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?