Tuesday, September 30, 2008

That's what friends are for. Right? Hello?

I've known you for a long time.

You were my friend. We flirted with a brief attraction, but it never materialized into anything meaningful. We dated other people, and we were always happy for each other. We were destined to be friends. It worked for us. It was good.

You explored my interests, and I yours. Some stuck; others didn't. We moved on. Always close. Always friends. We'd lose touch on and off, but it was never for too long. We were always happy to run into each other again and catch up. It was good. Always good.

You were at my wedding, happy to see me commit. Heartfelt congratulations and happy memories. Laughing and joking. Good times with old friends. You meant a lot to me. I was glad you were there.

And then you moved away. I was sad to see you go, but happy for the life that you were building for yourself in a new city. You came for a visit, and I made a point of seeing you. I went for a brief visit with family who lived near you. Time was precious, but I made a point of meeting up with you and your girlfriend. You were important, and I wanted to see you. Your girlfriend seemed nice. You seemed happy. I was happy for you, and you seemed happy for me. Our lives were different now. We found ourselves on different paths, facing different challenges. But our friendship was strong. Timeless. We would always be there for each other. We would always support one another. Life was good.

We were destined to be friends. That's how it was meant to be. We were good at it. Good friends are hard to come by. But we'd found it. It worked for us. Friendship was forever.

What happened?

I've known you for a long time ...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rotten day

Don't you hate it when you're laid up with a broken knee that you got when you fell down the stairs after tripping over the cat in a bizarre laundry-related incident, and your generally happy 4-month old chooses this moment to start cutting teeth, and the Tylenol doesn't make him feel much better and the Orajel doesn't last long enough, and you can't figure out how else to soothe him because what he really likes is movement, but you can't pick him up and carry him around because you're on crutches and you just don't have that many hands or that much coordination, so you put him in his swing to try to soothe him only to discover that the swing batteries are now dead and the swing will no longer rock in the particular rhythm to which your 4-month old has become accustomed and no other rhythm will pacify him, and you can't fix this because all of the batteries are kept in an inconveniently situated cupboard that you can't easily get to with the crutches, and they're also in a heavy case so that, even if you could get to it, you can't pick it up and sort through it while on the crutches because of the aforementioned lack of hands and coordination, and so you can't keep your 4-month old happy no matter what you do, so you just have to try to keep smiling and crooning to him in soothing tones while he screams directly in your ear in a piercing tone that sounds like some kind of demented whale in heat while your cat tears around the house like a bat-out-of-hell making bizarre noises as he tries to catch that one housefly that just won't die?

Yeah. Me too.

Wanna play?

I get a kick out of you

I recently discovered Tuesday Girl, a wonderful blogger who aspires to be "the girl with the most cake". She makes for good reading.

Tuesday asks "Who do you want to kick in the balls today?"

Despite the migraine, late assignment, teething baby, et al, I find myself in uncharacteristically good spirits today. No anger, not even misdirected anger, plagues me. The only person who springs readily to mind is Stephen Harper. But that seems like a boring response, since everyone wants to kick that guy.

So I can't answer Tuesday's question today. Can you? Stop by her most excellent blog, and let her know who you would like to kick in the balls today.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Logical song

I'm behind in my course. About a week behind. I blame ... life.

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.

Just now, "life" includes a parent with cancer, a teething baby, a stubborn preschooler, a broken knee, and a deceased pet.

And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.

I need to catch up. But I'm tired. Still on painkillers, dealing with the family crabbiness, and I really just want to sleep. Or blog. Or really just do anything besides schoolwork.

But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.

I'm procrastinating my studies, even more than usual. Already behind because of "life", I really don't have time for procrastination. But I'm doing it just the same. I can't help myself. I think it's because I am at the section with the required Dread Ethics Readings.

And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.

Have you ever done ethics readings? If not, you do not yet share my pain. But if you have done ethics readings, I am sorry.

There are times when all the world's asleep,
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man.

For those of you who have not had to do ethics readings, this is what you should know. Ethics readings consist of long-winded passages with overly complex wording. The concepts are simple and very basic to human understanding. Ethics readings cover only the blatantly obvious. Things like "stealing is bad", "bribery is bad", "forgery is bad" ... you see the pattern. But each of these concepts is explained in great detail, in not less than five pages, with no fewer than sixteen words that require dictionary lookup. I don't know why this is. But the end result is that ethics readings are slightly less pleasant than cleaning a public restroom frequented by prostitutes and IV drug users in the downtown core.

Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.

I would like to skip all of the Dread Ethics Readings and just do the rest of the course. But technically, the Readings are examinable. And also, there is an ethics question on my assignment. It's about bribery of government officials in a fictitious country. It is worth 17 marks. I wonder if I can possibly answer it without having done the Dread Ethics Readings. Let me see ... "Bribery is bad. In any country. Don't do it". See? Done!

Now watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical,
Liberal, fanatical, criminal.

Sigh! I'll probably just do the damned Readings anyway. I don't want to. But I'll do them. Because my course materials say that they are required.

Won't you sign up your name, we'd like to feel you're acceptable,
Respectable, presentable, a vegetable.

I'm a good student. I do what I am told. It's just who I am.

At night, when all the world's asleep,
The questions run so deep
For such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.

I am such a schmuck.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Every time I see you anywhere near me, I cry

My sister stopped by today. It sure was nice to see her. As an added bonus, she brought fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I love chocolate. And cookies. Yummy!

Sis was looking forward to some baby snuggling time. But N absolutely did not want Sis. He had no problem making this abundantly clear either. Every time Sis would touch N, he would cry. She would hold him and he would immediately start screaming long and loud, stopping shortly after she passed him back to me. She would touch his hand and he would stick his bottom lip out in a perfect pout before dissolving completely, burying his head against my shoulder and weeping. At 4 months old, he's a little young to be making strange, so I really don't know what he found so objectionable about her attentions.

What's wrong, N? Is her pretty blonde hair too bouncy? Her skin too tanned? Do you question her intentions? Dislike chocolate chip cookies? Do you sense that she is a dog person, whereas you are a cat person? Do you object to her political views? Or are you just a big ol' grump who is getting new teeth and really wants his mommy?

Please don't take it personally, Sis. It's not you. It's N. He is teething and grumpy. He loves you. And I love you. (Also: Cookies = Yum!)

Thank you. Come again. Also, bring more cookies. 'Cause: Yum!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I know I'd go from rags to riches

Looking for something decent to watch on TV. The following movie is apparently showing on Bravo right now.

Frogs for Snakes

Synopsis: A talented---but underemployed---group of theater actors support themselves between roles by acting as debt collectors and hit men for the mob in Amos Poe's suspenseful comedy-drama.

I really don't understand the title of this movie. And I don't think this sounds remotely suspenseful or dramatic. But it does sound funny as all hell!! And I think it's a good indication of what artists sometimes have to do to survive. Y'know, when they're not off whining about their grants at taxpayer funded galas and stuff. (As an aside: "rich artists"?!)

Here's the thing. I'm a classically trained pianist who also has a diploma from a prestigious jazz program. And I actually had to work as a debt collector for quite some time in order to survive. I mean, I didn't work for the mob or anything, though a debtor did die in an unusual manner shortly after speaking to one of the other collectors in my office. But it wasn't me, and I didn't kill him. Anyway, my point is that "debt collector" is not a particularly glamorous or fulfilling line of work. It's what you do to pay the bills. Also, the term "starving artist" isn't meant to be sarcastic. It's the norm for artists to struggle. Now "rich artists" on the other hand are few and far between. I don't actually know any of them. And I personally have never been invited to a taxpayer funded gala. Which leads me to wonder. Who are these artists, and how can I make them love me? 'Cause I'm clearly doing something wrong.

Fine. The theater actors in this movie had to work as debt collectors and hit men for the mob. But let's get to the real issue here. Did they declare all of their income on their taxes? 'Cause otherwise, they're in a whole heap o' trouble.

Anything at all

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hot fun in the summertime

Last September, H and I went to Maui. In preparation for the trip, we went shopping for some new clothes. I really needed a new swimsuit. I tried on a whole bunch before I found one that really worked for me. I hate trying on clothes. Swimsuits are particularly painful. I wish I'd known then that there were other shopping options available. But I did not.

I can blame Jenny, the Bloggess for not telling me earlier that there was a Swimsuit Tester available online.

Now, a woman no longer has to go to a store and try on swimsuits to see how she will look. The Swimsuit Tester looks after this for you. You can see nearly anorexic realistic teenagers models of a certain age parading about in various styles of swimsuits. And, by the various activities they perform, you can tell just how cute you will look in each suit. Yes, the models perform various activities. Activities like walking, stretching, playing with frisbees and beach balls, and (my personal favourite) carrying about various pieces of sometimes incorrectly labeled fruit. 'Cause that's what really matters ... sure, it's cute when it's just me and the suit, but how does it look when I have a bunch of grapes in my hand?

