Monday, June 30, 2008

New Favorite Site

I check Photoshop Disasters almost every day, and laugh and laugh.

I know how hard it is to make things look right on Photoshop (witness the "Glow Tooth Girl" catastrophe, whereby I made Thing 1 look like her teeth were made of plutonium.) But I am not a professional graphic artist, and I have no experience on Photoshop other than what I have learned via trial and error, and most importantly, I'm not getting paid.

Friday, June 27, 2008

And He's No Better At Chemistry

Toby is an outdoor cat, but we keep him on a leash, for various reasons. One: we have a crazy neighbour that scatters birdseed on her front lawn, and then gets angry at the dozens of cats that come from far and wide to partake of the avian buffet that she has created, two, when Toby was not on a leash, he got lost and went missing for three weeks, and we were pretty sure he had gone to the Big Crazy Lady's Lawn in the Sky and don't want it to happen again, and three, there's a by-law in our town that says you have to.

Toby puts up with being on a leash pretty well, actually. We thought he would rebel and we would have to break his spirit and forever suffer pangs of remorse for having quashed the independant spirit we loved so well, or some such thing. But really, we just put him out on a leash and he's been okay with it.

Although Toby is clever enough in some ways, his grasp of physics is tenuous at best. Actually, it's non-existant. And he seems to have absolutley no capacity whatsoever to catch on to even the most megre of concepts, namely: If you go around something, and you are tethered to something else, you are going to get stuck. This elementary idea eludes Toby utterly, and his little kitty brain seems entirely incapable of learning it, despite many, many harsh lessons. You would think that, after having gone around the basketball net 50 times and getting stuck, you would perhaps reconsider the 51st, but no. Here is Toby on his way....
And here is Toby in the position. Note the body language here, it says, "gaaaaahhh!"

Here is Toby wrapped around the plastic chair on the front porch. He is all relaxed and unconcered at the moment, but believe me, this is going to be quite a problem very soon. Eventually he is going to see a bird that needs killing, or another cat that requires a good smack-down, and both are very difficult to do when one is dragging a large, white plastic chair behind oneself. (Usually, every morning when I am having my coffee, I can hear that plastic chair scraping across the front porch, and if I look out the front door at the right moment, I can see it drift on past.)

Here is Toby waiting patiently to be discovered after having entangled himself in the patio furniture. This is a particularly heart-wrenching picture when it has been raining. Just to tell you, these pictures were all taken in one evening.

Lastly, this is what occasionally greets us when Toby goes all berserk and takes a run up the mountain ash tree in the front yard (Thing 1 calls it his "Jackie Chan mode")

He goes up the tree, can't get down, and then wriggles out of the leash entirely; a dangling leash and a cat on the loose. And I inevitably find him on the Crazy Lady's front lawn.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

But, Pepe Le Pew Is So Cute!

Usually I wear earplugs to go to sleep, but last night I was wishing I had some nose plugs to go with them. I woke up at around 4 a.m. to the pungent and totalitarian and overwhelming odor of skunk.

In case you have never been in close quarters with a skunk, let me assure you that it is, perhaps, the most penetrating, vitriolic, malicious odor known to man. It is notoriously difficult to neutralize, and when it interacts with a wet cat, it has been known to make grown men faint. Skunk odor will linger for ever, so that you will think you can smell it, even days after you can't. Skunk is what evil smells like.

When I worked at a dry cleaners, when I was in high school, we wouldn't even take stuff that had been sprayed by a skunk, because the smell would contaminate everything it touched. I remember a woman who came in with an armload of sleeping bags, and the stink hit us before she'd even made it all the way in the door; they had been camping with their dog, and the dog taunted the skunk and then ran for the tent. We hustled her outside the door and told her to torch the sleeping bags and euthanize the dog. My parents had a good friend who managed to get sprayed by a skunk and had to get in his car to get away. He claimed that car never totally got rid of the skunk smell, and on a humid day, years later, it was still possible to get a good whiff of it now and then.

Skunks themselves aren't terribly mean or aggressive. They actually are rather near-sighted and keep pretty much to themselves, if given the chance. Once, the Mister was out in the breezeway late one summer night reading "Harry Potter", when it came to his attention that a baby skunk had wandered to within a couple of feet of him, and was enjoying the remains of the popcorn Thing 2 had dropped on the ground earlier. Himself decided to just stay where he was and go back to his reading, and the skunk wandered off. Probably never noticed the Mister there at all.

