Showing posts from November, 2009

Day 30!

I actually forgot how I'd meant to end my post about family expressions from a couple of days ago. For a while we called hand sanitizer 'magic soap' because it cleaned your hands and you didn't have to rinse it. So I was driving home in the truck with Angus on a snowy day and the windshield wiper fluid was out and I couldn't see two feet in front of me. I called Matt because I was nervous about finding the latch to open the hood (because I can never find it), then I hung up and told Angus (who was about four, I think) that we had to stop at the gas station for a minute. He said "are we out of gas?" (because he's an anxious kid and frequently fears that we will run out of gas in the middle of nowhere and have to eat each other). I said "no. I need some...." and I gestured vaguely at the windshield, trying to remember if we call wiper fluid 'magic water' or what, and flailing around for an explanation. Angus said, drily, 'windshield

They'll Have to do Better Than That

So on Monday, which is Irish dance night, I checked my email in the afternoon and there was a message from the dance teacher titled 'Get Back to Me ASAP'. Thinking that maybe class was cancelled, I opened the email. This was the message: hope you get this on time ? Sorry i didn't inform you about my trip in the United Kingdom for a program, I'm presently in London and am having some difficulties here because i was mugged at gun point at the park of the hotel where i lodged all cash,credit-cards and cell were stolen off me and other valuable things where on my way to the hotel, i only have limited access to the internet .Presently my passport and my things are been held down by the hotel management pending when i make payment.The hotel manager won't let me leave until i settle the hotel bills now am freaked out.I will like you to assist me with a loan of £1750.00) to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home. I will appreciate whatever you can afford to a

Family Words

My friend Zarah and I were talking about how getting your kids to try new things is all in the way you frame them. To get Zarah and her brother to try paté, they didn't say "this is smushed up animal organ"; they introduced them to 'spready meat'. (then I laughed for ten minutes, then agreed that was quite clever). I was thinking about the way family expressions get immortalized, until suddenly you realize you're in mixed company using completely ridiculous terms for things. Photo by Cassidy Eve was over at my Mom's one night for dinner. I can't remember what she was eating, but she kept asking for 'spread cheese'. My mother, quite reasonably, offered her cream cheese, and took a bit of abuse over it. After considerable strain and strife, it emerged that 'spread cheese' was actually shaker Parmesan. And now, when we're having spaghetti (or when Eve is having pretty much anything)? Yeah, we're all offering and asking for &#

Playing Hooky

My husband is taking today off since it's American Thanksgiving and there's a small chance his phone will ring a few less hundred times than usual. We're going on a date to (dramatic overture)... IKEA. It's been impossible to find a time to get there and get a new kitchen table. Then we're going to do a few more romantic exciting things like cleaning out the basement spare room and putting up Christmas lights, before I leave to work at the school Christmas bizarre (sorry, bazaar). Matt came down this morning and was getting the kids ready for school. They directed suspicious looks at his jeans and demanded to know what was up. Angus: "it's not the week-end. Why are you wearing that?" Matt: "I'm taking some time to myself." Angus: "WHAT?" Eve: "Without US?" Matt: "yes." Eve: "....does Mommy know?" Matt: "I don't care if she knows, I'm doing it anyway." Angus "yeah, r

My Catholic Post

Technically it would be 'My Catholicism Post', but it just sounded better to me that way. I wanted this post to be thoughtful and reasoned and in-depth, but then November crashed down on me, so it's just going to be... published. My mother was raised by devout Catholic Polish parents. They didn't eat meat on Fridays, they went to Church every Sunday (via horse and wagon), my grandparents walked out of Poland across Europe and ended up in Saskatchewan, dropping a kid in practically every country along the way (judging how pissed off my grandfather was when he had his prostate removed after the age of eighty and then figured out what this now prevented him from doing, the profusion of kids might have been more due to his being determined to get action no matter what the hell else was going on and less due to their obeying the church's teaching on birth control, but still...). So even though my mother married my father, who is Protestant in name only and about as

The Inmates Run the Asylum

Matt and the kids playing Cranium Cadoo (the juvenile version of cranium: you still have to do charades, or draw something to make people guess the clue, or sculpt things out of clay, but they're 'easier'): "Okay, Daddy's drawing." "What is that?" "A tree?" "A tree?" "DADDY, is it a tree? No?" "um, a baby tree?" "a bird... in a tree?" "a boy...climbing a tree?" "time's up. What WAS that?" "Jack and the BEANSTALK?" "WHAT??? That's a BEANSTALK? And what's that?" "The cow." "..... BUT he gave the cow AWAY! And besides, it looks like a pig." Children are merciless. **************************** Dinner table conversation: Matt: "are you nervous for your piano recital?" Eve: "I'm just nervous that I'm going to do a mistake." Me: "I did lots of recitals and I made lots of mistakes. Eve

