Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Year In Review: The Shit I Didn't Mention

All right, you caught me. The blogginess... it hasn't happened so much in 2014. But that's okay—that's the way a self-run show works. When you're the boss you get to call the shots, and this year I needed a wee break.

That said, I figured we'd do a Year In Review post. Which would make more sense if I'd actually had blogged more this year, yes, and since that's the case, I figured I'd write a Year In Review post regarding all the things I didn't blog about.

(Yes. Go ahead, read it again. It's weird. Welcome to the program, and buckle your seat belts.)

Forging ahead, here we go...

The 2014 Year In Review: The Shit I Didn't Mention

13. For some reason this year I have dropped a record number of items in the toilet. (Thankfully no electronics, and mostly sweater sleeves.) I have no excuse. I can't remember ever having dropped anything in the toilet before 2014... it's ludicrous.

12. I keep taking photos of our cat, Minette, curled up on our duvet like the squirrelish princess she is, but keep forgetting to post them with the caption that it's her favourite bedding. Every time I wonder if this will be the most recent photo of her before she dies, and thus attempt the best lighting and angle possible for our snarky girl. Every time she realizes what I'm up to and gives me the stink eye before I nail the perfect shot. It's like she's reading my mind and doesn't want a flattering photo on her casket (Bitch. No one makes caskets for cats anyway, never mind, Google says yes, someone does—but it's not like we'd be buying her one. Pfft).

11. Mr Lannis and I began watching Doctor Who and made it through whatever numbered Doctor it was when the series rebooted in 2005, but when the shift came to the next Doctor we fizzled out and forgot about it (until now). Worst. Geeks. Ever.*

10. Over the last twelve months we have bought 30 fish for our aquarium, 3 cherry shrimp, and 3 African Dwarf Freaks Frogs.

9. The frogs all died. All of them. Within two months. (I'm borderline OCD. I track this shit like you wouldn't believe.)

8. So did the fish. There are currently two fish in our tank. Their names? Fat Guy and Jeff. Everyone else checked out via the porcelain bowl (or were MIA because their tank mates ate them. Fat Guy's an ginormous a-hole, hence he's still king of the mountain. Jeff, well, he's one algae eater who knows how to hide).**

7. The shrimp up and vanished completely. (I had one nightmare of rediscovering them living in our houseplants, grown large as that asshole Hamster before he died—rest in peace, jerkface. My mind... she can be a creepy place.)

6. I know far too much about the Jian Ghomeshi scandal. Was glued to it at one point. I may or may not have a secret Pinterest board devoted to blog posts and news articles relating to this garbage excuse for a human. Crossing my fingers the floodgates for dialogue have opened for abuse victims, as that's the only true silver lining I see emerging from this situation.

5. Lighter note: I have a Cards Against Humanity card with my name on it. Actually two. This makes me inordinately happy. Also? Twisted. (No surprise there.)

4. Another happy thought: I have tallied and written my clients' receipts for 2014 and am eager to begin my income tax return (Sandi, look what you have done to me!)

3. I permed my hair a while back, in September, in October (when the first one didn't take in my uber-straight hair). It only reminded me that I'm a low-maintenance girl, and now I wear it braided or in a ponytail, and, if you know me, means I spent an awful lot of money on a frizzy ponytail instead of my usual sleek one. Yippee! (Secret: I still like it better. Now it's interesting.)

2. Started going to a chiropractor in August. I have miraculously only had one migraine aura since August(!). Like, for reals, yo—this is HUGE.

But doesn't quite have the wow factor of:

1. That time I won a "neck massager" off a blog and almost blogged about it—because: fuck yeah, I won a contest! and what kind of a prize is a sex toy? weirdest contest ever—but then decided it was TMI and kept my mouth shut until I clearly had low impulse control while writing this post and blaaaaarrrgggg: now you all know. You're welcome.***

* ETA: Did some digging, discovered we jumped in on the ninth Doctor, and left off at the beginning of the tenth Doctor. See? Geek cred partially restored. A touch. Okay, maybe we have some work to do...

** Fuck it. Wrote this post, and by the time it published we'd lost Fat Guy to, uh, whatever, and I pawned off sent Jeff to go live in our friend's fish tank (seriously: as in, that's not a euphemism for being flushed. He is actually making new goldfishy friends).

*** Pfft... relax. It's not like I use it. It's not even quality.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Unorthodox Requests

So then out of nowhere I ask my then-almost-nine-year-old what he wants for Christmas and he replies, in all seriousness, that he wants a doll that resembles himself with clothes that resemble his own clothing...

What the nugget?!

I suppose this is what I get for not having cable or satellite, yes? (My children have not seen commercials in a loooong time. They also despise shopping. They have no concept of what toys are currently on the market.)

Hooookay, well. The first feat was to shift this request as naturally as possible from the realm of the Santa list to the general gift idea list, since—let's all nod in appreciative understanding here—said doll was going to be wearing remnant clothes of boys (yes, plural), and clearly would not be a product of Santa's workshop.


And then I was struck by the, er, voodoo-iness of the entire matter...

Is it bizarre that my nine year old wants a doll that looks like him? Upon reflection, he's only ever had my old Cabbage Patch Dolls to play with (he found them uninteresting). I suppose it's kind of neat to have a mini-me with clothes to dress it... especially if made by mom's hand, right?

Anyhow, with that out of the way, I got to work on creating rag doll boys and harvesting what I could from the ratty tatty not-good-enough-to-join-the-hand-me-down-network bag of clothes my packrattiness stubbornly refuses to let me discard outright.

(Yes, a wee voice in my brain is telling me this is the reason I held on to them in the first place. Going forward it is clear my ability to discard anything in this house is about to take a hit.)

And yet...


Scary shit, right?

Yes, I'm inordinately proud of these. I ordered the glasses for the oldest's doll on eBay, and picked up the fake fur for hair at a fabric store, but everything else used was leftover from previous projects.

And old clothes. Plenty of old clothes were ravaged in the name of cuff material alone.

Including pajamas, underpants, and socks. Because dolls need wardrobes, too, yo.

Not pictured: the teeny leather backpacks to house all those clothes. (I may have gotten out of control...)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Unedited Footage of a Bear: Mr Lannis' Adventures in YouTube

Presented without comment... because I really, truly have no comment...

Seriously. What did I just watch?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


You know that moment when you're doing laundry and you're foolishly trying to match up socks and you realize your children—who are only nine, and seven-and-a-half years old—are wearing socks the same size as their mother?

And they've ALL of them shrunk in the wash?

Yeah... I just had that moment.

Article A: Mom's sock; article B: 9 year old's sock; article C: 7 year old's sock.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jean Patching Rebooted: Skulls and Robots

Over the years I've patched a few jeans.

Okay, maybe more than a few.

Point being: "the monster jeans aren't cool anymore, Mom!" /whine

Then: "The star jeans aren't cool anymore, Mom!" /whine

So here I am, striving for a newer, cooler jean patch.

Because eff me if I'm going to let my kids' knees poke out of their pants. What else am I supposed to do—BUY them new jeans?!


Yeah, no. I'd rather pay my mortgage, thanks. [::snort::]

Anyhow. I figured in my continued quest to make patched play jeans cool again I'd better share my latest designs.

Skulls and robots, ahoy!

