Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Because every now and then, we ALL need a journey to the Bunny Planet...


It has been a long, long day.

After weeks and weeks of being ill and dealing with ill people, I find myself woefully behind in my preparations for Christmas (!) as well as the daily routine... And so, I've been madly rushing around, attempting to play the impossible game of "catch-up".

It was a bitterly damp, cold winter day out there today, and as I was standing in one of the many long, looooong cash check-out lines during the "running errands" part of my schedule, my head began to throb with the promise of a migraine to come... And to tell you the truth, the day didn't get a whole lot better after that.

That is, until I was all snuggled up, reading Child Number Three her bedtime story this evening.

Wee Three rifled through our enormous bookcases, and came up with a most wonderful choice: Rosemary Wells' gently-told and beautifully illustrated children's storybook, "First Tomato".

The first few paragraphs are pretty gloomy:

"Claire ate only three spoons of cornflakes for breakfast. On the way to school, her shoes filled with snow. By eleven in the morning, math had been going on for two hours..."

And the poor little girl's day goes further down-hill from there, if you can believe it.

The final straw for Claire is when at the end of her long, hard day, her bus is late, and she must wait outside in the cold and the snow for it to arrive to take her home.

But, amazingly, Claire resists the temptation to blow her stack and have a meltdown. Instead, she shows incredible resilience by putting her imagination to work while she waits. She envisions herself travelling to her own special imaginary place, the Bunny Planet:

Far beyond the moon and stars,
Twenty light-years south of Mars,
Spins the gentle Bunny Planet,
And the Bunny Queen is Janet.

Janet says to Claire, "Come in.
Here's the day that should have been."


I hear my mother calling
when the summer wind blows,
"Go out in the garden
in your old, old clothes.

Pick me some runner beans
and sugar snap peas.
Find a ripe tomato
and bring it to me, please."

A ruby red tomato
is hanging on the vine.
If my mother didn't want it,
the tomato would be mine.

It smells of rain and steamy earth
and hot June sun.
In the whole tomato garden
it's the only ripe one.

I close my eyes and breathe in
its fat, red smell.
I wish that I could eat it now,
and never, never tell.

But I save it for my mother,
without another look,
I wash the beans and shell the peas
and watch my mother cook.

I hear my mother calling
when the summer winds blow,
"I've made you first tomato soup
because I love you so."

How wonderful, to think that it can still be summer in our hearts and minds, even when the wind and snow of winter is whistling all around us. We should all have a "Day-That-Should-Have-Been" in the backs of our minds, ready to be pulled out to soothe the soul in times of stress and strife...

I can't imagine a nicer day than the one that Claire chose... Gardening and cooking and TOMATOES? Absolutely.


It makes me wonder... what would your Day-That-Should-Have-Been be like?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Guess what I'm up to tonight?


Yes, it's Christmas Card time again...

It helps to sit by the fire, and listen to nice music at the same time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Snow...


More snow fell late last week, just in time for my girlies to thoroughly enjoy themselves over the weekend. There was an igloo built on the patio, using various sizes of square and rectangular pieces of tupperware as molds for the snow bricks. There was a beautifully smoothed toboggan run down our hill in the garden, which Child Number Two managed to whiz off of, still firmly gripping on to her purple plastic "flying saucer" for dear life... Unfortunately, she landed in a large and very prickly hedge down by the back fence, and her face now bears the tell-tale scratch marks... But at school today, she wore her battle scars proudly (I'm just thankful that we got the Christmas portraits taken LAST week...)


And, of course, there was a snowman.

Our winter wonderland melted to sludgy slush today, as temperatures rose and rain began to fall. And as we watched our weekend's fun shrink away to nothingness, this famous Raymond Briggs story crept into my mind.

I give you the beautiful animated film, "The Snowman".

The Snowman

Music for Monday...

My favourite climbing rose, the "New Dawn".


It's up over there on the right...

"You Are the New Day" by The King's Singers.

Enjoy. Happy Monday.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Because Silly is Seriously Under-rated...


I have written a couple of posts, now, about the seriously amazing childhood that my brother, sister and I enjoyed.

But, as I was reminded the other day by a certain commenter who bore witness to a couple of years of our teenage-hood, my siblings and I made damn sure that our youth was actually FAR from serious.

