Month: May 2012

The British are invading!!!

Run for the hills!!

(they’re quite a long way away, mind,)

Very very happy and excited tonight!!

Firstly, the Parents are visiting for a week or so, and arrive tomorrow evening!!! This is going to be fun, I’m looking forward to seeing them anyway, and I kinda get to show off My New Home to them finally! I assume they will spoil MIranda rotten as always and she deserves that 🙂 Plus they are hiring a car here, so we can all use the opportunity to explore Regina a bit more, further afield than Cathedral village and the downtown areas I can comfortably walk to! We may even get out to see the Burrowing Owls in Moose Jaw. Miri likes Owls.

As the flights were so expensive (as always), the parents are opting to stay with me rather than in a B&B, so I’ve unfolded the futon/sofa thing. I can’t imagine it’s going to be too comfy, however. I have also cleaned the apartment thoroughly. I seemingly have a constant battle with dirt – the wooden floor seems to need sweeping all the time. This is why I like carpets – they hide the Toddler-Ick much better. I can pretty much guarantee that M. um will say the place smells of ferrets though, – even though my poor fuzzies are 3000 miles away!! Anyway, this place is now unnervingly tidy and I don’t like it.

Buuuuuuuut, the BEST EVER NEWS is……………. CARL GOT A JOB HERE IN REGINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He had an interview over the phone for a GIS specialist job last week, and they cruelly made him wait a week for an answer – but they called him back tonight (despite time difference!) and offered it to him!! Weeeeeeee!!! So not only a job out here, but a job that he’s actually trained for and should enjoy too. Pretty decent salary as well!! (More than he was earning in Darlington, certainly). Unfortunately he can’t just jump on a plane, as he still has to sell the house and give notice at work and so on, but hopefully it will be a case of weeks, not months now. CANNOT WAIT!! I miss him so much, and it’s not been easy looking after Miri on my own either. She needs her Daddy too. And I hate to think of him stuck in Darlo on his own, knowing that he hates it there too. 😦 But it won’t be for much longer!! Soooooooooo proud of him!

As he says online, “epic win!!!!”


CVAF Day 6: the fastest shot in the west!!

Bedlam. Utter bedlam!

Undoubtedly, “Team 13” rock!!

We were all warned that today would be “a zoo”, but most of the staff at the coffee house were not working there this time last year, and have never experienced the last day of the arts festival before. Given the day was pretty overcast and cold again, we all trooped in and got organised early, but didn’t really expect to be hit with that many customers so quickly and so ceaselessly!!

The entirety of the Cathedral end of 13th Avenue was closed to traffic, to make way for a street fair with loads of stalls all selling things that could be classed as “arts and crafts” – and then burger vans, doughnuts, various Woo Merchants (by which I mean the “copper bracelets for rheumatism and panpipe/whale song CDs” type of stall), the beer tent and someone trying to flog sunglasses ironically. Everyone was frantically setting up around 8am, including us, as we had a tent outside serving up cookies and filter coffee whilst inside was reserved for food and espresso. I was wondering if we were going to cut down the menu or just do take out or something, but noooooooo, the poor kitchen team were trying to do everything they usually do, but at twice the speed for six times the number of customers! The coffee alone was madness, so I have the utmost respect for Mike, Ally, Arun, Rachel and above all, Ashten for coping with all the food orders.

Tanneille had ground up several kilos of coffee for the filter pots and I’d weighed it all out, filling four boxes and three tubs with enough for at least 40 filter pots. We ran out within the two hours!!! Unfortunately the perculator takes 8 minutes to brew one canister of coffee, and we ended up with one person just refilling the damn pots one after the other monotonously, until we really couldn’t keep up any longer and Emma had the bright idea of filling the two litre pots with Americano – because apparently me making up huge buckets of espresso shots and boiling the kettle was quicker than waiting 8 minutes for it to filter. And, as Ashten so assertively put it, “Americano is just espresso watered down so it tastes like coffee.”  I despair.

