Thursday, December 30, 2010

Well, here goes

I'm going to have to commence with the rusty, awkward, been-away-too-long re-entry at some point, right? So:

We wore pajamas. For days and days we wore pajamas.










We were suitably grateful for our gifts thusly:















also thusly:







We demonstrated to others the proper use of their gifts (that's Eve showing me how I should look while sitting in my new sun-shaded chair watching her or Angus play baseball)


We made Eve set the giant square table because she can sit on it and is thus the only one who can reach the middle:



We took brief reading breaks when and wherever we could find them:















We invited beloved old people into our home and tortured them by making them wear funny hats:

There was comfort, joy, laughter, and enough wine to create some serious purple teeth (only my husband was smart enough for the end-of-evening closed-mouth smile):


There. I feel so much better. Now back to my long winter's nap.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Reasons I'm Glad I Married Him #176



He comes home from the grocery store seven days before Christmas, when all the decorations are deeply discounted,





Unloads the groceries, then wanders around the house with an enormous plastic tube, saying



WHERE CAN I HANG MY GIANT BALLS?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The story of my Saturday night

We got back to the hotel with about an hour before Adonis was due to show up. Anne Marie asked me to read her some of The Sentimentalists to see if she found it less impenetrable when read aloud. What I read was nicely written, but I did see her point. We were having a lovely quiet reading time while she was lying down on the bed, and then Bonnie came in from the other room with some ice and tried to move around quietly and failed utterly, so we gave up on the quiet reading time and started mixing drinks again and getting prettified for our close-ups.

Getting photographed was....odd. Adonis was great, and like I said there appeared to be no other guests in residence, so we sprawled ourselves and various camera equipment all over the lobby without disturbing anyone else. Bonnie said she got this idea from a friend of hers who had been surprised on her birthday with a bunch of old friends and a professional photographer, and she said she'd never had any pictures of herself where she looked so natural and great. I doubt that will happen for me with these, but in my head they're fantastic. At one point we went over to the bar and got shots of Goldschlager from a very nice and slightly bemused bartender. Bonnie asked him how old he thought we were which I thought was just asking for trouble. He said thirty-one, which obviously was just asking for a really good tip (which he got - duh). Adonis said he would go back to the other side of the lobby and bring over our stuff and I said "thank-you Adonis" because really, if you ever get the chance in life to say thank-you Adonis, shouldn't you jump all over it?

Then we piled into a cab with a driver who, strangely enough, didn't seem that overjoyed to see us, and went to Signatures. The deal that Anne Marie got from the hotel included vouchers towards a dinner there -- when I heard this I said "great! I've eaten there twice and people only got food poisoning once!" It's a great restaurant, but the time ten of us went for our Christmas party, they were a little overzealous on not overcooking the lobster, and it didn't turn out well for people who, well, ordered the lobster. Happily, everything was cooked to perfection on Saturday night, and our waiter was amazing -- after our fantastic dinner (manchego cheese soufflé, wapiti osso bucco, vanilla parsnip cream, seared tuna, something Anne Marie had with sweetbreads in it which led to the word testicle being said many many times) he gave us a tour of the entire place, including the kitchen and the place where people come for cooking lessons -- according to Gregory, mostly rich Asian women or daughters of Latin American drug lords, because Ottawa is safer and cheaper than paying ransom, and also real chefs with burns and cuts adorning their arms who are actually there to learn. Apparently missing classes is a total no-go, so if you have a broken leg you hobble in and cook, and one woman had really bad hypoglycemia so she would faint once or twice every class and then get up and keep cooking.

It was a fairly long walk back to the hotel, but the weather was perfect and the lights in the trees were gorgeous. We went back to the room and I left the rest of them to cavort and carouse while I eschewed alcohol for the rest of the night and retreated to the bedroom to study for my exam the next day.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Like fuck I did.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The story of my Friday and Saturday

The previous one, not the most recent one because I've been lazy and disorganized. Also, I'm too lazy to get up and get my camera so the pictures will have to wait.

So five of us, who went to high school together, who all turned 40 this year (I guess we didn't allow any of those tiresome grade-skipper overachievers into our little group back then). At the Hotel Indigo downtown, with which I was unfamiliar and where I'm reasonably confident we were the only guests, but it was nice, and it is my favourite colour.

Friday night four of us got to the hotel and had some drinks before going out for dinner. I still haven't figured out if I didn't drink quite as much as everyone else or if I'm just still a whiny self-conscious killjoy, because I did spend a lot of the evening once we left the hotel worrying that we were being too loud and obnoxious. We walked from the hotel to the Green Papaya and were served by a waitress who initially appeared very sweet and demure and then turned out to be a sarcastic smartass ("Okay, we have one fried tofu, one pad thai with chicken, one panang with beef and one eggplant with chicken, no - beef, no - chicken, no - tofu, no - chicken, with one chili pepper, no - two chili peppers" : Rachelle was feeling a little indecisive.) Then Rachelle told us about their family road trip from Whitefish, Ontario to some little town in Wisconsin to pick up a tractor, which made us double over and pound the table and gasp for breath and scream with laughter (while I occasionally shushed everyone). Then we ate a bunch of stuff. Then we walked back to the hotel. Bonnie produced print-outs of facts and trivia from the year we were all born, the information that we were all born in the year of the dog, and various other fun stuff, and she also informed us that she had engaged a handsome dark-skinned man named Adonis to come to our room the next evening. To take our pictures. I had designed necklaces and had them made by A Charmed Obsession on Etsy. Anne Marie gave us martini glasses and chocolate and Rachelle had some Chinese red bean things and some lychees that weren't actually lychees and we drank lychee liqueur with quasi-lychees and talked long into the night.

Saturday we went to The Holtz Spa for various assorted peeling, painting and kneading surfaces. I had a pedicure, with another smartass attendant who looked at the giant pile of foot-scrapings in her lap and said "people don't usually get pedicures in order to lose weight". Look, my feet are weird and it makes me walk weird and I have mother-freaking callouses and I'm a LITTLE SENSITIVE about it, OKAY? Then they put us in this magnificent white room with white couches and white carpets and white chairs and we drank red wine (this is what passes for risqué party behaviour at forty) and turned into ooze. Patti showed up and had a massage that added another inch to her neck.

I can't read really long blog posts, so I'm going to leave Saturday evening for tomorrow. Try not to die of suspense.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Story of my Sunday

On Sunday I woke up in the Hotel Indigo. No, this isn't the story of how I downed a bottle of quaaludes and a fifth of Jack Daniels and had a little desperate fifties housewife interlude (what the hell are quaaludes when they're in my medicine cabinet?). I was at the tail end of a smashing girls' week-end with four of my amazing friends from high school (should have been five but Sheila was having pregnancy complications and couldn't travel, which SUCKS beyond belief, not least because she is the driest of dry wits and she would have complimented the sweet lychee liqueur beautifully). The forecast had been dire, but my friend Anne Marie assured me that outside was just a little cloudy and threatening rain. Then Patti came back from her run and after we chipped the ice off of her she said 'it's freezing rain'.

Fuck.