When I smelled the skunk last night, my first thought was "where's Toby?". Toby has been known to tangle with skunks before, and he has never come out the better for it. Experience is no teacher to a belligerent cat, however, and he continues to delude himself that sooner or later he will kick some skunky ass. He's been sprayed once or twice, which did not seem to be a pleasant experience for him, and yet, the Mister saw Toby tearing through the breezeway after a baby skunk just last week. He just cannot seem to get it into his little pea-sized brain that those black-and-white "cats" are not willing to take what he can dish out. The sprayings have been exceedingly unpleasant for us, as Toby wants nothing more than to engulf us with his affections afterwards, and it is precisely the opposite of what we want. The few times Toby has been sprayed by a skunk, it has taken days for him to be fit for human consumption again. Luckily he was in last night.

As I walked to the bus stop this morning, I noticed the smell getting more, um, pronounced, and then realized it was because there was a dead skunk in the middle of the road. Man, I thought live skunks were noxious, but dead ones? are just dire. I'm really glad I didn't live in any of the houses nearby; breakfast would have been out of the question entirely. By the time I came home from work, someone (very gallant) had removed the dead skunk from the middle of the road, but the smell was still pretty robust, and I think dinner would be out of the question, too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shark Graduation

Cue the "Pomp and Circumstance", Thing 1 is officially a graduate of elementary school. Last night was the big event, and all went well.
Grade 8 graduation has morphed into a fairly big deal around here, considering that, really, all the kids did was show up for 10 years, many against their will. But I suppose the celebration is more a rite of passage, the passing of a milestone, than the acknowledgement of any particular effort. (There were a couple of kids who were there more in spite of their efforts, rather than because of them.)
For the girls, Grade 8 graduation is all about getting dressed up for an adult occasion for the first time in their lives; unless they've been to a family wedding or some such thing, it's probably the first time they've had any excuse to make this kind of fuss. Some of them deal with it better than others, let me tell you; the harsh reality that some people are just not meant to wear high heels was brought to the fore all too quickly.
It was nice to see everyone in age appropriate attire; fresh and pretty and, you know, thirteen. (There was a while in the early 90's, when all the Grade 8 girls wanted to look like Vegas drag-queens. I'm not comfortable putting makeup on by the metric tonne.) Just to tell you, Grade 8 girls are the bane of our existence at the hair salon. Since it is usually their first forray into having their hair done for a special occasion, they are spectacularly clueless about how to go about it. They never know what they want done, questions and suggestions are greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and raised eyebrows, and just when you think you're finishing your best work to date, they burst into tears. It's very tiresome.

Thing 1 and her friends had been planning their outfits for months. (Military invasions have been pulled off with less preparation.) But they did look beautiful, and Thing 1 was especially lovely in a pretty red dress. (Which was a size 3, if you can believe. I think one of my thighs was a size three once, for about twenty minutes.) I asked her some time ago what they boys would be wearing, and she replied "who cares!". (The boys were merely a prop.) One young man came dressed in a kilt, complete with all the trimmings, and he looked fabulous. Full marks to him, not every thirteen year old boy has the confidence to show up in a skirt.

All these kids I've known since kindergarten, and it was a real pleasure to see them all grown up and ready to take on the next phase of their lives. I just hope none of them need their hair done for a couple more years. Congrats, Sharks!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Messing with the Cat

You can tell that the frenzy of busyness of late has eased off, because I once again have time to mess with the cat. I've been preoccupied with a million things lately, and Toby has gotten off very easy, so now we can return to normal.

I've discovered that I can get Toby to do what we call "The Phantom Scratch" almost on command, and it amuses all of us no end. Usually you can render Toby immobile with delight, simply by getting his ear between your thumb and forefinger, and rubbing firmly betwixt the two. He leans his head back and closes his eyes and swoons. It's like he's just been given a shot of morphine or something.
But recently, we've discovered that if you put your finger and thumb way lower down into his ear, not only is he overwhelmed with bliss, he slowly begins to bring up his back paw towards that ear, and starts batting away at the air, as if to scratch his head, which he is nowhere near. This can go on for ages, me rubbing, him waving his paw around in mid-air, like a crazed, furry orchestra conductor.
He seems oblivious to the hoots and laughter around him, until I stop rubbing, and then he fixes me with a malevolent, slitty-eyed glare, part fury and part self-loathing. I did it time after time yesterday, because I really didn't have anything more meaningful that was pressing, and I was entertained mightily each time.

