Tuesday, 28 February 2006

the difference in our upbringing

Bear: (calling up the stairs) Honey! Miami Vice is on!

Me: (calling down the stairs) Thanks, sugar, but I watched that during the eighties!

- a little while later -

Bear (calling up the stairs) Your reminder for Nova came on!

Me: (calling down the stairs) Did you want to watch it?

Bear: Umm, no - I watched that..once.

Me: (laughing) So you're good?

Bear: (hugely relieved I'm not going to make him watch another program on Henry the 8th) Yeah - I'm good.

Sunday, 26 February 2006

chicken again

I want a cook.

I love cookbooks, love recipes and flavors and tinkering with old favorites to make new ones - but damn, I'm tired of actually cooking. It's hard to be creatively stimulated when the ones around you don't care - Bear's favorite dish is a heaping plate of 'I don't care, Jess, whatever you want to make' (as long as it's not spicy) and the kids would be happy with peanut butter sandwiches, baby carrots, and ketchup.

I need to branch out. New cuisines. New ideas. I'm sick of the same old grocery list, sick of planning the same meals.

I'm sick to death of chicken. Barbecued, baked, fricasseed. On the bone or off - it doesn't change the flavor much at all, does it?
It all...tastes like....chicken.

Someday I'm going to cook alligator and not tell them. "Go ahead," I'll smile, offering seconds. "I made this just for you."

Saturday, 25 February 2006

somebody's been sleepin' in my bed

I make the bed almost every morning. Chumba then 'un-makes' it for me, cozies down, and has a long and satisfying slumber. The other two aren't allowed to go under the covers with him - as you can see, Kate is clearly out in the cold - only Grand High Mighty Poohba Cats can settle under the duvet.

What can I say? They're city cats...

I used to hate to make the bed. Who wanted to take the time when I was running out the door in the morning? Wasn't I just going to get into it that night anyway?

However, when the bed is made? It looks prettier. And stuff like cathair doesn't get on the sheets. Not so much fun to get into bed with a big hairy pillowcase. And the best of all? There have been many less random impalings of tender bits on forgotten plastic toys lurking in the sheets.

At least if the bed is made you can see the dinky car waiting for you to sit upon it.

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

date stamped

Living in a small town can be scary.

Everyone is frighteningly aware of everything about your family, (or the family you married into) and what every member is doing - perfect strangers will come up to me in the supermarket and ask how the baby is, or if my cold is better, or tell me how Bear really helped them during the time their uncle had a heart attack. It's surreal.

After I fumble out an answer, they then usually identify themselves - 'I'm your husband's father's neighbor', or 'your sister-in-law and I have yoga together' . Unfortunately, that usually cements their names in my mind as 'Mr. FIL neighbor', or 'Mrs. Yoga Buddy' . I'm not alone, though.

When I moved here I was amused to find myself referred to as 'That Girl From Away' (the term From Away being used to describe anyone not born in the south-western end of Nova S), then I was 'Jess - you know, the girl Bear married? She's not from around here.'

My reputation was built solely on my birthplace. (Chicago, Illinois - was I part of the mob or a city slicker, come to tear out the heart of their small-town boy? You never know with these foreigners...)

That has changed, creakily, a bit since then - I don't know a lot of people, but I do know enough so I can nod at people in the dry cleaners, and am beginning to be judged on myself, not only by my last name.

I discovered yesterday that people have begun to recognize me in another way, though.

People have begun giving me books. Paperbacks, hardcovers, manuscripts. All genres. Apparently, I've been noticed at the library, and the secret is out. I am now...The Reader.

I was walking to my car tonight after work. A woman I barely recognized honked her horn and pulled in to the post office parking lot. "Hi! Melissa at the drugstore said you read. I have some books for you!" She beamed and handed over a paper bag. "Don't worry about returning them. Bye!" She drove away before I thought to ask her who Melissa was.

I'm still a bit dazed from it all. Of all the things that I could make a name for myself in this community by doing, reading was not one that I thought of. I mean, reading?

I figure it will look great on my tombstone, though.

She's not from around here...but she reads.

Friday, 17 February 2006

kneading the dough

Everyone has something they do when they're mulling things over.

I have a friend who walks. She straps on her shoes, tosses on a jacket and loses herself in thought. And frequently finds herself in the next county, on backroads that don't look familiar in the gathering dusk. But somewhere, in these voyages, she finds a calming that carries into her everyday life - something amazing that keeps that serenity forefront in her mind even when things get hairy.