So then we had breakfast because if you're going to subsequently risk your life and your academic future you might as well be full of the best eggs benedict a downtown Ottawa hotel can offer, right? (Actually I had a strawberry smoothie, but I thought the eggs benedict sounded better). Then Bonnie and Patti left to drive Rachelle to the airport and Anne Marie and I went and packed up and left to get her to the airport. Halfway to the airport they called and said Rachelle's flight was cancelled so they were going to hang out at Patti's, which pissed me off because if I'd known there was going to be flight cancelling and further hanging-out going on I never would have booked my stupid exam for stupid Sunday at stupid one-thirty in the afternoon (which, upon reflection and hangover assessment, did not seem like such a great idea even before the cancelling and hanging-out occurred). But Anne Marie's flight was leaving, and we realized Rachelle's was only cancelled because she was flying Bearskin. (Let the bear take you there. In a tiny little toy plane that can't withstand the weather. Okay, enough mocking my home town's airline. But seriously -- let the bear take you there? What the hell were they thinking?)

So I dropped Anne Marie off, very chivalrously (parked at departures and let her drag her own suitcases in -- I didn't want to be dripping wet for my three-hour exam. Lifelong friendship only extends so far). I drove slowly and carefully to Algonquin College, where I parked in the free parking lot and only after inching bit by painful bit over roughly a kilometre and a half of glare ice did I think that maybe I just should have sprung for the goddamned parking metre right in front of building C. I spent a few minutes sitting in my van because I was an hour and a half early, and I was just thinking that it was surprisingly pleasant just sitting there watching the windshield slowly ice over before realizing that I was in very real danger of waking up drooling in three hours and realizing that my exam was half over, so I better start my icy trek.

I had a good book, so the time passed pretty quickly. Actually it's a really good book, and I was faintly annoyed when they opened the doors of the auditorium. I took a seat in the front because you have to leave your coat and purse at the front of the room and I harbour a constant expectation that people are going to steal my stuff. These exams are for anyone that has to write an exam for an online course, so two women come in with boxes, you flash them your I.D. and they find your exam and read which course it is so you can confirm it's the right thing. Mine was called "Information Work II", which almost caused the poor woman to die of boredom in mid-phrase. I felt a fairly deep stab of envy for the person writing the infinitely more glamorous "Money Laundering and Asset Tracing" and briefly considered changing diplomas right then and there.

It was a three-hour exam. I finished in fifty minutes. I like to think this was because I had absorbed the course work so well, but it's entirely possible I missed a page or four. It was only worth twenty percent and I got almost perfect on all the assignments, so I think I'd still pass the course. But I don't think I'll make a habit of scheduling my exams after two consecutive nights of extreme merriment.

Also: I had taken great pride in memorizing the definition of percentage increase (the variation between two variables, measured between two fixed points in time, expressed as a percentage of the earlier number), mostly because it just kept sliding off my mind as if my mind was buttered. I sort of took it as a personal affront that, in the definitions section, she used this as an example, with the definition ALREADY PROVIDED. Humph.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Foot-Rot to you: the story of my Monday and Tuesday

gSo Monday night we went to a Christmas party. I was really freakin' tired from the week-end (more on that later. Yes, we're going to work backwards because then maybe I will get back to the first part of the week-end, which was magical), but the party was fun. My friend Collette usually hosts now, since we all had so many damned kids and they all got so damned big, and she has the biggest house so we don't have to be reminded of how many damnably large children we've all produced the whole time we're there. We all had a great time at the party and then we came home. Then the kids got their pajamas on and they were reading in my room for a few minutes before going to bed. I went into my room and Angus was lying on my bed with no socks on so I decided to take a look at this wart he's had on the bottom of his foot for a while because Matt had mentioned that he thought it was starting to bother him. So I lifted up his foot and looked at the bottom of it. Then I barfed for four hours and tried to rinse out my brain, then I googled wet gangrene and fatal foot fungi on the internet and then I called my doctor's office and said please call me in the morning and give my son an appointment so he can continue to enjoy the many benefits of having two feet. Then we went to bed.

The next day (Tuesday) the doctor's office finally called but they couldn't see him until Wednesday. Then he got to my Mom's after school with a fever and then we basically traded phone calls between me, my Mom and my husband for a couple of hours wherein my mother tried to diplomatically suggest that I was guilty of child abuse and neglect if I didn't come get him right this instant and take him somewhere to have his foot examined and/or operated on/cauterized and cryogenically preserved, I tried to figure out how I was going to do this and get Eve to her last dance class of the year where she was supposed to dance IN HER PAJAMAS using her TEDDY BEAR as a PARTNER (translation being no friggin' way was this class suitable for being missed) and my husband wandered around in various cell-phone-deadening parts of his building and surfaced occasionally to be yelled at. One of these conversations went something like this:

My Mom: "that's not a wart."
Me: "well I know it doesn't look like one now but it did until yesterday."
My Mom: "warts don't have blood blisters and pus in them."
Me: "I KNOW that. Those weren't there before. It just looked like a wart."
My Mom: "You should have taken him before now."
Me: "For a wart?"
My Mom: "It's not a wart."
Me (grit grit grit) "I KNOW that but until yesterday we thought it WAS a wart and I couldn't exactly take him to the doctor and say we have a feeling this might turn out not to be a wart, so what should we do when that happens?"
My Mom: "I've never liked your hair that way."

So my husband went and got him at my Mom's house and took him to the clinic and I took Eve to dance. The verdict: It's a wart. His body just isn't as down with warts as many bodies are and this is its little way of not making the wart welcome. She suggested Compound W. Oh, and he has a virus. By way of comfort, at dance class my friend Patti told me she totally would have assumed necrotizing fasciitis too.

I talked to my sister last night and she reminded me that I should probably just not talk to my Mom about this again, since there is every probability that she will say "I knew it was just a wart. It's too bad you all overreacted so badly", and then my head would be in actual danger of exploding.

Happy Wednesday, and may all your feet be shiny as Christmas bells and HPV-free for the holidays.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dreams, teeth, and Bert the Tree

Eve's been having nightmares and coming into bed with me at five a.m.-ish the past few nights. Yesterday I couldn't fall back asleep, partly because she was snoring in my ear and partly because something was really bugging me. The fact that I haven't started my Christmas cards yet? Nope. The fact that I have to write an exam on Sunday for which I've barely studied and it will be following two days and nights of partying with some of my high school friends? Uh-uh. That I haven't bought Angus's video game that he wants for Christmas and forgot to double check the name of it before he sealed his letter to Santa? Nah. It was that I couldn't remember what we had for dinner on Saturday night. It was driving me bonkers. I knew we had ribs on Friday and chicken on Sunday, so I was thinking it was probably meatless, but I couldn't see myself making it when I tried to picture it, or putting stuff on plates and handing it to the kids, and we definitely hadn't gone out, and I felt like I was going insane. For two hours. And then I got up.

Eve and Matt have been watching the Lord of the Rings movies together, which has been nice for him because their movie taste doesn't generally overlap a lot. They were watching the second movie and she told him that she had to stop watching because she was afraid she was going to have a nightmare again. He said "why, what did you have a nightmare about last night?" "Dinosaurs." .......

Angus did something that totally reminded me of how he was when he was four or five. Last night he was in the basement and he came running upstairs and said "I lost a tooth! I bit some saltwater toffee and it came out!" He grabbed a kleenex and shoved it in his mouth and I said "well where's the tooth?" and he said "Downstairs, in the saltwater toffee!"

