Monthly Archives: June 2013

Twenty-Two — Squeaky Bird Two

Squeaky bird went away for a day or so and then, today, came back. I went over to the window with the camera to try to get a picture but then s/he moved to the next tree over. That’s when I realized there are two squeaky birds, talking to each other, constantly, about bird stuff. Did you see that bug? That was a good bug. Remember that worm yesterday? Yes it was amazing. Hey do you have any lip balm? What? Do you have any lip balm? Dude, I’m a bird. Oh yeah, you’re a bird. You’re a bird too. Oh yeah. My beak is dry though. Beak balm. Ha ha ha. Do you think there’s such a thing as beak balm? I don’t know. Hey a crow. Watch out watch out watch out watch ou–

Two things. One: I saw the birds and they are sparrows; brown and boring looking but with a black and white stripey head. Like Bowie in a brown suit.

Two: The two birds remind me of my children, when my children are trying to get my attention.

OK, three things. Three: I figured it out (bear with me, I am at heart a speculative sort, so this is probably not true but WHAT IF IT IS and whoops now I’ve convinced myself it is so don’t give me science or whatever to try to convince me differently) — the birds lost their MOOOOOMMMMM. The birds are sitting in the tree where they last saw her and she’s been, like, eaten by an eagle or something, and they’re waiting for her to come back with their lunch and OMG Stanley where’s mom. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.

This would be why I am simultaneously in love with and completely irritated by the birds outside my window.

Why, when the window went silent this evening during dinner, instead of feeling relief because the noise had stopped, I felt heartbroken because obviously THE BABIES had given up HOPE.

Now I’m sitting outside, half-listening for them. When I hear a bird chirp, my head swivels the way it does when I hear a baby cry at Costco even though I don’t have a baby a) at all or b) with me. I am not the birds’ mother! I am not a bird, for one thing!

Damn, I could have written this post about Taylor Swift’s song “Twenty-two” but now it’s about birds and dead mothers. There’s always tomorrow.

Twenty-One Gun Salute

For those about to rock: we salute you.
For those about to sleep: we salute you, too.

For those whose children are dotted with red marker –but don’t worry, guys, it’s washable, (except I can smell that it’s smelly felts and smelly felts aren’t washable)– we salute you.
For those whose heads are foggy with lack of sleep and clouds of despair: we salute you.
For those who’ve had to work every day but weekends and the occasional holiday since their children were born, meaning they only get the evening and weekend and holiday behavior, meaning they get the grumpy/tired/hungry/sick children end of the stick: we salute you.
For those who still plan holidays, who still come home on evenings and weekends, who do the job, regardless: we salute you.

For those with hobbies: we salute you.
For those who pay down mortgages: we salute you.
For those who take a deep breath, apologize, and crack a joke: we salute you.
For those who hope for the best: we salute you.

For those who stick around, even when they don’t want to, ESPECIALLY when they don’t want to: we salute you.
For those who write it down: we salute you.
For those who try to teach instead of judge: we salute you.
For those who know how to do the heimlich maneuver: we salute you.
For those who know how to dance like a hip hop video: we salute you.
For those who can cook for other people: we salute you.
For those who know that laundry needs doing, always: we salute you.

For those who sing out loud and squint their eyes and play air guitar: we salute you.
For those who belch the alphabet: we salute you.
For those who smile at strangers: we salute you.
For those who know how to end blog posts: we salute you.


Today I bought a VHS tape for ten cents. A VHS tape that most likely cost $19.99 when it was new. The movie? Top Gun. I first saw it in 1986, then several hundred more times in consequent years. Once, I saw it at the IMAX theatre. Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis’s sloppy kiss spit stretched metres long and we all shrank back against our seats in horror.

Yesterday I was thinking about Top Gun because @bigpointguy, my father-in-law, who is staying with us, found Beverly Hills Cop 3 on Netflix and put it on. I wasn’t watching, but the tinny synthesizer music reminded me of Top Gun and I had a moment where I remembered that I didn’t own my favourite teenage movie, and another moment where I felt sad about it.

Today, I was at a garage sale in our neighbourhood and I saw the VHS tape of Top Gun and I said, “Oh, I NEED THAT,” and Arlo said, “Well, you don’t really NEED it, do you? You just WANT it a lot?” I conceded his point and laughed politely with the woman whose house it was, who was chuckling at me being schooled by a nearly seven year old, but privately I was responding, “No, this is a case of need and if you argue with me about it I will write you out of the will.”

Which I don’t have, but I should, otherwise how will they know who to leave all my important VHS tapes to when I die?

Nineteen — A School You Can Walk To (And Back From)

We spent a lot of time at our neighbourhood elementary school today. It’s so good that we live walking distance away, because first thing this morning, someone had to walk Arlo to school (and then come back.) An hour later I had to walk up to accompany Eli to Welcome to Kindergarten, (then back.) Later I walked up to pick up Arlo from school (aaaand then back.) Two hours later, we returned to the school for the Spring Carnival, an occasion which only comes around every eight (at least, based on what I know from chatting with various people) years, like cicada breeding. It is just as noisy, if not noisier than cicada breeding. And then. After standing around in lineups for games and bouncy castles and Sno Cones for two hours, we had guessed it…walk back.

