July 31, 2010

Drunk Blogging

Okay. Tipsy blogging. I worked outside most of the day, hauling weeds and ripping out that yellow weed stuff. Goldenrod. Stuff was 6 feet tall. Thought is was all yanked last year, but like that weird smell in the garage, it keeps coming back.

About that weird smell in the garage. I thought - I really thought - that maybe something had snuck in and died. We put a new garage door on last year, which is awesome, except if something manages to get in, then we close it, it can't get out. So, this odd smell was in there, and I was too chicken to move the piles of ancient hockey equipment to find out what archeological experiment might be nestled in there.

So. First, I hauled all the blue boxes (4 - wine bottles have to go somewhere), the garbage cans and the green bin out back. The green bin was in a class all its own. I hosed out everything, and scrubbed them all down. As I was up to my armpits at the bottom of garbage can, I wondered just how much worse life could get. So I did the green bin, and found out.

Then I tossed all the hockey crap. I asked Ari if any of it was any good. "It's all moldy," he told me, as he left for work. I've been hanging onto this stuff for how long? The good news? No small bodies underneath the equipment.

So I cleaned all the garbage. I bagged a ton of weeds and goldenrod. And I beat the rain. When I can't write, I weed. Cheapest, best therapy in the world. Until the neighbours hear you talking to yourself. Or your father. That can get tricky.

But it's been a decent day on the neighbour front. The people putting in the ginormous swimming pool held off on the backloader for most of the day. Which is a good thing, as it's been going for over a week, long after acceptable hours. I've skipped from calling bylaw; I'm just gonna call the cops and tell them where a homicide is about to take place.

That Twitter thing is making me nuts; I subscribe, or 'follow' a bunch of newsy places. I see a headline that some football player has an injured leg, and all I can think is 'are they gonna have to shoot him?'. I think I need more wine.


July 30, 2010

More Meerkats. Shut Up.

This is from Lee....gotta love people who are on the lookout for meerkats for you...

July 29, 2010

Baby Meerkat Warning

Fine. You've all made plenty of fun of me for loving my meerkats. At least I have Maggie to love them with me. Seriously. She sits with me and watches the videos.

Anyway. I dare any of you to watch this and not fall in love.

Maggie just asked me to replay it.

Live@5:30 Thursday

What do you say to a holiday from your kids...and your spouse? Why does it take a divorce to get away from the kids for a day, a night, a weekend?! And really, is it so horrible to admit that it might be nice?

Join us on CHCH Live@5:30, repeat at 11:30pm.

July 27, 2010

...and a good time was had by all...

Because it's so fleeting, some more pics from last week...

Ari on the left, Kyle on the right...

Even big kids like ice cream...this is on Lake Rosseau.

Ari thought it would be an awesome idea to have a watermelon eating contest. Ten seconds after I took this, Ari sneezed.

"Uhm, could someone go after the yellow canoe?"

Snips & Snails...

Took Ari and a few of his friends to the cottage. The beauty of a pared back place is that you make your own fun. No silly jetskis and powerboats for the Sommerfelds. No sir.

'Cottage' can mean a lot of different things in Ontario. We're close to Lake Rosseau, where 'cottage' means you bring the maids and the nannies in many cases. There are some spectacular cottages in the area; ours isn't one of them. I took the boys into the town of Rosseau, and as we stood on the lovely public docks, someone pointed out there are boat houses bigger than our cottage. This is quite true. I also don't think they don't spend their evenings playing Who Saw the Mouse Last.

We do have great jumping cliffs on our small lake, which is awesome. I trailed the kids over while they experienced the thrill of launching yourself from over 40 feet, trying to remember to keep your arms at your sides and to scream quietly. Of course the trip down takes mere seconds, and climbing up the rock face takes ages. Even getting out of the water takes some planning. There is a smallish platform rock you haul yourself onto. We call it Razorblade Rock. Yeah.

The boys decided to try tubing one afternoon. We only have canoes. Mother being the invention and all that, they rigged it up and took off. I was on the dock laughing so hard I could barely get these pictures:

I have just been informed this is called 'canubing'.

