Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bibliomama! Is! Canadian!

This post comes from Mary Lynn via Dani Girl who posted about Canada Reads 2011 on CBC. Apparently this is a list of the 'best novels of the 2000s', winnowed from a list of 400 'after a hot online discussion and campaigning by both readers and writers.'

I'll be honest. I'll whore myself out to anything for an easy blog post. But in the words of one of my dear book club friends while declining to participate in a 'Survivor: The Book Version' game at our year-end dinner, "I think this is stupid." There's nothing wrong with discussing great books, and our society is one that cherishes its top ten lists. (Oh my god, I totally just typed it's instead of it's and then ALMOST MISSED IT. The horror). But really, what does saying that these 40 books are The Best of the Decade even really mean? I guess campaigning by people who wrote the books is okay, because it wouldn't be any more 'objective' than if it was decided by some jury of people who weren't the authors or friends of the authors.

But like both Dani Girl and Mary Lynn, I was surprised to realize how many of the authors on the list I had never even heard of, let alone read their book. I was also struck, as I commented on Mary Lynn's post, how these types of lists always seem to demonstrate short memories. At least two of these books are so recently published that it would be almost impossible to have read them unless you purchased the hardcover, which I rarely do (I did get one sent to me by the publisher to review, which is the only reason I have already read it). So I appreciate the list for its reading suggestion value, if nothing else.

I put the titles I've read in bold and the ones I've never heard of in italics.

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews *

Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall

Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant

Conceit by Mary Novik

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Drive-by Saviours by Chris Benjamin

Elle by Douglas Glover

Essex County
by Jeff Lemire

Far to Go
by Alison Pick

February by Lisa Moore

Galore by Michael Crummey

Heave by Christy Ann Conlin

Inside by Kenneth J. Harvey

Late Nights on Air
by Elizabeth Hay

Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill

Moody Food
by Ray Robertson

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Room by Emma Donoghue

Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

The Best Laid Plans
by Terry Fallis

The Birth House by Ami McKay

The Bishop’s Man by Linden MacIntyre

The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Fallen by Stephen Finucan

The Girls Who Saw Everything by Sean Dixon

The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe

The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

The Way the Crow Flies
by Ann-Marie MacDonald

The Year of the Flood
by Margaret Atwood

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Through Black Spruce
by Joseph Boyden

Twenty-Six by Leo McKay Jr.

by Carol Shields

Dani Girl and Mary Lynn mentioned the notable absences of Douglas Coupland, Alice Munro and Nikolski by Nicholas Dickner which actually won Canada Reads last year. I would add Michael Ondaatje as someone I would think might be on this list -- maybe he just hasn't published recently enough. I haven't looked at the list of 400 though. I also think it's kind of silly when an author has two books on a list like this -- I mean, if there was such a thing as an objective list of this sort, then I guess it could happen, but there isn't, so why not give two other authors a slot?

I did start reading Lullabies for Little Criminals, but I couldn't make it to that book club meeting, and I just didn't like it enough to keep reading. It's still on my shelf, but it's moved way down the list.

I do think Canadian literature has come a long way in the past ten or twenty years. When I studied it in university lo these many years ago, most of what we studied was of the Painfully Obviously Canadian variety -- you know, long lonely stretches of prairie and accompanying long lonely stretches of prose, Hugh McLennan's book on the Halifax Explosion, pastoral poetry. One year in book club we did quite a few Canadian novels and then had to declare an incest moratorium for the next year's list. Since then, I've discovered Lynn Coady, Lisa Moore, Miram Toews, and other Canadian authors who I'm too lazy to click over to Goodreads to remind myself of, and was relieved to discover that a Canadian novel can be funny, profound, passionate and lively without a hint of Gothic overtone or existential despair (okay, I'm not averse to a sliver of existential despair).

The Bishop's Man and Sweetness in the Belly have both been on my bedside table for the past few months. I might have spent all tonight reading both of them if I wasn't going to post this immediately, just to boost my total and beat Mary Lynn. But I am going to post this immediately, so I guess I'll have to take the honourable course. I'm so Canadian.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guns, Germs and Exploding Peas

Last night at book club we were discussing Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies by Jared Diamond. It's a great book, an important book, one that takes a very complex subject and renders it comprehensible to the layperson. Tomorrow I will talk about the huge and far-reaching issues addressed by Diamond. Today I'm feeling shlumpy and under-the-weather and I'm just going to be a smartass. Because one of the great joys of this book was wading through paragraphs including weighty analyses of "politically centralized, socially stratified, economically complex, technologically innovative societies" and "autocatalytic processes" and then coming across phrases such as "Rhino-mounted Bantu shock troops" or "archaeological evidence of chickpeas".

