Thursday, December 23, 2010

I am an idiot, volumes I and II

Volume I

While wrapping Christmas gifts yesterday, I decided to charge the battery for the camera that my dad bought Rachel. I read the instructions and carefully hooked the charging cable to the camera and to the thing that plugs into the wall. A red light was supposed to light up and then turn green when the battery is full. I plugged it in. No light. Hmmmm. Maybe a different electrical outlet? No light. Crap, I thought, maybe the charger is broken. I went back to look at the instructions, and noticed the battery sitting right there on the table.

I am an idiot.

Volume II

Today is our office's pot luck Christmas lunch. I was too tired last night to make the broccoli salad for the lunch, and went to bed at 9:30, figuring I'd get up in the morning and make it. When the alarm went off this morning, I hopped out of bed and started the coffee maker. I had unplugged it the night before and so the clock on it was flashing zeroes. I got the water boiling for the broccoli, and the ice water ready for after it was blanched. I put the tv on the CTV news channel, and started chopping an onion and grating cheese. I glanced at the clock on the microwave. It said 2:12 and I thought, "Oh, there must have been a power outage last night, the clock is wrong."

I blanched the broccoli, and made the dressing. While the broccoli was cooling, I poured a cup of coffee and decided to check my email before jumping in the shower. While on the laptop, I drank my coffee, and wondered idly why Canada A.M. hadn't started yet. Surely it was 6 a.m. by now, and the news channel should be showing Canada A.M., but no, it was still Lloyd Robertson and last night's news.

Hmmmm. I got up and went over to the clock on the thermostat, which is never affected by power outages. 2:46 a.m. And the horror slowly dawned on me. I hadn't changed my alarm setting since Monday night when I set it for 1:30 a.m. so that Leah and I could get up and watch the lunar eclipse.

It was the middle of the night and I was sitting in the living room drinking coffee. (Which is why, Natalie, you have an email from me about the explanatory notes sent around 2:40 a.m.)

I am an idiot.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dear Angus

I realize you are still getting used to the whole 'living inside with people' thing, but there are a couple of things that we need to talk about.

First of all, humans are animals who rely on sight rather than smell to idividuate amongst family members. In other words, I know what you look like, I do not need to sniff your butt in order to recognize you. So, really, you don't have to push that part of your anatomy in my face when I'm reading on the couch, however helpful you feel you are being.

Also, though I am ecstatic that you know how to use your litterbox and use it often, I need to tell you that it is not necessary to spend 10 minutes piling all the litter in the box into a scale model of Mt. Fuji before pooping right on the tippy top of the mountain. And afterwards, you don't really need to ensure that every last grain of clumping kitty litter has been piled on top of the evidence. Your enthusiasm is charming, but it's creating a lot of extra vacuuming.

Max is your friend. Please don't lurk on the arm of the couch and then launch a flying kamikaze attack on him when he's only trying to get to the kitchen for a bite to eat.

And, last but not least, we *will* feed you. Always. I know you still worry about where your next meal is coming from, that's to be expected in a former feral kitty. But we will always make sure you have something to eat. I hope you enjoyed the rotini with pesto that you knocked off the counter last night.



P.S. Thanks for not destroying the Christmas tree. We were worried about that.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

For Jazz - Jason and the birth control pills

Many years ago, when I was just out of university, I moved to Toronto for a job. My first real grown-up job. (Yes, it was during this period that the horrible thing happened. But I digress...) My boyfriend moved with me, and we were sharing an apartment with an old university friend of mine.

I was apprehensive about starting work in a new office. Most of the people there were around my own age and they seemed a friendly bunch. There were the other junior editors, the senior editors, the cartographers, and the admin staff.

At the end of my very first day, I was standing in my office, getting ready to go home. I had one hand in my purse, looking to grab my hairbrush and brush my hair before setting off, when Jason, one of the cartographers, appeared in my doorway to ask if I wanted to go out for beer and wings with the gang. I had spoken to him only once before, when we were introduced that morning.