But the walking back is the best part. It is, after all, downhill.

No, the best part is when you win a cake in the Cake Walk, finally, after paying for three kids to do the Cake Walk and losing, but then you win because it’s the end of the night and yesterday the Carnival Committee panicked and asked for more cakes because they didn’t think they had enough, then ended up with way too many cakes and not enough walkers, so five out of twelve cake walkers got a cake. This might be the secret to cake walks. But don’t quote me.

No, actually, the best part is when your creepy neighbour who also has a kid at the school, gets dunked in the dunk tank, which dunking you don’t see because you’re standing in endless game lineups with your child, but two separate people tell you about it because they know you will care.

No, the best part is the cake because it’s cake.

No! The best part is when you get home, realize you logged fifteen kilometres of walking today (plus a 30 minute run after lunch because you were feeling under-exercised somehow?), and sit down to have a nice beer. That is the best part.

Eighteen — Squeaky Bird

There is a small bird sitting in a tree outside my living room window. It is bigger than a chickadee and smaller than a robin, the two kinds of birds I see most often outside my window. It sounds like a squeaky toy being repeatedly bitten by a small, tenacious dog. Cheep. Cheep. Cheep. Cheep.




I love birds. I have developed a big love of birds in the past couple of years, whether because I have turned a corner into that age where people start caring about birds, or because I just started noticing them last summer when we were in Ontario and there were so many different songs and calls and cries every morning and evening. Perhaps a combination of the two. I have turned into that person who says to the children, “look, an eagle!” or “hey, is that a heron?” while they politely look at the sky and ignore me. Birds are fantastic; old, prehistoric, flying beasts with delightful wee beaks and scrabbly feet.

But not this bird. This bird, I want to hunt down and wreck. Last night I kept hearing it while I was inside and then I went out and walked up and down the path looking for it, muttering, “Shut it. Shut it.”


I did not even see it, just the flutter of leaves as it hopped from tree to tree, cheeping. Incessant cheeping! Cheep!

What does it want? Why does it cheep so? I must know. If I know, I won’t try to hit it with a pellet gun. Motivation is important. Tomorrow, squeaky bird, I will find you.

Seventeen — A Special Relationship

Tonight, SA and I went out and had some beers at a pub, the River’s Reach pub here in New Westminster. We drank pints of King Heffy, an imperial Hefeweizen and while I don’t enjoy Hefeweizen as a rule, this particular iteration is extremely tasty. We sorted out a bunch of life-type stuff, saw the end of the hockey game, and then walked home in the clear, late-spring air, with stars above us and nobody else anywhere to be seen. We ended up at our house –yay!– where there was still one person awake and watching his laptop play news and videos and stuff, and then I typed this up and, I predict, will soon go to sleep.

One of these days I’ll do a good thousand-word post about the commercialization of childhood or how live prawns are so blinky, or somesuch, but not tonight.

Sixteen — That was Yesterday

Yesterday I had plans. All the plans. We had guests staying with us (hi mother and father and brother-in-law! hi!) so I made plans. Not because I don’t like my guests — I do! I like them! — but because their presence means SA has taken a week off work so the math is FIVE adults to ONE child (the other child being in school) and I decided the ONE child could make do with only FOUR adults to look after him for the day.

And apparently I was wrong because that child ate a triple chocolate muffin for lunch, washed down by chocolate milk THANKS, BEST UNCLE EVER.

So I took transit, went to Granville Island, had lunch, bought things, came home, ate dinner, and then went to book club because book club was meeting at the house two doors down from me and I couldn’t really say no, and then came home at ten and went to bed.

This morning I remembered I forgot to blog yesterday, which is hardly surprising given that I rarely do that much in a *week*. Transit AND lunch AND book club? Crazy madness.

Fifteen — Pants, the Conclusion

When we left our hero, ie: me, she had one pair of plaid clown pants she needed to return to the store, one pair of perfect pants that were stained with an oil or grease-like substance, and was enduring very hot weather that necessitated her wearing something other than jeans.

Luckily, the weather soon changed and jeans were perfectly serviceable once again. On mentioning her dilemma to first a friend and then her own mother-in-law, she was instructed to remove the grease stain with eucalyptus oil or Pine Sol, respectively. Loyal blog readers suggested other things: Ricki’s Miracle Pants (an ’80s cover band name if I ever heard one) and Old Navy’s jersey knit fold-over skirt, as well as maxi dresses and a store called Mark’s.

She tried the Pine Sol. It sort of worked, but would need repeat application to really be effective.

