Monday, 28 December 2009

wanted: leftover holiday elf

And Christmas was lovely, as they all should be.

Rosey chose the cookies for Santa. Then, while putting out the plate: 'Mama, I'm choosing all skulls for Santa. He'll think they're jolly.'
Hey wha? Show me.

She's right, though, an upside-down gorilla animal cracker does look like a skull.

The kids oohed and aahed and were very happy with their presents. My living room has now been the scene of many fierce bowling tournaments on the Wii, much new creating with pens and paints and crayons and special papers, and pitched Star Wars battle from an Imperial Clone Trooper with Obi-Won Kenobi's light saber. (Or the alternate but still-cool Bumblebee's arm cannon.)

I've emerged from the holiday chocolate-and-bonhomie coma to realize that

the house is a wreck

there are Christmas decorations everywhere

and they're not going to put themselves away, now are they?


Monday, 21 December 2009

seventy-six trombones

Okay, there weren't THAT many. Actually, I'm not even sure there were any.

We were at the front part of the parade. The First (and hopefully annual) Christmas Parade for the town nearby, and the kids were dancing with excitement. Rosey had never seen a parade.

(Yes, it gave me pause too. In thinking it over, I think she's right. Deplorable.)

Cass was just excited to wear a Santa hat and toss candy at the crowd, and fool around with his buddies. But he walked with me behind the float his sister and most of the other kids rode on pretty steadily, and hurled candy canes at small lookers-on with frightening abandon.

Schools are out for Christmas break, so it was the Parent Support Group for our village school that put together the float. It was quite the holiday scene: red-flannel Union-suited Santa, Mrs Claus looking merry and twinkling in her mob cap and shawl, an elf petting reindeer, and a group of children, all decked out for the holidays, ringing bells and shouting Merry Christmas to all.

In front of the float? A fire truck. Behind? One of the churches had a float. There were dogs and hockey players and Shrek Claus. There was a gingerbread house float and the Kiwanis, pulling a holly-bedecked French Fry booth. There were fire trucks galore, the RCMP, and a mock-up of a Christmas tree lot.

In short, there was everything. Everything a small-town parade needed.

It was wonderful.

And I can't wait can't wait for next year.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

it's not just Santa that's watching you be good, for goodness sake!

(It's her newest hang-out*. The cats are determined to re-establish their claim on the downstairs, no matter what the dog would prefer. No wonder Jasper's grumpy.)

*Just to the left of the angel's wing.
See her now?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Percival Towelette Rides Again

Somewhere in the box marked FRAGILE!!!!! and NEVER THROW OUT!!! and KEEP ON SECOND FLOOR!!! in one of the photo albums that my mother lovingly constructed, is a picture I drew, waaay back before I could read, back when making a P and a T and an I were the highlights of my schooling.

It's a strange, squat picture, and if you squint and turn your head sideways, you can almost see the wee face in the jagged magic marker, can almost make out that what I drew, with swoopy lines and a total abandon for the usual niceties of shape and perspective and using different colours, is a small square(ish) thing with arms and legs.

It's Percival the Towelette.

Now I know that this was a story my father concocted to help lull me to sleep one summer. I know, because I can almost hear him if I close my mind to the present and think back to my yellow canopy bed and the comfort of my red-haired doll in the yellow dress, tucked in next to me. I can hear his voice, but I can't make out the words. My father read to me a lot when I was growing up.

It's the things I can't remember (and I suspect Dad doesn't either, since it's been probably 35 years since he made up bedtime stories for me) that are bothering me about this memory.

Why a towelette? Why the name Percival? And what happened in the story??

Rosey and I were going through the albums a few weeks ago - she had a school assignment to bring pictures of people in her family and I'd brought the whole box out - and she flipped to that page and stopped, fingering the paper.

I told her the story - that Mama had made a drawing of a story her Daddy had told her when she was a little girl, and then Nana had kept it - and she was delighted. Thrilled, I think, to discover that I had once been small like she was. (I keep forgetting how large I am in her eyes, how I've always been a grown-up. How she's not been around for most of my fumblings and rebellions and (in hind-sight) spectacularly bad choices.) That night she wanted to draw a picture of the book we read at night-time, and went to sleep with crayola-marker stains up her hands and wrists.

I thought that was the end of it. Tidied the books away, relegated them again to the out-of-the-way place where no harm will come to them, and forgot.

Last night she woke up, thumped downstairs where I was waiting for the news to end, and asked me to tell her a story.

To tell her the Adventures of Percival The Towelette.

Well. I'm pretty sure my Percival had a quieter existence than her Percival. R's Percival went on train rides. He flew in airplanes. He fought off angry cats and wild pairs of dirty hands (She didn't really understand that part. Come to think of it, she may not have really understood what a towelette was.) and a long unfortunate winter spent in a roadside rest stop to get back to the person he loved the most. He was bold and fearless and dashing. (In a towelette sort of way.)