By lunchtime we’d developed a system whereby someone manned the till taking orders and money, sending food orders to print in the kitchen electronically, but handwriting thousands of post-it notes with coffee orders on, which she lined up on the espresso machine, and yours truly just pulled shot after shot after shot after shot and steamed cow-fuls of milk. The post-its got more and more illegible until I was trying to make a “log calm slim late n mad lord fag” [large caramel latte with skimmed milk and a medium London Fog] In a way, I got the easy job because I didn’t actually have to talk to anyone!! If I’d been on the till, we’d have been there all night whilst people tried to figure out my accent or while I forgot soups or poisoned coeliacs with glutenous tofu or something!! The espresso machine doesn’t answer back. Nowadays, it usually does what it is told, but it certainly got a good workout today!! from 1pm to gone 3, I didn’t actually move from the square metre of space surrounding the espresso machine, and after that, it was only to put the pile of milk cartons in the recycling, and grab more cups from the shed. I even asked someone to pass me a bottle of water from the fridge two feet away at one point! I know this sounds ridiculous but I was in my element – I just completely zoned out to everything else around me and concentrated exclusively on coffee – and the day zoomed passed!! I finally noticed the time about 20 minutes before I was supposed to fetch Miranda, and panicked trying to find someone to take over…. We used over 7lb of coffee in four hours, and that was just the espresso, let alone the filter pots outside!

I got some lovely compliments from the boss afterwards, if “you are not human” should be taken as compliment! I do think we all did brilliantly. Better still, Miri had a fun day with Teenage Babysitter, and apparently was no trouble at all, even when they took her round the festival. We had poutine and huge burgers and beers (well, milk) to celebrate afterwards, and when I had a shower, there was coffee grounds in the bottom of the tub – I was literally sweating the stuff from every pore!!

So, top score for my first ever Cathedral Arts Festival – thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I did miss the Monday. Love this neighbourhood!!

Here’s some funky pictures from the week:

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CVAF Day 5: Dance

Toooooooooo tiiiiiiiiireeeed. Will explain tomorrow.


[Saturday edits]

Still tired.

Well, I’d like to think of yesterday as quite a success. For various non-blogable reasons, Tanneille couldn’t come in yesterday so I said I’d do her shift, which meant opening up the place and getting in for 6am – not as bad as it sounds given it takes me a whole 16 seconds to get to work. Such a tiring commute, I tell you. But   the I am an idiot and because there is no off switch for my brain, I got very, very little sleep the night before. I learned, as part of Cathedral Village arts festival, that this building used to be a Jesuit College! It is an old building in one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Regina, so its not really surprising it has some interesting history. As I mentioned in the last post though, Thursday night was very wet, wild and windy, and even though I tried to go to bed early, the howling wind and odd creaks and thumps of wind in trees/general old building groans/rain dripping from leaky gutter/etc etc got me completely paranoid – firstly that someone was breaking in to the cafe, and then as I was falling asleep, that the ghosts of old Jesuits were going to come and eat me or something. You know, the usual sort of late night sensibilities…

Anyway, the wildness of Thursday seemed to have blown itself away by morning, and Friday, whilst not actually being hot, was sunny and warm. And the penultimate day of the festival. Queue the whole world and their mum  coming in for veggie burgers, and my most hated of all drinks, the Large London Fog (not invented in London – see here!) It was the busiest I’ve seen it so far in the afternoon, with four of us doing the high speed dance around the kitchen trying to keep on top of it all. Even though I was supposed to finish at 2pm, I couldn’t leave Ashten on her own with a queue out the door, so I stayed put until 4. Ten hour days do not do me any good!!

Miranda, on the other hand, got a lot of sleep the previous night; she went to bed earlier than usual without a fight for once, and managed to sleep through me getting up to go to work so early. I just left her up there while I set up and opened the cafe, (which I always worry about doing, always needlessly). When Ashten arrived three hours later, I went to check on Miri and she was still asleep. I had to actually wake her up to get her to daycare! By evening, she was still merrily bouncing around, so I summoned the energy to take her to Artesian, which is a live music/concert venue that I’ve never yet managed to explore. There was a show on which said it was suitable for all ages, by a group called FadaDance. All young teenagers by the look of them, so some sort stage school I imagine. The place was packed out though so we had to stand at the back, there were no seats left! Miri squeezed through and managed to get good view from the front of the balcony. Fadadance were very good, but I don’t really get “dance” performances – I need a sort of narrative. Sure, they moved well and it was all very pretty, but it didn’t ‘speak to me’ and I wouldn’t have a clue what it was supposed to be about. Miri was utterly, completely transfixed though! She loved it! I’ve only ever seen her that enchanted by taking her to see Sesame Street Live!

When we went to the gig the previous night, she did sort of jig about a bit, and she certainly loves her music, and will drum happily with anything that comes to hand. She also headbangs with me 🙂 Maybe she’ll be a dancer?? I just hope she hasn’t inherited my clumsiness and total lack of coordination!