We waffled for a time over whether or not to take J with us on our trip. It was hard to decide, but ultimately, we went without him. At the time, I felt this was a good decision. But after watching The Swimsuit Tester, I question it. See how that model looks, strolling about in her teensy two-piece and carrying a child's plastic pail and shovel set? Clearly, her toddler must have been nearby. And if this proves anything, it's that I would have looked absolutely adorable crammed into a tiny bikini and playing on the beach with my son.

Maybe ... not ...

When we asked friends if we should take J to Maui, those who were childless encouraged us to take him. They said we should think about how cute he'd be playing on the beach. Those friends who had children had a rather different take. It went something like this:

Oh, okay. "Think about how cute he'd be playing on the beach." You take him to the beach. In the Hawaiian sun. And you cover him with sunscreen, so he won't burn. And then he gets all upset because he's covered in sunscreen and he feels sticky. And a breeze comes in, and coats his sticky sunscreen covered body with little grains of sand. And he cries. So you put him in the water so that he can get clean, and he freaks out because the water is cold, and the saltiness feels weird and his eyes sting when he rubs them. So you relent. You take him out of the water. You start to dress him in regular clothing. But before you can finish, he runs back into the ocean, and his diaper fills up with saltwater and then it either explodes or, if you're lucky, it just falls off and floats away. And then he cries because he's naked and wet and his feet are getting sandy. What a great time you'll have!
It sounded right at the time. But clearly, those friends had never seen the footage of slinky-model-in-bikini-with-plastic-pail-and-shovel-set, and had no idea what they were talking about. 'Cause you will note that in all of the video clips, there is not even one labeled "Chase your manic toddler around while his diaper fills up with water and eventually explodes or floats away test". So obviously, this kind of thing never happens.

I guess we should've taken him.

All apologies

Dear N,

I know that your teeth hurt. And I know that you are tired of being in your swing. And I know that you want to be held, and cuddled, and fed copious amounts of fresh milk until you pass out in a happy little delirium with milk dribbling down your chin, dreaming of sugarplum fairies and really hot cars. And I think that's great. Those are lovely ambitions. Everyone should have a goal.

I understand that you are displeased with me, your humble servant. I appreciate that you feel my performance is less than stellar, as I am not quick enough to respond and cater to your every whim. But must you be quite so forceful in expressing your displeasure?

Seriously. Stop it.

I have fed you. A lot. I have held you, cuddled you, whispered sweet nothings and cooed to you as I looked deeply into your big blue eyes and smiled happily at you. I have given you Tylenol for your teeth, changed your diaper, burped you, and wiped the spittle from your face. I have pushed you in your swing just exactly the way you like to be pushed, sung songs to you, and ensured that your little stuffed-kitties-on-a-teething-ring toy is always close-by. And I sincerely don't know what more you could want. You have been treated like royalty. You have been fed, changed, snuggled, drugged ... this type of treatment would make most people very happy. But not you, oh my sweet baby of doom. You will not be content until you have thoroughly demonstrated your incredible vocal powers, so that all of the neighbours may take note and fully appreciate your amazing gift.

Why do you scream at me with such ferocity, making my head throb and my ears bleed as you permanently damage my hearing with your high pitched shrieks of rage? Your needs have been met insofar as I can meet them. It is perfectly apparent that you are tired and should just go to sleep now. And if you would stop screaming long enough to close your eyes and drift off into peaceful slumber, I feel you would quite enjoy it.

I know I would.


Your Mother

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's not easy bein' green

The following exchange occurred in my entranceway this afternoon. J had just returned from a fun-filled day with Grandma and Grandpa and, as usual, was very excited to be home.
(Note: J has difficulties with the correct usage of words like "was" and "were".)

T: Yes, J?
J: (taking shoes off) MOMMY! MOMMY!
T: Yes, J?
T: Yes, J?

(J takes a deep breath)

J: Um ... I were coming in ... inside ... and ... and there were water on the veranda! ... And ... um ... it were green! *

T: Oh, really?
J: Yeah! And ... um ...
T: (Muffled laughter)
H: (laughing openly) J, why are you taking your pants off?

(J, who has for some inexplicable reason pulled his pants down to his knees in the entranceway during the above exchange, recovers his senses and hastily pulls his pants back up)

J: Mommy. Why are you laughing?
T: 'Cause you're being silly.
J: But you have to listen! Because I were telling you a story! **

* There is actually no water on my veranda. Green or otherwise. But green is J's favourite colour, and it is typically featured in his stories.

** I did not get to hear the rest of the story. J never really returned to it.

Things can only get better

Thanks to Dawn over at Embracing the Ordinary Life for these words, which I totally needed to hear today.

"Start BELIEVING things will be ok...cause no matter how bad things are, they will get better...Faster even if you just have Faith."
There is a lot going on in our lives just now. We've taken a few major hits lately. But I know things will get better. It just takes time. And Faith.

Things always get better. They just do. Because life moves in cycles. It can't stay like this forever. And that gives me great comfort and hope today.

People just love to play

Specifically, I just love to play.

I have now found a fix for the expandable post summaries issue. Makes for a nice compromise. So from now on, longer posts will be partially hidden behind a "Read more" link, while shorter posts will be fully displayed. Less clicking required for you, the reader, while still keeping the main page reasonably tidy. It makes me happy.

On a related note, what of this new background? See, on my computer, the background is showing with a stitched white border on either side, links on the left, entries in the middle, and additional information and blog navigation tools on the right. I hope it shows up the same way for everyone else who looks at the blog. Some people have told me that it does. But one friend tells me that on her screen, the left side links are kind of chopped up by the border.

This leads me to wonder: How does it look on your machine? You've got to tell me, or I'll not know. So your feedback would be much appreciated.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

I love you because

I love H.

I love H because he can make me laugh, even during the hard times. Like today, when we passed a sign that read "Rhino Housing", and he started making light of it.

H: Look. Rhino Housing.
T: Yes, I see it.
H: Rhinoplasty.
T: Uh huh.
H: Rhino Party.
T: Yeah.
H: Rhinoplasty Party?
T: Rhinoplasticine.
H: Rhinoplasticine housing party! Plasticine rhino's house party!

And thus it progressed. Before long, I was laughing, despite myself. Life goes on.

I love H because he doesn't hesitate to tell me when I am being ridiculous. Like today, when I started searching the animal shelters' adoption banks and pulled up this picture.

A female cat. Medium haired. Three months old. And she looks almost exactly like our dearly departed. So much so, in fact, that H saw the picture displayed on my computer screen and thought someone had emailed me a picture of her.

I immediately wanted to go to the shelter to get her. H stared at me in shock. And then he took my hand, and kindly explained how crazy I sounded. Our household, with a preschooler, an infant, a wife and mother who works outside of the home and is in school and who has a broken knee, a husband and father who works outside of the home and has plans for further schooling, and a healthy 9-year old cat. Our family, grieving the loss of a cherished pet who passed only one day ago. Now is not really the best time to adopt a new pet, is it? And if it were, it is probably not the healthiest choice to adopt a cat that looks exactly like the one who just died, is it? She may look the same, but she is not the same. She will not act the same. Wouldn't I just end up resenting her for not being exactly the same, in every way?


I love H because, even though he knew I was being unreasonable, and even though I knew I was being unreasonable, he still let me phone the shelter to ask about the kitten. Who had already been adopted. (Well, of course she had! What cat lover could resist her, really?) He let me phone. Even though he later told me that he really didn't think we would have gotten her, even had she still been there. Because to do would just be crazy. And as much as it pains me to admit it, he was right.

I love H because he was right, even though I didn't really want him to be right. He is logical when I am emotional. And I think that's good.

I love H because he is H. He comforts me when I am sad. He cares for me when I am unwell. He is my best friend. He is my rock.

I love H.

Shock the monkeys

J got a small barrel of monkeys toy. It came with a fast food kid's meal that he ate the other day.

J: Monkeys? Can I hammer you with this hammer?

J loves tools. All tools. Especially his hammer and his screwdriver. He keeps his plastic tools in a large zip-top bag that he refers to as his "tool box". Tonight, he filled the tool box with a variety of items. But on closer examination, we discovered several things that did not belong in the bag. Among these were photographs. This kind of thing is pretty typical really, as J has already proven himself to be something of a packrat. (I don't know where he gets it). But when told not to put photographs in his tool box, he became frustrated.

J: I quit!!

A typical 3-year old boy, J does get frustrated quite easily these days. But he is learning to express his emotions constructively. A couple of nights ago, he was hammering walls, floors, the piano ... he was asked not to hammer these things, as he may do damage. He responded by plastering on his best "pissed-off" expression and stating in no uncertain terms:

J: I'm angry!

This kind of statement from J occurs fairly frequently these days. And while I wish that J didn't get angry, I know this is not realistic. I am, however, glad that he can express his anger so well, with words and not with tantrums. Don't get me wrong; J has great tantrums too. Amazing tantrums, actually. He can kick and scream with the best of them. But it is nice to see that he is able to express himself verbally. Though sometimes not with what could be called "success".

J: I don't need to put my socks on, because I'm not thirsty.

