Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: a retrospective

thinking back, it's hard to remember what i did this year. nothing, mostly. a lot of sitting around. i'm usually too tired to feel capable of anything, so i sit in this chair and read blogs and webcomics and message boards. it's not a good use of my time, but what else can i do? i end up frustrated and angry when i try to challenge myself when i've had very little sleep. so a lot of this year was pissed away. that sucks, but it's not something that i have a lot of control over.

a year or maybe a bit more ago i realized that this whole stay-at-home gig wasn't about to end anytime soon and bitching about it was only making me depressed. in 2008 i tried to make the best of it and be the best goddamn housewife the world has ever seen. i knit, cooked, canned, butchered, gardened, wiped asses, read stories, came up with activities, cleaned... you name it, i tried my hand at it in 2008. i learned a few things about myself in the process.

i hate doing childcare. hate it. my kids are great in small doses, i can read to them and tickle them and wipe their tears... but all day, every day, and every night? fuck, no. keeping them fed and clean(ish) and entertained and mediating their conflicts wears away at me and pisses me off. i spend a lot of time just wanting them to go away. unfortunately, childcare is my primary activity. fuck. all i can really do about this is wait as patiently as i can for them to get old enough to start school and, hopefully, one day start sleeping through the night. i hate that i have this attitude because one day they won't be so small and cute and they won't want to snuggle with me. i don't want to waste these years with my impatience and irritability. i don't want them to remember me as the mama who just wanted them to go away. so i really do try hard to be a good, attentive mother. but as i read them the same stupid book for the ten millionth time, i keep an eye on the clock.

cooking, cleaning and laundry i can handle. they're mindless activities that need doing. cleaning is a pretty quick way to get satisfying results. cooking can be fun, if no one is pulling at my legs. laundry... whatever. it's fast and i like clean undies. i can't stand cleaning the kitchen, so it stays dirty. problem solved!

gardening, canning and knitting make me happy. i love making things, especially useful things. these aren't often considered to be serious art forms, but they're the closest i get these days. i don't miss painting and doing metalwork when i'm gardening. canning is a little more tedious, but the resulting rows of jars fill me with as much pride as any ring or painting ever did. knitting is sort of a mix - i liken it to making jewelry. the conception and planning of a project is where the creativity is - choosing materials and a pattern or design. then comes the drudgery, where i use the skills i have and acquire whatever new ones i need to create the object. the finishing touches and cleanup always make me feel glow-y. unless the project didn't work out the way i wanted, and then i walk around muttering curses for a while, then start over.

metalwork is more prone to creating income, but it takes lengthy, formal training and a lot of expensive equipment. knitting is less impressive to an outsider, but it's a more affordable art, and one that i can practice while my kids play. and it doesn't cause serious health problems in fetuses. one day i hope to get back into jewellerymaking, but until then knitting is an acceptable substitute.

Monday, December 29, 2008

four book reviews for the price of one

the library hasn't seen my face in weeks. in fact, the only outings i've gone on in the past few weeks are to the grocery store and to the drug store. food and cold meds, that's all my house needs these days. books can wait. *sigh*

but my compulsion to read hasn't disappeared just because my source of reading material is temporarily out of reach. so i've made do. and between the internet and the shelves of books i've picked up at thrift stores and never actually read, i'm doing ok, i guess. i'm writing this so i must not have become illiterate during my holiday from new, interesting books.

books reviews 1, 2 and 3: the twilight series by stephenie meyer
my friends were raving about them so i gave them a shot. i thought they might be like the harry potter books, which i think mostly lived up to the hype. i don't feel like these books did. they just didn't grab me. i think a 15 year old version of myself would have been spellbound by them, (and not allowed to read them) but it just didn't feel like the books reached across the aisle to the adult audience the way rowling's books did. they were enjoyable, but not particularly gripping or memorable. obvoiusly many readers feel differently from the way i do, but that's cool. i can live with that. too bad those other readers are wrong.

book 4: i am not spock by leonard nimoy
i got it in a thrift store for a dime and gave it to my partner for xmas. leonard nimoy's autobiography - what's not to love?
a fair amount, actually. this isn't a book that will be showing up in literature anthologies, hundreds of years from now. but, to be fair, for a celebrity author he's not bad. granted, i'm comparing him to pamela anderson, but still.
i think trekkies probably love this book and people who have a good grasp of sci-fi tv culture would enjoy it, but i've only seen an episode or two of star trek and only have the vaguest grasp of the whole thing. so when nimoy started talking about some klingon death pinch, i got confused, which led to boredom, which led to me putting the book down and going to bed early.
meh, it'll get a chuckle out of the people who are browsing the livingroom bookshelf.

Monday, December 22, 2008

a whiny list

6 - six days of constant crying from the boy. he's in agony. all i can do is give him nyquil and hope he cries himself to sleep. and by 'constant crying' i mean constant crying. he only stops to sleep. and he often screams in his sleep. all day, every day, he ranges between a droning cry and piercing shrieks of pain. to say my nerves are shattered is a vast understatement. oh, and his face smells strongly of rotting meat. yum.

5 - the number of firemen that came over yesterday. not for tea and crumpets. our house filled scarily with smoke and we called 911. the firemen came and hunted all over the house for the source, then figured it must have been a dust bunny that got into the furnace, and left. not coincidentally, i didn't sleep well last night. and not just because my kids were up and down like screaming, crying yoyos all night.

4 - four projects i've made with my dishcloth cotton. these socks,

a pair of baby legwarmers, and two dishcloths. actually, the legwarmers are 3/4 done. i am so sick of this yarn. sure, it's washable, hypoallergenic, cheap, and soft, but it's also deadly boring, a pain to knit with, and makes this squeaky feeling with the needles. i am craving some other yarn - any other yarn. i'm rushing through the last of that last legwarmer so i can make a hat or a slipper. i have one slipper, and i'd like another. my left foot gets jealous of its counterpart. but my toque is boring and navy blue, i'd rather look a little more stylin' when i shovel the mountains of snow that build up, making the front gate unopenable.

