Monday, December 31, 2007

scratch that

There's a reason I wrote 242 posts this year. So back to the first plan of the first sentences of each month.

January: So it's 2007. (And just because it was momentous, apparently, I must add the second sentence: This New Year's marks the first time I have ever gone to bed instead of cheering in the New Year.)

Feb: Sugar Daddy and I have just returned from a cool after-dinner walk in Grandpa Cape Town’s neighbourhood, and Swee’pea is sleeping peacefully in the stroller.

March: Last night in belly dance class, I was reminded of something I really admire in Ishra, the instructor.

April: I've been meaning to nominate the Mad Hatter for a Perfect Post for months.

May: Last night, I slept for seven hours straight with no wakings by either me OR Swee'pea.

June: Sorry for the delay since my last post... I didn't mean to leave you hanging after the shock.

July: I can hear firecrackers popping and screaming outside our house.

Aug.: The one-year anniversary of my first blog post came and went a couple of days ago, unblogged.

Sept: Sugar D, on Saturday: [incredulous, mostly to himself] I haven't had an ice cap this summer...
Maybe that's because I don't actually like ice caps and I just can't remember. (and because it made me laugh, I have to add the next line:) [later, with ice cap in hand] Yeah, I think I just don't like ice caps.

Oct: Aargh.

Nov: In order for this post to make sense, you need to remember a few key details about me.

Dec: Just when I thought life was going along all hunky-dory and the most I had to worry about was Christmas shopping and future vacation destinations...

* * *

So that was boring...

Happy New Year!

bring on 2008

So I started to do a post like Dani where I listed all the first lines of the first posts of each month in 2007 but, like Mad, I discovered that my first lines are boring. Then I tried to develop a Top 10 list of 2007 like B&P but it was too hard. Some of my favourite posts aren't particularly good posts but because I wrote them in South Africa, they make me happy. I was hoping to avoid rereading all my posts but I think I may just have to do that if I want to participate in this retrospective thing. And I do.

I have to say that although 2007 kicked off to a raging start, what with the trip to South Africa and all, it went pretty sour pretty quick. I don't want to complain too much, because our challenges could have been SO. MUCH. HARDER than they were, but still... it's been tough. I've got my fingers crossed for 2008.

In January, we finally sorted out Sugar D's issues getting a South African passport by discovering that in fact he was no longer a South African citizen. It was a relief to arrive in Cape Town without worrying that he was going to be detained. I freaked out on a plane (big surprise), and in a chalet, fell down some stairs, and swam in a salt water pool under perhaps the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. As predicted, that swim remains one of the highlights of the trip. I wrote a lot from South Africa and I'm so glad I have that record.

February was a pretty good month. Swee'pea turned one and I baked my first cake just for him in South Africa no less. We came home and I started to take my photography more seriously, even daring to admit to aspiring to make art; not that that really translated into action in the year at all. I was supposed to launch an online portfolio but what with Sugar D losing his job and all, it didn't happen somehow. I wrote about sleep (the severe lack of it -- please don't hold me responsible for the incoherence), Sugar D's proposal, and I wrote a letter to my teenage self.

In March, I reached across the ether in more ways than one, and things were kind of dark for a while. I got whiney about the sidewalks, attempted to clear up some of the clutter, and recounted my experience overcoming anxiety. And there was light at the end of the tunnel: Swee'pea walked and started to sleep for five hours in a row (once in a while). I topped off the month with a real-life blogger meeting (my first) and seeing the Rheostatics' final concert.

The upswing continued in April as I flirted with a young plumber, wrote a Monday Mission to show not tell, invited Sugar D to speak in his own words, shut down the all-night breastaurant, and flirted some more. Sugar D launched this great new design for my blog.

In May, I grumped about (incoherent) grammar, the esteemed B&P gave me -- ME -- a ROLF award for shutting down the all-night breastaurant, I blogged more mother-angst, got mad, felt overwhelmed and got vomitted on, admitted how lazy I am, I took some pictures I liked, and I started blogging over at MBT, which didn't last long. Because Sugar D lost his job.

In June, we tried to make lemonade and enjoy Sugar D's unexpected time off. This is when my blog really started to go downhill and it has never really recovered. Father's Day came, I tried to find a way to de-stink my sandals, Swee'pea slept through the night for the first time, most anticlimactically, and we found a sick bird on the street.

July kicked off with a celebration, and I found a solution to the stinky sandals. We went to my parents' cottage and Ottawa, and when we came home the shit hit the fan. Sugar D got a job in Toronto with its four-hour commute (so we thought -- it turned into six hours some days), we painted in preparation for selling our house, and we found out we were losing our daycare at the end of August. Life got harder, not easier, with the new job.

Looking back over August, it was a melancholy month as I tried to keep perspective amid all the challenges. I went to a party and decided afterwards not to walk home alone again. Sugar D's uncle died suddenly and unexpectedly in South Africa, leaving his 90-year-old granny living by herself. She is now selling her home and belongings and moving into a retirement home. We discovered there isn't a lot of choice in daycare.

Oh jeez... this is just taking too long and September doesn't get any better. Because blogger thinks this is a spam blog, it won't save in draft form anymore so I don't want to lose all this... maybe I'll add more tomorrow or something. Maybe not.

Happy New Year from the house of ill!

Sunday, December 30, 2007


My sister gave me 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen for my birthday. I just finished it tonight. Obviously, it's not a cheery book by birthday standards, but I am so glad she gave it to me. I should have read it ages ago, but I was scared it would be just too devastating.

To my surprise, it wasn't devastating. I expected it to introduce me to individual people living and dying with AIDS in Africa. What I didn't expect was how much I would learn from it -- about history, politics, economics, scientific research, culture and gender. Even more, it was a call to action. There is still hope. As Gideon Byamugisha, an HIV positive Anglican priest in Uganda, says, "We know AIDS needs a clinical approach, but that won't succeed if poverty stays the same, literacy stays the same, inequality stays the same. HIV shows us the holes in our relations: how we trade with one another, how we relate as genders, how we deal with one another on governance and politics. Those are the things we have to fix."

This book should be required reading for anyone who can read.

You can donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation if you want to help.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

31 now

So, what are you going to do for your birthday?

I don't know... I haven't thought that far ahead.

When you were a kid, what were you going to do when you turned 31?

When I was a kid, I never got past the age of 23 in my imagination.

My brother-in-law says he never got past 32. That was the year 2000, as 23 was for me. When I was a kid, the world was going to end in 2000.

But it hasn't, and to celebrate my 31st birthday, I'm going to shoot that cement factory I pass on the way to my parents, the cement factory that every time I think I want to shoot that, but I never have. That and the more recently burnt out Victorian mansion with no roof and lots of graffiti.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

random pre-holiday wine-drinking shit

I should be wrapping gifts right now, but instead I'm drinking wine and feeling maudlin. Note to self: never listen to your Wallow playlist unless you are actually wallowing. Otherwise it will just make you melancholy.

I should be saving the wine for our little get-together on Christmas Eve, but instead I'm drinking it. So what if I have to make another trip out for supplies.

I should be getting the address and directions for a family gathering we're supposed to go to tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure Swee'pea is coming down with a Merry Christmas bug. He's coughing and having trouble sleeping and his stomach seemed a bit off today.

Plus we have a lot we could do around here (like wrapping presents, buying more wine and making bread pudding).

* * *

I've been meaning to share something I saw in the paper last weekend. I don't read the paper much, but we were snowed in and Sugar D bought one so I read it. I don't feel like explaining all the context so I will just provide the quote.

"... So who is to say that the state of non-verbal rapture you describe in your son - who is to say that that is inferior? Who is to say that? We're arrogant enough to believe that sentience is all that counts. It's not all that counts. A sequoia is not a sentient being. But they count. There is nothing more magnificent. It doesn't require me to think about it to be in awe of it. I don't want to minimize the difficulty of raising a handicapped child. ... But it's just a mistake to think of them as lesser than. There's no lesser than. There's just different from. It isn't just great minds that matter. It's great spirits too."