The instructions are simple, and the supplies few. You'll need the jeans-to-be-patched, some sacrificial jeans to supply some denim patches, a sewing machine with a little know-how, thread, and a pen.

I was hesitating to write out the instructions for this as most people comfortable with their sewing machine can eyeball my pics and know exactly what they're doing, but since I know I have my own knowledge blind spots, I'll outline the breakdown...

1. From the mountain of denim reserved for patching, select a colour that works with the jeans that need patching. (Or just whatever you've got, really. It doesn't matter too much. Play jeans, remember?) Settle on a shape (oval, square, or rectangle), that best covers the hole and any surrounding worn denim on the knee. Cut it out of the patching denim.

NOTE: Do NOT cut your patch out of the jeans-to-be-patched. Also? Don't sew while drinking, else you may have more sacrificial denim. Accidents happen, yo. And it's bad luck to scoff at free wisdom. [::shifty eyes::]

2. Iron both the (clean) jean pantleg, and the patch-to-be.

3. Using a pen, carefully draw on the details you're going to stitch in over and around the patch. It's the easiest way to ensure your lines are decent, as once you've got that pantleg hiked up around the machine, it gets difficult to see where you're headed.

4. Pin in place.

5. Using a close zigzag stitch, sew that mofo down! Remember to reverse to lock in the ends, and don't be afraid to jump from one eye to the next without clipping those threads—it's far quicker, and as long as you've locked in the ends of your stitching in each new area it shouldn't unravel. Clip threads close once you're finished sewing.

That's it. Really difficult, right?

Wondering which patches are the quickest of the monster patches; swirls, squiggles, and stars; and these robots and skulls? Well, the monster patches are the most labour-intensive and take the longest to make. The stars, squiggles, and swirl patches are the quickest (no need to mark the jeans and all lines are connected). These skulls and robots aren't that much longer than squiggles, stars, or swirls.

Things to remember: They're patched jeans, they're not winning any beauty contests. The can, however, be rather cute in a shabby chic kind of way, so don't get bogged down by perfection. Your best bet to land the cutesy homemade meant-to-be-imperfect style is to deliberately NOT go for perfection. Make them a touch wonky. Make it obvious you weren't going for crisp lines, and no one will question that it didn't turn out exactly as you'd planned.

I figure if you're too much of a perfectionist to loosen up and nail that shabby chic look, you're either (a) going to lose your mind during this exercise or (b) wouldn't let your kids wear patched play jeans anyway...

So loosen up. Relax. Pour yourself a glass of wine* and rid yourself of those idealist notions...

Happy patching!

* Never mind.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Adventures in YouTube: Retro Toons

Mr Lannis fires up YouTube, and this happens...

Me: Seriously?

Mr Lannis: I loved this song as a kid.

Me [shudder]: Seriously?

Mr Lannis: Yes. Seriously.

Me [closing laptop]: That's it. We're done. Clearly we're incompatible. 14 years together down the drain...

Mr Lannis [snort]: Hardly.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Attending Arguments

I've been missing for the last month. (Kind of.)

The reality is I've been exercising grace. (Kind of.)

Or well, that's how I like to think of it.

Mr Lannis would claim I'm babbling myself silly, ranting about our current provincial government's stellar ability to fuck up All The Things in the name of their bullshit election agenda.

But this post is not a political rant. I swear.

No, this is a Lesson from Pinterest.

Because lately? Lately I've been stuck in the Someone Is Wrong On the Internet mentality.

Gah, it's exhausting.

Self-appointing as the educator of all the idiots every misinformed person you encounter will burn you out quickly.


Hence this was a good thing to (re)discover on my Pinterest board...

Because it's true.

There are wrongs in this world. There are idiots spreading stupidity. Yes, you can change the world, yes, you need to speak up for wrongs.

But if it's becoming toxic? If it's controlling your days, beating through your veins, and making you miserable?

Forget it.

Just because someone doesn't agree with you and is clearly itching for a lively debate doesn't mean you need oblige them. The subtle pressure in your chest? That tick tick tick on the side of your throat? That's your blood pressure rising.

Step away. Exercise grace. Breathe.

You don't always have to have the last word, and I don't believe there's ever been a documented case of someone changing their mind because some random person on the Internet debated a subject so skillfully their opposition magically transformed into rational sense.

Seriously. Don't waste your energy.

Don't attend every argument you're invited to.

Your sanity will thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Adventures in YouTube: And Then There Was Sushi... on Their Heads.

To recap: Mr Lannis + YouTube = who knows what on any given day.

This particular installment is revisiting an incident from months ago because I keep teasing him, its burned into my memory, I still wonder why these girls are wearing sushi.

On their heads.

You can't make this up... see for yourself:

Monday, October 20, 2014

One of two things...

Of this I am certain: this guy is either missing a key word or is into human trafficking...

Just sayin'...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mr Lannis' Adventures in YouTube

So. If you know me on Facebook, you'll know Mr Lannis has a peculiar penchant for finding weird, crazy, bizarre, the most effed up shit I've ever seen on YouTube.

He'll sit on the couch, remote in hand, casually entering keywords into the screen on the TV, and BAM! there's some surreal Kpop video, or blooper reels of old movies, or creepy science experiments that would make Bill Nye proud.

It's his superpower.

It's been so entertaining, this random stream of clips. So much so I've decided that it should become a serial installment on this here blog, since, you know, it's happening Chez Lannis and all.

The inaugural installment? Apparently a 1980s police training video... enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Art of Purging a Fridge

First, let me just say for the record that I am against food waste.

I am that person who freezes leftover roast turkey meat for turkey pot pie or turkey stew when the family is no longer turkefied tired of eating turkey leftovers.

I'll feed the kidlets yogurt for after school snack when I know the best before date is approaching.

I freeze the leftover loaf of fresh white bread from stew to use as garlic bread at a later date.

I partition meals so there's likely no leftovers because Mr Lannis is really the only one in our family who is, er, enthusiastic about leftovers. (At this point in our marriage I'm certain he's at least part garbage disposal.)

Hell, today? Today I'm going to make a pear crisp because the remaining half a bag of pears from our Good Food Box last month went soft already.

Point being: I plan around ensuring there is no food waste.

Our fridge is managed the same way I manage the rest of our household... I budget. I shuffle. I plan. I move things around and plan meals based on best before dates. I write up a tentative schedule of meals based on what we currently have, and shop to obtain the niggly bits necessary.

I am also the only one who cleans and purges.

Mr Lannis will keep food in the fridge too long, forever, in the hope it will become a rotten, fermented mess and will one day—after the crash of civilization during the pending apocalypse—make us relatively rich in his will-be-assumed gourmet tendencies.

You know what this week is? Mr Lannis? He's on afternoon shift right now.

What does that mean? Well, aside from meaning I need to keep seven kids from being noisy so he can sleep in in the morning, it means the sweep out of the fridge is about to happen.

Dun dun DUN!

That salad dressing that's three days past its date but Mr Lannis insists he might remember to use in the next week? Gone.

The 1" chunk of wrinkly, part-frozen, Spanish onion sitting within the confines of not one but two Tupperware containers in order to contain its stink fragrance? Gone.

The three bread loaf heel slices sitting in separate bread bags that everyone has abandoned? Okay, busted, I put those in the freezer because I'm hoping to devise a reason to use them (bread crumbs for tourtière is likely)...

