March 22, 2015

Dear Diary: March 3-22, 1985

March 3, 1985

I always wonder why I am always trying not to be bored on Sunday. The only exciting and interesting thing that I did was finish my science project. My new owl's name is Oho. Oho is Cree for owl. Goodbye.

Such a nerd. No problem, no hypothesis, no conclusions – my science project was simply an opportunity to flaunt my (then) knowledge of rocks. I had rocks, minerals and crystals by the dozens, largely procured at the long-defunct Avenue Jewelers & Lapidary Supplies at Portage and Arlington. Screw candy – at least for another year or so – this is the place where I spent my dimes and quarters. The place had shelves upon shelves of mineral samples, raw crystals and rock-tumbler curiosities. One memorable Christmas I got a rock hammer. I used it a handful of times in the Whiteshell, unsuccessfully trying to extract bits of mica from the Canadian Shield. Later, in my teens, I was far more adept at using it to bust up my childhood Hot Wheels.

The name for my new ookpik? Another geek-out of mine: geography. I routinely checked out a book from the library on the origins of Manitoba place names. Towns, lakes, rivers – hundreds of locales in this province came from Cree words.


March 13, 1985

I get so suspicious at my mom when I say something. Anything. She carries the subject to work, work, work, work, WORK!!!!!!!!!! Like today. Goodbye! Good night.

The words I probably meant to use instead of 'suspicious at' were 'hesitant with'. My mom worked hard, and parented us solo. We had a good house. We were smart kids, raised right (enough) and we're all currently well-adjusted. She grew up on a farm, and on a farm you work. Everyone works. Pulling one's weight was paramount in our household, alongside "using common sense" and "not sitting around on our asses doing sweet-tweet". I don't pretend to know what triggered my diary rant on this given night, but times like this happened a lot. Sheltered as I was as the youngest child, I wasn't spared from my mom's diatribes all the time.


March 19, 1985

Today all the snow is melting and my favourite river down the back lane is boring because it dug to the bottom. A new game "Map of Canada Game" is out now because the snow is gone and it is painted on the pavement. Goodbye! Good night.

For a brief, shining period each spring, meltwater would course through and down the ruts in our back alley, waiting to be dammed, redirected, redistributed and polluted – just like a real river! I'd don my rubber boots and get to work. It was a playground like no other, at least, to a kid capable of turning nearly any scenario into a playground. Leave it to grown-ups in their silly grown-up cars to ruin the fun whenever one dared enough to trundle down the icy lane. But like any busy beaver who's dam is dynamited, I'd immediately get back to work. It's what I do… or, what I did.

Geography geek. I think I mentioned this. I kicked ass at that Map of Canada, basically a map of the country on the Mulvey Elementary hardtop. One kid would be "it", and instruct others to get to a location of that kid's choosing on the map. The last one to reach the spot would be out of the game. I can't remember how it benefitted the kid who was it but typically, the call would be something like "Ontario!" or "The Pacific Ocean!". But I ruled Map of Canada with an iron fist. If you were a grade-schooler and didn't know Manitoulin Island or the Ungava Peninsula from your own ass, you had no place in my game.


March 21, 1985

I have a growing pain. Nobody believes in growing pains any more. Tommorrow is the last day of school because Spring Break is here. Goodbye.

My stars, the growing pains – on some nights they destroyed me and, on fortunate/unfortunate occasion, would be nasty enough to exclude me from chores. I know my mom believed me. It pained her to watch me grimace in bed, biting my pillow, waiting for the pain in my shins to subside. I had this problem, on and off, for years.


March 22, 1985

Today I found a marble and some limestone. I built a big dam out of gooey leaves. It worked. It was the biggest I ever seen. It worked from 4:30 to 9:00 so far! Good night!

Heh. Not bad for the last Friday of school before Spring Break.

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