Monday, January 31, 2005

beach bum baby

My beach bum baby. She's almost 3 now and sometimes I have to remind myself that she was cute and innocent once, and didn't talk back or call her Daddy a "butthead"!

Random thoughts about the weekend

1. We had Nikki’s party this weekend – almost a month early since I’ll be gone next month. Five preteen girls in a hotel room – what fun! Pillow fights, water slides, pizza, late night giggling, secrets – everything an almost 9 year old could want in a party.

2. Our bathroom is all done – right down to the floor mat and the matching pale green hand lotion. (Oops – not quite – still have to get the pictures on the wall.) I painted candle holders and a pot pourri holder this weekend. It is a thing of beauty! Last night, I lit the candles, turned off the lights, closed the door, and soaked in the tub for nearly half an hour. Aaaahhh! Next time, I’ll add a little mood music to complete the effect.

3. Sunday was the last GNF service I’ll be at in a month. Next Sunday is Mom’s membership service, and then it’s off to Africa for 3 weeks. It makes you know you’ve got a good thing going when you realize how much you’ll miss your community.

4. Nikki and I had our mother-daughter afternoon on Friday. She was delighted to leave school with me at lunch time. We went to the Forks, had lunch, wandered around the shops, and then went for our manicures. She got lime green, I got a coppery colour. She said afterwards that she probably chooses more hip colours than me because she’s younger. J My manicurist was a bit of a butcher – my cuticles hurt all weekend.

5. My family is good to us. Mom got up early Friday morning to make sure she got cinnamon buns baked for Nikki’s hotel breakfast with her friends. Cynthia stayed up late Thursday and baked a funky birthday cake for her niece. J-L hung out in the pool with five giggling girls – quite willing to play the cool uncle role. How much richer they make the lives of my children!

6. Maddie got a late start into the “terrible twos”. (Actually, after having 3 kids, I think the “terrible twos” is a myth that should be replaced with the “testing the boundaries threes”.) Potty training is a power struggle with her. On Saturday, during her “nap”, she changed her own poopy pull-up, resulting in poop all over her room. On Sunday, she stripped naked, and walked around with a pull-up on her head hoping people would laugh at her. And when you ask her why, she just smiles and says “Because I want to.”

7. I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped this weekend. I ended up making way too many little shopping trips for bathroom stuff. We tried out 3 registers before we settled on one we liked, and 2 bath mats. But we were determined to be DONE so we persevered. Sadly, our bedroom didn’t get the clean-up it deserved because our attention was focused on the bathroom. That’s what happens when you bring something new into the home – all the other rooms get neglected. Poor little neglected rooms - I promise I'll spend time with you soon! Soon the bathroom will be yesterday's news and I'll start looking to other spaces for some decorating pleasure. You could be next!

8. I enjoyed watching Julie pay Crib with her Pépère last night. She really is a smart girl and the way she focuses her energy when she’s playing games seems remarkable in a 7 year old kid. She gets this look on her face that says “I take great pleasure in trying to figure out this game.” I hope she finds enough to challenge her in life, because sometimes learning comes too easily for her.

9. Communication was good this weekend, despite my fears that there would be too much stress in our household in the weeks leading to my departure.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


I love it when you pull it off - when you know without a shadow of a doubt that you have pleased your child. Not just a shallow pleasure, like when you tell them they can have ice cream for dessert. I mean a deep down gut pleasure that shines from their face and causes that look that says “My Mom is super cool! She must love me A LOT to do this for me!”

That’s the kind of look that I got from Nikki when I asked if she wanted to skip out of school on Friday afternoon and hang out with me. “Because I won’t be here for your birthday,” I said, “I want to spend some special time with you.” Her eyes lit up and her face glowed. “Are you SERIOUS?” she asked, not quite sure she could trust what she’d just heard. “Yes, I’m serious.” Her face broke into a mega-grin.

This is my occasionally aloof daughter who is beginning to spend more and more time alone in her bedroom, hanging out with her music rather than the real live people in the rest of her house. This is the daughter who gives me more withering looks than smiles these days. The rest of the evening, I was her best friend. She sat close to me, she hugged me a couple of times, she started working out the plans in her mind – like “where will we go for lunch?” and “can we go shopping?” and “will it be JUST you and me?” And when I fed her the icing on the cake – told her that we might get manicures together – I thought she would burst from the excitement of it all.

I have to hang onto this. For only a little while longer, hanging out with mom will still have some measure of coolness. But hopefully, even when she chooses manicures with her friends over manicures with mom, I’ll still find ways to bring her pleasure. Because I know that even when she’s got more attitude than charm, a little part of her will always be my little girl.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


It’s interesting going to a 12 step program. Every week, a group of people (20 – 30) will sit and talk about themselves and their relationships with the “gods of their understanding” and none of them will name their gods. We all come to the table with different understandings and different names for god, and for most of us, a lot of baggage that goes along with that understanding. But nobody ever asks anyone what their god is called or what kind of faith journey is acceptable to their god or what kind of trappings of religion they hold to.

It’s refreshing. I don’t feel a need to know whether their gods are Buddha or Allah or some other construct of god. Neither do I feel any need to tell them the name of my god, or try to convert them to my way of understanding. All that matters in that room is that we all trust whatever god we’ve come to believe in to help us overcome our compulsion. And we trust each other to be god’s helpers along that path.

This experience, apart from helping me deal with my compulsion, has opened me up to new possibilities. I have defined my god differently than I would have defined him before. I have taken little pieces of other people’s gods, and added them to my own understanding. It hasn’t weakened my god in any way – on the contrary - he’s stronger and more approachable than ever. I like him better now. And I like to think he’s pleased with my new understanding.

Growing up, there was only one way to understand god. He didn’t change his stripes, and if you didn’t believe in exactly the same god as me, you were doomed to hell.

There were only a select few churches that had any access to the “truth”. Mennonites were safe – the doors of heaven would open to them without reservation. Baptists were close to the truth, but they weren’t pacifists, so their access to heaven might be a little touch and go. If they’d ever been to war, forget about it. Pentecostals – well, they were close too, but they did a little too much dancing and speaking in tongues, so there was no telling if their communication was actually getting through to god. Anyone who wasn’t evangelical – dear god in heaven, THEY deserved our prayers because they were way off the mark. Most of them were just “Sunday morning Christians”, weren’t they? There’s no room in heaven for THOSE kinds of people.

But at least these other so-called Christians had a little bit of hope, because all they had to do was tweak some of their beliefs and god might allow them entry. All the rest of the world – the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists – they were all damned to hell.

One day, the path became too narrow for me. I began to feel lonely, walking along that exclusive path to god. Not long after I’d spent a few years immersed in good solid religious education at Bible College, my belief system crumbled. The world outside Bible College didn’t seem quite as black and white. There were shades of grey that didn’t seem to fit the old painting.

I tried to hang onto it, because I didn’t like the thought of a life without faith, but it just didn’t make enough sense for me. What little bit was left went out the window along with the man who’d broken into my home to rape me. A god who stood judgment over me and my friends, and who wouldn’t protect me from the hands of a rapist, even when I called out for his help, wasn’t worth my time. For the next few years, the grey was all I had left.

