Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eight is the loveliest number...

(updated with links)

Yay! I've been tagged by Beck for 8 facts about me.

1. I didn't like the authoritarian tone of the rules that MUST be posted first in this meme. But I would have grudgingly followed the rules if it weren't for Alpha Dogma's brazen flouting of them. Now I feel empowered. (Oh - and I'm awfully jealous of AD's kick-ass sesame street video that she used to illustrate her meme.)

Here are the rules:

A. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.

B. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

2. I haven't really belly danced since I started back to work in early March. I just haven't been able to balance it with blogging family life. But I really really really want to get back into it, especially after seeing my classmates dance in their student recital last weekend. I want to work towards doing a solo in the November show to Natacha Atlas's cover of "I Put a Spell on You," which you can listen to here (I said exactly the same thing last summer but it didn't happen).

(This isn't me. You probably know that. It's my beautiful instructor.

3. We also went to Peterborough last weekend. I took a lot of photos, but I think this one is my favourite. See the dog in the window? It took a lot of work to make him visible against the black black shadow and retain the detail in the bricks.


4. I really hate it when Sugar D takes the soap from the bathroom sink for a shower instead of performing the Herculean task of getting a new bar of soap from the cupboard.

5. Until last weekend, I didn't know that some dogs understand and can employ irony with considerable success:

territorial pissing
Although I suppose it goes along with biting the hand that feeds them.

6. I don't like lobster. I don't really like any shellfish, although I used to like eating mussels the same way I liked doing shots of tequila without the salt and lemon thing. I thought it made me look tough. My current aversion to shellfish is a vestige of my vomit/food poisoning phobia.

7. I'm very upset with the SYTYCD judges for the June 28 results. First, they should never have said goodbye to Cedric before the votes. It makes people buck against authority. Second, Neil and Lauren should have gone home long before Jesus and Jessi. I'm especially heartbroken about Jesus, because he and Sara were my favourite couple. That said, I suspect they don't trust Jessi's health; she was kind of evasive about that.

8. If Swee'pea cries in the night after I've been watching Lost, it takes me a long time to understand that he's not in charge of things at the island or having premonitions or carrying out nefarious research on us. AND I think Sawyer is my new favourite character... I like that his arrogance has softened a bit so now I can just enjoy his dimples and the way he keeps looking at Kate. (I've also had a few nice dreams about him.)

(I think that's more than 8 facts really, but whatever. We're heading out the door for the weekend, so I'm not going to bother linking my tags: christine, mimi, kyla, bubandpie, metro mama, denguy, aliki2006, and niobe. I also don't have time to go and tell them, so I guess that means I'm breaking another rule (I'm such a rebel!). I'll fix it on Monday.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


He was sitting in the middle of the road, primly puffed and rusty red feathers tucked, and something in my heart liquified at the sight. He must be heartbroken, too stunned to move, unable to leave his mate, now a mess of dark skyward feathers all angles and sharp like bones, drops of blood like bling in the morning sun.

Transfixed, I managed to back out of the way of oncoming traffic, stopping on the side of the road trying to figure out what to do. A car drove by, inches from the grieving survivor, and I realized I was mistaken; he must be dead. I rolled forward, then stopped to look again. He just looked so alive. And sure enough, I saw his shiny eye blink at me. Again I started to roll, then stopped. He must be too injured to move, and I didn't want him left on the road for the next car to roll over him.

So Sugar D took one of Swee'pea's spare and now unused receiving blankets left over from the days when we couldn't leave the house without several receptacles for Swee'pea's frequent spit-ups. He picked up the survivor and put him on our front lawn. I hoped that someone would call an agency to rescue the bird, if he survived longer than an hour. (I would have done it myself but was freaking out about timing because Sugar D had a job interview in Toronto to get to).

When we got home, I'd forgotten. But Sugar D announced that he had to check on the bird on the porch. On the porch? Yes. He put him in an old Huggies box in the shade of the porch with a piece of bread and a bowl of water, along with the baby blanket for cushioning. Sure enough, when we peaked over the edge of cardboard, there was that same eye blinking back at me.

We called the local humane society, the university's wild bird rescue centre having closed from lack of funding. The woman who came thought he looked uninjured, but guessed he was sick, too sick to move away from the car. So I wonder: was it a fluke that he was next to that recently killed bird? Or were they both too sick to avoid traffic? Was it suicide, an escape from a miserable, terminal illness? I guess I'll never know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

weird day, weird dream

Today was weird. Shortly after I arrived at work, I noticed I was feeling decidedly edgy and more than a little grumpy. I wondered if someone had spiked my tea with coffee or five extra teabags. A nervy current thrummed across my muscles, pushing my shoulders up to my ears and flicking my toes in my still-stinky sandals and twitching my fingers on the pen. I felt like a green filly at her first race, overfit and spooking at the crowd, except there was no crowd and it wasn't a race or my first day or first anything.

I think the weirdness started when I found myself swimming to consciousness at 5:30 this morning, trying to escape a nightmare in which I had just gotten fired, one of two scapegoats from some incident involving shit and a fan (in reality my workplace is not like this at all). But I just officially gave up a permanent position with an organization reputed for its cushy and reliable permanence, and Sugar D's recent experience with organizational amputation has reminded me that nothing's permanent. In my dream, I didn't have enough experience with the company to even merit a package, a terrifying prospect when Sugar D is also unemployed right now (in real life, I would merit a package of some kind).

I suppose it's a pretty standard anxiety dream, except that last night I went to bed thinking about how my blog has jumped the shark and I'm not getting as many comments as I have. I've also been feeling pretty discouraged that no-one's really looking at my photos on flickr. The images that I like the best are only getting anywhere from zero to five views, never mind comments or anything like that. I know I need to comment more, both on flickr and in bloggyland but still... shouldn't someone enjoy my photographs on flickr? So in my dream, after I found out I was fired as a scapegoat and discovered we would shortly become destitute, I realized I could blog about it, and surely that would get more comments. I woke up trying to compose a short post.

