Welcome Back, Diva & Chris!

We've missed you here in our little corner of cyberspace.

The newlywed Mr. Murphy tagged me upon his return, so here goes:

1. Go into your archives.
Wow, who knew I'd written so much

2. Find your 23rd post.
Got it.

3. Post the fifth sentence.

He just can't get over what a fabulous guy he is, and it must be a continuous source of confusion to him that everyone doesn't share his opinion.

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.
Who to tag, who to tag ...

Umm ... will anyone who hasn't already been tagged elsewhere ever read this? Unlikely, I fear.


Youthful Indiscretions

And the commission thereof when one no longer qualifies as strictly youthful (but still useful, one hopes).

I bought myself a black velour tracksuit today, not entirely dissimilar to the ones that were trendy when I was a teen (I had a plum-coloured outfit when I was 13 or so). They've started a yoga class at work, and I need something stretchy to wear. I looked at official yoga pants, but they were 60 bucks and I had an unenthusiastic 9-year-old in tow. Then we walked past one of the trendy teenybopper stores I always avoid, and they had rack upon rack of velour right out front, so we wandered in. Fifteen bucks for pants and a hoodie, and Chickadee was most enthusiastic about the velour, so I took the plunge - without trying them on in the store. Sometimes you just have to live dangerously.

Dean eyed the outfit somewhat dubiously when I got home - it is at the J-Lo end of the fashion spectrum - but changed his tune once I modeled it for him.

It's designed for teens with 2% body fat, I'll admit - the waistband barely clears my hipbones, and the jackets ends mid-rib. Kate Moss would look fabulous. But I've got to admit that I look something less than totally ridiculous in it. Dean thinks I look hot, and I'm not terribly inclined to disagree. My abs are going to get a serious workout, but it's a small price to pay - for someone with 39 lurking in their near future, any outfit that encourages ass-grabbing is a good one.


But Mo-o-om! All The Cool Kids Are Doing It!

Because I never met a trend I didn't like*, and it's been a long day of much brainpan activity, I'm going to follow Dean down the path of slack-assedness ...

My Sexy Brazilian Name is:

Nathalia Coelho

My 1920's Name is:

Ione Belle

I am French Food

Snobby yet ubiquitous.
People act like they understand you more than they actually do.
Oh, how sadly true! Except Dean, who was obviously a French chef in a past life.

And one that's oddly accurate, except for the match maker bit:
Your Brain's Pattern

Your brain is always looking for the connections in life.
You always amaze your friends by figuring out things first.
You're also good at connecting people - and often play match maker.
You see the world in fluid, flexible terms. Nothing is black or white.

Except that this one's true, too:

Your mind is a multi dimensional wonderland, with many layers.
You're the type that always has multiple streams of though going.
And you can keep these thoughts going at any time.
You're very likely to be engaged in deep thought - and deep conversation.

I guess I'm just amazingly multifaceted. And really should get back to work.

And for Jim:
You Are Not Scary

Everyone loves you. Isn't that sweet?

*OK, I'll admit that bellbottoms didn't do much for me, but I was only 8.


Some Days I Love My Job

I'm working on a pricing model to anticipate future cost increases from our Asian suppliers. It incorporates the market prices of steel, nickel, zinc, and petroleum, labour costs in the Shenzhen region, exchange rate fluctuations for the renminbi and new Taiwan dollar, and the effects of rolling electricity shortages. I've spent over 45 hours in the last 2 weeks building it (and I only work a 28-hour week, so we're talking a significant percentage of my time) and it is A Thing of Beauty.

It's been a fascinating and challenging project, and I would sooo love to have a job that let me do this every day.

Sadly, I fear my data modeling days are coming to an end, at least for now - the big meeting for which all of this is prep work is next Wednesday. I'm harbouring the faintest of faint hopes that I'll have impressed the Higher-Ups with my analytical abilities and that I'll be given more juicy numbers to play with on a regular basis.

