April 30, 2006

Corn St. and Easter Island

Every Sunday morning, I don't watch Cornonation Street. I overhear it, as Brad the Nut actually sets his alarm to get up to watch. He and my sister call each other at the good parts - yes, it apparently has good parts - and twitter like a couple of maiden aunts. Brad was born in England, and explains it is therefore in his blood. I remind him he moved here when he was two.

I read the paper and drink copious amounts of tea, the only remnants of Britishness my mother's heritage instilled in me. My father's Germanness apparently just left me cranky and opinionated. His words, not mine.

For anyone debating whether I'm all the way crazy or not, this story in the NYT made me so happy. I've been a big fan of playwright Edward Albee since high school, and my dream trip before I die is to get to Easter Island. That's the place they have those huge statues, and it's the only place on the planet I feel weirdly drawn to. The family makes fun of me. I let them. Some things you can explain, some things you can't.

There was stink last week because the LCBO was hawking those French wines in tetrapacks. A local politician was incensed that they weren't exclusively pushing Canadian wines. Today's Toronto Star has mentioned the only thing that really matters: the wines are crappy.

On the lighter side, Keith Richards has fallen out of a tree. Okay, it may be too easy a hit, but this guy was mysterious enough without adding to the enigma. I mean, he already looks like his face is held on with safety pins, but I'm dying to know how he got up into a palm tree. On second thought, maybe I'm not.

I'll be working on an auto column today. I loved this piece in Slate that finally summed up my take on used cars. Not a snobby thing at all, just a leery uneasiness about anything someone else is getting rid of. Distrusting bunch, aren't we?

April 29, 2006


Marc was at a friend's last night. I told him to call home by 9. By 10, he hadn't (he was staying over) so I fired up the old MSN. I got his little brother to email to the friend's house to remind him. Jackson typed in CALL HOME NOW OR DIE!!!.

The phone rang immediately.

Instant messaging indeed.

Now, with absolutely no segue...anyone else think Kevin Costner is just the biggest pig on the planet? Caught doing that in front of a masseuse on - wait for it - his honeymoon??? I remember thinking he was so hot in Bull Durham. He was even arrogantly okay in Dances With Wolves. And then, I think he just let his ego blow up his career. I'd always hoped he'd maybe ressurect the old Kev, get control again. But this isn't the way I imagined him taking matters in hand...

Ever notice that the Saturday papers are a whole lot of weight with almost no meat?

April 28, 2006

Computing What Matters

Ah, an eventful day in blog world. Last night's appearance on CH sparked some high fives, and some ire. Keeping kids safe on the Internet is not a party you should be showing up fashionably late for. I will never ever understand parents that take their lead from their preteens and young teens when it comes to rules and regulations.

My kids know they do not live in a democracy. They are heard, they are respected, and they are expected to adhere to the rules I set out for their safety and well-being. I'm the first to admit I'm not hugely strict about some things - nobody has to make their bed - but you'd better believe I'm an ogre about what goes into their stomachs and their minds. My job is to make sure they're ready to be thinking, independent young men when the time comes.

But the real issue is that you can't start implementing all this when they turn 12 or 13. If your kids already know they can end run you, it's already game over. They push and push and push because they want you to stand firm.

Children want to be heard. So listen to them. They want attention. So give it to them. I wish I could tell every father to spend as much time with his daughter as he can, and give her all the male attention she's craving. No matter how ornery she may become, you have the chance to be the most important man in her life. Set the standard of treatment high for her.

Sigh. The Internet is only another factor in parenting. I say forget about the cooking and cleaning once in a while, and just sit with the kids and live in their world a little. What matters to them should matter to you.

As the late Gilda Radner said, "it's always something".

April 27, 2006

Friday CTS Cable 26

On The Line - tune in for an hour- long call in show on TV, movies, music, controversy - fancy finding me there!

Internet Tips

My kids know that the monitoring I do on their MSN stuff is the price they pay to have access to it. It's one of those non-negotiables around here, the same way my folks always insisted on knowing who I was with, where I was going, and when I would be home.

And yeah, sometimes I got around it. But I knew they loved me enough to come looking.

