Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ten Holiday Things Elven and Otherwise

1. I've been practicing sock therapy again lately.

2. Christmas is almost here....weeeeeeeeeeee!

3. I miss my family this time of year the most. I want them all here so I can hug the dickens out of them.

4. Shipping costs are horrendous.

5. Because we need to ship presents and our family to us, we all don't do much with Christmas cards, so we only have two cards so far this year. Perhaps I'll have to re-institute a card tradition.

6. My Grandmother gives everyone socks for Christmas as one of their gifts. They are usually kooky and fun. I've come to look forward to those socks each year.

7. I want an animal to cuddle so bad.

8. Our advent this year had a lot of activities and we've really been having loads of fun. We made dog biscuits for my SIL's dog, we went to see Christmas lights in the neighborhoods, we made bread and we built mechano toys. Tomorrow we will be baking cookies for Santa. I like an advent calendar that gives memories.

9. I was good this year and didn't peek at a single present! Not one.

10. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Original Blogger

I think Andy Rooney could be called the original blogger. Not that he ever blogged, that I know of. But the style is all there.

I've been reading The Most of Andy Rooney and his wit and dry humor get me most every night. I'll be reading and then all of a sudden, out loud, I'll blast, "Oh yeah" or "That is so true" or "Ha ha ha ha I can't believe he said that". Fun reading for me.

I remember seeing Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes. The only reason I ever watched that show. (To be fair, I was young and not interested in news at the time).

If Mr. Rooney had had a blog, he'd be bigger than Dooce or the Bloggess or a battery of other cyber famous bloggers. Seriously, I'm sure of that. He's got the talent down to a science. Which is why he was paid to do it on TV. Of course, the verbal inflection goes a long way toward punching the humor home. But when I read, I can hear that inflection.

*Disclaimer: I offer no judgment of Dooce or the Bloggess or 'a battery of other cyber famous bloggers'. Remember that we are all beautiful flowers. And I also do not claim to know if I spelled these names right, but I'm too lazy to go look it up. Please don't shoot me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NaNo NaNo

So I went and did it again. I joined the participation in NaNoWriMo. I'm actually doing quite well this year. I'm up to 34,000 words and seem to have steamroller momentum going. The last five days I've been averaging 4,000 words a day. And, the cool part is, I haven't written any filler stuff. I wrote the story and only the story. And I am not writing a conventional novel, I'm writing it all in verse. Like Toby Barlow's Sharp Teeth - one of the best books I think I've read. I fell in love with the format, which I'm sure any of you who've known me in this space for awhile would not find surprising.
I am a poet. I love writing stories and novels and will never stop. But I think in poetry. Words need a cadence for me. I know I'm in my zone when I can hear that cadence. That's when the beautiful words come out of hiding, and that's when the cool ideas start popping out of nowhere.
This in part is why I have been once again absent. Just when I was gaining momentum here. But I don't regret a thing, so you won't be hearing any boring asinine apologies. On top of NaNoWriMo, I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year - only we're doing it on the weekend. I know it sounds too nontraditional, but Canadians don't have Thursday and Friday off. So Saturday it is. I've been preparing for that. I've smattered my house with Christmas decorations. We like to call it the Noel Shotgun Effect. And, because we do en masse birthday parties (ok its only 11 of us) for the summer and winter seasons. Thanksgiving will be the winter birthdays as well. Which means I'm finishing sewing projects for presents. And designing and printing birthday cards.
All of this adds up to a brain that won't turn off till nearly midnight every night, but somehow turns back on at five am. Woot. Somehow I get the feeling I might crash Sunday and sleep all day unintentionally. I don't actually have time for it though. No rest for the wicked you know.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Drugs Across the Street

http://lejournaldequebec.canoe.ca/journaldequebec/actualites/faitsdiversetjudiciaires/archives/2009/11/20091118-194227.html#texte

The above link will take you to an article about a giant drug bust in a house in the Levis, QC region. It's in French so I'll paraphrase:

A couple in Levis who are Asian were arrested on Tuesday who were growing over 500 plants of marijuana in a residence on the south of the river. The plants are estimated to be worth $500,000. They are suspected to be part of a large ring of Asian drug traffickers who were initially busted last spring.

This house is directly across the street from me. We've been watching police empty the house all day. They've actually been at the house since yesterday afternoon. They even pulled plants from the attic - which is only accessible through crawl spaces.

We had long suspected something weird since the original person who claimed to own the house became less and less frequently there until he stopped coming at all. Then various Asian people would show up about once a week and stay for a few hours then leave. Mowing the lawn mainly - and doing whatever they were doing inside.

We are wondering how damaged the house is. And will it be put up for auction. Can you hear the gears churning?

I have to say I think this is one of the wildest things I've witnessed with police dressed in full chemical protection garb walking in and out, other plain clothes police carrying giant grow lights and plants out. They loaded a trailer about the size of an average horse trailer, twice. Wild I tell you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fragments of my World

Our little girl got her first 'style' - woot!


I was a little nervous about cutting her hair, but in the end I think it turned out pretty darn cute. And she picked the style herself (from a line up of several lengths and styles I showed her).





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I've been in a no cooking rut. This means we've been eating out all too often. It is amazing to me how quickly it shows that this is an unhealthy lifestyle. We go along feeling pretty spiffy and then get in one of these fast food phases and all of a sudden we're really tired, sluggish, having headaches and even signs of feeling generally down in the dumps. Just not a great place to slump into.

And the stupid thing is that I love cooking. I love food and trying new stuff and winter time is the best time too because hefty hot meals are easy to put together. Heck I could at least be giving my crockpot a workout. I should probably get out some of my favorite cookbooks and do a little browsing. I think that would respark my cooking gene.

