Tuesday, 21 December 2010

more blues

hurling rocks through the ice in the watershed

I love the light in the late afternoon. And hey - look, no snow!! It's a Christmas miracle! Or....something.

Monday, 13 December 2010


Wow, half the States are snowed-in and here we're having some serious wind and some rain. No power dips yet (and lord, I've probably jinxed the whole province now) but the wind is a constant noise. It's sort of what I imagine living out on the moors would be.

 - A little aside here: There are very few things finer than hanging out with your kids on a blustery night and watching the original Grinch and having the big boy sing along with the songs. -

It's not even really cold. I wouldn't want to hang around outside without a coat for too long, but it just feels damp outside, not at all jingle-bell-y and yuletide-ish.

But we still have time for it to feel like Christmas!  This week is the kids' concert (Rosey has shiny silver shoes) and some great parties - Ho! Ho! Ho! I feel my holiday spirit rising!

Ooh! And I found my notebook! Not really a Christmas miracle, but yay!

Sunday, 12 December 2010


So. daysgoby looks different.

It's not that I hated the old set-up (I liked it! Basic! Easy to fool around with!) but I couldn't set my pictures to 'biggun' size and when I tried to fix it, I.....broke the old template.

So! Here we are. And I (to my surprise; I can be a trifle curmudgeonly when it comes to new-fangled things) .....really like it!

I've got a ten-minute window between cooking and serving dinner, let's see if I can bang out a readable post.

I worked at the hospital today. It was a long, slow (ish) day, which was good because I couldn't find my notes. I've had a little notebook that I've carried around since I started there, with reminders and names of tests and extension numbers and such, and I can't find it.

Well, crap.
I managed not to hash anything up, since I remembered passwords from Friday (the last day I worked) but if I go another three month stretch without working there, it's going to be painful.

I need to have another scour around the house, then I'll panic.

And if the external stuff wasn't enough to drive me nuts, the child factor is killing me.

Rosey: (earnestly) You know Friday? The day after my leg hurt and I came home from school and the day I went to the museum and saw all the trees and the toys and made reindeer food? The day before Saturday which was yesterday?

me: (pouring water down my throat in long smooth gulps and wishing it was vodka) ummm...I think?

Rosey: I remember that day.

ARGH! She lay on the floor the other night and told the dog all about her day and read him several books and asked his opinion and babbled on happily for an HOUR. (Much to the dog's consternation. He tried hard to understand but was too fixated on the word 'treat' which didn't fall from her lips once.) Her brother went through this stage when he was three. I thought we were safely away from it, since she's six now.

Hmph. My grandfather nicknamed me 'Bobblegush' when I was about her age.

 A girl and her captive audience.
 Jasper: There had better be a Milkbone at the end of this story.

Gasp. You don't think I'm raising a blogger, do you???

Saturday, 11 December 2010

winter blues

Even though you have to remember that the river is (bone-chillingly) cold, 
the blues are just gorgeous this time of year.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

dear people, I am insane

Insane? but why? It's almost C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S!!!

To which I snort Christ.

I need a year to get ready for Christmas, and I never seem to find one. Oh, I start out the year with plans! Big plans! Plans about how this year I will buy only meaningful things! We will give more, spend less! This year will be the one my children have less under the tree, but more in our hearts!

And while we're doing more as a family and being careful to be more in the moment, do you know what I did? I went on Chapters last night and bought not only a paper electric guitar (I have no idea either) but an accordian. For a child.

Insanity runs rampant around here at Christmas time....

Add to the usual holiday psychological mish-mash the fact that beginning next week, I will be unemployed, and you begin to see why an accordian seemed like such a good idea last night. I'm out of my mind.

(Unemployment short version, minus the wailing and knashing of teeth: Agency re-structuring and not renewing my position. They gave me a month's notice. I bear them no ill will.)

But it doesn't do much to lessen stress levels. Or obviously, my insanity threshold.
Step away from the Chapters website, Jess.....

Thursday, 18 November 2010

halloween leftovers

Brought to mind by Kyran

What? You don't still have a pile of candy? You must not have a nine-year old who is OBSESSED with making it last until Christmas.

No, the costumes. Oy, the COSTUMES.

Between work and life and the crazed-errand-running soft shoe shuffle a few days before Halloween, I had an epiphany.
An epiphany, right there in the middle of the costume aisle.

We had PLENTY of costumes already. They were all in the dress-up box. So, I bustled home and grandly (and not at all nastily) told the kids that this was the last year I was going to buy costumes.

You would have thought I had declared that this year we would be collecting candy for the express purpose of throwing it in the mud and then feeding it to the dog. There was a bit of self-righteous snorting. There may have been some weeping.

But I held firm. After all, part of the fun of Halloween was creating a costume!

Cass had changed his mind, again, and now wanted to be a zombie. So off I went to the internet (god bless the internet) to learn how to do zombie makeup. He was mollified when I promised him he'd look cool.

R wanted to be a witch, with the regulation black dress and hat - but not an evil witch, a good witch. Hmm.

I think it worked out well.

 He looked rotten - and rotted! - and old. Several adults took a step back when he showed up on their doorstep and I think he enjoyed that the most of all.

And we added sparkly makeup to Rosey's all black get-up and she was sufficiently not-evil enough to suit her.

So, Halloween was great! Loads of candy, they walked all over and got tired and noone threw up this year (yay!) and I'd told them we were making the costumes next year and noone's face fell off from horrified disgust and well, that was fun, 'cause it's over.

So! To recap: Made the costumes this year, even though I had told the kids we'd buy them this year, make them next year.  Even got their acknowledgements that their friends thought the costumes were cool.

I was pretty darned pleased with myself.

Of course, last week I totally wasn't thinking when I threw a 70% off pirate sword and an 85% off goth-fairy set (wee black wings, headband, wand) into my shopping cart.

I blame the Halloween candy withdrawal.

Friday, 12 November 2010

frustrated foodie

I have a lot of food links. 

I like food, you see, like creating new recipes and old cookbooks and figuring out the kids' latest favourite thing and eating, my god, can't forget eating and planning a grocery list (altho' not so much the actual shopping) and trying to re-create experiments and remembering suppers gone by.

(I mean, holiday suppers. I don't moon around thinking of last Thursday's corn pudding and sighing.)

I am lucky enough to have found some great food bloggers and to have several sites that send me new recipes to try. And I do, really, but there are some things that I just cannot make, no matter how easy they are. Things that would never get eaten.

There should be a sub-set on many recipe sites:
Food that may taste good, but your kids? Are nevah, nevah gonna let any of this pass their lips. Good luck on that one.

Can someone tell me what would possess a person to name a pasta salad "Fruity Pasta Swiss Salad"? Or tout Eggplant Roll-ups as a family favorite? Put zucchinni on a grilled cheese sandwich. Or even use marshmallow in a main dish. Italian Marshmallow Chicken, anyone?

Trying to get my kids to eat that would be an exercise in futility. I can pick my own battles, thank you. And frankly, I'd rather deal with the tried-and-true narrowed-eye suddenly suspicious 'Do I smell onions?' than to break new ground with those horrors.

My kids have had all types of different foods. Some they even liked! And we never stop trying new things. Some recipes, though, are just not worth the trouble.

Although they do love Peanut Butter Pork, so what do I know......