If you have a subscription to the Globe and Mail you can read the full article here, the third in a series of three. If you don't have a subscription you have to pay one way or the other.

* * *

Oh dear, I'm more than halfway finished the bottle. I should really stop now, especially if Swee'pea really is getting sick and I won't sleep for a week.

I couldn't stop listening to this song today.

* * *

It snowed a lot last weekend.

* * *

Books I want to read:
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
Stephen King, On Writing
Mark Doty, Heaven's Coast and Firebird

* * *

Last weekend we watched Stephen Fry's documentary about bipolar disorder. It was fascinating. Highly recommended.

* * *

Guess I should wrap those presents now.

Nah, there's still tomorrow night.

Off to fill my glass...

Friday, December 21, 2007

where the flashback fridays are

I bet that Mad is the only one who's wondering where the feminist flashback fridays have gone. I always said I would only write them until I ran out of stories, but the truth is I haven't run out of stories. I've just run out of easy stories. On top of that, I've begun to question my motives for telling the other stories I'd like to and reconsidering the boundary between privacy and silence. And there's the matter of my sister enjoying my blog, which is great but I felt a bit weird when she said she'd been reading about my love life and been impressed by how engaging it was. I worry people (like my sister) will think I'm weird for telling some stories.

On the one hand I'm not sure I'd want Swee'pea to read some of these stories when he's older but on the other, I want it documented that I was once young and stupid and invincible-feeling too. I'm worried I'll be one of those parents who completely forgets what it was like to be young. And my memories are still so vivid right now. I realized at that fancy Christmas dinner I went to, when the parents around the table talked about their kids (between 5 and 10 years old), I always had my own anecdote to relate from the kid's perspective. I felt weird when I realized this, but perhaps that just means I have a lot of stories to tell.

On a third hand, I continue to have this niggling feeling that by NOT writing such stories, I am helping to perpetuate the madonna-whore thing. And finally, I don't like that when I die, these experiences will die too.

My choices and relatively brief promiscuity were deliberate and political as well as a journey. In high school I was a nerd and a late bloomer, respected only for my intellect. In my last year and through university, I'd had enough of being admired or desired for my brain and wanted to be admired for my body. Once I conqured that frontier, an impressive feat as an aggressive Amazon, I settled into confidence in my brain and my body, just as they were. Now I do some of the admiring myself, although mostly it's just acceptance.

So I'm going to write them, but I probably won't publish them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

naughty drawer

Somewhere in my parents' house is a big brown envelope with various threats on the outside to anyone other than me who might open it. I have been looking for this envelope for a couple of years now, with no luck. I'm quite certain there's no way it could have been thrown out, because things rarely get thrown out of my parents' house.

The envelope is puffy with many papers, which I packed up just before university. They came out of a drawer in my bedside table, my naughty drawer. I think I put things in there that would shock my mother if she dared open it. It was a test. I knew if she opened it there would be no way she could keep it to herself. I can picture the drawer pulled open even now. There are the letters, a diary, an empty, partly flattened, bright red cigarette pack, an empty mickey bottle (vodka?), and a half-empty box of condoms that expired before I got the chance or inclination to use them.

I threw out everything but the letters by the time I moved out. I no longer had anything to prove.

I suppose I still have a naughty drawer by my bed. It was a surprisingly short time between needing privacy from my parents and soon from my child. Along with my memories of teenage rebellion I remember poring over my friend's dad's porn mags and feeling some small pride that I could never find a similar collection at my house, and I looked high and low.

What about you? Did you have a naughty drawer when you were a teenager? Do you have one now?

PS -- who is that reading in Br0ckville?!? Please tell me it's not family... (unless you're my sister -- that's ok.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

a winter of discontent

I don't much remember the winter I turned 16. I just remember darkness, a long stretch of darkness like the night of the solstice just lasted the entire winter. I was bored and restless yet apathetic and without energy. I despised myself. I remember thinking about suicide, but not having any interest in the violence of the thing. Instead, I wished for a peaceful death just to come upon me.

The true memories I have from that winter are just a few scenes and I watch them from above, all of them at night. In the first a group of teenagers is as minimally dressed up for Halloween as could still merit candy. We don't know it yet but it's our last year really for trick-or-treating. We are sharing a cigarette under a street light. It was my first time smoking and I was afraid to inhale. But the sense of community and the tang of smoke in my nostrils were irresistible.

Another night, this one colder and in a field covered in snow. Five girls in a circle, a new pipe with a small orange circle is being passed from hand to mouth to hand around the circle. We had a few crazy carpets and had tried sliding down the hill, but the sleds got slowed down by the tall grasses rising out of the snow. It was my birthday, my supposed sweet 16. The orange glow of the pipe kept us warm in the cold, white night.

Another night, and I am taking a break from mucking out the stalls or feeding the horses. The light from the barn spills onto the concrete pad of the barnyard, casting a golden rhombus, as I look out. There are northern lights in the sky, and they are shape-shifting as I watch. I feel like the only person on the planet, and not in a good way.

Eventually, light came back and so did I in the spring. I started driving lessons and a couple of my friends got their licenses and we were finally free. I got my license the following summer. And I began the arduous task of learning to like myself, a task that, as much as I'd prefer otherwise, is never really complete.

Monday, December 17, 2007

last week

I followed the old man all the way up the big hill. He wore a fedora and a trench coat that occasionally flapped open in the back to display slightly bowed legs. With every step the silhouette of each shoe lifted up, too large for his stature, supersized by rubbers.

It was a brilliant morning, cold and icy, the kind of morning that forces you to notice each breath and step, waiting for ache. The kind of morning that shakes you out of your winter blah. It hadn't started out brilliantly at all. When I left the house, the sky was dreary, the light dull and the sidewalk so icy my strides shrunk to elderly proportions. By the time I reached the covered bridge, though, a thick golden line stretched across the sky where the sun was starting to peek over the cloudy horizon.

On the main road the sidewalk was walkable and I fell behind the old man, far enough back not to intrude on his sense of privacy but close enough to study him. About halfway up the hill I noticed that I wasn't any closer to him, despite his relaxed, loping gait and my more hurried steps. I felt slightly shamed. As we crested the hill, the sun suddenly burst out and turned the world all black velvet silhouettes and gold lame ice. I wished I had my camera with me. The man in the fedora and trenchcoat was perfectly silhouetted above me, and the brilliance of the sun split by a black telephone pole on the right was balanced perfectly by the black retaining wall split by patches of brilliant gold on the left.

Eventually, I passed him and confirmed my suspicion of rubber shoe covers. I chanced a look back at the crosswalk and noticed that he wasn't nearly as old as I'd thought, 45 at most.

* * *

When I got to my desk, my inbox brought me to a video of a British cell phone salesman with bad teeth who wants to sing opera. He says he was born to sing opera. I expected the worst. I've never had much appreciation for opera. I just knew it was gonna be like Sex's audition on So You Think You Can Dance.

I wept. Opera has never made me weep. Later that morning I saw the friend who had sent it to me and he asked if I watched it. I tried to play it cool, but when he admitted that it moved him to tears, I admitted that it had me too. Then it wasn't quite so embarrassing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

snow day catch-up

Well, there's a blizzard goin' on outside, so I can't do anything I need to, like grocery shopping or library trips or Christmas shopping. All that means that I can catch up with stuff here...

Remember when I asked for advice about making our own ornaments? Well, I took Mad's advice on the paper ring chain, and Karen's on the salt dough ornaments. My implementation was not stellar. I didn't make the paper chain as long as I'd wanted and I don't think the salt dough ornaments were supposed to rise in the oven.

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Still, we painted them with glitter paint and I'm very happy with the result, puffy middles and all.

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I confess I did also buy a few pieces, but I like our first tree.

The only difficulty was the fact that I packed up my grandma's old cookie cutters back in October, the ones I hadn't used in the five years I've had them and that I didn't think I could possibly have need for in the next few months. Did you know it's very difficult to find good cookie cutters? I also threw out my old art supply box in October, the one I hadn't used in like 10 years and figured I just never would, the one with the glitter and glue and string and fishing line, which would have been perfect to hang the ornaments with. So I had to buy cookie cutters, glue, coloured paper, string, and glitter paint.

