Kids are Weird

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Kids are weird. So very, very weird. Sometimes I just wish I could go inside their brains and examine their thought processes. My three year-old niece and I have been having some very strange conversations lately. The other day, my mom said to me, ‘I’m worried you and your sisters are turning your niece into a weirdo’. Too late mom. Her very DNA is imbued with weirdness; it is her destiny.

Me: What are your favourite animals?
Her: Squirrels, bunnies, kitties, and puppies.
Me: What are your least favourite animals?
Her: Lynxes, dragons, and dragotes.
Me: What’s a dragote?
Her: It’s terrible. It’s a half dragon, half coyote.

I pull out a bunch of potatoes to wash and cut up for dinner during a camping trip. I turn around for like, 10 seconds, and she has a potato in her hand.
Her: Look at this potato. I bought it last night at the Disney store.
Me: How odd. I just had eight potatoes out and now there are only seven, but you are telling me you personally purchased that one? That’s highly suspicious.
Her: No. It’s from the Disney store.
Me: Really? That’s pretty weird, since we were camping last night and I am not aware of any Disney stores out in the middle of nowhere. Unless you learned how to drive and borrowed my car and drove back into town without anybody noticing.
Her: I did. I did drive and bought this potato at the Disney store.
Me: Huh. Well, I am pretty sure you are lying because also? The Disney store does not sell produce.
Me: Well, how did you pay for it? Magic money? If you are going to lie about things, at least be logical about it.
Me: Sure. Whatever.

We are playing with some rocks down by a creek.
Her: Look at this denchdemeter. Isn’t it beautiful?
Me: What on earth is a denchdemeter??
Her: It’s a really special royal robot with long flowing hair.
Me: That’s nice.

We are listening to music on the iPod:
Her: Auntie, play the vinegar song!
Me: I don’t know what song you are talking about. How does it go?
Her: Ah Ahhhhhhhh Ah! Ah Ahhhhhhhhhh Ah!
Me: Ohhhhh, you mean the Immigrant Song!
Her: Yes, the vinegar song. Now dance Auntie!
Me: My hip is hurting today sweetie, you dance.
Her: Dance Auntie DANCE!
Me: I’m not your puppet OK?
I dance.

One of my other sisters and I were over for dinner. At bedtime, we sent her to get her jammies on and bring back a book for her nighttime story. Instead of a book, she came back down with her xylophone/piano toy.
Her: Aunties, would you like to hear some sweet soft music?
Us: Um…OK. You were supposed to be getting a bo–
She starts banging the crap out of the xylophone with little plastic drumsticks. Then she switches to mashing the piano keys haphazardly.
Her (yelling over the noise): HEY AUNTIES DO YOU LOVE MY SWEET SOFT MUSIC?
Me: I hate to break it to you, but it’s not exactly sweet or soft. Or music, for that matter. But sure, it’s lovely.

Overheard from the top of the stairs a couple mornings ago. I had stayed overnight at my sister’s place and had slept on the living room sofa. They keep a baby gate at the top of the stairs at night so she can’t escape and roam around the house.
Her: Open the baby gate!
Her mom: No. Auntie is sleeping downstairs. Stay up here until she wakes up.
Her: NO! I want to hang out with her. I’m going to estroy this gate!!
Her mom: Estroy? Do you mean destroy the gate?
Her: Yes. I am going to destroy the gate.
Her mom: Well, if you do that, you had better plan on spending some time alone in your room.
Her: Then I will destroy my room. And then I will destroy YOU.
Her mom: I think you have been watching too much Netflix.

I Love Lamp

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Lately, I’ve been all about repurposing stuff for my veggie projects. I totally scored tons of free crappy wood pallets this summer that made raised beds, planters, and even a shabby chic trellis (my husband disagrees with this assessment of its beauty, however). The other day, a coworker was cleaning out his office and found a gross old lamp which was destined for the dumpster. Now it’s in my home office, just waiting for a new UV bulb for shining on my indoor lettuce patch.

Anyway, my sweet new lamp totally reminded me of my favourite ad of all time, from my Swedish friends at Ikea:

And if you don’t feel sorry for the lamp, you are a heartless, heartless bitch.

Fashion File: TBT

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I came across this picture of me the other day and was completely horrified. This is my grade 9 graduation. Clearly, in the days before I learned that warm-toned eyeshadows simply don’t work for me. Also, what am I wearing? I thought I was so fashion-forward with my palazzo pantsuit. What you can’t see in the pic is that there is a super sexy cutout on the back of the top. And of course, I’m sporting the front bang-poof popularised during that era.

But more disconcerting than my outfit is what my sister is wearing. Seriously, she looks like she’s 12 going on 67 in this dress. Good lord. Also, please note that we are posing beside the family car, a 1986 Oldsmobile. Later, that became my car and was renamed the Moldmobile, for reasons I’m sure you can infer.

Happy Throwback Thursday!

9/11 Comic Relief

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It’s sounds like such a cliché to say I can’t believe it has been twelve years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but there it is. Twelve years; it’s unbelievable. The other day I overheard some ladies in a coffee shop debating on how long it had been. They couldn’t even remember the year.

Of course, everyone recalls what they were doing and where they were when they first heard about the attacks. Back then, I worked at a bank and all I remember that day is grey. My grey cubicle walls, the grey carpet, the blurry grey of my computer screen as I ignored emails and phone calls to obsessively refresh my news feeds. Trying to choke down the painful lump in my throat as I struggled to contain tears while the impossible images just kept rolling in.

September 11 is also my birthday, so instead of going home after work to curl up in a ball and cry, I met my husband at my parents’ house for my birthday dinner. Nobody was in the mood for conversation and we sat glued to the evening news reports as horrific smoking clips replayed over and over with audio of President Bush’s public address.

Now, here I must digress and mention that back in 2001, my youngest sister was going through an emo phase. Her wardrobe consisted of black t-shirts, bondage pants and boots, accessorised with sharp metal things like spiky belts and chains. She was listening to screamo and industrial metal, which sounds roughly about how a cat would sound if you put it in a blender. Emotionally, she was a hot mess of teen angst.

Anyway, when dinner was ready, we sat down to a dark and somber meal. Nobody knew what to say. What had happened seemed surreal, like we would wake up the next day and it would all be some elaborate hoax. But even on that first day, everyone knew that things had changed and would never be the same.

Somehow, we did manage to discuss something, I really don’t remember what. What I do remember is that emo sister said the word ‘shit’ at some point. Well, my dad is a lot more tolerant of terrible language now, since he works with me and I commonly unleash expletive-laden tirades at the office. But back then, you did not swear in front of him. And you DEFINITELY did not swear at the dinner table.

Well, my dad took exception to her swearing, and she took exception to his exception. And then my dad’s head started to explode. He yelled at her to go to her room, and she, the misunderstood, oppressed teen screamed back at him. Then she pushed away from the table and stood to storm off in a dramatic exit.

Only…one of the chains from her pants had gotten tangled around her chair back. When she stomped away from the table, the weight of the chair snapped her forward momentum when the length of the chain ran out. Furious now at the chair, she fought with it to untangle herself. The rest of the family looked on as she struggled with it and she finally just yelled ‘FFFFUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKK’ at the top of her lungs. Finally disconnecting herself from the chair, she jerked herself free, knocking the chair down onto its side with a loud smack.

After she had fled the room in a complete rage, the rest of us sat in stunned silence, blinking at one another in disbelief. First of all, nobody drops the f-bomb at the dinner table with my dad present. Second of all, His face was purple. But then, I just couldn’t help it. What a fucked up birthday dinner. I started laughing silently until I was shaking with it. I looked over at my other sister, who was also struggling to contain herself. We dissolved into laughter then as my dad’s face returned to its normal colour. For just those few minutes, the uncertainty and terror of the day melted away.

Anyway, if you’re ever in the company of sister #2 and I, we do a killer reenactment of the event, so be sure to request it.

Bondage pants can be hazardous

The Funniest Thing

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My favourite thing to ask people is: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen? Usually people think about it for a minute and then regale me with a story that typically involves someone having some sort of accident. And it’s true, the funniest stories are almost always disasters of some kind. Whether it’s dogs clotheslining humans, exploding chocolate fountains, people falling into sewers, or a crazy person attacking you for your roast chicken, that’s some funny shit.

Up until a few years ago, the funniest thing I had ever seen occurred at the end of one of my high school gym classes. Sometimes, kids would sit on top of the bleachers when they were all accordioned up against the wall. Anyway, we’d been playing indoor soccer and one kid was pushing one of those giant foam soccer nets back to the storage closet. Just as he was pushing the net by the bleachers, a kid jumped off.

Instead of landing on the ground, the kid hit the mesh top of the net, which acted like a trampoline and sproinged him back up into the air and directly into the concrete wall of the gym. He then slithered down the wall to land in a heap.
I was too busy laughing to see if he needed help, but apparently he only suffered a minor ankle sprain. Here is a diagram, to help you visualise:

However, a couple years ago, this incident was usurped in hilarity by a shower accident. Now, the problem with telling these kinds of stories is that they are sometimes ‘you had to be there’ moments, where the funniness is inherent in the situation and does not translate well into writing. So I shall do my best and have provided additional diagrams.

My husband is the most annoying showerer. At least, he was until I banned bar soap in there. For one thing, the soap scum that builds up from that friggin’ Irish Spring is a nightmare. And my husband would be totally screwed in prison because he drops the soap ALL THE TIME. It would squirt out of his hands, hit the wall, then bang around in the tub. And that makes the shower floor very slippery. And when the shower floor is slippery, accidents happen.

One evening, my husband was having a shower while I sat on the toilet seat and brushed my teeth. As usual, the soap was shooting all over the tub, greasing it up nicely:

Then, suddenly I heard a squeaking sound. The kind you hear in cartoons when someone slips on a banana peel. My husband had stepped on a slippery soap spot and his feet were scrabbling for purchase on the porcelain. Then, just as I thought he’d regained his balance, his entire body heaved forth and ejected right out of the shower.

Somehow, he burst through the middle of the shower curtain and turned a half twist in mid-air. It seemed like super slo-mo as he landed on his back, perpendicular to the tub, with his knees and legs dangling over the side back into the tub. His arms landed gracefully at his sides and his hands clasped each other on his chest, as though he were in prayer. His face was so strangely relaxed and peaceful that for a split second, I thought he wasn’t breathing.

But then I did a toothpastey spit-take and doubled over with laughter. I didn’t know if he was ok, but I couldn’t help it. He started gasping as he’d had the wind knocked out of him, but I was in serious danger of actually laughing to death since I couldn’t get ANY air in. For weeks I couldn’t even think about it without cracking up.

Anyway, he was fine, just a bit of a sore back, and he only uses body wash these days. Share your funniest moments in the comments section so I can laugh at you too.

Lady Rage

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I don’t know about any of you other women out there, but lately I’ve been finding that there’s a lot if stuff going on in the world that has just been really disturbing me. Like, really hitting a nerve down in the babymaker. I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where I have access to free health care and where my reproductive decisions are mine and not the government’s. I enjoy a work environment free of sexual harassment, and I generally feel safe in my home and in my city.

These freedoms that I have are precious to me, so when I hear about women in this world who have to fight for theirs, it’s like I can feel the anger simmering in my gut. It threatens to erupt every time I hear about things like the defunding of Planned Parenthood in some US states, horrific gang rapes in India, a female Iranian city politician having her election overturned because she was not meeting the Islamic code of dignity. And closer to home, ongoing allegations of sexual harassment against female officers in the RCMP.

But of course, women should be denied basic reproductive care and access to birth control because that will surely decrease abortion rates. And you know, that rape victim was obviously not a respectable lady and shouldn’t have been out at night; she is responsible for what happened. That pretty young politician will surely distract everyone with her ‘catwalk model’ looks. And don’t worry, if someone accuses you of sexual harassment, just go around telling people your accuser is a crazy alcoholic with mental problems.

Are you fucking kidding me, world? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there aren’t other injustices being committed out there against other demographic groups. It’s this outright unfairness about women’s issues that causes an acidic lump to settle in my chest. I’ve been calling this particular feeling ‘Lady Rage’. Anger about the violence and atrocities committed against women. At the ‘blame the victim’ mentality that is so surprisingly prevalent. At the shocking lack of comprehension about the functioning of the female reproductive system by politicians and lawmakers. At the double standards of decency that exist for men and women.

So yeah. Guess what people? I’m jumping on the bandwagon and have something to say about the whole Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke Blurred Lines VMA performance debacle from the other night. It’s a good example of gender inequality in the context of a relatable pop-culture event. If you haven’t seen the performance, or heard about the backlash, then you must live under a rock.

Now, I’ll be clear. I definitely wasn’t a fan of the performance. My husband and I agreed that Ms. Cyrus’…er…gesticulating with that foam finger was actually more embarrassing than provocative. I was also concerned that by constantly sticking her tongue out so far, it would get stuck that way. But the goal was obviously to stir the pot and in that, she achieved her goal, regardless of my opinion.

However, the backlash against Ms. Cyrus has been infuriating in its hypocrisy, which has given me a bad case of the lady rage. The Parents Television Council released a press statement about how MTV ‘continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ in a nude bikini’. How shocking. I wonder if they’ve seen Mr. Thicke’s video for the song? Some awfully familiar looking scantily-dressed ladies prancing around. But don’t accidentally watch the unrated version of the video! Because that one features topless ladies in thongs…doing…uh, I don’t know what, actually. Just kinda doing ridiculous dances, walking back and forth so their breasts bounce up and down, and being fondled by fully-clothed men while at some points, the size of Mr. Thicke’s penis is advertised. Not plastic indeed.

