Tag Archives: Childhood

Happenings and goings on

Who are these two cuties?
Marc Baby Dixie Baby

Luke thought they were pictures of himself and Olivia, respectively.  In fact, they are of me and Dixie (also respectively).  Found them when cleaning out the junk from the storage room.

That, incidentally, is how I spent much of my pre-age-seven childhood.  Not crying or in women’s clothes, but with my two fingers stuck in my mouth and hanging onto a ribbon tied to the neck of one stuffed animal or other (either a lamb or a rabbit–I wore several out).

We’re finally getting to some “serious” packing.  This means spending the afternoon in the storage room sorting through boxes of various junk and paraphernalia.  I didn’t think we’d accomplished much, as it appeared to me that we had just moved items from one box to another box, albeit in a significantly more organized way.  Dixie, on the other hand, is quite pleased with what we’ve accomplished today, so I’ll take her word for it.

We’ve rented a U-haul truck for Tuesday (for 4 days and an alloted 1,047kms).  We chose the 17-footer instead of the 26-footer.  The 26-footer was, by U-haul’s estimation, the size of truck needed for our house, but we decided to rent one relative to the size of our trailer.  The 17-footer is probably still too big.

Events being what they were–exhaustion (ironically) after a great three-week holiday, Dixie’s grandpa’s passing and the subsequent funeral and inpouring of relatives–we haven’t done a great deal of packing since we returned from our holiday.  I hope we can get it together by Tuesday/Wednesday.  (If you’re around, you can help us load the truck!)

Our house still hasn’t sold.  Couldn’t tell you why.  At least a couple of people have expressed interest, but that’s meaningless unless there is an offer in the offing.  We’ve done more finishing work than we had originally intended, but people can afford to be picky in a market flooded with houses, so we have to appease the masses as much as we can.  We’ve also dropped the price $25,000 below the professionally appraised value.  We may end up renting the place out.

So it looks like we’ll be heading into the school year with a house to worry about.  This is precisely what I did not want to happen, but, as they say, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  You can look at this a couple of ways, but the way I prefer (right or wrong) is the “God stretching you” approach a good friend suggested.  Alternately, you can look at this as simply the way it is.  I’m still pretty confident it will sell, but when?  And for how much?

Someone tweeted Dixie today to see if I still used Twitter.  Some of you might also be wondering if I still blog.  Well, I don’t.  I haven’t been blogging for several months and I don’t plan on blogging again.  Ever.

I kid, of course.  In fact, I have already blogged more in August than I did in all of July.  Things will hopefully pick up next week, once we’re set up in Otterburne, and certainly once school starts.  I plan on giving you a video tour of our new digs, as well as some photographs and musings from our time along the west coast of Vancouver Island.  I may also post about the final days of last year’s Back Roads of Saskatchewan Tour.

Sparrow Gardens

I read in the PassPort, the Briercrest alumni rag, that Barkman Arena in Caronport is up, running and officially opened.  In some ways I want to say, “It’s about time.”  They were talking about a new hockey arena when I was in high school–someone had already started fundraising at the time and it looked like I might even play hockey in the new rink, but things fell through.  But good for them for getting it up and running.

Sparrow Gardens, the hockey rink in which generations learned to play hockey, has seen better days.  It’s old, dusty, cold, and the ice is not regulation size.  The PassPort said that it is to be torn down this month, which I noted with a bit of sadness.

I could only find one picture of Sparrow Gardens online (wait–the Moose Jaw Times Herald has a photo gallery with some shots of Sparrow Gardens as well as Barkman Arena, which looks slick):

That’s less than half of the building, but it’s the rink portion.  It’s a converted airplane hangar from the days when my hometown was a RCAF training base.  It’s one of the few remaining RCAF buildings in town.

And it’s filled with memories.

When we moved to Caronport from the Netherlands in 1985, we lived in “the hangar”–we never called it “Sparrow Gardens”, a name which I think was given to it to try to make less what it is (that is, old, dusty, ugly) during conferences and youth events–although sparrows did fly around in there.  We always called it “the hangar” or simply “the rink”.  In the picture you’ll notice portions of the building jutting out, with lower roofs.  I imagine that back in the RCAF days they housed offices and machine shops.  The portions in the picture are now dressing rooms.  However, further back on this portion of the building as well as to the right, those jutting parts were, in 1985, apartments in which student families lived, and they looked the same as they do as the portions in the picture (except they had the old RCAF windows in them).

