Showing posts from March, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays: "Sorry, I'll have to call you back, I'm stuck in a bucket right now."


Contemplative de-cluttering

Yesterday and today were good days. Yesterday I overhauled the living room and dining room -- packed up one bin of stuff to get rid of and one to put downstairs, moved some stuff around, cleaned off a bunch of surfaces -- God help you if you're a reasonably level surface that's been empty for more than three and a half minutes in my house. We have a terminal surfeit of crap in this house. The biggest problem is probably all the damned books, which require damned book shelves, which take up space where other stuff should go, which results in a chronic plague of... other stuff. You can't look anywhere and not see stuff -- books, papers, art stuff, dishes, vases, baking supplies, toys... I know I'm never going to live in a show house. I know at heart we're basically messy, creative, glitter-loving pack rats. But there's a limit. At some point your eyes get tired -- they need a quieter place to rest. So I need to get more ruthless about tossing and donating

I know it's wrong to exploit my kids when I'm out of post ideas but...

Today Angus was scraping some labels off of miniature plant pots for me in a sink of warm soapy water, so Eve could paint the plant pots in Easter colours. A propos of nothing, he suddenly said, "You can't bury her at sea, because her bosoms will float". That's what you get when you try to share treasured childhood memories with your kids.

The first thing you need to know is that everything turned out fine.

On Angus's first day of Junior Kindergarten, we put him on the bus in the morning, took a few pictures, then watched the bus drive off. Matt went to work and I did who knows what for two and a half hours, then walked back down the street to wait for him to come home on another bus. Instead, a car drove up, and his teacher got out. She had parked on the other side of the street because of the direction she was driving, and as she walked across the street she was saying: "He's fine, there's a problem with paperwork with the bus company, he's fine, so he couldn't get on the bus and I'm not allowed to drive him because of insurance, he's fine, he's waiting in the office." Was it not brilliant of her to open with 'he's fine'? Anyway, I walked home with Eve, stuck her in the car seat and went to pick up my completely unperturbed son who was charming the office staff, then went home and called the bus company and tore a strip off some

The Breakwater House

I'm sick of working on my electronic periodical indexes assignment so I'm reviewing The Breakwater House by Pascale Quiviger. This book is beautifully written, and the translation is flawless. I mention this because whenever I see that I'm reading something in translation, I tend to wince; nothing interferes with a reading experience like a bad translation. I was a little wary after the first few pages, which describe a woman finding and buying a house and then mysteriously being unable to photograph it properly, or track down the previous owner, or give directions that allow other people to visit her. In my experience, this type of non-linear plotting is sometimes an excuse for an author to indulge her poetic urges without regard for logic or story. And I like a story. Happily, there is one, or several, and they are all quite captivating, despite a certain non-linearity. The characters, mostly women, are wonderful: Lucie and Claire, two little girls who meet in

March Broken

I've decided to give myself a little mental bitch-slap before I precipitously give up blogging forever. I'm in a prickly, unfriendly place. Does anybody else find that a virus seems to infect your mind as well as your body? Other than the obvious 'it's gorgeous outside and I'm too sick to go anywhere', or abandoning my husband with the kids for the last couple of days when he's leaving for a week tomorrow, or that he took off Friday so we could do something as a family and I was stuck in bed so he took the kids bowling and mini-golfing, it's like I've stayed in one place too long and my immune system is too low to evade or mount a defense against the mean little thoughts with sharp little teeth. It seemed that visiting some friendly blogs and then following their blogs to some unfamiliar blogs was a good way to spend some fevery headachey rib-cracking coughy time. In retrospect, I probably should have stuck to vampire movies and the last few e

March Break day four

I'm sick. Angus is sick. Good thing I front-loaded the week. Last night Eve and I watched Where the Wild Things Are. I thought it was amazing, but she said "there aren't a whole lot of happy parts in this movie", and she wasn't wrong. Angus had a friend sleep over last night and I was watching a friend of Eve's this morning, and Angus and I started trading coughs around 4 a.m. so the morning was Angus and Nathan playing basketball and hockey outside and Eve and Laura making little books, and the afternoon was Angus lying on his futon watching The Mighty Ducks on the little DVD player while insisting he wasn't tired and Eve trying to make exercise equipment for a fairy (more on this later). And I hid in my room and read something hard-boiled and not too taxing . Also, I gave Eve a bath. For an hour and a half. With Barbie Mermaids. This is one section of ninety minutes of singing, yarn-spinning and general commentary: "You have to go back t