Thursday, 11 November 2010

a house on the lake

We've been having a bit of a water problem around here lately. 

It's going down now - thank goodness - but it's been a scary week. Down the road each way are small* bridges, which were both closed when the water began to lick at their foundations. The big bridge across the river here was slated to be closed (leaving us unable to leave the house) so I did a flying trip to rustle the children out of school and buy a few jugs of spring water in the village, and then we hunkered down. We had water in the basement, yes, but we had power and lights and heat and a couple of sump pumps. And if you didn't look outside at the way the back and side yards were disappearing under water, it was fine. We would be on an island! It would be an adventure.

It was a lot easier to maintain the cheery wartime spirit during the daylight hours. And when it wasn't pissing-down raining.

Monday and Tuesday, we were using our old pump, which decided to sputter and die at about three in the morning. Wednesday morning we flew like the hounds of hell were behind us and rented a big gas pump. When we returned, the basement lake was deepening. This was rapidly becoming not-fun. And it was raining. Again.

Last night, though, was crisp and cold and clear and if you pretended the flashing yellow lights of the Ground Search and Rescue truck were stars it was a lovely night.

This morning the water had dropped an inch. And the sun came out. This afternoon, the kids and I watched the side yard began to reappear and the driveway to heave itself out of the muck. We found pieces of wood that had washed downstream - heavy, waterlogged things - and Cass and Rosey lugged them around, enjoying the squelch under their boots, the sun lighting up their faces and lifting the stress and worry of the flood away from their small shoulders.

Bear has been awesome through all this - watching the water levels, manning the pumps, pumping out the neighbor's basement, checking and rechecking and positioning and calling neighbors and keeping the house warm...and by Wednesday, he was exhausted. Today, he finally had four straight hours of sleep and stopped listing gently into doorways and walls. Tonight, he'll watch the water levels and adjust the pump as it needs it so I can sleep (I work tomorrow) and then it'll be my turn Friday night. (he works Saturday.) It's not an exaggeration to say that without everything he's done, we would not have been able to stay in our house.Yes, I married a rock star.

So while the back yard is still gone (see photo above - the edge of the watershed is on the other SIDE of the foreground trees) we....are....relieved.

And enjoying, sort of, the memory of the week we owned a house on the lake.

*last three pictures, this post. The bridge at the other end of the road is much the same.

Monday, 8 November 2010


It's been raining here. For the last four days.

And not gentle rain, either - this is pelt-your-face angry rain, the kind that makes the trees unsteady and leaves the mud to suck at your shoes. Dent the lawn with footprints kind of rain.

Have I mentioned before that I live between a watershed and a river?

A very angry, rising river and a disgustingly bloated watershed? Oh yes.

So far, the sump pumps are doing their job, but it's a bit disconcerting to see the yard disappearing. And the ducks cavorting through what were flowerbeds. (hee! I originally typed 'fowlerbeds' - appropriate!)

No sign yet of the beavers. Maybe they don't like rain?

The rain is supposed to continue until Thursday. We're all going to be prune-y and weather-spotted by then, methinks.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

the sawmill

In the midst of my statistics project, I discovered something interesting...
Bridgewater (one of the towns near me) had a drive-in movie theatre.

It was closed, of course, and up for sale in 2001, but it hadn't been knocked down for a factory or cut into a thousand house-lots that I could find out, so

maybe....maybe I could find it?

I love drive-ins. I grew up going to them, snug in the back of my parents car, a sleeping bag tossed over our legs, squabbling about pop-corn and laughing at the talking candy-bar concession stand ad from the fifties they played before every show.

I would love to own a drive-in theatre. And I think it's a family-friendly idea from the past whose time has circled back around.

Bear was nonplussed. 'You want to drive around and look for what?'

I forget sometimes that B doesn't know every rock, every tree and every hill in the five county area. His job means he's intimately aware of so much of the surrounding countryside - there have been very few times I've stumped him.

We drove and drove and drove and finally conceded defeat. R was getting a little whoopsie (she gets carsick, something we figured out three days before we left for our marathon-driving vacation, more fun for us) so we pulled over to the side of the road to let her walk it out and discovered.....

an old sawmill.

Grey and weathered boards were all over the place, with giant fallen sentinels here and there.
Far back in the corner, there was evidence
that someone was still using the machines. 
Fresh piles of sawdust and clean sweet new boards lay,  waiting to be used.

We never did find the old drive-in.

But walking around the milled wood and the overgrowth interested us all enough so that the long ride back in the gathering dusk was contented and quiet.

Next trip we'll get directions. Sometimes, though,  poking around is just as fun.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

une multitude de billes

On the desk here is a tin box full of marbles. This being Canada, it's imprinted with both English and French.

Turns out, a box full of marbles translates to une multitude de billes.

Which is a direct metaphor for this morning.
  Cass is finishing an....ambitious....project for his third grade class.It's a desert habitat, complete with research, figurines, and a diorama. While the research part went smoothly, and his papers are typed*, the painting and finishing of the diorama has been.....well, a challenge.

(I'm currently hiding out in the living room so I have to interact as little as possible.)

Not that he's not doing an awesome job. And I'm certainly not against giving him a hand with colour choices and detail work with a toothpick, should it come to that.

But holy God, he's like a room full of weasels to get to concentrate on the task at hand. Three hours, three figurines. And we haven't touched the plants yet. I've finally called a time out to go to town and get more yellow paint and I don't know....break up the drama or something?

And now I'm got the music up loud and I'm listening to them giggle over their lunches. Tempest departed.

*By him. This summer I discovered that Cass likes to write much more if he can type on the computer. Win-win, as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Pinky Boo

Rosey is SIX. It's sort of incomprehensible. I mean, yes, I know she's not a baby anymore, but SIX YEARS OLD?

She's the happy, bubbly one on the family - she'll chat your ear off - and my girl has a good, strong heart. 

She loves the outdoors and jumping and her stuffies and smiles everyday when she sees the cat has started sleeping in her room. She colours enthusiastically, cuts and pastes and glitters and tapes and stickers and would give everyone a rainbow if she could. She dances to everything (Black Eyed Peas, anyone?) and goes on amusement park rides until the rest of us have passed out from exhaustion.

She wants to be a dancer, a teacher, someone who helps animals and to drive a camper into the desert. She loves makeup and earrings (we'll be getting her ears pierced soon) and playing with her brother and the clean, loose joy of pumping your legs up into the sky and swinging.

I'm really enjoying being your mamamamama, Miss Rosey. You're a joy.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Man, the first day back to work after a three-day weekend drags. I've been hunting out statistics on the two closest counties for the last two work days (aaaaAAAAAAAUUUuuugh and YICK!) and compiling a report on the local farm market, so it's only now, that my workday is essentially over, that I've got a chance to take a break and type something out that doesn't have to do with the (fricking) Government transfers as a percentage of employment income (dependency ratios) or some such.

all together now: (aaaaAAAAAAAUUUuuugh)

And it's grey and cloudy outside. My home still probably smells like turkey and apple pie. It should, since yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving (did you know that the first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness? I've lived here for TEN YEARS and I didn't know that! I did some (in hind-sight) rude questioning of my in-laws the first few years I had C.T'giving here, since I knew the Pilgrims had no historical significance here....)

and we made turkey and stuffing and pie and potatoes and have a jolly fridge full of Tupperware waiting for Turkey and Dumplings and other casseroles.