Book Review: February, by Lisa Moore

February. February can't possibly suck as much as November. I've been trying to drag my ass out to the gym all morning. My ass is not cooperating. February is about Helen O'Mara, whose husband Cal died when the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank. This really happened, which I didn't know until I read the acknowledgements. Helen's husband died when she was thirty, with three kids and one on the way. The book jumps around in time, but essentially tells the story of Helen moving on with her life while still mourning her husband fully and completely for twenty-six years. Jumping around in time can be a dangerous thing to try, but it really works here, particularly because it demonstrates that, raising her children, dealing with her daughter's teenage pregnancy, travelling with her sister, she is always thinking of Cal, remembering what time they had, thinking of the time of which they were robbed, feeling guilty for not being strong enough or sad enough to follow him. L

Day 23

I was really enjoying NaBloPoMo until today. I was expecting it to be a full thirty days of sitting here racking my brains trying to come up with something not too trite or dull or wacky, but instead it's been a really good way to force my mind to be a little more active, and the writing has come easier. Until today. Today I got nothing. I was going to go to the gym but last night after hockey and Swiss Chalet, which was all very enjoyable, I felt like crap. My glands were swollen and I was nodding off by nine-thirty, when I am never, never, never asleep until after eleven. So I decided to hang out at home today, do some cleaning and go to the gym tomorrow. Except I'm afraid I won't. When I don't go on Monday, I have this superstitious fear that fate or my own laziness (are they so different, after all?) will intervene and torpedo the whole week. And I feel old and creaky. I've been walking more, and my knees and hips hurt and my right knee makes an unpleasant gri

How Much Information is Too Much?

I did just post a couple of days ago that I'm not against lying to children. And I do believe that some books do not belong in an elementary school library. So I guess I can't write this post with quite the snotty, outraged tone I kind of had in mind before I started. That said, some things do make me think some people have way too much time on their hands. We had a copy of Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl in the library. One of the poems has the word 'slut' in it. It's British, so slut doesn't mean sexually promiscuous woman, it means untidy person. A mother objected. Then she said maybe we didn't have to take the book out of the library, we could just white out the word. But, um, it's a rhyming book. And the kids aren't stupid. Even our library technician questions a lot of the subject matter in books for young adults these days. Books about dealing with a parent's depression, books about bullying and drugs and such. I don't know. I ten

Oh, I Totally Know This!

photo credit creative commons license So I went down to Lansdowne Park for World Trivia Night to play with Lynn from Turtlehead ( -- I wanted to link to it. I tried to link to it. I thought I knew how to link to it. The HTML error message says 'labels cannot enclose labels'. Come on HTML, I said. 'Can't?'. That's such a negative word. Where would we be if the Wright Brothers believed everyone who told them humans CAN'T fly? I say labels CAN enclose labels! Who's with me?! Turns out HTML is an inflexible bitch.) even though we'd never met and the only picture I've seen of her is blurry and half cut-off and I didn't know any of the other eight people on the team or any of the other thousand people that were going to be there and I'm so shy and socially awkward that just going to the post office makes me break out in hives some days. But hell, it was something fun to do on a Friday night, I'

In Defense of Lying

I've been saying for the last few weeks that my favourite line from Glee (sorry, still can't figure out how to link to it) is when the Cute Teacher's Psychotic Pregnancy-Faking Wife's Crazy Sister says "Dishonesty is FOOD to a marriage, it will DIE without it". I don't really believe this, of course. But I do think that people who insist that honesty is always the best policy are, well, wrong. There are different kinds of lies. There are lies you tell to make your own life easier, lies you tell to protect yourself and lies you tell to protect others. Some lies just come out of nowhere. I have one friend who's a veritable Shakespeare of lying -- nothing important (as far as I know), but basically she just does it to keep in practice. A bunch of us were having dinner at a restaurant in Toronto and one friend asked this friend where the washroom was. The Master Liar told her it was towards the back of the restaurant and down the stairs (which was true).

