Friday, December 16, 2011

There's nothing funny about stage 3 lymphoma

Actually, there is.

To have her intensive biopsy, mom had to remove her dentures, as they were putting her under a general. This is a proud and elegant woman, a stunning beauty, really, even inher 80s. Just the victim of Depression-era dentistry and childhood poverty. Moving on: she didn't like the whole no-teeth thing--it meant she couldn't engage in witty repartee, she couldn't put on a brave smile. Seriously, YOU try to smile bravely while you're in a hospital gown, those ass-ugly slippers AND NO TEETH. She didn't want me looking at her, she didn't want anyone looking at her. Scared and tiny and now no sarcasm to get her through. So I did the only respectful and reassuring thing I could have done, given the circumstances.

I challenged her to a "She sells seashells by the seashore" duel.

And that's the memory I will keep of that hospital corridor: not the fear or that plashy self-pity that comes when you find yourself mothering your own mother, but of the two of us laffing our heads off over what a strange bond we've forged over the past 50 years, one that no stupid cancer could ever chew through.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kate Moss: For JP

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Surrey International Writers Conference, which is not the same as the Surrey Internal Writers Conference, which is what I keep typing and which sounds like something from a Catherynne Valente story and hence something that I would very much like to be part of and which also reminds me of some sort of shadowy grad-school memory of hearts autopsied to reveal gems embedded in them or little poems about Jesus. (Sometimes I sharply pine for those deeply odd Californian days, during which I would spend hours not surfing but wrestling with medieval oddities involving wombs and maps and saints and terror. Motherhood in the suburbs has, of course, only the terror to recommend it. I digress. BUT ONLY SORT OF. Read on.)

Back to Surrey.

In front of me at the Master Class led by Donald Maass was a woman who nearly made me lose control of my bladder. (Those of you under 40 or childless might not understand. The rest of you? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.)

This woman, built like a cathedral, struck terror into my heart. Instantly. It was like love at first sight except for the part about it being a cold visceral chill. Hmmm. Maybe a lot like love at first sight. I'm actually fascinated by these "at first sight" moments, mostly because I'm pretty much always wrong. If I hate someone at first sight, I wind up marrying them (or promising to do so, another story for another time--or three) or realizing that they're the best friend a teenaged girl being threatened with boarding school could ever have. Love at first sight? That equals RUN RUN BRAVE HEART, RUN LIKE THE WIND.

Crap, I'm digressing again. It's little wonder I cannot write my way out of this novel in progress.

SO: buttress lady, terror. Why? you might ask.

It wasn't the way her chair kind of moaned "help me," not the pencils jabbed into her unkempt half-updo, not even the purple terrytowel sweatshirt that reminded me of the very late 1970s. Who doesn't have one of those?

It was because she reminded me of my homicidal grad-school stalker.

Here's the poop: UC Davis, California, 1989. I'm walking with my pal along one of the jasmine-scented pathways that make Davis its perfect hippie self when in a heartbeat I go from being a regular old just walking along minding her own business kind of person to a sprawled upon the pavement, all limbs akimbo plus also her neck, books strewn everywhere, and being looked down upon by common geese kind of person. That's quite the transition. The perp? A solidly built female, clad in a camoflage jacket, on an old-fashioned Garry bicycle. She didn't stop to see if I was okay. Val and I laughed it off and then went about our day of being very serious graduate students, scoffing at people's delusions about Foucault and grading very harshly those among our students who split their infinitives. Such were the preoccupations of the philosophically anxious.

I was to become more anxious still. Over the next five weeks, Lumpy McCycleston wiped me out four more times, all over campus. Rising groggily from the pavement, all I registered in each instance was a purposeful set of shoulders and air-fluffed hair that could have done with a foil treatment and maybe three inches off the ends.There was something about her determinedly pumping legs as seen from behind and from the ground that reminded me of animated dinosaurs--not the plant eaters, the big awful snarling rippers of bronto flesh kind. The fear I felt was cold and true--and the hilarity of the situation only intensified the sickness in my stomach; if she killed me, finally, or paralyzed me, or ruined my peaches and cream complexion with a road rash, it would be only a story sniggered in bars by beery undergrads. So much for intellectual ambition--I was marked as a campus footnote, a stain on a bike path where plastic flowers lay discarded for only a semester. I should go home now. I should buy a plane ticket home.

We never did discover who my stalker was. The beautiful blonde police girl couldn't stop laughing as I described my plight but dutifully went through the roster of my former students with me, trying to discern who among them might have gained 50 or 60 pounds and been dissatisfied with their grades. And then I got married and moved to Los Angeles, where the threats were more serious, if considerably more slender. Ever after I've wondered who she was, why she wanted me dead, and why she didn't look into some deep conditioner. 

And when I sat down at that Master Class, my eyes bright with purpose but slightly unfocused as middle-aged eyes tend to be, the first thing I registered once composed was: three inches of unkept hair, square shoulders, thighs built for terror. In an instant I was back on the pavement, contemplating winkie beetle pheremone trails and asking myself and the heavens again "Why me?" Suddenly I was feeling small and forgotten--this time, by a publishing industry who had never heard of me and never would. I should go home now.

I learned a big lesson that night about story-telling. Some of it was from Mr Maass, an insightful person; most of it, though, was from re-experiencing terror, 20 years and 1500 miles later, thanks to the split ends and solid calves of a complete stranger. You might as well write for your own pleasure, because you have absolutely no way of knowing how anyone else is going to respond to what you put out there. To whom else do split ends and generous thighs spell soul-killing defeat, grazed elbows and the end of all ambition? 

Apart from Kate Moss, maybe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Curiosity Cleaned the Kid

Bank lineups have never been Kid's finest milieu. He's a squirmer, a dasher, a smart-mouthed noter of other people's footwear flaws. He has made it clear that Russian accents drive him crazy; that the old lady with the long hair didn't brush her teeth that morning; that "Rufus" is a weird name; that the guy in the track suit is even fatter than Fat Albert; that what did they think he was, a midget bankrobber what with the teller's counter so high above his head? I shudder when we have to go in there together; if my bank wasn't in a kinda sketchy strip mall habituated by Timmy's devotees in pickups, I'd just lock him in the car and go in on my own. I would. I would do that.  Because it has been so bad that people might be given cause to think that we haven't beent trying even a little bit--even though we have been trying very very hard, and have the livers and wrinkles to prove it. But yesterday the slate was wiped clean (literally). Suffice it to say that Kid now knows not to stick his face into the business of how automatic hand sanitizers work, and 11 people in line at the Royal Bank on a Saturday morning got a good long belly laugh. Twelve.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Pet

Haven't been around here much the last little while. We're renovating the kitchen, about which I'll never speak again because who cares, AND, AND we have a new pet. It takes a lot of hard work, and a lot of my time and energy to banish it from my thoughts. Is it because it is so very that much cute? Winsome in it ways? It is not. It is because it is this:

Meet "Slick," our mealworm.