3 - the boy has lost at least three pounds in the past week, thanks to his inability to eat. it has taken him a couple of years to get to the point where he doesn't feel like a skeleton with some skin, but he's back to that point. he literally looks like the famine victim kids you see on infomercials for world vision. send this kid some body fat, somebody, please.

2 - two days that the baby has been healthy for. prior to that he was scarily feverish, couldn't breathe, and was performing nonstop crying duets with his brother. also he puked like some sort of crazy puking machine. i'm glad that machine hasn't been invented. my parner would probably get it for me as an ill-advised joke. the baby is still a fountain of snot, but i can handle that.

1 - one day left until we celebrate the holidays. my partner is working over the actual holidays, so we've fooled the gullible minions into thinking that santa is coming tonight. we've cut out most of our plans so that we don't rush the sick, miserable boy around trying to cram in all the christmas cheer. presents and food and hopefully naps. oh, and a bottle of wine. and some rum. sounds good to me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

dec 19th, late at night

my partner just got caught up on my blog while i sat nearby, knitting a sock for my boy. i like being around when he reads it so i can hear what parts he chuckles at and see what parts his face gets a little stony at. here's what i learned:
  • he skips recipe posts
  • he skims the book reviews, looking for anything that we haven't already discussed. i'm a communicator, so my written reviews have not yet sparked any further literary conversations.
  • he isn't excited about being depicted to the blogosphere as a roller skater. he didn't say what he'd prefer, but i suspect that he'd rather i tell you that he has amazing ninja skills that he hones upstairs. or he's built a ramp and is becoming a pro skateboarder. or that he's taken up the electric guitar and is putting jimi hendrix to shame. whatever, dude. in my eyes you will always be a rollerskater. more specifically, this roller skater:

but maybe a little more like this:

Monday, December 15, 2008

i'll get to it eventually

i had intended to write a review for miriam toews' the flying troutmans, but there has been a change of plans. my baby is sick. i've put down my book and my knitting and curled around his little body, feeling the heat radiate off him and hearing his laboured breathing and terrible cough. he has thrown up on me six times in the last 24 hours, and i'm sure he's not done. he has a droning cry that goes on and on, he's limp and he freaks out if i so much as shift in my seat. it's time to just sit and wait. and so i sit and wait.

today has brought some wonderful things. my friends are amazing; i will never feel alone with them posting photoshopped boob shots of themselves and insulting my mom. my partner has brought me indian food, chocolate croissants, mandarin oranges, very strong coffee, towels and change after change of clothes.

the thing that i contemplate the most as i spend hour after hour with the little guy is how wonderful this is. when my older son was this age he got sick every single week. he weighed nothing. i was almost fired because we constantly had to stay home from daycare because of his sicknesses. my baby, on the other hand, has no chronic medical issues. he has had colds a handful of times in his year and a half. he is a hefty little person. he(normally) laughs and dances and tries to keep up with his brother. a few days of congested misery i can handle.

i'll get you that review sooner or later.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

book review: the 351 books of irma arcuri

the 351 books of irma arcuri by david bajo

math, literature and sex dovetailed in a tight, complex narrative. the rare kind of book where if the reader zones out for a few minutes she needs to go back and re-read what she missed. not (always) because it makes gaps in the plot, but because otherwise she will miss out.

the writer obviously thinks, obviously reads, and obviously fucks. there is not a word of falsehood in this book - everything it contains has been felt and seen and experienced, and can be again.

it is my hope that this book is considered literature by the finest sort of readers, a century or two from now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

holiday music extravaganza

until recently i hated the holidays. they sucked when i was a kid, so i have very few positive memories of christmas. i've dreaded the expense, the fuss, the disappointment... overall i've just wished that december didn't happen.

i don't want that for my kids. i want them to love the holidays and to remember them as the best time, ever, when they're older. so i've had to get over my christmas-related negativity and get into the spirit. i may have gone overboard. it's been nonstop holiday cheer here since december 1, and i've been planning since october. a homemade advent calendar, daily holiday activities, a mountain of recipes for gluten free cookies...

and music. the christmas music starts each morning around 9 and doesn't stop until the babes go to bed. i've tried to have the longest, most diverse playlist possible to avoid holiday music fatigue, but i'm pretty sick of it already. i feel like i'm trapped in a mall in december. i need to add in some new stuff and mix it up.

i have:
  • joy electric (synth-pop-techno, irritatingly and unrelentingly cheerful)
  • boney m
  • the vienna boys' choir
  • the ramones
  • jack johnson
  • frank sinatra
  • the mormon tabernacle choir
  • otis redding
  • john lennon
  • nat king cole
  • some big band stuff
  • and i'm downloading some sufjan stevens on the recommendation of soulemama

what else can i add? mama needs a change, babies!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

product review: olympus fe-220

today i'll review my camera, the olympus fe-220.


so yeah, my camera is broken again. piece of shit. i've had it since april and it's been broken more often than it's been functioning during that time. it's still under warranty, but no matter how often i send it back, it just breaks again and again. i know exactly what doesn't work - the slot that fits the usb cable is really flimsy. the little thingie inside breaks so the usb cable can't connect. so they replace that part and return my camera, but then it breaks again within days of getting it back. i suggested that they just replace the piece of shit, but no. and it costs me 10$ in shipping every time i return it for servicing, so my bargain of a camera is becoming less of a bargain.

even if it didn't break all the time, it's not a good camera. it can't handle low light, takes blurry pictures most of the time, and it's not user friendly. of course, these annoyances are irrelevant since the stupid thing doesn't work. what i'm saying is that even if the camera weren't inherently defective, i still wouldn't like it.

fo'shizz, don't buy it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

book review: rapture ready

i recently read rapture ready by daniel radosh, and it was good.

basically, a jewish writer explored the alternate universe that is christian pop culture. i liked it for many reasons:

