Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And now, a word from Whymommy...

Our friend Whymommy is battling Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

This incredibly strong and brave woman has taken it upon herself to spread the word about this life-threatening disease, and has asked us ALL to help. She has written a magnificent, informative post (in fact, several of them), and has asked that as many of us as possible please copy it and post it on our own blogs. Her fondest hope is that other women will read it, recognize the symptoms, and get themselves checked out before it is too late. ALL women should be taught to do a BSE, regularly and correctly, and be ever vigilant about guarding their own health.

In Whymommy's words:

If you haven’t posted this yet, please feel free to copy and paste it at will. Your blog reaches places and women that mine doesn’t. Your blog can be part of this effort to save someone else’s life.

Thank you

And now, The Post:

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

We love you, Whymommy... You WILL beat cancer. I know it. And while you're at it, and Showing Us How It's Done, you are making such strides in promoting breast cancer awareness. Bless you, thank-you. CGF xoxo

Sunday, July 29, 2007

We're here... and it's wonderful!!!

Oh, it's so good to be back at the lake...

We can hear the waves lapping down at the bottom of the garden, the flowers are all in fragrant bloom, and there are riots of birds and butterflies everywhere you look...

No sooner had we arrived and thrown the contents of the loser cruiser into the front hallway, the girlies demanded to hit the beach. We found the bathing suits and towels, grabbed the sand toys, and headed out into the beautiful afternoon sunshine.

The girls frolicked in the water for awhile, and then with my help, proceeded to create an enormous and amazingly beautiful sand castle. We used the "dribble technique" that my father had taught me when I was a child (you get a bucket of sand-and-water, then "dribble" the wet mixture out of your hand to form an eerie-looking, asymmetrical sort of structure. Think of candle wax melting down the side of a candle...), and the whole thing looked like something out of a Gothic novel when we were finally finished, some two hours later.

The two older girlies immediately went back into the water to cool down and wash off the layers of sand sticking to their skin and swimsuits, and Child Number Three and I were left to guard and admire the castle.

Child Number Three walked around and around the structure, looking at it from every angle, and shaking her head solemnly. Soon, she was muttering, "Oh, dear... Oh, dear, dear... Oh, no...", and I couldn't help asking her what on earth was the matter.

She turned to face me with an anguished expression.

"Mummy... Oh, dear... Because, I just HAVE TO... SMUSH IT!!!" she squealed at the top of her lungs, while at the same time, taking a running-leap and sailing feet-first through the air, into the main section of turrets.

The rapidly-drying sand didn't stand a chance against The Attacker. Within a matter of seconds, she had flattened the entire castle, and was happily wiggling like a large worm on the damp remains.

Luckily, her older sisters were like-minded, and they each took turns schmucking the remainder of the sand-pile with their feet, accompanied by bloodcurdling shrieks of "COWABUNGAAAA!!"

It took a LOOONG time in the shower to get those kids relatively sand-free and calmed down enough to have their suppers and get into bed. But, once they were all asleep and I was snuggled into a quilt out on the deck, wine in hand, watching the sun set over the water... I just couldn't help thinking how lucky I am to be able to do this with them, all over again, tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cottage, here we come...

I'm frantically writing lists and checking lists and packing...

TOMORROW, the girlies and I are off to The Cottage.

Yes, I can hear those of you who know me: "What the HELL is she THINKING??!!"

Because those of you who know me also know that I am completely incapable of taking a "vacation" and actually have it turn out as a pleasant, restful experience.

Last year, our time at The Cottage was one of the hottest heat-waves on record. We actually had to "abandon ship" half way through, as I was vomiting from heat-exhaustion and my girlies were gasping and horking on their asthma inhalers for dear life. Luckily, my parents' air-conditioned house is about a two hour drive from The Cottage, and we were able to stay there for a couple of days while we all recovered.

We arrived back at the lake on the day that the heat was supposed to "break"... and it broke, all right. Ever weathered a full-force tornado in a two-story wooden cabin right on the water??! Neither had I. I saw those greeny-black clouds thundering across the water towards us, threw the kids in the car, and made for the house of a friend who HAS A BASEMENT. I flew through their front door, trailing little children behind me, shouting, "HEY, YOU GUYS!! How are all those RENOS ON THE DOWNSTAIRS BEDROOMS COMING??!! GEE, THE KIDS AND I WOULD LOVE TO SEE!!"

We feigned a "tour" of the construction site, in order to keep the children from freaking out about what was going on outside... And once all the weather had safely passed, our friends invited us to stay for dinner. Which, as it turned out, would have been a MUCH easier undertaking, with the power out and all, had their barbeque not been picked up off their patio and flung about five blocks down their street.


That said, when the weather co-operates, The Cottage is a truly heavenly place. The English Garden keeps me happily busy, watering, weeding and pruning, when we are not on the beach. And in the evening, THIS is the view my husband and I gaze out upon, as we sit on the deck and sip wine, after the children are all in bed.

So, I'm hoping for the best, while bracing for the worst...

We will be far, far out of internet range for awhile, and I will miss you all!! Keep in touch, and keep checking back, because who knows... I might just TRY and sneak off by myself for a couple of hours every once in awhile, and if I can find a cafe with wireless internet, I'll look in on you!

And I'll save all the stories of our escapades in a notebook as they happen, so I can write them up later, and you can read all about them, have a good laugh, and be glad you're not me...

Because, after all, The Crisis of Today Is The Joke of Tomorrow!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mummy's Treat...

Late Saturday afternoon, once I had finished painting the master bathroom and dressing room, I loaded the two youngest girlies and my mother-in-law into the Loser Cruiser, and set off to scrounge up a few ingredients for dinner.

Once we had made a stop at the local gourmet shop (one of my m-i-l's favourite destinations when she comes for a visit), I decided to take a "detour" on the way home. Because, after a couple of hard days' work, even MUMMY needs a little reward.

Child Number Three: (from her carseat in the second aisle) Mum?? Where we go NOW?

Child Number Two: (shouting from the third aisle) We're goin' to Mummy's HAPPY PLACE!!

Mother-In-Law (hereafter known as "The Pearl"): WHERE are we going?!

Child Number Two: You know, Gramma!! The LIQUORICE store!!

Mother: It's the LIQUOR store, you funny little kid, not the LIQUORICE store. Mummy's been working hard, and even Mummies need a treat every once in awhile.

Child Number Three: (eagerly, at the mention of c-a-n-d-y) OOOhhh!! I come in, TOO? I not stay in da car wif Gramma?! I get a treat, TOO??!

I should have known then that I was in for it. Child Number Three was convinced that SHE was getting a treat, and I happened to know for a fact that our local LCBO did NOT, in fact, stock liquorice... not even one lousy lolly pop.

The Pearl and Child Number Two opted to stay in the car and read books rather than coming into the crowded shop, while my youngest and I ventured in. Once I had convinced Wee Three to actually SIT in the shopping cart, and not careen around the store PUSHING the cart into large displays of expensive bottles, we were in business.

I set off up and down the aisles in search of my current favourite white wine, "Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush".