Was he the kind of towelette she'll remember 30-plus years later? Who knows.

But I always will.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

5:54 a.m.

It's really early.

Okay, so B wouldn't agree. He's used to being up and productive at all hours of the day and night, though, while I am more of the glazed-over, holding-slopping-cup-of-tea the sky isn't up yet? type.

I'm bleary in the morning. Especially windy cold days where the unfairness of being vertical makes me want to gnash my teeth and fall down weeping.

But...Productivity Ho!
Off to gather clothing and do the morning math, to shoo the cats away from where they've got the dog backed up in the corner (do they do this every morning? No wonder he eyes them with a terrible stare)

to find hairbrush and gargle, to be presentable.

Good morning! It looks like it's going to be a beautiful day.

Friday, 11 December 2009

cheese olive bread

adapted from a recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

You need:

1 stick butter
1/2 cup mayonnaise (NOT miracle whip)
2 green onions, chopped
1 can pitted black olives
1 jar green olives with pimentos
1 bag shredded Italian 5-Blend cheese
1/2 bag shredded mozzerella
Pinch paprika
1 loaf French or Italian bread, cut open as if for garlic bread

Mix softened butter and mayo together, add in green onions. Chop black olives and green olives, add cheeses. Mix together, shake in paprika. Chill for a few hours to let flavours blend.

Mound on bread (it will look like too much but keep going) and bake at 325 for 25 minutes until bubbly and beginning to brown.

This is one of my go-to recipes. It's awesome for potlucks, parties, and anywhere you need something gooey and good.


Sunday, 6 December 2009

hazy shades of winter

Last Tuesday:

I was waiting for an appointment, spending some time happily down by in the park with a coffee* and paperback. While it was too wet out (there was a drizzle) to really be in the park, it was just warm enough to sit in my car and happily glug coffee, listening to the radio and turning pages.

I was getting lost in the characters when all of a sudden I noticed an absence of sound, like the world was suddenly holding its' breath.

What was different?

I raised my head slowly and peered out over the river. Same scene, same glimmering expanse. It was still chilly....and.....

Something tapped on the window. And into that hush, as I watched, bemused and a little thrilled, the first snowflakes of the season came flurrying down. Beautiful, really, watching everything get coated in whiteness. Seeing everything so stark in late autumn get softened by snow.

It didn't stick, of course. The Atlantic is still too warm to have anything stay long.

So it cleared and we had some fine days, days where the kids ran around without coats, days when getting a few more days out of summer shoes wasn't a terribly foolish idea, days when going outside was a time of marveling This is December? and sniffing for burning brush.


The world is white. Which is misleading, because it's all slush under the prettiness. The kids have been outside and come back, wet to the skin, mittens sopping, and telling tales of snow sculptures and sledding - and I stand at the window, clutching my mug, and think

I don't wanna go out there before, say, March.


I'm really, really too old for this stuff.

*I think I've noted this before, but around here it's always I had a coffee or I had a cup of tea. By now it's habit and I only notice when I'm writing it down.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

toy giveaway

I'm giving away a Mastermind toy over on my review blog! Leave a comment to win. U.S. and Canadian addresses can both enter!

Monday, 30 November 2009

george foreman's sweater

In the back of my closet, shoved into a wheat-colored lump, is a darned, patched, stained, bleach-spotted old sweater that I can't get rid of.

It grew like Topsy. Or something. I don't remember getting it or buying it or having it foisted upon me. Every year I swear I'll put it in the donation box, I will, but I just never have the heart to. It's so comfortable, you see. And while brown has never been my colour - I know it washes me out and makes me look even more sallow (although sadly I'm not so sure that's possible) - it's handy to toss on over a t-shirt or jammies and go outside to walk the dog or have coffee with the moms at Literacy class.

Lately, though, my sweater has been doing the unthinkable.

It's shredding.

I was poking the thread through the needle, saving it one more time, when I started musing about how long I've had my sweater. It's been years. But where on earth did it come from? Did I steal it from a roommate? Was it a Mom gift?

Maybe the label would tell me.

Comfort Zone, by George Foreman.

Ooookay. I had as many nights of partying and rock and roll as anyone else, but I know I didn't date George Foreman. Or steal his clothes.

Comfort Zone, by George Foreman.

George Foreman had a clothing line? When, in the downtime between pummeling people and hawking the grill? I was turning the ludicrous picture of George Foreman in all his burly glory strutting down a London catwalk over in my head when I was struck by a horrible thought. This meant that my super comfy, long in the arms, ultra-casual, always-go-to sweater? Is a man's sweater.