I'm not, however, holding my breath.


A Spot of Good News

Y'all remember poor little Hot Chocolate?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The poor abandoned seal pup that Monkeyboy and Chickadee helped rescue? When they went back to visit him at the wildlife centre the next day, they were told he hadn't survived the night. Well, my folks took in another pup yesterday (Absolut), and were told that Hot Chocolate did make it through the night, prospered and grew sleek over the summer, and was set free last week (along with Cerveza, the first of their rescuees) - fat, happy and full of fish.



To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded! ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the 'words to live by' category, this is one of my favourite quotes (although Monty Python's "Adopt, adapt and improve" also has a lot to recommend it - and it's pithier, which is important when trying to maintain grace under pressure. Ralph Waldo is a bit long-winded when you're trying to regain your sense of purpose in a crisis).

Whose words inspire you?


Say What?

The Monkeychild solemnly informed me this morning that the second word he ever read was 'debenture'.

He went to the cabin with Grandma and Grandpa this morning so they met us at my office, en route to the ferry. Traffic was light and we were early so got to spend 15 minutes entertaining my officemates (actually, my parents were 10 minutes early, but opted to spend the time enjoying their coffees in the last silence they'll hear for 3 days). The Boy was a tad excited, making him even more talkative than usual (which is hard to imagine for anyone who's met him). He told the woman at the next desk that his head is bigger than the world, and has one hundred thoughts in it.

With this stupid cold, my head is bigger than a basketball and has <2 things in it. I had a brilliant idea for a poast this morning, and drafted long passages of it whilst driving, but can no longer recall a single word.

This cold sucks.

Ah well, I'm gone for the weekend, so you'll have to cope without my genius (such as it is) for a while longer.



Not to be confused with reporpoising*.

Chickadee's father talked her into being a cheerleader for Hallowe'en this year - a fine costume, to be sure, and easy to implement. But once out of his tender clutches, she decided she wants to be a vampire cheerleader. That's my girl!

This should go over well with the very pious principal of her Catholic school, who suggested that students' costumes should reflect the school theme of "Faith in Action". Isn't it every kid's dream to dress up as their favourite saint? What?!? You don't have a favourite saint? What the hell's wrong with you?

As a non-Catholic, I'm being totally supportive. Or I was until my mother suggested that I donate my $200 cashmere shawl for her black cape. Her argument was that it was a gift from my ex-husband and, since none of us like him, I should be glad to get rid of it. Except that it's black cashmere, and I look totally excellent in it, combining the best qualities of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly (OK, maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but girls, you know what I'm talking about - it's one of those garments that makes me feel incredibly elegant and sophisticated, just for owning it). The cape was becoming an issue.

But I've always had trouble getting rid of clothes that I no longer wear. The Closet Nazis say you should toss anything you haven't worn in the last 6 months, but I've got favourites that haven't been off the hanger for the better part of a decade. Some because I hope to have occasion to wear them again. Others because they just have too much potential to be thrown out. One of the latter was a black velvet, ankle-length skirt I bought in about 1990. It was pretty snug around the waist before I had two kids, and I've known for many years that I'd never wear it again. But it's 4 yards of black velvet - I knew it would come in handy sometime.

And I was right. Slit the back seam, remove the zipper, and it's the perfect cape for a vampire cheerleader.

*Which, as we all know, is job training for injured dolphins.


Well That Went Off The Rails In A Hurry

Was it only a month ago that I finally replaced the long-neglected wildlife tally with a list of what I'm reading? I figured I'd update it weekly. Which, obviously, hasn't happened - mostly because some of the books on the To Be Read list have been devoured, while others in Currently Reading are still languishing on page 43 - I'm not even sure where Mr. Crusoe is anymore, as my mother likes to tidy up while I'm at work, and I still haven't figured out her system for putting books away. I'm pretty sure he's still in the house somewhere but, as I mentioned a while ago, we have a lot of books and it's very easy for one to disappear.