  • it was a blast from the past. as a teenager i was steeped in christian pop culture. if music was secular or a book mentioned inappropriate topics i had to enjoy it secretly. as an alumni of christian youth culture, i can tell you that radosh was spot-on with his observations. also very evenhanded, given the occasional ridiculousness of his subject.
  • he's a fantastic writer. he has the rare gift of being able to step back and let people tell their own stories. huge chunks of the book are simply quotes from people he was interviewing. instead of taking what he was told by all these people and writing things up from his point of view, he just recorded their words. it made the book seem more objective and made the people he met easier to relate to - i could hear their voices and understand where they were coming from. yes, a christian pro wrestling circuit is ridiculous from almost anyone's standpoint, but after hearing from the guy in charge, i understood why he felt what he was doing was important.
  • the writer's jewish perspective added to my understanding of the world of christian culture. there were so many things that i took for granted when i was younger, then forgot when i became an apostate, but now i see them through daniel's culturally sensitive eyes and i realize how bigoted and hurtful so many evangelical assumptions and attitudes are. if he had been writing from a secular or christian viewpoint i would have probably failed to notice some of the institutionalized xenophobia.
  • it's laid out so clearly. each chapter is about one area of christian pop culture. the whole thing is arranged like an essay, but with chapters instead of paragraphs. it's all very clear and informative and definitley entertaining. it's similar in subject to a j jacobs' year of living biblically, but with less emphasis on the humour and the personal, and more emphasis on a comprehensive understanding of the topic on hand. radosh's clarity makes jacobs' writing seem like a chaotic mishmash. which it is not.
  • the faux-interview with stephen baldwin. freaking awesome. if you can't afford this book, just walk into a bookstore and turn to page 143 and read to the end of the chapter, piss your pants laughing, and walk back out.
  • it really is very funny, with flashes of dry humour and some outright silliness. don't let my extended ranting about the way he takes his subject seriously make you think that it isn't a fantastically funny book.

overall, i give the book ***** out of five stars. two thumbs up. i only wish it could have been longer.

coming to you from the upstairs bedroom

i'm naked.

for as long as i've known him, my partner has talked about how what he really wants to do with his life is... um... he's asked that i not tell anyone his hobby. so we'll call it roller skating. so, yeah. he's always felt that his true calling is to roller skate. he's read about it, thought about it, taken the odd tentative step with roller skates on... mostly he's just talked about how much he'd like to roller skate. to be honest, after the first couple years of him being all talk and no action, i started nodding and zoning out when he mentioned roller skating.

this past week he surprised me. he actually put on some skates and did it. and he did it really, really well. like a roller skating olympian. i was deeply impressed, and more than that, really excited that he'd taken the initiative and actually done something about his passion.

since then he's been obsessed, in the way that only someone who's feeling inspired can be, with roller skating. everything reminds him of it. he keeps coming up with new, great ideas related to roller skating, and he rushes off to write them down so he doesn't forget. i've never seen him like this, and i really like it.

the trouble is, he can only roller skate alone. he can't do it with the kids around or with me in the room. he works 50 or so hours a week, but it's all night shifts so he's sleeping during the day a lot of the time. this leaves me alone with the kids all night and all day, 4 or 5 days a week. i get them food, change them, entertain them, clean up after them... i might get half an hour without them in a typical day, but that's only if i cut into my sleeping time. and i don't get much sleeping time, since both kids are miserably bad sleepers.

can you see how my partner having an exciting new (time consuming, solitary) hobby is a problem?

yesterday he kept sneaking off when i wasn't paying attention. in the end the day was a lot like the ones i have when he's sleeping. i wasn't particularly impressed. then last night he informed me that he'd be staying up late roller skating, sleeping in, roller skating, and napping before work. (he works tonight)

um, hell no.

so when the kids woke up at 6 i came upstairs (he sleeps up here during the day, and lately at night, too, so he can roller skate) and sent him down to care for his children. it's almost 10 am and my stomach is rumbling. i desperately want coffee. but more than that, even, i want a break from my kids.

so i took my clothes off (he can't coerce me into doing childcare when i'm not wearing anything, right?) (plus i haven't been naked just for the fun of it in about two years. it feels good) and pulled out the laptop and will stay here until the hunger pangs force me downstairs again.

later, when the baby is napping, i'll take the boy outside to play and shovel the walk. then my partner can work on his roller skating... until the baby wakes up.

i spend enough time alone with kids. i'm not going to become a roller skating widow. grrrrr.

signing off,
that naked chick

(no, kara, this post does not have pictures)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


we've been eating a lot of soup lately. it's cheap and filling and hot, and we're poor and (at dinnertime) hungry and cold. we've had rabbit soup, chili, and cheese, potato and broccoli soup this week. i'm going to share the cheese, broccoli and potato soup recipe with you.

note: all measurements and times are approximate since i hate measuring and timing things.

you will need:
  • potatoes
  • milk
  • water
  • broccoli
  • cheese
  • salt
  • pepper

  1. peel and chop up 4 - 6 potatoes
  2. put them in a pot with 1/2 milk and 1/2 stock (soymilk and ricemilk don't work very well for this. i had to go to the store and get the smallest milk i could find. i haven't bought milk in at least a year. it felt odd.) (i used water instead of stock, it was fine)
  3. simmer until the potatoes are cooked. simmer time depends on how small you chopped your taters. a lid on the pot is helpful.
  4. while they're simmering chop up 1-2 cups of broccoli very fine. also shred about a cup of cheese. i like sharp cheddar, personally. and i used 2 cups of cheese because i'm a cheese fiend, but i don't think it needed it.
  5. take about a cup of potatoes out of the pot and set them aside.
  6. dump the contents of the pot into the blender and puree.
  7. put the glop back into the pot. it's hard to get it out of the blender, since it's thick, so add some milk and slosh it around until you can get most of it out.
  8. add the broccoli to the pot and as much milk as you need to keep it the right consistencey. i had to keep adding milk because it kept getting too thick.
  9. cook the soup for a few minutes. less than 10, probably.
  10. add in the potatoes you set aside before in step 5.
  11. cook for another couple of minutes.
  12. add in the cheese, plus some pepper and maybe some salt.
  13. take it off the heat.
  14. stir in the beautifully melting cheese.
  15. serve right away, possibly with these biscuits.
  16. enjoy!
see, i made it look all complicated and hard because i gave it 16 steps, but in reality it's very fast, easy, and idiotproof. and delicious. did i mention delicious?

