Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Friday, May 28, 2010

This Old House

I have been feeling contemplative the past couple of days. Today, I did a little bit of gardening around this old house here, and as I stood back to admire my work, once again I was filled with thought; of this life, of my family, my mother, my grandmother, this house.

I love this house. This was my grandmother's house. She lived here, with her family, since the 1950's until her death, last summer, at the age of 85. She would have been 86 had she made it to July. The house itself was built around 1928, and has internal architecture that fall within the period it was made. The story is that my grandparents bought it from two, old spinster sisters. There's something intriguing about this--two old sisters, never married, living in a house which had to have been rather ornate for a poor, trying time. It sounds like a book somehow. Maybe if I ever get to any decent kind of writing, it will turn into something one day.

My grandmother was taken from Poland by the Germans when she was not yet 20. They came to her house one day and that was that, she had to go. She was one of many people sent to do forced-labour on the farms in Germany. Luckily the German family she lived with were very good to her. I'm glossing over a lot of details, but eventually she came to Canada with two young children, and gave birth to my mother, far up north, in 1950. And then this was her house.

She made all of the food we loved so much at special occasions here: her special recipe pierogi (my mother tried last year at Christmas to duplicate the special pork/sour kraut filling with my aunt, and they almost got it right. This year my mother won't get the chance to work on the aspects she wanted to adjust), meat on a stick (mięsa na patyku, according to an online translator, but we knew it phonetically as "myenso nyeh pateechki"), her delicious yeast breads, and so many other things. My grandmother did all of this, on her kitchen table, in a kitchen with literally about 12 inches of counter space on either side of the sink, and that's it.

When I was young, if my parents were away, I would come to Grandma's for lunch. I can still remember sitting at the table and watching her make a real treat: Chef Boyardee pizza. Loved that. She also used to make great horror cakes: huge, heavy, and extremely rich. And she would be OFFENDED if you couldn't finish your whole slice. Let me tell you: a giant slice of "black forest" or mocha cake, with a tall, brimming glass of homogenised milk was a pretty tough job for a little kid. To this day I still hate mocha. She would cook for days making Christmas dinner, and be too revolted by food to eat anything herself on Christmas Day. Instead, she would circle around the table, looking angry, saying to me or anyone else; "you don't eat much!" You could never eat enough for Grandma. One time I was spending a couple of days there, while my parents were away. My girlfriend from up the street came to hang out with me. Grandma set a huge plate full of chocolate chip cookies down in front of us, and said in a very stern voice; "okay girls, FINISH."

Grandma would sit at the kitchen table, looking through to the dining room, where soap operas were always on tv in the afternoon. She'd either sit there biting her nails absently, or peeling apples or potatoes with speed that I've never seen duplicated. She'd never even have to look down at her hands as she did it.

On Christmas eve, we always went to my Dad's parents' first, and then to Grandma and Grandpa's. I'm ashamed to say we could not WAIT to get away from the first visit, so we could get to the second. At my Grandma's, it was lively--all of my Mom's family were there--and there were presents from my Grandmother and my Aunt. Presents! Hooray! In the meantime, my Mom, her two sisters, my Uncles and my grandparents would smoke like fiends in the little kitchen. The room would literally be blue, and they'd have to open up the kitchen window to let some of the smoke billow out.

The world's most idiotic poodle lived at Grandma's when I was a kid. "Fluffy" was white, stocky, and completely miserable. The only person Fluffy didn't hate was my youngest aunt. That stupid dog would often be chained up on his leash at the back entranceway, and when we'd come in would go absolutely berserk; teeth bared, ferocious barking, leaping at me--the whole bit. Grandma would say; "come in honey, it's okay, he won't bite you," and then she'd say to the dog; "SHUT UP YOU STUPID! Such a stupid dog!" No, this is not a story of dog abuse. That dog was nutso from the time it was young. I would sit up on the couch in the dining/tv room, and I wouldn't necessarily see Fluffy, but I'd hear his chain shnicking across the floor. Why was his leash on? BECAUSE NOBODY COULD GET IT OFF! If one of my Uncles made the "V for Victory" sign at the dog, the thing would lose his mind with rage. Horrid creature.

My grandmother would sit here in the house and crochet blanket after blanket--beautiful blankets--until one day her vision wasn't good enough to see fine detail.