As I was making notes about future projects (Roz and Gilly, my sisters, are the co-owners), I lamented that we need a deck, a dock and a roof. And more steps on the path. Winter is hard on cottage country. Ari looked up with a brilliant smile. "You know what we really need? A zipline!"

Our cottage is on a hill. You descend a steepish path to the water. It's really lovely, actually. But apparently what we need is a zipline, so that Ari and his friends can step out the front door and zip to the water. Really.

As I tried to ascertain how much the needed repairs might end up totaling, Ari leaned over my shoulder.

"Got the zipline in there?"

July 25, 2010

And The Geese Came Back....

You may have heard that NY City has been culling Canada geese. Gassing them, actually, which just sounds....mean. I hate stepping in goose poop as much as anyone, and I am aware geese don't file flight plans with local airports, but it seems the geese may end up having the last laugh. Read here.

But the best part of the article? This comment:

"Earlier today I took a walk over to Prospect Park and had a long talk with the geese. It turns out that most of them had no idea that they were bothering people because nobody had told them. Some of them had realized it, but were lost and didn’t know where else to go, so I gave them directions. Many of the ducks and squirrels also didn’t realize that they had become annoying. The insects did but, didn’t care, so they’re a lost cause.

Anyway, the goose problem is over."

Survive This

As some of you may have noticed by now, my brain makes odd connections with odd things at odd times. I just had a bunch of kids to the cottage for a few days, and lay on the dock ignoring them for the most part. I dug out an old Toronto Life magazine to read - Roz gives them to me, but this one, from September last year, skipped by me and went directly north. I like Toronto Life; it's informative enough to be useful, and gossipy enough to be fun. There was an article in it by Jason McBride; he tried to live for a week as if he were in survivalist mode - if Toronto experienced some apocalypse, and he had to survive by his wits. His wits and stashed cans of chick peas and powdered milk.

I can't link it; Toronto Life won't let me. But if you're at someone's cottage this year, look for a copy. It was a fun read. He's honest and humourous. On his first morning of self-imposed apocalyptic crisis, he can't light his campstove. So he can't make coffee. That'd be the end of the experiment for me. But he introduces himself (and us) to some of those groups of people who not only believe the world is ending, they sorta seem to want it to. I mean, what's the point of being able to make a fire from a rock, a stick and your chest hair if you never get to do it?

I was sprawled on the dock reading this, a vodka and iced tea close at hand. It was quiet; we're on a tiny lake, so no motors, which is heaven. The boys were off doing boy things with canoes, and I just lay there hoping my ice cubes wouldn't all melt before I finished painting my nails. Or that the world wouldn't end either. Lovely orangey-red manicure, all for naught. I've survived tons of times at the cottage with no power. I think I could ride out an apocalypse on my dock. I would just have to lay in supplies of vodka, hickory sticks and apples first.

As I type this, I have JoJo the Wundercat curled up on my lap. She's big on long nails, which won't last, so I'm petting her as she drools away. She missed me, because she knows I'm an idiot who won't push her away. I type with one hand, or read all the way to the end of odd stories just so I won't disturb her - even if the stories disturb me. It's nice to be missed.

With McBride's story still tumbling around in my noggin (and thanks to JoJo), I read this one today in The Guardian. 'Doomsday scenarios: is humanity prepared for the worst?' yells the headline. Apparently, a bunch of scientists are all meeting at the moment to figure out if we get it. In a nutshell, their largest concerns seem to centre on the Large Hadron Collider, that scientific gizmo in the bowels of Switzerland that is the world's biggest particle accelerator.

Because every theory needs a conspirator, a bunch emerged from behind their grassy knoll to screech that this would be the end of mankind, indeed the whole planet. I think I need a bunch of t-shirts printed up that just say We're All Gonna Die; perfect for daywear, and in an XL they make a perfect nightie. Anyway. The upshot of science experiments appears to be that science is a tricky bitch, and you can argue all you like for the benefit of awesome discoveries to come, but there are still a contingent who repeatedly warn that it's all fun until someone loses an eye. Or a planet.

The biggest fear seems to be something called 'vacuum decay'.