Many articles on the subject of the performance were quick to point out that Ms. Cyrus was grinding on and kissed a married man. And not only is Mr. Thicke married (gasp!), he also has a CHILD. How dare Miley behave in that way with a married father! Are you fucking kidding me? A married father co-wrote the song in the first place which, if not outright rapey, is at the very least a catchy regurgitation of the tedious ‘good girl gets liberated by man’s penis’ theme.

I also saw comments calling Ms. Cyrus’ performance ‘desperate’. And it may very well have been. But doesn’t stuffing a video full of naked breasts and enormous, unabashed Twitter hash tags also have the stank of someone desperate for attention?

And don’t get me started on the social media backlash. Every second tweet that night on this planet was about her performance. She is a slut, she was disgraceful, she should be ashamed, her fiancée should dump her, her ass isn’t that nice, Lady Gaga’s butt is more toned, she is ugly. And yet I did see some positive tweets: how cute Robin Thicke is, how lucky he is to have such a supportive wife, why did Miley go and ruin such a good song, it’s the hit of the summer, you know?

Well, luckily for the faint of heart, the song in its entirety was not performed (or if it was, I couldn’t understand what anyone was singing at that point) so sadly we did not get to enjoy my favourite parts of the song like this:

So hit me up when you passing through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two

And this:

Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that

So come on people. If you want to criticise Miley’s performance as vulgar and raunchy, that’s your opinion. However, I will then be forced to judge you if I find you grooving away to the song without a care as to its lyrics and content. The double standards need to stop.

I think this pic of the Smith family watching the show about sums it up.

Sex Ed

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So, lots of stuff in the news right now about this new Russian law banning the distribution of propaganda on ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ to minors. I’ve turned into a current events junkie lately and I, like most other people in the world it seems, am very confused by this law. I am not sure what the goal of the law actually is; do lawmakers feel that ‘propaganda’ on such ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ turns kids gay? And even if that were possible, who gives a shit? And just in case you were wondering, one of the bill’s authors has clarified that there are four kinds of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’: men with men, women with women, bisexual and transgendered. I guess the assumption is that your morals are seriously in question if you have any kind of sex outside the mandated ‘normal’ kind and then talk about it in a public forum.

Completely absurd. When this kind of shit goes down, all I can think is that I am glad I live in Canada where you can have any kind of consensual sex and talk about it all you want. You can have sex with and marry someone of whichever gender you prefer. You don’t have to worry about being arrested and levied with fines for enjoying ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ and being public with your support for it. And there are a lot of questions about this law in the context of what is ‘non-traditional’ and what is ‘traditional’ sex? Can a man and a woman (a ‘traditional’ couple) have bum sex (a ‘non-traditional’ sex act) and then say, write a blog post about it? Is that bad? I get that this type of moral ambiguity is critical to the economic and cultural integrity of the country, of course. Who cares about corruption and health care and financial stability when people might be out there spreading gayness to the country’s youth.

But this brings me to a funny story. The story about how I learned about ‘non-traditional’ sexual acts. You have to understand, I was forced to attend church every Sunday and went to a catholic school. Back in the olden days, there was nothing on TV about being gay and the Internet barely existed. Back in grade four, I had to bring home a document for my parents to sign, authorizing my school to teach me ‘sex ed’ which was something that had previously not been discussed in classes. However, I was not at all enlightened by the school’s first attempt at such an education, which involved the red-faced principal coming in and discussing X and Y chromosomes and how they combine to make babies to a bunch of 10 year-olds.

Luckily, I’d already had a cursory education on the basics of baby-making from the educational pop-up book The Facts of Life, which my mom had bought to explain why she was feeding my new baby sister with her boobs. And no, the pop up book doesn’t pop up THAT part. The book shows how an egg comes down the fallopian tube and gets accosted by these wiggly things, and 9 months later, a baby. However, how exactly those wiggly things and the egg came into contact was a bit of a mystery to me until grade 5.

In grade 5, the school allowed regular teachers to teach the sex ed stuff, so instead of the flustered principal, we had our regular teacher go over the curriculum. I finally figured out how the wiggly things got into the woman to make her pregnant. It was fascinating and horrifying all at the same time. Really, girls let boys in THERE with that THING? WHY? At the height of my boy germ problems, I was really confused as to why people would want to perform this act, even if it meant getting a baby out of it. Gross.

But at this point in time, I was listening to a lot of Madonna. Like a Prayer had recently come out, and I was captivated by and yet terrified of the religious and sexual imagery contained in the songs, videos (which I watched on Video Hits before my dad got home from work), and album artwork. Was I going to go to hell for listening to such music? For liking such music? I was confused by it all, especially the album liner notes, which contained a small PSA encouraging people to use condoms when engaging in anal sex. For someone who just learned about the horrors of vaginal sex, I was completely stumped as to what anal sex might be. I knew an anus was the bum hole, but certainly nobody would want to go near that area, so what could it be?

Luckily, sex-ed was still underway in school, and my teacher had set up a question box so that any students who were too embarrassed to ask a question out loud could write it down anonymously. Perfect. I scrawled out ‘What is anal sex’? and dropped that question into the box. I have to hand it to my teacher, who dealt with what might have been considered a very risqué question at the time for a catholic school. She pulled out the paper and studied the question for a few moments before answering that sometimes, people have sex in a different hole. The bum hole.

Well, here is a visual representation of what I felt at the time:

My brain basically exploded. My 10 year-old self knew, from the pop-up book, that the bum hole was not critical to reproduction in any way. The bum hole is for waste elimination. Why would anyone WANT something in there? Of course, my teacher had explained what anal sex was, but had not explained homosexuality so I was incredibly confused as to why a woman would want a penis in there, when there would obviously be no reward of a baby for performing the act. For months I pondered this question in my own brain, mulling over the possibilities. Certainly, there had to be a reason for having bum sex.

A couple of years later, at 13, my brain was exploded once more when I happened upon one of my dad’s science magazines. I was flipping through it when I found an article on the sexual habits of bonobos. The article, called ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ from a 1992 Discover magazine article, completely and totally drew back the curtain for me, on any and all kinds of sex. Once I got over my initial mortification, of course. The article studied the varying sexual relationships of a group of the primates: female on female, male on male, male on female. The overriding theme of the article was that sex amongst this group was for fun or other purposes, but not strictly for making babies.

Holy shit, sex for FUN? If these creepy monkeys were doing it for fun, I reasoned that humans also did it for fun, including the bum sex kind. And before reading the article, I didn’t even realise that men could even have sex with other men, and women with women. Perhaps it was naïveté on my end or the fact that I had been taught sex ed mainly by a catholic school, but this was a total revelation. Sex for fun changed EVERYTHING. Now it all made sense. Madonna wasn’t necessarily a bad person. Anal sex wasn’t weird or evil or immoral. Bonobos do it. It’s just nature.

I’m sure that eventually, I would have clued in about all of this, but I do have to thank the wonderful world of science for clearing this all up for me and putting sex in a scientific rather than religious context. How or why you have sex doesn’t matter. Who you have sex with doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you talk about it in public or not. In the end, we are all just fucking animals.

‘Hood Rats 2

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THE craziest thing happened yesterday. I’m still in shock, frankly. I’ve already written about the beastly gang of horrible children that roam my neighbourhood unsupervised. Well, yesterday their behaviour escalated. And keep in mind this isn’t the real ‘hood, it’s Woodlands for fuck’s sake.

I constantly hear this gang of kids next door in the park. There are a couple of boys and a bunch of girls, and it looks like they’re about 10 or 11ish. The girls scream bloody murder non-stop, they throw rocks at each other, and basically terrorise any other kids who try to play at the park while they are in it. Since I’m out in the garden a lot, I have to endure the screaming in close proximity and at full volume. However, to date I have not gotten involved or said anything to them about their foul language or bad behaviour EXCEPT that time I yelled at them to get off my lawn and also one time I gave them a dirty look when they were being mean to another kid.

I had run some errands yesterday afternoon and had a bad headache. Since we were having people over for a BBQ, I decided to pop a couple Tylenols and lie down for an hour in hopes that it would dissipate.

So my head is throbbing and I’m trying to relax and I can hear them screaming next door in the park. Again. So I try to ignore it. But it’s so incredibly loud and now there’s a rhythmic banging too. Like someone smashing a rock against something metal?

This goes on and on. Finally, at the very end of my rope, I decide to get up and maybe yell at them to quiet down. Actually, my plan was to open the window very loudly and make a big fuss about sticking my head out and giving them dirty looks in the hopes that they would just get the idea. But when I looked out the window, they weren’t in the park.

Maybe I had made a mistake. Maybe it was the neighbours’ grandkids making all the noise. I couldn’t see anything over that direction, and the noise was coming from much closer than that. I decided I’d have to get up to investigate. I went downstairs and through the kitchen to head out onto the back deck. However, I could see right away through my back kitchen window that something fishy was going on.

I ripped the back door open, and found the source of the noise. Three girls from the gang had climbed onto the back of my camping trailer and were jumping on the back fender. The trailer, also being abused by one boy who was mercilessly whacking its side with a plastic light sabre, was bouncing and creaking under the weight of the girls.

I stood there for a moment, completely and utterly speechless. Flabbergasted. Stunned. I could barely even form a sentence. ‘WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING’? I spluttered. ‘WHAT THE….’, ‘HOW’…’AAARGH WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU’?!? The kids jumped off the trailer and made a beeline for the park. ‘GET OUT OF HERE’! I screamed. I was apoplectic. My face had literally turned purple. I would not have been surprised if steam started shooting out my ears.

I went back inside; I needed backup. This is my problem when I get completely furious. I can’t even form my rage into thoughts, let alone words. However, as I passed back through the kitchen, I saw that the boy and one of the girls had the audacity to STILL be screwing around on the lawn. I yanked open the front door and screeched ‘GET OUT OF MY YARD NOW AND NEVER COME BACK’!!!!!

I ran downstairs to explain what had just happened to my husband. Before I finished the story, he had leapt out of his chair and said ‘Oh my god, IS MY CAR OK’?!?!? Seriously. He loves his car more than me. Anyway, my husband is good at menacing people. He walked outside and after inspecting his car and confirmed it was undamaged, he stalked off toward the park. While he did that, I surveyed the damage to the trailer and surrounding area.

Luckily, the trailer was unscathed. I was surprised as I figured there would be dents in the siding where the kid had beaten the shit out of it with his stupid fucking light sabre. However, there were streaks of red all over it, and when I looked behind the trailer where the girls had been climbing, I found dozens of smashed cherries. Those assholes had been picking my Nanking cherries and they had smashed them all over the pavement around the trailer. They must have also been throwing them as there were a ton of cherry pits and juice stains all over my back deck.

Re-enraged, I stomped over to where my husband was giving the boy a talking to. He’s actually very scary-looking and was speaking in a low, ominous voice. With lots of swears. Like a crabby old lady, I marched up to him and demanded to know who had been messing with the cherries. Of course, he blamed it on the girls, who had taken off. ‘Well, who do you think is going to have to clean up all that mess, huh’?

My husband finished his lecture and the kid looked appropriately terrified and then took off. I am still in utter disbelief that it happened in the first place. Thinking about it afterward, we weren’t sure if we handled the situation correctly or not. We don’t know who these kids are or where they live and we certainly don’t want to follow children around to find out where they live as that might be frowned upon. All I know is, my new mission in life this summer is to make their lives miserable. Every time they play in the park, I’ll be there. Listening. Watching. Championing the rights of the other, nice neighbourhood kids. Yelling at them to watch their mouths. I even heard the boy say the N-word the other day. Not anymore kids. Not anymore.

Conversations with Dad: The Golf Cart

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Earlier this summer I wrote a flood story about my childhood cabin at Hidden Valley resort, which has been pretty much destroyed by the Bow river. I enjoyed reminiscing about it so much that I decided to spend some time writing summer cabin stories.

Last week I remembered a story about when my dad was the victim of an attempted murder…by a golf cart. Pretty much everyone who owned a cabin at the resort also owned a golf cart. Back in those days, we had the shittiest golf cart known to man, which came with the cabin when my parents bought it. It was actually a Harley Davidson cart; apparently they made them at some point in their manufacturing history.

Anyway, they were three-wheeled carts with those weird triangle steering wheels. Ours came with the cabin when my parents bought it, and the thing never ran well. Luckily, my dad is pretty handy and would fix the thing himself.

One day, he had the cart propped up and was working on the thing when it suddenly lost its mind and lurched itself off the blocks and attacked my dad. It pinned him up against a tree and viciously rammed him into it repeatedly, while laughing maniacally. OK, fine, it wasn’t actually laughing, but I like to imagine that it was. Somehow, despite being mashed between a runaway golf cart and a tree, my dad managed to reach over into the cart and turn off the ignition. Which he maintains was not even turned on in the first place. Further proof that the cart was possessed by an evil demon.

I had this conversation with him about the incident recently:

Me: Hey dad, remember that time the old golf cart tried to kill you?

Dad: Oh yeah. I was sure I was a goner. You know, when I was pinned up against that tree, I could see seven little angels floating in front of me.

Me: Jesus dad! It’s amazing you didn’t die!

Dad: Yeah, it broke a bunch of ribs and I’m pretty sure I had some internal bleeding too.

Me: Well what did the doctor say in the ER?

Dad: Oh, I didn’t go to see a doctor.

Me: WHAT?!?

Dad: Yeah, my ribs never felt quite right after that and it hurts to breathe a lot.