My house rules are that the kids can have MSN accounts, but I get their passwords. I've activated the feature that lets you record what is written, both incoming and outgoing. I've told them I won't go look unless I have reason to believe I should. In two years, I've checked just once, when another mom referenced some nasty language on my kid's part. She was right; he was grounded.

To activate the feature: Go to MSN Messenger, and sign in. You'll need their password. There is an icon on the desktop, or better yet, do this with your kid and tell them you're doing it. If they de-activiate it, you'll know they're hiding something.

1. Click on your child's name at the top
2. Go to Personal Settings, at the bottom
3. On the left side is a menu, click on 'messages'
4. Under Message History, click the little box, then click 'okay' at the bottom
5. Now it's set. You can right click on any contact name, and view the message history.

If my kids break the rules, I ground them from the computer. If you're away from the house, take the keyboard with you. Cruel, but it just unhooks at the back. If you're really not very computer literate, hire a tech or high school kid to spend an hour with you showing you the basics. It'll be the best investment you ever make.

Learn some of the basic shortforms your kids speak in. Everyone knows LOL (laugh out loud) but learn BRB (be right back) and GTG (got to go) and probably the most used, POS (parent over shoulder). If the letter 'F' appears, yeah, it probably means that. Click here for a link to a site with a decent listing.

Your kids are entitled to private conversations. But not with people you don't know, and definitely not with people they don't know. And for the kids hating me right now, be glad we love you this much.

None of this is foolproof. There are ways under any fence. But the internet is a powerful tool and while young teens may be savvy enough to race around on it, that doesn't mean they're equipped to cope with some of the very real negative factors.

Thanks for listening.

Hug a Volunteer

I had the good fortune of speaking to a wonderful group of people last night. Volunteers from the Halton Woman's Place were thanking their volunteers for all the hours of hard work they put in throughout the year. I got to speak; they had to listen.

I speak the way I write, but with more 'uhs' and hand motions. I also traipse around in my brain from subject to subject, like a bee on a mission. The thread of the talk was the crucial difference these people make, and I have to admit, I was overwhelmed more than once as I realized my words were their actions.

I'm very much a believer in the concept of a social fabric. We're only as strong as the patches. As we strive to celebrate the affluent and relegate the weak to dark corners, we forget that ultimately our own fate can never be assured.

Open your eyes, lend a hand, and speak out for those who can't. And as anyone who has put new knees into a pair of kid's jeans can tell you, sometimes those patches are far stronger than the weak spot they have replaced.

April 26, 2006

CH Live @ 5:30

I'll be on CHTV at 5:30 Thursday...tune in for news on what our kids are up to on line, and cyberbullying at it's worst...

Airmiles Points - R.I.P.

Can somebody please tell me what to do with Airmiles points?

I dutifully hand my card over whenever I remember, and a few times a year they send me a record of the points. They also include a list of where I earned the points, which ends up being a printout of all the alcohol the household has purchased in the past three months. Do they really have to itemize this?

There is never enough points for anything great. I remember years ago trying to spend Club Z points on something Jackson wanted at Zellers. It took ages to order it, ages to receive it, and then he wanted to return it because 'it wasn't like on the commercial'. Welcome to the real world, son.

I just let the total toddle along, imagining the trip to Venice that will no doubt one day materialize. It's like coupons I never redeem, and recipes I clip and never make. My intentions are sound, but my cluttered brain never connects to the original premise.

The reality is that I'll probably save them long enough for a funeral home to come on board as a sponsor, and my next of kin can finally cash them in.

April 25, 2006

Will & I

I was always the freaky kid in class who loved Shakespeare. Still do. (I can thank the teacher a few blog entries below for starting the love affair.) I have tried for years to get the boys to realize that Shakepeare's work was written to be heard, rather than read, but my whining falls on deaf ears for the most part.

I can't afford to haul them to Stratford each year. If I rent videos I get so enrapt I don't notice them sidling out of the room.


Today I'm going to try a new tactic though. This article ran in the Daily Express (via The Star) and I plan on reading out most of it at dinner tonight. I want them to understand how infiltrated our culture is by the old Bard.