Sunday, December 7, 2008


i finally have my camera back and so i can tell you about some of the stuff i've been doing for the past few months.i did mountains of canning and freezing all through the summer and fall. our house's corners are stacked with jars with pickles, jam, tomato sauce, and more. the freezer is crammed with tomatoes, rabbits, and half a pig. the above picture was taken in the fridge just now. the jam was opened this week, the pickles opened yesterday. it's the universe's best jam, in my humble opinion. chunky and tart and flavourful and just the right consistency. i've been hunting for excuses to eat more of it. finding a spoon is a good enough excuse, in my book.
i don't personally like pickles, but i made 11 litres of them for my partner, because he's a pickled food fanatic. we opened the first jar yesterday and he says they're the best pickles he's ever had. i believe him, since he sat down with a fork and ate half the jar right then.
i won't show you the frozen rabbit meat. you're welcome, kara.

we butchered the baby rabbits, then talked about it for about a month, and ended up butchering the adults, too. raising rabbits inside the house isn't really a great idea, it turns out. it's cool because we get local, ethical, affordable meat and we're more self-sufficent, but the flies and the stink are less cool. we'll definitley do it again when we a better setup, like a heated, ventilated garage or a well-sheltered outdoor spot.

my little guys went as yoda and luke this halloween. of course, i made their costumes. it was fantastic. we went to a party and they cuted all over the place. i went as the virgin mary, complete with an immaculate heart, but we have no pictures of that.

we made a christmas tree yesterday. we needed to have an invincible tree, since the baby is a destruct-o-bot, so here it is: green wrapping paper taped to the wall. it's actually really cool because the little dudes can make as many paper ornaments as they like and we can tape them on. it's very modern-looking in this picture, but it's already kindergarten-esque, with crayon and paint-decorated circles all over it. by solstice the green will be almost completely covered, i predict.

i've been knitting like a madwoman, lately. so many presents, so little time! the slipper has a sheepskin insole and recycled denim sole. i'm very proud of how it turned out. my right index finger, though, is suffering. pushing a tiny sewing needle through all those layers savaged it. hopefully it's healed by tomorrow, in time to sew the other slipper.
i'm making socks for my boy. he's always asking me to make him socks, so he'll be happy. i'm making them out of cotton (dishcloth cotton, the bulky-ish kind) so i can just throw them in the wash. worsted weight toddler socks sure take a lot less time than fingering-weight adult socks. i could get used to projects that take only a couple of hours.
the hat is for my sister in law. right at the end i ran out of yarn and had to unravel the beginnings of a glove i was making to get more yarn. it kept tangling and knotting... i was up really late last night finishing it. she'd better like it, is all i'm saying.

i've done about 10 other small knitting projects, too, but i don't have pictures, so i won't bore you about them.

what have you been making?

Friday, November 28, 2008

feminine product reviews

happy buy nothing day! it's a holiday that everyone can enjoy, regardless of income. no purchase necessary!

contrary to the spirit of buy nothing day, i have a couple of product reviews for you.

no matter how opposed a gal is to accumulating stuff, once a month or so she's going to need a few accessories.
(as a side note, if you can't imagine what you'd do without menstrual products maybe you should donate to goods 4 girls, a charity that distributed cloth pads to girls in africa so they can attend school all month long. they're cool because they take both cash donations and handmade cloth pads, so people who don't have money can just sew some pads and make a big difference in a girl's life)

first, the keeper. i love my keeper. it's similar to a tampon in that it's internal, but better than a tampon in that it isn't a health hazard, holds more, is reusable, causes a lighter flow, is cheaper, is generally more comfortable*... i like it. there are a few different types of reusable menstrual cups. the divacup is another popular brand. the keeper is a little sturdier, the divacup squishes more easily. i suspect that i'd prefer a divacup for that reason, but i'm not about to trash my perfectly good keeper or go out and buy another. it's not like i can use more than one at a time, right? and the keeper is made in the states, so it's more ethical. either item is pretty freaking ethical, though. and economical. and environmentally friendly. look at this.

the downsides:
it sometimes seems to exacerbate cramps. i guess the walls of the cup push back against painful muscles or something. either way, when i'm really crampy i take it out.
public bathrooms can be a problem. i like to rinse it out and put it back in whenever i pee, which is hard to do in a little stall. i've found ways around this, like finding smaller, one-toilet bathrooms, but it is a little inconvenient.

the pros outweigh the cons by a lot.

but any girl who's ever had a period will tell you that accidents happen. regularly. and a reusable cup is no different from a tampon in that it can only hold so much. i generally prefer to have some extra lining in my underwear for my cycle, to keep me from needing to throw out perfectly good undies because of stains.

that's where this comes in:my organic cotton/ hemp pads from claire de lune. they're so ridiculously soft, i want to rub them on my face all day long. instead, i let my crotch enjoy them. and they are definitley enjoyable. after using cloth i could never use a scratchy, stinky, gross disposable pad. more common are lunapads or mother and maiden pads, but i prefer the smaller sellers on etsy and other places, since the prices and the customer service tend to be better. i throw my cloth in the diaper pail, but lots of other women just throw them in the wash with everything else. claire de lune says this in her store:
Find a medium sized Tupperware container or buy a funky teapot to use as a soaking pot. This will reduce staining and keep you from having to launder everyday.
Hand or machine wash. I like washing by machine with like colors in cold-warm water. Cold will preserve the flannel better.
Tumble dry hang on your line!
If you are worried about staining try throwing in a natural oxybooster.
personally i'm not that worried about having a stain here or there. that's what they're for, right? and i spend less time rubbing them on my face when they're less than pristine.