Keep in mind that this occurred about 25 years ago, so the lesson here is to go see a doctor when a golf cart attempts to kill you. In any case, the old Harley was destined for the junk heap. Which is too bad really, because those old machines go crazy fast when you stick a tee in the governor. Try it on a cart sometime when you’re golfing. But be careful, golf carts can be hazardous to your health!

The Garden Project

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So, I have not been writing very much lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I have been sucked into a gardening vortex. Remember a few months ago when I found out I had a dairy allergy and had a total food spaz? Well, I had decided to plant a few greens and some carrots in the backyard.

But in typical Christine fashion, I got totally carried away. You see, I can never just DO something. I have to OVERdo everything. Just like last year’s summer renovation project that turned into a complete flooring and plumbing overhaul, the garden is completely out of control.

Now, a friend recently told me that she’d read a statistic that a lot of people stop reading blogs because they feel inadequate compared to these superstar crafting/parenting/cooking/gardening bloggers. Rest assured, my garden project will not make you feel inadequate. In fact, it should make you feel superadequate. If you do feel lacking after reading my blog, you should probably seek mental health care immediately.

Anyway, spooked by food documentaries, I went on a seed rampage and quickly discovered I was addicted to them. I couldn’t stop buying seeds. First it was green leaf lettuce. Then I decided red leaf was also crucial. But I also like the crunch of a good old romaine. And spinach, for iron content, of course. Two other lettuce varieties, mustard greens, and watercress were critical for my health.

The lettuce patch.

Then there were the carrots. Long ones for cooking and short ones for snacking. Then I thought, ‘what about tomatoes’? I could make all kinds of stuff with fresh tomatoes and can it. Forget that I have never canned anything in my life and have no idea how to do it. I could totally store up batches of homemade marinara sauce, salsas…so I went batshit with the tomatoes too.

Carrots and poppies.

If you look really, really closely, you can see some peppers and a teeny tiny tomato

Then I thought, if I’m going make sauces and stuff, then I had better grow some other ingredients too: bell peppers in a rainbow of colours, onions, and garlic. And herbs! I was going to have to season all these creations too, so I planted basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, dill, ginger, marjoram, and rosemary. And catnip for my cats, one of whom has thus far hoovered up three batches of seedlings.

Then I saw a thing online about freezing garden veggies for the winter so I decided I’d need beans, peas, and broccoli. Then I found seeds for sugar snap peas, which I would need for snacking and salads. And asparagus is a favourite so that got chucked in. Potatoes are a good staple and keep forever, so those went in. Never had parsnips, but I’ve heard they’re tasty, so they went in. I had a beet salad recently and it was delightful so beets got planted. Zucchini is so versatile; that went in. And certainly, if I was going to be making my own spaghetti sauce, I’d obviously need to plant spaghetti squash. Then there are the three different varieties of cucumbers I decided I had to have for various reasons.

And that’s just the veggie garden! Over by my Saskatoon bushes, I planted raspberries, strawberries, and even watermelon.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘what is she talking about? She totally has this gardening shit under control’! That’s because I have thus far avoided any mention of my gardening failures, of which there are many. First of all, no planning whatsoever went into the garden. It’s harvest or lack thereof will be a direct result of my seed addiction rather than any logical companion plantings or gardening know-how. If there was a space in the garden, seeds went in. Violets, roses, and poppies mingle with cucumbers, onions, and lettuce.

I quickly ran out of space and then decided to try making one of these vertical gardens out of old shipping pallets (fucking Pinterest). However, I couldn’t understand how the dirt actually stays in them once they’re upright, so I gave up on that and recruited my husband to make me some raised garden boxes. Turns out, we both broke toes on the same pallet after he dropped it on his foot and I slammed my bare toe into it. That pallet also squashed my cat Jeremy’s tail.

The garden boxes complete, I lined them up against the back fence and filled them with seeds. Seeds for veggies requiring full sun. I didn’t pay much attention, my garden is south facing, it would be fine. However, I failed to take into consideration the large shadow that the fence cast over the boxes, providing them with only a couple hours of watery morning sunlight until they are in shadow from 10 AM on. Turns out, considering shadows and sunlight is actually pretty important in gardening.

Also important to consider is water flow, which is why it was a really dumb idea to plant dainty asparagus ferns under the downspout. When the flood rains came at the end of June, my patch had completely washed away. Luckily, I’d had a small bowl of asparagus seeds on the deck which blew away during a storm and I was sad to have lost, but it turns out they blew into the lettuce patch and a bunch of them are finally popping up.

I also killed a lot of seedlings. Like a lot, a lot. I started growing many of them indoors. Most of the time, I forgot to label the pots so had no idea what was actually popping up. But sometimes I forgot to water them and they died of dehydration. Also, there’s this thing you’re supposed to do before you transplant seedlings to let them get accustomed to the wind and outdoor climate. I sort of didn’t do that and lots of stuff died of shock. Also, I fried a few tender strawberry and tomato seedlings when I put them out in the direct sunlight under a plastic lid all day.

The other thing I clearly did not consider was the time commitment involved. Veggies have to actually be watered like, every day! Weeds have to be picked! Plants need pruning and harvesting and feeding! And compost needs to be made! Also, many of my veggies don’t even hold themselves up! They’re like newborns with no neck muscles! I have to make stuff for them to climb up! And lately, I’ve also been having an epic battle with slugs and snails decimating my carrots and lettuce. I have literally been plucking them out of the garden at night using tweezers and a flashlight like a vigilante. Then there’s the anthill in the beet patch that keeps resurfacing.

Cup ‘O Slug

So. What started out as a little lettuce and carrot patch exploded into a veritable organic produce section. Or, at least I hope it will. I have visions of bountiful harvests of glossy, delicious fruits and vegetables, of going outside and picking my dinner. In reality, I may end up with a few shrivelled miserly leaves. I don’t even know how to tell when they are even ready to be harvested. I keep prematurely picking carrots because I’m so excited to eat them.

And though my gardening skills are wanting, they are improving. And while I complain about the mishaps and injuries and battles with insects, the reality is that I am finding the garden a lovely peaceful retreat. There’s a sense of intense satisfaction at literally seeing, and eating, the fruits of your labour. Every day in the garden there is something new to marvel at: the bright green of emerging seedlings, a growing stem, flowers, bees. The worms poop and the compost decays, and my plants absorb the nutrients and produce new life. And nothing can beat the taste of something that you just cut from your own garden.

I usually find quotes pretentious, but a couple months ago, I picked up a book about growing herbs and spices at a garage sale for $0.50. I finally picked it up a few weeks ago and this quote just smacked me right in the face:

If the day and night are such
that you greet them with joy
and life emits a fragrance
like flowers
and sweet scented herbs-
that is your success.
All nature is your congratulations

-Henry David Thoreau

Maybe Crazy Neighbours

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Remember a few months ago when I was really heartbroken because my weirdo neighbours had moved out and I was lamenting the loss of my nighttime entertainment? Well, I am very pleased to report that it’s possible that some I’ve discovered some new crazy neighbours. I’m not 100% certain yet, but I’m feeling optimistic.

A few nights ago, I was inside blasting music while doing chores. It was kinda late; nearly midnight on a weeknight, and despite the volume of my music, I could hear the odd raised voice from outside. I didn’t think much of it, as there is a group of teens that sometimes hangs out in the park next door and I assumed the noise was coming from them. They are harmless, usually just screwing around and smoking the occasional stolen cigarette. However, once I was done whatever task I was doing, I popped outside to chuck some recycling in the bin.

Then I heard the raised voices again, and it sounded like an aggravated shout, but it was coming from across the street in the front, rather than to the park side, but I couldn’t see anybody. Curious, I paused to listen to ensure nothing too untoward was going on. I mean, what if someone was being murdered and I didn’t do anything? And then the next day when the cops came canvassing door-to-door for witnesses I’ll be forced to admit that I heard the kerfuffle and ignored someone’s screams for help. And they’ll think I’m a terrible person.

Anyway, I waited for a few moments, and was met with only silence. Maybe I had been hearing things. I headed back toward my door. But just as I was about to walk back in the house, I heard another shout. And then another. And then a second raised voice. Hmm. Maybe someone really was being murdered. I turned my ear toward the direction of the sound and strained to hear what the voices were saying. They were definitely angry, and although I couldn’t hear what was being said, the tones of the two male voices suggested that someone was having some kind of a spaz, and the second voice was trying to diffuse and placate the spazzer.

I listened for a couple of minutes as the muffled conversation progressed. Then suddenly, the spazzy voice got kind of hysterical and yelled ‘I DIDN’T DRINK THE FUCKING MILK!! I FUCKING HATE MILK! FUCK YOU! FUCK MILK! FUCK FUCK FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK’!

Then there was a loud crash and then the sound of a door slamming. I waited, because surely another neighbour in the cul-de-sac had heard this profane dairy rant and would come outside to investigate, as I had. I couldn’t actually tell where the voices were coming from only that this last freak out had been loud. Really, really loud. But nobody else came out. At this point, it was after midnight, so once the shouting had stopped, it had gone back to being dead quiet. Not a door opening, not a window shutting, nothing. Had I been the only auditory witness to this outburst?

Once I was confident that someone had not, in fact, been assaulted during the exchange, I went back inside and gleefully related the story to my husband. ‘We might have some crazy people back in the ‘hood again’! Because really, that much intensity directed towards milk is odd to say the least. Anyway, it looks promising, so updates will follow pending further investigation.

A Flood Story

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So, a lot of southern Alberta is all floody right now, including a place where I spent over 20 summers of my life. Hidden Valley Golf Resort, just an hour or so southeast of Calgary, has been pretty much washed away. It’s completely heartbreaking, but it also reminds me of a story from a past flood in the area. I thought I would share it; flood-related comic relief, if you will.

A white trash cabin family portrait. My sister is not even wearing pants. Also? If you have short hair you should NEVER get a perm.

The resort is literally a hidden valley, as the name suggests. Roughly 300 cabins sit in an area of the Bow river valley. A 9-hole golf course wraps its way along the river and through the cabins. A small, man-made lake, beach, and park are just outside the large clubhouse that is home to a restaurant, lounge, offices, and rec area. You can imagine what a great place it would be to spend summers.

Our cabin, when my parents bought it. It didn’t look that nice for long. I think the birdbath made it a week before I tripped over it and killed it.

It was also a great place for cabin parties, which were held regularly at whoever’s cabin was parent-free that weekend. Occasionally, an adultless venue could not be located, at which point we would move to the Sixth Hole Tree. Which, obviously, was a tree located on the fairway of the sixth hole.

Faces have been obscured to protect the identity of these delinquents.

One weekend, I brought out a couple girlfriends out for a fun-filled couple days which we dubbed ‘Body Abuse Weekend’. This must have been about 1995/1996. All I can really recall about that time period is that I was in high school and Paul Bernardo was in the news. How do I remember this? Because this particular weekend, we had decided we should also try smoking marijuana, and we ended up spazzing out all over the golf course while one friend was totally tripping out that Paul Bernardo was going to rape and murder us all. Anyway, she doesn’t smoke weed anymore, says it makes her too paranoid. You don’t say.

Anyway, the day after the Bernardo fiasco we broke out the booze. We’d decided to be grown ups, and do that thing where you marinate fruit in alcohol. We had a small watermelon, so we cut the top off, scooped out some fruit, and poured in a shit ton of vodka. Silent Sam vodka, that is. The cheapest, foulest vodka there ever was. But we were doing fancy lady booze things with fruit, so whatever.

That night, we set out for the Sixth Hole Tree to meet up with my cabin friends. With us, we had the watermelon, the remainder of the Silent Sam, a 2L of Wildberry cooler, and a couple of beers. Truthfully, there’s not a lot I remembered after that. There are a few flashes of consciousness that I do recall: a fire, and someone threatening to throw someone into it, tripping over a random tire in the middle of a road, and someone spraying something off with a garden hose.

A short time later, the resort had its first major flood. Dozens and dozens of cabins were badly damaged, as was the golf course. Water had flowed across and through the course, pushing debris into all sorts of nooks and crannies. For years after, you would just be walking along and trip over like, a mud-encrusted toaster.

Well after the flood, when the golf course was playable again, I was out golfing with friends. I sometimes have a wicked bad hook, and on the sixth hole, I smacked it out of play into the woods. Since I am never one to not look for a ball, I went tromping way into the bush. I didn’t find my ball, but down in a small ravine, tucked into the crook of a tree, covered in mud, was the empty Silent Sam vodka bottle. Weirdly, the hair rose on my arms and the back of my neck and I knew I needed to rescue the bottle. I had no idea why I felt compelled to do this; the thing was filthy. I didn’t know what the bottle represented, I just knew it meant something. I took the thing home, washed it up, and have had it ever since.

Even though my parents sold our cabin a couple years ago after the last flood in 2005, it’s still incredibly painful to see pictures of the resort, completely underwater and likely unsalvageable. I already miss the place terribly, but I’m going to miss it even more knowing it is gone from me for good. The smell of sweet grass in the hills, the taste of sun-warmed Saskatoon berries eaten right off the bush, the loudest thunder you ever heard in your life, the wild rose bushes, the birds, and even those fucking horrible mosquitoes. I will miss it all.

If somewhere that you love has been affected by the recent flooding, I hope that you find your Silent Sam bottle in all the mess.

PS: In case you were wondering what ever happened to the watermelon, I also wondered that for many years. I only found out one night while reminiscing about that evening with a friend. I mused about the fate of the booze fruit, and he said ‘dude, you ATE the watermelon’. Huh? Apparently, I did eat the watermelon. And somehow I smashed the shit out of that watermelon all over the deck and walls of a friend’s cabin. So bad that someone had to get out a garden hose to spray it off. So actually, that was two mysteries solved; the whereabouts of the watermelon, and that strange and hazy drunken hose memory.


