Monday, 26 October 2009

career paths

I was ripping out the zipper on a dysfunctional blazer of Rosey's when she looked up from her tea party and asked 'Mama, what do you want to do when you grow up?'

I was kinda deep in the seam-ripping (It's a cheery sort of Swedish looking jacket that I found with no zipper on it that's been sitting in R's drawer for a good year, waiting for me to do something about it, and today was the day.) and did a very is-she-talking-to-me-or-her-dolls 'hmm?'

I never learned to sew. I was one of those girls in junior high, the ones who wrote letters and stomped their feet and finally got the principal to agree that yes, christ, you can go to wood shop and don't have to have compulsory home ec, now go away... So I spent a total of three weeks there, made a horrible, misshaped denim purse and broke more needles than the teacher had in reserve, then ran to the loud machines and sawdust and sweat smells of the shoproom. About now is when the ads start for sewing machines (just in time for Christmas!) and I fight with myself on whether I should ask for one from Santa this year - and if I got it, would I use it? Really? I mean besides a couple of cute things for Rosey? (And oh my GOD are little girls fun to dress. And I don't even have a really girly-girl.) The last thing I want is another thing to sit in a corner. I have enough dust-catchers as it is.

Anyway, that's the soundtrack I had running through my head. So R had time to repeat the question - and of course, this time she was staring right at me, so she wasn't talking to Sasha or Purple Bunny or Barbie, but me.

'Did you always want to be a Mommy?'

I swallowed. The short and snappy answer to that was 'no'. As a matter of fact, despite my early dreams of a baby girl, I really didn't think I would ever be a Mama. And I was okay with it. I was having an adventure, and enjoying it immensely - figuring out who I was in this newly-minted married me.

But that's not really something you want to tell your five year old. Not with her face tipped up to you and her dollies hanging on every word.

'I always wanted to be your Mama, Rosey.

But when I grow up, I'd like to be a race-car driver. Okay?'

Sunday, 25 October 2009

the one where I ask for help

*I use Bloglines. Happily. However, my blogroll is taking up too much space on this page and I want to go to a drop-down menu or some such. Anyone know of any way to make that happen?

*Good lentil soup recipe? I have an awesome split-pea and ham (which is really more split-pea w/pig product, since you throw bacon in the water with the peas and boil the flavour out of it, tossing the bacon before you add the peas to the ham)

*A good photo-storing application? I use Picasa and have been very happy with it, but now something is wrong and it keeps re-loading my pictures every time I open it. It's wearying.

*How do you save coloured leaves? B says they used to dip them in melted wax to preserve them. That sounds pretty to me, but all sorts of a fire hazard with small fingers around - we put them in heavy books between sheets of waxed paper. Any other methods?

*Can't think. Mighty Machines (the girl loooves it) is sucking all the intellect out my ears.....

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


I have a sick girl right now, and most of my computer time is spent darting nervous glances over at her, making bets with myself which part of the sickness will show up next....

So, today, a bit of nonsense about my cats.

People who say cats have no character don't have cats.
There are entire Kabuki plays going on over here when I let the cat bowls get too empty.

First there's the yellow alert. This happens when a kibbling cat noses a crunchie and - oh, quelle horrour, there's the bottom of the bowl! - even if it's only in one spot. Much yowling and weaving around the ankles commences.

(You can tell by the size of my cats that I often forget to feed them. Yeeeaah.)

When the space at the bottom grows bigger and all the full size kibble is gone? Oh mah holy hell. Chumba, who usually sleeps on my pillow, becomes a full-time boyfriend. With the cat food gone, he plants his furriness on my hair and licks my ear, rumbling sweet nothings about ketchup and hoomins are so tasteeeee and flicking his tail into my nose so I won't miss his point.

Lucy has a more direct approach. She plants her weight* on my back and casually extends a nail whereever she thinks it will attract the most attention. Forget to feed me? Feel the wrath, woman! All done with a most-innocent-of-all look on her painted features.

Kate, the oldest (and wisest) of them all, rolls her eyes and curls up on the couch. 'Y'know', she says, conversationally, 'they always get food in the morning....'