I should never have turned my back on my pack rat tendencies!

But of course, the most important thing is that Swee'pea LOVES the tree and its lights. It's the first thing he says hello to in the morning and the last thing he says goodbye to at night or any time we leave the house. It's TOO cute!

* * *

Weeks ago, Slouching Mom tagged me for a photographic meme featuring the four things that get me through the day. I sense she has some pretty high expectations for me, and I didn't want to disappoint her so I've thought and thought and thought about it. And now, with the snowy day, I get to implement it. I tried to take the question fairly literally, although I was also influenced by what I thought would make interesting photos. I'll start with the runners-up, the things that are important to me but that I ultimately didn't include.

#1 Runner-Up: Sugar D
He does often help me get through the day, but he really pissed me off yesterday, so no go.


And because he doesn't usually let me photograph him, but for whatever reason did today (maybe to get out of the doghouse from yesterday?), you get two shots of him.

(and hurray! I figured out how to make duotones!)

#2 Runner-Up: Nap Time
Nap time totally keeps me sane but it was far too dangerous to attempt to photograph it. So you get Swee'pea watching the blizzard.

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And now for the Real List...

#4 Thing that gets me through the day: the Internet!
It's not photogenic, but it's far too essential to ignore.

(special guest star: my dirty floor)

#3 Thing that gets me through the day: Toilet Paper!
We take it for granted, but it IS nice to have. I remember in school I was too cheap to buy toilet paper so I used to steal those big, scratchy, industrial roles from the university, until they wised up and started locking up the toilet paper. Then we started bringing our backpacks to the downtown bars and stole their roles. Now that I've stopped drinking so much, I buy the good stuff even.


#2 Thing that gets me through the day: Glasses!
Without them, the whole world would be a blur. And, they have rhinestones, even if a few are missing.


#1 Thing that gets me throught he day: Tea!
So essential, I have two shots.



So there you have it... now, who wants to play? I know SM already got Niobe with the same meme, but I'd love to see what Sage, Den, and Crazy through the day... or anyone else who wants to play...

Monday, December 10, 2007

by request

Well, you asked for it. I would, however, recommend that you drink a few beers before scrolling down. Because, although I'm not saying I look horrible here (I'm trying to be kind and supportive to myself), I must say I looked WAY better in the bathroom mirror on Friday night after three beers.

This was our third night out without Swee'pea ever in Swee'pea's life, the first with a bona fide babysitter rather than a family member. And I had a really nice time. We chatted with adults, ate a chichi four-course meal (for free!) over almost four hours and I drank three beers and a glass of red -- the most I've drank in ages and ages (Sugar D still owes me for the time I was DD during pregnancy and breastfeeding). The service was excellent and the servers made me feel like a queen, constantly asking me if I wanted another drink or if I was finished. One server was even cute, if his eyebrows and soul patch were a bit too well-groomed.

The only slightly disturbing moment occurred right after I looked through my beer goggles into the bathroom mirror and thought to myself, "I look better than I thought!" a moment when I noticed my very obvious cleavage (I never used to have one of those!) and realized that I must have flashed it all around the table when I had my elbows on the table leaning forward in conversation. After that, I made sure to keep my hair hanging down in front of me like it is in this photo. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.

So without further ado, I give you: the Cinnamon family, all dressed up -- except for Swee'pea who stayed home and did not sleep until we got home around 11.

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This one only because I like the necklace so much. It was my Grandma Ruth's. And the bracelets -- Sugar D gave them both to me, the amber one on our wedding day.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Letter to Swee'pea: 22 months

Dear Swee'pea:
Today you are 22 months and one day old (sorry it's been a busy couple of days).


Shortly after I last wrote, you discovered the power of the word, "No!", the louder the better, and just like that you became a two-year-old. You'd uttered the sound before but always referring to something like snow. Until this month you just shook your head side to side to express the concept of no, and I must say that was considerably more enjoyable than your newest, most clearly enunciated word yet. For two solid weeks at least, your commitment to the word no was unwavering. In this case, no doesn't always mean no. If I offered you a banana, for example, you would respond vehemently, "No!" but if I then took the banana away, you'd respond even more vehemently, "No!" I found myself in a very delicate dance of trying to read your mind without offending your naysaying sensibilities. It was a very, very trying time. Nothing could go unprotested from putting clothes on to taking them off.

During this time, I found myself in a few standoffs with you from which I didn't know how to extract myself. One day you threw a bowl nearly full of fruit (I can't remember if it was orange or apple or grapes) on the floor and I didn't really care for that. So I got you out of your high chair and explained in a decidedly annoyed firm voice that if you were going throw food on the floor you have to pick it up. Well, you picked up a few bits then tried to go on your merry way. But I was serious.

"No," I said, "you have to pick up all the fruit."

"No!" you replied, and, pointing at me, "Mama!" you commanded.

I dug my heels in and continued to stand firm. You were going to pick up all those bits of fruit if it was the last thing I was going to do (you come by your stubbornness pretty honestly, I think). You picked up a couple of bits, to show fair play I guess, then once again stopped. You got louder and more intent on not. picking. up. any. more. fruit. We stared at each other over the fruit, waiting to see who would give. Tense moments passed. I wondered how I was going to get out of this, because you were clearly not going to pick up any more fruit. And I was in too deep to back down now. We continued to stare each other down.

Finally, I had a stroke of genius. "Swee'pea," I said, "you have to pick up this fruit because you threw it. Now, I'm going to count to three, and if you haven't picked up all the fruit by the time I reach three, I'm going to put you in your crib so you can think about all of this. Do you understand?"

You nodded though still with a defiant gleam in your eye.


I made sure to count slowly. "Oooooonnnnnneeee." And you sprung into action. You started picking up that fruit so fast your hands were a blur, and you even used both hands. I didn't even need to count two before you'd picked up all the fruit. I felt a thrill of victory and relief. Finally we could do something fun. I thanked you, and gave you a hug, my heart still pounding from the showdown, and we went and read some books. Since then I've taken a more pre-emptive approach, making sure to take your plate of food away before you get to the point of throwing it on the floor.

After a couple of weeks of solid, committed naysaying, all of a sudden, you stopped. You started using no more sparingly, and only when you meant it. Interestingly, I think this change corresponded almost exactly with your dad starting his new job, the one that allows him to spend the morning with us and drop you off at your daycare while I walk to my work. We all seem a lot happier now, especially you.


You still love to play Snack! and now you've brought your sand pail into the mix, which you constantly refer to as your blender ("nino"). If I slip up and call it a bucket, you look quizzically at me like what are you talking about? This is a blender. You usually use it for soup ("poo"), and mime pouring liquid into it, put your hand over the top, then make a loud, blender-like noise. Seeing your interest in cooking, I've been trying to think of ways to get you safely involved in cooking. So the other day I baked with you for the first time and it was hilarious. I felt like I had my own tv show, explaining each step to you, and you loved playing with the measuring cups and spoons. You also love the banana bread that resulted. I think we'll definitely start baking more together.

You are adorable with dolls and babies. At the Early Years Centre, you sometimes play with three dolls at a time, cuddling them and stroking their heads, putting them in the Bumbo chair for real babies or under the dangling toys. You kiss and nuzzle their heads and rub their bellies. It's faintly alarming just how closely you model the mothers of younger babies. At the moment it's feeling like a concerted effort to get yourself a baby sibling. You're fascinated with real babies too, and the other day you pointed to one of the pictures of me when I was pregnant with you and said, "Bebe!" I had told you a few months ago that those pictures were taken when you were in my belly, but it had been quite a while for you to remember spontaneously. I guess we'll have to see...

