Thursday, 23 June 2011

School's Out

Another school year draws to a close. It was always a sad time for me.

While most kids couldn’t wait for summer vacation, I saw two months (gasp) of unstructured time stretching before me like a prison sentence, a series of arduous tests laid out for me by an Evil Wizard or the Selkirk school board or something. The horror.

I would get my school supplies for the next year as soon as possible. Then I would spend hours arranging the packages of loose leaf and binders, pencils, crayons, what have you. And rearranging them. Neat piles, alphabetically, according to subject. Not at all weird.

To distract me from pining for school, my mom would sign me up for those local Day-Camp programs for kids. They were ok, but I usually felt pretty awkward around new kids and tried to suck up to the teenagers running the thing. I usually lasted two or three days and then decided I’d rather eat a thick paste of Nestles Quik and milk in our freezing basement rec room than have to make crafts with strangers (don’t pretend you’ve never had that Nestle Quik Nirvana). Summer day camp programs involved my 3 least favourite things in the world: activity, the outdoors, and other kids.

I did learn how to paper mache at one of these camp things. I wanted to do it at home. Mom said, there was no way she was dealing with that kind of horrific mess and why didn’t I just go back to the camp where there were indifferent teenagers paid to do the washing up.  Sensible, but would have involved social interaction. Ew.

After I inevitably quit the day camp, I would sit around the house all day bored out of my mind.

“Use your inner-resources”, my mother would tell me when I complained of having nothing to do.

It was her way of saying “Get the hell out of here”.

I didn’t want to use my “inner resources”. I wanted assignments! And after that I wanted gold stars. No one put gold stars on your paper mache kitty mask.

So I’d wait out the summer with trips to the cottage, poorly attended birthday parties, hanging out at Selkirk pool with wet chip bags stuck to my leg, at least one major sunburn and The Bobbsey Twins. It was torture.

By the time September rolled around I was ready to explode with excitement. I wasn’t allowed to talk about how great it was to be about going back to school as it “gives your father an ulcer”. As a middle school teacher, I guess he had different feelings on the matter.

 So I vibrated with gleeful anticipation as subtly as I could, quietly plotting how to make my new teacher like me the best. It usually involved a mental image of myself sitting up very straight at my desk with my hands clasped on top. The very picture of a 10 year old vessel waiting to be filled with learning. I wanted to be the reason they went into teaching. I wanted to be the kid that they mentioned in their retirement speech 30 years hence.

No issues there at all.

Not much has changed. The arrival of summer always seems a little melancholy to me. Although I like the warm days and sunshine and slip on shoes, I still have a little resentment toward the assumption that I should want to be outdoors, doing… things. I prefer September to July, if only for the clothes ( I look better in layers of wool than slip dresses) and  I prefer Back-to-School flyers to beach books.  But until autumn, then,  I shall bide my time barbequing, getting sunburned, and eating fresh tomatoes on toast. 

It’s going to be just awful.


  1. I want to punch summer right in the face. Fall is where it's at. Followed closely by winter, although I only enjoy the snow and cold until the stroke of midnight on Dec 31. Once we're into Jan winter can go fuck him/herself in the ear.

    I need to officially start 'following', but the effort involved to get a new account and me feeling lazy has delayed this.


  2. I am so glad someone else is of the same mindset.
    Please take the time to officially follow the blog. I need to be needed.

  3. I see you have problems with unstructured time as well

  4. I LOVE this blog. It's all so true. But I think you did like summer, especially at the lake.
    I may not have let you do papier mache at home (wise mother) but I DID let you finger paint! Doesn't matter that you had to be outside, close to the garden hose.
    We are so different. I love summer so much. Especially sandals instead of boots, tee shirts instead of parkas, and on and on.
    I'll have the world know that you certainly read more than just the Bobbsey Twins when you were a kid. How about Roald Dahl, and C.S. Lewis, -- didn't you read other authors?
    Thanks for the blog. So true and so funny.

  5. Do I remember those days! I am too ignorant to figure out what my "URL" is so I have to be your Everluvvinanonymousbrudder. Do I have a URL? Anyway, I'm laughing out loud with your bits of history so keep it up. It should be mentioned that I took after dad in terms of the joys and sorrows of July and September. :)

  6. Gee Ellen, you've got biiiiig feet.... :-)

  7. They are drawn to scale. Sad, really.

  8. I remember day camps very well, the one at the fort was fun, 6 hours of little house on the prairie dress up! and after 3 hours of barbies, 4 hours of books, my ''inner-resources'' were almost used up, thank heavens for Jillian, dress up is just no fun on your own!

    Now im on the other side of summer vaccation, working and telling Tyrell for the 40th time, no we cannot go for ice cream today, because payday isnt until next week and money doesnt grow on trees blahblahblah. Im not even an adult and im no fun anymore!

    on the plus side, no more day camp :D

  9. also a shy and withdrawn kid, I was always ready to go back to school and I adore the fall. I'd rather be cold than hot, I melt in the heat and have no energy like I do in spring and fall. I'm hoping that painting henna on people will help me enjoy the summer more.
    p.s. I sunburn too!

  10. Hello there, Elpoo! Here is the recipe for my mom's red curry with chicken. Thank you for reading!

    -2-3 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into about 1/2" thick pieces
    -oyster sauce (we use the Lee Kum Kee Panda brand)
    -basil leaves (we use like 10 sprigs of it, but you can adjust to your liking)
    -1 can coconut milk
    -red curry paste (we buy it from an Asian grocery store. Any brand will do. It usually comes in a bag inside of a box.)
    -1 small can diced bamboo (again, we buy it from an Asian grocery store. they sell it in various sizes and styles like diced or sliced so again, you can adjust to your liking. Strain them and give them a little rinse).
    -sliced bell peppers (we used red and yellow but it doesn't really matter)

    The marinade:
    Coat the chicken in 2-3 tbs. of oyster sauce. Next, coat with 1 tbs. oil. Finally, add about 2-3 tbs. of cornstarch. (You might need to adjust the measurements above depending on how much chicken you use. Don't add too much oil and cornstarch or else the marinade will turn into a weird paste.) Let it sit in the marinade for at least 15 minutes.

    1. Put 2 tbs. oil in a big pot. Keep stove on medium or medium-high for the entire cooking process.
    2. When the oil is hot, add the bell peppers and bamboo shoots. Stir fry for five minutes.
    3. Add the basil leaves. Continue stir frying until they are wilted.
    4. Add 1/2 can of coconut milk (or you can use the whole can if you'd like the curry to be a little sweeter).
    5. Add 1-2 tbs. of red curry paste. Add more or less depending on how spicy you want the curry to be.
    6. Add a little more oyster sauce (like 1 tbs, but you can eyeball it).
    7. Add a little water (like 1/2 cup, but you can eyeball it).
    8. Add the chicken. Stir until fully cooked.

    Serve over rice and enjoy!

    I hope this recipe is helpful, and let me know if you have any questions. It's a pretty flexible recipe that you can adjust to your tastes. Just keep tasting the curry sauce and add more oyster sauce to make it saltier, coconut milk for sweetness, curry paste for spiciness, or water to dilute if you've added too much of any of the above. Good luck and happy eating!