Shakespeare effectively blurred the lines of emotion by pointing out that on the inside, we truly are all the same. If you feel it, Willy already wrote about it, and better than you could have expressed it.

I recognize that much of his work has more resonance once life has stomped on you a few times. And while I don't wish grief on my kids, I like knowing that when it inevitably happens, Shakespeare was already there - and will no doubt say 'I feel your pain' rather than 'I told you so'.

April 24, 2006

Day Careless

Think long and hard about Harper's proposed day care 'plan'. Jeffery Simpson in the Globe and Mail does a brilliant job here (click on the 'tear'reference)in pointing out the evils of governments playing a shell game. Do they think we're stupid? Of course they do. We have been so far...

When life in this country becomes a series of individual sports, rather than a group effort, we all lose. Truly. Even if you end up with all the marbles, you'll have nobody to play with if the cost of winning comes at the annhiliation of those around you. There is something quite vile about governments - of any stripe - that exploit the fact it is far easier to pit us against each other than lead us to a collective betterment.

All children need to feel valued, and by all of us. It is far cheaper, easier and rewarding to direct and teach an eager child than rehab a broken adult. Tell this government to get its head out of its butt and do the right thing.

April 23, 2006

Teacher's Pet

You know how you hear of people who tell you they had a teacher who made a huge impact on them and really changed their lives?

I'm one of those people. I had a high school English teacher that basically took a lump of clay and made the first tentative moldings in it. Arlene Miller gave a scrawny opinionated little goofball a respect for the power of the written word, the importance of education, and an introduction to the person I could become. There were many years when her belief in me carried me over times when I had no belief in myself.

She's retired now, at a ridiculously young age (truly: she was in her mid-20's when she taught me) and we're friends. She's married to an amazing man, and she and John came for dinner last night. My sister Roz, another former student, did the cooking so I couldn't hurt anyone.

I cleaned the whole house, and made sure the boys were behaving. Jackson took me by the shoulders, and with a wisdom only an 11-year-old could have, informed me that Arlene was not going to grade me. Just visit.

She walked in the door and commented on how clean it was. I shot Jackson a look.

Fabulous company, fabulous dinner, fabulous wine. The opportunity to relate as equals wound around my barely submerged gratitude for how much Arlene has given me. And my great luck that the classroom walls weren't boundaries to our friendship.

Sometimes we don't realize where our riches truly lie.

April 22, 2006

System Overload

Ever get the feeling you're just chasing your tail some days? I think my cats are idiots for spinning aimlessly, and yet I continue to mimic their crazy ways.

The calendar hanging on the fridge is a scrawled mess of dates and times. I didn't realize becoming a mother would make me more of a cop directing traffic than anything else. I have this tiny little dream that one day everything will be done; no appointments left, no parent-teacher interviews, no due dates for library books, no scheduling conflicts to figure out.

Heaven is a clear calendar. Except every time I leave the dentist, I am clutching yet another little card to be transcribed onto the calendar. The school sends home another schedule of tryouts or track meets, PD days, pizza days and pottery class. And I don't even have the crazy loaded schedules that some people do. Each kid can pick one sport, because I'm not living in my van.

I'm sure there will come a time when I will pine for these crazy busy days. Maybe. But until then, I have to feel a little chagrined that at least my silly cats catch their tails every once in a while.



I don't know enough to step all the way into this, but Thomas Walkom makes a pretty concise statement about things in today's Star.
Like most of us, I think we all need to learn more, and especially learn more history, to get a better handle on the issue. Wish my dad was around...

April 21, 2006

Bunny Trail

Our bunny is back.

We've had a rabbit that has lived in the neighbourhood for about 3 years now. I know, I know, how do I know it's the same one? Because I don't want to wonder what happened to the original one if it isn't.

I looked out this morning and spied him, carefully munching away on all my newly emerging plants. And then I saw another movement, and realized we had 2 bunnies. Shrieking like an idiot, I woke up the kids to look. Our very own Wild Kingdom.