Eragon's finished, Taiko's stalled in a morass of unfamiliar names and places, A Short History is underway (although I haven't picked it up in a week), and I've started Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer, and the lovely coil-bound version of Jim Winter's Second Hand Goods. Plus I've powered through the first 5 volumes of Captain Underpants (highly recommended for your inner 8-year-old boy - and you know you have one!), and reread The Sword and The Lion by Roberta Cray.

Is that it? Probably not, but it's all I can recall without being at home to check the stacks.


Tired of Blow-up Betty?

Want to try swinging the other way? You need www.plasticsexchange.com!

Actually, it's The Plastics Exchange, which is not nearly as interesting (or funny). BTW, does anyone have LLDPE resin pricing for the last couple of years?


I have

The Cold. Raw throat, flowing nose - all I'm missing is the hacking cough, which I'm sure will show up in a day or two to join its mates.

I hate colds.


How Come

I never had science teachers like this?

"Take your Ziegler-Natta* catalyst, usually TiCl3 or TiCl4, along with an aluminum based co-catalyst, and place in the monomer at midnight on the night of the full moon. Then place the beaker on the ground in a circle of lighted candles, and then write the word "isotactic" or "syndiotactic", depending of the tacticity you desire, in runic letters on the side of the beaker with the blood of a freshly slain goat. The goat must be less than one year old, and without blemish. Then one must recite aloud the Ziegler-Natta incantation seven times, followed by the tacticity dance. If the polymerization is successful, a cold and violent wind will quickly arise and extinguish the candles, and then die away as quickly as it arose. It is important that one fast for three days before and after carrying out the ceremony. Following this little procedure usually does the trick."

*Why am I looking up Ziegler-Natta catalysts, you ask? Blame it on my status as Company Googler. Apparently I have earned a reputation for being able to find pretty much anything, no matter how arcane, online.

On the Inside Looking Out

Dean posted a comment over here in which he said "I covet my wife's incisive intelligence." I smiled when I read it, but it was partly a smile of disbelief.

I don't feel incisive, or even particularly intelligent. I've got a GMAT score worthy of MENSA, so I can't argue when people tell me I'm smart, but I don't see it myself. I wasn't an outstanding student (although my free-n-easy work ethic might have had something to do with that), I haven't made a contribution to a single academic field, and I haven't noticed people flocking to ask my opinion on what's wrong with the world and how to solve it. As I see it, I'm just good at multiple-choice tests.

I do learn new things a little faster than most people, and I'm insatiably curious (and I loooove the internet for its ability to feed that curiosity 24/7), but 'incisively intelligent'?

I dunno. I'm still waiting for proof.


Rhyme & Reason

The MonkeyChild has recently become enamored of rhyming and alliteration. It started with a long series of rhymes like trees - breeze - fleas and degenerated into a race to see who could come up with the most rhymes the fastest: harmonica - barmonica - carmonica. He always won, being unhampered by the need to use real words.

Then he started insisting that harmonica and house rhymed, so I had so explain about alliteration, which set off a whole new chain of creativity: truck - track - trock - triumvirate (OK, that last one was mine). Once that particular thrill wore off, we started looking for things that were both: harmonica - habonica - higonica - helbonica.

Now we're looking for real words that are both alliterative and rhyming. So far, we've come up with:

Some who assaults fish - a snapper slapper

Someone who breaks appliances - a blender bender

One who makes spider-hide shoes - a spinner skinner

One who drinks and dives - a drunker dunker

Since my readers are a uniformly erudite and creative bunch, I want to know: waddaya got for us?


A Piece of My Past

I just ran across my first blog. Timid and quickly abandoned, there are just 5 entries. But I'd completely forgotten that I had tried this whole blogging thing once before. If you'd asked me 10 minutes ago, I would have sworn that this was my first attempt.