"Sure," I said, thinking it was nice to be invited along on my very first day, and, a little nervous and wanting something to do with my hands, pulled my hairbrush from my purse. It was one of those skeleton brushes that were so popular back then:

Each of the stiff plastic bristles was tipped with a flat disk, like the head of a sewing pin. And one of those bristle ends caught in one of the holes in the birth control pill compact that was also in my purse -- the holes that let you push a pill through.

So, as the brush cleared the purse, the pill compact somersaulted lazily in a high arc through the air. It seemed to fly in slow motion. In my head, I was screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOO, but could only watch speechlessly in horror as the compact bounced once on the floor and skittered over to come to rest against Jason's shoe. We both looked down at the pills and then up at each other, and without hesitating a second, he said, "So, are you busy Saturday night?" and grinned. I cracked up, and we were friends from that moment on. The end.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thank you, Juan Valdez

Coffee is a wonderful thing. It wakes you up. It increases your energy. It tastes delicious. It is, in the immortal words of my friend Jason, whom I used to work with many years ago in Toronto, "sweet elixir of life*."

It makes 5 a.m. seem a little bit sunnier, a little more bearable. I usually drink three cups between the time I get up and the time I arrive at work. (Thanks for the travel cup, Mum!)

I found out yesterday, however, just how important coffee is. I found out that unbeknownst to me, it is a big part of what makes me me -- part of the essential core of my being and what defines me as a person. At least according to Rachel.

We were driving home from daycare yesterday evening and she was telling me all about a project that she's doing at school. She said that each student in the class had to pick a 'character' from their family and describe them. (Great, my eight-year-old thinks I'm a character.) They had to list four things about their character that described them.

Here are the words and phrases that Rae feels describe me best:
  • dirty blonde
  • nice
  • generous
  • three cups of coffee
Three cups of coffee. Not that I'm tall, or that I'm fun, or that I bake amazing cinnamon buns, but 'three cups of coffee.' I did get 'nice' and 'generous', which is better than the perhaps more accurate 'grouchy' and 'nagging.'

And really, I should be grateful that the last bullet point she chose wasn't 'three glasses of merlot.'

*from the opening line of a poem Jason wrote me about coffee on a sheet of lined paper in bright green ink. I still have it somewhere. I miss him. We once went Christmas shopping together at the Eaton Centre inebriated (on public transportation, of course), and someday I really must tell you about Jason and the birth control pills, it's a good story.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crazy old lady warning signs

This morning I caught myself having a long conversation with Angus, conducted entirely (on my part) in high-pitched baby talk. He meowed back very sweetly. I said a lot of things like, "Oh him is a pretty, pretty boy, him is!" and "Oh, who has the cutest little fuzzy tummy?"

Can unfortunate flowered blouses and tea cups full of gin be far behind?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sweet dreams are made of this

I've run out of things to blog about, and so, poor readers, you get to hear about the dream I had a few nights ago,

I dreamed that I ran into Peter Mansbridge on the Toronto subway and since he looked familiar, I figured he was one of the geologists from work. I kept asking him when he was going to submit his map for editing. He had to show me a picture of Cynthia Dale before I'd believe him about who he was. I was very embarrassed about the mix up, and tried to save face by pretending that I needed to get off at the next station, but I tripped and dropped the grocery bag I was carrying, showering him and the subway car with grapefruits and cheese.

But what did it mean? Strangely, I couldn't find this scenario on the dream interpretation website:

Sorry, there are no matches for your request. For best results, narrow your search request to one or two words.

So I did.


To dream that you are in the subway implies that you are attaining your objectives without having to use much physical effort. You are discovering your inner spirituality and personality. It may also mean that you are being too impulsive and you should think carefully before making a decision.


To see the press in your dream suggests your being aware of what’s happening around you and getting involved. Dreaming of press conveys what you discern about your surroundings.
To dream of the press chasing you indicates that someone may be intruding into your private life.


A dream involving your work office suggests difficulty in leaving your work. This may represent the possibility of being preoccupied with work and having too much office work to accomplish. It may also stand for your position, achievements and status in society.


To see cheese in your dream in an indication that you may soon find yourself a recipient of substantial wealth, rewards, or benefits. You may be elevated to a higher social status or a higher level of importance.