Eve asks for this song every time I put on Christmas music while we're baking. Has there ever been anything better than Sesame Street on TV?

I am happy.

(and it was homemade pizza and Matt and Eve made it, which was why I couldn't remember me doing it. Ahhhhh.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jury Rigged Advent Calendar

A not-great photo from my not-great camera. It gets the job done, and it's right where the stairs are so I can't go up to bed without remembering to fill it. And the kids are quite impressed. Every day gets a chocolate and a cartoon or a suggestion for a Christmas activity or a little Christmas thing. Today they got pencils with toy soldier toppers and wrote their Christmas lists with them.



I've read a couple of posts by people who are having trouble catching the spirit of the season. That's often me, but I'm feeling pretty good at the moment. I'm boxing up Christmas presents to ship to Edmonton, London and Thunder Bay, and it's only December sixth! Do you know what this means? This means we could possibly not have to pay the 'equivalent to your firstborn child AND your favourite limb and we MIGHT be able to get it there for Christmas' fee at the post office! I went to the library on Saturday (after my husband tried to vacuum my dress off me, but that's another story) and since I was already out I thought maybe I'll go to Chapters and get those last few Christmas gifts and then I thought what are you insane, it's Saturday and it's December, it'll be like those pilgrimages where people show their religious devotion by stomping other people to death, and THEN I thought, but those retail people, they KNOW it's a Saturday in December so chances are they'll have cheery teen-agers stacked up four deep just dying to aid and comfort me.

And they did.

It was a thing of beauty and joy. I searched and hunted and gathered. I perused and mused. I was selective and suggestive (not really, I just couldn't think of another good word). And when I walked out of there I was SO done. Partly because I just love buying people books and partly because I just decided that whoever I wasn't done was just shit out of luck.

Kidding. Mostly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Juvenile humour

So today in the kids' advent calendar hat/stocking thingies I put chocolates and two of these cookie cutters, so we could make ornament cookies tonight:





I can't for the life of me decide if I should let them use this one or not. What would you do?



Thursday, December 2, 2010

Strange Times

Look at me, posting because I want to not because I have to.

Angus got his Scholastic book order today. I recently read Nan's rant about Scholastic books and had yet another 'wow, sometimes I am wholly uncritical and sheep-like in my ability to just do stuff without examining its underlying potential for evil' moment. Gee whiz, man, it seems so innocent! They bring home flyers with wonderful beautiful precious BOOKS in them and I wrote a check which, come on, that's not like real money, that's like play money, and then I forget about it and wonderful beautiful precious BOOKS appear. Clearly I will have to spend some time examining the Scholastic ideology because I'm coming off a rough month and I've been migrainey that past couple of days and I'm still unclear on the exact nature of the evilness, but I'm willing to learn. But this is not about that. This is about the books I ordered before the evil was revealed in all its leering drooling evilness, and I'm not giving them back. Ignorance of the law may be no excuse but ignorance of evil is...wait...oh leave me alone, the voices told me to, you can't make me, I have hemmorhoids.

So I bought Eve the Usborne Book of Famous Paintings. She likes to
draw, she seems interested in art, it called out to me. I gave it to her after school. After supper and her bath and Hannah Montana, I was wrapping a few presents and I saw her on the couch reading something. I walked over and she was reading it! The book I got for her to read about art! The same day we got it!

WTF?

Doesn't she know how we do things around here? I buy something because it's educational and topical and will surely give us some lovely moments of learning and sharing and discovery and revelation. Then the kid ignores it and plays video games and watches tv and loses it under a pile of crap and only reads it when I demand that they sit down and read it and have a lovely educational revelatory moment goddammit. They don't try to read it the same day and say "oh, Mrs. Goodsell showed me this Claude Monet (perfectly pronounced) painting", and "is this pronounced Van Eek?" and "WHAT? She's not really pregnant?! That's a terrible skirt then!"

Oh, now Angus has wandered over and they're reading it together. I am sore afraid, friends, sore afraid.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quote of the Day

My husband: "You cooked. I'll clean up."

(cleaning up noises)

"This used to hold a grasshopper. Can I put food in it?"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How NaBloPoMo Can You Go?

Yah, I know that makes no sense. After all my moaning about how long November is, I totally didn't realize that today was the last day. Seems like I should have something more auspicious than...what I have.




My friend Pam's husband is away for an unspeakable amount of time so I picked up her kids and took them to school this morning so she could stay in her pajamas, because my Dad picked up the kids a couple of times while Matt was away and I stayed in my pajamas and it was five flavours of awesome. I worked in the library for a few hours and got my cuteness fix from Eve's adorable little twin friends who always come up and hand me their books beaming these fantastic little smiles. And their hair is a different length so I can tell them apart. Then I went to Winners to stock up on advent calendar stuff. Then I went to Chapters to buy battling rodents for my nephew and an obsessive compulsive squirrel book and toy for my other nephew and in a fit of giddiness I bought Come Thou Tortoise and The Elegance of the Hedgehog for myself because it was Just Too Perfect, they were clearly meant to be togther, with me -- I just barely managed not to buy Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (had to draw the line somewhere).

Then I came home and started looking through the Christmas boxes for these little boxes of 24 elf-hats that I got a couple of years ago at IKEA and decided that I would use this year instead of getting the Spiderman or Princess ones with the cheap sub-standard chocolate in them. Why? Beats the hell out of me. If my kids are happy to eat the sub-standard chocolate, why the hell am I not just keeping the good stuff for myself? Okay anyway, the advent hat thingies were in the last box. Not the last box I looked in, because duh. The very. last. Christmas. box. And if you'd seen my storage area, that would have a much bigger impact. Okay, I've just looked at some other DIY advent calendars and am having severe advent calendar envy. Then I took Eve to dance, and two other Moms and I ended up at....Chapters. Again! I managed not to buy anything this time (not even my tall vanilla rooibos tea latte because Patti owed me girl guide cookie money.) Then we went back to pick up the girls and the teacher reminded us next week was parents' night and half of us said "yay we get to go in and watch" and half of us said "you mean we don't get to go to Chapters?" I won't mention which half was which.

Then we came home. And I would be overjoyed that it was the last day of November except that we all know what comes next....




....gulp.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Stuff

I very determinedly mooched around for much of today. This was the first day the kids were in school since Matt got back home and I figured I was going to be tired and out of sorts so I decided I wouldn't really try to get too much done before picking the kids up, taking them to piano, getting groceries and making dinner. I have this bad habit of thinking I'm going to have a relaxing day and then letting my stupid Catholic guilt wreck it, which totally defeats the purpose of being lazy. So I mooched. Even though I don't really like the word mooch. Or nibble -- why does anything ever need to be nibbled? Eck, the very sound of it makes my shoulders creep up and my nose all wrinkly. And snippets. I hate snippets of anything. Little pieces? Fine. Wee bits? Grand. No snippets.




While we were having supper Angus asked Matt if he'd been everywhere in the world yet. No, I did not put him up to this. Matt said the list of places he hasn't been in still much longer than the list of places he has been. Then we decided to figure out which continents he hasn't visited (Africa, Antarctica and South America, but I've been to Africa so between the two of us we've nearly got them covered). Eve was trying to talk about Asia but kept saying it in French which she and Angus found hilarious. Then Angus asked what the biggest country was and I started singing the song I always sing to help me remember this because I suck at geography and love the Arrogant Worms. So then we played this while we were finishing supper -- hilarious AND educational.