Okay, I confess. I initially chose this wine the same way I do MOST of the wine we drink. I liked the label. I LOVED the name. It was semi-revolting; a name that was DEFINITELY going to make an impression on any host I brought it to, and one that I was CERTAINLY not going to forget. The same goes for another of my favourites, "Fat Bastard". Luckily for my husband, BOTH of these wines actually turned out to be quite delicious, and we now happily converse over dinner:

Me: A little more Fat Bastard?

Him: I think I'll take a little Pee, actually...

Needless to say, people hate coming to dinner at our house, and if and when they do, usually wind up bringing their own bottles.

I was once asked to bring the wine to a party being held at my parents' house, and of course, arrived armed with a case of the "Cat's Pee". My father was completely horrified by his eldest daughter's complete lack of taste and sense of decorum, but had no choice but to serve what I had brought him... He wrapped a large white napkin firmly around the label of every bottle, apparently to "catch the drips..."

But I digress.

As I wheeled the cart around the store that Saturday, Child Number Three became increasingly distraught at the apparent lack of child-friendly merchandise. In order to distract her from her Quest For Candy at the Liquor(ice) Store, I attempted to show her some of the very pretty wine labels that we passed on our way down the aisles.

We found beautiful birds and different kinds of animals, and even scenic landscapes... But it was a tiny ladybird printed on a bottle of blush wine from the Niagara region that finally captivated her:

Child Number Three: Dat bottle for ME??!!

Me: Well, I don't know, sweetie... This isn't a bottle that's good for little people.

Child Number Three: (begging, clearly unconvinced) You get dat bottle for my BIRFDAY?!! For my TREAT??!

Me: Yes, sweetie. For your twenty-first birthday. 'Kay?

Yessir, it's great to see that at least ONE of my children has inherited my "delicate palate" when it comes to fine wine...

Next time, I'm just going to buy her one of those boxes of chocolate liqueurs, and enjoy the nap that hopefully follows.

I believe...

A few days ago, Mama Tulip posted a list of personal beliefs on her blog, and invited her readers to do the same.

Well, folks, here goes...

-I believe in a Greater Power.

-I believe in releasing the problems that I cannot solve to the universe.

-I believe that what goes around eventually comes around.

-I believe in Getting Involved.

-I believe in pain medication during childbirth... preferably ALL the medication they have, and ALL at the same time.

-I believe in taking the baby's socks off every. single. time. I change a diaper.

-I believe in Mr Clean.

-I believe that, while we are our children's teachers, we learn far more from them than they do from us.

-I believe that everyone has some degree of goodness in them... even if it's so deeply hidden, it's impossible for us to see.

-I believe that God wants us to love our neighbour, with

-I believe that the greatest lesson in life is "Be Kind".

-I believe that there are not many problems in life that cannot be helped by a large cup of hot, strong tea.

-I believe that the garden is a sacred space that is capable of restoring one's soul.

-I believe in blowing off steam every once in awhile.

-I believe in monthly pedicures, and more often if possible.

-I believe in the power of positive thinking.

-I believe in foundation undergarments.

-I believe that the world revolves on the power of caffeine.

-I believe in laughter, and lots of it.

-I believe that the crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.

-I believe that I am the luckiest woman in the world.

-And most of all, I believe that I CAN FLY... JUST NOT UP.

Monday, July 23, 2007


"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."
--Chinese Proverb

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gone... painting!

I'm painting the master bathroom today!!

This doesn't sound all that exciting, but TRUST ME, it SO IS... I've been trying to get the master bathroom, plus my little "dressing room" and closet painted since... well, FOREVER, if the truth be known.

When we first moved into this house eleven years ago, the decor was very "eighties". Our bedroom was painted a rather putrid peach-y colour, and the adjoining dressing area and bathroom were hunter green. Let's all just say "UGH!" in unison, and I promise not to bring that colour scheme up in conversation ever again.

Since then, the rooms have been re-painted a rather lovely butter yellow, but it was done while I was still just learning HOW to paint, and the job wasn't a very good one. My cutting-in was a bit splodg-y here and there, and the rolling was streaky. Come to think of it, the paint quality wasn't all that great, either. But, we all have to start SOMEWHERE, right? And it was better than it HAD BEEN.

I re-decorated our bedroom three years ago, when Child Number Three was just three months old (and still sleeping a fair bit in the daytime). I copied a Sarah Richardson design I found in a magazine, and the results were spectacular. But it's taken me THIS LONG to get to the rest of the job.

In truth, the entire bathroom really needs to be just ripped out and completely replaced, but that's "in my dreams", with our current budget, and my non-existent plumbing skills... We had a mildew "issue" under some wallpaper that I had put up a few years ago without priming properly first... The drywall repair that I had to do was enough work and stress to put me off completing the project, once I collapsed from exhaustion from all that sawing and taping and plastering and applying layers of "Killz" sealant (WHOO!! Does that stuff ever STINK!! But it's an interesting kind of "high", let me tell you).

The second thing that kept me from spending much time in that bathroom... was the squirrel problem.

We had squirrels in our attic in spring, 2006. Don't ask me why or how it happened, and I KNOW, people, Ontario Springtime is the time when most NORMAL wild animals start making their homes OUTSIDE. Suffice to say that we had a deranged, vagabond/tramp of a squirrel take up housekeeping just above our master bathroom a year ago last June. The noise was enough to keep us awake at night, and I was assured by my parents that the damage that squirrels can inflict on one's household can include sabotaging the electrical system, which not only poses a fire risk, but is also not covered on a lot of insurance plans...

I called our friendly neighbourhood exterminator, Carl, who recommended immediate "treatment" with Warfarin. NOT a very nice chemical. Definitely lethal, however, and Carl assured me that any vermin who had ingested the pellets we spread liberally in the attic would go OUTSIDE the house to desperately (although likely not successfully) seek liquid refreshment.

Well, guess what? Squirrel didn't make it out.

Squirrel died... somewhere in the wall between my shower and my clothes closet.

And that very week, it was about thirty-seven degrees outside. I'm talking WITHOUT the humidity factored in to the calculation.

The. Smell. Was. UNHOLY.

Our bathroom reeked. Our bedroom reeked. And, even my CLOTHES from the CLOSET reeked.

It was the kind of stink that, once you had it in your nose, no matter where you went for the rest of the day, be it the Hershey Chocolate Factory or a perfumery in France, you just couldn't shake the rank odour that lingered in your nasal cavities.

Yes, it was THAT BAD. Gag-me-then-pass-out bad. You-had-to-smell-it-to-believe-it bad.

And THAT, dear readers, is what one gets for playing with chemical weapons, and trying to screw with Mother Nature.

Husband and I wound up sealing off the rooms, and evacuating to the spare bedroom for about five weeks. Once the worst of the high summer temperatures were over, we were finally able to re-open that part of the house.

To say that my enthusiasm for decorating the master bathroom had WANED by that point would be a colossal understatement.

And so the rooms stayed. Primed, with a couple of ugly "trial splotches" of colour scattered here and there, and still slightly whiffy-when-warm...

Until this weekend.

This weekend, my blessed Mother-In-Law arrived for a couple of days to corral the girlies for me, so that I can FINALLY get this job done. It's taken me nearly a year and a half from start to finish, but it's almost done.

