Archive for September, 2008

Oh, so much going on. And no time. And no laptop. It died. Thank you in advance for your condolences. I’m coping okay and each day it gets a little easier.

Anyway, yesterday I dressed up like a real girl (almost – I wore loose, flowy pants instead of a skirt or dress; there are limits) and went out to a community event. The keynote speaker was Mariane Van Neyenhoff Pearl, widow of Daniel Pearl. In some ways, I wasn’t actually looking forward to it, because as a journalist and Jew, the topic of the death of an innocent man because he was a journalist and Jew kind of gets to me.

But I actually quite liked her speech. Mariane talked about who her husband was and how she felt that he was unbroken by his captors. She talked about how she reacted to his death, which I found very moving. I don’t usually go for truisms, like only by giving into your anger do the bad guys win, but coming from her, such comments had poignancy, perhaps because really lived it and really had to learn how to let go and not give into anger in order to go on. And perhaps just because she has such a lovely French accent that everything she says sounds profound. She said that speeches like the one she was giving, and the books she wrote were her revenge, because (and I wrote this down since I liked it so much) “You can only defeat terrorists by using against them the strength they would take from you.”

On the eve of 9/11, I find that a good thought to hold onto.


And now I must I go ‘Curriculum Night’ at my kids’ school, where J and I (two people) are going to attempt to see the teachers for all our children (three people) at exactly the same time. Fun, fun, fun.


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Yesterday, we went back to the wall-climbing place I wrote about before, and this time I brought the camera. Here’s a photo of Boo half-way up the wall. I like this one because of the juxtaposition of her and the big guy next to her.

She’s at the top.

They also had a ‘cave’ where you can climb unharnessed. My kids liked the ceiling.

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Omnivore’s meme

Here’s a meme I liberated from Yogamum. It’s a list of 100 different foods you say if you’ve tried, or never will eat. I see that it comes originally from a blogger in the UK, which explains the number of Indian items on it. And by Indian, I mean East, not American. There are, as far as I can tell, no American Indian items on it.


