Monday Afternoon Humour

Also suitable for reading Tuesdays, Wednesdays, etc ...

Found on Darren Barefoot, from The New Yorker, Talking Chimp Gives His First Press Conference. One of the funniest things I've read in a long time.


At the Zoo

Today, I took the MonkeyBoy to see his closest relatives. Sadly, the spidermonkeys were behind a chainlink fence, so the pictures we took are only good as personal reminders - more chain than chimp, I fear. We did encounter other pretty cool critters, however.

A rabid camel (or maybe we interrupted while he was brushing his teeth
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A sandhill crane, which bit Conal just as I was saying "Watch out, they bi..."
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We don't like sandhill cranes any more. Fortunately, no blood was drawn.

A baby capybara
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A vulturine guinea fowl
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Do not adjust your monitor - they really are brilliant cobalt blue, with blood red eyes. And they eat wasps. I've been trying for years to convince my parents to get a few of these for their cabin.

The rare long-necked scratching post
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And a native species, the grimy-faced icecream eater
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Yet another reason why Vancouver is a great place to live
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The berries are ripe already. Admittedly, it's a salmon berry, the most flavourless fruit known to man. But still ...

And a final pastoral image, just because I like it
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Hangin' Out

Dean's out of town this weekend, so I picked MonkeyBoy up from daycare at 5:30 and headed for home. It's even hotter today than it was yesterday, and the house was like an oven after being closed up all day. As we pulled in to the carport, he spotted D, our next door neighbour and M, her 12 or 13-year-old son, sitting out front on our shared patch of lawn - it's the least hot spot available at this time of day. As we were getting out of the car, MonkeyBoy announced "I have to go over dare, I have lots of fings to tell dem."

Fortunately, they think he's absolutely adorable and have no problem chatting with him at great length. He showed them what he's learned in gymnastics - somersaults and something that vaguely resembles a cartwheel as performed by jellyfish - rode his scooter and his trike, told them about his day at daycare, what he ate for lunch, what he thought of the cool truck across the street ... and worked "You can say dat again!" into the conversation as often as possible. I tried, a few times, to convince him to come into the house with me so I could make dinner, to no avail, until M offered to entertain him for a while. When I left, they were playing catch with an empty water bottle and sharing some awful-looking gum. I kept popping out every few minutes to make sure no one was getting tired of him, while he explored their new van, wrestled with M, flirted with his sister, S, who's almost 16 and quite lovely, discussed the current state of our garden, and explained to a passerby why our dog has such bad breath (he has no hands, so he can't brush his teeth). Then he convinced S to show him her bedroom, and only agreed to come home when, after an hour and a half of socializing, she and her brother had to go to the store. Then, about 15 minutes later, while we were eating (at 7pm), they came back with a Slurpee for him - mixed flavours, even!

Good neighbours are a wonderful thing.


A Taste of Summer

Today was nigh on indistinguishable from your basic sunny day in mid-July. It was hot - 30C, which is 'round about 85F - with nary a cloud in the sky. It's supposed to stay hot, too, through the weekend (oOf course, it rained for the long weekend). It even smelled like summer today - that warm, sweet smell of long grass, wild roses, and dust.

Of course, all my summer clothes are still at the back of the storage cupboard, and I'm going to get all sweaty hauling them out.

Today also marked the first time I didn't put on a jacket of some sort to go to work (Dean says I'm the queen of ugly jackets, and he probably has a point. My current favourite used to be his, so it's 6 sizes too big, in stunning shades of green and purple). Of course, most normal people have been jacketless for several weeks, but I'm a cold person (physically, that is. Unless the temp is over 25, I'm cold - cold hands, cold feet. It's nature's way of compensating for my incredibly sunny and warm personality. Or the hot air I'm full of. Whatever).

Suffering for Spring

I'm hobbling a little today. Yesterday, buoyed by the glorious springtime weather, I decided to walk over to meet Dean and the kids at their gymnastic class after work. It's not a long walk - 1.6km in fact, just about exactly a mile, or 15 minutes at a brisk pace. I swapped my work shoes for my comfy, well-worn sandals and set out, only to discover that part of what makes my wellworn sandals so comfy is a layer of summer calluses. It not being summer yet, I have no calluses, and am now sporting large blisters on the balls of both feet.

So it's time for me to stop pumicing my soles into submission in the shower and start glorying in the layers of dry and scaly skin that protect me from the harsh reality of walking barefoot.



A very cool site that allows you to see how your website appears to people with various forms of colour-blindness, found via David Pogue's NYTimes blog (might require log-in). What fascinated me was being able to see how the world looks if you're colour-blind (of course, if you are colour-blind, you already know this). Sort of a chance to look through someone else's eyes.

