Monday, July 1, 2024

Twenty Years!

On July 30, 2004 Pixnprose was born. 

Twenty years of being a content creator; posting thoughts and photos to my own corner of the internet. 

4,834 posts!


A couple (?) years earlier I had been invited to join a writing group started at TWU by a few enthusiastic, amateur writers who wanted regular challenges and honest feedback. The group went through typical growing pains over the years (I remember someone named Susan? And a young guy who was a garbage collector, the kind that hangs on to the back of sanitation trucks ...) and ended up being 5 of us; Christine, Jennifer, Rachel, Andrea and myself. All of us in different stages of our lives, (not surprising, there was/is a 30 year age spread), each of us with different backgrounds, beliefs and family dynamics. 

One evening someone (?) mentioned 'blogs' and thought the five us should/could start one with everyone posting to it. 

I went home, googled and started emptying my brain through my fingertips for the world to see the very next day. Posting photos, however, was time consuming and challenging. My camera was FILM. So I'd take a roll of photos, get them developed at London Drugs, and assuming they were all good, asked for a CD of the images as well. Then I'd download the photos from the CD onto the hard drive. And upload them to blogger. Looking back at those images, I shudder. The resolution is low. So are the pixels. For example:

(If you need an explanation as to what's happening here... Clint and his friends were done with summer and eagerly anticipating winter/snowboard season. One of them had a pick up truck which was loaded with the ice scrapings left by a Zamboni behind one of the local ice rinks. That 'snow' was shoveled onto the side hill beside Billie's Country (on my dad and mom's farm) in a path just wide enough for a snow board. At the bottom, they placed a ramp/table/ledge to do their tricks on. 

Apparently you don't need a whole mountain of snow to have fun.)

ANYhoo, back to The Early Days of Blogging...

That summer Drew turned 10, Max was 13 and Clint was 17. I'd been on my own for a few years and finding my groove as a single mom. We lived in Murrayville, our house was always filled with boys, we had Panago Pizza most Friday nights, and I blogged from our only computer on the desk in the corner of the family room after the kids went to bed. 

I loved those years. 

Blogging was my window into the outside world. Social media hadn't taken hold of our lives yet, so my way to connect to random strangers in foreign countries living outrageous (or normal) lives was to peep into their living room windows (aka read their blogs) by hitting the 'next' icon that used to be on the top corner of everyone's blogs. I learnt so much about writing, posting, sharing, story-telling, photography, commenting, cultures, lifestyles ... from reading those first blogs. I interacted with a few of them, but mostly I just read. (Most days it was like reading the scripts to a drama series. )

My own posts were just about the things happening in my life. Like this post that fall:

Max just popped by my desk, wearing his boxers and new Led Zepplin t-shirt. (Whoa. Long legs on that child.)
"It glows in the dark."
"What does?"
"My shirt. This part, here. The lantern. It glows. Do you know how cool that is?"
"Very cool?"
"Do you know how long it's been since I've had a glow in the dark t-shirt? A long time. I love this shirt."
"Life is good, eh?"
"Very good. Too good. Everything is fantastic."
"Downhill from here?"
"Yeah. It can't stay this good. Somethings gotta happen. I can feel it."
"Don't be silly."
"No really. I really like everything about my life. It's awesome. That can't last long. Something has to blow," he says as he heads back up to his darkend room where he can resume glancing at his glowing t.
"Max. You are a beloved child of the creator of the universe. He's not out to get you. He loves you. And He delights in your happiness. Quit being a retard."

He comes back into the family room. "Yeah. I know. Love ya, g'nite..."


Or this one:

I feel like crying.
A cloud of sadness is swirling around me like a misty fog. It’s settling on my shoulders and is heavier than I would have expected.

Drew clipped his own fingernails tonight.
I saw Clint snuggling (kissing his girlfriend) this afternoon.
And Max spent the evening delivering flyers because he said he would.

All three of them took a maturity step forward today. I hate it when they gang up on me like that. It would be easier to process if they did it one at a time.

