Monthly Archives: October 2014


Today is Monday. It is also October 20th, which is Eli’s half-birthday. He reminded me of this on our walk to school this morning. He also reminded me yesterday. He suggested that something special we could do together would be: he could play with his friend, the neighbour, while I made him a half birthday cake?

He really is the sweetest. He knows I prefer to bake alone.

For a half birthday cake I made a lemon loaf because I like lemons and I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for a full cake with icing and bullshit. I’m getting over a bad cold with sinus involvement and my patience is wire thin. Every twenty minutes I have to either breathe steam or drink hot tea. And two days ago the kettle broke, so we had to get a new kettle but that was just foreshadowing.

I have a recipe for lemon loaf — or several, don’t we all? — but I looked online and found Ina Garten’s lemon loaf recipe. The recipe yielded two loaves, so I had to cut the recipe in half and isn’t that just apropriate. Because it’s a half-birthday, you see. Which isn’t even real but hey I guess it is now. I just made it real, with cake.

Before I made the cake I had some lunch and before I had lunch I set some chips on fire in the toaster oven and had to pull the tray out, the Katniss-at-the-Capitol-flaming-tray and throw it out our front door onto the stone part of the patio, where the chips turned to char and the flames crackled until I stopped shaking enough to pour a watering can full of water on them. Hisssssssss.

Toaster ovens, man. Saint Aardvark has gone to get another one now because he fears the giant flames might have hurt the element. He might be right. Our last toaster oven, which I believe died this calendar year, had an element that melted in the middle, through no fault of mine.

When I first moved out on my own, back in 1993, someone gave me a toaster oven for a housewarming present and I swear I had that thing until 2005 at least. Its replacement lasted five years, *its* replacement lasted one and now we have killed two in one year. I mean. I’d just get a toaster but we are addicted to frozen hashbrown patty things, Eli and I, and to heat up the whole oven just to do one, or even three, hashbrown patty(s) seems absurd.

Before I set the chips on fire I walked uptown and back to get some exercise that was non-exertive, and to buy some cotton swabs at the drugstore. I went to the new drugstore, the REXALL, which has escalators and really good lime and salt and pepper flavoured peanuts. I took the escalator up to find the vitamins and then scoured each and every aisle looking for cotton swabs.

Have you ever noticed that every drugstore keeps their cotton swabs somewhere different? London Drugs keeps theirs at the end of the hair products aisle. Shoppers Drug Mart keeps theirs in the baby aisle. I think Superstore keeps theirs in the makeup. At Rexall, I checked all the aisles, even found a hairbrush I didn’t realize I needed, and then resorted to asking the pharmacist, who didn’t know. I ventured down feminine hygiene, and noticed something that was not cotton swabs.

It was called a LadyCare Device and it was on the shelf next to the Diva Cups. I looked at it. It looked like a plastic purple heart, about the size of a pendant. Was it a sex toy? No. Was it a menstrual product? No. It is a magnet that you put in your underwear to control your menopause symptoms. $45.

The cotton swabs were at the end of the baby aisle. I know I went down the baby aisle before but I must not have been paying attention, uninterested as I am in the topic of baby care.

The other day I ate a lot of pasta or something and I got the bloaty stomach that comes from carbs + cheese and Eli patted me on the belly and said, “What a fat belly! Are you making another baby in there?” No. No I am not.

He’s a lovely child; articulate, great sense of humour, good hearted, fantastic facial expressions. Six-and-a-half today.

Here’s a photo from his first half-birthday, in 2008:


NB: this was one of a series and he has the same expression in each.

Last week I copied a recipe for something from the Internet into our recipe notebook. Eli said, “I’m going to write a recipe too.” He thought for a minute and then wrote the following:


So! If you need to make your own, that’s how you do it. (pls note: 61 degrees F.)

Happy Last Day!

Back in March, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty quit his job. It was biggish news. I saw it on twitter and I saw this photo with the tweet and I said to myself, That is a happy man. That is a happy man who just quit his job and dammit, I want to have that happy face too.

After I saw the photo I declared my last planned day of work — October 10th, 2014 — to be Flaherty Day and wrote it in my work day-planner, taking great pleasure in the secret of it.

A month later he died, which saddened me, not because I knew JF at all but because people should get to enjoy their retirements. I don’t want to call today Flaherty Day anymore, as it seems somehow disrespectful.

And, as it turned out, my last day of work was back in July and I have been slacking and/or parenting since then, but this week and its significance is still on my mind.

This week last year I went back to work for the first time since Eli was born. I was excited and nervous, in a healthy way. I had found a job that was half time — five work days for every ten week days — and I had sorted out child care and it was time!

Time to “…put a foot back in the door to see how I could edge the rest of my body through.”

