Say, Haven't I Seen you Somewhere?
If you're going to write a regular column for the Central Plains Herald Leader, you must first introduce yourself to its readers. I used to think I had one of those generic faces every tenth person has, or else a name with a real ring to it. Everywhere I go, somebody says “why do I feel I should know you?” or “why does your name sound familiar?”
I usually provide one or more of the following possible explanations.
“Maybe you saw my face on the front of the Herald Leader last Easter, holding a copy of my recently published play.” One of my finer moments.
“Maybe you saw my hubby, Jon, and me in the Daily Graphic 15 years ago after he lost his right arm in a farming accident.” NOT one of my finer moments.
“Maybe you frequent City Hall. I work there as an Administrative Assistant.” Although I seldom emerge from the back offices unless one of our front clerks has candy on her desk.
“Maybe you went to see 'The Dixie Swim Club' when the Prairie Players brought it to the Glesby Centre last year. I played 'Sheree,' the athletic, bossy one.” One was a stretch, the other...not so much.
“Maybe you saw my byline when I used to write for the Faith page in the Herald Leader.” Haven't written that column in a few years. My faith, I'm glad to say, remains intact.
“Maybe you were a student of my mom, Norma, who taught for years at Portage Christian Academy.” I see her looking at me from my mirror a little more each day.
“Maybe you're confusing me with my sister, Shanon.” She worked for 20 years at Westpark School, starting out as kindergarten teacher and ending as principal.
“Maybe you remember me from Red River College when its Portage Regional Centre was across the street from Subway.” I worked in their office in the late 90's.
“Maybe I cleaned your house.” I had my own cleaning service for about ten years. Can't say I miss it.
“Maybe you've been to Portage Alliance Church.” I was on staff for 14 years and still attend on Sundays.
“Maybe you've seen me dancing with the Prairie Cloggers.” I'm the one with the clumsy footwork and the lunatic grin that won't wipe off.
“Maybe you work at the Co-op.” I've been shopping there faithfully since we moved to Portage in 1983.
And then I realize it's not so much my common face or catchy name. It's the fact Portage la Prairie is small enough to SEE everyone but a little too big to KNOW everyone. The perfect sized town, if you ask me. In the future, if you think you know me from somewhere, I really hope it'll be from this, my column in the Central Plains Herald Leader. I'm calling it “Out of My Mind.”
I hope you'll go there with me.
Bunches of Lunches
A quick calculation tells me I've made over 12,000 lunches in my day. Impressed?
Every mom knows what a thankless job lunch-packing can be! Maybe your kids make their own, in which case, I take my hat off to you. To be honest, it was less hassle to just do it myself than to have three kids messing up the kitchen and fighting over who had what. And since I was still making lunches for their dad and myself, why not just make 'em all?
One year, I tried freezing them ahead. I'd spend Sunday afternoon laying out a loaf or two of bread on the kitchen table, slapping on mustard, meat, and cheese, putting them in sandwich bags and loading them in the freezer. Then each morning everybody grabbed a sandwich (which would thaw by noon) and be on their way. That got old in a hurry. The variety of freezable sandwiches is pretty slim and by Friday you wanted to gag at the sight of that freezer fare.
For a while, the kids were allowed to heat things up in the school microwave so we'd cook a batch of macaroni and cheese and divvy it up among three microwavable dishes. Sometimes these unwashed containers would make it home by Friday and sometimes they'd show up in school lockers at the end of June. Sometimes they crawled away of their own accord.
Hot lunch fund-raisers seemed like manna from heaven until we added up how much money that manna was costing.
Once the kids were teenagers, I said ,“okay, enough. There are five people in this family and five days in the week when we need lunches. From now on, each person is responsible to pack lunches for the entire family one day per week. If you forget on your day, you have to give everybody $5 to buy lunch.”
This worked for a while. When it was Dad's turn, he generally picked the $5 option, which no one minded except Mom, who had to juggle the food budget. Then there was the day the daughter put cheese slices in her brothers' sandwiches without unwrapping the plastic first. Lunch duty somehow drifted back into mom's lap after that. On occasion I would come across magazine articles featuring “healthy and creative lunches” for your family. I wanted to slap somebody.
It just NEVER got any easier!
These days, we're back to just hubby and me. I come home for lunch now and heat up some leftover thing. If hubby's here, he joins me. If not, he fends for himself, which usually means fast food. I no longer care. I've done my time. But I'll tell you something I never thought I'd say. Hearing my adult children digging through my fridge and messing up my kitchen on their rare visits home is music to my ears.
Your day will come, parents. Hang in there! Happy lunch-packing.