Rosey (aged soon-to-be-six) (this weekend, how did she get so OLD??)  made the pie crust, and I'm SO GLAD my heavy hand with pastry seems to have skipped her generation. Mmm, flaky child labor goodness!
Cass peeled potatoes, and B made the stuffing.

Then we sat down to eat on the china I brought back from Michigan with me, the plates I ate every holiday meal on as a child, my mother's china. And there was a twinge of missing her, and then I thought of how she would have loved this, her granddaughter fussing with the glasses and her grandson just waiting for the rest of us to HURRY UP ALREADY so he could dig in, and I knew she was smiling somewhere.

And then the kids ran outside and tried to teach each other how to do cartwheels. And really, who could be gloomy watching that?

Monday, 4 October 2010


Fire Prevention Day today. Picture by J. Evans

Today is my boy's birthday. His NINTH birthday, actually. NINE. That's a LOT.

He's so smart and wonderful, my boy. He fights with me about turning off his light at night (C'mon! I'm almost done with this chapter!) about playing outside (I played all day at school!) and brushing his teeth.
(I think it's more to irk me than anything else, since with his habit of taking thirty minute hot showers, it can't be an aversion to getting clean..)

He's beginning to realize that Santa Claus might not be all real, that his parents can't force him to eat all his vegetables, and that flashing the puppy-dog eyes at Mom will probably get him what he wants.

He wants to be in a rock band and be a scientist and a doctor and help people build things. He wants to grow his hair out and talk about tattoos and guitars and sunglasses and being cool. He loves his dad and his sister and his aunts and his uncles and misses his grandfather terribly. He is his own world.

And we're better - infinitely better - for having him in ours.

Happy Birthday, Cassidy, sweet boy. Happy Birthday, Beau!

Friday, 1 October 2010

all thumbs

The copier broke again at work. Well, sorta.

Toner out! it insisted, and when I obligingly slid the  new one home, it burped and chuckled for a moment and then smugly asserted I'd done something wrong.


(Okay, I made that last bit up.)

I looked through the (copious) literature that comes with the beast, flipping through MAINTENANCE, and TROUBLESHOOTING, and WHAT TO DO IF YOUR COPIER IS BEING A BUTT, and could find no mention of the corresponding error code. Okay, maybe there was something online.

Well. The Sharp website? Lovely. Sleek, even. But trying to find the model number I needed in a three-page list written in tiny type? IRRITATING. But I kept on, found it, downloaded....and the instructions for changing the toner were different than I needed. Same copier, and the illustrations matched, but no mention of the code, and no clear this is what you do NOW step-by-step stuff.

So, I did what I probably should have done from the start. I called the technician.

I have a lot of sympathy for these guys. They've got all the answers, yes, but they're trying to diagnose a problem over the phone.

So when he hemmed and hawed and finally said the words I somehow knew were going to come out of his throat:

'Did you turn the machine off and back on again?'

I did not blast him. (However, the wind generated from the rolling of my eyeballs sent all the notices pinned in the lobby a-flutter.)

Why yes, I said, I did! and resisted the urge to say 'Next!'

"So," he went on, "are you sure you put in the magenta toner? Could you go get the box the toner came in and read me what it says?"

The box for the magenta toner has magenta writing on it. And the cartridge itself is edged with bright PINK plastic edges. This would be hard to screw up. But, again, he's not there, in the room, he's on the phone, so I dutifully fetched the box and read the part number off, trying not to sound resentful that something in my tone apparently led him to believe I was both touched and colourblind.

We bandied on back and forth (I HAD the right toner, surprise!) and he promised to send a new toner to see if that would fix the problem and we hung up, without an answer to the problem, but thinking we were on the right track.

Half an hour later, in walked our usual copier repairman. D the Copier God. (This is said with love, because lord knows he's saved my bacon several times, and he always admits when he doesn't know the answer, which I find admirable.)

And once again, he tried and couldn't replicate what I had seen on the screen. He had some ideas, though, and after some futzing, the great beast obligingly rolled over and began working again.

I still think if I read my manual word-for-word I'd find somewhere a small section titled 'PRANKS TO PLAY ON THE CHICK WHO IS LOW ON COFFEE'.

Monday, 27 September 2010


There is a blogging conference in Toronto next month and I'm not going.
(stomps her feet)

And I haaaaaaaate it.

I had my vacation this summer, took all the time off from work I think I can get away with, especially now (not my stories to tell but things are happening at work)  and I can't really afford it anyway and the kids birthdays are coming up and snuffle snuffle whine whinge

but I wanna.
(stomps her feet)

Y'know, I really thought I'd be farther along than this. I have a good life, a great life, in most respects, but I'm espying forty over the horizon and not being able to do anything spontaneous? Just for me?

sucks. Big fat sweaty donkey balls sucks.

But just so you know? Blissdom Canada '10 is going to rock.

And I'll see you there next year.


Thursday, 23 September 2010


Holy crap. Have we really been married that long?
I knew I should have faked a lobotomy or something. And you should have run.

Wanna go for another round? I mean, since I kinda like you and all.....

Monday, 20 September 2010


I always wonder about the things I see. Sometimes I'm even lucky enough to have my camera with me when I see something that strikes me as wistful, or beautiful, or strange, or worth remembering. Sometimes (and I'm thinking about that abandoned yellow house that I pass every day going to and fro from work that sits in that lovely shaggy field) I have to remember and go back, and often the light has changed or the story isn't the same, and the urge? muse? flees.

Without whimsy, without cartoon eyes and ears and fairies, I believe:

That a tree, chopped down and hurled in chunks on the forest floor, senses the pieces of itself near, and it is comforted. When the splitter roars, the wood screams silently, gaping, choked, horrified cries, and then quiets when stacked, lulled by the proximity of itself, even in pieces.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

and then there were two

 Goodbye, Chumba.

We had to put down one of our cats the day before yesterday, and the house feels strange and well, stupid without him.
We were resigned to it - he's been going downhill for some time - but the stark silence where there was once a rumble purr will take some getting used to.

The other cats are unsettled and looking for him. Kate yowl and stares out the window, and won't be pacified with extra ear-rubs and attention. Lucy is digging her way through every closet in the house, keeping up a mumbled conversation, wondering where on earth her friend has gone.

The hardest part about being a pet-owner is knowing that you have to let them go. They depend on me for food and water and to help them feel better - even when the best thing you can do for them is to send them into that good night.

I knew that. I just didn't expect it to be so soon.

B and I are agreed that soon, we'll think about another cat. Maybe even a kitten this time. Just as soon as we can stop reaching up in the middle of the night to that place on my pillowcase where our ginger-furred kitty slept. But thirteen year old habits are hard to break.

*Even though this came out sad and raw (and I suppose in some ways we are) we're not all huddled in the fetal position, crying puddles. Actually, the kids and I are off to the farm market, the library and the grocery. Maybe we'll go walking in the park too. Pictures later!*

Monday, 13 September 2010


alternate title: Things my post folder has had in it the last week

  • I've been having a hard time finding stories to listen to lately. Water For Elephants, while a great book, does NOT come off well in audio, and the otherwise interesting-and -worth listening to story about the fifteen-year-old Indian prostitute? Not so great for when the kids are in the car.