As I waxed poetic about the arrival of Mrs. Bunny, the kids of course took it one step further. "You know what's gonna happen, don't you mom?" asked one. I told him to be quiet.

Next week is supposed to be TV-free week, something I've often contemplated but never attained. The other night an ad came on for the latest teen angst-and-throb drama, Laguna Beach (or, as Jackson called it, 'Lasagna Beach').

I watched about ten seconds of this O.C. ripoff (don't watch that either but Marc does).Perfect bodies, perfect teeth, perfect one-hour traumas. I still think it's better they learn about emerging spring hormones from the rabbits.

April 20, 2006

A Love/Hate Thing

I love being able to open all the windows.
I hate that gas is getting so expensive, though I love walking more places.
I hate migraines.
I love finally putting away all the winter coats and boots.
I hate letters to the editors righteously declaring once again that women should stay home with their kids. Regardless of circumstance, regardless of what is best for society, regardless of anything except their own delusional belief that whatever works for them *will* work for everyone.
I love that my kid's school did a terrific musical last night about the earth and the environment. That little dinky gym didn't seem so hot and small at all.
I hate that I keep killing all my houseplants, though I do love getting new ones. Hope springs eternal.
I love that my other kid made pitcher of his baseball team.
I hate emails that don't come.

April 18, 2006

Overrated Independence

When I was a kid, we went to Toronto Island. Most of the visit I remember only because of photos, but I recall driving these old fashioned cars. They had this metal track you followed, that allowed you to steer and drive but never make a wrong turn. A built-in governor kept the speed down.

It's probably been 35 years, but I've always nurtured that idea of never being able to go off track. How soothing would it be to know you couldn't screw up?

Of course the downside is that you're following someone else's ideals, and ideas. But the notion of handing over the reins once in a while is just so enticing. And for the same reasons I could never go parachuting or bungee jumping, I would never do it.

My mom used to tell me 'a change is as good as a rest'. It was her always subtle way of reminding me you're not allowed to step down, so shut up and find a way to make it work.

I don't mind driving. It'd just be nice to have a track under there once in a while.

April 17, 2006

Cock o' The Walk

Apparently there are roosters who are getting just as lazy as some of the guys we've all known. No wining, no dining, just right to third date action. Or whatever your time frame is for this stuff. I'm going with a general punchline here.

It won't come as much of a surprise to some women that certain courtly characteristics have been bred out of the masculine beings on this planet. And while people certainly aren't birds, I think the message is getting just as skewed on our side of the equation.

Our media is saturated with sex, and subtlety and nuance can't elbow their way to the front of the line. Flirting is dead, replaced by aggression and control. Talking heads are scratching their heads over women behaving like this, and I'm confused by it too. Is flashing your breasts a symbol of your feminine power, or just easier than writing your phone number on the bathroom wall? I don't think those doing it are sure either. Probably more a symbol of consumed liquor than female solidarity.

Not sure how roosters and boobs hooked up in my brain this morning. Guess someone has to stay out in left field, just in case the batter connects.

April 16, 2006

Rainey, Rainey, Quite Contrary...

What do I do on a fabulous Sunday?

My body is still screaming in pain from all the raking and bagging of winter dreck I pulled from the gardens yesterday. I wish I had a little meter that told me when I'd hit that 'gonna hurt baaad tomorrow' point. And yes, it shouldn't hurt - after all, I swim *70* laps a day I tell people when they ask. The fact I haven't been in the pool in three months is the part I don't tell them.

Today I will work in the dirt some more - the feel and smell is heaven, and little buds poking up remind that life goes on with or without me, and especially despite me, which sometimes is a very good lesson to remember.

I have a blog I visit every Sunday that reminds me we're all pretty much the same inside. What at first glance appears voyeuristic is really just incredibly human.

You can't go wrong with a little Doonesbury on a Sunday morning - or any day for that matter. I sometimes troll through some of the right-wing sites until my breakfast comes back up. Usually a minute or two. The Toronto Star on Sunday is always interesting - today your dose of political correctness is brought to you by the merchandising of the excreable DaVinci Code. Talk about ridiculous...