After supper I had a mini freak-out because I remembered that my assignment is due on Friday and HOLY CRAP WHAT THE HELL WAS I DOING MOOCHING WHEN PUTTING SEARCH STRINGS TOGETHER AND COMBING DATABASES FOR facts on fibromyalgia and new cars and the 1911 census MUST BE DONE? Then I sat down and finished one question and decided it wasn't so bad. Then I ate some candy cane kisses and then became annoyed by all the stupid little wrappers that had to be hidden when I heard my husband coming downstairs. The stupid little snippets are hardly nibble-able.

BUT let us all celebrate the fact that for the first time in weeks I DON'T have a zit of gargantuan proportions camping out on one corner of my chin or the other or both. No? Okay, maybe just me. "I'm the second...largest country..."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

(Little Ray of) Sunday

Last year nablopomo was really fun. I was coming up to the end of my first year of blogging and it was a great galvanizing force, encouraging me to shape a little word sculpture every day, channelling my thoughts into a few posts I really loved, and several that I was quite happy with.

This year? Not so much.

It's not horrible. I don't approach the computer chair with a great heavy curtain of doom closing around me or anything. But I also haven't whipped out anything that I'm terribly proud of, and several posts have definitely just been for-the-sake-of-posting. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to look at it like a canoe trip. I always end up wondering, at some point on the second day, why the hell I thought this was anything resembling a good idea. I always end up wondering, at some point during the second night, if my triceps will ever feel like normal muscles rather than knotted-up, chewed-on, whipped chopped and puréed balls of PAIN. I always end up wondering why some douchebag thinks it's a good idea to bring a watermelon on a canoe trip. And then at some point on the next-to-last day I realize sometimes you just do shit to prove to yourself that you can. And at least I don't have to do nablopomo with a crazy Austrian in the bow making me go all crooked. For that I have Absolut pear vodka.

And now I will leave you with my best two word verifications of the past few weeks:

irant (funny 'cause it's true)

rubpro (funny 'cause it's dirty).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sat(on ass all)urday Rant

Yay my husband's home. My stock response to anything the kids have said all day is "I don't know, talk to your father". I have read two Saturday papers cover to cover. I have coined scathing responses to this article by Johanna Schneller, about her interview with Billy Bob Thornton, who acted like a total asshat last year on Q, a CBC radio show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. Schneller calls Thornton a 'courtly iconoclast', and 'self-deprecating', and 'candid' and I don't know that he actually autographed her butt but she seems to have done everything short of planting a big old smacker on his. Because you know, he's "overly sensitive", and "I carry too much of what I see and hear" -- this in his own words, and this separates him from Robert Pattinson how? She claims that his bitchy mutterings, sullen teen-agerish silences and general douche-baggery on Q were a 'rejection of an opportunity to shill' in an age of 'relentless self-promotion'. This reminds me of when I was doing my Master's in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto in whatever the hell year it was and Derek Walcott was teaching a course. Some of the students thought that he was a little detached and dismissive as a teacher. I was out at a pub and one of the other girls said, with a breathless, groupie-ish air "but you know, I think it's that he's, well, he's a poet, and he doesn't want to be teaching these obsessed-with-marks, academic, grad students". To which another prof who was there drily replied, "then that's when you say I appreciate the job offer but no thank-you all the same". So yeah -- Billy Bob, how about you say no thanks to the interview or if you agree to do the interview, then USE YOUR FUCKING WORDS.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fried Day

Yay. My husband is home. I can now make him do everything and then tell him how he's doing it all wrong. Because yes, apparently a large part of me IS still in grade nine.

Blissful P.D. day. Kids are still in the pajamas I gave them yesterday. We all read, then Eve fell asleep for two hours and woke up outraged that she had "slept much longer than I planned to".

Tremendously exciting package arrived from Budding Artists. It's run by a friend of a friend, so I had heard about it years ago, but being your basic disorganized lazy procrastinator, it took me this long to get my act together and send them some of Eve's art. I put in a huge order for Christmas gifts for both sides of our family. We got fridge magnets, coasters, luggage tags, garden stakes, a coffee cup and a shirt for my nephew, all with Eve's pictures on them. I hadn't told her about it and her reaction when we opened the box was priceless -- loud, and priceless. Also, I had forgotten that I placed the order, and now I've realized that most of my Christmas shopping, for the most difficult-to-buy for people is done. DONE!! And if they don't like it, well that basically makes them monsters, because it's their granddaughter's/great-granddaughter's/niece's purest expression of her creativity, right? Some people include a card with their gifts -- I like to slip in a little emotional blackmail.

I'm still pissed off at myself for not doing this when Angus still would have gotten more of a kick out of it. I think I will do it with some of the stuff he drew when he was younger -- there was a particular 'house with a tree and a butterfly' period he went through that should be preserved for posterity. I still haven't decided if Eve's 'naked people with enormous hands and belly buttons' should be immortalized or hidden away forever though.

Gotta go. Matt is getting the kids ice cream and I mustn't miss my chance to criticize while not doing anything to help. Welcome home, honey.









Thursday, November 25, 2010

Merry Thursday

We're at husband return day minus one. I have given up all pretenses to responsible parenting and am currently revelling in excess and permissiveness. We went to the movies. We had popcorn and french fries for dinner (with a few Swedish berries -- which at least resemble fruit -- as a garnish). Then we went to Chapters to get a birthday present for Eve's friend and I bought Angus the next two books in the series he's reading and Eve the fourth Judy Moody book, instead of giving them their allowance, spending more than their allowance, thus TOTALLY NEGATING the very purpose of having an allowance (excess! permissiveness! total negation!) We came home and I gave them the absurdly fuzzy fleece Land's End pajamas I meant to save for Christmas -- hey, it's cold out and they arrived today, like it was meant to be. I have now been comprehensively, literarily and fuzzily hugged and snuggled.

Today was the Christmas bazaar at our school. People donate stuff which is set out on tables and priced from 50 cents to five dollars, and kids are allowed to shop for their family members. The idealist in me thinks this is a lovely idea. The cynic in me thinks this is an opportunity for a bunch of reasonably well-off people to donate the crap they don't want any more in order for their kids to spend their money on someone else's crap, in the fortunate case that they don't unrecognizingly buy back the crap their own parents donated. It's kind of like musical crap. I wrapped stuff for three hours. I wrapped tea cups and candle holders and stuffed animals and various other weirdly-shaped stuff and one -- only ONE -- nice, flat, square, easy-to-wrap book. I said "can you write two gift tags?", sometimes three or four times before it sank in that I wanted them to -- hey! -- write two gift tags! I managed to mostly keep my good humour. My good humour nearly deserted me when I got to the movie theatre with the kids, went to pull out my wallet and realized that instead of leaving the tape dispenser I had carried around all afternoon at home I had left my wallet and was now trying to pay for the movie with the tape dispenser. Happily, we don't live too far from the movie theatre. And my kids are used to me doing weird crap with my wallet -- they looked at the tape dispenser, looked at me, looked at each other and walked back to the van and got in, kindly saving their eye rolls for after I got in and they were behind me. And it's a P.D. day tomorrow. When we will all wear our pajamas and read books all day. I may or may not serve actual food. I'll let you know.

p.s. these are Angus's pajamas, in case you think I gave him snowflake footies.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Angus McCrock

I shared the pictures of Angus McCrock from World Trivia Night with Angus. Angus is now being really obnoxious.






