Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Stuff

Okay, I'm just going to start small or I'll never start at all (great, now I'm BLOGGING in Air Supply lyrics).

I love when Zarah visits because most of our conversations go like this: "Want to go for a walk?" "Yes"; "There's a really good bagel place on the way home, should we-" "-Yes"; "There's a new ice cream place by the-" "-Yes". "Are we letting the kids stay up late to watch another-" "Yes".

Eve was in a basketball camp at Carleton University last week with two of her friends, one of whom plays competitive and is crazy good but also amazing at encouraging people who aren't as good. The first couple of days she came home happy but flat-out exhausted and a bit worried that the counselors would assume she could do things she couldn't actually do, like dribble between her legs and behind her back. But they got lunch in the cafeteria and swimming in the afternoon, so it was good enough, and in one five-on-five a boy who kept refusing to pass to her finally had to and she swished it, and she said "then he high-fived me - I guess because he figured out I had arms".

THEN the third day was "the best ever" because one of the counselors (they're all players on the university's team, and the girls found it hilarious watching the big tall guys in the cafeteria with eight glasses of orange juice and three trays of food) traded to get her on his all-girl team, and she was with her friend, and they ended up being the first all-girls team to win the end-of-camp tournament. And she can almost dribble between her legs and behind her back. Eve is quite good at a lot of things but doesn't have a lot of experience with that kind of intense activity, which I think is good for everyone to experience now and then. She came home with blisters and scrapes and bruises and was falling asleep on the couch by eight - she loved and already wants to go back next year.

Lucy is sitting on my foot, so I'm going to go walk her.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Watch This Space

I'm not sure where this overpowering disinclination to write anything springs from. I'm not that sad anymore. I'm not that busy anymore. Eve is in basketball camp this week and I keep meaning to upload pictures and write posts around them, and thinking of things that I want to write about, and then I just feel very tired. But I want to tell you all about the Little Free Libraries, and Doing Bluesfest With Anxiety, and how Zarah got me and Eve hooked on Call the Midwife. And I want to wax ragefully eloquent on People Being Stupid and Mean About How Women Dress, and People Not Baking Cakes for Gay Weddings. But my fingers are slow and my head aches.

Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2015

What Happened Before I Got Sad

I slid rather precipitously into the Slough of Despond when Zarah left, so pretend I'm posting this last Monday, okay?

The bad thing about having Zarah and the kids come for their weekly summer visit right after school ends is that we're all kind of exhausted.

The good thing is that we already feel like we've done a bunch of fun summer stuff when July's barely started.

Like trying on floppy hats in the market.

Learning about gladiators (this picture is misleading; apparently gladiators were fed well because they needed muscular strength but also a generous layer of fat.)

Trying on gladiator armour and realizing it would be really freaking hard to just walk wearing this stuff, never mind fight and look like Russell Crowe. 

I don't remember this outfit from Spartacus, do you?

I did take a picture without the neon green shoes, but I prefer the one with it. 

Sophie helped me make biscuits. I taught her about the Ugly Biscuit, which is the one that you make last when there isn't enough to cut anymore, so you smush the remaining bits of dough together and it bakes all crazy. Usually Eve claims it, but Sophie got the Ugly Biscuit from the first batch this time.

Yes, we WILL force Angus out of the basement, AND fit seven people at the table for dinner. 

....Whatever this is. 

Walk the dog on the trail by the river and see if we could finally tire her out. 

We couldn't. 

Try out the pub that Matt and I have driven by in North Gower on the way to Smiths Falls a few dozen times. Best coconut cream pie EVER. 

And ice cream. Lots of ice cream. If I posted pictures of all the ice cream, you would lose all respect for us.

Summer ahoy. Stay tuned for more out-of-order really-late blog posts.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

This Is Forty Or, Why I Love My Friends So Much

From: Janet
To: Allison, Matt, Margot, Michael, Collette, Mark, Gerry

Subject: Dave

Hi guys,
Dave had a bike accident on Saturday morning. He had his foot locked into his bike pedal and couldn’t get it unhooked quickly enough and fell over onto his shoulder.  Luckily, a nice Samaritan stopped and called an ambulance and even brought Dave’s bike back to our place.  Dave should be going in for surgery today and will have his arm in a sling for the next 6-8 weeks.  Hopefully he’s up to doing wings this Tuesday and can tell you all about it himself.