I was in a hospital bed the day my faith returned. No, it didn’t “return”, but rather a new faith arrived to take its place. This faith allowed for shades of grey and it allowed new faces on my pathway. There was colour where there once was only black and white. It was a “kinder, gentler” faith, and it fit me better than the old one had. This faith allowed me to ask tough questions – like why my baby was taken from me before I got a chance to hold him – and still have something to hang onto even when I didn’t find all the answers. This faith allowed for the possibility that truth might take different forms for different people.

It’s not an easy faith. There are some things I can’t quite get past. I want the pathway to be open and clear of obstructions, but what do I do with “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but by me”? Do I accept only portions of “the text” and abandon those that don’t fit? Or do I look for other explanations that make sense for my new understanding? Is heaven even relevant? If not, what are we striving for? If another understanding of god gives comfort and support, who am I to say it’s not truth?

When I lived in the mountains, a wise friend told me that god is like a mountain. We’re all standing on different sides of the mountain, he said, and my view might be quite different from yours, but that doesn’t change the mountain.

I think god is big enough to handle human variations. I think truth is still truth if it fits you differently than it fits me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

100 Things

1. One summer, I spent my weekends dressed as a panda at a photo booth at the zoo. Children (and the occasional gay couple) got their pictures taken sitting on my lap.
2. I once got bucked off a horse during a relay race in a rodeo at a camp where I was working as a counselor/wrangler. They carried me out of the corral on a board, and I remember regaining consciousness (at least I THINK I was unconscious) and staring up into the face of the rodeo clown. I got a bad case of the giggles, because I had this vision of having arrived in heaven only to discover that the angels sent to welcome me turned out to be clowns.
3. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or when on a beach in Greece, take off your top and go topless. I did.
4. I have met 2 Canadian Prime Ministers. I have a picture of myself shaking hands with the current one.
5. I once slept under the stars on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Ocean with my camera bag as my pillow.
6. The worst job of my life was as a chambermaid in Banff, Alberta. I particularly hated cleaning toilets.
7. I once had a 106 year old man flirt with me. I was in Regina at the time to present him with a war medal for his service during the First World War.
8. I’m stubborn. It’s one of the things I like and dislike about myself. My dad used to admire it in me, because it reminded him of himself. I remember holding onto a rope that was tied to a cow that desperately wanted to get away. That cow dragged me all over the yard, but I WOULDN’T let go. That was one of the stories dad loved to tell about me and it made me smile when I heard him tell it.
9. Another way in which I’m like my dad is that I usually pass out when I throw up. Dad used to do it too. The doctor can’t figure out why – it seems the action of throwing up cuts off the circulation to my brain. It scares my husband. When he hears me run to the bathroom when I’m sick, he comes to stand behind me to catch me.
10. I like to take pictures. I like the fact that I own an SLR camera and not just a “point and shoot”.
11. I like driving. Preferably alone. Sometimes I use that as an escape, when I’m stressed out. I leave the kids with my husband and I just drive until my head is cleared.
12. I like the colour turquoise. When I wear something turquoise, I almost ALWAYS have someone tell me I look good in the colour.
13. When I was young, I found a secret hideaway in the middle of a bramble-bush. There was a big rock to sit on, and you had to navigate your way carefully to avoid getting poked by the long spikes sticking out of the branches. The challenge of getting there was part of the appeal.
14. I like to read. I’m a bit of a literary snob. I don’t read pop culture stuff. Anything by Danielle Steele or Nicholas Sparks makes me want to gag.
15. When I sleep, I wrap the blankets tightly around me, right up to my chin. I don’t like too many air pockets and the blanket has to be touching the bed on all sides. I don’t want to risk any breezes sneaking in.
16. I always fall asleep lying on my left side, facing the outside of the bed. I don’t like anyone touching me while I fall asleep.
17. I like train rides. I wish they were more commonplace and affordable.
18. Sometimes I’m surprised how easily a service person can make or break my day. A friendly waitress can make me happy for hours. A grumpy bus driver can cloud my whole afternoon.
19. I love words, but I’m lousy at crossword puzzles.
20. Two of the first boys I ever had crushes on are dead. Grant and Robbie. They both died in accidents.
21. The first vehicle I ever owned was a little white Chevette. I bought it for $500 from my brother. I loved the independence of owning a car.
22. Some day I want to own a house with a verandah. That was one of my mom’s dreams too.
23. When I was in Grade 5 I did a school project on Brazil. Since then, I’ve always wanted to travel to Brazil.
24. I have been a bridesmaid for three brides. Of those three, the only one I still have contact with is my sister. I had three bridesmaids. Of those three, the only one I still have contact with is my sister.
25. I once took Hawaiian guitar lessons because my mom loved the Hawaiian guitar. I was never very musical though, so it didn’t last long.
26. My dad was killed in an accident when I was at 7-11 buying a Slurpee. It took me awhile before I could enjoy another Slurpee.
27. There have been 4 traumatic events in my life that have helped shape who I am. I was raped by a man who climbed in my window. My husband attempted suicide when I was pregnant with our first child. My third child – my only son – was stillborn. My dad was killed in a terrible farm accident.
28. I sweat a lot. When I exert myself, my fact turns red and I sweat all over. This has always been a source of embarrassment for me.
29. When I was in Grade 5, I once scored 99% on a spelling test. The only mark I lost was because I forgot to cross the T on my name at the top of the page. This still pisses me off.
30. When I was in Grade 9, I won $100 for getting top marks in my grade. I bought my first camera with the money.
31. When I was in Bible College, I was class vice president. I couldn’t be president because I was a woman. This still pisses me off.
32. When I was 6 years old, I walked over 20 miles in a walkathon. As I said in #8, I’m stubborn. Even back then, I was determined to prove I could do it, probably because no one else thought I could. I crossed the finish line with Mr. Paramour. There’s a picture of the two of us holding hands – the oldest and the youngest to finish the walkathon.
33. I like to watch deer jump over fences.
34. When I was growing up, I loved to ride horses. Once, when my brother Dwight and I were riding, the horse he was on, Prince, stumbled in the ditch, flipped head over heels, and died. Dwight was thrown into the ditch.
35. I’ve always wanted to be able to paint. And draw.
36. After my first daughter was born, I couldn’t pee for 2 weeks. I’d had a rough delivery and there was too much internal swelling. I had to catheterize myself at home. There’s nothing pleasant about self-catheterization.
37. I was in New York with my sister a month and a half after the World Trade Center was attacked. The smoke was still rising from the ashes.
38. Sometimes, people think I’m an airhead because I have momentary lapses in my memory that make me seem slightly vacuous.
39. I’m not an airhead, because I can use the word “vacuous” in a sentence.
40. I hate it when companies use bad grammar or misspelled words in signs or advertisements. It’s one of my pet peeves, and I would go out of my way not to give that company my business.
41. I’m very ticklish. My daughters love to have “tickle time” where they gang up on me and tickle me until I’m laughing uncontrollably.
42. I once scored 13 points serving in a volleyball game against Gladstone. I was proud of this for 2 reasons: I wasn’t a particularly strong volleyball player, and Gladstone was a much stronger team than ours and that was one of the only games we won against them.
43. I have been inside a Level 3 biosecurity lab. This is special because very few people who aren’t scientists or lab technicians have seen the inside of a Level 3 lab when it’s “hot” (in operation). I was escorting a journalist from California into the lab. You can’t wear any street clothes inside, and you have to shower on your way out.
44. The first thing I ever had published was a poem in my Grade 12 yearbook. The second thing was a poem in Zygote Magazine. I’ve had quite a few things published since then.
45. I don’t like it when websites have music that starts automatically when you open the page. I find it to be an assault on my senses.
46. I am sensitive to loud noises. I was once on a ship with my brother and sister and had to run inside every time they blew the fog horn.