You've started singing songs a bit more, which is a real hoot. I think your favourite is "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Your version goes something like this: do do do do do do (twinkle twinkle little star), na na na no na no (how I wonder what you are), ba ba ba ba ba ba (up above the world so high), ma ma ma ma ma ma (like a diamond in the sky). Mostly you sing it in a high-pitched monotone, and you always raise your arms above your head when you get to "up above."

Last weekend, we went on a horse-drawn trolley ride around downtown and the driver played Jingle Bells while we rode around, which you've sinced added to your repertoire. Your version goes: "ba ba ba ba, AY!" This month we also went to the Santa Claus parade, and although you hadn't yet heard of Santa, you loved all the tractors and trucks and when it was over you wailed for "Mo! Mo!" looking down the street in the direction from which they'd all come. Since then, your daycare has introduced you to Santa. He even came for a visit, but you, along with most of the toddlers, cried. Last night when I picked you up, your face was red and you gave a little sob when you saw me. Apparently they'd just been reading you the Night Before Christmas and the pictures of Santa scared you. So I think we won't see much more of Santa this Christmas, which is just fine with me (I'm a bit cynical of the old man in red, I think).

Nevertheless, you are getting into the spirit of the holiday and getting me into it too. You love the Christmas trees at your daycare and point them out to me almost every day. I'm hoping we'll get our own tree today and you can help me make some decorations for it. I'm more excited about this holiday season than I have been in the last twenty years at least, all because of you and your fresh excitement.


Love Always and Forever,

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Um, I just bought the most fashion forward (in a sort of backwards 80's style) shoes I've ever bought in my life. Which isn't really saying much. I could never have imagined I would ever buy shoes like these. But I did:



Not only could I not resist the see-through heels, but they were comfortable to boot!

See, Sugar D's (new) employer is having its Christmas party tomorrow night, and I didn't really have an outfit. So I bought a dress at a consignment shop but I quickly realized that I wasn't going to feel comfortable wearing my usual casual and comfortable footwear with it. It's black and white polka dotted silk with a fairly plunging neckline, fitted waist and a slight flare to the skirt -- although not enough flair to feel really safe that it won't cling in all the wrong places when I have nylons on. Hence the need for fancy, heeled shoes. I figured they'd make my legs look good and distract attention from my ass.

What do you think?


This morning at the Early Years Centre, I picked out a couple of Mothering magazines to read while Swee'pea headed straight for the trucks. I settled on the couch and not long after a woman came in and sat next to me, still in her winter coat. An older woman, her mother I guess, followed behind her carrying an infant carseat with a wee baby surrounded by pink fleece. I immediately asked how old the little one was (three and a half weeks -- oh the precision of those early days and hours) and added two and two.The woman had had a c-section. Otherwise she would have carried the baby and carseat herself.

A woman with a son near Swee'pea's age waxed nostalgic about how easy those newborn days were when you could just put the baby in the carseat and take them wherever you wanted without any wrestling. I thought this was a cruel comment. "Maybe physically it was easier," I said, "but," and the new mother interjected with considerable relief, "emotionally and mentally, it feels pretty hard."

The newborn started to cry, that delicious little newborn cry, and the mother crooned to her, then looked around a touch nervously, "Great. I brought the crying baby. Nobody likes a crying baby." We all jumped in with Oh jeez! Don't worry's. I don't think any parent of a young child hanging out at a free-play drop-in centre could possibly mind the gentle squawk of a newborn. The baby quieted on the breast.

I moved to make room for the grandma and sat on the floor with my magazine, watching Swee'pea out of the corner of my eye. He'd gotten to the dolls now, and was just sitting quietly, a doll cuddled close to him, his head slightly tilted with his chin on the doll's head. He sat like that for many minutes, still. Between the new baby in pink and my baby who was once as tiny as that little one cradling his own make-believe baby sent my ovaries aflutter (they've been doing that a lot lately and Swee'pea's tender fascination with dolls is not helping).

I wanted to talk to the new mother some more, to reassure her that it really does get easier, but I felt it would be intruding on her conversation with her mother. I felt a c-section kinship with her. I couldn't help but eavesdrop a little bit. She was here for the lactatation consultant, who had gone to find a room. The very same lactation consultant I had seen when Swee'pea had spinachy poops and who had helped us manage my overactive letdown.

Eventually the lactation consultant came back, and the mother introduced the grandma: her mother-in-law, I heard with some surprise. She'd treated the mother with such respect and kindness and warmth, I'd just assumed she must have been her mother. The mother's husband was away so grandma had come to help her out. She went on to remind the lactation consultant that she'd mentioned her mother-in-law before, that she'd had four kids. "Oh right," the lactation consultant remembered, "and you did a great job feeding them all. It's amazing you nursed them for so long in your generation, with no support of any kind, just because you knew it was the right thing to do." The grandma nodded, "And I loved it."

I know you can't judge a book by its cover or a relationship from the outside, I know it's wrong to covet your neighbour's mother-in-law. But before I knew what hit me, my eyes were hot with unshed tears and I had to catch my breath for a moment.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

pink at night

Tonight is a raw night. The night sky is the same pink as the snow, which I find faintly disturbing. I know intellectually that is just the haze of streetlights reflecting off the fine rain as it falls over the thick snow but still... it seems unnatural.

This weekend has been a complete wash. I don't feel like I've had any time off at all, thanks to all the tense waiting and awkwardness yesterday, a middle of the night vomiting session with the little person sharing our bed, and then more waiting today, becoming more and more angry as the afternoon drifted away. I eventually erupted with a poisonour impotent rage and now just have that exhausted and limply frustrated aftertaste.

The other day, before the batshit crazy hit the fan, I spent a cosy afternoon reading my posts from our trip to South Africa early this year while snow blew around outside and Swee'pea played with his blocks and pots and pans. It occurred to me that my blog used to be a lot better then, that it's just devolved into a bunch of self-pitying, navel-gazing bullshit. So I will point you to a warmer, sunnier time.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

just when I thought life was going along all hunky-dory

and the most I had to worry about was Christmas shopping and future vacation destinations...

updated: crisis has been averted, thank goodness, although I think we all sustained some damage in the process.

a certain mentally ill family member is being evicted today and has nowhere to go but here.

Our home.

We were in this situation about four years ago too, and I still have flashbacks. Now we know better. We just cannot put ourselves (and now Swee'pea) through that again. We cannot enable the mental illness.

But it feels wrong and selfish all the same. The counsellor with the local mental health clinic we've been working with over the last (gasp) 10? months pointed out that when someone is mentally ill, you can't draw closer around them the way you can and do with physical illness, otherwise everyone will get sucked into the craziness. We must first protect our own sanity.

I hate this knot of anxiety and guilt weighing in my belly yet pushing my shoulders to my ears.

I suspect we will not make it out to the horse-drawn trolley rides, dinner out and lighting of the trees we had planned for this evening. But I guess that's the last of my worries...

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Since my Grinchy McScrooge post, I have found myself, lo and behold, getting into the Christmas spirit. I have been thinking about what holiday traditions I want to build and share with Swee'pea. This year will be our first grown-up Christmas. Until now, we've always gone to my parents' house for Christmas and had a sort of Christmas by proxy. I've never had my own tree since I've never been home at Christmas before, and the stocking thing kind of petered out for the adults. So this year will mark a lot of firsts: first Christmas tree, first time setting out our own stockings on Christmas Eve, first time hosting a Christmas Eve gathering with Sugar D's mom.

This week, Swee'pea's daycare put up their Christmas trees and decorated them, and every night I pick up Swee'pea he points at the tree and says "tdeetdee" with considerable enthusiasm. It's so cute that now I'm exicted about getting a tree and decorating it. Of course, decorating it will be a challenge, since we only have one decoration that my belly dance instructor gave me the Christmas before Swee'pea was born. And get this: totally non-crafty me is considering making some tree decorations with Swee'pea. I don't have the slightest clue where to start with that, so I'll put it out to you guys: any ideas for how to make tree decorations that a two-year-old could help with (I'm looking at YOU, Beck)?