Truth be told, most of our early-years were spent in an atmosphere that seemed like an extended episode of Fawlty Towers. So, under those curcumstances, what's a kid (or three kids, to be exact) to do?

Make our own fun, that's what.

And, more often than not, we used music to do it, which nearly drove our long-suffering parents bat-sh*t-crazy.

The fact that my darling younger brother was a musical protigee certainly gave OUR side a "leg-up". His was (and still is) a miraculous talent. Within the first year of his musical training, he by far surpassed his deeply frustrated older sister's abilities. Before long, when we were simultaniously hammering out our daily practising on the two pianos that graced our house, I would suddenly stop playing my piece, only to discover that he had been mocking me by playing an "oom-pah, oom-pah" kind of accompaniment below my melody the entire time, rather than concentrating on his own work. It used to make me want to bang my head against a wall, when I would discover that he could play the most intricate, complicated pieces flawlessly, with an open Archie Comic Book firmly parked on the music stand in front of him. I, on the other hand, found even the simplest sight-reading exercise to be a journey to the bowels of hell...

Thankfully, though, he and I found a common ground. And that common ground was our shared sense of humour. As a rule, my brother and I laugh a great deal when we are together. And, most importantly, we laugh at all the same things. And the fact that our fun annoyed our extremely classy parents was a MAJOR bonus, at the time.

When we were very young kids, we were absolutely mesmerised by the High Silliness of The Muppet Show, and it wasn't long before we headed for the baby grand, to try out a few of the musical numbers we had seen, ourselves. The goofier, the better. My brother, the master accompanist, would work out a flourishy little arrangement, and I would "put on" the most authentic impersonation I could possibly muster, and we'd go to it, flat-out and full-volume, for HOURS. My most vivid recollection from that time is a group of songs from country and western singer, Roger Miller, who almost always punctuated his hilarious verses with strange mouth sounds that were just too damn funny to be considered true musical improvisation. My brother and I were not satisfied until we had perfected every one. Our repertoire included such classics as "Do-Wacka-Do", "Can't Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd", "My Uncle Used to Love Me, but She Died", and the ultimate tongue-twister, "Summertime".

As our "abilities" developed, so, too, did the selection of music we chose to butcher (I mean, MASTER). We unearthed an ancient libretto of Gilbert and Sullivan, and thought we had struck GOLD. Before long, we had the fastest-running "Modern Major General" in the business, as well as some delightfully rude improvisations of a few other tunes...

But it was when we discovered The Marx Brothers that my brother truly came into his own. He went from being a part of a comedy team, to being a stellar solo act.

Very few people today know what extraordinary musicians The Marx Brothers actually were. And, contrary to popular belief, it wasn't just Harpo (who played the harp, of course, as well as many other instruments) or Groucho (who remains famous to this day for his timeless rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", among other classics).

Chico Marx was the brother by whom we were most mesmerized. Because Chico could play the piano. Not only that, he could play the piano with more flare and pizazz than anyone else we had ever seen in our lives. He didn't have to sing, or make up enormous flamboyant gestures to coax a laugh out of people. His flawless performances literally left us gobsmacked by their complexity, but thoroughly delighted by the close-ups on his elaborate fingering-tricks and embellishments. From the start, my brother was determined to learn to play like Chico-- and before too long, he actually COULD... right down to the little "shotgun"-type move that he liked to use to finish up each long, musical phrase.

video

And, I became his ardent admirer-- the one who sat on the piano bench beside him as he played, grinning till my face hurt, my appreciation for his humour knowing no bounds.

Naturally, it wasn't long before this sort of thing began creeping into his everyday practising, as well... as my friendly commenter of a few days back reminded me. But, in actual fact, it WASN'T Victor Borge that my darling brother was channeling that day... it was the brilliant Chico, through-and-through. It may have nearly driven our mother to madness, but it simply delighted ME.

Life today is far too serious... By in large, people are too "plugged-in" and well-informed about any number of things. We have endless worries; many of which we are powerless to do anything about.

The humour that I see on television today, particularly the stuff that I see on abysmal channels like "Family" and "Teletoon", seem to utilize offensive sarcasm and rudeness, rather than light-hearted silliness, in an attempt to make people laugh these days. And I confess that I find it far too sad to be funny.