When Grandma died last summer, the house sat vacant for a few months until this and that happened, and my husband and I decided to buy it. I'd been living far away from my family for 9 years, and I was ready to give up hope I'd ever return "home" again. I can still picture the house without Grandma: so quiet, stuffy and full of furniture, with fake flower arrangements everywhere. The feeling of Grandma was everywhere, which seemed so strange, because she was not there. It was as if she had just stepped out to go to the store one day and never returned. My mom said there were still dirty dishes in the sink right after Grandma died.

When we would come to see the house late in the summer, I would stand in the long, stretching back yard, just after the sun went down. I would note the breeze blowing from through the neighbours' yards, through my grandmother's yards. It was so quiet. Not a soul around. Somehow, it felt like home. We packed up our family in November, after cleaning my old house for 3 months, to prepare it for selling, and finally moving.

Before we moved in, my parents scrambled around like mad to help get this house ready for us. My mother fretted and worried, and was nearly sick trying to get too many things done. We had holes punched in all the walls, and then filled with insulation. The basement was insulated. The carpets were ripped up to reveal beautiful hardwood floors. We had them sanded and stained barely in time for us to move in. They were beautiful and gleaming. I brought my portable radio over one day, in September or October, and my parents and I and my husband peeled wallpaper off the upstairs bedroom walls. We had so many laughs. Then another time, after cleaning this and that, we all cleared a space on the junk laden kitchen table and had Chinese food. We had to dig through Grandma's cutlery, because the restaurant didn't give us any. What a nice time we had. I was excited--even though it was daunting. I was going to live 2 minutes away from my parents, and less than 10 minutes away from my brother, my sister and my nieces.

The day we moved in, Jon and I were exhausted. Then the toilet got backed up, and thanks to some archaic plumbing solution in the basement, waste water started bubbling up onto the basement floor. I didn't even care--that's how burnt out I was. "Welcome to your new house!" my mother exclaimed in total exhasperation. We still laugh thinking about my brother, plunging away down there, my sister saying; "I don't know why people don't like old houses," to which my brother replied; "yeah, old houses are great!" And this as he tried to get the poop water back down the hole.

I love this house. It feels like I am meant to be here. I had my family over for New Year's eve, and it was a great party. I sit here now, and watch the tiny black ants, that I can't seem to get rid of, stroll around the kitchen floor. I look at the pantry that I love. When I look out my son's bedroom window, I see the expanses of various yards. When I look out my daughter's window, I see a peaceful, quiet street below. There is a huge, old Linden tree in the backyard, that will soon fill with beautiful smelling flowers. I hang my clothes on a clothesline that my Grandfather erected. I do my kitchen prep work on the same table as my Grandmother. I go to sleep at night in the same room she did. I have taken curtains permanently away from some of the windows and replaced them with real plants. I watch the Robins hop cautiously across my back yard. I think about the house where my mother should still be 2 minutes' drive away. I had not even lived here for five months, and she was gone.

Today I planted a few flowers. I put window boxes with purple lobelia and pink geraniums under my kitchen and bedroom windows. Then I filled the tiny strip of garden in the back yard with the remaining pale pink and salmon coloured geraniums. I watered the three pussy willow sticks, which had sprouted roots while still in their arrangement--bought for my mother while she was in the hospital. They are guarded now on either side by the yellow tulips my sister bought, and the yellow daffodils I bought. It is my tiny shrine to my Mother. I miss her so. She would have admired my window boxes. She would have been interested to see that this house finally has central air after all these years. I could have asked her what the white flowers I planted are, and she would know. They look like teeny snap dragons, but there was no tag and I don't know what they're called. I stood back and admired my work, listening to the wind as it passed through the leaves. I felt like if I could just make my soul quiet enough, there would be a message in those leaves, like a whisper.

Perhaps, something about this life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So, What do LICE Look Like Anyway???

Ugh...I can't even find a picture to post here, because any images I've found online of lice make my stomach flip. So, no pictures this time!