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Bras

I have never mastered the skill of clasping my bra from the back. I have to clasp it in front and then turn it to the back before inserting arms in straps. I have always held a deep admiration for women with this talent. I can however remove my bra without taking off my shirt, a handy skill for sure.

And then there is the nightly breast scratch after removing the bra. Nothing more satisfying in my opinion, and a ritual which my husband derives much amusement from. You do this right?

Monday, November 16, 2009

All We Need is a LEM

Sometimes I feel like a 'voice in the wilderness', a 'lone rider'.

I'm not sure if it's because I'm just unrealistic or my expectations are too high.
I get these ideas, and when I discuss them with my Hubby, I get a lot of negative feedback. Not all the time, just the stuff he's not inclined to put effort forth for.

Take for instance garage sales and camping.

We like vacationing with the kids. It's a great way to get ourselves away from his work, the work on the house and really focus on the family. When he takes his vacation and we stay home, we do some family stuff but our tendency is to either work on the house or watch movies. We need to teach our kids more activity than that. And, last summer he actually ended up going in to work for a day during his vacation! Not acceptable. So, since we are trying to be frugal, I thought why not camping? We have a lot of the equipment all ready, we just need to fill in a few things. And for me, some of my best memories as a kid were of camping. From what his mother tells me, Hubby and his family went camping a lot too. I was therefore, revved into telling him this stupendous idea of mine and completely shocked when I got negative fizzle spilling from his brain. It will cost too much. We don't have enough time. If we do that we can only go for one night to start out, etc etc. What? What happened to Mr. Scout?

And the garage sale? This man would rather toss this stuff in the donation bin of our local second hand store. A good charity there is no denying, but since we're being frugal and could use the money, why wouldn't we try selling it in a garage sale first? There is no crime in this. But he thinks it's too much trouble and that we'll only get about $30 total. Uh, not if you don't hand things away.

Well, I for one don't believe in giving up. At least I'm not going to do that anymore. In the past I have allowed his arguments to cave my optimism in. But, I can plan, I can arrange, I can even do these things by myself. But if I do get the ball rolling, then most likely he'll be happy to roll too.

This happened last summer with the house painting. I needed to get the kitchen and living room done. They were atrocious. He didn't want to do it. He had every argument against it. But, as paint is inexpensive, and we had some on hand as well, I saved what was needed and did the painting myself. In the end, he chipped in on the last day (he was off work by then) and ended up getting his own momentum started to dig in to some reno projects. And he later told me he doesn't feel so apprehensive about doing this stuff when I've dug my heels in and gotten the whole thing off the ground.

But what I want to know is why a man who leads over a hundred people in projects, who has camped practically all his life, who knows how to do practically everything, doesn't want to do these things? Sometimes I question whether he's happy hanging with the family. He loves us, that is undeniable. But does he love being with us? Maybe I'm taking this waaaay too far. Maybe he's tired from work and the effort takes too much from him? This one would be understandable except when I say I will take care of it he gives me a rather disappointing answer : I'd rather do it myself or do it together - this gives me the indication that he does not trust I can do these things myself. I wonder if he truly realizes how stubborn I am.

Marriage is such a maneuvering matter - I never expected it to be.

P.S. if you were wondering about the title and/or tag check out From the Earth to the Moon - absolutely fantastic series about the NASA Apollo program!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cultivating Your Kids

I ordered The Best Old Movies for Families by Ty Burr, a film critic, a few weeks ago. He shares how he got his children interested in old classics and lays out great strategy for introducing oldies to your kids. It is a fun book to peruse. Burr gives great suggestions for starting out with young children and sections of his book dedicated to age of child, genre of movie and the people (actors and directors) who made them.

I was so inspired that I immediately ordered five old DVD's for our collection. We had been wanting to beef up our DVD selection with older classics and this gave me a great jumping off point. I was happily bemused when my children delighted at the movies. The twins being almost five, were an easier sell. I ordered a musical (Singing in the Rain), an adventure (Adventures of Robin Hood), a western (Stagecoach), a sci-fi (The Day the Earth Stood Still) and a romantic screwball comedy. The sci-fi is too scary for them yet, so we'll wait. But the other four were a big hit. The romantic comedy would have flopped I think, but it has a leopard and an adorable terrier as two of the main characters (Bringing Up Baby).

I had never seen Bringing up Baby before and I found myself laughing throughout the entire movie. It was so much fun. As for the other movies, I had seen them but didn't remember them much since I'd watched them with my mother as a kid. They were all delightful. Now my teenager tried to act like he was just too far beyond these movies, but I've noticed that he watches riveted as long as he's unaware of us noticing him.

This book has been a treasure trove of information and set us on a path that I hope to wander for a long time.

Friday, November 06, 2009

OMG WTF

So I've been sick. Today, I'm marching towards flu symptoms. Oh yay. In the interest of knowledge is power, I went looking on the net for information about early symptoms of H1N1. I know, paranoia at its best. As I was searching, I came across a very informative site which also has a page concerning health insurance coverage and treatment of H1N1. Um, I hadn't even thought of that.

To be honest, I didn't have to. I live in Canada as a permanent resident. I and my family are all receiving publicly funded health care, as does everyone in Canada. And despite the complaints, and failures in the system, by and large it works. And we sure don't have to worry if we're covered before we see a doctor or get a prescription. (Note: we do pay a 10% copay for our prescriptions, but considering pharmaceuticals cost up to 70% less here in the first place, we're not talking about breaking the bank, ever.)

So this website talks about how many insurance companies in the U.S. are not covering treatment of H1N1 once you've got it. Or some that are covering it are charging hefty copays. I don't know about you, but I think that's deplorable. This is a potentially deadly illness. They should not be allowed to NOT COVER people. Not to mention the fact that the best defense we have against the PANDEMIC is to get inoculated or treated. I think of all the people south of us who have lost jobs, or are making less than they can get by on right now. What are they supposed to do if they get sick? Fat cat CEO's sit in their fancy offices with fancy houses and all the money in the bank to pay for treatments whatever the costs. I don't begrudge anyone their wealth earned the right, good old American know-how and gumption way. But profiteering off of people's health and potential death makes me sick.