That bottle of smokey barbeque sauce that no one in the house likes but someone (hint: not me) HAD to have? Oh yeah, you can bet that bad boy's rinsed down the drain...

So yeah. While I laud The Mrs' old weekly challenge of no food waste—there definitely comes a time when the fridge needs purging...

And it's strategic... ensure the delusional would-be champion of food waste isn't around... heh.

Monday, September 29, 2014

LEGO-proof your register vents!

As the parent of a pair of Lego-rabid children, as well as a daycare provider, I have been brainstorming a solution to this problem for forever, as long as I can remember, since the dawn of time... er, let's just say I've now freed up a lot of my personal time...

Register vent + panty hose = no holes for those mofo Minifigures to fall through.

It's not difficult, either. All you need is a piece of panty hose that will cover the gaps in the register without stretching (you don't want it to snap back on itself thanks to tension). The idea is to keep it nice and lax so all gaps are covered while still allowing airflow thanks to the breathability of the stocking.

Initially I taped the stocking across the inside of the vent, before I realized the kids had knocked the plastic flow director off the inside of the freaking thing—no biggie, it better keeps the stocking in place, and I won't need to worry about the tape's adhesive being affected by the heat of the furnace come winter.

So. It's been two weeks, and guess what? No Lego down ze register vent... sanity restored.


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Highlight Reel

I am sick of the highlight reel.

Lately it’s become evident that I’m either in sudden contact with a slew of people who seem to forget that Facebook (and what people post on the Internet in general—with the exception of emo blogs, fanfic, Nyan cat, and gregarious hate speak), is the highlight reel of other people’s lives.

Guess what? Life don’t look like that. Nobody’s does.

Of course it’s natural to want to share the best events happening to us—large or small—but ofttimes the audience seems to forget that shit happens, yo. To everyone. For reals.

I’m not one to air my dirty laundry publicly (uh... except this is my blog, one where I documented my own medical journey... so... apparently I’m a freaking liar). In this instance, though, I’ll be overtly literal. At 4:55am I’ve just finished sorting four laundry loads that should have been washed last night but the hot water tank blew. Again. For the third time in 18 days.

This is my list of what life has been like in the last, oh 18 days... I’d round it off to two weeks, except that hot water heater seemed to mark the beginning of the shakedown, so I’m keen to stretch the timeline.

In the last 18 days I have:

- Gone five days without hot water, spread over three different technician visits to fix our hot water tank rental (yes, we rent in Ontario). That means my kids have discovered no hot water three times when they’ve attempted to fill the tub. And they've had three lukewarm-at-best baths.

- No hot water means I’ve also had to put off some necessary housecleaning. That master shower isn’t getting any less pink.

- I’ve had two cold showers (and I mean really cold—not residual-warm-water-in-tank cold). Thanks to this, my massage therapist wants to add another (possibly two) visits over the next two weeks. Apparently cold water + chronic neck and shoulder issues do not mix. (She claims she would have preferred me to show up dirty. Duly noted.)

- Been to the chiropractor seven times, and projected enough future visits to correct my spine that they’ve got me on a payment plan (whee, benefits).

- Discovered hilarious bike accident story from when I was 15 actually had invisible ramifications! The Bush Bunny story! You MUST know it—like, everyone on the planet's heard it. That time I went over the handlebars of my bike into the juniper bush on our lawn after hitting up the grocery store for ice cream? Yeah, hysterical. Company was over. It was delightfully mortifying. I still have a scar on my ass, and apparently easily two years’ worth of chiropractic ahead of me to correct the absurdly straight neck it gave me (the term is military neck, feel free to Google), along with inner ear issues (had to say goodbye to reading in cars, enjoying boat rides, and roller coasters). Oh, and it’s possibly the source I get to thank for my migraines, too.

- Had to repeat my history of being the medical exception. Again. And assure another professional that no, no, I’m not actually deaf in my left ear, despite the war zone appearance of that eardrum’s scarring.

- Been to the emergency room once (on a Saturday morning), to ensure that my inner ear problems thanks to the new chiropractic treatment are, in fact, actually inner ear problems and NOT a stroke (I wasn't panicking, I just wasn't being willfully ignorant since it would be two days before I next saw my chiropractor). Lucky for me, I failed every motor/neurological test administered on the spot, but passed with flying colours the test that says my inner ear is fucked. My eyes were tracking and I almost puked on Dr. O’s shoes—though he seemed pleased at that result, I don’t think it was for the implication his footwear almost became more fragrant.

- Speaking of strokes, in the last week I’ve spent $200 on my hair and hair products to see if it can retain some sort of body—and this is from a notoriously low maintenance girl who barely spends $100 including tip in a year—and while I’m enjoying the beachy waves I have going on, and look forward to finally being able to wash my hair tomorrow morning, whatever this is, I hesitate to call it permanent.

- Also in the realm of the superficial: despite getting my rampant Tim Horton’s addiction down to twice a week (someone throw me a party. Seriously. I deserve it), and being incredibly disciplined over the last month (unless you count the 1lb chocolate bar I devoured in three days), I’ve only lost one(?!) pound of the eight I would prefer to vanish so that I might not have to invest in an entirely new wardrobe. You know, now that stretchy-fabric weather summer is over. And good food season runs from October until January. I’m screwed.

- Used the fancy points earning/redemption system at my favourite grocery store, only to discover after checkout that my “tailored” rewards weren’t added to my account. This is the third call in three weeks to rectify it, and despite having Mr Lannis officially add me to the account, I’m apparently still a second class citizen unable to make executive decisions. ON FICTIONAL POINTS.

- More serious: I learned of four people whom I otherwise thought were fine are in actuality quietly suffering depression (all of whom live in the same hometown they grew up in. Coincidence? Hm). Attended the funeral for one who lost his battle.

- Yes. So. Funerals. Plural. Two, within six days. One for a dear auntie. The other for the boy who was my first kiss and prom date. Yep. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

- And depression of course, is a fearful concept to me, as it is closely linked with anxiety and I have an eight-year-old who has already been diagnosed with that. Oh, and in the last two weeks he’s come down after bedtime to complain of everything from the sun burning up, to the world running out of trees, to the misconception that noise pollution will fill up our atmosphere and choke us all to death. Fun times.

- And now, for the fourth day in a row, I’m up after only five hours sleep (so little I just spelt that 5ive. Oh joy). Is this a problem? Not particularly. It’s my ginseng in action and I’ll have a nap later.

- Oh, and not to be dismissed, but there have been copious migraine auras thanks to barometer swings (thunderstorms and cold temps, ahoy!), proximity to cloying perfumes (see funerals, and some loosely-related shopping therapy), and apparently the sucker-for-punishment stupidity that was less boring hair. So many migraines in need of blocking, that tomorrow when I go to the blood donor clinic, I half expect them to turn me away because my blood volume is half Advil Migraine Liqui-gels.

- The barometer has also made it tricky to predict how to dress, with one day last week being over 40c/104F, and today’s projected high being 14c/57F. I’m a sweaty girl. I’m not cool with these swings. It makes it all that much more difficult to adjust. And I like to know if I can bother opening the windows... though I do enjoy a good thunderstorm.

- Oh, and thanks to the chemically-induced brain befuddlement, I mistakenly keyed my deposit amount into the bank machine. So I get to wait until the bank adjusts the amount, while my money rests in limbo. Lovely.