"Vacuum decay leaves the entire universe not only lifeless, but without any hope of life for ever more. Vacuum decay, which is happily only a theoretical prospect, occurs when part of the universe is knocked into a more stable state than it exists in today."

I have more than a passing knowledge of this theory. I am presently conducting my own science experiment by allowing my vacuum to decay - I'm trying to get my household to a more stable state.

The upside of science, indeed.

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July 24, 2010

I'm a Lumberjack and I'm Okay...

When my Dad was young - long before he came east to Ontario, long before I was even a twinkle in his eye - he was a lumberjack. I don't think he did it for long; he was a farmboy off the prairies who stumbled onto the job more out of necessity than desire, or so he once told me.

He was small. He didn't reach his final towering height of 5'8" until he was 21. So it was a diminutive boy in his later teens who became a 'topper' - the smallest, lightest guy who headed to the top of the tree. The thought of someone hurtling UP a tree was a mental image that has stayed with me my entire life. The fact it was my father made it that much more thrilling. In later years, I watched my father chop and chainsaw his way through hundreds of trees. When we had the big Ice Storm of '73 (I think), he ran around for days taking down damaged trees for neighbours for a 5 block radius. They thought he was a hero; he just wanted the wood.

He taught us to chop firewood, and to work a bow saw. At the cottage, we still have his collection of crosscuts and bows, toothy, medieval looking things that still make me pause. His favoured chopping block has long since melted into the earthy landscape up there, but he taught me how to choose one for density, height and levelness. There is nothing that wears you out faster than chopping wood, especially if you are ten and don't want to let your father see your slender shoulders aching. He would lean over and give whatever piece I was struggling with a mighty slam, just to 'help' me along. I was usually fine with the final couple of inches.

In the New York Times today, I learned of a two week credit program for lumberjacks. All of these thoughts came crashing back, and I realize there is nothing I would like more than to go to this school. No, I could never make it. No, I could never graduate. No, I am a lumberjack (or jill) only in my wee mind. But I would still like to feel the energy drain out of me as I tried. I would still like to imagine my Dad leaning over to help.

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Ever Had a Bad Fishing Day?

Check out these pics....wow.

July 20, 2010

Gone, Baby, Gone

Taking Ari and a handful of his friends to the cottage for a few days. There will be noise. A lot of food will disappear. There will be a slight swampy smell about the place as four 16-year-olds make themselves at home.

I took this pic while kicking madly in my flippers so I wouldn't drown. Dunno who the kid on the right is - though that's Ari (left) and Christer (middle) probably a couple of years ago.

You'll have to talk amongst yourselves for a few days. And no, I'm not giving any of you rotters directions.

Unless the boys run out of steak, or I get dangerously low on wine.

July 18, 2010

...or maybe just like Lorraine Sommerfeld

When you trip over an article like this one, which tells you about a new website that purports to be able to analyze who you write like, you know there are certain types who won't be able to leave it alone.

Yes, me. Developed by Dmitry Chestnykh (whose parents could have bought just a few more vowels, no?), you simply plug in a sample of your writing, and it spits whose style you most closely resemble. As a writer, something like this is just a pileup waiting to happen. Like I don't have enough ways to waste time.

But in the spirit of research, I randomly plugged in a few paragraphs of a recent column. It reported back that my style is closest to Dan Brown. I wiped a tear from my eye. Oh my. While I covet his Angel & Demon sized bank account, his writing style is renowned for all the wrong reasons. Stupid website.

I plugged in another sample, from another column. Now I write like Stephen King. Hmmm. Not bad. It only made sense to plug in another sample. Hey, I have hundreds. This time, Margaret Atwood's name flipped up. Interesting. The problem now of course, is that I can't even play two out of three. It's like playing rock, paper, scissors, wood, cement, knife, ice and glass. Where does it end. One more sample. One more name: Cory Doctorow.

I stopped here. I have work to do. But if someone has time to kill, let me know if I start sounding like Shakespeare.


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July 17, 2010

"I cannot discuss it. Do not ask."