My grandfather creates. He'll wrestle with his problems for awhile, and then sooner or later he'll take out his paints, and my grandmother will find gorgeous and detailed works of art on her dining room table the next morning. And the frown-lines will have left his forehead.

In high school and college I could write out my frustrations. I could solve almost anything with words. I thought better on paper than I could speak. That trait has gone dormant now, lost in a life that allows it little free rein, so now.....

I make bread.

When fears and questions arise to taunt me in the wee hours of the morning, I climb carefully over my sleeping husband, go down to the kitchen and lose myself in some mixing and blending, some chopping and shaping. If Bear wakes up, he'll find me in the kitchen, surrounded by loaves and the sweet smell of yeast, and he'll say only 'Ah.' Then he'll kiss me, and leave me to it - I worry better alone.

He knows by the breakfast brioche the next morning that everything is right again in my world.

What helps you think?

Thursday, 16 February 2006

yanking my hair out

I'm working at the church today (Quit rolling your eyes, there haven't been any lightning strikes yet) and having a small temper tantrum. The latest project for me? Bring the Membership Roll into the computer age. Which is fine, and dandy, and a bunch of other adjectives, and sounds distressingly easy (nothing that Excel and I can't knock out before lunch, right?) until I actually saw the book. It's been updated by (I'm counting different handwriting styles) I think six people, and not one of them has written in it the same way. I have entries like this:

*SHUPER, Joanna Colleen nee Waterbucket nee Price see Price, see Waterbucket resident (nonresident) received date April 1/56 (yes, 1956, because I am working with stone age records here) how: Profession of Faith transferred from St. Juniper's Anglican Church, Mossgrove Comments: daughters Abagail, Courtney, and Bethany, husband(s) August Timothy Price (deceased, 1978) William Shuper (Jr) (deceased 2000) Removed by Death May 23rd, 2001

then the next entry is:

CROWSFOOT, W. and (3) family. Baptized. Dead.

Both of these families are from about the same time period, and shared almost equal social standing. It's just....sloppy reporting.

Every spreadsheet I work out looks incomplete, like I omitted information. Unlike everything else in my life, I am obsessive over paperwork. It should be STANDARD.

So - do I toss out Mrs. Shupers marital history, or piece together something for the Crowsfoots?

*names, dates, places - changed to comfort the relations and because it's just more fun that way.

Monday, 13 February 2006

normal chicken

Me: (peering into freezer) Oh drat, we don't have any boneless chicken left. I thought I'd make Chicken Korma* tonight.
Bear: There is chicken in there, but I think it's on the bone.
Me: (not liking the idea of cutting chicken off the bone for Chicken Korma, which should be nice big chunks) Okay, let's see. I have some of that balsamic vinegar and lemon marinade left...
Bear: Could we have normal chicken tonight?
Me: Normal...chicken?
Bear: Y'know, chicken you bake in the oven? Plain chicken? Normal chicken.

I have to laugh. One thing my husband was not prepared for when we married was my love for what-he-calls-odd foods. My small-town boy grew up on foods cooked with very little spice besides salt and pepper. I love hot and spicy stuff. At some points in our relationship I think he's thought I was trying to kill him from the spiciness of it all. I've adapted pretty well (Chili in our house is seasoned with cumin, not chili, and then I add to my bowl, and I add extra rice to things like red-beans-and-rice, or some stir-frys.) but sometimes I have to have my favorites, and he gets a big salad and a lot of vegetables and a small helping so he can taste. Sometimes I've even won him over, to his surprise.

But normal chicken? Wound me.

We had plain baked chicken last night. Served with roasted carrots and sweet potatoes, and a very garlicky caesar salad.

Tonight he won't be home, so the kids and I? Are having hot and sour soup.


*I use a mix mostly, unless I'm really feeling adventurous. Patak's, a very cool company.

Sunday, 12 February 2006

all dressed in white

I feel horrible.

My best friend (since sixth grade!) is getting married, and she's asked me to be in her wedding.
And I have to refuse.

To make it worse, she was my maid of honor. She helped me arrange my wedding and did everything she could for me, and now I can't say yes and be sure that Bear's vacation will work out to the right time.

There are also some medical procedures that should be scheduled right around then, so that adds another layer of uncertainty to the mix.

I'll try my damnedest to be there, but I can't promise, and she needs time to find someone else.