- And last but not least, seasonal allergies. Have you tried to scratch your pallet? Pro tip: it doesn't work.

So. That’s my shit list. There’s more—there’s always more if you look for more. But that pretty much sums up our end. Lots of happy things happened on our end, too, not to be overlooked, including long overdue visits with family, and friends (hi, Nicole and Robyn!).

Contrary to what this list indicates, what have I posted to the blog? Nothing. While full of fluffy content, I realize it’s also a better reflection of what’s going on inside. So no, I haven’t felt like blogging. Facebook? Yes, there have been a few posts:

- Ranted in a humorous way about the water tank issue.

- I have posted a tidbit in a mini-serial (one I should probably begin publishing to the blog) about what Mr Lannis watches on YouTube. In this case it was the retro classic 99 Red Balloons redone with red balloons (I know, right? I’ve already watched the shit out of that video!)

- Posted a photo of the luxurious material I snagged for costuming—yay for Hallowe’en stock and costuming fun!

- Two half-assed gratitude post reshares of part of the work Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York is doing overseas.

- Photos from finally framing a print of Larry Elmore's artwork that I've had since April.

- Another half-assed reshare of the historical post on September 4th, commemorating how on that day in 1957, 15 year old Elizabeth Eckford encountered an angry mob when she was the first girl in Little Rock, Arkansas, to bridge the gap of the then-newly-deemed unconstitutional segregation. Brave girl.

- A passive aggressive status post about how Pinterest keeps emailing me telling me I’m qualified for a business account (Sorry to disappoint, Pinterest, but I’m still not a business).

- A photo of wordless Ikea instructions, since shopping therapy last week has been... er... expensive.

Is this a happy list? Is the first sad? No. There’s no emotion involved in a list. It’s all projected (even with my editorial ramblings). All emotion is projected from our minds—another thing that I’ve learned again and again over the years and have recently been reminded of (thanks to this video)—all emotion is in our heads, not our hearts. Our hearts simply pump blood.

Has it been a rough week? Invariably so. Am I upset? Currently no. I’m pretty much rocking my early morning tea in a delightfully calm got-up-early moment with the laptop.

Obviously if I dwell on the lives whose celebration ceremonies I attended last week it can been emotionally world-rocking. Naturally. But that’s grief. That’s coping.

The rest? Blargh. ::dismissive hand wave:: It’s all life. Whatever.

All of it together? Meh. I’ve walked through worse fires and emerged unscathed. Give me time, I’ll be fine. Always am. I’ve had better weeks, and I’ve had worse.

I bounce. I bounce well. I always have. It’s a skill. Read that again...

It’s. A. Skill.

Get good at it, people, because life holds no punches. You are not responsible for other people’s actions or reactions, only your own. Be accountable. Live. Learn. Move on.

Yes, I have been nominated for the gratitude posts on Facebook. Four times now. Four.

No, I don’t add them to my timeline. Personally, practicing gratitude—though it’s a very useful concept that I believe can be extremely helpful—is a private thing (much like grief). I don’t have a journal, I do, however, go out of my way to see things through other people’s eyes, and to be actively grateful for my own lot in life.

And this list? This isn’t even a blip on the radar. Life goes on. I laugh at it, because the universe has thrown me worse, and I only ever emerge stronger. I mean, what’s a few days of inner ear problems when you stood pregnant next to your mother’s casket? What’s a few days without hot water when you went a month unable to use your arms after you’d maimed yourself in the interests of cancer-free longevity?

Perhaps it's perspective. Perhaps it’s terminal realism again. Whatever it is, honing the skill was difficult in the moment but oh so valuable in the long run.

All I know is I have it fucking good, even on my darkest days.

I'm sick of listening to entitlement issues. I'm sick of watching people consume the highlight reel on Facebook and compare that to their own situation only to find it wanting. Of course it's found wanting. It's unrealistic!

Life is not all sunshine and fucking rainbows, people. It's life. It's called life, not fun-happy-time.

This rant is not brought about by interacting with any one person in particular—quite the contrary, there's a myriad of factors at work. In the last two weeks I’ve encountered enough people that I’m into the double digits in my tally of those who are wallowing, mindfully ungrateful for their blessings. I have nothing against venting. But so much of how we are affected by life is through our own perspective of events, and when you constantly find your lot disappointing, you're poisoning your own mind.

You're your own toxic enemy.

Choose to be stronger.

Choose to laugh.

Choose resilience.

So if this rant seems to pertain to you, it might, but likely indirectly. Maybe there’s something in here to learn (for the record, most of the people I’m thinking of don’t know I have a blog—let alone a name, heh—one is a celebrity, and I’m 99% sure the lady at Costco is completely unaware I even exist. Despite having to walk around me while complaining into her phone).

Never be arrogant enough to believe it’s about you. It likely isn't.

And lest this list be misconceived ranting about people who are clinically depressed needing to own their shit and stop whining—it’s most definitely not. It might be a reality check for anyone else out there who thinks everyone else's life is perfect... in actuality this is only a list. And a rant. Because some people need to hear the truth...

The highlight reel is just that: highlights.

And never forget that it’s a phonetical misnomer: it’s not real at all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bunny Bites

Ever get a notion stuck in your head and it eats its way through your brain? Something that begins quite logically, but slowly morphs from reasoned to rabid?

Yeah. Right now I have that. About rabbits.

Er, well, one rabbit. A bunny.

Not a certain one in particular, just the notion of a bunny. An aesthetically pleasing bunny, to be sure, as I enjoy aesthetically pleasing pets (if I'm giving you free room, board, and healthcare, you'd damn well be pretty to look at in return).

I've never had a bunny. My life has been bunny-less. Bunnyland is unchartered territory.

It's not even that the kidlets are bugging for one. It's me. I would like a bunny, and even as the person of the household who would be saddled with 99.9% of said bunny's care, the idea still appeals.

Rationally I know it's likely not a great, good, sane idea with Minette around. She's a cat. A cat's cat—she allows us to coexist in her house, as we have opposable thumbs and thus can more easily access the cat food, and water that hasn't touched the toilet bowl. And before she made the executive decision to be an indoor cat, she was a damn fine huntress.

Of course, she hasn't killed anything larger than an insect in years. Hell, the day Hamster got out of his cage we found her sitting primly about two feet from him, regarding him calmly in the middle of the living room carpet. They both turned to blink at Mr Lannis and me when we entered the room, as if we'd interrupted some pet pow wow of unknown importance.

However, after speaking to a representative of our local Humane Society, it would seem the missing a-hole Moggie's disappearance is basically textbook behaviour of a young female run off by an older territorial female (Minette—prissy thing she is). And Minetters does tend to lose her shit, go berserk if there's another cat in our yard, hissing, spitting, and growling in a seizure-like frenzy.

She's eleven, and healthy head to toe. She clearly prefers a single cat household.

But I'd like to adopt a bunny.

I'm home a lot. It would be out of the cage much of the day and crated at night. I keep reminding myself that it would be best to wait until Minette's kicked it, has passed before we enter into another long term pet commitment, since anything before that would be a possibly conflicting pet scenario.

At this rate, Minette will likely survive us all, and if not, then she'll be our anecdote about a bizarre long-lived cat everyone seems to carry in their back pocket—you know what I mean... how your great aunt's friend had a 27 year old cat they assumed was immortal until it got smoked by a train.