  • It's September, the kids are back to school, my rounds of much-loved committee meetings and volunteer work have begun, and I'm finally getting into a groove at work.

  • B built the first fire tonight, as it's been a wee bit damp and rainy, and now I'm sitting here trying to look grateful and not actively sweat all over him while he chats on about the bread he made today and we talk about everything and nothing at all.

  • I saw my first autumnal tree today. And while it was gorgeous and still-new and exciting enough so that I smiled at the sight, I'm just a wee bit horrified that summer slipped away so fast. It seems like I should have a tighter grip on the changing seasons by now - so much comes with age and maturity - why not that power?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

the war on crunchy green stuff

My two wander into the kitchen at least three times while I'm cooking, asking for a taste or offering to stir or mix or (god protect us) chop something. And they chat with me about their days, and things will be going swimmingly until a suddenly odd silence falls and I wince in anticipation of the dreaded question ka-thudding into my poor, tired-of-this-battle heart.

"Are there onions in that?"

Yes, I'll say irritably, yes, there are. But I'm cutting them up fine, see? They'll melt into supper. You'll hardly notice them.

"Huh", will come the unbelieving answer, with a definite tone of don't think you're going to hide those from me, and then I'll be watched as I massacre the onions into tiny bits of mush. Then the second question - there's always a second question! - will follow, and I'll grind my teeth silently while they peer into the pot and intone:

"What other vegetables are in supper?"

I have to stop and admire their syntax. While the general air of disdain gets the message across, there is no implied promise the vegetables will be eaten - no 'What else are we eating?' that I can hold over their heads, however clumsily.

Lately, the only vegetable not scorned is carrots. Raw carrots. And dip. And I'm thankful, but limited as to how many times I can serve baby carrots and dip and legitimately call it a healthy or yummy meal.

My children are fabulous little creatures. They even put their plates in the sink.

However, I've come to the conclusion that the gesture is less from my efforts to teach them manners, and more to hide the evidence of  the careful picked-out offending veggies.

They can't get scurvy and die if I feed them enough apples, right??

Thursday, 2 September 2010

the end of summer

And it's suddenly the LAST day of summer vacation for my two, and oh! what a'griping and a'groanin' did I hear this morning when I sang up the stairs that they had to get ready to go to the babysitters!

Geez. You'd think I was pulling them from sleep, or something.


Today is exciting, because after the work day is done, they get to go and have their hair done. And there will be the usual new backpack and sneaker buying frenzy before school begins tomorrow.

Adding to the excitement is the possibility of a hurricane making a wash of Nova S this weekend. Suppose I'd better scoop up some basics, too, in case we're without power for a few days.

The last few days have been unseasonably hot. We put our pool back up (we'd taken it down before we left for vacation) and due to a couple of leaks it sits lumpishly half-filled, waiting for more water.

R didn't care. She splashed and crashed and tossed herself around. I daresay she had more fun by herself with it last night, even as a glorified wading pool, then she would have had sharing it with others.

I had fun watching her, too. My, the summer went fast!

Friday, 27 August 2010

this vacation

Was a hoot.

After spending a few days with my parents in New York (and watching both my fearless five year old and my mmmmph-old father go down an incredibly high water slide and come out smiling (and go again) and going back to Michigan and seeing my stepfather and gathering up reminders and momentos of my mothers life, we drove (and drove and drove) through some very gorgeous parts of Canada to get back

and now I have more laundry than God and a house that's really too small to hold the big stately old furniture that I brought back with me.

We went through Audrey's beloved Maine - green and blue, with overcast clouds and a full-on fast drizzle not dimming the enthusiasm of the canoeists and kayakers. No wonder that state inspires such loyalty - despite having faces full of rain and wind, the people I saw still looked as through they'd rather be there than anywhere else.

This trip was wistful for more than a few reasons - I took my family to the house where my mother lived and died (I kept expecting to turn around and see her, and the ghost of her laughter lingered in the air) and this is assuredly the last trip we will be able to convince Rosey that farms with hay-rolls sunning themselves in the fields are marshmallow factories.

Another Rosey-note: R was convinced she had a seagull friend that was following us. From Lake Canandaigua to Lake Huron, from Port Huron to Toronto, we always seemed to have at least one seagull swooping and wheeling in the far-flung sky. We giggled about it privately, but hey - who could tell?

Cass discovered the joys of flinging sticks into the woods and chasing frisbees with dogs, stories on i-pods and the fine art of insulting your sibling until tears flood the car. (sigh.) He also discovered the fine taste of fresh raspberries, KFC mashed potatoes*, and a tall frosty glass of (glurk) diet vanilla root beer. (No, not together.)

B drove the whole way, consoled and diverted and ran interference for me when I needed a time-out, and was my shoulder to cry on. And he didn't complain - not once - about spending his vacation in a car with two (sometimes) whinging offspring, or piloting a car and trailer through high-speed city traffic.

It amazes me how you can leave your home, come back in two weeks, and how everything looks different. Not shabbier, or alien, but spaces seem elongated somehow and shadows seem wrong. Did the trip home always seem so long? Was that empty lot always there?

But the remembered wonderfulness of your bed, with your pillows and your blankets? Doesn't change.

*In Canada, Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn't serve mashed potatoes. It's all fries.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

things I wonder about

There are things I wonder about, you know.

Small things, inconsequential things meshing in with the big questions, ponderings that strike in the shower and follow me through my day.

What will we do when one of the cats passes away? While Lucy is still technically a kitten (although she's as round as the moon and twice as tricky) Chumba of the Motorboat Purrrr is twelvish and Kate The Venerable seventeen. I like having three cats around - I enjoy their camaraderie and personalities, but really - litterboxing for three? Not fun.

What do people do with the nose pads on their glasses when they get dirty? There's obviously some trick to it - everyone doesn't wait until they get good and filthy and then slink into the optometrists to ask, all red faced, for them to be changed, do they? Judging from the muffled snickers that drift out from the back room where all the twee tools are kept, they don't. So there has to be some rhyme or reason to it, and poking at them with q-tips doesn't seem to be working. (She said, huffing indignantly while picking at bits of fluff caught under the threads of the screws)

I wonder whether this vacation (a trip to see my father and step-mother, then a rocket ride up to U-Haul some of my mother's belongings out of my step-father's garage) is going to be more happy then sad. Gosh, I hope so. It's been ten years since I've been back to where I grew up, and I want to show my kids everything.

Is B's head is going to pop clear off his neck when the kids get their hair highlighted? (It was their choice as a reward for getting awesome grades. B, sweetheart, it's just hair. It grows back. But be warned. I took your preference into mind and scheduled their appointments for after we get back from seeing my family, but September 2nd? 6 pm? It's on.)

Yeah. Those things. So if you're standing behind me in the grocery and I look glazed and troubled in the canned food section? I'm probably not pondering War and Peace. Feel free to interrupt.

Seriously. Anyone know the trick to cleaning the damn nose pads?

Monday, 9 August 2010

toothless magoofalis

Rosey lost yet another tooth last night. She's down to one front tooth (the stubborn one that won't fall out) and no bottom front teeth - what is this, a babyhood regression?

Poor kid is going to be gumming her food for awhile.