I am glad that he asked if he could hammer the toy monkeys from his barrel. That is progress; he used to just do things and then think about asking for permission after the fact. But it would probably be good if he would ask permission from one of his parents, rather than from the affected inanimate object.

And on the topic of personifying inanimate objects:

J: My socks have to go into my toolbox, because they were crying to go in there.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I remember you - the last years

I am sorry to say that we had to put our beloved cat down today. She was 17 years old, and had been living with renal failure since the age of 9. She was getting sicker and sicker, and we were no longer able to keep her comfortable. She had been my cat ever since she was a baby. She was a beautiful and patient animal, who loved to cuddle. She meant a great deal to me; to our whole family. Saying good-bye is very difficult. I loved her, and I will miss her horribly.

Grief sucks.

Note: If you are not a cat person, you may want to just skip over the remainder of this post.

Related posts: I remember you - the middle years; I remember you - the early years

I remember when you got sick. How you lay still, letting me do the things that I knew annoyed you, and I knew right away that you needed help. I remember taking you to emergency, and how scared I was. Okaying the bloodwork and the IV. And I remember crying when I heard your diagnosis of renal failure, and how I broke down when I picked you up after the long weekend and they told me that you were living on borrowed time.

I remember visiting you in the hospital. At emergency, and at your regular vet. You with your little front foot all bandaged up, holding your IV in place. How you would pace around to get petting. How your IV would tangle up and have to be straightened. How you would work so hard to get the attention of other animals around you, so that you could hiss at them while they were looking.

I remember when they had to start force-feeding you, to keep you well. Taking in cans of wet protein-reduced cat food, marinated in the water from cans of tuna, trying to entice you to eat. Feeding you from my fingers; you lapping up the food willingly. But not enough. Never enough. And I remember finding out that they had still force-fed you in my absence.

I remember having to give you subcutaneous fluid shots, and how you decided that you would rather eat off of a china plate than from a bowl. And how you insisted on sitting on a magazine on the floor during mealtimes. The brief period when you made H and I serenade you with appropriate soft dinner music before you would eat. The words to "The Briar and the Rose". And I remember having to force-feed you despite all of those things, whenever you were out of sorts. Your pill cocktail and your special food, that never seemed to be quite enough to keep you going.

I remember calling the vet in desperation and asking if we could feed you cottage cheese and french fries, because I knew you would eat those things, and you would not eat your food. And I remember the vet saying that you needed to be on your special protein reduced catfood, and H and I working so hard to ensure that you got enough nourishment to sustain you.

I remember all the times that I thought we were going to lose you, and how you always pulled through. The tears I cried each time you seemed to worsen, and the relief I felt each time you improved. And I remember the miracle pill, and how much better you felt after that was added into your regimen. We were able to discontinue your fluid and anti-inflammatory shots after that, and force-feeding became an occasional duty, rather than a twice daily chore. Were it not for all the pills and the special food, we would have forgotten that you were even sick.

I remember how you started putting weight back on. And how your energy began to return. And I remember your beautiful fur, that had gotten so thin and dull while you were sick, returning to its lovely full lustre once more. My mom said petting you was like putting her hand in a bag of flour, and she compared your coat to that of a chinchilla.

I remember taking you to your vet appointments, and how they marvelled at how well you were doing. The vet grabbing hold of the skin on your neck and twisting it back and forth madly to show us how well hydrated you were. And the heat wave when you started to lose steam and needed a brief IV to perk you back up. How you snarled at the little children who wanted to pet you, only allowing H and myself near your kennel. The notation on your file of "VERY grumpy today!" And how you would do your little soldier crawl across the table to H or me whenever the vet would try to examine you.

I remember all of the love that you would bestow on us. How you would demand to be as close to us as possible. And how you would lick our hands and then rub the insides of your ears against the wet spot, cleaning your head. That one time when you climbed into H's bathrobe and squirmed down into his sleeve.

I remember how you would climb up on the computer tower. How you would sleep there silently, beside the modem, while I worked on my classes, and I wouldn't even know you were there until I somehow disturbed your slumber. And I remember how you would sometimes spark the computer when you sat too close to its front, making the system restart itself right when I was in the middle of something.

How we'd buy you new collars, and you'd get your foot stuck in them trying to remove them. How you'd climb up on the kitty condo, only to be pushed off by the other cat. How you would chase other cats away from any space that you deemed to be your territory, and how you would climb in the laps of anyone who looked like they might be interested in petting you. Your special game of "chase the ball", where you and your buddy would sit at either end of the stairs and meow at each other until one of you would pounce on a ball, and then you'd both tear around the house trying to get it first. And your honeysuckle treats, that made you so happy.

I remember your companionship through my months of bed rest when I was pregnant with J. How you slept on my tummy, and how nonplussed you were when J would kick. You would just kind of bob up and down, but you never move away. You were a great comfort to me. Anytime I felt sad, I could always count on seeing your little pink nosed whiskered face peering up at me, and I always felt loved and needed at just the sight of you, and it made me happier to see you.

I remember when we brought J home from the hospital. We were so nervous about how you might react to him. But you were so good with the baby. You never hissed or snarled or snapped at him at all. And as he grew bigger, I remember being amazed at your patience with him. How you would allow him to pick you up and carry you around the house, even though you obviously hated it. How you let him snuggle with you, even when you clearly wanted to be alone.

I remember when your miracle pill stopped working as well. You started peeing outside of your litter box. And I remember taking you to the vet and being told that it appeared to be a behavioral problem. Cleaning the floors, replacing the carpets, and trying to repair the warped baseboards that you had damaged. Sticking with you. Trying to get you to go in your litter box exclusively once more.

I remember when I was put on bed rest with N, and how you would come to cuddle with me as I lay still. And I remember how your breath began to smell, knowing that you were getting sicker because of the kidney enzyme smell that came out of your mouth. I wanted to be near you, but I was so nauseous with morning sickness and so sensitive to smells that I couldn't cuddle you the way I wanted to. And I felt so badly about that. I remember how you gravitated to H during that time, and how you stopped really wanting to cuddle with me any longer.

I remember when your once bright green eyes grew dim, and began to leak fluid at the corners. The beautiful sleepy grey streaks by your eyes, now clouded in crustiness. Your fur, thinning and losing its sheen. Your movements slowing. I remember how reluctant you became to climb up the stairs. How you started to make us carry you up and down.

I remember when you stopped wanting to eat, and your weight began to drop off. How you began to throw up several times each and every day. And when you started to poop at the back door or in the basement.

I remember crying when I realized that we were no longer keeping you healthy. That you were 17 years old. That you had survived with renal failure for 8 years, and that perhaps your time had come. I remember struggling with that realization, and finally trying to do what was best for you. I remember making the phone call, and booking your appointment. You were in pain now. I didn't want you to suffer any longer. But I hated making that call, and would have done anything to have avoided it.

I remember how my mom and H didn't want me to go to your appointment. How they thought it would be too hard on me. And how I insisted that I needed to be there for you. You were such a good little cat. Such a good little friend and family member. I loved you so much, and I needed to be there with you at the end so that we could say good-bye. I see that it was the right choice, though it was hard on me.

I remember holding you at the vet, and talking to the doctor. And I remember pleading with them to find another way; to fix you and make you whole again. I remember the doctor telling us that any other way would be selfish. That you would suffer if we waited. That this was the right thing for you. That this would be painless, and that this was what you would want. I remember H and I looking at one another, hopeless and devastated, and reluctantly agreeing that she was right.

I remember those moments, holding you and petting you. I remember your kisses on my hands, me kissing your sweet pink nose those last times. The doctor taking you away to get prepped. Kissing you. Petting you. The shot, and your painless passing. Staying with you for those last moments, carressing your fur, your precious ears. Saying good-bye.

I'll never forget you, my sweet little girl. I am so sorry that we couldn't find a way to keep you with us; that we couldn't find some way to make your pain go away and make you whole and healthy once more. I would have given anything to change it, to bring you home with me.

I'm sorry, my sweet kitty.

But I remember. I remember all of it.

I remember you. Always.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I remember you - the middle years

Note: If you are not a cat person, you may want to just skip over this post.

Related posts: I remember you - the early years

I remember packing you up and moving home. Your first experience in such a large environment. How you weren't sure what stairs were about, and you had to learn to climb them. You picked up on going down the stairs faster than going up.

I remember you and your best friend, the dominant cat, napping in wicker baskets that sat on top of the basement fridge where it was nice and warm. Yours was a little round basket with a handle, and it was lined with a golden sheer curtain instead of a pillow. And you loved to sleep in it. I remember having to fetch your soft rabbit fur mouse out from under that fridge on more than one occasion, because it always ended up there and you always missed your makeshift teddy bear.

I remember taking pictures of you at Christmastime, sitting on the fireplace hearth next to the bright red pointsettia flowers, and how beautiful you looked there. Your pink velour collar that perfectly matched your pretty pink nose. And the little white bell that jingled softly when you moved.