*15 minutes later: my insatiable curiosity led me from the above site to another that provides colour-testing cards online. Both my father and grandfather suffer from mild colour-blindness (my grandfather can't distinguish green from grey, and was well-known for pairing a blue shirt with a green suit, thinking he was being stylish and restrained), and as it's carried on the X chromosome, I decided to try out MonkeyBoy's baby blues. He failed 2 of the 3 tests, but given that he has the usual 3-year-old's attention span (30 seconds, max, unless it involves trucks and/or physical mayhem), it's entirely possible that he was just bored and there's absolutely nothing wrong with his vision.


And on a lighter note ...

A few of the people for whom I am most thankful:

My guys
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My girl
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The fruit of my loins
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Putting It All In Perspective

Despite all the headaches and hassles of the last couple of years - almost all involving jobs and/or money - I have a great many things to be thankful for:
  • Dean - I don't want to even think about what my life would be without him. He is my best friend, my staunchest supporter, my passion and desire, my protector, my strength ... and so very much more.
  • Whatever the power that brought us together, for causing our paths to cross at the time when we most needed to find each other.
  • Our children, and their continued health and happiness. They are bright, beautiful, and loving creatures, and I'm constantly amazed that I had anything to do with their creation.
  • My parents, who do an amazing job of striking a balance between helping us and giving us space to live our own lives - as they have done throughout my life. And I really like them as people, too - if I wasn't related to them, I'd still want to know them.
  • The rest of my family - brother, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandfather - because I know they will always love me for who I am, and give me the support I need without trying to consume more of my life than I'm willing to give them.
  • My friends, who often deserve more of my time and energy but understand that we've reached the age where we all have other commitments, and that honouring those takes nothing away from the friendship.
There are other things in my life for which I am grateful, but this is what really matters. The people - everything else can be replaced.


A General Apology

To all and sundry who wander in here from time to time, for the recent lack of postage. As Dean has mentioned, we're going through a bit of a rough patch, fiscally speaking, and I am handling it less well than I would like. Since Dean's already posted all the funny kid stories, I'm left with self pity and tales of woe, both of which I try to avoid inflicting on anyone else.

Hence the lack of blog material. We have many things to be thankful for, and I'm trying to concentrate on those instead of all the things that have gone/could go wrong. But in the meantime, I don't have much to say here*.

*Not that I ever really did, of course.


Scents From the Road

Scents scented on my way home from work, or my commute as your dog might experience it*, with explanatory notes:

Wild roses, sewage (1), cedar, wild roses, aged manure (2), beach at low tide, freshly mown hay, dairy manure (3), drying hay, fresh bread (4), green things (5), diesel exhaust, chicken feed (6), more green things, barbeque briquets, other green things, fertilizer (7), different green things, wood smoke, still more green things, mushroomy green things (8), freshly turned earth, chickens (9), fresh hay, dried hay, yet more green things, greasy spoon cuisine, steak, skunk(10), roast chicken and children who have been playing in the sun (11).

*If he'd lost 99% of his olfactory sense in an industrial accident, or had a really bad cold. Otherwise I'm sure he'd also pick up on all the horses, sheep, cows, llamas, rabbits, small bodies of water, roadkill, etc, that we also passed.

1) The Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.
2) Being spread on fields, either sprayed on in liquid form (really lovely when you're down wind) or plowed under in a more solid state (lovely when you're behind the tractor for a few miles on your rural drive home).
3) Still in the barn, fresh from the cows.
4) A shopping mall on the outskirts of suburbia which I whip past at 130 km/h.
5) A medley of growing things - blackberry, alder, maple, salmonberry, apple, dandelion, moss, ferns, and a myriad of others. Varies according to the species therein and the water content of the soil. Wet green things smell quite different than dry green things, and cultivated plots are less aromatic than the small patches of untended wilderness.
6) Sweet and grain-scented, a smell indelibly linked to summers on my grandfather's farm.
7) Chemicals and faint aura of fish - not entirely pleasant but a darn sight better than the raw manure they use elsewhere.
8) Mushroom farms abound in the Fraser Valley.
9) A distinctive mix of chicken feed (pleasant) and ammonia (not so much).
10) Actually one of the plants in the complex gardens - not my first choice for a residential area, personally.
11) Mine.


Scenes From the Road

Scenes seen on my way to work this morning:

- An obviously irritated cat, fur clumped in punkish spikes by the long, wet grass, vainly attempting to lick its feet dry while sitting in said grass.

- Three pairs of Canada geese carefully shepherding their goslings along the side of the road, watched over by 2 mournful Sicilian donkeys.

- A long, straight stretch of road, tall green trees lining either side, a narrow strip of luminous grey sky, and a single crow flying above the centre line.

- Glossy black horses behind white rail fences against a green meadow.

- A blaze of azaleas, in all the colours of flame, burning brightly across the curve of a highway embankment.


Making Memories

Today was one of those great days where nothing spectacular happened but I'll remember it forever. The big event was going for a bike ride with my kids and my folks. It was grey and rainy, nothing special. Except that it was special.