From: Allison
To: Collette

Subject: At Hospital

With Matt. Possible kidney stone. Guard your husband. Bad week for men in our group.



From: Collette
To: Janet, Dave, Margot, Michael, Mark, Gerry

Subject: Matt

So…Matthew in in the Queensway Carleton now.   Rushed there by ambulance.
They suspect kidney stones.
I’m sensing a trend…Mark, Michael, or Gerry next?  Maybe we can set up a pool?


From: Margot
To: Allison, Matt, Janet, Dave, Collette, Mark, Gerry, Michael

Subject: When it rains....

Michael already lost his gallbladder so hopefully he will get a by this time.


From: Collette
To: Margot, Michael, Allison, Matt, Janet, Dave, Gerry

Subject: When it rains...

On the contrary…he’s in a weakened starting position, more open to a possible attack.
 I’m not sure from what exactly---some sort of unusually high gall-needing food that will wreak havoc with his digestive system and leave him in a puddle on the floor. Only to be rushed by ambulance to the Queensway Carleton to be ignored for many hours. 
From: Gerry
To: Michael, Margot, Allison, Matt, Collette, Mark, Janet, Dave    
Subject: When it rains...                                                                                                                                       
Open to possible attack... FROM A BADGER!
From: Michael      
To: Gerry, Margot, Allison, Matt, Janet, Dave, Collette, Mark
Subject: When it rains...
I think I'm susceptible to psychological attack. I'll be checking every twinge, itch, or change of body temperature for the rest of the day against WebMD. I may spend some time concentrating on not hyperventilating after I accidentally become conscious of my own breathing and start over-thinking it.  I'll also be scanning the dark corners for badgers.
From: Gerry
To: Michael, Margot, Allison, Matt, Janet, Dave, Mark, Collette
Subject: When it rains...
From: Matthew
To: Michael, Margot, Allison, Janet, Dave, Mark, Collette, Gerry
Subject: When it rains...
I am on my way home from hospital, feeling much better. Hopefully see everyone at J. Canuck's tonight.
From: Gerry
To: Matt, Allison, Michael, Margot, Janet, Dave, Mark, Collette
Subject: When it rains....
From: Gerry                                                                                                                                     
To: Michael, Margot, Allison, Matt, Collette, Mark, Janet, Dave      
Subject: When it rains...     
 In spite of my general badgeriness, I won't be making it tonight.  While not hospitalized, I do seem to have either a head cold or some allergy thing going on that's making me drip mucus rather heavily.  Lack of oxygen + beer may be fun, but sleep is desperately needed to recuperate.
From: Collette
To: Gerry, Matt, Allison, Margot, Michael, Janet, Dave, Mark
Subject: When it rains...
It's probably Ebola. It starts out like that.
3 down, 2 to go....

Monday, June 15, 2015


Sometimes I think, wouldn't it be nice to invite a bunch of people I really love over to my house. Maybe once the garden is in...

...and the osteopermums have had a chance to recover from Lucy biting their heads off...

...and the lone remaining bellflower had just bloomed.

Collette would come over early and help me juice a hundred lemons and limes and we would play music and sing along.

Maybe I would mix some awesome newer friends in with the awesome older friends, and not worry at all that they wouldn't mix well, because everyone knows that awesome goes with awesome awesomely well.

And even though it rained all the rain there ever was the day before and I really had doubts about whether the promised sunshine would show up, it would show up...

...but the temperature would be cool enough for me, and warm enough so that I wasn't sitting in my back yard alone.

And maybe there would be a cute little baby-type person who would toddle around reading us an ABC book and sitting down periodically to dust off her feet. 

And of course she would be beautiful, because, duh, look at her mom. 
(*Remembers that Cynthia brought trifle and there is still some in the fridge. Leaves for a while*)

And my neighbours wouldn't have to call the police on us for being too loud, because...(also, some people went next door with Paul to smoke cigars and look at his Mustang convertible, which was cool because I felt like my birthday party had excursions).

And there would be purple martinis, because purple. And martinis.