The New York Times helpfully explains why if you're a star, you can't name your kid Steve. Too bad it doesn't let me in on why nobody uses any vowel except 'y' when naming their kid in the rest of the world.

You know you're getting old when pictures of shoes like this invoke pain instead of lust. There was a time I would have jumped for them, rather than fallen off of them. Though the third from the left are really, really cute. Sigh.

Enough. Time to pull on yesterday's mucky jeans and head out back again. We found 4 toads yesterday. I miss the days when the boys would run for a shoe box and ask me what toads ate.

Everything marches on.

April 15, 2006

Gummy Love

We had friends for dinner last night. Not like cannibals would. Just normal.

T&J have two very cool little boys, ages 6 and 8. I love these kids because they eat anything. They have better developed palates than most grownups I know. My boys? Not so mature. They were eyeing dessert before the chicken hit the BBQ. I smacked their hands and declared everything off limits.

At dinner, Marc, 14 sat there with a pained look on his face. I don't know what he'd been sneaking, but he ended up eating a couple of buns. Jackson ate some chicken, and a single roast potato. I can't describe the pride I felt.

The little guys? Salad, veggies, meat - everything. Damian, the oldest, spied the beans and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. 'Beans!'. I could have kissed him. He polished off half the bowl. After I brought out coffee and opened up dessert, Damian went and got a bowl and helped himself to more salad. It brought tears to my eyes.

I'd bought the kids some gummy bears. Jackson ran and got a knife, and like some Dr. Frankenstein started performing surgery on them. The little boys picked up on this right away, and ran and got their own knives. Yes, the adults had been imbibing, whyeverwouldyouask?

They were cutting off the heads and arms of the bears and reattaching them in a weird random way, using the secret welding power of nasty little boy hands. Then they would offer them up to us to eat, and only one daddy would actually eat them. Because Jerry's love for his son is greater than his memory of where those little hands have been.

April 14, 2006

Jamie's Jury...

Ah, nice long weekend for SOME people...tune in to 900 CHML, I'll be on with Scott Radley (fellow columnist and all around funny guy) and Jamie at 1:00 for an hour. No doubt hilarity will ensue, or somebody will be sued...or something.

I have successfully put off raking the yard and gardens every day this year until 'tomorrow'. And it has magically rained on every single 'tomorrow' thus far. A few years back, I read somewhere that the best time to put down grass seed was when it was raining, and so I went out and did it.

By the time I got back in, I had grass seed stuck to every part of my body, like some shake 'n baked bog monster. Apparently the advice had been before it was going to rain, and not in a driving wind.

They make it look so easy on television.

April 13, 2006

New Old Stuff

Working on 12 new archives to go up in the next day or two. You'll laugh, you'll cry...or just sit there looking perplexed.

When the old ones are gone, they're gone (unless you put in a request), so check back...

April 12, 2006

Hollow Bunnies

Jackson, 11: Hey, what are we doing for Easter?
Me: Whadya mean, what are we doing for Easter?
Jackson: Well, shouldn't we be doing something?
Me: You want to go to church? Or are you talking Easter bunny?
Jackson: Yeah. Easter bunny.
Me: You're too old for the Easter bunny. Forget it.
Jackson: Well, should we just go to Shoppers and buy the stuff then?

Another tradition goes down in flames....

April 11, 2006

Live @ 5:30 Wednesday

Tomorrow I'll be on CH11 talking sex with Donna and Mark. Hmmm...do I detect a pattern here?!

Jamie West

Tune in to 900 CHML today, I'll be on Jamie's show for a bit at 1:30. Today's Motherlode column, which will be posted later this afternoon, is about lying to your kids.

Keep your recommendations coming for great mechanics...check under April 6th blog entry for updates...


In high school, I was addicted to reading my horoscope. In high school, life is so hellish, you will turn to anything that holds out hope of something better. And I would read as many as I had to each day until I found one that soothed my undateable soul.

I don't know when I quit reading them, probably about the same time the people that make Chinese fortune cookies started putting one of 3 sayings in all the cookies made for North America. I rather preferred the weird cryptic translations ('a large branch falls only on the weeping').

