June 30, 2008

CHCH Live@5:30 Monday

Houseleague soccer for kids - a chance for some fun, some exercise and to be part of a team - right? Not if some bunch of yahoos get the bright idea to select just some of the kids from each team to play in an extra-special tournament!

For now, this is in Ohio. But like reality TV, botox and guns, it usually makes its way north....tune in at 5:30, repeat at 11:30.

June 27, 2008

She Left Me What?

Be careful how much stuff you accumulate in your life - it can become an absolute nightmare when you die.

This is a good piece from the NYT. More interesting, however, is the multitude of comments that go with the article. Flip through them, and compare your nightmares to the commenters. From people who think their stuff is worth a fortune, to those who have no clue just what they have, a death in the family brings out the knives.

I don't know that you can ever totally prepare for everything. Regardless of how carefully someone allots everything, writes down details and directives, takes everyone's feelings into account, there is always some asshole in every family that tries to explain that a TV or a vacuum has such sentimental value to them.

While the article is more of a "what am I supposed to do with this?" piece, and the guilt associated with not sharing the deceased's reverence for an object, the comments are more about the emotional toll of death vultures. Houses cleaned out during funerals, questionable funds withdrawn, 'missing' jewelery - what vile creatures the human species can be.

I have some odd little bits and scraps around my house. The things I've valued the most from people I've loved tend to be innocuous anyway. Sentiment can be dangerous when attached to the wrong things. My goal is to keep the 'stuff' to a minimum, keep it small and transportable, and remember that you bond with people, not objects.

If you play the what-if-your-house-was-on-fire thing, and think about what you'd grab other than kids and pets, most people say the photo album. It's true; everything else can be replaced. We should keep that in mind.

June 24, 2008

TVO - Your Voice

Tune into TVO today at 1pm - you can even call in with your pearls of wisdom - as we discuss disciplining kids.

Follow this link for information...

June 23, 2008

Cowboy Up

Nice piece here in Texas Monthly. I know, I know. Texas?

It's about cowboys. Real ones. Be still my heart. This is my weakness. I love the genre in literature, movies, everything. I would watch Lonesome Dove a dozen times before I'd watch Sex and the City once.

The author, Elmer Kelton, is taking exception to the offhand way we toss around the word 'cowboy'. I'm guilty of this, and hadn't really thought about it. He sees the ridiculous example set by George W. as a reason for the word to be slipped into our vernacular all covered in slime. I've done it myself - associating 'cowboy' with some kind of wanton disregard for rules, safety, or honour. Kelton makes his point. I'm wrong. The very thing I've always admired (at least in the cowboys I've come to know through my reading) is a remarkable sense of honour. When did it get so skewed?

It's a contemplative piece. It also reminded me to watch how I use words, or misuse them. They're powerful, and we show our ignorance when we start throwing them around.

June 21, 2008

Disaster Master

Great read today in the Timesonline. How would you survive a disaster? A new book coming out in July from Amanda Ripley asks just that, with the heartening news that in many instances, if not most, there are a multitude of things people could do if disaster strikes. She's talking plane crashes, fires, tsunamis - the whole bit.

I've always considered myself the kind of person who could lift a bus off my kid. I don't know why I believe this, but I do. I believe, like Ripley, that the human body and brain are capable of performing feats beyond anything we could ever understand, unless and until we are put to the test. It's like a guy who has never been in a fight sizing up another guy and saying 'I could take him'. Sure. I'm like that. My brain believes my body to be capable of anything. I learned the hard way that it ain't always so.

When I was doing that boxing stuff, I was the only one throwing punches. I was invincible. I was a tank. I was a superhero. If Adam had landed a single, soft blow, I would have been on my ass. Speaking of boxing, Webgod Jeff just sent me one of those corny inspirational posters (you know the ones, they post them around offices in an effort to make you work harder - for less money - by telling you that you possess all these qualities of determination, ambition, and leadership). Jeff dummied up one of me boxing, and underneath he ran the cutline "Determination: With shorts like those, you're going to have to learn how to fight". I currently hate WGJ, and no, I won't post it so don't ask.