To me, there's nothing like Silly. Give me the Our Gang series... "The Little Rascals". Give me Harpo, Chico and Groucho interrupting the overture of "Il Trovatore" with an impromptu rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". Give me "The Muppet Show".

Or, just give me my darling younger brother. Because he delights me and makes me laugh more than all the rest of them, put together.


video


Some of you may have noticed that I've added a little feature to the top of my side-bar, over there... Every day or so, I am going to post a selection from my music collection for you all to enjoy... a little "in-flight music", to accompany the post! And starting in December, my Christmas gift to you all will be a "musical advent calendar"-- a different Christmas Carol every day. I hope you all enjoy it, and I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The new compliment...


Well, we've had our first icy winter blast.

This morning, the girlies and I burst out of the back door of our house, bundled up to within an inch of our lives, backpacks flapping behind us, only to find that the Loser Cruiser was solidly frozen to the ground in the middle of our driveway.

Not. One. Door. Would. Open.

And, we were running late.

Ab-so-lute-ly Typical.

I had MEANT to tidy up my space in the garage and park the car properly yesterday afternoon, when I first got "wind" that a storm was imminent... But, I was working all morning, and then cooking all afternoon... and, quite honestly, I forgot all about it. Our autumn has been so beautiful, and the warm-ish (wet) weather has lasted for such an unusually elongated period of time, I think that I was actually subconsciously in DENIAL that winter would ever actually get here.

Rats.

Of course, that's not actually one of the words that crossed my lips this morning, as I was frantically hacking away at the thick layer of ice on my windshield, while the children did their "Ferris Bueller Hopeful Dance" on the freshly fallen snow, beside me. The words I used (under my breath, of COURSE) were far more colourful and blasphemous. Hey, the perk of having specialized in English Literature is that one becomes familiar with the fruitier Elizabethan curses. And what's the point of spending all that time and money on fancy-schmantzy degrees if one isn't allowed to dust them off and USE THEM every once in awhile?

Right?!

Anyway, there I was, hacking and cursing fluently, determined to get my little girls through the door of the school before the bell rang to dismiss them at 3.30...

But as blood-boilingly frustrated as I felt at the time, I just couldn't bring myself to regret having "frittered away" my afternoon in the kitchen. Because last night at dinnertime, every single member of the family sat down together at my table, and extolled the virtues of the meal that I had painstakingly prepared for them.

My husband even invented a new compliment. He took an enormous mouthful, closed his eyes and chewed for a moment, then gazed blissfully in my direction and said:

"Oh, my God. You should BLOG this one."

So, here it is, dear readers. The perfect meal. At least, for my family. It is relatively quick to prepare, and I can guarantee you, there will be NO leftovers! Most importantly, it will bring all the members of your family together at the table, eating the SAME repast at the SAME time. It is easy for little people to handle and feed to themselves, which will save endless time and energy. It will give you all plenty of time to chat, share details about your daily activities, and enjoy each other's company. Isn't that REALLY what good food is all about? In my opinion, good food brings us all together... a shared meal feeds the spirit, as well as the stomach.


Sesame Chicken Strips with Garlic Mayonnaise

1/2 c mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried mustard (I like Keene's, and tend to add a little more than this for extra "zing")

Scant 1/2 c all purpose flour
Scant 1/2 c sesame seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 extra large egg
2 tbsp milk
4 or 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise (against the "grain"-- it holds a shape better this way)
3/4 c vegetable oil (I actually use canola)
Salt to taste

Combine the mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice and mustard in a small serving bowl. Cover, and place in the fridge until serving time (this also stops me from eating it by the spoonful, before the meal has even STARTED).

Combine flour, sesame seeds and cayenne on a large piece of wax paper.

Whisk egg and milk in a small, wide bowl.

One at a time, dip the chicken strips into the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drain off, then coat evenly with the seasoned flour-and-sesame-seed mixture.

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry strips, in batches if necessary, for about 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and sprinkle them with a little salt. Keep them in a slightly-warm oven until ready to serve.

I serve the chicken with the dipping sauce, alongside whipped potatoes (btw, the key to beautifully whipped potatoes is to add plenty of piping hot milk and butter whilst beating the crap out of them until not. one. single. lump. remains) and a vegetable (my kids love steamed broccoli with shredded old cheddar cheese melted on top).