Yes. Minette will be around for years.

But I'd like to adopt a bunny.

And apparently our Humane Society allows for month-long fostering to see if the bunny's a good fit for our family...

It's crept into my head, this idea of mine, and has slowly gained urgency for no apparent reason.

Kind of like the boys' need for Hamster. And our subsequent aquarium. Oh, and those weirdos that are the frogs.

So while I know rationally I need to wait for a rabbit, I've been bitten by the bunny bug...

Place your bets... I'm thinking by spring we'll have a bouncy new friend (shhh... don't Mr Lannis)...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You're kidding... right?

Kijiji find. I don't even know how to properly introduce this...

Ad text reads as follows:

Date listed: 11-Jun-14
Address: Canada, La Porte, TX 77571, USA

I'm looking for help organizing my business & myself. I've doing a lot of things I would like Meet and show you everything, for you to help out. I personally can't pay you but I'm pretty sure the government will cuz [sic] I am disabled and can get soooo [sic] much from the government.


Do I want this to be a joke? I don't even know at this point...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Beauty Shots of Chairs

Yes, this is actually a blog post celebrating my chairs.

Oh, pffft, don't act like you believe that title is the weirdest concept you've ever read on this blog. (Two words: Zombie Tits. You're welcome.)

'Round about a year ago I found myself browsing Kijiji and signed myself up for a refinishing project of an extent that my wee pea brain could not fathom. Looking back it was the $50 price tag for a ten piece solid wood dining set that rattled the sense out of my head, as I clearly had no concept of what I was getting into*...

Slowly, ever so slowly, this dining set—the chairs in particular—has undergone a magical transformation. Sections of wood have become darker with age, creating a patchwork effect of reds and browns to accompany the original tiger stripes I loved so much.

I've tried my best to capture the effects on camera, but the true vibrancy of the wood is lost through a lens.

Thanks to a $50 initial investment, another $375 in supplies, and two and a half months of elbow grease, I've been left with a unique dining set I couldn't love more.

No regrets.

(Okay, there're probably a few, as any refinishing project is an adventure in itself, but they've disappeared—blame the fumes of chemical stripper and polyurethane.)

So yes: beauty shots of chairs.

*For the record: no, I haven't refinished the quarter sized hole in the table's polyurethane coat. The kids haven't picked at it, either (shocker, yes?). The table's stain has lightened--a lovely green swathe down the middle--but there's nothing about this table I'm not willing to live with for the next five or six years, when we're planning our big kitchen reno, invest in a new dining set, and this one will be relegated to the basement. Or I could bite the bullet and refinish the tabletop... (nah...)

Monday, August 18, 2014


Once upon a time I took the kidlets blueberry picking... and we brought home enough blueberries for four households...


Berry picking pro tip: check your recipes before you head out so you have an idea of how many berries you, you know, need.

(Who knew blueberry bread needed only a measly single cup of blueberries?! Learn from my mistakes, yo.)

Berry picking happened four days ago. As of today (day four with berries) we have made:

- two blueberry pies
- two lemon blueberry loaves
- one batch of blueberry jam (that's five 500ml jars)
- blueberry pancakes

And have basically had fresh blueberries as dessert at every freaking meal. Including breakfast.

This is what we're left with:

That's easily three litres of berries... GAH!

I can't prove it, but I think they're breeding in the fridge when we're not looking.

Naturally there are many upsides to our situation. Blueberries tend not to go straight to mush like raspberries or strawberries, we've enjoyed local summer fruit in a variety of ways, and the boys have discovered the, er, other benefit of copious blueberry consumption (I'll be glad when they stop calling me to the washroom, as the event is not as fascinating for me as it is for them, trust).

And the lemon blueberry bread recipe is a new one. Not only new, but a recipe that turned out exactly as pictured online.

Not going to lie: it gave me a thrill. Delicious and pretty. Yum.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mr Lannis Shouldn't Be Allowed to Leave Me Alone. Ever.

When I opened the laundry room entrance to the garage in flew THE GIANT BLACK HORNET THING and I ran like a mofo to the back of the house before a part of my brain said, "MR LANNIS IS IN OTTAWA AT KARATE CAMP! YOU ARE THE PROTECTOR OF YOUR HOUSE, YOUR CHILDREN, AND YOUR FURNITURE AND JUNK!"

And I was all, "GAH! NO! I just washed the sheets, they're divine! HE CAN'T HAVE THEM!"

So I ran back in and rummaged through the coat closet, and under two sinks before I abandoned ever locating the fly swatter* and hit the laundry room for the dust wand, tore off the reusable microfiber pad, and proceeded to track down THE GIANT BLACK HORNET THING which was easy because apparently when you're a GIANT BLACK HORNET THING your buzz sounds like a motorboat of DEATH!

And there he was, bumped up on the trim of the front door, so I HIT HIM! YES! I used said dollar store duster to pummel THE GIANT BLACK HORNET THING into a jammy smear on the glass, successfully protecting my children and junk from certain doom.

Raising my dust wand in triumph, I bellowed, "YOU CAN'T HAVE THIS HOUSE! I AM A NINJA!" And the kidlets came running in from the backyard because despite their usually selective hearing apparently when your mother shouts about ninjas your radar goes berserk.

At which point they regarded the smear and were all, "That's not what a ninja does, Mom. A ninja fights crime."

Pffft. Kids.

*The fly swatter, which was discovered hanging on a nail on the way to the basement, which proves that when you really need something you'll never remembered where you put it. Or you're me.

Monday, August 11, 2014


And then Sandi at The Mrs came out of blogging seclusion* and was all, "bam! bam! bam! BAM! Look at all mah glorious posts!"

And that competitive little gremlin my brain went cross-eyed and replied, "well, BAM! Look at all mah glorious sheets!"

Yes, Sandi, I washed all the bedding in the house, hung it on my triple lines, and then took a picture. Because you may have won the blogging battle, but HOUSEWIFERY AND BLOGGING, BOOYAH!

Kind of like Jane Eyre and Jayne Cobb, better together, no?

Wait... this might be lost in translation... I possibly need more tea...

* Blogging seclusion: Otherwise known as conducting a household with three kids under six, two successful businesses, and one major kitchen/roof/who-knows-what-all-by-now renovation.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Busy Bees

Soooo... I have extra kids over the summer. Some weeks more than most.

This week has been particularly busy with six kids each day and apparently I'm aiming to lose my mind, outdo myself, misbehave, launch myself into the middle of next week before I know what hits me, earn the right to wear my long weekend drunkypants...

In the last four days we have:

- baked four loaves of quick bread (one plain zucchini, one zucchini and raisin, one zucchini and chocolate chip, one raspberry banana chocolate chip), and a dozen muffins (zucchini chocolate chip)
- gone to the park four times
- gone to the pool once (it's been hovering between 17c/62F—25c/77F all week or we'd've been there more)
- painted pet rocks
- made Rice Krispie squares
- gone to the local independent movie theatre (for the $2 per person 10am matinee of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2)
- eaten two and a half watermelons
- visited the local secondhand bookstore for new reads
- attempted to fly kites (Monday was windy, but apparently not windy enough.)
- cut two boys' hair
- performed science experiments à la Bill Nye [♥]
- cleaned three bathrooms (one of my kidlets was caught not flushing so the punishment was to scrub all the toilets in the house—in the interest of supervision I cleaned the remainder of said bathrooms while he scrubbed away)
- washed and hung seven eight loads of laundry on the line, folded and put them away (with kidlet help)
- gone foraging for food grocery shopping (blessedly alone)
- and (la pièce de résistance) tie dyed shirts

It's all worth it.

