Wednesday, July 30, 2008


We're taking the kids camping in PEI for a few days, and I'm really looking forward to it. Is that crazy? Probably.

I had no idea how much preparation goes in to this kind of thing - it seemed a lot simpler when I was a kid and my parents were doing all the work.

We needed everything, startng with a tent. DH bought one on sale, and then found a bigger one for the same price, so we switched and set up the new one in the back yard. He spent the better part of a day applying sealant.

"What the heck is that?" Wondered Beloved Neighbour, neatly propping a squirming 38 lb two-year-old (hers) under her arm. She was looking at the four feet of screened-in area on one end of the structure. It might have been a nice idea, but for the triangular shape of it owed to the angle of the screen, attaching to the top of the main part of the tent. So it was four feet of tent floor, draped in screen. "That's useless! I'd put that right back in the box and return it." She poked her head inside. "And you're never going to fit everything in there."

I sighed, and silently agreed. When DH inflated our brand-new air mattresses and put them in the tent, he agreed out loud. The tent went back. We're on tent #3, and it looks like the Taj Mahal in comparison.

And it's lanterns and coolers, beach towels, tarps and sleeping bags, stuff, and things, and a portable DVD player for the drive. Snacks, a meal plan, childrens' Benadryl, and a Rubbermaid box full of footwear for any climatic eventuality. Are we good? I'll let you know!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Have YOU heard of Google?

I hate it when my phone rings, and the person who has made it do so (thus requiring me to pick up the danged thing) turns out to be working at a call center. It's even worse when the product on offer is patently inappropriate for me or my business, and two seconds' research could have saved everyone the bother. These days common sense is just too expensive; it's cheaper for the Suits if they pay poor people crap wages to waste my time. Like yesterday's gem:

"Good Morning, Itsy Bitsy Computers, Cindy speaking."

"Yes, Madame, this is Victor calling from Unintelligible Corporation. May I please be speaking with your general manager, please?"

"Speaking." At this point, the line goes silent for a moment while the caller frantically rifles his employee manual, searching for the section entitled What To Do When Confronted with A GIRL.

"Oh. Oh, excellent Madame. Perfect. I was calling today just to find out, have you ever heard of Google? Madame? Madame, why are you laughing?"

"Yes, I've heard of Google." (snort)

"Oh, perfect. We are calling today because we are hoping to make arrangement with excellent company like yourself, to advertise on the front page of Google. Madame?"

(chuffle) "I quite doubt I have the budget to advertise on the front page of Google," (as I'd have to cancel my Superbowl commercial and that would Never Do) "but here's my email address."

"Indeed, madame. That's just perfect. I will be sending you the information straight away, and then in one hour I will be calling to see if you received it."

"Yep. Have a nice day." It's nice when they give you a little heads up. I wrote down his phone number, to be sure I didn't accidentally answer the phone when he called again.

He did call back, twice. I missed him, because I was on a conference call with Donald Trump and George Clooney at the time. So sad.

Monday, July 21, 2008

To three or not to three?

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a little while working on a paint-by-number while the kids watched some TV.

"So?" You ask.

And this morning, I woke up to find that Pebbles had spent the entire night in her own bed, with no 3 am requests for cuddles or a bottle. That's been happening more and more.

"She's two," you remind me. "That's what we expect. And why are you still giving her a bottle at 3 am anyway?" (I don't know. Leave me alone.)

...AND I've noticed lately that there are times in the evening when - get this! - nobody needs me for anything. I could sit down, and it's almost like nobody would notice. Except maybe the cat, who is attracted to warm horizontal surfaces.

I was looking at pictures of Pebbles, and suddenly I'm realizing how much she's grown. That she really isn't a baby any more. She's a toddler, a person in her own right, fully equipped with her own agendas and opinions. We're arriving at that point where it starts to get easier. Or at least less intense.

So I hear myself asking, in a faraway, singsong kind of mental I want another?


