Sunday, December 23, 2012

We Can Pickle That!

Lured by the siren song of a paycheque and a misplaced sense of purpose, I venture daily into the massive rectangular structure. Most of my waking hours are spent plugged in to the system, shaping thoughts and products that I hope will please my superiors. By way of swift and systematic feedback I become trained in their ways. Slowly, irrevocably, my thoughts become one with those of the hive brain; little by little, I am made one of them.

They let me keep my own face and stuff so that's nice, but otherwise it's pretty much the Borg in there. Resistance is futile.

One of the interesting side effects of my indoctrination is the inappropriate application of work concepts in every aspect of my life, "mitigate" being among the worst offenders: look like total arse in the morning? Mitigation measures include makeup; hair styling; artful use of cleavage to draw the eye away from the haggard face. Feel like total arse in the morning? Mitigation measures include more makeup; caffeine; handful of ibuprofen. (Crunchy!) Lousy day at work? Wash down your ibuprofen with a light sprinkling of tears and something chocolate. Supper looks like/tastes like/totally is arse, and/or too tired to cook at all? 310-0001. Plus ibuprofen.

The list goes on. No matter the problem, We Can Mitigate That! And if it can't be technically or economically mitigated? Well, it probably wasn't significant anyway, so, y'know, whatevs. Here, I'll show you how that beautiful piece of magic works:

"Oh, gawd, I'm dying to eat a slice of cheesecake right now. But it's too late at night for me to mitigate this slice of cheesecake with a workout, so I'd better evaluate the significance of any potential effects before proceeding with this poor nutrition choice. Let's see... based on the the basal metabolic rate of the ingestee; the gym membership she could (theoretically) deploy to healthful effect at any time; and the 5% Lycra in her clothing, it is concluded that this slice of cheesecake will have no significant cumulative effect. Dig in." Simple!

Note the sliding baseline (i.e., my 34-year-old physique with its decades of accumulated kummerspeck was used as the point of comparison) and the examination of the cheesecake effects in complete isolation of the larger dietary/lifestyle context. Contrary to what your gut feel on this might be, it's actually a strength of the argument, not a drawback: you can explain away anything in the entire world with this. It's the single most powerful piece of illogic a person can hold in their arsenal of self-talk, even more so than whatever my mother uses when she buys all those shoes.

And I wouldn't have learned it if it weren't for work. Thanks, guys! I offer up my humble blog for co-opting into the collective workplace mind in return.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Feels Like the First Time

Welp, the Powers That Be recently kicked off a formalized mentorship program at work. There's a little matchmaking questionnaire, some PowerPoint presentations, some billable time allotted, and poof! No employee left behind. Sweet, eh? Plus, they somehow decided I would make a suitable mentor. Me! This gives me a warm, fuzzy and mildly terrified feeling inside, similar to the one I got when I managed to trick the bank into giving me a mortgage - they think I’m a grown-up!
What gives me a decidedly less-fuzzy feeling is the actual mentorship process itself. I mean, the people are great, that’s not an issue, but the atmosphere of the whole thing is so... ‘ow you say?... awkward as all get out. It’s like I’m first-dating these people. But a very pointed first date: first-dating with a purpose, which is wildly different from any first-dating I’ve previously done. Historically, I’d say that I’m actually really good at first-dating. I realize this seems contrary to my purported social awkwardness issues, but it always seemed to me there was a well-defined set of parameters to work with for dating: it goes poorly, you bail. It goes well, you get naked. Easy! This new first-dating has no such tidy exit or move-forward strategies. And like I said, it’s so - purposeful. We’re talking about our resumes. We’re sharing five-year plans. We’re planning our next phase together.
This must be what first-dating is like when you’re in your thirties: Listen, my clock is ticking here. D'you want a big wedding or what?

By way of a timely tactical shift in my early twenties from aggressive sport dating to serial monogamy I thought I had managed to dodge that particular bullet, yet here we are, and I have to confess I'm at a bit of a loss for how to deal with this thirty-something purposeful-dating business. I had simply never considered the prospect. Plus I know they're going to talk about their experiences with other mentees in the company so now it's a competition on top of everything else. I find myself trying for super-cool-and-fun purposeful-dates. The cognitive dissonance is killing me.

And if it doesn't go well? No matter, we simply continue purposeful-dating, quarterly, for all eternity or until one of us un-friends the other person via an HR intervention (and you thought the dates were awkward!), whichever comes first.

There's one small way in which these purposeful-dates have the edge over other dates: don't tell my mentees, but I'm so not shaving my legs for them.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Charlie Brown Christmas

You know the way waitresses will just ignore you altogether when your food is too long in coming? (I can still see you, this is not a problem that's going to get any better while you refuse to make eye contact or refill my soda.) Oh gawd, that drives me crazy! But I realized that I've been doing the self-same thing myself for a little while now and I've got to come clean: we put up the Christmas tree over two weeks ago.

(cue crickets)

If you've known me a while you'll know that we were forced to give up on real trees at Christmas a few years back because we couldn't stop Small Fry from eating stray needles and drinking out of the tree stand. Thinking that it was the 'real' part of the Christmas tree situation that was the problem, we bought a 'forever' tree the next year, only to find out that, nope, it's just Small Fry + any kind of tree that causes trouble.

But the thing with kids is that they get older every year, right? Surely he would be over his tree fetish by the year after that...?

Nope. No luck.

This year I thought, what the hell. I don't have to clean fir-filled diapers anymore, I'm getting a real tree again. Then I fired up my laptop and waited for Small Fry to lob me an easy seasonal blogging opportunity.

But the thing with kids is that they get older every year, I guess. As I was saying, we put the tree up over two weeks ago: DH brought it home, I strung the lights and the chillies decorated it together without incident. Small Fry even had a little chuckle at last year's gingerbread amputee ornaments - "I wemember biting those!" - before shaking his head sagely at the foolishness of his younger self and hanging them on the tree, thus marking a surprisingly bittersweet end to a somewhat dubious Christmas tradition.