We lived in two different apartments in the hangar in our first two years in Caronport.  My best friend at the time (James D., are you out there somewhere?) also lived in the hangar.  The first apartment we lived in was right next to the rink and my bedroom was on the inside wall of the apartment, so some nights I went to bed to the sound of pucks hitting the wall and the mesh covering the window.

I don’t remember this, but my mom often recalls a story from our first winter in that apartment in Caronport.  I would have been 7-turning-8.  It was during the first major snowstorm–cold, big snow drifts, white-outs.  My dad would have been familiar with them from his days in Caronport in the late ’50s and early ’60s, but for my mom, who had always lived in relatively mild winter climates, this was completely new and terrifying.  And it just so happened that during that snowstorm I didn’t come home when I was supposed to.  My mom immediately had mental pictures of me frozen in a snowdrift somewhere in the village and both she and dad walked into the storm to look for me, calling my name.  But they didn’t find me.

I don’t know what brought it to mind to look where they did–desperation, I suppose–but they found me sitting in one of the dressing rooms with one of the local hockey teams.  I had never left the hangar and had simply lost track of time.

In later years, Christmas holidays–two, three weeks?–would be spent mostly in the rink.  Many of the kids and some of the adults who were still in town for Christmas would be at the rink first thing in the morning and play shinny all day–maybe stopping for lunch, but then rushing right back afterwards to keep playing.  Those were great days.  Looking back, it’s strange to think of the people who joined us to play.  We had children and adults playing at the same time, people who played very well (I believe Ryan Smyth may have shown up once–he used to play for our high school team) and people who could barely skate.  Even the president of Briercrest Schools (Dr. Barkman himself) came out every now and then (he was among the very good players).

Christmas holidays in those days were about all-day pickup hockey, until one year some parent complained that there was no free skate time for the figure skaters and non-hockey players.  So rink officials stepped in and gave them their timeslot as well.  Picture in your mind 15 or 20 hockey players of various ages, sticks and skates in hand, standing on the bleachers watching one or two little girls twirling around the rink, waiting for them to be done their one or two-hour time-slot.  It was an injustice.

In the summer, the hangar was a cool refuge from the dry, 35-degree weather.  And there were no grasshoppers there.  The summer of ’85 was the worst year for grasshoppers I’ve ever experienced.  I would step near a 6″x6″ patch of grass and what would seem like hordes of grasshoppers would jump up and buzz around me, crawl on my shirt.  I had never seen such a creature before.  I was terrified.  But they didn’t go in the hangar.  Too cool, maybe.

The hangar was dusty and a little damp, too, as I recall.  It was filled with all kinds of interesting nooks and crannies–places kids would climb into, passages under the floor connecting the hangar to different parts of the old air base.  Rumour had it that some of those nooks and crannies had rat poison in them, but I suspect that was said to keep the kids away.  I never saw a rat in the hangar.   But it was probably not the healthiest place to spend summer days.  I remember mom telling us to go outside all the time.  Being out of the apartment but inside the hangar didn’t count.

Back in the day, Caronport, being a “Christian town”, banned trick-or-treating and legend had it that on All Hallows’ Eve, Satanists from Moose Jaw would come into town and do all kinds of Satanisty things.  Nobody ever explained what sorts of things those would be–we never found skinned cats or any other such rumoured-to-be evidence of Satanist activity.  Except for the one year that a couple of friends found what appeared to be a pentagram drawn in chalk underneath the old wooden bleachers in the hangar.  In chalk. We all bought it and were creeped out.

In later years, the apartments in the hangar were converted into more dressing rooms and weight rooms.

And now it is going to be torn down.  But, if I may speak sentimentally for a moment, I hold onto the memories.

I hope to get out to Caronport this summer or maybe next, just to wander around the place again.

Me, June 1988

Marc Legislature June 1988

Me, June 1988, on a class trip to the Saskatchewan legislative building in Regina (cropped from a group picture). The glasses were a poor choice (but there were plenty of poorly chosen specs in the picture), but the rest of the outfit looks very comfortable and not all that different from what I wear these days. I particularly like my shoes in the shot.

Just like mom, I’m looking away from the camera at something out of the shot.

And look how tanned my legs are!  I’ve always had good legs, I’ll admit.