I had one of those ephemeral moments yesterday where I was suddenly lifted out of myself, just for a few seconds of pure joy.

We were at the PNE*, damp and sodden after watching the parade in the rain. As we fought our way through the crowd wandering up the parade route in search of cover, Dean was pushing MonkeyBoy in the stroller a few steps behind Chickadee and me. The music was still blasting from the loud speakers, and we were skipping along to the beat, hand in hand, doing can-can steps around the puddles. And I realized, out of the blue, that I was completely and perfectly happy.

Even now, I can pull up a crystal-clear memory of the feeling, and it warms me right through. It's a gift we're not often granted (or, perhaps, are too busy to appreciate). I'm going to try to notice more often.


*The PNE will always hold a special place in my heart, no matter what they do to it in the name of progress or civic renewal. My grandfather was the General Manager back in its heyday in the 60's and 70's (he was coooool, I tell ya. He even got to meet Sonny & Cher!). We used to come out every summer from Montreal, to visit my grandparents and my 4 cousins from California, and the highlight of the trip was our day at the fair. We'd arrive early, before the gates opened, and leave after dark. The last, best year I was 9. The 5 oldest kids (ages 11, 10, 9, 8 and 7) were turned loose with 5 bucks each (back when candy apples were 50 cents each, and cotton candy a quarter), probably 2 or 3 hundred rides' worth of tickets (seriously - the ride passes were printed on red card stock, each good for 10 rides, and we had a stack at least an inch thick), and instructions to meet our parents for dinner. We covered every square inch of that fair, then had dinner at the Dogwood cafeteria followed by front row seats at whatever the evening's entertainment was (nothing memorable, obviously, unless it was Ice Capades - I remember sitting behind Karen Magnussen's parents during one of her shows). We finished off the evening with a stroll down the midway, where we each got to choose whichever of the giant prizes we wanted. My grandfather would point, and the carnie would haul down a giant turtle or bear or rabbit and hand it over. My poor parents had to fly 3 enormous stuffed animals back to Montreal.

The PNE has gone downhill since then, and that's not just old age and nostalgia talking. A good third of the site has been turned into parkland (a good thing, really, just not for the 2 weeks of the fair), and it's no longer the big agricultural draw it used to be. It used to be THE livestock show for the province; now they have representative farm species for the city kids who never get to see a live cow. The lumberjack show and demolition derby have been replaced by monster trucks and motorcross. A lot of the permanent exhibits are gone, too, like the Hall of Mirrors and the Funhouse, and the seatbelt-free skyride that used to run from one end of the park to the other (it was a great way to find people if you got separated - unless they were indoors, your odds of spotting them were excellent, and then you could bellow down at them in hopes of scaring them into dropping their snow cone). But they still have the Showmart, with the guys selling Miracle Shammies and the Slicer/Dicer/Chopper/Hacker things, and the knives that will cut cans AND tomatoes. And the Superdogs, and the pig races, and the little donuts and Buckeye Root-beer and Aunt Margie's fudge. And the Agrodome still smells of horses and sawdust, even though the equine entertainment didn't make it across the border this year.

To be honest, I don't go to the PNE every year to see what's new, I go to see what's old. I always wander past Grandpa's office, even though he retired in '77, and make sure the games arcade is still standing. Next year I'll take Chickadee on the rickety wooden roller coaster - it's a museum piece, but it still runs. I just hope we pick a drier day next time.


Time Travel

The CBC is on strike, depriving me of my favourite distraction and leaving me alone with my thoughts while commuting. I've been forced to resort to daydreams and 'what ifs' to keep myself occupied. Last week, I kept busy playing out my options if I could go back and take over my youthful body at some point in my past - to relive a portion of my youth with the wit and wisdom I've accumulated to date (not much, I admit, but more than I had at 18 or 20).

What would I do with a 'do over'? Assuming that:
1) it would be for a limited amount of time (a month would do nicely, I think. I wouldn't want to start all over again at 18 or anything - I'm pretty happy with where I am now) and
2) that the results would be permanent (i.e. with lasting consequences, nothing getting reset to the way it was originally when my time was up).

The obvious scenario, I guess, would be to go back and track down Dean before either of us made our unwise first marriages - I know where he was and it wouldn't have been that hard to manufacture a meeting or two between us. But even though it would have saved us both a lot of heartache (assuming our younger selves were as right for each other as we are now), I wouldn't do it. We have 3 much-beloved children that I am unwilling to sacrifice. The girls, of course, could never have existed if we'd met earlier, and even knowing the date and approximate time of the MonkeyChild's conception, the odds of that particular combination of sperm and egg occurring again are almost nonexistent. So the price is just too high.