This splendid paragraph comes from a section on how domesticated plants often varied significantly from their wild progenitors:

" A clear example involves peas, whose seeds (the peas we eat) come enclosed in a pod. Wild peas have to get out of the pod if they are to germinate. To achieve that result, pea plants evolved a gene that makes the pod explode, shooting out the peas onto the ground. Pods of occasional mutant peas don't explode. In the wild the mutant peas would die entombed in their pod on their parent plants, and only the popping pods would pass on their genes. But, conversely, the only pods available to humans to harvest would be the nonpopping ones left on the plant. Thus, once humans began bringing wild peas home to eat, there was immediate selection for that single-gene mutant. Similar nonpopping mutants were selected in lentils, flax, and poppies."

Exploding peas! Nonpopping mutants! One of my book club friends watched the DVD version, in which she said Jared Diamond was actually the star. She said the DVD was even further simplified than the book, which I guess was necessary for time constraints but also because geez, could you say any of that stuff with a straight face?

Oh! Oh! The animals! Apparently if you didn't have the good fortune to be born on a continent which housed a good number of domesticable large mammals you were basically screwed. An important distinction must be observed between tamed animals and domesticated ones -- Hannibal crossed the Alps on tamed elephants, not domesticated ones. Domesticating animals entails breeding them selectively, producing animals which are different from the wild breed. Unfortunately, a good many large mammals prove to be stubbornly resistant to domesticating. For this reason, the aforementioned Rhino-mounted Bantu shock troops did NOT overthrow the Roman Empire. But then Diamond throws in some anecdotal stuff about the New Guinea villages where he has spent years, and how the people there keep pets such as kangaroos, possums and ospreys; "New Guineans even regularly capture chicks of wild cassowaries (an ostrich-like large, flightless bird) and raise them to eat as a delicacy -- even though captive adult cassowaries are extremely dangerous and now and then disembowel village people". Zebras are also apparently singularly ornery critters, who have the "unpleasant habit of biting people and not letting go", and are actually responsible for injuring more American zookeepers every year than tigers (why do tigers get the bad rap? As far as I've heard tigers usually only maul stupid drunk people who vault into their cages in the middle of the night).

In a section on various organizations of early civilization:

"A fact further diffusing potential problems of conflict resolution in tribes is that almost everyone is related to everyone else, by blood or marriage or both. Those ties of relationships binding all tribal members make police, laws, and other conflict-resolving institutions or larger societies unnecessary, since any two villages getting into an argument will share many kind, who apply pressure on them to keep it from becoming violent. In traditional New Guinea society, if a New Guinean happened to encounter an unfamiliar New Guinean while both were away from their respective villages, the two engaged in a long discussion of their relatives, in an attempt to establish some relationship and hence some reason why the two should not attempt to kill each other". So your Great-Uncle Henry canoed the rapids with my fourth cousin twice removed George? Awesome -- this spear no longer has your name on it -- high five!

Not only is Jared Diamond a kickass writer, I think I'd really like to have a beer with him some time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(Thank God it's) Wordless Wednesday: Fall-ing

Good thing she doesn't know about child labour laws yet:


This was totally spontaneous and not coached by me AT ALL:

Aaaaand heartwarming moment over:

Payback's a bitch:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Short and Sweet. (And you can't really fault him on the logic).

Me: "What's that thing you call me sometimes? Bowl full of nuts?"

My husband: "No. What I call you sometimes is 'honey bunches of oats'. What I think about you sometimes is 'bowl full of nuts'.

Fair enough.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Smells like a Funny Friday

I actually slept last night, which means several things seem funny this morning that wouldn't have for the last few days. Like Elvira Kurt doing the cultural hall of shame on Q this morning -- talking about Willow Smith, Will Smith's daughter and her insanely catchy new son: "she's nine! Twenty is like the new ninety now. Parents everywhere are telling their kids 'put down the juicebox, get up from naptime and get to work on your brand!"