What’s in My Purse?

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I totally love gossip magazines. Back when I was rich, I had a four-magazine-a-week habit. Now I just borrow them from a friend who is worse off than me: she has at least a five-magazine-a-week habit.

One of the features that kills me is the What’s in My Purse? piece from Us Weekly. Each issue, they regale us with the contents of a celebrity’s purse. Of course, the purses are all Gucci and Ferragamo and Vuitton and are filled with delights like $300 eye cream made from crushed platinum or whatever.

What’s in my purse is entirely different. Ever since my Prado from Canal St. in NYC bit the dust, I’ve been toting a surprisingly versatile and somewhat stylish pleather no-namer. Well, it’s more of a sack, really. Because I need to carry around a lot of shit; I hate getting caught somewhere without adequate provisions.

First there are the chapsticks, of which there are eight. It’s critical that at any given time I be able to reach into the bag and handily pull one out. Thus, I require a high chapstick to other crap ratio. Speaking of lips, I then have four lip glosses which are all variations on pretty much the same colour. Sometimes your lips need shine, sometimes they need moisture, sometimes they need sparkles, and sometimes they should be matte. Duh.

Then there are the pills. Of course there are the pills! Don’t you people know me at all? There are pills for migraines and pills for tension headaches and I have lately been carrying around stashes of vitamin pills, Omega 3 capsules, and vitamin D drops. Sometimes getting proper nutrition is hard so I have a portable health food store.

Speaking of food, I am never without snacks either. I’ve been explicit about what happens when I don’t eat, so I usually have a couple ziplocs full of nuts, raisins, or a piece of fruit. This usually results in the bottom of my purse being covered in crumbs or other food bitties. I also currently have 17 squares of Lindt dark chocolate that I stole from a wine and cheese stuffed in there. Well actually, I didn’t steal them myself, per se. A group of girlfriends who had too much wine pilfered them clandestinely and forced me to shove them in my purse and make off with them. Not that I’m complaining about it though.

Then there are the office supplies: five pens, one stylus, a highlighter, and three flash drives. And handily, one of the pens has a secret box cutter hidden in the base, so it also doubles as personal security. First it’s a pen, next it’s a shiv.

The terrorist dream pen

And of course, no ladies’ purse would be complete without the requisite unwrapped tampon. No matter where I store them, they inevitably jostle around in there to the point that the outer wrap just comes off. And I have polled many women, it’s not just me that this happens to. One day, the tampons are intact and secure in a side pocket, the next, they shoot out of your purse when you are rummaging around for a pack of gum and land at the feet of one of your male co-workers. Or maybe this does just happen to me, I don’t know.

The remaining space in there is taken up by my wallet and other randoms. A quick survey today revealed a garlic press, a measuring spoon, approximately 8,000 receipts and a twig. If I ever get famous, I’m going to need to clean this fucker out so I don’t look like a total weirdo when Us Weekly does their feature on me.

Bad Auntie

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So it’s been a really crazy couple of weeks. The biggest news was that my sister had a baby, so now I am a double auntie. The poor little pickle had to stay in the hospital for a week but she’s all good now. Last week my sister trusted me enough to leave me with both kids, the three year-old and the newborn. It may have been a mistake.

Everything was fine for the first couple hours since little baby was sleeping peacefully in her car seat while I did some crafts with the older one. I even trusted her to use the liquid glue on her own, which is a big step for us since we’ve had a couple of glue fights in the past. I even opened up a special package of sparkly glue tubes that I had been saving for her until she could demonstrate proper glue responsibility. Not even a single smear of it got on her, me, or the furniture so I was feeling pretty smug about my auntying abilities.

But then the baby woke up. And she smelled funky. And people say that newborn poop does not smell bad but it sure does. And it looks like mustard. Anyway, I have no problems with changing diapers. I mean, it’s gross and unpleasant but I’d actually rather deal with kid poo than kid barf. But changing newborns is scary because they are so bendy and floopy that I am always worried that I am going to break a leg or a tiny arm getting their clothes off and on.

I also made a rookie mistake, I took the old diaper off before getting the new one ready. So I started to panic when some strange noises starting coming from the baby’s tummy when I had no diaper, old or new, under her to catch any additional droppings. Second rookie move, since you should never show vulnerability around kids. So as I was freaking out and yelling ‘She’s gonna blow!’, the other one thought this was the funniest thing ever, and jumped on my back. I got lucky though, because I did manage to shove a teeny tiny newborn diaper on the kid…which she wore for about three seconds before what was brewing in her guts let loose.

So, I changed her again, and then once more shortly thereafter. But the older kid, perhaps jealous of all the attention her new baby sister was getting from all the diaper changing, decided to get in on the action and also crapped her pants. Once everyone was finally poo-free, we all needed to eat. Well, any mom can tell you that something as simple as getting lunch organized can take a life age when there are kids around. You have to stop what you are doing a hundred times to jiggle babies, pick marbles out of heating vents, answer 8,000 questions, stop kids from riding cats like horses, etc. etc.

So I felt pretty pleased with myself after finally getting everyone (except me) fed. Older kid was playing nicely with her toys, and the baby was snoozing on the sofa in a pillow barricade I had made so she couldn’t somehow develop the ability to roll and do so, right off the sofa, on my watch. I was lulled into complacency so I thought it would be OK to take a quick pee break. But I was wrong. As I came out of the bathroom, I saw that the three year-old was now jumping on the sofa. Which I don’t actually care that much about; jumping on sofas is what you do at your auntie’s house. But this kid is as bad as me for injuring herself and she was jumping perilously close to the edge of a sharp corner table. I ran down to catch her just as she launched herself off the sofa. Good grief, you can’t even go pee without some kind of craziness. I sat down on the couch to catch my breath and slow my heart rate. But then I heard a weird muffled sound which puzzled me momentarily until I felt something move under my butt.

Then it dawned on me. I had plopped myself down right on top of the baby. That’s right people, I SAT ON A NEWBORN. She had just been so quiet I had kind of forgotten about her. My heart rate immediately shot back up and I leaped off her, terrified that I had smothered the poor thing. I examined her legs for damage and palpated her tiny baby tummy to check for internal bleeding (I have no idea how the fuck to check for internal bleeding but doctors on TV always palpate the abdomen). She seemed OK and stopped crying nearly immediately, so I didn’t think I had killed her. Now all I have to live with is the guilt that I sat on my baby niece.

After my sister picked them both up, I went and had a two-hour nap. Moms out there: keep being awesome. Kids are hard.

‘Hood Rats

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So, there are some bad kids in my ‘hood yo. Last summer, I was working on my deck one afternoon, enjoying the sun and the fresh air, when I became aware of a ruckus in the park next to my house. At first, it just sounded like someone was being murdered, which irritated me. However, I soon realised that the screaming was some poor kid who was being tortured by a couple of older boys. Initially, they were just taunting the kid with insults (‘I saw your baby picture and you were the ugliest baby I have ever seen’), but then things progressed into some physical brutality. One kid was holding the victim while another one kicked rocks from the playground at him.

Horrified, I swooped in to rescue the poor thing by going out my back gate and staring at the bullies with my right eyebrow raised. This look has so far proven effective in scaring children, although my niece is now becoming impervious to it. I thought about yelling at the kids to be nice, but there is always the worry that some crazy mom will come after me for disciplining her child without authorization. The look worked though, because the kids ran off.

At first I thought that the kids belonged to my crazy neighbours, but they moved out and the bad kids are still around. Now that it is nice out again, they have come out in full force. The two boys that were torturing the one kid are about ten and are the ringleaders, then there are a couple of other younger boys and girls in the gang. About a month ago, I was working in my kitchen when I noticed the group of them were playing some sort of shooting game with nerf guns on the street in front of my house. Which was fine, but they were shooting little plastic bullet things at each other while using mine and my husband’s cars as shields. Now, I have scraped the shit out of my car and a small dent from a plastic bullet is not going to do any noticeable damage. On the other hand, my husband’s car is his baby, his love, his best friend. He takes very good care of it and a plastic bullet dent in the hood would be catastrophic.

I was just about to politely ask the kids to play elsewhere (say, in front of their own houses, using their parents’ cars as shields), when I noticed they were no longer playing in the cul-de-sac in front of the house, they were now playing right in my yard. I stood there watching them for a moment, perturbed. But feeling guilty for feeling perturbed. They were just running around in the yard, not really hurting anything. And yet, there is a park in the lot next door and again, why my yard? I debated going outside and shooing them away, but I don’t want to be that crotchety neighbour who’s always yelling at kids. But then I noticed the two bad older kids getting crazy. They started shoving around some of the other gang members, crashing into our truck and trailer, and throwing sticks all over the lawn. Hmm. What to do, what to do?

When I was a kid, my friends were scared shitless of my dad. I thought, What Would Gord Do? Nobody would screw around like this in his yard, that was for sure. Just as one of the mean boys was smashing our garbage bin into our camping trailer, I rapped on the kitchen window and yelled ‘INTO THE PARK’! at the top of my lungs. The kids were startled and ran off. Yes! They wouldn’t dare mess around in my yard again!

But I was wrong. The next day, we got a huge dump of snow. When I came home from work and walked up the path to the front door, I noticed footprints in the snow. Kid footprints. Kid footprints cutting through my yard from the park. Which is actually really dumb because it takes longer to cut through my yard than to just use the path AND anyone cutting through the yard actually has to bust through a hedge and a cherry tree. But I noticed that someone must have been doing it frequently because several branches of my beautiful cherry tree were broken and hanging down limply. Also, I noticed a whole bunch of plastic nerf bullets that were going to get chewed up in the mower so I had to go around collecting those.

So, I gotta say I was pretty livid. Who ARE these children? Where are their parents? Mine would have beaten me if I they found out I was wrecking stuff in other people’s yards. I didn’t even know where they lived so I couldn’t go speak with their parents. I decided the only thing I could do to protect my tree was to create a physical barrier. I grabbed my dental floss and tied a long string of it from my cherry tree to a sturdy branch of the hedge. FYI, dental floss makes really good twine. I use it in my garden all the time. Bonus: it smells minty fresh. I figured the string would be enough to keep the kids from cutting through the yard and damaging my trees. If not, then at least it would function as a trip wire which would also be a deterrent.

You can imagine my surprise when I came home one day soon after to find the two bad kids and one other kid raking my yard. My first thought was that the kids felt bad for messing around in my yard, so this was an act of contrition. But when I got inside, my husband explained that the kids had knocked on the door, asking to be paid to do some yardwork. Ballsy! He apparently gave them $14 to rake. I wasn’t happy about the situation, because they are bullies to other kids and I don’t support that. But the deal was done, so I had no say. Awhile later I headed out to grab something out of my car. The kids were long gone with the $14. They had raked about half the lawn into piles, which were left unbagged. Not only that, my husband (bless his heart) had given them each a popsicle to eat as they worked, and now the yard was littered with wrappers, popsicle sticks, and even some garbage that they brought with them.

Shockingly, they rang the doorbell four times on Saturday morning to see if they could suck my husband into giving them even more money to do yard work! He explained in no uncertain terms that he would no longer be paying them for their ‘services’. Seriously! Who are these kids?

The trip floss and park next door.

Conversations with Dad: Flashback Friday

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I have no idea why this memory popped into my head the other day, but it did. When I was about 13 or so, one night I was watching a hockey game with my dad. He has a tendency to be quite vocal about his distaste for the majority of opposing teams, so I didn’t think he’d be offended when I yelled at the ref and called him a dork.


Me: Oh, I just called the ref a dork is all.
He must have misheard me and thought I’d sworn or something.


Me: What? Dork?

Dad: Yes, it’s a terrible word!

Me: Why, what does it mean?

My dad dropped his voice to a whisper.

Dad: It’s a male sex organ. You know.

No, I didn’t know. But he made me promise never to use the word again. Which of course just made me want to pepper every sentence that came out of my mouth with it. Sometimes I even call him a dork just to see what happens.

Late for Work

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So remember the other day when I said my family gets into some weird situations? Well, this morning I was late for work because of a blender fire. I should preface this story by explaining my blender destruction issues. I murder a blender approximately every quarter. And it’s not even like I’m blending car parts or something either. They just die, or the lid gets misshapen and doesn’t fit and explodes smoothie out the sides, or parts get rusty, or whatever.

This morning however, what happened is something I can’t really explain. I put the blender jug on the base like normal, turned it on, and sort of walked off to pack up my lunch while the thing blended. Only, I immediately recognised the acrid stink of burning plastic (a smell with which I am very familiar…there is still a melted Safeway bag stuck to my stove top from a recent incident that I can’t scrape off despite my best efforts).

Somehow, one blender part was turning and one wasn’t when it should have been, which was causing hard plastic to grind against rubber. A surprising amount of smoke was billowing out from the blender base, as well as what I thought were sparks but discovered during clean up were actually flaming bits of rubber.

So of course, the blender was destroyed and I had to go buy a new one at Walmart. I’ll give it three months tops (and yes, I realise that if I went out and bought a fancy $200 blender, I probably wouldn’t have this problem but I refuse to spend $200 on a blender and that’s final). When I explained my problem to the Walmart check-out lady, she sighed deeply and said ‘they just don’t make ’em like they used to’.