Favourite Quotes from Not-Necessarily-Favourite-Books

“ I don’t expect that much from God. Maybe I used to. But the older I get, the easier I am on him. God’s getting older, too, I figure. ” -- Ten Miles West of Venus , Judy Troy (short story -- spoken by a priest): I like this even though it doesn't really make sense. It says much more about the speaker than it does about God. It makes him the kind of priest whose church I would want to belong to if I still belonged to one. " The night advanced, the earth rotated on its axis, and they talked about the problem of why a flag in the wind, a stiff current of air, flutters and why the waves in Max’s hair did not move as his hair grew but remained in the same place, just the opposite of the sea, where the waves moved horizontally but the water remained in the same place; and about the war, about Adolf Hitler, whom they called the “A.H.-Erlebnis”; and about the twin daughters of Max Planck, the founder of quantum mechanics: the first gave birth to a daughter and died in childbirth;

To Whom it May Concern

Dear sun: Nice to see you, thanks for coming out. Dear hair: It's okay, I understand. Dear HTML: Can't we just get along? Dear Woman Who Corrected my Pronunciation at a Party Once: Contemplative can be pronounced with the stress on the first OR second syllable, and in most dictionaries MY way is listed first. I looked it up. Suck it, Blondie. Dear French school I walked past today: I suggest you lower the volume of your Oh Canada recording unless you are planning on becoming a French School for the Deaf. Dear Bryan Adams: I recently read that you're the only musical artist who has turned down a request to have a song used by Glee. You're a douche. Dear Person who decided Anusol should be called Anusol: Seriously? Dear Guy who Owns the Gas Station where the lowest-priced selection is in the middle instead of at the far left so people will accidentally pay the second-highest price instead of the lowest: You suck and I will avoid your gas station, but


Yep, this is yet another example of shameless thievery from C.J. at Don't Lick the Ferrets. NaBloeffingPoMo has turned me into someone I barely recognize. Also, I can't link her blog even though I was all smug about figuring out the link thing, because now I'm apparently having HTML problems. She was talking about how some people hate labels, such as gay and straight. My point was that it's easy to make almost any descriptive term sound derogatory if you're ignorant and vicious enough to want to. That's not a strike against the label though, so much as against the butthead using it. Labels are useful, if not necessary, in identifying how people other people compare with you. It's fine to say we're more the same than we are different, but saying we're all exactly the same is unrealistic, unfair and ass-ish. For the whole gay/straight thing, I have this image of someone on the dance floor trying to figure out if the person they're dancing with

Borne up from the Blahs by a Good Book

I tried to come up with a synonym for good starting with b to preserve the alliteration (I almost typed illiteration and didn't notice, things are really really bad) but all I could come up with was Beautiful or Blessed or Beneficent and that's NOT what I mean. I've been a little wobbly lately. I almost said 'flat' but that's not really it. I'm quite happy a lot of the time. I'm managing alright when Matt's away, I'm decluttering small areas of the house in fits and starts, I'm walking a lot, I have a little more free time and the kids are great. Right, actually, everything's fine, never mind. So what's my problem? Hell if I know. Partly Eve starting grade one which means both kids in school under 2:45 which is a pretty drastic alteration of the routine. Mostly this is great -- more free time. Although when you factor in that I'm still in the school library one day a week, volunteer in the classroom, theoretically should sti

Food and Wine and Cheating at Pictionary -- What's not to like?

We had our third potluck dinner party with four other couples last night. It was our turn to host, which is fine, because when you host you don't do the main course. This means you don't always get to cook with your own stuff in your own kitchen, but it also means (at least in my case) that you don't have to bust your ass cleaning and hiding piles of crap one floor up or down AND cook a main course at the same time. I think it was my friend Janet's idea, and it was a really good one. The idea is to cook something fairly sophisticated that you've never cooked before, and we all take turns doing each course. It's a fun cooking experience, and a great night with friends, and since it's November and the last few weeks have been travel-intensive for Matt and single-parenting intensive for me I was really really looking forward to it. Not to mention this is the cleanest and clearest my counters have been in months, if not years. In all the pictures of people in

Satisfactory Combinations

I love my husband. He's a great partner, a fantastic father, and a hard worker. He's good at stuff I'm not good at. When Angus was born, he showed me how to change diapers. He's really bad with names, but he can always figure out who the voice is behind cartoon characters (of course, he can't remember the person's name so then he has to say 'you know, that guy from the movie with the junk yard and the flower pot' until I figure out who he means (because I'm the one who's good with names, but I never know who the voice is). But I wouldn't say we're soulmates. We're less Heloise and Abelard than Jamie and Paul from Mad About You. We often don't get each other. He tries to explain a problem he has with Angus's hockey or baseball coach and I'm going 'huh? Leave the poor guy alone, he's a volunteer!'. I try to explain why we don't need to get all bent out of shape over one bad mark Angus gets and he's all

Oh Where oh Where has my Consciousness Gone?