This book looks into the disasterous governmental responses to disasters (Katrina, anyone?), and the fact that individuals can, and should, tick up their personal responsiblility to stay alive. She goes through so many basic things you can do to up your chances in the case of extreme conditions or events, and how to start breaking down our ridiculous head-up-your-arse belief that nothing bad can happen, and if it does we're doomed anyway.

Personal responsibility. Doesn't that have a nice ring to it?

Update from WGJ: You won't post it, but I will!

June 19, 2008

CHCH Live@5:30 Thursday

To spank or not to spank?

To legislate or not to legislate?

These are the questions....join us today, 5:30pm, repeat at 11:30 tonight.

June 17, 2008

Best Foot Forward

In England, 21 dolphins washed ashore last week. In March, thousands of starfish washed ashore in another part of that same country. In Australia last summer, a giant squid washed ashore. In December, it was sea turtles in Florida - washed ashore.

In Canada, we have feet. Five feet so far, washed ashore.

National Geographic didn't come to take pictures like they did of the squid. There was no local tree hugging group gathered to try and roll the foot back out into the ocean.

I find the arrival of feet on the tide in British Columbia disturbing. I think it's more disturbing than actually finding a whole body, washed ashore. "Hey, look it's a shoe! Somebody's gonna be peeved at losing their...oh, forget it."

It's been happening for a couple of years now, and authorities can't figure out where they're coming from. Well, they're coming from people. Even I have enough authority to realize that. But they've discounted a medical dumpster, and the lack of anything other than feet throws a spanner into the works regarding bodies being dumped. Surely a head would roll up once in a while.

Several have had shoes on. They have two size twelves, but don't say if they're a match. I'm presuming not. They've described the shoes, I guess so you can look down and see if you've misplaced your foot during your last drunken pub crawl.

All I know, is that while the world is rushing to catalogue the mad rush to shore of sea creatures, the foot brigade only ever gets one of those little 1 inch mentions buried in the back of the front section of the newspapers. Canadian beach feet are the new third world bus plunges.

I'm glad they're not popping up in Niagara Falls. You just know they'd open a museum.

June 15, 2008


I read a thing this morning in the Star saying that Father's Day never really caught on as much as Mother's Day. I found that odd; we made a fuss over Mom because it was easy to, but we did the same for Dad because it wasn't.

Father's Day was always around his birthday (June 21st), so we kind of rolled it into one. We bought him garden tools, even though he preferred his old rusty implements, special gloves, even though he preferred the ones he'd pilfered from Dofasco (I still have some - light cotton with suede palms. Towards the end, it is just a big bag of left-handed gloves, because we'd all use a right one for weeding, but he pinched them in pairs). We never bought him ties; he didn't wear them. Sometimes a golf shirt, but he was a saver. He'd save his nice stuff for 'later', and unless and until my mother forced him to put it on, he'd never wear them. Of course when he did wear them, everyone would tell him how nice he looked, and he'd preen like a peacock. Men are weird that way.

I wrote a father's day piece for my column yesterday - here's the link - WGJ will post it tomorrow, but I'm too lazy to bug him on his father's day. Editor Mark probably thought I'd bowl in another weeper piece like the Christmas one, but no, this time I let more of my real Pop show through.

My mother always made this fabulous 8 layer poppy seed cake for today - it was my Dad's favourite, took forever to make, and tasted like heaven. He was the only one that got that cake - she was a fabulous baker. Now, she's not here to make it, and he's not here to stand over it with a fork after everyone has left, eating directly from the cake while my mother smacks his hand and tells him to get a plate. That's how my Dad ate most things - standing up at the sink. It's an art form.