Ruling out the obvious, I've come up with two good possibilities. The first would be to go back to university when I chose my major, and take the CompSci option instead of marketing. Who knew, in 1985, that computers would be so big*? Plus it would have made my systems analyst dad happy.

The second would be to dump the guy I started dating right after high school (and lost my virginity too) and seduce my biology teacher instead. I had a massive crush on Mr. C - he was cynical, sarcastic, looked like Indiana Jones sans hat, and once told another teacher, in my presence, that I was going to be gorgeous when I was older. For a shy kid with no self esteem, that was a HUGE compliment.

So I'd go back, maybe 6 months after grad, and look him up. With the benefit of hindsight, he couldn't be any worse a first lover than the actual one was. Hell, he taught biology, so it was practically his specialty, right? At least it might have spared me a decade of worrying that I was frigid.

And I wouldn't even have to feel guilty about going after a married man - rumours about him and a female student were circulating only a few years later, so it's not like he'd have been totally unwilling.

So, what would you do?


*Well, not literally of course. But you know what I mean. And yes, of course I should have known they were going to be a major deal, but I was looking for the easy ticket and I could get 90% in marketing courses without half trying.


Victim of Fashion

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Originally thought to be a fatal drive-by crime of fashion. Upon investigation it was determined that the death blow was self-inflicted.


A Sign From God

Or something ...

If you type the URL for any blogspot blog but drop the 's' (at least, it worked for the half dozen blogpot.com sites I tried) , you get:

A mega-site of Bible, Christian & religious information & studies; including, audio & written KJV Bible, churches, Doctrine, links, news, prayer, prophecy, sermons, spiritual warfare, statistics, and tracts. Features the Chronological 4 Gospels, Prayer Book, Prophecy Bible, and a photo tour of Israel. and a photo tour of Israel. By God's mercy, one of the largest Bible-centered sites on the web (app 6000 pgs).

So, do they think blogger fans are particularly evil and thus most in need of saving, or just more likely to swallow whatever crap they run across online?



I've been curious lately about why people write - particularly those who do so (or hope to) for a living. Both John and Jim have very generously posted their thoughts on the subject in response to my prying, and I'd love to hear from the rest of you. Not just about writing, though - I'm interested in people who have something they love doing and are able to turn it into a career. Making a living out of your passion, as it were.

And lest anyone suspect me of having a hidden agenda here, let me put my agenda out in the open for all to see:

  1. I haven't found anything (besides Dean and our children, and they don't pay very well) about which I'm truly passionate. I have lots of things I enjoy doing, but haven't found a way to transform any of them into a moneymaking proposition. This is, in large part, due to laziness. And insecurity. So I'm looking for inspiration.
  2. On writing, specifically: I never liked writing when I was in school. I could do it quite well, and quickly, getting decent grades for very little effort, but I always disliked the physical act of writing. I blame it all on the sole Needs Improvement grade I got in elementary school - for handwriting in Grade 6. It scarred me, it did. So I wrote as little as possible, as quickly as possible, until I fell into this whole blogging thing a year or so ago*. Now I've discovered I don't hate writing. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. I've even got an novelicious idea or two rattling around in my head. But I don't feel any burning desire to get them out and onto paper. Not sure if that's 'yet' or 'ever'. So I'm curious about the mechanisms that drive people to write.
And there you have it. I'm a nosy, unmotivated busybody looking for career advice and/or permission to be a slacker for the rest of my life.

*I just checked, and it's been 11 months to the day. I never thought I'd stick with it as long as I have, to be honest.


Swimming in Egypt

Ya gotta love Karla's dad. Here's his latest quote:
"I know my daughter, she wouldn't hurt a fly for God's sake," said Karel Homolka, who has spoken with his daughter but hasn't seen her in years.
Aside from those 3 teenagers (including his other daughter) that is. I also notice that he's not willing to back that up by actually meeting her face to face.

Or maybe I'm reading it the wrong way, and he's actually trying to say that while people aren't entirely safe around Canada's most infamous blond, house flies have nothing to worry about.



I've thought of all kinds of great things to write about over the last few days - funny things, deep things, incredibly insightful things that would make you bow down in awe of my amazing intellect and brilliant writing skills.

I had, of course, neither the time nor the ability to blog when I thought about them. And now that I've done the grocery shopping, fed the children, run the dishwasher, rounded up the laundry, applied for a mortgage online (and wasn't that a barrel of laughs!), registered for two sessions of gymnastics (not for me, although flexibility in a soccer mom would probably be a good thing), put the guinea pigs out for some fresh air and lawn clippings ... and a few dozen other household chores, and actually have time to sit down at the keyboard, I can remember none of them. Not a one. Nada. Zip. Zilch. In other words, bugger all.