And honestly, I don't know which I find more disturbing. That I'm now running through all the Lean Mean Fat Reducing Machine commercials in my head, trying to remember if I saw him dressed in brown,

or the fact that I stitched it up and wore it back out again today.

Friday, 27 November 2009


cross-posted from my review blog:

My review for Green Works

Go, read it. There's a survey at the end that will send money to a shelter in Toronto.

Monday, 23 November 2009


I hate math.

Really. Loathe the stuff.

Well, actually, that's not quite true. I really liked geometry. But algebra? Pah. There was no helpful visual, no absolute rules - just a bunch of letters mixed up with addition and subtraction signs, arranged whichever way to encourage maximum confusion.

But I know that math persists (like an evil rash) and that like it or not, my children would be learning it.


When Cass was a baby, I used to (oh, the shame! The misplaced-but-ever-so-earnest novice parenting! The determination to make my baby the best he could be!) whisper the multiplication tables to him as he fell asleep. (It beat croaking out another rendition of Blackbird all hollow.)

I don't kid myself that it did anything for him. It didn't give him some secret boost, some indefinable leg up in the grand scheme of things.

It did, however, keep me from falling asleep. Usually.

I'm pretty sure he has no memories of me hanging over his crib, hissing numbers at him, and that's probably a good thing....

So now we just practice. I'll be in the kitchen, and I'll holler.

'Cass! What's 120 plus 53?'

First there'll be some mumbling (and some grousing) and he'll think about it a bit and whip out the answer.

After awhile, he'll get tired and start shouting math problems at me. Usually of the 'One hundred million billion plus...lemme see....six hundred and forty-two. Plus three.'

Then he's amazed when I call out. 'One hundred million billion, six hundred and forty-five!' (He hasn't yet figured out that bigger numbers doesn't always mean harder math.)
'How did you do that, Mom? Did they teach you in school?'

And I think back to those nights when I'd watch his wee little eyes feather shut and lovingly whisper:

'Eight times six is forty-eight. Eight times seven........'

Oh yes, baby boy. In school.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

double vision

Yesterday was H1N1 shot day.

My two had their seasonal flu shots a few weeks ago, and C reacted badly, so we'd been working on tensing up all his muscles, blowing out his breath, and then relaxing his arms so he could have the shot over and done with quickly.

It worked stupendously until the actual moment the doctor came in the office.

And then all hell broke loose.

And I practically had to pile-drive the poor kid again.

Rosey the Roo watched her brother folded in a sobbing mess on the floor, then got up and re-settled herself in the chair next to the doctor. She flopped her arm on the chair and watched (watched!) while the doctor gave her shot, huffing in her breath only when a tiny bead of blood welled up when the needle was removed.

Why do I keep forgetting they're so different?

Before she was born, I thought having two kids would be easier than one - in some ways, am not entirely deluded - but it seems as if the second go around ought to be easier - you're not so stymied by the stages, you have a better understanding of bottles and breastfeeding and toilet-training (or at least it's not a total wander-in-the-wilderness) just should be...simpler?

Oh, how the gods laughed.

But sometimes - just sometimes - when they're playing together and giggling over the same things....when their laughter rings out like bells......and their dark heads bend over something....

It's like they're halves of the same whole.

Monday, 16 November 2009

don't tell my husband I posted...

Ssssh! He thinks I'm studying.

I've been taking a course online, and it's been going gangbusters - except that most of the tests seem to be for People Of Very Little Brain (Really? One of the exam questions was on the proper attire for an office. How hard can it be to remember to wear a bra?) and I thought I was through the dumb 'let's learn how to study bs', I did, but tonight I had to listen to an audio file that not only had a redneck ax'in and fixin' and golly-gee-ing all over the place to SLAM HOME the point that GRAMMAR IS GOOD, accents are BAD.....

it also featured the music that plays on the Peanuts specials when CHARLIE BROWN IS WALKING AROUND TOWN.

If I end up wearing a yellow argyle sweater and NO PANTS to the office, I swan - I'll know who I'll be fixin' to blame!

Must get back to 'studying'........

Thursday, 12 November 2009

early morning appointment

I went to the gynecologists today.

It's a long, narrow, rather bleak sort of waiting room, especially at 9:30 in the morning, made even more beige and bland and sterile-ish by the empty magazine racks and signs bleating about handwashing, germs, and H1N1.

Although there is a table full of brochures. Go figure.

My doctor was MIA this morning - pissing me mightily, as I'd thrown the kids out the door, bolted a cup of coffee and driven the 'fast roads' there.* The office had unbent enough to tell me he wasn't in yet, but hadn't wanted to go into detail. Pity. I would have liked to know.

