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Movie Night, Old School

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beauty and the beast

Last night, my fourteen year-old daughter returned from two weeks at camp. This camp of hers in Algonquin Park is a pretty classic one: no electronics, no electricity in the tents and cabins, and no flush toilets, so the need to catch up on Instagram and Snapchat (and the proper use of a toilet) is almost immediate.

She spent some time regaling us in all her camp fun including descriptions of cabin mates and their personalities, exceptional stories camp activities and sports and then promptly fell into a twelve-hour, post-camp coma which I believe continues to this hour.

She spent the most time very animatedly telling us about the camp theatre production for July, Beauty and the Beast. This is no let’s-look-through-the-dress-up-box-and-see-what-we-can-find camp skit but a well-executed musical with a very talented cast held in a dedicated outdoor theatre. Not that I have actually seen a production, other than a YouTube-posted version, but they’re impressive. (And I was a postulant in a small town amateur production of The Sound of Music thirty-five years ago so I know what I’m talking about!).

As soon as she got home, she and a neighbour wanted to rent the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast (not sure if it was for comparison or to just gloat at Lumiere’s accent) but I told her we already had a copy, and after an impressively short ten minutes of rummaging I returned to the family room and handed them a VHS.

Honestly, from the look on her and her friend’s faces you would think I just handed them the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle.

“What is that?”

“It’s Beauty and the Beast.”

“What do I do with that?”

“You pop it into the machine and watch it.”

“Um, machine?”

“Yes, the VHS machine.”

“We have one of those?”

“Yes, we do. It’s a DVD/VHS combo.”

So we figured out the right input channel fairly quickly and the image soon appears on the screen.

“Ugh!” she cried, “What’s wrong with it?!”

“Nothing,” I replied. “We just have to rewind it”

“I have to what?!”

At this point, her friend then says, “Y’know, this sounds like a lot of work. I’m going home.”

However, soon enough though, we were fully rewinded and perfectly snuggled on the couch and watching a VHS-version of Disney’s 1991 release of Beauty and the Beast. (Which, by the way, you cannot actually get on iTunes, at least not in Canada.)  My nineteen year-old soon joined in on the retro movie night and it was a party.

After the movie was over (and remember, Disney movies are only about an hour long!) I suggested to my son, “I’m sure I can bring out you old favourite from the same VHS box, dear.”

To which he replied, “I better go work on my Me Ol’ Bam-boo dance moves, then.”

All this to say, don’t throw away your old VHS tapes or your machine. You’ll never know when they’ll come in handy for a lesson in retro movie watching.

Next up on the marquee: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

You’re bored? Did you say, you were bored?!

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boredAnd then she says to me, “I’m bored!

A whole fifteen consecutive minutes of nothing to do has turned her world upside down and inside out.

You’re telling me you’re bored? Oh really. My dear child, you have no idea what bored is!

You do not know bored until you’ve spent all of July and August with nothing to do.

You do not know bored until sleepover camp means a night in the pup tent in your friend’s backyard.

You do not know bored until you spend an entire morning picking dandelions or daisies all by yourself.

You do not know bored until ‘pool time’ means a twirly sprinkler with ice cold water … or no twirly sprinkler at all and just the water hose .

You don’t know bored until the highlight of your afternoon is waiting for the ice cream trike to pass by at 3 o’clock in the afternoon …. and it’s only just past noon.

You do not know bored until you endure CBC children’s television broadcasting in the ’60’s in rural Québec.

You do not know bored until the only music you could listen to was CJSS AM radio.

You do not know bored until you’ve watched Brady Bunch re-runs.

You don’t know bored until movie night comes once a year and AppleTV is still a Fisher Price toy.

You do not know bored until your mom tells you to go outside to play and not return until lunch time or there’ll be hell to pay.

You do not know bored until the fourth consecutive rainy day on a camping trip.

You do not know bored until you’ve ridden to Timmins and back in the back seat of a Ford LTD with three siblings and nothing more to pass the time than a used set of paper doll cut-outs (with some of the tabs worn off), and a single Nancy Drew book.

You do not know bored until you’ve ridden to Toronto in the back seat of the same Ford LTD and your mom has forbidden anyone to speak since -oh – about 15 minutes into the trip!

Oh no, my dear. You do not know bored. Now, go find something to do or I’ll find you something to do (evermore the ageless cue to scram)!

What did your ‘bored’ look like?




Summer Camp by Numbers; Tuck Shop numbers, that is!

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tuck3As the school year is quickly coming to an end, I am getting my three children ready for camp.  I never went to camp as a youngster but they’ve each been going since they were each 8 years old.  You can hear about my personal experience with ENST (empty-nest syndrome training) here and more fun with Summer Camp Math here, but what do I really know about their camp experience?

I don’t actually know a thing about my kids’ camp experiences beyond what I’ve gleaned from their Tuck Shop accounts.

tuck1The term ‘tuck shop’ originated in Britain, used in many Commonwealth countries, generally means a store that sells candy and sweets. It has taken a broader meaning at camps in Canada selling emergency sundry items, but still the primary vendor of candy at camp. As a result, the camp tuck shop is the mirage in the desert, the oasis of the seas; kind of like my Friday happy hour, I imagine. With my fee remittance, I am asked to include a sum to credit to their individual tuck accounts.

