Wednesday, May 23, 2012

To whom it may concern, 2012 edition

It's that time again, more passive-aggressive letters from Party of 3:


Dear man behind me in line at the grocery check-out,

Sighing loudly and checking your watch ostentatiously because I'm holding up the line by letting my child buy a chocolate bar with her own money, which she is counting out slowly as it's nickels, dimes, and quarters, doesn't make me move any faster.

But it does make you look like an asshole.




Dear Hydro One,

Yes, I *do* have a problem with the planned power outage that I got a prerecorded phone message about.  A blackout from midnight Saturday to noon Sunday.  Really.  Really?  You couldn't plan an outage on, say, a Tuesday from to 4 p.m., when everyone is at work ? No? Of course not, because that would MAKE SENSE.

Cordially, Face-palming at your stupidity,



Dear lady at the wedding reception,

There is a difference between a capon and a caper.  What you had on your cracker, nestled up against the smoked salmon and creme fraiche, were capers.  Trust me on this.  A capon is a chicken.  And maybe I shouldn't have corrected you, even though I did politely say, "I think you mean capers" when you said, "I love the taste of the capons with the salmon".  But insisting that you were right when you obviously weren't and I when I had already dropped the subject, that's social fail.

And your hat looked stupid too.

Warm regards,



Dear Evil Ninja Assassin Cat,

Please fill out the following short survey and return at your earliest convenience:

1. Complete the sentence: Alison's toes are

a) edible.
b) actually small rodents.
c) attached to the feet of the person who feeds you and would like to stretch her feet out to the bottom of the bed when she finally gets into bed at the end of a long day to relax with a book or maybe an episode of C.S.I. on dvd and not worry that her toes will be punctured and shredded by your sneak attacks and has to curl up in an awkward ball which is SO. NOT. COMFORTABLE.

2. Which place would Alison prefer that you give yourself a tongue bath?

a) On Alison's chest while she's lying in bed reading, blocking her view of her book, but making up for that by giving her an up-close-and-personal glimpse of where your testicles used to be.
b) On the clean, folded laundry in the laundry basket.
c) Outside.

(OK, that was a trick question.  Folded laundry in the basket? As if.)

3.  Which of the following things are you allowed to bite?

a) Alison's arm, at random and unpredictable times.
b) Angus, especially his bum.
c) Toy mice, yarn balls, tennis balls, spiders, cat treats, guys who come to the door with clipboards and try to trick you into buying a water heater.

Thanks in advance for your co-operation,


Dear Leah and Rachel,

Towels, especially wet towels, do not belong on the living room floor.  Keep this up and I'll make you dry yourselves off after showers using kleenex.  And not the good, two-ply kind with the lotion, either.  They'll be the cheap, no-name brand that won't soak up any water, but just cover you with little sodden kleenex balls.  And heaven help you if you leave *those* lying around on the living room floor.

I mean it.

Your mother.

Dear person who invented wine,

I love you.  That is all.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Surviving the all-day meeting: tips and strategies

All-day meetings can be a necessary evil in your job, but they don't have to adversely impact your positive attitude.  There are many things that you can do to get through an all-day meeting at least partly sane.

You must do your utmost to pay attention to the discussion.  This is very important.  Your input is valuable and you can't comment intelligently if you haven't been paying attention. I can't stress this enough.

But there comes a time in every meeting when it all goes south.  Someone will jump on his favourite hobby horse and ride off into the semantic sunset, while a couple of other participants will veer off onto esoteric tangents that no one else understands.  If you are not the meeting chair, there's not much you can do to bring the meeting back on track.

That's when you reach into your 'all-day meeting toolkit' and find a way to pass the time without going totally and irrevocably batshit crazy.  Here are some ideas.

1. Imagine scenarios which are WORSE than being in the meeting, where, if given the choice between the two, you'd pick the meeting. Award yourself extra points for creativity. Some examples are:
  • in a helicopter with a broken tail rotor, plummeting and spinning towards the barren, rocky ground of some desolate tundra
  • trapped in a time-share resort presentation with 22 crying babies and seated next to someone who says, "Have you seen my tarantula?  He seems to have climbed out of my purse". 
  • on the bathroom floor, hugging the toilet the morning after you consumed >17 margaritas
  • in Arkansas*
This should help you feel better about being in the meeting.