Humour me for a moment here and pretend we're making eye contact: sorry, folks. It's a sad fact that your order is not forthcoming. D'you want a refill on your Diet Coke with that?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Visitor Triage

How imminent is your pending visit?
a. guests > 12hrs away
b. guests 2-12hrs away
c. guests 1-2hrs away
d. guests < 1hr away
e. guests < 10mins away
f. guests in driveway

What is your personal state?
a. well-rested and alert
b. tired and frazzled
c. sweaty
d. disheveled
e. naked
f. sweaty, disheveled and naked

What is the state of your child(ren)?
a. sleeping
b. fighting - basement or outdoors
c. fighting - living areas
d. sticky
e. filthy
f. vomiting

What is the state of your household?
a. not bad
b. smells like fish
c. light to moderate surface grime
d. large dust bunnies; pubes on toilets
e. OMG
f. FML

If you answered mostly a's, bathe and beautify self and children. Fluff cushions and place fresh cut flowers throughout home. Consider preparing a gourmet meal to welcome your esteemed guests.

If you answered mostly b's, put some colour back in your cheeks with a quick dusting of bronzer and a glass of wine. Consider lighting a stick of incense or a few candles; closing open doors or windows to attenuate any unpleasant noises coming from your children; and defrosting something from M&M Meat Shop to serve to your guests, who will probably show up hungry.

If you answered mostly c's, put the children in the basement. Powder nose; comb hair. Consider implementing a Level 3 Budget Clean (light tidying throughout main floor of house; light candles or spritz room spray to freshen home; wash counters and dishes; wipe down mirrors and faucets in bathroom; flush toilets) to appease your guests, not that that will keep them from judging you. Put on a pot of coffee and pray they don't stay too long.

If you answered mostly d's, wipe children down with a damp rag dipped in the same multi-purpose household cleaning solution you will subsequently use to implement your Level 2 Budget Clean (light tidying and spot cleaning throughout main floor of home; polish mirrors and faucets in bathroom; flush toilets; shove all remaining errant items into dishwasher). Put out a half-empty carton of orange juice and some granola bars. Hopefully they'll get the hint.

If you answered mostly e's, for gawd's sake, get dressed woman. Implement Level 1 Budget Clean (spot clean children, kitchen and bathroom with same damp rag, hopefully - but not necessarily - in that order; spritz self and home with room spray; shove all errant items and children in dishwasher). Why are these jerks always showing up unannounced anyway? Put out some tap water.

If you answered mostly f's, implement Family Emergency Preparedness Plan (wrap self in bedsheet; lock doors; hide self, children and suitable vomit receptacle in basement until you're sure those horrible, horrible people are gone; while you're waiting, rehearse a suitable excuse for the next time you see them).

Friday, November 16, 2012


I have the sort of job where my family and friends have essentially no idea whatsoever what it is I do. If you also have this sort of job you'll feel my pain right now. (If you're something like a teacher or a proctologist you might think you know what I'm talking about, in a 'no one knows all the shit I have to put up with' sort of way [he he he, proctologists], but really you have no idea what I'm talking about so it's time to stop nodding now.)

My dad doesn't drink much, but once a year or so he'll get a few too many shortbread cookies or something in him and will summon up the courage to suffer another convoluted explanation from me:

'So, sweetie, how's that... job of yours... that you do?'
'Oh, pretty good, Dad, thanks for asking.'
'They're, uh... paying you good and stuff?'
'Yup, can't complain.'
'So, uh, what is it that you do again?'

When I reach the lame conclusion of my latest poor description, he'll nod and say, 'Oh, yup, yup, for sure,' and chuckle his patented Dad Chuckle and teeter back to the kitchen to work back up his cookie buzz that I just killed. 'Yup, for sure,' by the way, is parent speak for 'I'm pretty sure you're actually a prostitute because there's no way anyone could get paid that much money for a job that doesn't actually exist.' (Hi, Dad. Still not a prostitute. Just sayin'.)

Admittedly, this is a pretty piddling irritant compared to greater whole of a decent job, but still there's some small part of me that wishes I did something more... tangible with my life. Something you could really put a word to and people would instantly understand, and maybe even sympathize with ('Oh, wow - I can just imagine all the shit you have to put up with!').

* * *

Our office kitchens (and, hence, employees) suffer from a grievous dearth of cutlery. No word of a lie, I saw a coworker eating his lunch on Wednesday with a sort of chopstick-spork contraption he had crafted out of coffee stir sticks. That is how bad our cutlery problem is. Interestingly (due to a complex chain of events involving an office move, a timely staycation and a certain cinephile-slash-botanist), I happen to be the proud - if unlikely - owner of about five dozen (matching!) forks. They live in a vase in my office.

Now, unlike other famous distribution problems (world hunger, say), solving the cutlery issue at my workplace would be as simple as moving my massive excess of forks from my office to nearby kitchen drawers. In fact, I've been meaning to do so for a few weeks now. But seeing B. trying to wrangle a stir fry into his face with a chopstick-spork made me realize the power inherent in my situation:  

I have a complete and total forkopoly

O, the power! The responsibility! The happiness I can produce and the suffering I can engender with my every whim! The shit I have to put up with!

I am a Cutlery Don.

* * *

Finally, a job people can understand.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's Like Meteorology, but Less Accurate

Unspoken Spousal Agreement No. 2,366: a.k.a. the Likelihood of Getting Any Tonight (Variations on a Theme*): if the night guard ith in, no way in hell mithter.

2,366.1: And if the night guard is not in? Jeez, I was too tired to even put in my night guard, you think I have energy for anything else?

* Only one of approximately 3,000 closely related Agreements that comprise the bulk of the Unspoken Household Regulations, pursuant to the Spousal (Dis)Agreement Act. The exact number of Agreements related to the vetoing of sexual activities is not known due in part to their evanescent and mystifying nature, and in part because the Unspoken Spousal Agreements are for the most part - as the name suggests - unspoken. Some Spouses have hypothesized (sotto voce, of course) that the number fluctuates on a "monthly" basis, although this is hotly contested by other Spouses who a) have very good hearing and b) counter that the probability of encountering willingness to engage in certain adult activities on any given day is inversely proportional to the percentage of household cleaning conducted, over the time period of her choosing, by the Spouse exerting the authority granted her under the SDA to stymie such activities. Also over the time period of her choosing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'll Try Anything Once

Psst, hey, you got anything?

Yeah, man, check this out.

Whoa. What is it?

An oldie but a goodie. Hot right now.

What's it do?

Aw, you have no idea how good it is. Will lay you flat for hours. Don't expect to be operating any machinery anytime soon, know what I'm saying? 

Sounds awesome. But, like, is it alright?

Totally. It's natural, you know? People been up on this shit since caveman days. You got receptors built just for it; can't argue with Mother Nature, that's what I always say. He he.

So how do you...?

