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Archive for July, 2007

Busy, busy

I got a letter from Maya today, informing me that she loves camp and has lots of friends. Phew. That’s a relief.

I have also put the other two in day camp starting today. Boo is in Drama camp and is playing the part of Tiger Lily in Peter Pan. I have no idea who Tiger Lily is. Must go brush up on Peter Pan. They are happy too.

So now, here’s the plan: finish the damn book chapters I’ve been working on and declutter the house. My house is a disaster. My lovely cleaning lady/mother’s helper/marriage saver comes several days and cleans, folds laundry and picks up. But her method of dealing with the clutter is to just stack it randomly, or pile it into bags. Not a problem for a long time, as I just went through them and put things away as I had the energy, but when I got sick in January, my half of the system went to hell. Since then, I’ll get some energy to do some decluttering, but soon be overwhelmed again.

My mother, who has always had more energy than I do, came over this morning, and we rampaged through the kids’ rooms. She’s promised to keep coming back until it is done. I’m tempted to just throw everything out, but I realize that isn’t realistic.

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I know I’m a garden geek, but I can’t help myself. My garden is finally looking really nice, and I am getting all kinds of positive comments from neighbours. Of the rest of the houses on my street, most now have squares of brown, dormant grass, thanks to the heat. The few that are green are absolute water hogs. My garden is green and lush and beautiful, and I don’t water it at all. Yeah for perennial gardens!

This is what my Shasta Daisies looked like as I was leaving for vacation, with all the buds just about out:

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This is what it looked like when I got home:

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Pretty little pansies:

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My African Daisies, after finishing their blooming from when I first bought them, suddenly stopped budding at all. I was resigned to nice green plants until I came home to discover the plants had grown significantly and were producing dozens of new buds. This is the first one to bloom:

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Daylilies:

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Real lily:

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My flax has stopped blooming, which is weird because it is supposed to bloom all summer, but it isn’t so bad, because of the hundreds of seed pods:

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Another meme

Hey, I just spotted that MathMom tagged me for a meme. Oh goody, just the thing to post when I have another damn migraine and am so hopped up on meds that I can’t think straight.

Four jobs I’ve had

  1. Writer for CTV Morning show news
  2. writer and researcher for the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
  3. strawberry planter and picker
  4. housecleaner.

Four movies I can watch over and over

  1. Henry V (Kenneth Branagh version)
  2. Aliens
  3. Groundhog Day
  4. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Four places I’ve lived

  1. Ottawa, Canada
  2. Toronto, Canada
  3. Kingston, Canada
  4. That’s it!

Four TV shows I love

  1. House
  2. Heroes
  3. Family Guy
  4. The Office.

Four places I’ve vacationed

  1. Jamaica
  2. Mexico
  3. San Fransisco
  4. Prince Edward Island.

Four of my favorite dishes

  1. Pad Thai
  2. Rice and Beans
  3. Pho soup
  4. Roast Chicken and roast potatoes.

Four sites I visit daily (um, frequently?)

  1. A golden doodle discussion board (yes, I know that is sad)
  2. a bunch of blogs
  3. Weather Network
  4. Baby Blues daily cartoon.

Four places I would rather be right now

  1. Jamaica
  2. the beach at the cottage
  3. PEI
  4. San Fransisco

Four People I Am Tagging

MathMom stole them all!

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Okay, she’s not exactly a baby, since she is 11, and she’s only gone to camp, but still, it’s weird.

I started going to sleep-away camp when I was 6, but that was just for a weekend. I can’t remember when I began to go longer, but it would have been a gradual process, working my way up to a whole summer in my teens. Maya, in contrast, refused to go before this year and therefore missed the shorter introduction to camp for younger kids. She (and we) just gets thrown into the deep end, 3.5 weeks.

The longest I have been away from her is 10 days, and that was when I was going somewhere, not her. It’s a lot more fun that way, let me tell you.

I know she’s going to have lots of fun, and her cousins, who she is really close to, are there so they’ll show her the ropes, and the weather got lovely, and she’s such a mature and responsible kid that she’ll do just great and I loved sleep-away camp when I was a kid and I’m sure she will too. But there’s still a little twitch of a worry that she won’t.