She's actually a bit freaked out about the whole deal - learning to chew on the sides of her mouth, trying to remember that she can't bite raw carrots anymore - and so I guess I wasn't surprised to hear that the Tooth Fairy doesn't get this tooth, either. Not that I blame her. Baby looks like a boxer. Or a hockey player. I'd probably hold something against the Tooth Fairy too.

Three teeth now live in Rosey's jewelry box, hidden from the Tooth Fairy's grabby paws.

Of course, the first thing she did this morning was excitedly look under her pillowcase. Whether or not the Fairy got the goods, she was sure to leave money, right?

And of course, B (who I still haven't seen with the gauzy wings and foofy wand that is the Official Fairy Costume 'round these parts, what's up with that??) had snuck in.

'Looth! The Faiwwy weft me money!'

Of course she did, honey. Of course she did.

Excuse Mama while she giggles picturing your teachers trying to understand you in school, won't you?

"Mama? Whath tho funny?'

Nothing, grown-up girl. Nothing.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

the unbloggability of normal

Well. I deleted a post.

Not because I don't want to tell you what's going on (because frankly I would love to get some opinions about this) but because I'm not sure I can write it down.  Too raw right now, so to speak.

Suffice to say we're all fine here, and skip to the next.

My passport finally came yesterday - hmm, think the long waiting period has anything to do with them being valid for ten years? And still no sign of my permanent resident card. I'm on a fast-track list, but the government has very pointedly sent me an email stating that there are no guarantees that it will be here before I leave.

(something unprintable)

Government agencies make me mental. Oy.

I'm getting excited about our trip - I'm going to see my parents and my stepfather AND my brother AND my best friends....what's not to like? Now to face the daunting task of packing....

Thursday, 29 July 2010

cookies, diet drinks, and a giveaway

Over on my review blog I'm reviewing the underWAY drinks and all the food that comes along with it....
Click over and leave me a message (sorry, just Canadians!) to receive a box full of the same stuff I talk about!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

woefully behind the times

Wow, and I just got used to the idea of summer....

R has a very cool pool noodle. It's white, striped with red, and looks like a giant candy-stick.

Cass, of course, is cool and disinterested and secretly lusts for one (preferably without the red stripe) of his own.

So this Friday (the 23rd of July) I went into the local big-box yellow faced horror, and went hunting for a pool noodle. It was going to be easy - I mean, I was on my lunch hour, and since I knew just where they were, it would take no time at all - and I swung into the store, humming a little ditty, which died in my throat when I saw.

Where the pool noodles - nay, where the accessories, toys, and chemicals for pool section had been? A solid wall of backpacks and loose-leaf paper, markers and trapper-keepers.

WHAT? Had I lost a month? It couldn't be the last bit of August already, could it?

Nope. It was still mid July, hot as all get-out, still SUMMER, still....back to school? Not a pool toy in sight?

No. I refuse to believe it. We still have half a summer to go.

Don't rush me.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


There are blueberries and raspberries growing wild in my side yard.

This isn't a new thing, I've talked about it before....but it's a simple thing that still fills me with amazement.

Tonight, cobbler. Or berries over ice cream.

I can't wait.

Monday, 19 July 2010

I'm melting!

Like an ice cube in a tall glass of lemon-bedecked iced tea.


Yes, the weather is hot. But c'mon, it's summer! Where I live we dream all winter about heat, glorious heat that doesn't radiate from the wood stoves or the baseboard heaters, heat you don't have to pay for. Bright clear yellow light not from a lamp. The temperature is just a bonus, really.

Friday I picked up Cass from his first jaunt off to summer camp. He was filthy, (Me, tipping giant bag of dirty clothes directly into washer: Oh, look! There's your washing kit! *pause* Um, Beau?  Your washcloth! It's....dry! And the brand new bar of soap you took? Still unopened! Now how did that happen? Cass brought over his backpack. "I.....washed in shampoo, Mom!' And I couldn't bring myself to look at his toothbrush.) tired, and happy, so it was a rousing success.

And he learned, along with nature facts and how to stay up all night without waking up your counselors that not only did Jesus die for his sins, but he came back to life afterward. (Something I guess I'd forgotten to ever mention. I think we've covered that his religious education? Has sucked.)

(Cass whispering in my ear at the camp closing ceremony: Mom? Did you know this is a church camp??')

Why yes, boy of mine, I did. Did you learn anything?
He cocked his head.

If you put a black ant and a red ant together? They'll fight. Can I come back here next year?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

driving along in my automobile

And after a day of driving rain and gloom, the sun is out and the world is gold and blue again.

I've been listening (yes, still! Holy schmoley, there are FIFTEEN CDs!!) to the 19th Wife and am amazed at the differences between reading a book and having the story told to you. I think about this book in the characters voices, which helps give body to the story, but I find I'm imagining a lot less about the scenes (what did a hot, still day in the desert sun look like in the pioneer days? What were the houses like in the small town?) even though I wouldn't get any more description from actually reading the book.

I wonder if this is why both my kids can disappear into a book they're reading on their own?

Yesterday I was booming down the road, listening, and there was a house coming down the road. A house, cut into two, still looking cheerful and pleased to go where it would be used (if sunny yellow paint and white trim can be said to have an air of excitement) - not an everyday occurrence on these roads, but still common enough so you glance and go on, and directly after that came an enormous round silver tank of some sort, shining in the  (brief) sun. I watched it pull under the overpass and registered wow, there's not a lot of extra room there, better steer toward the side of the road a bit

and started to do so, and

And then there was the deer.

Late Spring/early summer is a hard time for critters around here. The young'uns get the worst of it - they're nearly grown and out on their own, and have no idea of what that big expanse of hard-packed tarmac is (smash)

If I ate roadkill, this would probably be called the buffet season.

So, to recap -

Shiny instrument of hugeness on road to one side, dead (pre-killed) deer on the other.

I think I had about three inches clearance. The driver of the semi had dark hair, horrified eyes,  and a huge Adams apple that bobbed when he realized I wasn't scooting to the side.

And then we passed each other, and I went on, listening to my tale of polygamist woe and feeling very, very lucky that not only I wasn't a character in the book, I wasn't being smooshed on the highway either.

Friday, 9 July 2010


There are times I look at this blog and I hate the voice I've become. I feel like the entirety of it is all rah-rah go mom things, all pictures of my children and stuff about school, and less of me. Major Bedhead talked about that today, about looking in the mirror and not recognizing the woman there, and sometimes? Sometimes I don't recognize my own life here, in these pages.

And now, to take my own advice, here I'll give you a story, and stop blatting angst:

We've been in the pool a lot lately, where a lot equals at least once per day, and I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when the kids started running out with fabric strips to dry themselves I thought had been consigned to the rag-bag long ago. I was idly looking over the picnic table where all the towels park until they're needed and realized that they all had at least one hole, and most were thin and flimsy. And was that one from my mother's house? (I haven't lived with my parents for....um...twenty-odd years? These are OLD towels. Practically antiques.)

At that point, I realized something that has probably been evident to most of you:
I'm just not terribly domestic.

