It’s Not All Mary Poppins

I’m a fixture

Remember that Sesame Street song? “Who are the people in your neighbourhood?” (Just watched that clip. Goodness, that’s cheesy. Sweet, but cheesy. Is it still part of the show?)

I was walking through our neighbourhood the other day with a woman who doesn’t feel very connected here. She’s lived here a couple of years, but has no friends, she says. She’s quiet, but she has two young children, and that in itself is usually enough to bridge the gap. I’m not sure why this would be the case, but we’re going out for coffee.

I wouldn’t say I’m a friend yet, but I’m open to the idea. I understand what it is to feel disconnected. I have friends, but I’m more introvert than extrovert, so I don’t have an enormous drive to collect friends in great bunches, and, though I’ve broadened the definition over the years, I’m still fairly slow to label a relationship as a friendship. Could this woman ever be a “real” friend, by my admittedly stringent standards? I suspect not, but I like her, she’s lonely, and an hour or two chatting in a coffee shop is a simple, easy way to do a kindness. And who knows? It could end up being a real friendship! So I walk to her house, and from there we walk the few blocks to one of the several coffee shops in range.

Half-block up from her home, a former client stops to chat for a moment. Introductions all round.
A block further on, a fellow from the dog park waves. Introductions all round.
At the next corner, someone stops to ask if I’m the woman who looked after Emily, and then asks if I have spaces, which I don’t. I give her contact info for a different caregiver.
Further down the block, Grace calls from her front porch. Grace’s mother waves. Introductions all round.
A former client is leaving the coffee shop as we enter. Introductions all round.

As we settle into our chairs, my lonely neighbour’s eyes are wide. “You know everyone!”

A funny idea, for me, the friendly enough but not particularly socially inclined ambivert. (Thanks for that term, Carol, for I suspect that’s what I am.) Though in recent years I’ve consciously decided to cultivate more friendships, I don’t need a lot of socializing in my life. I almost never get lonely. I prefer a night at home to a night out.

But, what do you know? I do know people in my neighbourhood. Lots of them. None of the people we met were friends, but I know lots. Even more know me.

They know me because I am one of   ♫♫”the people that you meet, ♫ when you’re walking down the street, ♫ the people that you meet each day.”♫♫♫

I am The Daycare Lady.

You know what?

I kind of like it.

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

New Shoes

I live in an old house. Well, old by North American standards. Any Europeans reading this — I know there are one or two — will be amused to know that a house that is just barely coming up on its one hundredth birthday could be considered old, but in this country? It’s ancient.

(For you history buffs: The city where I live was founded in 1826 and re-named “Ottawa” in 1855. So, my house, built somewhere between 1912 and 1920, so the experts estimate, goes back to early days.) It’s not a gorgeous house, but the ceilings are high-ish and the moldings wide-ish. It’s a nice, small house. It’s also, in the winter, drafty. Brrr.

So you wear sweaters, and put that plastic stuff up on the windows and put draft stops along the bottoms of the doors, and you wear warm, wooly socks and slippers.

Except. Slippers. I go through slippers like popcorn. I wear them all day, every day, six months of the year. And every year, within a couple of months, they’re loose and sloppy, and when I run up the stairs (and I always run), they flip off my feet.

That’s annoying.

Even the really expensive, very cozy pair of shearling-leather-suede-whatever ones I bought a couple of years ago. A few months, and they fly off my feet. Even though they started out almost uncomfortably snug. They fly off my feet when I run up the stairs, and when I walk through rooms they slide off my heels a bit, making a shuffling sound. I’ll shuffle when I’m 90, thanks. I don’t want to be doing it now.

So that was annoying, as well.

So, if it can’t be slippers, then it’ll have to be shoes. Now, I don’t like wearing shoes in the house. Not just because we live in a semi, and my poor neighbour is now going to hear my feet running up the stairs, every time. (Sorry, nice neighbour! Hope you still like me in two months…) No, it’s more than that.

In some places, I know, you leave your shoes on when you come inside, but here you TAKE THEM OFF. Because outdoor shoes track stuff in. Mud, grit, damp. You’re reasonable about it, of course. When we had workmen here, the poor fellows spend the better part of one morning carrying bags and bags of debris from the basement, through the main floor, and out the front door. Over and over again. They were all set, well-brought-up young men that they are, to take their boots off every time they entered, and put them back on every time the left that front door. All 153 times.

Of course, I told them they could keep their boots on.

But mostly? The expectation is the footwear comes off. It’s RUDE to leave your shoes on when you visit another home, and you always take them off in your own. Period. That’s ingrained in me. Wearing shoes in the house just feels wrong. So if I am to wear shoes in the house, they’ll have to be a dedicated pair, worn only in the house. Then I can call them “house shoes”, see, and they can be in the same mental category as “slippers”, and all that social training can leave my subconscious alone.

A couple of years ago, I discovered — wait. I lie. A couple of years ago Emma discovered that you can design your own Converse shoes, right there on their website. How cool is that?? She went to the website, she designed her shoe, she got to the checkout… and the things were expensive. Really, really expensive.

Sorry, love. We can’t do that.

But I remembered that idea, and I went back. Oddly enough, given how much walking I do, I’m easy on my shoes. Shoes last me a long time. If I’m to wear these things only indoors, I bet I could get ten years out of them. And if that’s the case, maybe I can justify paying a boatload of money on a pair of runners…

So I went onto the website and did a little poking around. And THAT’S when we discovered that if you’re ordering from a Canadian address, it costs a boatload of money. But if you’re ordering from an American address, it costs only a rowboat of money.

Guess what? I have a daughter living in the states!! And it only costs about $10 to mail a shoebox north of the border… mwah-ha. So I called my daughter up, we both logged into the site, and together we clicked boxes and chose options. And then she made the purchase on her Visa. And then I dropped the money into her account, right there, right then. (Isn’t the internet WONDERFUL???)

She emailed me when they’d arrived. “They’re pretty wild, mum.” And then she stuck them in the mail. When they arrived, my youngest daughter looked at them and said, dubiously, “They’re awfully loud.”

Mwah-ha. Good thing they’re both too old to be embarrassed by their mother… Yes, they are! I know this because only last week, Emma informed us, after the Wonderful Husband had said something goofy (or exceptionally affectionate or maybe affectionately goofy), “As I’ve matured, you two have moved from being embarrassing to just being funny.”

So. My girls may laugh at my shoes, but at least they’re not cringing. (And tough if they were, says I. My feet, my shoes. Neener, neener.)

Introducing Mary’s wild shoes:

Because, really. I’m a daycare lady! Daycare ladies should get to wear wild shoes.

Aren’t they great? Miss Frizzle would be proud.

October 19, 2011 Posted by | individuality, my kids, random and odd | , , , , , | 15 Comments