I've also been thinking about stockings. My mom, who is as uncrafty as I am, took a lot longer to accept that fact and made the felt stockings I grew up with herself. Each stocking was edged with pinking shears and has one of our names on them as well as a little Christmasy image, all made of felt. I always liked that those stockings were made with love, with each of us in mind as she cut and sewed. But I know myself well enough to know that if I attempted such a feat, I would probably not finish it for at least a few Christmases. So I bought some. They're not very Christmasy but I love them.


AND, they're all knitted by a women's co-operative in Kenya so I know the makers are receiving a good portion of my dollars. How's that for sweet? (Of course, on the way home I realized that if we have any more children -- and that will be a whole other post soon I think -- we may have a hard time finding matching stockings. Oh well, we'll cross that bridge when it comes I guess.) That co-operative also makes tree decorations and beatiful toques, scarves, and mittens of all sizes.

Not only did I buy stockings, but in wandering around the store looking for them I found all kinds of things I'd love to both receive and give. And I've been thinking about what to give Swee'pea without feeling angsty. I definitely want to keep a limit on our gifts to Swee'pea and as much as possible I want to make sure that they'll last a long time, developmentally, and/or are made fairly locally (that one could be very difficult but I'm willing to try). But I'm feeling way less Scrooge-y.

When I first started thinking about ways to help others during the holiday season, I thought about sponsoring a local family and giving them gifts for the children and food for a holiday feast. But then I realized I'd have to choose between going against my own anti-comsumerism values and forcing them (and other antis as far as toys go) onto another family. So we're not going to do that. We have enough angst trying to make ethical purchases for our own family anyways.

* * *

Walking home with our new stockings in the bag, I thought about Santa and what role I want him to have in our Christmas. When I was a kid, I loved leaving cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, then discovering the carrots gone, the cookie half-eaten and the milk half-drunk in the morning. So I think I'd like to invite Santa to our home and have him fill our stockings and maybe leave one gift for each of us. I hesitate to put that down here, because I just imagine looking back ten years from now and laughing at my silly ideals, the ones that got tossed out the window as soon as Swee'pea turned 3 or 4. I can try though, right?

While downtown, I saw that the city is hosting festivities this weekend, lighting up the trees with live music and horse-drawn trolleys, the same festivities and trolleys that I have rolled my eyes at every year -- until now, when I've suddenly discovered how much Swee'pea enjoys this kind of stuff. What is happening to me?!? I'm even thinking of baking!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Seasonal Angst Disorder Part 1

A week ago we went to the Santa Claus Parade. Before we left I decided to tell Swee'pea about the parade to entice him to let me clothe him appropriately for the sunny but cold weather. Knowing his obsession for all things wheeled, I told him there would be trucks and tractors and big wagons with kids on them, and probably at least one fire truck AND an ambulance. I glossed over Santa, not having really thought about what I want Swee'pea to think about him. He was definitely interested in seeing all the trucks, but we still had to get him dressed while he screamed and flailed. Yay, winter with a two-year-old. Anyways, he was pretty spell-bound for the whole parade, and kept looking down the street whenever there was a gap between floats (which I must say were pretty pathetic, even by G-town's standards) looking for more trucks. It was the trucks that he especially loved, no surprise.

Towards the end, someone was carrying a sign that said, "Simplify your life!" Always on the lookout for ways to simplify my life, I looked closer and read the next line: "Hire an Elf." This confused me and made me think for a moment that perhaps I really have been doing too much Pot(ter). Looking even closer, I saw the fine print talked about a personalized shopping service. For a moment, seduced by the power of suggestion, I thought that might be a good idea, but then I came to, digusted. Buying gifts for loved ones, just for the sake of buying gifts, really feels wrong to me. I mean, if you don't have the time, interest or knowledge to give gifts that are meaningful or particularly desired, why bother?

I've already written about how in my immediate family we no longer give each other gifts and we donate to a charity instead (we still give gifts to the children though), about how I feel like a total scrooge with my disillusionment in gift-giving and ambivalence about Santa and what role I'm comfortable with for the man in red in my child(ren)'s Christmas. And yet, I feel the need to rehash a lot of this.

Go ahead and call me the Grinch but I don't really like getting gifts anymore. Being a packrat by nature and not very hygienically inclined, my house tends to keep filling up with stuff that I just have to keep sorting through and donating or tossing to landfill. Andrea's green family series and the Bloghers ACT: Canada initiative have really got me thinking about how wasteful it is buying new things when you could recycle old things... and, now that Christmas is coming, giving people (or receiving) gifts that they'll never really use or enjoy. I am fortunate and frugal enough to be able to buy myself most of the things I want when I want them so I don't need Christmas gifts, and most Christmases I can't even think of anything that I'd like to receive. On the other hand, I like showing other people my appreciation of and affection for them, and I appreciate when that affection is reciprocated, but I really don't need or want it to be done with material things.

Mad and Jen's monthly Just Posts, now approaching their first anniversary, have also raised my awareness about social justice in a big way. This year, I'm going to try to make all my gift-giving give back (except for Swee'pea and nieces and newphews, which I will discuss later). I'm going to donate in the names of the people I give gifts to. So I've started thinking about what organizations I want to donate to. Last year, my family and I focused on international giving -- we gave to Foster Parents Plan for Christmas Gifts, and (eventually) sponsored a child through Help Lesotho (which we are still doing).

This year, I'd like to give locally as well. On June 15, 2007 our youth shelter closed suddenly. It provided dinner for about 30 kids every night, and had 20 emergency beds. Sadly, the essential services it provided have still not been replaced and the kids who used them still don't have a new shelter space. I discovered through G-town Social Justice that we can donate money towards the new shelter (once they find space and funding) or to providing services in the meantime. The same folks are also collecting toiletries and other essentials for the kids and are driving a Kick the Cold initiative to collect clean warm garments for homeless people here.

Another choice for giving is the Masai Centre for Local, Regional and Global health, an out-patient clinic that provides holistic and compassionate care for people living with HIV/AIDS in Wellington-Dufferin, Grey-Bruce and Waterloo Region. The organization also raises funds for the Tsepong Clinic in Lesotho.

While I am most drawn to using my gift-giving dollars to help people, I also feel it may be appropriate to support an organization in line with my passion for native plant conservation and gardening, so Evergreen is top of my list as well. What I like about Evergreen is its holistic approach: Evergreen funds the creation of native plant gardens at schools, makes urban spaces greener, builds awareness and provides resources for native plant gardening, and supports buy-local initiatives in its Brick Works space. I am also considering the Canadian Wildlife Foundation.

And finally, I want to give to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. It does great work to fight AIDS in Africa, and when you make a donation on behalf of someone else, they give you a nice card to notify them.

All those options make me feel slightly less grinch-like, and I also discovered that I am not alone. Buy Nothing Christmas has lots of ideas to reduce the crazy consumerism of the season that just widens the gap between rich and poor around the world and further damages the environment.

Last year I was able to get away without much thought for how I want Swee'pea to see Christmas and how to let him enjoy the magic and family closeness of the holiday without going all capitalist crazy. This year he's so aware that we've got some decisions to make and traditions to begin. But I'll leave that for another post...

scene from a married life

Scene: Chez Cinnamon, the first morning of Sugar D's new job, the first morning he hasn't left long before Cinnamon Gurl, Swee'pea, or the sun have risen, the first morning of dual parenting after four months.

CG to SD: Well, I'll get our lunches together.

SD: Oh -- is there anything besides last night's chili for lunch?

CG, momentarily perplexed because Sugar D liked that chili a lot: Uhh, there's tortellini.

SD: Ok, I'll have that.

More confusion from CG, because Sugar D isn't that big a fan of tortellini...

Then the lightbulb goes on over CG's head.

CG, laughing heartily at Sugar D's expense: Ha! You just don't want to fart on your first day!

[pause] Can I blog this?

