Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WHY ARE YOU ALL BLOGGING AT CHRISTMAS TIME???

Like I need this pressure? I thought we were friends!

 Fine. Fine!!

 First of all, my husband went out and bought a new TV today, which kind of ticks me off because how am I supposed to mock people for Boxing Week shopping when my husband is Boxing Week shopping? On the other hand, our old TV fell prey to this creeping blue digital fungus months and months ago and now I can't even type without my eyes constantly wandering over to the TV because the picture! It's so bright! and clear! and people look like people and not like half-people half-grey-blobs. I don't even like hockey but damn! this hockey game looks GORGEOUS! So that's our Christmas present to each other plus Matt's 40th birthday present. Plus a college fund or two, who counts?

 After all the crazy lead-up annoyances, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were blissful. I was making Christmas Eve dinner for the ten of us (my sister and her family, my Mom and Dad and the four of us), but I did most of it ahead of time, so my sister and my nephew came over to hang out with me and Eve while I did finish-up stuff, Angus and Matt went over to my Mom's to hang with my niece and brother-in-law, we started drinking at noon and my sister perused the book I bought for my Dad and totally did NOT help my cause when I kept telling Eve it was inappropriate for her, while being interrupted by my sister braying with laughter every second page. At least she wrapped it for me when she was done laughing on it.

 Eve loves my sister. I mean REALLY loves her. My sister is tall and dresses beautifully and wears makeup and jewellery pretty much every day. Her shoes have heels on them. My sister also has a daughter that sat up in bed one morning when she had to get up for church and said "me no wear a dress". She was two at the time and had probably never worn anything BUT a dress. We can count on one hand the number of times she's worn one since. She plays hockey and basketball, and she skateboards. So my sister likes spending time with Eve too. This is just after my sister gave Eve, in her words, "the hair I've always dreamed of"















Then they went up to her bedroom and did a photo session, complete with costume changes. Because my sister is also a very accomplished photographer. And a pharmacist. Okay, it's a good thing I'm fairly secure about how much Eve likes me and that I'm NOT an entire waste of space as a human being, or I would have to stop and just tell you all to go be friends with my SISTER and read HER blog instead, WAH! Wait, my sister doesn't have a blog. Thbfft.

My stupidly beautiful daughter:





Then everyone else came over, and we ate and drank and the kids did some weird air-light-sabre dance in the living room:


Yeah, that's what you get from my camera - and I wouldn't buy drugs from me either.

I'd been sad because Mickey's Christmas Carol hadn't been on TV, and we've watched it every year since the kids were very small.  They both roll on the ground helpless with laughter at the part where the big fat giant who's the Ghost of Christmas Present tells Scrooge of course he's not going to eat him because "there are such good things to eat at Christmas like roast goose and suckling pig and (something else I can't remember) with pistachba -- with mistachma -- with meshuggamashuggama -- uh, with yogoit".  The first time I made them pistachio pudding they could barely stop laughing long enough to eat it.  Anyway, I had looked on Netflix and iTunes and nobody had it, so finally I just Googled it and, wouldn't you know it, it was on YOUTUBE.  For FREE.  And we have an Apple tv so we could play it on the tv, and they had all these other classic Disney Christmas cartoons so we all watched for a while in the dark with candles and Christmas lights and it was delightful.

Then everyone else went home and we put the kids to bed in the basement.  I let Matt go to bed after he helped me carry up presents because he was still on Japan time and it seemed cruel to make him stay awake.  I stuffed stockings then watched the season one Christmas episode of Community, then snuck downstairs to put the kids' stockings on their beds and manged not to knock anything over and wake them up.  Then I went to bed for a refreshing four hours of sleep or so.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Under an Afghan Meatball

So Angus's class was having World Expo today - they all picked a country to study and present about. Angus chose Afghanistan because he wanted to write about the war. Which made me realize that I hadn't really talked to him about the war and didn't really know that he knew about the war and OH MY GOD I'm SCREWING EVERYTHING UP as a mother and... anyway. He wanted to make food to serve at World Expo. So we made meatballs with lamb and chickpeas and spices. They were okay - I don't really like lamb. I thought it was a little screwy to be making Afghani meatballs in the midst of Christmas craziness also, but what the hell, it was kind of fun.

 So he came home from school and said "today was AWFUL. Well, I did my project, but Connor upchucked in class. And I was RIGHT BEHIND HIM." We asked him how his project went and he said fine, but clearly the classroom upchucking was the centerpiece of the day. When I told him I needed some serious meatball love for making meatballs the day before the day before the day before the day before Christmas, he said everyone really liked them. He went downstairs. Half an hour later the phone rang. He came up and said Connor wanted him to go over. I said are you the least bit serious? Not if he threw up today. Angus said "he said he's fine - he just choked on a piece of meatball." Then he said into the phone "my parents are rolling on the floor laughing. I'll call you back when they get back to normal."  In all the uproar I had to rewind the person being dismembered by a forest creature on my computer. What - you don't watch Supernatural while wrapping presents and baking? Blood and guts - ever so festive.

 For Kelly and The Queen - I am heartily sorry. I had no idea that Swiss Chalet was a Canadian chain of restaurants - I just assumed everyone had them. I'm even sorrier that you're denied the wonderfulness that is the festive special. You know, it used to come with a Toblerone instead of the five Lindt truffles, and I was actually disappointed when they switched - I was young and clueless back then, obviously.

 For Hannah - to match your shameful confession, one of my own, which has nothing to do with Swiss Chalet and I only thought of it because I actually told it to Collette while we were out yesterday and she told me it was so embarrassing I should never admit it to anyone. You know that song 'Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree'? I thought 'kookaburra' was the Australian aboriginal word for koala bear.

 For Nan: my embarrassing but beloved reindeer ornament
My crafty mother's handmade angel
and snowman:
and my daughter's made-from-scratch angel (clearly the craftiness does skip a generation):

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Random bullets (none of them have anyone's name on them)

-My husband got back from a week and a half in Japan yesterday. I also got my hair cut and highlighted. I know I should be happier about the former than the latter, but honestly? Those roots were getting really depressing. And the hair appointment didn't leave me with a mountain of well-travelled underwear on top of the washer. So...

 -I took Eve to the mall on Monday morning to see Santa because she suddenly sprung on me that she really wanted to see Santa and there was no way in hell we were going after piano lessons, which would be right when the dinner rush was ramping up. She got to school two hours late. Judge me if you want. It was adorable. She wore her Santa hat and asked for a science kit. In other news, I bought a science kit today.

 -After seeing Santa we went to the Footlocker in Bayshore and they had ONE pair of the god-awful shoes Angus has been wanting that no store has had in his size, in his size. Yay. And also, bleargh.

 -After Santa and the Footlocker we went to Zellers. We found a silly gift for Matt and we were standing in line waiting to pay for it and Eve started talking about her classmates and which of them do and don't celebrate Christmas. When I tuned in she was saying "...and Maryam doesn't. But I think Natasha does. And Jessie does, even though she's Chinese too. Or maybe Japanese. I really can't tell the difference. Well I guess I could if I was in China, or Japan. But then, what if someone Chinese was visiting Japan? Or someone Japanese was visiting China?" I decided we didn't need the gag gift and it was time for her to go back to school.

 -I went to Swiss Chalet for lunch with my friend Collette because we were together on Sunday night and realized neither of us had had the festive special yet. She rang my doorbell frantically and when I opened the door she jumped up and down and yelled "It's festive time, it's festive time, it's festive time!" Then she said "it's kind of sad that I'm really not faking that by much."

 -There was a British family behind us at lunch. The kid was explaining the festive special to his father in the most charming of accents and Collette said "makes you want to move just for a little while, huh?" We wondered how people discipline their children when they talk like that. "Are you displeased with me, Mummy?(imagine in British accent)". "No, never mind, it's okay".

 -Go see Arthur Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Digging a Hole for a Post

I've been ignoring all of your blogs because it helps me pretend I'm not writing because I don't have a blog, what? I don't even know what a blog is, what a funny word, blog blog blog, lalalalalala I can't hear you.