After all, if he was dealing with some sort of gyno emergency (Monistat! CLEAR!) then this huff I was working on would be wasted.

But for now I was trapped in a room with a slightly-off track ceiling fan (whick! whick! ting!) and one other woman, who was smacking her candy and staring out the window.

This could only get better.

I was sitting across from a poster extolling 'Top Ten Reasons to Adopt a School-Age Child' which I misread in my almost-decaffeinated state as 'Top Ten Reasons to Adopt Out a School-Age Child' - and while that was very progressive and New Age-ish (frighteningly so!) it reaaally didn't seem to fit - and besides, what could Cass and Rosey DO that would make me think about leaving them at the doctor's office?

I was musing burning down the house? when they finally called my name, and Laconic McEnglishman (he is of the imperious sort, and stares at me blankly when I crack up when he talks about 'marital relations') and I settled in to talk.

And yay! No nakedness. The ladybits were shyly appreciative. This was getting better!

The (big bad wolf) cysts were gone and/or smaller, and we both agreed that switching me to another type of progesterone would a) continue to keep my cycles....cyclical, and b) stop me from screeching don't touch me! whenever anyone came close for a hug. (Which should please Bear.)

If this type doesn't stop me from getting a bad case of the over-sensitives, I told him I'm stopping them. He'll just have to think of something else.

He didn't like that much - mainly because I think not many of his patients tell him what they're going to do - (the imperiousness, again) but it's my body, and I can't take feeling like leaning forward is going to snap me in half.**

So I smiled a lot and told him I'd see him in a few months and waltzed out of there.

Sometimes you just have to feel like you're piloting your own health-care ship.

Back in the car, where I drove quickly and expertly back to my job. Another beige-ish room.

But at least this one painting the cats? didn't have me wondering about getting rid of the kiddles.

*Am not leadfoot. I just get there more quickly than (ahem *cough* husband) some people do.
**The precautions list says to expect breast and ovary tenderness. Tenderness my ass.

Monday, 9 November 2009

need a new place to sit

Me: Rosey, it's almost time for bed!
Kate: YAWN. That was a LOVELY nap. Wait. Did she just say......bedtime?

Kate: I'm taking my owly ears and stripedy tail and getting out of.....

Kate: Oh, mzzzzimp. Huffswa. If we must.

Me: Rosey, do you have everything? Blankie? Did you kiss Daddy?
Do you have a cuddly toy to take upstairs.....
Kate: AHEM.

So of course I had to rescue my lovely but doddering feline from the clutches of She-That-Squeezes-Too-Hard (that's her name in Cat, honest) and by the time that was all sorted out, I'd completely lost the thread of what I wanted to post.

Which might not be a bad thing. I seem to be running a little bit dry for the blog recently.

No, I'm not closing up shop. I love my place here. November is just rushed for me.

Hopefully, I'll find more words soon. Stick around, would you?

Friday, 6 November 2009

nationality confused, but heart in the right place

Veterans Day is coming up.

Both my grandfathers served in the Second World War, and I grew up hearing stories about how they served, the things they saw, and how they came back so irretrievably changed...

It chokes me, thinking of them so young and resolute, doing their duty for freedom.

So Thursday I was a hot mess while I was typing up the bulletins for the Remembrance Day service. Copying out the Flanders Fields poem always makes me gulp and waver and soften -I'm glad I was in the office alone.

In Flanders Fields
Written by John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Lieutenant Colonel, Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I came home resolved to hug my children a long time that night.

We were in that after-bath-but-before-bed haze, reading books on my bed, and the drowsy girl next to me began to warble a little ditty she learned at school that day.

In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row...

(What? It's a song now?)

I stilled and she broke off.

That song makes me sad, I said.

'Oh!' she said, jumping to a new topic. 'Here, let me show you how I can speak Spanish!'

And then she let out a 'Yodelay-hee-hoo!' worthy of any Swiss Miss.

Monday, 2 November 2009

24 Hours London

Fun things pop into my inbox sometimes. Like this - a guide to London laid out in an hour-by-hour format, penned by a Canadian who grew up in the city near here and writes of intriguing, off the beaten path things to do morning, noon, or night - whenever you have time to explore!

I thought it was a great idea, and a nifty little book. There was one snag, though - I've never been to London - how would I know if it was realistic? Do-able? Better call in an expert.

So I turned to my friend Jen, who had a fabulous time in England last year, and asked her what she thought.