Friday, November 23, 2007


We have a nightly routine. After dinner, I go run a bath for Swee'pea, and Sugar D sings a silly song about "Run dee tub, run dee tub, Mama, run dee tub." We both give Swee'pea his bath and wrastle him into pyjamas, then we bring him downstairs, turn on Swee'pea's sleep playlist and Sugar D walks him back and forth to sleep while I go upstairs and read. For a long time this was great. Swee'pea would fall asleep in five to 20 minutes, go down in his crib no problem and sleep at least until we went to bed but usually later. This was also often the only time I would read a book instead of blogs. Maybe one or two days a week it wouldn't work and we'd let Swee'pea stay up later (often once he took a poo he'd relax for sleep), and it was ok. I stayed calm and philosophical knowing that the next evening he'd go down fine.

Now, however, it's not working so well. Now, him falling asleep with a few minutes of walking is the exception rather than the rule, and if he does, most nights he wakes up and demands to come out of the crib before falling back to sleep eventually at least once . I am neither calm nor philosophical about it. Now, when I go upstairs to read, I find myself tensely listening to what's going on downstairs, shoulders up around my ears. If I hear Swee'pea chatting, I know it's not going to end well and I start to have terrible, black thoughts. The worst if it's all quiet and I can only hear a faint whishing of Sugar D's feet on the laminate floor and I start to think that it will be ok, that Swee'pea's going down. Then suddenly Swee'pea will burst forth with some monosyllabic pronouncement, and all will be lost.

I'm kind of surprised with just how black my thoughts can get on these evenings, because in the day I'm mostly pretty happy and enjoying Swee'pea's company. When Swee'pea won't sleep, my thoughts veer towards the near-suicidal, seeking escape from my whole life and finding no way but one. I also get angry, wondering why I got saddled with this non-slash-high-maintenance sleeper. Often, when Sugar D admits defeat, I take it out on him, expecting some magical baby whispering power of him and wishing he were more like Beck's husband who just puts the kids to bed. I don't feel good about myself in these moments and my self-criticism cuts three ways: 1) that I can't get my kid to bed and 2) that I can't handle an extra couple of hours with my son, that I'm so needy and demanding to require two hours without him every day and 3) that I yell at my husband in front of my toddler son. This was not the kind of mother I wanted to be.

My new nephew is three months old and everything he should be at that age: rolly poly goodness and smiles. He also sleeps through the night already and that news, I'm ashamed to admit, pierced me with jealousy. When he was a newborn, I had lots of memories of Swee'pea's newborn days. But the last time I saw him, I couldn't really remember Swee'pea as a three to six-month-old. Those months were the months when I was obsessed with trying to get him to sleep in his basket and later his crib. I was relentless and was sure that if I just did the right thing, he would sleep in a bed without me. I thought it must be my fault, and as a result I ended up missing those gorgeous rolly poly days. He was seven months old before I finally just accepted his sleep habits and put him in the sling so I could at least blog during his naps.

It's been a couple months of regression, I think, not counting that very anomolous and lovely one night. Lately, we've taken to lying down in our bed with Swee'pea to get him to sleep, and that works, mostly. But sometimes it takes hours and our evening is gone anyways by the time he falls asleep. I'm back to thinking that while it may not be my fault, it's my responsibility to find solutions. The only thing I can think of is to get him a big boy bed and baby proof the upstairs so we can lay down with him and the leave him in his bed. But he seems a bit young to me... so I turn to you, dear readers, for ideas. How do you get your high-maintenance sleepers to bed? How old were your kids when you put them in big beds and were there any surpises? I've also wondered about finding or making story books about kids staying in their own bed or learning to fall asleep on their own. Any tips?

* * *

Sorry for my recent blogligence -- blame Harry Potter. I'm still keeping up with most of your blogs, I'm just not commenting. But I'm well into the seventh book so I should be back to good blogizenship soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: NOT!

Now with words... lots and lots of whining words.


(I found it rather alarming to walk by someone in a mask like that)

(the back door of our local independent toy store)

* * *

This is our last week of Sugar D working in Toronto. It is proving interminable. It's like the end of the week is an asymptote that we will forever approach and never reach.

I don't think it helps that Swee'pea has suddenly become a full-blown two-year-old (by the behaviour not by the numbers). This morning we left the house late with me already lathered in a sweat from the number of times I had to wrangle with him -- to change his diaper, put pants, shirt and socks on, take him upstairs so I could put pants, shirt and socks on myself, wrangling him downstairs to gather stuff into bags and get both our shoes, coat and toques on and out the door, all to a loud and near constant chorus of "No! No! No!"

And yesterday, Sugar D spent a record six hours in transit... he blames the bus driver who was new and apparently not yet initiated into the secret short-cuts the other bus drivers use to meet their arrival times.

I never imagined this week would be so painful.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

random memories

I love what Mad's been doing with her decluttering: blogging her mementoes and sometimes throwing the actual object away. I was looking for bad high school poems to post but I think I must have packed my notebooks up and put them in storage back when we thought we were going to sell our house and move. I did, however, find some old memories.

My 21st birthday sucked. I was recovering from a minor but painful surgery, one of my new kittens had died, my boyfriend had suddenly stopped speaking to me, and my parents were hosting a family reunion (my birthday's on Boxing Day). I survived, and by the New Year I think I was mostly past my pity party.

In March, I noticed my friends were whispering around me and conversations would sometimes stop suddenly when I came in the room. I was kind of concerned, but didn't know what to do about it, until one day I came home from classes and there was a party going on. "Surprise!! Happy 21 and a quarter birthday!!!" my friends yelled.

It was great. They gave me funny gifts (including the pink chicken featured in this old post) and the kids' sunglasses pictured here.

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After I opened my gifts, we started off on a barhopping treasure hunt with clues and everything. Last night I found some of the clues:

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(remember the CIJ hats and egg story I told a while back?)

* * *

I also found the poster

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that set off the chain of events that took me to the Harbourfront Writers' Festival Tribute to Al Purdy in October 1996

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(Hey look! It's Swee'pea's grasping fingers trying to get hold of the ticket WAY after his bedtime!)

and later, interview him at his home in Sydney in the summer of 1997. All of which I described more than a year ago AND included a link to my favourite poem of all time, "Necropsy of Love." Judging by the number of googlers coming here looking for Al Purdy and "Necropsy of Love" this fall, I think he must be on a few syllabuses.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I was going along in my merry, stroller-pushing, self-absorbed way when loud angry voices grabbed my attention from the blog post I was composing. A boy and girl were yelling at each other. The boy's face was all sharp angles, made sharper by his nasty rage, and the details of the girl's face were mostly obscured by her baseball cap pulled low. Still, it was obvious she was crying. They must have been fighting for a while, because the onlookers weren't even trying to camouflage their staring or pretend they hadn't noticed. Their fight looks like it's bordering on the physical, with her jabbing her face suddenly into his personal space and him raising his arm before she darts quickly back.

I start to walk away, when an elderly man speaks to me. His expression, of disbelieving yet concerned impotence, must mirror mine. "He punched that girl with his fist. He punched her." I don't know what to do with this information. I really want to be the brave badass who tells that punk off and breaks it up, but I can't. I can't put Swee'pea in that kind of danger. I'm also aware that to walk away without doing anything is to permit such behaviour, and I can't do that either. I look around for someone who can help, preferably a large sympathetic man in some kind of authoritarian uniform but there is no one. I start to walk away again.

The old man is still there and his watery blue eyes plead. "He punched her. He pushed her down and every time she tried to get up he punched her in the chest again and again." It's like he needs to confess, to unburden himself of the weight of the observer. I wonder about this man, what violence he's witnessed in his long life, if maybe when he was younger and stronger, he'd intervened in situations like this. Now though, wizened and frail, he's lost any authority he might have once imposed and he's as helpless as me.

The angry couple is still yelling. I still don't know what to do. I have my camera and consider making a photograph of the angry scene with the elderly man watching and upset, but I worry that it will look like the worst kind of callousness to lift the camera to my eye. In fact, it would be the opposite urge; if I can't change what's going on, if I can't help that girl, I can honour her experience by recording it. But I don't.

I look around again for someone to intervene. There is a city truck in the square and someone is working on the fountain just 15 feet from the fighters. I don't know how the worker can be oblivious. There are lots of kids around and I keep hoping one of them will intervene but I guess it's just a lovers' quarrel now, no blows anymore. Eventually, I move on.