Okay, I probably would have found that funny anyway. How about this? Our first Halloween party of the season is tomorrow night and we're all being Greek god/desses. Eve has decided that she is Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty -- we're just leaving the whole sex part out for now, especially after the other day when I finally gave it to her dead straight about making babies, after she said "I understand how I can get things like loving books from you, but I don't get how I can get things from Daddy." "Well, the seed comes from Daddy." "But how?" "You sure you want to know?" "Yes." "It comes from his penis. It goes in my vagina. It fertilizes the egg and then grows into a baby in my belly." "----- okay, I'm so grossed out now I can't look at you and I have to go away for a while. I'm going to try to forget that you told me that, and if I ask you again, DON'T TELL ME."

My costume says Athena. Goddess of wisdom. And war, but apparently she disliked fighting for no reason and tried to settle disputes with wisdom. I'll have to remember that the next time I feel like saying "quit kicking the table leg or I'll beat you senseless!" and say something like "please stop kicking the table leg or I will beat you with my senses" instead. Angus wanted to be Poseidon but the only costume was Hercules, so I guess we can just glue a dead fish to his shoulder and maybe drape some seaweed over him. Matt's getting the leftovers of the other three costumes -- I'm thinking cross-dressing Dionysus or something.

Not funny enough? You know that awesome old spice commercial? Have you seen the version done by this handsome fellow?

And if you haven't seen cat vs. printer with translation on Facebook yet, it seriously does a body good. Although I'm not sure how the cat or the printer made out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Regarding Cynthia

This is my friend Cynthia's most recent Facebook status update:

Cynthia (Blank): ' Word07 would like me to replace the word "spline" with "spleen". My sentence now reads: "...this data set was calculated using a multivariate cubic spleen interpolation." '

This reminded me of the time I was updating my résumé (which I just typed six different times with and without accents and it looks equally stupid both ways, so clearly I'm just having a moment, like that time when I was nine and there were a few hours where I couldn't say the word 'closet' without feeling really strange) and trying to type that I had volunteered at a camp for children with oncological diseases, and the word processing problem kept trying to substitute the word 'ontological'. Because yeah, the camp wasn't for kids with cancer, it was for kids who wonder why we're here and what it's all about.

Cynthia is cool. And pretty. And smart. She almost has a Ph.D. She calculates data sets using her spleen (and possibly her liver). She won triathlons all over the world, then her feet got unhappy and now she wins bike races all over the world. However, this is not why I love her. I love her because when Eve was being bullied last year she wrote on Facebook "Don't worry. Eve will grow up to be happy and successful and the other girl will grow up to be a crack whore. No wait... crack whore's assistant." That's fabulous, is it not?

I also love Cynthia for giving me a blog post that isn't only about the weird shower I had this morning, where I felt a little short of breath so tried to take a deep breath, then abruptly started sobbing huge, ludicrous, face-contorting sobs, then started laughing at the same time when I realized I couldn't even unscrunch my face enough to wash it. The medication switch has been going better than I expected, but this morning was a little rocky. Anybody want to start a camp for emotionally volatile people who periodically feel suspicious of the word 'closet' with me?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A real man?

Forget flowers and romance and remembering our anniversary and shit like that (he never remembers our anniversary. I don't either. We're pretty sure we got married at some point and it was a great party and we're both good with that). Forget knowing if you like iced tea or red peppers (he always asks me if I want iced tea in restaurants even though I have never ever ever in the twenty or so years he's known me ordered iced tea, and the other night while he was assembling dinner plates I heard from upstairs as he asked my kids 'does Mommy like red peppers?' -- I don't). Forget putting his damned socks in the laundry (on the floor by the couch. on a kitchen chair. on the bedside table --bleaaaah).

A real man? A real man will hear you say 'shit!' in a loud whisper when you finish reading at 11:30 p.m., attempt to take off your glasses and lay them on the table and have the left lens fall out due to a tiny little screw coming loose in the frame. The real man will open his eyes, roll over, assess the problem, go down two whole floors to the work room in the basement, find a tiny little screwdriver, and proceed to tighten the tiny little screw back to the point where the frame will hold the lens, so his near-legally-blind wife will not have to stumble around in a featurelessly blurry world the next morning. All while his hair sticks up around his cute little bald spot. Said real man will then go back to bed with you and let you warm your freezing feet on his legs.