47. I don’t like scary movies. I don’t mind suspense, but I don’t see the point in scariness just for the sake of scariness. When I was in high school, it was really popular to watch scary movies (like Halloween) at parties. I hated it, but I still wanted to be at the parties.
48. My best friend in high school was Leanne Chudley. We met because we were lab partners in Grade 10 science. I’ve only seen her twice since high school.
49. I hate games that make me feel stupid. Stock Ticker is a prime example. As long as I live and breath, I will NEVER play Stock Ticker again!
50. I have hiked to the top of a mountain – Sulphur Mountain. Fortunately, I could ride the gondola back down.
51. I am not a fast reader. I like to savour the words rather than skim over them. Mrs. Ranka, my third and fourth grade teacher, tried to teach us to speed read. We had to work through these coloured cards in a big box. That was stressful for me. I did alright, but once that was done, I went back to reading slowly.
52. I don’t like coffee. I like tea, but I’m not very fond of any tea that tastes like boiled grass.
53. I’m not very organized. This is especially apparent in my laundry room. I often have to scrounge through baskets of clean clothes to ensure my children have clean socks and underwear for school.
54. Sometimes I think I have a bit of a split personality. Some days, I want to be more cosmopolitan. Other days, I want to be more earthy/hippie.
55. I like speaking in front of big groups. It gives me positive energy.
56. I have never done any kind of drugs. Sometimes I feel like I’ve missed out by not trying anything. I’ve had opportunity, but I don’t like trying anything for the first time in front of other people. I’m afraid of losing control and losing face.
57. I got married August 7, 1993. I had a lot of fun at my wedding. One of the things that made it fun was that everyone in my family, except Dad, got up to dance. I didn’t expect that. Dad was sleeping in the car, because he really didn’t like crowds.
58. I once stuck my foot in a lawnmower by accident. I was trying to knock some tent worms out of a tree with a stick and wasn’t paying attention to where my foot was. The lawnmower stopped and I kicked my boot into the air. My mom said she heard the lawnmower stop with a thud, heard me scream, looked out the window and saw my boot flying through the trees.
59. I never went to Kindergarten. My mom didn’t want me to have to ride the bus for 2 hours a day when I was that little.
60. When I was a teenager, I had a crush on Leif Garrett.
61. One of my favourite moments with my husband was a short trip we took to Quebec City. We had so much fun wandering around the old city and eating crepes at a funky little restaurant. We don’t always have compatible interests when we travel together, but on that trip we did.
62. My favourite pair of shoes EVER was a pair of Punkt sandals I bought in Germany. They were like Birkenstocks, but more interesting because no one else in Canada had them (except my sister, who bought them on the same trip).
63. For awhile in elementary school, my nickname was Heifer. When I went through a tomboy phase, they called me “Mighty Heif”. I once kicked a boy, while Dale Patterson chanted “Mighty Heif is chewed. Mighty Heif is chewed.”
64. We once found a playboy magazine in the bush behind our school. It was a shocking moment when I realized there were men who liked to look at pictures of naked women.
65. I love Thai food. My second favourite ethnic food is Greek.
66. My favourite annual pilgrimage is to the Winnipeg Folk Festival every July with my sister. I’ve been there 17 years in a row. My three daughters have been there every year of their lives.
67. I used to make a lot of crafts. I hardly ever make crafts anymore. When I became a mom, I thought I would make lots of crafts with my kids, but I’ve discovered I don’t have much patience for that.
68. The first time I was on a plane was a trip to Edmonton to visit my brother when I was a teenager. I’ve been on lots of planes since then, and the novelty has never worn off. When I started taking business trips, other more seasoned business travelers said I’d get tired of it. They were wrong. Now that I’m a more seasoned business traveler, I NEVER tell people they’ll get tired of it.
69. When I was pregnant with my third child, the doctors discovered that I had developed an incompetent cervix. It had been competent through both of my previous pregnancies, but for some inexplicable reason, it stopped doing its job. My son Matthew died in utero after they broke my membrane trying to sew together my incompetent cervix.
70. Birthdays don’t usually stress me out, but the year I turned thirty was an exception. Three things happened that year – we bought our first house, we had our first child, and we bought a minivan. Suddenly, all that responsibility and ownership made me feel old and settled down.
71. I like the feeling of a sleeping child on my lap.
72. I have very little patience for stupidity or incompetence.
73. I once tried to help my dad pull a calf out of a cow. It got stuck and he hooked up the tractor to help him pull. The tractor pulled too hard and the calf got torn in half. The event traumatized me and I ran screaming into the house. My dad felt really bad that I’d seen it happen. Now that I know him better, I know it must have devastated him to see it too.
74. I have killed a lot of house plants. I keep trying, but they almost always end up dead. My mom, sister, and brother are all good with plants and my black thumb is a source of shame for me. I cringe when well-meaning people give me plants because I know the fate of the plants and I don’t want to disappoint the giver.
75. I love projects, but I have a short attention span so I don’t always get them done before I move on to the next one.
76. One of the reasons I was attracted to my husband was that he made me laugh. The first time I met him, after trying to dance to Ska music at the Pyramid, we sat at Country Kitchen and laughed and laughed over coffee and tea. Fourteen years later, he still makes me laugh.
77. I’m not a particularly kind person. It’s not that I’m unkind, just that kindness doesn’t always come naturally to me. My mom, on the other hand, exudes kindness from every pore.
78. My first job was taking care of kids at a day camp. I was sixteen and I was the oldest one of three people entrusted with a hoard of kids all day every day. Now that I look back at it, I’m amazed they trusted us with their kids. I’m not particularly good with kids and I don’t think the other 2 people were either.
79. I value intelligence. It doesn’t bother me much that I’m not beautiful, but I think it would bother me if I weren’t at least somewhat intelligent.
80. I am a Christian, but there are still days that I am not convinced of the existence or the significance of God. Deep down, I still believe that wavering faith is better than none.
81. I’ve written three plays that have been produced on stage.
82. I don’t like pets. I used to own horses, but I’ve never wanted to own a pet since then. I like to see animals in the great outdoors, but I don’t want them in my house.
83. I have issues with personal space. I start to feel claustrophobic if people are too close to me.
84. Before I die, I’d like to visit at least 20 more countries.
85. I’m not very musical. This used to bother me, but doesn’t any more.
86. I para-sailed in Mexico and loved the feeling of floating above the beach.
87. I like to be spontaneous, but I am also somewhat cautious.
88. I am cynical yet hopeful.
89. When I retire, I want to be a travel writer. That way I get to travel and make just enough money to keep going.
90. Being a mom is one of the most difficult and yet most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
91. The first year I was in university, my mom told her friends I was studying social work. I guess it didn’t make sense to her that I would spend three years of my life getting an English and Theatre degree.
92. I love to go for walks, but my feet usually hurt when I do. When I finally got fitted for orthotics, I discovered that it’s because I have high arches.
93. I’m not very affectionate, except with my children. I don’t like hugs from very many people.
94. I like attending theatrical productions. I wish I could go more often. I have been to plays in London and New York with my sister.
95. One of my most embarrassing moments was a Sunday afternoon when I dropped in on my parents and found them in bed together. They were even more embarrassed than I was, especially since I was with a Member of Parliament at the time. I was embarrassed but pleased to know that my parents still enjoyed a mid-afternoon romp in the hay.
96. I like roller coasters.
97. I like fishing. It’s not so much catching fish that I like, but rather the leisurely feeling of sitting in a boat on a pleasant afternoon waiting for your rod to wiggle.
98. I want to hang-glide some day.
99. I’m glad I have seen the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, Old Faithful, the Mediterranean Ocean, the Statue of Liberty, d’Orsay Museum, the Roman Coliseum, the Swiss Alps, the CN Tower, the Champs Elysée, canals in Venice, Stanley Park, and lots of other things.
100. I may not finish EVERY project (see #75), but I finished this one! I made it to 100!