Now I'd sure like to know why public health options are so 'scary' when private insurance companies (and their lobbyists) are the scariest things I've heard of. And believe me, I've dealt with them. I've had things that were covered by my policy denied just because they try not to pay. You have to fight them to get them to cover even things in your policy. It is a shameful thing that our country being one of the richest, most resource-laden countries, has a problem like this and it continues through ignorance and spin.

I'm not saying there aren't problems with public health coverage. I'm not saying the problems aren't complicated. But dammit, access to proper health care should be considered a RIGHT not a privilege.


P.S. A couple of bloggers out there have been going through some tough stuff, so stop by and give your love will ya?

Suebob at Red Stapler just got laid off.
And Mamatulip at Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket has had H1N1.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

In My Confessional

Confessions of a wannabe novelist:

I use the Thesaurus. Though I feel guilty whenever I do.

Naming my characters is the hardest part of the job.

Sometimes I get to cackling like a mad scientist when I write. Seriously. It just is so much fun when your characters come to life and start defying you like rebellious teenage children.

I doubt myself every day.

Most of my writing ideas come from my dreams.

I'm actually more of a poet and I can get a little wordy and lyrical in my prose. I have to watch that.

I am a slow reader. This just seems relevant.

I can only listen to classical music when I write. This is not a snob thing. The problem with any other music is that, if there is singing involved, I will sing. No matter what. That is very distracting.

I talk to my characters as I write. Not always, mostly when they surprise me.

My favorite color is green. This doesn't seem relevant.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

For many years now, I've wrapped my self-worth as a mother around Halloween costumes. I would sew and sew and fret when it came out wonky (as it invariably would). I would march through neighborhoods proud that in spite of the wonkiness, at least the costumes were homemade and clever. But there was always a stress involved. Getting the sewing done on time. Making something the given child wanted. And doing it without losing my cool.



Well no more. Not the losing the cool part, the self worth part. This year, my kids wore what they wanted from among the dress-up clothes we had. And I relaxed. And they had a super fun time. And what more could anyone want for this holiday?




Except. The weather was so stormy, there were trees dropping limbs all over town. Sirens running back and forth to clear roads and accidents. So. Going out, even just in the neighborhood was out of the question. What did we do? Hubby and B hid behind doors in the house and we trick or treated our way around the house. The twins thought it was awesome. I was glad we didn't have to brave the storm and everyone ended the night over joyed.



Tada.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Serious Questions

I'm feeling worried, confused and sometimes a little unsure who to trust.

My husband and I have been discussing the H1N1 vaccine and other plans of action to protect our family. We feel that erring on the side of caution is the better course. How would we feel if we could have prevented one of our children from being seriously ill, or worse dying, and we hadn't taken precautions?

But. How far do we go? Yes we're going to get the vaccine. According to certain articles, I'm in an at risk age group. Several children of varying ages have now died in Canada. And while we hear that the numbers are still fairly low, would you risk your child's life?

But what about attending school? As far as we're concerned, our teenager goes unless there is some indication it's not safe. But what about the twins in pre-school? We still have to pay the tuition whether they go or not, but going is not an absolute necessity. So do we pull them now, till we can get the vaccine? And if we do, does that mean we all hole up in the house till then?

WHO and Canadian health officials are saying, 'don't travel if you're sick', 'make sure to get the vaccine', but 'go ahead with Halloween plans, no need for a healthy child to skip'. So, which is it? I mean I can't think of a better way for tons of people to meet other tons of people and just one person with the bug could spread it far. Then again, we've had no cases anywhere near here. I don't think we'll be staying home. Our neighborhood barely does Halloween anyways, so we usually visit just three streets. Not so bad.

You know, I never thought I'd have to make these kinds of decisions in my lifetime. Protecting the kids from violence, sex offenders that kind of stuff of course. But an unseen virus that is killing people? No, never considered a pandemic.

There is a community of people (mainly online) here in Canada who are speaking out against getting the vaccine and are saying that H1N1 is a made up thing to scare people into...here's where they get weird - into doing what? Getting a free shot? Not so sure these people are sane.

Then again, my husband and I do not believe in getting the annual flu shot. Normal flues are part of life and the thing is, if we let our bodies fight them, our immune systems handle them. But super shooting everyone contributes a great deal to these superbugs developing.

How are you guys handling this? Or have you even thought about it? What do you think about the conspiracy theories? Or do you think it's not a conspiracy but maybe just blown out of proportion? Are you getting the shot?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Insurance to do your job?

phone call:


Sales Lady: we have domain name safety feature for only $10 which ensures that when your domain name is coming up for expiration, we won't ever lose your domain for you. You know, in case your credit card information isn't up to date or we can't put the transaction through.

Me: so, does this mean that if something were to happen and the transaction couldn't be completed you wouldn't try to contact me?

Sales Lady: Oh noo, of course we would try to contact you but what if you're not home? what if you're busy with the kids say...this just makes sure that for a whole year we won't lose your domain name

Me: I'd like to think that your customer service is of the quality that you would actually contact me to resolve any problems.

Sales Lady: Oh we're number one on the internet but you just never know what kind of things can happen, or if we try for an extended amount of time and can't find you

Me: well how long do you try to contact someone before you give up?

Sales Lady: Oh we try for at least 30, sometimes 60 days. But you know how phone tag is

Me: Don't you contact people through email?

Sales Lady: Yes, we do that too.

Me: I think I'll take my chances then.