I remember how you loved to cuddle on top of me, under a blanket, whenever I would sit in the big grey recliner chair in front of the TV. How you would fall asleep, and people wouldn't notice that you were under there, and how your soft grey fur blended into the fabric of the chair. How you would meow in that raspy, annoyed little voice of yours whenever you were disturbed. You loved warmth, and would always gravitate to the warmest spot of the house. If I wasn't there to cuddle with, you could usually be found sleeping in a sunbeam or lying on top of a heat register.

I remember how scared you were of my sister's dog. How you would hide in the basement when the dog would be over. And I remember coming home of an evening and finding the dog locked in her kennel, and you sitting on top of the kennel, taunting her through the bars. You were never so brave as when there were no actual threats to your safety.

I remember how much you hated to have your nails trimmed, and how scared you were of strangers and loud noises, like the vacuum cleaner. I remember that day when I was at work and my parents got their carpets cleaned, and how you scratched my dad's arm when he tried to lock you in the laundry room so you wouldn't get out. And then, once he let you out and you were all stressed out from the noise and strangers who had just left, he tried to trim your nails, and you bit him. I remember coming home from work to find my dad's hand and arm all bandaged up, the stitches in his hand, and the antibiotic IV that was running. Dad never let you forget it, but I always stood up for you and told him he brought it on himself. And I stand by it, even now.

I remember moving you again, to another apartment building. And I remember you shyly peering around the corner of the hallway whenever someone new came in, and then hiding away until you felt comfortable with the new person. How you would sit in the window, shielded by the curtains, and meow in obvious annoyance whenever the curtains would be pulled back. And I remember H doing that so often that you decided to stop meowing at him, just so that he would stop.

I remember you and your buddy cat sleeping curled up together in a big foam kitty bed. How close the two of you were. How much you had grown to love one another. And how I had to keep you separate for feedings, much to your chagrin. I remember both of you piling into the bed with me, him curled up by my knees and you tangled up in my hair right behind my head. How you would just sort of adjust yourself to any new position I decided to take through the night, without missing a beat. How you barely even moved in your adjustments, insisting that I move around you so as not to disturb your sleep.

I remember the few occasions when you would play. You, hiding in the box fort you had found in my bedroom, batting at your buddy's tail as he walked by. I remember how he turned and stared you down, and you tried gamely to pretend that you hadn't done anything; that you had just been sitting there calmly cleaning your paw the whole time.

I remember how you slept in the grey chair in the living room during the day and waited for me to come home. I remember how you would knead my upper arm when you wanted to sleep curled up in my armpit, eventually forcing me to move my arm from the pain. And how quickly you would then dart into position, cuddled up against me, for naptime. The first time you did that kneading motion to H, and how frustrated you got that he didn't move his arm quickly enough.

I remember when we lost your buddy. How confused you seemed when I returned from the emergency vet without him. How lonely you appeared for those next few days, until we got you a new friend. And I remember how vehemently you hated that new friend. How you resented his presence in your apartment. How possessive you became. How he was not permitted near your stuff. How you decided that your stuff consisted of two things: the grey chair, and me. I remember how you would chase him away whenever he came near either of those things. And how you grew to love him, despite yourself. I remember the first time I ever heard you purr; you were taught this trick by the new kitty in the house. You'd never known how to do it before.

I remember you going to the vet to get your ear tattoo and coming home all groggy from the anaesthetic. Your new friend, so protective of you. I remember how wobbly you were as you walked around, and the other kitty hopping around after you on three paws, using one front foot to try and steady you. And I remember how he lost his balance and pushed you over.

I remember how you became the courageous one. How we moved to a new apartment. How we weren't sure where you'd disappeared to and how we eventually found you hiding behind your litter box, the larger, newer cat hiding behind you, looking to you for protection. How you ventured out before him, and explored your new digs.

I remember when H came to stay, and you sat in the living room and cried mournfully through the night, sad that he had taken your place. And I remember having to go out to the living room and get you, and how you then realized that you could lie between us in the bed, and that was still okay with you. And though you never curled up in my hair again, I remember how you still slept close-by every chance you got.

I remember how you hated to have your feet touched. How it was the only thing that would get you to snap, and how you would move to bite anyone who came near them. Your feet were so cute, though, and visitors would invariably try to touch them. I remember you snapping at H's brother, and scaring H's nephew when you yawned and made a horribly scary face that showed all your teeth.

I remember the little things. You, perching atop the TV, looking for warmth. Or batting the newspaper out of my hand, demanding petting. You with a plate of cottage cheese. Stealing potato chips out of my hand as they would near my mouth. Taking french fries and holding them between your paws, eating them like little cobs of corn as you sat perched on your hind feet.

I remember all the cuddles. Your purrs, your meows, your kisses, your soft thick fur.

I remember. I remember all of it.

I remember you. Always.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This is what it sounds like when pigs fly

Since we often make posts on the subject of "Things you never thought you'd hear yourself say", we thought it might also be appropriate to post a number of the things you will absolutely, unequivocally, NEVER hear us say. Things such as:

  • We are changing our phone and Internet back to Telus, because the future is friendly.

  • It says so in all the ads, so it must be true.

  • Home Depot has the best blinds. And top notch customer service.

  • Sears is a great place to work! Shop and invest!

  • Yes, I would love to lock in my utility rates for five years.

  • Please phone me every five minutes and tell me how I can lower my interest rates.

  • Toopy and Binoo is sheer intellectual genius.

  • What I really want is for my foundation to match my skin.

  • Stephen Harper is a wonderful man, deserving of our respect.
and, of course:

  • I'm voting Conservative in the next federal election.

I remember you - the early years

Note: If you are not a cat person, you may want to just skip over this post.

I remember the first time I saw you. So tiny and cute. Adorable little tabby stripes around your eyes, lemur rings around your long tail, your perfect little pink nose, the grey raccoon mask around your beautiful green eyes, not yet opened after your birth. Such a beautiful little girl, with your soft grey and white fur, your thick undercoat making you the softest little kitten I'd ever felt.

I remember driving home, with you sitting on the passenger seat. You were in a red and white cardboard cat carrier. You kept sticking your paws through every available space, and you quickly figured out how to open the top of the carrier. It was a wild drive, as I tried to keep you contained while we were in the car.

I remember bringing you inside. Introducing you to the other cat, the master of the house, who instinctively tried to force you out, and who would soon become your best friend.

I remember how you got lost in my little apartment. How you nearly disappeared in that tiny space under the stove. How you climbed in the hole at the bottom of my hideous old loveseat and hid there. I remember scouring the whole neighbourhood looking for you that one time, my family and friends all trying to find you, late at night, going through alleys and bushes in a rather rough area of town. And I remember returning home defeated, and finding you perched on top of that loveseat wondering what all the fuss was about.

I remember when you decided your litter box was too far from my bed, and you started doing your business on the floor. And I remember having to lock you in the bathroom at night, until you were old enough to be completely litter trained. I remember hearing you cry from inside the bathroom, and how my heart broke with each teeny meow. And I remember how your squeaky little baby meows sounded so much like you were saying "Mommy". And how you slowly outgrew that, and learned to meow properly.

I remember your feisty spirit. Swatting at you when you'd broken the glass in that one framed picture of my grandma. And I remember how you swatted back at me, defending yourself. How you tried to attack that little stray kitten that came into the apartment one night, and how I had to lock him away from you until morning for his own safety. Trying to teach you to walk on a leash and harness system. Your stubborn streak taking over, as you lay on the ground and allowed me to drag you about on your side, refusing to stand up and walk. I remember you sliding down the stairs, because there was no way you were going to walk down them. It just wasn't your style.

I remember all your kisses, the likely result of your being weaned too soon. How you would lick and lick at one spot with your little sandpapery tongue until the skin was all but worn away. How you loved to cuddle. How you'd make a nest for yourself out of my hair and sleep near the back of my neck through the night. How you'd sleep in the crook of my arm, nestled into my armpit, as I watched TV. And I remember how you originally preferred the arm of one of my friends to my own, and how we eventually got past that and bonded.

I remember being told that I was allergic to you. And I remember how I had to lock you out of my bedroom at night for awhile, until I had built up enough of a tolerance to have you with me once more. I remember you standing outside the door, meowing plaintively, begging to be let in. And I remember getting up, just to make sure you were still okay, and how quickly you bolted into the room to be with me.

I remember when you got out. Me, running through the building. Finding you in the basement, lying pressed tight against the bottom step, scared out of your mind, hissing at me as I tried to pick you up. And I remember how you'd get scared when strangers came over, and how you would hide under the bed.

I remember how your legs at one time looked so very long; much too long for your tiny little frame, and how you wobbled when you walked, all disproportionate. I remember how you always looked sleepy, since you had those dark grey streaks of fur in the corners of your eyes, and how that little cowlick on the bridge of your nose made you even cuter.

I remember the first snowfall of your life. Taking you outside so that you could experience it. And I remember that you hated the cold wetness on your feet, and you wanted to be held. I remember holding you, and lifting a little bit of the snow up to your face so that you could see it. And I remember how you sniffed hard, and got the snow up your nose, and how it made you sneeze.