I think Toby preferred it when I was otherwise occupied, and I didn't have time to devote to shredding his dignity. But I didn't.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Feild Trip Follies, Part Two

Thing 2 and I went on her end-of-the-year class trip today, to Point Pelee National Park, which is the southernmost point of Canada. (Which would make it the Canadian Key West, I suppose.)

A day spent with 42 eleven year-olds is only for the foolish or the brave, I think. (There are not 42 kids in her class, thank God; it was all the Grade 5s from all the classes.) For the most part, they are normal, energetic, enthusiastic kids, entirely without malice or common sense; like a litter of puppies, they are. A few, however, are ripe for a first-rate ass-kicking, and believe me, Mother Theresa herself would deliver the first smack.

The kids couldn't really care less about the actual destination, I've come to realize, it's all about the bus trip for them. Maybe it's because this bunch don't get bussed to school, but the unbelievable glamour of a coach bus has them giddy with delight. They started taking pictures of each other on the bus before we had even left the school, and I'm pretty sure some of them had filled up their memory cards and depleted their batteries by the time we left the city limits. (And they are the most ridiculous pictures you've ever seen, too. Blurry, nightmarish photos of open mouths and tongues and idiotic faces. You'd think we were transporting a bus of mutant Orcs to Point Pelee, much like this:)

It was a beautiful day, and we had a nice walk down to the actual Point. There were plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" over the butterflies and ladybugs on the way, and we were able to get some nice shots of ourselves with the lake in the background. (I did hear one kid say, with some wonder, "so...this is it?") Here's the group, with Thing 2's dauntless teacher
waving. (You will notice that he is at the extreme end of the point, in an effort to ensure that nobody gets it into their fool head to test the warnings about dangerous currents and sinister shoals. Because one of them would, you know, and the rest of them would charge in like lemmings and drown we would have a major PR incident on our hands. ) Everyone took turns at being the southermost person in Canada for 10 seconds.

After lunch we went to the gift shop, which was the other high point of the day for the kids. What is it about a gift shop? I remember going to Niagara Falls or some such place when I was in grade school, and we were beside ourselves crazy with excitement about the gift shop. It was the only thing we were interested in all day, and I can't for the life of me remember why. Most gift shops are full of the most overpriced tchotchkes, all interchangable except for the name of the place plastered across them.

We also went on the Marsh Board Walk, which is a lovely 45 minute stroll through the acres of marshland, or a 15 minute sprint, if you are with a bunch of eleven year olds. The highlight of that event was the sighting of a water snake and some turtles, and the revelation that boardwalks that float on top of water freak out kids who can't swim. The kids were somewhat disappointed when the few wildlife that we did see scuttled off in abject panic when faced with a phlanx of shreiking school children. I have to admit, I considered the possibility myself a couple of times.

Back on the bus, and a long, noisy ride home, I was longing for some peace and quiet and the beer I had so thoughtfully put in the fridge for myself before I left, and Thing 2 turned to me and said with a sigh, "That was a perfect day. I'm so glad you came." And at that, I was, too.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Have A Nice Dave.

I am woozy and sluggish and cross-eyed with sleep deprivation, but it was all, entirely, worth it.
Big Liver Girl and I went to Toronto The Good yesterday and enthusiastically enjoyed a dinner out, a few beers, and an evening with Dave Matthews ,our Rock and Roll Boyfriend. We are sated: a grown up 18 hours, off duty from our usual responsibilities.

We skipped out of town at around 2 pm, and made our way down the highway to Toronto, some two hours away. We checked into the hotel and walked to Jaime Kennedy Wine Bar for a fabulous dinner. It was so nice to not only have Big Liver Girl all to myself for a couple of hours over a nice dinner, but made all the more delightful that we had no one to answer to but ourselves. ("Let's have another beer!", "Yes! Let's!")

When we got to the venue for the concert, an outdoor venue right down by Lake Ontario, we couldn't believe our luck when we approached our seats. The usher had our tickets, and just kept going farther, and farther and farther towards the front, until we found that we were about 4o feet from the stage, raised above the floor seats, in the front row with only a railing to impede us. Best seats ever at a concert! Not only could we see the band, they could see us! (We were ridiculously delighted with that.) We enjoyed another beer, while gently critiquing the clothing choices of our fellow concert goers.

