Monthly Archives: March 2015

Today I Found Myself Admiring A Magnolia Tree

I would love to pull something pithy out from between my buttocks right now but there are three children in my face talking about Pokemon. It is Spring Break. Spring Break means nothing. The children are going to daycare every day but two; one they will spend with their grandparents and one they will spend with me. They were crushed when I told them Spring Break actually meant nothing. And they’ve never even seen a Spring Break! movie.

The children are not in my face because they need my attention, never fear, I am not neglecting them. We are waiting for pizza to arrive and they just ate goldfish crackers and peanut butter and lollipops and everything is very exciting. The neighbour, who waits for us to come home every day, is excited too. He is talking at breakneck speed.

I have a co-worker who is a lot like a hummingbird. She is rail thin and very short and she walks so fast I run to keep up. She also is allergic to things and the other day she had an allergic reaction so today she was all doped up on super fly drugs. It was weird listening to her talk, like listening to a record album slowed down to 33 rpm. I guess if I started doing uppers it would be like me on 78.

The kids at work, and they are all kids except for three of us, were comparing birth years today. The ones born in the 80s were making fun of the ones born in the 90s. I just kept my grey head down and thought about typewriter ribbons and boozy Christmas parties aka the past. The temptation is to join in and pretend to be current but I take more pleasure, sometimes, from being invisible and listening in on the juicy gossip.

You can do this with little kids, like actual children, too. Just sit quietly in their midst, as though on safari. They are used to being ignored or managed; if you’re not managing them you must be ignoring them, and then they’ll go on about all kinds of things. Opinions about the houses of pop singers. What Joey did on the playground and who saw him do it. Who has a crush on whom. Who knows how to divide with decimals.

Sometimes the things are dead boring. Like Pokemon. So now I must go to another room.


Every night, a take-home-reading book comes home from school with Eli. He is meant to read aloud to us, in the grand tradition of grade one classes everywhere, possibly? Arlo’s class did it too (although we had to log the books, which I did not enjoy as a concept because paperwork).

Arlo didn’t like reading aloud to us; he muttered and read really fast. It’s a good thing we knew he could read because it certainly was not proven in his grade one year. Eli can also read, and while he *claims* he doesn’t like reading to us, he actually does; after protesting, he is an expressive reader who sometimes uses funny voices and accents. This evening he sang a page of the book to me and then asked if I liked his opera.

Anyway, the books are not that great. They’ve progressed since Dick and Jane but not much. The series we see a lot is about a magic key and a bunch of multicultural British children who have adventures. Now and again there is a mystery or a one-off story about a kid named Pippa who wants a blue balloon but her father only has green balloons.

But tonight’s book was called SKUNKS. It was full of (semi-) interesting facts about skunks; they are black and white, they have three warning stages before they spray you, they are immune to bee stings and often attack bee hives for the honey. Seriously, I learned a great deal. But the best part was the page entitled Skunk Dancing. READ ON AND ENJOY:


Now, do you think that’s true? I know there are a couple nature-knowledgable people who read here from time to time. I have no reason to doubt the take-home-reading-book-about-skunks but I also enjoy imagining the person who wrote the book throwing in a page of total bullshit just because it was his last day on the job, or he wanted to delight a bored family somewhere. Either way. Skunk dancing, you guys.

OK. Duck dancing. Good enough.

“I’m Sure It SOUNDS Intimidating,” he said.

The local CBC was interviewing a brain surgeon who uses robotic lasers to operate on peoples’ brain tumours. According to him, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds, which is easy to say if you’re a person who operates on brain tumours. For me, the line in the sand for intimidating would be crossed in about the first year of medical school.


This evening I washed the heads of my children. Both children are growing their hair, to what end I do not know, so far it looks like 70s hockey player but things can change on a dime around here. Rather than torture them by forcing an entire body wash, I suggested I wash their hair using the time-honoured head-over-the-bathtub-handheld-showerhead-trick. It was imperative that their hair be washed; it’s been quite a few days now. You know how hair gets.

They squealed and shivered and complained but the hair got clean and then they combed it. They are big into combing right now. I hope that phase lasts. I came downstairs to put something away and when I went upstairs again, Arlo was combing Eli’s hair for him, a sweet moment as rare as a blue duck on a purple pond, so of course I snuck back down and grabbed a camera to snap a few sly pictures through the railing. Eventually they spotted me and were all annoyed I had filmed them secretly, which is totally fair. (In my defense, it is impossible to get candid shots of them anymore.) But Eli was really upset.

“I bet you filmed me when I looked HIDEOUS,” he wailed. “And then you’re going to show all your friends.”

So there are no photos with this post because doesn’t that seem a pretty clear request to not share images of His Hideousness on the Internet? Indeed. But trust me, it was a far cry from hideous.

The Amazing Flying Train

We don’t call our Rapid Transit System the “subway” or the “tube” or the “metro”. It is mostly above ground and so, we call it the SKYTRAIN.

The first few weeks I commuted to work were a blur of exhaustion and relief. This workplace is the psychological opposite of my previous workplace and almost every day I still thank my lucky stars for that. It helped my adjustment that the weather was good for those first weeks. It dark at first, and then sunny and bright. I would stand by the window of the train and watch as we flew from New Westminster through Burnaby through Vancouver to downtown. In twenty-five minutes we fly in our big steel bird over kilometres of car-clogged streets.