To dream that you are eating grapefruit indicates that you feel recharged and fresh mentally. You are happier lately as a result of a boost in energy and spirits.To dream about a grapefruit tree represents your abilities, your faith and morals, and the good things you do. It could also indicate the 'fruits' of your effort.

So if I cobble that all together, I'm impusive and overworked, yet aware of my surroundings and recharged mentally and about to be elevated to a higher social status. That doesn't sound good, except for the last part.

Or maybe I just like cheese, and fell asleep with The National on the TV while thinking of the map I'm working on at the office.

I still can't explain the grapefruit, though.

Monday, November 15, 2010

According to Rachel

In which Rachel blows off an entire subcontinent

Rachel (singing the song from Lady and the Tramp): 'This is the night, it's a beautiful night, and they call it bella notte.' You know, that's the only Indian I know.
Leah: It's not Indian, it's Italian.
Rae: Same thing.
Leah (a mite sarcastically): I think there's a couple of million Indians who probably wouldn't agree with you.
Rae: Whatever.

Rachel, queen of the metaphor. Or simile. I can never get those straight.

Rachel, frustrated because whenever she invites a friend over to play, the friend inevitably gravitates to older sister Leah:
"It's like Leah's a fridge, and all my friends are magnets."

On the subject of cleaning up the toys in the basement

Rae: The basement looks fine. It's not like the Queen is coming over, or Josie, or Marsha Stewart.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest we forget

In Flanders Fields

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

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

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

— John McCrae 1915

Please take some time this Remembrance Day to reflect on the sacrifices made by our Canadian Armed Forces and Peacekeepers, and to pay tribute to all those who died in war.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the time the Armistice of World War I was signed in 1918, we observe two minutes of silence to remember. We remember those lost in both World Wars, Korea, and the men and women serving today in Afghanistan.

They deserve no less.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Batman and Robin

Lucy and Ethel

Timmy and Lassie

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy

Evil Ninja Assassin Cat and Henchkitten

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Is there a Wednesday fetish I don't know about?

Easton, Pennsylvania; Austin, Texas (twice); Cortlandt Manor, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Melbourne, Australia; unidentified city in Mexico; Ankara, Turkey; Denver, Colorado; Jamaica, New York; Toronto, Ontario; Jensen Beach, Florida; Budapest, Hungary; Flagstaff, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; Topeka, Kansas; San Diego, California; York, Pennsylvania; Karlsruhe, Germany; Brampton, Ontario; Evreux, France; Richmond, Virginia; Boynton Beach, Florida...

What do all of these cities have in common?

Over the last few days, someone from each of those cities came to my blog through a Google search that landed them on this page. And, since the search term was either Wednesday or Wednesday Addams, they were either looking for this:

Or this:

I don't know which is more disturbing.

In the past week or so, my traffic has doubled, and most of the increase is looking for Wednesday. Is there some kind of pop-culture significance I'm missing here, or is it a coincidence that such a geographically diverse group of people just want to look at pictures of either a slutty Halloween costume or a seven-year-old girl?

Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rated PG for language

I was driving home from grocery shopping with the girls a couple of evenings ago. The radio was on, but I wasn't listening -- my mind was far away, already thinking of the other things I had to do once the groceries were put away and the children in bed.

Leah: Why did he use that word?

Me: (coming out of my reverie) What?

Leah: He just said a bad word on that commercial.

Me: (listening now to the tail end of a car dealership ad) Really? What did he say?

Leah: He said, "no-asshole financing."

Me: (nearly driving off the road, laughing) Oh, honey, I'm pretty sure he said "no-hassle financing."

Leah: (laughing along with me) I guess that makes more sense. Otherwise, they wouldn't give financing to people who are... you know...

It's probably a good thing that there isn't any no-asshole financing. If there were, I can think of a few people I know who wouldn't have cars.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Rachel turned 8 last weekend. She planned an almost-24-hour birthday party which included a trip to the pool at the rec centre (the one with the cool waterslide), pizza, Boston Cream Cake, a movie and a sleepover. It was an unqualified success. Lots of fun was had by all the kids.