This week sucks much less than the last week Matt was away for the week, which was two weeks ago, what a funny word, week week week week. I always forget to reverse whine about my head not hurting - hey everyone! My head doesn't hurt this week! I have wrapped, I have taped, I have melted and beaten and creamed until light and fluffy. I have trod the mill and pumped the iron. I have done all this while still producing creative and nutritious meals every night (that's a bald-faced lie - this week has been brought to you by frozen pizza, grilled cheese and chicken wraps made from grocery store barbecued chicken. I just wanted to feel like Superwoman for a millisecond. It really wasn't me).

I'm slowly managing to separate the actual decorations from the boxes of shiny things that should actually be put away so we can enjoy the decorations without tripping over the boxes of shiny things. I'm not entirely sure why wrapping a shiny red and gold string around a stair bannister makes it a decoration and leaving it sitting in the box makes it infuriating aneurysm-inducing CRAP, I only know that it does.

I assembled the Christmas parcels to send away to Matt's family and got most of my Christmas cards written and then realized I couldn't find my pretty red address book with the whimsical drawing of a house on the front of it ANYWHERE. I emailed Matt in Japan and said if he didn't send me the addresses of the various family members the parcels weren't getting mailed. Somewhat to my chagrin, he emailed me most of the addresses. I emailed everyone else I knew and said send me your addresses or no Christmas card for you. Somewhat to my chagrin, most of them promptly sent their addresses. This reminds me of a page in a calendar I bought for one of Matt's family members. Oh look -- here it is. Thirty years ago, if I couldn't find my address book I could have had a brief tantrum, then thrown the cards away and kicked back with a bottle of wine. Now we have The Internet. What did we do before Google? Argue for hours over what the guy's name was, or who played the character, or what year the movie came out in? Live with uncertainty? Let me Google what we did before Google.

My friend Collette invited us over for dinner tonight - when people invite us over for dinner when Matt's away I always feel so incredibly overwhelmingly grateful it's all I can do to insist that they come over for dinner instead (somehow I manage). She poured a couple of glasses of wine into me before dinner, which she may have regretted when Ben asked for a bun at the table and I yelled 'go long' and put a nice spiral on one. I told the kids to enjoy their dinner since we probably weren't getting asked back any time soon. And now I am sleepy. To all a good night.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Conflicted


It's December twelfth and today I went out wearing a t-shirt. First I was wearing a sweater, but then I got too hot. This is not right. It's December. We need snow. We have a Christmas tree and decorations up and it's dark at four-thirty ANYWAY, so I'm with the kids on this one -- we want snow.

Of course, the likelihood is that if it was gray and snowy I would be headachy and miserable, and if I had to shovel out the driveway to get the kids to school every day this week while I'm solo parenting, I would not be impressed. While instead, I got multiple Christmas and household errands done today and felt happy.

But it's almost Christmas and it's kind of sad to think we won't have a white one.

So I guess you could say I'm a little sad that I'm happy, but also a little happy that I'm sad.

And people wonder why I'm always so tired.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas crap

The second attempt at tree decorating went much better, even though we were still approaching the full moon. Although inevitably what begins like this,



degenerates into this


Also, I need a better camera, Santa Baby.

So of course the entire main floor of my house looks like half a Macy's department store circa Miracle on 34th Street got deposited in it by some random tornado and my husband's leaving for Japan in the morning. If I sit at the kitchen table and look in the direction of the garland on the stair rail and squint enough to block out the surrounding crap, I guess it's kind of Christmassy. Otherwise I still just feel kind of tired about the whole thing.

Pam and I went to the craft show on Thursday. We have a near unbroken record of starting these little trips out full of bitterness and loathing for all of humanity (we didn't make any skinny jogger jokes this time though). Pam was coming off a difficult evening and morning of melting down children. We got to the craft show at ten-thirty thinking it was open at ten and it wasn't open until eleven (let's just pause and savour the irony of me being somewhere TOO EARLY on any given morning) so we went to a nearby mall to kill half an hour. Pam said she needed coffee. I said have you not had any yet today and she said "I've had two, YOU WANNA MAKE SOMETHING OF IT?" I did not want to make something of it. Pam had coffee. I bought lettuce. We went back to the craft show. The craft show was fun. I bought the crucial last present for Matt's Dad and his wife which they probably won't like because I like it, but I couldn't find anything that was the exact opposite of what I like, so oh well. I bought curry hummus from the Hummus Man because he's so bald and smily and darling I always have to buy curry hummus from him even though by the time we get to his booth I can barely carry anything else, and frozen hummus is not feather-light by any means. I bought - hey, I bought smelly soap. What the hell happened to my smelly soap? Pam, do you have my smelly soap?

I'm tired. I feel like I'm stuck at the craft show with no way to get home. My husband's going to Japan in the morning. I'm going to bed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Moon Madness - brought to you by Surly Thursdays

Someone said it was a full moon yesterday, and although it's not on my calendar until Saturday, I believe her. I couldn't wake up in the morning. I got presents wrapped, got to the chiropractor and got a few key presents bought yesterday and I should have felt great but I didn't - I felt anxious even though everything was going fine, and exhausted even though I had plenty of time to get everything done. The kids have been waiting since Sunday to decorate the tree, and when Matt finally got the lights on and they could start, they -- who haven't fought in weeks -- were suddenly at each other's throats. They both put themselves to bed VOLUNTARILY a good fifty minutes earlier than usual. Matt had a conference call at ten and went to the bed at eight-thirty and slept until nine-fifty (he's sandwiched between a trip to China and a trip to Japan, so that was maybe less full moonish than an understandable confusion about which fucking time zone he should be adhering to. Before I put Eve to bed I read her this book before wrapping it up for my one-year-old nephew - we both cried.

We were ALL OUT OF SORTS.

Great. Just in time for my extensive volunteering stint at the school Christmas bazaar.



On the funny side: a couple of nights ago I poured myself a drink, then came and sat down at the computer, forgetting my drink on the counter. I asked Eve to bring it over since she was already up. She said "where is it?" and I said "it's right there beside you". She looked at it and said "Oh sorry -- I was looking with my man eyes."

She didn't get it from me - she got it from her teacher. I guess if I had a boy I might be bothered by that. But then I think about Angus when he's 'looking' for something and think - nah, probably not even then.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To Neti Pot or Not

Warning: there will be ickiness in this post.

I have allergies. Hardcore, nasty, year-round allergies. This started around the time I turned thirty and started having babies (which is kind of cool, because as with so many other things, I can blame the children). I use Nasonex daily, but I frequently also have to take an allergy pill. My doctor suggested a couple of years ago that I also use Hydrasense to flush out my sinuses. I did use it for a while, and then a friend told me that I should get a neti pot instead for nasal irrigation (or nasal douche, as the Wikipedia article says - join me in an adolescent giggle at the word douche, won't you?), because it's a lot cheaper than buying Hydrasense, which is really freaking expensive. So I did.

I suck at the neti pot.

Hydrasense, while being really freaking expensive, has a fairly long, skinny nozzle that you can jack right up into your nostril to fire that stream of salty water into your sinuses. My neti pot has a roundish nozzle that you have to position just right against the opening of your nostril. Then you have to angle your head just right to get the stream of water aimed properly. For me, this works about 30% of the time. The rest of the time I either almost drown myself or just end up pouring water all over my face and feeling like an extreme dork.

Because I'm almost always so stuffed up, it almost never works like the (faintly disturbing) demonstration pictures or videos, where you pour it in one nostril and it flows steadily out the other one. I'm happy if at least some of the water goes in part way and .... well, that's actually enough said about that.


The thing is, when it does work, sometimes it's great - I feel immediately clearer and I can breathe easier. But sometimes it seems to be sort of like squirting water into one of those hollow plastic doll's heads, and if it doesn't come out immediately, then a half hour or so later when I roll over in bed and turn my head... yeah.

