Friday, February 29, 2008

Of Proposals and Pirates...

The Pirate King, Frederic, and Ruth
"The Pirates of Penzance"

Ah, the elusive Leap Day: February 29th.

In years gone by, this is the day when a woman was "allowed" to propose to the man of her choice... and supposedly, he was OBLIGATED to accept her.

Nowadays, we concentrate more on those individuals who were actually born on a Leap Day... and thus, technically, only age ONE year in every FOUR. (Lucky them... Just think of all the cosmetic products and exercise equipment they'll save money on...)

Being a devotee of Gilbert and Sullivan, however, my thoughts stray to one particular operetta every time February 29th rolls around. And that is "The Pirates of Penzance".

Long, LONG story short: the romantic hero of the piece, Frederic, has been forcibly "employed" by a swarthy band of pirates, and the agreement is that he will remain with them until his 21st birthday. Well, of course, the very day this monumental birthday rolls around, he meets and falls in love with Mabel: basically, the first chick he meets as soon as he sets foot on land. They sing, and frolic around, and plan a wonderful future together, until Frederic's childhood care-giver, Ruth, hooks up with Fred's boss, The Pirate King. The two spring the news on Frederic that since he is a LEAP DAY BABY, it is technically not his twenty-first birthday at all, and he is, rather, "A LITTLE BOY OF FIVE!"

Ah-hah-hah-HA!!

QUITE the "Ingenious Paradox", if you ask me-- and a great way to get slave labour out of Freddie until he's well into his eighties. Everything gets sorted out, of course, as it always DOES in these fabulously complicated little mini-operas, and there's lots of good music and joking about in the process... There's also a fantastically prolific Modern-Major General and a gaggle of hilarious Policemen thrown into the mix, so if you ever get a chance to see a production, I highly recommend it.

February 29th... A day of Proposals, and Pirates.

Rawther an unusual combination... and yet strangely... appealing....

Hmmmmmm...... Ah, yes:



Johnny, if you were to sail into my neighbourhood today, I'd "join your crew" for sure. You up for a little Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum???

Hi, diddle dee dee!! A PIRATE'S life for meeeeeeeee!!!

(Hands off, ladies-- I saw him first...)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Untitled.

video

(insert sound of three little girls' uncontrollable giggling here)

Boredom, partie deux.

Feeling better, and cleaning house...
Blogging is on the "to do" list for tomorrow, promise!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sick and tired. Of being sick and tired.

"Getting bored is not allowed."
Eloise, by Kay Thompson.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Soundtrack of My Life: Friday Edition.


How do you like that little doo-dad up there? Purdy, ain't it? All tiny stars and bits of glittery sparkle?

It's hard to believe that this lovely microscopic little GERM, known as The Rhinovirus, AKA The Common Cold, has been contributing on such a huge scale to the general frustration of my last few days.

How can something that looks so innocent... so sweet... so attractive, in a "twinkly" sort of way, be capable of rendering me a sweaty, stuffed-up, highly-aggravated ball of misery???

Ah, well... it's the natural order of things, I suppose. The girlies have all had this lovely little virus, and now, I suppose it's only "fair" that the woman who selflessly cancelled entire days, stayed up nights, and patiently nursed them back to health should be stricken by a bug at least ten times the magnitude of the one that infected The Little People.

Am I right? (And feel free to translate that last sentence to read: "Am I BITTER???")

About the only positive thing that's come out of all this has been the extent to which my wrath was worked up over the computer issues we've been having for the past few days. By the end of yesterday, after the SECOND technician from Bell wafted through my home, checked our entire internet system, and pronounced "NOTHING" wrong with it... I was in just the PERFECT sort of mood to get back on the horn to Head Office. I've demanded replacement parts for every, single piece of equipment that they have available to me.

And, if the next technical twit DARES to cross my threshold missing one, single piece of the equipment that I have specifically "requested", I've decided to get back at them with the most EVIL revenge I can possibly think of...

