonderful/silly/ exciting have happened to one of us if we had not met each other and lingered over a chat? Did one of us save the other from being hit by a car or from falling glass from a building? Or were we both invincible no matter what transpired as it was just not our day to die?

Death brings thoughts of death. So I pose this question to you? Would you like to know when you are going to die? Or would you rather it be random? Would you rather the kind of randomness the universe seems to scream when you lose someone suddenly? For my part, I choose random. Do I seize the day every day as I would if I knew exactly when I was going to die? No, not all of it. But I try to, and the ignorance around my demise is part of what makes life bliss for me.

Barbara: Well, then is it fate/destiny that you wrote this post at a moment when I have joined dearest friends at a wake and funeral of a beloved who died—from an illness—but suddenly and unexpectedly? And that you started this post before you knew I’d be going to this funeral? And that I have been pondering this very thing? Why have I been pondering it today? Because this beloved died at what can only be described as a “serendipitous” time for her beloved family. Not that there is anything “good” or “fine” about this death—it is sad, difficult, shocking and will in many ways be life-shifting for some of the family in terms of the future. But there are many amazing things about the timing—for instance, her brother and sister, both of whom live hours away, “happened” to be in town; and a niece is off to Africa in a week for an opportunity of a lifetime and will be gone for two years—at least this young woman had a chance to say goodbye. And these are just two of many strangely synchronistic alignments. How could I not ask the question you are asking? Like you, I don’t have an answer.

I do mostly feel like we have a predestined time-line. It doesn’t feel logical to believe that, but I do. Usually. And if I believe that, then to answer your next question: would I want to know my end-time? Absolutely not!!! I am definitive about that.

I want to thank you, Deb, for bringing up this subject. It is a tricky one, but it’s one I think most of us contemplate in our own ways at some point.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Treasure Box

Barbara: This is our ongoing series of “first five thoughts” when we ask you a specific question. We also want to thank those of you who’ve suggested some possible future Five Crazy Things. Don’t worry, we are keeping a list!

Today’s question is: what are the first 5 things—NOT LIVING—that you would put inside your treasure box (of any shape and size)?

1.     My manuscripts.

2.     My wedding rings. (Yes, they mean a lot, in every sense of the word.)

3.     My eggcup of special stones/shells. (The stones are from a long-ago trip to a gemstone store where, for 10 dollars, they ask you to close your eyes and randomly pick 5 stones from a case of gemstones, then a “reader” interprets your choices. Apparently mine had to do with: friendship, love, creativity, and spirituality.) (The shells are the tiny specimens that have beckoned over the last couple of beach trips. A couple are from the Costa Rica trip beachcombing with Deb and Colin.)

4.     My photo collection, both old (real) ones and new (digital).

5.     My cup of tea (not the cup, per se, but the cup of tea).

1. Our home movies
2. My music
3. Our photographs
4. My wedding rings
5. My sketchpad 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Going To Seed

Barbara: Hey everyone! I’m back! And because there’s so much I want to say to you, I’ve decided to not just focus on one single “topic of discussion” today, but to ramble a bit in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way. You guys can pick which of my ramblings you want to speak to in the comments section below.

First of all, I just LOVE you all for your wonderful, ingenious, and thoughtful musings last week on the blog. I mean, I always love the stuff you say, but there’s something truly special (as I discovered) about being sequestered in an airport for 3 hours with nothing to do but troll the ‘net and realizing (as I did) that there’s a week’s worth of loveliness on the blog that could entertain me, and then immersing myself in this—our—world and reading every post again and then every comment. Here’s what amazed me: how this community of relatively like-minded friends could also have such surprising and disparate views and ideals and dreams of the world. I mean, I know this is true in fact, but to read the details of individual experience as they play out, one commenter at a time, is really refreshing.