The days are gone before I know it, but the kids're busy and content.

And the shirts are marvelous.

Happy summer!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green - Book Review

Rating: 3.5/5 - Great if you’re in the mood for it, only okay if you’re not.

Title: The Fault in our Stars

Author: John Green

Format: ebook

Published: 2012

Young Adult

  Dutton Books

Landed in my hands: purchased myself

Summary (from Amazon.ca):

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.


Here’s the thing: I found this book to be highly predictable. I reached the 75% mark on Kindle and I knew exactly what was going to happen next. Actually, I predicted how the ending went down. About the only thing I didn’t predict was some of the snappy dialogue.

Why do I think it was predictable? I figure it was because I’ve lived it. (Figuratively, of course.) Having a loved one struggle with cancer allows to you realize that everyone battling cancer has a story of tragedy, one that involves a struggle for meaning in a meaningless world.

Yes, there is that much desperation and sadness walking around you. Yes, there are that many people contemplating the meaning of life, death, and whether a handful more days is worth the torture of having more poison injected into them.

That's the reality of cancer.

And I’ll grant that that’s the strength of this book—bringing identifiability to cancer victims. If readers discover themselves empathizing more with those with the illness, seeing a bit of Hazel or Gus in someone else’s disease-ravaged frame, that might be a good thing. I’m all for the general public learning compassion, and if The Fault In Our Stars brings a bit of humanity to the story of others who could use some compassion, well, good job and rock on, Mr Green.

I was pleased to see he dabbles into the semi-taboo realm of morbid humour that often accompanies terminal illness. It's a quirk that many adopt when dealing with mortality, one that can be off-putting to outsiders. It's well portrayed in the novel, especially a passage late in the narrative, when the teens’ sarcasm bounces back and forth, peppy and realistic, illustrating well the gallows humour that accompanies the situation. As subscriber to gallows humour, I loved it.

But again, though I’ve heard people rave about this book, I found it felt contrived. For example (without getting too spoilery), the dichotomy of Augustus' name—how Hazel splits him into larger than life Augustus and regular, touchable Gus—it was great until the split was forced into the reader's view by another character mentioning it. Then it became clunky. I've always preferred subtlety and trusting your reader is intelligent enough to piece together what you hand them.

Granted, this is a young adult novel, but I don't believe that is an excuse.

Though I’ll give Green props: he’s only included details that are pertinent to the story—nothing appeared random or superfluous to distract from the narrative—and it tied up into a tidy little package with nothing left dangling. Though perhaps that’s where the predictability comes into play. I’m still not entirely sure if it’s because I’ve seen someone battle cancer up close and have realized that these questions of morbid depth are ones that are asked when swimming in terminal waters, or if the story itself was predictable on its own.

Overall, this novel is highly readable, but that snarly predictability is the source of my rating: great if you’re in the mood for it, only okay if you’re not.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

African Dwarf Freaks

It occurs to me that it's been a while since I've mentioned our aquarium.

Believe it or not, it's still here, and we're still swimming. Some of them are even original residents (though not all, as we had a hands on lesson in letting an eight year old overfeed a tank and subsequent nitrate wipe out. It's okay though, lesson learned. Just keep swimming—right?).

So. After our levels were balanced again, I took a whack of kidlets (whack = four) to the fish store, and we stupidly came home with—ready for this?

African. Dwarf. Frogs.

Three of them. Why? Oh, because the fish store says they do better in groups.

(Better in groups my arse—UPSALE! There I am, four kids in tow with sucker tattooed on my forehead.)

Yeah, I hardly believe it myself, because these buggers? Barf. They're not exactly high on the aesthetically pleasing scale for pets.

Not only that, but they're kind of stupid. They just sit there.

See him? Yep. There he is... the creeper in the tube. That's his favourite spot.

No, really. He just stares.

Creeper. You can't make this up.

Weird, right? And sometimes he pokes out a bit. But not much.

Occasionally he'll do it a bit more than others. But usually only enough to make you wonder, "WTF is he doing?!"

Of course the answer is probably smelling your soul or eating your dreams something equally unnerving. Weirdo.

And you'll think, "hm. Maybe he's coming out of there..." Nope. No, he's actually going to rest there for the next five minutes, lazily creeping out of the tube, until he eventually realizes he needs air and zips straight up to the surface—

Nah, just kidding. That looks like an action shot, right? Haha—nope! That bastard's decided to dangle himself out of that goddamn tube. Because patience is a freaking virtue or some other after school special lesson he's supposed to be teaching me the kids.

Maybe it's frog anatomy. (Possibly.)

It's not that they're slow (though cognitively it's possible... they can't seem to find their food even when I distract the guppies and tetras and it's right in front of them. Buncha tools).

No, they flit to the surface faster than I've seen any of our fish swim, and then pull a record breaking U-turn and crash nose first into the gravel bottom.

I've come to the conclusion they are not the brightest pet.

Though perhaps one of the creepiest...

"How YOU doin'?"

Monday, July 14, 2014

One day it will end...

[8:52pm, my eight-and-an-all-important-half year old boy, R, meekly descends the stairs after bedtime.]

R: Mom, I'm too angry to sleep.

Me: What's wrong?

R: I can't stop worrying. And it's making me angry. And my brain won't shut up.

Me: Come here.

[R crawls into my lap, all coltish knees and elbows, slinging his arms loosely about my neck. He's my one who needs softer parenting, who tries so hard to be good he cries when things fall apart at the seams, who wants the world to be black and white and perfectly straight lines and easy decisions, because everything should always be right and fair. He's my one who's content to be alone tinkering on a project by himself for hours, whose shoulders cinch up at a cross word, who barks at peers because his nerves are so easily set on edge. He's my one diagnosed with mild anxiety.]

Me: What are you worrying about?

R: I'm worried about the end of the world.

[I look into his eye and answer sincerely, with the slightest trace of a smile—not a condescending one, but a relieved smile that this pop parenting quiz is less sticky than I'd imagined, what with the outbreak of summer; parents speaking of world politics within boy earshot; the eight year old's newly found and quickly voiced mortification at random acts of parenting; and our recent policy of battling anxiety through honesty—by allowing him to learn what is going on inside his own head to better understand why he gets distressed, and thereby helping him slay the monster and giving him more control over his agitation. (It's all baby steps. And so far it's working for us.)]

Me: Well. You are not the first person to worry about that. At all. I think everyone at some point in their life has worried about the end of the world. You are not alone. Does that help?

R [sighs]: Yes.

Me: Does it also help to know that you don't need to worry about it because it's likely not going to happen in your lifetime? The world has been trucking for a long time, and it'll keep trucking after we're gone.

[I erred on the side of NOT discussing climate change with my anxious eight year old at bedtime. Sue me.]

R: Yes.

Me: And who's job is it to worry?

R: Yours.

Me: Right. And you did the right thing, coming to talk to me. Always come and talk to me. Especially if your brain won't shut off with worry. Do I help?

