"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

I know I said "blog like no one is reading" but it's nice to know these people are

Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Being a Biker Babe

Well, at least for Halloween. I hate Halloween. No, not really but the anxiety building up to it is just one more thing I don't need on my plate. I've got a fundraiser for our local Medical Clinic the Saturday after and of course, I have to fumigate the house now that the sickies are all back at school. Back when we lived in the city the pressure was all about decorating the house and whether we'd have enough candy to make it through the night. We lived on a Halloween street. The kind that the local TV news would cover with one house going all out every year and everyone else trying to keep up or at least worrying whether a thousand pieces of candy would get you through the night. Back then the kids wore cute, fuzzy costumes from Costco that kept them warm if it snowed and they loved to wear them throughout the year for special occasions like grocery shopping or going to the dentist. Then we moved along to the superhero phase and Spiderman and Batman were the costume du jour. At least thoses guys didn't carry weapons dripping fake blood.

Things have changed a little since we moved out of the big city. We don't get any trick or treaters as we live on a dead end street with only eight houses. Most are inhabited by older people who, when they asked us why the kids didn't come trick or treating to their houses, I had to gently explain that turning on the porch light, if not putting out a pumpkin was the traditional way to let kids know you are open for visitors. So we go across town to the "new development" where the houses are all jammed together and you can get a heck of alot more candy in a much shorter period of time. On the way there we do stop in at the senior's apartment building where the ladies sit in the foyer and the kids parade through and have their picture taken and are given gorgeous little loot bags. It makes everyone's night. This year I am taking a few boxes of candy over to some of the families who live in the "new development" (it's not that new, probably built in the 70's but in this town that's considered new) since I feel guilty that we all descend upon them every year.

The kids' costumes are well, not exactly cute and cuddly or even brave superheroish. Boys want scary and bloody and ugly and preferably store bought. I hate this. Why when I was a kid we had to make our own costumes (my mother did not sew) so we dug through the dress up box and raided our parents closets and inevitably I was a witch, albeit a pretty one or a gypsy. We didn't have masks or swords or pretty princess dresses from WalMart. Now I sound like an old lady, "why when I was a girl we walked to school up hill, both ways ..."

Of course the other big difference was that we lived in the country and weren't smart enough to figure out on a candy collected per mile travelled that town was the place to go. We would all pile into my Dad's truck, front and back (this was the 70's, pre seat belts) and go up and down all the long farm laneways. My Dad and our neighbour would go into each house and usually end up having a beer while we ran around in the dark waiting to go on to the next house. Halloween was a night long affair and I am quite sure in retrospect that my Dad was throughly sloshed by the end of it. Ahhhh, the good old days.

Now, we modern parents would never think of drinking and driving but we have been know to walk and tipple. I have this great old opera cloak from my grandmother (the opera-going gene died with her) with huge pockets. Big enough to hold a bottle of red and a couple of goblets in one and a few beers in the other. This way we can keep up with the kids as they race across lawns and streets all the while enjoying a lovely merlot or lager. Very civilized and another thing we would have never done in the city.

This year since Halloween falls on a Saturday I have my Mum coming up to stay over so that after we get home and the kids are well into their candy count, sort and trade we can be on our way. The count sort/sort/trade component of the evening hasn't changed since I was a kid. First take out anything with nuts as my Other Half is allergic (okay, that is new), then they take out anything that is even vaguely healthy like all natural fruit gummies and then they sort by ingredients - chocolate, gum, licorice, completely unidentifiable, etc. And then the trading begins. By this time we will be in our costumes and out the door.