My mom called yesterday to see if we had plans today - I know she and my dad had planned to go to their island home this weekend, and I'm pretty sure they cancelled just because they knew Dean was out of town and they didn't want me to be alone on Mother's Day. So after breakfast in bed courtesy of Chickadee (microwaved eggs with catsup, and a 'dessert' she invented of melted chocolate chips and raspberry jello powder), we loaded Chickadee's bike into the car and headed into town. My parents have an apartment at the entrance to Stanley Park, and often take the kids cycling (we have a wagon thing for MonkeyBoy). So they rented a bike for me, and we set out with a picnic lunch. As I buckled on my rental helmet, I realized it was the first time I'd ever worn one. Not because I'm a scofflaw, but because the last time I was on a bike was at least 9 years ago and there were no helmet laws at the time.

It's true, though - you never forget how to ride a bike. Braking, now, that you can forget ...

It was overcast, but quite warm, and we cut across Stanley Park, through the heron nesting site - which was really cool, there are well over a hundred nests in less than a block, in some majestic old chestnut trees - and started round the False Creek seawall. There are flowers everywhere - the Vancouver Parks Board does an amazing job, with block after block of glorious beds of colour - and not too much traffic.

There are parks every 5 minutes or so (by slow bike; they're probably 10 minutes apart if you're on foot) and we stopped at a few to let the kids explore. At one, we saw a pair of Canada geese perched in a concrete planter. As we watched, one black and yellow gosling peered out from under its mother's wing. The parents were completely unconcerned by the audience they had attracted.

We made it as far as Science World and spent a good 15 minutes watching the giant kinetic sculpture out front. By this point, it was raining fairly steadily and, being good Vancouverites, none of us brought raincoats (you'd think we'd learn, with 150 combined years living here, but no). We decided the grass was a little wet for a picnic, so we went to the McDonald's across the street, then cycled home, MonkeyBoy sleeping the entire way.

Nothing spectacular, as I said, but it's a memory I will always cherish.


Avian Parenting Tips

I stopped on my way to work the other day to let a family of geese cross the road. There were 6 goslings, and the parents were carefully positioned, one in front, one behind, to keep the little group together and off the road. They obviously cross the road fairly regularly as the lead parent started across as soon as my car stopped rolling. The goslings ambled onto the road, gazing around curiously, until the rear goose suddenly started hissing and flapping its wings furiously. Not surprisingly, the babies sprinted the rest of the way across the street (well, as close as a goose can come to sprinting, anyhow) and into the ditch on the other side.

It was quite hilarious, and I couldn't help thinking how human children would react in similar circumstances. There you are, standing quietly on the street corner, holding mom's hand and chatting amiably about what you're going to have for lunch. Then, as soon as the light turns green, mom morphs into a marine drill sergeant, shouting "GO! GO! GO! MOVE your sorry TAIL or you'll be doing PUSHUPS until the middle of next WEEK! MOVE IT! MOVE IT!", while swinging a stick at your head.

Still, it was an amazingly effective tactic. I may try it the next time the toys need picking up.


My Creative Side

I am not skilled in most of the creative arts: my drawing and painting skills are slightly worse than those of the average 8-year-old (I know this because I have an average 8-year-old and she's better than I), I can sing on key some of the time but have a range of about 6 notes and a not particularly appealing voice, I can't dance beyond 80's-style group hopping, and I'm a bad actress. I do better in areas where there are rules to follow - cooking, gardening, writing - than in the more freeform artforms. Except for one.

I do excellent playdough animals. I discovered this talent when Chickadee was 2 or so, and have since expanded my repertoire to include other moldable substances - plasticine, fondant icing and, most recently, edible clay (sort of a Tootsie Roll-like substance than comes in a variety of colours designed to appeal to the immature palate).

Chickadee's school holds a cake decorating contest every year. Last year was our first public display of fondant artwork:
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This year, we got more adventurous and made a castle cake, complete with the requisite princess-in-a-tower, attacking dragon, and heroic knights:
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Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the cake at home and was forced to shoot it in all its Saran-wrapped glory at the school. And my photoshop skills are not up to the removal of cling film. But I'm particularly proud of the dragon, my best squishy beast to date:
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The knights are a little pathetic, but they're less than an inch tall so it's hard to work in much detail.


MonkeyBoy Wisdom

MonkeyBoy: I won't cry if I hurt myself because big boys don't cry.

Me: It's OK for big boys to cry. They cry if they're really sad.

MonkeyBoy: Yeah, if their computers are broken.


Getting It Wrong

MonkeyBoy and I have a bedtime ritual - after his regular story, we lie down together and I tell him a story "from my mouf". Which means he tells me what the story's about, and I pad it with adjectives and meaningless intensifiers. For the last few weeks, the plots have all revolved around small robots playing, then being eaten by giant robots, then escaping. The variables are the colour of the ingested robot and the means of escape. So tonight, my assignment was identical to last night's ("tell me about when the orange robot was eaten and escaped on his motorcycle"), except for this:

"But don't do the part you did last night, because that was wrong. And incorrect."

Not even four and already he's a critic.

I don't think we'll be taking him to Hitchhiker's Guide, even if he reads the book first.