CBE cuts must have been pretty drastic this year, because instead of a classroom hamster or duckling or even fish, each Grade 3 child at Kid's school was given a mealworm to keep in a plastic cup.

The first question I had was the most obvious one: What are they teaching kids these days? One look at Slick, and I knew she was Grace Slick...honestly-- honestly, now: have you ever seen a more feminine looking mealworm in your whle life? Me neither. It's not easy to find darling pet accessories for mealworms--not even a measly hair ribbon or a bedazzled collar. I worry about Grace Slick now, a lot. What if she wakes up one day and is gender confused? Not that it would bother me one way or another, I just want her to be in a loving relationship, but still: there might be a way to make life easier for her and I think it might be marabou. Yet, I don't think the teachers have even broached the subject of gender, which: HELLO? Is that not the first thing anyone of any age would wonder upon first laying eyes on a mealworm?

One day, sadly, Grace Slick will be turning into a beetle of some sort--or such is the nonsense with which they're filling Kid's head. I see her more as a Ramone or perhaps a Dandy Warhol. Although she would look smashing in this:
That there is a Victorian dress decorated in more than 1,000 beetle wings. It was once worn by Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth.

If you had been asked five minutes ago how to draw a logical line between Calgary Board of Education cutbacks, mealworms, Grace Slick and Lady Macbeth, you wouldn't have been able to do it, would you have?

My work here is done.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Truth Hurts

Me: Why in the name of all that is good and decent, WHY WILL YOU NOT TO GO BED?
Kid: I don't want to miss all the fun!
Me: What do you think goes on around here once you're in bed?
Kid: Well, you check your chin for whiskers--but dad watches TV til midnight!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Normally, I am not much for direct comments. I prefer a sort of sly and minky roundabout sarcasm. But I can say this, flat out: all things considered, I would have preferred to have been told about the dog eating a dead crow BEFORE I gave him his customary kiss in the face.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Boxcar Willie

Because my friends are all odd, and those in Minnesota odder still, I today found myself thinking about Boxcar Willie for the first time in 40 years. Boxcar was a regular companion on our long, hot trips to Saskatchewan in the stabby August heat--mom and dad smoking fiendishly up front while the three of us kids coped as best we could with the snarling and flatulent poodle, rogue grasshoppers sproinging desperately against the station wagon windows, and egg salad sandwiches on the turn. After Boxcar wailed for his allotted 2:46 about the Wabash Cannonball, our 8-track turned evilly to a song by George Hamilton IV, about a Saskatchewan farmer who has to shoot his horses during a winter storm because they were all starving to death anyhow. So: August fug, grasshoppers and their filthy tobacco spit, flatulent dog AND three weeping children snuffling into their mayonaissed sleeves. Good times.

But back to Boxcar: did you know he's the cousin of Tommy Lee Jones? YES.

Oh, and: the thing about Boxcar, "The World's Favorite Hobo"? He was in the US Air Force and was never, NOT EVEN FOR A SECOND, a hobo. Like, not at all. Never a hobo.

My favorite hobo is Rutger Hauer.

I don't even need to see "Hobo with a Shotgun" to know how much I love it. "When life gives you razorblades you make a bat covered with razorblades," someone says to Hobo+shotgun, which is pretty much the best quote in movie history. Except, maybe, for "I have to wash this guy's ass off my face," from the same work of genius.

I think we might have been happier little girls in the long run if we had had such alternate entertainment on those long-gone trips through the parched Canadian plains. Innocent shot-dead ponies in February prairie snowstorms made us think that God was mean, but guilty shot-dead corrupt cops, anti-hobo activists and snotty rich kids? There's your sense of divine justice right there, which is something we really could have used a sense of, what with that gassy poodle, the noxious clouds of cigarette smoke, and nothing but License Plate Bingo to divert our minds from our end-of-the-road doom: BORSCHT. The thought that, one day, someone was going to have to Answer to A Divine Authority  for pulling us out of our British Columbia lake and driving us 12 hours to a one-tree town that smelled of cabbage? That might have been the thought that would have sustained our now completely, irreparably sooty black souls.

Hey! Here's a good song about hobos, performed in a winery with a German name, just like Rutger's. I imagine you're amazed by how I did that, what with the multi-media pulling together of many hobo threads all blowin' in the wind. Worn Ragged, writing meaningfully of hobos since 2008.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Upon being 8

So as of a few days ago, my baby is 8 years old. We celebrated by touring a Liberty Ship in the San Francisco Harbor. My Canadian child knows this much about Americans: one salutes the flag.

"Mommy, why is a salute hitting your eyebrow with the side of your hand?"

I explained to him about the whole Roman thing, demonstrating that your right hand is free of weapons, and that it's also a mark of respect. One ought to stand about three feet from the superior being addressed and maintain an upright posture.

So for the next three hours, I am tailed at three feet by a small boy in a white sailor's hat, barking orders to himself, his hand glued to his new sailor's cap,  marching around as though his life depended upon the force with which his sneakers hit the ground.

The volunteers aboard the Jeremiah O'Brien were duly impressed. The man running the gift shop made hima birthday present, as did the sage 91-year-old Anglican vicar who sailed the O'Brien to Normandy and back twice, some 50 years apart.  Kid was told by this wise old man to listen to his mother and not to put anything in his body that he didn't know for sure would make him healthier and stronger. The chocolate chip cookie in his hand hit the dust. The long-held dream of cotton candy did the same.

So now I'm parenting an 8-year-old Canadian health-nut who wants to be an American navy officer when he grows up, and who has already memorized the lines to "Anchors Aweigh." He also criticized my consumption of chips, beer, and guacamole, which is completely irritating.

Next year I'm taking him to a law office so he can check out the Hugo Boss suits and the BlackBerries. It's either Freedome 85 or Nudge Kid into Extremely Lucrative Line of Work. Although it will, I confess, be hard to give up the salute. I quite like the salute.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bye, sweetie

At first, they don't leave your arms. Then they're attached to your leg at the knee. Then they want to hold hands all the time. Then they're just within arm's length. And then they get bikes and learn to swim and you just stand there, watching them get a little farther away with every minute. This was an exciting week for Kid: he finally got the hang of that bike and something in his body/brain happened so that he started to swim. I stood clutching my Kindle poolside, watching his small perfect face framed by the water, as he demonstrated his new ability to float. And then he minnowed his way down to the other end of the pool in a non-too-straight line, taking all of my heart with him.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Say Hello, You Refuse to Say Goodbye

It goes like this: two boys have been playing together like short human beings for a number of hours. Sure, there are shrieks, there are arguments, there are--shall we say--differences of opinion settled through the judicious use of fruit peels and saucy verbal jousting. But in general all is civilized. One grows proud.