In related news, maybe don't go out and get really drunk, decide you're too drunk to have sex with your husband, perform your usual night time ablutions including neti pot use, and then decide that you're not too drunk to have sex with your husband after all, because you might find an ill-timed stream of salty water - well, I was going to say ruins the mood, but the fact is he thought he wasn't getting sex and then found out he was, so really it had no effect whatsoever, so never mind.

Overall, I think the neti pot helps. But every now and then I indulge in a bottle of Hydrasense, because sometimes I just don't need another reason in the day to feel awkward.

Friday, December 2, 2011

MyMemories Giveaway



A couple of weeks ago I was approached by MyMemories Digital Scrapbooking asking if I would be interested in hosting a giveaway. I've been warned by other, more experienced bloggers to be very selective about getting involved in sponsored giveaways, so I was careful to explore the site before I said yes.

I've never done digital scrapbooking, although my sister and several friends swear by it. I like the feel of paper and being able to handle the little flowers and tags and letters (okay, I hate trying to handle the letters, they're a pain in the ass). But here's the thing: digital papers and embellishments can't get lost. You can't bury a digital brad under six layers of journalling cards and chipboard fairies. If you have one background paper and you use it, it's gone, even if you find the photo it would be the perfect background for later on.

So I downloaded the software and started playing around.

You guys - it is SO MUCH FUN.

This is what I did last night, in just the time between when I SHOULD have gone to bed and when I DID go to bed (warning: it's a little addictive).



It's unbelievably easy to select your photos and it slots them into the openings for you.



It's also incredibly intuitive, which is important for someone as - how shall I put it? - technologically challenged as I am. You think "I'd like to crop this" or "I wonder if I can rotate this photo slightly" and bam, there's a button for it.



See that lime green flower? I added it (do I sound impressed with myself? I AM!)



The MyMemories site features, naturally, a wealth of templates and designs that are for sale, but there is also a wide variety of free designs on offer - I used a free template for this album.



The winner of the giveaway will get a free copy of MyMemories Suite Version 3 software - "Simple enough for beginners (yes it is) yet powerful enough for a serious scrapbooker". For one entry, go to the MyMemories site and tell me in your comment what your favourite digital paper pack or layout is.



For additional entries, like MyMemories on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter, then comment saying that you have done so.

Even if you don't win, MyMemories has given me this Share The Memories code to share with you: STMMMS36927. Copy and paste this link into the promo code slot on the checkout page and it will get you a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software AND a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store.

I will pick a winner on Friday, December 16 and notify by email.


I was given a copy of the MyMemories software for review purposes. Opinions are my own.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Bags Full - of chocolate

Ha-HA! I don't HAVE to post. I can just post because I FEEL like it.

Guess what? Today didn't suck. Today I went for a walk with Pam and we stopped at Brown's Cleaners to pick up the Sears package that I had left languishing there for many weeks solely because I hate having to face the sourpuss counter lady. Well, not solely - I also forget things a lot. Then we went to the bank because Pam needed a new bank card. I went up to the counter with her and we were chatting with the teller and I wondered briefly if she assumed we were a couple, because once when Eve was at dance I went to Best Buy with Janis, whose daughter was also at dance, to buy a tv for Matt's man cave, and the young man selling it to us obviously thought we were a couple, which was hilarious because this is Janis:

See? WAAAAAAYYYYYY out of my league.

Then we went home and dressed up nice and went out for lunch with Julie, near the Museum of Science and Technology where Julie works. We went to this restaurant, and the dish I had was called Silly Noodle (anyone who spends any significant amount of time with me might think I would have done better to look for a dish called Serious Noodle, or Contemplative Noodle, or Stop With the Incessant Giggling and the Overuse of the Word Whatever Noodle, but whatever). Then Julie told us that beside the McDonald's which is near the Museum is a Lindt Store.

A Lindt Store. A store that ONLY SELLS CHOCOLATE. I tried not to visibly shake with excitement while we were walking in. I got more chocolate to add to the teacher gifts, which I then realized were already chocolate. Oh well. I bought one Lindt champagne truffle because I've never seen one so I figured I should try it (I haven't tried it yet). Pam and I both spent about the same amount (which shall not be revealed here) which the sales guy remarked was good because then we couldn't judge each other. As if.

I came home and did a little work. The kids got home and I helped them practice piano and got dinner started. Then I realized I was still dressed nicely and grumbled at the kids for not noticing. Dudes! You've been home for two hours and I'm STILL WEARING A BRA - get with the compliments already! They were dutiful, if not terribly convincing.

Now we're going to watch The Muppets Take Manhattan. Because that movie last week has created an unquenchable demand for Muppet content. And in this one Kermit wears disguises.

Happy END OF NOVEMBER. Also, let's observe that I didn't swear even ONCE in this post.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not with a bang

It's the last day of NaBloPoMo. I feel like I should be posting something Grand. Insightful. Auspicious.

Ain't Gonna Happen.

I will, however, endeavour to cease my overuse of capital letters.

Damn, I wish I hadn't already done the gratitude post. Oh well, you know what they say, if wishes were horses the world would be three feet deep in horse crap.

Okay, I'm checking the daily prompt.

"What did you learn from doing NaBloPoMo?" Oh for -- seriously? Fine.

I learned that I don't do NaBloPoMo to grow my blog or improve my writing or get closer to writing a book. I do NaBloPoMo because, despite what T.S. Eliot might have written, November is the cruellest month. November is like fifty pounds of grayness and enervation pressing down on my head. Unlike January, when I feel like crap but at least there is usually a happy family Christmas behind me, in November I feel like crap with the added pressures of preparing said happy family Christmas, even when I feel more like reindeer vomit than sparkly snowflakes.

I don't have a lot of outside-imposed structure to my days while the kids are in school. Once they get home it all hits the fan, especially when Matt's away, but otherwise there can be a lot of time to brood. Brooding time is not a good thing. When I have to post every day I have to think about posting every day, which means I'm thinking about something other than how tired and headachey and leaden and worthless I feel - or, if I'm blogging about how I feel, at least I'm distracting myself with trying to make it entertaining to my readers.

And it helps.

Not as much as Tom Cavanagh on Royal Pains, but it helps.

See you in December.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What kind of mother lets her kid get purple hair?

Remember Eve's Halloween costume?



The makeup was temporary. The purple streaks in her hair were not.

I know, it's not that surprising. I let my son get freak hair for hockey playoffs. It's the kind of thing that I generally waffle on briefly, agree to, and then worry about. Not the thing itself necessarily, but what it says about my parenting. Am I too permissive? Am I setting a dangerous precedent? Am I letting my desire to be cool supplant my need to set boundaries?



I don't think so. First of all, even though having unusual colours in one's hair is sometimes associated with other unsavoury behaviours, it's basically an arbitrary association. My kids know that I expect them to do their homework, treat other people with respect, eat mostly healthy food and fetch me chocolate whenever I snap my fingers - purple streaks and red fauxhawks don't change that.

I don't automatically agree to everything they ask for. I consider why they're asking and what the cost is. Dying their hair cost more than a regular haircut. However, Eve, unlike me at her age, actually has a sense of style, and I enjoy giving her the opportunity to explore it. I had gotten her a couple of blonde highlights for a fun surprise a few months before and she was thrilled. After she had them for a while, she tentatively asked if it was possible to dye hair other colours, and I suspected what she was hinting at. I knew that Angus would enjoy the experience of doing something fun and unusual for playoffs with his hockey teammates, and I knew Eve would be in transports of ecstasy if I let her dye her hair purple. I don't spoil my kids and I don't give them a lot of things with no occasion, but sometimes I do like doing something nice for them for no other reason than to make them happy. They were both extremely and exuberantly grateful.



I did have one or two other parents tell me they would never let their kids do something similar, but they were in the minority and they weren't disapproving or mean about it. My parents thought it was fantastic, which is a pretty good indication that we're not dealing with anything too alternative or cutting-edge.

How will I handle this type of thing as they grow older? When it might affect how employers view them? I'm not sure. When I see teen-agers with piercings or shocking hairstyles, I try not to let it predispose me to judging them negatively - I wait to see what their speech and behaviour says about them. I would hope people would do the same for my children, but I realize that might be a bit naive. For now, most of the people they say already know them and like them, and the few strangers who have commented have been positive.