She thought about Ricki’s and Mark’s. She thought about Ricki and Mark eloping, a la Brenda and Eddie. She got distracted by nostalgia and piano solos in her head.

On Monday morning the weather turned warm again so she took her plaid clown pants and went to Metrotown, the Mall with the Most, to return the pants and look for the jersey skirt at Old Navy. Having looked at the jersey skirt at Old Navy’s website and having only found one size left for sale, she knew it might be difficult. She felt rested and up to the challenge.

First, returning the clown pants. The blonde lady in the store frowned and asked if she needed a different size. Our hero refrained from explaining that the sizing in the store was so messed up, so CHRONICALLY BUGGERED, that there was no way she would ever even try pants in that establishment again, let alone that day.

Second, a trip to the Gap to laugh at the horizontally striped maxi dresses that cost $60.

Third, Old Navy, where our hero scoured the store for forty-five minutes, a full thirty-five longer than she usually spent at Old Navy. She found small jersey dresses, large floral dresses, a pair of linen pants, t-shirts priced at $8 apiece. She tried them all. They all sucked. She dug through the clearance racks and started to go mildly insane listening to the vaguely dance-like pop music, but she did not find the jersey skirt. Resigned to failure, she was making small talk with the fitting room attendant when she spied it, in the attendant’s hand. A black, a-line, jersey skirt.

“That..skirt,” our hero blustered, pointing like a fool at the piece of fabric on the hanger.
“Oh?” said the attendant, who was short of stature but wise of nature. “This? It’s a maternity skirt.”
“That’s exactly what I want,” said our hero, nodding, flushing with excitement. “That’s THE SKIRT I want.”
“Well come with me and I will show you where I got it,” said the attendant. “It comes in two colours. It’s very comfortable..”

Lo. Behold. In the maternity section, the only section where our hero hadn’t looked, was a rack of perfect skirts, in sizes small to XXL, in grey and black. She bought two, in size medium because she is not pregnant, merely a fan of comfortable, fold-over waistbands and the quiet swish of a skirt in warm weather.

Have the mighty fallen, or have we won? I think you know the answer.

Fourteen — Run Club

Back in May I did my first ever race, a 5K fun run. It was fun! It was also on a Saturday morning at 8:30, so the kids and SA dropped me off at the start and then played for a while in the park and then met me at the finish line. Arlo made me a sign that said “YOU CAN DO THIS!” on one side and “RUN! RUN! RUN! GO! GO! GO!” on the other. When I finished the race (ten minutes faster than I predicted! toot toot! [that’s my horn]) Arlo saw some other kids who had just run the race with their parents.

“Hey, so kids can run?” he said.
“Yup,” I said.
“Next year I’M running this race,” he said firmly.

I forgot about it until yesterday when he asked if I was going for a run this weekend.
“Tomorrow,” I said, “maybe..”
“Can I come with you?” he asked.

My first thought was no, because running is my solitary activity and with him I won’t be able to get in a good workout, and many other excuses. My second, less selfish thought was hell yes. I have been wanting to spend more one-on-one time with him since, let’s see, Eli was born five years ago? Promises to go for a coffee date always get put off, and if we do go, then he wants me to buy him things because Eli always gets muffins while Arlo is at school, and then I end up resenting the time instead of enjoying it. And one-on-one time with your resentful mother who won’t buy you another muffin because you hated your first muffin is not what they call Quality.

What a better idea: one morning a week we can go outside where there are no muffins and walk/run/trudge/train.

This morning after breakfast we put on our shorts and t-shirts and running shoes. We jogged along slowly until he couldn’t any more, which was two minutes, so we ran two minutes and walked three and did that six times. Along the way we talked about running and muscles and other stuff and nothing at all. It was a most peaceful forty-five minutes. I felt just as good as I do after a solo run.

I like liking my kid. It feels good, and he is more relaxed and happy too when we spend time together. It’s like when I used to put my naked baby on my bare chest and our heartbeats would synchronize.

I knew there was a reason I wanted that one-on-one time.

Which reminds me to recommend: this post at the Rumpus. Funny and touching and true and relevant. What more could you want?

Thirteen — Vancouver Craft Beer Week

In the middle lower left of Richmond, in a parking lot, we lined up for half an hour to get into a hot tent that smelled like the floor of a bar. We got little taster mugs and tokens to exchange for beer samples, walked around and sipped our samples slowly, then fast. The DJ played remixes of ’60s and ’70s music and I heard the Talking Heads and over them, a mid-pitch roar that made it sound like the hundreds of people around me were singing along to the music. On further examination, they were not. As I moved around the festival tent, I overheard wonderful snippets of conversations about bicycles, beer, summer festivals, t-shirts. I pushed my way past many, many men with long beards and bald heads, plaid shirts and glasses. A man in a paperboy cap danced to Led Zeppelin and planes flew low, preparing to land at the nearby airport. When we left, the valet at the nearby casino snapped his fingers and waved his hand in the air and a taxi appeared to bring us home.