I was watching Oprah the other day. Be quiet. I watch it so you don't have to. Well, sometimes I do. Anyway. She had on the son of Jim Jones. Yeah, that guy. The Kool-aid Murderer. You know, this is the first time I have considered how unbelievably bad that whole association must have been for Kool-aid. Not to take away any of the horrific pain it caused for the families of the dead (over 900 in the Jonestown massacre), but I'd never stopped to consider the impact on Kool-aid . Gotta hate when a mass murderer co-ops your brand. Anyway. I was watching his son.

As I'm watching them re-cap the whole horrific thing (I was a kid - I remember it, but not with much current detail), I keep coming back to the whole cult thing. How the hell? How do hundreds of people across a broad spectrum of ages, races and backgrounds all buy into the thinking of a madman? I know, I know, Hitler, Manson et al. I get it. But I don't. I understand someone being loony enough to be that guy, but not to follow him. But I live a sheltered life, so there's that.

I was sitting on my back swing today reading Vanity Fair. Angelina is on the cover. Girl is hot. When it started to rain, I actually wasn't that upset at having to trundle my flabby arse back into the house. Looking at pictures of Angelina when you're contemplating starting an exercise program - tomorrow - is not for the faint of heart.

I started reading an article about this shyster guy in France who conned this noble, shabby old family. Mostly what they had, these de Vedrines, was a name and an old house. Big ol' house, but old. Anyway. After centuries of being aristocrats, they were somewhat discombobulated. As the family of 4 siblings and their assorted offspring struggled for solvency, they played into the hands of a brainwashing guru - Thierry Tilly. He convinced them that Freemasons were gonna get them. He got them all to hand over bank accounts, assets, even the house. And he got them to move to England and take on menial jobs and give him the money. He convinced them Freemasons were out to get them, and he allegedly kidnapped and tortured one of the women for months at a time. This went on for years.

If some of these other historic freaks can convince hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands to follow them, it isn't surprising that one could convince a family, extended or not. But again I found myself asking the same old question. "How? What does it take, what do you say, to get people to serve you and turn over all their worldly goods to you?" I am not wondering idly. I really, really want to know. I can no longer watch Lotto649 ads where a nervous young thing makes a phone call to say she's won. I do not win. I am curious about going the other route.

The Vanity Fair article revealed all. I can't link it - it's kinda a boring read, actually. Too long. Needs an editor. But the link I gave sums it up. Anyway. VF reveals what Tilly apparently said to convince his victims that he was the real deal. When asked what line he worked in, he reportedly said 'espionage'. And he followed it up with the power clincher. "I cannot discuss it," (raises a hand) "do not ask."

There it is. This is my new line. Whenever someone asks what I do, I shall whisper, "espionage". And before they can retrieve their jaw from the floor, I shall hold up a hand and declare, "I cannot discuss it. Do not ask."

Money should start rolling in by Tuesday.

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And sometimes, the editor wins...

There are times you break your butt getting what you think is a terrific picture. You might even spend an inordinate amount of time to get it. You might even return to your hosts to ask to take the car out again because you've had a brainwave on the way home. You might even have had to ask others to move their vehicles so you can get the shot.

And then sometimes, they don't run the pic anyway. Sigh.

July 15, 2010

Your Opinion Is Needed!

You - all of you - are being requested for input.

Read my newest Blame It On Lorraine letter. A young couple is struggling with the kid question. I offered to open up the discussion here on the blog. A husband is getting cold feet; a wife is wondering where that leaves her.

Got kids? How did you get from here to there? Any male insight into what her husband might be thinking? What are the fears and considerations that we women might not be aware of?

I want honest, helpful advice - pile in!

July 12, 2010

Newtonville Dan

Had a note to my Blame it on Lorraine mailbox from Newtonville Dan. I'm tempted to copy and paste it here because he said all sorts of random nice things about my writing, but I'll refrain. In essence, Dan was asking why my columns don't have a 'Print' feature embedded on them.

The whole site is being revamped over the next couple of months, and when we relaunch, it will have all the little howdy-doody bells and whistles it requires. Thanks for your patience. Any requests, feel free to pummel Webgod Jeff with. He's such a sweetheart when people want things.

Of Mice And Me

Our neighbours to the back have a huge property. I don't actually know them, though they seem perfectly nice. All this really means is that I've never had to call the cops on them. So. There's that.