What's going on in those square pants of his?

All this talk of Sponge Bob and the fundamentals makes the subversive in me want to go out and buy a whole slew of Sponge Bob products for my kids. They already have socks and toys, now they’re going to have t-shirts, underwear, sheets and pillow cases – all with the caption “Not that there’s anything wrong with it.”

Seriously, are you THAT afraid of homosexuals that you're scared to let Sponge Bob sing a friendly little ditty to your kids? I LOVE that song "We are family." In fact, I like it even more now that the fundamentals are trying to shut it down.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Just had one of those moments… reading an article in the Western Producer about BSE and how it affects cows… I think “I’m gonna ask Dad if he’s ever had a cow he thought might have had BSE” and then my mind goes numb as I remember that he’s no longer here and I can’t ask him any more questions. I still want to ask him questions. I still want to find out what truths he can help me figure out. I want to know he's still asking questions too. I want him to pass me an interesting article he read in Time or Macleans and insist I read it so we can discuss it. I want him back. PLEASE can I have him back?

Here he is. The man I want to talk to. This is my favourite picture of him. My sister took it but I don't think she'll mind me posting it :-)

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Marcel - wasn't he a cute baby? Posted by Hello

(I figured out how to load pictures, and since I don't have too many saved on my computer, I put this one up for fun!)

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I'll feel better tomorrow

I'm feeling a little blue today. Nothing serious, just a pattern that often occurs when I'm in the middle of a home decorating project. It's a bit of a vicious cycle. Because I'm focused on what I'm doing, and want to get it done within a reasonable amount of time, I get a little impatient and snarky with my family. Because I don't respond well to their needs/wants, they feel ignored and overlooked, and get snarky right back at me. And because I get tired from all the extra work, I get a little sensitive and allow their snarkiness to get under my skin. On top of all that, there's ALWAYS a point in every home decorating project when I realize that whatever I'm working on is not turning out exactly as I had envisioned it in my head. Or some member of my family walks in and shows disapproval of it and my feelings get a little hurt. I'm beginning to recognize the pattern, and fortunately I'm familiar enough with it to know that it will pass. Some day soon, the decorating will be done, it will turn out reasonably well, we'll all get used to it, and the family will all be on speaking terms again.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I worry

Yes, sometimes I worry. I try not to, and I’m bound and determined not to be “a worrier”, but I can’t help it. I’m a Mom. It’s like I got new “worry dna” injected into me the moment my first daughter was born. As a matter of fact, it was probably even a little before she was born. I remember trying to jaywalk when I was pregnant with her, and I stopped myself because I had visions of getting hit by a car and harming my unborn child. I USED to be able to jaywalk without it affecting my brain patterns whatsoever. I don’t know what hit me, but it certainly wasn’t a car as I stood safely at the intersection waiting for the little walking man on the sign to show me it was safe.

Today, I find myself worrying about the teen years and all the teenage angst that goes with it. It hit me unsuspectingly as I sat on the bus this morning listening to the conversation of the mother and teenage daughter behind me. It was a pleasant conversation to begin with – they talked about hairstyles and shift work and lots of things in between. Then, out of the blue, the talk turned serious and accusatory. “It sure would have been nice if you’d SHOWED UP this week,” the mother said. “I showed up,” was the retort. “No you didn’t. You haven’t been home since Monday. Where WERE you?” And then the teenager played various avoidance games while the mother continued to ask “Where WERE you?”

And then it got worse… “Why are you bringing your duffel bag to school? Are you planning to run away?” “NO I’m not planning to run away. I wouldn’t BE here on the bus with you if I were planning to run away. My backpack is broken so I’m using my duffel bag.” The line of questioning ended when the daughter said “I’m not talking to you any more. You’re being mean to me.” The manipulative little shit! And it worked – the mother changed the subject and never brought it up again. She never DID find out where her daughter had spent the last three days. And later in the conversation it came out that the daughter was hanging around with some people who hung around another person who’d ended up in jail for murder. Gulp.

This is the mother who works two jobs. I see her most mornings going to work somewhere downtown. And then I see her in the evenings selling my kids Slurpees at 7-11. And in the course of the conversation, I also heard that her kids never see their dad – that he’s nowhere in their picture anymore.

And so, as I climbed off the bus and walked the rest of the way to work, my brain was working overtime, not only processing the heavy load this mother has to bear, but my own worry that there is no way I can protect my children against the stress and the angst and the insecurities of being a teenager. And there is no way I can protect myself against the inevitable time when they push me away and no longer want me to climb into their beds with them on “lie with me night” and talk about their friendships, which boys tick them off at school, what they think about their teachers, and all those other thoughts going through the mind of a preteen girl.

And then, when I got to work, I found this on a blog…

Shelby is entering the dark tunnel of adolescence. And she is asking all the questions that everyone asks when they get sucked into the darkness of this season of life.
“Who am I?”“Where do I fit in?”“Am I okay the way I am?”

Sadly, the answers being traded inside the tunnel are not always the best ones. A lot of good kids get chewed up in there. Some never find good answers and spend their whole lives searching.

I’ve been through the tunnel experience with the first sister, and I will go through it again with the third. There isn’t much I can do but hug her and be waiting when she emerges in a few years, blinking in the bright sunshine.

And I WILL be waiting for you, Shelby. You have always been my string of pearls, and I will be there when you come out and resume your love affair with lemon trees and graveyards. And when you are ready to hear me, I have the answer to your questions. I know the answer because I have journeyed to the secret places of the world and found wisdom.

Here is the answer you seek:
You have always been okay, even from the beginning.
So VERY okay.

It had two effects on me… made me worry even more about “the tunnel” and the kids getting chewed up in there, and gave me comfort because it is all so normal and so many kids before mine have made it safely through the tunnel. And because I remember the tunnel myself, and have little doubt that there is no stress like teenage stress, I hope I can be the wise parent waiting patiently and lovingly on the other side. I hope I don’t push too hard. I hope I value them enough and don’t give them pat answers. I hope they see that I understand, but don’t hear me say “been there, done that, was better at it than you, now get over it”.

I hope they get through it and know that they are beautiful and beloved. I hope that when they get through, my relationship with them will be rich and full and more honest than my own with my mother.