Roses? Phffttth.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Get a Clue

Note to self: Try to write next book review so as not to convince fully half of commenters to resolve NOT to read the book based on the review. If it helps, I also recently read Hardball by Sara Paretsky, which is a V.I. Warshawski novel, for anyone familiar with the character. It was pretty good, except way too many characters had red hair. Really. Every second chapter she was meeting someone's wife with faded red curls, or a red-headed secretary, or a kid on the street with a baseball cap over red hair. It strained the bounds of credulity! If it was me, I would have dropped the investigation and concentrated all my resources on figuring out where all the carrot tops were coming from -- it's rare enough that I see one red-headed person a month. When I was walking to school to get the kids the other day, there was a mother with a brilliantly red-haired little boy walking across the field, then when I got to the other side of the field there was a father with an equally brilliantly red-haired little boy which stopped me in my tracks until I realized that they were all together.

There was also the fact that V.I. Warshawski was her usual self -- stubborn, hard-headed, a little judgemental and staying doggedly on the case even after being shot, stabbed and set on fire. At least in a series where the character is a former policewoman and private investigator there's a little sense to this, but I still find it ever so slightly wearying at times. I used to vacillate between reviling this type of woman (fictional or real-life) and feeling inferior to her -- not specifically the shot/stabbed/set on fire thing, but women who put careers and personal passions over marriage and children, women who can never maintain a relationship because they can't loosen their principles even an inch in order to accomodate someone else's needs or opinions (Jane Tennison, anyone?). While reading this book, I suddenly realized I don't have to do either. I can just accept that they're different from me. For starters, they run into way more redheads.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review: Far to Go by Alison Pick

I've been putting off reviewing this simply because I don't see how I can possibly do it justice. Reading this book was somewhat akin to being stabbed very deeply with something very sharp -- you feel like you might get away okay, and then you walk a few steps and realize you're bleeding all over the place.

Holocaust literature is such a delicate, marshy, minefield-laden thing. You have to respect an author -- a young one, at that -- who even attempts one more entry in the field, and this one is very, very good. The narrator of the book interviews Holocaust survivors and their children for her books, and says that "they can come off as selfish, ths survivors and their children. As closed and cramped, dark knots of grievance. That too is Hitler's legacy: the poison never fully flushed out." This articulates something I have often struggled with, how the Holocaust killed six million Jews and also blighted the lives of so many who didn't die, by killing the people they would have been, by leaving them unable to live unpoisoned lives, or to raise their children without transmitting all their terror and despair down through generations.

There are tropes -- the wealthy, secular Jews who can't bring themselves to envision how bad things will get until it is far too late, the non-Jewish family friend who manages little by little to convince himself of the morality of stealing from his friend and business partner -- but they become fully-realized characters, and the increased closing-off of their options is claustrophobically palpable. The character of Marta, the nanny to six-year-old Pepik and witness to the secrets and frailties of Pavel and Anneliese, the Jewish couple, is finely drawn and compelling. They are all so clearly caught in a huge maelstrom of monstrous unfairness, and you want to cry out and warn them while understanding that of course they wouldn't want to leave their home, their livelihood, or send their children away to strangers, because who could really believe what was coming?

The 'mysterious narrator' conveys an overarching sense of bitterness and fatalism, which increases with the realization that none of the events recounted are actually known to have happened, but are rather an imaginative mosaic pieced around a few facts and letters. This kind of thing can go really badly wrong sometimes, but Pick seems to have found the exact formula for making it work. Somehow she renders it completely clear, that we'll never know all the stories of all the people, that all we'll ever have is letters, fragments, statistics, and that the only way to overcome this and properly mourn the people is to imagine the stories.

"I wish this were a happy story. A story to make you doubt, and despair, and then have your hopes redeemed so you could believe again, at the last minute, in the essential goodness of the world around us and the people in it." It's not a happy story. It is note-perfect, and devastating.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Something to be Said for Skipping Mondays...