Ummm, hello? If you're a company that wants my business, and wants to keep it, then you shouldn't need this kind of insurance. And what's with this 30 sometimes 60? Don't you have a set policy or are you guessing? You're seriously making me doubt whether I should be using you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Not Bill's Ted

My husband has become an addict of Ted talks. Ted is a yearly gathering of heavy thinkers and world shakers who give lectures on great advancement in technology and science, or social trends, and they try to find ways to make a difference. I have been fascinated by a great number of the talks we've listened to.

The one below I really love because my husband and I have been discussing this as a possible new business model in the corporate world and we hope it might become 'norm'. Now the cynics out there will point out that business is about money and that will always trump which inevitably leads to business as usual practices. Believe me, I've argued this point myself. But I can see trends out there that indicate this vision of ours is absolutely possible.

My husband thinks the business measure of success in the near future will be 'how much difference do you make in the world' as opposed to 'how much money do you make'. I'm not naive enough to see that attitude taking without the money incentive being there. Not that there aren't responsible businesses that aren't all about money, but the bottom line is business depends on their bottom line.

However, like the man below delineates, as consumers we can put carrot sticks in front of businesses to be world responsible and that means voting with our money. The more we make choices to support businesses we believe in, other businesses will emulate their models. I think there may be hope for grand change in the human race if we can effect an overhaul like that. A new view of capitalism and consumerism.

(this video takes 16 minutes to watch, but if you have the time it is well worth it)


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hatboxes and Mini Bars

When my parents visited a little over a year ago, my mother bought the twins each a little suitcase. We were about to embark on a vacation to the ocean and she wanted them to have their own little cases. They adored them. They often used them for overnight visits to Mami and Papi's house here (paternal grandparents). But they were big box store cheap plasticy things. Which means they barely lasted that year and now have tears in them. A shame really. Of late I'm a little more adverse to plastic and big box mainly because it feeds the landfills. Then I saw this:

Going to Grandma's wherein a crafty woman took a really ugly old suitcase and made it all cute.

(Picture from www.craftzine.com)

That's when the hair crawled up my butt. Sooo, for my daughter, I started with this little case I bought at a flea market for $5:




and ended with this:




Total cost ran me about $8 - the suitcase plus the strap, a pillowcase for the interior and pieces of a sheet for the exterior all bought at the second hand store.

For my son, I recently found this at the second hand store.




I paid $3 for it. It was a traveling mini bar. I'm going to be giving it a bit of a boyish makeover. This time I'm using fabrics all ready in my stash so the cost is basically the cost of the suitcase itself woo hoo!



Man I love this stuff. It's so fun to make a transformation like that. And of course the romantic side of me pictures my little minions toting their adorable suitcases up to Grandma's house with a big beaming grin. Awwwww.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Now I Lay Me Down to Ponder All the Miniscule Data Running Through My Head Constantly

I am suffering insomnia. At least that's what I'd call it. I have a horrible time falling asleep at night. Then around 3 am, I wake up with no hint of falling back to sleep for at least two hours. Some nights (mornings to be exact) I do end up sleeping again, others I just get up and putter till the house comes alive. After a couple days of this I end up crashing around 8 pm one night. Of course, the 3 am wake up call still happens. Arrrrgh.

In a way I can't figure out if this is hindering or helping creativity. I certainly do a lot more writing and pondering during the wee hours of quiet mornings. But my brain gets muddled from the fatigue and I start speaking in that weird, menstrual, backwards way. Which leads to a lot of laughing from my family, obviously laughing at me not with me. Heh.

I have had days when my husband comes home from work and says, "Are you all right? You're white as a ghost." So I look in the mirror, and indeed, he is telling the truth. I look like death's door. Ugh.

On an up note, I rescued a neighborhood cat today. Though a very small deed, I felt heartened by it. This little cat wanders our neighborhood far and wide. She likes to hunt in our backyard as we border a woodsy area with no other houses in back - resulting in lots of cat delicious prey (mice). I like that she gets the mice and she's friendly. So today when I returned home from errands and found her crouching under the table on our deck looking frightened, I called her to me. Maybe the dog across the street had just scared her. She came to me right away (once I remembered that here they don't call 'kitty kitty kitty' they call 'minou minou minou'). She was limping and trying desperately not to put weight on her right paw. I picked her up and checked her paw, it was bleeding. I took her to her house and knocked not finding anyone home. So I put her on their deck and watched for their car. When they returned they took poor kitty in and later to the vet. I was happy to know she'd been cared for. Ahhh kitties.

Now since I'm not tired in the least and everyone else is asleep, I guess I'll go watch some ridiculously romantic movie.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cheap Date

First, forgive me for being non-existent. Truly you must. For no other reason than I said so. I am trying to get around the block here so look for my shining face on your blogs soon.

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We are trying to be frugal. We have just celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. This would be the non-secret wedding. Heh. We didn't want to go out, because that would require babysitters which is either money or inconveniencing family. So it was to be an in-house date. Problem is, we do those rather frequently, so we wanted to make it a bit more special. Then I got a brilliant idea. (Read somewhat out of the norm but not that spectacular, heh.)

First we decided to cook dinner together because we rarely get to do that. We went whole hog with candlelight and wine. We made one of our favorite meals: steak tartare. We coupled that with absolutely delicious home fries sauced up with the sauce in this recipe: L'Entrecote Steak with Mustard Sauce. Add in a little candy and cookies at the end and we had a virtual culinary heaven.

For entertainment: this is where I get all 'out of the box' ha ha. I made it a Wii date. We don't own a Wii. I borrowed my sister-in-law's Wii and we played together for hours. Free entertainment, goofy fun over wine. Oh yeah.

It was a lovely evening to remember all our evenings thus far. Six years married, seven together, seems like a flash in the pan. Looking forward to more cheap dates.