Today's the day for "the talk that will expose me". It's time to have the annual "budget talk" with madame finance guru. Yes, I suspect this will be the talk that will expose me as a pathetic fraud, totally and utterly incompetent and incapable of managing an annual budget of nearly $250,000. Why do they TRUST me with so much money? Don't they KNOW I'm incompetent - especially with money?

Come to think of it, by now - after 7 months in this position - they should have figured out not only my financial incompetence, but the fact that I'm really not as smart as they THINK I am. You can fool SOME of the people SOME of the time, but you can't fool ALL of the people ALL of the time. When are they going to see the crack in my facade? Or can I keep pulling off enough projects that have shades of brilliance that they will continue to be hoodwinked?

In the meantime, until they figure it out, I'll carry on along my merry way and keep letting them pay me to have fun and do cool stuff!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

41 million dollars????

Dubya's three day inauguration event is apparently costing a mere 41 million dollars (and that's not including the cost of security). Huh? I'm not getting something here. FORTY ONE MILLION DOLLARS just to say "Hey - here's your job for the next 4 years. Hope you don't blow it." Yikes!

Of course, most of the money is coming from all his wealthy supporters. Money is power, baby, money is power. For $250,000 you get tickets for all the events, including an "exclusive" lunch with him and Cheney (how exclusive can it be? an intimate lunch with a coupla hundred people?), and tickets to the inaugural ball. For the low, low price of $100,000, you get tickets to most of the events and an elegant candle light dinner with a "special appearance with President Bush". I guess for THAT price, you can't expect the president to actually DINE with you! If you just want to go to one of the ball's (there are NINE after all), and can't afford all that other stuff, you can get a ticket for a mere $795. All that money, just so you can get close to "The Man". According to some fundraiser who was asked about the high price, "It's the cost of playing the game." Pretty darn expensive game!

Hey, I'm all for a good party, but isn't this a little ridiculous? And you WONDER why people think you're a stuck up, arrogant, capitalistic, "my shit don't stink" nation? (Sorry, I really TRY not to be anti-American, but it slips out now and then.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Bad Feet

Yup, it's official. I'm old. I just got fitted for custom orthotics for my feet. All that's left is a blue-grey rinse in my hair, kleenex stuffed in my bra ('cause you just never know when you're gonna need it!), and endless complaints about my arthritis.

Turns out I have a ridiculously high arches. The orthotics specialist (orthotician? dunno) took one look at my arches and said "those babies are HIGH! No wonder your feet hurt!" And then she shook her head sadly as I stepped on the ruler. "I don't envy YOU when it comes to buying shoes." There's almost a whole size difference between my two feet. I liked her - she didn't have that judgemental tone that some people take on when they examine various parts of your anatomy and find them lacking. (Like some of the nurses who looked at my breasts when it came time for me to start breastfeeding - "Tsk, tsk, you have flat nipples. That baby's NEVER gonna latch on to THOSE!" As if it were MY fault my nipples were flat! Thankfully, Nikki was brilliant and figured it out right away and the nurses had to eat humble pie!)

Back to my feet... I had to get molds made of my feet. She puts on this cast-like material and you have to lie there until it dries. Fortunately, I LIKE my feet and don't feel very self-conscious when a stranger is staring at them and manipulating them (unlike the aforementioned portion of my anatomy). And she managed not to tickle me, despite my extreme ticklishness.

Seriously, though, in spite of my cracks about getting old, I am DELIGHTED about getting orthotics! Why didn't I figure this out years ago and save myself alot of agony and aching feet?

On the way back from my foot appointment, I stopped at the Goodwill store. I thought I'd look for skirts for my African adventure, but ended up finding a couple of sweaters, a blazer, and a shirt instead - all for a mere $13! So it's true, I AM getting old. Not only do I have to wear orthopedic footwear, I get excited about cheap second-hand clothes. "Eh? Speak up chile', I can't hear you! What's that nonsense yer blubberin'?" Gotta turn up my hearing aid!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Only three more weeks!

Yikes! Three weeks from today, I'll board a plane for Toronto, with the eventual destination (2 days later) of Nairobi, Kenya, AFRICA! I can hardly believe it's really happening! Somebody pinch me!

And yet, as excited as I am, I can't help but let some of that good ol' fashioned Mommy guilt creep in. I'm leaving my children for THREE WEEKS! What kind of Mommy does that? And not only that, but I'm leaving their daddy with three weeks of arguments, poopy panties, homework frustrations, laundry obstacles, bed time squabbles, "but I don't LIKE this food" complaints, etc., etc. I'm gonna owe him BIG TIME when I get back!

Monday, January 17, 2005


I'm at the computer because I'm playing the avoidance game. No, I'm not avoiding anyONE, but rather anyTHING that smacks of work, or more specifically the disaster zone formerly known as the laundry room. I have to dig through a few mountains of stuff to get at the clean laundry I KNOW is under there somewhere to find enough clean clothes that my family will be presentably dressed tomorrow. Blech. I keep hoping that laundry genie will find my house, but so far, nothing. She gets as close as the front door, spots the stray socks and Maddie's dirty panties littering my entranceway, and woosh - she's outta here!

It's worse than usual right now, and thus the avoidance game. Mike has come to tear apart our house and eventually build us a new bathroom. That's all GOOD, but in the meantime it meant that he had to trim a wall in the basement which resulted in the laundry room being turned upside down. Now, if I'd been one of those smart, organized Moms I would have anticipated his coming, would have cleared all the clean laundry from the table next to the wall I KNEW he was going to cut down, and would have made sure all of it was conveniently put away in the respective dresser drawers. But NO, not me! That would be WAY too easy for me. I prefer to do things the hard way, to challenge myself each and every day with new laundry obstacles. So just now I checked each of the dressers and found that Julie has almost a full outfit, except for a pair of socks, Maddie needs the whole she-bang, and Nikki can get by with what she has in her dresser. Sadly, before I go to bed, I've gotta brave Mount Everest of laundry and find something for poor Maddie to wear - or I can abandon her father in the morning with nothing but a pair of pants that haven't fit her for a year, a t-shirt that shows more of her belly than Shania Twain usually reveals, and a pair of socks with more holes than a golf course! Let's see, how long can I make this avoidance thing work?

I saw Debbie on the bus today - the person I used to work with 15 years ago, whom I ALWAYS run into. No, we have nothing in common, and we never INTENTIONALLY get together, but she's one of those people who keeps popping up again and again, no matter where I go. She's forever at the same bus stop - even when we live in different parts of the city. We worked in the same building for awhile, even though it was completely different companies. Wierd. There are some people I know in this city whom I NEVER run into, but then there are the "Debbies" who pop up everywhere.

Debbie was doing a crossword. Not that I have anything against crosswords - lots of people I like and admire do crosswords all the time - but seeing her working on it reminded me of how small Debbie's world seems to be. She's the person who told me that she'd reached the age of 30 without EVER seeing a COW! Now, I can understand that might be the case if you grew up in a coastal or mountain region, but on the CANADIAN PRAIRIES???? In all her life, she'd only been out of the city a few times and had never come across a cow in any of those brief forays into "the world outside her small city". Yikes! I'm sure there are gaps in my own experience - things that would shock people if only they knew (fortunately, I'm good at keeping secrets), but I just can't imagine having a life so small that I'd never seen one of the most common beasts this land has to offer. If she'd never seen an ELEPHANT it would be forgiveable, but a COW?

