Monthly Archives: August 2013


My family is away tonight. SA has taken the kids to camp in a field in Aldergrove for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party.

This is the third year they’ve gone. Last year both kids went but the year before only Arlo went and Eli refused to sleep because his brother wasn’t home. Better they both go, that they all might have questionable sleep. I will definitely sleep beyond awesomely.

That sounds selfish because it is. I can try to justify it six ways to Sunday (father/son bonding time! astronomy isn’t my bag! I have a headache!) and all those ways are true but at the core of it is this truth:

I am in a pig’s muddy glory spending the night and morning by myself.

The night is one thing. They left at 6 pm and I have eaten disgusting canned chili for dinner while watching Orange is the New Black. Then I washed all the dishes, put on some PJ Harvey and had a long, uninterrupted telephone conversation. Now I am having a beer, even though it is 9:33, aka my usual bedtime, and listening to all the PJ Harvey again because it’s that good.

(It’s been twenty years since Rid of Me came out. I was nineteen years old. Coincidentally? I got a text message this evening from the guy I was dating in 1994 and he’s in town so we’re going to have breakfast tomorrow. Don’t worry, it’s not a rom-com sort of breakfast where I realize the mistake I made not marrying him. It’s more just to see what a 47 year old ex boyfriend looks like and maybe eat some bacon.)

Anyway, it’s been a damn fine evening by my current standards. I could have done other things, gone places, called people and met up with them. I didn’t want to. I could have written great works of fiction and non. I did not. I’m cool with it.

The best part will be the morning. That’s when I will wake up at my leisure, come downstairs to find everything exactly as I left it the night before, and drink my coffee without first helping someone pour milk on their cereal. It seems like a little thing, but over years it swells to a big thing. A big, dumb thing that you don’t understand but you still acknowledge is in the room, infringing on your space. Tomorrow my space will be my own, for just a little while.

Sixty-Three — Method & Madness

Aaaaand the sunny days just keeeeep on coming here on the West Coast. /radioDJvoice. I heard a radio commercial this morning for a certain online travel agency, the thrust of which commercial was: “We’ve got great specials on getaways! Get the summer you deserve!” Hey did you by any chance make your ad somewhere outside of BC? Or do you think people want to go to tornado country on vacation? Because here, it’s been the most amazing summer ever and why the hell should I pay to go somewhere else? I pay enough to live here!

Ba—-dump. I’m here all month. The veal is nasty but try the linguine.

Skippadeedoodah! Summertime!

Skippadeedoodah! Summertime!

Today we went to the beach. Arlo can now do somersaults under the water. Eli practised floating. It was a good time. Then we left and because it is Thursday, we needed to get some groceries on our way home. Milk, apples, bananas, something for dinner. I saw a Thrifty Foods by the side of the road and stopped in.

The parking lot was underground (yay!) but also had all the outflow (?) from the building’s air conditioning blowing into it (boo) so it was hot like a furnace. We walked up the stairs and found the bank machine and then the grocery store.

The kids claimed not to be hungry or thirsty, and yet they acted like horrible brats the whole time I was shopping. Just horrible. The horrible that only their minder is annoyed by; nothing anyone else would have noticed. They bickered and punched each other while I picked out apples. They tattled on each other in horrible whiny voices while I debated buns or loaf. I asked them nicely to cut it out. They looked at me seriously like they’d heard me and then proceeded to keep horribleing it up.

Not the look I'm going for, son.

Not the look I’m going for, son.

If the groceries had been unnecessary, I would have left them right there and marched the kids back down to the hot car in the hotter parking lot but I really needed that pineapple and that hummus. Not to mention the milk & apples that make up 2/4 of the kids’ Food We Eat and Enjoy list. SO I SOLDIERED ON. I spoke sternly to them, which netted me more “oh yes, of course Mother, so sorry” looks. Surprisingly! they continued to be bratty.

I decided to ignore them, which worked for Arlo, who whispered to Eli, “Cut it out, now she’s mad,” (so stern voice = amused but no voice = mad? Good to know!) and they stopped for a minute but then resumed and by the time I got to the checkout I was ignoring them so hard it was like they were someone else’s children. Who them? The ones in green? Oh yeah, they’re mine I guess.