And then I glance nervously at my husband, to see if he heard me thinking that. Because if he did, I think he might actually cry. And then shake me. And then ask a lot of loud questions about my mental health. And I'd be waiting just as anxiously for my answers, because that's just...

('s biology, is what it is. It's a gazillion years of reproductive programming.)

...crazy. I've been working six days a week and I'm in no position to change that, I don't ever feel like I spend enough time with the Beloved I already have, I haven't been writing, or baking, or keeping up with any of my friends. So sure, let's have another baby. FABulous idea.

Says the little voice that started it all, "I didn't mean right this minute!"

"Oh, shut up," I tell it. "We are not discussing this." And we're not.

At least not right now.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


My uncle passed away a few weeks ago, quietly in his bed, with his wife sitting nearby. She said he took a breath, and then he just didn't take any more.

It's been many years since he was the man he was born to be. He had a heart attack and the resulting brain damage broke that filter most of us have - the one that keeps us from repeating the same stories over and over, telling rude jokes in front of children, and making deeply inappropriate comments. To be honest, I didn' do you say you didn't really like someone, when they're dead? How can I express that without looking like a right bitch?

My aunt (not the one who was married to him) remarked lately that the family here in Nova Scotia never really got to know the real him, since he only moved here after his heart attack. She remembered visiting with them in Toronto, and they had a picnic in the park, with hotdogs and potato salad. My uncle noticed a homeless man sitting off under a tree, and he went over, sat down beside him, and talked to him for a while. Made up a plate for him. That was what he was really like, she said. And he may always have had a tendency to speak in a loud voice and tell rude jokes, but he was kind and he didn't judge people. (wince)

That's how it is when someone really dies, for good. Looking back now, I admit that yes, all he ever wanted - all he was trying to do - was make us laugh. And now that he's gone, the obnoxious behaviour no longer defines him, and he comes into focus as the unique and ultimately precious individual he was. That we all are, frailties and warts and indiscretions included.

The Family has Come: my father, his seven sisters, and the various spouses and offspring and grand-offspring who all cared enough to make the trek from Ottawa, Toronto, and wherever. Tonight we'll all be eating supper together at the house built for them by their father. And while we're a big family and prone to gather like puppies in a basket, this will be the first time I recall all the aunties being there at once. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Because I can do this while I'm on hold...

TECHNOLOGY:What is the wallpaper on your computer?
A cat with its paw over its face, captioned "I cannot brain today, I have the dumb."

Does that make sense?
OMG yes.

How many televisions do you have in your house?

Are you right handed or left handed?
Right handed, but I use my left for cutting food because I hate switching hands with my silverware.

Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Yes. A gallbladder, some wisdom teeth and two children.

What is the last heavy item you lifted?
A computer.

Have you ever been knocked out?
During (and after) some of the procedures above, yes, if that counts.

If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
No way.

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
I wouldn't change it, strange as it is.

What color do you think looks best on you?
Brown, black, red and pink, bright green.

Have you ever swallowed a non-food item?
Yes. A button, in church. It fell off my blouse and I didn't have a pocket, so I put it in my mouth... hey, I was twelve. My brain wasn't really developed yet.

Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
I think so, yanno, depending...

Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
Hell, no.

Would you never blog again for $50,000?

Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1,000?

Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for a million dollars?
Of course not.

What is in your left pocket?

Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
I have no idea.

Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?

Do you sit or stand in the shower?

How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
One. Do Birks count? Then two.

Last person who texted you?
I don't have text messaging.

Last person who called you?
Pastor Ross. He wants to know about his laptop repair.

Last person you hugged?


Season? Summer.

Color? sunshine yellow.

Missing someone?
Yes, my peeps.

Cranky. The full moon is coming and people are acting weird.

Listening to?
Iceberg radio

Worrying about?
Work. Oh, and the size of my butt. (G)

black capris and a purple shirt, and a (very sexy) wrist splint.