Easy man, you just slip one under your tongue, maybe two once you build up a little tolerance, let 'em dissolve and hang on for the ride.


Yeah. They say Hendrix used to put it under his headband some nights but I never tried it. I figure why mess with what works.

Yeah fer sure. So, uh, how much?

Hey, man, you gotta ask that you can't afford it, he he. I can give you a couple to try right now, no charge. Wait 'til you're home before you dose. Don't want you tripping out on the road.

Sweet, thanks. Can't wait.

You like it, you can get your own stash. Like, twenty bucks at Costco for a big jar.

Awesome. Thanks for the tips, Yvonne. I'm so excited to try treating my chronic insomnia with melatonin!

No problem. Hey, got any more of those cookies?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aw, He's So Grown Up!

Based on *certain* life experiences I have long held the belief that men are pretty much giant whiners whenever they're sick, and I recently unearthed on the interwebs some incontrovertible proof that this is in fact the case - and likely always has been.

If you clicked on those links you'll have seen this theory online in two places, which must make it true, but if by some feat of exceptional skepticism you remain unconvinced I present the following as further evidence for this compelling theory:

"I have a headache and a nose ache and a mouth-aaaaaache."
"I want my mommyyyyyy."
"Nobody liiiiiiikes meeeeee."
"I'm going to diiiiiiiiie."

Nope, not even DH [this time]. All that quality drama (and more!) has been provided free of charge courtesy of Small Fry. Don't fret - it's not as Ebola/black plague/cholera dance mix as he would have you believe. His only symptoms, aside from some rather dire monologuing, have been heavy snot production and a mild fever. By all accounts he seems to be experiencing his first Man Cold.

Which makes me wonder, can the phenomenon accurately be dubbed a 'Man Cold' at all if occurrences have been reliably documented in human males as young as four-and-a-half? Should it rightly be termed the 'Male Cold' instead? And is it even a cold at all, or just a handy catch-all term for every minor affliction experienced by men, ever? Either way, 'Man Cold' is an unforgivably sexist and, like, cold-ist term. I'm going to have to give it a way more euphemistic name so I can keep tossing it around in a socially acceptable manner.

The treatment of Small Fry's Generalized Consolidated Minor Male Afflictions Syndrome has been largely the same as that deployed by females everywhere on their respective male charges, (apparently) for centuries: mind-melting amounts of TV and endless assorted coddling. Easy! The tricky part will be later this week when whatever pathogens Small Fry has been aerially bombarding the household with have settled in in the rest of the family. Thank goodness Medium Fry is female: guaranteed she'll be sick, too, but at least she'll still be able to help me out with babysitting DH.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy Misgiving!

My fellow Canadians: ask not whether the turkey fits in the roasting pan, ask whether the roasting pan fits in the oven.

Or maybe ask both things, but I recommend doing so in rapid succession so you can intercept yourself early on in the dinner preparation process.

While you're at it, ask those big emmer-effer black basement spiders why they persist in colonizing the roasting pan during the off-season. (Do you really want to die alone inside a vacuum cleaner? Huh, tough guy, do ya?)

And for the ten thousand dollar grand prize finale question, ask yourself what is the number-one top cause of marital strife in the month of October on a certain street in northwest Calgary. I'll give you a hint: Thanksgiving dinner. In-laws invited. DH at a conference in Texas for the week prior to the date.

I have done positively Herculean amounts of cooking, cleaning, cross-country running team carpooling and spider-vacuuming this week. Not that Hercules had a vacuum, but you get my point. In addition, I managed to hold down a wee bit of a job, plus a little parenting gig in my free time. All these things together would be enough to cause most mortals to snap, but they did not make me snap. Creating a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast to appease DHs delicate digestive tract did not make me snap. Even the in-laws arriving a day early due to a miscommunication on DHs part did not make me snap.

Know what made me snap? The spider in the roasting pan.

While I cried and vacuumed spiders, it all became very rationally and logically clear to me, as things are wont to do while I'm insane: this is your fault, DH. All of it. You owe me forever for this dinner from hell. Do you have any idea how long forever is? Let me illustrate:

One day soon, you're going to press start on the washing machine then stand around waiting for the hero cookies to start rolling in and I am going to say, "Gluten-free cornbread stuffing - from scratch!" and just walk away, and you will hang your head and know that you deserved no such cookies. One day a few years hence, you will think to yourself how nice it would be to eat turkey again sometime but I will hear your thoughts and whisper menacingly to you, "You said they weren't coming until Saturday night," and you will mourn anew the loss of gravy stains from your life. One day many years from now you will be tweezing my prodigious old lady chin hairs and sigh, and from my wizened lips will come a croak, "That fucking spider was huge," and you will understand that you have still not lived down that fateful day in 2012 and probably never will.

So I hope you really, really enjoy those two kinds of gluten-free pie tomorrow, and that you hold the memory of them close to help you through the tough times ahead. 'Cause I'm gonna grow me a lot of chin hairs.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Feed Me, Seymour

Once upon a time, a long time ago, back when the west was wild and I was a real biologist, "safety" meant not going too fast when you were doubling someone on your quad. Nowadays, the amount of paperwork one has to do just to drive across town for a meeting is enough to make a person weep with frustration. (If they can find the right forms on the shared drive, that is.) Although I'm convinced it also keeps us safe, for surely all the paper we've collectively armed ourselves with will at least function to absorb some of the impact in the event of a collision.

Of course, back when I was a real biologist people also asked me things about biology rather than just harassing me about deadlines and paperwork. My, times have changed.

But every so often, a relict of the old world surfaces to mingle with the new, and strange and exciting chimeras are brought forth of their union:
From: Safety Guy
Sent: September 27, 2012 2:30 PM
To: Frecklepelt
Subject: Vegetation Emergency

We have a large cactus plant in one of our meeting rooms that is quite prickly and may have poisonous sap. It has been identified as a potential safety hazard and we need your vegetation expertise to help assess and mitigate the risk. 

Can you please confirm the species, identify the hazards, and suggest a safe disposal plan? Thank you,

Safety Guy

Health and Safety Advisor

Modern-day safety, meet biology. And welcome to the world a terrifying suite of previously-unrealized office hazards.

I read the email again. It had to be a prank, but he seemed so... sincere... in all my bitterness and distortion, what if I just wasn't giving Safety Guy enough credit? There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for his concern. Maybe the cactus was a really scary cactus, with, say, two-inch-long serrated spines, or a predilection for actively shooting passers-by with its poisonous sap.