And cupcakes. 

And the cutest cupcake-labeler ever.

And the purple martinis would make Pam's head go from this position... this one. 

And Collette and I would test out whether our magical ability to always take a good picture together when we're tipsy had a drink limit. 

And hopefully there would be inappropriate pictures taken at some point, from which I will remove any identifying features to protect the guilty. 

And maybe at some point there would be a photo that looks like it was taken by the bodiless head in the cooler from the end of Dawn of the Dead, which would be intriguing, because, no hands!

Which is to say, although I didn't have everyone I wanted in my back yard, due to stupid geography and sick children and monstrously unfair biking accidents (it's fine, he's patched up and home with a stockpile of very good painkillers), and the end came way too soon, I pretty much got everything I wanted for my birthday. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Philanthropy Dilemma

A few years ago when Angus was having three boys sleep over for his birthday, one of the moms called me and said her son was nervous about bringing a stuffed animal that he needed to sleep with. She said "I just told him 'Angus's mom is super nice and she won't let the other boys make fun of you'". That was nice to hear, but in general I think of myself as 'pretty nice' as opposed to 'super nice'. There's a significant degree of self-interest there - I just tend to feel better about making people feel good than about making them feel bad (when I was young I sort of thought that was a no-brainer, everyone-feels-that-way kind of deal - turns out, not so much), and if I can help someone by going slightly out of my way (let's not get all crazy here), I'm in.

I give people a solid chance when I meet them, I try to make shy people feel welcome, and I'm willing to give people a second chance, but I also hold years-long grudges on ridiculously thin pretexts (should have RSVPd to that party invitation, Rob, now you're dead to me).

I'm not one of those people who stick their hand up for every single thing. I've helped in the school library almost every week since Eve was in JK, but I don't go for pizza day or hot dog day (except when I'm there already for shelving or running the book fair). I volunteer in the class regularly, but I don't do a shift at every single other school event like some people do. I am not one of those volunteer-for-everything people who run around frazzled and overcommitted, partly because I always feel slightly exasperated by those people (as well as grudgingly admiring), and at this point in my life, I know my limits; if I did that for school and community work, I would have nothing left for my family, and I'm not willing to make that trade in order to be thought of as a super-volunteer. No one's ever going to worry that I'm going to ruin my health trying to save the world.

But I'm gullible and soft-hearted. When we lived in Toronto, my husband said I must be on some list of TO's Top 10 Most Exploitable Resources for Criminals. My wallet got stolen because I didn't lock it up at work and teen-age boys got into the back store room. Every yahoo with a sob story got money out of me. And this is the thing. I don't mind being a nice person, a rule-follower, but I hate feeling like a sucker. If there's a stupid rule and I realize I'm the only one following it, I have a really hard time still following it just on principle. If someone's taking advantage of me, I want to be aware of it and I want THEM to be aware that I know what they're doing, and I'm letting myself be taken advantage of because I'm nice, not because I'm stupid.

(Although every now and then, I would have to sort of admire the lengths some people will go to for a scam. The guy who came into the bookstore where I was working, talked about Urban Peasant cookbooks with me, special ordered a book, then went through this elaborate charade of "I left my kids playing in the park and then threw my jacket in my car trunk with my keys in it and I need to call a locksmith, oh, the locksmith costs a hundred dollars cash on a Sunday"? Yeah, there's a special place in Hell for people like him, preying on people's better nature and then making them suspicious for the rest of their lives, but come on, that took some serious planning and creativity, not to mention acting skills.)

So on this Facebook group for moms in my area, someone posted that she was helping out a single dad with two kids who had used up all the food bank resources in his area and needed food for the week. I was going grocery shopping the next day anyway, so I said I'd pick some stuff up and drop it off at her place, which is a half hour away from me.

And this is my problem - I leap to the rescue, because I can afford it, and theoretically I have the time to drop off the stuff, but then I start experiencing not-super-nice doubts about the legitimacy of the whole thing. I don't know this person. I don't know the person she's claiming to be helping. Am I just being a total dupe? HAVE I LEARNED NOTHING?? I couldn't get this picture out of my head, of me and my liberal guilt buying food and driving it right to her door like a magnificent chump while she .... I don't know, twiddles her thumbs and chuckles evilly like a criminal mastermind? Hey, I'm not super-nice AND I have an overactive imagination.