“Next step is puberty, right mom?” Drew asks with a grin. He can hardly wait.
“I like it.” Clint says with a smile.
“We said we’d hand them out. So I’ll go do it.” Max decides with determination.

Being a parent is brutal.
Its days like these that I ache for a partner.
For someone who loves these boys as much as I do. Someone who can counter-balance my melancholy by seeing the bright side of having children inch towards adulthood. Someone who isn’t as scared as I am. Someone who is in the middle of the swirling mist right beside me and thinks, “Cool. Dry ice. Where’s the concert?”
Someone who’ll say, “Hey, let’s pray.”

This isn’t really about me.
It’s about them.
How ready are they? What have I taught them about love? Responsibility? Faith? Life?
Who are they becoming? Can I be proud? Or should I be embarrassed?

Is my time almost up? Why do I feel so rushed? Like I have to cram more “stuff” into their brains… stuff like:
- Remember to say thank you for dinner, for the ride…
- Brush your teeth. Twice a day. Or at least once. Or every other day minimum. Have breath mints or gum on hand as a back up measure.
- Put clean boxers on after you shower.
- Say sorry when you do something stupid or hurtful. Try to mean it. Say it even if you don’t.
- Clean up after yourself. Right away. As soon as possible. Before it bugs someone. Before the person you are living with has a meltdown.
- Express love to those you care about. Don’t be mean to your brothers. Give out hugs generously.
- Pray. Read your Bible. Go to church. Get involved.
- Do your very best. Try. Go for a “B”.
- Be faithful.
- Be trustworthy.
- Be true.
- Know that God made you for a reason, a purpose. Your life is not meaningless, it’s grand. Ask Him often what He would have you do.
- Love your wife and children fully and completely, even when it’s hard.
- Don’t be selfish. You are not the most important person in the world.
- Be giving. Of your time. Your money. Your love.
- Don’t squeeze pimples. Put medicine on them.

How come some days are tricky to manoeuvre through? Today is one of those. And maybe it’s not so much about today, but about future days. Days and days of changes, growth, maturity, independence…

I should get pregnant. I think I need a baby around here.


Christmas that year...

We are not a Norman Rockwell family.
And our Christmases are not traditional.

Drew and I spend Thursday night (the 23rd) Christmas shopping. He still had a few people left that wanted to buy for, and I really needed to just get started. So we did a marathon session that lasted 4 hours. FOUR hours. From the time I got off work til we couldn’t take one more minute of walking, looking, thinking, buying.

At one point, I was more than ready to just hand out cheques in nicely decorated envelopes when Drew said, “Mom, do you have any cash? I need $5. Maybe more if there’s tax.”
“I don’t have much cash on me, sweets. I can pay for your gift with Visa when I pay for the stuff I’m buying.”
“NO. I found something for you. I want to pay for it by myself. Can I have some money?”
I found a wrinkled up $10 at the bottom of my purse and handed it to him.
“Don’t look. Don’t even watch. No one will steal me. I’m fine. Go over there and wait, OK?”
I went to the back of the store, but kept an eye on the exits, just in case…
“Here’s your change.” He said proudly at he hid the bag behind his back.
“I got a deal. She asked me if I’d like a discount, so I said, uh, OK. So she said all I had to do was sign my name and write my postal code. I told her I didn’t know my postal code, so I guess I wouldn’t get the discount. But she said she’d put down a fake one, all I’d have to do was sign my name. But I don’t really have a signature, my handwriting isn’t too good, but she said that was OK, just scribble anything, so I did. And so it only cost me $2.99”

He came with me to the til area as I made my purchases, and pointed out the clerk who was so helpful to him. She was a young, attractive and friendly looking.
“I was in this line first.” He says as we stand in aisle 2. “But the lady who was buying something in front of me got all mad about something and she started to yell at the cashier. I didn’t know what to do, she looked mean. Then that lady told me I could go into her line. And she gave me a deal…”

He was smiling from his heart, happy to have found (another) perfect gift for me.
And that inspired me to keep on truckin’. Even if it took every last ounce of energy in my possession, I would continue shopping.