1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

1. Venison. I would eat it. I just don’t think I have.
2. Nettle tea.  Blech.
3. Huevos rancheros.  We had it in Mexico. J loves it. Me, not so much.
4. Steak tartare.  I can’t imagine eating it, but I watched my mother eat it once.
5. Crocodile. I’d try it, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out having not done so.
6. Black pudding.  I’m actually very picky and eating something made with blood grosses me out.
7. Cheese fondue.  Of course. And broth fondue too, which I like much better. And chocolate fondue, which I like best of all.
8. Carp.
9. Borscht.  I ate it once and hated it, but unlike Yogamum, won’t try it again.
10. Baba ghanoush.  Yuck.
11. Calamari.  Love it.
12. Pho.  Love it even more.
13. PB&J sandwich.  Of course.
14. Aloo gobi.  I have never heard of this, so I googled it, and it turns out I have eaten it. And liked it.
15. Hot dog from a street cart.  Yup.
16. Epoisses.  Had to google this too. Haven’t eaten it.
17. Black truffle.  It mostly tasted like mushroom to me.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes.
19. Steamed pork buns.  Dim sum!.
20. Pistachio ice cream.  What an unpleasant idea.
21. Heirloom tomatoes.
22. Fresh wild berries.  We have raspberries at the cottage and we discovered blackberries this year too.
23. Foie gras.  I tried it just because, but didn’t love it.
24. Rice and beans.  Love it! Asher hates beans, though, so I don’t make it much. Rotten kid.
25. Brawn, or head cheese.  My mom used to make this and I ate it not know what it was, so it bypassed my pickiness radar. I still ate it once I realized what it was, unlike tongue. What isn’t that on this list?
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper.  God, no.
27. Dulce de leche.
28. Oysters.  Smoked. Does that count? Would never eat them raw.
29. Baklava.  My room-mate’s mom, in university, made the best ever. I’ve never found any others to compare.
30. Bagna cauda.  More googling. Looks good.
31. Wasabi peas.  Blech.
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.  What’s the deal with the sourdough bowl?
33. Salted lassiMore googling. Sounds a little gross.
34. Sauerkraut.  Don’t love it.
35. Root beer float.  In New York in a little cafe. The waiter insisted that I was a deprived Canadian for not having had this. Didn’t like it.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar.  Hate cigars.
37. Clotted cream tea.
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O.  Thank goodness not.
39. Gumbo.  Yum!
40. Oxtail.  I think I’ve had it in soup.
41. Curried goat.
42. Whole insects.  Never ever.
43. Phaal.  Spicy bad.
44. Goat’s milk.  No, but I would.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more.  Malt whisky no, scotch, yes. Just cause.
46. Fugu.  A fish that can kill you?  No way.
47. Chicken tikka masala.
48. Eel.  In sushi, I realize.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut.  Sadly, yes.
50. Sea urchin.  Again, sushi.
51.Prickly pear.  No, but I would.
52. Umeboshi.
53. Abalone.  I think I have in sushi.
54. Paneer.
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal.  Sadly, yes to this too.
56. Spaetzle.
57. Dirty gin martini.  Can’t drink any more and when I could, dry martinis weren’t on the radar.
58. Beer above 8% ABV. But this sort of thing was.
59. Poutine.  It’s surprisingly good.
60. Carob chips.  Blech.  Looks like chocolate. Tastes like chalk.
61. S’mores.  Every summer, but lately I’ve taken to just roasting the marshmallow golden brown, taking a piece of chocolate and just putting it inside the hot marshmallow to melt. Yum.
62. Sweetbreads.
63. Kaolin.  Huh?
64. Currywurst.
65. Durian.  Sounds good.
66. Frogs’ legs. No, but I would.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake.  Up here in the frozen north, the latter are called beavertails.
68. Haggis.  Oh, no, no, no.
69. Fried plantain.  My mother-in-law makes awesome platanos fritos, and I love tostones too!
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette.  Innards that sound like bugs. Mmmm.
71. Gazpacho.  Me no like it.
72. Caviar and blini. Caviar yes, several different kinds and ways. What’s with the blini part?
73. Louche absinthe.  Ew.
74. Gjetost, or brunost.  What’s with all the weird cheeses on this list?
75. Roadkill.  Gee, I’m sorry I’ve missed this experience.
76. Baijiu.  Lotta booze here too.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie.  It’s hard to believe I have to say no to this.
78. Snail.  Yummy, but then if you put roadkill or guts in garlic butter, I might eat that too.
79. Lapsang souchong.  Interesting. But nope.
80. Bellini.  Again with the booze.
81. Tom yum.  Looks good.
82. Eggs Benedict. Don’t love it.
83. Pocky.
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef. I’d sure like to.
86. Hare.
87. Goulash.
88. Flowers.  Only yummy ones.
89. Horse.  Gee, I’d love too, but I’m just stuffed, thanks.
90. Criollo chocolate. I don’t think so.
91. Spam. When I was a kid.
92. Soft shell crab.  Shellfish yummy. I’m with kashrut on the pork thing and the humane killing if you must kill stuff, but shellfish? That’s just mean.
93. Rose harissa.  Ouch.
94. Catfish.  Probably.
95. Mole poblano.
96. Bagel and lox.  But of course!
97. Lobster Thermidor.  Why does it have to be thermidored?
98. Polenta. Somehow that doesn’t seem very exotic.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.  I don’t drink coffee. Yuck.
100. Snake. I’d try it, if offered.

Hey, I’ve tried over half the stuff on this list. Pretty good for someone as picky as I am. Of course, I don’t like over half the stuff on this list.

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These past few days, I have been watching American politics with great interest. Things got really fun when Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s running mate. I find her very bizarre and cannot believe that she actually has a good chance of becoming the next vice-president. But then, both times Bush was elected I felt like we were living in the twilight zone, so I supposed it isn’t really a stretch to think that Americans will vote for an old guy and a woman who named her first child ‘Track’.

For a couple of days, I allowed myself to think that this wacky choice did not matter much, because look at the roll Obama is on and of course the Democrates will win this time. But then a friend who is a journalist in the States kicked the chair out from under me, reminding me that Obama still has that huge strike against him. He’s black. I’d have dismissed that if I hadn’t recently heard an interview on the radio with a few ‘ordinary Americans’ praising Obama for appearing to be a very smart, reasonable guy. But they still wouldn’t vote for him because, and I quote, “He’s a coloured.” Okay, then.

But that’s just a side rant. What’s really pissing me off the past couple of days is the emphasis on Palin’s choice to continue her pregnancy once she discovered that her latest child, with the equally unfortunate name of Trig, had Down Syndrome. There seems to be the assumption that, were she not so rabidly anti-abortion, of course she would have aborted the baby.

This makes me crazy on several levels. On one level, it suggests Down Syndrome is a truly awful thing, that the only thing stopping Palin from drop-kicking the baby from her uterus upon this discovery were her Christian beliefs, because … ew, retarded baby. It negates the possibility that she, or anyone else, can just decide that Down Syndrome isn’t a big deal and a Down Syndrome baby can actually be a wanted baby.