The traffic on various bridges, the ladybug cars with sparkling headlights, the mountains in the distance with old neighbourhoods in the foreground, the patios and streets we flew over, the sunrises starting pink and getting pinker. It was like taking a magic carpet to work.

There was a morning, a Friday, when the worm turned. I left the house a bit later thinking I’d have a more relaxing morning and was punished with the most godawfully terrible ride to work. I spent my ride smushed against the doors by offensively oblivious people, forced to think about what my nose was inhaling, what heinous bacteria were at that moment colonizing my sinuses. Since that day my commute has lost some of its gleam; maybe because I am more awake, or it’s just no longer new. I more often find myself weary and impatient with the people who don’t clear the aisles, who insist on taking up more than their share of space, who clog the doors, who block my view.

Sometimes, like on my way home today, I feel like a cow in a trailer being towed behind a pickup truck from one corral to the next. I have to remind myself to peek around the corners of the people that surround me so I can catch a glimpse of the outside world through the window. I think, “Sky train. Train in the sky. Sky train. Higher than any cow has ever been.” It springboards a bit of wonder back into my day.


I have ten minutes before it’s time for Saint Aardvark and I to continue watching LOST the series, for the second time. It is a semi-rare overlap of interests for us, LOST, and a welcome chance for us to watch the same television at the same time. Left to my own devices I’ll watch Friday Night Lights or The Killing or for a while there, Nashville, but he’s not into those shows, and I’m not into Noah or Ye Old Timey Black & White Picture Show* or SpaceJunk.*

*Not real titles.

It’s Sunday, March 1st. Can a month come in like a lion or lamb but not in a weather way, just in a what-kind-of-day-is-this-holy-hell way? Weather-wise it was bright and sunny and cold this morning, turning to colder and cloudy this afternoon, and now it’s drizzling in a very chilly fashion.

Other-wise, it was a fine morning with a lot of lounging around, then some chores (laundry for me; taking down garbage and recycling and EWWWW COMPOST for the children) while SA got the grocery list fulfiled at Superstore. Then we all went to Costco because it has been months since we went to Costco. Months! I haven’t gone so long between Costco trips in I don’t know how long. This, of course, is because I am working at a full time job and even though I walk past a Costco every day on my way to and from work, I rarely stop to purchase items because how does one carry a flat of Nanaimo bars and toilet paper on one’s back on the skytrain at rush hour? When you figure it out, let me know.

I did go to the Costco near my work on my birthday, as it turned out, because I was at work and had no lunch and my co-worker reminded me I could get a hot dog at Costco, so that was my big 4-1 treat. Hot dog and iced tea.

No, it was fine. I had something delicious later, I think. I don’t remember.

Anyway, the last time before THAT was in November. I remember specifically because I decided it would be my last Costco trip until after Christmas. Who likes Costco at Christmas, raise your hand!

After Christmas we got by without Costco, until recently when the coffee stores in our basement started to look a little scarce, so today was the day. We had to go.

At the checkout, with our $250 worth of goods, SA’s debit card failed, and then so did mine because they draw from our joint bank account. The cards expired, as it turns out, on February 28th, and someone at the bank dropped the ball and forgot to mail out the new cards. Whoops!

“You can pay Mastercard,” said the helpful cashier with the diamond Chanel earrings — I couldn’t look away from those earrings.
“Nope. Visa?” I said.
“Nope. Personal cheque?” she countered.
“Nope,” I answered.

After some conferring, we decided I’d go home and get a cheque, then come back, which would be cutting time close; I had my writer’s group — via transit, downtown — to get to for 2:00 pm, and the kids had their weekly sketching class at 1:00 pm. It was noon. Then one of the customer service people came over and said, “You can sign up for a Mastercard right now, if you want,” which is usually the kind of thing I say no to at stores, but in this case, well, we needed all that coffee, so there we were, applying and being approved for Costco Mastercards WHILE WE WAITED.

“Thank you for being patient,” I said to the kids.
“That’s okay,” said Arlo. “I am hoping you’ll buy me an ice cream afterward.”

But I didn’t. Instead, I made him go to art class, despite his heartfelt protestations that he doesn’t have enough time to do anything. I agree.

I hitched a ride to Metrotown and then hopped on a train, which sat at the station for fifteen minutes due to a broken train at another station. The doors of the train stayed open, so people kept getting on, and getting on, and getting on. I told myself I was lucky I’d got on when I did; I got a seat, after all, and if you have to wait for fifteen minutes on an immobile train, at least be sitting.

The novelty of the skytrain has almost worn off for me now that I take it every day. But I never do get a seat, so the seat novelty was still, well, novel.

Eventually we left, probably due to the old guy sitting in front of me who kept horking up loogies and sniffing loudly and then muttering “what’s the problem.” After I got off I tossed my whole body into the vat of boiling water they keep at every skytrain station*, to get the people germs off, and then went to a very happy and productive writing group meeting.


Upon my return home, I found the family already watching Arlo’s choice for movie night, The Guardians of the Galaxy, a film which made no sense whatsoever. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. No sense. I had read reviews that said as much but you know, sometimes the Internet is uneccesarily cruel? Not in this case.

All the more reason to cleanse the cinematographical palate with the greatness that is LOST. And a toast to March second, may it be slightly more reasonable than the first.