Strange, no?



In addition to all the usual "naked soccer mom" requests, today someone found this blog by yahooing "cheerleading phone sex with aliens".

At least they used an appropriate search engine.

It seems to be the day for disturbing searches - I also got "jimmy neutron naked with cindy". And that's just wrong.


Got A Rack?

I spent the afternoon with my cousin, the very practical, down-to-earth mother of 3 boys - 8, 6, and 4. They keep her busy, to put it mildly. As the only girl in a family of 5, she has to do a lot of explaining of things biological. And put up with all the gross and disgusting things little boys do when they're being little boys.

The other day, she had a friend's 13-year-old son over. He's into girls, and being macho and sexist, so she was prepared for her kids to learn some new things. Sure enough, they come into her room the next morning and her oldest asks "Mom, do you have a rack?" She looked over at the 13-year-old, who was snickering madly to himself, and figuring who was behind the question, decided to get it all out in the open. So she answered "Yes, I do. It's on the car, we tie luggage to it." More snickers, so she continued, "Some people also call a woman's breasts a rack, so I have one of those, too." At this point, the 13-year-old is smothering himself with a pillow, he's laughing so hard, so she decides to go all out. "And you know the thing people put on the front of their cars, to cover the grill? That's called a bra, so some people a woman's breasts headlights. But they're all talking about the same thing - breasts. And yes, all women have them." And then she leaves, so they can enjoy their newfound knowledge.

Later that day, when the guest is gone, she went to her 8-year-old and asked him if the older boy had told him to ask her about having a rack. He said, "No, mom. We were watching a show and they put a guy on a rack and stretched him. So I wondered if you had a rack and could make me taller."


Best Laid Plans and All That

I had all kinds of things I was going to write about this evening, but I've just spent the better part of an hour wrestling a noncompliant and seemingly inexhaustible (yet totally exhausted) Wee Lad into bed. I feel like I've been through a wringer.

Maybe tomorrow ...


Getting To Know Me, Getting To Know All About Me

I’ve received three of those “Get To Know Your Friends” email surveys in the last year – one just before Christmas last year, one a week or so ago, and one today. I thought I’d compile them and post the results here, sort of a quick and dirty ‘Less Than 100 Things About Me’ post. But as I was reading, I got interested in the questions that I’d answered more than once – on some things I’m very consistent, but on others my answers are all over the map. I'm all about multi-dimensionality, I am.

So here, for your illumination and entertainment, I present all 3 versions of me. Sort of a time lapse photo in words.

Can you juggle?
- No, but I can multitask

Cherry or Blueberry?
- Cherry

Chocolate or vanilla?
- Chocolate, both times I was asked

Do you like the person who sent this to you?
- Yes
- Yes, I do. He seems like the kind of person I'd hang out with if we knew each other offline.
- Absolutely!

Do you want your friends to e-mail you back?
- Most already have - I think this is the third time I've done one of these
- Not giving them the chance this time
- Well, I'm only sending this to one person, because the last time I did this, she was the only one who answered anyhow. And I already have her answers.

Who is most likely to respond?
- no one - I'm not giving them a chance this time
- Trick question, isn't it?
- Miko

Who is least likely to respond?
- See above
- Again with the trick questions
- The gerbils

Do you wear contacts or glasses?
- Contacts

Do you wear contacts?
- Only when I'm awake

Do you wish on stars?
- Once in a while (both times – at least I’m consistently vague)

Fall or Spring?
- Spring

Summer or Winter?
- Summer (although Spring is better)
- Summer

Favorite car?
- 58 Plymouth Fury
- I really can't think of one.
- I am required to say Ferrari, although I couldn't tell you which model. The cute blue one I saw last spring

How many cars have you had and what was the first?
- 5, the first was a black Chevy Corsica

What color is your car?
- green

Favorite day of the week?
- Saturday (x3)

