Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ice ice baby, or, Me and Eric Lindros -- we're like this *crosses fingers for emphasis*

Living in Canada, Canadians quickly learn to embrace winter. Realistically, we don't have a choice. So we skate, and we ski, and we snowboard. We snowshoe and build snowforts. We play hockey and broomball and snowball wars. We go snowmobiling and ice fishing. We sometimes say 'screw it' and lie on the couch eating potato chips and playing Wii for entire weekends in February. And we toboggan (also known as sledding, for my non-Canadian readers). Oh boy do we toboggan. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find any incline steeper than 15° that doesn't have snowsuited children hurtling down it at breakneck speed 24/7.

Yes, these were the thoughts that were going through my mind as I sat in the Emergency Room at Queensway-Carleton Hospital Sunday night, clutching a couple of paperbacks and waiting to see a doctor. Douglas Adams once wrote, "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the phrase, 'as pretty as an airport.' Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort." Much the same thing can be said of waiting rooms in hospitals, along the lines of "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the phrase, 'as restful as an ER waiting room.'" -- especially on a Sunday night. During a freezing rain storm. In winter. In Ottawa.

Not that it wasn't interesting -- oh no, interesting was definitely at a premium that night. I counted three people with splinted arms in slings (see freezing rain, above), and some poor guy had dropped an ice auger on his foot (imagine a wicked sharp corkscrew-shaped steel blade about 3 feet long, handily topped with a small but heavy gasoline engine. Now imagine what that would do when dropped on one's foot. Ouch.) There was a nauseous man who was so wan and pale that he approached actual transparency, who arrived with a girlfriend and his own bucket. The bucket sat at his feet. The girlfriend sat a healthy distance away. Parents were there with small unhappy children with various complaints. But I digress...

Why was I sitting in Emerg, you ask? Well let's return to the subject of my first paragraph. I took Rachel tobogganing. Leah was at a playdate, and I bribed Rachel with the promise of tobogganing in order to get her to come with me to run errands. Late afternoon found us on the toboggan hill practically behind our house along with Darian and Payton, the two girls from next door. Rae and I had our foam snow saucers: and the other girls had their snow tube: which was about five times the size of the saucers and would seat two comfortably. We've been having some alternating warm and cold weather, and the hill is very icy. This makes for long, fast runs -- ideal really. Some enterprising kids have made a jump on one side of the hill by building the snow up into a bump. It's now a mogul of pure ice. There's no way I'd take the foam saucer down the jump run, I like my vertebrae right where they are thankyouverymuch, but Darian was sailing down the jump run and floating over the jump on the big inflatable snow tube.

It looked like fun. So I asked if I could take a turn (idiot). Rae wanted to ride with me, so she jumped on my lap -- thus putting all of our weight on one side of the tube. You see where this is going, don't you? What we had was an unbalanced centre of gravity:

Where R = centre of gravity, M = my stupidity, mj = the amount of air displaced in the tube due to mine and Rae's combined body mass, and rj = the slope of the ice jump.

We slid majestically down the run and hit the jump. Our combined weight on the back side of the tube meant that instead of going over the jump, the tube headed straight up and shot out from under us so that we fell backward onto the jump with the tube landing on top of us. The back of my head hit the ice followed instantaneously by the back of Rachel's head hitting my face.

You really do see stars, you know.

When Darian asked if we were OK, my first question was, "Is my nose the right shape?". I seriously thought my seven-year-old's skull had broken my nose. We were starting to lose the light, so off we went home. Rae and I collected Leah from her playdate and I cooked us all supper with a big headache. My dinner stayed down for all of 6 minutes before it came back up again. Hmmmm, vomiting after a head injury -- this sounds like a job for....The Internet!

Never look up symptoms on the Internet.

The rational part of my brain was saying, "You're fine. You just bumped your head. Go to bed early." The not-so-rational part of my brain just kept screaming, "Natasha Richardson! Natasha Richardson!!!" over and over again. So, I called Telehealth and talked to a nurse. She said that although I hadn't lost consciousness and could remember the incident, the vomiting meant that I should go to the ER. Damn. I was hoping she'd tell me to go to bed early. No such luck.

Connie next door took the girls for me (candidate for sainthood, seriously) and off I drove through the freezing rain to the hospital.

The wait in Emerg actually wasn't that bad. On the whole it was better than the strategic planning and branch integration meeting I sat through this week. Sure, there was more puke in the ER, but much less jargon. (I swear, if I hear 'stakeholders' or 'core competencies' one more time at work, I'll need a bucket of my own.) I had some books with me, and another patient found a channel showing back-to-back CSI episodes on the TV in one corner of the waiting room. So, after two CSI Miamis and a half a CSI New York, I was called in to an examining room, feeling somewhat of a fraud, since I was feeling very normal (although tired and headachy). Ten minutes later, a doctor examined me. She shone lights into my eyes, made me follow her finger with my eyes, felt my head, checked my reflexes, asked me a zillion questions, and then said she didn't think I needed an X-ray. She told me I had a mild concussion and I should rest for 24 hours, take Tylenol or Advil for the headache, and have someone wake me every six hours.

