Thursday, June 11, 2015

According to Rachel: Kingston Pen edition

So, Rachel's class went on the annual Grade 7 end-of-year day trip to Kingston, down on the St. Lawrence Seaway. They visited Fort Henry, a military outpost built to repel those pesky Americans during the War of 1812.

They also visited Kingston Penitentiary, a now-closed, but iconic Canadian prison. They weren't allowed into the prison, but toured the Corrections Canada Prison Museum across the street.

On the way home from school after the bus had dropped them off, Rae and I chatted in the car.

Rae: "And we went to the prison too."

Me: "Kingston Pen?"

Rae: "I don't know. Some old prison, but we didn't get to go in."

Me: "Probably Kingston Pen. It's a famous prison. That's too bad. It would have been fun to go into the cells."

Rae: "Yeah, it would've. But we went to this museum and got to see stuff from the prison. There was a whole shelf of shivs." 

Me: [marvelling a bit that the school would show stuff like that to what are essentially children] "Wow. Shivs."

Rae: "They made them out of all kinds of things. Toothbrushes, spoons. One shiv was even made out of a hammer. Why would anyone do that?" 

Me: [smiles at my daughter's revulsion towards the violence inherent in making a shiv]

Rae: "Just hit the guy with the hammer. [shakes head] Efficiency, dude."

Me: .......

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sorry, Horatio

Leah, my 15-year-old, and I were out walking the dog this evening.

Leah: "So, Tiana and I were late for Math, we walked in after everyone was already there, but the teacher turned a blind eye and didn't say anything."

Me: "Do you know where that saying comes from? 'Turn a blind eye?'"

Leah: "I hope to God you're going to tell me it's from Mad Eye Moody."

Me: .......

Me: "Never mind, it's nowhere near that cool."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sign #431 we watch way too much C.S.I. around here

While drying my hair yesterday, I managed to bang the back of my hand into the corner of the vanity in my bathroom. It hurt. I stood there, feeling it throb and watching the blood pool under the skin, a pale bluish dome with a small bloody scrape on top.

Me: "Leah, come and look. I've got a hematoma!"

Leah: "Cool! Subdural?"

Me: "Nope. Not a head injury, just a regular hematoma."

*comes into bathroom*

*looks at my hand*

*makes appraising face*

Leah: "Nice."

Me: "I know, right?"

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dispatches from the Arctic

Early January 2015:

It's cold. I mean really cold. Oh well, good excuse to hang out indoors and watch some Netflix. It's kinda nice to have to stay indoors and cocoon. Bring on the cold weather!! We love winter!!!!♥!!

Late February 2015:

It's a wonder we're all still sane. Or alive really. No one goes outside anymore unless they need to -- except the dog, and he has to pee fast or the stream will freeze up and stick him to the deck. We have to dress like this to go to work and school:

Even indoors we dress in more layers than a Winchester. We lurch around the house like Joey wearing all of Chandler's clothing. 

We are all pale and tired-eyed from too much TV. We have watched seven seasons of Friends, four seasons of The Walking Dead, and have nearly exhausted our Netflix show options. God help us, this is up next:

We are not only pale, we are dry and scaly and chapped. I am even tempted to take this guy up on his offer.

I gave up wearing makeup a couple of weeks ago. Walking into the frigid and never-ending polar winds getting from my car to my office turned my eyes into small crow's-footed Niagara Falls, and I'm damned if I'm going to let my tears wash off $5 worth of Yves Rocher every day.

Ottawa Catch-22: It's so cold the ice conditions on the Canal are perfect. It's so cold that anyone actually skating on the canal is quickly captured and placed on a 48-hour psych hold.

The days blur into each other. We get quite inordinately excited when the daily high goes up to -9, but our hopes are cruelly dashed when the windchill makes it feel like -22 anyway. We begin to wonder if this winter will ever end.

"Friends" post pictures of their tropical escape vacations online, or pictures of where they live their carefree snowless lives. 

We hates them. We hates them forever.

We descend into a scary hell of bad 1980s sit-coms and barely repressed profanity.  In fact, our feelings for winter can best be expressed like this. 

We no longer love winter. We wait patiently for Spring. Or death. Or the next season of House of Cards.

Monday, February 16, 2015

In which I live-tweet Saturday night at the pub. In sarcastic font.

I went out Saturday night. This is a relatively rare event for me, but I was invited to my friend Madeleine's birthday celebration, and it sounded like it was going to be fun.