And I miss her more than I expected. I already wrote to her. In the age of instant communication, the parents can email their kids, and the camp will print off the emails twice a day and deliver them to the kids. The kids are low-tech, though, and have to write to us the old-fashioned way. Maya insisted she would write daily, but I think we’ll be lucky with two letters total, and that is just because I wrote the first one for her, as a bit of a joke. (I wrote stuff like, “(Circle one) I am having a great/okay/awful time. The food is better than you’ve ever fed me/okay, I guess/makes me want to puke…”)

I wonder how often I can write to her before her cabin mates start to make fun of her?

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We dragged ourselves reluctantly back from the cottage because, after two weeks of crappy weather (well, one week of okay weather and one week of really crappy weather), it has finally become sunny and hot, and leaving the beach for my air conditionless house was painful.

The kids are delighted to be home, back to their TV with 50 channels and computer with modem fast enough to play webkinz. I didn’t want to come home, as I liked having J around all the time, and the easiness of the small house, and the beach, and letting Jasper just run around the property when he needed to go out, and all the visitors. And leaving the sunshine just killed me.

But here’s the silver lining – the part of my house I love best, my garden, loved all that rain. My Shasta Daisies are still in bloom, two weeks later, my lilies and daylilies are blooming, but my Asiatic lilies have kindly waited for my return. The African daisies, which had mysteriously stopped blooming before I left both have tons of new buds coming up. Flax, perennial geraniums, echinacea, poppies, mallow, pansies, roses – all going nuts. And in the back, the raspberries have started ripening like mad. It is simply lovely. I’ll take pictures and post soon, I swear.

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They redeemed themselves

After dinner, the whole lot of them trouped around town in search of the Harry Potty book, which wasn’t easy to find for a different reason than the rest of Canada. Apparently, Quebec isn’t that interested. They finally found it in a grocery store and returned home with it. So, despite sleeping and packing up to come home, I read the book in 24 hours.

Thank goodness I’m a speed reader, for several reasons. One, I refused to look ahead, despite the fact that practically everyone who saw me reading it on the beach, no matter how casually they were interested, asked me to go to the end and tell them if Harry makes it. I wouldn’t, so if I were a slow reader, I would have been useless for a long time, wading through these 600 pages.

Two, as much as I liked the book – and I did, obviously, as I devoted as much of the last 24 hours to it as I could – wallowing for weeks would have gotten annoying. It isn’t worth that much of my time. If I were reading it to my kids, it might be, but otherwise, nope. I mean, it is a great read, but 600 pages? Oy. I feel for slow readers.

Reading it was fun. I liked it a lot and the kids made it into something of an event by checking frequently on my progress and, as I reached the last half, asking regularly after Harry’s health and if anyone others had died. I will say no more than that, even though the those who’ve surfed their way onto my blog using “Harry Potter” in their search string also used words like “spoilers” and “ending,” so the demand appears to be there. Oh, just go read it yourselves, slackers. Or, if not, go check Wikipedia. It is all up there, if you really want to know. I enjoyed doing it the old-fashioned way.

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Harry, of course (not)

Okay, I admit it: I like Harry Potter. When my kids were far too young to be interested, I picked up the first one on sale for when they got older. Then I read it because, like Everest, it was there. I enjoyed it. I’m not ashamed to admit it, as I think that is the mark of a really good children’s novel (although I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I have enjoyed the Lightening Thief series, which I adore and swear I’ll get around to writing more about as soon as I’m back to reality).

So I’ve read the rest of the series. I tried reading it to Maya, but she wasn’t impressed. Asher refused to even listen in the first place (although they love the Lightening Thief!), but I might try again with him. They like the movies okay, but aren’t big Potter fans. So I bought and read the books for myself.

I’ve been looking forward to number seven, and the closer I have come, the more concerned I have become that someone is going to blow the ending for me. This probably stems back to the kid named Jeff who I sat beside in 7th grade, who told me Darth Vader was Luke’s father before The Empire Strikes Back was even released.

So I am now anxious to get my hands on the latest book, but I’m hampered by a nasty stomach virus I came down with last night (I guess the fates didn’t consider the migraine alone to be enough illness for one holiday), and the fact that we are in a cottage in the woods, with nary a Chapters for miles.