Last year we went as pirates, the year before as the castways from Gilligan's Island (sans Gilligan for some reason) and this year we're gonna be bad ... bikers. Already have the tattoo sleeves to pull on, tight jeans, boots and even black leather chaps for the ol' man (actually, they belong to my Dad, he wears them horseback riding) His ol' lady will be sporting heavy make up and I might even spring for a pack of smokes to roll up in my sleeve so when we hit the dance floor we'll be smokin' ....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I know it's not called Swine Flu anymore but I still have a few questions

Running an infirmary here with two home from school. Non-stop laundry and running up and down the stirs with juice, soup and the thermometer. Number One has been home sick since going on a three day trip with his class. Twelve boys all sleeping together in a dorm, up all night and out in the rain all day. Even my never-gets-sick kid got sick. Called the school to say he wasn’t coming, gave them the symptoms and asked how many others were out and with what? Secretary who is not my favourite person at the best of times was “too busy to check the voicemail for that stuff.” Right, then why do you bother asking? Wouldn't it help those who are trying to get a handle on this thing to know and isn't that why they asked you to ask us? Heard through the grapevine that eight are home.

Then turned on the news and heard about a 13 year old boy who died yesterday in Toronto from H1N1, couldn’t change the channel fast enough for Number One not to see it. He had to play hockey last night as he is the only goalie on his team (don't ask). Everyone knew he was sick and now I am getting emails from other parents asking if it is H1N1? Called the doctor’s office - busy signal. Who the hell has a busy signal these days?!? Our doctor had recommended the boys getting the H1N1 shot once it was available - in November. Right, a little late now, it seems. Oh yeah and my brother-in-law was down in Boston last weekend playing hockey with a bunch of guys, three of whom have been diagnosed with H1N1 (at least they were actually tested). He wasn't tested and has no symptoms other than a sore throat but was put on Tamaflu and is supposed to wash his hands before holding his nine week old son.

An older lady I was talking to was also put on Tamaflu after her doctor told her (without testing) that she probably had it. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of this. I thought we had learned from the SARS outbreak in 2003? I thought the government had a plan for the next pandemic?

Sorry if this is all a little scattered but WTF am I supposed to think? They don’t seem to want to test anyone to see if they have it until after they are in the hospital or dead and I am sure as hell not taking my kids into emerg to find out if they have it. Where have all these statistics that the media keeps dropping come from if they really don't know who has it, who has recovered and who never had it in the first place?

And who is high risk? 13 year old hockey players, 42 year old woman, babies whose father's play hockey? I watched the news last night and saw the line ups in the U.S. for the shot and reports that there isn't enough for everyone who wants it. In Canada, our self-satisfied government is patting itself on the back and saying there is enough for everyone. Right, we have a population of 12 million in Ontario alone and they have 722,000 doses right now and another million coming next week. Even with my pathetic math skills that doesn't add up.

I am not an alarmist. We have never had the flu shot and my boys rarely get sick and when they do it only last hours (usually the wee small ones) and then I tell them to suck it up and go to school but this is utter chaos. You know, the kind in the movies, "Cats and dogs living togther, mass hysteria." And I know the doctors and researchers don't have all the answers but I wish they had one that I could tell my sons about why a 13 year old hockey player died 48 hours after getting the flu and why it won't happen to them.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nothing new but this

Number Two Son took this one of Number Three Son. Guess the photography gene skips a generation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When the boys were little ...

When the boys were little they wore socks that matched their onesie turtlenecks and when it rained they wore cute little rubberboots with frogs and ducks on them and had umbrellas they carried to and from school.

Now they barely wear socks except when they run around with no shoes on so I have to buy them in bulk at Costco. And raincoats are so uncool.

When they were little they watched Thomas the Tank Engine narrated by Alec Baldwin or Ringo Starr and I knew the names of every engine, not to mention every dinosaur from the Jurassic era.

Now they watch Family Guy when they think I am not paying attention and are learning the names of adult movie stars.

When the boys were little they wanted to go to the zoo or the museum and every time we had to load up with sippy cups and snacks and diapers and wipes and changes of clothes for any meteorological event.

Now they want to go paint-balling (or is it paintball gunning?) and I can barely get them to leave the house in shoes or a sweatshirt and the car is overflowing with LEGO Star Wars people and fruit-filled TimBits that no one will eat. Not even the dog.

When the boys were little all we had to say when they whined for something was, "You'll have to be good and ask Santa for that."

Now they have Excell spreadsheets and bookmarked websites for their Christmas lists and the Santa threat is losing it's potency.

