Saturday, July 11, 2009

Up and At It With the Riders!

Since it's not a yard-working kind of day, it's a great day to curl up on the sofa and watch the Rider game. GO RIDERS! Of course, I'm not actually giving them my undivided attention right now because it's time to check in with my team!

Breakfast, pills, and the newspaper have all been digested. All's good. I didn't sleep as well last night as I had hoped. At 5:30, my bladder called and then I had trouble getting back to sleep. I wasn't uncomfortable ... no boa constrictors around my limbs. I ate a few crackers when my stomach seemed mildly unsettled and that helped almost immediately. And then evil lawyer faces came uninvited again to my thoughts. I hate when that happens. I quickly dispelled them, though, with childhood memories. Let me tell you some. You might have heard these stories before because they're favourites of mine.

Anyway, last night my cousin, Lori, phoned to see how I was doing. It was great to hear from her. Lori and I grew up together until she moved away to Saskatoon in grade 5. Even though we got together frequently after she moved away and those are great memories, too, it wasn't the same as the time we spent together prior to that. Man, we had some fun!

Even though Lori is only 3 months older than me, because she has a late birthday and I have an early birthday, she was a grade ahead of me in school. This is important because Lori was able to convince me at an early age that she was my "elder" and that I must always "respect my elders" and basically, do as they say. I was hooped. This was Lori's way of getting out of playing Barbies with me, I'm sure. It worked. I was a total BARBIE-GIRL! Barbies and playing house!! YES!!!! Lori ... Barbies and house ... not so much.

Still, even though we never played Barbies together, I have no regrets. I learned so much from Lori and we really did have a blast. I could play Barbies for hours all by myself any old time! I started with a Midge and Allan, as above, even though my Mom tried for many years to get me interested in more "age-appropriate dolls". She finally settled on getting me a Midge instead of a Barbie because she thought Midge looked more "wholesome", I think. It was my Grandma Kerr, who finally gave me my first (and treasured) actual dark-haired Barbie when I was 12. I never did have a blonde Barbie, though Francie filled that bill quite nicely. Mom got me Francie and Casey because they were Barbie's younger European cousins and they had smaller busts. Of course, I was eligible, too, to get a Skipper and a Tutti. I still have them all. And I even still love my Penny Bright, my Mom's main attempt at dissuading me from those voluptuous Barbies.

Lori didn't really have Barbies. If she did, they'd been decapitated or dressed up in camo so as to make them unrecognizable. She had some GI-Joe's and she had this odd Barbie-like figure that I just didn't get. She was a cowgirl with a big horse and a removable hat and holsters, I think, but her clothes were all painted on. What's the use of painted on blue jeans? Where's the fun in that? What if she wants to be a fairy princess and wear a gauzy dress and pretend the horse is a unicorn and they're riding into the Mists of Avalon, or something like that? Nope. Lori's "dolls" made no sense to me! We didn't play much with them anyway. They were as uninspiring to me as Barbies were to Lori!

So we played other things instead. We played a lot of "war". Those are some of my fondest memories, though you might wonder! Lori was very keen on being tough and defending our farms from the Germans. At our house, she would sometimes wake me up before the sun was even up so we could go out and sit in the bail fort with our rifles out the peek holes to defend the place from the Germans (cars, trucks and farm machinery). There wasn't much happening at that time in the morning so I wasn't all that into it, to tell you the truth. But I was an obedient soldier, grenades at the ready. Since the traffic was so sparse, Lori decided that the chickens were Nazi Germans. Imagine them, as I did, with little red SS bands around their wings. At some point, Lori would cautiously exit the bail fort and, crouched and speedy, would zig-zig her way across the farm yard and hurl herself behind the corner of the barn. I would watch for her signal. Soon she would hastily wave me forward, covering me with her sharp eye and her rifle. I would crouch and dash (well, if we can call that a "dash") across the yard trying to replicate her route. Inevitably, though, I would hear Lori shout, "HIT THE DIRT!", which was my signal to immediately throw myself flat on the ground. And, let me tell you, when you're a Barbie-girl living in a Barbie-world and yet living on a farm with free-range chickens, you are NOT going to hit the dirt without first checking for chicken-goop on the gound. This would lead to me having to go back to the fort and try again until I got it right. Drills. Eventually I learned where I could really make a great hit-the-dirt effort while avoiding chicken-goop at the same time. Those were the days!!

At Lori's place, they had a great two-level tree house that we had set up like military headquarters and we had the benefit of Lori's farm being at the corner of a much busier intersection. Lots of German tanks to watch for. It was very busy being a soldier there. We had walkie-talkies, binocs, grenades, rifles ... all the trappings!

Speaking of trappings, Lori and I once went gopher trapping together in the coulee hills around our farm. Her idea, of course (me respecting my elder). It was the LAST time either of us ever went gopher trapping to my knowledge. I'm sure neither of us will ever forget that one gopher that got it's leg caught in the trap and we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do about it. It was impacting and turned us off trapping, that's for sure.