Today when I woke up I couldn't remember what colour my kitchen was. When I was living in apartments, I swore that I would never have a house painted Builder's White. So when we moved in we painted (and by this I mean we made my Dad paint) bold colours. Medium-dark blue in the family room, yellow in the kitchen, terra cotta in the living room and forest green in the vestibule. I'm still glad I vanquished the Builder's White, but I've been over these colours for quite a while now. The problem is we're too lazy and have too many bookshelves to make painting over most of them anything that's going to happen soon. But a couple of summers ago my husband and my father replaced the crappy speed-bumped carpet and peely kitchen linoleum with some really nice laminate tile. And while the family room was empty my Dad painted over the blue with a lovely cafe au lait colour. I just suddenly couldn't remember if he'd painted over the yellow in the kitchen also

My Gay Marriage Post

photo credit creative commons license I'm ripping this off from C.J. at Don't Lick the Ferrets because this is my month to blog on Big Issues in the interest of honesty and full disclosure and having something to blog about every single goddamned day. Here are my thoughts in a nutshell: Gay Folks? Feel free to marry. Marry away. Marry your asses off. You know when people say "Give me one good reason?" I haven't heard that one good reason why homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to marry. What I have heard is a lot of reasons that amount to (not to put too fine a point on it) hooey. They can't have kids? Well yes, they can. Lots of heterosexuals can't have kids simply by having sex with each other either. Some of them don't want to. Some of them are too old to. They're allowed to get married. It takes away from the sanctity of heterosexual marriage? Well, I don't agree that it does, but even if it did, aren't the straight folks

November 11

My husband's grandfather fought in World War II. He lied about his age to sign up, he was one of very few of his platoon to survive, and when he got back, his father walked past him on the street without recognizing him. photo credit creative commons license The first time my husband took me to his grandparents' home town to meet them, Grandpa started telling war stories. Some of them were funny. Some of them were horrifying. He showed us a shaving brush with a handle deformed by a piece of shrapnel -- this happened while he was actually shaving with it. I thought this was just what they did when Matt visited, but after we went to bed Matt said this was the first time he'd heard any of these stories. Since I was introduced to him as Allison McCaskill, Grandpa figured it was safe to tell me stories about the wacky Polish regiments he ran in to. I finally decided I should probably let him know my mother's maiden name. He toned the stories down, but not by much.

Indian Summer

Eve thinks this is her gangsta look. (Naturally. All Gangstas wear tights with hearts on 'em).

It's Irish Dance Night and this is the best I could come up with

I once met a man at a dinner party whose job had something to do with the manufacture of laundry detergent. He told me that you shouldn't use the same brand of detergent all the time, or the fibres of your clothes and linens would 'get used to it' and they would sort of tighten up and become impervious to the soap so it wouldn't clean as well. photo credit creative commons license I have no idea if this is true, but I often vary what detergent I buy anyway, based on what's on sale and if I feel like smelling lemons or mountain breezes or nothing that month (my current favourite is Sunlight Morning Fresh -- sincere apologies for the shameless product placement). So I tend to go back and forth. I don't know if it works, but I do think this sort of recommendation applies to other things. I have a lot of very fine hair, and even if I find a great shampoo, one that makes my hair bouncy and light and full instead of flat and stuck to my head, if I use it for too

Wining instead of Whining

I went to the Ottawa Wine and Food show last night because my friend Pam's husband was too sick. In case you're wondering, I'm totally fine with being second choice. It was the day after my husband got back from Japan. It always seems like that day should be great, but it always kind of sucks. While he's away, I'm coasting on adrenaline, I'm efficient and in charge, I'm managing homework and meals and bedtimes and feeling virtuous and competent. When he gets back, all the adrenaline goes to Cleveland and I start the day reading in my chair because it seems like I deserve a rest, but then I start feeling guilty for not doing anything, then I try to do something and do it badly and get crankier, and it all goes horribly wrong. God help the poor man if he tries for welcome-home sex. So it was good to get out of the house with a good friend, and if there was wine and food involved, so much the better. photo credit creative commons license My palate is n

To-ing and Fro-ing

So my husband was in Japan on a last-minute unscheduled panic trip all week, the kids were sick for most of it, I was still coughing from whatever I had, and not much got done. That was bad. But my Mom or Dad came over most days so I could go for a walk so I didn't end up drowning myself or the kids in the bath tub and most days it didn't rain and the leaves were crunchy. That was good. Eve asked if we could go to the park on Thursday just as it was pouring rain and getting dark and I was making supper, so I said no and she burst into tears and said she never gets to swing any more and swinging is her favourite thing and lots of people have swing sets and we don't and it wasn't fair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was bad. Matt got home from the airport on Friday just in time to get her from the schoolbus and they went to the park down the street and she swung for half an hour before coming home. That was good. I had to miss the blogger's breakfast today because Matt ha