*many women find cups to be uncomfortable until they trim the stem. trim the stem, baby!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the stuff that ledgends are made of

every so often at social gatherings someone will come up to me and ask me if i really wore a diaper full of sub sauce. people i don't know. complete strangers have heard of my fame, my derring-do. and i have to answer yes.

here is my story.

years ago i was living in a house with a bunch of people, working at subway, spending most of my time drinking coffee and wandering around with my friends.
my favourite of said friends was this punk who had recently moved there from ontario. he had a great sense of humour, awesome tattoos, and my skin tingled whenever i accidentally brushed against him. i really liked his eyes. we spent hours wandering the city together, looking at cool houses and big trees, talking... but we were not an item. not interested. no sir.

it came time for me to leave. i'd had enough of living in that city and was going to mexico. i didn't plan on returning to that particular city, since the world was my oyster and, to quote kimya dawson,
I've had this itchin in my shoes since I was just a little kid
but i was bummed about leaving my friend behind. but no guy is worth getting stuck in some disustingly cold city for winter, right? um, yeah....

so back to the story. we decided we needed to do something awesome and insane together so we'd never forget one another. we grabbed some adult diapers from a hospital and i took a big bag of chunky ranch sub sauce from my work and we made memories, replicating the toddler experience.

i shouldn't have refrigerated the sub sauce.

we were sitting in my kitchen, playing cards. he wore just a diaper, lots of tattoos, and even more body hair. i wore a diaper and a t-shirt. chunky ranch sauce was running down our legs. the slime was oozing into places that no condiment should go. there was a knock at the door, and i made him answer it. i hadn't told him that my parents were arriving that day from oregon, a three day drive. i hadn't told them that a scary-looking dude in a diaper would be answering the door. i hadn't seen them for a year. i stayed in the kitchen for a moment and snickered, then went to the door to rescue my poor friend.

we were married two years later.

Friday, November 7, 2008

on voting

congratulations, world, on ousting bush. felicitations, americans, on electing a black man. may things turn out as well as you hope. (because, you know, he's secretly a marxist muslim arab terrorist who eats babies, but he won't reveal his true self until after he's sworn in.) (i'm kidding, people)
the only way nov 4 could have gone better is if prop 8 had been resoundingly defeated in california and i had won the lottery.

but i digress.

a few weeks ago we canadians had our federal elections. being the political junkie that i am, i was reading and talking and theorizing about the whole thing nonstop. i would have gone out and volunteered, but my son was sick, then my parents were here.
on the day of the elections my partner and i had a discussion on why voting is important. i consider it to be a duty and one of the most important things i can do. especially as a woman. i owe the women who fought and suffered so i could vote this much, as least.
but, he said, if everyone else is voting one way why even vote? if we vote with the crowd it makes no difference and if we vote against the flow it makes no difference. why bother?
i bumbled and stumbled and tried to articulate why we should always vote, but i didn't have the right words for it.

this past sunday i went to a bob dylan concert. his showmanship was mediocre at best, but the thrill of actually being there was looked like this.

in the middle of the concert, when the whole arena was clapping and screaming and whistling, i had an epiphany.

voting is like applause.
really, it makes no difference if i join in applause. i can clap or not, either way it's a deafening noise. you can choose not to clap, too, it's ok. but if everyone chooses not to clap, you don't get applause, do you? if everyone chooses to put their hands together for someone or something, something amazing and communal happens. so, fine: don't clap. don't vote. but you're just standing there like a douchebag while everyone around you is contributing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

brothers and their mother

the baby is going through a phase where anything vaguely humanoid is 'mama!'. the boy is going through a phase where he practices being literal and anal. so the baby walks around the house spotting all sorts of things and calling them mama and the boy follows him around, correcting him.
'no, that's mickey mouse.'
'no, baby, that's a veggietales!'
'NO, BABY!!! I TOLD YOU!!! that's the BROOM!!'

they have such different personalities, but they passionately love one another. with the sort of love that has room for violence and cruelty and indifference as well as hugging and sharing and playing with a dump truck in the kitchen together for a whole hour.

this week the boy went to see a pediatric gastro-endocrinologist. for the last couple of years i thought that my son had celiac disease. it turns out he doesn't. he has a mystery illness that includes dramatic responses to exposure to gluten, shitting blood and mucous and something that looked just like a placenta, a weak immune system, and very poor growth. and it seems to be getting worse. the doctor recommended a bunch of tests, since she has no idea. she specializes in this type of thing and has no idea whatsoever. that is simply not reassuring. i got to hold my boy down while he screamed and writhed as 6 vials of blood were drawn. partway through his vein collapsed. it was even less fun than what you're imagining. the next day i divvied up his morning poop into five sample containers. it was a fantastic 24 hours, i tell you.

i try not to think about the various things that could be wrong with my little boy.

*trying desperately to cheer up so this post doesn't cause depression and despondence across the blogosphere*

i've been knitting a ton. the holidays are coming and i have a huge list of things i want to make for people. i'm happy with what i've churned out so far, but i can't post pictures because *sob* my camera doesn't work. still. agh.

off to angst about sick children and dead cameras.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


blogging seems so empty and pointless without pictures.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

i'm a winner.

remember the contests i mentioned a couple of posts ago? well, let me tell you.

i won!!!!!!

i'm stoked. i never win things. except that time i won an ipod, but that was a total fluke, because i never win things. i came in last in a 3-legged race when i was 4 and got a little medal for it, and i still have it because i never win things. have i mentioned that i never win things? anyways, i get one of the wristlets from here. i'm going to leave it in the shipping package and get my partner to give it to me for christmas or solstice or whatever we decide to celebrate, in the end.

other news:

you, my most astute of readers, may have noticed that my posts have been sadly photo-less of late. my camera died. i need to call the company (damn you, olympus!) but i hate calling people and i hate confronting people and i'm pretty sure i won't get a new camera without both calling someone and being (politely) confrontational. so i've been putting it off for a couple of weeks and it sucks. i hate not having a camera. every day moments happen that i have to just sit and enjoy instead of running for the camera and missing. it sucks. i'm stuck watching the baby obsessively hug and kiss the boy. and i have to listen to the baby figure out new words instead of just recording them and watching later. and the boy's silly faces and clever, articulate observations? i have to actually enjoy them and respond to them instead of just putting a small recording device in his face. woe is me.