And there you have it. The ultimate family meal. Made perfect by the people with whom you share it.

It's blog-worthy. Trust me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving


Okay, I know. I'm a Canuck, for crying out loud-- our Thanksgiving was weeks ago.

But from what I can tell from my Analytics and Sitemeter readings, as well as some of the lovely e-mails that a few of you have been kind enough to send me, a great number of YOU are American. And I want you to know that I am thankful for each and every one of you. I hope you have a wonderful, blessed holiday weekend, surrounded by the people you love.

* * * * *

One of the many things that I am deeply thankful for in this life is the fact that my childhood was spent drenched in wonderful music. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my brother, sister and I were brought up by a pair of classical music fanatics. Our home was never a place of silence-- the radio, the turntable, the tape recorder, and later the cd player were in constant use-- sometimes simultaneously, in different parts of the old house. We listened to a wide variety of music, and were "encouraged" to pursue studies to master as many instruments as possible. When I say "encouraged", I use that term very loosely... a great portion of our childhoods were spent chained to one of the two pianos we had in our house. My formidable mother would stand in the hallway between the two music rooms, wearing her apron and brandishing a wooden spoon. The consummate multi-tasker, she would shout corrections to whichever child wasn't counting the tempo properly, or who clearly wasn't following the correct fingering...

But I digress.

Let us suffice to say, that although I never really mastered the art of playing the piano (in spite of about fifteen years of Herculean effort on my mother's part), the frustrating exercise of being made to try taught me to appreciate how gifted good musicians truly ARE. And that, in itself, is a lesson, indeed.

Although playing an instrument was never really my "bag" when it came to music, singing in our church choir certainly WAS. We three kids were parcelled into the ancient, creaky Volvo every Wednesday evening, and taken over to the church, where we spent at least an hour each week practising vocal scales and exercises, and learning parts to some of the most beautiful hymns and anthems. And every couple of months, usually at the holidays, we would be deemed "ready" to don our little snow-white pinafores and maroon beanie caps, and file solemnly into the beautifully carved choir loft, in front of the senior choir that sang regularly each week. I remember it being a tremendous thrill-- it fulfilled my desire for the "high" that performing gives me, without the stress of having to sing alone.

All these years later, I know that I certainly did not look up to our choirmaster with the tremendous respect (and, let's face it, awe) that he deserved. He was a tiny little white-haired, elfin sort of man. But, behind his seemingly mild demeanor and gentleman-like manner was carefully hidden a strict task master, and a first-class perfectionist. He was one of the most brilliant and knowledgeable musicians that I will ever meet in my lifetime, and the enormous body of music that he taught to us, and performed for our congregation, was not only life-altering, but life-affirming.

Of all genres of music, choral music is the one that is closest to my heart. And, being of British background, I suppose this is hardly surprising. For, in my opinion, there is nowhere else on the face of this earth that choral music is performed more perfectly.

This Thanksgiving weekend, I offer up a beautiful selection from renowned British composer John Rutter, whose music has brought me such pleasure over the course of my life. How can one help feeling thankful and uplifted when listening to his arrangement of the utterly charming hymn, "For the Beauty of the Earth"?


video


The choir of St Paul's Cathedral, London, England.

For the beauty of the earth;
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
friends of earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine
to our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flow'rs of earth and buds of heav'n:
Lord of all to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Today, and every day.

Groooooaaaaannnn...


Monday, November 19, 2007

A weekend walk 'round the pond...

Some of the leaves still cling to the branches of one or two trees... while wild ducks and geese skitter over the first frozen patches of water.

Willow leaves suspended in an icy film...

Another view from the old wooden bridge...

Winter may be almost upon us, but you can't beat a bright, sunny day, in spite of the bitter cold temperatures!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Seven Random Facts About Meme...


Okay, folks... I'm succumbing to the evil powers of the meme today. I've been tagged about a zillion times by this one, and have been resisting and reeesiiiisssting, but this morning, my kids are playing beautifully, I've got a few miraculous moments to myself, and I can't think of a dratted thing to write about.

So, you're stuck with me(me).

Here they are, you poor souls. In no particular random order, of course:

1. Sometimes, just to get away from the rest of my life for a little while, I lock myself in my clothes closet with the cordless phone, call my best girlfriend, and we talk for a long, looooong time. Seriously-- it's the ONLY place in this house where I can truly be alone, since the kids have figured out how to jimmy the ancient doorknob-lock so they can even walk in on me when I'm in the BATHROOM. Little criminals...