During the party, Leah and I decided that we really didn't want to watch Furry Vengeance with the 8-year-old partygoers, my tolerance for Brendan Fraser not being at an all time high. So we repaired to my bedroom, where we watched Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. I figured that it wasn't too bad for Leah to watch -- less gore than the Indiana Jones movies, and about the same kind of plot. I'd forgotten a few things about the movie in the years since I first saw it though:

1. Despite what the credits say, the two main actors in the movie are Angelina Jolie, and Angelina Jolie's breasts. They're in almost every scene. Front and centre.

2. Daniel Craig is in the movie. And I think you all know how I feel about Daniel Craig.

(I have to give him kudos for looking her in the eyes in this picture. I'm pretty sure those things would exert an actual gravitational pull.)

3. Daniel has an almost-nude scene in the movie.

Yes, he's taking a shower (!) and hears a noise. Stepping out of the shower, and not bothering to grab a towel (squee!) he picks up his gun, and posing carefully behind a view-blocking table (what's the opposite of 'squee'?) he inserts a new clip into his gun (see picture above) and then walks to the door. He throws it open to reveal a startled chambermaid, who screams and throws a towel at him, which, disappointingly, he wraps around himself while apologizing to the maid in Spanish. Still PG rated, yet the scene makes the whole silly plot, Daniel's atrocious attempt at an American accent, and the wall-to-wall presence of Angelina's boobs worth watching.

We were watching an old VHS tape of the movie ('cause I'm old school), and as soon as the scene ended, Leah left the room to get more popcorn for us. I rewound it and watched the scene again. And then I rewound it and watched the scene again. Leah walked back in during the third time Daniel inserted the clip into his gun.

Leah: Did you rewind that?

Me: What? Oh. Um. Yeah. I did.

Leah: Why?

Me: I couldn't hear what he said at the start of the scene, so I rewound it to see if I could hear it better.
(I figured it was pretty good thinking on my feet, if I do say so myself.)

Leah: Mum?

Me: Yeah?

Leah: He was in the shower. He didn't say anything.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm not a cat lady, honest. I'm stopping at two.

Pulling into the driveway one evening after work about two weeks ago, I saw a small furry creature streak across the lawn and into the bushes near my front door. It was small, but it didn't move like a squirrel. The girls and I went over and peeked into the bushes, and a tiny brown tabby kitten looked at us fearfully for a fraction of a second and then took off running into the neighbour's yard.

Over the next few days, I saw the little guy twice more. Once I caught him peeking at me from the hedge separating our yard from next door. And once, alerted by Max staring fixedly out the sliding glass doors, I saw him up on the barbecue, which I had forgotten to close after using it the night before, licking the grill to get at the last remnants of stuck chicken. Both times he fled when he saw me.

We live in the country, sort of, and so do coyotes:


and fishers:

Oops, sorry:

All of which (except for the guy who married Carrie Underpants Underwood) would look on a kitten as a tender morsel about on par with popcorn chicken. Not to mention the fact that winter is coming, and we live a block away from a very busy road full of potential kitten-smushing traffic.

I was not going to let that happen.

I started leaving a bowl of cat kibble out on the back deck near the sliding glass doors, and soon he would show up for a quick bite and then would disappear. With some help and direction from my friend Lori, I read up on feral kittens, and began to plot the kitten's capture. I started putting his food inside a cat carrier, and calling to him when I put the food out for him. Last Sunday, when he was in the carrier eating, I slowly slid the glass door open, put my hand out, and closed the cat carrier. The target was acquired.

He's been given a clean bill of health from the vet, except for worms and ear mites, which are to be expected in a feral kitty, and he's been medicated for both. He needs to stay in isolation (in my ensuite bathroom) for another week before being introduced to Max. How the Evil Ninja Assassin Cat is going to react to having a henchkitten is anyone's guess. I am sure we will hear from him in the fullness of time.

Here he is, peeking out from behind my clothes hampers:

and here he is with one of my giant shoes for scale:

When we first caught him, he was too scared for me to check whether he was a boy or a girl, so Leah and Rachel and I made a deal: if the kitten was a girl, they could name her, if it was a boy, it would be called Angus. I've wanted a cat named Angus ever since I read Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. It turns out he's a boy.