Angus is walking around saying "if it's not me it's crap!" Eve said "is he calling me crap?!" I said "he's calling me crap too -- and I'm his mother." For some reason that made her feel better.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And I keep telling them TV makes your brain mushy

It's not that I don't know that knowledge can be derived from surprising sources. I once floored my mother by volunteering that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner, which I learned from a Mickey Mouse comic book. Still, we lean pretty hard on the tv as entertainment, treat, opiate-of-the-masses, not edu-info-anything.

So on the way to dance tonight Eve was talking about why it rains, which they had talked about in class. This made me think about in grade six when my teacher wrote some words on the board and one of them was 'meteorologist'. Only one kid knew what a meteorologist was -- and he almost dislocated his shoulder waving his hand around, the dorky know-it-all. So today I thought I could make sure my kid had the chance to be that dorky know-it-all, and I asked her if she knew what someone who studied weather was called. She said "a meteorologist?". I said "How the hell do you know that?!" And she said (while laughing her smug little butt off) "The Suite Life on Deck".

Agh!

Then she told me about the water cycle -- you know, how it rains, then the water leaches from the earth into bodies of water, then it evaporates and the clouds suck it up (keep in mind she's seven and I'm no meto...meter...weather dude) and then it rains down again. Then she said she was trying to decide if there was a similar cycle for people, but there wasn't... "unless you're a Hindu".

And that, it must be admitted, she got from here. (Hey, at least we TALK with them about the hideously inappropriate material to which we allow them to be exposed.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blogs that pass in the night

Remember Friends? Remember how Monica was a clean freak and a totally organized? There was one episode where she was trying to prove that she could be carefree and somebody said okay, so say you don't pay your phone bill until you get the second notice or something and she tries to say okay, but then she yells "WHY would someone DO that?" (You don't even want to know how much time I just wasted trying to find the exact quote. And now I really miss Friends. And the last half hour of my life).

I was blog-surfing a little today and remembering when I was talking to FameThrowa at Blogging Out Loud Ottawa and talking about pinging around from blog to blog sithout keeping note of them so I could go back later and the look on her face was that kind of look: "WHY would someone DO that?". Then she very helpfully told me about Google Reader and RSS Feeds and how I never have to lose track of a blog I like again. Oh crap, I just realized I'm equating FameThrowa with bossy obsessive compulsive Monica which was not at all what I meant to do. Look, it's just November and my husband's not here and I'm letting my kids watch way too much TV including The Simpsons although I haven't sunk to The Family Guy yet, and my nablopomo posts are SUCKING and I have to post so I can go to bed and FameThrowa is not bossy or obsessive compulsive in the least (that I know of, I've only met her once and she was perfectly lovely).

My point, such as it is, is that sometimes I like to go to a blog I like, pick someone from their blogroll and read a post, then pick someone from their blogroll, and so on, and so on, until I have no idea where I've arrived at the blog I'm on. Sometimes I read an entire blog's archive in one night and emerge totally wrung out from someone's trials and insights. Sometimes I read a few posts and realize this person HAS to be put on my blogroll RIGHT NOW. But sometimes I just like to read a post here, a post there, and preserve the ephemeral nature of the experience. I remember camping out on one blog for a week or two while there was a sick child in the hospital, praying and hoping with everyone else. Once he was better, I let it go. Once I read a post by a woman who was afraid she was losing her husband. I wonder sometimes what happened. I've read posts by people who have it all together and people who are falling apart. There are some bloggers who consistently piss me off but who I admire nonetheless, but I can't follow them every day -- I wait and go and read a bunch of posts all at once and get pissed off and formulate my replies and don't bother to comment, and then I let it go. Sort of. Until I can't sleep and then I stack up pissy yet excruciatingly articulate retorts in my head that bring the other blogger to her figurative knees, then I usually fall asleep and dream about angry fish.

Umm...do I have to have a point? I've been trying to dip into the nablopomo blogroll every day, but in case my abundant bitching and moaning hasn't made it clear, November has been generating maximum suckage, so I haven't done it as much. And what keeps it from being overwhelming is that I know I can't possibly add all of them to my blogroll. I can just read and enjoy and then skip away merrily. Which is a big thing for me because I? do not let go of things easily.

And I love FameThrowa. In case that wasn't clear.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

There are big things going on in the world. None of them are going on in my head. My head is cluttered and disorganized. Much like most of my house. I'm trying to think of tomorrow as a fresh start. Most of the November craziness (most of it good) is over, some wonderful people watched my kids for most of the week-end, and my parents are back for my second husband-less week so if I have to go to the doctor again at least the people I stick the other kid or kids with while I'm stuck in rush hour traffic will be largely obligated to still like me.

Let's talk about books! This one was about a famous clown named Kaspar Krone -- an extraordinarily perceptive man who hears people's emotions and experiences as music, and who can sense events and surroundings from miles away. There's something about unpaid taxes, his ailing father, some kidnapped children, a disappeared lover and a taxi driver with artificial legs. The book was a strange mix of mystery thriller and meandering philosophical treatise. The reviews I read on Goodreads were mixed --some people love Hoeg's unhurried, poetic style and some people wonder why on earth other people love it. I did enjoy reading the book in small spurts -- every section was a gorgeous tactile experience, beautifully textured and coloured. I couldn't read a lot of it at once, though, and I didn't feel a lot of urgency to pick it up again.

This one -- oh, that doesn't work, because I have to say it was called Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Because for some reason, I was surprised when it turned out to actually BE about salmon fishing. In the Yemen. I expected it to be a collection of short stories about disaffected modern youth, or a meditation on growing older and not knowing whether to refinish a rocking chair or seek romance with a circus worker, or something. Someone in book club put it on the list, so I wrote it down and promptly forgot about it until I checked the list and realized I had to read it. I didn't really like it. It seemed like satire in some places -- sending up the hypocrisy and laziness of government departments, the self-servingness and duplicity of politicians -- but the character of the sheik who wants to make salmon fishing in the Yemen possible is quite sympathetic and seems sincerely drawn. The ending doesn't seem to fit in with either tone. I often have trouble with satire -- it has to tread a very fine line or it risks just being stupid. But then I hated the Austin Powers movies, so maybe my husband's right and my sense of humour just leaves something to be desired.

Tomorrow I will endeavour to tidy up my house and my headspace.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One man's trivia is another man's...uh, trivia.

So it turns out Eve does have pneumonia after all. That's right -- I sent my plague-ridden daughter to another woman's house while I was out carousing. Mother of the year, right here. In my defense, no one could believe it, including the people she's staying with. And my doctor had said to call her if Eve got worse, which she hadn't, so I guess I won't bitch about it taking two and a half days to call me after the x-ray. And she did call me on a Saturday morning, which my sister the health-care professional assures me is quite impressive. So, the icky pink medicine has been dispensed, she is still happily esconced at her best friend's house, and we'll all just have to live with the medical mystery. Apple a day my ass -- I think she may have proved that being a chronic wiseass actually strengthens the immune system.