Favorite day of the year?
- Any day spent with Dean
- Any sunny day with my family
- Hmm ... Christmas is pretty good, or any sunny day in the spring

Favorite drink?
- red wine (x2)
- Old fashioned cream soda

Favorite flower?
- sweet peas
- wild roses

Favorite food?
- depends on the day - salty snacks are always good, though
- Really good chocolate
- sea

Favorite month?
- End of April/early May
- May (x2)

Favorite smell?
- My children's hair and Dean
- vanilla, cedar chips, caramel

Favorite sport to watch?
- don't really have one - I'll watch figure skating and men's gymnastics if I have nothing better to do, but avoid the rest
- Formula 1
- does knitting count? If not, I guess Formula racing (Go Ferrari!!)

Favorite type of dog?
- I'm kind of smitten with whippets at the moment, for aesthetic reasons. Other than that, I like 'em all, large more than small.

Hair color?
- dark brown (for the first time in 20 years)
- Sort of plum/red

Have you ever dyed your hair?
- Every month or so for the last 20 years

How is the weather right now?
- cool and cloudy, with rain on the way
- Fall is in the air. It's about 18C right now, cool, and the first stars are coming out although the horizon is still light.
- Sunny (well, bright anyhow - the blinds are down so I can't really see)

How many cities have you lived in?
- 5
- 5 (technically North Van, Langley, and Delta are separate from Vancouver)
- Two - Vancouver and Montreal. Technically, I guess I've also lived in Delta, Langley, and North Vancouver, but I tend to think of them all as part of Vancouver.

How many states have you lived in?
- None. Two provinces, though. (x3)

How many countries have you lived in?
- 1

How many countries have you visited?
- 6

Your dream vacation?
- Backpacking through Europe, with enough money not to stay in hostels

How many years at your current job?
- 18 months

How old are you today?
- enjoying my last few months of 38
- 38 years
- 38 years, 6 days

Hugs or kisses?
- Kisses (x2)
- Both - can't separate the two

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
- Maroon
- Crimson. Well, that's what colour I'd like to be. Really I'm probably more like cornflower.
- Crimson

Last movie you watched?
- The Cat Returns
- Pirates of the Caribbean (for the 48th time)
- Muppets Christmas Carol, on Disney

Last person you spoke to on the phone?
- Dean
- Umm ... it's been a few days. I think it was my mother, on Friday.
- Kevin - the guy who builds our displays at work

Living arrangements?
- Townhouse, 5 kids, Dean, me and the rodents

Are you happy with your living arrangements?
- A little cluttered, and another room would be nice, but the people are delightful

Number of keys on your key ring?
- 9 (x2)
- 8

- 3 gerbils, aka The Java Boys, and 2 guinea pigs, Les Jolies Aubergines

Plain, buttered or salted popcorn?
- butter and salt
- butter and salt. Lots of both

Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers?
- Spicy.

- 2
- one of each, both younger

The email friend you have had the longest?
- Dean

Who is the friend you have had the longest?
- My sister

What are you afraid of?
- Losing a loved one. The possibility absolutely terrifies me.
- losing people I love
- something happening to my family

What are you listening to right now?
- my typing and the big printer next to my desk
- Dean in the shower and the hum of assorted electronic devices
- The hum of the printer

What color is the underwear you are current wearing?
- Boring white

What color pants are you wearing?
- Black
- Black swishy stuff - they make me sound like I'm wearing a snowsuit

What did you do last night?
- Took kids to gymnastics, sat through one class, came home with first child and had dinner, went back to retrieve second child, read first child bedtime story, surfed, cuddled with second child, put second child to bed, watched 15 minutes of PBS documentary on WWII, then went to bed
- Made curried prawns, ate dinner in front of TV, put the monkeychild to bed, gave and received some physical affection and went to sleep.
- Watched TV, put the monkeychild to bed, knit a while, scanned a bunch of pictures