I'll cough straight into his face... And then, I'll kiss him.

Take THAT, Bell Sympatico!

At long, friggin' last, MY problems will finally become YOUR problems!!!

***
In her post last night, my dear friend Shauna, from Up In The Night, wrote a fantastic post about The Soundtrack of Her Life. As usual, it's a terrific read-- head on over there and check it out!

Unfortunately, I'm not quite up to accepting her challenge of creating an entire list of songs to accompany my daily activities at this particular time... But I'll certainly noodle over it during the weekend, and hope to have a list for you early next week!

In the meantime, I offer up a hilarious clip taken from one of my favourite radio shows... It's up over there on the top of the side-bar.

Enjoy!!
***koff, koff, snnnnneeeeerrrrrrkkkkkk...***

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We are experiencing technical difficulties...

I want to swear.

Badly.

I want to let forth a stream of true-blue blasphemy so creative and intricately detailed that it would make Satan himself cover his pointy little ears and run screaming from the vicinity.

For the past two days, my internet connection has been fading in and out, without any apparent cause or warning. Countless emails have been bouncing. My husband and I have been rendered incapable of working from home with any degree of efficiency. Entire blog posts-- which were moving and inspired and nothing short of BRILLIANT, I assure you (and yet, have no proof of that fact)-- were sent spinning out into the ether, lost forever.

I have spent countless hours on the telephone, consulting with various technicians and trouble-shooters, and have been completely unable to convince them that the problem could possibly lie with anything other than ME: MY equipment (which is fairly new, really), MY set-up, MY passwords...

Yesterday, after eight hours of hanging around the house and WAITING, a representative from Bell finally deigned to darken my doorstep. After spending about ten minutes examining the telephone lines and the internet hook-up, he shrugged his shoulders, began scribbling a note on his clip-board, and announced that his "buddy" would be around to check out the issue "tomorrow".

And then he left.

This morning, with what little signal I can coax out of my modem, I desperately dialled up this video clip from good ol' Ronnie James. And, as he always does whenever he rolls into town and gets up a show at our local theatre, he made me laugh. He made me feel better. He made me feel "normal" again.

Thanks, Ron... you've spared my readers from seeing the "darker side" of my usually fairly cheerful and optomistic personality...

I'm saving THAT for the poor sod of a technician who is due to arrive at any moment.

Because unfortunately for HIM, I don't speek "Geek".

I am, however, completely fluent in Stevedore....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Seven


About an hour ago, I phoned my friend C. as I drove like a maniac towards our children's school:

"Just wanted to reassure you that I'll be there to pick up your boys for lunch. I should have them at your front door in about fifteen minutes!!"

C. was surprised... And then, so was I. For, as it turns out, it is not "my day" to do the lunch run. Because, as it turns out, it's not Monday.

IT'S TUESDAY.

See what happens when the premier of the province goes and magnanimously gives us a new long-weekend, in a wild attempt to win an election... er, um... I mean... make the month of February easier for us to bear?

He winds up messing with our heads, that's what.

That's not to say I didn't NEED the extra day tacked on to my weekend. For it was a busy one, I'll tell you. And while we bucked the rules and didn't actually wind up using the new so-called "Family Day" to rest and relax, we sure needed it to fit in all the festivities that went on around here. We were partying hard.

Child Number Two turned seven yesterday.

SEVEN!!!

Can you believe it? Because I sure can't. And I'm not just talking about the bewilderment I feel about the fact that she hasn't yet managed to "do herself in" during this fairly lengthy period of time... Lord knows she's tried. And a few times, she's nearly taken ME along with her...

She was a troublesome little squirt long before she was even BORN (go figure). It took me several angst-filled years to become pregnant with our much longed-for second child. By that point, I was not as disgruntled and put-out as some women might feel, when the doctor ordered several months of complete bed-rest, in order to "hang on to her", as my grandmother put it. We often spoke on the telephone during those long weeks I spent on the couch. For she understood what I was up against, having lost several pregnancies, and most tragically, one infant daughter, herself. An old-school nurse of tough, Scottish up-bringing, she would jolly me through every conversation, and then sign off by saying:

"Now, you just keep your legs crossed, with your feet up above your waist, and HANG ON TO THAT BABY!"

