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Showing posts from November, 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 wh…

What kind of mother lets her kid get purple hair?

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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 ask…

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

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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…

Charmingly Offbeat or Some Creepy Shit?

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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 somethin…

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 deliciou…

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…

Slow and Steady

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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, excep…

Wednesday Waffling

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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 disa…

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'v…

Value Meals

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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 …

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 …

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 t…

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 …

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…

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 …

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

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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.

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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 ha…

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 o…

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."

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 class…

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 …

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 bei…

Wednesday Waffling:

I've decided that since I'm committed to posting every day this month, I should tackle a few posts I keep approaching and then backing away from, for various reasons. One reason is that I've been too mentally lazy to try to marshal my thoughts into a coherent post. The other reason is that these are issues about which, no matter how much I go over them, I can't come to a firm resolution.

Today I'm going to talk about my problem regarding religious people. This is separate from my problem about organized religion - I have more concrete reasons there, many of which are articulated brilliantly in God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

I read an essay once by a woman who was proudly, defiantly against all religion. She said something about not being sure that faith could move mountains, but it could certainly knock down buildings. I tend to think of religious faith as something like fire: used properly, fire can warm, fuel and cook - activities that sustain life.…

Absence makes the heart do too much online shopping

I may have mentioned (repeatedly, in a shameless attempt at garnering sympathy) that my husband travels a lot. When the kids were little and we had no family around, it was really hard. I wouldn't sleep well, the kids wouldn't sleep well, every day seemed fifty-seven hours long, and by the time he came home I was at the end of all my physical and emotional resources. As they've gotten older it's become much, much easier.

We've established some good routines that work for us when we're a three-person family. Routines for getting homework done, piano practiced, children bathed and everyone in bed at a reasonable time. In some ways it's easier when there's only one parent - we're on my schedule and everyone knows what they're doing when. We sometimes have supper on tv tables. We usually gather in my room to read at around eight. Often, this morphs into a group sleepover, with Angus and Eve occupying the other side of my bed, or a mattress on the fl…

It was a good plan...

So after all my high-minded words about 'spending some quality time with my kids' and 'keeping the family connected', Matt left this afternoon and I proceeded to leave the kids with my Dad and go out for dinner for my friend Janet's birthday this evening. Did I cook something wholesome and homemade for the kids before I left? I did not. I got them McDonald's. They seem distinctly untraumatized. But who knows if I've doomed some unspecified future liquor store to knocking over?

In honour of my friend Janet, who I love not IN SPITE OF but BECAUSE she pronounces words and names in a delightfully quirky manner, I will tell a story she told my husband and me ABOUT HERSELF (another reason to love her) fairly soon after we had all met:

In the story, she was going out for dinner with her boyfriend (now her husband) Dave and some of his friends who she was meeting for the first time. They went to a Thai restaurant. Janet ordered the pad thai. After the waitres…

Post-traumatic sickness disorder

Sitting here trying not to let the absolute joy at the fact that I feel not the slightest inclination to hurl be overwhelmed by the whiny realization that I missed a gorgeous sunny fall week-end and we didn't finish rearranging Eve's room AGAIN and the house is a disaster and Matt's leaving tomorrow AGAIN, and...

Yeah. How about we don't go there? I realized that the reason my head is all whoosh-y and I keep almost falling down the stairs is not just that I haven't really eaten for three days, but that I haven't taken my antidepressant for three days, when one day of withdrawal is generally a quite noticeable problem. (wait, you all knew that I require medicating to be this sunny and cheerful all the time, right? I'm sure you did - if not, well, surprise, you're welcome, no and screw you - that should cover all the possible responses).

I miss my kids. Not just from the last three days of not wanting to infect them, but from the last month of craziness…

Delirious ravings

To all my blog/facebook/twitter friends -- sincere apologies for the oversharing. Not that I'm about to stop, you understand, but I am sorry.