i'll call the camera company next week.

ps. i have no idea why the font is so big today. but i kind of like it, it'll make life easier for those readers who are optically challenged.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

book review: supreme courtship

i love a good christopher buckley book. and i liked this novel.

mr. buckley, in my mind, is the author of brilliant, cutting, hilarious books about american politics and commerce. little green men, florence of arabia and boomsday are witty, clever, and informative. the chuckles kept coming as the pages kept turning. i highly recommend all of them.

supreme courtship is about an honest but unpopular president who, to spite washington, elects a tv judge to the supreme court. things get a little convoluted, but eventually the president end up campaigning against his will and fighting for a presidency he doesn't want. a respected politician goes from being the chairman of the senate judiciary committee to being the president (on tv) to running for president to...
read the book.

it should all be there. the plot is fascinating, the characters good, the pace just right, the writing intelligent. but it's not as sharp or clever as buckley's previous work. i can't put my finger on exactly what's missing. i still think it's worth reading, but i'm not as evangelical about my recommendation as i would be if i reviewed his other work.

so go ahead, read it. supreme courtship won't hurt in the slightest and you'll probably really enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


i'm in love with
my partner has asked me to compile a holiday wishlist for him, so i've been perusing the merchandise over at etsy for a few days, and it's addictive. i lie down to sleep at night and suddenly think 'oh, i should see what ecoetsy has by way of yarn...' and before i know it i'm out of bed, turning on the computer, starting another obsessive session with the crack otherwise known as etsy.
most stuff on there is handmade. my favourite stuff is eco-friendly (just ender 'ecoetsy' when you're entering your search, it takes the work out of finding the good stuff) and canadian-made. tonight i discovered that the official transcanada etsy team (quelle mouthful!) is hosting giveaways, here and here and here and here. get on it, yo! handmade, canadian made, beautiful stuff!

off to etsy a bit more...

freaking ugh.

when i lived in mexico there was a donkey carcass by the highway. it was at least 35 degrees* every day for months and months. the carcass stayed there and rotted for months and months. the flies swarmed. the air was unbreathable. we would walk miles out of our way to avoid that section of highway. there are no words i can use that would adequately describe the way that dead donkey smelled.

but my compost smells worse.

it's a healthy, living compost. writhing with bugs and worms and maggots. the bottom is beautiful black gunk, worth its weight in gold to my garden. and i believe in composting, it's one of the best free things a person can do for the planet. but it stinks. not particularly when you open the top to put stuff in. it doesn't smell at all from a few feet away. but if you open the bottom to scoop out the composted material, watch out.

food scraps, newspaper, rabbit shit and garden scraps, swamped with rabbit piss every few days and left in a black container in the sun to stew. sound tasty?

and i plunged my hands in, up to the wrist. crouched over it. spent half an hour breathing it in, filling small buckets and carrying it to my garden. i had to come in partway through, it was too much. i seriously contemplated running across the street to the fire station to ask if i could borrow a rebreather.

ok, done whining. i'm headed back outside now.

*that's 95 degrees in americanspeak

Saturday, October 4, 2008

book review: in search of april raintree

in search of april raintree by beatrice mosionier is freaking intense. it's like the colour purple or i know why the caged bird sings in that it's the based-on-a-true-story account of a little girl becoming a woman through the most incredibly brutal circumstances. i actually prefer it, since it's more relevant to my culture. i've never experienced firsthand racism towards black people, but i have witnessed some of the scenes described in this book.

april raintree is the daughter of a couple of alcoholics and the older sister of cheryl raintree. they are a metis (part native) family living on the canadian prairies. the story is april's account of the girls' removal from their parents' home and placement in various foster homes. april fights valiantly to survive, rise above her miserable circumstances, and protect her sister. it's terrifyingly honest, showing the girls not as brave little survivors or victims, but as human beings who make bad choices and suffer the consequences, and are seriously messed up from all the evil that is done to them. the protagonists are complex and real. they aren't innocent by any means, and i, as a reader, didn't like them at certain points in their development, but it was a damned good book.

my culture is profoundly racist towards native and metis people, but after years of seeing it i had become desensitized to it. this book reopened my sense of outrage that people could treat other people so very badly. after crying my way through segments of the book i wanted to go kick the shit out of some white people.

as a white person i want to apologize with every fibre of my being for all the disgusting, horrific, insidious wrongs people of my skin tone have perpetrated upon pretty much every other people group on the planet. we suck. please forgive us.

Friday, October 3, 2008

book review: not buying it

every night this week after the babes have gone to sleep i've settled down on the couch with my knitting and not buying it: my year without shopping by judith levine.
i like it. it's honest, witty, cohesive, applicable - all the things i like in a book, and i tend to agree with her fairly constantly. judith and her partner, paul, go a year without shopping. they buy groceries, home repair stuff, etc, but the endeavour (with varying success) to not spend money as entertainment. they don't go to movies, don't eat out, and don't indulge in 'retail therapy'. judith is a politically active non-republican and the book is written about the year that bush was re-elected. she is passionate about ousting bush from his (usurped) role and deeply affected by his election. (not reelection)

she is excellent at articulating something that i have felt for a while about opting out of consumerism. it's green party fundraisers, vegan collective job applications (declined) and fitting in with the geez and adbusters crowd. (which i probably would, if i ever left the house) it's occasionally raising one's voice with rev. billy and the church of stop shopping on buy nothing day. (which she does) but 99% of the time it is boring and inconvenient and a real drag. it's walking in car-centric strip malls. it's arriving home starving and having to actually cook dinner, instead of pulling out a tv dinner or picking up some mcdonald's on the way home. it's scouring the earth for the least harmful way to clothe, feed, shelter and entertain oneself instead of turning on the tv and zoning out. it is tedious. but i'm not going to stop.

the nonconsumerism and politics combine to make it an informative, enjoyable read, one i can really relate to. i'm definitley borrowing her other books from the library.