For some reason, today I glanced at them. Mine said if I tried to understand something, I might just run away. Doesn't much sound like me, but I guess everyone has running away moments. For comparison sake, I checked another paper. This one informed me I was merely mortal, and my life here in this dimension is fleeting. So one has me fleeing, one has me fleeting.

I know if I dig around long enough, I will be told today is the day I meet the love of my life (for the 547th time), I will come into great wealth (and pass right on through it), and that I should probably avoid starting new projects. Or it's the perfect time to start new projects. Whatever.

All I want is the horoscope that informs me I should be eating lots of bread, indulging in great wine and anticipating my life taking exciting, bold new directions.

Right after I clean the bathroom.

April 10, 2006

Picks and Pans

Lorraine, gently dusting off her soapbox and dragging it into the blog...
Yay for librarians! The province is finally starting to put some $ back into these invaluable resources. We need librarians. Full time. We need open libraries where our kids can go and work, and learn how to research, and explore, and discover a world beyond gameboys and schoolyard bullying.

Of Local Interest Only
The Burlington mayoral race is wide open. Here's a clue: Whoever stops the opening of WalMart in my downtown (yeah, my downtown, too bad) will get my vote. Not needed, not wanted, not smart. And no, I can't afford to shop in our pretty little core. But I'll be damned if I'll support the slash and burn politics of WalMart.

Hells Bells
The craziness in the pastoral rural community to our left makes a timely intro to my plug for a great new book. Fallen Angel, an expose on the Hells Angels, has been written and released by my buddy Jerry Langton. Find it, buy it, read it. And all the while picture drinking too much wine with this lad around your dining room table. Jer, not the biker dude.

April 9, 2006

When the Kids Are Away

So. The boys came home from their dad's a few days ahead of schedule. Like all children, they imagine we hang in suspended animation, awaiting their return. They are alway surprised to see any changes at the house in their absence.

Jackson, 11, opened the fridge.
"Hey! Steak! You eat steak when we're not here? What else is in here..." he said, poking his nosy little head in and out of cupboards. The fact of the matter is that we live quite lean when they're aren't here. It's the only way to afford them when they are here.

Brad, glancing over at Jackson, decided to tell him a few home truths.
"Jackson, we eat steak. And candy, and cake. We watch cartoons 24 hours straight. As soon as you get home, we break out the broccoli. We buy tons of new clothes, go to the movies and secretly play with all your toys."

Jackson narrowed his eyes.
"I knew it."

April 8, 2006

I Love Pink

Not the colour (though that's okay too), the singer. Ever since she entered the scene a few years back, a scruffed up yowly little thing, I've loved her.

A friend sent me her Stupid Girls video a little while ago, which is in heavy rotation on the music shows I avoid but the boys like. I opened my paper today and found out she did a surprise drop-in to a Toronto school for a girls-only Q&A.

With her message for girls about using their brains instead of their bodies to succeed, hers is a lonely voice pointing them in the right direction. I don't think there has been a more bewildering, or depressing, time for young girls to grow up in. I recall intense pressure about body image, boys, and sexuality when I was young. But what I see today in our culture is far, far worse, far more exploitive, and far more negative.

I get letters from teenage girls. They are smart, thoughtful and wonderful. They are also often confused and powerless. No wonder; when Paris Hilton is a role model, we've failed. When girls refer to themselves as 'hos', and dress accordingly, we've failed. This is not sexy. This is exploitive, abusive and debased. We have taken one of our most fabulous resources - youth - and crapped all over it.

Girls, here's the deal: You matter. Immensely. You are capable of so much, and while your sexual self is a wonderful thing, it does not define who you are. We need you to help change the world. You are going to struggle with many things, but there are people who will listen, set decent examples for you, and reassure you that the process is worth the pain.

I interviewed Danielle Robinson (scroll to page 7) a couple of years back. I've watched her just grow and achieve since then - she's heading to the University of Victoria to do her Masters (they threw scads of $ at her). She's an awesome example of finding your passion, and then busting through the roadblocks to achieve it.

Listen to Pink. Listen to women you admire. Contact these women and ask them for direction. It may be your mom, a teacher, someone in the community. Don't be shy - you are already part of a wonderful club, you just have to find the door.

