Sunday, May 17, 2009


The garage sale was a total flop. We had one guy look over our bike and tell me it wasn't worth any money, especially not the $10 listed on the sticker; and a neighbourhood kid who tried to buy our dinkie mat as Hubby loaded the detritus into the minivan to take it to the Sally Ann. Hubby took pity on the guffer and gave him the mat.

Salvation Army shoppers, look for some fabulous merchadise this week.

I miss Yellowknife.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garage sale city

I am a devotee of the garage sale and of secondhand living, and it's all Yellowknife's fault.

When the Hubby (then Fiance) and I moved North, we needed many, many things to furnish our first home. We owned no furniture, no cutlery, no pots and pans. We essentially owned the clothes on our backs and an old dresser my former roommate gave me.

What we needed we got from friends, the secondhand store in town and the Yellowknife garage sale circuit.

You see, in the North, furniture is an expensive and precious commodity, since it has to be shipped from down south to get there. It doesn't matter if the local furniture store is selling it or if you order it from IKEA in Edmonton, it still has to travel, and the consumer pays up the nose to get it there. That goes for lots of other stuff, too, such as brand-name clothes and chic baby gear.

Conversely, when people leave, it is often more expensive to ship their Northern furniture and other items south than it is to buy all new and shiny stuff at their destination. That means you have people desperate for cheap furniture and other items, and other people desperate to sell their stuff for any price, just to get rid of it.

It's garage sale heaven.

We furnished our apartment on the Saturday of the May long weekend in 2000, with the help of our friend Julie and her trusty truck. She'd just moved North too, and with her wheels and Hubby's lifting skills, we all did well.

When the Hubby finished his basic training, I held a massive garage sale a week before he came home to move us to Victoria. It was raining, so the turnout was small. For two hours my front yard was stormed by about a hundred furniture seekers, clothes shoppers and pregnant women.

So imagine my dismay when I saw the Victoria version of a garage sale: a few paltry tables of worn-out toys and kitchen stuff, with one lonely and disgruntled shopper digging through the wreckage.

We are holding a garage sale tomorrow to sell some old furniture (Northern vintage!) along with a tonne of awesome kids' clothes and shoes (including two pairs of Robeez), a bike, some DVD stands, computer games, a computer speaker system, etc. If you live in town, come on over. Whatever is left will be free for the taking after noon. (This never would have been an issue in Yellowknife.) Wish us luck!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

For my mom

Elvis singing a classic Ann Murray tune -- Mom, what more can you ask for? Happy Mother's Day!

No inner peace here

Today is Mother's Day, and I have received some of the usual spoiling from the Hubby and our little brood (breakfast in bed, flowers, a meal out, ice cream; it's been a good day.)

After a little more than eight years into this motherhood gig, and many sacrifices made for my guffers (I'd love to NOT have my C-section paunch, thanks very much), I'm at the point where I' mot sure what I've learned from all this.

When A. was born, after the first few months, I could list all the wonderful qualities I'd been learning as a new mom: patience, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, an ability to function on less than three hours a sleep a night for more than a year (no, I am not joking.) I felt as if I was discovering my true abilities, my gifts and strength. I was a reporter and a young mother; I'd show them all this could be done. Pop in that university mixed taped of rousing feminist ballads!

Baby I. came, and Baby N., and I still felt I was doing pretty well. It was hard; I cried a lot, but I was getting better at it, day by day.

And then A. went to school. Lately, as he matures and starts doing and experiencing things I've never dealt with before, I often feel like they've handed me a newborn again (a 50-lb. one) and I have no idea what to do.

In the Gap ads, mothers are thin women with wonderfully toned arms who run through the surf with their perfect offspring, laughing and smiling at their handsome husbands with six-pack abs.

Motherhood is not like that. Motherhood is not bliss. It is hard; it can be frightening and is often downright messy.

I have learned this much: motherhood is not supposed to be sunshine and rainbows. It's not about self-fulfilment or inner peace, and I think that modern expectation is what makes so many mothers feel like failures as they deal with squalling, colicky infants at 3 a.m., or second-graders who insist on bullying their classmates, or teenagers who never want to eat and say they feel fat.

Motherhood, in essence, is about the survival and betterment of the species. Period. Little humans need a lot of things to grow and grow well, but none of them are a perfectly toned, perfectly tanned mother with a personal shopper and a perpetual smile.

Motherhood has shaped who I am, and that person is better than the one I was before the kids came along. I think that's certainly one of the benefits of motherhood. But I don't think that was the point.

The point is, motherhood is not about the mother at all.