When we got home at 8:30, Clint and Max met us with the question, “What’s for dinner?”
I turned around and headed for the truck. “Can someone help me? I need to do some grocery shopping. And I need help.”
“I’m not going.”
“Neither am I.”
“Drew, you go.”
“OK. I’ll help you mom.”
So he and I shopped some more. And, because he agreed to help, he got to choose the menu for our Christmas Eve dinner.
“Let’s have a fondue.”

By the time we got home again, it was 9:30.
Again, I was asked, “What’s for dinner?”
There are days when I really wish there was one other adult in my home. An almost 18 year old son is not even close.

We ate Kraft dinner and BBQ chicken at 10:15 pm.

“Can we open our presents first thing in the morning?” Drew asks with excitement.
“Uhh. Nothing is wrapped yet, hon. I was thinking we’d sleep in tomorrow, have a laid back afternoon, an early dinner, go to church for the Christmas Eve service, then open your presents before I take you to dad’s.”

“But tomorrow is our Christmas Day with you. Christmas is always about opening presents first thing. Please?”

I wrapped presents til 2 am.
We opened them a few hours later, at 10 am on Christmas Eve.
“Thanks mom. What time are we going to dad’s?”
Then Clint played Nintendo. Max played on Clint’s computer. Drew played on our computer. For 6 hours.
Merry Christmas, O style.

Later in the afternoon, Max n I took a bunch of bottles and cans to the recycling depot. “I get the money.” Max announces.
I’m not going to argue with him. He loaded them into bags and put them in the truck for me. I’m happy to have him along. Drew asked if Max could share it with him, but Max wasn’t in the mood. “No.” was his curt reply.

A few hours later, we arrived at church on time and clean. The ‘dressing nice’ concept has not been accepted yet as an option. It’s a negotiating variable. Tonight I settled for shampooed hair, showered bodies and clean boxers. Maybe some day they’ll find pleasure in dressing nice. It’d suck if it was at my funeral.

Anyway, half way through the service, there’s a special offering for a family in our congregation. As the velvet bags are being passed around, Drew whispers to me, “I want to give too. Max is giving all the recycling money. Do you have some money in your wallet?”
I glance over at Max, and sure enough, he’s taken the money out of his pocket and is waiting to put it in the offering. All of it.
I guess it doesn’t matter that he likes to wear t-shirts and ripped jeans to church.

WE finally got around to having our first ever family fondue at 9 pm. We heated the oil on the stove first, then transferred it into the cast iron fondue pot I received for Christmas last year. We lit the flame beneath, and settled in for hours of meat eating. (Chicken, steak, sausage and hamburger balls.) I went through the motions of preparing potatoes and putting fresh veggies on the table, but… really, this meal was about meat. Lots of it. Deep fried meat. Cooked over a real flame. A manly meal.

I think I should have fired up a propane torch instead. That wimpy lil fondue flickering flame did not keep the oil hot. In fact, it did not keep the oil warm. The four of us each stuck in 2 forks full of meat apiece. And waited for the sizzling and spackling to begin.

By 10 pm we unplugged the Christmas lights in the backyard and brought in the extension cord. We transferred the oil to an electric frying pan which we set up in the middle of the kitchen table. We turned it up to 450 degrees, tilted it on an angle (by placing videos under one side) so there would be a “deep end”, and put it our colour-coded forks. Five minutes later we all had hot oil burns on our forearms and hands from all the bubbling, popping oil.
And shortly after that we just plain sick of oil laden, deep fired meat.

Merry Ho Ho.

Next year Max is in charge.
I’m guessing he’s gonna want to pick up drive through food from A&W.

Hoping your Christmas is warm and bubbly,
Love Jane


From Clint's Grade 12 Journal:

"The first day we moved into our new house, my grandpa spilled some burgundy wood stain on our driveway. To stop it from ruining our driveway, he pulled out his universal fix for everything: gasoline. As my grandpa was dousing our driveway, a neighbour came up demanding we stop because the gas might run inot the storm drain that clearly had a yellow fish spray painted on it. Personally I would be more worried about a driveway soaked in gas than the fishies... Whatever the case, she called the fire departmentsaying there were hazardous chemicals in our drains... a fire truck, the fire warden, a pumper truck, a union public-works truck and a manager all arrived on our front step. It was agreed that the drain did indeed have gas in it and it should be removed. t was taken care of and a good time was had by all.