And then comes the moment when the parents of the other boy arrive. And you know what happens?

Oh, not much. Only complete and utter savagery.

Wedgies are inflicted. There is hair pulling. One small boy topples the other small boy into a curio cabinet. A WEAPON IS PRODUCED even though they both know that we are trying hard around here to maintain the  impression that we are a stable suburban bungalow staffed by responsible, well-educated (if terminally dishevelled), pacifist grown-ups. One of the midgets cries. Someone swears--just yesterday I heard the dread phrase "by cracky." Motherly arms clutch futilely for squirmy bodies, motherly voices squeak ineffectually beneath the mayhem.

And two nice women experience that stomach-churning churning of stomachs that indicates that you've failed publicly, again, at this raising children thing. Yeah, okay, sure--the kids don't have hooks for hands (Jenny's yardstick for successful parenting)--BUT they are not a credit to the family. They're not a credit to the RACE. THE PEOPLE RACE. And then the wheels well and truly come off: you re-re-re-re-re-notice the ancient smashed corpse of the mosquito of 2005 on the wall just above the door. The dog-chewed shoe in the hall that was fashionable in 1999 and which bears the grimy marks of your very own five apparently not-so-clean toes. The one-lightbulb-short hall fixture that even your mother shudders at, it's so hideous. The guacamole on your shirt. You see the thought bubble above the other mom's head: "Oh, SHE'S the mother of that child who wore ONE PAIR OF SOCKS the entire week he was away at camp."

The threshold is supposed to be a magical and hotly contested place of ghosts and angels, vengeful gods of the forest demanding entrance and determined gods of the hearth saying "No way, not on my watch you don't, you filthy beast." Guess what? It's true.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Code for Shoot Me

There are certain things that I say every single day of life. For many of them, I am grateful. Things like "Thanks, that was nice." Or "I love you, too." But there's one soul-dulling little ritual that I go through around about this time--just after dinner--365 days a year. It feels like 365 days a week. When it's happening, my mind goes to a pale stretch of beach in Belgium or The Netherlands--the Wat in Northern Germany--someplace with a vast horizon and nothing much to look at but some squirming mud fish temporarily discomfited. I can literally feel my eyes rolling back in my head as though they were suspended in a tupperware dish full of water.

It goes like this:

Me: Put on your pyjamas, please.
Kid: Why.
Me: I would prefer "Okay" to "Why." Try again.
Kid: Do I Have To.
Me: Put on your pyjamas, please.
(And here it comes:)

(Can he keep this shirt on....Sure, why not? It's only encrusted with breakfastlunchdinnersnacks, texturized by paintgluespitbloodotherpeoplesartprojects, and dusted lightly with gravelchalkdoghair. Sure, what the hell, sleep in that thing. It would only mean fumigating your bedroom and boiling your sheets for a day and a half.)

Me: No, it's filthy.Take it off.

And much complaining ensues. The words "unfair" and "revolutionary" are uttered. Furious little hand gestures and Churchillian grimaces.

This evening as my eyes were rolling back in my head and my thoughts turned to miles of empty Belgian coastlines with no obvious beauty, I had a brainwave. It goes like this:


An entire 15-minute battle, reduced to four syllables. Imagine the time, the gin, the therapy that we will save. You got any short cuts to bedtime? Besides firing them out of a cannon and into their little trundle beds?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Love = poached halibut

Husband was off on a boondoggle in Ottawa the last few days, leaving me to negotiate the Children's Festival, a birthday party, dinners, dog walks and school attendance. At some things I failed spectacularly (the last three things, actually). The first two weren't great either. Looking around frantically for a win here. . . I did recognize the need for Kid to have underwear that actually fits, and made that purchase. So: check! Yay me! I bought superhero gaunch.

When DH is away, I fall into a sort of fog. It's not, despite my obvious affection for the darling man, that I can't live without him, it's just that I can't seem to live well without him. Watching DH prepare the first decent meal we would eat since last Thursday, Kid and I have decided that love tastes like poached halibut.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rocking the Norm

So, yesterday I left another woman's small boy outside the school in the rain on his birthday because I am, well, me. This morning, I slept in and so Kid is not in school. (Attention, any potential CBE employees out there: sometimes I write fiction on this blog. You just never know.) (But this is true.) ("True.") (You'll never take me alive, coppers.) The last time Kid had socks that matched was last year on his birthday when he received a pair of them from his scandalized grandmother. They've never been seen since. The dog was walked yesterday. Twice, around the back yard. That way, when Husband phones from his Ottawa Valley boondoggle, I won't have to lie about whether Elvis got some exercise. I made frozen burritos for dinner; they were stil frozen in the middle after 30 minutes in the oven, so we chipped away at the sad corn and did our best. My son greeted the pacifist mother of his friend at the front door not with a polite "hello" but with a loaded cap gun. That same kid cannot spell "Tuesday" but can spell "thermonuclear detonator" and "hydrogen fission." Also: "diarrhea."

This is what a friend calls, with affection, my "parenting style." She like how I "rock the norm."

I think I've done waaay more than rock the norm. I think I've taken the norm down to its subatomic core and applied dancing filaments of energy thereupon. What happens next is anyone's guess at this point--but tomorrow? It involves a birthday party, the military museum, the Children's Festival and a dinner date with some Hogwart's Lego and a princess.

I just glanced in the mirror I keep by the desk for detecting and eliminating chin hairs by daylight. I have crazy eyes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pic St-Loup

So I took May off from this blog. I didn't mean to, but the life! The life got in the way!
I now know much more about Osler-Weber-Rendu than I ever expected to, purchased some custom beryl earrings from Wexford Jewelers because that's the sort of thing I do in the middle of the wide-awake night when no one's around on Facebook to play Scrabble with--I think about what jewelry I have to leave to my neices in my will and decide that none of it is good enough so I really ought to have myself fashioned some raw beryl earrings and avoid post-mortem embarrassment, I saw one of my closest friends run naked across a stage while hundreds of the blue-rinse set howled with laughter and all I could think was "Wow, she's been working out," clipped a foxhound's dewclaws, was assailed by cauliflower left too long to its own devices, put my hand in a bucket of aquatic insects while four Grade 2s squealed in horror, purchased inappropriately above-the-knee clothing for a woman of my advanced years, told a bird to fuck off, listened as the doctor diagnosed my gorgeous blue-eyed baby with some kind of serious myopia perhaps requiring the insertion of hard glass disks into his poor blind eyes, and yelled at a really mean person who phoned me up at 4.30 in the morning and then wouldn't believe that I was not, in fact, the owner of an architectural supplies firm named DAVE.  And now my friends are going to Italy to join other friends already there, a friend's baby has been born and her brother has died, one of my sisters and two of my brothers-in-law are in Ottawa, as is my husband, and the woman whose birthday-boy son I just left standing in front of the school in the rain for 20 minutes brought me a bottle of wine to thank me for helping her out.