Then I read an article - in the Globe and Mail, I think - about how to dissuade young girls from dressing too revealingly. Among the suggestions were helping them to find other ways to express themselves creatively, such as -- wait for it -- an unusual hairstyle.

What do you know - when I wasn't even looking for it, nationally syndicated validation landed right on my computer screen.

What kind of mother lets this happen?




A good one, I hope.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mondays on the Margins: Book Review - Easy to Like by Edward Riche


The synopsis from House of Anansi:


"A bitingly hilarious satire of the making of wine, television, and taste from one of Canada's most accomplished comic writers.

From award-winning author Edward Riche comes an immensely readable and sharp novel about "C"-list screenwriter and wannabe vintner Elliot Johnson. With his life growing more ruinous by the day -- his writing career is on the rocks, his struggling vineyard is being investigated by the feds, and his son, a former child star, is in prison -- Elliot decides to do what any self-respecting wine lover would do: escape to France.

Alas, fate has other things in store. Stranded in Canada by an expired passport, he is strongly encouraged to remain there due to his bit part in a growing Hollywood scandal. Deciding that Toronto may just be the perfectly engineered city in which to lay low, Elliot kills time by bluffing his way to the top of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

A brilliant work of searing satire, Easy to Like showcases one of our most original authors at his comic best."


I'll be honest: this isn't my favourite kind of book. I tend to think satire works best in shorter pieces (think Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal), and can be hard to sustain - and sustain interest in - over an entire novel. But this book was saved by the fact that Riche writes real characters, not merely types on which to hang his biting social commentary.

Elliot Jonson is a snob. He doesn't want to make wine or write scripts that are "easy to like". Unfortunately, this means his winery is bankrupt and he can't sell any scripts. He's not obnoxious about any of it - I was actually quite touched by his quixotic yearning after the unattainable grape needed to recreate the ideal Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The rhapsodic musings on wine are almost incomprehensible to the uninitiated, but they read like a kind of poetry that is nonetheless pleasing.

Elliot's assistant at the CBC, Hazel Osler, is also a solid character - intelligent, perceptive and passionate. This is necessary to keep the whirl of buffoons, ridiculous programming and policy talk from degenerating into an indistinguishable morass. The send-up of the inner workings of the CBC will be entertaining to any Canadian, with Elliot and Hazel's relationship as a nice real-world counterpoint.

I enjoyed this book, although not quite as much as I enjoy following Edward Riche on Twitter:

EdwardLRiche Edward L. Riche
Unfortunate earworms hazard of having a 14 year daughter. I keep telling myself "I've got the moves like Jagger". This is not true.
21 Nov.


In unrelated news, anyone know how to do Twitter screenshots?

Memorable Quotes:

-"'We smell some dried cherry or cranberries, violets, and leather in the best examples, but it is hard to nail it down.' It was a maddening aspect of wine tasting, this search for taste and smell equivalencies. There wasn't a risk of sounding pretentious; there was a certainty."

-"'The Italians, to their great credit' - Elliot thought how much he would like to be, at that moment, in Italy - 'appreciate bitterness in food and wine.'"

-"'Not even going to take a meeting?' 'No, they are not.' 'Did they give a reason?' 'They don't think Brokeback meets Passion of the Christ has an audience. They don't buy the whole gay Jesus thing.' 'come off it, it's so obvious. In the new draft Judas betrays him because he's insanely jealous of this thing Jesus has with Mary Magdelene-'"

-"Châteauneuf du Pape began with Grenache - to which could be added Syrah, for a shiny pepper pelt and the durability of reinforced concrete; Mourvèdre for the funk of blood; and Cinsault, for volatility and polish. Counoise gave a fermented essence that Elliot called 'raspberry kimchi' and it brought to the wine what Mick Taylor had to the Stones. Vaccarèse was a spice: a pinch did the trick. Terret Noir added crisp acidity. Muscardin's role was an utter and essential mytery."

-"Some bald guy hosted the newscast. (You would never see that in the States.)"

-"With his years in the screen trade, Elliot now believed that the best film actors did nothing other than be utterly convinced by their own lies. The best performances came from actors who merely thought they were, at the moment, the character they were playing. They were dissociative psychopaths. They weren't method actors; rather, they were method humans."

-"Connie missed a critical factor in her analysis of his problem. Sure, Elliot wasn't being truthful with himself; sure, he wasn't facing the facts. But he was also self-aware. His was self-conscious self-deception. It was how one coped."

-"It appeared his predecessor was a tyrant; Elliot's comparative disengagement would be welcome. Probably, over time and in spite of himself, Elliot would become a better exemplar of the dickhead they expected. By their nature, most bosses were bullies and assholes."

-"'There is something unsuprising about California wine,' Marshall said. 'Do you think it's because it's grown by graduates of agricucltural colleges rather than by farmers?' Was there anything more humbling, more poisonously and profoundly humbling, than hearing oneself in an idiot?"


I received a copy of this book from House of Anansi for review purposes. Opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Charmingly Offbeat or Some Creepy Shit?

First of all, thanks and praise to Honest Betsy, who likes my post titles and gave me this (which has nothing to do with the post title, which is meant to be attached to the rest of what the post is about - crap, I sense I'm in danger of having my award revoked):



Get it? Because the word titler has 'tit' in it? Also, we're both breastfeeding advocates - and what says 'breastfeeding advocate' like cleavage in an animal-print bra?

Second of all, it was American Thanksgiving recently, and there were two Charlie Brown Thanksgiving specials on, which I PVRed, because hey, Charlie Brown. Tonight Eve asked if the three of us could have supper on TV trays (actually she asked if we could have lunch on lunch little tables, but if I said that none of you would know what the hell I was talking about, so I paraphrased) and watch Happiness is a Warm Blanket. I happily agreed because we usually let them watch tv while eating on Sunday, I like it when there's something

At least, I always have loved Charlie Brown. I loved him when I was a kid. I loved him when I was a teen-ager. I loved him when I was a childless adult. I loved him when I was an adult with little children. And now that I'm an adult with older children.... well, I still kind of love it, but I notice things I didn't really used to notice. Granted, I think we can all agree that the totality of Charles M. Schulz's oeuvre demonstrates that he was not exactly a happy and well-adjusted man.
Happiness is a Warm Blanket is a lesser-viewed program (if you haven't seen it, it's about an impending visit from Lucy and Linus's grandmother, who, Lucy reports, has vowed to break him of his blanket habit or 'cut it into a million little pieces'. Lucy decides she will 'help' him break the habit before the grandmother gets there. I haven't watched any of the other ones through these newly critical eyes, but to name just a few of the things that make viewing this with my kids slightly fraught:

1. Lucy is a real bitch. Well, okay, I guess I always knew that, but good LORD she's a bitch. She keeps saying she's going to "break (Linus) of this stupid habit". In our house, stupid is a word that is NOT to be used lightly, and while she's not actually calling Linus stupid, the implication is clear.

2. That Violet chick is a real bitch too. The weird thing is, her only function seems to BE bitchiness. Lucy at least gets a few good one-liners in, but all Violet does is walk up to Charlie Brown and say something bitchy about how loserish he is, or walk up to PigPen and say something bitchy about how dirty he is or walk up to Linus and etc. etc.

3. The Charlie Brown crowd is weirdly obsessive about boy-girl relationships. Lucy always draped over Schroeder's piano. Sally always chasing Linus calling him Sweet Baboo. Peppermint Patty lusting after Charlie Brown - what the hell? Is it because there are no parents around and they're trying to recreate some kind of nuclear family model?

4. Schroeder clearly needs some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder meds. All he ever does is play the piano - it's not natural. Oh wait - maybe he has a Tiger Mom.

5. What kind of mother lets a grandmother threaten her kid like that? Oh right, the kind that ISN'T EVER THERE.

I just did a little more research, and the script for this show was actually written by Schulz's son and someone else after Schulz's death. Still, a lot of these issues are in all of the shows, and the comic strips as well.