And it was. Fun. So much fun. We were all crowded into a small pub in the Glebe, drinking beer on tap and dancing to Pleasure Craft, a retro 70s band. They were great. The crowd was really into it, and the vibe was infectious. I danced my ass off, ricocheting off the other people on the tiny dancefloor.

The crowd was.....interesting. I was unable to rein in my snarkiness. I blame the Church-Key Scotch Ale. I probably shouldn't be allowed access to Twitter when under the influence of alcohol and sarcasm.

'Peg' not 'Meg'. Stupid autocorrect.

After wishing Madeleine and the rest of the party goodnight at 1 a.m., I headed back to where I was parked, humming Steely Dan to myself as I walked the snowy sidewalks, lost in memories of high school.

I started my car and let it warm up while I brushed the newly fallen snow off the windshield.  Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me' on the radio vaulted me back into 2015, and I drove home, tired and happy.

Thanks, Madeleine. I had a blast.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Trying to educate her palate

The drive home tonight was awful.The Senators are playing at home and so the highway was crowded. It snowed on and off all day, so the roads were greasy and slippery, a horrible commute. I stopped at the grocery store for a few items and decided to pick up a bottle of wine at the wine shop there, instead of going to the liquor store for my usual Malbec-Shiraz.  I bought a bottle of merlot that I had never tried before.

At home, I poured myself a glass. It was very good. Dark red and tasting of cherries and berries. I offered Leah (my almost 15-year-old) a sip.

Me: Here, try this if you want. It's good. It tastes of cherries.

Leah takes a tiny sip, holds it in her mouth. Considers.

Me: Well, what do you think of the taste? It tastes like cherries, don't you think?

Leah: It tastes like peroxide on an open wound.


Me: But with an aftertaste of cherries, right?

Monday, February 02, 2015

Sorry about your date, hope you got lucky anyway

Well, I saved my pennies and went with a bunch of girlfriends to Le Nordik, a Nordic spa in Chelsea, Quebec, about an hour's drive from my place.

We like to do this once a year, in January or February, when the excitement of Christmas is over and spring still seems like it's a long, long way away. We rent the lodge for one night of wine and Indian food, and spend two days in the baths, going from sauna to steam room to hot pool, braving the subzero temperatures in our bathing suits, robes, and flip-flops.

I like it best at night. We try to stay late at the baths on the Friday night before heading back to the lodge.  My favourite place is the infinity pool, it's built high on a hill and there's a lovely view of Ottawa and Gatineau in the distance, plus it's one of the places where you are allowed to talk. (Most of the spa is zoned as no talking, so that it's soothing and serene.) So, after dinner and a few glasses of wine at our lodge, we headed back for a sauna and a swim/soak in the infinity pool.

It was cold. Very cold. Probably around -25C. And a brisk wind was not helping. Giggling like 12-year-old boys because a wet towel that was hung on a hook and froze into a long cylinder with a rounded end kept its shape when I picked up and waved it around, we flip-flopped up to the infinity pool.

The cold wind was whipping up billows of steam from the surface of the hot pool. We put our towels in the heated hut, and ran to the pool, kicking off our flip-flops and squealing down into the blessedly hot water. We had the pool almost to ourselves -- a few other women down one end, and a couple, their heads very close together above the water, were languidly kissing at the other end. It was undoubtedly a romantic setting. At least until we got there.

So I would like to offer the following apology:

Dear Le Nordik Lovers,

I am really, really sorry about your date.

Look, you did everything right. I can't think of a more romantic setting. The sky was a black velvet background lit by the brilliant half-full moon. Jupiter was pinned against it like a flawless diamond and a scattering of stars blazed above the necklace of lights that was Ottawa on the horizon. Smooth jazz was playing over hidden speakers, and you and your girlfriend were half hidden in the steam, pressed together, clad only in bathing suits.  Yep, A+ on foresight and planning. You were in like Flynn.

It wasn't your fault that a pack of middle-aged women, with a few glasses of wine under their belts, yelping from the cold and still cackling about the towel erection, splashed down into the middle of your seduction.

And the one woman, who had lagged behind a bit in the heated hut, so that she was separated from her pack mates and disoriented by the gauzy billows of steam, and ended up yelling "Marco" so that the others would answer "Polo" and everyone was reduced to helpless giggles? Well, she is really most sincerely sorry.

We tried to behave. Really we did.

I hope the rest of your evening went as planned.