Leah doesn't think he looks like an Angus, but I don't know, I think he kinda does:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There is no one like her in the whole universe

Found while initialling work in Leah's workbook, where the teacher had asked them to explain the word 'unique':

Unique means special and that there is nothing in the whole universe like it.

I am unique. There is only one of me, unless I have been secretly cloned.

Yep, she's my daughter alright.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Squirrels: cute woodland creatures or evil vermin? Discuss.

I have a really nice mature oak tree in my yard. It is large, and spreading, and produces big, glossy brown acorns that look good enough to eat. So, if they look appetizing to me, you can only imagine how delicious they look to the squirrels in the area.

Lately, there have been scads of squirrels in my yard, busily burying the booty from the oak tree. 'Oh how charming,' I thought, 'you know it's fall when the industrious squirrels are out looking so cute and busy burying the acorns.'

That was a few days ago. Now I'm not quite so charmed. See, the very best acorns grow at the very ends of the branches, which are thin and springy. And the portly squirrels, seriously in need of a zumba class or two, have trouble staying on the branches to eat or collect the acorns. Their solution? Bite the ends off the branches and toss them down, then climb down the tree and stuff their fat little faces in comfort on the grass. The lawn under the tree is littered with the branch ends -- a clump of 10 or 12 leaves on a twig that's been neatly severed with a perfect 45° bite.

It can't be good for the tree, and it makes a lot of work for me and the girls picking up the now acornless branch ends off the lawn. At first, I found myself muttering, "Stupid freakin' squirrels" under my breath, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that they're pretty smart freakin' squirrels.

Smart .... and evil.

I have to wonder that since they figured that problem out, can attempted world domination be far off?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I'm going to need a pointy hat with a veil

This morning did not start well. Somehow the alarm didn't go off, and I slept in an hour and a half late. So it was an insane scramble to get the kids to school on time and then get to work for an early meeting with my boss.

And of course, just as I dropped the girls off, the empty light on the gas gauge came on, which meant a detour to the gas station.

But there, at the gas station, when I went in to pay for the gas after pumping it, the day got a bit brighter. First, there was the surprisingly good coffee I bought there, as I hadn't had time to make any at home. And then there was the fact that the cashier called me "My Lady."

Yeah, "My Lady." Not "Miss" or "Ms." or the dreaded "Ma'am." But "My Lady". I felt like Guinevere.

It was very courtly and unexpected:
"Just the coffee and gas?"
"Yes, thanks, just the coffee and gas. I'd like to pay with my debit card."
"Do you have an Airmiles card, My Lady?"
"Um. Oh. Yes, here it is."
"Have a good day, My Lady."
"Thanks. [trying not to giggle] You too."

I was really tempted to add "My Lord" to the end of my last sentence. But I didn't. I did smile all the way to work though.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Conrad Black has nothing on her

I think Leah might have a head for business. She decided to set up a face-painting stand at the end of the driveway to make some money to spend at the Carp Fair. She was very methodical. First she drew designs of the various face paintings on offer on pieces of paper that she inserted into plastic photo-album pages, and created a catalogue of designs. Then she bought some face paint crayons.

I heard the following when she was discussing how much she should be charging for the service with her sister:

Rae: How much are you going to charge?

Leah: I don't know. A dollar? Hey! We should go on Dragons' Den and ask for $300 in return for 40% of the business.

I figure I'll be getting a Rolls for my birthday in a couple of years.

(For my American friends, you have Dragons' Den too, only it's called Shark Tank down there.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm back. Damn.

This is a picture of a cat with mice crawling all over its head:

This is a fairly accurate representation of how it feels to be back at work in the office after two weeks of vacation (sleeping late, eating too much and having entirely too much fun):

Any questions?

Friday, August 13, 2010

No, we still don't like Justin Bieber around here

Perhaps unaware of Leah's feelings for Justin Bieber, my mother, who's staying with us for a visit, had the following conversation with Rachel about a Justin Bieber song playing on the radio:

Mum: Do you like this singer?

Rachel: Nope, he's not my cup of tea. [Glances down at what she's holding in her hand] Well, actually, he's not my can of Grape Crush.