* * *

Half a block down the street a cop car's coloured lights are strobing. A man is talking to its inhabitants through the windows, gesticulating. After a few minutes, the cop car's lights stop flashing, and the man walks away, still gesticulating and twitching, though no one's questioning him anymore.

* * *

A block further on, I see a girl coming towards us on a rattling green bike wearing a black and white striped toque. As she approaches, she raises a hand to wipe tears from her face, stroking first under one eye, then the other, her feet still pedaling. She smiles bravely as our eyes meet in the moment before she passes.

* * *

It's not even a full moon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Potterheads Anonymous

My name is Cinnamon Gurl and I am a potterhead. It started out innocently enough: I just wanted to see what everyone was talking about, what all the fuss was about. I didn't even like it that much the first time. I mean, sure, it was fun, but not as fun as I thought it would be. For a long while, I had total control; I could do it a bit here and there, at parties, nothing much. Then towards the end of my second book, I found myself getting more and more heavily involved in the Potterhead world. One day I did so much that when my son woke several times in the middle of the night, I kept thinking he was Pot(ter) and I had to save him in some strange half-sleep Pot(ter)-induced hallucinations.

Now, I'm neglecting my family. My husband says he's jealous of Harry Potter and the rapt attention I focus on it. I've even started doing it when I'm with my son. If I see he's occupied with some toy for a few minutes I'll creep into a corner and do some while my he's busy. Sometimes it can be really hard to drag my attention back into the room, back to my son. It's gotten to the point where, now, if I open my book in front of him, he'll cry, "Nooooo!" and try to take it away from me. That makes me sad but I still couldn't stop.

Even my personal hygiene is suffering because I'd rather have 10 minutes to smoke some Pot(ter) than shower. Last night I stayed up late because I just couldn't get enough and I even did some before breakfast. The worst, though, had to be this afternoon when I finished the last four pages of my fourth book in front of my desk at work. I spent all morning thinking about it just sitting there in my back, and I couldn't resist. I had to do it.

I've even started going out late at night, just to get more Pot(ter). I couldn't stand the thought of going all evening and probably all day tomorrow without any more Pot(ter) so I snuck out to the library to refill my stash. Ohh, the sweet relief of having fresh Pot(ter) in my hand... what had been looking like a cold and bleak evening suddenly had colour and warmth again. Sadly, I don't even think I've hit rock bottom yet. I know I have a problem, that I've lost control, but I don't really want to try to fix it until I've finished the series. I mean, once I'm finished, I'll be able to stop any time I want, right?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Today is a brilliant day, and not just because of the sunshine. Last night, Swee'pea went to sleep at a reasonable hour and for once did not wake up before Sugar D and I went to bed, where we stretched across the vacant expanse between us and luxuriated in the sensation of being able to choose whatever position you please to fall asleep, with no small elbows or heads or feet poking in the way. It was a sensation we were able to enjoy all night long, for the first time in months. And, possibly for the first time in Swee'pea's life, I woke up all by myself, and went downstairs to read (I'm more than halfway through the Goblet of Fire), by myself, until Swee'pea woke up around 7:45 a.m. It was an incredible feeling of unprecendented restfulness.

* * *

To go to the playground in the park, we always cross the covered bridge, constructed entirely of wood right down to its square pegs. Some of its boards are loose, and when wheels cross them, they sink and rise in turn, sounding out bass notes. This morning, I heard fragments of a woman singing on the wind, rising above the percussion of the loose boards behind us. She kept singing as she passed us, and her voice was beautiful and a little haunting. She was peddling an old, bright green bicycle that rattled along like cymbals, and she wore a royal blue toque with two peaks like pigtails, red mittens, a burgundy coat, and flourescent orange tights. As she clattered off the bridge and up towards the university, I couldn't help but imagine I'd just seen Bjork on a bike, or heard Pippi Longstocking sing. I felt like I'd been given a gift, the kind of gift you don't know you want until you open it and feel a warm glow.

(not today - this picture's from August, but you get the idea)

Friday, November 09, 2007


A while back, I put together two playlists: one with music to wallow to, because sometimes I like to sink back into my melancholy and let sad music music embrace me. Then, fearing it might make a listener suicidal, I made the antidote, a collection of songs that always make me feel good and alive. The playlist is heavy on African music, and there is one track in particular that I have been listening to over and over again lately. Its English translation is "Beware Verwoerd! (The Black Man is Coming)" and the women's voices ring out all joyous and the men's voices thrum below, their threat concealed by the melody. You can't help but tap your toe, and I guarantee you will find yourself humming the tune for hours after you listen to it. Not only does the music make me feel good, but also the fact that Africans would not be silenced by apartheid's long oppression, that they used music as both weapon and affirmation, and finally, eventually, as celebration once more. The point of all this, however, is not to muse on the significance of South African music in the struggle for freedom; you can watch Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony for that (which I highly highly recommend).

I really just wanted an excuse to get you listening to "Beware Verwoerd" as background while I shared our very good fortune. The best I can do is this 30-second sample. (Please try and find the whole song from the Amandla! soundtrack - it's wonderful.)

Miriam MakebaBeware Verwoerd (Naants' Indod'Emnyama)

We got some fantastic news. First, Sugar D got the job in Waterloo! And it pays even better than the Toronto job! This is the sign I have been looking for all summer. We were literally days away from putting our house on the market in preparation to move to the Big Smoke, and change everything. Three days before we were due to put the house on the market, Sugar D got an email about a job prospect in Waterloo. I heard late in the day at work. By the time I got home (like 15 minutes later) I was giddy at the prospect of not having to move, which made us think that perhaps we should reconsider everything, even if this particular prospect didn't pan out. He had to have two interviews, and this week was offered the job. So let's recap:
  1. 3 days before making irrevocable moves, they approached him.
  2. He was not actively looking for jobs in the area so wouldn't have seen the job on his own.
  3. Even if he had been looking for jobs, he probably wouldn't have applied for this one, because the title was quite a departure from the usual job titles he qualified for.
  4. Going back to his original position, the one that he lost back in May, now it's obvious that they did him a favour. He wasn't totally satisfied there, but he probably never would have gotten around to applying for other positions.
It's also looking like I will be getting a promotion at my work, which I will still be able to do part-time, bumping up to four days a week.

Houston, we have a sign!

So it looks like we were meant to remain here. Whenever people ask me how long I've lived here or why I moved here, I always used to tell them that I came here to go to school and never quite got around to leaving. Now, after going through this whole process, I can't say that anymore. We could have moved, and in the end we decided that we wanted to keep G-town as our home, that we belong here, at least for a bit longer. It feels much better living here because we actively want to than just being too lazy to get our shit together for somewhere else.

I haven't been able to blog about this awesome turn of events for nearly a week, waiting for the formal offer and for Sugar D to give notice at his current job (just in case any of his coworkers have discovered this blog) so my initial ecstasy has given way to a calmer joy and intense relief. Relief that all the open doors and possibilities and threats of change have closed, and we find ourselves in our own comfortable home, now even more comfortable knowing that we don't have to vacate it any time soon. After the months of emotionally distancing myself from our home, I feel the need to throw a house Re-Warming party, to jumpstart the process of re-inhabiting it.

Of course, the best part about all this good fortune is that it's not too good. I still have a child who will not sleep, and a mentally ill mother-in-law. So it's really just a nice balance now.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

talk about late to the party

I just finished Prisoner of Azkaban. Oh. My. Goodness. Where have I been? I LOVED it! So much I can't decide between reading it again and racing onto the next one.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

dinner undone

Dinner tonight was a total wash. Seriously. It started with a totally inedible meal made by yours truly. I've never had that happen before. I mean, I've tried recipes that were inedible but it was always the first and last time. Tonight's dinner was a meal that we always love, all three of us, and I've made it like 50 times at least. It's the pasta recipe I shared here, with a few modifications for Swee'pea.