And when the others ignore her, she harrumphs something about whippersnappers and has a nap.

*Substantial kitty. Her nickname is Ham and Two Drumsticks. When she flops on you? You know.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


It is a black, drippy night, with wind swells and raindrops flinging themselves at the windows. It's been a tumultuous last few days, as well.

The kids are both sick, so the soundtrack around here has been 'Retching Your Life Away' with a few repeats of 'Mah Head Hurts' thrown in the mix. Today Cass felt peachy as long as his head was not moved upward or too quickly in any direction. My boy and slugs were close kin.

Rosey-Roo has been quiet (a distinctly odd state of affairs 'round here) and pale. The consumptive look does NOT become her. Right now she's sprawled on the couch, having padded downstairs and hiked herself up there after I thought she was asleep, with a muttered 'I woke up' to announce herself.

And now I'm wondering if I should even bother waking them up for school in the morning.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

the dread crew - stories that stick

Kate is a local(ish) blogger that I am thrilled to read (chuffed, as my old roommate would say) every time her name pops up on my reader. And like most born storytellers, Kate is an author too - of a swashbuckling tale of pirates, deep woods, the maritimes and childhood wonder. Her new book is coming out in November, and I can't wait to sit down with her pirate crew and read of their hijinks.

Today she posted this wonderful meme. By doing this and leaving her a comment here, (complete directions here) you can be put in a drawing for a signed and hot off the presses copy of:

Besides. It's an awesome meme. Here we go!

1) You are facing an epic journey. You may choose one companion, one tool and one vehicle from any book or film to accompany you. Or just one of the three. It's up to you. What do you choose? Companion: Lucy, from the Narnia books. Clever girl. Tool: A hammer, because it's both useful and a weapon. Vehicle: The car from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Well, wouldn't you fly if you could?

2) You can escape to the insides of any book. Where do you go, and why? Probably a Karen White novel. Her stories make me feel the salty breezes and hear the foghorns of the Cape - and send shivers up my back with her eerie twists and turns.

3) You can bring one literary character into your current life. Who do you choose, and why?
Good days: Huckleberry Finn, for that dash of bad boy and free-spirit.

Bad days: Mary Poppins. Because some days, Mommy needs help. (And a bartender.)

4) Latitudes of Melt is my go-to book. I could read that book fifty-seven times in a row without a break for food or a pee and not be remotely bored. In fact I’ve already done that but it wasn’t fifty-seven times. It was sixty-four.

5) Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most enviable? I loved Meg from A Wrinkle In Time. She was real and a lot like me (glasses, messy hair, a tendency to shoot off at the mouth without thinking) but she used those qualities to do wonderful things.

6) Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most frightening? Gollum from the Rings Trilogy. It took me yeeears to me to get his imagined 'precioussssssssssssss' out of my head.

7) Every time I read Coming Home, I see something in it that I haven’t seen before.

8) It is imperative that _________________ be made into a movie. Now. I am already picketing Hollywood for this—but if they cast _________________ as _________________, I will not be happy. I will, however, be appeased if they cast _________________. Honestly, I have no idea how to answer this one. I HATE it when a book I love gets made into a movie. With the heat and passion of a thousand suns.

9) Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse is a book that should never be made (or should have never been made) into a film. I just.....don't.....GET THE APPEAL. (And this isn't Labyrinth with David Bowie.)

10) After all these years, the poison apple-making scene in the book/movie Snow White still manages to give me the queebs.

11) After all these years, the race scene in the book/movie The Black Stallion still manages to give me a thrill.

12) If I could corner the author Joshilyn Jackson, here’s what I’d say to them one minute or less about their book, Gods In Alabama: Mah LORD, how did you manage to write this without freaking yourself out? Your characters are really believable - I swear I know some of them from some far dark corner of a family reunion - and your situations made me gasp and sit up all night to finish. I sighed when I reached the last page.

13) The coolest non-fiction book I’ve ever read is Living the Good Life: How to Live Simply and Sanely in a Troubled World, by Helen and Scott Nearing. Every time I flip through it, it makes me want to buy some land and homestead - to go back to a simpler time and be more self-sufficient.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

preventing the blazes

A sleepy day here in the village, another gorgeous fall day, all copper and orange and bright bright colors....and WHAT IN SAM HELL IS GOING ON AT THE SCHOOL?