CVAF Day 4: Music

Tonight wasn’t quite as good an outing as I was hoping for, sadly! There were a lot of “Get Lit” writer-ish events on tonight at Artesian, which is a live venue up the road from us that I have not yet managed to visit. However, whatever was going on there tonight said strictly “no minors allowed” – so not the sort of thing I could bring Miranda to, annoyingly! But anyway, we’ve done poetry and stories, so tonight was going to be Music night. Better still, said music was happening in a big tent, in the park right opposite the coffee house, 200 yards to walk! Actually, I didn’t see the tent go up, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t there last night….

Miranda was still munching her shepherd’s pie at 6pm when it started (I made Shepherd’s pie tonight because Tanneille was playing a song about Shepherd’s Pie at work this morning!?) so we missed the first session – a singer/songwriter woman. Whoever she was, she wasn’t very loud since we couldn’t hear any of it from across the road!

We went over in time to catch Chad Kichula and the Douglas Avenue Garage Band. They were pretty loud and very good in a generic rock sort of way. The other guitarist (not the eponymous Chad) looked worryingly like Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, complete with wellies!!! Now there’s a cultural reference few round here will get! I took a few photos but my camera battery was nearly dead, so here they are performing in Banff, from youtube:

According to some bloke I follow on Twitter, there was winds straight from the arctic forecast for today, and I can well believe it – it is suddenly wet and FREEZING again!! Another huge swing in the climate, and it’s hard to believe we got a bit sunburnt on Sunday.  Anyway, unfortunately Miri just got too cold and too tired to enjoy it, even when I took her to the sliiiiiiiiiide and climbing frame at the other end of the park. i had wanted to see the next band, The Lonesome Weekends, who were headlining. I have no idea what they are like, but I have seen a lot of people round here wearing Lonesome Weekend t-shirts, so they are either good or local or both. Plus the name is kinda apt for me at the moment 😦 But Miri was definitely not a happy beastling, so we went home again and watched a few of her beloved Octonauts instead, poor baby!

I guess I will have to look up the Lonesome Weekends on youtube really….

This song is very, very appropriate for the Arts Festival so far!

CVAF Day 3 – Storytelling

or, The Value of Free Time

I am thinking a lot about my writing at the moment, or lack of it. The poetry slam last night inspired me, and tonight we went to see Kevin Mackenzie tell his stories for children at the library. Miranda LOVED it, especially because we met Carolina and the other children from her daycare there. Mackenzie was very good and pitched it just right so that the few noisy eight year olds in the audience enjoyed it as much as Miri and her little crew. His stories were very, very simple, but infinitely variable depending on the mood of the kids, and also involved a lot of silly noises, gestures and actions to copy.  Repetitively. The guy also seemed to have a rubber face – it was very like watching a cartoon, which was obviously key to engaging Small People!

Inevitably we couldn’t leave the library without borrowing more books and DVDs.  Fortunately I found Shaun the Sheep on DVD because nowadays even the mere sound of Elmo’s voice makes me want to do unspeakably violent things to any or all Sesame Street residents. There are some good books there though and I have been very careful in selecting ones that I think I will be able to read to her over and over ad nauseum. Like the Sheep adventures. Sheep in Space, Sheep go for a Hike, Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep out to Eat etc etc They are all done in rhyme and they are lovely. Other books, however, are truly, utterly terrible. Like the “Blue’s Clues” series, which unfortunately Miri adores. Blue is a blue dog who lives with Joe, inexplicably goes to school and makes cheese sandwiches for her best friend, who is cat called Periwinkle. Joe has a frighteningly manic grin, his Mommy dresses him funny and he talks to the salt and pepper pots. Frankly, Joe ought to be in a home for Special Kids and Blue should never be allowed off the leash in public.

I keep thinking, I ought to be able to write something better than that drivel. I even have Ideas for a few stories for Miranda. I can’t do storytelling off the cuff like Kevin Mackenzie, I’d need to write it down first, and sadly, I really, really cannot draw. I also have absolutely no time at the moment in which to even attempt it. Being on my feet all day at work, followed by having to feed Miri then fight her in to bed on my own every night means that by the time she is asleep, I have virtually no evening to myself, and no energy to do anything sensible in the brief time I do get. Also I have the added guilt of still having to do PhD revisions……



Soon. Soon, I will get my head straight and get organised. Soon, Carl will be here and then I will get some help with Miri. Yus indeedy. Until then, this blog in all its stream-of-consciousness waffling, typo-filled psychobabble, will have to be my only form of Storytelling.