(I’m quoting from a document of roughly eighteen pages that I’ve been adding to since last November. The document is entitled “I Call It Progress: An Account of One Year in A Horrible Job.” [That’s a working title.] <--That's a terrible pun. As you were.) I started work and it was okay for a few weeks. Then, the woman whose job it was to train me to do her job started training me. She had issues. The issues were nothing I could do anything about, but I am a FIXER and a PLEASER and I tried to fix and please for a long time before I realized, sometime in February, that it was never going to happen. We didn't click. She tried to train me and I couldn't learn from her. So I sucked at the job, and our boss took sides against me because, fair enough, I was new. No one could understand why I was so unable to do the job and I couldn't find a way to explain myself that wouldn't start an office war. How do you walk in to an office where someone has run the show for six years, including training lots of temps (first clue), and say, "you're bad at teaching people things and also very grumpy and disrespectful." I couldn't and didn't. That's where we started. It got worse from there. *waves eighteen typed pages* Oh but those are just details, things I wrote down because I knew once it was over I'd forget how awful it had been and try to excuse everyone at my own expense. The important part of the story is that I eventually got better at the job and also stronger and better at being a human being. Having never worked in such an emotionally poisonous environment, I tried to make it better and when that failed, I at least wanted to enjoy my days off, not spend them fretting about work. So I exercised more. I wrote in my journal more. I drank more alcohol. I bought more things because if the job is so bad, but the money is good, use the money! (Spoiler alert: it doesn't really work.) I read books like "One Minute Meditations to Calm Your Anxious Mind." I chanted mantras as I drove to work. I ate Rescue Remedy lozenges. I engaged in magical thinking around the songs I heard on the radio on the way to work. I tried to focus on the things I brought to the job, like pleasantries and positive energy, despite it all. I celebrated my persistence. I celebrated my professionalism; that I did not complain or gossip at work, that I continued to GO to work every week and bring my best game, that I saved my bitterness and misery for after hours. By breathing deeply and reminding myself that eventually I would leave, that other peoples' perceptions of me did not change who I was, that though I never received any positive feedback, the (eventual) absence of NEGATIVE feedback probably meant I was doing better, I eventually got to a place where I did not have panic attacks at my desk when I had to approach my unpleasant co-worker for the answer to a question. It never got fun. But I could eventually draw a clear line in my head between my issues and hers, and stay on my own side. It was June when I decided I would not stay on past my term ending in October, even if they asked me to, which was doubtful but you never know. A few days later, I was called in for a meeting and laid off because of financial constraints. That last month of work contained the most splendid of all the days. There was cake. There were other co-workers saying nice things to me and offering references. There was an absence of unpleasant co-worker, because she'd had a death in the family near the end of the month. Having come through it and feeling competent, finally, days before I left the job forever brought home to me that I deserve more, and better, and more better. We all do. Why do a job that suffocates you when you walk in the door?

So Happy Last Day to you all. I hope, if you are suffering in a terrible job/situation, that you can find your way out, or find something to redeem the experience, or some way to hang on until it ends. Let the happy face of Jim Flaherty — may he rest in peace — guide you towards finding that happy place for yourself.

Be happy! Like these happy people whose colons are also happy!

Be happy! Like these happy people whose colons are also happy!

Shaking Off the Anaconda

I looked in my drafts folder today and there were 46, forty-six drafts. I read through a few of them and they were dated, yes, but not horrible. Why did I never post them? Why indeed. I think when I finish writing something I feel as though I should let it sit a bit before posting but when I let it sit, I inevitably do not go back and look at it again for months or years.

There was one about pop music and Miley Cyrus, one about peanut allergies, one about how I was so ready to be done stay-at-home parenting. All of it still true and relatively relevant except I mentioned Ke$ha in the post about Miley and now I realize I have not heard from Ke$ha in quite some time. I mean, I never HEAR from her. I don’t get texts from her or anything. We don’t SNAPCHAT. But on the radio.

The children are so into pop music and this is fine and great. I heard Arlo singing along to Shake it Off the other day and he knows all the words and also can hit all the notes because he is eight years old and has the same vocal range as Taylor Swift so it’s pretty cute. I have a soft spot in my heart for Shake it Off. It’s like a self-help book in a pop song. I respond to it. That’s why it’s the only song I’m linking to in this post.

Tonight at dinner we heard a new pop song called Anaconda by Nicki Minaj, a song about, uh, a misguided relationship, maybe? Anyway it contains many samples from Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot. The children — not just mine, but many children, the same ones who were crowing “I’m Sexy and I know it” a few years ago — have been wandering around singing “My anaconda don’t want none / unless you got buns hon” and I needed to know they understood what they were talking about.

I tried to shake it off but they are boys, someday to be men, who ought to know. Besides, Arlo told me today he wants to be a famous rapper when he grows up, so the more info he has, the better. And so, we had the following conversation, after the last chords of Anaconda had faded from our ears.

Me: So that song samples another song, you know that right?
Arlo: Yeah, the one about Oh My God, Lookit Her Butt (incidentally, the original Baby Got Back says “oh my GOD lookit her butt” but the sample in Anaconda is “oh my GOSH lookit her butt” and this odd censory gesture is to laugh, truly)
Me: Right, so some people like to look at other peoples’ butts. They’re attracted to them. Some people like butts, some people like other peoples’ faces, some people like to look at long hair or short hair…
A: Hmm
Me: Sir Mix-A-Lot really likes butts. Right? He starts the song with I LIKE BIG BUTTS AND I CANNOT LIE
A: Right
Me: And then he goes on and on about how butts are great and sometimes they’re bouncy and sometimes they’re squishy or whatever.
A: Yeah
Me: And then he says “my anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns, hon.”
A: Yeah
Me: What do you think that means?
A: His..anaconda doesn’t want anything unless it’s got a big butt?
Me: Righhht…and…
A: ??
Me: Do you think he has a pet snake? That eats people? (ed note: this would be a good horror sort of twist on the song maybe?)
A: No ha ha ha ha
Me: So what’s the anaconda?
A: ??
Me: Can you think of a body part that a man has that’s like a snake?
A: *blinks twice* Oh! His penis!
Me: Right.
A: *laughs hysterically*
Me: Yes.
A: *laughing*
Me: So it’s a metaphor. One thing means another thing
A: Rigggght

And tomorrow at school should be awesome for everyone who knows my son.

We’ll deal with the grammar another day.