P.S: a blender fire is actually not the dumbest reason for which I have been late for work. A few years ago, I opened my front door to leave for the office and came face-to-face with a family of skunks. I’d chucked a bag of garbage out on the front porch the night before and the skunks were having it for breakfast all over my front yard. I hastily retreated back into the house, but there was no escape. My car was parked in front of the house, and I’d have to cross the lawn to get to it. There was no fucking way I was going to try skunk dodging, so I had to hide in the house until they’d gorged themselves and left.

Conversations With Dad: A Beef Explosion

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For some reason, my family seems to get into bizarre situations more often than most. I’m not sure why this is, but it has always been. Inexplicably weird accidents and disasters are commonplace. There was the time my dad got run over by a possibly psychotic golf cart, the Great Cool Whip Explosion of ’93ish, and the orange-slurpee-on-the-ceiling debacle to name but a few incidents. Yesterday I had to call my dad at home since he’s the part-time shipper/receiver guy at the office and I needed a form to send to a customer. We had this conversation:

Me: Dad, I need to know what form to send to this customer.

Dad: There is a file in Dropbox you can send him. But I gotta go, there’s been a terrible beef explosion.

Me: What? A beef explosion?

In the background I can hear chaos and it sounds like my mom, my niece, and I think I can even hear my sister over there. An odd gathering for a Tuesday afternoon.

Dad: Yeah, It’s EVERYWHERE. On the microwave, in the sink, all over the walls…

Me: Beef? Like, cow beef?

I must have heard him wrong.

Dad: Yeah, BEEF.

Me: Like, steak beef?

Dad. NO. Like, ground beef. EVERYWHERE. Except for where it is supposed to be, in the spaghetti sauce. I gotta go.

Apparently, he’d cooked and drained some ground beef which he’d set on the stove to cool. Later, my mom put the meat back on the heat to add some tomatoes to make a pasta sauce. My sister, who it turned out had been over there, witnessed the explosion first hand about a minute later when, for no readily observable reason (although I suspect it’s because my mom turned the heat on full blast) the meat simply exploded out of the pot, showering the area in a rain of ground beef.

As usual with a family disaster, nobody was seriously injured, although there was a large mess to clean up. The ground beef did not fare as well.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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I thought I would commemorate Mother’s Day this year by posting an old card my sister and I gave my mom years ago. She’s all going on and on and I’m like, yeah what she said. I was more excited about not having to go to church that morning. Also, my sister wanted me to point out that her spelling and grammar have improved since then (although her penmanship still looks like that of an amputee chicken).

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. Yours is one of the most important jobs in the world, and usually an under appreciated one.

Remember Ziggy?

My Moustache

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Yesterday, I ran a bunch of errands with my sister and 3 year-old niece. At one point, my sister had an appointment, so I just hung out with the kid in the waiting room. One of the receptionists pulled out a sheet of sparkly puppy stickers and offered my niece one of her choosing.

Her: I’ll take the cat sticker.

Me: There’s no cat sticker. They’re all dog stickers.

Her: I want the grey kitty sticker.

Me: I promise you, that’s a dog.

Her: IT’S A CAT!!!

Me: Fine, it’s a cat. Even though it’s clearly not. Why would there be one cat sticker with all the dog and bone stickers? That makes no sense.

But she’s not listening to me at all. Logical reasoning with three year-olds doesn’t work, but I apparently always feel the need to push the issue. She’s already moved on and is now making the ‘kitty’ sticker walk all over my face.

Her: Kitty is walking on your forehead! Kitty is on your nose! Kitty is licking your cheek!

Aw, how adorable. There’s another couple in the waiting room, a heavily pregnant woman and her baby daddy. They’re watching my niece play with her sticker all over my face and smiling at the cute scene.

Her: Kitty is in your hair! Kitty’s walking on your chin! Kitty is stuck in your moustache!

Me: That’s so nice of kitty. Wait…what?!? My moustache??? I don’t have a moustache!

Her: Yeah you do. It’s right here. See?
She traces her index finger above my upper lip.


Her: It’s OK, Auntie, my daddy has a moustache too.

I am totally indignant. I look over at the pregnant couple to see if they heard, but they have now averted their gaze. The woman has her hand up covering her mouth, but she’s betrayed by her huge bump, which is shaking violently up and down with laughter.

Of course, when I got home I immediately examined my upper lip in the mirror. Have I had a moustache all this time and nobody told me?!?!

The Wasp Sting

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So, I haven’t posted anything for like, a week. Normally when that happens, it either means I am on my deathbed or am working on extremely stressful legal stuff. The former was the case this past week, so I am pulling out a gem of a story that I have been saving for months. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on health, nutrition, and stress lately and a lot of experts are saying that laughing regularly is critical to good health and effective stress management. So, my blog is good for you. You should read it at least every day for optimum health. Increase the dosage as required.

Anyway, I have mentioned before that I now work for ‘the family business’. After leaving my corporate job, I did a total 360 and bailed on the mortgage industry and got involved in the golf industry. As you can imagine, it’s much more interesting. My uncle started the company years ago and my mom has been working with him since I was a teen. After my dad retired, he started working here casually too, as the warehouse shipper/receiver guy. There really is never a dull moment.

So last summer, I came to work one Monday morning and was regaled by the tale of a horrifying and hilarious incident that my uncle boss had experienced on the weekend. Apparently, he had woken ungodly early on the Saturday morning, and had decided to go for a coffee. Being that it was so very early, he figured pants could be optional. So, he drove to the McDonald’s drive-thru (he’s obsessed with their coffee…*shudder*) in his bathrobe and nothing else. Hopefully the drive-thru attendant did not see anything untoward.

After getting his coffee, he headed back home. As he was getting out of the vehicle, he felt a painful burning sensation in his nether region. Thinking he had somehow spilled his coffee on his man parts, he did a little dance and then actually spilled coffee all over himself. For it wasn’t hot coffee that was causing the painful testicular burning, it was a wasp that had somehow gotten into his SUV, crawled up his bathrobe, and then had its way with his unprotected balls.

Now, I have actually never been stung by a wasp. But I hate those little fuckers more than almost anything on this earth. They are vile, filthy, evil little creatures that do nothing but eat pretty, benevolent dragonflies and sting people for no good reason. Wasps can go straight to hell. Anyway, I can’t imagine how painful it would be to get stung in such a sensitive region. My uncle assures me it was excruciating. However, his method of pain relief leaves much to be desired. He figured that a good idea would be to soak for awhile in a scalding hot tub. Nothing like warm water to get that wasp venom circulating throughout the body! Not surprisingly, he quickly developed rashy hives all over his skin.

It’s at this point that one might consider seeking medical advice. However, my uncle popped an anti-histamine instead and headed out for a rousing round of golf in the hot sun. Eighteen holes of walking in the hot sun, in fact. By the back nine though, all the…erm…friction from walking in the heat had caused some swelling. And by some swelling, I mean my uncle claimed his balls were ‘the size of a watermelon’. I cannot confirm or deny this description, thankfully. What I do know is he had to flee the golf course and get my aunt to take him to urgent care. Luckily, there was no permanent damage down there, although the doctors were horrified at how things had ballooned. Some more meds and ice eventually got everything under control.

The moral of the story is to always wear pants in the drive-thru.

White Trash Yard

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So, it stopped snowing for about a minute on the weekend; enough time for me to spend some time in the sun in my backyard. While I was doing so, I noticed my back-door neighbours diligently assembling patio furniture that they’d obviously stored indoors for the winter. Once they were done that, they wheeled out their BBQ, which was properly swaddled in a padded, weather-resistant BBQ cover.

Then I surveilled my own yard and felt inadequate. Our BBQ cover had blown off at some point previous to last winter. It must have gotten wedged in the small space between the deck and the fence, but I did locate it, all covered in dead leaves and smelling suspiciously like cat pee.

My point is, we are not good winterisers. Scratch that, we don’t winterise our shit at all. Or put anything away during the winter for that matter. A few springs ago when the snow melted, I was surprised to find our lawn mower. I asked my dad if it would be OK having been under a carpet of snow for months. He asked ‘well, did you winterise it’? Yeah dad, I totally winterised it and then left it out all season.

Anyway, I looked around my back yard and took inventory of all the crap we (mostly me) left out all winter.

-two screwdrivers
-a hammer
-a hand-held multi tool
-two plastic gas cans
-three plastic buckets
-three plastic Greek yogurt containers (I use them for painting!)
-a paring knife
-a pressure washer
-two tarps
-an array of BBQ tools
-a pile of partially cut porcelain tiles
-two rakes
-various gardening equipment
-a can of metal paint
-two semi-filled bags of potting soil
-a dish towel
-two microfibre cleaning cloths
-a pair of red kid’s scissors
-a soccer ball and a big red plastic ball, origins unknown
-a cutting board
-a salad bowl
-two drinking cups
-a water bottle
-a paintbrush
-assorted pieces of cutlery
-several empty beer bottles
-a teacup
-a plate
-two cat dishes
-a container of catnip
-a star-shaped cookie cutter

Yep, we are those kind of neighbours.

At least the rose garden cleans up nice.

Travel Misadventures: Conclusion

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So it has been pointed out to me, repeatedly, that I have failed to conclude my series on my family trip to Europe. If you are new to this blog, or simply don’t remember the related posts, refresh your memory here:

Part One: Rome

Part Two: Corfu

Part Three: Acharavi

Part Four: Athens

Frankly, I got tired of writing about it and figured nobody would notice if I never posted the concluding story. But people did notice, and therefore I shall finish the series. When I left off, my family and I had finally arrived in Athens and had spent a few days familiarising ourselves with the Olympic venues and Athens’ transit system. After I recovered from my public transportation mental breakdown, we actually didn’t have too much further trouble navigating the city.

We stayed in the top floor of a little coastal villa about 50 km outside of Athens. The home was owned by an older Greek couple, Toula and Demetrius, who were somehow related to my mom’s travel agent. Toula spoke English well, but Demetrius, who must have been nearing 80, spoke only Greek and just went around pouring everyone shots of anise liquor.

The day after our transit adventure was a big day; the individual women’s epée preliminaries. Now, I like sports and am a huge hockey fan. I’ve been to lots of live sporting events, but nothing prepared me for the anxiety of watching my sister and her teammates compete at the Olympics. In Athens! The birthplace of the games! Fencing is not a very popular sport in North America, but in Europe and South America, it’s huge. There were TV cameras and reporters everywhere. It was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.

But enough about that. This story isn’t about the glory of the Olympic games or the dedication and spirit it takes to earn a spot to compete. Rather, it’s about pee and weird food and strange customs and the occasional nightmares of traveling.

In one of the previous posts about this trip, I had mentioned that when we got to our villa on Corfu, we were appalled to find that we couldn’t flush toilet paper. We figured that since we were staying in a small place in a small town on a pretty small island, the plumbing was a bit sketchy. However, it turns out that NOWHERE in Greece can you flush toilet paper. I guess the ancient plumbing systems can’t handle it. So, what you had to do was pee (or poo) and then throw the soiled TP in the garbage. You can imagine that when it is 40 degrees inside the house, things get a bit smelly.

Now, apparently all Greeks are perfectly aware of the plumbing situation. However, in Athens, Olympic organisers seemingly assumed that all the thousands of foreign visitors to the city would just know this as well. So on the first day of major competition at the fencing venue, the temporary outdoor washroom facilities basically exploded. By midday, there were only two stalls that were still functioning. If you were successful in jumping over the river of toilet water, sewage, and hunks of soggy TP that dominated the washroom area, then the only problem was waiting in the hour-long lineup for the washrooms while hundreds of women tried not to pee themselves. So, it was a strange juxtaposition to be mingling with Olympic fencing superstars and the media while trying to avoid stepping in human waste.

Later that evening back at the villa, my sisters and I decided that we should do some laundry. Someone had picked up some clothing detergent earlier in the trip, and it was one of those gross chunks of hard blue soap that you use for hand-washing. Since hand-washing clothes is a bitch, we just did small items like underwears, bras, and bathing suits. And of course, we didn’t have a spin cycle to wring the water out of the garments, so they were sopping wet when we hung them out to dry over the balcony of the house.

The next morning, the clothes were still damp, so we just left them there to continue drying as we headed back into Athens for the second day of fencing competition. It was a very hot day, but we spent most of it indoors watching the events. At one point, we did head to an outdoor cantina for lunch, but it was really windy and we almost got hit by a flying waste receptacle, so we ate and headed back indoors. It didn’t occur to any of us girls that the high winds would pose problems for our laundry situation.

Hours and hours later, we headed out of Athens and back up the coast to the villa. When we arrived, we found a red-faced Demetrius with a pile of panties in his arms, trying to explain to us in Greek why he was in possession of our underthings. Apparently, the wind had blown all of our just-washed unmentionables off the balcony and into the yard below. I guess Demetrius was home alone and noticed that our skivvies were blowing all over the neighborhood and down the hill toward the Aegean sea. He had scrambled around, this old Greek man, gingerly plucking panties out of trees, bushes, and neighbours’ yards.

We spent a few more days in Athens, exploring ancient ruins and attending the odd sporting event before heading back home to Canada. We saw and experienced some of the most fascinating things, and met some true weirdos. There was a strange camera stealing incident, more transit shenanigans, and some odd injuries. Despite wanting to murder my family at times and missing the comforts of home, I can truly say that this was most definitely a trip that I don’t think I could ever replicate. And I will be eternally grateful for having been able to experience it at all.

Star Wars Nerd Alert

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So, my nerdozoid brother-in-law has been yakking on and off forever about some fan-made version of the Star Wars movies. Apparently people submit all forms of reinvented scenes from the movie and then it gets all mashed together into one full-length version of the movie.

