Friday, 31 October 2008

a saga in three costumes

Waaay back in the early days of this month, Cass had put in his order for his Halloween costume.

And I wept and gnashed my teeth and shook my fists at an unsympathetic sky and actually made blueprints and then figured out not only would the damned costume weigh sixty pounds, he would be unable to see very well and couldn't sit in the car to boot.

So I sniveled (on the internet! For shame!) and then, while I was sobbing face-down over the remnants of ripped boxes and tangled string, poster paint spotting the floor, my clothes, my hair... there was a gentle tap on my shoulder (angels sang) and my sister-in-law said
"Hey, Jess? I found one on the internet."

And lo! The earth did smile again. (Or at least the mom.)

So C was thrilled by his costume. So thrilled, actually, that he was afraid to wear it to his big Hallow'een party. What if my mask breaks? What if I spill something on it? How can I play games with a full-face mask on??

Enter costume number 2. The Werewolf. This was a huge hit and was born of desperation and a lucky glance into a supermarket bin.
(Not sure what he was doing there - dancing? - but probably the best shot I got of the great slashing holes and jagged tears we tore in his clothes.)

Then today he had his Halloween party at school and went as a pirate. (Costume number 3.) His school has a no-costumes-on-holidays policy, and so one thing is picked each year and all the students wear funny socks, or hats, or this year? Pirates. While they couldn't wear swords or be too elaborate, they all wore pirate headgear. I didn't get a picture of Cass in his gear, so you'll just have to imagine...tall, skinny kid, giant black hat, skull-and-crossbones neckerchief.

Then...tonight. Tonight was THE night. Tonight was Transformers night.

He made a good car-turned-to-a-robot.

And we went trick-or-treating and they* got bags and bags of swag and were feted up and down and ran their asses off, running from door to door and house to house while their father and I tried vainly to keep up.

And now they've passed out.

Happy Hallow'een to all.

*Yes, for the purpose of this post I HAVE forgotten that I have TWO kids. See, she only had ONE costume, a fact that someday when the teen years hit I'm sure I'll pay for.....

But see how cute!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

...and you're to blame....

It was Flu Shot day today.

Remembering last time we did this, this time....I took Bear.

We also didn't tell the kids what we were going to do until they were strapped in their seats and we were driving towards the highway.

(And that part of it? Troubled me. It felt sneaky.)

As soon as we told him, Cass got upset. Fiercely upset. We took his mind of it by letting him pick the order of who went first, second, etc (we were all getting poked - family togetherness! Whee!) and then deciding what we were doing afterwards (eat supper, or go see Papa?) and that seemed to work.

He was calm and a little apprehensive until we walked into the doctor's office, and then, he.....

...crawled under a chair in the waiting room.

The crowded waiting room.

(Meanwhile, Rosey is looking for a book to read and saying hi to another woman waiting. Supremely unconcerned.)

Then we were in an exam room, Bear sitting C up with him, soothing and talking to him, Rosey ogling the lollipop jar.

When the doctor came in, Cass jerked away when the needle hit him and had to be re-pricked (the trauma! THE TRAUMA!!!) and so I took him and put him in my lap afterwards (and when did my boy get so long??) and R had her turn.

While he sobbed, she stuck out her arm, winced, and asked for a band-aid.

(Why yes, they are completely opposite in temperment, why??)

His tears dried, he decided on a green lolly and we were off to see Papa.

Last year, I thought I was going to have to sit on him to make him stay still.

This year, he didn't run away.

But I still felt horrid.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

we are all different colours

It's been two days of wet, windy, grey weather.

When I peeped outside this morning and saw the sun (the sun!) shining down through the remaining leaves and skipping across the surface of the river, it was all I could do not to run outside and shout.

Hello! Where have you been??

Today we'll go out in the wind and the sun and play in all that flash and arresting autumn-tide until the kids smell like toasty crunchy leaves themselves, and then we'll sneak back in for warm milk

and maybe a cooky.