The narrative seems to be framed like this: Well, thank goodness she holds these good, Christian, anti-abortion beliefs, or this sweet little ‘special’ baby wouldn’t be here today and we must impose this lack of choice on everyone else so that other sweet little special babies like this will be born too.

And then there’s the whole notion that people who are pro-choice are actually pro-abortion, like they think that all pregnancies should end in abortion. Like, if it were up to them, Palin would have been forced to abort her fifth child.

But that’s not the point at all. The point is that the pregnant woman must be allowed to chose what happens in her pregnancy. Beyond the occasional eugenics wing-nut, you won’t find anyone who is pro-choice who disagrees with Palin’s choice. Because it was her choice.

I am as rabidly pro-choice as Palin appears to be anti-choice (my blog, my terms). My last pregnancy, as I’ve mentioned before, was a, um, surprise. A failure in birth control technology. We had pretty much decided that two kids was good and then pregnancy number three happened. And I was already 35, which is when more prenatal screening for birth defects is recommended, as the odds of a problem are higher. According to the anti-choice narrative, this is where I should have run right out and gotten an abortion. But that wasn’t my choice. I decided to have the baby. I wanted the baby, even if she was born with problems.

I had no screening with the first two, beyond the standard ultrasound, and chose to have no screening with the third either. She may have been a surprise, but for me she was already here and I wanted her, no matter how she came out. I decided that I didn’t fear Down Syndrome because, well, she will be who she will be. (I was convinced she was a she.)

I didn’t do this because I am anti-abortion. I was just anti-me-having-an-abortion-at-that-moment. I would never, ever presume to put myself in the shoes of another woman and dictate how she would feel or what she would do. I’ve accompanied a friend to an abortion clinic and waited so I could drive her home afterwards. It wasn’t a happy occasion, and my friend wasn’t happy to have an abortion, but she did not want to be pregnant at that point, and I remember sitting in the clean, professional, safe clinic waiting room, so relieved that this choice was available – not as relieved as my friend was, though.

We are lucky, my friend and I, to live in a society were she was allowed to chose to end an unwanted pregnancy and I was allowed to chose to continue my surprise one without any screening, even if my chances of having a child with Downs was increased. And we just might be lucky to not be living in the United States, where in a few months a woman who would like to take that choice away from American women might be one heartbeat away from the Presidency.

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I took my kids to school this morning. I realized I have never been to the first day of school before, as J always takes the kids in the morning. Asher disappeared the moment we hit the playground. I found where the grade one kids were congregating and brought Boo, where she happily reunited with her friends. One of the other moms asked me if I’d remembered a camera. Remembered? It had never occurred to me in the first place. This clearly showed on my face, because she said, “I guess not, huh? Third child and all.” I told her, “Third child! I didn’t bring a camera for the first two either.” Might as well establish the bad-mother rep right off the bat.

I stuck around to bring Boo into her class, as most of the other parents appeared to be doing the same thing. Several children were doing the crying-and-clinging routine, which kind of surprised me, as they’ve all been in the school last year and knew all the other kids. Boo watched them with a baffled look on her face, as she was delighted to return. It reminded me of when I started kindergarten. I have a very clear memory of watching two little boys wailing as their mothers left and being unable to figure out what they were making all the fuss about. Didn’t they know their parents were coming to get them for lunch? I expect I had the same look on my face as Boo did.

I settled Boo, then went to tackle Maya’s problem. I went to talk to the vice-principal about her being put in a class with none of her friends (which, at the age of 12, means everything) already last week and have basically been working on the problem for days now. I won’t go into the sordid details because no one really cares but me, Maya and the VP. What it comes down to is that they never, ever allow class changes and yet the VP completely sees my reasoning for requesting one. She is meeting with the teachers as I write, and I will find out their verdict soon.

After that fun, I took Jasper for a walk at the dog park. My hip has been bothering me lately – the doctor thinks it is tendinitis – but it wasn’t feeling too bad. That is, until I tripped over a root. I couldn’t figure out how I could get tendinitis in the first place, given that my activity level isn’t that high, but a few days ago, walking the dog at the park, I tripped over roots twice. This is a common occurrence now with me. I figure that, post-coma, I’m still not quite picking up my feet the way I used to when I walked and the result is a lot of tripping. I haven’t fallen yet, but it wrenches my hip terribly. I suspect that is how I damaged it initially, and keep hurting it. I’m lying on my bed icing it right now, because it really hurts.

The problem with being deconditioned is that it is easier to get injured, and the more injured you are, the harder it is to get stronger again. Anyway, I’ll be seeing a physiotherapist soon.

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