Anyway, there are several trees that have met their demise at the foot of their property, which abuts mine. Two of them, though slender as trees go, have been sticking up dead for several years now. There is a fence that runs through the cedar hedge, but I noticed yesterday morning that the larger of the two trees had started to lean while entering its final death spiral. As a huge branch had hung from the upper reaches of their walnut tree for several years after a storm, before finally breaking away and plunging to earth just a few weeks ago, I was aware that my neighbours were content to let nature perform her circle of life thing unassisted.

An hour after I noticed the lean, we had a short, fierce rain. This apparently was all the aid it needed. I glanced out my kitchen to see this:

Ari was up on deck to cut the grass this week. I knew he would cut a perfect swath around this, while explaining that he didn't want to poke his eye out. So, the Poor Sod headed out with an assortment of tools to take the damned thing down. First, he walked around to the neighours, though. Out of town. He has a nasty cold, so I told him if it got worse just to chew on some of the echinaceas you can see growing off to the left there.

I'm sitting here working now. Maggie is staring out the front door at roofers across the street. I would do that too, but it's unattractive when you get caught. Anyway. JoJo just came charging into the kitchen. It's kinda hot to be charging. Then I realized she was stickhandling a mouse. Damn. Stupid little thing dashed under the stove. The mouse, not JoJo. No, this is what JoJo is doing right now:

That's the living room. She watched it go under the stove. In the kitchen.

If I get a shot of the mouse, I'll update this. Even though I'm actually working.

July 11, 2010

Hot Rollers

This is the Spirit of Ecstasy. I still call it the Flying Lady in my brain, but Rolls-Royce is quite proper. Coach doors are not 'suicide' doors. But in my head they are. But the beauty of the Rolls-Royce people is that no matter how stupid you sound in front of them, they all smile politely and assure you that you're always right. I feel like a 3-year-old toddler in the hospital, sometimes. But it's all quite soothing and reassuring, and it ends with a chance to drive a car worth as much as a house, if not endless ice cream.

I was chatting with a friend about the new Ghost. The one I drove was Metropolitan Blue, a gorgeous bluey-purple. She decided it would match her eyes, and therefore she should have one. I told her that RR would actually produce a car to *exactly* match her eye colour; that is what they do. I considered this after I said it. My minivan is something called Stealth Grey. It is blue. It does not match my eyes, nor did they offer to.

I was into Toronto twice yesterday (don't ask), and I really need to know this: where were you all going yesterday? Every single artery was clogged into and out of the city all day. It was a glorious hot day to spend at a beach or on a deck. So, why were so many of you in your cars? Oh, a friend I visited was at Cherry Beach with her kids. Check out her hilarious cartoon of her experience.

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July 9, 2010

Warped Family Conversation

So, Christopher and I are in the kitchen. I have Oprah on the little TV as I work. He is making a bunch of hotdogs - he just opens a new package, and throws them all on the BBQ. It's just him and Ari eating them.

On Oprah, she is interviewing family members of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Christer and I have a back and forth about the fact that so many murderers have the middle name 'Wayne'.
"Really?" asks Christopher.
"Really," I reply.
"How do you know that?"
"I know everything."

I don't, but that is an actual fact. And it's the kind of fact I really, really like, so I remember it. I cannot remember algebra or physics or when Magellan found whatever it is he found, but I remember that.

Gacy's sister recounted his childhood. "He wasn't a normal boy," she states. "He liked cooking and gardening."

Christer looks up. "Guess that means Ari is gonna be a serial killer," he says, spreading relish on his bun.
"Shut up. It does not," I reply.
"Well, he likes to cook. So, serial killer."
"I can tell you right now he will never be a serial killer."
"What about me?" he asks, bun held in mid-air.
"Not a chance. You're too lazy," I told him.
"Awesome. You know I'm not gonna be a serial killer because I'm lazy? Great mom."
"Think about it," I told him.
"Yeah, you're right. I'd tell someone else to do it for me," he finishes.

Do you know where your children are?

A Little Morning Conversation...

Backstory: I Skype with 7 other women writer friends, and we're in the process of forming a joint website. One of them (Annie) posted a recording of some readings she had done....