April 7, 2006

Roughing It

Some days start better than others. It has just taken me 20 minutes to realize the only way the kettle is going to boil is if I turn on the burner. It took me the same 20 minutes to realize the toaster was unplugged, and the familiar 'bing' was not gonna happen.

Neither kid wants to get up. One is sick, and has dramatically told me he's been 'up all night - at least since 6'. Poor baby.

We've had no water in the kitchen for 24 hours, and it made me realize I could never star in Little House on the Prairie. I looked mournfully at the empty kettle yesterday, before trudging all the way to the bathroom for water. The dishes piled up while I called for dinner two nights in a row. The cats are drinking bottled water, and when Brad had to shut the main water valve off last night for an hour everyone, though forewarned, instantly braided their legs and started hopping around. Never fails.

I need the whole kitchen overhauled (the stove is down to 2 and a half burners - one burner has trouble committing to an entire meal) and the cupboards are begging to be put out of their misery. I just don't know how we'll survive any type of reno, when a single tap replacement almost drove us into a hotel.

I can't even think about the bathroom being gutted, as it needs to be. There is only one, and I don't think my neighbour Grace loves us THAT much. I'll just do what I usually do when it's time to do major work on the house: Take my tea to a room that still looks okay, and forget the others exist.

April 6, 2006

Got a Great Mechanic?

Post here!

Nigel Tapsall and Jim Clarke run Ardent Automotive here in Burlington. They're on Drury (off Fairview-681-9338) and they are everything I want in a mechanic. Smart, fair and absolutely trustworthy.

If you feel the same way about your mechanic, let others know. I'm going to delete it if you flame anyone (write negative stuff) because this isn't the forum for it. But the good guys? Share, share, share...

(Today's Power Shift column is about sourcing a good mechanic)

The blogger is back up...if you were trying to post, please try now!

April 5, 2006

Live @ 5:30 Thursday

I'll be on CH11 at 5:30 tomorrow...we're talking boobs! (okay, that came out wrong...)

Listen to Garrison

Sorry for the double hit folks....this is too good to miss.

Up Too Late on a School Night

Ever feel like someone has poured sand in your eyes?

I think I got about 3 hours sleep last night. Forget firing on all cylinders - I am firing on no cylinders. I'm usually up by 6:30, and poking Marc awake. With a big stick - he can be a little growly. Not today. I just barked at him to get up and get going. At 14, he's more than old enough to dress himself out of the hamper.

I'm usually the one throwing bagels into the toaster, because it's kinder than actually whipping them. The boys, not the bagels. As he headed out the door, I asked Marc if he'd made some breakfast. "Yeah. I had cheese." I weep for the future.

Jackson made crumpets, got orange juice and packed a snack for school. He was wearing clean clothes, and his teeth were brushed without being told. I'm hoping he'll let his older brother live with him when they're adults.

Marc had stayed up last night with me watching House. I have this not-so-secret crush on Hugh Laurie, which is probably a huge insult to Brad, but hey, it's not like I think he's watching Lost for the story line. Come to think of it, neither am I. That show is just a buffet of buff.

Dr. House is a cantankerous sod with a caustic wit, an addiction to pain killers and a cane he uses to push people around with. What's not to love? Marc was watching me watch him, and probably beginning to understand he will never understand women.

"Hey, he drives a motorcycle! That's cool..." he observed.
Oh well, nobody's perfect.

April 4, 2006

Of Acorns and Oak Trees

An Ottawa-area man killed his estranged wife and three children Sunday night. Their house exploded in flames. The restraining order against him did its usual effective job.

So, what stories made the covers of the papers this morning? Let's see...lost wedding rings in a snow bank, Debbie Travis posing prettily, Paula Abdul's new contract (frankly, this woman could be vaporized by aliens, and I don't think it would warrant front page news), most just go on and on about the Throne Speech. Like I want to picture Stephen Harper on the toilet.