I hope, really hope, that Debbie is deliriously happy. Maybe she is. Maybe the world scares her and her only happiness is doing crosswords inside the confines of this small city. I know not everyone has to have a world as big as mine, but I have a hard time believing that a life that hardly moves outside the perimeter has as much happiness as life has to offer. But then again, it takes all kinds of people.

I bet Debbie never has to plunge into the heart of Mount Everest to find clean laundry! See, she's got SOMETHING up on me!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Talking to God

God, I’ve realized lately that I really don’t know how to talk to you. I know that sounds funny for someone who’s been well raised in a solid Christian home, spent a few years in Bible College, said prayers almost every day of my life (at least those parts of my life when I believed in you or cared whether or not you existed), and has, on occasion, taught other people about God.

I don’t know how to talk to the version of you I believe in now. I don’t suppose you’ve changed in that time, but my understanding of you has changed and that leaves me with a bit of a gap when it comes to communication. It doesn’t seem like a new relationship should be fettered with old constricts. What was that you said about new wine in old wineskins? I never really understood that passage, but it sort of fits for this. Perhaps this relationship is like new wine, or perhaps it has finally seasoned to a sweet maturity. Either way, it doesn’t fit the old wineskin – the cracks are showing.

I need something deeper than what I had. I need something better than the formality of a courtship. I want to be able to give you the messy stuff and trust that you’ll stick around and believe I’m worth it. I don’t want to fear your judgement all the time. I want to be able to swear occasionally and not think I’ve sent you home disappointed.

I sure wish I could tell when you’re listening. That’s the part that often bugs me. Don’t get me wrong – once in awhile it’s really clear that you’re in the room with me. But more often than not, I attempt to pray the way I think I’m supposed to, and all I get from you is silence. I don’t like that kind of relationship. I don’t show up for someone who sits there stone-faced and quiet. It’s not worth it. I’ve got great relationships with people who are present when I talk to them – who respond and make me feel valued and happy. Why don’t I get that from you more often? It sucks. Really sucks.

I know, I know – it goes both ways. I suppose I don’t spend enough time listening to you either. I don’t wait for your reply. I get through my prayers quickly so I can move on to something else. I only take short moments to read the Bible, because I have so many other things to do. It’s easier to fill my time with other stuff, ‘cause maybe I’m afraid to hear what you’ll say.

Deep down, I have trouble believing that you have my best interests at heart. I keep thinking if I really listen to you, you’ll ask for too much from me. You might want me to change some of the things I really like in my life. You might ask me to sacrifice more than I want to sacrifice. So I just give you little snippets of time, because then you can’t take too much control.

But I’m trying really hard to believe in this new version of you – a God who likes me, likes hanging out with me, wants me to be happy, and thinks my passions and interests are worthwhile and not just a waste of time. So here I am, trying to get to know you better and trying to figure out a new way to talk to you. Bear with me if I don’t get it right all the time. And forgive me if I tell you to piss off now and then. I’m only human after all.

Paul and Jo's baby

I've been thinking about Paul & Jo's baby - due February 12. She asked me to help plan the baby dedication. I wrote this spontaneous tribute to little Thumper...

Your baby…
I hope he’s beautiful and wise
I hope he’s got a wrinkled up nose that twitches when he’s sleeping
I hope his eyes are so deep that you want to live in them
I hope he squeaks when he wants your attention (Nikki did that and I LOVED it)
I hope his hair has a twisted little cowlick that you can’t resist touching
I hope he has his daddy’s goofy sense of humour
I hope he has his mommy’s interest in knowing truth
I hope he makes you laugh
I hope he sings, even if he can’t carry a tune
I hope he dances
I hope he finds his giftedness
I hope he makes you feel alive and youthful
I hope he finds adventure
I hope he finds joy
I’m glad he’ll find you!

Thursday, January 13, 2005


My new biblical hero is Queen Vashti. We don’t hear much about her, but she’s the predecessor of Queen Esther. While the king was busy partying with all his drunk friends, she threw her own party for the women of the kingdom. His party lasted at least 7 days! Yikes! It doesn’t say whether hers went on that long or not. On that fateful seventh day, he sends word to her that he wants her to come and parade around in front of his drunk friends. Apparently, she’s quite a looker and he wants to show her off. Who knows, given the fact that they’d all been drinking for seven days, she might have been asked to strip down and show off ALL her beauty. Queen Vashti refused. And well she SHOULD have! What self-respecting woman would want to prance around in front of a bunch of drunk, ogling, lecherous men? You go girl!

Well, it seems the men of the kingdom didn’t take well to a woman with backbone, so they advised the king to dump her like a hot potato. And, fool that he is, he listened to them. Here she is, kicked out of the kingdom on her rump, because she had to nerve to stand up to her nincompoop of a husband. He was afraid other women would learn from her example and start standing up to their husbands just like she had. (Little did he know that his next wife would have a backbone too! Ha! It served him right!)

There’s no more word of what happened to Vashti. She leaves in disgrace and the biblical recorders just forgot about her in their haste to tell Esther’s story. Now if it had been WOMEN writing the Bible, they might have said something about where she ended up and if, perhaps, she managed to find a husband who paid her a little RESPECT. I doubt it though. Disgraced like that, she probably lived out her days in obscurity and loneliness. It makes me want to make up a new story for Vashti… that she moved away and started a kingdom where WOMEN ruled!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


1. the reflection of a campfire on the rippling waves
2. the “almost too hot” feeling when I climb into a bath
3. when 2 year old Maddie says “you remember?”
4. the feeling I get when something I wrote appears in a publication
5. the taste of a wild blueberry plucked from a bush
6. a cold glass of water on a hot day
7. the sound of the water flowing over Rainbow Falls
8. the first cry of a baby
9. tulips
10. the taste of my mother’s compst borsht
11. the sound of my dad’s voice when he sings at the top of his lungs in the field
12. the cozy feeling of flannel pyjamas
13. the first time I heard each of my children read a book
14. the muscular flex of Marcel’s legs
15. rosy cheeks after playing in the snow
16. the crisp pages of a new book
17. the sound of Nikki, singing her favourite Hillary Duff song
18. stepping on an airplane on the way to a new place
19. the sweet-sour-spicy-coconutty-peanutty taste of Thai food
20. the synergy of a conversation that opens up hidden pieces of me
21. the first sight of Central Park
22. sitting at an outdoor café on Corydon sipping a glass of wine
23. words of appreciation from a truthful person
24. a fridge that’s just been cleaned out
25. the feeling of a cozy blanket wrapped around me
26. walking
27. the scent of green grass after the rain
28. the sound of “I love you Mommy.”
29. floating on my back in the water, hearing the muffled voices on the shore
30. the look of pride on Julie’s face when she conquers the waterslide alone
31. a guilt-free hour in McNally Robinson
32. answered prayer
33. snow crunching under my feet
34. the smell of Old Spice
35. laughter
36. wandering around Paris with my sister
37. an e-mail from a friend
38. clean laundry
39. Sarah McLachlan’s voice
40. a compliment
41. fresh paint
42. Marcel’s arms around me
43. a project well done
44. my family gathered around the table
45. a friend welcoming me
46. the soft skin of a baby
47. s’mores
48. sitting on a boat
49. a moment when I know God is in the room with me
50. home

Monday, January 10, 2005

Tsunami and me

I haven't written about the tsunami yet, 'cause I just don't know what to say. Or think. It's beyond comprehension. I remember how my gut felt like it was being wrenched from my body when I saw the images of the mothers wailing over the bodies of their dead children. I remember wanting to hold all of my children close when I heard the story about the mother who had to choose which child to hold onto when the wave came. (She chose the younger, more vulnerable one, but fortunately the other one survived too so she didn't have to live with the guilt all of her life.) I remember thinking God was evil and didn't deserve to be in my life any more. I remember trying to imagine standing on the beach, watching the huge wave come and swallow your whole village. I remember trying to visualize and comprehend what it must have felt like to walk among the ruins and see the broken houses, the broken playgrounds, and all those bodies of people who used to be your neighbours, your classmates, your children - all the people that filled your life before this moment.