Towels and dishcloths   - completely beyond my radar. So yesterday I sucked it up and went to a big box store and reveled in their low low prices and ohmigod TOWELS that aren't paper thin and stringing themselves into oblivion along one edge.  There! I thought. There! We look less like a paper-bag family now.
I paused, all triumphant and busy making a home! and maybe this domestic stuff isn't so bad!

and watched the children promptly use them, then toss them at the laundry basket and forget them.

Maybe they don't care about perfection? Maybe I shouldn't care about it, either.

At least not while there's a pool waiting.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

party lobster

I walked around all weekend wondering what on earth was wrong with me.

I can't be getting old this fast, I thought. What on earth?

But still, plodding like an old mule. Tired. Heavy legs. Climbing the stairs took a long, long time. I had a nap both Saturday and Sunday. (Yes, it was delicious. But I don't usually do that, and it was starting to worry me)

Then on Sunday night I had a sunburn. And I finally clued in. (Cluelessness, thy name is Jess)

Sunday had been a day and a half.  It was Privateer Days, so the kids and I (deep breath)

went to:
a reptile show (and Cass handled a boa constrictor. I have pictures. I was too busy staring at the man that was putting a large and hungry-looking reptile on my son's shoulders making sure he knew what he was doing to really register it, but yes, my son wore a snake.

Bouncy castles.

Ate fair food. (God love the Kinsmen and their sinful, sinful french fries.)
Went to the library and the playground when it became apparent the midway people were sleeping in.
Went to the park
Dragged them home for a bit of quiet time
And ended up, like we have every day this week,
In the pool. For hours.
After a bite of dinner and a break, we roared back into town to go on the rides (I'm still the title-holding World's Meanest Mom because I won't let them go on the ride where they hang upside down)
and discovered that Miss Rosey has an incredible stomach for loop-de-loop and things you'd think would make her dizzy - not so!

She was still talking about how 'that ride made my brain feel like it was coming out of my ears, Mom! Let's go again!' when her brother finally drooped and cried uncle

and then we hung out on the playground

and watched fireworks when the sun went down.

They still had enough energy to bound up the stairs, complaining about the injustice of showers, and beg a few minutes of reading time. (They have me pegged. As long as they can get me reading, they've figured out bedtime can comfortably be forgotten.)

Then they went to bed. And it was all quiet.

I put out all the lights, struggled up the stairs one last time, and got ready for bed, realizing I was mightily red. And sore. My legs were killing me. What on earth?

Yes, Virginia, if you're going to spend afternoons in the pool, swishing and splashing and getting all sorts of unaccustomed exercise, it's best to use sunscreen.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010


A comment from a Facebook friend* started me thinking. She (facetiously) typed:

Every time I see one of you has become friends with someone new, I get envious. *I* want another friend!

and I think that's a GREAT idea. I've heard all the rigmarole about blog rolls being outdated and cumbersome and blah blah blah, but I don't see it that way.
Having someone's blog name up on the side of my blog? I see that as a gesture.

Something that says 'Hey, I enjoy you, and I want other people to know that.'

So, in the spirit of that, today,

please suggest a blog I don't read that you think I'd enjoy. Feel free to pimp yourself too!

After all, we could all use some new friends sometimes.

*she's a terrific blogger too, but password-protected, so you're going to miss out. Sorry!


September 3rd, 2009, first day of school:

June 29th, 2010, last day of school:

Holy crap, people, haven't they grown??

Kiddus giganticus there. Wait until you see their new bikes!

I am dancing with excitement today because tomorrow afternoon I get to meet Loth when she comes to my little part of the world.

I can't wait!

Sunday, 27 June 2010


The pool is up, and running, and is being enjoyed for the fourth time today. 
Four times of rough housing, floating, diving, carousing, swimming, hitting each other with pool noodles, inventing new games and screeching for the sheer joy of it.

Where does it come from, this ease and grace and buoyancy in the water? When did we learn that water feels like a soothing second (albeit alien) home? Surely we're not all remembering from the womb.

Yeah, we can't all be remembering birth waters. Because it's late June, and that water is cold.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

ain't that a kick in the head

Everyone's heard by now that Silicon Valley Moms Blog Group is closing, right? There are conflicting stories as to why, but it seems to boil down to not enough time and money and it's sad. I've learned a lot and met some nice people (phenomenal writers, too) while writing for them, (via Canada Moms Blog) and now I'm feeling...sort of....adrift. I enjoyed working with a collective and will probably seek out that experience again.

I copied the CMB posts to my own site, so if you missed my brilliance the first time around, go see! (snort)

Tonight I have dinner and perhaps a restorative glass of vino with friends. Can't wait. This has been a long week.

And damn it all, it's only Wednesday.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

was a sunny day

and we went out to two local lighthouses and scrambled over old cannons and rocks and watched seagulls and the air all around smelled like the sea and the beach-roses and it was magic.

Days like today I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

sweet child of mine

Rosey has been fighting a cold. Or a virus, although I really think her vomiting (which  has only happened a few times, and only seems to happen just before bed) is mostly due to nasal drip irritating her sinuses.

Poor Wosey. She's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed during the day, and falls apart at night.

Whatever the reason, she hasn't been feeling her best. And a fragile five year old is fun to have around.

Sometimes Bear and I can pass off the sudden, inexplicable tears or temper as tiredness or hunger or too-wound-up or the phase of the moon, but sometimes my lovely baby girl shows her hidden core of evil and we all trip over each other trying to get out of the way.

Because like a howler monkey, that girl can spit.

(Not, uh, that she actually does. That would be awful.)

I thought all this tempestuousness was due to the day-to-day stress of being five and having school end soon (and there's a wee bit o'drama eddying around about R and one of her friends)and the summer stretching out in front of her and there are all these changes, you see, how on earth would she not be stressed?  but after she burst into tears last night in the shower I finally got her to tell me what the matter was.

Rosey is afraid she's dying.

Because she was really sick, (and here I cocked my head and thought Really? Sniffles and a little vomit make you really sick?? I need to call in to work more often) and Nana and Papa got really sick, and then they died.

Oh my sweet girl.

We had a long cuddle and a talk about diabetes and how Nana and Papa were both sick, sick in different ways but still with so many health problems, and how yes, someday we all die, but not today, and not soon, but someday, and please don't be frightened, sweetheart.

And there were some sniffles and clasping hugs and then she tried to get me to promise that I wouldn't die before she had kids of her own and I said that sounded reasonable to me.

And just like that, the storm was over.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Driving and telling stories

Of course the drawback of having a commute into work each day would be traffic. Traffic doesn't bother me, though, not as much as the incessant road repair and the odd gatherings of four or five NS Power trucks, their owners all out and peering up at a light pole like it was going to reveal the hiding place of the Holy Grail or at least tonight's lottery numbers.

Not much seems to vex me about driving, not when I've got an audiobook on.

I just finished Mary Kay Andrew's The Fixer-Upper (liked it, will probably read it now so I can go at my own pace) and am now looking for something new. I also tried (and discarded) an Elizabeth Berg book, Say When, that looked promising but failed. I like her characters, altho' her books move ponderously in places, but the plot of this one involves a woman leaving her husband, and hearing it read by a man (who makes the woman's voice sound wasp-ish and mincing) was just wrong. I couldn't get into the characters - couldn't buy it - because it was wrong.

Sometimes hearing a book just doesn't work out.

At home I have a book called 'The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind', which looks all kinds of interesting.