It's a huge swirling world of joy and pain and rain and Italy and medicine and airports and those green plastic perfumed dog poo bags, and sometimes there is no room for blogging about it.

BUT! So far no scrapes, no bruises, no sad undergarments making a break for it. And Pic St-Loup at the end of A Day.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hi Betty and Lorna

Ladies, thanks for the laffs today. Elvis also enjoyed your delightful company. If wish I could use your real names, but that would mean I couldn't in good conscience allude to the stunt you pulled in the bathroom with the phone, the octogenarian and the coonhound.
Must good manners ALWAYS win?

Monday, April 25, 2011

What we cannot do

Easter brought many delicious things, including the sweet sweet knowledge of what we cannot do here in the voodoo bungalow:
1. I cannot resist candy-coated chocolate eggs, even if it is 7 in the morning and I have a hangover.
2. I cannot get the image of the time the pig's head snouted me in the knee in Paris out of my head when contemplating a bagful of brisket. Lots of prepositions there, yes: but I believe my meaning is clear. 8 pounds of raw brisket = metaphysical barf.
3. Kid cannot stay out of puddles, even if he is (temporarily) in the last pair of dry footwear he owns and even if that means he is in the park in wet bunny slippers.
4. DH cannot keep from putting ancho in everything.
5. Kid cannot keep from whacking elderly people in the knees with plastic ninja swords. Nor can he stop saying "damn" if they should for once actually have their hearing aides turned on.
6. DH cannot see that the green napkins do not in fact go with the orange and blue tablecloth.
7. None of us is capable of watching the Canucks win, but that is the fault of some Nordic twins and not our own, except in sort of an ancilliary way.
8. Gramma cannot keep from asking if we have things like paper towels, water, salt. Relieved to confirm that we could identify and produce all items.
9. We cannot be trusted to drink Orangina in the basement unsupervised.
10. Most of us cannot leave the bungalow without commenting that the last step there is pretty wobbly and is perhaps right on the verge that very moment of collapsing, as it has been threatening to do for six years now.
11. And finally, many of us cannot give a damn about the dishes until the morning, at which point we all feverishly hope to outwait the others by faking illnesses of wildly various provenance. This year, I had dengue fever for three hours.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


--Bye, sweetheart. Have a good morning at school--learn everything!
--You mean like ALL the secrets of the universe?
--You have to start somewhere, kid.
--Yeah, but ALL THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE? That would take me at least. . . . 7 days. Maybe even a whole month.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just in case

Spring cleaning at the voodoo bungalow is no small thing. We are all messy people with squirrel-like proclivities--there are, in fact, peanuts stuffed down the sides of the couch, just in case. Luke never met a photocopied conference programme from 1987 or a grade sheet from three years back in a different country that he didn't want to keep, just in case. Elvis hides socks all over the place, just in case. I cannot throw out anything that has the handwriting of a loved one, just in case. (Just in case it turns out to be the last thing they wrote or just in case my action starts the wheel turning and something bad happens next. I am clearly the craziest one. Yay me!)

But this year I'm getting serious about this whole down-sizing thing. That means it is time to say goodbye to some of the mommy hoard.
--plastic bag full of baby spoons, one with a tiny toothmark. I don't know if this is Lief's toothmark or one that was there when the spoon was passed down. I might have been hoarding a spoon with my 15yo niece's toothmark on it, which would cause her to roll her eyes and say "Eww, gross."
--two pieces of gravel that might have been given to me/thrown at me by my baby at the swings park. Or might have simply fallen out of one of his socks.
--one "Tiny Swimmer" disposable bathing suit in size 9mo. I kept it because "tiny swimmer" reminded me bitterly of how I got to be in the predicament of being in my bathing suit, lumpy and old and disheveled and now also wet, in public, with strangers, at 8.30 on a Wednesday morning, in the FIRST PLACE. One of the things I'd like to have less of is bitterness.
--that's not true. I love bitterness. It smells like victory. I want more.
--the earring that Lief found underneath our table at Brava, the first time he went anywhere with us. That was also the last time he went anywhere with us, for a very long time. That was the night he also found and ate someone's lipstick under the table at Brava. Well, he actually found it in someone else's purse under someone else's table at Brava. . . . It was actually a really nice shade and I kept it to try and match it against different brands at the cosmetics counter at the downtown Bay one afternoon. This is an episode in my life that I should probably try to forget. Farewell, baggie containing someone else's half-eaten lipstick from 6.5 years ago!
Scared yet?
I originally wrote "sacred yet?" And now I'm worried that there are no mistakes, Freud is 100% spot on and if I throw these things out I will be losing some holy part of my life. Something sacred and memorable, deep, religious, chthonic, powerful. I could be losing something important forever.
Good enough.
Out. The. Door.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hello again

Been a little quiet here because I've been making Life Decisions, which seem to involve taking a lot of long silent walks, listening to mopey alt rock and buying expensive tiles for the kitchen reno. 
I've been weighing this choice: take a full-time job with a nice big soul-less company and rake in the cash that everyone keeps telling me I could be making and deserve, or settle down more deeply into the life I'm already living, a life that revolves around this house and the people in it--people who are perhaps often cash-strapped but otherwise pretty happy. And maybe about to be a little more cash-strapped than before. 
Because I think I'm done now. I do not much care about career trajectories and SEO, blog traffic, my personal brand, what I could be doing today if I'd made different choices a decade ago. I think I have enough. I think it's all going to be okay. I'm going to work, sure, but I'm also going to write, I'm going to read, I'm going to be there at the school when volunteers are needed to make papier mache and go on field trips. I will be there for my elderly parents. I think that's what I'm supposed to be doing right now. It's all become a huge competition: who writes the most words? who gets paid the most? whose car is nicer and who lives in a bigger house? Are those Pradas? I think if I spend any more time with problems like that, I will make myself permanently damaged. Like, eyes hanging out of my green skull damaged. In the end it comes down to this: what behavior do I want to model for my child? I want him to see a happy grownup who helps out in the community, has a good circle of friends, honours her intellectual pursuits and doesn't let money run her life. Or ruin it. . . . she says, quickly, lest anyone get the idea that the whole freelancer thing is off. It isn't. It's just slipped down a gear or two.
And now, a walk in the spring sunshine. Hope you all get to do the same, whether or not your kids are watching.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The things we do for love