I remember Christmastime. You climbing up the inside of the Christmas tree. Your sweet, easygoing nature. How you didn't even bat an eye when I stuck that Christmas bow on top of your head. And I remember how your buddy, the older cat, came over and swatted it off on your behalf. I remember how reluctant you were to play with any human, preferring instead to just sleep or cuddle. And how you would insist on that closeness at every opportunity.

I remember. I remember all of it.

I remember you. Always.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's the name of the game?

The van driving down the road. The "Mamma Mia" soundtrack playing merrily in the CD player. Meryl Streep asking earnestly "What's the name of the game"?

Grumpy J: (forcefully) I don't want to tell you!
H: Don't want to tell me what?
Grumpy J: I don't want to tell her the name of the game!

Too bad, Meryl. Now, you will never know.

On a somewhat if not entirely unrelated note, an x-ray was performed today, which is good. I got to see the break and the positioning of the screws. No wonder it hurts so bad! (I mention this because it was how I came to be out in the van tonight ... I've been mostly housebound since getting out of hospital. But I did go out yesterday. To get the staples removed. Didn't hurt as much as I'd expected. Good.)

I was curious about the positioning of the screws. I couldn't get a visual on it. So I was googling "tibial plateau fracture" and looking for images. I hoped to find some x-rays, CT scans, drawings ... that sort of thing. It's interesting stuff. To me. Since I have the particular injury. I expect someone without a tibial plateau fracture would find it less than enjoyable.

More interesting and even less enjoyable, however, is the kind of thing other people think we all want to look at on the Internet. Like the close-up photos of some guy's infected surgical site, labelled "changing the dressing", which someone so thoughtfully posted on Flickr. (You will notice that I did not link to these photos. That's why you love me. And you're welcome.)

So ... what kinds of awful have you found on the Internet?

We don't need no education!

Well, my first assignment for school is due on September 25th. I'm a little concerned about it. Because I'm already behind in my schoolwork. The first assignment covers the first two modules, and each module takes about a week to complete. And there is a whole extra section devoted to a review of essential concepts, which I really need to get through before I start the modules. I started it yesterday and hope to complete it tonight.

So you see the problem, don't you? It is presently the 17th. It will take about two weeks to get through the first two modules and complete the assignment, which means I should be done around October 1st. But it's due on September 25th. Oh ... crap ...

I wrote in to the Association and explained my situation. Broke knee, surgery, hospital, blah blah blah, painkillers, foggy mind, yadda yadda, behind in course. They've given me a one-week extension for the first two assignments, so I can buy some time to catch up. Thank God!

But nonetheless, I am irritated with the Association. Both at the provincial and national levels.

At the provincial level, I am irritated that the Association no longer sends out pat-on-the-back letters to students who have achieved the highest grade in a course in a semester. It seems ridiculous to me that they would not acknowledge our achievements, as they once did. And it quite annoys me. But it's a fairly small thing. I'll get over it.

My annoyance at the federal level is more pronounced. The Association has reduced our printed materials. Instead of providing us with a text and the printed, bound copies of course lesson notes, they are now providing only the text. The lesson notes, which are an integral part of a course and are fully examinable, are now available online only. In html and pdf formats. So if a student needs a printed copy, said student has to arrange to get the pdf version printed and bound. My course has roughly 600 pages of lesson notes. I can't properly learn 600 pages of lesson notes without having a printed copy; I just don't absorb as much when I read from a computer screen. Hunched over my computer, reading accounting theory with intense concentration, and maintaining any of what I have just read. Can't fold down pages of note. Can't highlight key passages. Can't make notes in the margins.

Lesson notes? We don't need no stinkin' lesson notes!

Yeah. Sure.

An online format is okay for light reading, but not for 600 pages of management accounting theory and procedure! So I had to get these things printed myself. As did every other student in my class, all across Canada; I know, because we have discussed it in the online forum. Do you know how much it cost to get the lesson notes printed? And bound? Double-sided? In black-and-white?

Eighty freakin' dollars!!!

And yet, my tuition for the year has nearly doubled, and course fees have increased too. Thanks a lot!

I sent off hate mail the appropriately worded response, to tell these moronic losers the decision-makers that I hate them and will be firebombing all their homes and offices as appropriate payback how disappointed I am with this incredible idiocy new development. I hope they will remove their heads from their asses and revert to the previous policy in future years.

At least I got my assignment extensions. Now, I should be able to meet the deadlines.

I sure hope so anyway.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Where the hell are you when I need you?

It's okay that the floors are a bit dusty. That is why we have a vacuum. It's a central vac system, actually. No big bulky cannister to drag around. Just plug the hose into the wall and away you go. My parents have one of these. Took me years before I realized the cannister was in the basement next to the furnace and the dirt traveled through pipes in the wall. When they first got the central vac system, I thought there was no cannister. I thought the dirt was just magically blown out of the house. But now, with mom's-hindsight, I see that was completely illogical. Those marbles and dried up balls of play-doh I routinely vacuum up would have become projectile missiles, launching from the side of our house, and passersby would have been severely injured. There would then have been a bunch of lawsuits against reckless homeowners who were so stupid as to install central vac systems. That wouldn't make a lot of sense. The basement cannister is a much better idea. That's why I am not an inventor. My ideas are too rough and don't work on a practical level.

So our floors are dusty. So what? H will haul out the vacuum later, and the floors will soon be clean. We have wood and lino flooring, and vacuuming only takes a few minutes. As long as you keep up on it. When you don't, then it takes much longer. Fur, kitty litter, and crumbled Cheerios cover all available surfaces and get in all of the grooves. And then, of course, there are the marbles and dried up balls of play-doh. J loves play-doh and is at his happiest when an adult will shape tiny pieces of the stuff into little balls. They have to be pea sized, perfectly round, and have no cracks. If they are not perfect, he will give them back and demand that we do it better. He lets these little balls of goo dry out, and then he carries them around with him as if they were the crown jewels. Until he eventually loses interest, abandons them, and then insists we make him a new batch. Decrepit abandoned play-doh balls are all over this house. He keeps them in cupboards and drawers, in his tiger backpack, and in his pockets. We have to make sure to empty J's pockets before we do a load of laundry. Otherwise, we end up washing a bunch of multi-coloured little balls of play-doh. And that's just not pretty at all once the load's gone through the dryer and everything.

So yeah. The floors. They can get bad. But they're not bad right now. Just kind of dusty. A quick 5-minute job oughta take care of it. You see, that is why we have a vacuum. It took way longer to clean with a broom and dustpan. And then, we ended up just sort of shifting the cat fur around. See, you can't really sweep up cat fur. It's too light. The tufts just fly up in the air, and then they land elsewhere, and no matter how much you sweep, you just kind of move the fur from one spot to another and you never actually get rid of any of it. I don't know why we even own a broom, really. The vacuum works so much better, and it's way easier. And if there's anything on the floor that's too large for the vacuum, then it can just be picked up by hand and put in the trash. Really, the broom is pretty useless, when you think about it. Though it would have been handy before the vacuum was invented, I suppose. I mean, it's probably better to use the broom than to do nothing at all. Right?

Anyway, we have a good vacuum. And I love the vacuum. And H loves the vacuum. In fact, this morning, H told me not to worry about the floors at all. H told me that he would vacuum. H told me that the vacuum is a wonderful tool, good for many things.

Well ... it's good for vacuuming obviously. But I haven't found it to be quite as good for dishes. I can't honestly remember the vacuum ever doing a half decent job washing the dishes. It also doesn't clear the expired food out of the refrigerator. And it can't follow a grocery list at all, so you just can't send it shopping and expect to get back anything like what you asked for. It's memory frankly sucks (haha). It refuses to do bathroom fixtures. It can't get that streak-free shine on the windows. And it's completely useless for laundry. It just forgets. It forgets everything! In fact, if the vacuum were better at laundry, I would not have had to try and do it myself, and I would not currently be laid up with a broken knee from my bizarre laundry accident.

So really, it's all the vacuum's fault, if you think about it.

Stupid vacuum.

Where the hell are you when I need you? Off getting yourself a snack? Watching soap operas? Having a nap? What am I paying you for anyway? Oh ... right ... well, I bought you, didn't I? That makes you my indentured servant! And you should do what I need you to do when I need you to do it! And if you'd only gotten off your lazy butt and done the laundry that one fateful day ... fine, lazy hose then ... I don't believe for a minute that you "forgot"! It was laziness, pure and simple!

You're fired!!

Of course, when I expressed these thoughts to H, he just kind of rolled his eyes at me and told me that when he said the vacuum was good for "many things", he meant it was good for cleaning all kinds of flooring surfaces, upholstery, and blinds, and even for light dusting if you use the special duster attachment. So ... yeah.



The above insane ramblings are my own fault. I haven't taken any Percocet today, so I can't even blame my crazy on the narcotics.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stairway to heaven

The knee is continually being jostled. Each bump causes intense pain.

Yesterday. Yesterday, H and J both smacked it several times. They felt terrible about it. I still feel the after-effects of their repeated blows today. I am thankful for painkillers.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow, the staples come out. I hear that hurts. But I am hopeful that the pain will start to subside once the staples are gone.