When the boys were little I could get them to sit still together for a family photo with matching outfits. Of course those photos were taken with film and therefore are not readily available to post as I have yet to figure out how to scan all of the hundreds of photos carefully (but not scrapbookily) pasted in albums.

Now they hide when the camera comes out, make faces and refuse to put on clean shirts no matter how much I bribe them. So I resort to stealth photography with a super long lens and post the photos here

When the boys were little we thought we'd never sleep through the night. They tag teamed us waking up, getting sick and having night terrors.

Now they want to go to sleep later than we can stay up which means we never get to watch anything other than Animal Planet and Home Improvement reruns in the evenings. Unless, of course I am downstairs on the computer. Then they are watching Family Guy.

When the boys were little I thought I would never carry anything other than a diaper bag or backpack and would never be able to get dressed up and make it out of the house without spit up on my shoulder or sticky hand prints on my pants.

Now I carry a purse (well, sometimes) and have been known to leave the house with nobody noticing.

When the boys were little I thought they'd never grow up.

Now that they are bigger I know that children really do grow up in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


An old friend dropped by today out of the blue. We sat on the couch in front of a cozy fire and drank tea and got caught up. She has chosen, although she might say it wasn't a choice, to live a very different life from mine. She is single, both her parents are dead and have been for quite a while and the only family she has is a half brother who is much older and had left home before she was born. She grew up and stayed in the same small town for most of her life, went away to school in the city but always came back. She has worked as a teacher, social worker and finally she worked at the town hall organizing events. She has never married or had a long term relationship, at least not one that I have ever heard about and about 6 years ago she made a huge change.

She sold the house she grew up in and was all that she had left from her parents, left the town that had always been her home and the people she called family and went back to school. First she had to go back and get the courses she needed for a Bachelor of Science as she had originally studied Arts. Then she applied to Nursing School and took the two year programme to become a RN. She was at school with girls straight out of high school doing their diplomas and at 40 she was considered the granny of the class, offering advice on men and studying while working in a notorious psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. She would come back for the holidays and regale (and horrify) us with stories of Christmas Eve on the psych ward. She has now found her place as a nurse on the front lines of an Emergency ward. Some of her stories aren't much tamer but at least every once in a while they are about a young child being saved. She is perfectly suited to the job with her sarcastic wit and ability to tell it like it is while being the comforting and caring nurse that you hope to meet in emerg.

She is happier than I have seen her in decades. She still isn't seeing anyone (that I know of) and knows that the long shifts that rotate from day to night reek havoc with her sleep and would try even the most understanding of boyfriends. But she loves what she does and she has found a sense of purpose.

Has anyone else made a radical change in their lives? Do you think it is possible to do with a family and all that sort of baggage? A friend's mother went back to law school in her late forties after all her children had grown up and was even contemplating moving to Australia when she was diagnosed with cancer. Not that I am thinking of doing anything crazy, but my dream has always been to pack up the kids and go live in France or New Zealand for a year. Guess that's why I am so jealous of Amy of Bitchin' Wives Club. Even the stress and pain of packing up a family of five to cross the pond to England seems like an adventure seen through her words and camera lens.

I know that people are often forced as a result of divorce or death to make radical changes and you wonder how they were ever able to do so under the circumstances but I remember a teacher once saying to our class of 15 year old girls that we could expect to change jobs five or six times in our lives. We all scoffed, our parents (mostly fathers) had worked at the same jobs for the same companies for their entire lives. It was inconceivable to think that you could be forced or choose to change jobs let alone professions back in the 80's. The world is a different place today as we enter into the second decade of the second millennium. And I, for one think it is better. More chaotic? Yes, but also much more interesting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Now it's your turn

Being Brazen has a great little thing she does called It's for you. She answers a few questions about herself and then turns it over to her readers to answer the same ones in their comments. Great way to get to know one another, isn't it? It's sort of a meme/youyou.

So here are my answers and then it's your turn so I can read the witty responses.