It was a really hard letter to write. I'll call her in a few days, when I think I can talk to her without bawling.

Growing up (and all the responsibility) isn't always fun.

Saturday, 11 February 2006

and all I wanted was a reuben


Do not EVER, EVER let your baby eat cabbage, even if she cries for more and horfles it down when you give it to her.

I'm surprised the kid isn't airborne.
Or that there aren't holes burned in her shorts.

Thursday, 9 February 2006

sometimes I think my hearing is going

In the car this morning, headed for the babysitters:

Cass: Today! We're going to make crabs!
Me: (sneaking admiration for the babysitter - getting my young un to eat something that looks like a big bug is way beyond my abilities) Really? Mommy loves crab with butter.
Cass: Uh-huh! And we're going to paint them!
Me: (okay, not eating them, then) Are they for Chelle's fish tank?
Cass: No, I'm going to bring mine home.
Me: (vision of small food bowl in corner of Cass's bedroom) Honey, I think they'd be better off at Chelle's - the cats might eat them. (You're brilliant, Jess! Blame it on the cats!!) Yup, the cats won't like them at all....

....silence from the back seat......

Cass: Not even if I made Panda her own Valentine?

They are, of course, doing a CRAFT today. We'll see if the cat gets one or not.

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

little acorns

Took my monkey to the library today.

Like most young monkeys, he was a little louder than I would have liked, but he loves the globe there, so I was able to settle him pretty quickly. He shows me Nova Scotia every time we go, beaming. (He's always wrong, but should be able to point out Cuba and Japan very soon.)
There was a huge display of Valentines Day books. Huge. Red and white hearts everywhere. He poked around while I hurried up and down the stacks, finding my books. He was ready to go when I got back to the Children's Corner.
He laid them out on one of the tables back there. He had picked out three.
  • Clifford's Thanksgiving
  • Franklin's Visit with Otter
  • The Littlest Witches Halloween

Yup. My boy. A mass of Valentine's books, and he finds two from holidays gone by.

He enjoyed them 'tremenjously' tonight, too.

*It should probably be noted here that m'boyo doesn't read yet (although he's getting good at picking out the letters.)

Tuesday, 7 February 2006


This is a copy of an e-mail Bear got last night:

Dedicated to Paramedics, Fire and Police Officers and their Dispatchers:

I wish you could comprehend a wife's horror at 6 in the morning as I check her husband of 40 years for a pulse and find none. I start CPR anyway, hoping to bring him back, knowing intuitively it is too late. But wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done to try and save his life, I push on.
I wish you knew the unique smell of burning insulation, the taste of soot-filled mucus, the feeling of intense heat through your turnout gear, the sound of flames crackling, the eeriness of being able to see absolutely nothing in dense smoke.
I wish you could read my mind as I respond to a call. Is this a false alarm or a working fire? How is the building constructed? What hazards await me? Is anyone trapped? What is wrong with the patient? Is it minor or life threatening? Is the caller really in distress or is he waiting for us with a 2x4 or a gun?
I wish you could be in the emergency room, as a doctor pronounces dead the beautiful five-year old girl that I have been trying to save during the past 25 minutes, knowing she will never go on her first date or say the words, "I love you Mommy", ever again.
I wish you could know the frustration I feel in the cab of the ambulance or engine or cruiser, the driver with his foot pressing down hard on the pedal, my arm tugging again and again at the air horn chain, as you fail to yield the right-of-way at an intersection or in traffic. When you need us however, your first comment upon our arrival will be, "It took you forever to get here!"
I wish you could know my thoughts as I help extricate a girl of teenage years from the remains of her automobile. What if this was my daughter, sister, my girlfriend or a friend? What were her parents reaction going to be when they opened the door to find a police officer with hat in hand?
I wish you could know how it feels to walk in the back door and greet my parents and family, not having the heart to tell them that I nearly did not come back from the last call.
I wish you could know how it feels dispatching officers, firefighters and Paramedics out and when we call for them and our heart drops because no one answers back or hearing a bonechilling 911 call of a child or wife needing assistance.
I wish you could feel the hurt as people verbally and sometimes physically abuse us or belittle what I do, or as they express "It will never happen to me".
I wish you could realize the physical, emotional and mental drain of missed meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities, in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have seen.
I wish you could know the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a life or preserving someone's property, or being able to be there in time of crisis, or creating order from total chaos.
I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little boy tugging at your arm and asking, "Is my Mommy okay?", not even being able to look in his eyes without tears from your own and not knowing what to say. Or to have to hold back a long time friend who watches his buddy having CPR done on him as they take him away in the Medic Unit.
You know all along he did not have his seat belt on, but you try to talk of best case scenarios, not wanting to extinguish hope.
Unless you have lived with this kind of life, you will never truly understand or appreciate who I am, we are, or what our job really means to us...I wish you could though.