I try to move around some each day. I can get around pretty well now with my walker. And I'm getting better on the crutches. But stairs are still a challenge. And of course, we live in a 2-storey house.

When I was released from hospital, I had to navigate a bit to get home. I had to get up and down curbs, in and out of the van, up the three steps to our veranda, and over our threshold. It was difficult. I never realized that the rise of our veranda stairs is so crazy. The steps are really, really high! I went up the first step with the crutches, but I had to put my bad leg out at a crazy angle, and it hurt horribly. After the first step, I thought better of it, and I sat down and scooted the rest of the way up. Once at the top, I had to figure out how to get back to my feet. From ground level. With only one good leg. The solution was found in J's picnic table. It was conveniently situated on the veranda, and I used it. Two small pushes up - one to the bench, and one to the top - and I was then sitting at the perfect height to get back to my feet, aided by the crutches.

Our inside stairs are even steeper than those veranda steps; high rise, narrow tread, and many more than three steps. Not my favourite feature of the house. And those stairs are why I have been living on the main floor. I mean, our stairs are rather dangerous even with two good legs. But on crutches? I'd probably fall down and break the other leg. Or maybe my neck this time. Mess me up real good. 'Cause that's how I roll.

So I live on the main floor as much as possible. Once I can weight-bear on the left again, I can go up the stairs more frequently. It's not too bad, really. The main floor is fully equipped. Mostly. But there is one problem. Our showers are on the top floor. And I like showers. A lot. Sure, I can have sponge baths and wash my hair in the sink. But that kind of thing just doesn't replace a nice shower. I miss my showers. I want my showers. At this point, a nice long shower would feel like a little piece of heaven.

Okay. So I can't exactly stand, balancing on my one good leg, for long enough to manage this feat. But we have a shower seat. We have a tub clamp. We borrowed these things from the equipment loans program. So I can get in and out of the tub. And once in, I can sit down to shower, with no weight being placed on the offending limb. That will work. I can have a shower. In theory. Really, all that stands in my way is a full flight of death-trap stairs.

(Did I mention that they're covered in the most slippery carpet I've ever seen? And that each tread is completed with a rounded lip that you can catch your foot on, or slide right off of with ease? Did I mention that I am not the only one to have fallen down these things? On more than one occasion? Did I mention that they are not my favourite feature of the house?)

I just have to get up the stairs, get back to my feet at the top, and crutch-walk to the bathroom. That is all. That can't be insurmountable. People do this sort of thing every day. How hard can it be? (Did I mention that I am a klutz? So much so, in fact, that H has requested I not crutch-walk when he is not at home, for fear that I will lose my balance and injure myself further when he is not around to help me? "Please, just use the walker, okay?")


T: I need to get upstairs. I want to have a shower.
H: Are you going to be able to make it all the way up on the crutches?
T: I don't think so. I'll have to sit on the stairs and scoot up.
H: How are you going to get back on your feet once you reach the top?
T: You'll need to bring J's little picnic table in from outside and put it at the top of the stairs. I'll use that.
J: You're going to bring in my picnic table?
T: Yes, J.
J: So I can have a picnic inside?
T: No, J. We're just going to use it so that Mommy can stand back up.
J: No. My picnic table can't come inside. Because it's for picnics.

(Great. Thanks. Thanks so much. I bought you that dang picnic table, and all your other stuff too, incidentally, you ungrateful little troll, and I'll use anything I see any fool way I like, and ... deep, cleansing breath.)

T: It's just to help Mommy briefly, J. Then we'll put it back outside, and you can have a picnic. Okay?

J is thinking about it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Your true colours

I am from my piano,

from Yamaha and Hewlett Packard.

I am from the grey bungalow with the big backyard and the service station across the street. Tidy, cute; the scent of gasoline.

I am from the diefenbachia, lily, rainbow, the willow, rose, rock. Grey and speckled, hard and rough, both smooth and jagged by turn, with tiny flecks of bright gold.

I’m from big Christmas gatherings and type A personalities,

from Ruth and Jan.

I’m from hard working overachievers, and exhibits of strength, faith, and hope through adversity,

From "clean your room" and "your brother and sister never fought like this".

I’m from God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. The three-in-one. Baptist.

I’m from Scotland by nature, but elsewhere by nurture,

From frozen turkeys and barbecued hamburgers.

From the bright but uneducated businessman who owned his own service station, and then went back to school as an adult, changing his path through intense hard work, because what he really wanted was to teach highschool.

And from the addict. A man who loved to skydive, who one day spontaneously combusted and ended it all with one shot.

Photos in boxes and albums; some in scrapbooks, slideshows, quilts, and various frames. China cabinets with pretty glass and crystal, and chests of drawers containing writing and childrens' artwork. Cabinets on an acreage and computerized family trees. Treasures in every cupboard. My past, my present, my future. Every bit of it precious, priceless, and irreplaceable.

I am from my piano.


The above was inspired by my friend, The Morgan. Apparently, it was a proposed school assignment from a teacher's website originally entitled "Where I'm From" ... and I'd love to read yours too. So follow the structure and create a poem. Let me know how it turns out.

Edited Sept 15/08:

I have now learned that the original "Where I'm From" poem and form is by George Ella Lyon. Visit her site, and you can read the original version and listen to the audio, as well as find some other resources for writing. (And maybe even get her to give a workshop at your child's school!)

I am from (specific ordinary item),

from (product name) and (product name)

I am from the (home description). (adjective, adjective; sensory detail.)

I am from the (plant, flower, natural item), the (plant, flower, natural item)

description of the natural item).

I’m from (family tradition) and (family trait),

from (name family member) and (another name).

I’m from the (description of family tendency) and (another),

From (something you were told as a child) and (another).

I’m from (representation of religion -or lack of it) further description).

I’m from (family ancestry),

From and (two food items representing your family).

From the (specific family story about a specific person and a detail).

the (another detail of another family member)

(Location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

He gives me, gives me, gives me the honky talk blues


Every time J hears a car horn, he responds with open hostility, typically in the form of a particular verbal insult forcefully hurled in the direction of the offending vehicle. But is he really upset at the driver? Or is it just an indiscriminate response to outward stimuli? I think the latter. And as proof, I offer this interesting example.

Yesterday, in a parking lot, someone's car alarm went off, resulting in the following exchange:

Car: HONK!
J: You IDIOT!!
Car: HONK!
J: You IDIOT!!
Car: HONK!
J: You IDIOT!!
Car: HONK!
J: You IDIOT!!
Car: HONK!
J: You IDIOT!!


One person's "bad parenting" is another person's "conditioned reflex experiment". Don't judge me!

Every time you shift your weight, you take a piece of knee with you

First, let me just say:


I'm being as delicate as possible with the broken knee. But it still gets jostled. People in the house bump it. Sometimes, my own movements cause great pain. And whenever I need to change or feed N, it's excruciating. Somehow, that baby has the ability to put all of his weight on my lower left thigh and push down toward the break. I try to adjust him, but he's apparently quite determined.

At least I'm down to two Percocet a day now. I only take them at night. Just 'cause they last longer than Tylenol, so I don't awake in the wee small hours in agony. But the rest of the day, I get by with the Tylenol. That's pretty good, I'd say. The Tylenol doesn't make me as sleepy, and it has never caused a hallucination. Plus it's safe for nursing. So that's always nice.

It has been two weeks since the surgery. I hope the pain will start to subside soon. But thus far, it's generally around a 7 or 8 out of 10. If it's not jostled at all, it sometimes gets down to a 5. But that kind of thing is always short-lived. 'Cause someone's got to bang into it. H has walked into it (rarely). J loves to cuddle, and he actually kicks it (frequently). Of course, N likes to lie on it (almost constantly). And even I sometimes jostle it and get myself in a heap of trouble (more than you'd think - I'm a total klutz).

It's still swollen, though that seems to be going down. It's still reluctant to bend, though that seems to be improving ever so slowly. I can get it to almost a 45 degree angle now, but it is very uncomfortable to do so. I wonder how much physio will be required and when I might expect to be able to bend it properly. The doctors have said it will never be the same again, so part of me wonders if I will ever again be able to bend it properly. I try to banish those thoughts, but they are there. Oh, I dearly hope it will bend properly at some point!

I'm worried about the physio. I'm worried about recovery. I'm concerned that it still hurts so much two weeks post-op. And of course, I'm terribly annoyed with myself. I had just recently gotten off bed rest, and now I'm restricted once more just because I'm clumsy. Hardly seems fair. There are worse sins than clumsiness, aren't there? Ok, fine; I'm really clumsy. But still!!

Anyway, the Percocet is starting to kick in, and I'd best stop typing before something odd happens. Like what, you ask? Well obviously, like my being sucked into the computer, or turning into a giant robin, or some such thing. 'Cause Percocet can be like that. Or not. It's wildly unpredictable stuff, I've found. At least the knee doesn't hurt as badly when I'm flying around the neighbourhood.