but reading about not buying frivolities has had an unexplainable effect on me. each evening as i have enjoyed the book, the knitting, and the silence, i have had a nearly uncontrollable urge to order pizza. i can't get it out of my head. it's like that youtube video - clinging to my brain like a toddler with illicit candy - i can't pry it loose. i'm not hungry. i can't afford pizza. i don't even really like pizza that much. there is no good reason for this pizza fixation, but i desperately want a pizza guy to show up at my house with a fragrant box of grease. in an effort not to delve deeper into my psyche, i am going to just blame the book. all this talk of not buying has made me crave pointless consumerism. damn you, judith levine.

well, not really. actually, i think you kick ass. come for coffee sometime.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

ethical clothing: a retrospective

about two years ago i was reading about the human rights and environmental issues presented by north american overconsumption. i was pissed off that something as basic as clothing myself caused people and the earth to suffer. my contribution to these wrongs seemed inevitable. but i got to thinking... is it? could i opt out of consumer culture?

i don't have much money, so i couldn't go spending hundreds of dollars on hemp clothes tenderly coddled into being by unionized former child prostitutes in the third world (although, if i had the money, i would definitley support such an endeavour) and the city i live in isn't known for its overabundance of counterculture, so i couldn't just go to a mall and have a variety of ethical clothing options handed to me.

in fact, when i started out, it was really hard. there was a fraction the number of online sources of ethical clothing that there are now. and everything cost more. niche markets are like that. but i searched (this was back when i used yahoo instead of google, so i can't say i googled) and checked the clearance sections of several sites weekly until i found the things i need with ethics i could live with at prices i could pay. i paid 11$ for my organic hemp, union-made hightops. i got underpants for 8$ a pop, organic cotton and union-made. i got socks, 2$ a pair, organic cotton, made in the states (hopefully not by undocumented workers). it's gradually become easier and easier to find these items. last month i spent 6$ on organic cotton, made in canada yoga pants at zellers. (that's the canadian equivalent of target)

ethical has become trendy, and that kicks ass. blogs have popped up all over the place with info on what not to buy, what's ok and what's fantabulous. it's become almost easy to skip the mall.

well, almost. i'm about to have a major issue, since my winter boots need replacing and i'm not aware of any affordable, ethical options. finding used sorels (or similar) is nearly impossible. also this past spring i ended up buying two perfectly unethical bras at 60$ a pop. it was insult to injury, paying so much for something that i was opposed to. but my boobs thank me. and i really don't know what i'll do about a winter coat in a year or two. i rushed out and bought a dressy shirt at old navy the night before my sister's wedding, since i was three weeks postpartum and didn't fit the dress i had originally intended to wear. so it's not perfect. but neither am i.

it's nice. i started out anxious about how i was going to make it work and looking enviously at all the cool things i couldn't have. i felt so sure that a new this or a pretty that would make my life sparklier and happier. but then i sort of just forgot that those things in the stores are available to me. now when i walk through the mall i see all sorts of things on racks, but they aren't for me. before i had kids i could walk past racks of kids clothes and register that they were there, but not give them a second glance. what would i need with kids clothes? now the whole clothing department is off limits to me, more or less.

so i'd like to welcome the rest of the world to the place i've been for the last couple of years. relax, stay a while! take in the incredible textures of organic cotton and the amazing prices of thrift store items! realize that what you already own is more than you will need for a long time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

blow me down, it be talk like a pirate day! me and the laddies be a-swaggerin'* and a-swearin** and a-drinkin grog***.
this be the holy day of pastafarians, and we be celebratin' in high style. hoist the mainsail and veer to starboard and eat spaghetti, it's september 19!

*the baby is still learning to walk, so his swagger is more like a stagger.
** none of us are swearing. but we would, if the boys were older.
*** the grog in question is coffee for me and other bevvies for the babes. then tonight, after they're in bed, my grog will be wine. at least that's booze, right?

Friday, September 12, 2008

a change of plans

last night was brutal. that baby just doesn't sleep. so i woke up in a fog and a funk and a slump, with a sore throat to boot. and i dragged my sorry ass to do my morning check of my fave blogs.

and it's christmas in the blogosphere!

usually i get two or three new posts to read, and of those maybe one will really make me laugh or move me or whatever.

this morning?



(related to journeymama) fly fishes fly!

dad gone mad
(this one made my morning 800x better all at once)

the sneeze


kimya dawson loves you
(this one was up yesterday, but i had to go back and look at it again)

confessions of a pioneer woman

garden of eatin

joy nash

and, of course, skull-a-day

ridiculous bounty. i guess my mood will have to improve. actually, it already has.

and check this out - fun times.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

a snapshot

setting: just now, in the living room, while the baby naps in the bedroom. the boy is wearing nothing but underwear, i'm in my pyjamas.

me: what do you want to do today?

the boy: make pickles.

me: what else?

the boy: go produce shopping.

this summer i've taken the kid to farmer's markets, farms, organic gardens, and our backyard garden. everywhere we've gone we've gotten delicious foods that he has 'helped' me process: pickling cucumbers, jamming fruit, blanching, cutting and freezing corn, turning veggies into soups, eating them raw... he's only two but he can do the urban homesteading thing like nobody's business. he has trouble pulling up his underwear on his own, but he understands canning.
what a kid.