While searching for pictures for the column the Star ran, I realized, as most of us probably do, that we don't have that many of Mom and Dad. It's always the kids, and then the grandkids. And the cat. Tons of Nooly. When parents have the camera, they take pictures of the kids. When kids have the camera, they take pictures of the cat.

The pic to the right is a wedding pic, but it's my absolute favourite of my Dad. My friend Karen took it. It was the only time he'd ever worn a tux, and Roz slicked his hair back and he looked like Blake Carrington. He had great hair. Within minutes of leaving the church, he had his hat back on. Wearing more clothes than he ever had, and he still felt naked without his hat.

That was 1990. He was already pretty sick, but he went off his steroids for a few weeks before the wedding so he wouldn't be irritable. Those damned things helped him breathe, but destroyed his patience, never in abundance to start with. Looking back, I realize that party was as much for him as for me. Probably more about him. It was a long day, and he paced himself, but it took him a week to recover. He died 6 years later, to the day.

Today, get out the box with all those old pictures. Don't worry that they aren't in order, or you can't remember who is who from the old neighbourhood, or when you took that trip.

Sometimes it's all you have left.

June 13, 2008

Wigging Out

Lots of websites feature retro ads that make me boggle at how much we've changed. Pushing cigarettes as healthy, clothes from the 70s that make me wince in recognition, depictions of women's roles from the 50s that make me realize we've come a long way, if not all the way.

Today I had a different experience. Today, I was flung back in time with the this ad. You see this photo? These are plastic wigs. We had these wigs. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw it. We used to get dolled up in my mom's castoffs, teeter around in her high heels and wear these wigs on our heads. Yes, that would be Roz, Gilly and me, in case they try to tell you they didn't. "Oh, only Lorraine did that...". Nope not a chance. We all did.

Poor Sod just walked in the kitchen as I was posting this. I showed him the pic, laughing hysterically. He raised an eyebrow, and said "you know how creepy this is, right?". I told him they were fabulous. He backed away quietly.

Plastic hair. My mother bought us plastic hair. And we thought it was glamorous.

And you wonder why I turned out the way I did.

June 12, 2008

CH Live@5:30 Thursday

So, this French woman, Corinne Maier wrote a book last year, discussing 40 reasons it kind of sucks to have kids. And she has two.

It was the uproar heard 'round the world, and she's bringing her own brand of parenting knowledge to Toronto next week.

I'm guessing she hit a nerve, cuz she hit some truth. It's usually the way it happens...

Join us today to find out why saying what's actually on your mind always makes somebody crazy.

June 11, 2008

Hunting for Huntington's

If you had a fatal disease lurking in your genes, would you want to know?

Read this devastating, amazing piece from New York Magazine by Kevin Baker. With his mother tipping into oblivion from Huntingdon's Disease, he is faced with just this. And he does face it, full on and loaded for bear.

I don't know that I'd be that brave. Not much scares me, but nor do I have a pressing urge to know the future, good or bad. I told a friend the other day that if offered a crystal ball, I wouldn't even hesitate in not taking it.

I think you should live every day like you're going to get flattened by a bus tomorrow. That means hugging your kids, finishing that damned piece you're writing, starting that book or that painting, getting your will in order (I know, guilty on that count - working on it), taking piano lessons, cleaning out your closets and letting more people take your picture. And most importantly, keep telling the people you love that you love them. With words. Oh, how powerful are our words.

Something is going to get all of us; unless I was desperate not to pass along a gene to unborn children, I think I'd prefer the mystery of it all. Wonderful things come from damaged people, and I hate to think we'd lose any of that brilliance to fear.

Thanks to Baker for his eloquence on this.

June 9, 2008

Father's Day

Want to give Dad something more fun than a tie?

Get him a one day driving course - let him scream around a track and find his inner Mario.

Several local schools offer specials for Father's Day, or even just their one day funoramas...try Bill Brack, out of Dunnville if you're in this end of the woods (www.brackdriving.com), and the Bridgestone School in Shannonville has some fun if you're the other way (www.race2000.com). What, in the middle you say? Well, here's Mississauga...Drive for Life (www.driveforlife.ca).