I suspended my disbelief and went to see the cactus for myself.

The thing was massive. Six feet tall, gnarled and gangly, stooped under its own weight. Some segments dry and wrinkly, others fully brown and dead. But... standard-issue prickles. None of the infamous poisonous sap in sight. Basically, a pretty ugly plant - I could see why they would want it out of the room - but hazardous? Not exactly the term that sprung to mind.

Safety Guy showed up. We made small talk as I tried desperately to figure out whether he was actually serious about needing a safe disposal plan. While I pondered, he struck:

"So I'll bet, as a veg person, it's kindof sad for you to see it go, hey?"

Touché, Safety Guy: fretting about vegetation is my job as much as fretting about safety is his. We both knew in that instant that if this was our own cactus in our own home, we would heave the thing into the black bin without a second thought. However, here in the workplace there are certain images that must be upheld. The irony was palpable: he was Safety, pretending to care whether this plant was disposed of in a safe manner, and I was Biology, pretending to care about this plant. Like, at all. 

We had reached an impasse.

There was a long silence. We looked at the cactus. We looked at each other. We looked back at the cactus. When our eyes finally met, a current of understanding passed between us and we realized simultaneously that both of us were too deeply invested in this charade to call the other person out. Tentatively, he suggested it would probably be best to wear safety goggles while disposing of the cactus. Feebly, I replied that it was a shame that we couldn't find a forever home for the cactus. He espoused aloud the pros and cons of nitrile versus leather gloves for use in disposing of Very Prickly and Poisonous plants. I expressed frustration at a society that is blind to the charms of cacti, and thus fearful of them. 

Once we were both satisfied that a sufficient amount of posturing had been conducted, Safety Guy and I got down to the nuts and bolts of the Safe Tackling of Our Plant's Imminent Disposal (STOOPID) Plan. Then we parted ways, each of us secure in the knowledge that our cover had not been blown, and ostensibly shaking our head at the folly of the other:

"Fussbudget," I muttered as I returned to my desk.

"Tree-hugger," he grumbled as he gathered the appropriate PPE.

And thus the status quo lived to fight another day. Even if the cactus didn't.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yep. And Hungarian, Too.

Little-known parenting fact No. 138: your child care situation should make you feel like a bad parent.

Not will; not could; but should.

Don't get me wrong. You should never find yourself wondering if today is the day your child's brain actually melts out from doing nothing but watching TV and going to WalMart for forty hours a week, nor should you be afraid to occasionally give them a treat on the weekend because you know they've eaten nothing but McDonald's and Nutella on white all week.

The ideal child care situation produces parental guilt for reasons entirely different:

... in short, because your child care provider is way better than you. That is the child care situation you seek.

Once you've given yourself a solid guilt trip over never having learned Russian - or, truthfully, much of anything useful, what was all that education business about anyways? - then maybe one or two more just for good measure and to get it out of your system, come talk to me.


Closer, Grasshoppah, let me whisper in your ear.

It's alright.

No, really. Someone else just did all the hard work for you. You paid them for just that purpose; your conscience is clear. Now you are free to chill out with your family and really enjoy your kids all weekend long. черт, maybe they'll even teach you some Russian.

Monday, September 17, 2012

You Never Know What You're Gonna Get

I was paralyzingly shy and self-conscious as a child - I still am, it's just that I now have the benefit of years of practice navigating social situations (also booze) so I've gotten a little better at faking it. But Medium Fry doesn't have a shy or self-conscious bone in her body: she will talk to anyone, try anything, and perform impromptu violin concerts at the merest suggestion of a willing audience. These are all good things - kudos to her. However, she also wears impossibly weird clothing combinations, never remembers to conduct any sort of personal grooming or hygiene, and will say anything to anyone. (This last probably has you chuckling because of my notorious lack of filter, but trust me - I don't hold a candle to Medium Fry.) She is either the most supremely confident being on earth, or suffers from a debilitating lack of self-awareness. Jury is still out.

Something Medium Fry did inherit from me is her athletic prowess. And by prowess, I mean utter ineptitude. Here are some examples of how our shared inability reacts with our respective personalities to elicit new and exciting athletic misfortunes at every turn: Medium Fry runs into inanimate objects on her bike about once a week; I simply don't ride a bike because the possibility exists that I might embarrass myself in a similar manner if I did. Medium Fry proudly performs elaborate and graceless belly flops for anyone who will watch at the swimming pool; I wouldn't wear a bathing suit if my life depended on it. You see the pattern.

Although it doesn't faze Medium Fry in the least that she's making a fool of herself at any given athletic pursuit, she would far rather spend her time reading so it's generally pretty tough to get her out of her room and into the great outdoors. We're great outdoors people, but after twelve years of trying, we just had to face the sad fact that we have an Indoor Kid. So you can imagine my surprise when I got a permission slip to sign for her participation on the junior high cross-country running team last week.   

'Um, you signed up for what?'

'The cross-country running team.'

... long silence...

'Honey, do you have any idea how long five kilometres really is?'

(ponders a moment, then, very solemnly:) 'Yes. It's five thousand metres.'

DH and my mother tried to be optimistic: "Maybe she'll surprise us! Maybe she's secretly a really good runner."

Yeah. Like really, really secretly.  

I do my best not to pin my own sense of accomplishment on the achievements of my children, but I admit there is a part of me that hopes - not that she will secretly be a good cross-country runner - but that she will not be the worst runner on the team. Back in the bad old days when grown-ups could still force me to take swimming lessons or participate in track and field days against my will (and, I might add, better judgment), I was always the kid with the participation ribbon and the report card urging me to try Yellow just one more time. (Dude, I was eighteen, couldn't you have just put me in Orange already?) It's hard on a person to always be the worst. So I'm not looking for a miracle here, just please lawd don't let her be the worst.

'So! Er, what made you decide to sign up for the cross-country team?'

'Maya was signing up.'

... 'Oh.'
I've seen Maya. She's built for loping gracefully through the plains like Medium Fry and I are built for making it through the winter in a northern European cave. Nineteen antelope-like children signed up for their love of cross-country running; one Indoor Kid signed up to hang out with Maya. My fragile tendril of hope-for-not-worst shriveled. All that's left for me now is a Forrest Gump-with-his-leg-braces-still-on-and-the-bullies-in-pursuit kind of hope.