Funniest Line of the Weekend

Heard on the ferry, 5 minutes after leaving the dock:

Will the owner of a powder-blue Mercedes SUV please return to the car deck? Your alarm is starting to annoy the deck crew.

Maybe you had to be there.


The Naked Soccer Mom

Photo is over on Dean's blog, if anyone's come here looking for it.


Stupid Foot Tricks

This is really weird. And you can keep trying, over and over, to control your foot. But you can't - it has a mind of its own.

1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction. Every single time.

Strange, no?

When Silence Is All To Be Heard

When the phosphorescence glow,
And the moon shines bright,
And the sound of the waves is all to be heard,
When then a rustle of sound comes to the ear,
Then all of a sudden a deer prances past the house,
A glorious sight, but then once again,
Silence is all to be heard.
What a glorious night to be seen.

-- by Chickadee --


Acid Reflux ... er, Flashback

As part of my marketdroid duties at work, I've signed up for newsletters from a number of competitors. I received this atrocity a couple of weeks ago.

Once you've stopped retching and gagging, and your eyes are focusing again, you can see that it's really pretty clever. They're not actually advertising the nauseating green bathroom - it's for safety features, aimed at aging Boomers. The very people who thought guacamole and coffee grounds were a good colour palette back in the 60's. As their short term memory fails along with their ability to walk unassisted, this room is going to seem perfectly familiar to them. And it's a fitting punishment for their former fashion crimes, don't you think?

Wonder what they'll have in store for us in 20 or 30 years ...


That Uncomfortable Silence

It's kind of telling, isn't it, how people react when you tell them you've done something unconventional? I enjoy it - people see me as pretty straight-laced so once in a while I like to do something that knocks their view of me off-kilter. Especially my mother - a not insignificant part of my motivation for getting a tattoo was to see her reaction when I told her about it. And I still get a kick out of telling people I meet that I have one - even though tattoos are pretty commonplace now, I guess I put out goody-two-shoes square vibes because I almost always get a double-take.

This morning we went for a walk and lunch with friends. They're good people, but we've always had a sneaking suspicion that they're a little more conventional than we are. Actually, quite a lot more conventional. At one point, we mentioned that we'd been to the beach yesterday and, since there are an number of them to choose from around here, the natural response was "Which one?" I waited a second, to give Dean a chance to take the plunge, but he didn't, so I said, simply, "Wreck." Everyone in Vancouver knows about Wreck Beach.

There was a brief, strained pause, then she said "Oh, that's nice." And the subject was hurriedly changed.

I'm guessing we don't have to worry about running into them down there. And that, possibly, we will never be asked to babysit.


Nudity Ahead

Hmm ... perhaps that's a bit misleading, since I mean 'ahead in my near future' not 'ahead in this post'. Oh well, tough nellies*. Sue me for false advertising if you like.

It's supposed to be hot here tomorrow, so we're heading for the beach. But not just any old beach. No sir, we're going to the infamous Wreck Beach. That's right, the nekkid beach!

With lots and lots on sunscreen. I have a muchness of skin which has not seen daylight for many years. Actually, I think the last time I was there, I was great with Chickadee, so we're talking 9 years. 9 years and a lot of pasty white flesh. Oh, it's going to be a pretty sight!

*Who the heck are the nellies, anyhow, and why are they so tough? And am I the only person on the planet, besides my mother, who still uses that phrase?


Apocalypse Rats

While pondering the possibilities raised by Dean's latest post - which may deserve a separate post of their own - it occurred to me to wonder why, in lots of post-apocalyptic fiction and movies, there are so many rats. You know - when the sole survivors try to enter The Big City years and years later, they are forced out/killed by/battling endlessly the legions of rats therein.

Where do all the rats come from, and what the heck are they eating? I can see a huge boom in the rat population immediately post-plague/war/nuclear holocaust, when there are lots and lots of bodies lying around. Rats breed fast and often, and I could see the cities being a-swarm for maybe a year after the fact, max. Once all the people are consumed, there just ain't that much food in your average concrete jungle. Wander through NYC 10 years after all we're gone, and I'm betting there just won't be all that much wildlife. Certainly not endless billions of rodents. Nature is very good at wielding the twin swords of plague and starvation to keep populations in control - remove mankind from the picture, and she'll have things nicely balanced out again in no time.



I shouldn't complain - it's not like I've been working 12-hour days or anything like that. But we've been away the last 3 weekends, which means all the home stuff I do on weekends has been crammed into Tuesdays, my regular housework day. And the kids were away all of last week, and I just don't sleep soundly when they're away. And work has been stressful - irritating, thoughtless people causing 3 times as much work as is necessary because they just won't think, setting stupidly tight deadlines then not holding up their end so their work and everything else is late anyhow.