I'm really wondering if I should allow myself to type this, but I THINK that after roughly 54 hours of extreme bodily misery, I might be about to do something crazy like digest food. When I stand up I actually feel like my feet send roots into the floor, by sheer virtue of the room not pitching about like a ship in a storm. I would be wholly content, if not for the fear that I've doomed other members of my family to the same fate.

There are people who have cancer or other chronic illnesses who feel like this a large amount of the time. Who watch sickness and fatigue swallow up huge chunks of their lives. I know how hard it is on the kids when I'm sick, and how horrible and helpless I feel when I have to let someone else take care of them, and I can't even imagine what it must be like to have that be the new reality rather …

Knowing Me Knowing You November 2011

The Nablopomo newsletter asked if we were exhausted from three days of writing - I've actually been really enjoying the writing, I'm exhausted because yesterday I woke up with a burgeoning migraine and then threw up all afternoon and evening and part of the night and woke up this morning still queasy. So naturally I'm getting my post done before I do my assignment that's due before midnight that actually affects whether I pass my course. Priorities, people.

As usual, Shan the Fairy Blogmother comes through with Knowing Me Knowing You just when I'm really, really desperate.

1. What keeps you up late at night?

When I'm not upchucking, you mean? Books. Good books, bad books, heaping towering teetering stacks of books. If I try to read a book at three in the afternoon I fall asleep. I start reading at nine or ten and I can sail through until 2 a.m. easy. Often I start reading a book and can't go to sleep until I finish it. I think it's verging on pat…

Sound and Fury Signifying DUMBNESS: Dominance by Will Lavender

I recently came across a member on Goodreads who is kind of pissing me off. She writes these sprawling, grandiloquent, scathing reviews in which she assumes and attributes wildly speculative motives and qualities to authors, indicates that anyone who likes a book she doesn't is a brainless sheep-like patsy, and generally tries to be as unpleasant as possible. And god help anyone who has the temerity to disagree with her. I haven't engaged her, because I'm pretty sure it's what she wants, and I try to stop going back, but the sweet rotting lure of such flagrant bitchiness is strong.

I try to be balanced in my reviews. I tend to review books that I like, while just giving low ratings to books I don't and then moving along. I know what it takes for me to put my writing out there, and how fragile a writer's self-esteem can be.

But sometimes I feel like I've been duped by a book. Like it reeled me in on a false promise of depth and wonder and played me for a…

A Disgrace to my Gender

I'd like to say that this is one of those hip, ultra-modern, no-stereotyped-gender-roles type households. I'd like to, but I can't. We don't try to mimic an episode of Leave it to Beaver or anything - my husband helps with housework, Eve loves math and plays baseball, Angus has been known to scrapbook, and I can drink my husband under the table. BUT I do the vast majority of the cooking and day-to-day tidying. I do my best not to sully my lily white hands by carrying out the garbage, I'm helpless with anything involving plumbing, and bad things happen when I get hold of an allen key, so I don't put together a lot of furniture. I'm a stay-at-home MOM, for frick's sake. And while my husband isn't a neanderthal or a 'I earn the money, you take care of everything else' jackass, he likes his sports and he can be utterly defeated by the vagaries of a washing machine.

Along these lines, I haven't taken a lot of responsibility for vehicle…

Gimme a NA! Gimme a BLO! Gimme a PO! Gimme a MO!

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Yeah, I could just quietly post every day in November without trumpeting that I'm doing NaBloPoMo and demanding that everybody marvel and praise, but that's just not how I roll, OKAY? Besides, if I don't constantly remind myself I might forget.

Halloween.

You know, when my kids were little and Angus always wanted to be a superhero and Eve always wanted to be a princess or a fairy, I used to be kind of annoyed. Because Angus was a superhero every day and Eve was a princess or a fairy every day, and it was BORING. I thought at the very least ANGUS could be a princess and EVE could be a Power Ranger, but no, for Halloween they'd wear a costume that had been worn dozens of times already. And I was annoyed by that.

My stupidity knows NO BOUNDS.

You don't even want to know how much these cost.





I always try to convince the kids that we should make costumes out of stuff we have at home, because it's much more fun and creative than just buying something. One year we p…