Memories of childhood

Sarca’s Got a Brand New Bag

I was raised in an environment where you hang on to something until it breaks or wears out, or it no longer has a useful purpose. My Mom had the same living room furniture for 30 years until she decided to reupholster it. She never felt the need to replace it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Mom is an extreme example of preservation, and here I find myself living by her example. I have used the same backpack for the last 24 years and until recently, never saw any reason to replace it. It has seen me through all my degrees, diplomas and certificates, it has seen me navigate jobs, and trips…and up until last week, it carried my lunch, work shoes, sweater and anything else I needed to take to make my workday more comfortable.

Backpack from 2013

I remember the day in April 1994 when I bought this bag. I had just finished up my last painting studio class of the Winter semester at the University of Western Ontario, and what I would often do is reward myself with a jaunt to downtown London to decompress and do some browsing. I hit up City Lights Bookshop on Richmond St. I then rounded the corner down King St to Novacks, known as London’s most interesting store back then. It was an army surplus camping store that was indeed a very interesting place to shop. That day, they had a Spring sale on day packs – 40% off. I wasn’t on the market for a bag, really. The one I was using was fine, if a little small…Call it an impulse buy, but one of the day packs on the rack caught my eye, and that was it – I bought it. $60.


The make of the bag was Pine Ridge, a London, Ontario company that gave a lifelong guarantee on their bags. If something broke like a zipper, they would fix it. Unfortunately, Pine Ridge no longer exists, much like Novacks. A damn shame.

No matter, that bag and I were inseparable, and I never had a problem with it. I loved it! This was the first hiking type backpack I ever owned. It had two large openings, travel mug holders, a sernum strap, a waist strap and enough room to accommodate everything from a week’s worth of stuff for a trip on the bus to Sudbury to all my big heavy art supplies.

As the years went by, my bag took a beating, but a little run in the washer would fix it right up. Like anything, however, it wasn’t getting any younger. In February 2013, I brought my famous* chili to work for lunch and carried the container in my bag. What is now known as the Chili Lunch Explosion of ’13, I arrived at work to find most of the lock top container that housed my food unsealed and leaking all over the interior. It was bad. Having a 19-year-old bag at this stage, I thought for sure this incident would have been its demise and I’d end up pulling the dead pieces of my bag from around the agitator in the washing machine. Nope! To my surprise, the bag cleaned up nicely. Aside from some fraying around the straps – which I fixed – the bag was good to go for another round of trips and adventures.

The bag today, and the material I am left with

Nothing lasts forever. As the years went by, the bag started to look its age and people were beginning to notice. The straps I fixed were slowly fraying more and pulling away. The left strap had less than an inch of material holding it to the rest of the bag. It was time to face it: I needed to locate a replacement.

The search for a new bag actually started a couple of years ago, but I struggled to find anything comparable. Speed it up to six months ago, I was very actively searching for a new bag. I aimed high, budgeted realistically, and looked for similar features as my present bag. Still, I could not find anything. I went more expensive, and aside from paying a ridiculous ransom for a bag, I still failed to find anything. The trouble was I got used to having a bag with both a sternum and a waist strap. These features are important to me to better distribute the weight of the bag on my shoulders. Sure, I could find both these features in a bag, but the bag would be too big, or there would be no cup holders, or the inside was too small, or I’d be spending $400 for a bag. I’d give up the search, pick it up again, and give up again. I was a veritable Goldilocks of backpacks! The Hubs finally said that I need to just decide on something. It would be alright. “You may not get what you’re looking for, but that will be okay. Just make a decision. It will be the right one.”

*SIGH.* “O-kayyyy.” *Pout*

In the light of day, it occured to me: you know who says that about decision-making? Sarca.

…Jesus, I need to start listening to ME!

Two weeks ago I took a weekend and pounded it out. I finally purchased a bag. I honed in on one from Mountain Equipment Co-op, a Canadian company that sells outside gear. A Patagonia Refugio 26 Litre backpack. It ticked all the boxes except for there having no waist strap. Meh, what are you gonna do. It has the sternum strap and the cup holders. Quite a generous-sized body, with a place inside to put a laptop, and inner pockets for other junk. The Refugio has a slender fit for women, and a lot of padding on the straps and back. And, unlike my old bag, it sits upright on the floor. This bag has been in my life for over a week, and it’s turned out to be pretty damn good. I made a decision; it ended up being the right one.

The sad remnants of my old bag currently lie on the floor of my living room. I am not sure what to do with it now. It seems sad to throw it away. Maybe I’ll burn it ceremoniously in a funeral pyre? It had a lovely life, saw me through my shit while carrying my shit. Now this ol bag gets to make new adventures with a new bag.