Have just agreed to talk like Joan Crawford in "Sunset Blvd." in the event that sister's new eyebrows force her to attend tonight's wine tasting in the guise of Groucho Marx.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthday round up

High-thread-count luxury pyjamas from glamorous Los Angeles
5 bars of Bernard Callebaut chocolate
3 Happy 50th Birthday cards (it wasn't my 50th birthday)
4 birthday cards about bodily functions and the failure thereof
6 bottles of wine
Amazon gift certificate
Dinner and drinks at a cozy restaurant

I'm starting to understand that the people around me might not know how old I am, but they really, really understand me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Talent Show

So today, picking up Kid at 3.25, I was met by the luminous D, the woman who has saved my life consistently since 2004 with her earthmother glowy childcare. She reminded me that today was "Talent Show" day for our grade 2 class. Her daughter had threatened to play the piano while standing on one leg and wearing a clown nose. This was causing her some consternation. Not quite, you know, dignified?

Thank God, I thought, THANK GOD Kid wasn't taking part. He has no musical talent of which to speak (unless you count the ability to hit the high notes in Bohemian Rhapsody), so for once--for once, sweet Jesus--I would be spared the certain comedy revue that is my son's public life.

Except . . .  D's daughter, admitting that her own showing had been unremarkable, went on to announce breathlessly that Kid had done something "Really weird."

When a 7yo pronounces the actions of another 7yo as "really weird," you're in for a treat. This is what I have learned.

Turns out, Kid did really weird karate. For his music class. And WARMED UP and DID STRETCHES while everyone watched. And then proceeded to weave and bob and whoop and holler his way around the music room, feigning little punches and kicks at shadowy and imaginary opponents. which included a zylophone and a pair of very sorry glockenspiels.

We both watched as Kid shot out the school doors, singing the theme song from Indiana Jones at the top of his lungs, his toque slung low over his eyes, his backpack weighed down with 75 pounds of books on the American Civil War.

"Thank you," said the glowy D to me. "Thank you so much."

What can I say? We aim to please.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Granny pants and grad school

There's an outside chance I might have had some body-image issues when I started wearing my grandmother's underthings in my 20s. My dead grandmother's underthings. The least sexy woman in the long history of non-sexy women, many of whom I imagine have been members of my family, she nevertheless had these adorable little nightie sets--the kind that Doris Day would have worn, with filmy little shrugs to go with. I loved them the way I loved Doris Day: with all my heart. It was just a slippery slope from there. When I write my memoirs I will secure professional help in discovering why my undergarment life went in this direction, and I will share. For now, the simple fact is all that's important: for several years, I went around wearing my dead grandmother's underpants. Roomy, non-judgmental, free--yeah, okay, so maybe my dead grandmother had been wearing them when she was alive, but: roomy!

Reading this over it's clear that I have spent many many years, and not just the last few, as a peculiar person in need of more than chcocolate and booze. Although those too. Nobody stop with the chocolate and booze; that's not what I'm getting at.

So (and here comes the story part):

I was working downtown, right across from City Hall and the Public Library, in a medium-sized building filled with police services and public prosecutors and the American consulate. Getting there from my low-rent apartment was a snap: about 5 stops on the C-Train. I tended to leave my departure til the last minute and thus it was, that bright July morning, that I left home in my grandmother's undergarments and a cute little cinnamon coloured skirt. And everything went just fine until, for no one particular reason but perhaps for many many small reasons over the decades, Gramma's brave undergarment finally gave up the elastic ghost. As I stepped smartly from the train, It Happened. Shoof.

Not an all-the-way-step-out-of-your-underpants shoof, but a shoof that went mid-thigh. And then, as I adjusted my stance so as to keep my drawers up, just a little lower.

What does one do in such a situation? I looked for a shrubbery behind which to ditch, but alas, no such thing. The sole mailbox was surrounded by smokers. The Olympic pillars looked promising but Japanese tourists were having their pictures taken there. Plus, I would probably have fallen into the water while standing on one foot and then I would be wearing sodden vast underpants.

 See? There's hardly any cover at all.

So I clamped one hand very very tightly to one leg and sort of pivoted around as though my legs were a compass, maintaining the ideal pressure on the saggy pants in terms of where they sat against the mercifully kind of snug fitting skirt. I just tried to recreate that walk for my kid and he told me I look like I wet 'em. So not saggy, but soggy. I appeared, to anyone who might have been watching from the 8th floor--as at least three people were--that I had recently been incontinent. (Gramma! It all comes full circle in the end, does it not?)

I waddled slowly across the street, up the stairs, across the lobby and into a mercifully waiting elevator. The moment the door closed, I relaxed, put my knees back together and experienced deep shoof relief.

Except that the door hadn't closed all the way and Larry (let's call him that) from the office burst into the otherwise empty elevator to find me standing next to a pair of vast and shapeless underpants.

Did I know I was standing on them? He asked.

Eek, no, said I.

And thus I became that girl in that story that they still tell at company Christmas parties, that story that no one quite believes but that has been handed down for decades as gospel truth: someone heard it from Steve, who heard it from Clare, who dated that girl who sat next to Omi, who got it from Larry.

Sometimes people ask me why I went back to grad school, in a foreign country, and then stayed abroad for 15 years. Now you know.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Complicated phone problems

My phone: ring. ring. ring. 
Me: Hello?
Agitated Polish Woman: Khello?
Me: Hello.
APW: Why you have called me.
Me: I'm sorry?
APW: You have called me. Why? For what?
Me: Um. Actually, you . . . .
APW: You should stop call me. Stop.
Me: I think you might have the wrong number. . . .
APW: No, YOU have wrong number. You are one with wrong number. Throw it out. Never call me.
Me: Okay then.

The thing is, caller ID has registered her phone number on my phone. It's all I can do not to call her and order a pizza or ask for Lubosh or inform her that she is to desist from her blackmarket hairdressing.

This is the sort of thing that leads inevitably to an appearance on a very special Oprah.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Music Memoir in 12 Questions: Crazy Pants!

Ironic Mom has all the best ideas. From now on I think I'm a just gonna steal all her prompts and have a shadow blog--a revenant ninja stealth site called "Moronic Mi."

Anyhoodle, here's my version of A Music Memoir in 12 Questions. Fun! 