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a nearly debilitating fear of bugs. I hate all bugs. I don't care how small they are. Okay, I don't lose my mind if a lady bug lands on me, but I have no illusions of it being oh-so-cute, just because it has a charming name like "lady bug." I'm sure any close up will reveal some horrid, pincer-like MANDIBLES, rather than a smiling teeny mouth with itty bitty, adorable white teeth. A few months back I had this preposterous idea to take my kids to a local butterfly conservatory. I thought it would be a lovely break from winter chill, enjoying tropical plants and flowers. IT WAS LIKE BEING IN A HORROR MOVIE. My god, some of those butterflies had wings the size of my hand. They didn't flutter, they swooped. Jack was shrieking with horror, and the only reason I wasn't is because I'm supposed to be a GROWN UP. Oh my god, it was horrendous. They were EVERYWHERE. There was a plate with orange wedges on it, and the horrid things were ALL OVER THEM, sticking in their revolting proboscises....*SHUDDER*

Okay, so recently Jack comes home from school with a lovely letter in his bag informing me that a child in his classroom has HEAD LICE. Mon dieu! So, I scoured his head for any signs of eggs, or nits, as they're so charmingly called and found none. Then I scanned Ella's head. Well, I don't know what these nits look like exactly, but I thought I saw little specs here and there. "My head is itchy!" Ella informed me. Parnoia begins to mount. Then, the next day she's sitting outside and I spot a small, brown BUG in her hair. Is that a LOUSE!?! I ordered my husband to the drug store to get some of that shampoo, and then I coated her hair in oil of bergamot. I read online that bergamot, lavender and tea tree oil are repellent to the horrible things. Then I grabbed up her bedding and raced it off to the washing machine at my dad's house. Why? Oh, because my WASHING MACHINE DIED on Saturday. It died right before the rinse cylcle. I shampooed the little girls head, according to package directions (said to leave on 10 minutes, so I left it on for 20). Then I got that little comb out and combed and combed and combed and combed and combed and combed that girl's head for at least half an hour. Then I coated it in bergamot oil again. I coated Jack's head too, for good measure. I had no tea tree oil though. So, off to the health food store, with Ella, I went. Found the tiny little bottles of essential oil: "FOURTEEN DOLLARS FOR TEA TREE OIL?!?!?" Forget that. I spent $10 and got the tea tree/lavender oil amalgamation. And so I drenched little girl's hair with the stuff before bed, and sent the poor thing off to sleep with her stinky head.

Ella wakes up this morning with a rashy red face that is also puffy. Argh! I guess I over-did it on the oil. Poor kid. Had to wash her hair, wash her face and then her skin started to calm down.

In the meantime, I have been scratching my head like mad. No, I have found nothing on my own head, but just talking about bugs that feast on your head makes me itchy. Probably by the time you finish reading this, you'll be scratching too.

Good news about my washing machine: it turns out a small wash cloth had flipped up and over the drum, and become lodged in the pump. Hooray for easy fixes. Boo for being able to do more laundry now.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's FRIDAY B*tches!!!

First of all, I love some of these ridiculous urban-esque, texting/don't read a book/rap culture loving expressions. I enjoy saying things like; "I just finished all the housework, so I'm going to unscramble words online for an hour. Suck on THAT, B*tches!" Or, in contemplating various ridiculousness I've encountered during the week--you know; the kind of stuff that just makes you want to shake your head, I considered creating a blog titled: "Yo, That Sh*t's F***ed Up!" Love it. It all just says so much in so few words.

Okay, so I'm rambling because I am A LITTLE BIT HYPER TODAY. Did I get a good night's sleep? Hellz no! Is the house spotless? Yeah, you're funny. Did the laundry fairy drop in and put three basket's worth of clean stuff away? Good one. Perhaps the only answer is that it is FRIDAY! Friday, the most wonderful day of anticipation, even if one actually has NOTHING to really get all hopped up about for the weekend. Oh Friday...I want to hug it and kiss it, and tuck it away in my fancy underwear drawer like a little treasure.

Why do I feel happy today? certainly isn't because this is the one year anniversary of my grandmother's death. Is it because I cried like crazy for the past two days? Maybe! Is it because les petits monstres are still not home from their little places of education? Yes, yes, that's good...oh wait, they're home. Ah well. Is it because I have a really good cup of coffee before me in my favourite mug with the snowman on it (who doesn't like a snowman??? He's wearing a scarf for heaven's sake)? Yes, that helps. Who knows. Life has been one great roller coaster lately of wondering why one day I feel great, and the next day I feel like trampled crap.

So let's take a look at the week in review:

First of all, my right leg/knee was sore for three days this week. This is because, on Monday, I had enough of Jack calling me "poo poo head," or "poo head," and decided to run full tilt after the little bugger, in order to catch him, and put him in "time out." By the way, kids get faster and faster, and by 6 years old, they're appreciably fast. So, I flew off across the uneven ground, down the side of our house, and jarred my knee. In retrospect, this is the kind of stuff that screams out to me; "HEY, YOU'RE NEARLY 40 AND YOU'RE FALLING APART!" Not good for the old self esteem.