Anyway, him and his brother did one of the scenes from the ice planet Hoth in
The Empire Strikes Back, and a short clip from their submission made it into the trailer. He’s the dude in the parka at 1:12. I love the clips with kids; their weirdo nerd parents have obviously made them perform.

Nunchuck Grandpa

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Is that how you spell nunchuck? I keep getting the red squiggly line and it looks wrong, but that’s what the dictionary says. Anyway. It’s been a real heavy week, so let’s all chill out for a bit with some nunchucks. I saw this video on Kimmel last week and hurt my tummy laughing. Some random old dude practicing his sweet ‘chuck skills in a parking lot.

I love how at the end he’s just like, ‘fuck you, nunchuck’! And he just gets in his truck.

Also on that episode of Kimmel was Kelly Oxford, a writer and fellow Albertan (I think she’s from Calgary or Edmonton or both. Whatever, I’m not some Internet stalker). Ages ago, Twitter told me I should follow her, so I did. And then one day I was reading an old Cosmo magazine in some waiting room and read a little piece she’d written. I think it was about blowjobs or something. I enjoyed it, and she was a pretty delightful presence on my Twitter feed, so I googled her work. Anyway, she just wrote a book called Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar. The reviews I’ve read are that it’s hilarious, and I’m planning on this book being my next book club pick*. So support a funny Canadian author and go buy her book!

* Book Club Members: one exception, and then it’s back to the classics, bitches.

The Bullies

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I haven’t written a whole lot this past week, because I’ve been too busy obsessing over this nation’s most recent bullying atrocity. Hopefully you are all now familiar with the Rehtaeh Parsons story, and if you aren’t, you should stop reading this and go get informed immediately.

This story is really smacking me in the face because I started this blog as a response to my own experiences with bullying, and I can relate to many of its aspects. And while the blog is meant to be a place where folks can come to escape from the stress of their daily lives and have a laugh, I feel very passionate about the topic and felt a serious post was in order. And let me be extremely clear: the bullying that I faced in the workplace seems almost gentle compared to what Rehtaeh seems to have endured.

When I think about the impact my experience had on my own emotional well-being, I can’t imagine having to also factor in the pain and horror of sexual and physical violence. Or the utter disbelief and confusion at discovering your friends and classmates find your suffering amusing and continue to taunt you. I know she didn’t make the right decision in ending her life, but sadly, I understand it. And it breaks my heart into a million pieces.

But what I can really relate to are the feelings of helplessness that arise when you are let down by those who are supposed to be looking out for you. When a place that is supposed to be safe is not. Places like schools and workplaces, where people spend a significant proportion of their daily lives. These places should be havens from abuse; safe institutions where people can go to learn and earn without fear.

So what do we do? We can rail against bullying, and shake our fists in anger when we hear about cases such as Rehtaeh’s. We can demand that the government enact anti-bullying legislation and that schools and workplaces enforce ‘zero-tolerance’ bullying policies.

And those measures surely have the potential to create awareness and provide a framework to handle certain cases. But what about where the bullying is not so obvious? Physical bullying, while destructive, is at least is easy to define. Physical violence can be categorised as an assault and can be punishable through the application of existing laws and guidelines. Provided of course that you can prove the allegations.

But psychological bullying is much more insidious, in my view. Not any more or less serious than physical bullying, just harder to define. And this is where my own experiences come in. I certainly wasn’t being physically bullied in my workplace. I can say with great confidence that had I been physically attacked, my story would be very different. Unfortunately for Rehtaeh, she not only experienced physical violence, but also psychological torture.

So how do we define and punish the psychological, non-physical acts of bullying? The lies, the manipulations and machinations, the subtle and not-so-subtle emails, texts, social media posts, and public humiliations that chip away at the even the strongest defences. At what point does ‘this person is an asshole to me’ become ‘this person is committing a crime against me’? Does one inappropriate text or email equal abuse? Or do 10 texts or emails? And how do we evaluate the context of the abuse when so often, the situations are subjective?

This, I think, is the dilemma of truly ending bullying. Laws and policies may certainly dissuade bullies in some instances, but there are too many aspects of bullying that slip between the cracks of those frameworks. The perfect solution, of course, is just simple human decency. However, if that existed, we wouldn’t have a bullying problem in the first place.

So, what is the solution? Awareness is great. Anti-bullying campaigns are springing up everywhere. You can’t go anywhere on social media these days without finding a variation of some kind of bullying hash tag or a ‘like this if you are against bullying’ page that pops up. But even with all this ‘awareness’, we keep hearing about these kids who are being beaten up or harassed mercilessly for their sexual orientation, appearance, or for whatever other arbitrary thing that triggers a bully’s radar.

In my situation, I feel like I did everything I was supposed to. Because what happened to me occurred in the workplace, I felt initially that I would be protected by the company’s harassment policy. I documented everything, kept emails, and tracked all my work activities. Yet, after repeated complaints, no action was taken, despite there being a clear violation of the company’s supposedly no-nonsense harassment policy. My mental and physical health continued to deteriorate until I could take no more. The only advice I received was to continue documenting any incidents and to consider taking a stress leave.

So, despite all the ‘awareness’ out there, bullying continues. In Rehtaeh’s case, police determined that there was insufficient evidence to lay criminal charges on either the rape case or regarding the circulation of a photo allegedly taken during the rape. I can’t imagine how devastating this news must have been for Rehtaeh. Being told nothing can be done about the wrong that’s been done to you is an incredible psychological blow.

A lot of people ask me why I decided to take legal action against my former employer rather that to just move on and get a new job. Suing a person or a company is not only expensive and incredibly time consuming, but it is also very stressful. However, in my mind, there was no other option. I had to fight.

I was lucky in my case; I have legal recourse. I was able to secure a contingency fee agreement with a well-respected firm that believes in my case. But it’s not easy. To fight this fight, the burden of proof is on me. My personal medical, financial, and work history is available to all and sundry. The company that I am fighting has nearly unlimited TAXPAYER resources to fund their defence and continue stalling the legal process. Yes people, you heard that right: your tax dollars are being used to defend this company, a Canadian crown corporation, who willingly kept on an employee who had a long track record of harassing subordinates. Sadly, it seems that a lot of schools, workplaces, and other organisations talk the talk, but aren’t willing to walk the walk.

So, this is what we are up against when it comes to fighting bullying. But at least I got the opportunity to stand up and say ‘Hey! You can’t treat people like this’! And I have the opportunity to fight against it and to provide advice and support to others in similar situations. Most importantly, I have the opportunity to find peace. Rehtaeh did not get that chance, and that is a great injustice.

Rest in peace, Rehtaeh. I am sorry this happened to you.

Food Anxiety

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A few months ago, I was traveling for work when a colleague told me I was ‘very high maintenance, food-wise’. At first, I was all indignant. But then I realized that was actually a pretty astute observation. Because despite being pretty low maintenance in other areas, I am really particular about food. I probably have more vehement reactions to certain foods than even the pickiest kid. The issue is partly dietary, partly just being an asshole about it, and partly because I have been watching way too many food documentaries.

I have been off wheat for five years, which I had to do because I was having terrible chronic sinus issues that went away when I cut it out of my diet. Of course, this means that most cakes, pies, cookies, pastries, pizzas, breads, and pastas are off limits. So, you can imagine that this significantly reduces the variety of foods I can eat, just on an everyday basis. And it’s not nearly as big a deal these days as it used to be. Five years ago, I’d tell people I couldn’t eat gluten, and they’d be like, ‘what’s that’? Then I’d say, ‘gluten, you know, like in wheat’. And they’d be like ‘WHAT? You can’t eat MEAT’? And then I’d be like “No, wheat. WHEAT. Not MEAT’. Lots of people still think I have a meat allergy. But today, there are lots of gluten-free alternatives out there, even though you might have to take out a bank loan to afford them. Right now, I am eating a sandwich made from a loaf of bread that cost seven bloody dollars. SEVEN! And it’s not even like a regular sized loaf of Wonder Bread even, it’s like a mini half-loaf.

So, the gluten thing is pretty reasonable since I can’t help it. But, you’d think that since I already have to cut out an awful lot of foods, that I might be more open-minded about incorporating other food items into my diet, but that’s where the problem comes in. I hate a lot of foods. Like, a lot. These are foods that I am fundamentally opposed to, and eating them is simply not physically possible. Let’s start from the beginning.

When I was six months old, my mom started giving me solid foods, just like you are supposed to do. She says that one of the first ‘real’ foods she gave me was scrambled eggs, which I promptly vomited up all over my high chair. So, I feel like my aversion to eggs is also out of my control. Eggs have to be one of the most revolting foods on this planet. OK, that might be a slight exaggeration; I’ve been to Asia and there’s definitely worse. But everyone is all ‘eggs are the perfect food! So good for you’! And I’m like, yeah but what if eating a chicken embryo just isn’t your thing? What if the thought of that wiggling, gelatinous, sliming ooze in your mouth makes you gag? What if the smell of eggs cooking turns your stomach over? There’s a reason there is a type of fart named for eggs. They smell atrocious. And don’t even get me started on those stories about people finding beaks and feathers and shit in the yokes.

Next, we have fish and seafood. Another disgusting food category. Anything that lives/grows in the water is a problem for me, actually. But, I will concede that fish can be good for your health. All those fatty acids. I did try, I really did try to eat fish and seafood, but there is something about the taste and smell that once again, makes my stomach turn. But with fish and seafood, there is also a terrible texture problem. Lobster and crab are squishy, sushi is slimy, salmon has all those annoying teeny tiny bones, and octopus and squid are too rubbery.

And that fishy taste! It never gets out of my mouth. Last year at my husband’s Christmas party, they had several types of fish in the buffet, which I obviously avoided. My husband usually takes these opportunities to eat fish since he is banned from cooking it in the house. He had cut a piece of fish with his knife and then cut me off a slice of a potato. Before I even put that potato bite in my mouth, I started to gag. It was like that small essence of fishiness had contaminated the potato to such a degree that I considered spitting it back out onto my plate. But then I realized that if I did that, my husband’s colleagues might think I was a weirdo.

Next, there is meat on bones. Unlike my other food aversions, I actually love the taste of meat on bones. Come on! Ribs, and chicken wings, and pork chops…that shit is delicious! But not delicious enough to get me to eat them. Meat on bones is gross, because not only are there bones incorporated into the meat, but there are always icky things associated with the bones, like blood vessels, tendons, and fat. Plus, these meat on bones foods are impossible to eat without making a mess all over your face and hands, and you have to bite through the meat skin, and that just gives me anxiety. Just throw me a boneless, skinless chicken breast and I’ll be fine.

This is my worst nightmare. And I’m
not talking about the giant knife.

In addition to eggs, seafood, and meat on bones, there are a myriad of smaller aversions to things like tofu (wiggly in my mouth), bitter leafy vegetables (fuck you, arugula), organ meats (including intestinal scrapings), gravy (there’s something in the gravy!!), lychee nuts (taste yummy but are too eyeball-like for comfort), anything with a firm outside and a squishy inside (certain fruits a bit past their prime), slimy meats (duck and goose), and probably about 8,000 other things.

Now, you must be thinking, ‘what the fuck does this girl even eat’? And I assure you there are still many options out there even though I have recently eliminated dairy from my diet as well, also for health reasons. Because, as I have mentioned repeatedly in this blog, I’ve been through quite a terrible period of stress in recent years. When I was still working my fancy corporate job, I would pack a lunch almost every day. And a good lunch too, with fruit and vegetables, soups, and healthy grains. The problem was that the more stress I was under, the harder it became to eat. Some people are stress eaters; I am a stress starver. I’d take a few bites of something and feel so nauseous, I’d have to stop eating. And when I wasn’t eating properly, I would get headaches (or the headache I already had would get worse). Then, to just make it through the workday, I’d be popping codeine painkillers like candy. Delicious, delicious candy. But, during the worst of it, I dropped 15-20 pounds over a period of about four months. Finally, after a last-straw incident at work, I just left and never went back.

However, despite leaving the job, the stress continued as the situation was (and is) ongoing, so my poor eating continued as well. I found that I could only stomach a few ‘comfort’ foods, so I ate what I could tolerate and relied on these comfort foods for the bulk of my caloric intake. These ‘foods’ were things like nachos, DQ ice cream sundaes, Nutella on rice cakes, and a whole host of other weird things. I can’t explain why my brain and stomach were not offended by these foods when I have issues with so many others, but there it is. I ate what I could, when I could, and hoped my body wouldn’t punish me too much.

Well, the day of reckoning is here now. While my stress levels are still higher than they ought to be, over the past year or so I have been able to resume eating ‘normally’. But I still felt like a bag of crap. And why wouldn’t I? How the fuck was I able to get any nutrition at all during this bad eating phase? It’s not like there are any vitamins in nachos, and even though they market Nutella as a health food, I will reluctantly admit that it’s not a true nut butter and is filled with sugar. I am only just realizing now that I’ve severely depleted my nutrient reserves and am running on fumes.

Then, to make matters even more complicated, I have been watching an absurd number of food documentaries lately. Now, in addition to avoiding eggs, seafood, meat on bones, wiggly, slimy, squishy or oozy foods, I now also have to worry about high fructose corn syrup, flavour enhancers, Genetically Modified Organisms, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, the horrible treatment of livestock animals, preservatives, dyes, ammonia baths, petrochemicals, carcinogens, and a whole bevy of other stuff. So, is ignorance bliss then? Is it better to not be aware of all these issues within our food chain and just eat without care? Personally, the information that I have picked up through watching these documentaries, researching how foods are produced, and learning about the effects that some of these food additives have on our bodies has encouraged me to make some changes to my food mindset.