Also: kinda depressing, when one notices that all the musical highpoints of one's life occurred about 35 years ago. I must have some golden Hammer pants around somewhere to cheer up this voodoo bungalow.

  1. First concert: The Police, XTC @ Max Bell Arena, 1980. Told mom I was going skating. She thought there were a heck of a lot of people in that parking lot for just some random free skate. Sorry Mom! Things I also regret about that evening: Darryl the Fish, and the "cigarette."
  2. First album: Eagles, Hotel California. Never gotten over the idea of pink champagne on ice. Which reminds me: It's lunch time!
  3. Favourite concert memory: Neil Finn @ Largo, LA
  4. Song you love to hate: Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers. Actually anything by Kenny Rogers except for this (BONUS: Crazy pants!)
  5. Song you hate to love: Can’t Touch This, MC Hammer. Lookit im go! I dare you to not just get right into it. (BONUS: Crazy pants!)
  6. Song you know all the words to: Mexican Radio, Wall of Voodoo (BONUS: Crazy face!)
  7. Song that makes you cry: Life is the Red Wagon, Jane Siberry
  8. Song that makes you move: Burning Down the House, Talking Heads
  9. Song you remember dancing to: junior high gym, Ballroom Blitz, The Sweet.  I’ve just watched this video three times, amazed, astounded, just plain gob-smacked at the garish glam wondrousness of it all. The world seemed so fabulous when I was 14. Plus, I think I just found out where Eddie Izzard got some of his wardrobe ideas.
  10. Favourite cover of a song: Cry Baby/Piece of My Heart, Joss Stone, Melissa Etheridge
  11. Karaoke song: Would never, but: Take Me Home, Country Road
  12. Last concert: Crowded House

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheese Lady of the Apocalypse

There's this woman I've been avoiding. Okay, so there are like 40 women I've been avoiding, but I've been avoiding this one in particular. She's the cheese sample lady at my local supermarket and from way across the aisle housing all the tubers you can tell that she's a lunatic. And you know what lunatics love? 

They love ME.

So I've been taking the long way around, braving the horrors of the deli counter just to ensure that there is no eye contact. Today, in a hurry to find provender for Kid's lunch, I forgot the trap and blundered right into the fromagey web. 

Quinoa, eggs, almonds, cereal, CHEESE LADY OF THE APOCALYPSE.

"Irish Cheddar, hon?"

I froze. Even now, recounting it, I'm shuddering.

I turned, slowly. Hairnet. Henna rinse. Two bright pink spots a bit too low down on the cheeks. Dentures, slipping out. God love her.

And so I found myself pinning into the cheese lady vortex of doom, trapped for 15 minutes that I did not really have, while other shoppers whizzed past with little thought bubbles above their heads reading "SUCKA!" and "THANK CHRIST IT WASN'T ME."  One guy actually snickered audibly. 

Dear guy who snickered audibly: I will find you.

Topics covered with Cheese Sample Lady: 

--Her friend Joanne the celiac
--Goddamn people who eat dinner after 8pm
--Denture clinics run by people who do not themselves have dentures
--The price of cauliflower
--The goddamn government and why you can't buy rye at Safeway. Rye bread, sure, but not rye to drink. It just makes no goddamn sense. 
--The fact that no one can tell the difference between Irish cheddar and cheddar from Okotoks (a bedroom community of Calgary, not known for cheese production of any kind). 
--Espadrilles and why the sides of them are so goddamn ugly
--The upward trend in rental prices in the Tuscon, AZ, area
--Her boyfriend Dougie and his goddamn wife and who was going to go to tonight's hockey game

I tried. I did, I tried, I was everything my mother could have hoped I would be in such a situation. I made the right noises, I tried to reach out to her as a person, an individua with a history and feelings and loves and dreams and hopes and small sadnesses. I sampled her cheese. I spent 15 minutes with the Cheese Sample Lady and I tried to brighten her day. 

When I finally mentioned that I had only 12 minutes to get to school to pick up the Kid, she let me go with the promise that I'd drop in again real soon. 

About 20 feet away, a man stopped me in front of the bananas. He clutched my sleeve and gestured. Come closer, said the gesture. 

AW, MAN: I thought. NOW WHAT?? 

Brace yourself: It's worse than I imagined. Worse than you imagined.

What he said to me was this: 

"Did you eat the cheese she gave you? Because I have to tell you, my wife and I were watching her for 10 minutes and she was picking her nose the whole time. Connie's just gone to tell the manager."

There's nothing I can add to that except goodnight, thanks for reading, and feel free to barf. I did.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Perfect Age

Kid: Mommy, are you very old?
Me: Nope. I'm just the right age to be your mom.
Kid: I disagree. I think you were the perfect age last year. It's just going to get worse every year.

And he wonders why we don't take him to Disneyland.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Holidays are for the brave

Just returned from a four-day mountain getaway. Four-day, you say? Indeed, FOUR-DAY. 

Yes, indeed, that is one of those "adjectives of dyspeptic unrest" that you heard so much about in Latin class.

Disclaimer: if I were once again to spend four days in a chalet with 17 other people--including 7 teenagers and with the addition of three large dogs--then these would be the 17 I would pick. 

Fun things we did:

Hot tub, aka "leprotic oatmeal of despair" (see page 45 of the latest Journal of Tropical and Infectious Diseases).

Sleeping triple in a double bed: tiny fists! tiny feet! bony knees! 3 am! 

Beer for breakfast! Being hungover at 10.45am is a new one, even for me.

Where's Elvis? Front door? Back door? Locked in one of the 8 bedrooms? Garage? Deck? Other deck? Oh, he jumped in someone else's truck and went for a ride to town? 

From a pile of roughly 65 (note the odd number) of black ski gloves of various sizes, pick those that belong to you, your son, your husband, and perhaps the kid down the street whose mom thinks maybe he left his mitts at your place.

Enter a communal living room at 9am feeling more or less okay about yourself, leave 20 seconds later feeling old and wrinkly as 7 teens with flawless skin, shiny hair and expensive shorty pajamas do the rhumba in front of the fire. "It's the dance of love!" they say. 

Ah, but wait, my lithe little friends with the shiny hair and the trust funds, watch this: it's the samba of approaching decrepitude. One day when you're feeling like you used to be groovy but a long time ago, that the turkey neck is new and not welcome in your village, that everyone around you seems to speak a dialect of English oddly parallel but not ever really contiguous with your own, one day when every corpuscle of your being is crying out for a caffeinated milky beverage but you've left your lactose-intolerance medicine at the end of a long long hallway at the top of a tall tall flight of stairs--on that day, as your one good knee bends a little and your stiff back muscles give you the appearance of standing straight and tall, and your bent and twisty old feet start to shuffle a few inches at a time, then I hope you remember this sparkling winter morning in your long-haired youth and the fire and the grey-haired person whose name you never can remember and marvel at how quickly this life bounces in and out of the dance hall.