*Famous in four Ontario cities. #truth

[Music] Mrs. Remnants: an Album That Only Exists in My World

This is my first blogpost specifically about a particular music album. Many of my music blogger pals have seen me on their blogs, commenting and writing about my love and experiences with music. Some are familiar with my affinity for obscure 80s and Canadian music. What better way to start writing about music here than introduce you to a compilation that no one has ever heard of? Well, no one has heard of it because it was my creation…

My sis was celebrating her 29th birthday in 2000. My mom had recently “gifted” me our old 45s of music from when we were kids. My gawd, THE MEMORIES in that pile! I follow that statement up with: my gawd, THE EXPENDABLE INCOME!

This pile of (mostly) tasty ear candy* inspired me to make a special gift to my sister for her birthday…a mixed CD of some favourite songs from the 80s. I called it, “Mrs. Remnants: A Compilation of what remains of the 80s“.

mrs remnantcmgfront

Cover of compilation with my sis and I in the 80s @

What’s in a name? Besides the hilarity of the double entendre, there is an actual Mrs. Remnant.

She was the Vice Principal and grade 7/8 English-language curriculum teacher of the French-Immersion elementary school my sis and I attended. And she was MEAN. Not, “she had tough love for her students”. No, she was “grab you by the scruff of the neck if you were running in the halls and scare the living shit out of you” MEAN.^ Anyway, when I called my compilation, Mrs. Remnants, I thought it fitting, considering the music was what was left from the time when my sis and I were being taught by Mrs. Remnant (or being ruled under her iron fist…).

Creating this mix for my sis was so much fun, and brought back some awesome memories for me. It was a double album jam-packed with great tunes. I still pull it out and listen to it today!

CD 1

1. Planet Earth – Duran Duran
2. When Smokey Sings – ABC
3. I Feel For You – Chaka Khan
4. I Can’t Wait – Nu Shooz
5. April Fool – Chalk Circle (LOVED these guys!)
6. In a Big Country – Big Country
7. Parents Just Don’t Understand – DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince
8. Life is What You Make It – Talk Talk
9. Cars – Gary Numan
10. Mirror in the Bathroom – English Beat
11. Land Down Under – Men At Work
12. More Than This – Roxy Music
13. Melt With You – Modern English
14. If You Leave – OMD
15. Papa Was a Rolling Stone – Was Not Was
16. Absolute Beginners – The Jam
17. Breakout – Swing Out Sister
18. One Thing Leads to Another – The Fixx

CD 2

1. One Night in Bangkok – Murray Head
2. I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls
3. Black Man Ray – China Crisis
4. Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode
5. You Spin Me Round – Dead or Alive
6. Fascination – Human League
7. Living in a Box – Living in a Box
8. Things Can Only Get Better – Howard Jones
9. Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant
10. Teenland – Northern Pikes (Love this song!!)
11. Naughty Girls – Samantha Fox
12. Funky Town – Pseudo Echo
13. She Blinded Me With Science – Thomas Dolby
14. Safety Dance – Men Without Hats
15. Two of Hearts – Stacey Q
16. Heart and Soul – T’Pau
17. West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys
18. White Horse – Laid Back

Then, it was time to make a “kickass”$ cover. I LOVED desktop publishing back in 2000, but couldn’t afford Photoshop. I bought a cheap-o graphics program at Costco called Paintshop Pro; it was meant to help me create my wedding invitations but worked great when creating mixed CD covers. Using my “state-of-the-poor” BenQ crappy flatbed scanner, I found some choice photos of my sis and I from that time. Put them all together along with some cheesy graphics, and voila! I’m quite proud of the workmanship, actually. Not bad for a Pentium 1 compu-pu…

mrs remnants back

I associate certain music with certain memories and feelings. Mrs. Remnants: A Compilation of What Remains of the 80s just makes me smile when I look at it, and reminds me of the good times I had with my sis, sharing and listening to music, hamming it up and generally having a blast.

*Mostly tasty ear candy…I am not sure my Barbie and the Rockers floppy record qualifies…

@ Here I am, a very young Sarca pre-braces and bad perm. I am not asking for attention, I swear!

^ My introduction to Mrs. Remnant: third grade. I was running after a classmate in the hallway trying to get to class. Mrs. Remnant’s “rubber arm of the law” caught me by my blouse, and pulled me in close enough to smell the remnants of her Players Lights on her breath. She screamed at me: “NO RUNNING IN THE HALLS!!” and I nearly pissed myself in fear. This matron made a lasting first impression! I forgive her for all of it; we all have a job to do.

$ Hey, art is subjective, people!

Thanks for reading!