I get it. If it happens within a thirty mile radius, we care. For about ten minutes. Abuse happens at every level of our society. I have known wealthy women who have endured abuse, as well as impoverished ones. I have known men to live in a climate of terror, scared of leaving and having the torrent transfered to their children.

It is the great leveller. A story in yesterday's Spec reveals the benign appearance, and the deadly underbelly. Do we turn away for fear of revealing too much of our own pain?

Education is everything. This remarkable woman has turned her own private hell into a remarkable opportunity for many, against tremendous odds. Surely there is inspiration here.

If we change the children, we change the future.

April 3, 2006

Good Monday

I like Mondays. Waking up on a Monday means I survived another weekend. Especially a weekend when spring has apparently arrived, in all it's mushy majesty.

The boys and the cats are equally crazy at this time of year, and probably for the same reasons. I mean, the boys don't get big puffy tails, but they do chase each other mindlessly and tackle each other down the stairs.

When the kids were younger, I'd throw them outside, and sit on the step and keep an eye on them. As they got older, I'd leave the door open so I could see them. Then, just a window so I could hear them. Now when they go out, I lock the door, unplug the phone and hide in the basement.

Saturday night, I told them to tone it down. I was beat. The new game involved Jackson, 11, hiding in the dirty laundry (he's that little, the laundry isn't that vast) and jumping out and scaring Marc, 14. Then the little beggar runs into his room before he can get drilled.

As the laughter and noise hit a fever pitch, I finally went into Jackson's room to put an end to it. My timing was perfect. There was Jackson mooning his brother.

With a happy face drawn on his butt in green marker.

April 2, 2006

Dorothy Parker

So, what fresh hell is this?, to quote the always fabulous Dorothy. She said it to answer the phone; I say it to greet the day.

Daylight savings has tossed my already misaligned daily rhythyms right out the window. By the time I've finished resetting every clock, phone, thermostat and timer, it'll be time to set them back again.

I say we follow those notoriously rebellious Saskatchewanites, and refuse to play along. My dad was from there, and it comes as no surprise to me that they took a pass on something so stupid. I don't hear their world crashing to a halt, and they're still pooping at the same time every day.

The older I get, the more I like things, well, just the way I like things. I plan my spontanaiety carefully. I need to bend the ear of Those in Control of these things, if anyone actually is. I think it's probably more like those people on Lost who keep pushing a button, just in case something happens if they don't.

But, as my mother used to say, "if you can't say something nice about someone..." and as Dorothy finished it, "come sit next to me."

April 1, 2006

Unreal Estate

What a fabulous day to sleep in. Or not. Why do cats not understand weekends?

With a silent house, I can quietly read all the parts of the newspaper I usually am too busy to spend quality time with. The obits, the puzzles, the travel section, and of course now, the auto section. Well, I glance at that one.

Spring favourite is the Homes section. It's probably a deep-seated desire to spring- move rather than spring- clean; it just seems like less work.

I like deciphering the cryptic codes of real estates ads. One of my favourites is a picture of a horse. No, you're not buying a horse. You're buying an overpriced hunk of land, and you're supposed to imagine you will have a horse. It may already feature a falling down barn (where even that little horse wouldn't live) but they really can't show you that, and expect you to fork over $1.2 million. They should call this the idea section.

'Here's your chance to own'...means cheapest price on the street. Usually for a reason. Bring your toolbox. And a bulldozer. '3+1 bedroom' means where you currently store sheets and towels is now considered a fourth bedroom. If only you'd known. 'Parking for six cars' probably means Your Name is Earl.

'Room for a pool' means the backyard is so unattractive, they want you to view it through a kaleidascope. 'Needs TLC' means do. not. buy. unless you have a pickup, no children, an empty Home Depot credit card, and preferrably are licensed in 5 of the 6 main trades.

'New Open House' means they finally convinced the owner, who's had it on the market for a year, to let them fluff it - throw out the dog peepee carpet, hide the Star Wars collectibles in the master bedroom, and paint over the life-sized unicorns in the baby's room.

I had an agent once tell me the wording they would use if I sold my house. I looked at it, and said 'I'll buy it!'. It sounded perfect.

I just figure if these houses are half as great as they make them sound, nobody would be moving.