Well, that went south in a hurry, didn't it? Next year, I do believe I shall do the same. One of those single-family beach shanties of which you hear so much.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mommy meltdown

The Huffington Post's comedy writers just hit one out of Sarcasm Field: "Mommy Meltdowns: Has It Happened To You?"

Gee, not since about 8:45 this morning, around the same time that I last saw my child.

Things we have argued about in the last 48 hours:
  • How you spell "pretty" 
  • Milk: just white pee or reputedly nutritious fluid coming from quite another body part?
  • Whether "LEGO" stands for "Let Everything Get Out"
  • Whether it's necessary to make sure your "boy bits" are still hanging there by squeezing them every 25 seconds
  • That fart song is hilarious: yes or no?
  • Daddy is smarter than Mommy: yes or no?
  • Nazi? Nasty? Indiana Jones says "Nasty." So Mommy is probably wrong.
  • Whether there are two "r"s in "February"--or Febooary, depending on which side you take
I've been reading books on the adolescent brain as part of the homework for a writing class I'm taking through UCLA Extension, and I'm more frightened now than I've ever been in my whole life. If dealing with a 7yo is this frustrating, what on earth will I do when, 10 years from now when I am approaching 60, I have to cope with a big hairy bad-ass 17yo?

At which point, the Baroness Schraeder appears like a silk-swaddled Great Gazoo and purrs:

"Darling, haven't you ever heard of a delightful little thing called boarding school?"

Indeed I have, Baroness, my pet. Indeed I have. Sometimes, at around 9.45pm, when Kid has finally lost his long and vocal battle with sleep, I lie quietly on the couch and chant: Ashbury, Shawnigan, St Andrews College, over and over again, whilst flipping the pages of the dog-eared brochures. That, and the gin fizz, sustains me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I was thinking that
maybe I'd get a maid
Find a place nearby
for her to stay.
Just someone
to keep my house clean,
Fix my meals and go away.
--"A Man Needs a Man," Neil Young

It's not just "a man," pal.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Anyone else ever mistaken for . . . ?

I need to be clear: I am thrilled to accept a Stylish Blogger award from Ironic Mom, (who got hers from Clay Morgan of the highly diverting EduClaytion), but:
1.    I accept it while wearing what I wore yesterday. And that was no screaming hell, let me tell you.
2.    I find it ironic indeed that she would pass along any award having to do with style to someone whose blog is called “Worn Ragged.” It describes way more than my nerves, is all. 
3.    I believe she is speaking primarily of my syntax, as I can haul out an elegant sentence every once in a while. These sentences tend to be about such inelegant things as phlegm, tuna casserole, and horrifying tomatoes, but that is between me and my shrink.
4.    I gave Ironic Mom a picture of a $1.50 pin, and she gave me an award. That’s style.  
The rules of the game are this: First, I tell you 7 things about me. (I will understand if you just want to go and look at that tomato instead).
Here we go: 7 Things You Won’t Hear from Others

1.    I was once mistaken by the LAPD for a transvestite hooker on a Hollywood street corner.
2.    In college, I signed up for an entire year of medieval Welsh literature solely to escape a boy who didn’t have the pre-requisites to get into that class. I would later leave him at the altar (or “allor” in Welsh).
3.  I often wear a tiara while conducting (non-video) conference calls.I feel it gives me a certain gravitas that I otherwise lack. Being, you know, in my pajamas most of the time.
4.    Beluga whales fill me with horror. I wish them well but I cannot look at them.
5.    All the headshots I use in my business life are taken with me wearing my pajamas. You are the first to know.
6.    Ever since “What Not to Wear” first came on, I have lived in terror because I know my friend Annie would totally turn me in for a hatpin and a kitten.
7.    After tapeworms, I regard Play-Do as the single most disgusting thing on earth. (PS: Under no circumstances ever, EVER Google “Tapeworm.”)
Now I get to nominate 6 other bloggers for The Stylish Blogger Award. These are 6 funny, smart and admirable people from whom you'll get a laff (mostly), a cry (once in a while, but--hey--that's life), and a little bit of you-need-to-hear-this. Here’s my list:
Alpha Monkey: The only person with whom I have exchanged several hours’ worth of IMs about badger taxidermy. Sends presents in the mail from America. Advises about lipstick. Understands about hips. Favorite person.

Unknown Mami: Rocks a paper bag. Her "Sundays in my City" is one of my favorite Web habits.

Copenhagen Follies: Jennie is smart, funny and can be counted on to travel to exotic locations—and post photos. Finland! Marrakesh! Also: nice hair.

Baking Vintage: Smart, pretty, fun—and now also a professional baker. You want to be friends with Katie.

Saturday Jane:  Not only, but partly, because she appreciates scrub jays.

BrainyJane/BrandyIsMagic Because of this sentence, if because of nothing else (but not because of nothing else): “I will never understand: why people wear full linen jumpsuits. All that ironing? Why do that to yourself?”

In order to accept The Stylish Blogger Award, these nominees must do the following:
  1. Write seven things about yourself.
  2. Present the award to six bloggers.
  3. Contact those people.
  4. Create a link back to the person who did this for (or to) you.
If these nominees do not wish to accept the nomination, they can donate money to Kiva or totally ignore this post. I will continue to love them no matter what.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Click if you dare

I just saw the most awful thing. I'm warning you. Not awful, awful--like bleeding people or animals treated cruelly. Just. Awful.

Seriously, have you ever seen anything so disturbing in your whole life? The thing that upsets me the most is that seed. I want to floss it.

I need to floss it.

This is where my life's choices have taken me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This is your emergency menopause station

Does this make you weep uncontrollably at your keyboard? If so, proceed to your liquor cabinet and make yourself whatever seems best.

This is getting completely out of control. Yesterday I was blubbering at a McCain's fries commercial. "The . . . the . . .boy, he's so. . . . hungry and. . . and. . . his shirt is all stripey and. . . . and . . . . ADORABLE. . . . and her kitchen . . . IS SO CLEAN. WAAAAAAHHHH!"

And GOD, it's hot in here.

My life would certainly change...

...if I had more clothes like this:

Please give generously.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Car Snacks

When we used to head out to our Windermere cabin, back when Lake Windermere had something like 10 cabins on it in total and not ten condos per square meter, we observed certain niceties. Barfers at the window seats. Long-suffering but uncomplaining and very awesome sister in the middle even though as the eldest she should have punched someone in the head until the window seat was hers but ahem moving right along. Flatulent poodle (version 1.1 of which had three legs and was full of hate as well as noxious gasses) on the arm rest of the front seat--and wedged in somewhere would be Gramma with her tin tartan picnic basket. Which all comes back to the barfers, because MAN would they have something to work with.