I am ashamed at what a comment whore I am, at how my dream has shown me up to myself. (And, um, well look at that... I'm blogging about it.) Mad's words also keep ringing in my ears: "I need to remember what is was like to live life without experiencing every moment as potential blog fodder." And damn it, I just miss her.

Anyways, I spent the day grumpy and impotent. And now it's time for So You Think You Can Dance.

PS I didn't get fired.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

you know

You know it's been a long time since you had a pedicure when the first thing your toddler notices when you walk in the door is your new ruby toes AND he rejects your request for a hug hello to instead point and pick at your mysteriously decorated feet and compare them with his own naked nubs.

In other news, this morning I did the unthinkable. As I was tidying up our bathroom, clearing the vanity so that the cleaning woman could, you know, clean, I actually picked up a new roll of toilet paper and put it on the toilet roll holder. Previously anathema, I finally surrendered to the cleaning woman's strategy, and chose to put a fat new roll on instead of having her put a skinny old one on that wouldn't even last two pees after she finished. Because if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.

Monday, June 25, 2007

long overdue

brickworks colour

So yes, we did go to the Brick Works, some time ago, and I still haven't blogged about it. For one thing, I shot a lot of photos and wanted to spend some time editing them before I blogged. But for another, frankly, I was disappointed. The farmer's market really was local, but the problem with a local-only farmer's market in June is that there's really only strawberries (but yum -- organic strawberries!), wild leeks (which a vendor had made into pesto and which we didn't buy), and other greens. There was also a fair-trade, organic coffee vendor and some organic bakeries, but really, the selection was pretty limited. Not worth the trip to TO in itself, I'm afraid.

However, the native plant selection WAS good; they even sold shrubs and trees. But I'm not ready to buy shrubs and trees, so I only wanted herbaceous plants, and they pretty much only had species I already have. But that's also ok, because we planned to go downtown after the market and I wasn't sure how plants, or any other produce, would fair in a hot car.

The Brick Works is a really cool site and had lots of crumbling bricks, broken windows and graffiti -- although sadly, the graffiti was mostly in a fenced-off area that I guess hasn't been restored to safety yet. Bottom line? A cool place to go if you live in TO and you don't actually want to do your grocery shopping.


Afterwards, we wandered around Chinatown and along Dundas and had a nice afternoon.


I've taken a break from blogging to work on all the photos I've been shooting. I will post more soon.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

See ya!

We're heading out for a visit with the grandparents, so won't be around this weekend. But I saw this at Niobe's place and had to play. You just do a google search on "your name needs" and pick the first ten results. There were no results for "cinnamon gurl needs" so I changed the spelling to girl... don't try to replicate these results because I got a bit fast and loose with my name:

cinnamon gurl needs a cold shower
cinnamon gurl needs a name
cinnamon gurl needs are anticipated by our Mocha Moms (I think they missed an apostrophe)
cinnamon gurl needs to be on there
cinnamon gurl needs some sugar
cinnamon gurl needs a family (whatEVer)
cinnamon gurl needs a new home (not right now, thanks)
cinnamon gurl needs a lot of prayers
cinnamon gurl needs no introduction

And last night's SYTYCD results? Crazy! But I can't say I'm disappointed... Cedric is so sweet and his solo rocked. What did you think?


Today is the summer solstice, and all week I've been wanting to do something to honour it tonight. I've been feeling so disconnected from the outside world. Twice this week I've caught sight through the little window high in our front door of the edge of a fuschia and indigo sky brilliant with sunset. Yesterday morning a woman asked me in the elevator if I'd enjoyed the cool night, and it took me ages to clue in to what she was saying. Cool night? Wha?

We've been using the central air we just got installed late last summer, and the guy who sold it to us was very clear that it wastes energy to turn it on then turn it off then back on again. He said to only turn it off if you know you've got at least a week of cool weather coming, and we haven't seen that kind of forecast. So we've kept it on and we've kept all the windows and doors closed. But I miss the bits of outside that come floating in through open windows. I'm 100% ambivalent about the a/c.

On the one hand, it's lovely to be cool and comfortable, to sleep with a sheet over us and not wake in a puddle of sweat. It's lovely to be able to sleep comfortably period. It's also great to be able to take Swee'pea out on a hot day and know that he'll be able to cool down once we get home. I love being able to drink a cuppa tea and not get all hot and bothered or cook dinner without melting.

But on the other hand, I miss all those things I associate with summer. I miss the ways that houses spill out bits of the lives of their inhabitants... well other houses still do that, but I miss contributing our own notes to the neighbourhood clamour. I felt this keenly the other day, when I went for a walk by myself in the evening. A neighbour's trumpet practice sang out to me across the house's shadow and deep green yard. Around the corner, another neighbour's spliff tickled my memory with its familiar skunky whiff.

Summer solstice. I savour the phrase in my mind's ear, the way it rolls across my silent tongue. I remember one particular summer solstice, when my parents let me stay out playing on our quiet crescent until dark. It felt so grown up, yet illicit, on the longest day of the year; I felt like I'd tricked my parents.

Since then, my dad has taken to torturing me with the reminder that after the summer solstice the days just get shorter; summer's over before it's even begun. So tonight I want to take some time to honour the longest day of the year. I just don't know how. Part of me would love a beer on a dusky patio with Sugar D or a friend, but I don't have many friends, and Swee'pea will be in bed. And the other part of me would prefer solitude, just me and the sunset (and a glass of wine), and maybe my camera.

What are you doing for summer solstice?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The post we've all been waiting for

Milestone Reached in New Sleep Study

G-town, ON -- A groundbreaking study at the University of G-town shows that if a child waits long enough to sleep through the night for the first time, the parents won't really notice or or care or know for sure if the child actually slept through the night.