I'm not saying this means I'll stop watching Charlie Brown, or not let my kids watch it. In some ways it's a refreshing change from some of the early-childhood-educator-approved treacle that's made these days. It's just funny how you see things differently at different stages of your life.

But man, Charlie Brown was a frigging saint for not bitch-slapping Lucy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Time to Light the Lights

This morning my husband left for China at some ungodly hour. At a somewhat more civilized hour, I took Angus to hockey practice. I shuttled him into the dressing room, then went to sit in the rink. Then I realized that two teams were practicing and since it was a practice no one would be wearing jerseys with names or numbers on them and it was going to be really hard to figure out which team was Angus's and which kid was Angus on the team.

I was wrong. It wasn't hard. It was impossible. I sat for half the practice on one half of the arena, thought I was watching the wrong team, switched to the other half and picked out who I thought was Angus to watch and felt proud because he was smoking his partner in the drill where they had to skate around the pylon and get the puck. Turns out I was in the right half of the arena to begin with. Don't think I saw Angus do a single thing. Oh well.

Came home. Baked some cheddar cheese scones with fresh rosemary. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? They're not - they suck ass. Don't use the cheddar cheese scones recipe on Epicurious. If I'd made them before practice we could have used them as pucks.

Then we went to see The Muppets with the kids' friends and their Dad who is also solo parenting this week-end (he said to Eve 'this is weird, I've never been on a date with your Mom before'. Then he looked at her face and said 'I just creeped you out a little bit, didn't I?' She agreed most emphatically that he had creeped her out a little bit.

The movie is flat-out motherfucking awesome (and no, I do not believe that would be as effective without the adjective 'motherfucking'). It was like watching something with the bottomless capacity for wonder and joy of a child and yet having all the capacity for smart-assed ironic self-referential recognition of an adult. Although when Kermit said to Piggy "maybe you don't need the whole world to love you - maybe you just need one person" and then they sang The Rainbow Connection, I welled up with an absolute lack of irony (oh - should I have marked that as a spoiler?). Eve loved it even though before we left for the movie she recalled somewhat uneasily that she had been frightened by some muppets at some point. Angus liked it even though I had to strong-arm him into coming (there was no one to stay home with him and I was GOING, goddammit).

On balance, I'm calling it a good day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mental cavities

Last night over dinner my husband was telling the kids about a program he'd watched the night before on the local cable station. It was a couple of psychologists talking to parents about how to keep an eye on their teenagers for warning signs of depression or anxiety, and how to approach the subject of professional help. There was stuff about keeping the lines of communication open and explaining that everyone needs help sometimes and being honest about it. One of the psychologists said, "here is an example of what not to do: a family came in to see me a few weeks ago; a mother and father and a very angry teenaged boy. I introduced myself to the boy and asked him why he was so angry, and he said 'You're NOT a DENTIST'."

We all laughed. Then Matt said another thing the psychologists said was to not let your kid get away with just saying 'good' or 'fine' when you ask him how his day was. We both looked pointedly at Angus, who had just five minutes before said 'good' when we asked him how his day was. He looked panicked and then said "uh, I walked down the hallway, then I put my jacket in my locker, then I said hi to Noah and went in my classroom....".

We speculated on how weird it was going to be the next time we told one of them they had a dentist appointment. Eve walked over to the calendar and pretended to read "'fake dentist appointment' - what the heck?"

My computer is wonky today so this is all you get. It was funnier before I typed it out. I hate when that happens.

Angus is currently sitting on the piano stool trying to spin it around to the point where the seat falls off. Do you think that means he needs professional help?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Slow and Steady

It's been a good week. I got my passport renewed with much less drama than I anticipated, went for a great walk, worked in the library, made a kick-ass butternut squash soup, left dinner for my Cuba-returning parents and hosted a fabulous book club meeting. So naturally I woke up this morning feeling like a heavy, worthless sack of expired potential. So then I got up and ate a bunch of chocolate cookies instead of going to the gym because I'm a giant self-defeating stupidhead.

So let's talk about the book, because the book is not a giant self-defeating stupidhead. The book makes me happy, even though some of it is sad, and even though I'm a giant self-defeating stupidhead. Should I stop using the phrase giant self-defeating stupidhead? I'll think about it.

The book is called Come, Thou Tortoise. The author is Jessica Grant, who was apparently a New Face of Fiction. That doesn't make me bitter, even though I've never been a New Face of Anything, except maybe Giant Self-Defeating Stupidheadedness (sorry). I bought this book last winter, started reading it when I got to Algonquin early for my exam on an icy day, and almost missed my exam because I was so entranced with the book.

Audrey Flowers, aka Oddly, is one of the most charming characters I have ever encountered. She is the most unreliable of narrators, and certainly she is lacking a certain something, or maybe she has an extra certain something, or something. She doesn't put question marks at the end of her questions, which you might think would be annoying, but it isn't - it is enchanting. She also isn't averse to dropping the odd f-bomb, which as you all know is quite important to me, and if it takes this book out of the running for a few delicate flowers, well so be it.

Oddly has to fly back to Newfoundland from Oregon, where she lives with her tortoise Winnifred (who is a winning presence in her own right) because her father is in a coma (comma). She ends up, in short order, locked in a bathroom with a stolen gun negotiating with an air marshall through the door crack - and this is just in the first five pages. She goes home and is sad, wobbly, energetically misguided and very, very odd while navigating the grieving process and visiting her Uncle Thoby who lived with her and her father for many years. There is a white mouse, there are quirky and entertaining neighbourhood characters, there is a very persistent Christmas light vendor (who happens to be Jewish) who is intent on recalling some potentially dangerous defective Christmas lights. It all hangs together with the same wonderful, slightly skewed, no-question-marks rhythm, the Newfondland scenes interspersed with commentary from Winnifred's point of view as she languishes back in Oregon in the apartment of Oddly's friend Linda and her boyfriend, the very minor Shakespearean actor Chuck.

"Wordplay and hijinks" - I just got that from the back of the book. That says it pretty well. There are also some shenanigans - some are ever-so-slightly madcap.

I put this on the book club list even though I am usually hesitant to put books I love on, because I know it's not certain that everyone will love them and I don't want to have their flaws pointed out because SHUT UP, I just LOVE IT, okay? In this case it turned out to be a good thing because apart from a few minor quibbles everyone else loved it too, and also I had a few things cleared up for me that, despite reading the book twice, I totally didn't get.

Get this book. And don't be slow about it. Ha. Get it? Slow? Because it has a tortoise in it?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday Waffling

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows how I stand on cursing. Or they should - there's a small chance that they think I'm against cursing and just have really poor impulse control, and, well, I guess that wouldn't be the craziest thing to presume, but.... wait, I'm getting off track.

There are people who seem to think that cursing is one of the worst things you can do - up there with stealing and burning down orphanages and nun-beating. There are people on Goodreads who lament getting into a book and starting to enjoy it and then encountering 'the f word' on page forty-eight and having to stop reading, and wishing they hadn't wasted all that time getting engaged with something they couldn't possibly finish because.... what? Reading the word 'hell' or 'shit' would keep them from sleeping, or cause them to go out and rob a convenience store? I'm genuinely interested in what their line of reasoning is. Okay, you disagree with the use of 'foul' language. That would really keep you from finishing a book that you've been enjoying so far? I'm not saying you're wrong and I'm right, I just... don't get it.

The thing that people who don't swear don't seem to get about those of us who do is that we're not being all that transgressive, because we don't actually think we're doing anything wrong. Swearing isn't against the law. There are certain words that, for whatever reason, our society has deemed 'dirty' or 'unseemly', and for this reason they draw attention to themselves. When I use them, I want attention drawn to something - either in a negative way, i.e. whatever I'm talking about has made me angry, or in a humorous way, i.e. using a 'curse' is supposed to make whatever I'm talking about more funny. I tend to veer more towards using curse words humorously, or if I'm angry about a situation, because directing them at an actual person seems too hostile. This is the first part of my waffly feelings about swearing.