[9:44:23 AM] Janie: Hearing her voice changes how I see all I've read from her.
[9:44:32 AM] Sarah: Me too.
[9:44:38 AM] Sarah: Raine hasn't heard it. She doesn't haz speakers.
[9:44:40 AM] Janie: We can use that service where you can record it.
[9:44:41 AM] Lorraine: We could charge more for Annie.
[9:44:41 AM] Janie: Let me find that.
[9:44:58 AM] Janie: No speakers?
[9:45:05 AM] Janie: Don't you have a headset you can plug in?
[9:45:11 AM] Lorraine: I disconnected them to move the computer, then never moved the computer. Haven't hooked them back up.
[9:45:21 AM] Lorraine: Headset?
[9:45:26 AM] Lorraine: Where's the hole?
[9:45:26 AM] Janie: It should be there.
[9:45:35 AM] Sarah: My service would be for people who miss their wives... "no... no... don't touch me!"
[9:45:35 AM] Janie: Desktop?
[9:45:41 AM] Janie: Near the other holes.
[9:45:44 AM] Janie: Little round thing.
[9:45:44 AM] Lorraine: I'll wait till someone wakes up.
[9:45:55 AM] Janie: Get on your knees then.
[9:45:55 AM] Sarah: Is this dirty talk?
[9:46:00 AM] Lorraine: My eyes can't see the hole.
[9:46:05 AM] Lorraine: I could feel around
[9:46:09 AM] Lorraine: But it's dusty.
[9:46:10 AM] Sarah: Stop!
[9:46:13 AM] Janie: Well get your man on his knees to find the hole.
[9:46:13 AM] Sarah: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
[9:46:19 AM] Lorraine: He's getting his eyes checked.
[9:46:19 AM] Lorraine: He can't see the hole either.
[9:46:31 AM] Sarah: Oh god
[9:46:35 AM] Janie: Well I guess it will just have to be one of the young ones.
[9:46:38 AM] Lorraine: I am laughing so hard right now.
[9:46:50 AM] Janie: You could get one of those lighted magnifying glasses on the swing arm.
[9:46:51 AM] Sarah: Shit... me too!
[9:47:01 AM] Lorraine: I have a headlamp that straps on my head.
[9:47:05 AM] Janie: There ya go!
[9:47:09 AM] Janie: And some reading glasses
[9:47:12 AM] Janie: And you are good to go.
[9:47:14 AM] Lorraine: It's a look.
[9:47:20 AM] Janie: I'm sure
[9:47:28 AM] Lorraine: Please tell me we can publish this convo somewhere.

July 8, 2010

Dare You Not To Laugh Out Loud...

Roz just sent me this.

For cat lovers and haters alike...

I Am Old

I must be. There is less every day that I understand. There is less I care to even pretend I understand.

Case in point: Justin Bieber. Really. I will admit to barely understanding my friends going crazy over David Cassidy and Donny Osmond back in the day. I really, really didn't get the Osmond thing. Guess I've never been a fan of wholesome. Anyway. This Bieber kid. Take a boo at this pic.

Oh, dear. If you can make a buck being a screaming teen sensation, more power to you. If you can manage to do it and stay out of jail (yeah, I'm looking at you, Lindsay), even more power to you.

But please. Can we have children refrain from grabbing their baby genitals on stage? Please? First it's Miley Cyrus prancing around in her underwear every place I look, and now this wholesome little Canadian boy, with his tiny little chipmunk voice, going for gold. Are mothers everywhere - especially his own - not cringing?

Sing. Sing like the wind. Dance. Make money. Go back to school so you don't get ripped off by your 'managers'. But when your average fan is about 12, I'm gonna suggest you an leave the sexy sexy for another time.

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July 7, 2010

Stop the Losses

Reading of yet another person drowning here in Ontario is breaking my heart.

This doesn't have to happen. I've always said that if you live in Canada, you have to know how to swim and skate. The difference, of course, is that if you can't skate it won't kill you. But knowing how to swim should be as fundamental as learning how to walk. We have a lot of lakes and pools. Kids should rightly be able to safely play in them; everyone should be able to.