And this is what the well-traveled and worldly Jen said:

Jess recently asked me to review 24 Hours London by Marsha Moore and I am so glad that she did!According to the book's cover, this is "an hour by hour guide to London's coolest entertainment, eateries, and attractions" and, as I discovered once I dove in and started reading, that's not just hype. This book truly covers the gamut of possibilities.
24 Hours London contains a treasure trove of things to do, regardless of the time of day (or night). Having been to London both with and without children and with plans for future visits, I found plenty ideas for my next three, four, five, or more trips.
Some examples:
  • Feel like following London's ley lines? Check out 5 a.m.
  • Want to get in some parkour before having breakfast in a crypt? Check out 7 a.m.
  • Do you know what the London Stone is? Check out 8 a.m.
  • Want to have coffee with Mr. Darcy? (I swear I'm not making this up.) Definitely check out 9 a.m. (And pack a camera!)
One activity that I highly recommend is the Ceremony of the Keys (10 p.m.) at the Tower of London. Trust me on this one.
I love the variety that 24 Hours London offers. While most guide books cover the usual ideas -- the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, hearing Big Ben toll the hour, walking across Millennium Bridge from the Tate Modern to St. Paul's -- this one offers more of an insider's view of this wonderful city. Even better, there are lists of ideas based on common themes -- 24 hours of family, 24 hours of romance, 24 hours on the cheap, and more -- so there's something for everyone.
24 Hours London would be excellent for both the person who has already been to London or for a first-time visitor. (In the latter case, I recommend using it in tandem with one of the more traditional, but less vibrant, guidebooks.)
My family went to London last year and now, thanks to 24 Hours London, I have the urge to go again ... and soon!

Thanks for that, Jen. She's a peach.

Thank you for letting me read your fascinating guidebook, Marsha. I hope to try out out (rather than just dreaming about what I'd do and things I'd see) soon!

24 Hours - London. Book Launch on the 4th of November.

The author sent me a PDF file of her book that I read and commented on. No other incentives or payment was rendered to Jen or myself.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Breathe deep the gathering gloom

y'know, or something.....

Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope it was full of treats, not tricks.

*major cool points (dude!) to whomever can tell me where the song reference is from without googling....*

Monday, 26 October 2009

career paths

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

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

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

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

'Did you always want to be a Mommy?'

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

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

'I always wanted to be your Mama, Rosey.

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

Sunday, 25 October 2009

the one where I ask for help

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 18 October 2009


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

the dread crew - stories that stick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 10 October 2009

preventing the blazes

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

There are firetrucks galore

Firefighters in full gear

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

My heart began to pound. Then I remembered.

It's Fire Prevention Week!

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

nutrition fail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 2 October 2009

preview of the goth years

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

light saber, anyone?

Cass has fallen in love with action figures.

Last year it was Bionicles and Transformers - close, but not quite: Funky robots aren't little men.

I kind of thought he was going to skip that stage all together - he's been heavy into the science experiments and soldier/soccer/running everywhere, but it began and now he's heavy into it.

I was sort of excited - after all, I was the (cool) one who sat and watched the Star Wars trilogy with him - it would be nice to be in the know about one of his obsessions! Piece of cake.

WRONG. Wrong wrong wrong.
See, times have changed. It's a whole new galaxy out there.

Now Star Wars is all about the Clone Wars. (It's an animated thing that stars 90% new characters and situations.

Whimper. I never thought I'd miss Vader.

Monday, 28 September 2009

teachable moment

I froze.

Look, look! There! See the porcupine?

He was gorgeous. Shyly peeping around the corner, fat and bristled with fawn-ish fringed quills, he paused near the woodshed and considered his options.

The kids oohed and aahed, then stood on tip-toes, watching our glimpse of wild kingdom in our backyard...

Bear strode past me, his arms filled with things to put away. 'Hey! Are you all taking a break?'

No, wait! You'll scare him!

B peered. He followed my pointing finger. He narrowed his eyes.
Then he sighed.

'It's a piece of wood, Jess, you foolish thing.'

I did it again. Unbelievable.

Monday, 21 September 2009

how do you solve a problem like maria

I have a....friend.....who is exasperating me beyond belief. This person, who has flipped their political ideology completely since I first began having opinions about world events, (last presidential election was a good time, believe me) has newly re-found religion and is busily hectoring me with it.

I have nothing against religion. I believe, after my own fashion. I even sometimes wish I was better versed in the religion that I grew up with.

But this - this sudden 'the world is going to end! In mid-December of 2012, when the earth will be covered in fire! Get your children to a church so they don't spend eternity in a burning hell!'

is batshit crazy. And scaring me.

Cutting this person out of my life would be akin to slicing my own arm off - it would hurt that badly. It would bewilder my children, who have never heard the ranting and would not understand.

But where is the line between loyalty and distancing yourself?

I may have to find out. And it kills me to think of it.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

frontier girl, I'm not

Gorgeous, full-bellied sunrise up over the trees, a fresh breeze crisping up the air, just a few leaves beginning to skitter upon the ground....