Lets see; what else is new?

Rosey lost a tooth last night, not The Tooth, but another. The Tooth Fairy remembered to bring home shiny toonies when she got home from work, but then he (see the pronoun change there??) couldn't find the tooth under the pillow and ended up waking the small girl. This morning she leaned toward me as we brushed our teeth and said confidingly
'I think Daddy left me the money for my tooth.'

Stomper Girl, I thought of you.
And I thought for a minute about telling her the truth. It probably would be more honourable, and all that. But she's five.
She went on:
'Daddy woke me up last night with his hand under my pillow. And this morning, I found this.'

And there, clutched in her little pink paw, was the tooth.

Bear boomed out a reply from the bottom of the stairs. 'I was looking for the tooth so I could show your Mama. The Tooth Fairy must have come after I left.'

She pursed her lips. 'But the Tooth Fairy didn't take my tooth!'

A perplexed silence from downstairs. It was my turn to save the day.

'We-e-e-ell,' I said, thinking hard,  'you didn't get to give the Tooth Fairy your first two teeth, remember? Maybe she decided to let you keep this one.'

It was convoluted logic, but she bought it.

Thank goodneth.

Monday, 31 May 2010

betcha I forget this, and soon

How do I manage to get absolutely nothing done and still be busy as a bee? A question for the ages.

Last weekend was fun, albeit boy-less - Saturday he had a sleepover and Sunday, the kids went with their auntie to see Peter Pan in the theatre (Mama! They flew!!) and a good time was had by all...

except me, who had so many plans for the weekend and finished NONE of them.

Along the same lines, I'm starting to suspect that there isn't a decorating bone in my body. See, I'm not interested in having a show-place home (and woe to me if I did, what with busy kid feet and pet fur everywhere, plus a plethora of tiny plastic toys) but something that matched would be nice.

And I have next-to-NO idea how to do that.

I'm not stupid. I can dress myself, thank you, and I've a decent eye for colour, but I watch decorating shows and am just all agog. How on earth do they know putting that with that would look good?? And why do those look good together, when separately they look like tag-sale cast offs?

It's enough to drive a girl to drink.

And it's time for a drink. Time to start making iced tea, people! Mmm, with fresh mint.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

worming right along

Cass did NOT want to do this. Last year the Worm Race had happened right after his Papa died, so he sat that one out, and this year....this year he had no interest in competing.

But it was so neat, you see. So absolutely small-town and rural and quaint, and exciting for the kids. When else can you take a small container of dirt to school and not have your teacher yell at you?

My son's school has had an annual Worm Race for over forty years. It's exactly what it sounds like - long stripes of wet dirt across the gym floor, a worm at one end, the finish line at the other. Lots of hooting and hollering, clapping and cheering.

Rosey was right out there in the yard, dragging a shovel and her father out, plotting where the fastest worms might hide, deciding where to dig. Cass dragged his heels a bit, but his interest perked up when he held two in his hand.

(Both went with two worms - one to use and a spare, in case someone else's special worm didn't want to run.)

So off they went.


that's a third place medal right there.

He's marked the spot where we let the worms go, planning to re-capture his Wormy next year....

Friday, 21 May 2010

mr bunny man

We have a rabbit living in the side yard.

Now, this is a new experience for me. While we have deer (in abundance) and the occasional blue jay or woodpecker wander through, we generally don't have bunnies. But I live far enough out of the city in a rural enough setting that if someone decided to dump get rid of a pet to think we'd (or someone) would take care of their bunny.
Or cat. Or dog.

Note to anyone who has ever dropped off a pet near a farmhouse or on a quiet road: Your pet does NOT get adopted and live out its' remaining days in comfort. Nine times out of ten, it gets HIT BY A CAR. And that last remaining time? It STARVES, because it doesn't trust humans anymore - well, would you? - and won't eat any food it finds.

Ahem! /end rant

Anyhoo, the bunny. He's cute. All white and black, like a chocolate chip cookie, and a good size. He first appeared in my neighbors yard about two weeks ago (setting off a chain of phone calls where we had to figure out what to do with the poor thing. We found it a home with other bunnies but it won't be caught [see paragraph above] and now is apparently the neighborhood rabbit.) and has now migrated to mine. The kids looove having the bunn-ya appear in the yard and have left him carrots and treats, hoping to convince him that they're not bad guys and mayyybe, just maaayyybe, they'd like to give him a pat or two.

Mr. Rabbit? Is NOT HAVING IT. [See two paragraphs above]

Last night I was relaxing on the couch, finishing a book and dawdling in that happy hallowed time when the house is quiet and I don't have to go to bed yet. I was all ready for bed - still towel drying my hair! -
and there was a SHRIEK from upstairs.

Rosey was still up and reading (the minx!) in the last bit of sunshine coming through her window. She looked down into the golden glow of the side yard and noticed: a cat.

Not my cat. A strange cat. And it was stalking The Bun. Bunny was eating a dandelion, ignoring the treats and carrots and parsnips the kids had sprinkled around, ignoring the cat.

Visions of rabbit carcasses and the sad faces of my children ran through my head. I jumped for my shoes and flew out the door, waving my arms and hollering and generally making a huge racket.

The cat went streaking off one way, the bunny the other. I'm not really sure who I scared the most.

I am sure, however, that I scared everyone gathered in the full parking lot of the fire hall.


Thursday, 20 May 2010


Yesterday we went to the graveyard.

I brought home flowers. Tulips, actually. Because they were pretty.  And it was pouring, pouring hard and windy but we didn't want to wait so we clutched umbrellas and stood there in drumming-down rain, listening to the roaring river and staring at the two smooth stones that are all that's left of the last generation. The children were quiet and stood close so I said a few things: Remember how Papa would laugh and laugh at jokes? I miss his laugh and Rosey's floodgates opened and she told the quiet rock how the last year has been, what she's been doing and how she's a big girl in school now and that she misses her Papa, misses him all the time. And that she wishes she'd known her Nanny May but she'd meet her someday. When she's old. In heaven. But not now.

I looked at her, expecting to see tears, but instead saw my growing-up-straight-and-tall girl in dark jeans and a pink coat, a red umbrella over her head and a sheaf of white tulips clutched to her chest, big eyed and smiling at her memories.  My boy rocked back into me and burbled a bit before giving a mighty sucking-back sniff and saying  'I miss you, Papa' and a 'Hi, Nanny' while laying a sheaf of ruffly yellow parrot tulips on her grave.

The flowers lay there on the sodden gravestones, looking tropical and summer-sweet and cheerful against all that gray and wet and rainy grass. We stood there for a few minutes while Miss Rosey told her Nanny about her friends and her dog and her Lucy-cat and Cass leaned back into me for comfort and looked around at the cornerstones of the family plot.

I was suddenly and rudely aware that my umbrella was sending a cold river down my back into my skirt.

The wind picked up and blew R's cherry red umbrella inside out, and I took that as an excuse to herd everyone back to the car.

Driving away, Cass looked back  and exclaimed that he could see the tulips from the road. 
'Did Nanny like yellow?'

Sorry, sweetheart. I never met Nanny May. But she liked pretty things. And I know she loves those flowers, because they're from you.

'Okay, then,' he said, shaking off any sadness and swinging effortlessly back to his normal happy self.
'What's for supper?'

