Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You know you live in a small town when...*updated*

Sorry for the long silence. I spent a chunk of last week plus the weekend taking my kids to Marineland and at a reunion with my online mommies group in Niagara Falls. I'll blog about the trip when I have a bit more time and some photos downloaded.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about the advantages of living in a small town where people know you and look out for you. I love the village where I live and I seriously have the best neighbours in the whole world.

You know you live in a small town when...
  • you get a haircut and both the ladies who work at the library, the owner of the bakery, and the cashier at the pharmacy all notice, and compliment you. And one of the librarians even recognizes which of the stylists at the salon is responsible for the cut.
  • while picking your daughters up from daycare, you casually mention to your daycare provider that you're planning on mowing the lawn that evening, and your 4-year-old pipes up with, "Yeah, Jeanette [the school bus driver] says our grass is too long and you should mow it, Mommy." (If Jeanette has so much time on her hands to notice people's lawns, then maybe *she'd* like to come over and mow it is what I'm thinking. And how does she know which house is ours? She picks the kids up at daycare.)
  • your neighbour gets his chain saw out to chop up a large limb of a maple that was blown down in his yard during a storm, and, while you are at the grocery store, decides to take down the dead maple beside your garage for you, just 'cause he's got the chain saw out.
  • another neighbour returns a dolly you've loaned him and the two of you stand looking at the branches of the downed tree and you tell him how you're going to hire someone to run the branches through a chipper and say that you're going to have them take a look at the large dead branch in the adjacent poplar tree and maybe take that down too. And he tells you that he could do it with a buck saw, and you thank him, thinking that he'll do it sometime during the summer and then you come out an hour or so later to turn the hose on to fill the pool up and nearly have a heart attack because he's halfway up the tree sawing away at the dead branch.
  • you call the pharmacy in a panic at ten past six in the evening, hoping it's one of the days that they're open til nine because you have to pick up your prescription before you leave the next morning on vacation, and the pharmacist answers the phone, recognizes your voice, greets you by name, and says that they're closed, but he's doing some inventory so if you come down in the next hour or so he'll give you your prescription.
  • you leave on vacation with the remains of the maple tree plus the limb from the poplar still on the ground because it turns out that hiring someone to chip it is too expensive, and you've decided that you'll deal with it yourself when you get home, sawing it and bundling it for yard waste pickup, but when you get home, someone has not only gotten rid of the branches, but has mowed the long grass the branches were lying on.

  • you run into the mother of one of your daughter's friends at the local farmers' market, and start to tell her about your older daughter's bout with strep throat, but she's already heard about it from her daughter, who heard about it from Jeanette the school bus driver.
Big cities are fine, and I've had fun and excitement living in Toronto and Ottawa, but there's nothing like living in a small town for feeling safe and secure.


It turns out that my neighbour behind me, the one who took down the tree for me, talked the tree people who came to take down the rest of his maple tree into chipping my branches for roughly one third of the cost that they'd quoted me. So I ended up having a possibly dangerous dead tree removed and cleaned up for $50. And it was the tree-climbing neighbour who mowed the long spot in the lawn where the branches had been. Too bad, I was hoping it had been Jeanette.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Je ne suis pas un genius

I went out for lunch today with a group of people from work to celebrate my French teacher's last day. He's leaving for a new job at Stats Can. Yay for them, but it's sad for us, since Vincent is far and away the best teacher I've had yet.

We sat out on the deck at Malone's on Dows Lake. It's a beautiful day today, sunny, clear and hot, and it was very pleasant, if a bit on the warm side. I ended up sitting next to Vincent, and while we were all waiting for our drinks to arrive, we were chatting. In French, of course. Vincent was fanning himself with his tee-shirt collar and said he was hot. He asked me if I was hot too. I answered with "Non, mais je suis toujours froid. (No, but I'm always cold)". He laughed so hard and corrected me so quickly, "Non. 'J'ai toujours froid', Alison" that it took me a minute or two to work out that I had probably told him that I'm always frigid.

I guess I'll have to remember to say that right if I want any success at all at picking up French guys.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mommy. Mommy, mommy, mommy.

Do you remember when your babies were little cooing masses of pinkness and all you could think of and long for was to hear "mama" coming from those little rosebud lips? Yeah, me too. Fast-forward a few years to the present, and, well, not so much anymore.

Because that's *all* I hear. Mommy. Mommy, mommy, mommy. And for a bit of variety: Momma, Mum, Mummy, Mother, Mooottthhherrrr, and the occasional Ma thrown in for good measure. It seems that neither of the girls can start a conversation with me without prefacing it with a minimum of seven mommy's. Rachel does it more than Leah, but Leah does it too. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Here's a conversation we had last night, after Rae's soccer.

Rachel: Mommy. Mommy, mommy. Mom?

Me: Yes?

Rachel: Mommy, mommy...

Me. Yes Rachel, I'm listening, what do you want?

Rachel. Mommy, Leah took the boy Barbie again, and he's *mine*.

Me: OK, Rae, I'll deal with it. It's time to start getting ready for bed, anyway. But you know, once I say 'yes' when you're talking to me, I *know* that it's me you're talking to, and you don't have to keep saying 'Mommy'. OK?

Rachel: Mommy. Mommy....

Me (with a definite edge to my voice): Yes, Rachel?

Rachel: Mommy. Mumma....can we go to the park now?

Me: No, Rae. It's bedtime now. It's too late to go to the park.

Rachel: But Mommy. ... Mommy, I *want* to go to the park. It isn't fair! [start of waterworks].

Me: Rachel, *please* stop saying 'mommy', I *know* you're talking to me. OK, from now on, no more saying 'mommy', I don't want to hear that word again tonight. [sees Rae open her mouth] And don't call me Alison either. [mouth closes and pouts].