I think I'm burning out.


Call of a Different Kind

A small boy hits the beach:
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Rescue Call

I missed it, but Grandma and Grandpa got a call on Thursday asking if they'd bring in another abandoned seal pup (#8 for them, #60 for the rescue centre). He's been picked up by kayakers (who had called first) who found him on the beach of a small, uninhabited island. They brought him over to Mayne, and my parents, with the kids, took him over to SaltSpring Island.

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The kids named him Hot Chocolate.

He was really little - this is a standard camping cooler:
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Unfortunately, Hot Chocolate didn't make it. He was premature, and hypothermic, and the staff at the rescue centre weren't able to warm him up despite their best efforts. But Cerveza, my parents' first rescue, is doing great, as are several of the others they've brought in.



Make me thrill as only you know how
Sway me smooth, sway me now
-- Dean Martin --

I have, at the ripe old age of 38, finally mastered the feminine art of hip-swaying.

As pre-teens, my friends and I would parody The Walk, throwing our hips so far to the side that we risked dislocation with every step. As a thin and gawky teen, I joined a marching band, and in learning to walk military-style (any time a group of us went to the mall, we would eventually find ourselves marching in step to the muzak. It was horribly embarrassing) seem to have missed out on developing a girly sway. In my twenties, I took great pride in my long, masculine stride (Why? Damned if I know. In hindsight, it seems like a pretty lame – no pun intended – thing to be proud of.)

At 31, after a day-long hike with Dean, I developed tendonitis in my iliotibial band – the tendon that runs from the hip to below the knee. After some physio and (expensive) custom shoe inserts, it went from acutely painful to occasionally irritating. Walking downhill was the worst – every step brought a sharp flare of pain at my knee. It’s manageable, as long as I remember not to roll my feet when I walk, and exercise my quads, but every trip to the cabin, with its steeply sloping driveway, brings pain.

Until recently. I work with a woman who is about 8’ tall (OK, she’s really only about 6’2”, which is plenty big enough), who strides down the office corridors like a supermodel. I was mildly fascinated by her walk and started trying to figure out the mechanics of it for myself. There’s a loooong straight hallway between my desk and the washrooms, so I started practicing, trying to figure out how she does it. My own walk involves very little side-to-side motion, but my head and shoulders bob up and down. I discovered that if I concentrated on holding my head still, all that vertical momentum was translated into a pleasing side-to-side movement at hip level. After several months of practice, I can now sway with the best of them – even Dean has commented on the results.

And last weekend at the cabin, hills and all, my knee didn’t bother me once.


Diva's Next Pet

Diva's expressed an interest in Pacific Banana Slugs. They have a lot to recommend them - they're low maintenance, will eat most organic waste, don't take up a lot of room, get along well with others, and are unlikely to be eaten by other pets. And while they don't wag their tails, they've got those cute, wiggly eye stalks:

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Some interesting slug facts:
  • the Banana Slug is the second largest slug and can grow to 25 cm long.
  • their slime is multi-purpose: for respiration, attracting mates, locomotion and protection
  • the slime acts as an anaesthetic, which deters predators.
  • a slug can travel over a razor blade or sharp edge of glass without cutting itself because of the slime that covers the foot.
  • a slug that has climbed a tree can get down quickly by dropping to the ground safely from a string made of slime.
  • the Banana Slug is hermaphroditic - they are capable of self fertilization but more often cross mate.
  • when a slug is ready to mate, it leaves behind a chemical in its slime to signal potential mates.
  • before mating, slugs will eat each other's slime.
  • slugs are capable of storing the sperm that they have received for many weeks.
  • the Banana Slug gnaws off its penis when disengaging from sex.
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And so, as you can see, slugs make most excellent pets. Except for the slime, but really, what pet doesn't come with a drawback or two? And they're cheap - I'd be happy to provide you with as many slugs as you want, just for the cost of shipping (they're light, too - an added bonus!). If you think the 25cm Banana Slug is too big, we have smaller Black Garden Slug as well - they top out at about 15cm, and with their glossy black skin would be well suited to more formal occasions.


Non-lethal Cuteness

We didn't get called to rescue any seal pups over the weekend (which in the grand scheme of things is a good thing), so I have no heart-stoppingly adorable pictures of big-eyed orphans. We did, however, receive daily visits from this fellow:

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He wandered up a couple of times a day for a drink, then disappeared under the porch my father insisted was otter-proof. Once upon a time that pot had fish in it - we have no idea what could have happened to them.

I would say more about our fabulous weekend, but Dean pretty much covered all the highlights. Except the part about where I learn that waterskiing at 38 is not the same as waterskiing at 21 - at least not as far as your joints are concerned. Oh, but it was worth the pain!