2. Although I love the process of getting READY to go to a party, I actually can't stand the "attending-the-party" part. Every Christmas, I have a wonderful time dreaming up the dress I'd like to wear, and searching out jewellery, shoes, make-up, etc... But when it comes right down to it, I'm all dressed up and ready to leave, my stomach does a HUGE flip-flop, and an enormous wave of exhaustion washes over me before I've even left the house. I don't THINK this makes me agoraphobic-- because my husband always manages to drag me out the door and put me in the car-- but it DOES make me anti-social, I suppose. I'm just not very good at small-talk, and am unsure of myself in front of new people. Give me a glass of wine and a few friends in front of the fireplace at home any day. To me, THAT is a perfect evening.


3. I am obsessed with being punctual. Not too early, and certainly not late. Punctual. As in, John-Cleese-in-Clockwise punctual. My father instilled in me that being late is one of the ultimate signs of disrespect one can show for other people, and I have carried that value with me all my life. More often than not, my quest for punctuality has been a source of considerable stress-- especially when my children were very tiny and unpredictable. However, my rule-of-thumb was to build about half an hour of buffer-time in to the schedule per child, and it seemed to work pretty well. Now that two of the girlies are over five, I find we only need about a fifteen-minute buffer. When I am alone, I make sure I give myself ten minutes of "idiot time", just to make sure my own a$$ is covered...

4. My medicine cabinet rivals the stock at Shoppers Drug Mart. My children and I are asthmatic, and I learned years ago that it pays to be prepared when it comes to childhood illnesses. Let's face it, most of them strike in the middle of the night, when all the shops are closed, anyway. My mother balked when she first opened the cabinet to find herself a Tylenol (I buy those suckers in bulk), and she began calling my stock-pile "The Pharmacy". It gives me great comfort to know it's all up there, in case we need it... because if there's a nasty germ out there, you can pretty much bet that it's going to strike my kids and me FIRST.

5. When I was in university, I had a very loud, obnoxious alarm clock that made a hair-raisingly shrill beeping noise. I would place it on a shelf across the room from my futon, and my instant reaction to the alarm was to leap up about ten feet in the air, then race over to switch off the highly offensive noise. It wasn't a pleasant way to wake up, but by God, it worked. The sound it made is hard to describe... it wasn't an actual musical "note" (E,G,B,D,F or A,C,E,G, if you have ever played an instrument and know what I mean), it was just ever so very slightly SHARP, or something. Sometimes when I am listening to music-- particularly when I hear musicians tuning up-- someone hits that exact strange pitch, and I find myself involuntarily leaping out of my skin.

6. Although I am a fanatical gardener, I do not own one single house plant. My evil, fourteen-year-old cat used to be a plant chewer, and the results were more than slightly revolting. When we moved to Ontario nearly twelve years ago, I had to give all my plants away... Since our first child was only four weeks old at the time, I never wound up replacing them (I was so exhausted and flabbergasted that I couldn't be bothered with the expense and care of new plants, let alone figuring out which ones were poisonous). This winter, however, I am determined to make a change. Bill (my beloved gardening advisor from Sheridan Nurseries) has suggested that I start by purchasing several pots of orchid plants, and seeing how I get along with them. They're expensive little buggers, but the reward those gorgeous blossoms would give me would make them worth it, I think... I'll keep you posted.

7. Here's a little holiday-themed random fact. When I was growing up, we had two Very Important Cats in our family. The last one passed away in December several years after we three kids had left home, but nonetheless, we all felt her loss sorely. She was always so INVOLVED in family affairs, always such a presence in the old house, and always contributing in that soft, furry way of hers. One of her annual "traditions" was to climb our family's Christmas tree every year... we learned the hard way to wait to decorate until AFTER she had had her fun. That first Christmas we were without her... my family's fully decorated tree toppled over during the night. I am sure in my HEART that her little spirit visited us... and that she just wanted us to know she was still "around".

There you have it, folks, the "Seven Random Facts About Meme".

Hey-- you all still awake out there???