B had been hard at work all day, splitting firewood (Jess, meet Mount MustStack'EmSoon.) while I was at work, and the kids helped a bit in the morning and then got all dressed up and went to a party.

So when I rolled in, I had just enough time to fix my hair and check my teeth before B and I went to the same function, which was lovely. And the kiddles had been good while B and I weren't there. It's amazing how proud I am when someone compliments the kids. I mean, I know they're awesome - but it blows me away when other people notice it too.

After the party, B started splitting wood again while C and R went off to play with balloons in the breeze. And it wasn't long before I got called off the slopes to go and rescue the balloons, which were firmly trapped in the woods. Wedged between a (thorny) rose bush and some (thorny) raspberry canes. Of course.

Juuuuust out of reach. Of course.

Well, maybe I could get to them if I tromped through the underbrush and the fallen growth and made a path through the trees.

Well. This was a bad decision.
I fell down.
Lost both my shoes. (I may never get all the pluff* mud off my toes.)
Turned the air blue with cursing. (I tend to do that when my ass is wet.)
Thought seriously about having one of the kids go find B and have him get a rope. I was trapped in a thicket of young maple canes, stepping on broken bits of downed branches, on an incline.

I gasped and swore and fumbled my way up to the top, finally breaking out of the trees nowhere near where I thought I was - of course.

The damned balloons are still there.

Then - then! we were all stacking wood and B gave C something to show Rosey.

It was a termite.

Have you ever seen a termite? Lord love a duck. So after R saw it and I (shudder) saw it, Cass dropped it to the ground and stepped on it.

And Rosey burst out sobbing like we'd torched her Barbies. "It was my friend!"

Aw, crap.

*According to, this isn't the right word for what I want - but I grew up calling that rich, dark swamp mud - you know, the stuff that smells like you should be able to watch things grow out of it? - pluff.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

two and a half hours

I looked at Rosey this afternoon and realized that Half-Pint lived at my house.

Time photo taken: 4:32 pm
(in mid-wilt - school is tiring on a young'un!)
(can you see the sloppy ponytails?)

So R and I went to town. And sent that Ingalls girl back where she came from.

Time picture taken: 7:09 pm
(with restorative licorice)

Bye-Bye, Walnut Grove.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

mind like a steel sieve

I am quite possibly the world's worst record-keeper.

Cass is going to be eight in a matter of weeks. (Crap, really? He's that old?) He has a lovely filled-out baby book that I can't find and an album jammed with pictures from birth until three.

The rest of his life resides on various hard-drives and letters to grandparents.

Rosey, on the other hand, in true second-child tradition, really got the shaft. Her pictures never made it to a baby album and instead exist solely on the computer.

At this moment (although I'm SURE I have this written down somewhere) I can't really remember their birth weights. Wait. Weren't they both over nine pounds? No,wait.* They weren't. Cass was seven something and Rosemary a few ounces less. Then R dropped weight and all the foghorns of alarm started to blow in the hospital and......yeah.

This is not to say I've forgotten everything. I remember holding Cass for the very first time - where we were, the medicinal smell in the room, my mom's joyous, happy tears, how the air was rarified and still when they brought in my boy, and how lovely and wizened he looked.

And Rosey - how we ended up far from home and unpacked in a room where it seemed our cameras and videocam took up most of the available tabletop space, and how the first night my roommates baby cried most of the night and I (baby-less by way of the NICU) swallowed most of my tears and shook silently, so afraid that the spark of a girl I hadn't been able to see yet would be gone before I could hold her.

It's not the big stuff I forget. But the dates and numbers and minutiae of their sweet lives? They're just...not...there. They sift themselves silently out.

I didn't start blogging as a way to record their babyhoods, although it's been a useful tool for that, and reading the old entries (Ladies and Gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure - most of my girl child's life! Cast your eyes upon the archival dates at the left!) helps when I need to recall something. So today I'm using this power for good.

September 8th, 2009.
Rosey's very first hot lunch at school.

*Ahem. That was actually me.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

einstein he's not

Drippy dusk, and I was outside with Jasper the Empty-Headed.

He was doing his usual circle-circle-circle-slow down- whoops! -circle circle circle, and I was gazing vacantly out into the trees, noting the colored leaves (there are a few now!) absently, thinking about sugar cookie dough and ticking off the Monday morning checklist in my head (lunches...check! Next up: showers!) and suddenly I noticed Jasper was sucking in his breaths, great inhalations that ballooned out his sides like bellows, head down, serious eyes and trembly whiskers.
(Although he was drilling holes with his eyes at a lawn chair, so I don't think he had a clue)

I peered around, slowly, dipping my head a little to look through the trees. Nope, all's quiet here.