In SA's old glasses, your five year old can look like a hipster/old man!

In SA’s old glasses, your five year old can look like a hipster/old man!

The checkout girl was in her early 20s. Behind me and my Horribles in her line was a woman with two younger children, one of whom was wailing because he had to stop sucking the lid of the orange juice bottle long enough for the check out girl to scan it and now that aisle has been renamed The Birth Control Aisle.

When we got home and I had put the groceries away, I engaged the children in some role-playing.



“Imagine you had to do something you didn’t want to do,” I said to Arlo. “Imagine you had to take SPANISH lessons and you didn’t want to.”

“But I WOULD–”

“IMAGINE,” I snarled.

“Ok?” he said.

“And you didn’t want to go but you went anyway because I said you had to and then, while you were sitting in the class, trying to learn Spanish, I sat behind you with my mouth right at your ear, like this…” I got up and stood by his ear to demonstrate. He flinched.

“And then when the teacher talked,” I said, “I started talking, saying ‘hey have you learned any Spanish yet? Did you hear what she said? Are there tacos in this class? HAHAHAHAH I HATE TACOS BUT OH WELL I WILL EAT SOME do you know any Spanish yet? One time I learned Spanish and it was hard. Is this hard? Are you having fun? WELL ARE YOU?'”

Arlo had his hands over his ears at this point.

I walked back to my chair at the table.

“So,” I said, “do you think it would HARDER or EASIER to learn Spanish if I was there behind you talking and being annoying?”

“Harder,” he said.

“And that,” I said, “is what it’s like going grocery shopping with you two.”


“I don’t want to take you shopping, I know you don’t like it, but you like to eat, right?”


“If you like to eat, you have to buy groceries.”


Who me? Yes. I like to eat quite a bit.

Who me? Yes. I like to eat quite a bit.

I foster no illusions that it will change the way they behave the next time I take them grocery shopping. But it was SUPER FUN for me and made me feel better, and that’s nearly as good.

And can I just mention, sadly, that I don’t miss their babyhoods at all but I do miss being able to strap them the hell down in a cart or stroller so I can look at the ingredients list in peace. Amen. And cheers.

From the craft beer festival we went to in June.

From the craft beer festival we went to in June.

Sixty-Two — Things You Could Look At

God no, not sixty-two things you could look at. Five, I think.

From Schmutzie: A Love Letter to the Gentle People of the Internet: Please Don’t Go

From Sarah Selecky, about writing and blogging and self-criticism: Is it Good or Bad?

From Vice: The Ghost Rapes of Bolivia (that one is disturbing and horrible, and important)

From Prism Magazine: Writing prompts: How to Beat a Cliche and / or You Named Your Pony What?

And there is this:


Sixty-One — On Keeping Track

I joined Goodreads last year and then forgot about it. Every few months I log in and tell it I’ve stopped reading whatever book I was reading the last time I logged in, and take a minute to laugh at how it’s not really possible that I could be reading a) just one book at a time and b) the same novel for six months. In this way I guess I am ascribing motives to Goodreads that it doesn’t have; it just knows what I tell it. Maybe people I know who are on Goodreads think I’ve been reading the same novel for six months. Or maybe they never check in either.

It’s funny how there are certain websites or services that you join and use, use, use. Until you’re lost without them. And then there are others where you use, use, forget. Forget forget. Use. Until it becomes one more password, one more place your picture is, one more result that comes up when you search your own name.

There is probably a similar website for writers to log what they’ve written, what they’re working on, how far they’ve come, what they think of what they’ve done so far, what their goals are. I wouldn’t use it, but it probably exists.

Last night I finished a book called Heft by Liz Moore. It was a totally absorbing read; sad and sad and sad and then hopeful. I knew the hopeful part was coming, that was one of the reasons I was so absorbed. (also, characters and beautiful prose, etc.) I needed to get to redemption.

One thing I enjoy about dysfunctional lit (Dyslit? Dysfunlit? DysNOTfunlit?) is it makes me feel so much better about my pokey little life. In the case of someone whose life is comparably dysfunctional, it might not be so much a comfort. I wonder if people with dysfunction rampant in their lives might read more romances.