---BTW

Wine: 12.00
Steak: 9.40
Potatoes: 1.00 (at most)
Mustard Sauce: 1.00 (at most)
Candy: 6.00
Cookies: 2.50
Wii: free!

Total cost of Cheap Azz Date: 31.90

Think about a nice dinner out and entertainment afterwards. Much much more. Can you hear the pride? Sometimes being cheap can be good. And believe me, it was romantic.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cutting a Rug

Ok so there's this guy, he's a great woodworker. He makes all kinds of lovely things and sells them to support himself. It's a great way to make his money. He does what he loves and shares beautiful work with the world.

He makes a tutorial because he wants to help other people enjoy his craft. He does the tutorial for a small jewelry box. It's fairly easy to make, with a few instructions that may not have been intuitive. It's a nice tutorial. But its a box. Seriously. And then he says, don't use this tutorial to make your own boxes and sell them. Use it for personal use only.

Now I'm pretty sure that he's not the first person to make a box. Nor is his tutorial going to put himself out of business. And, maybe there are a few twists to it that were a little difficult to figure out, but honestly if someone took the time to sit down and really plan it, they could have done it. So why should this preclude anyone from making and selling similar jewelry boxes?

When you buy a pattern at the fabric store (excluding some indie pattern designers that have of recent started using this wording) you are not told you cannot make the items from the pattern to sell. That's up to you.

The woodworker is not real. Its an example.

I love crafting sites. I visit them frequently and have learned a ton from them. I never ever disrespect their requests when they post a tutorial. But I do feel that it's not really fair to tell people that they cannot make a tote bag, or purse, or lunch bag or pair of pants and sell them when the actual 'design' is nothing new and easy enough to figure out. Some tutorials are more complicated and really great lessons. I understand, but I still question. I don't agree with this practice because it implies exclusivity on something that is technically intellectual. Any person with enough skill and imagination could make their own and be called on a carpet that never really existed under their feet in the first place.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mommy's Nerves

They had their first day of preschool.

They got themselves dressed and looked appropriately adorable.




There was a small negotiation. G consented to leaving his blankie behind.

Dragging backpacks practically as big as themselves, they bounded into the car with all kinds of chatter about new friends and toys and stories and coloring.

Mom however took the time to remind them of the rules. And her head was swimming with anticipation. Would they cry? Would they get along with the other kids? Would they use their French? Would they listen to their teachers? Would they participate? Would they make friends? Would they have fun?

That is a lot of would.

All three arrived at the preschool and before Mom had barely 10 seconds to say good-bye, they ran into their classroom and never looked back. Mom stood watching for just a few seconds, then forced herself into the car and drove home still going over her woulds.

At home, Mom tried to work. Tried to write. She did ok. But every noise in the house made her jump and then she'd think about her minions and their day. The time that she thought would fly too fast, took longer than that. Finally she was able to jump in her car and go back to her 'not babies'.

Each child is called and allowed to come running through the door to their parent, one at a time for safety. Mom's twins were called. Only one came out. G had donned his coat and shoes and promptly sat back down to color some more. He was torn from his fun and reluctantly joined Mom.

"I want to stay at school" he whined. Mom was delighted. What a relief. Teacher informed Mom, the day was A Number One Aces. Whew.

All the way home, G and W talked and talked over each other telling Mom about the story they heard, the page they colored, the toys they played with.

Awww, now Mom worries about time, and how fast it will speed by.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Buried Treasure



This is my absolute favorite vegetable I've grown. Potatoes grow without much help. And all through the season, as the tops keep popping up through the mound you build, underneath the most wonderful thing is happening. When it's time to harvest the potatoes, it's like having Christmas to me. Kneeling down in the dirt, I won't even use gloves. Digging in to the cool soil, letting my fingernails blacken as I search for hidden treasures. Pulling one, two, more more more, delighting at finding each one. A gardener's playground.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I Feel So Reused

So I started a crusade a while back to get this family on a more green road. The first thing I sacrificed was my swiffers. I stopped using it all together until I discovered that a felted wool sweater, cut just the size of my swiffer mopper head works like a charm. No throw away pads, one happy swiffer. (I don't use the bottles anymore since they are not refillable - I just hand spray my homemade cleaner as I go).

Then I gave up my disposable toilet cleaner heads. This was difficult for me. The convenience of it coupled with the absence of yucky toilet brushes hanging around had me in love with these things. But, I had to admit they were just not right. So, since I refuse to have those disgusting toilet brushes around, I bought myself rubber gloves (that I reuse - so far one pair in 6 months) and I use a rag and that's it. The rag is washable, the gloves get washed after each use and there I am, clean bathroom no yucky toilet water covered brush.

Then we switched to cloth napkins. What a great thing this is. I love it. No waste. The extra laundry it causes is so minimal, it's ridiculous. We use the napkin several days as long as it isn't yucky with food stuffs. So I'm not even doing extra laundry every day. Ha.

I've switched to laptop lunch boxes (bento style and BPA free) for the lunches to eliminate baggies. Another crutch of mine. We use containers and I'm in the middle of making reusable sandwich wraps like this

--picture from www.thebestofdiy.com

and reusable lunch bags and snack bags like this.

--picture from http://repurposeful.wordpress.com/

My goal for this year is to have all of us eating no waste lunches. Yeah!

Repurposing has been a real adventure. We've repurposed furniture like these. Remember this?


Now it looks like this!


Note the change from insanely grass green and blue walls to soft lemony yellow. Mmmm.

I've been goofing around with altering clothes for fun and here is a project I did recently. My mother gave me that brown shirt and it was so huge I figured it would be only suitable as a nightgown. But I liked the picture on it and I remembered I had another shirt that didn't fit well that I'd been planning to alter, so I combined them. I love hoodies. This was a fun project.



Now if I could get myself weaned from freezer zip bags, I'd have quite a few vices exorcised. Muahahaha.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What have I become?