So I hit the school library bright and early this morning, shelved some books, got some kids squared away, saw both my kids with their classes which for some reason they love, got Eve to straighten up the Goosebumps books because they're on a very low shelf and it hurts my back, got confirmation from the librarian that this was not, in fact, improper use of my child, went to the other library, returned some books, picked up some books, went to Farm Boy, got some groceries, was driving by a gas station and remembered that I was almost out of gas so got gas because Eve has dance tonight and last dance night we almost ran out of gas. Then I hit the drugstore where I didn't have a list but I was sure I remembered everything because I was ON FIRE today. Then I got home and realized I'd forgotten the saline stuff for my contacts which isn't actually saline any more because I wear hard contacts instead of soft contacts, but the fact remained that if I didn't have the whatever tonight I would have to leave my contacts dry or wear them for roughly twenty-four hours altogether, neither of which seemed a viable option. Then I checked not very hopefully under the sink and there it was! A brand new unopened bottle! The fortuitousness of it would make me dizzy except not, because the other great thing about today is, there's nothing like having a headache for five or six days to make simply not having a headache seem REALLY EXCITING.

(I'm in the process of switching medications. Apparently there can be some side effects. I can't recall the exact list at the moment but I'm going to venture a guess about inappropriate affect and hyper mania. And run-on sentences. I hope the FDA is on top of that.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's Friday, right?

I often miss the Crazy Mayor's Friday Funny thing because I'm just too disorganized and I can't be funny on cue, dammit! At my sister's wedding she said she wanted my speech to be funny, so I figured I'd have to do it on rollerblades -- me rollerblading? Now that's funny.

Matt was trying to get Angus to watch this show called The Quantum Tamers with him the other night. He was hoping that they would have some kind of father-son 'physics is cool!' moment born of quarks and particle/wave uncertainties. It didn't really happen, but hopefully it laid a little groundwork. This reminded me of an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati wherein Venus explains the atom to a wannabe high school dropout in terms of gang activity. This in turn reminded my husband that he thinks I'm a bit of a whack job with a fanciful imagination while somehow rendering him unable to recall that whenever he doesn't believe me about this kind of thing I'm almost invariably right. Witness his delicious humiliation here.

I don't actually spend a whole lot of time on Youtube, but being on there reminded me that I had been quite disappointed that I hadn't been able to find one of my favourite Saturday Night Live episode, where Alec Baldwin and Tiny Fey were riding home from work and everything either of them said offended the other one for some obscure reason. I think of this episode every time some other person goes public to 'demand an apology' for something. So I checked again and there it was -- and it wasn't Tina Fey! Which is nice for my husband, because I was just a little bit wrong.

Happy week-end, and enjoy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Knowing Me Knowing You (with the usual whiny accompaniment)

Perspective is a funny thing. I have overly reactive, chronically inflamed airways, and when I get sick I get a rib-breaking breath-stealing consumptive cough that can last for months. I always think that my husband must feel really bad for me when he hears me coughing like that. Then when he gets a cough -- his normal wussy-man cough although he acts like it's the final stages of the bubonic plague, naturally -- I find it really annoying and ask him to sleep in the basement. Then I think maybe he doesn't actually feel that bad for me when I cough.

I'm tired. It's been a good, kind of busy week. My husband had out-of-town people in at work so he's been wining and dining them while I meet the teacher and feed and bathe and supervise homework and piano practice more or less solo. Plus I've been sleeping like crap. Lying there with the same goddamned song running through my head a hundred and forty-two times, totally awake and yet yawning until my jaw creaks every few minutes. If there was a way to strangle yourself I'd be all over it.

Pam and I went for a lovely walk in a fun area of town where we never go this morning. For a little over two hours. It was wonderful, and I came home thinking it was just what I needed and I would probably sleep well tonight. The problem was, I wanted tonight to start RIGHT NOW. Then my husband came home after lunch and said he had a migraine and threw up at work and was going to bed. I managed to mutter something vaguely sympathetic, went to pick up the kids from school and fed them dinner and supervised piano practice solo AGAIN. Then he got up and ate four times what he usually eats and disappeared back upstairs with his laptop, which I may now go upstairs and beat him over the head with. Did I mention I have my period? I'm not sure how well this new blogging initiative is going. I looked at yesterday's post and it ended on a strange note about Angus's picture having a Charlie Brown head with no nose. For that I forgot to put Eve to bed until nine-thirty and went upstairs and found her nodding sleepily over a Junie B. Jones book in my armchair. I hope Zarah can live with herself.