Please appreciate and support your local paramedics, police officers, 911 dispatchers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers. One day they'll probably be saving your property or your life.

And for the love of God, people, when you hear a siren, PULL OVER AND GET OUT OF THE WAY!

Monday, 6 February 2006

not bad for a monday

Last week, Rosey burned herself on the woodstove. There were a pair of mittens drying on the back shelf, and she went for them. She let out a squawk and I rushed over, saw a reddish spot on the palm of her hand, did the 'kiss and make it better' routine, and she happily toddled off for her nap. Two hours later I was changing her shirt and saw this on her wrist:

Bear, horrified, taped it up and thought she'd be okay, but my 'Bad Mom' klaxon was going off. How could I have missed that? What kind of bad Mom was I?

That night, while on shift, Bear asked at the local hospital and was given a little tub of some special burn cream, and we dutifuly slathered and gauzed. Truth be told, she didn't seem to mind it nearly as much as we did - she'd happily put her arm in her bathwater, and wasn't shy about presenting her bandage to be changed. This weekend, though, I worried and fretted and finally decided to take her in to see our doctor, just to have someone official tell me it was okay.

Our doctor met us at the hospital, as he was doing rounds in the ER. Rosey's arm is healing beautifully, and he doesn't see any problems. Really, the appointment took three minutes. The highlight of it, though, was the nurse that put us in the exam room. She came in behind me and introduced herself - it was Lily's Mama, of Life With Our Girlie! She has a sweet smile and a hearty laugh and Rosey was just bewitched. She kept laying down on the cot and smiling up at her.

So, my baby girl is okay and I finally met my neighbor. (Yay!) How was your Monday?

Sunday, 5 February 2006

crossword puzzled out

....and weeee'rrrreeee BACK, ladies and gents!!

huh. I am entirely too hooked on Blogger for my own good.

Saturday, 4 February 2006

spring already

In the last two days, I have:

  • found three separate pairs of forgotten boots for the boy
  • cleaned said boots after play
  • sorted out innumerable socks and mittens
  • been the mean mom who insisted on hats
  • scrubbed fingernails
  • washed jeans and sweaters stiff with mud, probably mucking up (ha! a pun!) the sewer system irrevocably
  • vetoed the wearing of sneakers outdoors
  • made both the kidlets take two baths a day

The snow, you see, is gone (or almost), felled by a day of warm rain. This has left the yard damp, but perfect for playing in. And rolling on. And digging in.

How did I birth mudpuppies?

Wednesday, 1 February 2006


Tagged by both Tessa of the fabulous Digital Home and the astonishing Julia, of Major Bedhead

Four jobs I've had:
Humane Society shelter worker
Bottler on a champagne line (we were all buzzed on the fumes alone by ten am)

Four movies I can watch over and over:
Big Fish
Calendar Girls (and this is NOT the Jason Priestly thing, ewwww) but the British flick with Helen Mirren
Much Ado About Nothing
Gone With the Wind

Four places I've lived:
Michigan (Traverse City, Suttons Bay, Holland -did most of my growing up in Michigan)
Colorado (Carbondale, for a summer)
Kentucky (Louisville, for a summer)
Nova Scotia (South Shore - married a Canadian)

Four TV shows I love:
CSI - Las Vegas and Miami
Grey's Anatomy
Starship Atlantis

Four places I've vacationed:
Bahamas (Nassau)
Indiana (Santa Claus - yes, that's what the town is named. And it is Christmas all year long.)
New Mexico (Albuquerque)

Four of my favorite dishes:
Pad Thai
Lobster and/or scallops
Peanut Chicken

Four sites I visit daily:
Um there are 45 links on my blogroll right now....choosing would be awful...

Four places I'd rather be right now:
My mom's house
New York
Anywhere warm

Not tagging anyone, but feel free to play along!


I took about a hundred names off my facebook friend list tonight. Really, it went surprisingly quickly, with only a few 'who was this ag...