Monday, June 22, 2009

Not in Kansas Anymore (or southern Alberta, either)

We went away for a bit, and look what we saw:

Take my word for it, trees like that do not grow on the short grass prairie.

And roses! Growing outside! Like it was no big deal!

I had a Georgia O'Keeffe moment:

And my grandmother had a moment of her own:

The boy met a hermit crab:

And I got all artsy with my camera, as I used to do back in the day when I was living on student loans and hope and pretension (that would be... oh, let's see, last year).

I admired a bridge:

And a lighthouse:

And my boy...

...ran down...

...the Neptune Stairs...

...without falling. (Well, he fell later, but that's another story. Actually, it's not a story at all. He fell because he's a boy and boys fall.)

Why did we do all this?

The best reason possible:

My mom got her Master's degree from Royal Roads University in Victoria, and we all went out to celebrate with her. A good time was had by all, and we couldn't be more proud. ("I went to my mom's convocation," I told a co-worker. "Oh," she said, "so that's where you get your complete lack of ambition.")

Congratulations, mom. You done good.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What a Crock!

Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a tall heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed, and tucked his napkin deeper into the neckband of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves, and strawberry jam, and grape jelly, and spiced watermelon-rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie.

That's from Laura Ingalls Wilder's book Farmer Boy. I like that book mostly for the descriptions of food - all those piles, and mountains, and cream, and velvety crispness! At the same time, I feel an almost physical pain for the women who had to prepare all that food, three times a day, with absolutely no modern conveniences to help them out. No rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, no 2 for 1 Pizza place down the street, no microwave, no freezer. No internet for recipes, no fresh herbs in deepest January, no nothing that you didn't grow, preserve, store and prepare all on your own.

Also, no fat people, because second only to the descriptions of food in this book are the descriptions of manual labour. Oy vey, those people worked hard.

Having said that, I am a bit of a fool for this old-timey stuff. I made jam a couple of summers ago and loved it. (I'll be making it again this year - if you and I are friends, this is what you're getting for Christmas. Resign yourselves.) I knit, as you all know, like a fool. I make pie from scratch, regularly enough for my boy to say "Oh no, not apple pie again!"

And guess what I'm making now? Guess!

Here's a hint:

Want a close-up?

Still nothing? Okay, I'll tell you.

Sauerkraut, baby! Oh yes, cabbage and salt and the wonders of fermentation, added to this groovy old crock, and I will be swimming in sauerkrauty goodness.

I can hardly wait.

In other news, here in the world of Uber-Geekiness, I have finished the fronts and the back for the Central Park Hoodie, which is still blue and cabled and a delight to my shriveled up and decidedly odd little heart.

Ain't it lovely?

I think I may need to get out more.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stirring Things Up

I do not support religion because it demands that we give up our most important human asset, the ability to question. It demands that we simply believe. Isn't that true of any dictator, of any totalitarian society? Insofar as social development is concerned, nothing is of greater importance than the human function of questioning... Questioning led to the development of civilization.
~Vladimir Pozner

I don't know who Vladimir Pozner is, and I'm too lazy on a Friday night to ask the Google, but I like how the man thinks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Challenge

I did this when I was young and stupid and childless, with nothing but a few houseplants and a bad boyfriend hanging around. The results, as one would predict, were disastrous.

I wonder how hard it would be to do it again now?

Suck it up, Princess

So back when the boy child and I lived in the big city, he played soccer in a neighbourhood league. We lived in a fairly affluent area - I was the token poor person - and the kids he played with were.... I don't want to say spoiled, but certainly indulged. Pampered, even.

If one of those darling children should look even the slightest bit strained during a practice, mummy or daddy would be on the cell phone, dialing up a personal massage therapist and ordering the emergency air ambulance for an immediate evacuation to the nearest urgent care centre. Dear little Madison or Lauren or child-with-an-oddly-spelled-first-name would be sitting on the grass, out of breath, while her parents (who had long since lost the ability to use the first person singular) would be bellowing on about how their precious child's future as a professional soccer player/Supreme Court judge/nuclear physicist would be damaged beyond repair by this injury, and could we please get the plastic surgeon on the line right away?

Out here in the sticks, things are different.

The other day a kid on the boy child's team was sitting in the middle of the field crying. His mother, from the sidelines, bellowed "Are you bleeding?" to which junior, between sobs, shook his head.

"Get up then!" his mom shouted. "You're blocking the game!"

Me? I grinned to myself and went back to my knitting. (And when the boy child was bleeding later on, the coach slapped a dirty band aid on him and offered to amputate if necessary - the rusty saw was just behind the seat in the truck.)

I like it out here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Back in teacher school (you know, a year ago) they liked to get us to do these self-examining things: "Why I Am Becoming A Teacher" in 500 words or less (the program is very big into inquiry. Inquiry is good. We love inquiry. See how well it worked?). One of the things I said, if I recall correctly, was that English is a subject I love with a passion: if I could get one other person in the world to love it too, then my work would be worthwhile. All we want, after all, is to do work that is meaningful - what could be more meaningful than getting kids to love books?

Even as I was writing that piece, though, I was thinking to myself yeah right. Every teacher thinks this. Everyone wants to do good but most people just don't. This is not one of those cheesy teacher movies. Don't get your hopes up.

But then the other day one of my students came up to me and said "I'm tired today, and it's your fault."

"Really?" I said, wondering where this was going. It wouldn't be the first time I've been blamed for something, actually. Junior high kids are really good at trying to convince you that their problems are in fact yours.

"Yes," she said emphatically. "I never used to read before, but you got me into it and last night I couldn't put my book down and go to sleep. I love this book and it's your fault."

This is what I have to show for myself as I approach the end of my first year as a teacher. I made someone love books. I couldn't be more pleased.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Congratulations! You may be a winner!

Look what my junk email spat out today:

We hereby bring to your notice that a Diplomat with a consignment that was to be delivered to your residence has been stopped by us.This is as a result of the United States of America security measure to avert and combat any form of terrorism and money laundry through the sales of illegal drugs locally and internationally.

During our investigation, we found out that the consignment contained the sum of US$3.7 Million which upon further investigation revealed that the fund is your inheritance.

We have done our due diligence and have confirmed that you are legitimate beneficiary of the fund, and it is no threat to National Security.
Consequently, your consignment will be deliver at your residence by the diplomat without delay after all protocols have been duely observed .

During our interogation on why this fund was not tranfer to your bank account, the diplomat revealed that some people want to divert this your inheritance fund, so he decided to act fast by moving the fund through this means. So We hereby advise you to discontinue any further dealings with any other person.

However, before the delivery is made we need you to reconfirm the following information, so that the delivery will be made accurately.

Full Name:

Residential Address:

Date of Birth:


Telephone/Mobile Numbers:

We await your response.


Thomas S. Winkowski
Assistant Commissioner,
Office of Field Operations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Clearly someone out there (Thomas S. Winkowski, Assistant Commissioner, himself, perhaps) believes me to be a sucker. Don't you love the spelling mistakes, and the grammar faux pas as well?

On the other hand, I wouldn't mind taking a look at that diplomat. A diplomat could come in mighty handy around here. You know, for heavy lifting and whatnot.

(I had a whole different post planned for today, but this was too good to resist.)

(Also, the party was good. Really good, in fact.)