First place you went this morning?
The kitchen. That's where the kettle is.

What can you not wait to do?
Go home

Do you smile often?
Oh yes.

Are you a friendly person?
Yes, sometimes too much so.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation (all 4 days of it)

It was only a few days, but sometimes that's all you get. Sometimes, it's all you need. So, how did I spend my precious few?

I drove across the province in a blue minivan with my kids, over the spiny ridge that runs the length of the mainland, past the airport to the summit where suddenly you can see lush green farmland rolling away to the horizon. We came back down to water level at Truro, a town at the tip of the Bay of Fundy, which smells like a combination of manure and fast food. That's where you'll find the Acricultural College, but for the life of me I couldn't tell you what else is there - except every food franchise known to man, crammed cheek by jowl on a 1 km stretch of potholes.

Pebbles, sensibly, slept the whole way. BamBam and I sang along to such timeless classics as The Cat Came Back, and The Big Ship Sailed on the Alley Alley Ooh, Crocodile Rock, and the Hockey Song.

After Truro we turned to the north, and drove uphill and down through more beautiful country. A new vista opens at the crest of every hill as the highway rolls away from you toward the Northumberland Strait. This is Nova Scotia, Appalacia's last sleepy murmer before she lays herself down to sleep in the ocean.

And at last, Pictou. The place where the first Scottish settlers landed, giving Nova Scotia her name. It's a wonderful little town, where they've built a museum and a replica of the Ship Hector, the boat that brought those settlers. (I love the souvenir shop, we go every year. We also eat lunch in Thom's Pub.)

In Pictou my imagination bubbles, warmed by the local history. I can feel these people around me, wanting me to hear their stories. Some day when the kids are bigger I hope to go down there to research and write.

Once there...

I walked on the beach at low tide with my kids and mom and sister, looking at starfish and hermit crabs. I also went for a long walk on a dirt road with Mom and the kids - who missed not one single mud puddle the whole way. Pictou has red dirt, high in iron. It doesn't wash out easily, but it was worth it.

I played Scattergories and Boggle with my mom and sister. We also worked on a paint-by-number.

I biked 10K on a hot day in hilly country with my dad and DH. DH and I didn't exactly keep up with the "old feller", but Dad was kind enough to stop and wait for us from time to time. Come to think of it, it's possible that DH was just hanging back to keep me company. And maybe to make sure I didn't die in the ditch. (On getting back to the cottage, my concerned family parked me in a lawn chair with some ice water. I guess my face was a little red. (G) )

We had a water balloon fight. Mom made us a gourmet lunch of watermelon, pepperoni, cheese and crackers, but it got a little wet when Dad and DH attacked her with the hose and a bucket of water. (She still doesn't know exactly who did that, so don't tell!)

My dad made a bonfire on the beach at dusk, and we swatted bugs and roasted an entire bag of marshmallows.

Pebbles caught a surprise wave right in the chops - and she was fine. She shivered convulsively, and said "Oooh, cold." Then, smacking her lips, "tasty!"

Finished reading STRAY, by Rachel Vincent. (I highly recommend it.) Threw a football with BamBam, and ate a hotdog that fell on the ground.

I went for a ride on DH's motorbike - something I haven't done for years, what with pregnancy and smallish children. Also went to the grocery store dressed in black leather - and bought ground beef, potato chips and toaster strudel. Yep, we're hoodlums.

We drove home on the sunniest day of all four, tired and full of gratitude for the time with my family, followed by DH on his motorbike. I entertained myself by cleaning my windshield unnecessarily, and watching him in the rear view to see if I got him with the spray. (The very best part of this was that he had no idea I was doing it on purpose. (G)

So anyway, I'm back at work now, and have been for a week, but I just wanted to share with you (and remind myself) what a really good weekend it was, full of little-arm hugs and marshmallow kisses, sunscreen and laughter. I can't wait for the next one.