Stop snoring, Mrinz, Shauna, Shawn, Leann, Multi-Tasking Mommy, Sci-Fi Dad and Kim, 'cause TAG!! You're It!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

I miss my garden...


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Better watch out...


No sooner had I regained consciousness earlier this week, and entered the world once more, I found myself bombarded by all things Christmas. It never ceases to amaze me how The Holidays seem to begin insidiously "creeping up" on me earlier and earlier every year... or, should I say, THE COMMERCIALIZATION of The Holidays begins insidiously creeping up... As far as I can tell, Christmas has fallen on December 25 for as long as I can remember. Why is it, then, that The Powers That Be have "The Season" beginning sometime around the end of August??! I'm not joking, people-- I began seeing little piles of Christmas cards alongside the Back To School Sales... And come to think of it, THOSE started in mid-July...

Anyway.

Apparently, The Christmas Season is upon us. And so, in order to begin whipping myself into my annual frenzy, I decided to start by prettying up the front of our house. The zillions of tiny little fairy lights are up on all the trees outside, and look beautifully sparkly in the twilight this evening. I've cleaned out the big wrought-iron urns on the front steps, and will be making a concerted effort this year to make sure I get out there and create the enormous arrangements of pine and cedar boughs before it gets so cold out that I wind up losing a few fingers to frostbite during the process...

And, as you can see above, our new doormat is out.

Some of you might remember that I managed to find The World's Greatest Doormat for our front door last spring:


It seems wildly antisocial, I know... but it is only for the FRONT door, where all the salespeople and donation-collectors go... Everyone who knows me knows to come to the BACK door. It is always unlocked for friends-- AND it's the closest door to the kitchen, which is where the Good Food is. I have absolutely no problem putting the more-than-slightly-brusque doormat at the front. If you have to knock on my front door, you probably have no business being here, anyway.

Here are a few more choice door mat selections that I'll be keeping an eye out for in the future:

Actually, truth be told, my house wasn't all that clean last week, either...

The Jeeves and Wooster doormat (for those of you who share my fanaticism for Hugh Laurie).

And while we're on the subject of mad English idiosyncrasies...

This one's clearly custom-designed for my front door users...

And this one's custom-designed for ME...

See above...


Think this'll make people think I own a massive rotweiller? I guess I'd need sound effects, too...


And for anyone foolish enough to come back...

But YOU ALL can come to my back door. It's open, as always. Coffee's on, and the first batch of shortbread cookies are in the oven...

Because apparently, Santa Claus is comin' to town.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

And, we're back...

The kids are feeling better than I am, but as of today, we re-joined the land of the living!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November 11


On this day, I humbly offer a view from the Vimy Memorial in France, which was designed by the brilliant Canadian artist, Walter Seymour Allward.

On their website, Veterans Affairs Canada notes:

The Vimy Monument reveals Walter Allward as an emotional individual burdened by sadness and a deep sense of obligation to never forget those who had died so that the living may secure a better life.

His true genius was to draw meaning out of carnage, light from darkness, and to put into tangible form the depth of the sacrifice and the sense of loss felt by those who survived.

"Let it go out of your heart and into the stone."

Spoken by the character of Walter S. Allward in Jane Urquhart's Canadian best-selling novel, "The Stone Carvers".

Today, my life and my heart are full.
And I am so very, very thankful.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Exit, stage right...

... until we are all well and truly recovered.
(Please, God, let it be so!!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tooth Number Two...


Thank Goodness...

Remembering the emotional stress that resulted from the accidental nocturnal swallowing of her very first loose tooth, Child Number Two bravely reached into her mouth this evening, and wiggled that second wobbly little chopper right out, just before bedtime.

Hey, Tooth Fairy!! We need you!!

And this time, we've got the goods to prove it!!

Bought today...


Flannelette sheets for EVERYBODY!

Sweet, fuzzy dreams...

Today at the shopping mall...

Question:

Why can't THIS:

wait until after THIS:

Please. Explain.

About Last Night...


We're off to buy new boots today...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Overheard at the homework table...


After school this evening, Child Number One whisked up to the peace and quiet of her bedroom in order to concentrate on fractions and decimals.

This left Child Number Two and her little sister, Wee Three, with me down in the kitchen.