What did you do on your last birthday?
- Worked, went home to dinner with Dean, the kids and my parents

What do you do to vent anger?
- talk to Dean, write
- Vent? No, I repress. Sometimes I rant, after repressing, if I can make it funny.
- Choke on it, then vent to Dean after

What inspires you?
- Dean, bravery & generosity
- My family and friends

What is on the floor of your closet?
- Shoes, laundry, Dean's weights, a couple of sports bags, homeless clothes, dog hair

What is under your bed?
- A mini basketball, a box of 30-year-old Christmas ribbons from my great uncle, a few books, lots of dog hair ... and other stuff I don't want to think about

What is your dream occupation?
- I'm still trying to figure that out. Permanent student sounds pretty good, but I hear the pay sucks.

What was the last thing you ate?
- cottage cheese & a bag of chips
- A souplike invention of Dean's - quite delicious.
- Chocolate hedgehog

What was your favorite toy as a child?
- Books (x2)
- Books and my chemistry set

When was the last time you cried?
- Sunday, briefly
- Trying to decide what to do with Miko's water dish.
- I do not recall the specifics - probably during some sappy scene in a movie (NOT the Muppets Christmas Carol, however). Possibly with laughter when the monkeychild told me to "Give it a rest, Mom."

Where were you born?
- Vancouver General Hospital

Where would you like to live?
- Fort Langley - close to the city but relatively rural and 'small town'

It occurs to me that few, if any, of these qualify as either deep or meaningful, so if there's something you're just dying to know about me, post it here and I'll do my best to answer (or make something up, if the truth doesn't cut it).


High Society

They're burning a grow op in Aldergrove tonight.

As I was driving the smaller monkeychild home from gymnastics this evening, I noticed a large pillar of smoke rising over the hill just north of us. It's farm country, so I assumed they were clearing trees or some similar agricultural activity. When I went out again an hour later to retrieve the larger monkeychild, I smelled that telltale aroma and thought my neighbour was partaking in his carport. I rolled down my window a block later to clear the smell, only to discover that someone's smoking a LOT of pot out there. You can smell it for a couple of miles.

Pity I get migraines ...


Colours of Fall

One of the very few things Mother Nature does poorly here in BC is any sort of display of autumn colour. I still remember the leaves of my childhood in Montreal and the Eastern Townships. Even as a colour-jaded 9-year-old (damn those vivid Saturday morning cartoons!), I was impressed.

Here, better than half our trees are evergreens to begin with, which is kind of nice come January when the rest of Canada is reduced to grayscale, but they don't do much for the landscape in October. Most of the rest are alder, cottonwood or chestnut. Chestnuts turn a not totally unattractive shade of rust before they fall, but alders and cottonwoods just turn brown. Paper bag brown. And our big maples, unlike their eastern cousins, show only a tracery of yellow amidst the predominantly russet shading.

There are a few bright spots - the little vine maples, although they rarely top 30', put on a brilliant display of crimson and orange, as do the sumac and a few other native shrubs, but they're a very small minority. Most of our colour comes from foreign imports, and so only appear in developed neighbourhoods. My rural commute is uniformly green and brown, with rare and rapidly disappearing splashes of more vivid hues.

I suspect it's because dear Gaia doesn't feel we deserve arboreal fireworks here on the coast - it's not like we're heading into 6 months of cold, glittering, unrelieved white. We don't need the autumnal pep talk, the little reminder than winter's not forever. Yes, it'll be dreary for a while - green trees, grey skies, straw-yellow fields - but my roses will be blooming for at least another month, the lawns stay green (and need mowing) year round, and the first wildflowers will be up in February.

Still, I miss all those colours.



I keep thinking I really ought to post something, before all y'all lose interest and move on, but I just haven't had much to say this week. The few faint flashes of inspiration I've had disappeared long before I got anywhere near a keyboard.

I think I'm in a rut. Or a divot. A pothole, perhaps.