Oh right, Knowing Me Knowing You...whatever month this is. Yay Fairy Blogmother.

1. Started your Christmas shopping yet?

Oh hell no. Well, a couple of tiny insignificant things that I have shoved in my closet and won't be able to find in December. I'm not buying the kids anything 'for Christmas' this year, except things that they would get anyway, because I always end up with way too much stuff, most of which they could have easily done without. At least that's the plan. I'll let you know how it works out for me.

2. Fall is here, what is your favourite cold weather comfort food?

Anything I cook in my crock pot that means I'm not cooking at four-thirty p.m. The most comforting thing is not having to cook dinner at dinner time. Pork chops in peach sauce, hungarian goulash, beef stew. Plus, you know, booze -- comforting in any weather.

3. Are you watching any new TV shows?

Don't think so. I usually love new fall TV, if only because none of it has had the chance to suck yet, but there's so much on it just makes me tired and I go read a book instead.

4. Have you read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett?

Nope. I'm a horrible snob -- if everybody loves a book I avoid it like the plague because three million people can't possibly be right. Perhaps you remember how well that worked for me with Twilight.

5. Is the top of your desk cluttered or clear?

Why do I have a desk? And anyone who's seen my house knows better than to ask if the top of my anything is cluttered or clear. The top of everything has a stack of books and a flurry of pink post-it notes on it. And possibly a shrivelled mushroom and a dead caterpillar from Eve's nature box, which has a distressing habit of thinking out of the box.

My kids have been in pajamas since 5:30 and some kid on America's Funniest Home Videos just put boobs on a snowman. I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Teacher Feature

Tonight was Meet the Teacher night. It's an annual thing that takes place in many schools, with the actual date being determined sort of like they determine Easter. With Easter it has something to do with how Sundays fall in relation to the Paschal full moon and the vernal equinox. Meet the Teacher night always falls on a night in October when it's pouring rain and I have my period. Fortunately my kids are teacher-pleasers, so nothing really exciting ever happens anyway (one kid in Eve's classroom was wandering around hiding behind random strangers and shooting people with some kind of dart gun). It's one of those pain-in-the-ass things that you just kind of have to do -- or hey. Maybe I don't. I work in the freaking school libary. I know all the teachers. Oh, but then Eve wouldn't get to show me her art and writing, that's not at all different from the art and writing she does at home. And then we wouldn't get to walk around looking at nineteen globes made from paper plates and toilet paper rolls, trying to remember/figure out which one is hers because she can't quite remember how she coloured it or find her name. Then the teacher confessed that every time the curtains get closed the paper plate globes fall off the toilet-paper-roll stands and we realized that the globes could all have been switched around and I thought we might still be there when school started again tomorrow morning. Then the teacher found Eve's globe. I love the teacher.

Angus's teacher is pregnant. Angus's teacher is always pregnant. In grade three he started the year with one teacher, the classes got shuffled, and we found out he was going to have another teacher, who I loved. He came home the first day he had her and said "she so nice! And she's pregnant!" I thought "fuck", because if she was pregnant enough for my oblivious son to notice, she had to be about to drop the kid. Sure enough, she was gone a month later and we had a third teacher before Thanksgiving, who fortunately was also wonderful. Last year he came home in October and said "guess what? Madame is pregnant." She lasted most of the year. A couple weeks after school started this year he came home and said "you won't believe it!" and I said "Don't tell me -- she's pregnant?" It's really annoying that these women can't schedule their reproductive needs more conveniently for me. Also, get this -- my friend, who used to teach at our school, mentioned that the second teacher's pregnancy might have been unplanned since she wasn't married. I said "huh? Then why do we call her Madame?" I still haven't gotten a satisfactory answer for that one. I mean, seriously -- what is this, 1940? It's not even a Catholic school! I'm doubly annoyed because I just realized that I meant to be annoyed by this all this time, and I've basically forgotten about it until now! What -- are we too lazy to say Mademoiselle? Is it some twisted morality thing? No, it can't be, because we called them all Madame before they were even pregnant -- oh, but maybe we suspected they were having sex!