And so now I am working on replenishing my nutrients while avoiding the junk that is in so many of our foods these days. I’m not quite ready to go fully vegetarian right now, but I am trying to make more meatless meals and make wiser choices based on where the meat is coming from. And I was struggling to figure out the best way to get cheap, fresh, locally-grown produce too. But then I had a major revelation. DUH. I CAN GROW MY OWN FOOD.

Back in the olden days, everybody grew their own produce! My own grandfather had an incredible veggie garden in his back yard, and I used to think that fresh-picked carrots were tastier than any candy. I’ve already started a bunch of veggies indoors and I plan to just keep adding varieties until there isn’t any space in my garden. My gardening skills to date have been lackluster, as I usually kill everything because I forget to water. However, I am very committed to this project and plan to employ some child labour in the form of my niece to help with weeding and composting. So far, my indoor plants are doing well, despite the fact that I forgot to label my first seedlings and now have no idea what the fuck is growing in those pots.

So, happy gardening to me (except for cabbage (smells weird), radishes (does anyone actually eat radishes?), okra (slimy), and Brussels sprouts (they look like little brains)).

A Favour

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So, I’m sorry to do this, but I am going to be an asshole for a second and ask everybody reading this for a favour. I started writing my blog at the same time I started writing a book. Yes, a book; you heard right. And, even though my book so far only has 80 pages, I still plan on publishing it eventually. And, the more people that read my blog, the better chance I have of the book being published. So, if you like my blog , I would be ever so grateful if you could do the following:

1) Subscribe. There is a little box on the left side of the page where you can submit your email address. Once you do that, an email will be sent to you to confirm your subscription. If you can’t find the email, it probably went in your junk folder. When you subscribe, you will receive only new posts sent directly to your inbox. You won’t receive junk mail and email addresses are kept confidential.

2) Share. There are a bunch of little buttons on the bottom of each page for sharing via Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. If you like a post, please share it with your followers on your favorite social media network or via email. Also, share your thoughts or similar stories in the comments section of the post. I love getting feedback and hearing about when others do stupid shit.

Alright, now that’s all. I am even annoying the fuck out of myself with this post.

Thanks for reading!

Marry Boff Kill: Game of Thrones Edition

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So, Happy Easter everyone.

More importantly, today is the season 3 premiere of Game of Thrones. I am actually quite embarrassed by how obsessed I am with the show. So when I found out that Easter was coming on the same day that Winter is Coming, I informed my mom I would not be attending Easter dinner. Jokingly. Sort of. Not really. Anyway, she said ‘that’s no problem dear, we can have dinner and then watch this throne show together as a family’. To which I replied, ‘bahahahahahaha’! My mom is obviously not at all familiar with the series.

The reason I enjoy the show so much is that there is such a diverse array of complex characters. They definitely inspire strong feelings of attachment or hatred from the audience. Because seriously, who out there doesn’t want to bludgeon Joffrey to death with his stupid fucking crossbow?

One evening last summer while playing a rousing game of the campfire staple Marry, Boff, Kill with some friends, the topic strayed to GOT characters. The guys were presented with three redheads from the show: Sansa Stark, Melisandre the red priestess, and Ygritte the sassy wildling. They all agreed that they’d marry Sansa, the potential heir to Winterfell. With the stipulation of course that there be no funny business until she came of age. Everyone wanted to boff Ygritte, which is reasonable; I’d boff Ygritte. Although there was concern about frozen testicles doing it in the icy lands beyond the wall. Melisandre, birther of the murderous Renly-killing shadow thing, deserves death without question.

Then the guys went back to their boring conversation about ball bearings or something, which left myself and Chenoa Hansen, Mortgage Professional to our own devices.

Me: Ok, Tywin Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, and Theon Greyjoy.

CH: Easy choice for boffing, I’d do Tyrion for sure. He’s hot, smart, and funny. I’d marry Tywin because he’s loaded and old. And I’d kill Theon.

Me: Yeah, I’d make the same choices, but I do feel sorry for Theon, actually. He’s a douchebag, but I don’t think he meant to go down the road he did. Still, he’s a child murderer, so he’s got to go.

CH: Your turn: the Stark men. Ned, Robb, and Jon Snow.

Me: Well Ned already lost his head, so I feel like this one is moot. So I’d still kill him anyway.

CH: WHAT? You’d kill Ned Stark?!

Me: Yeah, I mean he’s old. How many good fighting years does he even have left? Plus, he has to die or there’s no story.

CH: I’d kill Robb.

Me: WHAT? You’d kill Robb Stark?!

CH: Yeah, he fucks over the Freys by marrying that Talisa. That was stupid.

Me: It was love! Anyway, I’d marry Robb, heir to Winterfell. Even though its all trashed. And I would boff Jon Snow. Repeatedly. I completely fell in love with Jon while reading A Storm of Swords.

CH: Well, too bad. You only get to boff him once.

Me: Well this game is fundamentally flawed! Fine, I’ll marry him then. Forget his vows; I’d brave the cold of the wall and go live with him at Castle Black and I’d make Ghost lie on my feet to warm them up. And boff Jon repeatedly. I’d give up potentially becoming the Lady of Winterfell for him.

See what I mean about getting attached? I have terrible circulation; I would die at the wall.

Anyway, a little less than twelve hours to go…so many mind blowing things are going to happen this season. I can’t believe I’m this excited about a show where I technically know what’s going to happen.

Happy Game of Thrones Day, people!

Animals Doing It

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So, the past couple times I’ve been to the zoo, I’ve witnessed animals humping. The first time, it was two male penguins going at it. And, it was Valentine’s Day. I was so excited. I felt like it was a perfect symbol for the day. Who cares who you boff: male, female; Valentine’s Day is about love. Of course, I photographed the momentous event and shared it with everyone.

Creeper penguin is a voyeur

Then yesterday, two giraffes were…well, I guess they were foreplaying really. Not quite doing it (although the male tried mounting the female repeatedly and was kicked away), but it was definitely imminent. Once again, I was delighted and interrupted the romantic moment by taking photos of giraffe peen and texting it to people.

Anyway, I’m not a perv, I just really like learning about animals. And their mating habits are fascinating! Whenever I travel, I always research what animals live in that area and plan activities that involve learning about the local wildlife. As soon as I’m done being poor, my husband and I are planning to take a big trip to Africa. Hopefully I’ll be able to add to my animal humping photo collection.

Dirty Banana

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Last Thursday, my husband had ACL replacement surgery done on his knee. Thursdays, of course, are my day to watch my niece, so she got to tag along when I picked him up from the hospital. Let me just say that pushing a grown man in a wheelchair while trying to handle a pair of crutches AND corral a 2.5 year-old is a difficult task. At one point, I ran over the kid’s foot with the rear wheel of the damned chair. Anyway, the kid (and me) were getting squirrely since we’d been on the run all day and hadn’t eaten that much.

Her: Auntie, let’s stop for a bite to eat. I’m hungry.

Me: We don’t have any time. Here, eat this.
I pull a banana from my purse.

Her: That’s a dirty banana.

Me: What are you talking about? That banana is fine. Kids in Africa don’t get to pick and choose their fruit.

Her: No. It’s a dirty banana.

Me: What? YOU’RE a dirty banana.


I guess we’re both dirty bananas.


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It has come to my attention that some of the words, phrases, or names that I have occasionally used in this blog might not make sense to the general public. As such, I have created this handy glossary for future reference.


Air Guitar and Leg Kick
Sometimes I get so excited about something I feel like jumping up and doing a rock star leg kick while playing air guitar. However, sometimes that may be inappropriate. In those situations, I simply say ‘air guitar and leg kick!’ in a weird voice to imply my enthusiasm.

Analrapist: Fünkeism; a combination of analyst and therapist. Sometimes I sign my emails as Christine Dunne, Analrapist just to see if people are paying attention.

Awry in the Womb: a term used to describe a person who is fundamentally flawed, physically or mentally. Something must have gone terribly awry in the womb when that guy was gestating.


Betes: short for diabetes, but you have to preface it with ‘the’. My cat has the betes, and as such is a betes cat.

Bits: lady parts. My niece holds her bits when she needs to use the potty.

Bitties: Refers to small pieces of debris, such as lint (she had bitties all over her sweater) or to particles in the air, such as flaming bitties of plastic Safeway bag (like in this instance). Can also refer to a collection of small animals, typically pets (she’s got four bitties: two cats, a bunny, and a hamster).

Blinding Rage: a perfect storm of anger. When PMS, low blood sugar, headache and exhaustion combine in an outpouring of crazy. Usually involves projectiles.

Blortch: to vomit, in humans.


Canned Ham: someone who is really, really dull. Like generic, canned ham. A person who doesn’t even have the spunk of Spam. Someone like Y.

Clippies: small hair clips.

Clonge: a large gathering of people in a public area. The size of the group usually creates an inconvenience for others as they have to manoeuvre around the clonge. Teens tend to be found frequently instigating clonges in malls, school hallways, and outside convenience stores.

Crazytown: A person, not a place. Usually used to describe psychotic ex-partners.


Doob: a doofus. See also, Noob.

Disastered: the act of destroying something. My niece frequently disasters my living room when I look after her.

Dysentry: An inappropriate term for the digestive challenges arising from eating Cuban food in Cuba (he’s still suffering from Dysentry from his trip to Cuba last week). Usually takes 1-3 weeks to purge the system completely.


Floopy: Like floppy, but slightly more pendulous/flexible. Can also be used as a verb (her left breast flooped out of her dress when she tried to do the worm).

Forespect: The opposite of retrospect.

Frugal Bragger: Even worse than a humble bragger, a Frugal Bragger takes inordinate pride in spending the least amount of money on everything, and then describes their cheap conquests in great detail. They’ll also usually ask how much you paid for anything and everything, and will scoff dramatically when they deem you were ripped off.

Full Blast: cranking something all the way up (ovens, stereos, thermostats).


Gangle: a person who is gangly is a Gangle. I am a Gangle.

Granny Choke ‘Ems: Inappropriately large pieces of lettuce in a salad.

Gum Holder: my sister’s one-eyed bunny, Violet. So named by a friend because the area where her eye used to be is about the size of a wad of gum. My friend is a mean asshole.


Hanger: completely irrational anger due to low blood sugar. Always keep a snack in your purse or this could happen.

Hiney: swine flu (H1N1). Sanitize your hands regularly to avoid contracting the hiney.

Hornet Wolf: a mythical half-wolf (the front part), half-hornet (the back end) that lived in the basement of my childhood home.

Hurk: to vomit, in felines. Usually, a cat will hurk up a hairball, but occasionally, a rotten ham.


Janky: Busted up, broken, slightly askew. Possibly discolored when referring to teeth. Also, janked (when referring to malfunctioning electronics) or janking (the act of screwing around with electronics or software while unqualified to do so).

Jeremy: (AKA Jer, Jer Bear, Joey Jeremiah, Jeremecium, Mr. Pickle, Picklington) My cat. He’s old, clumsy, has no teeth, and has cat betes. And he is the raddest cat on the planet.


Liquid Nurdle: a beef and mushroom stew, grey of colour. Icky. See also: Nurdle.


Night Tourette’s: the very disconcerting occurrence of not only sleep talking, but sleep yelling, swearing, and occasionally sleep kicking and punching. Mainly observed in men.

Noob: An idiot. See also: Doob.

Nurdle: food that is grey in colour.


Peasantvision: normal, non-cable, non-satellite TV. Just those three shitty channels you get when you turn on your TV with no service provider.

Pickle: anything small and cute. Can refer to babies, kittens, chipmunks, penguins, etc.


Quiet Time: a period of enforced silence, typically required after mentally strenuous activities such as spending a weekend camping with bad kids or sharing a hotel room with my mom for a week.


Russian Terrorist Van: my dad’s old 1971 white Volkswagen van. My friends were terrified of it.


Shmozzle: a total disaster, a clusterfuck.

Shristmas: the holiday for people who pronounce the name Chloë as ‘Shlow’.

Smish Smash: a more haphazard mish mash.

Smush: to flatten.

Sog & Sop: if something is soggy, the liquid making it soggy is called sog. If something is sopping, the liquid making it so is called sop.


Tube Socks: what boobs become, when loosened and stretched through years of gravity and child-rearing.

Two-Elephanter: someone who will outdo you, no matter what. If you’re sick, they’re sicker. If your kid is smart, their kid is smarter. If you have one elephant, they have two.


Unintentional Tentacles: Occurs commonly when dining at Asian restaurants. Usually involves the discovery of an unexpected and unidentifiable part of some kind of cephalopod within the meal.


Wonky: Like janky, but more lopsided. Can also be used as a verb when referring to accidents involving minor injuries (he wonked his head on the cupboard door).

Wookit: The way a 2.5 year-old says ‘look at’.


Zombify: the mobile app I was going to create to capitalise on the zombie trend, until I found out it had already been created under a different name.

There’s probably an unintentional tentacle hidden somewhere in this rice dish.

Photos of the Week

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Yeah yeah, I realise that it’s Monday. I meant to publish this last week and it didn’t happen, but these were the weirdo photos I came across in my various Internet ramblings:

Officially the saddest book ever published.

And you thought hairless cats are fucked up looking (this is a hairless bear).

I am much, much too white to understand this flavour combo.

I’d heard those Asian youngsters were trouble!

I’m not a huge fan of this citrus fruit; it’s just a tad bit rapey for my taste.

Kids are Weird

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People always assume that since I don’t have kids and don’t want any, I must hate children. Otherwise, why wouldn’t I just produce one? Well, let me assure you that I’ve thought about it, and after a cost-benefit analysis, it turns out that it’s a terrible idea. And while kids are adorable, they also pee, poo, vomit, drool, and mucous all over the place. And you kind of have to take care of them. Like, all the time.

