Tuesday, 31 March 2009

direct red, by gabriel weston


It's been awhile since I sat down and devoured a book. And this was full-blown sssh I'm reading pipe down kids kind of concentration, full of sighs and irritated looks at my spouse when he asked me questions that took me away from the page. Questions like 'What did you want to have for supper?' Not picky. 'Is Cass going to that birthday party tomorrow?' Uh-huh. 'Isn't tomorrow Max and Ruby day?' Hon, ask her. 'But...' Bear! I'm reading here!

Exploring the de-humanizing and re-humanizing of a resident training to be a surgeon, this sucks you in from the beginning:

I am about to faint. Methylene Blue. Acridine Orange. I have been holding someone's neck open for seven hours.

and doesn't let go. Ms. Weston uses mercilessly taut phrasing to inform about how being a doctor doesn't mean you automatically know what to do in all situations, exclaim over examples of cockiness, and describes how teeth-gritting it is being treated like the token female by condescending male surgeons.

Full of clear-eyed commentary, this was fascinating. The author has a quick wit and obviously cares about her patients - the glimpses she lets us have of her life are amazing and will haunt you for a long time.

Direct Red, by Gabriel Weston
. Check it out.

cross-posted at my review site, All Over The House

Monday, 30 March 2009

day of grace, week nine

1) Blackberry jam on ice cream.

2) Looking my next project in the eye, breaking it down into stages and getting really excited about it.

3) Talking to my mother. She was so excited! The kids used chopsticks for the first time. Cass did an awesome job, and R perfected the one-fisted stab-it maneuver. I love hearing that in her voice.

4) Rain. Isn't that a strange thing to be grateful for? (Especially for one who lives next to a watershed!) But last night was magical, listening to it needle into the windows, making our house seem like a haven from the elements.

5) Bialys. The actual bialys were a gigantic hit, the filling, not so much. The next batch I think I'll eliminate the salt and do some sort of cinnamon/brown sugar stripe through it. More like the bagel braids I remember from when I was growing up.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

pvc foliage

My head is full of gardens.

But not mine. These are castles-in-the-sky gardens, egged on by the books I keep checking out of the library, with (lying) comments on how easy it is to make a spectacular garden space out of a handful of seeds, a few poles, and some binder twine... and how lovely the trailing branches of the lilacs are when you're running away from all the bees...

I don't understand. Don't any of these authors have deer?

Where, exactly, are these neighborhoods with the perfect soil and the half-shaded areas and the well-ventilated soft-packed clay?

They are nowhere near me.

This year, I thought I'd be pro-active. I already know that deer will eat anything expensive colourful that I plant, so I thought...perhaps wildflowers?

Wildflowers are beautiful. Not as much work. Hardy.

And then I remembered the lower field, where the deer happily munch all coloured blossoms like large, determined, deaf-to-my-screams-of-rage mowers - all except the goldenrod.

A goldenrod garden. Hmmmm. Rows upon rows of waving yellow, hummingbirds and butterflies flitting around, the sounds of birds chirping....

And behind that, the sound of everyone in my house sneezing.

Have there been any realistic breakthroughs in plastic flowers? Help....

Friday, 27 March 2009

fashionably damaged

Wednesday evening Rosey went to the refrigerator, yanked on the door....and screamed in pain as a full stainless-steel water bottle fell out of the fridge and onto her poor defenseless foot.

After a good fifteen minutes of crying and carrying on, she finally let me look at her foot, which quickly became mytoemytoedonttouchmytoe.

It's not broken. Nor bone-chipped. But red and angry and painful and

(possibly even more upsetting to her)

Rosey is going to lose her toenail. It's blue. Deep blue. And after three days of hobbling on it, the nail is finally giving up and beginning to lift.

The trouble began when I made the mistake of trying to explain. Cuddling her close and adjusting her ice-packed foot slightly, I talked about how her toe is blue because it was bruised under the nail and how in order for the skin to heal, her toenail might come off. I kept my voice low and soothing and smiled a lot.

And she freaked. Dissolved into snot-laden full blown tears. Threw herself tighter into my arms, sobbed and heaved and said 'No' and wanted me to fix it.

Which broke my heart a little, because the ice pack and the big hug? Were about as good as I was going to get.

So I patted and rocked and shushed and rubbed her back and hummed and let her cry - let her settle herself down, let her grab up her blanket and use it to rub her cheek against and



calm herself.

There were a few snorts and puffs and then....silence. Had she fallen asleep?

I moved very slowly and angled so I could see her face. Her thumb (damn it) was in her mouth, and her tear-stained eyes were wide open. Ookay, not asleep. But calmer!

'Pinth' she mumbled around the thumb.

'Pins? Does your toe hurt, Rosey?' My god, what if it was broken? I've been pooh-poohing Bear when he's wanted to take her in because she was bending it fine and walking on it and....
(full stop) She's fine.

'What, honey?'

There was a schwacking sound as she pulled her thumb out of her mouth.

'My toes should be' deep sniff ' pink, Mama. Not bluuuuuuue.'