The walls are now a lovely pale-lilac shade, and tomorrow, I'm off to Home Depot to find some sparkly new mirrors and accessories to finish the whole thing off. I'm even replacing the drawer-pulls and handles on all the cupboard doors.

It's been a loooong process, but some things are worth waiting for.

And I'm waiting for that first bubble bath, where I don't have to close my eyes to the Horror and the Mess, remembering the REEK and the GUILT...

All of this makes me think of a wonderfully silly song my father used to play for me when I was very young... We were HUGE fans of the British singing duo, Flanders and Swann. Their feelings about the importance of the bathtime ritual were expressed in their tune, "In the Bath":

Oh, I find much simple pleasure when I've had a tiring day,
In the bath, in the bath!

Where the noise of gently sponging seems to blend with my top A,
In the bath, in the bath!

To the skirl of pipes vibrating in the boiler room below,
I sing a pot pourri of all the songs I used to know,
And the water thunders in and gurgles down the overflow,
In the bath, in the bath!

Then the loathing for my fellows rises steaming from my brain,
In the bath, in the bath!

And condenses to the milk of human kindness once again,
In the bath, in the bath!

Oh, the tingling of the scrubbing brush, the flannel's soft caress,
To wield a lordly loofah is a joy I can't express,
How truly it is spoken one is next to godliness,
In the bath, in the bath!!

I wholeheartedly concur... and... I. Can't. Friggin'. Wait!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Freak-out Friday...

It's Friday morning, and in a matter of hours, my mother-in-law will be arriving for a weekend visit.

A few minutes ago, I was engaged in an "animated" telephone discussion with the Husband, regarding the battle between US and CAPITAL ONE MASTERCARD, regarding the fraudulant use of our credit card, that came to light upon the arrival of our last bill... Don't go there with me right now, I'm saving up all my anger and frustration for one "Alex", a Mastercard representative who will soon be feeling the FULL EXTENT of the Goddess' wrath (and subsequently resolving the situation in MY favour, or die trying to screw me, if he so foolishly chooses...)

ANYWAY, I was on the phone.

And when I got OFF of the phone, just GUESS what I discovered in the kitchen?!

Child Number Three, standing over the Banana Cake with Fudge Icing that I had baked for tonight's dinner.

She was holding the largest spoon she could find.

And she was polishing off the very last of the fudge icing, which she had been not-very-neatly scooping off of the top of the cake, and shovelling into her mouth as fast as she could.

Mother: "*&%$#@@@???!!!!!!"

After the kind of morning I've had, and no doubt, the kind of afternoon I am IN FOR, I've got half a mind to whip up another batch of fudge, and just pour it over the train-wreck of a cake that's left in the pan...

But you know I'd NEVER actually DO it, don't you??!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One for all you ladies out there...

Here, ladies, is a joke I received from a good friend this morning... and it is just TOO FUNNY not to post.

(Gentlemen, you may talk amongst yourselves for a few minutes...)

Ready?! Enjoy:

A woman was leaving a convenience store with her morning coffee when she noticed a most unusual funeral procession approaching the nearby cemetery.

A long black hearse was followed by a second long black hearse about fifty feet behind the first one. Behind the second hearse was a solitary woman walking a pit bull on a leash. Behind her, a short distance back, were about two hundred women walking in single file.

The woman couldn't stand her curiosity. She respectfully approached the woman walking the dog and said, "I am so sorry for your loss, and I know this is a bad time to disturb you, but I've never seen a funeral like this. Who's funeral is it?"

"My husband's."

"What happened to him?"

The woman replied, "My dog attacked and killed him."

She inquired further, "Well, who is in the second hearse?"

The woman answered, "My mother-in-law. She was trying to help my husband when the dog turned on her."

A poignant and thoughtful moment of silence passed between the two women.

"Can I borrow your dog?"

"Get in line."

And now, let us pray:

Dear Lord, I pray for Wisdom to understand a man, Love to forgive him, and Patience for his moods. Because, Lord, if I pray for Strength, I'll just beat him to death.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Cake for Five Little Monkeys... and Mom and Dad, too.

This week, my new friend Canape (of Don't Take The Repeats and organizer extraordinaire of Team Whymommy) introduced me to another amazing blog: Five Little Monkeys. I highly recommend the read! It is written by supermom Jessica, about her life as the mother of FIVE CHILDREN: as in, one set of triplets, and one set of twins.

Jessica has just relayed the news that her husband, Jon, has been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Your prayers and positive messages for Jessica and her family would be so very much appreciated!!

For my part, Jessica, I promised you a cake recipe, fit for The Five Little Monkeys... and what better flavour than BANANA?! Here is the recipe for one of my very favourite desserts... it came to me from an elderly aunt who absolutely understood the importance of Comfort Food. I hope you enjoy it!

Now, line up those kids, and let THEM do the peeling, mashing and stirring!!

Love to you, Jessica, and know we are thinking of you. xoxo

Banana Cake with Fudge Icing

Mash three bananas, and mix in 1 tsp of baking soda. Let this stand while combining...

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups flour

Mix in the bananas and soda, then pour the batter into an 8 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.

Now, the best part: Fudge Icing!!

Combine in a medium saucepan:

1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Stir all of this together over medium heat, until it comes to a boil. Allow it to boil for ONE MINUTE (and one minute only!!) Remove saucepan from the heat, and allow the mixture to cool. Then, beat the mixture with an electric mixer until the texture of the icing is thick and creamy... then spread over the cooled cake. Quickly!!


The Flight of the Hummingbir.... huh??!

This morning we were all up extremely early, as we have been every morning this week. Child Number One is in horseback riding camp, and the kids are all expected to be working in the stables at "first sparrow-fart", as my father used to say.

After returning home with the whiny remaining children, I handed them each a little bucket, and instructed them to accompany me out to the Garden. I gave each child a section of flowerbed to weed, after carefully explaining which plants were WEEDS, and which were NO-TOUCHY. They are always happy to be out in the garden, and thank goodness, felt "big!" to be helping their mother with such a grown-up task...

I then grabbed my "garden claw" tool (which is AWESOME by the way-- it does a nice shallow soil-turn-over, without necessitating that I wrench my back over the pitchfork), and made for the Butterfly flowerbed.

I've been trying really hard to perfect the Butterfly bed, not only because the plants I've chosen will hopefully turn out to look spectacular, but also in an attempt to coax more of the lovely, ethereal creatures to visit us. I once read that if a gardener is able to attract butterflies, he or she has managed to create a perfectly balanced little ecosystem. It has been my goal ever since.

A few weeks ago, when the flowers began blooming in the Butterfly bed, I went into the shed and searched out the hummingbird feeder, which I have not attempted to use for several years. I cleaned it thoroughly, mixed up the liquid food, and hung it over the blossoms, hoping for the best. While I have yet to actually set eyes on one of those lovely, elusive little miracles of nature, I have been full of hope and anticipation... because day by day, the food-level in the feeder has been diminishing. And not just because of bees and wasps, either! I have been watching and waiting and brushing away any insects that have happened across the feeder. Anyway, it is simply not possible that a bunch of bugs could be responsible for draining the liquid almost entirely, week after week.