R: Always.

Me: Okay. Off to bed. Love you.

R [Unfolds himself from my lap and kisses my cheek.]: Love you too.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spoiled Rotten

This morning when I came into the kitchen I was met with a surprise. On the counter was a puddle. An expansive one. Clear, but not water.

Well, not exactly.

Our watermelon rotted.

Poor cat, at first I accused her of knocking over a water glass. She was insulted. Sorry, Minette.

No. No, this teeny, tiny, mini watermelon—home from the grocery store a measly three days—had cracked and spilled faintly foul-smelling water across the counter.

I'm lucky it didn't drip into the crack between the counter and the stove. Ugh.

It was deflated. The rind no longer felt solid, and when touched it had the give of an under-inflated basketball. I've never seen anything like it.

So I'm sharing. Because I've already made four kids poke it, and showed my underwhelmed Mr Lannis (of course this evokes his bemused bafflement by my need to broadcast the peculiarities of Mother Nature and isn't it cool that this happened without a mark on the rind?! Yesterday this entire melon was completely firm! Fascinating... WHY IS HE NOT CAPTIVATED?!).

One torn, soft, putrid watermelon. And please enjoy the dirty splendor of our sink. I'm full of gifts today. You're welcome.

I blame Mr Lannis' defunct grocery shopping. This shit never happens when I'm on duty...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why do I read last?

Why? Why is it that the last thing I get to on my mental list each day is read?

And we're talking the ultimate last thing: after laundry, and housekeeping, and kid activities, and baking, and organizing, and gardening, and meals, and... and... and...

And everything else that would be done if the day had more than a measly 24 hours to its name.

Oh, sure, I read newspaper articles and Internet blogs, but I'm talking about books.

Fiction. Stories. Transport-me-to-another-realm epic tales. Literary fiction. YA lit. Classics. Zombie apocalypse thrillers. Smut. Anything.

Why is reading—one of my favourite pastimes in this ever-loving world—dead last?

Which means, if you're keeping score: it doesn't happen. (Gasp!)

I know, right? I'm a reader for crying out loud!

Hell, right now I'm even blogging during a rare kid-free moment instead of reading. (And as we can clearly tell that doesn't happen very often nowadays, either.)

This needs to change. My Kindle currently holds 78 unread books, and my To Read list is umpteen kilometres long (which is really long, for my metrically-challenged friends, trust).

And it's summer.

Summer. The historically relaxed time of year, when one can take the time to lounge, sleepy-eyed under an atrociously floppy hat and the unforgiving glare of the sun, and read.

So. I'm making myself a pledge to read this summer.

I will unplug. I will sit. I will—despite maintaining a schedule chock full of daycare charges—pretend I am on vacation. I will put up my feet. Keeping dishes, laundry, and lack-of-ants a priority, I will pretend our house is a cottage and maintain a minimal level of housework.

I. Will. Read.

(Wish me luck.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bridging Boundaries

Over the last two months I’ve had two instances where I was struck dumb by the peculiar constraints of our society... completely separate incidents where I shared a moment with a stranger that resonated deeply.

So deeply, in fact, that I longed to step closer and embrace them.

Yes, a hug.

And yet... I didn’t.

This desire to embrace a stranger—in one case my airline seatmate, in the other a local dog walker who is little more than an acquaintance—was so strong and so poignant that it’s been tumbling in my brain ever since. This unfulfilled action has left me uncomfortable; as if I’ve let them down somehow. Logically I know this is not true.

And yet...

The first instance (my airline seatmate on my way home from JordanCon in April—hi, Gabe!) was clearer cut in terms of whether a hug would be well-received (I believe yes), and yet societal norms would certainly deem it over-stretching my boundaries (he was a complete and utter stranger).

Gabe is a gentleman who two hours earlier had never before crossed my path, and likely never will again in my lifetime. Traveling for business, he exuded the type of bubbly positivity and self-deprecating humour one adopts as a terminal realist, a trait instantly recognizable to me.

Over the course of our flight we spoke nonstop. First chitchat, then topics of grander scope; oddly the type of soulful conversations that rarely emerge in everyday life. In a winding way we touched upon everything from meeting our spouses, the trials of parenting, the depth of emotional ties to people we used to know, and more.

We share the philosophy that life introduces you to people for a purpose. By the end of the flight he had decided I was a lesson to him in proactive healthcare in regards to genetic conditions. From him I learned (again) that life is always more complex, that the universe is ironic in its humour, and that sometimes people whom society classifies as victims will never stop being heroes.

We kept talking straight up until we deplaned, and walked together to customs before having to separate—he being a US citizen, and myself entering my home country of Canada. We stood saying our polite goodbyes at the entrance of a maze of retractable queue dividers, suddenly awkward. We grinned at each other, thanked each other, and I’m certain we were both viscerally aware that hanging in the silence between us was the expectant and natural inclination to hug farewell.

Yet we were strangers mere hours before.

Despite this brief yet resonating secret-sharing friendship, I clutched my carry on bag and purse, grateful for full arms, said a final goodbye and tottered off down my customs queue.

I regret that I didn’t hug Gabe.

The second instance was less clear in terms of society’s customary distance.

Isaac (sure, we’ll call him that) is my favourite dog walker (there’s a quiet competition for the title—though the only prize you win is that of me gabbing your ear off on a semi-regular basis). Since we moved in almost four years ago he has habitually been found traipsing our street with his black lab, an infectiously sunny attitude, and a level of sarcastic humour that impresses as much as it tickles me. Through friendly chats we’ve learned a bit about each other, including that we share the creative bug (me for writing, him for composing music), as well as an alarming gift for gab. (Turns out his wife was also one of my home care nurses in 2012. Small world.)

For much of the spring, Isaac has been missing. Mr Lannis and I noted it, but because our neighbourhood is increasingly more developed and the number of people using the now house-lined-street-but-used-to-be-empty-fields as a dog park have petered out, we figured Isaac had chosen to take his dog somewhere else for their daily constitutionals. 

This was half right.

Not long ago I was in the yard when down the sidewalk came Isaac and his lab in their customary saunter. To which I began to engage in our customary small talk, including razzing him about his absence of late.

Turns out he’d be hospitalized for three weeks due to a health crisis—an aneurysm, to be exact (though the details of which I’ll keep to myself since it’s not my story to tell), and has been recovering slowly ever since.

And yet again, a mild conversation morphed into something more right before my eyes. Genuinely concerned, I politely inquired while apologizing for prying (if it were considered such), and he graciously answered my questions without glossing up the facts or watering down the severity of his treatment and subsequent prognosis.

He shared with me his struggles to cope in the aftermath, giving me a picture of the devastation this event had had on his quality of life. It was a real conversation, one with depth you’d not expect to receive from a person who regularly walks your sidewalk with a quick wink and a cheery hello.

It was frightening to hear, especially as a fellow migraine sufferer. Having axed breast cancer, the next likely critical health hazard to befall me would be an aneurysm. Isaac and I spoke quietly of the direction of his recovery, and I longed to ask if he was composing again, or if that were even a possibility on his horizon. I’m not sure if he saw it shining in my eyes, but the tragic air about him quieted the question on my lips.

When it was time for him to move along—his canine friend was insisting—I stood there numbly.

I wanted to hug him.

And yet other than a handful of sentences every week or so, I barely know him.