The first meet is this afternoon. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kahlua Would've Been Way More Legit

I'm a botanist so I know all about arbitrary yet deeply-ingrained distinctions between like groups of things. You think I'm talking taxonomy right now, but I'm not: I'm talking about how wildlife biology is way sexier than botany, but, like, whatever, because there are always actually dorky things like bryology and entomology for the botanists to look down on and feel alright about themselves.

So I'm sensitized to this sort of stuff, and I try to temper my botany problem by only doing super cool stuff in the rest of my life. Like camping. Camping is cool, right? I mean, you're dirty, you're cooking like a caveman, you're having sex with your socks on - you're just 100% hard-core when you're camping. But this past weekend - much like the sad point in my life when I believed that all biologists were created equal and foolishly chose botany as my specialty - I was unwittingly sucked in to partaking of camping's "special" cousin, Girl Camping.

Girl Camping is the entomology of camping. Sure, there was a modicum of filth and some wood combustion involved, but while these things lulled us into believing we were credible campers, RV-ers and backcountry-ers alike took one look at us, glazed completely over and started talking about caribou amongst themselves.

How could they tell at just a glance? The signs were as obvious as wearing a hand lens rather than binos around your neck: we drank lite beer; we ate fruits and vegetables with every meal; we held brief tailgate safety meetings prior to embarking on any hikes.

We said things like, 'I'm going to the bathroooooom, who wants to come wiiiiith meeeee!' (A lot.)

Many newspapers were harmed in the making of our fires.

And the killing blow: coffee time. Sure, your average RV camper might be brewing up a fully civilized and cushy pot of java on their stove in the morning, but that's nothing compared to Girl Campers. We had 4 kinds of coffee (percolator, French press and two types of instant), 3.5 varieties of sugar (plantation raw, artificial sweetener, and three packages of granulated - one cubes, two regular), and 9, nine!, types of whitenening agent: skim milk, 1% milk, almond milk, half & half, full-fat cream, Coffee-Mate, two bottles of Bailey's, International Delight fat-free French vanilla, and some kind of non-dairy, non-soy, gluten-free and vegan nut-based stuff called MimicCreme.

Srsly, MimicCreme? Is there anything Girl Camping-er in the entire world?

*sigh* No one is ever going to take us seriously at conferences again.

Friday, August 24, 2012


A friend of mine recently told me he has stopped trying to impress me. From the ridiculous way he was grinning when he said it I'm pretty sure he meant it as a good thing, indicative of our having passed some sort of relationship milestone, but when phrased indelicately you have to admit the situation comes off as slightly unsavoury. I've prepared a handy table to illustrate:

Table 1 - Appropriate Phrasing of Warts & All-Type Stage in a Relationship (Platonic and Romantic Combined Results)

Note how the subtle nuances in relationship stage nomenclature elicit markedly different responses from test subjects. I'm going to call that last one a kilometerstone due to its being more or less the same thing except way more awkward when you say it.

I catch his drift, though, however dubiously it may have been phrased: we're at a good place. We're settled in for the long haul. We're never, ever going to make out because we've left that magical headspace where potential interactions stretch out in infinite shiny directions and we've gone somewhere more resembling an overstuffed corduroy couch. Maybe a little worn in, maybe a little lumpy around the edges, but exquisitely comfy. 'Hello, old friend,' we'll say, and 'aaaaahhhhh, it's always so good to chill here with you.' 

And then, 'Aw, man, did you just fart? WTF?'

Farts aside - a milestone in their own right! - I recognize that this truly does represent a crucial stage in any long-term relationship worth its salt. To all my dear friends out there whom I have long since stopped trying to impress (you should be readily able to identify yourselves based on my deteriorating behaviour over the years), this humble kilometerstone is the one I hold nearest my heart when I think of you. Mwah!

And while busting the warts & all barrier is also a crucial step in any romantic relationship that aspires to any sort of longevity, secretly, my all-time favourite romantic milestone is not this. Instead, it's the first time you zip your sleeping bags together with someone. It just seems so... Canadian, and thereby neatly encompasses several of the best things in the world: Canada, camping, and outdoor sex. Which frequently leads to another distinctly Canadian/camping/sex milestone of importance: doin' it with yer socks on. So practical sometimes!

'Nope. Rocky Mountain barking spider. Hey, make me a s'more, eh?' 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Game of Thrones

Whoever said men are scared to settle down has never seen one who needed to take a crap. They don't just settle down: they gear up, hunker down and downright nest. I once knew this guy who would actually leave work and drive all the way across town to get home if nature called. Said he needed to be comfortable, whatever that entailed - reading material... three-ply... heck, mood lighting and Barry White in the background for all I know.

Women, on the other hand, those chronic settler-downers, don't seem to be afflicted by a need for a two-hour lunch break and all the comforts of home every time they're moved to, uh, move.

(Yes, I realize it's a shock to learn that the gentle sex are, in fact, subject to the same laws of biology as you fellows out there. Now take a deep breath and get over it.)

Nope. Women are content to simply head to the nearest facility and deploy the single-ply on our delicate lady bottoms. We're super tough that way.

However, this is not achieved without considerable pre-planning. There are purses to hang just so; pre-flushings to conduct; toilet seats to sanitize and carefully line with a generous quantity of t.p.; forty six layers of clothing and accessories to variously remove, adjust and hold out of harm's way; and well-timed, delicate throat clearings to stage in order to muffle any possible affronting noises. Not to mention that the ideal time for the activity at hand must be cautiously selected to minimize the likelihood of encountering any other women performing the same function.

Because if by some feat of poor timing there are two women trying to drop the kids off at the pool at the same time, neither will ever be willing to make the first move. Both will sit in utter silence, stoically clenching teeth and asscheeks alike, waiting for the weaker woman to break. All women know there's only one rule to this war of attrition: if you go first, you lose.

This, my friends, is the real reason kegels were invented.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's a Party

You're Invited!

When: this very moment!
Where: wherever you happen to be will do
Why: I got a child support payment!
How: keep up the good work, Maintenance Enforcement Program

Additional Details:
My ex pays child support like medieval people took baths: once a year, whether I need it or not. Yup, it's pretty stinky, but you really do get used to it after a while. Truth be told, he doesn't actually even pay that willingly, it's just that his tax return comes directly to me. One year I got just under twenty-five dollars on my annual payment but 2011 must have been a whopper of a year for him: I got about three hundred bucks on his tax return. I can almost pay lunchroom supervision fees for half the school year with that! Win!

It's fun to do the math then announce the findings in an infomercial announcer voice:

'For less than the cost of one venti soy extra-hot caramel macchiato per week, you too can "support" (wink, wink) your child!'