Rachel [thinks for a minute]: Dude.....?

You just can't win.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sick - a timeline

Tuesday, 3:45 p.m. Feel a headache coming on as I'm trying to finish up a report before heading home.

4:45 p.m. Pick up the girls at daycare. Leah is crying, complaining her throat hurts and she has a headache. Crap. Strep? Maybe. Rachel is fine, but hungry.

5:06 p.m. We're home. Leah is on the couch with a pillow and blanket, she's had Advil. Rae is whining for dinner. I'm trying to wash down some ibuprophen with a cup of tea while making dinner. Kraft dinner to be precise, because I can't seem to shake the tiredness or headache and it's what the kids want anyway.

5:07 p.m. I cut my finger slicing a cucumber to serve with dinner.

6:30 p.m. I put "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" on the VCR for the girls and start folding laundry. Leah has perked up a bit and says her throat and head don't hurt anymore. I decide not to go to the walk-in clinic.

6:32 p.m. Rae has conked out, so I carry her to bed.

7:00 p.m. I go out and vacuum the still-greenish pool and backwash the pool filter. In the rain and cold. Feeling like I don't have any energy left for laundry or dishes, I climb on the couch and watch the movie with Leah. Cuddling feels nice. I tell her that everyone needs an early night and that we're all going to bed by 8 p.m. I'll figure out clothes for the next day and lunches in the morning.

8:12 p.m. Leah is feeling better and is in bed, but pouting, she wants more stories. I turn the ringer on the phone off and fall into bed and an instant coma.

Wednesday, 1:13 a.m. I wake up to hear Leah crying in her room for me. She's burning up with fever and her throat is on fire. I get her some more children's Advil and water and move her into my bed so that I can keep an eye on her. On the way across the kitchen for water, I step on something on the floor, hurting my foot. It's a Barbie leg. The tiles around the sink look like a slasher movie. Barbie's torso and head are over near the stove, and her other leg is half under the dishwasher. Great. The Black Dahlia all over again, on my kitchen floor.

1:26 a.m. I realize that I'm not going to work in the morning and Leah's not going to school. Rae is in afternoon JK, so there's no rush to get to daycare in the morning. I turn off my alarm.

6:20 a.m. I wake up with a headache and a really sore throat. Yep, I have it too. Shit. Leah's fever is back -- 38.9. I call the daycare provider to say we're going to be late, work to say I won't be in, and the school to say Leah won't be in. The clinic opens at 9. Leah won't eat breakfast.

8:30 a.m. I drop Rae at daycare and Leah and I head to the clinic. In the waiting room we meet Wyatt, a little boy from the same daycare. He and his mom both have strep throat. Big surprise. We wait for quite some time, only one doctor on duty this a.m., and he peers into Leah's throat and says, yep, strep. He's not so sure about me and takes a swab. I *know* I have strep, I've had it enough times to know how it feels in the beginning, but the upshot is that Leah gets antibiotics and I don't. Yet. If the swab comes back positive tomorrow, they'll call in the scrip to the local drug store for me.

11:30 a.m. After picking up a few groceries, we head to the library to pick out a few books and videos to keep Leah occupied. While there, we find Puppy in the lost and found. This is somewhat of a mystery. He's been missing for a week or so now, but I was sure he was somewhere in the house. He's the most beloved of all Leah's stuffed animals and she's had him her whole life. She must have brought him to the library last week without me noticing and without her remembering. She's very happy, but tired and feverish again. We go home.

12:08 p.m. Leah eats a bit of a muffin and some hot milk. I put a video on for her and lie down on my bed for 5 minutes.

2:20 p.m. I wake up. I need more ibuprophen and some tea. Leah is napping. I vacuum the pool again and unload the dishwasher. Then I need to sit down. I put away the groceries and then I throw up. It hurts.

4:40 I wake up Leah so that we can drive to the daycare and pick Rachel up. Leah is not happy, she wants to keep sleeping, but I can't leave her on her own while I get Rachel. I'm praying Rachel is OK and I won't need to go back to the clinic for her. She's OK.

5:30 I made chicken soup for dinner. Rachel ate, Leah and I, not so much. Leah had her Biaxin. They're in the bath now, eating freezies. I hope all of us are OK tomorrow.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Freaking raccoons

With apologies to Wikipedia:

Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

A raccoon is any one of three species of nocturnal mammals which comprise the genus Procyon of the Procyonidae family. The most widespread species, the Common Raccoon (P. lotor), is often known simply as the raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are considerably lesser-known.

Raccoons are unusual for their thumbs, which (though not opposable) enable them to open many closed containers (such as garbage cans and doors). They are omnivores with a reputation for being clever and mischievous; their intelligence and dexterity equip them to survive in a wide range of environments and are one of the few medium-to-large-sized animals that have enlarged its range since human encroachment began (another is the coyote). Raccoon hindfeet are plantigrade similar to a human's.

Raccoons are also evil little bastards known for their sense of humour, often waiting until children have just been put to bed before starting a series of piercingly loud trilling noises, which are amplified and echo-y due to the fact that the raccoons are under the deck at the back of the house. This prolonged series of calls can sometimes last from about 8 p.m. until well after 11, not stopping even when the irate house owner throws open her bathroom window and screams "Shut up, shut up, shut up, you stupid animals!". Scientist have not yet discovered whether the loudest of the raccoons' repertoire of calls signifies a male raccoon in search of a mate, a mother raccoon calling to her kits, or just a bunch of raccoons sitting around knocking back Mike's Hard Lemonade and drunkenly arguing about hockey.

(And they're probably Leafs fans...)