And so, I did. I didn't dare disobey her.

My second child came into the world the same way she lives life. At top-speed, and with an element of surprise.

My o.b. finally conceded to my wish to be induced, rather than have a planned c-section. The agreement was that one whiff of a complication would send us straight to the O.R., which was booked and ready to go.

We didn't even have a chance to ponder any potential problems however, because not five minutes after they hooked me up to the IV, Child Number Two made it known that she was ready to make an appearance. How many women do YOU know who go in for an induction, and have a babe-in-arms in under half an hour?

She took 25 minutes. Two pushes.

And she's been going full-steam-ahead ever since, my tiny, yet mighty Number Two.

This was the child who was hungry every hour on the hour, for at least the first six months of her life. She would go from being a content, sleeping angel in my arms, to being a red-faced, screaming five-alarm siren, with no moods in between. My eldest daughter was the one who finally suggested that we try her with a soother-- wise girl already at the tender age of five-- and it was she who dubbed it "The Plug". When The Plug was in place, all was right with the world, but if you dared take it out... well, all hell broke loose, quite frankly.

It wasn't long before our tiny baby was up on her hands and knees and crawling like a demon, far faster than I could run after her. At nine months, she pushed herself up on her two little legs, without even hanging on to a piece of furniture, and walked straight under our kitchen table. She was so small of stature, she didn't even need to duck her head.

Life changed quickly after that. Average "baby-proofing" was NOTHING to our little techno-whiz. So called "child locks" had nothing on her. She unhooked the toilet seat clamp that even I had trouble figuring out, and dropped the cordless phones down the loo, one by one. She had mastered the point-and-click function of a computer mouse before she turned two, and we nervously half-joked about her hacking in to National Security. She comprehended language, and talked early. Woe betide anyone who let fly with a blasphemous expletive within her extensive range-of-hearing, because the little steel-trap of a mind would remember it, and file it under "For Future Use... Try In Front of Grandma".

She inherited her mother's obsession for power tools. The year she turned two, she drove the builders who spent months with us renovating our kitchen to DISTRACTION... They eventually had to come to an agreement with her: if she would stay OUT of the construction site while they were working, she could go in and have tea or coffee with them at break-time. Bang-on eleven and three o'clock, she would swagger through the door, sporting her little Bob The Builder tool belt, hard hat, with a mind-full of questions... More often than not, she would demand a demonstration of all the tools capable of doing MAJOR damage, and, to my dismay, the men were only too delighted to oblige...

Yep, she's stopped my heart more than a few times, all right. She's lept out of windows, and into large bodies of water... she has nearly succeeded in stealing my car... And the nurses in triage at the local hospital "high-five" us each time we present our "frequent stitches card" at the emergency room...

But, she has warmed my heart, too. And filled it up to overflowing.

In spite of her mischief and mayhem, my second child has a nurturing, empathetic, loving side to her big personality that overwhelms everything else.

She was the most thrilled of all of us, upon the birth of Wee Three, and "mothered" that baby as though it were her own. She got up at night-time as often as I would allow her, to "keep us company" during the midnight feeds. The image of her soothing her tiny sister's cries, patting her little hands and cooing to her, is still enough to move me to tears.

Her compassion and warmth extends well beyond the family, too, and she is a good friend to her classmates at school, as well as being an enthusiastic and consciencious student.

She is growing up to be quite a little Person, I tell you. And I'm proud of every, single inch of her.

Proud to be her mum.

Even when she's busy earning her nick-name,"Twister", and driving us all to the brink of madness. Because out of the madness, comes a merriment... a joy I never knew could exist until the moment I gazed into those dear little shoe-button eyes of hers.