The second part is about when I'm walking into the community centre with my kids on our way to the library and the kids from the attached school are standing at the door smoking and swearing every second word. This does kind of bother me. It doesn't surprise me, of course, but it bothers me. When I swear, I am always mindful of my audience. This will likely come in time for the teen-agers, of course, but I like what my friend Collette told her son - that she knows he will swear when he's with his friends and has no objection to that, but that he should be aware that if adults hear him swearing it will be considered disrespectful and they may assume certain things about him that aren't true.



However, not swearing sometimes seems to me to be a way of drawing attention to yourself just as much as swearing would. One of my friends on Facebook is friends with a woman who is vocally religious and quite self-righteous, and at one point she made a joke and then speculated that she would now be considered a 'smart behind'.

Really? REALLY? I'm too lazy to look up the reference, but I believe it was an Andrew Greeley book, where the main character is in the seminary but home for the summer and trying to teach a girl he used to date how to water ski. He says something like "try to get the, uh, lower part of your body straighter" and she rages "it's not a sin to say 'ass' you stupid prude!"

Yeah.

I won't go out of my way to swear around you if it's something that bothers you. But it's not like second-hand smoke - it won't actually make you sick. It won't even cause you to swear. I strive constantly for greater purity of thought and deed. But I'm quite happy making judicious use of dirty words.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In which I make with the 'tude (but not the bad one)

The lovely and talented Beck graciously invited me to be part of her anti-Oprah Christmas list post (and by 'invited' I actually mean 'didn't block me when I ambushed her in her Twitter timeline in mid-discussion of the post saying "please please please can I do the book part please please?" This is one nice, nice lady folks.)

I was going to save my thank-you post for a day when I was really stuck, and today I'm actually not stuck. There's a book I need to review that I forgot to do yesterday that I could do today. I already know what I'm doing for Wednesday Waffling tomorrow. But after reading your comments on yesterday's atrocity, I am so overcome with gratitude that I have to do my thank-you post today.

Everyone knows it's not easy posting every day - that's why we need a wacky, hard-to-say phrase like nablopomo, because if you're posting every day many things become wacky and hard to say. You start to forget if you've already written about your kid being afraid of sock fluff or the woman in the schoolyard who always shares too much or how you've always suspected that insects are trying to communicate with you (purely hypothetical). You start to plumb the very depths of your idea well and suddenly you realize why even your very favourite columnist throws out a dud every now and then.

But what about the readers? WHAT ABOUT THE POOR READERS? They who have been accustomed to your lazy, comfortable, twice-or-thrice a week output are suddenly bombarded with a new post (such as it is) EVERY DAMNED DAY. There is no end to the onslaught of inanity. I figured I would be lucky to not have zero comments on every second or third post. This was one of my chief concerns the first year I did nablopomo - "but if I don't leave the damned thing there for three or four days, NO ONE will see it, so what's the point? If a post falls in the forest..."

But damn, you guys are awesome. No matter what drivel I put out there, you have my back. Half the time someone says something that encapsulates perfectly what I was actually trying to say in the post (okay, in that case it's a balanced mix of gratitude and envy, but whatever).

So a huge heaping helping of hugs and kisses to everyone who has read and/or commented (no, that makes no sense, it can't be read OR commented, who would comment without even reading? Oh wait, maybe THAT's how you're doing it - no, then the comments would make no sense, and they mostly make sense, so...). If anyone wants to be on my Christmas card list (with the added bonus of obnoxiously cute pictures of my kids) email me your address and I'll put you at the very top.

Okay, enough with the sweetness. I promise to return to my regularly-scheduled acerbity tomorrow. Blog bless us, every one.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Value Meals

I just saw another article advising people about what they should order at restaurants to get the best value for their money. I've been told by people who work at restaurants never to order pasta, because pasta has the biggest mark-up. This kind of advice always makes me scratch my head (shut UP, I do NOT have lice). Granted, I'm not the cheapest person I know, but even the cheap people I go out to eat with don't tend to scan a menu and pick out what to order based solely on how they can best stick it to the restaurant in the value department.

When I go out to eat, the VALUE for me is in someone else cooking my food, serving it to me, and cleaning up afterwards. And I LIKE pasta. If I feel like having pasta, am I really going to not have it just because the restaurant might make too much money on my order? It would be different if I ate out at restaurants a lot, but I don't. So when I do, I'm generally going to order what I feel like eating, not what I think is expensive enough for the restaurant to buy and prepare that I'm not getting hosed. Besides, if I really feel like I got ripped off I can always steal the candleholder or something.

Yes, clearly I'm really stretching trying to get a whole post out of this. Oh, while we're on the subject, I also hate those articles that tell you how to eat healthy at fast food restaurants. Um, yeah, we all know - eat the side salad or suck on a napkin. I'm not trying to eat healthy today, THAT'S WHY I'M AT BURGER KING.


cartoon from here

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Scenes

I was surfing the NaBloPoMo blogroll this morning, as I have most days this month. The first blog post I read was about the blogger's one-year-old and it was cute, but she closes comments and requests emails instead because "it will mean more to both of us".

(sound of loud annoying buzzer like the kind that means you guessed WRONG on a game show)

I LIKE leaving comments. I don't leave one unless I feel it's meaningful. I rarely get one that I don't consider meaningful (assuming it's from a real person). Also, when I click on 'email me' on a blog, I get this email form that doesn't work, so I have to click over to my email and type the address in. In other words, she would have had me as a reader and now she does not.

The second blog was a cool book blog - instead of full reviews each post was just general musing about whatever part of the book the blogger was at. But a few posts down was a post saying he was doing NaBloPoMo but was still on the fence about it and didn't really see the point, plus he was so sick he probably wouldn't be able to keep doing it.

(sound of loud annoying buzzer etc.)

Fortunately, then I found this blog (cute and relatable) and this blog (funny, cool and a little dirty), so I didn't feel like the entire blogroll was filled with whiny fence-sitting pretentious gits.

Angus had a 6 a.m. hockey practice this morning. Angus's new bed in his bedroom is a loft bed with a ladder. He slept in the basement the entire time Matt was away because Eve was sick and he wanted no part of it (even though he demanded updates on her condition every hour). At the end of the week-end we made him move back into his room. Matt is now of the opinion that Angus should sleep in the basement whenever he has a 6 a.m. hockey game or practice because "do you have any idea how impossible it is to drag a 120-pound half-asleep kid down that ladder at 5 a.m.?" Matt then did a hilarious impression of himself jumping up and down, saying "Angus, get up" at the top of every jump. Apparently teddy bears were thrown and it was a whole big bad scene.

Speaking of bad scenes, Matt and I went to get passport photos taken this afternoon. The whole not smiling thing is really bad for me - I need the smile to tighten up my first chin or the second one becomes really obvious. Sigh.

Speaking of even more bad scenes, me and my double chin are going to see Twilight tonight. Stay tuned for much mocking and hilarity.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

So Glad You Asked

Can I post about World Trivia Night tonight, Finola asks? Why yes, Finola, yes I can. Do you mind if I smother you in kisses for the suggestion? No? Just a firm handshake then? Sorry - I moved furniture in Eve's room all afternoon and then had to ingest a hefty dose of robaxa-something-or-other containing codeine.

Lynn, aka Turtlehead, posted something on her blog two years ago almost to the day, something about buying Pringles for trivia night and did anyone want to join her? I commented on her blog that I would be right over, thinking that she meant trivia night at her house or a local bar and also thinking I was just being silly commenting on a blog post, not actually inviting myself to her trivia night. As it turned out, she was talking about World Trivia Night, which takes place in the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park every year, and her team had a vacancy. Since I was experiencing a fortuitous convergence of two fairly rare circumstances, i.e. my husband was in the country and I was actually not feeling too ugly/socially backward/hermitish to venture out of the house to join people I had never met before, I swallowed hard and said yes, thank you very much, see you tomorrow night.