World Trivia Night was an unmitigated success -- not 'success' in the sense of 'winning' or 'placing' or even 'proving that I'm not a total moron', but, you know, 'success' in the sense of 'ate a lot of crap', 'laughed like, well, a moron who doesn't know her daughter has pneumonia', and 'answered three questions no one else knew, two of which involved television or movies, thereby revealing to all assembled that I watch The Mentalist' (only sometimes. When I'm too lazy to pick up the remote and change the channel. I know. The shame). The Divine Miss M.L. made her first in-person appearance at our table and in my life, which was awesome. Lynn made us Cheez Whizard costumes (capes and starry pencil-wands and wizard hats with tinsel and pictures of cheese, which was kind of a relief since I was kind of expecting actual string cheese) which got us into the short list for the Best Costume category. And the dudes who actually won Best Costume (Angus McCrock -- kilsts, berets, blue faces and a massive wall of beer cans) were very gracious when I asked to take a picture of them for my son (whose name, we all agreed, was awesome). And I got to see Julie again, and transferred some of our vast accumulated Spiderman wealth to her, so yay. (And I still think she's really smart. A lot of people might think, on first glance, that 'star' is a five-letter word.)

At the end of the night we were all happily exhausted, all smarter by a few prime ministers, planets and countries (Dominica -- who knew?), hopped up on sugar and white-lipped from the massive salt infusion sucking all the moisture out of our bodies, and really glad to know our daughters didn't have pneumonia. Well, most of us. Sigh.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Post Card

I mean a placeholder. For a post. A Post Holder. A Post place card.

Fuck it. My daughter doesn't have pneumonia. I'm going to World Trivia Night. I am holding on to the po in Nablopomo with the very ends of my fingernails.

Something funny to tide you over? Okay, sure.


Paraprosdokian sentences: A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect.


Ø I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.


Ø Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.


Ø I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.


Ø Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.


Ø The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.


Ø Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.


Ø If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.


Ø We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.


Ø War does not determine who is right -- only who is left.


Ø Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.


Ø The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.


Ø Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening,' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.


Ø To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.


Ø A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.


Ø How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire


Ø I thought I wanted a career; turns out I just wanted paycheques.


Ø Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR."


Ø I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.


Ø Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?


Ø Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.


Ø Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?


Ø Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.


Ø A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.


Ø You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.


Ø The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!


Ø Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.


Ø A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip


Ø Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.


Ø Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.


Ø Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.


Ø There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.


Ø I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.


Ø I always take life with a grain of salt... plus a slice of lemon... and a shot of tequila.


Ø When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.


Ø You're never too old to learn something stupid.


Ø To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.


Ø Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.


Ø A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.


Ø If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?


Ø Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The post I'm too tired to think of a title for

Thanks to everyone for the kind words. I want to assure everyone who might have gotten the impression that my doctor is mean and that I am not assertive enough that I did get confirmation that if the x-ray showed pneumonia she would CALL in a prescription rather than requiring the honour of our presence again -- NOT doing that little forced march twice in two days. The night was less than stellar -- despite the puffer Eve coughed forcefully and pitiably from bedtime until midnight or so until I gave up on both of us trying to sleep, got her up and propped her up in my chair to watch TV and gave her a full dose of Benadryl. Around two a.m. we both dozed off and the rest of the night was better, although I think I dreamed a couple of additional episodes of Naturally Sadie.

This morning we dropped Angus off at school and headed to the X-Ray clinic where my doctor had assured me we wouldn't need an appointment. This was true; however, the receptionist said she would have to ask the radiologist if they would do Eve since she was so young, and at least one of their radiologists refused to read children at all, so we might have to go to CHEO. I debated quickly between cash bribes and crying, and decided on standing there like a moron until we got the word that the radiologist would read her films, whereupon I debated quickly between flowers and chocolate and decided on sitting in a chair staring into space while Eve read Junie B. Jones. (I love Junie B. Jones. She has poor impulse control and is not afraid to call dumb, stupid things dumb and stupid and she brought a fish stick to school for a pet).

As we pulled into the parking lot for the clinic, Eve mused "this part of my life is quite doctorish". As we sat in the waiting room she whispered to me "I kind of like that they don't call your name, they call my name." In the x-ray room she made the technician laugh when she looked down at herself and said totally deadpan, "I'm wearing a paper shirt". The technician made her laugh when she assured her that, despite the apron that covered her butt, they did x-ray butts on a regular basis.

There's something sort of comforting about the day after you're up in the night with a sick child (when you don't work outside the house). Nobody really expects anything of you except recovery. You can tell people that your doctor is going to call in a recipe instead of a prescription and they get it. People tell you to take a nap. When you look up from your computer for the thirteenth time thinking there's a red car in the driveway and finally realize that it's just the red bowl on the edge of the counter blending in your peripheral vision with the window beside the front door you don't worry that you're completely losing your grip on reality. Quite as much.

I've read the paper and looked at the internet today enough to feel very grateful that things aren't worse. I could, for instance, be like Alanis Morrissette -- married to a guy named Souleye. Imagine the conversations: "Dammit, Souleye, how many times do I have to tell you to put the lid back down?!" "Souleye, honey, mind grabbing me an organic iced tea?" Also, I've never tried to rob a convenience store and fallen on my own knife while trying to escape (instant karma! Plus, hugely enjoyable visual). And... oh! I don't have to x-ray people's butts on a regular basis.

Life is good.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Expletive deleted

So Eve started coughing last Monday. Last Monday, when Matt was still home and would be for a week. She was coughing, but nothing else. She wasn't stuffed up or feverish or lethargic. She went to school every day and played with her friend next door most nights and it was all good. I went away for the week-end -- still good. But coughing. When did that nagging but basically unassuming cough turn into something a little more sinister? I'll tell you when: the minute -- probably the goddamned mother-cursed bugger-freaking SECOND -- my husband's plane passed out of Canadian airspace. On Monday, a WEEK after the original cough began. Seriously -- it's like a switch flips once he's gone and all manner of mishaps, catastrophes and incidents of mayhem (MAYHEM I say) descend upon us. Stairs cannot be traversed without falls. Fingers bend in strange and unintended-by-nature ways. Maggots infest the green bin. The clocks run backward and blood streams from the taps. Okay, I'm exaggerating. But the huge days-long power blackout in 2003? He was in Boston. And the only time Eve has ever had an ear infection immediately followed by a stomach virus, he was in goddamned Switzerland. True story.

So I took Eve to the doctor today. I'm a stay at home Mom and she was home from school so we could have gone at any time they could squeeze us in. Naturally the time they could squeeze us in was the exact time when I would have to be picking Angus up from school (I got him to go home with a friend) which then resulted in us getting onto the highway at the exact hour we like to call Rush. WITHOUT a prescription, because the doctor would like her to get a chest x-ray just to make sure it's pneumonia. Sure. Great. Hate antibiotic overuse. WAHHHHHHH!!!

Oh well. She did get a puffer. She's still feeling well enough to be a smartass. And Angus just took her upstairs to run her bath.