I don't know what went wrong but it was horribly, stomach-turningly bitter. I think it must have been the asiago; it's the only thing I can think of. But I don't know what would happen to asiago that would make it so awful. It was just packaged the day before yesterday.

Anyways, we threw in our forks, and decided to order pizza. When Sugar D returned and we opened up the steaming box, with Swee'pea yelling enthusiastically, "Naaaa!" (Snack!!"), the pizza looked funny. It had sundried tomatoes and broccoli on it, which we hadn't ordered. Oh well, we got the wrong pizza but were hungry enough and desperate enough to rid our mouths of the nasty bitterness of the last dish, we almost ate it. Then we noticed the chicken bits and barbecue sauce. No way could I stomach the thought of barbecue sauce on pizza, and neither could Sugar D, a vegetarian. The pizza place offered to replace the pizza, deliver it on a rush basis, and give us a credit for next time. Having ordered many a pizza from them, that sounded good. (Ok, so I really had to argue and emphasize the whole vegetarian and chicken thing, and I could see Sugar D cringing when I told the customer service rep, "I don't like that answer, can I speak to someone else?" but I got the credit.)

And we waited. I figured it might get here in as early as 15 minutes. Nope. Well, definitely half an hour. Nope. So I call the pizza place again and get put on hold and listen to a message about how they don't offer time guarantees on replacements for unsatisfactory pizzas. Eventually, someone talks to me, and eventually, some time after I hang up, the pizza arrives.

Hurray! By this point, it's been an hour and 20 minutes since we ordered the first pizza after our original inedible dinner. And the pizza has a disgusting amount of pesto on. I love pesto, but seriously, this was like a centimetre thick across the whole thing. The pizza was entirely green and very very salty (I also love salt, but discovered tonight that even I have my limits). I called back, and they offered to remake the pizza, again, but we'd lost our appetite for pizza of any kind and just told them to use less pesto next time.

This dinner was jinxed.

And to top it off, it's 9:45 pm, and Swee'pea is still awake. But that is a topic for another post, I think.

Wordless Wednesday: Sin's Random Street Shots



(This is really annoying. I've always known that the layout cuts off part of the photo, but in this case it really makes a difference to the composition. Click through to the flickr shot if you're curious.)


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Letter to Swee'pea: 21 months old


Dear Swee'pea:

Tomorrow you will be 21 months old. Right now you are supposed to be napping, but you aren't, despite my best efforts, and I must confess to feeling just a bit peeved about this state of affairs. Especially since last night you woke in the middle of the night (many times) with a fever, and I awoke to small hands scrabbling under my shirt. Small hands that scrabbled under my shirt all night long. A cuddle-monkey at the best of times, your need for parental closeness multiplies exponentially when you're sick.


Sadly, you have already had one nasty nasty bug just a couple of weeks ago, which caused five days of fever and seven days and nights of parents who could not put you down asleep, not even on the couch, our usual standby when you're sick. I don't mean to sound callous or anything, I do feel sorry for you when you're miserable, but I'm merely trying to point out the whole chain reaction.


At this moment, it has just started to snow, big, fat, heavy flakes, the first snowfall of the season, and really your first snowfall (of course you've already experienced two winters but not in a really aware sort of way). You have become very aware of the weather lately, always commenting whether it's raining, windy or sunny ("naynay," "neenee" or "neenee") when we go outside. And now you keep looking out the window and saying, "No!" (snow).


We just had Hallowe'en, and we dressed you up in a store-bought zebra costume. (I started to feel guilty that I'm not talented enough to make you a costume, but then I remembered that I would have loved the luxury of a store-bought costume when I was a kid, so it's probably ok.) You enjoyed being a zebra, but at first refused to wear the hood portion on your head. We went to our next-door neighbour's house first ("Meee") and I suggested that putting the hood up would make for a better zebra effect. You said, "Oh," nodded once, and wore the hood up for the rest of the night. You kept saying, "Baba," then pointing at your chest. You loved being out at night and seeing all the other kids all dressed up. We didn't exactly trick or treat, since I felt guilty that you wouldn't actually eat any of the candy and it would all be for me and your dad, but we visited a few friends and neighbours. A few times I asked if you were ready to go home, and you kept saying, "Mo!" (more) so we kept walking. It was a surprisingly mild night for Hallowe'en and we enjoyed ourselves too.


You enjoyed seeing the pumpkins ("Deedee" for some reason - you continue to have some idiosyncratic pronunciations like "bobo" for sweater and "poo" for soup), but you weren't so keen on helping clean the pumpking out a few days earlier. You refused to touch the slimy, seedy bits, which I'd thought you might enjoy, since you enjoy helping out so much, but you would only use a large spoon, which wasn't terribly effective. So I separated out the seeds from the slimy bits myself and roasted the seeds, while your dad carved a black widow spider and you coloured with crayons on the newspaper underneath the pumpkin. It was an entirely pleasant family activity, with the Shins playing what seemed like the perfect Canadian autumn music, a band that you probably haven't heard of or if you have is so old I'm showing my age. Whatever. It was a nice afternoon is all I'm trying to say.


Earlier in the month we picked out the pumpkin at a local pumpkin farm and I took lots of pictures of you with your pumpkin-coloured hair among all the pumpkins, big and small. Your favourite part of that day was riding a wagon begin a real, live tractor, your first tractor ride. You also enjoyed riding in a smaller wagon that your dad pulled. You remain obsessed with all things wheeled.


With the cold weather, we have discovered you have a near-phobia of mittens, and a love of toques ("tu"). So far the fall's been so mild, we've been able to get away with having you tuck your hands under your legs to keep them warm, and if you take them out, I just ask if you want to wear mittens and you quickly tuck them back under. But today it is very cold so soon we will have to have some sort of confrontation. I think we'll try socks up to your elbows underneath your coat first.


One of your favourite games at the moment is "Snack!" Every time you utter the word "Naaaa!", you draw it out with such unbridled enthusiasm that in my mind it's always capitalized and followed by at least one exclamation mark. Anyways, the game. There are two versions, one where you take your small, bright orange toy plates and place a block or other small item on each one and sort of pass it around to some imaginary tablemates, or to whoever's actually in the room. The other version involves using pots, either real or toy, to cook the snack on a stove, either toy or imaginary. You put some small item in each pot, put the lid on, rattle it around the stove, and if it's an imaginary stove, you say, "Doh," then remove the lid and announce, "Naaaa!"


Thanksgiving dinner was the first time you used the word, or the first time I recognized your usage. We came into your grandparents' dining room and the moment you laid eyes on the table overflowing with food and place settings, you yelled with glee, "Naaaa!!!" I think you must have been quite hungry. Speaking of food, since I last wrote I've taken action on the food-throwing front. Now, when you throw food on the floor deliberately, I get you to pick it all up yourself and throw it out. I think you mostly enjoy it, although you often lose focus before the task is complete, and we have had at least one confrontation when you refused to pick them up, shaking your head and wearing an expression on your face exactly like I wore when I was 16 and my mom was asking me to do something I deemed beneath me. The standoff went on long enough that I was forced to drop my expectations and eventually settled for just having you pick up one piece, which you did, grudgingly. This scares me, a bit.

Overall, this month has seen a lot of laughter in our house, despite the illness and sleep deprivation. You just make me laugh so much right now, with your occasional short "Oh"'s to indicate you understand what I just said and stand corrected from what you'd previously thought, with your passion for sweeping and excitement for laundry, with the connections you make between things, and a million other small things I can't think of right now. You give us lots of hugs, often spontaneously, during which you say, "Awwwww." I'm not sure if it's your word for hug or an imitation of your dad's and my responses to your spontaneous hugs and cuddles.


Whatever mistakes await us down the road, the love your dad and I share for you is the biggest love either of us has ever experienced, a love that squeezes my chest and punches me in the gut with its expanding magnitude. Our futures are filled with uncertainty, but I believe you will never doubt that we love you always, unconditionally. Or at least that's my one major hope for you, that above all else, you will know you are loved.


Love Always and Forever,