I made an excellent pot of spaghetti and meatballs earlier in the week, that I'm still patting myself on the back for. Also, on the weekend, I made two masterful pies. Masterful, people.

Had a lovely couple of days hanging out with my sister and our kids in her backyard. Wednesday was really great, Thursday...well, not as relaxing somehow. Maybe it wasn't as relaxing because Jack and Ella were having endless slap fests in the little pool my sister had filled up. Or maybe it was because Ella took a plastic toy and smashed Jack under the eye. Perhaps things went down the toilet when my sister stepped in the house for a moment, and my 2 year old niece gagged repeatedly on a mouthful of potato chips, and then the last gag had no sound at all. I threw my beer bottle down, picked the little thing up, bum up in the air, head downward, and was pounding her back (not too hard people, that girlie is LITTLE), while running toward the house, and SHOUTED for my sister, so that she might bring her a drink to wash the chips down, if that were the problem. Set my little niece down, with my sister and I crouched at either side of her. "Are you okay?!?!?" We asked. "I oh-ay," she said happily, and I inwardly crumpled like a dish cloth. Kept my calm while my son shrieked at me for a solid five minutes for not allowing him to watch a Baby Einstein (because of too many "poo heads").

Had a nice little broken-record sermon with my husband this morning about how much I hate toys, and how there is NOT ONE ROOM IN OUR HOUSE THAT IS CLEAN. NOT ONE. THERE IS NO NICE ROOM IN THIS WHOLE HOUSE, AND THAT IS REALLY DISCOURAGING. Tidied up the living room, took out another bag of toy bits to hide in the basement for a while (I can only take so many toys, people, and yes I am so evil that I wish we had ZERO toys in the house), and now I'm going to force myself to put the clean laundry away, and then perhaps cocktail hour will start somewhere around 4:00 this afternoon. Vodka, pink lemonade, lots of ice, and a wheel of lemon floating on the top....I feel relaxation pour over me just thinking about it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom--Wish you Were Here

Today would have been my mother's 60th birthday. A Milestone birthday. She died exactly one month ago, on April 18th. She died not long after my own birthday, a day before my little niece's 2nd birthday, on the birthday of my late paternal grandfather. She died 11 months after my grandmother, her own mother, died. She left not long before Mother's Day, and she left before the big Six-O.

Every year I tend to buy the same kind of stuff for my mom on her birthday, because it's stuff she loved better than anything: a new lipstick, a large economy-sized bottle of bubble bath, some magazines and perhaps some chocolates. She never wanted expensive jewelry. She was practical to the core (a trait I seem to have inherited, as I shun knicknacks and jewelry myself--and if I get the latter, it has to be ridiculously plain), and loved kitchen gadgets and innovative things to clean the house. But this year I didn't get to buy any of that stuff. I also didn't get to bake a cake for her, as I did for the past many years.

My mother was amazing at her job: being a housewife. This may sound silly, but she was extremely organised, almost never ran out of anything, and always had something on hand to make a really good dinner. I know this because there is still a chest freezer filled with foil-wrapped meats, labelled and dated. Her house was always very, very clean. She did the laundry every Monday without fail, and groceries were bought every Thursday.

She loved, loved, loved her grandchildren--all babies in fact, but especially her own grandchildren. She was always my best advocate for my son, and she was the one who realised he had a developmental disorder. She always empathised with him, and with me.

She was extremely intelligent and almost better than any doctor. She could diagnose you before you even had your appointment. I would call her often when Jack was sick--and let me tell you, that little boy had a ton of colds and other antibiotic-requiring illnesses when he was little.

I called my mom nearly every day as I made lunch for my kids, and then did the dishes. She was my favourite person to talk to on the phone, and we could talk about nearly anything.

In the grocery store recently, it came into my head that when my Grandmother died, my mother was on a quest to reproduce Grandma's pierogi--a recipe Grandma had concocted herself. Mom was worried that we may never eat them again at special occasions if she didn't figure out how to make them. Last Christmas my Mom and Aunt collaborated and came quite close. And now Mom's gone too.

It is unthinkable that the woman who held my hand while I gave birth to both my children is gone. It is unthinkable that sometimes her kitchen floor is a little dirty now. It is unthinkable that we thought she had a lung infection, and a doctor informed her that she was full of cancer, and 11 days later she was gone. My mother, my confidante, my advocate, my shopping buddy, my friend.