Then the band came on and we sang and danced and clapped for two and a half hours, until we were thoroughly Daved out. It was a beautiful evening, we had our beer and Our Boy and each other's company and all was well in our world.

Since there are 500 taxi cabs in Toronto after a concert, but 501 riders, we found ourselves without transportation, but happy to walk the almost hour back to the hotel.
After dropping ourselves into bed, it felt like we got up almost immediately, but did, in fact, get a few precious hours of shut eye. Impressively, we were up at 5:25, showered, dressed, made up and packed ready to go with coffee in hand at 5:45. Our ruthless efficiency was somewhat alarming, actually, I'd have hated to see what we would have been capable of if we'd had to get our various children out the door so smartly. (We vowed to only use our powers for good.)
Two hours back down the highway (with a quick stop for an Egg McMuffin) and I got home this morning in time to see the two Things off to school. I got to work on time, and there was nary a ripple in the equilibrium of my family. I was able to enjoy my Off Duty time thoroughly, and everyone barely noticed I was gone.

I'm paying for it today, but never was a debt so gladly owed. Off Duty time is worth whatever it costs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Partially Empty Nest

Thing 1 was away last week, as her Grade 8 class went to Montreal for their end of the year trip for 4 days. I think that it was the longest she has been away from home by herself, and, as I expected, she did just fine. The kids had a spectacular time; and why wouldn't they? Montreal is one fun city. A little too fun, actually; I've heard of people who went to Montreal for a weekend and ended up losing a whole summer, all because you can buy beer in corner stores.

My Grade 8 trip was to see a play in Stratford, which was all in "Shakespearean", and completely over our heads. But it was still better than The Tattooed One, who's Grade 8 trip was to the Pollution Treatment plant here in town. Totally wins for the "Worst End Of The Year Field Trip Ever".

The teachers, who have my undying respect and gratitude for taking on such an endeavour, said they had a great time. And I didn't get the feeling they were being sarcastic, either. When the trip was first proposed, I asked the principal if they wanted parent volunteers, and he said they'd prefer to have teachers, thanks very much. And thank God, too, because I would go if they needed me, but four days with hormonally challenged teenagers, even if they are very nice, would probably be more than I could handle without pharmecutical intervention. Can you imagine that eight hour bus ride? (I think it would be very different than when Big Liver Girl and I went to Quebec last year; we barely noticed those eight hours, since we talked non-stop and sang along to Dave Matthews the whole time, and there was nobody to interrupt us, and stopped whenever the whim took us. I think we could have happily turned around and gone right back home, that car trip was so much fun.)

I've been to Montreal dozens of times, and I've never done half of what they accomplished. They went to the Biodome, (which used to be the velodome for the 76 Olympics,) and a Space Camp, and Old Montreal (which is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world) and some art galleries (which they all hated) and Notre Dame Basillica which they loved, but were most impressed with the fact that it was where Celine Dion got married. They got to do some shopping, and went to a traditional French Canadian cabaret, and, from what I can see on Facebook, took about 3 million pictures.

I was a little apprehensive with Thing 1 going away; she's been known to suffer pangs of homesickness, which I can totally sympathize with, because I was driven home from many a slumber party at 2 a.m. myself. (And that was just last year.) But she's gotten much better with dealing with that in the past few years, and seemed to handle herself just fine. (One of the things that I have discovered about being a parent is that you tend to fret over things that have long resolved themselves. Like, you didn't notice that they can use a bathroom/order off the menu/walk down the street entirely without your help, and have been doing so for years. I now realize why my mother tells me to "drive carefully" every. single. time. I leave her house.) Thing 1 was a little barfy a couple of nights before she went away, but I was still in Calgary, and of no help whatsoever. (Which was fine by me.)

While she was away, we took Thing 2 out for Indian food, which she loves and her sister despises. (Thing 2 has been known to go over to a friend's house when we have a curry.) Thing 2 had her parents and grandparents all to herself for 4 days, and couldn't have been happier. She remarked, dreamily and with longing, that "this must be what it's like to be an only child".

With me back from Calgary, and her back from Montreal, it is very nice to have all my chicks in the nest again. But I know it's just for now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things I Learned From My Father.