There are firetrucks galore

Firefighters in full gear

And lines of children, staring at all the goings-on.

My heart began to pound. Then I remembered.

It's Fire Prevention Week!

Every year, the three local fire departments volunteer to come down to the school and show the children not only what a fireman looks like when he (or she - there are a few fire-women in the area) is coming to find you in a room full of smoke, but hammer home the finer points of stop, drop, and roll and to explain the equipment they use. There's a lot of joyous climbing in and onto fire trucks, some yanking of the air horns, hoses and compressors and face masks to ask questions about and maybe even touch, and a fire drill. Some years there are fire hose demonstrations and the big kids get to hold the hose while it sprays. It is a big day.

The parking lot is full of red and white every year. Our tiny village school gets dedicated support for this from three fire departments - this year, there were six trucks. Six trucks!

And the kids come home burbling and excited, full of stories and explanations and knowledge, dressed up in a day of fun. They'll remember this for a long time.

The day they sat on top of the fire truck, high in the blue sky, stuffed with new knowledge, and looked out over everything.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

nutrition fail

I'm not a gourmet cook by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to use new recipes and try to serve good stuff that everyone will tuck into at supper-time. This means I usually try to have several different styles of the same approved-of meal (meatloaf? I have seven recipes) so that time constraints and differing ingredients won't slow me down.

A good idea - however this can make for some strange combinations when the pantry is low!
Oh well.
As long as it isn't too spicy, I can generally get away without a bunch of 'Oh, Mom's (dratted people that don't like indian food as much as my daughter and I do....)

Sunday was Cass's birthday, and for his birthday supper he decided he wanted bacon cheeseburgers. Which isn't something I think I've ever really cooked for the kids, but I was game. Birthday boy and all that. Birthday cholesterol doesn't count, right?

I suggested sides. 'Rosemary potatoes? Salad? Broccoli? (heh.)

He pulled a face. 'No, I really just want the burgers. You know, those ones you do with the grated onion and the little blobs of ketchup and mustard on top? With those big hamburger buns? I'd like those with cheddar cheese and some bacon on them too.'

I never grate onion. I know I would remember if I ever grated onion. I stared at him, thinking, running different meals and cuisines through my mind. 'Honey, did you eat those at one of your friends' houses? I don't think that was me.'

Cass blinked. 'No, you did. It was when I was getting over that cold, remember? And I was just starting to feel better, and you made cheeseburgers and they were the best thing ever....'

So much for nutrition, and home-made meals, and mom of the year awards.

I started to grin. 'Nope. Your father brought those home from McDonald's.'

Friday, 2 October 2009

preview of the goth years

Almost-five is precocious. Almost-five is independent. And very sure of her choices.

Rosey shot up another clothing size in the last month, so her Fall wardrobe needed new stuff. And as she's almost-five and choosing her own way among the styles and colours of things, she's experimenting. With colours. And styles. And the absence of and additions to frilly-ness.

Last night she decided she wanted to wear her new black top to school today. (Black? Black. With an embroidered design...a heart with a crown on it? Something. In black thread.) I laid out her denim skirt, some white tights and a white hair bow.

So I wasn't prepared for R to hit the breakfast table this morning in her new black top, her black jeans, gray socks and tennies, looking older than she should and without a hair bow in sight.

'No bow, Mama. I'd like ponytails today. Without ribbon.'

Oh, crap, so soon? I'm not done buying the cute stuff yet! I kept my tone light. 'R, are you sure? You look kind of....'


'...dark. I mean....wouldn't you rather wear some colours?'

She considered, her head tipping with the weight of her thoughts. 'Sure.'then left the house dressed in black, her fuchsia backpack and her pink cap breaking it up a bit.

I'm really hoping the school psychologist wasn't in today.

Between Rosey doing her Daria impression and Cass's black eye*, we look like a family on the edge.

*What IS it with Cass and black eyes in October? This time he was playing with a friend and twisted at the wrong time.

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 ...