This morning, as the girlies and I weeded, we kept a close eye on all of our birdfeeders. We have a remarkable amount of gold, purple and house finches that are feasting almost constantly, and noisily beating one another to the "best" perches. We have rose-breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers who delight the girls by hanging upside down on the suet as they peck out their meals. There are a pair of beautiful red cardinals who appear at least twice a day, and take turns swooning over one another and feeding each other safflower seeds (my husband figures that they are still very "early" in their marriage, and haven't had kids yet). We've got squawk-y blue jays who push all the other birds around, and a flock of grackles and red-winged blackbirds who clear the place of ALL the smaller birds, and descend like a nasty gang of ornery teenagers and gorge themselves until one of us shoos them away.

And then there are the Chickadees, my very favourite birds. They are EVERYWHERE this year, cheerful and twittering and bouncing around. Last spring, a nest of six babies hatched in one of our big old fir trees, and they've been our constant feeder visitors ever since. There are even more tiny babies this summer, and we just love the "wheek-y, wheek-y!" noise they make, before they are able to come out with a robust, "CHICK-A-DEE-DEE-DEE!!"

But, after an hour in the Butterfly bed, there was nary a hummingbird to be seen. Not a single, solitary hum. I kept glancing up every few minutes as I weeded, and tried to keep as still and as quiet as I could... but nothing.

Nothing, that is, until I had almost given up completely, had gathered up all the weeds and tools and was about to stand up-- there was a sudden flurry of wings.

I looked up-- and finally laid eyes on the tiny, tiny bird who had been enjoying the garden and the nectar I had provided...

It was one of the baby chickadees. One of the sweetest things I've ever seen. He was little enough to wrap his tiny toes around the hummingbird perch, bent forward like one of those toy "bobbin' birds" we used to buy at Woolworths when I was a child... He stuck his tiny beak into the feeder again and again, sucking up the sweet liquid with great enjoyment. If he had had lips to smack when he was finished, I'm convinced he would have.

He then glanced down at me, gave a little "Wheek!!", and was gone before I'd fully registered what I'd just seen.

I've just about given up on attracting hummingbirds to the feeder this summer. But I've decided that I really don't mind that much. After all, how many people can boast having "Hum-a-dees" in their garden?

Very rare, I assure you.

Just wait till the Audubon Society finds out.
The Ontario Hum-a-dee

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Showing 'em the ropes...

The Rescue Team has just arrived at my door.

Thank Almighty God.

Every two weeks, I have a team of four wonderful individuals come and do a "deep cleaning" of this stinkin' heap my family and I call home. Oh, I try to keep things up in-between visits. But, no matter how hard I try, no matter how much damage control I do, and no matter how loudly I shriek at the family to "CLEAN UP WHAT YOU MESS UP!!", it would seem that without fail, by day fourteen, our lovely, sweet-smelling, spotless home has disintegrated into a cross between a bug-house and a bear pit.

The Ladies are everything that a Rescue Team should be. They are thorough. They are meticulous. They are honest and trustworthy. They are extremely kind to my children. They are amazingly tolerant of ME, and happy to work around the crazy woman who is usually found hunched over a desk-full of paperwork, cursing fluently under her breath, and scribbling notes.

The MOST stellar quality that the Rescue Team possesses has nothing to do with their formidable cleaning abilities, however. It turns out that The Ladies are extremely discreet. And it's a good thing, too, because besides my husband, there is little doubt in my mind that THEY know more about me than anyone else on this planet. They've seen it all. The closets. The bathroom counters. Heck, probably even the odd VISA bill that I have forgotten to tuck back under the mess of my desk. I try to do a major tidy-up before they arrive every-other-Tuesday, not just for the sake of hiding any potentially incriminating evidence, but for the simple reason that they need to be able to SEE the surfaces I pay them to clean.

A few weeks ago... I forgot to double-check our bedroom.

I need to preface this little confession by explaining that my husband, in his youth, was a spectacular sailor. From his earliest days, he spent every spare waking moment in the local "Junior Club". By the time he entered his teenage years, he was achieving considerable success on the competitive front. He even reached the Olympic try-outs... but I'll save gassing on about all of that for another time.

Now that he is an "old married man" and the wonderful father of our all-girlie "crew", there is considerably less time for sailing. However, one particularly useful skill that he learned from his time in a boat is his ability to tie knots. Thanks to his vast trove of knowledge, I am pretty sure that we must be the ONLY couple who has never lost a newly-purchased piece of IKEA furniture, or a freshly-chopped Christmas tree from the car roof rack whilst hurtling down the highway. The man can tie the most intricate and spectacularly secure knots that I have ever seen. He has books full of illustrated instructions that he constantly studies, and tries out new knots using two lengths of soft rope.

I find his knot-tying bibles and little "practise ropes" in different places all over the house on a regular basis. Sometimes I find them in his pockets, as I'm going through them before I start the laundry. Other times, they're on the coffee table or on his desk. Once, I found them beside the kids' bathtub, where he had been sitting on a stool and was SUPPOSED to have been scrubbing his filthy littlest daughter in preparation for bedtime.

But, dear readers, on this particular day, I found my husband's knot-tying ropes in a new spot. I had returned home at lunchtime, after leaving The Rescue Team to clean the house while I went out and did the grocery shopping. They were gone by the time I finally struggled through the door, and so I quickly made a round of the house, to make sure that there had been no difficulties during my absence.

When I reached our bedroom, I was horrified to find that The Ladies had discovered the two lengths of "practise rope"... and had coiled them up neatly... and placed them right smack in the middle of my husband's otherwise-spotless bedside table.

I felt the bottom of my stomach drop, and the life force begin to drain out of my body, in sheer... HUMILIATION...

What were those four sweet little Ladies THINKING OF US???!! What on earth must they imagine goes on behind closed doors in this house after dark???!!

The night before, while I had been watching Jon Stewart's Daily Show on television, my husband had been sitting up in bed with one of his knot-tying manuals, practising sailor knots. And most CERTAINLY not practising them on ME.

But had the cleaning team found the sailing book and placed IT back on his bedside table? No. Just the ropes.

My heart was just about exploding from my chest, I was under so much emotional stress when I reached for the phone and called my spouse:

Me: Jesus Freakin' Christ!! You will NEVER guess what I just came home and found!!

Him: (apologetically, in hushed tones) Uh, I'm in a meeting, here, can this possibly wait?


Him: (immediately excuses himself and frantically hisses down the phone) What?! What's wrong??! What on earth's the matter?!!

Me: (practically in tears, I'm so hysterical) THE CLEANERS!! They found your knot-tying ropes by the side of the bed!! You were doing your freakin' sailor knots in BED last night and you forgot to put the ropes away before the cleaners came!! They found them and they coiled them up for you on your bedside table and EVERYTHING... and NOW THEY THINK WE'RE KINKYYYYYYY!!! (bursts into sobs)

Him: (Trying not to laugh) So WHAT?!