You know, I used to be funny here. I went back and read this post and this one too. I'm wondering why I haven't been so fun anymore? In an odd twist of irony, I'm being superfun in real life, but seem to be expending it all there. Not that that's bad, but I liked being fun here. I like it when you guys are fun (you know you are always). And because the gods are cruel and laugh at us, reading me being funny made me very sad. Sad that I've lost a little of that here.

Last year seemed mostly a whirlwind of politics and fervent passion. Reinvention and reacquaintence with the not depressed me. And in all that wildly swinging emotion, I suppose here became a place to play it safe. I'm glad you guys have stuck around. Even while I've been a boring stiff.

And the poetry? This one has been fairly killing me inside. The creative writing (short stories and novel work) is going great. But the poetry is gone gone gone. That has been such an integral part of me all my life, I feel a gaping wound where it used to lodge in my heart. I must try to find that voice again. I must try to find this wordy girl again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Humerus

I have some news. I have a new man in my life. He sort of burst onto my scene all of a sudden. He has wonderful insight, great intelligence and he's quite engaging. I love the way he picks up on everyday things and makes them seem so wild and strange. He makes me laugh and laugh. Let me share a little of his humour:




Seriously, we bought two of his videos and we were crying from laughing so hard. I think it's his combination of wit and physical demonstration. Plus he's very clean, no swearing. Don't get me wrong, we have Lewis Black videos and if you've never watched him, be prepared for swearing every other word. We're not adverse to swearing comics, it's just fun to watch something without having to wait for kids to fall asleep.

We used to love watching Comedy Central and the Comedy Network. Finding a new comedian worth his salt was always fun. So, any comedians you'd recommend?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What I did for my summer vacation

Hi there.



Remember me? Sure you do, it's only been a month. Where in the heck did my month go?



Here's a little bit of it:



We had a hat party.


And this young man


turned 13!




















Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Do you have an incantation for the sun?

Um, apparently summer was destined to last only three days. Yeah.

Our annual 4th of July bbq and fireworks got completely rained out. We moved the party inside and were forced to opt out of the fireworks till a future date. If it ever stops raining that is.

Here in Quebec they have many familiar sayings that the Seattle crowd throw around.

"Take a shower and you might miss summer"
"I went to the bathroom and when I came out, summer was over"

but this one they hadn't heard and I'm proud that it made them all laugh heartily:

"People in Seattle (insert Quebec) don't tan they rust!"

Speaking of wet things...
G (the twin boy now 4 years old) is still having difficulties with bed wetting. So, we went and got some environmentally friendly nighttime trainers which are washable. Nothing new here really, this will pass as his body matures. But the funny part is as follows:
He receives a treat for every dry night he has. One morning, wanting his treat he told me this "A monster came in the night and put water in my bed".

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Shaken Not Stirred

I feel like a snow globe, blizzardy mixed up.
I wonder if so much of me should be hanging out here, or should I zip the fly and hide a bit? I've been extremely candid over the last three years and I find there are things here that I really don't want the world to see or know. It was ok when it was just us, you know. But then all those fly byers came and went here and there and now I'm getting random emails about advertising - who the heck knows why, my traffic (which I haven't looked at in at least a year) can't be that high - and it worries me. Worries me that so many unknowns have access to so many intimate details.

But I want to stay true. I find myself editing out touchier parts a lot now a days for several valid reasons. One of which is the desire to leave the whiny me behind. Oh I will always need to whine a bit, but you know, now that things are smoothing out in my world, I can see that I have been quite the whiner. Thanks for the support by the way. Another is this intense desire for privacy all of a sudden. I think this was partly influenced by reading The Traveler which sort of freaked me out about how much people can know about you. And there is my kids. My son is getting old enough to be poking around the nets and you know, things here have been said that might better be left out of his knowledge base.

I have been feeling in and out, up and down, hot and cool about my hubby lately. Nothing bad or serious. Just marriage I think. In August (the 5th to be precise) we will have been together 7 years. I suppose this explains some of the irritation we've been struggling with of late. We're too used to each other. I feel so overlooked sometimes. He has started doing the 'uh huh' thing. You know, when someone knows you well enough to sort of half listen and know the basics of what you say so they just 'uh huh' you? I don't want to be uh huh'd.
Money. Number one cause of stress in relationships. Yeah we feel it. We're in a loop right now and it sucks. It seems like every time we turn around something big breaks and we have to fix it which means our debt is not going down at all. That is such a discouraging thing to see. But it would not be prudent to neglect the brakes on the van or the computers which link us both to our jobs. So we stress. And we talk, we argue sometimes but in the end mostly we talk.

In the mix of this Me cocktail, there is a feeling of meeting. My horizon is finding my road and I am quickening on that trail. I feel it. Things are changing. I'm getting closer to some goals of mine that are dear to me. As my time expands beyond constant watcher, I am delving deeper into my pursuits. And my curiosity and thirst for knowledge is increasing. I used to write mainly the things in my head, fiction for fiction's sake. But I find myself quite enraptured with research of late. General writing research and more specific subjects. I'm forming some long term goals in my head beyond just to write. I can see some projects I'd like to pursue writing about. That's an exciting feeling.

So here I am shaken but not stirred.

The great thing is that I have changed emotionally. I feel that too. I am so unruffled of late. I may be shaken but I'm not freaked out about it. My mood has remained cool in the shade, taking time to sit under palm trees on hot beaches of mental landscapes while thinking things through. Time to think things through has such a profound effect on reaction.

So if you see a lady in a big bubble full of floating fake snow, just rolling along with a contented smile on her face, that's me. Shaken, but not stirred.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Professional Moves

I have had a reading. It was an audience of around 30. Young people, who were trapped into listening to me and not even in their native language. There's nothing like having a 'captive' audience.