We've had a cottage on a small, deep, quiet lake for nearly 40 years. We've all known how to swim since we were toddlers; my British mother, who nearly drowned herself in England in a huge, crowded public pool, made sure of it. She didn't like swimming, but she hauled us all the Y, first in Hamilton, then in Burlington when it opened, to make sure we would be safe. We all took lessons, and at the cottage, there were rules.

We could never swim alone. Someone had to be on the dock. If you have kids (and yes, even teens), someone needs to be watching who isn't in the pool or lake. Little ones should never be beyond arms reach, and if there is no life guard on duty, someone needs to sit out. You can't see what's going on if you're splashing and swimming yourself.

You know those ads they're running now about staying away from waters near power generator stations? Make sure your kids see them. Calm water can develop instantly strong currents when power stations affect the flow. There are signs; beg, bribe or threaten your kids to obey them.

My Dad wasn't much of a rule guy, but whenever he swam the length of our lake, one of us had to canoe alongside him. He never, ever held the rope or needed help. But that wasn't the point. A cramp can kill you, and he knew it.

If you're at a cottage or camp, do not go on boats or sea-doos without life jackets. Just do not. Tell the kids it's not because they can't swim: it's in case they slip and smack their head. And, please, do not put your kids in jackets and then decline to wear one yourself. This makes me nuts to see.

If you have guests with you, ask if they are swimmers. If not, treat them like 2-year-olds in the water. Don't let them out of your reach.

Don't swim drunk.

Make sure you know how to float if you get in trouble. Sounds basic, but panicking usually does people in first. First of every season, make everyone practice for a few minutes. Get in trouble, flip on your back.

Those little blow up water wings are dangerous. Stupid dangerous crap from the dollar store should not be amongst your swimming gear. Make sure you have a decent flutter board on hand: it's a cheap, easy thing to take out to anyone, and may save a life you have to haul back to shore.

To families who have lost people, I'm so sorry. To everyone else, don't let it happen again. Nature is spectacular, but she's always gonna win if you test her.

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Hell's Kitchen

Argh. Make it stop. I had a few lucid moments in the middle of a raging 3 day (so far) migraine, and wasted too many of them watching this show last night. I used to kinda like this show. I totally love Kitchen Nightmares, especially the original. I admit it: I love Ramsay.

But this show has to go. It's shite. Total shite. I'm watching people who are basically less able than I am in the kitchen duke it out with sharp knives and dull wits.

Seriously. Most of the 'contestants' can't frigging cook. Some guy on there now is a high school cooking teacher. I'm all 'bring on the muffins!', the only thing I was taught. There is a huge difference between a cook and a chef. Even I know this. And trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is ludicrous. And if you believe for a second that any of the 'winners' actually go on to lead major kitchens, I'll eat Ari's new flipflops.

The swearing isn't entertaining; the yelling is over the top; why anyone is lined up to be on this show is beyond me. I can't name nor recognize a single contestant after, what, 3 years? Worst of all, I don't believe that Ramsay is actually even that much of a lunatic madman. Which makes him a very bad actor.

My friend Jodi Kasten, who knows more about this than I do, does a wonderful job here with her breakup letter to Ramsay. They're done. I wonder who got custody of the good pots.

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July 6, 2010

CHCH Live@5:30 Tuesday

To circumcise, or not to circumcise. That is the question...

Oh, uncross your legs. I'm not standing here with a kniife. Your parents made that decision long ago...and hence our discussion today at 5:30, repeat at 11:30.

July 3, 2010

Will I Put My Money Where My Mouth Is?

I dunno.

The Timesonline is one of my favourite reads. Truly. But they've gone back to a subscription, in answer to the general decay of the news gathering process. You want good stuff, you pay. Here's one of those 'in theory' things. In theory, yes. In practice, damn.

I've long considered that when I open my cable/internet/phone bill each month, and gape at the 190-something dollars it drains from my account (HST just added a little; I believe in that too, so shut up) and I think, "really? all that money so we can watch Mythbusters and Friends re-runs?". And somehow I manage to convince myself that bundling up interests and selling them out as a package makes sense. So when I see the Times wants some coin, I think "bundle it up with a bunch of others, and I'll pay". But to do stand-alone subscriptions is death.