And that is how we made our grand entrance into the community; an economic crisis marred by controversy and flammable liquids.

Not a single person welcomed us to the neighbourhood."

Re: grade 12: "Right now all I'm doing in school is trying to make it as fun and non-sucky as possible."


My Max...

He's tall and lanky. His growth spurt was impressive last year... 

At Sun Peaks he landed on his bum and ended up injuring his tailbone. Even though he wears his pants low enough that he wouldn't need to drop them for a doctor, he refused medical attention. Despite the intense pain, he's been going to school as per usual, with a pocket full of Advil for when the discomfort becomes too great.
I did write him a note, to give to his PE teacher, excusing him from participating in the class activities for a week or so. He went to the arena with his class, but sat in the stands, listening to his MP3 player, while everyone else was on the rink.
When I picked the guys up afterschool, Max slowly lowered himself into the front seat with a huge grin on his face.
"How was school?"
"Fantastic. We had iceskating today."
"Did you skate?"
"No. I was a babe magnet instead."
"I was just sitting there, trying to listen to my music and one of the girls came by to talk to me. Then another one. And 'nother one."
From the backseat, "It's true Mrs. O. I was playing hockey, and I looked up and there was Max, completed surrounded by all the girls. Never seen anything like it before."
"Yeah. They, like, flocked around me. Like seagulls. On a fry. AND I WAS THAT FRY!"

He just got home. He was at WalMart with his friends, the backseat boys.
He was excited about his evening's gifts, (belated birthday presents) "Look at this great hat."
It is black leather with ear flaps and a zippered pocket on the front above the rim. It looks particularly striking when accompanied with his other new fashion accessory; the plasticized replica WWE championship wresting belt. In his hand was a new bright orange cap gun.

He looks like a really really big three year old.


“Not the girls.”
I was wondering when it would happen.
Clint stopped in grade 2. Max in grade 4. Drew is in grade 5 and this is the year.
“I’ll give Valentine’s to the guys only.”

With his class list before him, he personalized the SpongeBob Valentines, crossing out some words and adding others.
“How should I attach the Smartie packages?” he wondered.
“How about using the hot glue gun?” I suggested.

Looking forward to squeezing a trigger, he plugged it in and waited for it to heat up.
The cord wasn’t long enough to reach the table, so he set up a chair as his workspace. But there was a lamp’s cord criss crossing the chair, and he’s left handed, and there were 20 cards and boxes to attach to each other, and he looked overwhelmed. So I handed him one set to glue first.
“Oh! Could this be a teamwork thing, mom?”
“OK. That’s good. Some things just work out better when you work as a team and cooperate with each other.”
“That’s true.”
He picks up his weapon, squeezes the trigger and a blob of hot glue lands on the Smartie box. As he presses the box onto the card, covering up SpongeBob's square pants, he continues “Have you tried something like this at work? You know, the teamwork approach? Maybe you want to tell everyone about it…It might just make things easier for you all.”



I've been reading old blog posts all evening and I'M RIGHT BACK THERE. In 2004. Ahhh, the power of the written word. 

Thanks to those of you who've supported my writing journey over the years. I really only wrote for myself... so I wouldn't forget the events, emotions, conversations that've been important to me. As the Oboys got older, and didn't give me permission to share their stories, I wrote out prayers, To Do Lists, book and movie reviews, travel notes, deep thoughts, and the three things I'm thankful for. 

Hoping to be more intentional about posting to this space in the coming years. I'm realizing tonight how much I miss it. 

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Computers, smart phones, cameras, social media, the internet

2. Fresh soft white bread from Cobbs and a couple ripe, firm, fresh tomatoes

3. My condo. Which does not have spiders, bugs, mosquitoes, mice, or rodents. 

Take good care of yourself; squeeze your boobs, get more sleep, hug the ones you love,


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