Tweet, tweet!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Teach your children well, lest all their wealth slowly go bye-bye

H and I are capitalists. We freely admit it. We could try to deny it, but being that we are an accountant and an insurance underwriter, we fear you would see through our feeble attempts. We are also spendaholics. And we strive to have an income that will support the lifestyle to which we aspire. Obviously, that last sentence tells you we have a long way to go.

At 3-1/2 months of age, N is far too little to know anything about money. And the 3-year old J does not yet have an appreciation of what money is about. He knows that he likes money. He enjoys holding the shiny coins and putting them in his piggy bank. But he doesn't quite realize that you can spend those coins to get stuff. While he understands the concept of paying for things, he thinks it involves simply swiping a piece of plastic through a slot and then leaving the store with whatever you want. I don't think he understands concepts like currency and conversion. And I certainly don't think he realizes that swiping the little piece of plastic is just the first in a series of transactions that result in Mommy and Daddy crying at the end of the month when the bills come in.

J understands the value of other things much more readily. Toys, for example. Time, for another.

When we first tried to potty train J, we had problems overcoming his very pronounced stubborn streak. In desperation, we resorted to bribery. But the bribes had to be of the toys and time varieties. Fine. Go with what works, I say.

Toys: We had a big bowl with individually wrapped "presents" - balls, cars, markers, stencils, etc. - and every time J went potty and was dry, he got to pick one. There was also a big wrapped present, sitting up high and clearly visible, which he got to open once the bowl was empty. (It was a Hot Wheels Shark Park, if you were wondering.)

Time: We put a calendar up in J's room with four weeks on it. And every day accident-free got a day crossed off on the calendar. At the end of each week, we had written a fun activity that he would get to do with us. Playground; McDonald's Playland; Swimming; Chuck E Cheese. We told him that "these are things you can't do if you're not potty trained". He got pretty excited about it, really.

Well, J got right into the groove and was essentially potty trained in a week, thus proving that bribery works. If you use the right sort of bribes. See, the parents of one of J's classmates are using cash bribes with far less success. We conclude that this is because your average 3-year old does not understand that cash can be converted into toys. A 3-year old is much more responsive to instant gratification (aren't we all). And that's okay.

Baby steps. Walk before you run. Learn the basics before you throw in complex concepts. Start with simple if/then strings, and move up gradually. And that's how you teach your children about concepts like cash and consequence.

"If you let me change your diaper, then you won't be wet anymore."
"If you pee in the potty, then you'll get a toy."
"If you pee in the potty, then you'll be dry and comfortable."


"If you study hard and get good grades, then you'll be able to go to university."
"If you finish university, then you'll get a job that pays more per hour."


"If you invest more money early on, then you won't have to invest as much money later on in order to have the same amount set aside for your retirement, because of compound interest and the time-value of money, and ..."

See, that's pretty complex for a kid. How 'bout we not start with that one, mm-kay?

H and I work hard, but it's always a matter of balance for us. We work, we study, we spend time with the kids, and we care for our home and our family to the best of our ability. We do these things so that we can teach our children one of life's great lessons - a little more work equals more cash equals more toys for less time spending. Or to get right down to basics: hard work pays off, but keep a balance.

But our kids are just a little young yet to fully understand that concept. For now, we lead by example. And we hope our children will watch us, will learn from our successes and our mistakes, and will take the best of us with them as they grow. For now, our if/then strings are suitably simple, and currency is rarely mentioned. We'll start across that bridge when the time is right.

But bribery? Yeah. Bribery is mentioned often. Oh, yes it is. After the potty training experience, we wholeheartedly support bribery.

This post was inspired by The Parent Bloggers Network and Capital One, and is part of my attempt to win an iPhone. 'Cause they're cool, and I respond well to bribes too. I am a capitalist, after all. I like toys!

She ain't easy (pretty, but not easy)

You'll excuse the title - I couldn't resist it.

If you are here, please comment. Be heard. Or I'll not know your opinions, and I'll just do whatever works best for me. (Me, me, ME!!)

I need some more reader input on blog template stuff. I've put in this "expandable post summaries" feature, where we can hide the brunt of a post behind a link. I'm not 100% sold on this feature, but I'm also not completely sure I should remove it. Here's why.

I kind of like this feature, because it keeps the main pages nice and tight. If readers see something of interest, they can read more. If it's not of interest on first blush, it's easy to skip, and a reader doesn't have to scroll down too far to get to the next entry. So that's kind of nice. There's a part of me that likes a simple, neat view of all entries on the main and archive pages. It makes things neat. It makes things pretty. And it makes scanning and selective reading much easier. So that's the plus side of this feature.

And I kind of dislike this feature, because it requires a reader to click on a link to read the rest of any entry. This is not especially user friendly if you want to read all posts and you don't want to scan and select your reading. It adds extra steps. With this feature in place, a reader has to click to expand every page, and then read the rest of the entry, and then go back. And that kind of thing can get pretty monotonous and annoying. There's a part of me that likes keeping things simple ... fewer mouse clicks and such. So that's the down side of this feature.

In short, the expandable posts summary feature is pretty, but in some ways it's not especially easy.

(I haven't found a way to make it work selectively, where some posts are partly hidden and others are left alone. The "Read more" link shows up at the bottom of every post no matter what I do.)

So do I keep the "Read more" link at the bottom of every post and make the main page and archive pages look all neat and succinct and easier to navigate for those who are scanning the posts? Or do I delete the "Read more" code in its entirety and let all our wordiness spill out all over the blog's main pages in order to lose those extra mouse clicks?

I think my personal preference is to keep it. Because there are both upsides and downsides to it. But primarily because removing it takes work, and I am lazy. You see, if I remove the feature now, I have to remove some code from a bunch of entries. Make work projects aren't really my thing. But I can do it, if need be.

So ... What would you prefer? Do you like to scan and select posts? Or do you want all the wordiness right out there on the main page?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Year of the cat rat broken bone

It all started when Paul broke his ankle over the winter. He broke it badly. Needed surgery to set the break. What was Paul doing? Taking his two kids to school in a little wagon he was pulling. Slipped on the ice, and that was it for Paul. Surgery, crutches, walking cast, and physio. He experienced massive amounts of pain for a terribly long time. And it took a number of months, but Paul has recovered well. (His juggling routines took a temporary hit, however. But he's getting back in form again.)

Next came Lee. Lee also broke his ankle in winter. Not as badly as did Paul, but it was a break nonetheless. Both Lee and Paul were in casts at the same time. They were practically twins, since they'd both broken the same ankle. (The real tragedy, of course, was that this meant we couldn't tie their bad legs together to make one full person with two good legs.) Lee went outside briefly one day and slipped on his concrete steps. His ankle was set with a regular cast, and in six weeks the cast came off. He was in considerable pain for a period of time while he waited for the break to heal. Now, Lee is good as new. But until he healed up, his wife was on her own with an (almost) 2-year old and a new baby in the house. (And she had fun, fun, fun 'til the mental health professionals took her away. But she's all better now.)

Next was me. With a broken knee. (Tiddle dee dee.) The hospital chart reads "tripped over the cat", but we all know what really happened, don't we? I stand by my assertion that she tried to kill me. (According to the Chinese horoscope, 2008 is the year of the rat. Well, the stupid cat has lost more weight lately, and her fur lacks lustre. And now she kind of looks like a rat, so I guess someone got temporarily confused.) The pain is intense, and the Percocet continues to be good to me at night. We've been successful thus far in working out childcare arrangements for J. But for the sake of N, I've downgraded to Extra Strength Tylenol during the day so I don't lose consciousness when I'm alone with him, and also so I don't disrupt his feeding routine too much. This means I hurt a lot during the day. But I cope. I trust it will heal in time. (Until then, I hope for better hallucinations.)

And now, on to my friend Carolyn. (Update your blog, woman! What's wrong with you?) Carolyn broke her ankle today. She was working on some landscaping, took a step off her deck, and just kind of landed funny on the concrete slab. She has three children to care for, and her business plans have experienced a temporary setback. But fortunately, hers is a straightforward break. She's in a regular cast right now, and will get a walking cast in a few weeks. She has some Tylenol 1's at her disposal, but hasn't really needed them. And she says it only hurts when someone bangs it. (At my request, H is heading over there with a hammer. 'Cause, why should she be spared?)

So what I'm saying is this: If you have kids, you'd better watch your step. And please, folks, try not to break any bones. It's not nearly as much fun as I've made it sound.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Roll over, Babe N-Man


Today, N rolled over for the first time. He was lying on his back, getting changed. And then he started moving. He got up on his right side, and just started kicking his feet and grabbing with his left hand. He was almost there and couldn't quite get his right arm out from under him. He got really frustrated, but he kept trying and eventually, he managed to get his right arm free and found himself completely on his tummy.

Unlike when J rolled over for the first time, the entire family was standing by to celebrate N's amazing feat. J clapped louder than anyone, and then gave N a big hug.

We rolled N back over onto his back, and he got mad about it. He immediately rolled over again. In fact, he rolled over three times in succession.

N is pretty ticked off that he can't do much once he gets on his tummy. He's trying pretty hard to propel himself across the room. All in good time, sweet man!