We live our lives expecting everything to continue just the same, day after day. It's amazing really, how quickly things can change.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Vive Le Weekend

I have no idea why I get so excited for the weekend, since as a stay-at-home-mom, it's really just another couple of days. Still, this must be a leftover feeling from going to school, and then working (and being lucky enough to have weekends-off jobs). There is something fantastic about not having to race around in the morning and have an endless fight with the kids to GET DRESSED, BRUSH YOUR TEETH, WASH THE CHOCOLATE MILK OFF YOUR FACE, GET YOUR SHOES ON, COME ON! COME ON! WE'RE LATE! OKAY POO HEAD! MY NAME IS NOT POO HEAD--YOU EITHER CALL ME 'MUM,' OR 'MUMMA', BUT MY NAME IS* NOT* POO HEAD!!!!!!!

Yeah, so that right there is a nice reason to appreciate the weekend. This week was a tad exhausting. Well, let's see...on Thursday my brother and I got to have a lovely meeting at the funeral home to 'settle up' the bill for my poor mother. Oh, and we began the process of choosing the headstone, or if you prefer "eternal monument." Much fun. How surreal is it when someone pulls out a basket filled with various stone square samples, and my brother and I get to say stuff like; "oh, that's, I don't really care for that rosey, I don't like the plain black either..." blah, blah, blah diddy blah. Fairly draining. Then, it was back to my dad's for some take out food, and a lovely couple of hours of fighting back some monster sobs. Exhausting. I don't know why I didn't use my good friend "sweet lady whisky" to my advantage.

Then, there was Friday. Let's rename it "Ella's Day of Infamy." My 3 year old daughter is lucky she's adorable. She's also lucky she's so huggy and affectionate. Let's highlight some of the finer moments:

Ella approaches me with a bottle of spider man bubble bath: "Open it!"
Me: "no, I'm not opening it."
E: "I wanna play with it!"
Me: "you can't play with it in the tv room--soap is for the bathroom."
Me: "NO, I'm not! Soap is for baths and for washing hands."
Off she storms.
A minute later I think; hey, I'm going to play my little electronic piano. That sounds like fun. Now, is this the part where I explain why I hardly ever play the thing? It's a little convoluted, so I'll tell that part of the story AFTER the soap incident.

Okay, so there I was, happily playing my favourite Coldplay song with gusto on the piano; singing along and everything. When I was finished that ONE song, I said; "okay Ella, let's pick up all your toys now."
Ella: "I can't. I'm all soapy!"
Sure enough, Ella's bare legs (had a skirt on) were completely coated with bubble bath, and so were the couch cushions beneath her. I turned into the Mommy Hulk and hauled her off for a bath. "I'm sorry I did that, Mummy, it was an ACCIDENT," she told me.

Later: next door neighbour girls come over to play with Jack and Ella. I give Ella a long sermon about staying in HER OWN YARD. I step into the house for ONE minute to stir appealing casserole in oven. Knock, knock on the door. It's the oldest sister (9) from next door; "um, Ella's in your car."
A little later, step into the house for two minutes to frantically throw a load of laundry into the washing machine. Knock, knock on the door. "um, how far is Ella allowed to go up the street? Because, she's far." Drop the clothes in a panic on the driveway and spot my kid about four/five houses up the road happily pushing her puppy scooter thing. "ELLA, GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!" This is followed by a long, and long-winded story about bad people in the world who steal children, and what did I tell you before--to stay in your yard, etc, etc.

Finally, at the end of the day, the kids are all playing together again after supper. Factor in several slap fests between my two kids, Ella falling and hurting herself a couple of times (loud, loud crying) as she does a billion times each day. I, idiot mom, mom who never learns from past mistakes apparently, mom who trusts her children too much, step into the house for one second again and immediately here the sound of Ella's voice from the neighbour girls' yard.

Okay, so this makes me sound like the idiot. Stop going in the house, right? BUT I'M TIRED, and I don't want to be outside listening to crazy little kid chat for hours, or being verbally abused by my son again (by the way, being called "poo head," or "poo poo" head, is equally as annoying as being called "ha ha head.")