So I told her I couldn't drop it off after all and waited to see what would happen. She said she would get her husband to pick it up on the way home from work.

So, fine. If she's really helping this man, then I helped. If it's a scam to get food for herself, then presumably she needs it. And I was going for groceries anyway. I'm only half a sucker. Right?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What's Happening

Things have let up in general the past couple of weeks - easier course, no big appointments, no big volunteer commitments. This should mean that I write MORE, not less, but it keeps not working out that way. I really need to put myself on a schedule. I really don't know why I keep not doing this (the words "self-defeating personality disorder" do spring to mind). I'm even worse with the blog I'm supposed to be doing with Hannah and Nicole, and you'd think I'd snap fucking TO for that one because I love them and I'd really like to not be the whiny little suckhole who has to be rescued or talked down from the ledge every time my turn comes up (which is EVERY THREE WEEKS, it's not like I'm ever on a tight deadline).

I had a dream last night that we discovered that there was a low-grade carbon monoxide leak in our house - not enough to kill us, just enough to explain why I've been so irretrievably dim lately. Like trying to buy tickets to Hairspray for a Sunday matinee and ending up with tickets for a Saturday night performance. Like being on the verge of FINALLY wrapping my sister's birthday gift and taking it to the post office on Monday, then realizing that she's actually coming to Ottawa ON FRIDAY. And going to put a cash deposit down on cupcakes for my birthday party and then pulling out my checkbook and writing the woman a check - I assumed she ran a cash business, but I don't know, if you have a Facebook page does that mean you're all official like? I just got a blog pitch from Conscious Media Relations for "books that cover such topics as inspiration, memoir, self-help, personal growth, women and men's empowerment, wellness and healthy aging, conscious living, spirituality, conscious parenting, life quality enhancement, global and personal advancement, paranormal, sustainability, nature, environment/green living, and social causes, etc," and I'm like "lady, you lost me at 'conscious'"

In other breaking news, Angus grew his hair out for months just to torture me...

Check out the Billy Idol sneer.

...then got tired of having to shower every morning just to avoid looking like a vagrant.
Eve keeps saying "your head looks so small!"
This is Eve and Lucy helping with the gardening.

As humble as this effort is, due to time restrictions and bodily infirmities, I thought nothing at all was going to get done, so I am inexpressibly grateful for this.

Lucy subsequently ate the Gerberas. Oh well - my mother DID say they had to be deadheaded frequently...

Lucy found a nasty old tennis ball in the back yard and it has become her new totem. We play a game where she comes to the door to be let in, drops the ball because it too big to hold for long, I open the door, she tries to grab the ball and scramble into the house, I close the door again, ad infinitum. It passes the time. 

Yesterday I did go in to school to help out with the last hot dog day - I don't usually, but I was going in to the library anyway, so I figured I'd see if they needed help, and they did. I had to wear plastic gloves that made my hands feel like they were suffocating. I was okay at opening the buns and stuffing the wieners in (hee), but I was crap at rolling a hot dog up in ONE napkin - I kept getting three or four. Stupid gloves - people wear those to do brain surgery? Note to self - avoid needing brain surgery. Then I went into the library and started the end-of-the-year shelf reading, which is incredibly satisfying. When I'm shelving books, I often have the impulse to rip a whole shelf apart and re-shelve the whole thing, but I don't often do it because of all the other books that need shelving. Shelf-reading means you do exactly that, and when you're done, the books are SHIPSHAPE, I tell you, not a number or letter out of order - so unlike the rest of my life (looks around at objects on kitchen table, which include iphone, ipad, bag of Epsom salts, packing slip for Lunapads and a blue origami flower.) Then I drove home and took Lucy out for a walk and realized it was about fifteen minutes until school dismissal, which meant if we walked back to school we could meet Eve and she could show off Lucy to her friends. So we did. We came home happy but exhausted and dehydrated. Lucy went to have a nap. I had to make dinner. I was bitter about the division of labour until I realized I could have black bean empanadas for dinner and Lucy had to have Science Diet.