Just making that observation makes me feel like a tool. And like I’m asking for poop to rain down on my house. Good thing the book I stopped halfway through so I could read Heft in three days is a very light –though thick– beach book called — wait for it — Azur Like It. Let’s all groan together, shall we?

Sixty — Music

I’m writing this while I watching / listening to Lollapalooza on Youtube. I went to Lollapalooza once, in 1992, and it was truly one of my favourite concert-going experiences, but tonight I am at home, waiting for leftover pasta to heat in the toaster oven. Saint Aardvark has taken his telescope to the top of a mountain in the hopes of seeing the southern horizon.

The kids went to bed with a bit of fuss; I was letting them pick videos to watch on my laptop and then it was 7:43, fifteen minutes past lights out so I hurried them and they don’t like that.

They are fans of a band called Imagine Dragons. I only became aware of this band when Eli developed a fondness (read: obsession) with their much-played-on-the-radio song Radioactive. One day we watched the video together and I realized that I am fickle because I had been very lukewarm about the song but the video was funny and then I liked the song more. THAT is how they get you.

The Imagine Dragons video Arlo wanted to see tonight was for a more recent single called Demons so I looked it up and it was that kind of video — until I started having to explain them, I had no idea how hard it is for a kid to sort out just what the hell is going on in your average music video — where the band is playing a show and there is also a story element. A number of audience members were zoomed in on, we saw their story, their reason for being at the show, their own internal interpretation of the song. All the explaining I was doing (yes, I think that man did break a beer bottle over the head of the other man. I guess he was angry) took us to the end of the song, when the band dedicated the video to a young man who died of cancer this year at age 18. There was a grainy home-video quality clip of the band singing with the young man, his ecstatic face howling “radioactive” into the mic.

“Who’s that guy? What’s this part about?” asked Arlo.

OK, turn off the Internet. You guys are just going to listen to Raffi over and over and over. Until when? Until I say you can stop.

But no, I can’t do that now, I have to explain sickness, cancer, death, youth, the Make a Wish foundation. Take a breath and look at their sweet, dirty faces and be so glad they have to have it explained to them, that they don’t know about any of that dark matter first hand. With the out-breath, send some light to the world and then say yes guys, really, up to bed while their favourite songs are still spinning around in their heads.

Fifty-Nine — The Banishing of Ghost Pee and Other Useless Things

Overnight was cold and blustery and this morning both kids slept until 7 am. There is something about a grey day that makes you sleep, or at least feel like sleeping. None of that bright sunlight assaulting your eyes I guess.

They went to play with Neighbour Friend at 9 am and I puttered around the house. I found a box upstairs that has been sitting in the same spot for so long I wasn’t even seeing it any more, except to move it away from the cupboard door, and back again, as needed.

I brought the box downstairs to be examined (and now I DO notice the space upstairs where it used to be). It was an old paper box full of Things to Be Given Away. The nursing bra that was still in really good shape (I don’t that gross? I wouldn’t personally buy a bra at Value Village but I think people should have the opportunity) and an old black taper candle, still wrapped in plastic that I decided I didn’t want and a white pillar candle and holder that I decided I did want, after I looked at it again. Several puzzles, none of which had all their pieces. One puzzle which did have all its pieces. A pair of snow boots, size 9.

I sat down on the floor and sorted the puzzles. I found myself at the same crossroad I’d apparently reached the last time I tried to get rid of this stuff. The puzzles are incomplete, so I don’t want to give them away to charity. But they’re still puzzles, so I don’t want to throw them in the garbage. But they’re incomplete. But they’re puzzles!

Five years later, here we are.

Yes. I threw them out. Except for the complete one, which I put in a plastic bag and sealed with an elastic band so that it will still be complete by the time it makes it through the sorting process at the donation plant factory warehouse place.

Candle, snow boots, nursing bra: in a giveaway bag.
Garbage: to the garbage.
Box: flattened and put in recycling.
Bookshelf: examined for books the children have hoarded but plan never to read.
Books: put in giveaway bag, under nursing bra, so’s not to be pulled out by curious children and replaced on the shelf.

Satisfied, I prepared to stand up. There’s that smell again, I thought. The pee smell.