The camp my two boys attend annually charges me $70 each for their camp tuck shop account. They are charged $1 for each piece of ‘tuck’ (candy) and are only allowed 3 pieces a week.  It also carries emergency toiletry items like soap, toothpaste and deodorant, though I have no idea what these toiletry items cost since neither have ever touched the ones I pack and therefore has never has no need to ever purchase them. They also sell postage stamps.


Anyway, absent the cost of personal hygiene and letters home, the accounting is pretty easy:  At the end of 4 weeks I am refunded $58 ($70- ($3X4)) each.  I understand that “tuck” candy has become a heavily traded currency given its scarcity. I casually hear statements like, “I’ll give you two pieces of ‘tuck’ if your Mom’s brownies” and “trade you my three ‘tucks’ for your new bottle of Deep Woods Off” are covertly whispered during Visitor’s Day.  I can only imagine the tuck debt that is accumulated over flashlight poker games. I pray my boys’ have the discipline to trade their ‘tuck’ responsibly and in moderation only.

tuck2Compare this to my daughter’s camp that charges me $375 for her tuck account.  Clearly her camp tuck shop is a mini-Neiman Marcus with pine shelves. I was pretty curious what would necessitate a 500% difference in tuck shop credit, as I am sure anyone would.  Obviously, the purchases of camper note pads, waterproof notebooks, pens, stuffed animals, carves, toques, towels, song books, lip balm, necklaces, hoodies, charm bracelets, charms, sunglasses and flashlights really adds up.  Yes indeed, it really adds up. On the other hand, she avails herself of the laundry service and I am able to bail out some of her clothes from death by incineration, unlike the clothes of her brothers.

The good news is that the camp fun does not end when the ‘tuck’ account is depleted, otherwise they would not return year after year.  I guess the most important lesson I’ve learned about my kids’ camp experience can be summarized as follows:  What happens at camp, stays at camp, and parents are gone but not forgotten – because they pay the Tuck Shop bills.

Do you or your kids have a camp Tuck Shop story?

A wink or two (but never 40) …

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The images are so vivid but I can’t figure out how I can be in so many different places at the same time.  I cannot escape nor do I feel compelled to do so.   I am in the moment, but one minute the moment seems suspended while the next it is rambling incomprehensibly through a time continuum.  I am overcome with a need to follow a beckoning unseen hand that tenderly directs my immediate attention elsewhere.  Farther and farther away I drift away like I am actually walking on the open lake…

It’s after noon.  The steady groan of creaky hammock hooks seems to mimic the sound of the passing motorboat’s wake whose waves gently break against the rocky shore, seemingly in time with the swinging hammock.  I am suddenly younger me.   My tongue is enveloping an ice cream cone without haste but also with swift defensiveness to catch the melting drops before the dog does.

It’s evening.  The putt-putt of the small watercraft drifts farther and farther away and another of my selves is reassured by the evensong of a distant train whistle pinpointing its path through the Land o’ Lakes.  I lay nearly naked on top of my sheets – impossible to coax a breeze tonight.

Time is going backwards and it’s dusk.  I am suddenly back on the dock disappointed by the fish that just literally just jumped off my hook making its escape before I can summon a witness.  The plaintiff cry of a not-so-far away loon suggests its commiseration with me and my disappointment but is in stark contrast to the shrill laughter of the small children playing in the water directly across the bay, their shrieks bouncing off the shore and tree line as it becomes mid afternoon all of a sudden.  How can I be playing in the water across the bay in daylight when I am here lying on the dock watching the meteors streak across the night sky?

It doesn’t matter. 

It’s late afternoon.  My old self is now smirking at my teenage self up on the dock stocking the cooler with clanging and clattering bottles of cold beer.  “You used to drink cold beer”, my hazy mind teases but doesn’t mind the memory now of refreshing fermented barley relieving a parched throat and summertime thirst.

I am once again back to my young self trying to catch fireflies in my mother’s mason jar before she discovers it missing from her pickling supplies.  I know this Tinkerbell Convention will be convened before I can say, “All children, except one, grow up.”

I am moving farther and farther away from these sights and sounds, and deeper into another layer of my mind.  The corn stalks tower over me as I run, playing hide and seek with my siblings.  I prepare for our father’s disappointment when I produce my meagre U-Pick harvest compared to his overflowing bushel.  I am an impatient amateur in this realm and I want to leap up and seize the imagery but my self-of-altered-state cautions me against it.  I am subliminally mentored to just “be”.  Somehow it doesn’t freak me out that all these me’s are all over the place. 

I am suddenly my grown up self again at evening yoga class, and am being gently drawn out of savasana by the instructor.  Her voice is soft, wispy and slightly high-pitched, but persistent nevertheless in beckoning the class back to the present.  Because of that unrelenting voice and gently shaking, slowly but reluctantly, my subconscious meets my conscious.  All too quickly I come face to face with the imminent new existential question:  “What’s for dinner, Mom?” 

Nap over.

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