Okay, and here’s the other thing that really amazed me—and this thought might even be worthy of a whole post on its own—is the responses in the 5 Crazy Things posts. Did you notice that so many of you had alternate lives choices that ran the gamut from introvert to extrovert? It seemed to me as if we were all channeling that yin/yang thing within us that wants (and maybe needs) to represent both sides of reality: the quiet, cerebral thinker (or horse whisperer or writer or scientist) to the flamboyant noisemaker (or actor, or actor’s friend (that one made me laugh), or stand-up comic, or Nathan Fillion girlfriend). I think for all of us, one type or the other probably predominates, but still most of us could at least imagine—and maybe covet—an “opposite” kind of life.

And last and possibly not least, I come to the title of this post. “Going To Seed” is a play on a recent theme in many discussions I’ve been having lately about “Going Fallow”. Have we talked about this here before—I can’t remember??? A number of people in my life have brought up the notion that for each of us, a period of fallow (as in the farmer’s field “fallow” where they let their fields run wild—without purpose—for a few years to regenerate nutrients in the soil) is extremely important and invaluable. This time of not thinking, not creating, not planning, conceiving, or seeing-through, allows us to come back to our work later with much more power.

Well, as you know, I was gone for my holiday for the last week and this, if there ever was  perfect time, was the perfect time for going fallow. After all, I had spotty internet and Deb had offered to be here full time on the blog. I couldn’t really Facebook or email, certainly couldn’t phone. I had a real chance to fully wallow in the fallow. But I was also really keyed up to do some revisions on a novel I’m working on (it’s a psychological thriller that I need to get just right before I send it out in the hopes of landing an agent and/or publisher).

But if I’m revising a novel, I’m not really going fallow, am I? And hence, we come to my play on analogies: I decided in the end to “go to seed”. I would let everything else go and I would see if the peaceful environment and lack of responsibility would provide me a clean slate to (let the buds that have blossomed for me keep growing and) do those final tweaks. I mean, no meals to cook, no groceries to buy, no house to clean, no laundry to do, no phones to answer, no auditions to prepare, no computer to cater to. Phil was busy most mornings till early afternoon (pursuing his passion: diving):

... and I could do as I would with my time:

So here’s what happened. I did grow my flowers, but I did it in as gentle and free way as I could. I’d eat a very early breakfast with Phil and then go to a quiet pavilion in the beautiful gardens with a cup of tea and my paper manuscript. I would read and tweak until I got too hot and then I’d swim and think. As I bobbed in the water, soaking up the sun, amazing insights would come to me. I’d let them “go to seed” and waft around me. I would admire or dismiss them. Later, I would incorporate some of these discoveries into my story. It wasn’t work at all. Believe it or not.

So, yup, I think that’s it for my ramblings (and hopeless analogies). Hope you can make some sense of this—holiday brain is sure to be playing a part in what I have (or don’t have) to say!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shopping With Dad

Deb: Today, as is our habit, I was grocery shopping with my dad. Several times during our shop together he said, “You should write about this,” making a joke, of course, but kinda meaning it too. So....

Shopping with my dad.

My dad is 85-years-old. He likes to go shopping. When he was younger he was a gourmet chef. He would prepare wonderful meals for us all the time. I grew up enjoying baked Alaska flamed at the table. We had large profiterole trees at Christmas, filled with fresh cream, caramel dripping from its rounded branches. Beef Wellington adorned with pastry autumnal leaves would appear at a dinner party or Dad would cook an entire pig on a spit for a neighbour’s bbq. Gourmet Magazine was his bible. Dad actually guested on many local cooking shows.
Dad is in the chef's cap with my Uncle Don! 

Dad is on the right. Our friend Murray is on the left looking on.
He does not love to cook anymore. Cooking, his lifetime hobby, is now a chore.

I can remember watching him sit with my baby brother on his lap while he read cookbooks to him, putting so much expression and passion into them, you would have thought he was reading Robert Munch or Huckleberry Finn.