March Break day three and Sunshine

We've pretty much dispensed with the wild-rumpus style out-in-the-world March Break fun; we're onto the slothful, energy-conserving, pajamas-all-day March Break fun. Matthew and Meghan came over and Angus and Matthew played Pokemon Platinum for four hours. In my defense, we had a busy day yesterday, and Angus has a cold. And I'm not responsible for Matthew's future brain-mushiness. Eve and Meghan invented imaginary friends and drew pictures of them (Meghan's is a five-foot-tall talking flower with a cellphone. Eve's is a half-supermodel, half-fairy, half-dog, called a FuzzBuzz. And no, I didn't point out the inherent fractional contradiction, we're all wearing pajamas, cut us some freakin' slack, would you?). Matthew and Meghan just left. Angus has another friend coming over for a sleepover and Eve is stalking Victoria from next door, who isn't home yet but will be leapt on with deranged slinky-like passion the moment she shows up. So I

March Break, day two

Two words: PARC OMEGA . What better way to spend a sunny day in March than driving around poking carrots at large animals while they gob all over your car windows (actually, since my mother generously offered us her minivan so all six of us could ride together, all over your parents' van windows?). Pictures of slobbering wapiti, surly bison and adorable wrestling bear cubs will be forthcoming. Margot took most of the animal shots since I was driving (a dicey proposition at the best of times). My husband and I brought our kids here when Angus was three and Eve was a baby. As soon as we got in the gate, a big elk-like thing approached the window and my momentarily dim-witted husband said "Look Angus!" and opened Angus's window. All the way. Whereupon the huge elk-like thing stuck its head right in the bag of Tostitos in Angus's lap. Whereupon Angus was suddenly quite disenchanted with the whole feeding-the-animals thing. A few minutes later, when we were

March Break, day one

My friend Margot is working mornings Monday Wednesday and Friday this week, so our friend Collette was watching her kids this morning and I'm watching them Wednesday morning (I don't know about Friday -- maybe's she's dropping them off at the pool hall with twenty bucks and their health cards). Collette came over with her three and Margot's two, so we had three girls and four boys. The girls drew little pictures and broke food into tiny pieces for the fairy that lives in Eve's room. The boys were engaged in various intellectual pursuits in the basement. Collette and I were bettering ourselves with a physics program in the family room. We fed the kids some healthy organic fare for lunch. It was arduous. It was exhausting. Margot owes us big. Tonight Matt and I are going on a date -- dinner and the symphony . I got him tickets for his birthday, which really is a gift, because he loves the symphony and I...well, I love classical music. I don't

Freshly Cracked (Craic-ed)

We're back from Just a Bit of Craic (craic is gaelic for fun or entertainment, pronounced 'crack'). I sort of knew in the back of my head that it was in an old church, but it didn't really register that I would be sitting (aka grinding my tailbone and jamming my spine into) an excruciatingly uncomfortable church pew for two and a half hours. My back will require cracking after that. But Eve was gorgeous, and excited, and adorable hopping around up there. And my Mom kept her cool pretty well, even though it was long, and kind of chaotic, and the dude with the Irish brogue and the microphone who was m.c.-ing was freakin' unintelligible. Eve's group was right before the intermission. Then they got to come and sit with us and watch the second half. The highlight was probably Eve's running commentary when a solo dancer came out, dressed sort of surprisingly in a tank top and boy-cut underwear and did a modern dance number (stuck in amongst the sparkly dr

Is one remaining speech impediment too much to ask?

Mary Lynn (the fabulous, the flawless, the freakin' amazing Mary Lynn) just posted a lament for her daughter's disappearing baby vocabulary, which set off a mindstorm of memories and the kind of nostalgia that makes me very bitter because it makes me realize that I am, in fact, just a big fat mom cliché (I remember one of my smug, skinny high school friends as we sat in the downstairs school hallway and watched a very pregnant teacher chugging past. The skinny friend said with a sneer "I'm not going to waddle like that when I'm pregnant". Oh right, pregnant women waddle because they want to, not because they're trying to balance a watermelon on their pelvis without falling on their face). When Angus was little, he referred to himself in the third person for a while, as many kids do. Then he modified it to "A" (the letter A, rhymes with hay), instead of Angus. His most common utterance, when we were trying to wrest control of his utensils

Lest Ye Be Judged and all that crap

All the blog posts I just read (none of them my regularly scheduled reading) made me cranky. It's fine to say "I try not to be judgemental", but what the hell does that even mean? The truth is you can't really go five minutes without judging. You can't get from bed to bathroom to breakfast without making judgements. You have to use your own best judgement (which can be really unfortunate in some cases). And people? Well, aren't people just annoyingly individual , and different from each other, and all with the opinions and everything? And if they differ enough from you in how they think, or eat, or talk to their kids, or watch reality tv instead of Lost, or treat people who don't believe in their god (sorrowful glances as opposed to, say, acid-throwing), well then, how do you not judge that? I actually once heard myself say the words "God I hate intolerant people." Great, huh? And some things I can say "totally respect your opinion

I'm going to be web content!