So I spent Monday at home sleeping and reading, which was nice. And now I'm back at work wondering if I should see how outspoken I can get at meetings this week and blame it all on the concussion. Could be fun, people.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wii are amused

The girls got a Wii for Christmas, and after playing Wii Fit at my sister's place over New Year's, they elected to pool some of their Christmas money last week and buy it for home. I don't know if you are familiar with Wii, though you probably are, but for some games (on the Wii Fit and Wii Sports) you can create a character to represent you when you play. This is called a 'Mii'. Cute.

So Rae's Mii is brunette with green eyes, Leah's Mii has blond bangs and brown eyes, and my Mii has grey blonde hair. You get the picture. The other day I was cleaning the kitchen and I could hear the Wii music and piles of giggles coming up the stairs from the basement. I called down and asked which game they were playing. Leah answered that they weren't playing, but were creating new Miis to choose from. The giggles went on for quite some time.

So, last night, I finally got around to setting up the Wii Fit balance board for the girls to play with. Squinting at the directions, I synched the balance board with the Wii console, and we were in business. Rae wanted to go first. When the selection of Miis came up on the screen to choose from, in addition to the Rae, Leah and Alison Miis were the following:

  • A dark-haired, vaguely Beatles-looking guy named Rick
  • A scary scar- or wrinkle-faced person with brown skin and pale blonde little-girl ponytails named Oyusa
  • A guy who looked a lot like Graham Greene, with long grey braids and granny glasses called Hagerlot
  • And finally, a tanned, spiky-haired guy with bulgy eyes and a very intense look on his face called:

wait for it...... BigO.

(I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.)

I nearly killed myself laughing, and the worst part was that I couldn't explain to Leah why the name she'd made up was so funny.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Heart attack

Last night, after the girls were in bed, I was sitting in my big green chair in the living room reading The Last Samurai and drinking tea. The book is amazing, and I was very engrossed in it. I had just taken a mouthful of very hot tea and put the mug down on the table next to me when Rachel jumped up from where she had been hiding behind my chair and yelled “Boo!” in my ear.

I jumped about a foot in the air.

Me: Rachel!

Rae: Ha! Did I scare you Mummy? Did I? I was so quiet that you didn’t even hear me. Wasn’t that funny?

Me: No! It wasn’t funny. You really scared me. And I’m drinking very hot tea. That isn’t funny at all. You could have made me spill it and I could have been burned.

Rae: Oh no you wouldn’t. I made sure you put the tea down before I scared you. I’m very thoughtful.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Delurking Day!

Delurking Day 2010
(Thursday, January 14, 2010)

You do know what day it is, right? That's right -- it's Delurking Day 2010!

Chris, over at Rude Cactus, reminded me. So I'm pinching his post. I don't think he'll mind.

So I invite everyone -- whether you comment regularly or lurk in the background quietly reading to yourself -- to leave a comment and let me know you're out there. And if you have a blog yourself, feel free to join in.

Happy Delurking Day, everyone!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Correspondence, again

Dear CBC Radio One,

Please teach Bill Gillespie how to pronounce the letter I. I was listening to him on the news this morning reporting on a story about the sentencing of two Tamil Tigers who attempted to buy stinger missiles in 2006 to use in the war against Sri Lanka and were caught in a joint RCMP-FBI sting. Bill kept referring to them as "Tamil Taggers", which makes them sound more like a couple of kids spraying graffiti on garage doors rather than terrorists. It totally distracted me from the story.



P.S. I'm glad he wasn't the one reporting on the Siberian tiger that mauled his owner to death near London.


Dear Man outside of IKEA,

Your kind offer to help me back to my car with my purchases when I had clearly bitten off more than I could chew in the 'piling heavy stuff on a shopping cart and hoping for the best' category was much appreciated.

Chivalry is indeed alive and well and you proved that not once, but twice, when I assured you that I was fine to get the big box into the trunk, watched you go off towards your car, and then promptly dropped my box (containing a 4-drawer bureau) on the ground. There I stood, holding Rae's frozen yogurt, wondering what to do now, and I heard a car stop behind me. You jumped out and deposited the box in the trunk for me before resuming your trip out of the parking lot.

Thanks again.

Gratefully yours,



Dear Shen Yun Performing Arts,

I attended your show at the National Arts Centre with my seven- and nine-year-old daughters yesterday afternoon. I didn't realize that Shen Yun Performing Arts was run by the Falun Dafa when I bought the tickets. Not that that would have stopped me from going -- I'm no fan of totalitarian governments, and anyone who watches the news knows that the Chinese government has harrassed and tortured people for practicing this religion. But when I bought tickets for what was billed as "classical Chinese dance and music in gloriously colorful and exhilarating shows", I was expecting just that. Bright coloured costumes, synchronized dancing, leaps and tumbles. I got that, yes, but it was served with a side of unwanted political commentary.