Cooking, next to my Mom, has been his lifelong passion and hobby. So despite what a painful and empty chore it has become of late, old habits die hard, and when Dad is in the market he loves looking at the beautiful foods. My favourite moments are spent watching him stand at the meat counter and reminiscing. Actually bloody well reminiscing about meals gone by and cuts of beef my mother used to eat and now doesn’t!!!  He loves to describe what he would do with a pork loin or a beef tenderloin and what the side dishes would be. And of course, no weekly shopping trip would be complete without our ritual of talking about the mustards and how they only come in squeeze bottles and how he sprayed the entire kitchen when he was trying to get mustard out of the squeezy bottle. He also falls into despair when considering the new liquid detergent!  “Why? Why?” says my dad. And my favourite of all, uttered every five minutes is, “This store is starting to tick me off!” sprinkled with a few, “Boy, that’s gone up!” as he scans the prices. My dad can forgive anything except bad overpriced produce!

But he loves it. Loves the outing. Loves the connection to his old life. He may not want to cook it when he gets home, but he sure wants to step into the nucleus of it again. He wants to go back to a time when shopping and golf were his exquisite passions. The grocery store can take him there in an instant and he comes alive savoring every second. I swear to you, I watch him as we shop and I can only compare him to a retired athlete running onto the field again for another toss of the pigskin. The difference is, my dad is wondering how to turn the pigskin into a savoury appetizer. In his day he would get up on a Saturday and go to the St. Lawrence Market and he would know and chat with every vendor about their wares. He would choose his cheeses and meats and breads with loving care.

And he still is. He is doing it as much as he can. Every aisle we go down he says, “I need to find a nibble for your mother, something she might love to have.” Although it is a packaged bag of caramels or muffins, he is still putting the thought into it. He is still playing out that role. He is doing the best with his skills and, even if the menu is wieners and beans, he is still trying to impress my mother, still trying to make her happy. And when he cooks for her, she still tells him she loves it, wieners, beans and all.

Today when we wound our way to our parking spot, slowly but surely, Dad said, “My pants are falling down,” and damned if they weren’t. I hitched up the back of Dad’s pants as we pushed the cart to the car door. He laughed and said, “You should write about this.”

Barbara: I knew this was going to be a killer post, Deb, and it is. In every sense of the word: kills with its sentiment, with the nostalgia of something lost (or going), kills with the sheer and utter love. As many of you might know, I’m not around right now—off on holiday with my husband—and I haven’t had a chance to read all your amazing comments and thoughts and dreams. I am looking forward to a quiet moment when I get home to really savour them. But this post, Deb, took me to another place, both for the memories it evoked in my own experience, and for the tenacity and spirit with which you guys navigate this new world of “different”. Chef’s hat off to you and your dad.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Alternate Lives

In our continuing theme of “Five Crazy Things”, the topic for today might be a bit “crazier” than our “Places” post on Tuesday.

What would you do if you had five alternate lives to live (and present-day proclivity, aptitude, and talent have NO BEARING)?

1. Archeologist
2. Ballerina
3. Marine Biologist
4: Antique/Rare Book Restorer
5: Sherpa Guide (without any actual schlepping…)

1.  Architect
2.  Broadway singing dancing star
3.  Interior designer
4.  Physiotherapist for seniors
5.  Independently wealthy

Now tell us yours!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Don’t Take My Picture!!!

Deb: Since as long as I can remember, “Don’t take my picture!!!” was my Mum’s battle cry whenever a camera came within fifty feet of her. As a result, her photos, which would have been lovely had she just smiled, featured a pained expression of protest. It became a family joke, the constant, ”Jimmy, put away that camera”, “Jimmy, don’t you dare, I mean it!”, “Jimmy, for Godssake, don’t take my picture!”