This finding is the result of a long-term study following a number of families after the birth of a new baby. "All the other babies in the study slept through the night ages ago," head researcher Masala Man reported. "We were just waiting for the last one, and frankly, I was keen to go home. I think we'd all given up hope that it would ever happen in our lifetime."

Fortunately for the individuals but unfortunately for the research, everyone's so exhausted they can't be sure he actually did sleep through the night. He definitely slept in his crib until 5:30 in the morning, and he definitely didn't wake up before the subjects went to bed themselves. But that's where things get hazy. When the boy's father got him at 5:30, he couldn't remember for sure whether the boy had woken in the night.

One thing's for sure though: the boy's mother, known as Cinnamon Gurl, slept through the night! "It's happened a few times actually that I've woken up in the morning thinking Hurrah! Swee'pea slept through the night! But my husband always remembers getting up with him in the night and just settling him in the crib. This morning it seemed like that was the case again, but once my husband really woke up, he said he didn't think he'd had to get up."

This research study is the first of its kind, probably because it's so labour intensive. All the researchers, and especially the parents of this wakeful child, are exhausted. The sad reality is that one night won't even make a dent on 16 and a half months of severe sleep deprivation. Interestingly, the researchers have now decided to continue their study with a change in focus.

"We were all set to go home, but this latest development makes us want to see what happens to this tired family over the years, and how this child sleeps a few years from now. We're not fooled by this kid; I'm sure it was a one-off. He probably won't sleep through the night again for another 16 months. But maybe by continuing this research, we'll be able to help other exhausted families one day."

- 30 -

For more information, contact:
Masala Man, Head Researcher

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

showdown at the shoe shop

Remember how I said in South Africa that my sandals were stinky and I wanted new ones? Well, I never found any sandals that I liked in South Africa, and haven't had any luck since we returned. I've been a bit stymied on how to prevent the stinkiness from recurring in a new pair. Last week, my friend Banana gave me a brilliant idea: buy washable sandals, then you can just wash them when they get stinky.

So this morning I stopped in a shoe store downtown, which had quite selection of Merrills, the brand I want to try next. We were on the way to Swee'pea's 15-month check-up (yes, he's over 16 months old), and I planned it so I had 15 minutes to buy a pair of sandals.

Unfortunately, it didn't work like that. They had two men working, a older man and his near-adolescent son, and I didn't mind waiting my turn. The younger man's customer seemed to pause, so I jumped in and asked if I could try on a pair in my size. The boy apparently cannot handle multi-tasking, and suggested I wait for his father to become available, who was just ringing in a sale. Fine.

While waiting, I did something horrible and shameful, something I never would have thought myself capable of: I gave unsolicited advice to a pregnant woman. But I couldn't help myself. I mean, she was about to buy strap-on sandals, when she was obviously going to reach full size at the end of summer. "Slip on shoes are the best when you're pregnant," I said, pretending not to notice that that wasn't what she was actually trying on. When she didn't look convinced, I added, "AND when you have a baby in your arms... much easier." She said something about the baby being born in October so she wouldn't still be in sandals then (oh just you wait, I thought... you never know what footwear you'll like best in the final uncomfortable weeks of a pregnancy.)

I got the message loud and clear, if a little late. Her look held a hint of mind your own business with a dollop of why am I suddenly public property?!? I backed off.

When the older man finally came around, I told him I wanted washable sandals, showing him the handful of sandals I liked. "Oh," he said, "those are all leather. You can't wash them." So I explained with some embarrassment, tempered with my usual brazen thrust to ignore it and push on, about my smelly sandals, and how I don't want to keep discarding a pair of sandals every year because they smell. I expected him to show me some anti-odour sandals, or some washable sandals, or some solution to my problem, but he suggested I go to a shoe repair shop, that they might have some -- he lowered his voice -- shoe freshener.

I didn't really like this option because I want some new sandals, and I don't feel like going to the shoe repair shop. Plus, when I'm in a store, talking to a salesperson, I kind of expect them to, I don't know, sell me something.

"Well, what do other people do?"

"I don't know," clearly uncomfortable, looking over his shoulders and mentions something about synthetic shoes making people's feet sticky and leather being better even if it's not washable.

"Surely I can't be the only person with smelly sandals?" I ask.

He shrugs and mumbles something.

"Am I?!?" my voice is getting shrill and just a bit hysterical.

He chuckles. "No I'm sure you're not, but... I guess other people just aren't bothered by it. I've been in the business for 35 years, and it's only about once every five years I get a question like this. I know you can buy -- he lowers his voice again -- shoe freshener, but we just don't sell it here." He says it like it's something nasty, like lube in a lingerie store. "Try the shoe repair shop."

By then I discovered I was going to be late for Swee'pea's checkup so I just left. I don't know if I want to sully my reputation with shoe freshener.

One more thing: the doctor asked about Swee'pea's words, if he had any, and I tried to think of some but I'm not all that confident on his words... they seem to come and go. He uses one a lot when he first learns it, then moves on to another one so I don't know if he still knows the other one. Anyways, after he got thoroughly pissed off with the poking and prodding and restraining, and we were ready to leave, the doctor asked if could wave bye bye. Swee'pea's been getting very good at waving bye bye, and saying "ba baa." But today he said, "See ya," clear as a bell.

life and death at MBT

My blanket flower is dead. The one that bloomed so vigorously all last summer, just weeks after I first planted its young roots, apparently decided it was better to burn out than to fade away. All summer long last year, it made me happy just to look at it, covered in raucous red and gold flowers the very essence of happiness. When its blooms were still boisterous in September, I did feel a hint of unease, wondering if perhaps it was behaving a bit too much like an annual, but I quelled it, believing that it was just so robust, it would only be stronger next (this) year.