'Many Canadians spend hundreds of thousands of dollars raising their children, but if you call now we'll give you the same amount of genetic fitness for a fraction of a fraction of the cost!'

'Why pay more when you can simply defer your responsibility to the fair taxpayers of this fine country?' (This is not the case for me but he happens to have two more children by another woman who has a far less lucrative job than I do, plus he has recently moved in with a childless twenty-something woman so I expect that additions to his brood are likely forthcoming.)

But MEP, being the terribly effective bunch they are, have imposed some Very Serious Penalties on the ol' ex in hopes of encouraging him to cough up some cash, to wit:

  • If he a) ever does any work b) that's not paid under the table c) and for which taxes are deducted d) and he files a tax return the next year, then the Government of Canada delivers his tax return directly to me.
  • If he ever is inclined to give up video games and take up hunting and fishing - legally, that is, and assuming he could ever find enough change in the couch to buy a fishing rod - boy will he be in for a surprise because he's not allowed to get a hunting or fishing license.
  • I will be paid out all the back support owed to me, 100% in full, in one easy payment... if he ever wins the lottery.

Aaaaand... that's it. That's their plan. (More announcer voice: Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program - capturing all those hard-working, hunting-and-fishing, lotto-winning deadbeats out there in one fell swoop.)

I can't help but wonder, does anyone else think the program might be more effective if its mandate was to provide vasectomies to men who clearly are unable to fulfill their legal obligations to the children they already have?

RSVP:in the comment box below 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pairs Well with Mr. Clean

Have you ever wanted to know what might happen if you (or, more to the point, your significant other) dropped an open bottle of frizzante wine on your kitchen floor? Look no further, friend, because I have the answer and it is this: you actually don't want to find out. Trust me.

Frizzante wines have tiny bubbles that are developed during a partial second fermentation. These bubbles mask the wine's sweetness, provide a refreshing tingle, and cause the beverage in question to ROCKET out of the bottle when dropped on its design-award-winning bottom. For those of you who have been in my house, the coverage extended approximately to shoulder height on the nearest two walls with waist height spray on all cupboards, furniture and appliances, and stray droplets observed as far away as the bathroom and entryway. There was even enough left over to refill my glass while I cleaned up (impressive!), though not enough to keep it full for the hour it took me to do so.

*sniff* I'll miss its bubbly pink personality... its effervescent style... its delicious, delicious flavour... I swear, I nearly shed a tear for the loss. I'm not a very sentimental person, so that's saying something.

In fact, I'm almost ruthlessly unsentimental. Around my house, tough jobs like thinning out carrot seedlings, recycling preschooler "artwork" and throwing out holey gotch or that last teaspoon of [insert food product here] fall exclusively to me. Not that anyone should have reason to be attached to their decrepit undergarments or the final molecules of Italian salad dressing clinging to the bottom of the bottle, but the continued presence of such items in my home speaks to the distinct possibility that the power of oxytocin knows no bounds in some people.

One might hope those same people will, in future, be more careful with the wine.

Monday, July 16, 2012

El Macho Gazpacho

I've been on vacation. Not a staycation, not an oblication, but a real live vacation. Because I am a natural-born overachiever and kindly philanthropist, I volunteered my excess brainpower during my time away from work to thinking Grand Thoughts that could change the very course of humanity. Unfortunately, lazy slug that it is, my brain summarily rejected my proposal and instead seems to have gone on vacation itself - with no clear date of return indicated.

So the thoughts I thought while on vacation were not *quite* so grand as one might have hoped. (Nor were the thoughts I thought today back at work - brain? Braaaain?? Please come home now. Mommy's scared.) I thought things like, 'hot enough for ya?'; 'dang, got sand in my crack'; and 'yayyyyyy! ice tweam!' Heck, I even said those things - that's how on vacation I was.

Y'know what else is a fun thing to say on vacation? Gazpacho. Ordinarily, gazpacho sounds disgusting to me. But since my brain wasn't around to think smart thoughts like "Cold soup? Yuck" on my behalf, I ended up ordering gazpacho at a restaurant one day, purely because it was fun to say. The waitress came near me and gazpacho just slipped from my unmanned head straight out of my mouth. Just like that: gazpacho. Whee!

And y'know what? It turns out that gazpacho is more than just cold soup with a fun name - it's also really tasty. In fact, it's not much like cold soup at all. It's more like... salad. Blended salad. Delicious! I'm not even shitting you. You should try it sometime.

Having said that, it seems to me that not all salads would be equally well-suited to blending into a gazpacho. I think the trick would be to ensure you didn't include things like meat or cheese or hard-boiled eggs in your salad before you blended it.

You might think this would be obvious to most people, but I actually know a guy who made himself a blended chef's salad; he said the little slippery chunks of ham just about made him puke. Totally not his fault, though: his brain heard he was getting his wisdom teeth pulled and said, "Nuts to this place, I'm going on vacation. See you in a month." Next thing the guy knew... gazpacho.

Happens to the best of us, Jerry. Happens to the best of us.

Monday, June 25, 2012


"I came for supper," he said, shaking paws all around.
- The Tawny, Scrawny Lion -

I don't know if y'all know this, but DH is a master chef. Actually, check that: a Master Chef.

Not that DH necessarily cooks all that much, but he sure watches the hell out of the Food Network. And, like, eats food and stuff. Via the same means by which university grads with no work experience are *always* the best hires, DHs advanced theoretical understanding has translated directly into applied proficiency. In fact, his Master Cheffery is such that he




but offer other, less masterful chef wannabes - such as myself - handy hints and helpful tips. Because he finds the ineptitude of others so inspiring in his Master Chef missionary work, such hints and tips are frequently doled out to his elated disciples while they are cooking. Cooking things for him to eat.

Call me ungrateful, but if disciples were dwarves, I would be Grumpy.

My Grandma was also a Food Network aficionado, but she took a markedly different tack: because she didn't really enjoy cooking, she poured on the praise for whatever sort of cheffery - Master or otherwise - anyone was willing to do on her behalf. Grilled cheese for lunch? Delightful. How about some Campbell's tomato soup in which to dunk your grilled cheese? Ecstasy! Your burned grilled cheese? Well, heck, she likes things crispy. Just put some pickles on dat shit and you won't even know the difference.