Days like this are so alive.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

playdate tuesday


Rosey and I made cookies today. Sugar cookies. Painted cookies.

Go here and I'll tell you all about it.

Monday, 27 October 2008

whistle while she works

My youngest has gotten a cleaning bug from somewhere, and oh, yeah, I'm fighting this.


R whips her broom and dustpan around like she's going for the Silver Shoes competition (Junior Division) trophy. If she had pet mice they'd no doubt be singing a happy tune with her.

We tell her she's a good girl, that doesn't she want to play? but no. This is playing, she says, and swirls her mop with more joy than I've ever had wielding it.

'Y'know, honey,' I say, 'You could let me do that.' (I'm also covertly eyeing the puddles of water and the glued-on dog hair scattered behind.)

'Mama! NO. I am going to clean this, then I'll sit down and Cass and I can watch cartoons.' she said, zooming through the rooms with abandonment.

She's even got her brother thinking this is fun.


I tried again. 'Rosey, I'll finish this.'

Rosey tipped the mop bucket into the sink. 'All done, Mama.'

'I can do this stuff b'cause I'm a gen-us. You have to be to take care of a fam'bly.'

Y'know, who am I to argue with this next generation?

Sunday, 26 October 2008


I worked today. B took the kids to a costume party.

Now, besides the little voice in my head squeaking 'this is so unfair!' and 'I wanted to do that!' I was a little afraid that Bear would forget part of Rosey's costume. Or he'd freeze up when it came time to do their makeup.

Last night B and I sat down and did a dry run. Well, sorta. In the midst of me explaining the mixing and how to create the look of fake hair, B decided there was no time like the present and began to paint me.

And since C was a werewolf and R a purple kitty? I looked a

His make-up skills, though? Awesome.

So, if you're driving the back roads today and you happen to pass a hideous monster and a purring (although unusually colored) cat?

Be not afraid. They like people.....

.....but only for lunch.

Friday, 24 October 2008

almost like dexter

Last year our pumpkins looked like Rorschach blots.

Actually, I wish. Symmetrical? Not so much. And I know pumpkins are supposed to be a fun thing, not art work (not when they're seven and four) but when they look like three/four-eyed wild Picasso prints as interpreted by a Morse Code enthusiast, it's hard to praise the kids and play guess the expression at the same time.

But there's something about transferring a thought in your head to the curved, unforgiving blank face of the pumpkin that....doesn't translate well.

This year, I was prepared. Armed with one big and two smaller 'pumpkin knives', I cut the tops off while the kids decided what face they wanted on their jack o' lanterns. The air was thick with 'And his eye should be pointy!' 'I want a BIG smile on mine!' and finally I went and got a Sharpie and some blank paper, drawing one rounded silhouette, and one squared. The kids got busy with crayons while I gooshed the guts out, and then....then....

then we carved then up. And there were shrieks and groans (although not from the pumpkins) and the rich smell o'guts and seeds and delighted squealing.

Tomorrow we'll light them up and I'll show you the carnage we have wrought.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

wile e coyote, first grader

We were driving home when Cass piped up.

"Dad, Dad! I want to decorate for Halloween!"

Bear nodded. "I think your Mom has some stuff she wants to do...."

"No! I want to take a jack-o-lantern? And put ketchup in it? And then we can run a rope up by the door, so when trick-or-treaters come by, when we open the door...."

"Cass! That's horrible! How'd you like to get all wet when you went trick-or-treating?" I made horrified mother noises and peered in the back, where the fruit of my loins was rolling his eyes at me.

He gave me the duh! look. "I know that. No, we could put a rope up on the roof - we'd put a pulley up there, (and here's where I went into a sort of fugue, thinking 'My baby! Where has mah baybee gone?? He used to be so sweet!).......and then when we pulled it, the water would spill into the pumpkin...and it would look like blood was coming out of it!"