Read more at MBT...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tribute to Sugar D on your Second Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

Dear Sugar D:

Happy Father's Day! I tried to think of a gift that would compare with what you gave me for Mother's Day, but I didn't come up with much. Yes, this letter is a bit of a cop-out. I can just imagine your response: Yay! A blog post just for me! Yeah, well, I'm gonna do it. (But I will also work on some of those coupons...)

I always knew you'd be a good father, but even so, you have surprised me with just how good you are. I have known uncountable moments when my heart has swelled and thudded at your capacity for love and fatherhood and laughter. Those extra soft looks I see pass from your eyes to Swee'pea are sweeter than I could have imagined. And I felt soft with love, if a bit piqued, on the playground when you were too nervous to let Swee'pea ride in the swing. He'd done it before when you weren't there, but I liked feeling like for once I wasn't the only nervous nellie here.

Happy Father's Day!

I love the shock of pride at your skill as the Boogie Hunter and your ability to make me laugh -- both at the same time. Just last night during Swee'pea's bath, when the boogie that had been taunting you all day finally began to descend and you pounced, keen hunter that you are, and when you pulled it free and it was bigger than any you'd ever seen, I loved that you exclaimed, "Ohhhh, that feels so good... and yet so gross!" And I giggled when I had to examine the tissue myself, to see just how big it was with my own eyes, and it was BIG -- and gross!

From the moment Swee'pea was born and you followed him over to the little table where the various medical folks did various things to him, and you cut the excess cord even though when I was pregnant the thought had made us both squeamish, you have been a brilliant father. Even before, when I was nauseous in New Orleans and you kept tramping the streets with your whining hot pregnant wife, not pregnant enough to tell anyone but pregnant enough to suffer, and you never once complained about my whining (yes, you are a very smart man); you just kept looking for some kind of food that would appeal to me. When I was scared in labour and Swee'pea was in distress, and you made a point of putting the carseat back in the backseat, believing we would have a baby to take home soon, and I felt less scared.

After he was born, I loved that you wouldn't sleep until he was in my arms. And then after we were reunited, you took your job as breastfeeding ennabler so seriously (or was it just an opportunity to cop a feel?), keeping Swee'pea awake and helping me with breast compressions when my hand cramped. I love how you took to diaper changes like a pig in shit, and when I could finally struggle out of bed, you were the one who showed me how. I love how there were times during Swee'pea's newborncy when only you could settle him, listening to that cd of drumming.

Two years ago this weekend, we'd known about Swee'pea the zygote for about two weeks. Remember when I showed the faint pink plus sign to you, saying, "I think it's positive," and you replied, "Cool," with a big-ass smile that said giggity giggity, my boys can swim!? I panicked with the irrevocableness of it, the magnitude of that tiny clump of cells (and later I panicked with the fragility and vulnerability of that same clump of cells), and you just took it all in stride.

I remember later in the pregnancy, as my body and that clump of cells swept us towards D day, and I couldn't believe you weren't making any progress on The Expectant Father. I remember writing to my sister in a haze of fury that you weren't reading that damn book. It seemed to me that you were slacking off, that you didn't care, that that book would prepare you for all that was to come and you were choosing not to prepare. You never did finish it, but I did, and I think we can both agree it was a lame book. Now I realize how silly I was to think that book, or any book, could prepare either of us for what was in store.

It strikes me that back then I thought I would be the confident parent, the one who would just know how to do it, but it is you who has expanded to fit the role and remained stalwart. It's such a cliche, but you have been my rock through the stormy hormones and tidal wave of exhaustion.

A year ago this weekend, Swee'pea was just over four months old, and we'd just bought the crib. I was still valiantly trying to get him to sleep in it, like so many of the books said to, or we would never sleep again. I still hear the echo of the Baby Whisperer's commandments: start as you mean to go on! (or you're doomed). I remember getting angry at you, because you didn't seem to be trying at all, you'd just hold him for all his naps when you were here. I thought that made things worse for me when I was alone, but now, with the benefit of hindsight, I know that it didn't. Within a few months, I learned to enjoy the freedom of those naps when Swee'pea would sleep so well in your arms, and I could do as I pleased, freed from the endless cycle of putting him down and picking him up over and over and over again.

All of this to say thank you. I know I don't say it enough, but I feel like the luckiest mother around to have such a supportive partner as the father of my child. You never complain when I wake you in the night for help with Swee'pea, or just some company for my misery. I love that some nights lately I haven't even woken up if Swee'pea was sleeping in the crib and you were able to settle him without bringing him to bed. You are a good father, and I will try to give some peace and space today in celebration of that fact.

horizontal parenting on Father's Day

Love Always,

p.s. Even though the endless ChinesePodcasts sometimes get on my nerves, I love that you sing the Mandarin version of Frere Jacques to Swee'pea. So much that I have to go ask you for the literal translation again so I can post it here in this tribute to you.

Two tigers, two tigers
running fast, running fast,
one has no eyes, one has no ears,
How bizarre, how bizarre.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Native Plants at the Brick Works!

I have done a grave disservice to the readers of gardenerd who may actually want to buy some native plants. Remember when I mentioned the Brick Works? Well, I didn't see that they also have a native plant nursery every Saturday from May 26 to July 8. I did see they had plans to have a permanent native plant nursery by 2009, but didn't realize they had a temporary one RIGHT NOW.

See? It's true. So get thee to the Brick Works and buy some native plants! They also have a "certified-local" farmer's market on Saturdays from 8 till 2, which I believe means that there are only real growers there, not just peddlars of produce from the Food Terminal.

I have high hopes to go there today myself, provided Sugar D is game.