Roger Kamenetz (Beliefnet) says it well: "I am trying to connect to this tragedy the best I can. The pictures help a little. I see dead children on the floor, a parent weeping. The little ones look like they are sleeping; it is unimaginable that they are dead. I see a parent holding his dead child. I feel in my body what it is like to hold... that weight. To feel the life gone, and the heaviness of a body that does not have life. It is different from holding a sleeping child, carrying a child to bed for instance. I can feel what this father feels in the photo, can reach in my imagination, and in my memory.But I can't multiply what I feel by 10,000 or 40,000, or even by ten. We know more than we can feel. And we respond as best we can, I think. This is our situation in a time of instant global communication."

What I like about Kamenetz piece is that he says we shouldn't focus on whether God was in the tsunami. The tsunami was. Period. We don't need to explain it. What we know for certain is that God is in the response. "And now another wave is spreading, and it is also vast, and it spreads through the hearts of those who let themselves feel it."

And now, as I prepare for what I'll see in Africa, I wonder if I can accept the questions there too. Can I accept that a loving God lets it happen without intervening? Can I "sit with the questions" and still find peace?

"The disaster is. It happened to a 'dear one,' someone's 'dear one,' many dear ones. I open my heart and feel it. The place it touches in me, touches God."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Being a mom

Why it’s hard being a mom:
1. Privacy. Just for a change, I’d like to be able to pee without having someone walk in.
2. Time. Some times it feels like I own none of my own time any more. It’s all been usurped by some member of my family or another. Oh how I long for a guilt-free Saturday – to sleep in late, have a leisurely bath without anyone climbing in the tub with me, go hang out in a bookstore or wander around the Village for awhile, maybe stop for a nice supper and a glass of wine at a quiet non-family oriented restaurant, go home and read a book all evening. Oh what a dream!
3. Poop. I’m sick and tired of poop. Poopy diapers, poopy panties, poop, poop, poop.
4. The arguing that never stops. “Mom, she punched me!” “Mom, she took my book!” “Mom, tell her to get out of my room!” “Mom…” Sometimes I’m sure my head will explode.
5. Laundry. Mountains and mountains of laundry. I never liked laundry to begin with, but when there are 5 people in the house, all of them needing clean socks and underwear every day, it feels like laundry rules your life!
6. Too many decisions! “Mom, can I have another piece of cake?” “Mom, can I invite someone over for a sleepover?” “Mom, can I watch TV?” Sometimes, by the end of the day, I’m sure I’ll burst a blood vessel if I have to make ONE more decision!
7. Worry. I never thought I was a worrier, until I had kids. Now there are so many things to worry about. What if they won’t make any friends at school? What if I make too many parenting mistakes and they grow into messed-up adults in need of psychotherapy? What if the bus crashes on the way to school and they get killed or hurt? What if they don’t do well at school and they’ll always feel inferior to their friends? Oh man, I’m sick of worry!
8. Vomit. When they’re sick, they never make it to the toilet or the bucket and I always end up on my hands and knees cleaning up the revolting mess.
9. Sometimes, I SWEAR there’s not an inch of kindness in them. They can be downright MEAN – to me AND to each other. Before I was a mom, I thought it was downright HORRID for a child to tell their mom or dad they hated them. Now it seems almost commonplace.
10. Whining and complaining. “Mom, do we HAVE to have Thai food for supper? I HATE Thai food.” “Mom, how come we never get to buy cocoa puffs cereal?”
11. Barney, Barbie, Mary-Kate and Ashley, Bratz, Hillary Duff – all those annoying mass market products, television shows, pop stars, and movies. They know how to make kids love them (or at least THINK they love them) and if you try to convince the kids the products they’re being sold are crap, they just assume you’re being an old fuddy-duddy.
12. Guilt. I’m sick of feeling guilty (or having my kids TRY to make me feel guilty) every time I do something for myself or go on a date with my husband, or go on a business trip and leave them at home.
13. Money. There’s never enough anymore. Everything costs money. Clothes, backpacks for school, piano lessons, soccer, birthday parties (theirs and their friends’), etc., etc. There’s no end of things that have to be paid for.
14. Baths. I want to have one ALONE sometime.
15. Stuff. There’s just SO much clutter around the house now – so many toys, books, clothes, you name it. There’s always clutter around and just when you get close to cleaning up and having it look a little respectable, they mess it up again.
16. You have to FEED them all the time. Even when you’re not hungry, you have to figure out something for them to eat a million times a day! And when you haven’t had a chance to buy groceries, and all you have available for their snacks is crackers and peanut butter, you never hear the end of it.

Ah yes, sometimes it’s hard. But just now, as I was writing this list of woes, my daughter came to kiss me goodnight, and as I reached out and touched her hair, my heart swelled with love for her. None of this stuff is really that important after all.

Friday, January 07, 2005

No more paint flecks

It looks like we'll be getting our bathroom re-done. Yay! When we got the first estimate back for $6600, I thought there was no way we could afford to do it. But the second contractor is WAY cheaper (not to mention the fact that he responded alot more quickly!), and if we buy reasonably priced fixtures, we can do it for under $3000! Yippee! It's probably a good thing we got BOTH estimates, 'cause it gives us a good sense of how much we're saving. (And NO he's not some fly-by-night contractor - he's the father of our neighbour, which makes him at least somewhat trustworthy :-)

I can hardly wait to soak in a tub that doesn't leave little green paint flecks on my skin. Aahh! My first bath is going to be a pure delight! Now if only I could convince Maddie that she doesn't HAVE to jump in the tub every time Mommy has a bath, and convince Nikki and Julie that I really CAN'T/WON'T help them fix their computer problems while I'm enjoying my Saturday morning soak! Why does EVERYBODY need me the moment I step into the water???

The girls came with us to Home Depot last night to look at fixtures, and this morning when Maddie walked into the bathroom, she said "Oh! We forgot to get our new bathtub!" Smile.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


I found some of the files I thought had vapourized when our computer crashed! Yay! I haven't retrieved everything, but this is better than nothing. In honour of this great event, I'll post this poem that I found among my writings...