Me: Oh, you're such a TYPICAL MAN. You don't even give a crap, because YOU THINK THIS MAKES YOU LOOK GOOD!! Well let me tell you, I've got to live in this town!! I'M the one who has to be able to hold her head up in the Kindergarten Playground!! And IF THIS GETS OUT, I'm telling you, Funny-Boy, I won't be able to do it!! I'll call the real estate agent, and WE'LL HAVE TO MOVE!!

Him: (Now really laughing) Oh, come off it. We're NOT moving. They're not going to say anything. You're just being overly-dramatic, as usual.

Me: I AM NOT!! I swear, I'll move, or I'll have to become a hermit or something!!

Him: Oh, calm down, why don't you. They're not going to say anything. There's nothing they CAN say, anyway!! It's obvious!!

Me: (NOT calming down) How can you SAY that?! The "evidence" is sitting right here on your bedside table, in front of me!! How can you say that this is NOTHING??!

Him: Because, Sweetheart!! WE HAVEN'T GOT A HEADBOARD. What the hell do you figure they think I'd tie you to??!!

This, dear readers, is what men apparently call "logic".

All I know is, in spite of everything, and to my infinite relief, The Rescue Team returned to my bear-pit of a home this morning. And from what I can tell, none of them are giving each other long, sideways looks whenever I appear, or are sniggering behind my back...

Thanks be to God.

Because man, every two weeks, at LEAST, I need to be Rescued.

And I have a horrible suspicion The Ladies can sense that...

Love and Marriage

This morning, I was in a bit of a funk due to a 24 hour bout of "writer's block".

Summer's here, the kids are home and NEEDY, and I have been hard-pressed to come up with anything to write about, much less time to write anything in.

My husband tried to cheer me up over breakfast:

Him: What's the matter? You've got lots to write about! Why don't you write about ME?!

I glared at him over my glasses.

Me: Because, Dearest, I'm TRYING TO KEEP IT NICE.

Him: (putting his nose back in the newspaper) Oh. Well. Good luck with that.

Honey, I love you. Just remember, you asked for it...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Proud to be a Canadian, but...

In the United States, the third Sunday of every July is
"National Ice Cream Day".

All I can say is, God Bless America.


Ready, set, FREECYCLE!!

This weekend, my husband and I spent two days cleaning out the dreaded "storage area" of our basement.

This was no small task, let me assure you... We have been in this house for eleven years, as of this week. Before we settled down and had our children, my husband and I moved house approximately every two years. I am married to a "Save-o-Potamus" (as I affectionately call the obsessive, junk-hoarding man I love), and the constant moving gave us the opportunity, and, might I add, the tremendous incentive, to get rid of our unnecessary belongings on a regular basis.

Eleven years and three children later... Well, let's just say that it has been getting "Crowded" down in the basement.

The storage area quickly became the place where we "dumped stuff" without much thought... Outgrown toys and clothes, miscellaneous pieces of luggage, malfunctioning kitchen appliances ('cause I'd SURELY find time to fix them later, don't you know), and boxes and boxes of UNKNOWNS.

You know the "unknown" boxes in your basement. That's the stuff that hasn't been looked in on for SO long, you've forgotten what's in there. What's more, you've forgotten to care. In our case, we have been too SCARED OF WHAT MIGHT BE IN THERE to care. My neighbour, Andrea, once decided to have a "Reformation" in her storage area, and figured that she would just toss out all her "unknown" boxes, because, she reasoned, if she hadn't looked at the stuff in THAT LONG, she surely wouldn't actually NEED it. And, it turned out, she DIDN'T need it, until her mother arrived for Christmas later that year and asked where all of Great Grandma's antique tree ornaments had disappeared to...

Lesson learned, I was determined that today, my husband and I would venture into even the scariest and most foreign of our "unknown" boxes.

And oh, the things that we found! There was a weight set and two bags of golf clubs that were older than ME, clothes I hadn't seen since my "bad old days" in university, a cast iron frying pan that STILL reeked of a fish that I once tried to fry in it, a huge, decrepit box-full of Girl Guide Leader supplies, scrapbooks containing ancient newspaper clippings featuring The Toronto Maple Leafs that my husband collected as a child, and a frightening number of the most gargantuan and gaudy sailing trophies, from said husband's "glory days"...


It was an overwhelming task which demanded ruthless tossing-out, and both emotional and physical strength... It might well have been just too much for our marriage to bear... were it not for the wonderful internet organization, "FREECYCLE".

Freecycle is a website that I discovered several years ago, when I was browsing through Yahoo Groups. There are chapters in many, many North American cities, and once you have signed up for the one (or ones!) in your area, you are free to both "post" and "receive". For instance, if you have (as I did) an old toaster oven that you would like to give away, you "post" an offer to the group at large. Everyone in the group will receive your email, and then interested people will email you back, asking for the toaster oven. You, the "post-er" are allowed to choose the recipient, to whom you then email your address, so that he or she can come and pick up the toaster oven. Most often, articles are left just outside of the front door, for "porch pick-up", and that way the "post-er" does not need to be at home, or interrupted.

There is, of course, a list of guidelines, stating what you can and cannot post. This, incidentally, is why I cannot get rid of my girlies this way, no matter WHAT evil crime they have just committed. The threat of freecycl-ing them is a good one, though, and it would CERTAINLY be less expensive to have them picked up from the porch, rather than having to pay the postage if I were to place them on e-bay... The only other rule is that NO MONEY can change hands. FREEcycle means that the articles MUST be free.

You can, if you like, also post for "NEEDED" items, in the hope that some generous soul might respond. Non-profit organizations benefit from this service tremendously. There is a freecycle member in my area to whom I give all of my old computer parts, to help him assemble used computers, which he donates to schools and children's groups.

Freecycle Rocked My World today. I got rid of so many pounds of still-good, but unnecessary stuff, I swear to you, my house has risen up out of its previously-sunken foundation by several inches. My storage space is now so tidy and organized, I can reach the breaker-switch board without climbing over anything! I can have trades-persons visit the premises without having to go through my usual "Sorry 'bout the MESS!!" schpiel!! I know where my craft supplies are!!

But best of all, I met some really nice people, and I'm thrilled that they're so happy to receive the things that my family and I no longer need.

Now, that's NOT to say that the garbage-and-recycling sanitation workers aren't going to earn every cent they make when they stop by my driveway tomorrow morning... Because BELIEVE ME, there was plenty of NOT-so-good stuff down there, as well...

But thanks to Freecycle, there will be plenty of space left in the landfill for some of YOUR stuff, too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The sounds of summer...

To me, there is no sweeter sound of summer than the shaky, shimmering trill of a cicada. I remember the everlasting holidays of my childhood, heavy and sticky with southwestern Ontario humidity... lying on my back in the soft grass of my parent's front lawn, staring up into the branches of the huge old maple tree... and listening to the cicadas as they bantered their "song" back and forth.

This is one bug that the Goddess welcomes into her garden, year after year. Because the song of the cicada is what MAKES summertime. It beckons to the little girls and me, and reminds us to Slow Down. Relax. Look up. And, Enjoy...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cookie Conundrum...