But I do actually enjoy kids, because they are fucking weird. Their thought processes are so bizarre that they’re inevitably hilarious. And sometimes they are so serious about something that makes no sense at all. For example, I watch my 2 1/2 year-old niece on Thursdays. Today, we went to the mall and one minute she was all chill and the next she was screaming ‘I AM A LADY’! at me with a seriously perturbed look on her face. Ok, crazy pants. But usually we do fun stuff like have living room dubstep dance parties, play in bouncy castles, watch penguins have sex at the zoo, or go bug hunting in the garden. Then, just as I’m like, ‘I’m over this’! my sister comes and picks her up and I go have quiet time and maybe a nap.

So maybe one morning when I’m 45, I’ll wake up and be all MUST HAVE A BABY! And maybe then I’ll have one. Maybe I won’t be able to. Maybe I’ll adopt. Or maybe I’ll rescue 17 cats instead. But for now, I am perfectly happy with being the favourite auntie. And I know moms always think their kid is the smartest and cutest kid ever, but my niece is for sure the smartest and cutest kid ever. But, I am also starting to think she could be an evil baby genius. She is becoming a master manipulator.

A few weeks ago, we were doing crafts. That usually means scribbly papers adorned with stickers and glued-on sequins. I’d never let her use the bottle of liquid glue on her own yet, but she asked if she could hold and squeeze it ‘all by yourself’. I laid out the ground rules; no glue on the table and only use a reasonable amount. She set to work gluing a cutout seahorse and mermaid to a paper filled with purple and red doodles.

As I sat there supervising the glue usage, a weird-looking bird landed in the tree outside the window. I didn’t recognise it, so I approached the window to get a better look. Ever since my crazy neighbours moved out a couple months ago, I’ve channelled my spying urges into bird watching. I’ve turned into a total bird nerd. Anyway, I kept my eye on her while I observed what seemed to be a small woodpecker. Finally, the bird flew off and I headed back over to the craft table to find large pools of glue all over the glass dining room table.

Me: why is there glue all over the table?

Her: the table needed some glue!

Me: but I specifically said no glue on the table. Now your glue privileges are revoked. No more gluing for you.

Her: but I need the glue!

Me: well then I guess you shouldn’t have glued the table. Now you’ll have to clean up this mess and no more glue today.

Of course, she starts getting all squirrelly about me taking away the glue, but I distract her with a Lysol wipe.

Me: here, use this cloth to wipe up the glue, and no messing around!

Her: Auntie, wookit! A bird in the tree! Oh, it’s beautiful!

Me: Where? Where?
I run over to the window and spend a few minutes squinting at the trees in the cul-de-sac.
Me: there’s no bird out here!

Her: well, then you should just count the berries in the tree.

I realised then that I had been tricked into distraction. There was no bird! I go back to the table, and sure enough, she has not been cleaning up the glue globs as I had instructed, but was smearing the glue all across the table.

Her: wookit, Auntie! It’s a huge mess!

So, we have to spend the next little while cleaning up the table, and me explaining that it wasn’t cool to smear glue on people’s tables, especially when they were perfectly aware of the glue rules. Glue would be removed from the craft bag indefinitely. Oh, you don’t like that? Well kids in Africa don’t get glue at all.

Once the mess is cleaned and the glue hidden, we finish up the project she had started with sea creature cutouts. There was a lone octopus sitting on the table. She looks up at me with huge, thick-lashed brown eyes and pouty lips.

Her: Auntie, this octopus is so sad.

Me: why’s he sad?

Her: he is so sad he’s crying.

Me: what can we do?

She looks up, wide-eyed and innocent.

Her: he says he just needs a little bit of glue to feel happy.

Me: OK, let me just grab the glue…DAMMIT KID! You almost outsmarted me again!! I’m not your gullible granny here! No glue for you!

Geez, this kid is good. I’m so proud.

My niece’s lizard snowflake ornament, in the
days before glue was banned.

Conversations With Dad: The Smell II

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Last week, my mom had an appointment to get some dental work done. I referred her to my dentist a few years ago because my dentist hands out prescriptions for sedatives like candy. And sleeping pills, as you may have read in an earlier post. I’d put a link to that story here but I don’t know how and I don’t feel like figuring it out.

Anyway, my mom and I have both had our share of dental work, and even though I don’t have dentist anxiety, I’m a big fan of sedation dentistry. I’m aware of mostly everything while it’s going on, but I don’t give a shit, and after, I don’t really remember any of it. I highly recommend it. And, if they ask if you want the laughing gas, take it. It’s totally worth the extra on your bill.

So, it’s not like my mom’s new to sedation dentistry (or to sedatives for that matter), which is why this story is so weird. Anyway, my dad took her to and from her appointment and he was telling me about how he dropped her off at home after and went over to a neighbour’s for a cup of coffee. He’d planned on stopping in to check on her after his coffee before he went to work. Upon returning home, he found my mom passed out on the living room sofa and a terrible smell in the house.

Dad: I walk in the door, and there’s this god-awful smell, like burning rubber. So of course, I figure your mom’s burning the place down.

Me: Well where was she?

Dad: Crashed out on the chesterfield (my parents call sofas chesterfields). She was all loopy before we even got to the dentist’s and then they gave her more pills.

Me: Sweet.

Dad: Well, I figured she’d maybe burned some toast, but the toaster was fine. There was nothing on the stove or in the oven. So then I go open the microwave, and I find this weird, shrivelled thing.

Me: What was it?

Dad: Well, it was a muffin. After your mother got ahold of it, it was like a shrunken hockey puck. She must have tried to heat it up, wandered off, and passed out.

Me: Well how long did she put it in for?

Dad: I have no idea, but she nuked the bejesus out of it. There were like, figs or dates in it that completely evaporated. And of course, you know who had to scrub the microwave out! Your mother was too stoned!

A few days later, I asked my mom about it, and she says she woke up later that afternoon and had no memory of anything since the previous evening aside from a hazy recollection of setting the microwave for an hour and twenty minutes. But that can’t be right, because I think if you nuked a muffin for that long, it would totally start a fire, wouldn’t it? Or do microwaves have auto shut-offs nowadays? All I know is, microwave popcorn can catch fire in as little as six minutes, and flames can be shooting out the back of it and it can still be running. Be warned.

A Birth Control Horror Story

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It occurs to me as I write this that a true birth control horror story is a pregnancy, hey? Like when my sister got pregnant with my niece while using an IUD, pretty much the most effective form of female contraception out there. Her and her husband named the defective barricade Vesa Toskala, in honour of that sieve of a Maple Leafs goalie (at the time).

But no, this story is not about failed contraception, but about a complete mental breakdown in a transit parking lot as a result of birth control. And I’m pretty sure that every woman reading this will be able to relate in some way. And, if any men started reading this and have made it to the second paragraph without running away, it’s good for you to be aware of this seemingly endless struggle we face protecting our eggs from your invading sperm. This is also a story that will touch on the utter horror that is sometimes is to be a woman. And how those shared horrors should bond us together as the female of our species.

Let’s start at the beginning. Somehow, when the organisms that would eventually become humans crawled out of the so-called primordial soup, some evil twist of genetics determined that two sexes should develop. And that the female of the species should be the only one with the right physiology to carry offspring. And now don’t give me any of that bullshit about Eve being bad in the Garden of Eden and that’s why women are cursed with the difficulties of labour and childbirth or I will punch you right in the face. And don’t get me wrong either, I quite enjoy being female, despite the drawbacks. I wouldn’t want to be a hairy, stinky man for anything. I’m just saying that being a woman can have its challenges.

One of those challenges has been, for me, figuring out the best way to not get pregnant. On the relationship to birth control scale, I have observed that initial birth control efforts in a relationship usually fall to the male. However, as a relationship becomes more serious, usually the female is in charge of a long-term, less disgusting method of birth control. This most often involves a hormonal method, like the Pill, the Patch, etc. This is where my issue came about. Having been on the Pill for a very long time, I was concerned about the effects of synthetic hormones on my body for an extended period of time. I decided to research some other methods, hopefully one that did not involve ingesting hormones and processing them through the digestive system. I tried a couple different solutions, but each one had a major drawback and I certainly did not want to be involved in any method whose directions required any form of insertion. Eventually, my doctor recommended the Patch. Seemed pretty reasonable, I just needed to put a new sticky on my bum once a week.

However, within a few hours of applying the first patch, I started to feel weird. Just cranky, like I really needed a sandwich or something. And I initially did not suspect the patch as the cause of the irritable mood. But by the end of the first week, I was openly weeping at weird moments and having inappropriately angry reactions to minor irritations. I felt out of control and unable to regulate the severity of emotional reactions. Near the end of the second week, all hell broke loose.

It was springtime, and I had planned a nice work outfit that involved a particular pair of shoes. Now, this pair of shoes was one of my favourite pairs ever. Beautiful brown sandals with a chunky heel, leather toe band, and criss-crossed ankle straps. I didn’t get to wear them very often despite their revered status in my shoe collection since they’re kind of a bitch to wear and hello, I live in Canada and sandals are only appropriate a couple months of the year. Also, I had lent them to a sister who’d had them so long I’d actually forgotten she had them until I spied them in her closet and stole them back. So, I was very excited to wear the shoes again after such a long hiatus. I even coordinated my toenail polish.

Everything was going smoothly the morning of my perfect spring outfit, until I parked my car in the train station overflow parking lot and began my trek to the train platform. I only got about 10 meters from my car when I suddenly tripped over my feet. Stumbling, I actually managed to stay upright and not even drop my laptop bag or my purse. Thinking the straps on one shoe had come undone, I stopped to do them back up. And that’s when I noticed that the problem wasn’t with the straps. The shoe itself had basically disintegrated. The insole had nearly detached itself completely from the outsole and was hanging on only at the heel. My shoe had basically split in half lengthwise, and it proved very difficult to walk as such. A seething rage had crept up into my throat, and I was furious; mostly at my sister for wrecking my shoe. What was I going to do? I decided to keep going, and maybe I could get to work and glue the insole back on. If I could walk without lifting my foot I might just be able to make it to the office…I had taken a few shuffling steps when suddenly, the other shoe disintegrated in the same fashion.

At that point, my simmering rage reached the boiling point, and I completely lost my shit. I had no choice now but to go back home for some new shoes; there was no way I could make it all the way downtown with both of them broken. I turned around and stomped back to my car, which was stupid because I kept tripping on the shoes, which only fueled the rage. I stopped momentarily to yank the shoes off and when I reached the car, I angrily threw them inside, along with my purse and laptop bag. Of course, my purse landed upside-down on the floor of the car, and all my important crap, like 17 chapsticks, fell out and rolled under the seat. I threw myself inside the car, and growled at my shoes, my sister, and the world in general which was clearly conspiring against me. I slammed my car in reverse, punched the gas, and fishtailed out of the parking lot. By now, I was on a warpath. I swerved in and out of lanes on my route back home, cut people off who I deemed were not going fast enough above the speed limit, and flipped off anyone who had the audacity to honk at me. I yelled at the road, screamed at pedestrians, and by the time I pulled up in front of my house, I was sobbing uncontrollably and my voice was hoarse from yelling at everything.

I threw open the front door, and dissolved into a pool of tears on the floor of the front hall. At the time, my sister lived in my basement and my husband worked nights. So, he was asleep, but she had been alarmed by my weeping and came up to make sure I wasn’t hurt.

Her: Are you OK?
Her: But you’re not hurt? Why don’t you just put on another pair of shoes?
Me: Don’t you understand? NOW MY OUTFIT IS RUINED!!!! I can’t wear ANY OTHER shoes with these pants!!!
Her: So…can you put on another pair of pants?

With all the blubbering and shrieking, my husband woke up. ‘What the hell is going on here, Christine’? My sister just looked at him and shook her head. ‘She’s gone mental’. I just sat in the front hall sobbing, ‘what am I going to DOOOOOOOOO’? My husband came over, picked me up, and I thought he was going to give me a hug until he yanked down my pants and exposed my bare bum. ‘That’s enough’! He declared, and he ripped the offending birth control patch off my skin, scrunched it up, and tossed it in the garbage. My sister kindly helped me pick out a new outfit and clean myself up again. Within a few days, hormone levels had returned to normal and I crossed the Patch off my list of potential birth control candidates.

Now here’s the thing: I’m sure most women can relate to this story, whether it’s in your own search for the perfect method of birth control, or in the horrible hormonal mood swings that some of us have the pleasure to experience on a monthly basis. The thing is, being a woman is often horrifying. It starts fairly early on in life and continues for decades. DECADES, people! The bleeding, cramping, headaches, backaches, morning sickness, lactation, sore breasts, cracked nipples, hot flashes, miscarriages, stretch marks, labour pains…these are just some of the unpleasant things that uniquely bond us as women. We can’t do much about it except share our experiences with other women and learn from them. So that’s why I have such a hard time understanding women being such bitches to other women.

Bullying has been a major hot topic in recent years and we even have a national anti-bullying day (which was last week; I am so on top of these things). Personally, I never had any real experience being bullied until I was an adult, where I have unfortunately had the unpleasant experience of working with several malicious individuals. And while my experiences may be different than yours, my tormentors have always been other women. Which is just absurd. Thinking of these womanly experiences we all suffer through to some degree, why on earth are we being dicks to each other? Why aren’t we collaborating with one another instead of sabotaging? Frankly, if we aren’t helping each other get ahead, we’re just holding ourselves back. Can’t we all just get along?