C'mon, Jas, you crazy thing. Do your business so I can get out of the rain, and

....and there was a cough. From the woods.

Jasper was still huffing and intent on the lawn furniture. I swung around and caught just a blur from the corner of my vision.,, there was a baby!
A family of deer were grazing in the watershed, and were discreetly commenting to themselves about the fool human and the even more foolish dawg who were hanging out in the rain getting wet. Disturbing their dinner. For shame.

I watched them for awhile, wondering if this was the same family group that hang out in our side yard early in the morning and wake the cats with their soft snuffle-snorts and sproings up on their hindlegs into the apple trees at first light, then gathered the now uh...emptied dog and walked toward the house.

Jasper tugged at the leash and dragged me almost into the quince bush, where he beat a path underneath and began to root for something while I did a hoppy-dance of my own and tried to avoid the very large and very green frog in our path that Jasper had almost run over as he ran to wrestle....

an apple.

It's a good thing I kinda like him. 'Cause he's just...not...swift.

Or, you know, observant.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

early harvest

I came home from work clutching some fat ears of corn on the cob and a ten pound bag of apples. Gravensteins, actually, red cheeked and shiny, looking like an advertisement for Fall. B met me at the door, a bit sweat-stained - he's been trying to get all our wood out of the forest for next winters burning. Next week he's renting a wood splitter and cutting it into manageable lengths, then begins the long (freaking long)process of stacking and piling.

Last year we didn't get it all done and had to get our wood out from under a tarp in the yard most of the winter. That sucked.
So this year he's determined to just get 'er done.

I brought my groceries in only to pull up short at the wealth of apples already spread out in baskets all over my kitchen. It had been a beautiful day, and Cass and Rosey had gotten a head-start on one of their favorite autumn things to do....

apple-pick in the side yard.

This is approximately half of them. I tossed the marble sized and obviously wormy ones.
Stealthily. So no feelings were hurt.

There they were - a love note from my kids (and a hint, I think, for apple crumble and apple pie) shining up at me.

It was a great pity most of them aren't ready (by a long shot!) yet.

I spread them out in a sunny windowsill and we'll see if they ripen any more - and tonight I'll pull out the Gravensteins and make an Apple Crumble.

It probably won't taste as good (things picked with love are infinitely sweeter) but it'll be acceptable, I think.

Especially if I pair it with ice cream.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

walking the stones

With both ruffians in school, I had something I very rarely get - a day off. Not that I've been working a lot lately, but every day seems taken up with minutiae, daily living is-the-bathroom-cleaned and do-we-have-any-flour kind of stuff.

Today? Today I struck out on my own.

Early Fall (or is this technically still Indian Summer? I wonder.) here is gorgeous. Everything from the last petals of the beach roses to the browning but still pink as a maiden's blush hydrangeas compete with the blue, blue sky and the deep green of the leaves to catch the eye.

It was tempting to just trek through the woods and meadows, but today I had a purpose. I had my camera with me, you see, and time. What else could anyone want?

There have been places beckoning to me for awhile now, little corners and spaces that I've wanted to walk through, and I went to them willingly.

It was a good day to walk through the graveyards.

The cemeteries around here are mostly set on slopes and hills, with achingly beautiful views of the river or the sea and surrounded by sun-dappled sentinel trees.

They are gentle places, places to be introspective in.

Some graves are so old the stones themselves are returning to the earth.

A few are never forgotten, even after fifty years or more:

Nay, someone always tends the flowers.

I've always loved cemeteries. The places I grew up in had paths and walkways built around the stones, so it was possible to meander along and see the monuments, the statues built through the years. It gave us a sense of continuance, and more firmly rooted us in the history of the town. While the smaller graveyards here don't have the imposing monoliths and chipped stone angels dominating the scenery, they're still beautiful and worth a quiet, reverent walk through.

They're lovely.

Really lovely.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

jeepers creepers

We haven't been in the pool lately, so I had a lot of scooping to do before the kiddles could get in and splash around. Our pool is under the spreading branches of an old oak tree, you see, and it merrily drops acorns and bits of leafy debris.

My pool is also the place caterpillars and dragonflies go to die. It seem every time I use the net or vacuum I find a sodden little body - usually it's the striped furry crawlies that decide life in the trees isn't worth living and plunge to their watery graves below.

So there I was, raking the acorns out of the pool, keeping an eye out for any suspicious shadows on the bottom. I like to get them before happy little feet turn them into squishy spots that must be scrubbed off.

I worked my way around the pool, and had just reached the pump when I spotted a bright green fir cone whirling in the bucket of the intake of the pump. I almost reached in with my fingers - what in hell? We don't have any pines right here! - and drew back when I saw something that looked like

(Credit card offered for size comparison. As far as we know, it didn't off itself over its credit limit. BUT WHO COULD KNOW FOR SURE?)