Child Number Two hauled the reading books out of her little back pack, spread them out on the kitchen table, and embarked upon her nightly book report, complete with hand-drawn, fully-coloured illustrations. Wee Three was not about to be left out of the "fun" and scrounged up some paper, determined to complete a "pwoject", herself.

Some time ago, my children received a box of what I call "smelly markers" as a gift. I, personally, cannot stand the things, as whiffs of chemically-imitated scents make my stomach turn. But the girlies think they are absolutely miraculous, and delight in creating masterpieces that SMELL as colourful as they look.

I listened as Child Number Two popped the tops on each marker, so that her little sister could use them. Each *POP* was accompanied by a description, so that Wee Three would not only learn her colours properly, but be able to place the sometimes "unplace-able" smell...

Child Number Two: (*POP*) And this one is BLUE... It smells like blueberries!! Remember those yummy things we ate last summer with ice cream??!

Child Number Three: (nods furiously, with a big smile on her face, scribbles on her page and then sniffs it appreciatively) YUP!!

Child Number Two: (*POP*) This one is RED. It smells like strawberries!! Mummy can't smell this one, or she'll barf... She's ALLERGIC...

Child Number Three: (slightly taken aback, but takes the pen and makes a few tentative dots here and there) 'Kay...

Child Number Two: (*POP*) This one is BROWN. Guess what it smells like???!! CHOOOOCOLATE!!

Child Number Three: (takes the pen and sniffs... then frowns decidedly, and hands it back) DAT not chocolate... DAT smells like POOP.

Hmmm...

My scentiments exactly.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's been a loooooong weekend...

Well, we're hunkered down, here, in front of a roaring fire. It is cold and drizzly outside, with just a slight touch of sleet mixed in for the added misery-factor... The only way to "cure" a blustery day like today is with a large cup of piping-hot tea, and fireplace therapy. Oh, and a good pair of fuzzy socks, with some big, silly slippers wedged on top.


We sit here, Child Number Three and I, bleary-eyed and weary. For it was a looooong, virus-filled weekend for us both. Having just nursed my three children through a bad bout of strep throat a few weeks ago, I was actually foolish enough to think that our little family would be safe from germs for awhile... But, as the Murphy's Law of Motherhood goes, no sooner does one develop a small, satisfied sense of "security" about the various illnesses that are making their rounds of the neighbourhood, one (or, as is far more likely in OUR case, ALL) of the members of the family becomes flamboyantly ill. And if the Universe REALLY has it in for you, they'll make certain that The Mother is the sickest family member of them all. Because there's absolutely nothing more horrifying than having to care for sick children, when you're desperately fighting the urge to blow chunks and then fall down dead, yourself.

Wee Three is on the mend today, and we are both taking this likely BRIEF break in the 3-to-5-day incubation period to catch up on some much needed rest. Saturday was one of the longest sick-in-the-night stretches I can remember enduring for a very, very long time... made even more joyous by actually WITNESSING the switch to Daylight Savings Time on the clock on our television. Our tv makes the switch automatically, and my heart did a spiral-drop downwards when I realized that it would actually be an EXTRA hour before I could telephone our pediatrician in the morning...

And so, here we lounge, in front of the fire and a few good movies on the television:


Because it's never too early to introduce one's children to excellent literature, and I'm still too tired to see straight enough to actually read a book out loud. If you haven't yet seen Megan Follows as Anne of Green Gables, then I encourage you to seek out these dvds on Amazon... You're in for a delightful treat. It's a marvellous way to wile away an otherwise dreary afternoon...

If you don't hear from me for the next few days, it means another one of us (or more) is down-for-the-count... Good thing I've also got the complete first and second seasons of The Muppet Show on hand-- that should see us through the rest of the week!!

Stay well, dear readers, and as I've been yelling at everyone who will listen around here, "For God's sake, WASH YOUR HANDS!!!"

Another one of my favourite costume malfunctions...

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Let's hear it for CLASSIC Sesame Street...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fall back... TONIGHT!!

We're a week late this year... Don't forget to change your clocks!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

File this under: The Little Moments I Live For.

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From the second act of the Broadway show, “Putting It Together”, with the incomparable Carol Burnett, Ruthie Henshall, George Hearn, John Barrowman, and Bronson Pinchot.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

It's the Day After Hallowe'en. Help me...

Can't..... Stop..... Eating.....

(cue AC/DC singing "Highway to Hell")

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