Tonight, N will get moved into his crib. He is now too mobile for the basinette. While I am very happy that I got to see N roll over for the first time, I am still kind of sad about other things. For starters, until the knee heals up a bit better, I am living on the main floor of the house. So I will miss being in the room for N's first night in the crib. And then, of course, there's the whole "My baby's growing up!" thing - irrational as it is, new milestones are always bittersweet for me.

Anyway, yes. N rolled over for the first time tonight. And it has now been documented for posterity. Way to go, N!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Things you never thought you'd hear yourself say

"Just wait 'til Mommy puts away her walker."

I don't use the crutches around the house. I'm much more stable on the walker. So we prefer that I use it and stay safe. Even if it does make me feel really old. At least I'm not falling down and breaking the other knee. Gotta count for something, right?



Sunday, September 07, 2008

You're a strange animal

J wanted a McDonald's breakfast and some time at Playland this morning. I complied.

We got in line for breakfast, J clutching his treasured Panda tightly. That's when J appeared to change his mind.

J: I want a donut!
H: No, J. We're at McDonald's.
J: I want a donut from Timmy's!

This brought shrieks of laughter from the people in line behind us. It also resulted in the following conversation:

Lady: They've taught you well.
J: This is my Panda.
L: Oh. And does he eat donuts?
J: No.
L: Oh. What does he eat?
J: Bamboo.
L: And then what?
J: And then he burps.
L: And then what?
J: And then he pees.

A stuffed panda bear. That eats, burps, and pees. Ah, Panda. You're a strange animal, indeed.

These dreams

My drug-addled brain cannot cope. Passed out in the late part of the morning, I had a dream. It switched fluidly from topic to topic. But I cannot understand how that worked. It was incredibly odd.


I was in my house. But my upstairs main bathroom was about ten times its actual size. And it was a combination bathroom/laundry room. The cats had been locked in this room with their litterbox and water dish. H and I were getting ready to go out. H told me that N's carseat was up in that bathroom. I walked up the stairs and opened the door to find the cats playing on the washer/dryer and N's carseat in a far corner. Every available surface was covered with dirty cat litter. And that is when it occurred to me that I was not wearing my leg brace or carrying my crutches, and had made it all the way up the stairs without my broken knee bothering me. Instead of rejoicing, I decided I'd best hide this from H so that he wouldn't get mad at me for putting full weight on the broken leg when I was prohibited from doing so. I grabbed the carseat, closed the door, and scooted down the stairs on my butt, obediently not putting weight on my knee.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I found myself on the main floor of my parents' house. H and J were not there. N and my mom were sleeping in her room. I grabbed my computer and started working on my project. I glanced out the window and spotted a funnel cloud. Before my very eyes, it changed into a full-blown tornado. It was dangerously near the house. I went into my mom's room, grabbed N, woke up mom, and we all ran into the basement. Out basement windows, we watched a number of tornadoes in various sizes wreak havoc around us. None of them harmed my parents' house. I went into one of the rooms briefly, and discovered that my brother, R, was living there. The basement had been redesigned for him. R came out of his bedroom and asked where the hardwood flooring was. (Note: By this, he would have been referring to the flooring that is presently in my kitchen, waiting to be laid down in the basement. But at this point, we're still in my parents' house.) I told R that the flooring was in my kitchen, but R corrected me. R told me that the flooring was outside, getting rained on. The tornadoes had passed, so I decided to go out and check on the flooring. I went upstairs and out the front door.

I found myself back at my own house, on my front veranda. There was a box of flooring, but it only contained a few sample pieces. The main hardwood flooring boxes were still safely in my kitchen. But for some reason, my fridge was on the veranda. And some strange man was trying to make the fridge's water dispenser work. He figured out the locking mechanism and managed to get a glass of water. And then, he wandered into the house.

I followed the stranger into my house, and found myself in a large open space entirely comprised of the kitchen and bathroom, which is not quite the layout of my house. H was inside, as was my mother-in-law. The stranger began performing some kind of mental assessment on my mother-in-law and was asking her all kinds of questions. We tried to stop him, but we couldn't. She fainted from the stress. I went into the bathroom to get a cold towel for her.

Inside the bathroom, I heard H upstairs, putting J to bed. Cuddling J, and singing "Baby Mine". Soft and gentle. Calm and sweet. Such a beautiful lullaby.


I awoke as H and J returned from playing at McDonald's. I was momentarily disoriented, as H and J had just been upstairs getting J ready for bed and it had just been night. But suddenly, afternoon sun streamed through my windows, and J was very awake.

I wonder what would have happened next had my dream been allowed to continue.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Oops, I did it again

It's a conundrum.

I was at the Second Cup drive thru. J was in the back of the car. I placed my order. I drove up to the window. In the distance, a car horn blared.

J: You IDIOT!!

The girl at the window couldn't stop laughing.

As a parent, what do you do? The behaviour is inappropriate. A 3-year old should not call someone an "idiot". You can't laugh; it encourages repeat behaviour. You also can't scold; it's perfectly obvious that he learned this behaviour from you. So you blush, mumble something uninteligible to the Second Cup drive-thru girl, take your order, and drive off into the night.

Road rage is a skill that must be honed at an early age.

Friday, September 05, 2008

I'm so high on you

Percocet. Percocet is a wonderful drug. The pain is still there, but it is substantially lessened. I drift in and out of slumber.

When awake, I reflect on how enormous my living room looks now that much of the furniture has been removed. Things were re-organized during my hospital stay. The main floor is now a minimalist space, where I have room to move about with my old lady walker or crutches while wearing my leg brace. I play on the Internet. I put final touches on my project, which will soon be submitted.

When asleep, I am at perfect peace. I forget that my knee is broken, and I dream pleasant dreams. If I move in my sleep, the pain is sudden and severe, and it wakes me. I try not to move much. It's jarring.

Mostly, I reside in a state of semi-consciousness. My eyelids feel heavy, and my vision is blurred. I could be right in the middle of something, and then I open my eyes and twenty minutes has passed. I did not sleep, but I just stopped what I was doing and ceased movement. It's rather disconcerting.

In these times, I converse with myself. Or with others. It's sometimes quite unusual. The other day, I lay still, eyes closed peacefully, and listened to my mother-in-law talk. She was telling me about a dream that she'd had. It didn't make much sense, but I was able to follow her train of thought as she told the story, moving swiftly from topic to topic, dancing in and out of subject matter as she spoke, just as she always does, her voice quiet and earnest. And while I listened, I thought about what a shame it was that she wasn't actually there. I was enjoying listening to her, and it would have been so much better had she been real.

Percocet. I highly recommend it.

I'm going to sleep now. Nighty night.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

But the damned cat came back

Fuel pump. Leg brace. Both wonderful things, but hardly interchangeable.

About the same price. But hardly interchangeable.


You'll recall from my last post that I hurt my knee when I fell down the stairs. The cat was lying on the top step, and I tripped and fell. I am quite certain that she was trying to kill me.

What I had failed to mention in that last post was that she had earlier tried to kill H. Two hours before my fall, H had nearly tripped over her. She was sitting on that same blasted top step. H removed her. But apparently, she just wouldn't stay away.

Now, our poor old household has troubles of its own, beyond the little cat that pees throughout our home.


We had to get the fuel pump in our car replaced last week. The car died at a 7-11. Expensive repair jobs suck. But it's just a car.

Damage to a person is a lot worse than damage to a car.

My leg is in fact broken. It's a tibial plateau fracture, which is right in the middle of the knee joint. And it required surgery to fix. Two screws are permanently holding my knee joint together. The break caused disruption of blood flow to the cartilage, complicating the injury. I will likely require knee replacement surgery in fifteen to twenty years. The doctors say that the knee will never be the same. It will be stiff and develop arthritis. For the moment, there is no range of motion. In other words, it doesn't bend. Plus, it hurts like the devil!!

It required a special type of brace. And I couldn't be released from hospital until I'd passed physio, by demonstrating that I could crutch-walk up the stairs. I couldn't do that until I'd gotten the brace. The brace allows 50% weight on the left. But without it, I'm not permitted to weight-bear on the left at all.

The brace came in today, and I finally got to come home. I've been in hospital since last Friday, so it's been nearly a full week now. Scans, surgery, medication, and physio. In another five weeks, I'll be re-assessed, and we'll see how much more physio I need. Range of motion will likely continue to be a concern, and hopefully physio will be able to improve this significantly.

I'm exhausted. The medication is tiring, as are the crutches. Can't care for the kids, so we're trying to find a solution to that problem. Our stairs are too steep for me to manage with crutches, so we have to adapt to me living exclulsively on the main floor until I can weight-bear again. And some of the medication passes in breast milk, so I have to time N's feedings around my dosing schedule. The doctors indicate that the medication isn't dangerous to N, but it will make him rather sleepy. But I still prefer not to give my baby narcotics. It's just my preference as a mother, I suppose. Anyway, this is all somewhat problematic.

On a bright note, the crutches provide quite the intense workout.