We were allowed to commence dining once we reached the Cochrane turn-off. Something like 20 minutes into the 3-hour trip. And then the tin would open and inside would be egg salad sandwiches, tuna salad sandwiches, sweet pickle and butter sandwiches, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, Wink or Tahiti Treat, celery sticks with Cheez-Whiz, Bugles, ju-jubes, coconut marshmallow cookies, popcorn twists, salt and vinegar potato chips and red Twizzlers. That was when she didn't really have enough time to pack a "proper lunch." I remember rolling out of the car at the cabin, easily 5 pounds heavier, redolent of many chemicals and dyes and sugars and processed flours, having said very little to anyone else, all of whom were rubbing their jaws and bellies and looking like little bubbles were floating above their heads. We were well on the way to porkitude and ill health including, probably, significant brain damage, but damn it we were happy and we felt the love. The pink coconut marshmallow love.

These days, now that I am Queen, we go to Banff on the weekends. It's an hour-long drive, door to door. Last week, so that he would feel the love, Kid got pretzels, some juice, an apple, a banana, almonds, and two squares of organic dark chocolate.  I figured that would get him through the ordeal of being driven to a nice condo with a pool, something to help him concentrate on blasting battledroids and resisting pleas to for God's sake look at the scenery you are so lucky to live here. I imagined him thinking fondly back through the years to the thoughtful little snacks his mom would make for him on skiing weekends.

Look upon me, the standard bearer of exceptional parenting. Look upon me, you mothers in the McDonald's drive through lane, and WEEP!


Kid's babysitter has just informed me that he's pleaded with her to pack him a proper snack for this afternoon's excruciating drive. "You know Laur," he says, "She's not too great with the snacks. Mostly leftovers." He did not feel the pink coconut marshmallow love.

I'll be spending the next 45 minutes picking and choosing from our wide assortment of leftovers, which include cold green beans, a rind of Some Smelly Cheese, 2 inches of cranberry cocktail and what looks like tuna salad. I bet he'll be feeling the pink coconut marshmallow love next weekend, all righty.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The dark side

Time for a confession here: when I was a kid, sharing a bunk bed with my younger sister, I used to hang down from the top bunk in the middle of the night and growl her name in a demon voice. Then she'd wake up yelling and I'd pretend that I was just sleeping along, minding my own business, when this stupid shrieking nightmare-ridden sister woke me from the dreams of innocence.

I've told this story to a couple of people over the years and their response has been the same: That Is So Awful.

Oh, the shame. Oh, the hand-wringing. Oh, the kind of sort of thinking about maybe kicking in for some of the therapy bills.

Tonight I'm sitting here in the kitchen trying not to put on the glow-in-the-dark monster makeup that Santa brought for Kid and scaring the bejeezus out of him.

I might not always be a good mother, but I bet I'll be a memorable one.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The mouth department

Periodically, in the midst of writing lies about software, sweeping foxhound hair out of every freaking nook in the voodoo bungalow, bandaging bleeding Lego-wounded toes, or chanting "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" some 300 times--I take a break from all the glamour and indulge in the Etsy Taste Test. You cannot find better free entertainment, people.

Today I got a poem AND an "embroidered patch long shirt":

That withering loneliness
Under the clear sky, it is turbulent Undercurrent
Lonely, pale,there has a litter smile In the mouth Department,
Evening, winding, or it may be some Indulge.
New style of clothing on autumn

If anyone gets an Etsy Taste of a litter smile better than this in the mouth department, I hope you'll let me know all about it. 
And there, yet again, is a sentence that has never before been written in the history of sentences. 
You're welcome. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Free range chicken chicken

My darling TF recommended a farmer of chickens to me, a farmer who raises his birds ethically, treats them well, feeds them properly and charges a fair price for them. You go once a month or so and pick them up from his truck at a local shopping centre. It's enough to make you giddy, what with all the farm love going on. Locavores: REJOICE!

But I can't eat them.

They showed up last night courtesy of TF's DH, in their plastic bags. Their plastic bags of blood.

Their freshly killed, freshly plucked little bodies in their plastic bags of blood.

I contacted a farmer and he killed some chickens for me.

We cooked one--parts of one--this evening for dinner and I feel biblically guilty. Luke and Kid chowed down and declared it all delicious. I pushed a little piece of breast hither and thither on my plate and thought about responsibility. I thought about George Orwell, "Babe," and that episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where Les Nessman witnesses live turkeys bombing out of a helicopter onto an unsuspecting shopping mall. ("It should have worked.")

I think I might now be a Vegetarian For Real.

I know. I know.

The turkeys are mounting a counter-attack.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Informed consent

Received the second copy of a consent form from the school today. Apparently a Grade 6 wants to do a science fair project on how well Grade 2s recall music.

There's a consent form for it.

I didn't sign it the first time it came around, so it came back.


If the Grade 6 wanted to take Kid's blood or urine, or subject him to electric shocks, or deprive him of light and oxygen for several minutes at a time, then I would want to be informed and sign away my rights to complain later if I saw fit.

But -- REALLY?

DH, playing devil's advocate (I know, shocker) says that any time a Grade 6 wants to experiment on a GRade 2, parental consent must be obtained. And what of the results of this observation? What if kid is determined to be sub-par in his ability to retain musical memory? Will this lead to persecution, a failed grade, deportation to an ice gulag?

Honestly. We can really go overboard on these kinds of things. Think think think, what could go wrong? What, in a science fiction universe ruled by gelatinous meany-brain mutant creatures, could go wrong?

Then invent a consent form for that.

I wish kids could just go to the zoo with their class without moms having to sign that they recognize their kid could be eaten by a leopard, be killed in a bus crash, break a leg on an icy walkway, hear a grown-up using a cuss word, etc.

Not that I would want to swap places or anything like that, but children do grow up on the Gaza Strip. In Delhi. Sudan. Tchad. They grow up. They live. They are not eaten by caged tigers, nor exposed to the depravities of Grade 6 science projects gone horribly wrong. If those vulnerable children can live and survive, then my pampered, well-fed and privileged child shall certainly survive a trip to the zoo. Or a music recall experiment performed by an 11 year old.

Lighten up, for the love of all that is good in this world. Just relax, breathe, and take it easy. We will live through this leafy suburban fat and waxy hellhouse, and so will our kids.

Just sign here, will you?