I shared a short story I wrote just for the occasion - Parent Week at my son's school. I had a full cheer at the end, though I'm not sure if they had been coerced by their teacher. =)

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In my ever drawn out adventures considering my future and a profession beyond this great ambition of writing, I toyed with becoming educated as a sound engineer. But then I went searching for jobs in my area. Um. Zilch. How's that for a professional outlook? Back to my drawing board and sticking to the clickity clack of my typewriter. We shall see.

At least the creative juices are drawing me to the writing table instead of feeling like avoiding it.

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Twins. I recently taught them the I'm a Little Teapot song and they love it. We're currently learning how to jump rope with little first success but a lot of great giggles. We've had some wonderfully hot days this week which meant the wading pool came out and splashing became the mode of the day. Even I was pulled in. Literally.



There have been sandbirds to make (needing finishing with the glue gun) and homemade spring daffodils gracing the table. We have taken to reading books under a blanket with a flashlight, because it's so much more 'romantic' that way. The twins almost seem to feel like they are doing something not allowed.


The scouts had a big bike ride and I joined my eldest for the spin. It was exhilerating riding along with 200 others, protected by police escort. They should do that every year. Hopefully they will.

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I got all geeky and stuff and built myself a new computer. The big secret is that we're making a giant computer shuffle. My laptop will be cleaned and transferred to the kitchen computer area and the kitchen computer will be fixed up as a birthday present for eldest on his way to Secondaire next year (7th grade). Building your own computer is rather exciting. It makes you feel like a real techie even if it is as simple as reading the manual (RTFM)! I suppose the fact that it has worked perfectly since I built it shows some level of geek prowess.

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The garden is coming along splendidly except that I suspect beetles have invaded. Several plants have been eaten very young, a couple of seeds were eaten before they sprouted out. I am more and more confident that the changes I made to the garden and effective fighting tools (organic thank you) have routed my snail problem. Now what to do about these dang beetles, if in fact that is the problem, before all my beans are holey and dead? Research research.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Little Bot Lady's Maids

You know that self-clean button on the oven that does wonders for all those sticky spills? I just love that. And I was thinking, how wonderful it would be to have a self cleaning body. Like maybe little nanobots could do all your grooming at night while you sleep: washing, washing the hair (maybe using some fantastic futuristic dry chemical shampoo and conditioner specified to your hair type of course), removing all unwanted hairs. It'd be great to wake up all fresh and ready to go.

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Bread day is back! I had given up (once again! I think I'm now on round 4) trying to please my family with homemade bread. I can hear the gasp of hundreds (ok all 8 of you) thinking who in their right mind wouldn't like homemade bread? Well, let me tell you, these are toast people. If it isn't perfectly light and full of delicious little holes then it just isn't good enough. Homemade bread tends to the denser side. At least it did until this:



They have a recipe for American White Bread which is basically your toast-lovin'-holey-white-bread bread. And it works. I made the most light, fluffy, airy, holey bread I've ever seen yesterday. And homemade bread is back on the menu! Not to mention easing the budget - as in about 20 cents per loaf as opposed to 2.40 per store loaf.

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I've been using my typewriter to write my book. I can't resist the sound it makes and the feel of the smooth black keys. The strength it takes to push the keys enough to show a letter makes me take my time and that in turn fosters well thought out sentences. Glorious words have been issuing forth from my speed-decreased brain. Of course, I then have to transcribe what I wrote into the computer, but the glory of that is I can do a quick edit as I go. Yeah, I love my typewriter.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Getting Deep

I met a couple once. I was working for an architectural and engineering firm in Las Vegas. I was a single mom at the time. It just so happened that I had a weekend off because my son was spending it with grandma and grandpa. This guy worked as a temp where I worked. He invited me to go out with his girlfriend and him for the night. I acquiesced.
So, this couple we'll call Jeff and Renee pick me up and we head out to a cafe, then a meal on the cheap and end up at one of their parents' houses - who apparently were out of town for the weekend, score. They lived in some ridiculously small apartment and of course so did I.
Well, one starry night, a couple of wads of green weed and a pipe led to some interesting conversation in which I was cornered into hearing the sordid but romantic story of how Jeff became disenchanted with his current girlfriend when he met Renee and just had to leave her to be with Renee but Renee being the ever upright citizen (um ok) made him tell his ex girlfriend the truth (wha?).
At this point Jeff becomes visibly uncomfortable and indicates he wants her to stop the story. Ah the glories of love. She finishes the story anyways and he proceeds to tell me that she talks too much, a fault she's working on with her therapist. Which of course pisses her off because why would you want anyone to know you're seeing a therapist, but then why would you want anyone to know you cheated on your ex and then left her for the current girl?
I'm bewildered at this point and stoned, so you can imagine I could not think of a single intelligent thing to say. In the ensuing argument between them about these provocative reveals, they decide not to talk to each other any more. And there we sat in a bummed out, ruined high of a silence. We decide to go to bed.
What do you think happens next? Well about a half hour into my rather uncomfortable sleep, I hear my door being knocked on and enters Jeff. Oh shit.
He wants to be with me. He can't stay with Renee. He has fallen in love with me and cannot stand it anymore. (Translation I'm a repeat offending jerk and want to get in your pants.) I am completely disgusted by this obviously unoriginal act and tell him to go back to his girlfriend who, if he remembered correctly, he had promised to stay with after having left a different girl. He slunk away in sheepish quiet and I slept with one eye open.
I find it funny when people talk a good game of deeply philosophical uprightness and then fail miserably to live it. (Not that I'm perfect at this stuff of course, but hey, we're not really talking about me anyways right?)

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Last Day

It's the last day for my drawing over on Brown Books Project. Head over before 8 pm Eastern Time and you might win a prize! Just leave a comment at this post and you're entered to win.

Happy Reading All!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maggie Moss....Come On Down!