2. Look around the meeting table and try to match up participants with similar characters on The Big Bang Theory.  Award yourself extra points for not snickering out loud or betraying your thoughts with inappropriate facial expressions.
  • do it again with Friends
  • do it again with Game of Thrones
  • do it again with The Sopranos

2a. Try to figure out who would win, the Sopranos or the Lannisters, if they ever came up against each other.  Award yourself bonus points for imagining conversations between Tony and Tyrion.  Award yourself extra bonus points if you imagine Tony using the words "F#*&ing dwarf". Award yourself super extra bonus points if you imagine Tony having to remove a dagger from his thigh.
  • do it again for Downton Abbey vs. Grey's Anatomy
(I don't have any earthly idea how that last one would work, but trying to figure it out would distract you, and, really, distraction is the best you can hope for in one of these meetings.)

3. Mentally reorganize your wardrobe.  Imagine you are wearing your hottest outfit.  Now imagine what each of the meeting participants would look like wearing your hottest outfit. Deduct points if any of them look better in it than you do.  Deduct extra points if the person who looks better than you do in your hottest outfit is of the opposite sex.

4. Listen carefully for sentences that sound dirty when taken out of context and write them down. Award yourself extra points if you're taking minutes for the meeting and you include those sentences in the final written notes.

(When discussing the different symbols that can be used on geological maps to represent normal faults and thrust faults, one of the geologists in the all-day meeting I was in yesterday said, "I'm really not impressed with their thrusts."  *snicker*) 

5. Pick some jargon or buzzword and award yourself points whenever the word is said out loud.  Promise yourself one chocolate bar/beer/ice cream cone/margarita/reward of your choice for each mention. 

(I picked "planar features". I will be very drunk and/or fat this weekend.)

6. Decide which of the following Monty Python sketches best represents the underlying theme of the meeting:
  • Four Yorkshiremen: Everyone bitches and moans about how much harder they have it than everyone else at the meeting has it.
  • Argument Clinic: Two individuals or factions within the meeting insist on taking opposite sides of every issue on the agenda.
  • The Dead Parrot: One individual or faction attempts to convince another that the project being discussed will really work. The second individual or faction keeps presenting compelling evidence that the first individual or faction is wrong.  The first person/group is unfazed and keeps trying to discredit the evidence.
  • The Spanish Inquisition: Lots of people rush in and out and there is a general confusion about what are the main points on the agenda and what the meeting proposes to accomplish.
  • Spam: Participants are expected to make a final corporate decision by choosing from a long list of very similar sounding options. (Or, if there are any Vikings present, then obviously this is the sketch you choose.)
If all else fails, stand up abruptly so that your chair rocks backwards, clutch your stomach, and say, loudly, "Could you all please excuse me for a moment, it's that darn dysentery again".

That ought to buy you at least 20 minutes out of the meeting room.


*kidding, just kidding, I'm sure it's a great place

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day - a repost because I'm too busy being adored to come up with something original

Ah, Mother's Day.  Peanut butter toast and tea in bed and hand-made cards and earrings from the Farmers' Market.  I love Mother's Day.

I didn't feel like mowing the lawn today, though it needs it.  So Leah, Rachel and I went for a long walk and ended up at Twisty Creme for ice cream, and then the girls played at the park while I weeded the flower bed in front of the house and tried out a new recipe (Cilantro-Lime-Chicken Soup with Tortilla crisps).

And I'm going to add 'folding laundry' to the list of Things I Will Not Be Doing On Mother's Day.  And 'washing floors', and 'changing the cat litter'.  No.  Wait.  That really needs doing.  And 'blogging'.  I'm too lazy tired to come up with something original today, (that, and the post-weeding Bud Light Lime is making me a bit light-headed.) So, here's a post that's all about motherhood, and how I don't always fit the Hallmark Card mold.

 Great moments in motherhood -- not so much
Last night we rode our bikes to soccer practice. Which meant that I spent an hour sitting on a blanket on the sidelines instead of in my semi-comfy folding chair, which has no case with straps and therefore can't be transported by bicycle. I did this because the girls really, really wanted to ride their bikes to practice. And because I try to be a good mum.

Apparently, it worked, because as we were coming back into the house, Rae looked up at me and said, "This was the Best. Day. Ever." (Note: we have a lot of Best. Days. Ever. around our house, and Worst. Days. Ever. are not altogether uncommon either. The younger inhabitants of the Casa de los EstrĂ³genos are pretty dramatic on a fairly regular basis.) "And you are the Best. Mother. In. The. Whole. World." she added. (and yeah, I am also the Worst. Most. Terrible. Mother. In. The. Whole. World. too sometimes. Often in the same day.)