As I was pouring through the old photos of my lovely Mum at various ages and stages, I started to think, Wouldn’t it be great to get up every morning and, while brushing our teeth, look in the mirror and love what we see. I know we have touched on this subject before, but doing The Cousins Project has made me see the progression of this. As I have looked at pictures of my youngest, younger, young self and that of my loved ones, the same thing struck me over and over. I had an epiphany.

It is this: We are not young and then old. We are simply young. Always young. Because when we see ourselves in the mirror, we are always younger than we are about to be. Does this make sense?

What I guess I mean is that we are always younger, yet we categorize ourselves from infant to senior. And yet, even as a senior we are younger. Hope I haven’t lost you yet. Barb’s quantum physics has finally kicked in I guess!
So what I am saying, is that we should love the way our young self looks, even if that young self is fifty-seven years old. After all, as soon as we walk away from the mirror we are older by seconds, then minutes, days, months, years. God willing, we will look back at our 80th birthday photos when we are 90 and say, “Wow, I had it going on!” I mean, even at 90 we are younger right?  We are younger than we are about to be. So maybe we should love up the young us at all ages!

Doing The Cousins Project, three pictures stuck me. Two of them were of Granny, the first at her 80th birthday and the second at her 87th. The difference in Granny in those two pictures absolutely blew my mind. The change in her in those 7 years astounded me. And it dawned on me that, unlike my Mum and myself, my Granny never disparaged her looks. When she was dressed up for a party or event, I think she was happy with the way she looked.  I don’t think she would have had to glance back from the future to be happy with her present self. I think she looked in the mirror and liked what she saw. What a gift, I thought, and I envied her for it.

The third picture was of me in my 20’s. It’s a candid picture my Dad took and I only saw it for the first time when I started the project. Me in a cowboy hat and 80’s shorts jumpsuit, and I was struck by how lovely I thought it was. Then I harkened back to that time. I had just dyed my hair black as I was not happy with the brown or blonde me, and didn’t think I was pretty or cute or interesting looking and needed a change. It seemed to me then that I had a million different reasons to criticize myself. Then I saw that photo and ... what the hell was I thinking!?! It is so sad that I was not loving that Deb. What is so bad about liking and loving ourselves? When did we decide that was a bad thing? We are all perfect in our way and we sorely need to start seeing it in ourselves before we piss it away. I look at little kid Deb and think, “When? When did the first doubt creep in? What picture was it? What black and white image contained the moment I first thought I was less than I could be?”

And I pondered it and figured, What’s done is done. But in honour of all my past Deb’s that I dissed, I am looking in the mirror and loving what I see. All fifty-almost-eight! years of me. I will not wait ‘till eighty to look at Today Deb and say, “What a babe!”

Barbara: Yup. I get it. Maybe we all do. Well, maybe with the exception of your darling Granny. I haven’t gone through and organized old photos like you have, Deb—and I would like to one day!—but I absolutely remember seeing pics of myself over the years and cringing. And those are the pics that come to mind whenever anyone holds a camera to my face: “Oh, not that angle, that makes my chin look double”, “Nope, not that one, that emphasizes the bags under my eyes”, “God forbid I look serious in a photo—I look like a furious manic-depressive”. And I also know I’ve looked back at older photos and I haven’t seen double chins or eye-bags or frowns, but have only seen the sweetness of that day—whatever that moment was that was special enough to prompt someone to pull out the camera and decide to commemorate.

As you said, Deb, we’ve talked about this before, but dammit, we gotta keep reminding ourselves to get over ourselves and embrace the beautiful us of us!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Places

Barbara: Deb and I thought it would be fun to launch a “Five Crazy Things” theme from time to time on our shorter Tue/Thurs post. The idea is that we would share our five first thoughts on whatever the topic of the day is.

As I’m out of town this week and don’t have much internet, Deb is handling the more substantial posts and I will post today and Thursday’s “quickie” and check in when I can.

So the topic for today—an EASY one (and not very “crazy”), I think, which is designed to get us rolling so we can see how it goes—is to share the five places you’d most like to go.