Yesterday was Father's Day, and as my husband and my father are both pretty low-maintenance people when it comes to most holidays, we didn't do much to mark the occasion. We did have my parents over for dinner, and the girls gave the Mister breakfast in bed. (As he never eats breakfast, it consisted of a glass of water, served by Thing 2, because Thing 1 wasn't up yet.)
I didn't get my dad a card or a gift or anything, because at this stage of his life, the last thing he needs is more stuff. Besides, all the cliche cards at the store portray fathers as sports-obsessed, Lazy-Boy occupying, monosyllabic tool-monkeys who's only aquaintance with cooking is the BBQ. My father is none of the above. (Especially the 'monsyllabic' part.)

So, my father's day gift is this: "Things I Learned From My Father".

  • Never leave the house without a book. Seriously, NEVER.
  • There's no such thing as 'too much garlic', except, perhaps, in chocolate ice cream.
  • Make lists. Lots and lots of lists.
  • Fill up when it gets down to a quarter of a tank. Especially in a snowstorm.
  • People who are interested in ideas are never bored.
  • Maybe it's not the book that's stupid.
  • Try every food once.
  • Public speaking is worth getting good at.
  • Be on time. (In fact, this is the one thing my father taught me that I am physically incapable of unlearning. Growing up in the "House of the Hyperpunctual" has had an indelible impact on me, and I show up for parties way, way too early as a result. Also, this has resulted in some of the biggest fights of my marriage, since my husband's altogether cavalier attitude towards time makes some serious inroads on my sanity.)
  • Routine is not boring, it is comforting. Routine makes your life easier. Plus, if you do not show up at the library on Tuesdays before noon, the librarians will get worried and send out a search party.
  • You can't teach some people anything.
  • It's worth cultivating a relationship with your butcher.
  • Appreciate what you've got. Someone will always have more or less than you, but you have what you have; enjoy it.
  • Be interested in people; where they came from, what's their story, what makes them tick. You will almost always be rewarded.
  • Being clever and being smart are not the same thing.
  • Especially when travelling, never pass up a bathroom or an opportunity to eat something. You never know when your next chance will be.
  • Everything looks better after a decent meal and a good night's sleep. Don't skimp on either.
  • Have good handwriting.

Thanks, Dad!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flights of Fancy

I don't get to fly on airplanes much these days. Having children has put a serious damper in my travel plans. But I got to fly last week, and unlike most people, I look forward to the plane trip almost as much as my vacation. A couple of hours where I have to sit down in one spot and do nothing but amuse myself? Count me in.

I think air travel has come a long way in the past few years. When I was a kid, we used to go to Ireland every couple of years, and I remember that plane ride as the modern equivalent of the Bataan Death March. Not only were there no movies, no music and absolutely no diversions whatsoever, it took a day and a half to cross the Atlantic, and they allowed smoking on those flights, too. Plus they fed you, which everyone knows was folly of the highest order. Airplane food rightfully had a dreadful reputation, and now they have given up the pretense of trying to please anyone, and they don't bother feeding you at all. I brought my own snacks and was all the happier for it. Now Air Canada also provides you with a nifty personal tv set, with dozens of movies, tv shows, games, and music. I barely had time to read my book.

Also, the departure lounges at airports have improved dramatically since the 70's and 80's. Not only did I have the comfort of the familiar (I was able to get my usual skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks) but the excitement of the new. (Lunch was a big, slurpy bowl of Vietnamese pho, complete with spicy broth and crunchy, bright vegetables. I could have happily stayed there all day.) I recall being delayed at Pearson in a dreary, stuffy, uncomfortable departure lounge for a long enough time that we contemplated the idea that perhaps we were being held as political prisoners. Nobody would tell us what was going on, or why were still on the ground, and there was the threat of real bloodshed when the staff left because their shift was over. In contrast, the pilot of my flight home sounded sincerely apologetic when we had to circle over Toronto for 30 minutes because of thunderstorms. (Everyone else was very unhappy about it, but I just hunkered down and turned on another episode of "Grey's Anatomy".)