Child Number Three, aged three, loves to bake. There is absolutely nothing that she enjoys more than donning her tiny little Mennonite-style apron, pushing a chair across the kitchen and positioning it in front of the counter, where she stands and helps me to carefully measure, pour and stir together just about any recipe. "The Messier, the Better" seems to be about her only unspoken guideline. This is a kid who is not afraid to get her hands dirty-- or anything else dirty, for that matter. She can stir and dump and roll and knead with the best of 'em. My kitchen usually looks as though a small hurricane has passed through it when we're done, and she is finally positioned on the same chair, only seated this time. She holds her favourite blanket, with a pacifier firmly planted in her mouth (the other thirteen are kept in her purse), and watches the baking through the oven window with the same kind of rapture that most kids her age watch "Dora The Explorer". She's generally a little flour-y, and definitely more than a little sticky by the end of the process, but no other activity satisfies her like a little productivity in the baking department.

One of our favourite recipes is for a soft ginger spice cookie, which I found in last year's November issue of Chatelaine Magazine. Wee Three loves it because there is plenty of hand-mixing involved, as well as rolling the dough into little balls. It's just like playdough, except it smells good, and you can actually EAT IT!! Best of all, however, before the little balls of cookie dough are placed on the baking sheet, each one is rolled in GRANULATED SUGAR. This is, without a doubt, my youngest daughter's favourite part of the entire recipe. She rolls those little suckers around with such incredible enthusiasm, the cookie dough balls are far from the only things that are completely coated with sugar by the end of the process.

About a week ago, we took an "assembly line" approach to ginger cookie-making. I rolled the dough, and then handed each little cookie ball to Wee Three, who did her usual job of the sugaring. She then placed each cookie onto a baking sheet, ready for the oven. It wasn't until after we had finished, and she was settling herself on her chair in front of the oven window, that I noticed a little "bald" stripe down the middle of each sugared cookie-dough ball. The bald patches weren't all on the tops of the dough balls-- some were on the sides as well. I didn't think much of it, and figured that she just hadn't done her usual, practically-perfect job in our haste to get the recipe completed (we had company arriving, and still had the rest of the house to tidy up, as well). I just shrugged, and put the baking sheets into the oven.

It wasn't until we were actually SERVING the cookies to our friends about an hour later, when Child Number Three offered her four-year-old cohort a "Lick-it Cookie", that I came to the horrifying realization what that little "bald patch" on the cookie dough balls had actually BEEN... My little Christer of a daughter had licked nearly every. single. one. before placing them on the baking sheet.

My visitor, who is a dear friend, a mother, AND a family physician, laughed hysterically when I snatched the plate off the table, and explained why we would be having cheese-and-crackers for our tea as an alternative... She insisted on eating the "Lick-it Cookies" ANYWAY, and assured me that any evil cooties my daughter may have transferred would have been eradicated during the cooking process... All I can say is: Dr. Gummy, babe, you're a brave woman, one HELL of a scientist, and an even BETTER pal. xoxo

So, here, dear readers, is my recipe for "Lick-it" cookies... Enjoy them warm, with a big glass of milk. Or, what the heck. Forget about the baking and just lick 'em instead.

Ginger Spice Cookies

2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each cinnamon and ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Arrange oven racks in top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray or coat 2 baking sheets with oil (*I use parchment paper on the baking sheets first, then spray the paper*). In a medium bowl, using a fork, stir flour with baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Then beat in oil and molasses. Beat in brown sugar until evenly mixed. Gradually stir in flour mixture until well mixed.

2. Place granulated sugar in a small bowl. Pinch off about 1 tbsp dough and roll into a ball. Then roll in granulated sugar until evenly coated. Place on baking sheet. Continue with remaining dough, placing balls at least 2 inches apart.

3. Bake on two racks in preheated oven, switching the position of the sheets halfway through baking, until the cookies begin to crack and set around the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes total. Remove baking sheets to a rack. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days, or freeze up to 1 month.

July 11

Monday, July 9, 2007

Taz Times Three...

Tonight, just before supper:

Mother: (Addressing The Troops) Okay, you little chuckle-heads, I'm going downstairs to get the laundry... NO FIGHTING while I'm out of the room, GOT IT??!

Naturally, no sooner does The Mother's big toe hit the top step, all three girlies begin squabbling, and sounds of Hell Breaking Loose erupt from the kitchen.

Mother: (Continuing down the basement stairs, and YELLING) Right!! If you're GOING to fight, just make sure it's TO THE DEATH. Got it??!!

It's been a LOOOOOONG day...

Beauty is Nourishment for the Soul

"If you have two loaves of bread, sell one, and buy a lily."
-- Chinese Proverb

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Let There Be Comfort... and Hope

As many of you may have gathered, I was born and raised in the magical, idyllic little town of Stratford, Ontario, Canada. I visited my parents in my childhood home today, as they were determined (as they are every year), to share my birthday, and present me with an enormous chocolate cake. To my mind, there could be no greater gift than to be in a place that I love, with both the people who gave me life, and the people who CONTINUE to give me life (my three girlies, and my husband)... As an added bonus, my brother was also in attendance, who, without a doubt, is the girlies' favourite human being on the face of the earth... To put it mildly, it was a wonderful day for everyone involved.

One of the highlights of my day began innocently enough. My father and I sneaked out of the house for what was supposed to be a very quick trip to the bank. However, as he and I patronize different establishments, we agreed to meet on a specific corner downtown, once we had finished our transactions. As I was standing on the corner waiting for him, my eye was caught by a storefront that I had never ventured into before. The sign read, "The Quilt".

Now, I had heard sketchy details about "The Quilt" phenomenon in Stratford, and several of my mother's friends have contributed to the project, but I had never actually been inside the exhibit before. My recently-struck-up friendships with the incredible Whymommy and Kim immediately leaped to mind, and I walked over and pushed open the front door...

And what an incredible spectacle met my eyes.

Dozen upon dozen of the most exquisite quilts and wall-hangings graced the interior of the gallery. The massive collection was dizzying, and the array of colours and textures rendered me speechless.

I paid my seven dollars admission, and the young woman behind the counter explained The Quilt project to me.

In 1997, Carol Miller, a citizen of Stratford, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In order to help herself deal with her diagnosis and treatment, she turned to quilting for solace. As it says in the souvenir guide that accompanies the exhibition, "...she knew of the companionship of the quilting bee: the laughter, the sharing and the support that women gave each other as they pieced together a story from treasured remnants. She knew that when hands were busy, the mind was freed. She knew this was exactly the sort of thing that women with breast cancer need to survive."

Once she had beaten her own cancer, Ms. Miller's mind turned to using quilting as a way of helping other women come through their own personal battles with the disease.

Initially, The Quilt: A Breast Cancer Support Project was intended to be a one-time event. Ms. Miller had hoped to receive 35 donated quilts to auction off at a function that was held in Stratford in 1999. However, the project had rapidly become such an enormous success, donated quilts kept arriving from all over North America, even long after the deadline had passed. And so, the auction became an annual event. Over the past nine years, the yearly auctions have sold over 2,620 quilts and raised more than $1.37 million dollars.