She shook her head.

'I don't want blue polish. I only like pink. Can't I just wear pink?

Do I always have to have blue?'

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

something stinks

(gracious, ladylike readers of this blog? Leave now. Come back tomorrow.)

There are many things I should not do. These things include not clobbering the kids, not mixing bleach and ammonia and not making Cass wear yellow pants to school. (Nope on all three.) I should not curse, I should not wear horizontal stripes, I should not put too much chili powder in B's food. (Also no, mostly.)

New number one on the list? I should NOT feed the dog table scraps. Ever.

And it came down from the heavens: Thou shalt not feed thy dog table scraps, or risk a large smell.

Note to all brown dog owners: Never feed the dog leftover pasta pie with italian sausage.

I'm surprised the air hasn't turned blue. Or he hasn't spontaneously combusted.

This is the cute end. Seriously.

Jasper says: My bum just whistled again! If I turn on the sad eyes, will you feed me more?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

whither the weather

It DID snow. But then it melted, and the birds sang and everyone was so happy....and then it snowed again. And this time, it stayed.

Just enough to require snowpants be sent to school, but not enough to really do anything in the snow.

Now, I'm tired of winter. And I would vote (if I had a say in any of this, that is) for spring to come, and quickly. But I would also say sternly that

if winter is going to come back, time and time again, shouldn't it come back in full-force? Better that then the drippy-muddy days of will-it-snow-and-shall-it-stick. Because I'm tired of washing slightly-mildewed mittens, and sorting out boots.

The weather seems to be all that people talk about. At the village store, the shopkeeper has a sign behind the counter. 'It snowed again - isn't it exciting?' so he can point to it when people comment abut the weather.

Side note: That shopkeeper? Is my brother-in-law. While I was pregnant with Cass, he put a sign on the countertop next to the cash register reading 'No baby yet' so he didn't have to give the status over and over. A man of few words, is our Ted.

I long for spring, and even summer. I bought marshmallows today, just so I could open them and breathe in sugared memories of s'mores cooked over a campfire. That, and I'm dying to have a summer tomato. Outside. Without snow.

Garden magazines are coming in. And I have a birdfeeder to find plans for.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

the weather just will not cooperate

It might snow tonight.

Disappointing, but especially disheartening since I've been writing a post in my head about the trees for the last few days, listening to them swish and sway in the waning winter winds.

The last few days before Spring arrives? You can hear the trees breathing.

Or maybe it's pining. (Bad pun.) But don't you think the trees have been waiting for the soil to warm and the chemical signals to rush forth that signify rebirth and soft green leaves?

'How much', mutter the branches as they clank together, 'longer? It's been so long.'

We wait,

and curse the idea of snow.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

explaining today to two kids that aren't Irish and don't know where Ireland is

Me: You have to wear green.

Rosey: But why?

Cass: Does this mean I can wear my camouflage pants?

Me:(To Rosey) Because it's St. Patrick's Day! (To Cass) Nice try.

(two puzzled looks)

Me: St Patrick was a person a long time ago that drove the rats out of Ireland.(Crap.) No, wait...he drove the snakes out of Ireland! And so we're supposed to wear green today.

Cass: Is Ireland near here?

Me: No.

Rosey: (horrified) He put snakes in his car?

Me: Yes. No. It's an expression.

Cass: So people were happy to not have snakes? It was a big deal?

Me: (while wishing I'd never opened my mouth in the first place) It was a long time ago. I'm pretty sure Ireland has snakes now.

Rosey: So his car broke down.

Cass: It must've.

Me: Um.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, y'all. Even y'all who have no idea why you're wearing green.

Monday, 16 March 2009

day of grace, week eight

Today I am grateful for:

Blue skies

Tall trees

the shimmer of water

And the curiosity of small ones

And friends. I'm very grateful for friends. Oh, and coffee. But being grateful for friends sounds much nicer.....

Friday, 13 March 2009

hollywood science

Cass and his father were discussing nature this morning.

C: And then when it's winter, the mosquitoes hibernate!

B: Is that right, Jess?

Me: Um, I think? The larvae do.

B: (To Cass) You are so smart!

C: Yeah, mosquitoes have been around since the dinosaurs. (B is beaming at his boy by now, the waves of pride radiating off him. His brilliant kid!!) They used to bite the dinosaurs and suck their blood.

B: (Glow dimming) Oh...uh....okay. I guess.

C: And then when the dinosaurs would die, the blood in them would explode! And then it would turn kind of golden! And they'd be buried underground, and if you were very lucky, you might find one.....

B: (to me) ?????

Me: He IS smart. But that's from Jurassic Park. Next week, he'll be an expert on robotics.

B: As long as they all look like C3PO.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

thursday night commercial, scene two

This one won't make you cry.

I...uh....resemble this commercial. Slightly. I have better hair. But the morning attitude? Trust me, there's not a radio station in the world that's gonna make me happy to hear La Cucaracha before coffee!


Monday, 9 March 2009

day of not/ grace, week seven

Okay, am in a mutter-y, peevish mood here, so bear with me....