B looked at me. "Where does he get this stuff?"

I fretted. "I don't know! Do you think it's that boy X in his class? I mean, I know he's rough, but Cass seems to like him, and they had a good time this summer on the..."

Bear was shaking his head. "No, Jess. Not that. This pulley idea he's talking about? The way he's described it, it"

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

the stove stays

I love my stove. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It's a Findlay stove from the 1950's, converted at some point from wood (and coal, we think) to propane, and a graceful and beautiful thing to see each morning. It was the first thing I liked about this house, and it's remained my favorite.

Unfortunately, it's at least fifty years old now, and the last time we had it fixed, the technician shook his head and said something about borrowed time. He has no idea where to find parts for it anymore.

Last night the oven wouldn't light. B fussed with it for awhile and then came out to the living room, frowning.

'It won't work, Jess. I think we're going to have to think about a new stove soon.'

I shot him a pleading look and he shrugged. 'I'll go try to fix it, but....'

Crashing and swearing soon were heard from the kitchen, along with a (loudly) muttered 'If you didn't love this thing so much, I'd...'

'You'd what??'

'Nothing, dear. You realize the only reason this is still here is because you love it, right?'

B appeared in the doorway to emphasize his point, wiping his hands. 'It's working. For now.'

I was appreciative, I was, and I smiled sweetly and thanked him, adding:

'You realize that you're still here because I love you, right?'

(He shakes his head at me a lot. Wonder why??)

Today he started looking on the internet to try and find out if he can gut the interior and replace everything.

Because he's sweet like that. And like my husband, the stove stays.

Monday, 20 October 2008

pieces of me

Tonight has been a remembering night - caused by what, I'm not sure. The turning of the seasons?

But I've been thinking, and remembering, and wondering where all my old friends have gone, and what they're doing.
People I never thought I'd think twice about after leaving high school float lazily through my mind, their faces unlined, their grins the same. Remembering their laughter.

Some days I wish I'd seen how all their lives played out. Facebook is a good thing, but hardly a substitute to kitchen-table talk and late-night laughing with friends.

I don't regret moving here, raising a family here or being here at all - I just wish I'd held the strings tighter to the ones at home.

I think it's time for a trip back - see a few girlfriends, laugh about our lives and re-connect.

Maybe at Christmas.

Hmm. More probably next year.

But it will be soon! I have things I want to show my children while they're still young.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the autumn....

dig out the sweaters, and enjoy the scent of woodsmoke and crisped leaves that drifts near with each lungful of bracingly clean, cold air.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

autism sucks

But being told you're a whiner, and your kid is stupid? That's worse.

I wrote about Denis Leary and his highly inappropriate and moronic statements here.

Friday, 17 October 2008

parents know best

Yesterday, in the car:

Cass: Fleeing stones. Mom, what does that mean?
Me: FLYING stones, honey.
Cass: What does it MEAN?
Me: Rocks with wings.
Cass: What? Noo...
Rosey: Ooh, are they for me? Nana said you had to give me some.
*silence while I rack my brain*
Me: whoosy now?
Rosey: Remember Mama? Nana said you have to give me and Cass rocks with wings.
Me: Nana wha? When was this, R?
Rosey: When we were at dinner. Nana said you and Daddy both had to give us rocks with wings. So are those for me?
Cass: No, I saw them first.
Bear: Uh, Jess? What is she going on about?

and I thought and thought

and then remembered....


Rosey: So where are they?

*"There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.
One of these is roots, the other wings." Hodding Carter

Thursday, 16 October 2008

today too

the sun came through the clouds in pale yellow beams

there are a few perfect apples still on the trees

everything is turning color now, even with leaves the colour of eggplant,

and Rosemary is four now.

It was a very good day.

And there was lots of chocolate.

Cass's is here

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

o canada

Americans have had - what- a YEAR of ads, of stumpings and speeches and debates and 'My name is So-and-so, and I approved this message'?