God, let the hot water tank be working.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Absence makes the heart unable to take out the garbage

There's a perception that a lot of husbands don't cope very well when their wives are away from home and they're left to manage with the kids alone. There are tales of wild junk-food fests, failure to bathe, horrifying wardrobe combinations, and general chaos and disaster. Some wives fill the refrigerator with meals and lay out clothes for each day they will be absent. Some wives write out a schedule of events and staple it to their husbands' shirts. Some wives just don't go away for fear of the carnage they will find when they return.

I am not one of those wives.

I have a friend whose husband's memory is extremely bad. He has received a phone call from his mother reminding him to bring a certain item to dinner, agreed to bring the item, hung up the phone, ignored the item which is sitting right beside him, and left for dinner. Once when we were on the way to a friend's cottage, she realized she had forgotten to remind her husband to bring her son to soccer. She immediately called him, ascertained that he had indeed forgotten to go to soccer, made sounds of exasperation, and hung up. Her sister, unmarried and childless, said "why on earth did you call him? It was already too late to remind him to go. The only purpose you served by calling him was to make him feel bad". All the mothers in the car looked around at each other thinking 'well duh, that's why she called him."

I actually sort of yearn for the day when I come home from a couple of days away and find a smoking pile of french fries, unfinished homework and stripes and polka dots. When my husband is here he can't remember his own name without my help. "So remember how I'm having that heart transplant tomorrow?" "What? Heart? When? Do I know you?" I leave movies for him to return where he'll have to step over them to go out the door and I still have to chase him down the driveway with them. He routinely loses his wallet, keys and work badge. I go away? He instantly becomes a super-efficient child-minding machine with a flawless grasp of the appointments and events on the calendar. This past week-end while I was in Toronto he got the kids to make homemade pizza (crust and all), got Eve to two birthday parties and Angus to a hockey game and a practice plus team pictures. The kitchen's usually spotless when I get home. I went to Halifax when Eve was three and he REPAINTED HER BEDROOM! Honestly, is that not just a tiny bit obnoxious? When I'm home I'm lucky if I can get a picture hung inside of six months.

I don't really wish he would fall apart without me. I don't need things to fall to crap when I'm gone to feel needed (do I? I don't think I do). I'm glad he takes the opportunity to do something fun and different with the kids when he has them to himself. And in my defense, if the kitchen isn't spotless when he gets home, it's usually because he's been away a week or two and not a day or two, and at some point something's gotta give -- and it usually involves the green bin.

And if I really want to feel like I've been missed? There's always the laundry room.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Will Survive while Shaking my Groove Thing in a Boogie Wonderland

Week-end was fabulous beyond description. We stayed with a friend of my friend who was coming to the play with us, which made me a little nervous (I shower a lot. I snore. I like my space. People I don't know freak me out. I like the impersonality and anonymity of hotels) but she and her husband were so amazingly nice -- they made us breakfast! Twice! And I had my own room -- the craft room, with a futon, and a bookshelf with ample reading material, including a book called 'Sexy Hormones' which I various read as 'Sexy Homeowners' and 'Sexy Mormons', both of which made me think these were people I really wanted to know -- and I woke up once and someone in the room next to me was snoring which was a tremendous relief.

There was some of this:


A little of this:


And, of course, this:


The show was amazing. When my friend suggested going back in May, I didn't think "oh, I really want to see that", I thought "yippee, week-end away with my girlfriends". But I can't think of anything I've enjoyed more in recent memories. The review I'd read made it sound like it was lightweight, campy fun, which it was of course, but I also found it quite powerful in places. The casting was impeccable and the music was smashing -- I was grinning like an idiot for most of it, when I wasn't laughing in a loud unladylike fashion. I believe my toe even tapped -- and my toe very rarely taps.

Then there was this for amusement on the way home:

(so much better than those places where you buy two and only get one).

Now I'm back in reality, with one kid home sick today, one husband en route to Asia and Australia for two weeks, parents in Arizona, a house that resembles the aftermath of Krakatoa and a lack of will to do anything productive. And those men's legs were waaaaay better than mine. Oh well. We'll always have Toronto. And World Trivia Night is on Friday! (although based on the game we played in the car on the way down, my team would be better off replacing me with the nearest homeless person).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Flying by Seat of Pants Recipes: Carrot Brie Soup

For those of you who enjoyed my hapless attempt to recreate citrus almonds, here's another one.

1) go to Allium in Ottawa with three friends (great restaurant, stupid name -- whose chef was actually trained by my husband's cousin's French-chef husband -- true story -- well obviously, why on earth would I make something like that up? I met him at my brother-in-law's wedding. Where there was a vegetarian buffet. He was fairly gracious in the absence of foie gras). Fail to order the Carrot and Brie soup on the grounds that you have never really loved carrot soup, which usually tastes like watery cooked carrots, while I prefer them raw. Taste the Carrot and Brie Soup of a friend and then wait for her to go to the washroom so you can eat most of it and refill her bowl with wine and hope she won't notice.

2) go home and mount a pitched battle with said friend to see who can re-create the recipe best. Swear at her when her first attempt is much better than yours, which prompted your mother-in-law to counsel dumping most of a liter of cream into the pot, which actually does improve it immeasurably.

3) make a second attempt which goes much better.

4) make a pot for book club which garners rave reviews and may even edge out my almost-famous near-sublime butternut squash soup.

5) go to Zarah's and decide to make a pot for lunch with good friend and his wife who I am meeting for the first time.

6) dispatch Zarah to the market for ingredients, including carrots and brie. Admire big beautiful local award-winning carrots with which she returns, and look somewhat suspicious at the cheese, which has a thin layer of ash running through it, but succomb to Zarah's blithe assurances that it will work fine (and it does taste really good).

7) roast the carrots lovingly on a cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil at 400 degrees until soft

8) sauté sliced onions and one or two sliced potatoes slowly in butter and olive oil over medium-low heat until soft.

9) place carrots, onions and potatoes in soup pot. Season with sea salt, pepper, lemon thyme, oregano, whatever.

10) add homemade chicken stock just to cover (I over chicken-stocked and under-potatoed the first time).

11) simmer for a while.

12) add wine. simmer for another while.

13) add cheese. Stir. Observe cheese melting nicely. Observe strange substance that resembles blobs of gray chewed gum floating around.

14) Freak out and deride Zarah's ridiculous yuppie ash-bedecked cheese.

15) Calm down and scoop out blobs with a slotted spoon. Empty out soup into bowl and scrape remainder of blobby gray crap off of bottom of pan (or make Zarah do it. She switched the cheese, after all)

16) Return soup to pot and simmer. Add cream. Consider contacting the Evanturel people to advise adding a big red warning DO NOT USE IN SOUP label so no one else has to endure a similarly harrowing experience.

17) Serve soup to appreciative guests and swear each other to secrecy. Until you're in dire need of a blog post.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just move along. Really.

Ack. No one reads blogs on Saturday anyway, right? Um, um, um, um.....

Oh great, the computer just autosaved and I hadn't typed ANYTHING since the last autosave. Thanks a lot Blogger, not a bit demoralizing.

I am about to open a package of M&Ms.

I have just opened a package of M&Ms. Colour breakdown: five yellow, three brown, three red, two orange, two green and one blue.