I have a confession.

I am a game show addict. Not reality shows game shows, I mean your Bob Barker Price is Right type. When we had TV channels flowing in to our wires, I loved watching those games on HGTV where a couple would have to guess the price of a house and if they were right they won it. Or, Ben Stein's Money. But my absolute favorite, now don't shoot me, was Wheel of Fortune. I just couldn't help myself. I love the show and I was invariably better than any of the contestants. Of course, I wasn't in front of a camera, live audience and standing next to competitive spellers.

Family Feud. That was so much fun. And I really like Louie Anderson. The original host was kinda smarmy.

I never much got into Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but I did love watching Alex Trebek and his Jeopardy.

Do you guys remember the Gong Show? There's an oldie.

Oh, and I loved both versions of Whose Line Is It Anyways, which was really more of a comedic show, but always side splitting.

Yeah, I miss the shows. Sometimes.

Any of you have strange TV addictions?

Shameless Shameless

I'm having a drawing. Over at the Brown Books Blog! Go there and put a comment on this post. There are no obligations, you do not have to read the book we're about to take on, but if it interests you, you never know. In any case, I will be drawing a lucky winner Monday, June 1st at 8:00 pm Eastern Time. Go, be a contestant!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tempting the Tongue

I want to talk about food. Because it encompasses my universe.

In a budget conscious time, we still want our gourmand palate satisfied. By we I am of course referring to my husband and I. As far as the kids are concerned the following meals are all they could ever need:

pizza
macaroni and cheese
hot dogs
hamburgers
grilled cheese
spaghetti
cookies
ice cream

And I am all too happy to oblige since these meals fit quite easily into a tight budget. But for us (the foodie two of the family) I've been finagling. For instance, I found a salmon flank on sale for half price. Whip up a lemon thyme marinade, grill that sucker and add in a light summer salad with grapefruit juice vinaigrette (have I mentioned this is my new addiction?) and voila! C'est magnifique. (Practicing French never hurts - especially when referring to food)

Another great mouth melter: One of our favorite vegetable sides happens to be a spring veggie and therefore found at wonderful prices right now. Asparagus, my second love. Prep these guys up, cut in 1 to 2 inch pieces, douse with a balanced amount (read: not drowning but coated) of olive oil, sprinkle with about a tablespoon of sea salt, toss to mix and throw in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes and ooh baby have you got something.

Foodie Faux Pas: do not under any circumstances buy medallion steaks at half off nearing their expiration date and expect to actually make steaks with them. Nope. You could cut the meat and use it for stew or something, but the idea of them being good steaks equals total mistake. Ugh. To call it tough would be a compliment.

Ice Cream. What else can you say? Except perhaps Homemade Ice Cream. Oh yeah. I've wanted an ice cream maker for at least four years. I finally broke down and bought one. I am giving the no rock salt variety a try. Yesterday I whipped up a batch of Creamsicle Cake Mix Ice Cream - my own creation. The oohs and aahs have it. Two thumbs up and here comes a summer of frozen fun.

Foodie Quip: you never realize just how much you need a whisk until you haven't got one. Rue? Gravy? Sauces? Good luck.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I found my bellybutton!

I've been gathering a lot of Moss. Lack of inertia rushed in like a broken dam and flooded my days. Standing still has not kept me from working. Physical work demands constant attention, seasonal jobs have drawn my sweat like snake poison. But the mental satisfaction of any of it has been absent. Unhappy? Depressed? I don't feel so.
Inside my family I've been expressive, silly and focused. Children have had nearly undivided attention during the days. The onset of Spring and Summer weather has triggered annual emotions of hope and visions of gardening grandeur.
But coming here has been a chore. The desire is there. I miss your words, the giggle inducing quips. I am aware of an awakening on the brink. Drawn deeply inward, my thoughts have all but exhausted the energy for personal analysis. "I set my mind in motion" and force my feet into daylight.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I wielded the Rapier of Unfairness

It's hard to watch someone you love struggle to be happy. It's harder still when you've known them as positive, upbeat and silly before. But most difficult is telling them that they are hurting the people around them. And they knew that on a level, but were so deeply affected by their health and situation they couldn't seem to do what they ought to about it. But when the foot came down, the gentle demand for them to rest and take care of themselves was made, they came through and it made me happy. There still lies a long road before him to recovery, but we're getting there, little steps at a time.

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I made a new friend! Technically she's still more of an acquaintance. But I feel a budding friendship. Hopefully we can click. She is a neighbor whose son is just two months younger than the twins. She recently left her job to start a home daycare. I have spoken to her nearly every day as she passes for a walk with the kids. Yesterday she invited the twins to come play in the afternoon for an hour with the kids. She was so nice. And when she brought the kids back, she and her son and one child still waiting to be picked up stayed to play in our yard for a few minutes. And we talked. I used mostly french. Not necessarily great french, but hey, it's a start. Yay!

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I had a birthday on Monday. I turned something above 35. I'm not feeling so down about gaining a year. Last year was tougher for me. I've had some fun for the event. I made myself a red velvet cake. Oh my. I used some birthday money to buy a shelf for my fabric stash and some organizational things for getting my space in order. I bought myself a chair (actually a stool) with wheels for my studio space so I can fly between my computer and my sewing machine. Wheee!

My husband gave me the three Dvd's put out by the Mythbusters. Oh yeah. It was definitely a wonderful birthday.

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We've started playing a new card game called Munchkin. It's hilarious and so much fun. It is one of those games where you have to fight monsters and gain powers and such, but it is extremely tongue in cheek. Like you can get the Boots of Butt Kicking or the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment. We're always glad to find new games to play as a family (right now this one is just played with B - the twins will have to get a little older). We love this one, and it has a ton of extension packs and variant starter packs, so the fun should go on for quite a while. If you love funny games, check this out.