Happy Birthday, my Big Little Girl.

As you once wrote to me
:

Love you
for Evr
And Evr
And Evr
And Evr

Friday, February 15, 2008

February 15

video

And we're Back To Reality.

Need I say more??

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

... to you all!!

With much love from Candygirlflies xo

For My Husband...


I love you with the lustful intensity of a woman much younger and with fewer kids than me.

Happy Valentine's Day, Sweetie...

xoxo

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

'Twas the day before Valentine's...

Men.

Specifically, men who complain about the stress and pressure and nerves they feel before Valentine's Day... Where to go? What to do? And what to SAY to their beloved, on this most "loving" Day-of-Days???

These men should come over to my house today. Because they ain't felt NO VALENTINE PRESSURE till they've worked with three small children to plan the kind of Valentine's extravaganza we enjoy around here.

Today at the Goddess' house, we will be making and addressing well over 80 little lacy cards... God bless those teachers who stress the importance of including EVERYONE in the valentine-giving, yet at this point, God rot 'em at the same time... Although Child Number One has no problem with addressing all the cards to her friends herself, Number Two and Wee Three will need help with spelling out names and forming the letters on all those tiny, straight lines...

And then there will be cookie-baking and decorating. We always make gingerbread valentine hearts for the class parties. The girlies love to drizzle them with pink-and-white icing, and I've found sugar sprinkles in the shapes of tiny hearts, pairs of kissy lips, and little x-es and o's. You all probably have your favourite gingerbread recipes, but this is mine, and it's big enough to feed a cast-of-thousands!! The dough will keep in the fridge for about 1 week, and also freezes beautifully...


Gingerbread Cookies

5 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp each baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon
1 c shortening
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c fancy molasses
1/2 c blackstrap molasses

Sift and combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon in a large bowl.

In another large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar, then beat in the eggs and molasses.

Gradually stir in small amounts of the flour mixture, until the dough is well mixed together.

Refrigerate the dough for at least one half hour. Then, turn it out on a floured surface and roll it to a 1/4 inch thickness, before cutting it into shapes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 7-10 minutes. Watch carefully-- if it bakes for too long, the cookies will be too crisp!! I usually take them out just before the edges start to brown, and let them cool on the baking sheets, before transferring them to a wire rack.

For our at-home celebration, however, we make a beautiful, dark, spicy gingerbread cake. It's a recipe that came to me from my grandmother, and the rich, treacle-y aroma that fills the house while it bakes makes us all feel festive (and ravenous)...


Gingerbread Cake

Sift together in a large bowl:

2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon

Add to it:

1/2 c shortening
3/4 c molasses
1 egg

Beat with the electric mixer for two minutes at medium speed, or 300 strokes by hand.

Then, add 1 c boiling water, and beat for an additional two minutes. Turn the batter into a greased, 8-inch square cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Whew...

Like most women, I have always loved Valentine's Day. I love it even MORE, now that I have children of my own to enjoy it with.

That said... If my dear husband is reading:

This year, if you will come home and CLEAN UP THE UNHOLY MESS IN THE KITCHEN for me tonight, you are officially "off-the-hook" tomorrow!!

(But come to think of it, going shopping would probably be much, much easier... Rats...)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Be still my heart...


Last night, my husband and I flopped down on the couch to watch an episode of our favourite television show, the medical drama, "House".

To say that I love this program would be a wild understatement... Not only is the acting superb (those of you who "know" me know about my unbridled lust... er, um... my PROFESSIONAL ADMIRATION... for the incomparable Hugh Laurie), but the scripts and story lines are witty and brilliantly written, even if they are more than slightly far-fetched most of the time.

Last night's plot was a doozie, let me tell you. In a nutshell: a highly attractive sick woman, who is working as a scientist in a remote polar location, requires Dr. House's diagnostic expertise. The trick is, House has to diagnose and treat her via video-telephone communication.