Enough about this. That's how my week ended. Now, let me tell you why I don't play my little plug in piano that often:

Jack's Terror of The Tiny Piano

For various convoluted reasons, Jack has a fear/fascination/obsession thing with the classical music composition called "Primavera" by Vivaldi. He loves it, and can watch orchestras play it on Youtube, but if he just hears it on a cd, the radio, or anywhere else, he loses his mind with terror. On my little piano, there are two modes: a playing mode, by which I can play the piano, or press some numbers to turn my piano into a guitar, harpsichord, drum kit, ocharina or what have you. There is also a "demo" mode. In the demo mode, if you press different numbers, it plays all kinds of different songs; both contemporary and classical. The first song on the list happens to be "English Man in New York" by Sting. Bear with me people, this long winded story is about to make its point. So, Jack turned on the piano one day, and keyed in whatever numbers were needed to turn it into a drum kit. However, Ella had left the piano in "demo" mode. The magic numbers, suddenly flooded the house with the sounds of PRIMAVERA. Jack ran shrieking and losing his mind to his bedroom. And now the piano is the scariest thing in the house. It's kind of funny, but it's not. Luckily, now he trusts me enough to know that I'm going to typically play one of the same three songs I always play, but if ANYONE else turns the piano on, Jack heads for the hills.

There, did you enjoy that little story? Did it make you feel tired just reading? Ah yes, now you have a small window into my world of white hair.

Have a good weekend!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hooray! I'm Not (imminently) Dying--I'm Just Hideous!

Okay, so first of all, let's just point out that yesterday was MOTHER'S DAY. Frankly, despite some nice aspects; breakfasted out with my family, some lovely homemade cards from the kids, a really good wine buzz around 4:00 in the afternoon--the day pretty much bit the big one. Hey, I bought some flowers for my mom, as I always do, but this year was spesh (my new, annoying, uber-sarcastic word for "special". I may never use it again) because I got to take them to my mom AT THE CEMETARY.


Okay, that's my little rant for the moment. I feel better now. Speaking of feeling better, in light of recent events with my poor mother, I decided I'd better go see my doctor, and get my lumps and bumps checked out. One lump, I had checked out by my old doctor before I moved from suburban hell. Fatty lipoma. Yum. And good news: the two new lumps are also fatty lipomas. Hooray! They're not cancerous tumors, just big, ugly man-back lumps! Yeah, if pushing 40 didn't already make me feel less than sexy, this is right up there.

So, I was completely burnt out after this visit. Actually, I was a little done in by the whole morning. I went for a walk with my girlfriend, as we do three times a week. On the way there I felt like crying--probably because I'm tired...maybe it was leftover blah-ness from yesterday. Then I got back from my walk and the school called. My son had peed his pants, and could we bring new pants. So, I was all fired up for a confrontation, and stormed on over in my elderly little green car, clean pants and undies in a dollar store bag. We've been recently having some on-going issues at school. When my mom became sick, my son became filled with anxiety. He didn't voice this in so many words, but he was showing some bad behaviour in the kindergarten classroom: telling kids to shut up, getting a little physical--general "little bugger" type stuff. However, it was also observed that one of the boys Jack was supposedly terrorizing, hopped off the bus the other day and made a bee-line for my son just to say some pesky stuff. Two sides to every story. So, I flipped from A to Z, and raced off thinking they'd make my little guy so anxious by painting him as the BAD GUY that he peed his pants! He NEVER pees his pants! Etc, etc.

Turns out he just peed his pants--and not even all that much. The more I type "peed his pants," the more stupid I realise this blog is becoming. Okay, let's just sum up by saying that the new Educational Assistant they have in there to help Jack is delightful, and apparently is smitten with him. Jack pointed at me when I showed up and said; "GO HOME." Oooookey...came back home...guzzled a coffee, raced to the Doctor's, sobbed there like an idiot for a bit, had my ugly lumps poked, walked home and threw as much victory food down my gob as I could get my hands on immediately. Does anyone else do this? Does anyone else go on a carbo-loading escapade when they get back from the doctor's? I had two samosas (love samosas in all their spicey Indian potato deep-fried goodness), several high fibre bran cookies, a slice of cheese and a piece of baloney. So, it's all good.

Damn, I love samosas.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Food, Food, and whether you like it or not--More Food

As I was reading a cookbook this morning, I started to ponder that subject that's probably on most of our minds most of the time: food. This particular cookbook, incidentally is "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook" by Ina Garten. It had been my mother's, and I had bought it for her, but now because she's gone (ALL GONE!), it is now mine.