It was the size of my thumb. It was the size of cat poop. It was a Pixar character come to life. It was horrifying.

I didn't want to believe it. I wanted it to be a plastic toy.


Nova Scotia is a beautiful place, with no poisonous snakes and lots of gorgeous wildlife.

And apparently, bugs that will KNOCK YOU OUT if they fall on you.

**We're flummoxed by this - Bear has lived in Nova S his entire life, and has NEVER seen one this big. We also don't live near any power plants and our neighbors aren't mad scientist types.**

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

fly high

Summer ended with a swoosh of wings.

And some very neat vantage points.

School starts tomorrow. And while I'm not freaking out (well, not yet) that both my darlins will be going out on the big yellow taxi to begin new chapters in their growing-up, I am very aware that the house is...well, very quiet tonight.

This was the song for one of my proms, I think.

let's dance in style, lets dance for a while
heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
hoping for the best but expecting the worst
are you going to drop the bomb or not?
let us die young or let us live forever
we don't have the power but we never say never
sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip
the music's for the sad men

can you imagine when this race is won
turn our golden faces into the sun
praising our leaders we're getting in tune
the music's played by the madmen

forever young, i want to be forever young
do you really want to live forever, forever and ever

some are like water, some are like the heat
some are a melody and some are the beat
sooner or later they all will be gone
why don't they stay young
it's so hard to get old without a cause
i don't want to perish like a fading horse
youth is like diamonds in the sun
and diamonds are forever
so many adventures couldn't happen today
so many songs we forgot to play
so many dreams are swinging out of the blue
we let them come true

forever young, i want to be forever young
do you really want to live forever

And while the lyrics now seem perhaps a bit - melodramatic? - the music still catches in my throat and gives me shivers, just like it did waaay back in the eighties when I couldn't possibly dream that one day I'd have two kids old enough to go off to school.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

my first ten speed was named scout and had a bell

My sister-in-law lives in an almost excruciatingly pretty place.

(So does my other SIL, but one at a time.)

After you walk up the gentle hill from my house, past the just-starting-to-turn-golden apple tree and the funny giant rock that marks the head of the wild strawberry patch, after you pass the white-painted fire hall and go over the bailey bridge,

(The retaining mesh shakes on the bridge. It can make a small girl uneasy enough to walk her bike instead of pedaling like the wind.)

her driveway sweeps down through trees that hold their branches across the way to create an airy tunnel, the leaves rippling in the breeze overhead, sighing at your approach. Underfoot are smooth pebbles and the odd pine cone and the curling remnants of last season's fallen leaves, but mainly smooth hard-packed soil and meekly low-growing vegetation, careful not to sprout above the level where mufflers will scorch the leaves. There are nooks you can stop in - a small outcropping of rock overlooking the chuckling water, a larger grassy space where the August heat blends the scents of fallen pine cones and sun-bleached wood into a wall of scent that yanks you back into summers past and makes you both wistful and pensive, remembering other roads, other freedoms, other wind-in-your-hair moments when you were just yourself, not anyone's daughter or friend, only yourself, careening down a country road, shouting into the wind.

It's a long smooth stretch, perfect to take bikes down, good for giant swoops and loops and curves and the all-over-the-road acrobatics that come from just starting out with five gears instead of one and being insanely interested in the processes going on in the gear lifter behind you. It's long enough so that a boy on a new bike can outpace his furiously pedaling shorter-legged sibling and get some road

for himself.

And the river mirrors the insanely blue sky and the last of the beach roses send notes of their high sweetness into the air and the world is perfect.

And timeless.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

quickie update

Well, we didn't wash out to sea.

There were a few minutes where it looked like we'd lose power for a few hours, but so good.

And I kind of think it's all done.

I've been at work all day. Hope things went as well at home as they did here!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

billy boy

The entire province is peering to the south and pondering how worried to be.

Tomorrow (or Sunday morning, or Sunday night, dependent upon whom you listen to) a Hurricane named Bill is going to come roaring up the coast and drop a lot (or a little) of rain and a whole lot (or maybe just thunderstorms!) of wind along the coast.

We expect a wild and crazy night. Or maybe just a wet and windy Sunday.

I mean, we'll be fine. We will. But this constant second-guessing sucks.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

she's a big girl now

She didn't flinch. She didn't cry.

The doctor told her to look away and she did, hesitantly, but she stayed stone-still on my lap until both (one on each arm!) bandaids were applied.

My brave girl. She'd do just about anything to get to go to school. Tomorrow we're going to go look at backpacks and pencil cases, lunchboxes and clean white sneakers,

and then?

Then she'll be ready. For school.


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...