Here in Canada? THIRTY-SEVEN days of campaigning. THIRTY-SEVEN.
The election is today.

Does that mean as a nation we're scatter-brained and jumping at the gun?

Or....does it mean we've got this election fal-de-rol worked out?

playdate tuesday

I'm over here, picking dried glue off my fingers (sweet!) and beginning to decorate for Halloween...won't you join me?

Monday, 13 October 2008

with two cats in the yard....

Our house....

smells of turkey and stuffing right now, with undertones of home-made pumpkin pie filling and just a snap of bacon for the beans....

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

mystery fruit

Now I'm all confused.

Every year I wax poetical about my Japanese Quince bush, its lovely blossoms, the way it sprouts up everywhere and charms me.

This year it began to bear fruit. Oh, it had given off a few stunted things for a couple of years, but this was the first for it to give off an apronful. The kids and I picked them this afternoon, and I consulted the internet for recipes. I had a friends' recipe for jam, Something else. Something...sweet.

I gathered the quinces, chopped them and took many of the hard little cores out. Then poured in some water and boiled them until they were soft. They smelt like apples and pears and cinnamon, slightly exotic and heady.

And was surprised when the bubbly mess didn't go golden. Or blush. Or turn red.

Like quinces are supposed to.


Rubbed through a sieve, I added sugar and set it back on the heat to bubble and blend.

And an hour later, was still waiting.

Needless to say, I now have a cookie sheet full of something that is neither applesauce nor candy, but something slow and syrupy. Gorgeous sludge, still smelling like candied apples dusted with spices.

But it never blushed. So what on earth grew on that tree??

Saturday, 11 October 2008

do's and don'ts

For seventh birthday parties held in bowling alleys:

Do invite really nice kids - in this case, nine kids from Cass's combined primary-first grade class. (Plus a hyper-excited-to-play-with-the-big-kids Rosey. And a third-grader big sister of his buddy B, which thrilled C to no end. Big kids? Verah cool.)

Don't show up with the birthday boy covered in bruises.
People look at you funny.
(yeaaaah. C's left cheek? Total dark bruise. Right where...well, right where someone would have punched him. Champ took a header on the slide the other day. This is, of course, nicely balanced out by his red and puffy-ish right eye - the perils of blowing up balloons and having one burst in your face.)

Do coerce your in-laws into helping, then discover (again, why do you keep forgetting this??) they are totally cool and great with kids. Even groups of kids, which is no mean feat.

Don't freak out that the bowling alley won't have napkins, or straws (although not the cool bendy kind you packed) or plates or cups or scotch tape, for pete's sakes, necessitating a huge bag of supplies being shlepped back and forth.

Do buy balloons in bulk. They make great toys when kids are just starting to come or getting bored waiting for the food to come.
Bonus: you got to watch your husband puff himself silly, and then your kids will say things like 'Daddy's a really good blower, isn't he, Mom?' and then you will have to maintain composure.
Because you're an adult. Sorta.

Don't make the kids (little, weenie kids!) play an entire game of bowling without offering drinks. (truly a d'oh! moment.)

Do save the cake for last. The sugar highs? Can be had by the smaller set in the privacy of their own homes. *evil grin*

Don't buy a cake with blue frosting, even as only trim. Not good. Not ever. I knew it was bad when I couldn't get it off my fingertips, and then I looked around the table and panicked at all the happy blue smiles.
This lovely mug (belonging to Cass's good friend E) is stained with the evidence. I think she was even going to another birthday party after Cass's. To E's Mom...I am SO SORRY.

He had a great time. I think I'll go sleep for a week.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

memories in wood and frame

On Thursdays, I work in the manse. I love that house.

I'm in there, typing and sorting, putting bulletins together and winging email messages to everyone, alerting them of any changes.