She is bubble
fragile and transparent
riding on the edge of a dangerous wind

some winds come softly
lofting her gently
to the heights
some winds come cruelly
crashing her blindly
against the cliff

She is bubble
iridescent and brilliant
riding on the edge of a dangerous wind

long johns

It's funny how much pleasure I can derive from a good pair of long underwear. I LOVE my new long johns. They are so cozy and soft and warm and they help me maintain my sanity when I'm standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus to take me to work in this disgustingly cold weather. They're SO much better than the old pair I borrowed from Marcel that were losing their elasticity and were constantly sliding down my butt and bunching up around my thighs. These ones fit so nicely and snuggle up against me like a warm blanky. (I'd say they're "soft as butter" against my skin, but I'm not sure I'd like the feel of butter slathered all over my legs!)

What's that they say about small things amusing small minds? Oh well, I don't mind a small mind if it helps me enjoy simple pleasures now and then.


I LOVE this story about a secret language created by women for women to help them survive and thrive in a male-dominated society. It just seems like such a unique way to cope with the oppression and gain a little power. I'm sure it drove the men CRAZY that their wives and daughters were communicating and keeping journals in a language they couldn't understand! It reminds me of the "code language" Fern and I or Laurel and I used to create when we were kids. We would spend hours creating symbols for all the letters, writing notes with the new symbols, and then trying to decipher each other's notes. This article gives me great glee. Too bad the last woman with the language died.

China's last woman proficient in the mysterious Nushu language, probably the world's only female-specific language, died at her Central China home earlier this week. She was in her 90s.

Yang Huanyi learned to read and write the language as a little girl. Chinese linguists say her death put an end to a 400-year-old tradition in which women shared their innermost feelings with female friends through a set of codes incomprehensible to men.

Yang was born in Jiangyong County in Hunan Province where many people believe the language originated.

She learned the language from seven sworn sisters in the county who were regarded as the most authoritative speakers and writers of the language. Yang became its only survivor by the end of the 1990s, after the seven had passed away.

Until her death Sept. 20, it remained a mystery as to how old Yang was. During an interview with Xinhua in 2002, she said she was 94. Authorities in her hometown, however, said she was 98 when she died.

The letters, poems and prose Yang wrote were collected and compiled by linguists in Qinghua University into a book published early this year.

Although some linguists are trying to learn the female language, experts say Yang was more authoritative and unaffected by mandarin Chinese, in which she was totally illiterate.

None of Yang's children and grandchildren inherited her proficiency in the unique language.

Nushu characters are structured by four kinds of strokes, including dots, horizontals, verticals and arcs.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Another Frankl quote

"We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us....

"I remember two cases of would-be suicide, which bore a striking similarity to each other. Both men had talked of their intentions to commit suicide. Both used the typical argument - they had nothing more to expect from life. In both cases it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them. We found, in fact, that for the one it was his child whom he adored and who was waiting for him in a foreign country. For the other it was a thing, not a person. This man was a scientist and had written a series of books which still needed to be finished. His work could not be done by anyone else, any more than another person could ever take the place of the father in his child's affections.

"This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the 'why' for his existence, and he will be able to bear almost any 'how'".

(Written about the author's experience and observations in a concentration camp.)


Here's the Viktor Frankl quote:

"To draw an analogy: a man's suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. This suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the 'size' of human suffering is absolutely relative."

Old Spice

Ah, the smell of Old Spice. I kept an old bottle of Dad's. I couldn't bear to throw out something that smelled like him. I dug it out of a box just now, and now I have the smell of it on my hands. I didn't mean to - just came across it while I was looking for something else. It's not quite right though. It's missing all the nuances that used to mix with the Old Spice smell - the hint of animals and fields and his own human smell. His Sunday smell. I can still see him splashing it on just before we left for church. It belongs with his black leather Bible and his Sunday clothes.

I still miss him like crazy. I still have those moments when the pain chokes me with sudden and unexpected strength. The moments don't come as often any more, but they still come. And they still grip my throat and make it hard to breath. Viktor Frankl talks about how suffering is like a vapour - it moves into you and occupies every inch of the empty room of your body, soul, and spirit. Grief is like that too. It takes over my whole body when it comes.

My rant for the day

Nikki and Julie pooled their Christmas money (gifts from Memere & Pepere) and decided to get a computer game. They wanted Sims, 'cause they'd played it at their cousins' house and liked it. It seemed like an interesting idea - they get to build houses, create families to live in the houses, etc. At least they get to be creative instead of blowing people up on the screen. So we went to buy it - stood in a ridiculously long line-up in the electronic games store and made the purchase.

We got home, and Marcel took a look at the box and said "we can't load this up for the girls!" Sure enough, on closer inspection, it turns out the game is rated "T" for Teen and that it contains "mature sexual content". What the !@#!@! What appears to be a harmless computer game - certainly one of the most harmless looking in the game store - has SEXUAL content? What ever happened to Pacman and Donkey Kong? (I know, I'm aging myself.) Now every game has to have either sex or violence? I'm not a prude and I'm not big into overly restrictive censorship, but this is a little ridiculous. Is there NO moderation when it comes to video/computer games?

I went to return it and found out that the original Sims game didn't have the sexual content - that you could just make the people kiss, but that was it. Oh - and they could have a baby, but the baby just appeared without any graphic detail. But then with the newest "improvements" to the game, you can make a couple make out and hop into bed together. Call me square but I just don't GET IT!! The original game isn't made alone any more, so you have no choice but to buy it with the "mature sexual content". Excuse me, but I don't want my kids to learn about sex from a COMPUTER GAME!

Fortunately, they had some pre-owned copies, so I didn't have to go home empty-handed and disappoint the girls. I wanted to boycott it and say "screw-it" to a company that feels they have to give in to the pressure to add sexual content, but there's a fine line between making a point, and ticking off the kids. At least, with buying a pre-owned copy, the company didn't make any money off me. That's small comfort.

But my question these days is - whaddaya do with "pre-teens" who feel they're too old for Barbie Dolls, Freddie the Fish games, and animated movies, but they're not ready for teen content yet? It seems there hasn't been enough attention paid to marketing for the "in-between" crowd. (Other than Mary-Kate and Ashley, I suppose.)

Monday, January 03, 2005


Christmas has come and gone. Another year has arrived. It was a fairly quiet holiday. Lots of family stuff. Brad and Sue and the kids were around all week and Dwight and Lorna and the boys were here for part of it. We spent a few nights in a hotel, which gave the kids lots of opportunity to swim, etc. Both Nikki and Julie discovered they were brave enough to ride the waterslide. I didn't think Julie would do it, but once she realized she could, she got quite hooked on it. Maddie went a few times with grown-ups, but wasn't too fond of it.

A cute Maddie story... after she'd heard me talk about how much energy the kids had (Amy and Brodie were hanging out with Nikki and Julie at our place) and I'd sent them out to play in the snow a few times to burn it off, she was downstairs pulling stuff off the toy shelf.

Mom: "Maddie, don't make a mess."
Maddie: "But I HAVE to make a mess. It's my energy!"

Now it's only a month until I leave for Africa. I'm starting to get ready. This week I go for my shots. I went shopping for good walking shoes yesterday, but when I wore them around the house, my feet didn't like them, so I'll have to return them. It's not like I want to buy a bunch of new stuff for the trip - it would seem a little ironic to be decked out in new clothes for a trip like this - but I DO need a decent pair of shoes 'cause my feet will give out fairly quickly if I don't.