At school, Lori and I sometimes played what might have been my favourite game, which was "Get Smart". I liked this because I got to play "99" and I had a little clutch with a mirrored compact that I could use for spying. No camo. Lori was Maxwell, of course, and she could have her telephone shoe. The Cone of Silence. All fun!

While neither Lori or I joined the military, we were both active members and eventual leaders of CGIT groups. That's Canadian Girls in Training for the uninitiated. It sounds a little militaristic, doesn't it, but mostly I remember it for the friendships and the music.

As Lori and I grew up ... me in booniesville, Saskatchewan and she in urban Saskatoon ... you can only imagine the differences, but still we got together when she came to White Bear to visit ... often we would stay at Uncle Bill's and Aunt Alice's in town and we had a great time together ... listening to K-tel albums and singing along ... going to the cafe and playing the jukebox. I particularly remember playing Elvis Presley's mournful "In the Ghetto" over and over again. Yes, Lori and I had a great time and she is part of some of my fondest childhood memories!

Happy retirement, Lori, and thanks for chasing dreaded evil lawyers from my mind in the night!

Time to cheer the Riders!


  1. Loved the Barbie, chickens, and CGIT post! I knew you were a bit of a Barbie nut, but little did I know the depth of your obsession. This perhaps explains a lot. I never had the opportunity to enjoy free range chickens on a daily basis, but I do imagine they presented certain hygiene issues. We had some friends in England years ago who had a tiny cottage in the country and a few ducks and chickens that they allowed to wander freely in and out of the kitchen from the yard. They had that rush matting stuff on the stone floors and all the poop kind of dropped through the holes. Vanessa would wait til it dried, pick up the mats and sweep the pellets out into the yard. There was also a swallow's nest right above the front doorway in a little covered front porch. The swallows, too, had the run of the house, as did all manner of insects. Two cats kept the mice in check and stalked the chickens. It was a charming place to visit, but I did wonder about the cleanliness aspect of things.

    I too belonged to CGIT, very briefly. The mother of one of my friends made me do it to keep her daughter company. She called up my mum and said, wouldn't it be a good idea for Nora and Margie to go to CGIT together. My mother agreed, probably just to get one of her brood of six out of the house at least one night a week. I hated it but quickly became president so I could be in charge, always the control freak my brothers would say. I lasted only about 18 months before quitting in disgust. It was the religious component that did me in and all the earnest talk. You sound like you had way more fun. Jim had never heard of Canadian Girls in Training before he came to Canada. Now he makes quite rude comments about what exactly we were in training for. Never mind, I say, he belonged to an organization called Crusaders when he was about 12 that offers lots of opportunity for teasing as well.

    Got to go and take him to the airport.
    See ya!

  2. Too much fun back then. . . And great to reminise.
    I remember using the rooftops (house, garages, sheds, granaries - wherever we could manoeuver our way up)for our escapades back on the farm. Oh - - well hence my thinking the kids were okay on the low roofs at Poplar (much to Dave's shock and disgruntlement). Not sure what we were playing - but I'm pretty sure it wasn't war. Wouldn't be surprised though if we took our Barbie's up for a good view of the farm.
    Hope you have more good dreams this week.

  3. Hi Laurel! I must say I left the farm climbing to my brothers. After Darrel jumped off the barn or the granery and broke his arm, it lost it's allure for me. I remember your kids climbing on the lower roofs at your Poplar home and, you're right, in farm land in our day that would be nothing to sneeze at, right? How things have changed!! I remember finding a wee Matt Corman out on their roof, too. He had crawled out the 2nd floor window and was running around the slope while Wes was throwing balls up there for him to catch! Once Jim and Brenda were alerted, Jim was up there in a flash to haul him off the roof.

    We did have a lot more physical freedom in our farm childhoods, didn't we Laurel?

  4. Hi Nora!

    Okay! Let's get this straight. Your experience of "free-range chickens" is a little different than mine!! Ours didn't exactly "free-range" into the house!! OMG!! (Thought that does sound so very quaint and charming and I would LOVE to visit a little home like that in England). In retrospect, I think it was bad enough that, spending almost my entire summers barefoot, I was constantly stepping in chicken poop and what I couldn't scrape off outside, I'd remove after I would hobble to the house and grab the dish cloth. Maybe it was a floor cloth. Anyway, it was an "indoor cloth" so that's bad enough!! It was the ones that gushed between the toes that needed the cloth! Sorry, Mom. Mom was pretty relaxed about things. Thank God for that!

    And, oh yes, the barbs about CGIT and what it means still go on! "In training for WHAT?!" I don't even know if CGIT is still active. I never hear about it anymore. I can tell that it wouldn't have been your cup of tea. We did have a lot of fun, though. When I was about 19 and living in Saskatoon, my Mom brought her teen CGIT troop into the city to stay with me and we took them to Stokers (the teen disco). Now that was training fun! And no, we didn't wear our uniforms. It was a disco!! Still, I bet our little group wasn't ever mistaken for city girls!

    Don't forget, Nora, to watch for Nigel Lithgow on So You Think You Can Dance on Wednesday and/or Thursday night. I'll be curious as to your thoughts!


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