I whine a lot. I recognize this. It's not because I expect sympathy -- I don't. I don't even give it to myself. I am rationally capable of recognizing that I have a very nice life. Great children, great husband, great parents, great sister, great friends (gah, the monotony -- note to self: accumulate some associates with toxic personalities to bitch about). Nice lifestyle, good pair of running shoes, great kitchen table, nice yellow vase of red-orange tulips. Some real time to myself during the day, starting last September. Sadly, I'm also middle-class Western neurotic enough to have a sneaking suspicion that there are a bunch of women out there who have all this AND hair that doesn't suddenly decide to take some time for itself, toes that don't overlap so toenails become an urgent and painful issue, and brain chemicals that don't suddenly find English muffins a source of unutterable chartreuse-flavoured despair every third day and alternate Tuesdays. Like

Knowing Me Knowing You #1

I got this from Julie at Smothermother who gets it from Shan at Fairy Blogmother (love that name). Seemed like a good way to try to get un-blogcked. Anyone can play. 1. Do you play a musical instrument? Piano, mainly. I was pretty good at one point, but surprisingly the years of totally ignoring it haven't done me much good. I'm trying to get back into practicing regularly. I tried guitar for a year or so, but my fingers are too short and stubby and my teacher was weird. I played trombone in the (all-girl) school band -- THAT was fun. I used to be a pretty good singer (I was in a cheesy-but-thought-we-were-badass band in high school) but pregnancy hormones and asthma medication have pretty much destroyed my voice. 2. Do you have a set of every day dishes and a set of "good" dishes? Nope. We got colourful stoneware for our wedding 'china' and that's what we use. I prefer my dishes to be brightly coloured and non-matching. Like my socks.

Books, Babies, Butchery

I've been binge-reading memoirs over the past week of stuck-ness. Reading becomes sort of a fraught endeavour when I'm not feeling in top emotional shape, since the joy tends to get sucked out of almost everything, and it feels wrong to be reading grimly and compulsively, but it's a step up from staring at the walls, so I still do it. The last two I read were Paradise Piece by Piece by Molly Peacock and Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession by Julie Powell. Peacock is a poet, and this book is touted as an exploration of her decision not to have children. Julie Powell is the author of Julie and Julia , which was made into the movie starring the deliriously delicious Meryl Streep who embodied Julia Child-ishness, and Amy Adams, who was totally the wrong actress to play Julie Powell, in my opinion (WAYYYYY too sweet). I tend to read memoirs, at the outset at least, in a very cynical manner -- I could meet you on a street corner and have you tell me a sad l

Wheels spinning and the smell of something burning

I'm sort of stuck. All around stuck, I mean, but also blog stuck. I find myself staring at the screen, and thinking I need to force myself to organize a couple of thoughts into a coherent post because it's good practice. Then I wonder if I should be littering the internet with my mental parings if I have to work that hard to scrape up a post. But withdrawing from everything is kind of what direction I feel like I'm going, and I don't think I should just go with that. It's been sunny most of the week. Everyone's all shiny and happy about the goddamned sun. Spring is coming. There's a new energy. I'm supposed to feel like washing curtains and cleaning out closets and delivering calves and whittling chairs. Instead I find it immensely difficult to do anything that requires concentration or deep thought -- or even to remember that I want to. I've been trying to practice the piano every day. Some days I remember, but more often, the minute I

Wordless Wednesdays: Charmed, I'm Sure


Overheard at piano lessons

My kids have piano lessons from five to six on Tuesdays. Eve goes in first, and I sit with Angus in the waiting room, then they switch. At the same time, there's a woman with two tall blonde long-haired daughters -- they're eleven and twelve, but they look older. I always get a kick out of overhearing their exchanges because they mom is sarcastic, sort of like me, and one of the daughters absolutely HATES taking piano lessons. Every time they would come out with the instructor saying 'she can do it, she just doesn't want to practice,' and the girl saying 'because I HATE the piano' and the mom saying 'I really don't mind if you have to beat her'. The mom often overhears Eve talking about how much she loves playing the piano and Eve's teacher talking about how well she practices, and sometimes the mom tries to hold up Eve as a shining example for her daughter. The daughter looks at Eve, amiably enough, and says 'don't do it! Don&

Happy Anniversary to my friend the hooker

Cool thing number one: I actually remembered what I'm supposed to blog about today. Cool thing number two (WAY cooler than thing number one): My friend CJ at Don't Lick the Ferrets and her T21 Traveling Afghan Project . Today is the one-year anniversary of the project, which has a hand-made (by CJ) afghan traveling all over the world to different families who have a family member with Down's Syndrome. The afghan travels with a journal and photographs of everyone who spends time with it. I love everything about this project. I worked with quite a few people with Down's Syndrome in my days with the Associations for Community Living in Sudbury and Hamilton. Without wanting to romanticize or idealize their condition -- many of them have serious health problems -- they are the sweetest, funniest, most genuine people you will find on the face of the earth. CJs daughter is the cutest little button ever. I also love the traveling aspect. All the people of thi