The people who run airports have figured out that the place is full of people who are trying to get somewhere, and need some direction. There was a time when gates and departure lounges were deep, dark secrets, and you had to be the member of some secret society to understand the signs, if there were any. Now they tend to have much more help, including real people to answer you questions. Calgary airport, which is marvelous in every respect, has dozens of volunteers who cheerfully point you in the right direction, and will even take you where you want to go on a little golf cart. I remember once asking an Alitalia worker where the international departures were in Terminal two, and he replied that he was "on a break". I think if I had dropped dead right there and then, the guy wouldn't have called anyone to clean up my body until his precious break was over.

Despite the delays and the security hijinks and the crowded conditions, air travel is still a delightful luxury to me. And one where I get to bring my own snacks.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brush With Fame

My friend, The Tattooed One, is in a music video! And not just a homemade video that her friends put together to promote their lame Bon Jovi cover band; it's a legitimate effort! She's the one at the beginning with the binoculars, and you can get a gander at her tattoos towards the end, too.
I don't think she is one of the ninja tumblers, though, unless the Tattooed One has been keeping that particular talent under wraps.
She is now, officially, the coolest person we know.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Go West, Mrs. Loudshoes.

Back from the west.
It seems to me that to take one week's holidays actually takes 3 weeks: the week before is busy getting ready to go, you go, and then it takes another week to take care of everything you missed while you were away.
I'm in the midst of the third week, as we speak, and kind of regretting going away, as it takes so much energy to do it.

We had a wonderful couple of days away, my parents and I. I don't think I've been away on a holiday with just my mom and dad in about 30 years, and it was kind of nice to have them to myself. I don't usually get to see them solo, not for almost 14 years, now.

Calgary was fabulous, I was seriously smitten with everything western. The wedding was lovely; it was so nice to see a wedding where you got the feeling it was about the start of something, not just an end unto itself. I met all sorts of family I never knew I had, and they were all so welcoming and friendly.

We spend one wonderful day in the mountains. Neither of my parents had ever seen the Rockies (in fact, it was the furthest west they've ever been) and they were mighty impressed. I know it's stupid to say, but those mountians are powerful, because they're so,... well...., big. Seriously, it's hard to believe it until you see them. And they are very abrupt; Calgary itself is pretty flat, and then bam! ginormous mountains, just like that. If a kid drew the landscape, it would look pretty much like it does. (Maybe God let Jesus do Alberta, just for practice.) Lake Louise is enchanting, and Banff is delightful and Lake Minnewanka is spectacular.

Other things I noticed about Alberta:
  • No brick. Houses are made of wood or aluminum siding. How do they measure weight then, if they don't know what "a ton of bricks" looks like?
  • No barns. Apparently the cattle and horses stay outside all year long, which makes me much more respectful of Albertan livestock. I think they have a legitimate complaint to the UN about that.
  • Flashing red and yellow lights. Okay, the Alberta road system is enviable, in that it is orderly, simple, well signed and utterly without meaningful traffic. (Seriously, they laughed at me when I said that about the traffic, but they have NO idea how lucky they are. Toronto at 4 pm? that's traffic.) But they have intersections where they have these flashing lights, that apparently never change. (Believe me, I waited ages for one to do so.) What the hell they're all about, I have no idea.
  • No deciduous trees. No maples, no elms, no oaks, no beech, no ash. Just miles and miles and miles of pines. Fall must look like any other season but at least they don't have to rake metric tonnes of leaves in April.
  • Lousy weather. It was 10°C and raining sideways in biblical proportions in Calgary, while it was 32°C here at home and the Mister had to put on the air conditioning. My relatives offhandedly mentioned that they have, at times, had snow in every month of the year. I would just lay down and weep if it snowed in August.
  • No mosquitos. Hallelujah!
  • You can see for miles and miles. Here in the east, not only is it flat, there are huge trees everywhere and the air is less clear because of the humidity. You can only ever see a long way away if you are on the top of the CN Tower or up in an apartment building. And guess what you can see? Trees.
  • Nobody in Calgary is actually from Calgary. The place is entirely populated with people from the east.

It was a great holiday; I just loved it and would return in a heartbeat.

But I have to admit, the best part of going away? is coming home.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bit of a Leap, There.

While I was standing on the corner this evening, waiting for the Mister to come and pick me up from work, a homeless guy stopped to ask me for some change. My hands were full, and I knew I had almost no silver because of my scrounging for the exact change earlier at Tim Horton's. (The servers at Tim Horton's sometimes almost smile at you if you give them the exact change.) Because I am Canadian and generally an all-around nice person, I apologized when I refused him. Then he said "don't be sorry, but if you have any dope, that would be okay." Sadly, I had no marijuana on me at the time, either. Because naturally, the next step after spare change would be to ask the middle-aged, suburban housewife if she has any pot.