Alas, she's no longer with us to appreciate that I now actually know how to cook. But her top-secret molasses cookie recipe lives on with me, as does her sneaky method of getting out of cooking. Ultimately, my goal is to be the person who just shows up with a string of fish and a big bunch of daisies, jolly as all get out and all ready for another good big supper of whatever anyone else happens to be cooking that night. To that end, Medium Fry is making mini meatloaves* on Thursday and you can bet a shiny nickel that she is going to get an earful of effusive praise over her results - Master or otherwise.

* Side cooked vegetables this time, not even salad. See? My plan is working already!

Friday, June 8, 2012


Top ten reasons my children are in my room in the middle of the night:

10. "I had a bad dweam."
9. "I'm sirsty."
8. "Come wipe my buuuuuutt!"
7. "My eyes are open."
6. "I'm itchy."
5. "Der's a skeleton scwatching in the closet."
4. (vomiting noises)
3. "I was worried about somefing."
2. "I'm hungwy for bwekfist."

(I'd like to take this opportunity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, if they would simply EAT their SUPPER, they would NOT be hungry at three o'clock in the morning ALL THE @&!$%*! TIME.)

(But I digress.)

The number one reason my children are in my room in the middle of the night, although it's never presented in quite so many words, is:

1. Reducing competition.

Think about it: if you're an owlet or a hyena or something and resources are scarce, you can just eat your siblings; if you're a small human and you don't want to share your toys, really, what are your options? Not only are you lacking the sort of hardware (teeth, claws, etc.) that would allow you to destroy them, you have the vague sense that probably get in trouble for trying and besides, you really only like to eat macaroni and cheese anyways.

The solution is to prevent your parents from ever wanting to have more children by rendering them so insane with sleep deprivation and groggy rage that they frequently can't recall what possessed them to think the first ones were a good idea. And just for good measure - in the event they happen to be stupid or placentamental enough to consider having more children - to make it essentially impossible for them to ever have sex again.

Zero propagule pressure = zero little brothers or sisters running around tattling on you and touching your toys and generally wrecking your young life = WIN.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Theory of Relativity

May 25, 2012

With the fine weather today, the crew was able to prepare for an early start. The short journey from base camp to the observation site was quick and largely uneventful. We arrived at about 11:30am, leaving just enough time to get settled in before the daily rush of dinnertime activity began. As is usual for this site, the smell was overpowering - a small olfactory price to pay to be able to witness such a hotbed of fascinating interactions for this species within its natural environment.

For reasons unknown, the observation site was particularly active today: approximately fifteen juvenile males and four juvenile females were observed. I was unable to ascertain the number of adults present, as most of them remained hidden out of sight (and, presumably, earshot - my word, was it loud!). It seems laughable to presume they could be so like us, but perhaps they needed a break from the kids - don't we all sometimes!

Thanks to these large numbers being present, we were able to make great strides in understanding these unusual creatures. Several distinct parenting styles became apparent during the course of today's observation; so distinct, in fact, that I was struck by the possibility that we may in fact be witnessing the interaction between several subspecies. How they came to develop remains unclear - one can only assume some geographic or social separation may have taken place in the past - and how they came to be reunited in this single place at lunchtime is another mystery, but I wish to describe here my preliminary observations and thoughts to begin the scientific discourse:

The first subspecies I've tenderly dubbed Homo sapiens ssp. helicopterus for their predilection toward mercilessly hovering over their offspring, constantly reprimanding, correcting and preening them, to the apparent chagrin of the young themselves. They were certainly the tidiest-looking and least injury-prone bunch, but they didn't seem to be having much fun or really socializing with the other juveniles. Conversely, a good number of the juveniles had no interaction whatsoever with an adult during the entire one to two-hour timeframe; these I've called H. absenteeus. There was a great deal of pushing, dog-piling, chasing, leaping and climbing amongst the unsupervised juveniles, all accompanied by exuberant screaming and laughter, and - not occasionally - tears. These youngsters also appeared most likely to be leaking snot, possibly hinting at physical rather than simply behavioural differences between the subspecies? Certainly a titillating prospect that warrants further study.

Perhaps it is only my personal perspective creeping into these observations, much akin to the way in which everyone driving slower than oneself is an idiot and everyone driving faster is a maniac, but the final prospective subspecies, H. moderatus, I hold dearest to my heart for their middle-of-the-spectrum approach. These juveniles had little apparent snot and were relatively well-behaved while still seeming to enjoy the company of others - in turn, the parents seemed to be enjoying their mealtime break, yet occasionally still appeared from the periphery of the observation area to correct unsanitary or unsafe behaviours. 

Regardless of whether these speculations and musings are later deemed to be true, I continue to be fascinated by these interesting and diverse creatures. My life's work in observing and analyzing them remains thrilling; I learn something new every day.

We will return to the Burger King play area observation site again in future, and perhaps venture further afield to the McDonald's PlayPlace site in the following weeks; weather permitting, we will also continue our work in the neighbourhood parks and playgrounds.

Good night.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Ol' Razzle Dazzle

Today's official subtitle is Don't Shoot the Messenger. Just sayin'.

As if women don't have enough stupid shit to worry about, someone, somewhere decided at some point that vaginas just weren't good enough for them. That they needed improvements.

That's not to say that I'm against trimming the hedges now and again; it seems like a pretty reasonable courtesy to extend to your esteemed guests. Varying degrees of defoliating the grounds, well, if that's your thing, have at 'er. But, um... this?

Kinda weird. They have other colours as well. The orange one seems totally legit to me, but purple? Green? Brown? Who'd'a thunk it?

And then there's this...

Yes, that says "Vajazzle". As if vaginas weren't interesting enough in the first place, and high-impact signage was the way to fix the issue. Like it's frigging Vegas down there or something. Next thing you know we'll have twinkle lights, maybe with a handy 12V cigarette lighter adapter that you simply pop in to the nearest available "socket" - wouldn't that be the invention of the century.

And then... then it starts to get really weird. Then it starts to get all misogynistic and oppressive and plain sick, and I start to get really pissed off. To think of my beautiful daughter thinking of herself as anything "less than", simply because the so-called standards of beauty in our society are so goddamn photoshop-anorexic-fucked-up-impossible, just kills me. How on earth did it come to be that now she's going to grow up faced with beauty standards for her vagina? Brazilians and Malibu Betty and Vajazzling are just silly crap - but what about genital lightening treatments? You know, if you're not... I'm not even sure what. White enough? Or labiaplasty, for that pencil-thin-and-straight look like so many pencils, but really not all that many vaginas, have. You have got to be shitting me.