Near the end of the hour, the woman dramatically loses consciousness, and Dr. House enlists the assistance of the only other person on the other end of the video-phone: the woman's male co-worker. House instructs the young man to perform several tests, in a last-ditch attempt to pin down the exact cause of the woman's symptoms. All of the procedures turn out to be relatively invasive, and (to a non-medical professional) rather revolting. But, to his credit, the young man follows the instructions without flinching. The worst of his tasks involves him having to drill a small hole in the woman's skull, to drain excess fluid, and therefore relieving the pressure on her brain... Amazingly, he is able to do it.

From all of this, Dr House is able to deduce that the young man is head-over-heels-in-love with the patient. And then, of course, the woman regains consciousness, they are able to diagnose and treat her health problem in the blink of an eye, and everyone lives happily-ever-after.

Except House, of course, but then, House's inability to find any personal happiness is the foundation for the entire program.

Once the credits had rolled ("That's Some Bad Hat, Harry!!"), and we had pressed the "mute" button to eliminate the racket of commercials, I turned to my spouse:

Me: (still wide-eyed with admiration) Wow. That was really something. It must take some kind of love to be able to drill through the object of your affection's skull...

Him: (still grossed-out, and not wanting to enter this particular conversation) Yup.

Me: (sweetly) Would YOU be able to save MY life like that???

Him: (rolling his eyes heavenward) Oh.... ABSOLUTELY, sweetie. You KNOW I would.

Me: (smiling broadly, and not believing him for a single second) Oh, so would I... I'd drill a hole in your skull anytime.

Him: (eyeing me evil-ly) Yeah, right. I KNOW you would. Trouble is, you'd probably enjoy it so much, you wouldn't stop till you'd drilled right through to the OTHER SIDE.

True.

But then, I've always had a "thing" for power tools.

Love you, Sweetie.

I have the feeling I won't be getting that electric jig-saw I asked for, for Valentine's Day...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

That's Amore...


Once it had finally stopped blizzing outside yesterday evening, the entire family was ready for an outing.

And believe me, no-one among us was more ready to get out of the house than ME.

Don't get me wrong: I loves me some "family togetherness time". But after two solid days of entertaining children and trying to help my husband operate his business from our kitchen table, the togetherness-thing was getting "old". What's more, the unholy mess generated by five people stuck in the same house was becoming more than ever-so-slightly difficult to keep up with. The kitchen looked as though a small hurricane had passed through it, with annual reports and craft supplies strewn hither and yon, not to mention the dirty dishes that were stacked in the sink (rather than IN THE DISHWASHER... But don't get me started on THAT...) The peak of Mt Washmore teetered dangerously close to the laundry room ceiling, as children whipped through outfits to suit their ever-changing moods and activities...

And worst of all, the proverbial cupboard was rapidly approaching the "bare" stage.

So, when the question of where we should go for our first outing in two days arose from the stir-crazed throng, my answer rang out loud and clear:

"Out. To. Eat."

We have a wonderful restaurant here in the town that we call home. It is locally-owned, beautifully appointed, and serves more than just your average "family fare". My husband has entertained clients there, it is where we chose to host my parents' fortieth wedding anniversary party, and yet, we feel completely comfortable bringing our three children with us to dine on a fairly regular basis. The staff sits us in our favourite booth, breaks out the crayons for the kids (and a half litre of white wine for the adults), and make us feel like their most welcome and valued customers.

Yes, THAT was just the environment that was called for by five-thirty, yesterday evening.

We settled cosily into our seats, and it wasn't long before our food was placed in front of us. Child Number One and I shared a Greek platter, as we are both very fond of the beautifully prepared chicken brochettes with tzatziki. Child Number Two chose pasta with alfredo sauce. My husband ordered a Tuscan chicken breast with garlic mashed potatoes, which he wolfed down in record time, having not taken a single moment's break from the highly volatile stock market all day. And Child Number Three requested and received a cheese and pepperoni pizza.