And I swear I heard Free chuckle.....

(My car still smelt high and sweet from those yellow tulips this morning! It was lovely.)

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

and the sky looked like the sky in books

Yesterday was gorgeous. The kids were out on their bikes, testing the wind, and the sunlight sparkled everywhere and the sky was an unbelievable blue

Really, a blue you'd think was re-touched or photoshopped or coloured in or something from a dream
(it's not)

And even the last few apple blossoms winked in the sunlight.

Spring is here. And all the colour is back. Finally.

Monday, 17 May 2010

twitter isn't good for blogging

Blogging is another way of telling stories.

Or at least that's how I always thought of it. My stories, like I'd tell you in a letter or a phone call or a conversation. Stuff maybe you didn't even really need to read, but things you might enjoy hearing if you wanted to know how I am - how my life is - better. If you wanted to know me.

Blogging is taking big bites. Whole stories, setting a tone, giving your readers a feeling so they can peek through this door you've opened into your home and sigh in recognition. Letting them get to know you.

Twitter and Facebook, with their status statements and character limits, don't allow whole bites. They only give you a taste, a nibble of who the whole person is. How can you get a feeling for how someone writes, for how someone is in a sentence or two?  Too often twitter messages are about plebeian things like eating out and diapers and traffic jams - if I wouldn't write about these things in a blog post, why would I think you'd be interested in my tweets about them?  And why on earth would you be? Are we so starved for automatic content that we need to tell each other about our laundry?

I've grown weary of status messages and the like pointing the way to blog posts. It smacks of self-aggrandizement. The way Twitter is structured now, the people that see that tweet are friends with you already - chances are they know you have a new post out, via feedreaders and bloglines and their ilk. The number of new readers you can pick up that way is very low.

I think the most obvious way Twitter and Facebook harms blogging is by erasing the storyteller in all of us. If I report, via status message and What's Happening?  the 140 character bare-bones of my day, what's left? What do I post? Where is my story?

I belong to both Twitter and Facebook, and I'm sorry to say I've been gleaning more information about how my favorite authors - my blogging authors - are doing on those two programs versus their own blogs.

Where are the stories? Where are the peeks into your life?
Stop telling me about your laundry and whether your husband got home on time.

Tell me a story. Write a post.

Monday, 10 May 2010


I've been listening to books-on-tape (books-on-CD, actually, but it seems wrong to call them that) in the car on my way to work, and have been enjoying being caught up in something else rather than the usual Am I late? Am I going to be late? How fast am I going? Shouldn't I have been at that intersection three minutes ago? etc.... The story takes me out of all the clutter going 'round my head, in other words.

Today, though, I tried to listen to The Shawl and  realized that I can't read stories about concentration camps. I just....can't.

It was a mistake, grabbing that audio CD in the library - I was ready to go and my hand gripped the wrong one, and when I got home and discovered it I just thought I'd give it a try - and now I'm perched at my desk at work, trying to look busy but seeing the faces of my great-grandparents and remembering how soft Grandma Gebhardt's hands were.

Some things are just unsuitable for consumption, no matter how many generations gone they may be.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

a banner weekend

The weekend started with a bang and has just been getting better.

Yesterday was the Spring Fair at the kids' school, and it was a huge, rip-roaring success. Families came from all over and played games, won prizes, ate home-made pie and cake, looked at displays, bid on items at the silent auction, and cheerfully put each other in the mock jail.

I am always astounded at the overwhelming love this community has for the school. We need this school, need this heart of the area, need the bright spot it puts in our town.

We raised over $4,000. That's a LOT of hamburgers and hot dogs sold at the BBQ, a LOT of .50 cent chances bought on vacation raffles and bubble gum guesses, a LOT of goodwill and stuffing an extra buck or two in the donations jar.

That is a darn good definition of family, in my book.

Happy Mothers Day, everyone. Now I'm off to take my children to the library and the playground, so they can play in the sun.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

shared heritage

I've done posts about graveyards before.

Rosey asked today if we could stop and see Papa. She misses him, and my girl likes to go and see the grave, to put her hands to the cool, carved stone, talk to him about her day and who she played with, and say hello to her Nanny May. Then after a few moments, she wants to explore the hills

and ask questions about the other people who are buried here. 'Were they friends of Papa's? Did they live here too? Do their grandchildren come to visit them here?'

Before I can formulate an answer more articulate than I have no idea, honey, she spins and stares down at the river, watching three ducks paddling by.

'This is a good place, Mama.'

I think I may have found a companion to walk the stones with.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

woes is me

Three-fourths of the major players are gone from work today - not illness, but scheduled things (which means no one is calling looking for them) and the phone is quiet and the day is subtly gray and drippy and we're all stifling yawns. Hitting the coffee hard and hoping for four-thirty to come, quick and painless.

(bugger, bugger, bugger) After assuring the man at the copier repair shop that YES, I turned the damned thing off and turned it back on, the copier guy came and...I don't know....rubbed his thumb and fingers together and look! Now the copier is working!

It's more aggravating than trying to explain 'that noise' to the car mechanic.

(Anyone else besides me astounded that the technology has come so far - I mean, the copier machines now can fax and scan and upload and download from flash drives and print on both sides and staple, for cripes sakes,  a far cry from the ones in the past, where collating wasn't even an option - and the first advice from the repair shop is still unplug it and plug it back in?!?!?!)

I'm getting a haircut after work, and am stupidly excited about this. I have so much hair I'm lost in it, (a cold-weather trick of mine, grow out the mop) and need a shearing. Also some highlights.

Okay, the copier fella (he's a nice guy, really) is still in there, futzing. So he can't have sprinkled pixie-dust in all the right places. Actually, he's conferred with a colleague, so maybe I didn't make a bad call after all????

Ooh, and the sun is coming out. My haircut awaits (well, okay, in a few hours.) But the day is getting better.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


The kids rooms need to be updated.

Cass still has the paint job that he had as an infant - his nursery was very gender-neutral, so it's a mixture of yellow and white and blue, with kites flying overhead and puffy white clouds painted on a blue ceiling.

He still loves the sky-ceiling. But all the rest we could change, and he'd subside without a protest. We're thinking a loft or bunk bed, many, many shelves to hold toys, and a good tall bookcase for his books. I'd also like to put in some matting (something that could be shaken out if necessary) - perhaps some sea-grass stuff?

The trouble is that I want to do something pulled together, at least vaguely, and not too-little-boyish, and yet don't want to do a room in camo or anything. (He'd love that. I would weep every time I went in.)

Rosey's room is green (a very gorgeous green the colour of rose leaves on a cloudy morning) and ivory. She loves purple and pink. Flashy, splashy purple-and-pink.
I want to do rooms they can live in for a few years without them being too baby-ish. Or too pink.

I've been watching Sarah's House, and eying decorating blogs, and I've got some ideas, but holy....this scares the heck right out of me. (I'm the one who doesn't choose paint colours well, remember?)

Mostly, storage. STORAGE STORAGE STORAGE. But well-thought of storage, not just masses of containers to dump things in.

So I started today. I ordered both the kids shades for their rooms. True, neither is a fabulous colour (one is gray and the other gray-purplish, but it's a start.

And I want a chandelier for R's room. B'cause they're pretty.

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 ...