(cross-posted at MBT.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Summer of Love: Day Two

So it may be that our Summer of Love is not taking off the way I originally envisioned. It's a bit more like trying to heft a hippo off the ground with a helicopter, and we're still just struggling with the strappy bits. I thought maybe we could to Toronto tomorrow, because I've been wanting to go for ages and just wander along the busy streets and stop in outdoor cafes as we please, the way we did back in Cape Town. But now Sugar D has a bit of a cold and he's not sure he feels up to the Big Smoke. Guess we'll see tomorrow.

This morning Swee'pea woke us up at the ass crack of dawn, as mama tulip would say, and by 8:30 we were ready to get out of the house. Swee'pea has graduated from pointing emphatically at the stroller and his hat when he wants to go out to muscling (or attempting to muscle) the stroller from the front hall into the living room, over backpacks and around shoes and wailing a mournful tune. So we went out and wandered aimlessly around downtown, something I usually do by myself with Swee'pea and my camera but never very successfully because I'm just not good at being aimless. Somehow when I'm with Sugar D, I can do aimless much better.


We had a few ideas for things we'd like to pick up, but none of the stores were open yet so we sat on a bench in the old downtown mall that was 'revitalized' a few years ago with a very expensive renovation. It's supposed to mimic an outdoor pedestrian mall complete with an outdoor-like cafe sporting brightly coloured umbrellas AND a licensed bar as advertised on the side of the 'building's facade.'

We thought the store we needed would open around 9, in just a few minutes, so we sat down to wait. The only other people around, aside from the stores' employees and builders with big rumbly wagons of lumber, were old people, also waiting on benches, though for what I don't know. One old lady struck up a long and involved conversation about Swee'pea's bug bites and her inability to sleep these last two nights for the heat, and her gentle cat who winds himself around her when she feels panicky. I found out what she's waiting for: her seven-year-old grandson's visit tomorrow, which she seems to believe will help her sleep.

We passed an old man I remembered from my tenure at the Black's store that used to be in the mall, back when it was the Eaton's Centre and all 80's dim and virtually no stores that could survive the dearth of customers, the dearth to which that little Black's store eventually succumbed. Even then he was a twinkling old man. Somehow he reminded me of an old jazz or blues musician, quieter in his old age but still with that innate syncopation to his walk, that funky rhythm. We used to ride the same bus downtown, and he would visit the store and chat with whoever was working there. I enjoyed his visits.

I said hello as we passed this morning and I really wanted to take his picture but felt weird somehow, since I felt I knew him. I wracked my brain for his name, because I used to know it, and James kept insisting itself. James not Jimmy. After a while we gave up on the store opening within a reasonable amount of time and left the mall; as we emerged back into the morning sun, it felt just like walking around Cape Town, but with fewer people, less brown skin, and different, less colourful architecture. We had no particular destination or deadline, just a desire to enjoy the sun and the city while Swee'pea settles back in his stroller for a nap.


At the same moment I thought about Cape Town, I remembered a few months back going through one of my boxes of mementos and finding a card scrawled with the name James LaFlame, wondering who the hell that was. I couldn't for the life of me remember a James LaFlame, figuring it must have been a guy I had some passing thing with. But now a vague memory is pushing at me like the start of a headache: I think it was that old man wishing me well, with some funky turn of phrase.* James LaFlame.


Downtown, we saw a poster reminding us that the Multicultural Festival is this weekend and starts today. I remember dancing there when I was eight weeks pregnant, two years after my belly dance instructor danced there heavily heavily pregnant with her fourth child. This afternoon I think we'll head over to check it out; maybe it will give me the colour I'm seeking... maybe the Summer of Love is rolling along after all, in just the way it should for us.

*Sadly, I can't remember exactly what he said in the card, but it smacked of youth. When I couldn't remember who wrote it, I threw it out, figuring that if I couldn't remember who wrote it, there was no point in keeping it. Damn. This always happens. I overcome my packrat tendency only to regret it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New word of the day?

Today's malapropism, brought to you by Cinnamon Gurl:

"This version incorpasses all the changes."

I think I can WATCH dance

I am loving this season's dancers on So You Think You Can Dance. Hok is by far my number one fave -- I've been waiting for him ever since he didn't have the paperwork to participate last season. But I'm keen on his partner... I just don't think she'll help and they didn't seem to have much chemistry.

I also really like Sara, the B-girl, and Jesus, the guy whose community has funded his entire dance career. I think their performance, to one of the songs from the Triplettes of Belleville, was my favourite of the night, but then I LOVED the Triplettes of Belleville.

(Plus, I'm a sucker for stripey socks...)

Mostly, the only person I really don't like is the creepy modern dancer who's Mia's favourite male dancer in the competition (did she not notice that he's creepy?), the one with the leggy partner who positively dwarfs him. I hope he goes home. But I don't want Hok's partner to go home yet because he'd be the one getting dwarfed by the leggy one.

Who are your favourite dancers this season? Favourite numbers last night?

(Just went to fox's website and see they're taking a poll: "what's the best style dance: contemporary, lyrical or jazz?" Yuck! How about none of the above?)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer of Love - Day One (one week late)

Well, our Summer of Love is not off to a blazing start. Last week we had our first day off together. But it was really really cold and gray and windy. So we did something we've never done before: we went to the mall just for sake of going to the mall. We have gone to the mall before, but we always have very particular things we're going to buy, and then we leave as quickly as possible because we don't actually like it much.

But last week we just went to get out of the house without having to brave the cold gray wind. And I discovered that Chapters is actually a pretty kid-friendly place. Swee'pea gathered around a train set and traded/stole toy trains with a bunch of other boys who were mostly older than him but not much bigger. Sugar D and I took turns watching him play with the trains while the other looked at books.