The pizza was undoubtedly large for a child as small as Wee Three. The single-serving pie was about the equivalent of the size of her head, doubled. However, she regarded her plate with wide eyes, delicately picked up a single slice (which I had had to cut in half for her so it would fit in her tiny hand), and began to eat.

By the time she reached the crust at the end of her second piece, it became increasingly apparent to the parents that this was a meal destined to be sent home in a doggy bag. However, never a man to let good, hot food "go to waste", and having snarfled down his own meal faster than any of the rest of us, my husband extended his hand across the table to his littlest daughter's plate:

Father: Well, you're certainly doing a good job with that pizza, sweetie, but maybe Daddy will just help you out a little bit...

Wee Three's response was swift and fast. She stood up on the chair she had been kneeling on, and encircled her plate with a protective arm.

Wee Three: NO, DADDY. Mama says you NOT allowed to snatch fings from other people!! Dat's not nice!! Dis is MY din-der, and you hafta ASK ME FIRST.

My husband shot me a withering look, but recoiled when I arched my eyebrow at him, daring him to try and "undo" one of the most difficult toddler-taming lessons I have been working so hard to instill...

Father: (wisely nodding in agreement) You're right. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snatch you dinner without asking. I just figured that since you LOVE your dear old dad so much, and know how hungry I am after working all day, that you'd WANT to share your pizza with me.

The grimace on Wee Three's face stayed put, as did the protective arm around the plate.

Father: Aren't you going to offer me just one piece? You can't eat it ALL, you know.

The expression on her face deepened slightly.

Father: (sighing loudly) Oh, all RIGHT. PLEASE will you share your pizza with me? I'd really like to try it, it looks so good...

At the sound of the Magic Word, Wee Three suddenly became sweetness and light once more. She sat back down on her chair, and smiled warmly at her father. She responded, loudly, while pulling her plate in just a little bit closer:

"NNNNOPE!!!"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Snow Day: Partie Deux.

video

Good day, and welcome to day TWO.

Let's hear it for The Great White North, eh.

(Beauty, eh? Beauty.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What I'm not giving up for Lent...

Today was another "snow day" for my girlies and me.

And so, we grabbed this unexpected opportunity to catch up on all of the many school projects that are looming on the horizon. We tackled Child Number One's unit on North American Explorers. We conquered Child Number Two's enormous collage for art class, which commemorates the "One Hundredth Day of School". And then, just to top things off, we built home-made "rain stick" instruments out of long cardboard tubes. We filled them with dried beans and rice, covered them with gooey papier mache, and painted them every colour of the rainbow. (Their music teacher isn't going to know what hit her, when the "torrential downpour" starts).

By the time we had completed these various masterpieces, and had cleaned up all the MESS that went along with them, we didn't have a whole lot of energy left. And so, we flopped down on the couch, snuggled under fuzzy blankets, and settled in to watch one of our favourite videos, "Eloise at the Plaza".

Now, being an "Eloise" purist... I was naturally highly skeptical when this film of my beloved heroine first appeared. But my fears were largely unfounded, as it turned out. The film version is remarkably, and surprisingly "true" to the book that I know and love so well. Julie Andrews is a stellar, warm-hearted Nanny, and Sofia Vassilieva (though not exactly the "picture" of the heroine that I have always carried in my head... Or, is that my OWN six-year-old I have been envisioning all these years??) is a wickedly energetic, thoroughly hilarious Eloise.

One of the funniest scenes in the movie is the one in which Philip, Eloise's long-suffering private tutor, arrives at the suite to give a French lesson. Eloise manages to annoy the poor man to such an extent, that Nanny is forced to swoop in and rescue him. She hands Philip a martini, and soothingly suggests, "Let's all just calm down!" He looks down his nose at her, states icily, "I DON'T DRINK", then makes a highly melodramatic exit.

Child Number Two was struck by Philip's statement.

She turned to me with wide-eyed seriousness, and said:

"He doesn't DRINK??? But if you don't DRINK, you'll DIE."