  • Today I feel relieved, a big weight has been lifted financially (I hope)

  • Last night I watched my son's first game of the season. He got a shut out (that's hockey and he is a goalie)

  • Song of the week - hate to admit it but the Oprah video got me hooked on Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feelin'"

  • Currently I want the sun to shine for Thanksgiving (it's this weekend in Canada) and a new pair of black boots

  • Favourite ice cream flavour - anything mocha like Ben & Jerry's Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz

  • Do I believe there are aliens out there? There had better be 'cause otherwise we're all stuck with each another

So now go for it. I wanna know what you think. I'll try to be original next time and come up with my own questions.

Monday, October 5, 2009

You can go back ... sort of

On Friday I packed my bags and left my family ... for the weekend. It was my 25th high school reunion. The photo above was taken at the Annual Father Daughter Dance in about 1982. I am the girl in the middle, my Dad is the moustache to my right.

I stayed with my oldest - make that longest-standing - friend who you met here. The plan was to get a group of us together Friday night for a little pre-reunion party. I had sent out an email to everyone on my contact list and asked them to forward it on to everyone they had and so on and so on .... All very inclusive and so not cliquey all girl's schoolish. Or so I thought. Responses came back regretfully, almost everyone had other plans. Some family related but some plans with others who were in from out of town for the reunion. Plans that did not include everyone but I was fine with that.

I went ahead and headed down to the big city where I can't believe I had not been in months. I even tried to organize a little blogger get together but flu season has already hit some of our numbers hard and if you have a chance head over to Beth at Books Etc. and see if she's feeling better. (Just checked, she is and she's been hanging out with a real hunk.) So the weekend didn't get off to a roaring start but I met a couple of friends for dinner and we quickly got caught up and consumed two bottles of Pinot Grigio. Then I had a great idea, I'd be damned if I was going home at 9:30 on my big weekend away so why not crash the party the cool kids were having?

It wasn't too bad, we arrived as they were sitting down to dessert and all (most?) seemed genuinely happy to see us. The hostess even commented on my cunning plan to bring the guest of honour and my dinner date together after all these years. Right, that was the plan. Wait a minute, the plan was to crash a party we weren't invited to. Why was I so clever? It seems that in my high school Diet Coke-addled brain I had forgotten that the two afore-mentioned women had had a huge falling out 25 years ago and hadn't spoken since. Hence the lack of invitation for one of them to the party. Me, I just wasn't invited.

So, it seems I had done my good deed for the weekend without even knowing it. There were hugs and congratulations all around, more wine was drunk and I made my way back to my hostess' house quite satisfied with myself.

The morning I wasn't so much. But it was up and at 'em in time to get to the school for the traditional Old Girls vs. students basketball and field hockey games. I took photos, none of which were very good. Chatted with a few teachers, horrified the students with stories of life before cellphones and Wikipedia and then hightailed it out to go shopping, had enough time for a nap before heading back for the cocktail party. There every reunion year from 60 to 5 was represented by chattering, squealing and laughing women who all shared a common experience of wearing a tunic, tie and some, even bloomers (that would include yours truly, they switched to boxers soon after I graduated but we did wear the damn things under our kilts and tunics for modesty's sake, if you can believe it) We posed for class photos and then headed off to our dinner at a classmate's house.

There were over 40 of us out of about 70 including some who had left before graduation. We came from as far away as the UK, San Francisco, Oregon, Connecticut, Quebec, B.C. and Ohio. We are now doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, Pilates and Yoga instructors, mothers, divorcees and widows. And we all look even better 25 years later. We have all come into our own in everyway. We turned 40 a few years back and we all seem to be embracing it. Our hair is blonder, longer, shorter, darker and greyer but our eyes are bright and surrounded by laugh lines.

And we added to them that night. We shared photos of our families and homes. We swapped email addresses and phone numbers and business cards. We ate and drank and toasted two of our classmates who are no longer with us and promised to remember them as they would have wanted us to to. We were the class of 1984, George Orwell predicted Big Brother and doom. We remember Boy George, Flash Dance and leggings. Fortunately only the leggings have survived.
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