I did not expect the propaganda (and yes, it's propaganda even when the good guys do it) along with the show. The dance routine showing the stylized beating death of the Falun Dafa woman in front of her young daughter by Chinese soldiers upset my daughter, and even the fact that the mom was whizzed off to heaven on the animated digital backdrop by some animated blue-haired Buddah guys riding what appeared to be celestial segways did nothing to make her feel better. Thanks for taking the fun out of a nice family outing. We won't be back next year.

Non-partisanly yours,



Dear person who put the sign up on Carling Ave. that says "Wine is the reason I get up every afternoon.",

Thanks for the laugh. I see that every morning on my way to work and it never fails to make me giggle.




Dear Stephen Harper,

Get back to work. Oh, and we are *so* not going to forget about the Afghan detainee thing and the way you and your minions tried to smear Richard Colvin's character for just doing his job. Nope, we aren't. Sorry.


P.S. Is that really your hair, or is it some kind of graphite composite, like they make fishing rods out of?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Who am I sleeping with again?

Last night Rachel showed up at my bedside in the wee hours and climbed in next to me. She'd had a bad dream.

6:15 this morning:

Me [smooching her cheek loudly]: It's time to get up, Rae.

Rae:[mutters unintelligibly and doesn't open eyes]

Me: It's after six and breakfast is almost ready. Come on, chop, chop.....Rae? Wake up, Rae .

Rae[without opening eyes]: Call me 'Big Luke'. [rolls over and pulls duvet over head]

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

In which I realize just how old I am

Last night, at the grocery store:

Me [looking at shopping list]: OK, now we need some frozen corn. [opens glass freezer door] Hmmm, they're out of the store brand. I guess we'll buy the Green Giant corn. [singing] Ho, ho, ho, Green Giant.

Leah: Why did you say "Green Giant" at the end there?

Me [puzzled]: Because that's how the commercial goes: "Ho, ho, ho, Green Giant ."

Leah: Oh, a commercial. I thought you were singing the 'ho, ho, ho' part of "All the Single Ladies".

Me: .... [then kills herself laughing]

And that right there is the generation gap: the Jolly Green Giant and Beyoncé.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

January 3, 2010 in Carp so far

8:30 a.m. - Struggle into consciousness, aware of something hard lodged under my rib cage.

8:31 a.m. - Remove Rachel's elbow from my rib cage. Briefly regret the two glasses of sherry at bedtime. Notice that Rachel and Leah are both in bed with me. And the cat too.

8:32 a.m. - En route to kitchen, admire the cleanliness of living room, except for the tree, which the cat apparently decided to un-decorate while we were gone. Helpful of him. Not.

9 a.m. - Making breakfast for girls. French toast for Leah, toasted bagel with butter for Rae.

9:22 a.m. - Standing at window with coffee watching the snow blowing off the roof and new snow falling and blowing sideways.

9:47 a.m. - first snowmobile of the day zooms down the road in front of the house.

10 a.m to 1 p.m. - girls play with plethora of Kinder Egg toys they received from Santa and Josie. Also, Leah challenges me to Wii tennis. I win, but my arm feels like it's on fire. It's still snowing.

1: 15 p.m. - the girls offer to shovel the driveway for $5.oo.

1:26 p.m. - I peek out to see Leah building a snow fort and Rae digging out the driveway.

1:33 p.m. - En route to kitchen, I stop and survey the complete destruction of the living room: Kinder Egg toys and stuffed animals everywhere, and all the sofa afghans on the floor in some sort of pattern acting as Barbie houses.

2:03 p.m. - girls come back in. Driveway is shovelled completely -- they have done a good job. Girls decide to play with new Lego sets.

2:05 p.m. - girls are instructed to put away toys in living room. Somewhat grumpily, they comply.

2:15 p.m - snowplow shows up and fills end of driveway with snow.

2:16 p.m. - I say a great many unprintable words under my breath. Girls are upset because all their work was for nothing.

2:20 p.m. - I am out shovelling the plow ridge. I am not having a date with Murray because I need to buy gas, and also I need to work off my breakfast of an omelette, toast, dark chocolate candy-cane bark and shortbread cookies (Josie's fault).

2:24 p.m. - the neighbours are out too, shovelling. We compete to see who has the most colourful descriptions of the snow plow driver. I win.

2:45 p.m. - back in the house thawing out. The second and third snowmobiles of the day go past the house.

3:00 p.m. - watch in disbelief as snowplow returns. Fortunately for his continued good health, he doesn't turn down my street.

3:14 p.m. - open large can of Blackthorn cider and finish taking the decorations off the tree that the cat has so graciously started for me. Sigh, it's back to work and school tomorrow.

Happy New Year, everyone!