1. The Great Wall of China
2: The Pyramids of Giza
3: Victoria Falls
4: The Taj Mahal
5. The Great Barrier Reef

1.  The Isle of Skye
2.  The Arctic
3.  Bethlehem
4.  Jordan
5.  The Great Wall of China
6.  Barbara’s other ones!

Now tell us yours!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Road Closed

Deb: We are all accustomed to seeing the “road closed” sign in the spring and summer! We spend the warmth months adjusting to detours for road construction and repair. It never bothers me because, I figure, what else are they going to do? The roads need to be fixed and in order to do so, they have to be closed. I do know it’s a little easier for me, as I am not a nine-to-fiver dealing with traffic delays and clock punching. I think in the grand scheme of every day complaints, road closures are the most frequently griped about inconvenience, next, of course, to the never-ending human obsession with the weather. Between construction delays and weather—I think we’ve got a better chance controlling the weather.

Today (Saturday) I saw a bevy of “road closed” signs throughout my neighbourhood. As I peered down the street while passing the sign to see what was being constructed or de-constructed, it was to my delight that the closure in question was for a street party. In fact it turns out that today is street party day for many streets in my hood. The road was filled not with burly guys in yellow neon vests, but with basketball nets and plastic pools. Each street seemed to have something different. There were food tables adorned with plastic tablecloths and BBQ’s lining the boulevard. There were happy kids with bony knees shrieking summer shrieks and catching balls. There were neighbours chatting and gossiping while keeping one eye on the shrieking kids. You could tell at a glance these parents were trained to tell a shriek of laughter from a shriek of pain, and ready to pounce if needed. The street was alive with games! Sidewalk chalk, hopscotch, and tag were the order of the day, with nary a video game in sight! Kids being kids and families making memories.

These “road closed” signs made my day! The whole street party thing took me back to a time when this kind of thing took place on a weekly basis in my life. My hood as a kid was alive with the sound of puck hitting stick and the call of “CAR!” as nets were scraped out of harm’s way. Any day in the summer was an excuse for a neighbour gathering or impromptu bbq. All were welcome! These are sweet memories for me. I remember when these instant bbq’s would instantaneously pop up and everyone would scramble to see what meat and salad fixings, beer and wine they had in the fridge and the booty would be shared. The men would start getting the charcoal ready and the ladies would start chopping and mixing. But it was all done as one big party with everyone pooling their resources for a day and night of fun. The kids would set buffet tables with plastic everythings! If someone was really well-stocked we would have classy paper napkins that came wrapped in bunches of 40, or paper towels if the pickings were slim. As the meal wound down, the guitars would come out and the singing would commence. Joined by crickets and bats overhead for the jamboree, the bug spray would come as the night fell. Around this time, the sunburn on your nose and your back would start to heat up. But you didn’t care. It was summer and the living was easy and shared. Good good times. I remember them well.

A few sweet memories of summer impromptu gatherings:

Barbara: Awww, Deb! Thanks sooooo much for the summer reminder (or, reminder of summer).

When I was kid living in a quaint suburban neighbourhood, we would take part in a huge neighbourhood bbq and party on our street. I remember it so vividly. There was always a parade for all the kids and we would dress up and ride our bikes (also dressed up) down the street. I would wind streamers through the spokes of my wheels—not very original, I know, but it made me feel like a million princess bucks. I know there must have been gallons of food and I’m sure it was delicious, but I don’t remember the food the way I remember the warm air and the conviviality and the new friendships that felt like old.

When Phil and I moved into our present-day neighbourhood, I used to fantasize about launching one of these very same “road closed” meets. I could see us bbq-ing and drinking and gossiping and eyeing our rambunctious kids. But … it never happened.

Oh well, memories are nice too. And maybe one day another intrepid neighbour will heed the call of the street and begin a new old tradition. That would be very sweet.