Social convention said it was weird. That I was weird, for wanting to step across the invisible line that separates us humans and admit that we’re all of us similar and in need of compassion. Because that’s exactly what held me—requesting a hug would have allowed him to decline if he hadn't been comfortable with it, but no, there were those invisible ties of social convention, keeping me from comforting another person for no other reason than it’s kind of weird and he might not accept a hug from you, you weird stranger-hugging hippie.


Instead, I took a step back, breaking the spell, and asked him to please pass along my pleasantries to his wife.

But it bugs me. It reminded me anew of Gabe, and the two incidents kicked up turmoil within me.

And let’s admit it here: I’m not one to have difficulties speaking with strangers—given the proper opening and a moment or two, I usually receive a laugh for a joke or walk away with a good story about how I freaked out another person with my sarcastic, quirky humour. So for me to be frozen on the edge of acting, unsure of whether to leap or stand still is an uncomfortable place for me.

It bothers me.

I’m more at ease making my way through social interactions with good-natured bumbling and mocking my own self-awareness.

To stand and do nothing, then walk away...? It unsettles me.

In both instances the children of these gentlemen would be my contemporaries, but that wasn’t the part of social convention holding me back. In fact, both treated me as my own father would have—as an intelligent person capable of holding meaningful conversations, not as a potential partner. In truth, I can admit I’ve shared philosophical and moving insights with both these men who have generously shared wisdom of lives I never will live.

I have been given a gift.

I think that’s my innate issue with this...  I was given a gift, and I did not thank them properly.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Keep my glass full...

I haven't been very active on here lately, but no worries--I'm still kicking around, but my brain has been occupied with things other than bloggity-blogging.

One of which being this particular earworm... so I'm sharing.

If you've managed to avoid being introduced to Sia's song "Chandelier" and the jarring finesse of 10-year-old dancer Maddie Ziegler's performance in the video, well... I'll apologize in advance for enabling.

Seriously. Addicting. I can't simply listen to it in the background on the laptop, I must stare at the video every time it plays... it's that goddamn mesmerizing.

And I love everything about this video--the swells of music, the unconventional majesty of Sia's voice, the identifiable lyrics, the bleak setting, the awkward-yet-graceful movements, the spin of Maddie's platinum wig...


Even the petal pink paint and indecipherable scribbles on her hands intrigue more than annoy.


Hell, the melodrama of this entire package somehow avoids feeling contrived and functions so seamlessly as a powerful and haunting message of mental instability that I adore it all to itty bitty bits.

I've even watched Sia and Maddie's live performance on The Ellen Show multiple times, too, just to watch Maddie's spellbinding dance from another perspective.

Serious time suckage here, folks. An intervention might be required.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Emergency Clothes Bag

I cleaned out our disgustingly filthy eight-months-of-winter-garbage van. Finally.

In the back we have a green bag. It's not pretty; its strap is broken, the sides are stained, but it holds a fair amount. It's a bag that twice a year I assess and update.

It's the emergency clothes bag.

And yes, it only comes out of the van about twice a year. Its job is to sit patiently in the event of its need, and it does its job well.

Inside it contains (for each boy):

- t shirt
- sweater
- jeans
- shorts that can double as swim trunks
- socks
- underpants
- old towel

This bag has existed in some form or another since the boys were babies.

Other things that have resided in the bag over the years:

- even more extra clothes
- pajamas
- extra hat and mitts (in winter)
- two dinky cars (one per boy, or one for each hand, depending on number of kidlets)
- wet wipes
- extra diapers (when they were small)
- receiving blanket (kind of like a panic towel, but magically made of flannel)
- change of shirt for me (back when spontaneous kidlet pukage was a more common event)

Our boys are currently aged 7 and 8, and this bag is still vital. Why? Because now that they're older we have more options of activities.

An unexpected swim? We've got it covered. Hip-deep in mud Have a spill and need to change? No problem. Decide to stick around for an unplanned bonfire? Here're some long sleeves. Weather not as cold as the meteorologists predicted? No biggie, put on these shorts.

And because despite being a planner I occasionally drop the ball find myself doing something spontaneous, and my OCD can't handle it I like to know I have this contingency bag packed. It's there, and I don't have to think about it unless something comes out, in which case I need to ensure a replacement goes back in.

Besides, I have a van. A van. A vehicle with enough room in the back to pack all kinds of emergency gear. I'd carry a porta-potty if it'd fit (true story: during the toilet training stage we had an extra potty in the back for emergency purposes. There was many a roadside stop).

So this bag? This bag is sanity, my friend. If you've got kids and enough room in your vehicle I highly recommend packing one for your family.

If you can think of anything else to add to the bag, feel free to let'er rip in the comments

Monday, May 19, 2014

THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger - Book Review

Rating: 4/5 -  A satisfying read that’s worth every word.
Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Author: Audrey Niffenegger

trade paperback, ebook


Genre: romance, science fiction, speculative fiction

Publisher: Vintage Canada

Landed in my hands:
purchased myself

Summary (from cover blurb):

When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity form his life, past and future. Henry and Clare’s attempts to live normal lives are threatened by a force they can neither prevent nor control, making their passionate love story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable. The Time Traveler’s Wife is a story of fate, hope and belief, and more than that, it’s about the power of love to endure beyond the bounds of time.


This book has been on my To Read list since its publication. After seeing the film I needed to wait until my recollection was fuzzy before I hit the pages, and by the time I decided to give it a go I discovered I owned multiple copies—a hardcopy on my bookshelf and an ebook copy. Apparently I’ve been, uh, determined to read this title.

So glad I did.

Why? Well, because it’s that rare book that thanks to its concept is a different type of story than anything else on my shelf. The Time Traveler’s Wife has a circular narrative that questions fate, and analyzes the connection between two people; how a fundamental relationship that circles back and forth through time molds them into who they eventually become. A nature over nurture kind of thing with a dash of chicken or the egg philosophy.

I expected fluff, so I was pleased to discover this is a book that makes you think.

There were surprises in this novel, too. I was glad to see that Henry’s time traveling ability did not exist in a bubble. Yes, out of necessity he needs to hide it from many people, but it’s remarkable how many characters in the story are aware of it. There is a the supportive community that develops around Henry, and it's interesting to see how they are affected by his affliction.

I enjoyed the writing, too. Niffenegger has lovely authentic-feeling diction, giving the characters individuality, as well as lending warmth to the writing that makes you anticipate your next chance to return to the narrative; it’s homey, natural, and comforting.

It’s soft science fiction, and it’s romance. The Time Traveler's Wife is not some fantastical jaunt across time that relies on its readers to stretch the limits of their ability to suspend disbelief; no, it feels genuine—as if this story could actually happen, or is happening now (tomorrow? yesterday? heh).

I get giddy with the thought of this book's potential to be a gateway drug for women into science fiction. I’ve always read genres that defied so-called gender norms, and sadly I’m aware I buck the trends. Though the demographic of female speculative fiction readers is rising, these are ultimately genres dominated by male readers and writers.  

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel that will let realism readers ease into the waters of speculative fiction without causing a ripple of discomfort. It's my hope that with this book perhaps some female genre-snobs might be enlightened, realizing that good stories can and do exist outside of the realism label, and that maybe they’ll find something different that strikes heartstrings while sparking imagination at the same time.