(and no, i'm not taking him to ogle carrots and cabbages today. we're going to see the doctor. what could be more fun?!!?)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

dear baby:

little puppy, you are more than a year old now. you have three words (four if we count woof, your word for dog) and you can sometimes sort of walk. you're the cutest, smiliest baby around. if someone is ignoring you, you tilt your head and peer into their face with the most beautiful puzzled expression around. if someone is being silly with you, you wrinkle up your tiny nose at them, then laugh uproariously at them. you have three top teeth and three bottom teeth, but not the same ones. top right eyetooth, top middle teeth. bottom middle teeth, bottom left eyetooth. it's like a diagonal stripe of teeth. they make me laugh every time you laugh. which is adore me, your daddy, your brother, and the cat. not in that order. the cat, obviously, is first in your heart. but i make the list, at least. you give us all drooly open-mouth kisses, drape yourself across us dramatically, try to feed food from your slobbery mouth, pet us, wave goodbye whenever you leave a room... you have so much affection in your sturdy little body.but.
in your extreme old age you have decided that you don't need to sleep as much. puppy, it ain't true. staying up until one, getting up at seven, and only napping once - this is insanity. i can't keep up. and i have to stay awake when your brother is awake, too. this is too much. a year ago you slept almost 20 hours a day. that was really nice. you don't need to go to that extreme, but a few more hours a day would be splendid.also, quit waking up to nurse at night. you're old enough that you don't need to. and it doesn't help with my chronic exhaustion and subsequent crabbiness.and this climbing thing. you've proven that you can get anywhere your brother can. but he's almost three and can climb more safely than you, usually. you can't really even walk, but you're already halfway up the bookcase, on the back of the couch, and up on the table constantly. i'm getting a nervous twitch. please stay closer to the ground. pleasepleaseplease, my fearless dumpling.lastly, please quit getting older. you're already too big, too independent. you need to stay a baby so i can snuggle you and play with your rolls and raspberry your cheeks forever. because i don't think you'll let me do that when you're 30.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

and the geek goes on

i'm taking part in a play food swap. i made knitted bacon and little dishcloths.please excuse the picture quality, my camera wasn't charged so i had to use the webcam.

my friends have teased me relentlessly since this whole 'knitting bacon' fiasco has begun. they don't see the crafting of pork products as a worthwhile endeavor. little do they know.

today i will mail these out. and i do not intend to knit any more bacon for a long, long time. well, except the bacon scarf and fried egg mittens my friend asked me to make for her...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

everything grows

my baby has his first flu. he's burning hot to the touch and pouring puke, tears, snot, drool and shit from all the right orfices. the poor little man is miserable. he wants to be held at all times and only sleeps in my arms. by 'sleep' i mean he takes restless naps for no longer than ten minutes. i'm in a fog of exhaustion, unable to even fathom keeping up with the making of food or cleaning of the home. the boy has mostly been left to his own devices, and he's been really good. mostly.

my garden has been bursting at the seams. most of it remains unphotographed, (so far) but i have mountains of black beans, massive beets, a few cukes, a good showing of carrots, some peas, several sunflowers, ripening yellow peppers, a huge, brilliant hot pepper, and a flood of tomatoes. this is less than 1/3 of my tomato harvest so far. there are 5 varieties here. if it doesn't look like much,bear in mind that my garden would fit in most peoples' bathrooms. and tomato season is just begun. (it runs for another 3 weeks, until the first frost)

today i went with some friends to an amazing organic greenhouse. they had everything. herbs, trees, flowers, etc. almost everything was rare or unusual. apricot orange trees, patchouli plants... you name it, they had some obscure variation of it, organically grown, suited to these bitter canadian climes. i wandered around touching leaves and calling out my discoveries to my friends (also trying to keep the boy from destroying the place, it was his first time out of the house in days and he had some energy to burn)
in the end i limited myself to three plants. a banana stalk, a hot pepper, and a guava tree. (not pictured) all of them fruit. i'll be one of the few canadians eating local, organic bananas and guavas this winter. sweet!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

cuteness overload

i should have waited one more day to post the rabbit saga. this morning one of phyllis' young was out of the nesting box for the first time, hopping around, smelling things and looking at things. i took pics of the unbearable cuteness then put it back in the box.
my boy is mostly potty trained. he wears underwear (but no pants) around the house. he's stayed dry at night twice. i think what made the difference was switching from raisins to gummi bears as a reward for using the potty. i know i prefer sugar as a reward. this morning he was wearing this:
don't you hate it when your underpants get caught on your legwarmers when you're pulling them down to pee, then you need to hold your superman cape up so it doesn't get in the potty, but it's hard to see because of your batman mask? i know it's a problem for me....

oh, and the heart is drawn on with marker. we were talking about internal organs and their locations. that was more than a week ago. he's had me redraw it every day since then. are there any health hazards associated with being drawn on with permanent marker?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008



mid-july: we got phyllis and gladys. they had just been bred.

the next 3.5 weeks: we were not sure if they were pregnant or not. hoping they were.

august 13: they started pulling tufts of fur out of their chest to line their nesting boxes. we got them nesting boxes. said boxes were too small so they ignored them. found one bigger box and gave it to phyllis, continued to hunt for another box for gladys

august 15: in the morning we noticed that phyllis has given birth. in the afternoon gladys kindled, too. but her babies were born on the wire floor of the cage. (newborn rabbits look like this:they aren't exactly cute)
gladys' offspring were on the floor of her cage, struggling pathetically, and on the cement floor of the basement. there's a little gap at the bottom of the cage that they must have been magnetically drawn to, since there was no other way for them to get out. either way, there were babies all over. one was dead. i gathered the babies into the too-small nesting box and went upstairs to call around for a properly sized box. i found one pretty quickly. when i went back downstairs to move the babies to the bigger box i found that phyllis had tipped the box onto it's side so she could feed her young. their bellies were taut and they were too deeply asleep to notice when i moved them.
i was really impressed with gladys' mothering. i'd read that mothers often abandon their young if they're handled too soon after the birth, and i was afraid that we'd lose the whole brood. i was reading up on getting phyllis to foster them. gladys and her instincts kick ass.

august 16: in the evening i went downstairs to check on the babies and feed the mamas. i found a baby on the floor a few feet from the cage. it was very cold and barely moving, but when it smelled its mama it started squeaking. did you know that rabbits can squeak? only when they're really freaked out. anyways, i checked on the baby a few hours later and gladys had fed it. such a great mama.

august 17: in the evening my partner found another baby several feet from the cage. it had to have been on the floor for at least 48 hours. this one didn't make any noise when it smelled its mama. it died a few hours later.

august 21:august 26: the bunnies have gotten at least 5x bigger than they were at birth. they're really cute. they opened their eyes.

august 27: i've been reading up on vermiculture (aka vermicomposting, using worms to compost) and am trying out a worm bin under gladys' cage. so these are the newest residents of the house:red wigglers!!!