(okay, here I have to step off topic for a moment and note that my son was just bugging me to type in "Alvin and the Chipmunks" on Youtube, and I said; "I'm BLOGGING." Then my husband said to Jack; "do you know what a 'blog' is? It's a story about everyday things." Then I said; "how come when you put it that way it makes me feel slightly ridiculous? I am NOT banal!")

Okay, so as I was Yes, we need it to live, but we are so wrapped up in it, aren't we? Here is my dad's recent conundrum: since he became a widower (sniff!), the immediate reaction from all women, whether stated outright or inferred was; "OH MY GOD! HIS WIFE DIED! WHAT IS HE EATING???"

The day my mother died, our lovely long-time neighbours immediately (and I mean IMMEDIATELY) sent over boxes of tissues, pizzas, a fruit platter and a veggie platter. Wow! Then, not long after, some lovely friends of my dads managed to whip up the world's fastest casseroles. THEN, an aunt of mine from the U.S. arrived with a large platter of artfully arranged strawberries, tiny powdered donuts and these fantastic cookie square things, of which I think I scarfed down five or six that evening.

My sister and I were perplexed as to how quickly someone can whip up a batch of squares so quickly after getting the word that a loved one has died. People want to bring my dad casseroles. They want to teach him how to cook. They want to give him meal suggestions. We all invite him over to dinner constantly. We ask what he eats when he isn't cooking for himself. We urge him to make healthy choices at restaurants. We take him out to dinner. We take him out for breakfast. He gets invites for going out to eat.

Sounds like paradise right? Not really. Dad's just not very hungry. What he is is very, very sad. Do you know whose cooking he loved best in the whole world? Mom's. So all of this offering to stuff him with NON-MOM food was causing him anxiety.  It's nice, but it's weird.

I told him though that this is a woman thing, because let's face it ladies, what do we think about??? FOOD. We have, unless we've been very lucky, all been on countless diets. We've obsessed over not eating junk food. We give ourselves "treats," and this seems to mean stuffing as much unhealthy, fat/sugar/salt laden crap down our yaps as possible. Then the next day we make some unfulfilling soup crammed with vegetables. Then we do it all again the next week.

The first thing my brother did after our mom died, was go home and get his pot of bolognaise sauce, bring it back to my dad's, and simmer it for the rest of the afternoon. And oh did I eat. It was so delicious that sauce. There was something so strange about eating a giant plate of spaghetti bolognaise in the midst of tragedy, and with GUSTO.

So, now I try to read through this cookbook I got from my mom, and I can only read a few pages at a time before I'm overcome with grief. Why, Ina Garten's coconut cake has been my birthday cake of choice for the past couple of years. My mom made it. My mother could bake like nobody else. Honestly. Nobody could make a better apple pie, and if you think you can, until I see it, I'll just have to say sorry, you can not. So now as I read through about various recipes, it's unbearable, because it conjures up images of Sunday dinners made by my mom.

It makes me think of all the parties I loved to throw for my family--all centred around food. All joined by food. My mother and brother discussing how they prepare certain foods. What kind of food should we make for fancy dinners. What food should we bring to parties. What kind of food should I cook for my dad to try to cheer him up, if only just a little, and if only just for an hour. Food, food, food, food, food. There are stacks of recipes, written in my mom's own hand. I wonder if and when I'll be able to read them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Things I have learned lately

Hey! Who wants a list of random nothingness that rolls around my head just waiting for the day it can become a useless blog? Well, here goes...

Things I have learned lately:

1) Getting groceries at Walmart instead of Sobeys does not equal a pleasant change in scenery. They both suck. A lot.

2) Very few people at Walmart bring reusable bags with them

3) 7:30 in the morning feels a thousand times worse when I have to get up than when I don't

4) Baloney is absolutely delicious, and my mother had me believing otherwise for years

5) With my mother dies the secret of how to fold the fitted sheet.

6) The smell of a dirty litter box can pump right out through the vents when the heat comes on, much to my surprise and horror

7) It's not just my own kids that are irritating, it's most kids. Yeah, bitch, bitch. I haven't had a lot of sleep lately.

8) no matter how small the spider is, I'm just as terrified of it

9) Grief is like a suffocating blanket that you just can't throw off some days

10) having a 60 pound child stand on your armpit really, really hurts.

Oh godz I need sleep. Sleep, you say? Well thank you, don't mind if I do!


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