I'm not really here. I'm actually in Toronto opening up a package of H&M. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ooh, that old lady is scary. And watching singing dancing men who probably have better legs than I do. And can dance in heels. So right now I am in fact most likely having a gay old time (hee). But Thursday night? I was totally uninspired.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Balls to you if you don't think this is funny

Yes, I am incredibly immature. I pride myself on being puerile. When I saw The Pillow Book with my boss from the book store where I worked, I could only look at Ewan McGregor buck naked for a second or two before I filled the theatre with hysterical giggles and almost got simultaneously fired and asked to leave. My husband often gets angry at the kids for being silly at the dinner table. Then he has to get angry with me as well, because hell, it IS funny when someone keeps saying 'beef burger' over and over again in a German accent. I love this ship. Why? Because it's called a frigate. And don't you sometimes just want to say frigate? Or, go here, you can here some other guy say it over and over -- how awesome is that?

So this? Well, this made my friggin' day. And with that, I am off to Toronto to see singing men in drag, leaving my husband and children to fend for themselves for TWO whole nights. One hockey game, one hockey practice, one hockey photo session, two birthday parties... say it with me...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance

I don't have anything profound to say. It just seems wrong to write about cute stuff my kids said or stupid stuff I'm worrying about today. My husband is planning to take his grandfather to the dinner at the Legion tonight (hopefully he won't heckle the Peacekeepers this time). I went a couple of times -- it was wonderful, and sad. The very first time I visited Matt, Grandpa started telling war stories; I didn't realize until afterwards that this was the first time Matt had heard any of them. It was riveting. It wasn't all hell, of course -- in a way, the war was the only way he would have seen as much of the world as he did, and some of the times were grand old times indeed. But the parts that were hell were appalling, horrifying, unimaginable for those of us who weren't there. I worry sometimes that, as his short-term memory deteriorates but his long-term memory remains crystal clear, he will be trapped in those hellish memories. And then there are the soldiers today, who are in a hot, alien country, enduring conditions we can't even imagine for a cause that a good part of this country thinks is false and unworthy -- how hard must that be? My husband was gone last week and will be gone Monday for two weeks, and it's hard. But I don't have to worry that he's going to get shot or run afoul of an improvised explosive device while I try to run a household alone for months at a time. So yeah, I'm going to remember today. And try to stop whining.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday Wedding Pictures

Sometimes after stories Zarah lets Sophie play with her shoes.


It was right about now that Eve realized that my shoes suck and asked if she could live with Zarah.








"We're gonna have the same dress, and the same sweater, and the same shoes, and we'll be like twins, and it's gonna be awesome!"


Shield your eyes from the adorableness:


It's all about the shoes




This is where we started shouting at them to put each other in headlocks. Sadly, not a one of them knew what the hell we were talking about. I somehow thought that a headlock was part of genetic memory. Guess I was wrong.




They were playing her song. All night.


You wouldn't believe how hard he had to work to get her to do this:


The almost nauseatingly happy couple:


And one of him gazing adoringly into her -- oh. Never mind.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Savages at Civilization

Field trip.

Duration: All Damned Day (I'm pretty sure that's what it said on the actual volunteer sheet).

Three grade five classes.

Five girls in my group.

One kick-ass museum (that unfortunately is very easy to lose children in).

Wood carvings, totem poles and puffin head masks.

Old stamps.

Writing your name in hieroglyphics.

A pyramid mystery workshop and a very realistic-looking mummy.

A crazy funny museum employee and a hilarious music workshop involving elastics with pennies wrapped around our shoes to make tappers, Indonesian musical instruments, African drums, a story about a rhinoceros and an elephant, and a move called 'le wiper'. (Yep. I tap danced. With my son. Pretty much worth the price of admission right there, wouldn't you say?)

Roughly two hours of bus riding both ways.

One kid with a poked eye and one with his head stuck in the sleeve of his jacket.

Two extra-strength Advil.

One day that turned out considerably better than I thought it might.

Monday, November 8, 2010

They do. They really do.

We had the most amazing week-end. We stayed with my friend Zarah and her two kids in her charming old wood-floored sparkly-lamp luxuriously-curtained house and the kids were loud and happy and silly and every few hours we pushed them all outside to run off some of the loud silliness. Saturday night we went to the wedding party (pictures to follow) for two amazing people who waited quite a long time and went through quite a bit of strife before they found each other (Zarah introduced them -- I tell you, she is to be praised).

There's something a little different about a wedding for people in their forties. Not to say that I didn't love my own wedding and feel like it was a special night where I was making an important committment in front of a lot of people I loved. Not to say that I didn't feel honoured going to many of my friends' weddings around the same time to see them make that same committment. But a lot less is taken for granted when you marry later, for the first time. You're not just doing things in the approved order. You're not just admirable and adorable because you're young and open and hopeful. You've lived a few more years and realized that love is a wonderful thing, but it often isn't actually enough -- that you have to rely on other qualities in order to maintain a relationship. I felt this when we went to my husband's graduate supervisor's wedding when he was in his fifties, and I felt it on Saturday night. It's something that I think of when I'm writing letters or Christmas cards talking about my family. When you reach this age, this point in life, these things start to feel more and more precarious. And very precious.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Knowing Me Knowing You November 2010

Knowing Me Knowing You! From the Almight Shan, the Fairy Blogmother! Just in time for a scheduled Sunday post while I'm driving home from Barrie and trying not to fall off the nablopomobile! Yay Shan!

1) What's on your (my) Christmas list?

Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. A few years back we stopped exchanging gifts among the adults on my side of the family because it just seemed kind of silly -- we were all exchanging the same hundred-odd bucks over and over again. Now we just buy for the kids and if someone sees something small that's perfect for someone we pick it up. Matt usually takes the kids out for stuff for me, and it's always awesome -- Chapters gift certificates, fridge finger puppets of literary figures, fuzzy socks. And my mother in law has an uncanny knack for picking out the exact thing that I've been wanting but would never buy myself, often something kitchen-like. But really, I don't need anything. I need less stuff, not more. Although presents? are fun.

2) Do you have a handheld video game in your house?

Two of 'em. Three, before we gave Angus's Gameboy to my nephew. Angus's was a joint decision, Eve's was sprung on me when Matt decided to take Angus out and buy it as a present to Eve from Angus. Cute, but kind of expensive and a little too soon, in my opinion. She loved it, though. Both of them have seen furious use at various times. Neither of them have been used much lately, if at all -- Eve actually left hers at piano one week and didn't realize it was gone until we went back and the teacher gave it to her. It might be time to re-gift or sell them used. They saved our ass on long drives before the kids had ipods (yeah, they have ipods too -- it was my Mom! Not me!)

3)Are you going to participate in the 25 Days of Christmas challenge?

I only found out about this halfway through last year. It sounds like a great idea. I tend to get overwhelmed with Christmas-ish-ness -- one family activity every day might be a nice way to put the brakes on the crazy a little. And I do like forcing my son to spend time with me. :)

4)What is your favourite kind of cookie?

Oatmeal. Or any available.

5)Coffee or tea?

Tea, if anything. I've never been in the habit of having hot drinks, even in the morning. But I've started going to Starbucks at Chapters every Tuesday with my friend Patti while our girls dance, and after I took the menu-reading and beverage-ordering introductory course I managed to order something called a Vanilla Rooibos tea latte which has to be good for my bones and often floats around in my dreams being milky and vanilla-y and luscious. Sometimes I wake up at 5 a.m. and count the hours until Starbucks opens.