Sorry. I've clearly looked at too much student art tonight. Angus drew a picture of himself in Toronto outside the Rogers Center, with the CN tower in the background. He had a Charlie Brown head with no nose.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Further Eve-isms

Last night Eve was working on a project called My Life in a Box. She had to put in three things to represent things she liked doing (a marker, a book and a shrivelled up mushroom for drawing, reading and collecting 'nature-y' things), one thing to represent what she wanted to be when she grew up (a microphone because she wants to be a singer) and something that represented her family. She thought about putting in a picture of us but dismissed that as too obvious. Someone else had put in a movie that their family liked watching together so she didn't want to copy that. She finally decided on Yahtzee dice because we like playing Yahtzee together, and then she could tell everyone about the time her father picked up the dice to toss them into the cup we shake them in and tossed them into his drink instead, and it was almost empty but there was a little bit of wine left in it. Because, as she put it "I get to talk about booze -- (holding two thumbs up) -- Mom, that's gold!"

Tonight on our way home from dance I told Eve that when we go to our friend Chris's wedding she'll get to meet his wife Lisa's eleven-year-old daughter Hannah. Eve said "She's eleven? I love people who are older than me and aren't my brother!"

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mea Culpa

Some people have been commenting that September was a 'bad month' for my blog. Some people seem to think that if they click onto my blog on their lunch hour and there's no new post I've been a 'bad friend' and a 'disappointment to humanity'. Some people may have stopped short in the parking lot at Zehr's and driven my seatbelt into my windpipe and then suggested that I should start blogging more regularly again if I 'know what's good for me'. Okay, I'm paraphrasing.

I had the most blissful, idyllic, big-sappy-smile-making week-end. On Thursday I drove to Oakville to see my friend Elaine who has an eleven-year-old boy, a six-year-old girl and a seven-month-old gestating little girl in her belly. She looks fabulous, particularly for someone who's clearly lost her mind (kidding! I'm kidding! It's the envy talking. Mostly.) We talked, we walked, we ate our way through the bakeries of downtown Oakville. We had Thai food with a hilarious server who set down the panang and informed us seriously that this curry was going to ruin us for all the other curries (which it pretty much did). We made fun of Elaine's husband's fish pants. We looked at a bunch of incredibly expensive organic bamboo baby stuff, including an armless sleeper/swaddler thing, which we thought was ingenious, and then realized that she could just cut the arms off a sleeper and sew the holes shut and start a college fund for the kid with the money she saved. We picked up the kids at school in my van because Holly really wanted to ride in it -- we asked Aidan if he wanted to come too instead of riding his skateboard home and he said "I guess" like he was really just doing it as a personal favour to us and not because he wanted to. Elaine's kids are scarily like my kids.

Then I drove to Barrie to see Zarah (who did take me to H&M before she started trash-talking about my blog laziness). We walked, we shopped, we ate. She congratulated me on no longer (hardly ever) wearing clothes that are way too big for me. She told me to try some eyeshadow. I said I hadn't worn eyeshadow since high school, when I would put it on and ask my sister if I was wearing too much and she would say "where is it?" I put some on and we went downtown for lunch with Zarah's friend Holly and at lunch Zarah said the eyeshadow looked nice and Holly looked at me and said "you're wearing eyeshadow?". So maybe not a great leap forward, but still. We were looking after a dog named Gemma, who is a mix of lab and collie and some other stuff, and was constantly trying to herd us onto the same floor and into the same room. By the last night I was there she refused to go out to pee unless both of us went with her. Zarah and I are clearly not the dominant bitches we've always thought ourselves to be.

Zarah's kids came back from their Dad's on Sunday a few hours before I had to leave. Sophie is about to turn six and little and adorable and looks like Cindy Lou Who. Alex is eight and smart and serious and I constantly try to crack him up and instead end up sounding like a jackass while he looks at me like I'm, well, a jackass, and yells "Mom! Allison's trying to make me be whimsical again! Make her stop!"

Now I'm home with my wonderful family and Angus says he missed me and he's not just saying that to make me feel good, and Eve fell asleep beside me while I was reading last night and my husband changed the sheets before I got home and none of them have started to piss me off again, so I'm in a very very nice place right now. Aside from my stupid reference work assignment with the stupid impossible-to-find facts about Canadian epidemiologists and the first settlers in Kelowna B.C. and the stupid labyrinthine MLA citations... no no no. Not going there yet, can't make me. I'm happy.