Or, go north and tell Ian Law I sent you...(www.skidcontrolschool.com)

June 5, 2008

Deal Breakers

No, not the no-longer-a-Dr. Phil kind. Recipe deal breakers. This piece in the NYT is great, and especially timely given my current predisposition to cooking all the damned time now.

Recipes freak me out. Always have. I have this big, beautiful Julia Child baking book. I do not bake. Ever. Anything. My mother was a fabulous baker, and I was a mere consumer. But this book is gorgeous, and I bought it for the food porn value. I look at the pictures. I guarantee I couldn't make a single thing in it. Wouldn't even try.

I gently clip recipes out of the newspaper almost daily. I have a file folder that hold them. I don't make them, I merely keep them and sometimes look at them. The article talks about deal breakers, for real cooks, being things like obscure gadgets, hugely time consuming processes, or odd, odd ingredients. I call a deal breaker spices not already in my cupboard (which leaves out everything but salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaves and parsley and cinnamon), anything that has to be made the day before, or anything that says 'spread mixture evenly'.

I tried to make a lemon meringue pie once. Once. Years ago. I bought the crust (sorry, Mom), bought the lemon stuff, and followed instructions for whipping egg whites. That's what meringue is, doncha know. It said to 'spread mixture evenly' over the top. Well, sure. I got these little blobs, meringue islands that wouldn't join up, and as I tugged with the spatula the lemon got all caught up in the fight. Though I was assured it 'tasted just fine', I don't think I got any points for presentation.

We were watching Food Network last night (house favourite), and some guy was grilling sandwiches in a Panini press. We decided it looked the same as the George Foreman grill in the basement, and that we could adapt. Experimenting is everything, right? Before we could discuss further, we got into Iron Chef Lobster, and the discussion soon lapsed into a pretty intense debate on just when the chefs actually find out what the secret ingredient will be. They make the freakiest recipes from the craziest ingredients, and there is just no way all that stuff could be sitting around, hoping to be chosen for Lobster Truffle ice cream with a Basil sidecar, or whatever they call it.

Could be worse. They could be doing Iron Chef in my kitchen. Secret ingredient: canned tuna. Available extras: romaine lettuce, salt, some old vanilla extract, one kinda soggy green pepper, a hard little lime, lots of garlic and some arrowroot cookies.

Now that's a kitchen challenge I'd like to see.

CTS On The Line Thursday 2pm

On The Line is a live show today on CTS from 2-3pm. We'll be discussing current features in the news, from Sex in the City, babies in the workplace and living 60 years in an iron lung.

I don't know that I've ever done any of those things. But that won't stop the fun, as you all know. Tune in.

June 3, 2008

How Much Is That Kia In The Window?

Maybe it's because I spent the weekend a stone's throw from Detroit, but for some reason my brain has been in car-mode for days now. That would not be a surprising statement from an automotive journalist (that's what Mock Richardson, my editor, calls us - usually as he rolls his eyes), except car imagery just isn't where my mind goes of its own accord (see? car pun!).

Wheels section readers are a polarized lot, everyone stridently, violently committed to their beliefs. If I bitch about giant SUVs, the Right to Drive people come out with more force than any Right to Lifers I've ever met. That's part of what makes it fun - and it keeps the letters section hopping each Saturday as well.

Within the industry there are several writers who evoke much passion. Not many, but some. I prefer the funny, fearless ones myself. Read this piece from Jeremy Clarkson and tell me it's not only screamingly funny, but right on the money in its commentary on the state of the car industry at this moment, and the freefall of used car values (if you're thinking of a Kia Sedona, well, Clarkson suggests you think again...). People whine that he's too arrogant. Trust me; you have to get a little bullet proof to survive in this part of town. A lot, actually.