My husband, who is usually all for me being less weird and hermitish, took a fair bit of convincing that I was not going to be found dead in an alley, which if you've ever met Lynn is quite amusing (although she can be deadly serious about her trivia). I also met Julie that night, which did great things for both my ability to divest myself of various Spiderman accessories, my love of dancing to eighties music and my ever-lessening fear of Montreal. Plus she can really rock a version of Voulez-vous consisting entirely of the words Voulez-vous and some incredible hip action.

It's a crazy scene inside the pavilion. There are more than 170 teams of 10, set up in rows of tables. Some of the teams keep their tables depressingly bare except for paper and pencils. Our team does trivia as trivia is meant to be done - under layers and layers of salt, sugar, saturated fat and cocoa butter, unbesmirched by anything that smacks of vegetableness. Peter, Lynn's friend who really anchors the team, runs on a steady fuel of chocolate Cheerios and always bemoans the fact that he's not bulimic at least once during the night. In the car name category, we were totally stumped on a Pontiac model that was also the name of Utah salt flats and a Speedway; we were about to submit Sunfire even though we knew it was wrong, and he coughed up Bonneville with milliseconds to spare.

I never cover myself with glory, although I do consume empty calories very efficiently. If there's a book question no one else knows I might come in useful, but other than that.... it's weird, too, because it's not like my head is crammed with IMPORTANT stuff. You'd think I'd be a veritable compendium of Persian diamond names, French military victories, Latin flower nomenclature and Bristol Palin's baby's name (okay, that one I actually did know, but we second-guessed ourselves and got it wrong). But I'm not. I'm the worst at sports. And geography. Guess what? There was a SPORTS GEOGRAPHY category. Awesome - could I get a liver and dijon mustard milkshake with that? (Liver and dijon mustard both make me gag, if that wasn't clear).

Two years ago we got 85 out of 100 (the questions come in 10 groups of 10). Last year we got 87. This year we got 84 - Lynn was not pleased. She threatened to start bringing healthy snacks unless we all promise to shape up. This from the woman who COULD have brought us up to 85 if she hadn't been too TIRED to watch Captain America the night before, thus learning which fictional element comprises his shield (Vibranium - isn't that a stupid fictional element name? I think it's stupid). That's okay - I'm in it for the pop rocks high and the pleasure of hearing Stuntman Stu cheerfully mispronounce a good forty percent of the answers.

Previous WTN posts here and here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting Down on Friday

I have finished my last assignment for my course. I have started on the mountain of laundry in the basement. I have debated whether or not to boot Eve and her friend off of the computer, decided not to mess with contentment, and been vindicated when they raced upstairs to her room to play some make-believe game involving teleporting and recorder playing a few minutes later.

It's World Trivia Night tonight - my third with the inimitable Turtlehead (my first without Julie - boo to no Julie). Of course I don't feel like going right now because, well, I never feel like going anywhere if we're being brutally honest, unless 'anywhere' includes up to my bedroom with a book. Once I get there it will totally rock. Especially if I can cough up an answer that has something to do with something other than my knowledge of bad tv shows and their actors (we all know that's not going to happen, but it's a nice thought.

So in the spirit of getting a lazy-ass post up before I forget and leave the house and don't come back until some insanely late hour like, ten-thirty p.m., enjoy this (totally not safe for kids or work. Unless you work someplace really, really cool, in which case, maybe grab me an application). Sent to me by my awesome friend Patti's awesome friend Helen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Abba-Dabba-Doo

I went to see Mamma Mia last night. It was enjoyable, although I realized that I have a very marked preference for a certain kind of musical, which this was not. I realize that musicals in general require a willing suspension of disbelief, but for me this only extends to people acting like they're in a play, and then every once in a while they all spontaneously break into song and dance. My willing suspension of disbelief does NOT extend to people singing dialogue to each other, such as "let's go oh-oh-oh-over to the kitchen and may-ay-ake scrambled eggs", or a person singing to one other person. Not only does it make me practically writhe with embarrassment for the person singing, it makes me feel desperately sorry for the poor sap who has to stand there being sung to and gestured at. Sure, it's all well and good to be the character emoting musically. What if you're standing there having to look eager and receptive, unable to scratch your nose or crack your knee until the song is over?

Also, the song "Our last summer". I hadn't heard it since I was ten or so, which was a good thing. I don't care how badly you need a rhyme for "Paris restaurants", or how Swedish you are, you do NOT get a free pass to pronounce croissants 'crow-iss-awnts'. You just don't.

Other than that it was great. Pam and I picked up Julie's friend Denise on the way down, which made the ride there almost as much fun as the actual play. Fortunately, Denise's sense of humour fit in nicely with Pam's and mine, which I was pretty sure it would since she was Julie's friend, but I could envision a scene in which the poor woman would have been lunging for the door handle in heavy traffic. Pam's laryngitis-induced horror-movie croak and the fact that she was driving her husband's vehicle, whose brakes are apparently MUCH, MUCH more sensitive than her car's, only added to the fun. What's a touch of whiplash between friends, after all? I think I feel a song coming on....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Angus post just to even things out

Angus has grown up exhibiting a lot of my anxiety-related traits. He sometimes obsesses over things. He needs to know what's happening next. He's not comfortable with uncertainty. Now since he's - unlike me - a boy, and - very unlike me - athletic, playing sports has helped with a lot of this. He's come extremely far in terms of confidence and self-esteem, which is nice. But he's still asked me every day this week if he's sleeping over at his friend Noah's on Thursday night and if I've talked to Noah's mother and learned any additional details of which he should be apprised immediately, if not sooner.

Today I got an email from his English teacher that the Scholastic order had come in and, though he said he pre-ordered the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, she didn't have a form for him.

I stared, aghast, at the computer screen. I remembered him attacking me with the form and demanding that we order the book two months ago so that he could get it on the first day it came out. I had visions of him melting down in the middle of the classroom. I emailed the teacher back that we had absolutely ordered the book and to let me know if she didn't have one for him so I could go to Indigo and pick one up.

Then I wondered if I should go before I picked him up from school, or if we could go after I picked him up. Then I thought, wait. I know I haven't been feeling totally right this week - Eve was sick and we were shut in last week and, well, it's November. I need to call someone and run this by them so I know if I'm overreacting.

No one was home.

So I called the school and got them to tell Angus to call home.

He was not upset in the least. I told him we could go to Indigo and get a copy and he said "we already ordered it, why would we buy another one? Just wait until they figure it out."

Angus is a hundred percent fine. I, on the other hand, am in dire need of something which clearly I have not yet been prescribed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eve's Ear OR Telling it Backwards for Suspense over Sense

On Friday last week when both the kids were home from school, Eve wandered down from her room and over to the kitchen table where I was working on an assignment, or blogging, or surfing aimlessly, as she often does. I stopped and hugged her, as I often do, and then she leaned on the table looking at the computer, which presented her left profile to me. So I flipped her ear around to look at the back of her earlobe, which I often do (this makes sense later, I promise). And I saw a small opening in the back of her earlobe, and shining through this opening was a swath of silver metal.

And that's how I discovered my daughter is a cyborg.

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Just kidding.

Eve's ears have always sort of been her Achilles heel....er.... yeah. When she was a baby, she had wax buildup behind them that had to be scraped out occasionally. When she was three, she had a small bump on her right ear that kept getting infected. We took her to the doctor and found out that it was an extra sinus that had to be operated on in order to close it (I almost linked to 'extra sinus', but the definition has some really gross stuff - it's a little hole, and it can cause problems, let's leave it at that. If you're one of those people that just HAS to know, you can Google it, but then don't blame me).

But then there was a blissful period of inner-and-outer ear health. No ear infections. No stitches. We were lulled into heedlessness.

We got her ears pierced.

It wasn't something I was anxious to do, but when the three other little girls who were all born at roughly the same time and who we hang out with were all going to get it done, I said Eve could get it done too. She didn't want to, so I said fine. Then, about a year later, she said "I think I'm brave enough to get my ears pierced now". I don't know that she put it exactly like that just to suck me in, but sucked in I was - she was being brave! We must go to the mall RIGHT NOW so she can be brave and reap the gratifying results of bravery!

The brief golden Age of Earrings:


Her ears don't like being pierced.