Now, in a house with two small children and a cat, it could be anything that smells like pee. It would be more accurate, in fact, to ask “what DOESN’T smell like pee.” However, this particular pee smell has been haunting us for a few days. We suspected the couch but it was not the couch. The other day I even sniffed the carpet but the carpet did not smell of pee (hoorah!) It (the smell) almost seemed to be coming in through the window on the breeze. How was this possible? we wondered. Are raccoons arcing their legs and aiming their pee at our window? Maybe.

Ghost pee. Ooooooohhhhhh.

Turns out the pee smell was coming from the blue bathmat we were using as a buffer between our giant bookshelf and the wood floor. Turns out the cat has been peeing on it. Probably for some time, I realized as I took a big sniff of the bathmat and then was in a coma for three hours.

Where the pee was.

Where the pee was.

To get the soiled blue bathmat out from under the bookshelf, of course, I had to move the bookshelf. To move the bookshelf I had to first remove all the books and DVDs and VHS tapes and my squirrel snowglobe and a bunch of Lego and you get the idea. Then I had to unbolt the bookshelf from the wall.

At some point, Eli came in the house and said, “Oooooh! RenoVAtions!” That kind of made it worthwhile.

Then: washing of the floor with Murphy’s Oil Soap, the re-bolting of the bookshelf and the reapplication of four hundred books.

The middle third of our bookshelf.

The middle third of our bookshelf.

Ah well, it’s good to dust every once in a while.

At noon-thirty the kids came running in STARVING HUNGRY for lunch so I fed them.

“This day is odd,” Eli said as he ate his fourteenth bowl of cereal.

“How so?” I asked.

“Whenever you move the couch or other stuff, like the bookshelf…it makes the day odd.”


I don’t know. Seemed like a pretty normal day to me.

Fifty-Eight — Repetition is Comedy. Or Not.

I went looking for something in my old blog last night and found a post I wrote three years ago on the same topic as a post I wrote just a few weeks ago. This unsettled me. It felt like I might be a boring old show pony with only three tricks. Neigh! It can’t be avoided, though, the concept of repetition, since I like to worry things until there is only the smallest chunk of bone left. I’ve apologized to my biographers several times in the past few years about how repetitive my journals are.

In other news, this evening 5 asked us to play some screamy music so I put on a System of a Down song he used to run around the house to last year. I followed it up with Ministry. I also took some video, and this is that. As you can see, Arlo got a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book from the library today. Also he’s not such a huge fan of screamy music.

Fifty-Seven — Things to Do?

Our stretch of warm, sunny weather is drawing to a close. This week, I feel disjointed. Summer is far from over but it feels like something is turning.

I think it’s my own fault. After swimming lessons ended I thought it would be nice to have a couple of weeks without plans. What was I thinking? You have to have plans with children. Or they eat you.

Okay, they don’t eat you.

But they are old now, these children. They no longer are amused by going to the Sand Park (read: baseball diamond across the street) to play the game where they run away from me and back. They have expectations. They have friends, though none is currently available, except the neighbour, back from vacation. Evvvvery day they play with the neighbour, who is fine, really. In small doses. The doses we are having are larger than recommended.

Yet, I make no plans. Every morning, fresh with sleep and cool air, I expect something exciting to do will occur to me. It doesn’t.

I shower and that is generally satisfying.

We listen to some music and that is fun.

I create an errand and we run it.

I’m the mom and I’m borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrred. This isn’t how it’s supposed to go. THEY are supposed to be bored and I am supposed to tell them to make a comic strip or climb a tree or clean the house. We’ve been to all the parks, except the really far away parks. We’ve been to the mall, and Costco, and the beach. What else is there? There’s a Teddy Bear Museum in Abbotsford? I feel far from resourceful. Resourceless?

Furthermore, I’m nervous that I’m bored. In a month and a half, they will both be in school and THEN WHAT. People say, “Oh how wonderful it will be” and I agree with them because I do, I actually agree with them, but also, I can’t just stare at the Internet for six hours a day. What will I do? *

Further furthermore, I’m afraid that my nerves about being bored mean that I need to be institutionalized and / or I have lost my identity and when the children are at school I will be a shadow of a human, lurking around corners and hissing.

Success! I just out-ridiculoused myself and now I’m no longer bored OR nervous.

Onward, Thursday. Everything’s better in August.(tm)

* it’s likely there will be more on this topic at a later date.