What I really wanted to say was that I was getting all ready to link Jeremy Clarkson's review of the new Rolls-Royce Ghost for you. It ran in the Wheels section of the Star today, but due to constraints of the syndication agreement, the Star can't run it on their site. So, I was helpfully going to link it directly from the Times' site, where it ran a couple of weeks ago. Only I can't. So. There's that.

Why do I care, you ask? Well, it's an awesome review. And I'm going to go drive the new Ghost myself next week, so for once, I could tell you if Jeremy is full of crap, or brilliant. Hint: I'm firmly in the love him camp, and it's a great review. Go buy today's Star. In the meantime, here's the link to the Top Gear review and pics.

And I'll write up my take on the new Rolls next week. Once I get past 'oh, pretty....'

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I Be Twitting

Don't say it.

I'm trying to do that Twitter thing. You an find me under my name, or Tweeet Lorraine. That's not a typo. The other one was taken.

Be quiet. It's better than a bunch of dashes or underlines, or when you see a vanity plate with Diane218 on it.

There's a link on my home page. I aim to be informative and erudite. Or at least mildly amusing.

July 1, 2010

O Canada

I'm debating heading out to my swing at the foot of the yard. The sun is out, and I haven't sat on it yet this year, except the one day when I cut the backyard because the boys were out and I had to sit and take a break midway because I never cut the grass anymore. I'm sure it's covered in bird poop, so I'll take a cushion thing and pretend I don't know. It's Canada Day; most of my days run into each other (deadline changes now mean I work on Sundays as well as Mondays for writing), and I kinda end up working every day of the week. But today, maybe not. Or at least maybe not for long.

Flags hold a special place in my family's heart. Mostly because of Christopher. When he was little, he discovered flags and fell in love. By age two he was mesmerized. By three, he was collecting them. He'd get two new ones every week from the the flag store (yes, such places exist), until he had about 50 different countries. And he knew them all. But Canadian flags were always his favourite, and when we moved to this house the promise was that he could finally get his own flag pole. It's out front; we replace the flag not often enough, but we're still the house with the flag.

The Toronto Star had a bunch of their journalists write up a 'what Canada means to me' bit today. Most of them were lovely, and no doubt in line with what I would have written if they'd asked me. Note: they did not ask me. Anyway. All but Cathal Kelly's who cracked me up. Read his snarky take. I predict a flood of rotten letters to the ed for his impudence, but I loved it. It's true.

Canadians are a weird bunch. Truly. Even though we find it easy to define other Canadians, I think we usually get ourselves wrong. We're a Sunday morning version of ourselves, if Sunday morning still involved church and itchy pants and hard shoes.
We know we're doing the right thing even when we'd rather get changed and go play.

We're not up north, but we should be. But the traffic has become such a nightmare that I'll only try to get there on off days. That, and the laundry all got moused last year, so I volunteered to wash it all over the winter. I'm doing it as we speak. If my sisters go up, there are no towels or duvets. I hope they're not going up.

I'm sorry that Christopher Hitchens has cancer. I like the cantankerous bastard. I like his writing. I hope he gets well and keeps doing it.

I'm glad that Pee Wee Herman is developing a new movie. I think he got a totally bum rap all those years ago. Caught enjoying himself in a movie theatre (and the kind intended for that, not like a screening of 101 Dalmations or anything), I think back on all the crap that has happened since, all the sex tapes and confessions and cringe-inducing behaviour from people who should know better, and I think "Pee Wee gets busted for that and loses his career? Really?" So, welcome back. You were one of the only things my kids watched that didn't make me barf. I'm talking to you, Barney creators.

I'm conflicted about the stories emerging from the G20 stuff. Cops detaining people on their way to work is bullsh*t. But I'm not buying the 'I was just walking by' line at all. There were thousands of legitimate protesters, there for a purpose. But if you just were there for a looky-loo and got mixed up, kwitcherbitchin if you got swept up. You denigrate the case to be made for those with a purpose.

Larry King is bowing out of his show. I'm trying to think of something I care less about. Nope. Can't come up with anything.

I have other things to say, but I'm gonna go have some eggs.

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