So I asked Rae, in a joking sort of way, "Am I really the best mother in the whole world?" "Yes," she said, nodding solemnly, before pausing and adding, "except for the Christmas concert. Do you remember the Christmas concert? And the football helmet with the head in it. Oh, and the train station. Apart from that, you are the best mother in the world." Then she patted me on the arm and added, "And those really weren't all your fault. [longer pause] Well, the concert one wasn't."

So there are three reasons that Rachel will end up in therapy that are only partially my fault: the Christmas concert, the football helmet, and the train station.

The Christmas concert:

When Rachel was in junior kindergarten (4 years old), I missed her Christmas concert. The very first Christmas concert of her school career. We had flown down to Phoenix to visit my dad in early December, and so Rae was not at school on the day the memo about the time and date for the concert was sent home. Compounding the problem was the fact that a substitute teacher was on duty the day they were handed out, and thus didn't know to keep a copy for Rachel when she returned. And unlike her older sister, who gave me a daily countdown to her class Christmas concert when she was in JK, along with a set list complete with demonstrations, Rae didn't say a word. So imagine my surprise when my daycare provider phoned me one December afternoon and asked why I hadn't attended -- Rae was crying at her house because all the other kids' parents had been at the concert. Every last one. Except me.

When I rushed to pick her up at the end of the day, in tears myself, she looked at me sadly and said, "I kept waiting and waiting for you to come. And then I saw your purple jacket, and I was so happy, but it was only Grace's mother. But it's OK. After we sang, when we all got to have snacks with our parents and show them our artwork, Cameron's mum and dad let me sit with them. And they gave me a donut." Ummm, Mother fail.

The football helmet:

I have a pretty busy life. With work, the commute, the girls, the girls' activities, the house, the yard, etc., etc., and no one to backstop me, I need my little pleasures. Like vast amounts of red wine Thursday night TV. I'm not a big TV watcher, but I do watch C.S.I. and Grey's Anatomy on Thursday nights. And one Thursday, Rae wasn't feeling well. She wanted cuddles and reassurance, and I really, really did not want to miss C.S.I. So I decided to multitask. I put her in my bed at 7:30 with the bedroom TV on and cuddled with her. She dropped off to sleep in about 20 minutes. I extricated myself from her, and popped out to the kitchen to make a drink and a snack, and arrived back in the room to find her sitting up and watching the TV.

C.S. I.
had just started, and a football helmet was bouncing down the road in slow motion to an orchestral arrangement of The Blue Danube. Just as I reached the bed and went to grab the remote to turn off the TV, the camera zoomed in to show, as you might have guessed (though Rae didn't), that the helmet contained a gory, bloody, severed head. Cue screams, tears and a nightmare. Mother fail.

The train station:

A couple of years ago, the girls and I took the train down to Windsor, where my family lives. The trip involved a rather lengthy stopover in Toronto's Union Station where we had to change trains. This was made more lengthy when the train we were transferring to was delayed coming out of Montreal. We were all on edge waiting, and I had staked out a position at the very front of the line so that the girls and I could get one of the seating areas on the train where four seats were arranged with two seats facing two seats, so that none of us would have to be in a different row from the others.

The line got longer and longer. Finally a boarding call was made, along with an announcement that we would be boarding from a gate on the opposite side of the concourse to the one we'd been waiting at. The crowd turned and headed for the new gate. I had Rae by one hand and was pulling a suitcase on wheels in the other, with duffle bags and a purse hanging from my shoulders. "Keep up with me," I yelled to Leah, and took off at a run, in order not to lose my spot at the head of the line.
"Mum!" said Leah, with some urgency.
"Not now, Leah," I snapped. "Just keep up with me."
"But Mum...."
"Leah, no talking. Running."
"But Mum, Rachel's fallen down."
I stopped and looked down. Sure enough, I'd pulled her off her feet and she was lying face down on the floor, crying. I was so concerned with getting a good seat, and was already carrying so much weight, that I didn't even notice that I was was dragging her across the wide marble floor, practically dislocating her shoulder in the process. Uh, yeah, Mother fail.

She still brings these up occasionally, to try to make me feel sorry for her. It almost never works. I just remind her of the time she wandered away from me at the Carp Farmers' Market when she was three years old and scared five years off my life.

 I figure we're even.