It was okay for a few months, then it wasn't. There was pus, and blood, and various other unmentionable things. We took them out and let them grow over. And then a few months later? We did it again. Because we are morons.

We wanted to problem solve. We wanted to know where we had gone wrong and fix it. We tried hideously expensive earrings, and those worked for a while (with the added awesomeness of having Eve pipe up with "I can't wear cheap stuff - I need gold or platinum" to complete strangers. We cleaned and disinfected nightly, sometimes hourly. We rotated and cleaned and disinfected some more. We finally settled on surgical wire earrings, and for a longer period than ever, things seemed resolved.

Until they weren't. Eve came upstairs crying because her ear wouldn't stop bleeding, and we realized we hadn't checked her ears for a few weeks, and the left one was a swollen, encysted mess out of which we then spent the next hour trying to extract her earring (there was a priceless moment when Matt looked over me and tried to mouth "I think it's bent inside her earlobe" and Eve said "I can see you - we're IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR"). Anyway, the earring finally came out, we mopped up the blood and declared ourselves finished with earrings for all time.

Until I flipped her ear around on Friday afternoon and realized we weren't quite finished with the earrings.

I thought to myself "okay, try not to freak out because that will just freak her out". So I said "HOLY SHIT, there's a chunk of METAL in your EAR!"

She freaked out. Angus came running upstairs. It was a whole big thing. I told her I would use my tweezers. I carefully sterilized the tweezers and washed my hands. Then I threw the tweezers across the room and, while she was looking at them sailing away I grabbed the hunk of metal with my fingernails and pried it out of her ear.

It was an earring back. A whole, big, butterfly earring back that my kid's earlobe ATE. It now has pride of place on the edge of the kitchen counter where we all walk by, look at it and shake our heads in disbelief.

I think we're done with earrings forever now. But obviously you just never know.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Shameless

I know two Eve posts in a row is probably violating some unwritten Statute of Blogging about exploiting your kids for cheap laughs more than once every half dozen posts. I just don't care. I was all set to be broody and slightly self-pitying today after my week being shut-in with a sick kid and then a week-end of recovery, which was nice but didn't do much to help me rejoin the world without feeling weird and wondering if everybody was looking at me strangely. Instead, Pam dragged me (i.e. didn't throw me out after I jumped into her car) down to Westboro to wander around looking at Fair Trade Christmas ornaments and twinkly elephant-strewn wall hangings and bowls made out of colourful newsprint, and buy discounted Playmobil at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's, and venture into Mountain Equipment Co-op trying to look much more outdoorsy and athletic then we actually are, and lose my Works virginity (I had the Beverly Hills Lawsuit - I don't think I need to eat for the rest of the week now).

Then I had to get groceries (see part about shut-in week and recovery week-end - we've been eating out of cans for the last five days). So clearly I don't have time to muster up a blog post of any substance.

When I take my laptop up to my bedroom, it has to be plugged in in a socket that's between the chair of my arm and the wall, in a very tiny space. Once Eve was in my room as I was bent over trying to contort my arm in the proper configuration to plug it in and she said "why don't you just let me do it?" So now I just call her to do it, which she loves. Yesterday she was stealing my computer to watch netflix in bed, so she had to unplug it. She got down on the floor and wormed her way into the space, with just her little monkey-and-cupcake-printed pajama-clad butt sticking out. Then I heard "Hmmmm. I think I see your problem, ma'am. The plug is STILL IN THE WALL. I'll see what I can do!" Naturally, I made the only rejoinder possible - I tickled her butt. Then I heard "It's NOT APPROPRIATE for you to tickle my butt, ma'am!"

Funny or a little creepy? You decide!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eve is about to steal my computer....

...so I'm going to write down some funny stuff she said today in case I don't get it back before midnight.

"Hey, I can crawl really fast! .....OKAY, that hurt."

"Sorry. I'm a little rusty. I haven't juggled for like two hours."

"Remember when Daddy and Angus were putting on cold bathing suits in a hotel room and they made up that 'cold on the weenie' song?"

"Can we put on makeup? Because I already did."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In sickness and self-righteousness

My husband and I are about as far apart on the spectrum of believing our kids when they say or think they are sick as you can get. My instinct is always to believe them without question, keep them home from school, tuck them in bed and worry that they're suffering from bubonic plague or the like. His instinct is to declare that they're - maybe not faking, but certainly exaggerating, or just psyching themselves out, because Angus in particular has a very nervous stomach - and send them to school or make them play baseball or hockey and hope for the best.

The general perversity of things being what they are, both of us turn out to be wrong at least half the time. I still maintain that my way is better, because would you rather feel like a bit of an ass when you keep the kid home and within two hours s/he is running circles around you, pulling down the curtains, demanding video game time and a tenth cookie, or LOOK like a giant ass when your kid barfs in the middle of the classroom/cruise ship dining room/bowling alley/birthday cake?

Eve's been home from school for most of the week with my stomach bug, and I kept her home one last day yesterday because she was still pale and tired, but she hadn't thrown up for 48 hours so I said she could still go to her friend's house after school because the friend (and her mother) were desperate for her to come over and I was pretty sure she was no longer shedding virus (you're welcome Clara). Angus was supposed to go to an Ottawa 67s hockey game for a friend's party last night, and he stayed home from school because he was achy and wanted to go back to bed, which he did, which is not normal for him, but he thought he'd be able to go to the party and I was okay with that because I didn't want the friend to be disappointed and again, no vomit was forthcoming - I thought maybe he just needed a day of rest.

So of course, twenty minutes before they're both supposed to leave, they both get all weepy and think they feel nauseous and things head rapidly down hill. I was utterly unable to decide what the right course of action was, and if I had still been solo parenting all three of us might have remained frozen in this miserable tableau for the next five to seven hours. Fortunately, Matt got home from the airport just in time to pronounce them neurotic and ridiculous, stomp on their objections, harass them into the truck and drop them off at their various destinations. Eve had a great time at Marianna's, Angus had a great time at the hockey game (at which he consumed two pieces of pizza, two Pepsis and two pieces of cake), and Matt and I caught up on a huge backlog of Modern Family.

Sometimes it's good to be wrong.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Minutes

I was in my kitchen this morning when the clock clicked over to 11:00. I didn't know where to look for the two minutes of silence, so I watched my microwave clock. For two minutes.

It always feels longer than I expect, standing there doing nothing for two minutes. I tried not to let my mind wander, but I kept thinking about stupid stuff. I wanted to take out the garbage. I wanted to wipe the counters. I wanted to get set up on the table to start the assignment I should have started two days ago. I forced myself to be quiet and still for two minutes.

I thought about what it would be like not just to be annoyed about having to be still. About what it would be like to also be hungry, or thirsty, cold or hot, unwashed and weighed down with pounds and pounds of heavy equipment. I thought about what it would be like if I had to be quiet as if my life depended on it.

I can't find the exact quote, but I thought I'd heard something about war being equal parts boredom and terror. Fortunately for those of us who haven't had to go to war, we're much more conversant with boredom.

Remembrance Day. It's the other Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Random shit

Eve's home from school again, barfy-but-not-quite-barfing. It's okay - obviously I wasn't going to be allowed to step foot out of the house today, because my hair is AWESOME. And the number of people I see in a day is inversely proportional to how bad my hair will be, and my hair mysteriously knows AHEAD OF TIME. My hair is an asshole.

I spent hours in an Etsy wormhole last night favouriting hand-made ecologically-sound non-toxic wooden toys between which to choose for my nephew, while at the same time wondering exactly to what degree my brother-in-law and his wife would shun me if I sent him a gigantic Nerf machine gun.

I just finished reading this book, which should be easily dismissable as the foul product of a horrifyingly diseased mind, but somehow isn't. Somehow there's enough compassion, melancholy, intelligence and social commentary shaded into the loving descriptions of bodily disease and decay to rescue it - although I have a few qualms about it being labeled teen fiction, and I have no idea who I'd recommend it to.

That commercial about banana-scented shaving lotion for carrots? It's fucking weird.

I don't like artichokes.