It's peaceful. I can look out my window and see the rain falling down on the street, watch the trees leaves shiver as the drizzle hits them.

The house is still unoccupied - we don't have a minister right now - and the house is settled into patterns of stillness, broken only when the infrequent meeting or group is held there, or on Thursday, when I'm there.

I fold the bulletins together last, sliding different pages in, so I can read my bloglines at the same time. My hands know the feel of this now, you see.

Today I read tut-tut's new posting on Inside The Shell where she talks about hands. It's a lovely, lyrical post, and I was completely under its spell when I came to the end - and noticed she'd added music.

Chanticleer. O Clap Your Hands. Lovely. (Go listen!)

I had it pealing through the old speakers on the manse computer when suddenly I was filled with the sense that the old house was holding its' breath and listening, every molecule straining to hear the music.

Thinking to itself 'I remember this.'

How many sing-alongs and hymn sings have been held under this roof? How many lullabyes and love songs have been whistled and hummed in these rooms?

For a few moments the house that had been a home for so many seemed to smile.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

readiness for hallows eve

Is almost non-existent.

For the purple kitty, we have:
One purple feather boa
One kitty headband with ears, a tail and a small bow (tiger striped - will be sprayed with purple paint)
and a purple tulle skirt (ballerina length) with purple hearts at the end.

I'm thinking nubby tights and a long sweatshirt and maybe a wig (whiskers painted on, of course) and she'll be done...

which leads me to da bomb.

You see, the jet costume? Was summarily dismissed. And I can kind of see his point that it was bulky and would be hard to get in and out of the car (necessary while trick or treating 'round our rural parts)....but I'm beginning to think that I could just get soused on Halloween and he could just go trick or treating, I mean, the neighbors know him, they'd give him candy anyway....

Not feasible? I didn't really think so. DAMNIT.

And the chances he'd like to be a purple kitty too? NONEXISTENT.

Back to the drawing board!

Saturday, 4 October 2008


the clouds lined up in stripes

the really bad apples began to kathunk on the kitchen roof

these hardy little coneflowers? wildflowers? weeds? bloomed all over the yard

and Cassidy turned seven.

It was a very good day.

patriotic duty

B craned his neck around to see what I was doing.

'Jess, it's after midnight. Isn't it too late for a craft project?'

I looked up from where I was busily using the glue to stick labels on my envelope.

'Not too late. Right on time, actually.' I folded my paper, inserted it into an envelope, then swiveled around in my chair.

'Hey, honey, want to watch me vote?' I grinned, then put the envelope and another piece of paper in an additional envelope and licked the glue.

'I just did.'

flag picture from here

Thanks to this site and others like it demystifying the absentee ballot process.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Playdate Tuesday (yes, I'm late, I KNOW)

I'm talking about easy costumes over here today.....

...and weeping a little for the days gone by when I could just put them in a costume and they'd be delighted.

Now, 'scuse me. I must go examine the fledgling blueprints for this fricken-fracken Transformers costume....

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

and it gets better

Brothers and sisters, I have made a COLOSSAL mistake. Feel free to point and laugh.

(lowered head) I...I let Cass see the videos of the transforming Transformers on You Tube.

And now he has ideas MUCH HIGHER than the original black sweatshirt/sweatpants - boxes on legs - funky helmet and armpads I was going to do. I had no sooner seen a (I thought) really cool Transforms-Into-A-Jet costume (and I could DO THAT)

and was really getting excited, plotting and thinking about where I could find materials....

And the Boy Menace spoke up.

'Oh," he said, dismissively. 'That won't work.'

My face fell.

Then he explained. 'That costume covers his hands. How would I hold a goody bag?'

Ah yes! I forgot - the greed factor. Silly me.

Well! Tomorrow is his last chance. He needs to make a decision.
I am picking out two - well, maybe three - outfits (including the jet, because seriously - so cute!)
and he will have to DEAL WITH IT.



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...