There will be no blog for the next couple of days; I'm off to Calgary to whoop it up at my cousin James' and his charming fiancee, Lisa's, wedding. I've never been to Alberta before, but I hear the whooping is excellent.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Track and Field Day

Today was Track and Field day for both girls. They went off at the crack of dawn this morning, armed with lunch, water bottles and umbrellas. (The forecast was for rain.) Thing 1 was in Grade 8 girls' high jump, and Thing 2 was in long jump and 1500 m. Considering neither of my children has a competitive bone in either of their bodies, I was a bit puzzled as to their enthusiasm for this event, until I realized that it was a day off school, and there would be pizza.

Thing 2's events were both right at the beginning of the day, and she was all done by 10 a.m. I went to see her at around noon, because I knew she would be bored out of her mind and wouldn't want to stick around the meet until 4:00. Sure enough, she was delighted to see me, and after scoring a piece of Domino's finest, she was quite happy to come home for a bit and then head on back to school for the afternoon. It wasn't until she was gone that I realized that she hadn't told me how she had done. I can only assume that means she didn't win.

Thing 1 had one event, high jump, at 2, so I went back to the meet to see her. Man, those Grade 8 girls have long legs, they all are about 9 feet tall, with 42 inch inseams. A couple of them didn't even seem to try and they were up and over that bar. Thing 2 was out of the competition at a respectible 125 cm. Her friend, Nicole, came in in the top three, and everyone was happy.

I'm amazed at how hard-core some parents are when it is their children competing. I wanted to go and point out to a couple of people that A) this was not the Olympics, there is very little riding on the outcome of this elementary school competition, and B) holy shit you are annoying. I am very happy that my kids are not involved in sports on a regular basis, because I'm sure I would end up on the news as the parent who clocked another parent who said not very nice things about her child.

Both Things are very tired and in need of a shower, and I got all sorts of props for being the mother Who Shows Up To Things.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Welcome To My World

My parents have recently bought a new condo, and took possession of it last week. They haven't moved in yet, but there were a few things they wanted to do right away. For example, the people who moved out did not exactly knock themselves out cleaning the place as they left, and my mother insisted that the fridge be tackled as soon as possible. Because if you are Catholic and your house is dirty when you die, you will go straight to hell.
They also wanted to get the locks changed, in case wandering strangers in possession of the key would come in and squat.

The Mister is very handy at that sort of thing, and my parents, decidedly are not. They are endlessly astonished at what he can accomplish around the house, like changing batteries and installing lightbulbs. (Okay, they aren't that bad, but they are kind of close.) Both of my parents are capable, competent people who are entirely able to write enviable eulogies, tell you what a bishop's robes are called, cook almost anything and travel half way around the world without batting an eyelash. But Himself has them dazzled when he airily fixes an electrical plug or tiles a floor. There was that one time when my brother and his wife had their bar-b-que stolen off of their back deck, and my parent's neighbours happened to be pitching their bar-b-que because it didn't heat up any more. The Mister not only replaced the burner, but he repainted it with special bar-be-que paint. Nobody in my family even knew there was a special bar-b-que paint. They all looked like they suddenly had a crush on him, and it was all clear now why I had married him.

He went over to replace the locks today, and after some time, my mother called me, sort of worried, to ask if he had come home. He had been there, she said and he went off to pick up the locks and had been gone a while. "Is it normal for him to take off to the hardware store and be gone for, like, an hour and half?" "Entirely", came my reply. How I treat a bookstore is the way Himself treats a hardware store; namely, like a religious retreat. Its an opportunity for meditation, seclusion and immersion in an environment of peace and security. (He can spend days in there looking for exactly the right size of quarter-round trim for the bathroom, and then never, ever put it up.) My mother was getting kind of worried, thinking that some sort of disaster had befallen him, but I knew what she did not, that a trip to the hardware store rarely involves only one hardware store, and repeat visits to the same location were not out of the question. Eventually, he came back to her place and after several hours and another couple of trips to the hardware store, the locks were changed.

I'm just happy that someone now knows what I have to deal with when he says "I'm going to the hardware store, I'll be right back". Because up until now, nobody believed me when I said "bring lunch".