Monday, April 27, 2009

Nuts and Bolts

One of my favourite memories of childhood is Sunday mornings. My dad would give me some money and send me down the street and around the corner to Tim Hortons (yes, I did live around the corner from a Timmies - proof I am Canadian) to buy a dozen doughnuts. After a healthy breakfast of one (okay, two) doughnuts, we'd get dressed and go to church. I liked church because I had friends there, I got to sing, and we had cookies after the service. (It was all about the food. Still is.)

After church, we popped over to the local Canadian Tire. (Yes, our church was near a Canadian Tire. More proof that I am Canadian.) My dad was always fixing things around the house, and later around the cottage, so there was always something we needed. My mom and brother usually stayed in the car, but I loved to walk up and down the aisles looking at all the shiny things made for mysterious purposes. Nuts, bolts, washers, nails of all sizes, plastic tubing and caulking. I had no idea who could possibly need all of these things but I thought they would make some lovely materials for art projects. Up and down the aisles I would go, getting deeper and deeper into the store until I began to get worried I would be lost. Or, more likely, that my dad would find what he was looking for before I found the toy aisle. (It's was all about the toys. Still is.)

It was a funny little Sunday morning ritual - doughnuts, church, Canadian Tire - but it was ours, and I remember it fondly. It was a part of the family that I belonged to, to which I still belong though I've grown up and moved away.

It's those little rituals that I sometimes feel that are missing from our family now. I doubt they actually are, but I'm living them right at the moment so I don't have the same kind of perspective. Who knows what my kids will remember when they grow up? But sometimes it really feels like I'm pretending to be a grown-up, a wife and mother -- living in a house, with a husband and two children -- who is this person?

For instance, we have a backyard that we almost never use. We garden. We paint the deck. We tore down the Grisly Garage and put up a pretty little shed. But we don't use the space. We don't live there. We haven't made it part of the home. Ever since we moved into this house, we have wanted to get a patio set, so that we could have meals outside, or even just enjoy a morning coffee and paper. But we never got around to getting one. The wiring had to be fixed. Tree roots trashed our plumbing. The roof needed replacing, as did the sad hardwood floors. There was always something. And the back deck remained empty.

Having kids just made the feeling that we needed to use that space more acute. But, you know, things have a way of just not getting done when you have kids. And the back deck remained empty.

This year, we were determined to get a patio set, and finally have family meals al fresco. Naturally, my first thought was to go to Canadian Tire. (I can't help it. Sunday mornings, you know.) There are fancier places you can go, of course, but we're not rich. (And in this economy, we're even less rich..) They have a lot of really nice stuff, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

But a miracle happened. The people at Canadian Tire who lit up our Christmas with solar-powered snowflakes (Big C is still talking about them. Still.) contacted us and asked us if we would like to decorate our home for the summer. And they gave us this Satori dining set (with 6 chairs!!):

I'm speechless. I still don't quite believe it. Every time I look outside, I smile. When I think of the meals we can have there, the people we can invite over to enjoy our back yard, the coffee in the morning and the sangria at sunset - I just smile. Even Mr Earth said "Wow, that's really nice! I feel like we're actually grown-up or something. A family." (That last bit may not be verbatim, but you get the gist.)

Big C thinks it is AMAZING. "We can do art out there!" I never even thought of that. Way to go, Big C. Little G just made himself at home.

I'm hard at work thinking of all the ways I can make the space even more homey and relaxing: flowerpots, cushions for the bench, tea lights, a lovely outdoor Blossom dinnerware set that matches the red of the umbrella perfectly, and some Tibetan buddha statues. (A girl can never have enough Tibetan buddhas.) We are going to have so much fun out there this summer. I can't wait.

It's comforting to know that Canadian Tire is still, all these years later, the nuts and bolts of my family. I am my father's daughter, after all, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Now, if only I had me some doughnuts...mmm, doughnuts.

I put the kids to work cleaning the deck so that my pretty new set wouldn't feel so out of place. Child labour. Nothing wrong with that, is there??


painted maypole said...

the mystery is solved. it looks lovely. we love love love eating on our porch.

Mac and Cheese said...

Wow! That's really nice! The backyard is the one area of our home where I feel like a "family". Baby on the swing, Pumpkin running everywhere, hubby playing fetch with the's very leave-it-to-beaver-ish, for lack of a better adjective.

Mad said...

It's wonderful and will provide many happy bbq meals.

I've been eying a deck rocker at Kent. No chance they'd give it to me, though. They're owned by the Irvings.

metro mama said...

Looks great!

kgirl said...

I'm glad you did that. We pretty much live in our backyard from the moment the snow melts. Every dinner is eaten out there from May - October, weather permitting.

I also have incredibly fond memories of walking the aisles of Canadian Tire with my dad. It's good to grow up a Canadian girl.

Kyla said...

That's awesome!!

We have no American Tire. So sad.

Mimi said...


I was just at crappy tire today, getting the snow tires off ...

Your deck looks awesome! Can I come over for dinner?

bren j. said...

That is so great! After we move, you totally have to tell me how you got in with Canadian Tire. I need me an arrangement like that.

I love the smell when you walk in there. Every Canadian Tire smells the same. I don't know what it is but mmm......

kittenpie said...

Wow, that's awesome! Tell me how you like it, will you? We have to fix our top deck this summer, so I wouldn't mind moving the inherited from previous tenants set from the backyard up top and getting something large enough to actually have neighbours over. Something for more than four people.

And Canadian Tire is Pumpkinpie's favorite store. Ask her, she'll tell you so.