The money that The Quilt raises is divided between several different organizations, but all of the organizations chosen to receive money focus on providing support for breast cancer patients and their families. As Ms. Miller says, "Treatment without support isn't healing, it's just treatment". Among those organizations are Wellspring: A Lifeline to Cancer Support (which has chapters in Ontario and Alberta), Caring Voices: A Breast Cancer Survivorship Program (an online support program for survivors), Princess Margaret Hospital, and of course, The Canadian Cancer Society.

This year's collection of quilts are absolutely spellbindingly beautiful. If you are a needlework affectionado like myself, or if you would like to participate in a unique fundraising event for one of the most worthwhile causes there is, I urge you to visit The Quilt's website, and become involved. Exhibitions of portions of the enormous quilt collection are happening all across Canada this fall, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. And even if you cannot get to an exhibit, you are welcome to make a financial contribution, in order to provide some very special women and their families with the care that they need at a critical time in their lives.

Today, I learned that quilts can be Great Comforters on many, many levels. May they continue to bring comfort to many more women in the future.

"Let no one face breast cancer alone!"

Them's fightin' words...

Yesterday, I was posed an unexpected question by Child Number Two:

Child Number Two: Mummy, how come you and Daddy fight sometimes? Don't you LOVE each other??!

My mind went immediately back to a book by Fred Rogers that I have recently read. It is a brilliant, sensitive compilation of little snippets of his wisdom, and in it, he deals with this very subject. I tried to paraphrase as best I could...

Mother: Of course we love each other. Sometimes, people who love each other fight, just like you and your sisters do. Fighting doesn't mean that you three don't love each other anymore; it's not possible that you will agree with each other all the time. Sometimes we ALL have angry feelings, and that's okay. It's important to let those feelings out, but it's also important to let angry feelings out in a way that doesn't hurt anybody else... I guess you could say that we fight sometimes BECAUSE we love each other. We trust that we won't stay mad at each other for very long. We let our feelings out, instead of holding them inside...

Child Number Two: (grinning HUGELY and looking me RIGHT in the eye...) You guys sure must love each other an AWFUL LOT, then!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

I want THIS t-shirt for my Blog Sisters...

Blogging has been an extraordinary experience for me.

I have been writing for many, many years, but in all of those years, I have never felt the kind of personal satisfaction that I have received from publishing this blog. I have been astounded by the number of people who are willing and eager to read the sordid accounts of What Goes On In My Head. I have connected with old friends, and have made many, many new ones.

Over the past several weeks, I have been witnessing, and in my own small way, have been privileged to participate in a full-blown example of the Incredibly Positive Power that blogging can have.

I came upon the two sites, Toddler Planet and The Merits of the Case, in a round-about way... just by checking out links on other people's blogs, really. When I discovered that these two outstanding women were both in the very early stages of battling breast cancer, my heart went out to them. I sent them each messages, but found that I couldn't stop thinking about them as days went by.

Clearly, I was not alone.

I have been astounded to witness the outpouring of love and support that my fellow bloggers are showing for both Whymommy and Kim. These courageous and gracious women are writing about their cancer experiences, sharing intimate details of their lives, and raising our awareness of the disease to a whole new level. We as a group cannot do enough to encourage and thank them.

To my new "sisters", Whymommy and Kim:

You are amazing. You can do this. We are all right here, behind you, every single step of the way. It is incredible to think that thanks to computer technology and its far-reaching effects, somewhere in this world, someone will be thinking of you and sending you positive energy EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF EVERY SINGLE DAY! To say that I am proud to be on your "teams" is a wild understatement. I am privileged to help you in any small way I can.

And when you beat your cancer and this is all behind you, I WANT PICTURES OF BOTH OF YOU... wearing these FANTASTIC t-shirts. And oh, how we'll ALL celebrate...

But right now, we celebrate your Courage, and your Strength.

And we celebrate the Power of the Blog, for bringing us all together in the first place.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Critters are out to get me...

This is what my Pink Stargazer Lilies SHOULD be looking like today... But alas, in the night last night, a posse of vicious, deviant raccoons attacked the plants. They tore off all the big, beautiful buds that were just about ready to BURST, hauled them all up onto our glass patio table, and tore them to shreds. I've got the footprint evidence to prove it.

To say that I am ticked off about this act of vandalism is a wild understatement... Pink Stargazers are my absolute favourite flowers; I carried them at my wedding, and it gives me tremendous pleasure that I am now able to grow them in my own garden. I was SO looking forward to them blooming again this year. The plants are enormous, and they always seem to open just in time for my birthday.

Tonight, the Goddess is taking matters into her own hands... "The Boys", as we've always called the raccoons, have gone TOO FAR. I have officially HAD IT with their nightly habit of knocking over our garbage cans and scattering the contents hither and yon, no matter what tricks we use to try and thwart them. I am DONE with hosing down the top of my tool shed, in order to eliminate the enormous piles of scat they leave for me every single morning. There will be NO MORE raccoons carousing, feasting on the contents of my garden, and then ceremoniously ralphing in my swimming pool.

They have Crossed The Line!! You can defile my garbage cans, but By God, don't you put a PAW on my lilies...

The Proper Authorities have been called... The humane traps will be set first thing tomorrow morning.

This year, I guess I'll just have to settle for a photograph of stargazer lilies... and the sweet, sweet feeling of REVENGE, as The Boys are carried out of my garden, past the garbage cans, and into the animal control truck.

Enjoy your new life in the countryside, Boys...

And Christ Almighty, they had better not have a "homing" instinct...

Life's Greatest Lesson

"Did you know that the only way to be really happy is to find ways of helping someone else?"

-- from today's episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighbourhood"

Just hose 'em down, people, hose 'em down...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Bought today.

"There's no place like home..."

Okay, people, I know. They're a little "far gone".

But you know what? When I saw them in Winners this morning, where I had gone for an hour of solitary "retail therapy", I just couldn't leave them behind...

Even if all they get used for is to make me laugh, they were worth the twenty bucks!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

There is no friend like a sister...

This evening, my three daughters, ages eleven, six and three, were hard at work outside on the patio with an enormous box of coloured chalk. I left them to their artwork, and went into the kitchen to tidy up the aftermath of dinner. It wasn't until I glanced out at them from the window over my sink, that I realized that instead of drawings, each child (including the three year old!) was composing enormous "LISTS", each on her own little section of the stones.

I continued rinsing the plates and loading the dishwasher, until I could hear a scuffle breaking out, and the voices of the two eldest girls rise up.

Moments later, Child Number Two came charging in through the back door, hackles-up and hands balled into little fists.

Mother: (bracing for the worst) What-ho, kiddo?

Child Number Two: (indignant) They're making a Club out there, and they asked ME to join!!

Mother: So what's the problem with that?? Everyone Being Included is a GOOD thing, right?

Child Number Two: Yeah, but I DON'T WANNA be in that club!

Mother: Why not? They want you to join!

Child Number Two: Well, they called it the "GOOD SISTERS" Club, and I don't wanna be a good sister!

Mother: Why on earth not?

Child Number Two: (exasperated) C'mon, Mum, how DULL and BORING would THAT be???!