Five things I am NOT grateful for, small or big:

1. Dora's growing up. I will be the first to admit she bothers me (shhhh! Did your parents raise you in a barn?? STOP YELLING EVERYTHING!!!) but whisking her into puberty and making her grow up and go urban? Seems to be against everything she's been for so far.

First we go...behind the garbage dumpster, over the sidewalk, through the intersection......

2. Door-to-door insurance salespeople. I can't imagine there's a great return on this. Yes, please walk into my home, wake my (waning-cold-sick) daughter up, and then spend forty minutes telling me about something I told you I didn't want within two minutes of you coming through the door.

3. How I can't keep the house warm like B does. The wood stove? She no likey me.

4. Having to read bad books, just in case there's some redeeming twist at the end.

5. Daylight Savings Time. Sucks. The end.

Things that are brightening my spirit today:

1. Cass made me a bead necklace at school the other day. I have Mom jewelry.

2. The old oak tree outside the window - it filters the light and I can see the birds...

3. Oven roasted tomatoes.

4. Teaching the two tic-tac-toe and thumbprint drawing*.

5. Coke floats. Guess what's for dessert tonight?

*I have no idea what the actual name of this is - where you ink your thumb, press your thumb to paper, then draw in whiskers and a tail or whatever, using the thumbprint as the base of your doodle.

Saturday, 7 March 2009


And after a little coaching and some last minute advice big-brother-style, this happened today at the fire station:

And after some wobbliness and some hair raising careening stops and a decidedly heart-stopping almost-melding-of-the-body-with-the-firehouse it was decided that maybe, just maybe, a big girl's balance isn't quite up to snuff yet, and the wrench came out again.

B put one training wheel back on, remembering how he learned to balance on two wheels by using a third to build confidence.

She's like a bird with a new wing and as long as this weather holds and she can bike every day? The last training wheel will come off in (we predict) a week.

This summer, we won't be able to catch her.

Fly free, little bird.

Friday, 6 March 2009

friday night commercial

I love this.

The original has a short blurb at the end that reads:

This film was produced in Canada to benefit a
children's charity. It was developed as a tribute to the
power of love and support. This film is a dramatization
and highlights the importance of being brave when
confronted with illness. At its core, the message is this:

To be truly healthy, it takes more than medication.

The original can be seen here (in case YouTube is too dark and grainy for you)

Thursday, 5 March 2009


When I got to the manse this morning there were men inside.

It was a little shocking, since I've been working here for I-don't-know-how-long and it's always been me and the empty house. But here was a face at the door, letting me in!
A surreal moment, to say the least.

(I checked to make sure he was wearing clothes appropriate for this century - who's to say this old house doesn't have spirits? Although why they would appear now after all this time would be puzzling.....)

He's a contractor. He's here to build a bathroom in the office. Which means the church is one more step closer to either renting out or possibly selling this lovely old building.

Which makes me very sad.

It's a hopeless longing, because I'd never a) get B to move here and b) never get the money together in time, plus it's c) in town and B will combust if hemmed in with other houses (I kid. Sorta.) and I'd rather the chilluns grew up out country than here (not to slag on the school system here, but have I mentioned how much I like the little schoolhouse?)

But on the other hand, someone should love this house. And live in it.

Bring laughter to it again.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

zippity do dah day

Hey, remember my good news? The one I've been dancing around about, alternately gleeful and disbelieving, sure that someone was going to email me that this was just a joke, Jess, God, what were you thinking???

I got the green light to tell today.

I'm going to be a writer on the new Canada Moms Blog, part of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog group. And oh my gosh, you should see the list of other Canadian bloggers that will be posting there.

Seriously good company. Awesome reading material.

Check it out, okay? It's in Beta Mode (so it's kind of just a shell right now) but....SQUEEE!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

tequila sunrise

Despite the enthusiastic response at home, the hair is garnering mixed reviews in public.
I had forgotten that I was to begin acting as Board Secretary for the church, and so spent tonight sitting in front of twelve or so older-than-me people who spent two hours staring at my head.

They didn't say 'Whippersnapper', but it was in the air.

I probably won't go this bright again - strictly because I keep catching sight of myself and thinking 'Wow, that's some bold hair! Oh, wait....that's me, isn't it?' - but it's a hoot watching people's eyes slide up and down and try to avoid being caught gawking.

Especially when they're probably wondering secretly what on earth possessed me.

But I still love it.

Monday, 2 March 2009

day of grace, week six

1. A brand new highlighter marker, blue! and without the tip mushed or discoloured.
2. Rosey is beginning to want to wear makeup. So far she's content with my moisturizer and lip gloss. So far.
Heaven help me.
3. Berry smoothies. Yummmmmm.
4. My favorite coffee cup, miraculously unbroken after being dropped.
5. A brand-new CD of music for the car, made by someone who loves me.

Yarn over and over

Someone, an old babysitter maybe, taught me to crochet when I was six. I remember making long braided loops of yarn and thinking how pretty ...