And after the day I'd put in with my children, I had to whole-heartedly agree with her.

I take mine straight up, with two olives, please.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

News Bulletin for Shrove Tuesday...

Too many of these...

... can lead to this:

video

The Divine Ms. M, on "The Tonight Show".

Happy "Fat Tuesday", everybody...

***burp***

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Who needs the Comedy Channel??


This morning, the girlies and I snuggled into the couch under the fuzzy new afghan I have FINALLY completed, to watch one of my favourite musicals, "Brigadoon", with the splendiferous Gene Kelly.

It's always a treat for me to share a great film with my children. They know an love most of the golden oldies, and ask to watch them on dvd, WAY more often than they ask for modern (crapola.... er, ahem.... CONTEMPORARY) entertainment.

I must confess, however, that this morning's movie was slightly more of a "hard-sell" to my girls than I am accustomed to...

We started out ok. The sets and costumes passed their critical judgement.

However, when the characters started popping out of the scenery armed with bagpipes, all three of them balked:

Child Number Two: (scowling) He's faking. That guy's not really playing.

Child Number One: (howling with laughter) His fingers aren't moving on the chanter!! Lookit THAT!! He's not even blowing into the mouthpiece!!

Child Number Three: (in loud agreement) UNCLE not do it like dat!!

It would appear that my brother, who is a magnificently gifted piper, has unwittingly "blown" Brigadoon for my kidlets.

I won't even TELL YOU about the paroxysms of uproarius laughter that occurred during the wedding scene when the characters attempted a pseudo-"highland fling".

Sheesh. Better not tell them that my mother named me after one of the songs in this movie... That would give the little jokers fodder to ridicule me for the rest of my life.

We enjoyed the movie, all right. Who in their right mind can resist the merry sound of their own children's peals of giggles???

I'm not too sure that my beloved Gene Kelly would have appreciated it, though...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

In case you were wondering...

"Who you lookin' at, lady??"

"I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away."

--Holden Caulfield in Chapter One of
J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye"


Well, it's a shame that poor old Holden Caulfield wasn't wondering about the swans in Stratford, Ontario, because here in my home town, WE would have had some answers for him.

This morning, after our trip to the Farmer's Market, the girlies and I strolled over to the Parks Board building down on Morenz Drive, which is located down near the Avon River. In behind the building, there is a special enclosure that has been designed for the Wintertime Happiness of our beloved local swan population:

"Yep, she's lookin' at us! And she's got a CAMERA! Everybody say CHEEEEESE!!"

"...and stand up straight!!"

One of the two Black Swans...

And two of the NOISIEST geese "guests"...

In late-autumn each year, our swans are carefully "rounded up" and brought to their specially designed winter abode. They have a warm barn in which to nest and keep warm, and full access to an outdoor enclosure, which boasts a "heated" pond. The water is never allowed to freeze over, and so many ducks and geese choose to join their friends in the enclosure during the winter months. Let me tell you, the noise they all made today made it seem like one gigantic pool party-- there was certainly a LOT of quacking and honking, flapping and splashing going on, which sent the girlies into fits of giggles.

Mr. Robert J. Miller is Stratford's Honourary Keeper of the Swans. For over forty years, Mr. Miller has volunteered his time to work with Stratford’s Board of Park Management to help care for these fine feathered citizens, and he has also written a book on the subject, entitled "The Swans of Stratford". A documentary has also been made by Alan and Kaaryn Gough, a husband-and-wife film-making team who live here in town. It is a remarkable account of one year on the Avon River. Although the swans appear to lead a placid and peaceful life, this documentary reveals the violence, the intrigues, the romantic complexities, the joys and sorrows that fill their lives.

The girlies and I are eagerly looking forward to SPRING... not the least of the reasons being that we hope to be present when the swans are released back into the river for the warmer seasons. There is a little parade from the enclosure, and we all line the sidewalks and watch as the gigantic birds waddle down the road, behind a fully-uniformed bagpiper. It is a strangely dignified affair... and one that we are loath to miss!!