I used to be a total bibliophile, always checking out used bookstores and almost never leaving empty-handed. But when Sugar D and I got together and combined our vast book collections, and we moved into our small house that is bursting at the seems with stuff, I have done a complete 180. Because Sugar D continues to bring books into our house at a rate that our groaning bookshelves and other surfaces cannot keep up with, I have set and follow VERY strict rules for myself. I only read books from the library, making one exception for Fiona Walker books, which I only allow myself to buy if I am about to take a plane ride. I do allow myself to buy other books on occasion, but only if I am absolutely certain that I will refer to the book again and again. I never buy any books on impulse; I must consider carefully whether a book is worthy of being allowed into our house on a permanent basis.

Last Tuesday I did something I haven't done in years -- at least eight: I allowed myself to buy two paperbacks, just on a whim, because they looked interesting. I bought Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent on the strength of the first paragraph: "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to." (Although I can also be reasonably certain that I will probably lend it out to someone, which is another criterion for allowing myself to purchase a book so that one wasn't a total departure.) The other book I bought is Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald, mostly because it has a cool cover. And I had to hold myself back not to buy more books.

(26 pages into Holy Cow, I must say I'm impressed and absorbed. She's not afraid to tell it like it is, that India is kinda dirty but somehow she does it with respect... and I think these early pages are setting her up for a turnaround. Hey, her website is pretty cool too.)

See, in recent weeks, I have discovered the limitations of my library. Reading blogs and blogging about some of the books I read has re-engaged me in the world of books, so now I don't just go to the library for books on a particular subject or of a particular genre, and I just take what I can get. Now I go to the library in search of specific titles and authors, and more often than not I have been disappointed. So I think I may have to relax my policy.

Anyways back to the Summer of Love: I bought some books I didn't plan to, then Swee'pea got cranky so we went home. We went for a blustery walk not fit for June later, and that was just about it. Today is my first weekday off since then, and Sugar D has been working on cover letters for job applications and then we cleaned the house when the cleaning woman arrived so that she could actually clean*, and now I'm blogging.

Two things I clearly forgot when I started going on about the Summer of Love: we aren't very exciting people; we like to hang at home. And we're not really into discomfort (as in long car rides with a cranky toddler or a lot of stinky hot outdoor time followed by a long drive with a cranky toddler. Anyways, stay tuned for more tales of teenage mostly housebound adventures as the Summer of Love unfolds.

Oh wait -- I do have more: we've been watching a lot of Lost. When I rented the first dvd I suggested to Sugar D that he might enjoy it too, but he scoffed at me, saying it was just like Survivor. As I watched the first season, he couldn't help but be in the same room from time to time and occasionally I told him bits that I found intriguing. Well by the last dvd of the first season, I busted him (not so) secretly watching from the kitchen. Finally, he admitted that he was hooked too. Last night we finished the last episode of season two; tonight we'll see if the bonus features are any good. (Mr. Echo has now replaced Sayid as my favourite character, but I guess he's probably dead, along with John Locke and Desmond, who I also really like. Boo.)

Swee'pea's been a bit sick -- again! The other day he had a low fever that spiked in the middle of the night to 103.2 -- his highest fever ever. It disappeared the next day and he just has a bit of a runny nose today, nothing major. But last night I woke up in the middle of the night with him crawling all over me and crying inconsolably. As I struggled to swim to consciousness, I imagined Sugar D asking what was wrong with him, and me responding that Swee'pea had gotten it into his head that he had to teach us something, or show us something, like Mr. Echo's dreams on Lost.

Eventually I figured out that that thinking was pretty dreamy, silly really, but it took a long long time to shake it. And even longer for Swee'pea to settle back into sleep, with lots of loud crying and arguing with Sugar D about how to stop it. That's three rough nights in a row, and I'm really starting to feel it.

* The last two times we've had a different cleaning woman who is either deliberately thwarting my toilet paper strategy and trying to teach me to just put the damn roll of toilet paper on the holder myself like a civilized person, or is just NOT a strategic thinker. Faced with two rolls, one fat new roll and one nearly finished roll, she puts the thin roll on the holder and the fat roll back in the package on the floor. Both times she's been here. Has she never heard of optimization?!?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Just Post


This month, I made my first nomination for a Just Post. I don't know why I haven't nominated a post before this, because I think the Just Posts are wonderful and raising this community to think about things we might otherwise keep pushing away and avoid thinking about.

Actually I nominated two posts (I LOVE that I don't have to pick just one), but one was one of Jen's and I figured that one would be included anyways. The other post was The Silent K's Mad Spirit Pride. Both of these posts hit very close to home for me, as we continue to struggle to get help for our mentally ill family member. There's nothing new to say about our personal situation, except that we are keeping in touch with the mental health services and if someone doesn't want to get help, there's not much you can do until they pose a real, immediate risk to themselves or others; risks like forgetting to turn off the stove or not keeping food in the house, outside of the more violent risks that come to mind like suicidal tendencies or violent behaviour. Sadly, I suspect it will come to one of those former risks with an emergency call to the police before she gets help.

Anyways, this post isn't about me; it's about two posts that really spoke to me on the subject of social justice. Where Jen's post made me fear for the future, that our family member could end up on a street corner completely alienated from her family (and I do think that scenario is within the realm of possibility, even with the amount that we care about her), The Silent K's post made me feel hopeful that there are people in the mental healthcare field who recognize that mental health is a spectrum, and we all move up and down it over our lives, who move up and down that spectrum themselves. Some of us just go further than others. Thank you, Krista.



Also this month, Jen and Mad are celebrating the six-month anniversary of the Just Posts, and are asking us to put our money where our blogs are, through one of two charities. This month, we are invited to donate to Open Arms, a small organization in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, focused on providing a home for AIDS orphans and keeping them integrated with the culture and community of their village. Because Jen has met these people and put a human face to administrators, I have donated. Mad has also endorsed the Stephen Lewis Foundation.


Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows that I've been to South Africa twice and am deeply in love with the place and its people. I have written a lot of words on the subject already, and will likely write many more, and if you haven't read some of them before, help yourself to the South Africa category down on my sidebar. A few things that seem worth writing about/repeating now. In Soweto, I was struck by the number of billboards advertising funeral homes... come to think of it, I've never seen even one billboard for a funeral home here. It is obvious that a lot of funerals are being held in South Africa, thanks to AIDS and the systemic barriers to treatment.

I think I will take a township tour every time we visit the country. The townships are vibrant places so different from anything I've experienced here. I can't figure them as slums, because the people I see in the townships, even in the poorest informal settlements with handmade tin and cardboard shacks built on top of each other and a single water faucet per street, are pretty well-dressed and take pride in their homes. While stopped at a traffic light, I took a picture of a woman hanging her laundry up in her backyard that is smaller than my living room, and she kept gesturing to me. It took me a while to figure out that she was inviting me into her home; she wanted to talk to me. If I hadn't been on a formal tour, I'd have jumped at the chance but as it was we had to keep moving.

Township 126


During this same tour, we drove through another informal settlement, in the middle of which was a big cemetery. It was huge. It strikes me that the people who lay in that cemetery probably have more space to themselves than they've ever had in their lives. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.


Now here's where I admit I'm a total knob. Way back when Mad and Jen kicked off this Just Post thing, I said we were going to sponsor a child through Help Lesotho. It's a Canadian organization, and they did a presentation at my mother-in-law's church about a year ago, which we attended. But I didn't actually finish the paperwork. I downloaded a form from their website and emailed it in, but there was one form we still had to fill out and snail mail in, and we just haven't got around to doing it. Yes, that was six months ago. I am ashamed. But now I see that you can pay online and set up monthly payments to pay for a child to go to school in Lesotho. Lesotho is even harder hit by AIDS than South Africa, I think, because it's very isolated and rural, high up in the mountains. I think it's called The Kingdom of the Sky or something like that.

Anyways... Mad and Jen's campaign for Open Arms has been the kick in the pants I needed to actually complete the transaction to sponsor a child in Lesotho. Even though Sugar D has just lost his job, it's $38.75 CAD a month, and it's important to us to contribute. So it's finally official, I think.

PS I don't think South Africa has the highest AIDS infection rate, although it's very high. I think Botswana actually holds top honours in that dark category.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dame's Rocket

Alpha Dogma commented on my weeds post, asking my opinion of Dame's Rocket (hesperis matronalis). I discovered Dame's Rocket the same summer I discovered first love and the delicious freedom or my first summer with a fully valid driver's license. In the rolling hills of small-town southern Ontario, freedom is spelled with a driver's license (and parents nice enough to grant access to a car).

R, my first love, enjoyed the quiet and still places of the natural world, the places that when you visit quietly you discover are not so quiet and still.

Read more at mbt...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Letter to Swee'pea: 16 months old

Dear Swee'pea:

Today you are 16 months old. I'm not gonna lie: this last month's been hard. In my last letter I thought you had your first ear infection but in fact it wasn't an ear infection at all. It was some kind of virus, perhaps one called roseola that gave you a fever for several days then a rash that made you horrendously cranky. Pretty much as soon as you got over the rash, your nose started sliming green something fierce, making it hard for you to breathe or eat or drink or nurse or sleep. That cold made us all miserable, not just because you were so miserable, but because your daddy and I also succumbed and started sliming ourselves. Your daddy still has a really nasty cough that you have recently started to imitate.

However, I am pleased and a little bit scared to tempt the fates say that the last week has brought a marked improvement and the happy little guy we have come to know and love over the last 16 months seems to have returned. It's been a week, I think, since you screamed and sobbed and fought us every time we put you in your high chair for a meal or changed your diaper. Finally. It's awfully good to have you back.

mmm beer... partay!

I can't believe how much you understand when we talk. Now, when I say you need a diaper change, you gather up the diaper supplies and sit down on the floor. We've had to start spelling out key words for fear that we'll set off a chain of events that we can't stop. You LOVE going outside, and the word walk elicits quite the Pavlovian response. You point at the stroller, pat the palm of your hand on the top of your head and say, "Ahh?" for hat, and then you bring us your new shoes. And you won't be put off by such words as later or maybe after dinner or a nap or whatever. No, we said walk so now we have to walk. If we actually are going for a w-a-l-k then after we put your new shoes on, you'll bring me mine and your daddy his. I find it surprising for some reason that you know exactly whose shoes are whose.


Other words that we need to use carefully are b-a-t-h-time (apart from a few days when you were sick you still love the water) and e-a-t (your appetite has returned with your pleasant disposition). The downside of all this s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g is that now we've started to spell e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, even if it's not strictly necessary.


For the most part, summer is here, and I can already tell it's going to be a lot more fun than last summer. You love to explore the backyard on your own two feet, and you laugh uproariously when your daddy blows dandelion seedpuffs into the wind. We've been taking you to a nearby playground in the park, and last time you even liked the swing, although I think the slide is still your favourite rush. We go for short warm evening walks after dinner and before your bath, and you sit forward in your stroller, hands on the seat, eagerly watching and pointing at the cars and the trees and waving 'bah bah' at passersby. Just last weekend, your wave became more sophisticated. It used to be a broad sort of wiping gesture with your hand, and you were somewhat unreliable in employing it when we said bye bye. But on the weekend you giggled as other diners at our local greasy spoon waved hello to you over brunch. Since then you have isolated the wave to your fingers moving up and down as a group, and it's adorable. As well, 'bah bah' has become like the Hawaiian 'aloha' functioning for both hello and bye bye.

Asparagus came into season a couple of weeks ago, which I was excited about, but it didn't excite you at all. Oh well. Soon strawberries will be in season, and I'm pretty sure you'll be all over those juicy red bursts of goodness. I can't wait for you to have your first taste of real, local, in-season strawberries, instead of the large nearly tasteless things that travel across the continent that you had this winter. And blueberries. You've had blueberries in a jar, but never the real fresh local blueberries that are so delicious. And cherries. You haven't had any kind of cherry at all yet. You've become a fully-fledged toddler now, and summer is the toddler's season.