Instead of hunting down the book, I flopped around on the beach (on the first sunny and warm day we’ve had all week, blech) feeling ill and reading the newspaper accounts of other people reading the book. When we came back up from the beach, my in-laws had arrived for their vacation, as we leave tomorrow. Innocently, my mother-in-law told me that they had stopped by Walmart to pick some stuff up for the kids, like the new Harry Potter book. My heart leapt up – the book is here! How silly of me not to ask them to get it in the first place. No, says my mother-in-law, the line was too long so they abandoned everything and left. This is what I said, “AAAAAARRRRGHHHH!!! You what!? You left it!? How could you do that!!!!? I can’t believe it!!!” Then I banged my head on the wall.

They found my reaction childish. “Well, if you wanted it so badly, why didn’t you just pick it up yesterday when you went shopping in [a little town half an hour away]?” they asked. I simply glared and flopped down on the couch, sulking like a 14-year-old.

It just came out today,” J told them. Oh, said they, how were they supposed to know that? Um, because you don’t live under a rock, maybe!?

Now the whole gang has gone out for dinner without me, because I am too ill to go, so instead, I am sitting here reading the latest Harry Potter book so I can find out the ending myself, before someone blows it for me whining on my blog.

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Vacation update

I have not been online since my last post. In fact, I’m writing this offline to then copy and paste, so annoying is dial-up service.

 

I haven’t read a blog for over a week. And you know what? I’m coping okay, except I’ve run out of stuff to read up here. No computer time means much more reading time, and I didn’t bring enough books. I am catching up in my journal, though.

 

I do feel very out of touch, although I’m not sure that is a bad thing.

 

This week, we are at the cottage with our three kids and two of our nephews (I’ll call them B and C), who are 9 and 11 years old. The four of them – Maya, Asher, B and C – have remarkably similar interests and have gotten along without a major tiff for two weeks now. They spend every waking moment together, doing things as a pack. They are happy to include Boo when she wants to be (there are younger kids here for her to play with) and also include an 8-year-old girl from across the road when she is around.

 

Five kids is actually easier than three, as there are more play options, and since B and C find their younger cousin utterly charming, Asher and Maya are more patient with her too. The only thing that we find difficult – as I mentioned before – is feeding them, since there isn’t a picky eater among them. MominIsrael is right, kids who eat everything is preferable to kids who won’t eat, but it still pains the pocketbook. The five are voracious. We are constantly throwing enormous amounts of food at them. When feeding them dinner, I am reminded of the nature clip I saw years and years ago, where you see a hand holding a huge joint of meat from some animal like a goat or sheep. The hand lowers the joint into a large fish tank and the water boils with frenzied piranhas for a few moments, and then the hand lifts the joint, now cleaned of all meat.

 

I’m just thankful that mine have huge appetites too, or the shock of feeding them all would have been much worse. A couple of days ago, the mom of the kid across the street offered to make lunch for them all (beside the 8-year-old, she has 5-year-old twins). Pasta, she said, that would be easy.

 

My eyes bugged out when I saw the amount of pasta she’d cooked for them. It was enough to split in half and feed the two oldest. I braced myself, hoping the kids wouldn’t be rude about not having enough food. They were good, though. They all ate their share, then came home and ate more. Turns out that, like my kids, my nephews are used to eating meals at friends houses, leaving hungry and filling up at home.

 

I have no idea how large families feed everybody without being rich. I should point out that the whole lot of them, save one normal-sized nephew, are so skinny you can play the xylophone on their ribs.

 

I did not intend to write so much about food. I guess it is just that I’ve been forced to be preoccupied by it. What I intended to write about was that I love it up here. The loss of my beloved internet has been worth it. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but up here the kids get thrown back to my childhood, where they roam around all day playing, and their parents don’t always know exactly where they are. No schedule, no playdates, no parents.

They swim at the beach for hours. They hunt frogs. They invent elaborate games in the forested land behind our cottage. They collect rocks and wild berries. Sleeping all in bunk beds in one room, they whisper to each other long after bedtime, ignoring our half-hearted demands to be quiet and go to sleep.

 

We feed them, bandage scrapes, build bonfires and try to prevent them from emptying their rock collections on the couch, but other than that we hang out and read. It’s lovely.

 

 

It’s not all sunshine and roses – for me, at least. As I write, I am emerging from the pit of a 28-hour migraine. Today was spent lying in bed with earplugs and an eye pillow, throwing back useless drugs. I have no idea what set it off. I haven’t had one this bad in ages.