For, as silly as those swans seem to me, they are yet another beloved symbol of "Home".

I know how the groundhog feels.


Six... More...... Weeks.............

(help!)

Friday, February 1, 2008

A little Family Fun...


The bad news?

We are "snowed in". It began snowing and blowing stink again last night, and we're expecting 20-25 more cm of the white stuff, complete with howling winds, over the next 24 hours.

The good news?

We're "snowed in" at my parents' house in Stratford.

Snow???

What's a little snow, when you're determined to have a good time????!!

"Hoopla!!" is what we have to say to the weatherman, "Let The Good Times Roll!!!"

The two youngest kids burst out of their beds and hit the ground running at the sound of my father's alarm clock (drat the damn thing to hell, and WHY didn't I check to make sure he had turned it off last night???!!) at 7 o'clock this morning. Which, truth be told, is considered a bit of a "lie-in" for them. The eleven-year-old followed shortly thereafter, because come hell or high water (or snow or high winds), we had made PLANS for the day.

We ate a quick breakfast, bundled up in our flannelette-lined jeans and our warmest woolies, and headed out doors to shovel the loser cruiser out of the driveway. A smaller scoop and a bag of sand are always in my trunk, "just-in-case", which was a good thing, since the roads certainly hadn't been plowed...

One of the first places we hit whenever we're "home" is our favourite toy shop in the entire world, "Family and Company". We were standing on the street with our noses pressed up against the glass when the employees FINALLY unlocked the front door:


And here are some of the Incredible Finds of the Day:


1. A CHICKEN CHUCKER!! Because I've got a "thing" for rubber chickens. How on earth did I live for so long without one of these??? I can catapault tiny rubber chickens across a room with the flip of a teeny-tiny switch, and schmuk offending children before they've even realized that I'm "on to" whatever delinquent behavior they're performing!! Love this thing. LOVE. I might just go back and get the Pig Projectile one for my husband...






2. A Banana Safe. For taking bananas to school for lunch!! It keeps them from getting squished!! Is this genius or what?? It's even got little holes for adequate aeration!! Now, if I could just convince my kids to stay at school to eat...






3. A Freeloader Fork. For my husband (to make up for the Pig Projectile). He is famous for asking, "Um... are you planning to eat all of that (insert name of delicious food here)?" whenever a plate-ful of something decadent arrives on the table in front of me. Now when we dine together, he can just extend the handle on this sucker, and "share" my meal (which I am seldom able to eat in its entirety, anyway) without the fuss of switching plates. Because apparently, this is the kind of thing that "true love" is all about. Yeesh.





4. The Jane Austen Action Figure. How cool is THIS?? An English major's dream-come-true, I assure you. She even comes with a little desk, and a quill pen... I can't wait to set her up on my own desk at home. Now, if they could just make one of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, I'd set up a whole freakin' SHRINE...







5. Ludo in a CD Case. I just couldn't resist-- a teeny, tiny, super-portable game! Perfect for our upcoming vacation. And it was just $2.99! Child Number One and I are going to have a tournament as soon as the little ones are safely asleep tonight.


And, last, but not least:

6. Fart: The Game. We'll be playing this one tomorrow afternoon. Want to know why? Well, I'll tell you anyway. I just received a telephone call from some friends who live around the corner. Tomorrow is Stratford's annual "Heartburn Day" Chili Cook-Off, and they are entering their favourite recipe. The girlies and I have been invited to the competition, where we'll be able to sample over 40 different chilis, and vote for the one we like the best. There will be children's entertainment, a "silent" auction (well, as silent as it can be with a room full of people eating beans), and all proceeds will go to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. Man, the things I do for charity. Pass the Zantac...

On the up-side, this MIGHT be the very first time my children don't wipe the floor with me in a card game... Poor little stinkers...

TGIF...


 
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