I love to watch you toddling around in your lumbering, self-important way. You remain obsessed with putting things inside other things. You pick up various items and disperse them around the living and dining rooms, belly thrust forward. We still find the odd shoe hidden on or under a chair, though not as much as last month, but mostly it's things like the remote that you love to tuck away into places. And no matter how much we question you when we discover we can't find the remote, you are not much help in finding it. The other day we found it in the zulu beer basket in our living room, which had its lid in place, and before that it was tucked in between the tv cabinet and the wall behind it. We seem to alternate between laughter and frustrated grunts in these hide and go seek games.


This past month has taught me a lot about myself: that I'm not as resilient as I thought I was and I will never be totally on top of the important and loving job of mothering you -- something will always throw me for a loop, and make me question the way we're doing things. But then I will drop you off at your daycare, and you will reach your arms out to Sings when you Sleep as soon as we get there, and barely turn your head back to me for a wave goodbye, and I will think that we must be doing something right for you to be so confident in leaving us behind.

Love Always and Forever,

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I remember when we decided to buy our house. It was a late May evening, and we had come for a second viewing with my parents. We were in the backyard and the golden evening sun was slitting through the new green leaves on the trees. Bees were buzzing and it felt magical and alive. It was a haven.

Later, when we had the house inspected, the inspector pointed out a young tree growing right next to the house. "When the wind blows," he said, "its branches will rub against the roof of your addition and cause damage. It's not a good place for a tree to grow so you should really have it cut down. Besides, it's a weed tree, a Manitoba maple."

Although I didn't say anything, internally I bristled.

Read more from gardenerd at mbt...

may25 045

(and Sugar D kept to his Mother's Day gift... he worked 6 hours a couple of weeks ago and moved our shed from the middle of our yard to the back. It makes the yard look SO much bigger!

The black plastic on the right side is halfway through the Great 2007 Covering of the Goutweed (read the mbt post for my rant against goutweed).


I think I'm having a mid-blog crisis. Don't worry. I'm not about to buy a red convertible and drive into the sunset with a younger blog. But that running blog post that's been in my mind since last August, that stream of words that I just wait and see what's left in my memory when I sit down at the computer, is absent. Is it because:

a) I've been so busy at work I've even been working on my days off?
b) Sugar D has finally admitted his twin addiction to Lost and any of Swee'pea's sleep time is taken up with fixes?
c) I've been reading On Writing Well, which has lots of great tips, but now that I'm reading the section about writing about places, I'm feeling a bit stifled knowing that I'm really not that good of a writer?
d) Swee'pea seems to be back to his happy self after three weeks of monster-child and it's actually fun to be with him again?
e) all of the above?

Oh except for all the fluffy seedpuffs that were floating in the hot, barely moving, dripping with humidity air on Saturday afternoon. I really wanted to write about those puffs but can't seem to find any context to put them in.

In other news, our tub is draining v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y. so that if you're having a shower, your feet and ankles are actually having a bubble bath, and I'm wondering if perhaps I should call that young plumber with his big snake. The fact that Sugar D is home every day now could throw a bit of a wrench into the works though.

Today is the first day of our Summer of Love. So far we have no plans for action beyond walking to the drugstore for shampoo. Sugar D says it's not nice enough weather to go to the Big Smoke, that it might rain. I'm worried this may be setting a precedent.

Oh -- and anyone have any suggestions for how to go hiking with a 30-pound 16-month-old? I think he's too heavy to walk with him in the sling for any length of time and I don't want to buy a backpack. I also don't want to let him walk by himself because it would take us two hours to cover half a kilometre. Is hiking just not an option for a while? Should we just stick to the well-groomed trails? Or is there something I haven't considered?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

slip of the tongue

Because my brain still isn't capable of coming up with anything coherent or remotely sustained, I give you my most recent malapropism. My gift for malapropisms is Sugar D's number one reason for staying with me...

The other day I talked about possible ramificussions. I think I may use that one again.

Almost as good as on our wedding day, when we were taking a few minutes to ourselves right after the ceremony, the ceremony where I tried to jam Sugar D's ring on his right hand instead of his left, and then he couldn't get it off. We were about to get our pictures taken but I really wanted his ring to be on the correct hand and we didn't know how he'd get the damn thing off his overgrown right hand. Anyways, I said, "We've got to get our fingers taken."

Friday, June 01, 2007

making lemonade

Sorry for the delay since my last post... I didn't mean to leave you hanging after the shock. I think we're both feeling pretty optimistic right now, that this is the kick in the pants Sugar D needed to get a job that makes him happier (although he wasn't unhappy in the job, he wasn't 100% satisfied either). And, if you have to lose your job suddenly, on the cusp of summer has got to be the best time of year for it. So, my goal is to make the next eight weeks the Summer of Love. I'm only working three days a week, so I figure let's use those extra two days a week to have fun as a family. We have old friends to visit in Montreal (AND I've never been there before), new friends to see in Toronto, and lots of photos I want to make. We also have family to visit and my parents' cottage on a small lake in Eastern Ontario to do it in.

All that said, I can't help but notice the stomach pains and nausea I've been having since Tuesday, which feel a lot like the nausea I felt when I was on strike in 2002. Intellectually, I can know that we will be ok, that I can probably switch back to full time in September if I need to, and Sugar D will surely get EI. But emotionally, the uncertainty is a bit harder for me to deal with, I guess.

Thanks for your sympathetic comments... although did you read my post about kids being teased? Because I'd love to have more dialogue on that subject...

Oh -- and congrats to Sage and Mad and B&P for the perfect post awards this month!!