 

My own personal cottage-holiday ritual is to become ill or injured, so I should consider myself lucky this only wrecked a day. On different years, I have: recovered from carpal tunnel surgery; had an abscessed tooth (two different times and only on holiday here); had severe strep throat that took multiple courses of antibiotics to cure; had an ear and sinus infection so bad I spent the two nicest days of the vacation feverish in bed; had the Norwalk virus (‘stomach flu’); had the real flu; been pukey and exhausted from the first trimester of pregnancy (Asher); been crabby and exhausted from being in the last few weeks of pregnancy (Boo); and had mastitis.

 

Still, I’m not complaining, because at least when I get sick here, I have J to look after the kids. In fact, I actually planned the carpal tunnel surgery that way. Only once I got here did I realize that it was a little bit stupid because I couldn’t swim or play in the sand with the kids. It was still better, though.

 I hardly miss my garden.  

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As I mentioned previously, I was inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barabara Kingsolver, to expand my tiny veggie garden. I didn’t just plant my standard tomatoes, but peas, carrots and broccoli instead. Oh, and asperagus, but I’m not expecting much from that for a while.

Jasper pulled one bunch of asperegus from the ground – I guess he likes them even when they are tiny. I’ve been watching the rest sprout and watering faithfully. Then, when we returned home from the long weekend, I did my garden tour and discovered when I got to my veggie bed – nothing! Oh, I still have those old stand-bys, the tomatoes. But every other shoot has been eaten to the ground. Wait, I exaggerate; one pea plant has survived. That’ll be quite the bounty.

So, like Yogamum, I’ve failed for this year. It is too late to replant, so I’ll have to wait until next year.

At least the raspberry plant we put in a couple years ago is going nuts and has tons of berries. I just hope most of them hold off on ripening until we return.

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I like going on vacation, I really am, but despite the veggie disaster, I wish I could bring my garden with me. It kills me that I am going to miss things flowering, particularly my Shasta daisies. They have been budding now for about a month and I have been anticipating the huge mass of flowers. As this week progressed, I could see that they were aiming to open up just about the day after I leave.

I’ll probably miss the Asiatic lillies too, and I cringe to think of how the weeds are going to take over.

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It would help if the sun would shine for longer than an hour between the rain. At least J’s brother left two of his kids here to amuse mine. Five kids is a lot to feed – none of these kids are picky eaters – but they run off in a pack and there’s always someone to play with. And Jasper loves swimming at the beach, no matter what the weather.

Boo is begging for the laptop to watch something. I think I’ll go play poker with the other kids.

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Thirteen Things about just making it up.This Thursday is the 100th Thursday Thirteen, wherein we are supposed to talk about our favourite Thursday Thirteens. But I haven’t done enough of my own and I confess I haven’t the time to go poking around the others right now, as I am supposed to be getting us ready for our vacation and not even in front of the computer at all. (I was just checking the weather, I swear.) So I am going my own way. I’m only a couple of weeks away from my 41st birthday. Like many other people, I saw the new decade as a time to make some new plans for my life. This is a look back. 13 things about the year I was 40.

1. Upon turning 40, I was determined to get fit and healthy, and lose weight in the process.

2. I am fatter and my fibroymalgia is worse.

3. I was going to exercise regularly.

4. I do, but it makes not difference to my weight or health (so far?).

5. This was the year to get my career kick-started.

6. It refused to start.

7. I don’t feel like I’m in my 40s. My younger brother certainly can’t be turning 40 this year, and my parents clearly aren’t old enough to have children in their 40s.

8. Despite it all, I’m happy.

9. I never imagined having getting a dog this year.

10. I highlighted my hair for the first time.

11. But just for fun, because I still have no gray hair to speak of – maybe 10-15 hairs.

12. I’m getting better for standing up for myself and telling people when they are pissing me off. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

13. This year was, to be honest, pretty much the same as the one before – some expected things didn’t happen and some unexpected did. And so it goes…

Links to other Thursday Thirteens:
1. Pass the Chocolate

2. Bring Your Own Cheese

3. Burnt Offerings

4. MamaArcher (kindly put me in her 13 favourite Thursday Thirteens on motherhood.)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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