CVAF – Day 2, Poetry Slam

Tonight I went to this:

Poetry Slam at Mercury Cafe

This improved my opinion of the arts festival no end, and also cheered me up after another pretty bad day. It seems you can travel the world and still never escape petty work politics. Gah. Anyway, in desperate need of the company of people in possession of some social skills, we headed out to this poetry slam, which was in much the same vein as the Babel Open Mic Nights in Darlington. Basically, turn up, have a beer, write something very quickly under pressure, read it out in public. Potentially win more beer or social affirmation. How could I resist??

This was my poem, scribbled in precisely four minutes, after a pint of Grasshopper lager, whilst simultaneously trying to stop Miri drinking ketchup out the bottle/ pouring salt on the table/ pulling her own jeans off in public / face-painting with gravy-laden poutine / spilling my Death Mints everywhere. We had to use the theme of “rain or shine” and incorporate a phrase from a random page of a book left on our table. My phrase from page 87 was “where did you learn his language?”

“So, it’s pretty wet oot there, eh?

Says Friendly Guy as I made his latte.

I agree, having just got drenched.

He continues to moan about the rain,

His thirst for conversation not yet quenched

Then he asks, “where’s that accent from?”

Jolly old England. “you been here long?”

Six weeks. Not long enough to complain!

“Check you oot, chatting with the locals,” says my friend

Where did you learn his language?

Well, talking about the weather is a global trend…

I actually did pretty well, considering how bad that is in hindsight. The top three places were awarded to Serious Poets who obviously spent a bit more time on it with fewer distractions – and they really were very good indeed. I do think I got points for a.) my accent, b.) bringing cute Miranda onto stage with me, and c.) wearing my “I’m not on Facebook” t-shirt rather than the poem, but hey, never mind. At Babel i got points for writing whilst tipsy, wearing a corset and riding a tricycle to the event. Even if I can’t rhyme well, at least I can be Interesting!!

Tomorrow night is a tough call between story telling or a bit of theatre called “Rubiks Cube.” Hmm.

Cathedral Village Arts Festival, Day 1

Victoria Day

First rule of blogging – never type whilst cross.

I am in a better humour than I was earlier, having had my mood improved by chatting to my dearest insomniac cousin online, and also by a large glass of wine. But nevertheless, today was all round PANTS if you ask me. I’m sorry to report that the Cathedral Village Arts Festival wasn’t so much rubbish, as actually non-existent!! Well, this afternoon at least. Tomorrow may prove more entertaining.

I have a whole list of things that went wrong today – namely me not realising that a.) it is Victoria Day and b.) that Victoria Day is actually a national holiday. No one warned me of this until Friday evening, when Arun – also an immigrant  here, I should add – announced it just as I was about to leave work. We had a discussion on why the English don’t bother with Dead Old Lady Holiday: which particular dead monarch would you pick? we would end up with A LOT of holidays if it we were to commemorate every dead member of the royal family.  But anyway, I did not realise at all that Victoria Day meant people don’t go to work. I had my shift posted for today already, and didn’t even realise I’d been scheduled to work on a national holiday. Normally I wouldn’t mind – it’s not like I have other plans at the moment :-s However, Miranda’s daycare doesn’t operate on national holidays. Luckily, I had the sense of paranoia sufficient to ring Carolina to check before traipsing over to her house with a half-alseep Miri. No daycare today. Doh. So Miri had to spend the day cleaning the cafe with me. This is a lot of work in normal circumstances and involves bleach and swearing and plenty of dishwasher-saunas. Doing all that whilst trying to stop Miri jumping off chairs or invading Mike’s kitchen or painting the tables with yoghurt or dropping marker pens in the detergent bottle, was nigh on impossible. I ended up very tired, cross and smelly, and Miri was bored stupid, poor baby!

We tried to phone Daddy earlier than usual, but on today of all days, my microphone – or possibly Carl’s speakers decided not to work, so he couldn’t hear us. I got so frustrated I gave up in disgust. Poor Warly 😦

So, to try and cheer ourselves up, I tried to take Miri to what remained of the day’s events at the Arts Festival

All Afternoon [it said]: Food sales, The Living Statue & Living Pictures, Participation Stations: Games, DIY Face Paint, Balloon Twist, Hula Hoops.

Great! I thought, Miri will love that! Could i find anything??? Could i hell! We must have walked round in circles for about eight blocks, never found anything like that, not even any sign of stalls that had already closed for the day, absolutely nothing!! I walked all the way down to the river without seeing another person, let alone a festival crowd, and was going to give up and take Miranda to the swings instead, when I realised she’d fallen asleep in the pushchair anyway!

gah. all in all, an incredibly frustrating day.