Always stirring up the pot, that kid, ALLLLWAYS stirring up the pot...

... but joy cometh in the morning

For as long as I can remember, all of the trials, tribulations, worries and conundrums that I have ever encountered, be they my own or brought to me by the people I love, have been mulled over at great length over endless cups of tea.

I have no doubt that this habit developed in me because of my family's fiercely English background. Hell, as soon as we opened our eyes in the house that I grew up in, SOMEONE always appeared next to us, offering us a steaming mug. Upon re-entering the house after being away, whether we had just come from the corner store or half way around the globe, the kettle was plugged in even before the lights were turned on. Tea was paramount, it was the elixir of life of my childhood.

When I left home to attend one of the largest and most notoriously "unfriendly" universities in the country, I quickly learned to make friends by sharing tea with other students. We quaffed enormous quantities of the stuff, and tried all kinds of different varieties... It got us through the pressure-cooker of stress produced by essay deadlines and exams, and brought us together to share our challenges. Often, my friends and I were just too exhausted to even SPEAK... the simple act of walking into one another's rooms unannounced, bearing two extra-large teacups, was the Ultimate Gesture, and the wide-eyed, terrified STARE brought on by writer's block said far more than words could ever articulate.

My long-time (long-suffering) room-mate gave me my Big Red Teapot on the occasion of my twenty-first birthday. This teapot has been with me for nearly twenty years, now, carefully carried from apartment after apartment, and then house after house. It is sitting and steeping a pot of Bewley's Irish Breakfast right now, on my kitchen counter. That sight is the ultimate symbol of comfort to me. Some people may find it in their mother's eyes, but I find heaven in that little whiff of steam that escapes the Big Red Teapot's spout, when I'm just about ready to pour.

My friends and family and I have sat around my teapot and discussed just about everything you can imagine. I have planned weddings and baby showers and anniversary parties... I've nursed everything from the flu to post-partum depression to cancer... I've discussed many heartaches, wept over losses and break-ups, miscarriages and deaths. All around this big red piece of porcelain.

Last night, the teapot and I worked overtime. I was up half the night, worried and heart-sick with news I had just received by telephone. Immediately after hanging up the phone, it was my teapot I turned to for comfort. It took many, many cups of (decaf!!) tea, but in the wee hours, I was finally able to wrestle my own emotional reaction into submission, and concede that the news I received is truly "for the best". After a long night, I can look in the mirror and honestly say that I am still a happy person, and I can handle whatever the future throws my way.

Even though everyone else in the house was fast asleep last night, I wasn't alone. In truth, I never WILL be alone. So long as The Big Red Teapot is working with me...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Work it, baby-girl...

This evening, I was in a bit of a conundrum about dinner... The shops were all closed for the official Canada Day holiday, and I suddenly discovered at about five o'clock that I was SERIOUSLY low on groceries. The rest of the family members were oblivious to this crisis, as the majority of them were busy working up intense appetites in the swimming pool, where they had spent most of the afternoon.

The Goddess was in deep doo-doo, people.

Because, there ain't NOTHING in this world that can kill the atmosphere of a fun-filled holiday weekend like three exhausted, starving kids... THAT spells Meltdown City, and THAT was a place that The Goddess simply didn't. want. to. go.

So, I did what I usually do in most crises. I plugged my ipod into the big speakers we have in the kitchen, and cranked up the file marked "PANIC MODE".

Rocking out to loud, raucous music has a miraculous effect on me, as a rule. It seems that the harder it is for me to hear the negative, stressed-out voices in my head, the more effective I become at problem-solving. There are many selections on my Panic Mode list. I find most tunes by OK-GO extremely effective, and also artists like Pink and Aerosmith. Basically, in general, I find the Higher the Attitude, the Heavier the Beat, the better.

It was while I was shaking my booty, and simultaneously sticking my head deep into the depths of my refrigerator to see what "still-edibles" lurked within, that my little three-year-old daughter wandered in the back door. She was dripping wet, but when she heard the irresistable strains of Nelly Furtado's "Maneater" and saw ME dancing, she promptly dropped her towel and joined in the fun.

Now, we play a lot of grown-up music in this house, as a rule. It is my firm feeling that Children Cannot Live By Raffi Alone, and parents definitely SHOULD not, for the simple reason of maintaining their sanity. My kids are intimately familiar with MOST of my favourite songs at any given time, but there is no doubt that there is SOME music out there in the popular culture that is not entirely suitable for young ears.

But, all that aside, I cannot even BEGIN to describe how hilarious it was to watch a soggy three-year-old perform a flawless shimmy-shimmy to old Nelly's kind-of-inappropriate tune. I think it was the droopy diapers that REALLY "sealed it" for me... Nonetheless, the beat was THERE, people, and baby-girl had it goin' on! The song was HOT, even to a pre-schooler, and she just couldn't help herself any more than I could.

We grooved till the song was over, attempting to outdo each other with more and more ridiculous moves, and didn't have the foggiest notion that we were being watched by my incredulous husband, who had entered the back door just after Wee Three. Now, my husband is a child of the sixties, and is of the very firm opinion that there are NOT many popular bands worth listening to beyond about 1975. And NO DISCO. That in itself makes him redeemable in my eyes. Other than that, though, let's just say our tastes DIVERGE.

Once the ringing in our heads stopped (YES, we had it turned up THAT LOUDLY), he was able to find his voice and queried:

Father: What. The. HELL. Was. That????!!!

Child Number Three: (with the innocence of an ANGEL) C'mon, Daddy!! It SHARON, LOIS, AN' BRAM!!!

ps. We ordered a pizza while Daddy was still unconscious.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Maple Leaf Forever... Happy Canada Day!

O, land of blue unending skies,
Mountains strong and sparkling snow,
A scent of freedom in the wind,
O'er the emerald fields below.
To thee we brought our hopes, our dreams,
For thee we stand together,
Our land of peace, where proudly flies,
The Maple Leaf forever!

Long may it wave, and grace our own,
Blue skies and stormy weather,
Within my heart, above my home,
The Maple Leaf forever!

From East and West, our heroes came,
Through icy fields and frozen bays,
Who conquered fear, and cold, and hate,
And their ancient wisdom says:
Protect the weak, defend your rights,
And build this land together,
Above which shine the Northern Lights,
And the Maple Leaf forever!

Oh, Maple Leaf, around the world,
You speak as you rise high above,
Of courage, peace and quiet strength,
Of the Canada I love.
Remind us all our union bound,
By ties we cannot sever,
Bright flag revered on every ground,
The Maple Leaf forever!

Long may it wave, and grace our own,
Blue skies and stormy weather,
Within my heart, above my home,
The Maple Leaf forever!

"The Maple Leaf Forever" was composed by Alexander Muir in 1867, and was Canada's "unofficial" anthem until "O Canada" was written. The original lyrics of "The Maple Leaf Forever" were distasteful to some, who felt that the "up-the-Empire" sentiments were antiquated, offensive, and even comical. I was delighted when this lovely tune was given these new lyrics in 1997 by Romanian emigree Vladmir Radian. The first performance of the revised song was performed in concert that year by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Web Analytics