I am going to go out on a limb here and presume that it is primarily for the benefit of men that women consider aesthetic alteration of their vuvuzelas. But here's the real, true, honest-Ernest scoop on the matter, based on an unspecified (yet, I assure you, defensible) sample size: straight men love vaginas. L-O-V-E them. And straight men HATE decorating. H-A-T-E it. Ergo, if there is a man trying to impart fashion improvements on your ladybits, HE IS CLEARLY HOMOSEXUAL. Stop. Do not pass the CelaBright. Do not incur personal debt in the name of vaginal "rejuvenation" surgery. Kick that silly bastard to the curb and find yourself someone who can love and accept you for you, in all your myriad ways, and for all your 2000 parts.

Preferably one who doesn't need twinkle lights and Swarovski signage to realize the party in your panties is a darn sight more fun than Vegas in the first place.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bad Captain

Mother's Day takes a lot of preparation: the kids had to make weird crap out of clay and macaroni, DH had to find something to buy me at Superstore the night before, and I had to scramble to do all the housework and laundry on Saturday so the Fam could very magnanimously "give me the day off" on Sunday. Whew! Yup, Mother's Day is tough on everyone.

I'm kidding, of course. Mostly. In reality, I celebrated Mother's Day this year by leaving the dreaded whites load for someone else to fold (hehehe, suck-ah); planting my vegetable garden; and the ancient art of blending shit with coconut rum and getting hammocked in my hammer.

Wait... what? Never mind. The point is, who gets drunk on Sunday afternoon? No one, right? That's right.

At some point in the day I came down with a serious hankering for strawberry shortcake. Being a respectable German girl and all, I already had whipping cream on standby in the fridge, but darn it I was fresh out of strawberries. And, you know, shortcake. So I lurched gracefully out of my hammock, dusted the larger clods of garden soil off of myself and hopped in the car. 

Remember that time I said that no one gets drunk on Sunday afternoon and you agreed with me? Right. Well. This is the precise sort of cognitive sloppiness by which I came to be stranded, on Mother's Day, beside my perfectly operational vehicle in the Co-op parking lot, covered in dirt and clutching a quart of strawberries. It simply didn't occur to me until that point that I probably shouldn't have driven anywhere in the first place. Very goat-and-cabbage, except in this case the boat totally had enough room to get everyone across the river in one go, if only the damn captain hadn't been marinating herself in Malibu all afternoon.


Anyways, I eventually made it home, ate the Strawberry Shortcake of Secret Shame, and while I'm confessing I figured I should say one more thing: Hi, Amy. Your bottle of Malibu rum elected to stay at my house on Friday night. I was going to bring it back to you but it, um, got all empty somehow. Hope you don't mind.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

The Fam watched Ghostbusters on Friday night. It came out when I was about six so you can't blame me for not quite remembering how scary some parts were - luckily, it seems as if Small Fry hardly even noticed. He was quite taken with it, actually. The past two days he has been all about calling The Ghost Bustards:

'Hey, who would you call if you saw a ghost?' 'Ghost Bustards!'
'Who would you call if you saw a monster?' 'Ghost Bustards!'
'Who would you call if you saw a zombie?' 'Ghost Bustards!'

He talks big but in reality, if there's something weird and it don't look good, this is more along the lines of what actually goes down:

'Moooooooom! Come wipe my buuuuuuuutt!' 

Law of averages and all.

Really, what interested me the most about Ghostbusters wasn't that Small Fry is immune to fear - lawd help us, we already knew that - but that there was quite a bit of, er, "language" in the film, and I could judge by Medium Fry's reaction which terms she was familiar with and which ones she wasn't. All manner of things (I admit!) I routinely let slip didn't warrant so much as an eyebrow raise from her, but there were a few unique phrases in there as well at which she would whip her head around to see if I had heard that she had heard what she thought she had heard - if you hear what I mean. For instance, it's apparent that I don't say "dick" as much as Bill Murray does.

At one point a while back I considered all the most useful things I had learned from my parents, in order that I might pass them on to my kids in turn. Of all the handy skills I picked up as a child, I distinctly remember having the best vocabulary in grade one, as demonstrated during the swearing contests we held under the big red slide at Oman School. That earned me a lot of street cred among the other six-year-olds. (I almost don't want to name names here, but I'd also hate to deprive anyone of their rightful honours so close to their special day so... thanks, Mom!) Thus, when Medium Fry came home one day confused by why other kids thought the word "wiener" was so funny I immediately thought to myself: I really need to be more vulgar around the house. If you happen to be striving to achieve similar parenting goals, I found Ghostbusters to be a pretty accurate gauge of my progress on that front.

In summary, the primary conclusions reached during the most recent Fam movie night:

1. You might as well resign yourself to the fact that your children are going to have a wildly different view of their upbringing than you are;

2. I guess I'll have to try working creative synonyms for male genitalia into conversation with my 11-year-old a bit more; and

3. Who ya gonna call? Probably your mom.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Online... Dating?

Sturdy convertible crib in Espresso stain, toddler guardrail and mattress included, finish partially gnawed off in some areas but otherwise in excellent condition. Only slight lingering urine odor. 
$100 firm.

And... post. Great. That'll save me a trip to the Sally Ann. Whoa - a response already? With an attachment? ... what the...?

Dear RideBobsBus,
Thank you for the unsolicited photograph of your penis. I'm pleased you found my Craigslist ad so titillating. However, unless you actually wish to purchase the item offered for sale I would appreciate if you would not contact me again. Ever.

Well, that was weird. Must be a statistical anomaly. Hey, more responses. What's this attachment about?

Dear peterman1954,
Thank you for the unsolicited photograph of your penis. Unless you wish to purchase the used crib as per my ad, I ask that you not contact me and possibly seek professional help.

Dear MackMan69,
Thank you for the unsolicited photograph of your penis, received in response to my Craigslist ad offering a CRIB FOR SALE. Please do not contact me any more.

Dear NiceGuy4U,
I assume that the photograph of your penis indicates that you are not interested in purchasing the item offered for sale. In which case I have no qualms in letting you know that I am likewise NOT INTERESTED in your wares and request that you never contact me again.

Okay, seriously - does every dude have photos of his junk saved to his hard drive, just waiting for the right moment to spring them on you? And is it ever the right time to spring a dickture on a lady?

Dear wannalickyou,
Really? Do you think that sending spamming random people with a picture of your penis is really going to help you score? Get help.

Oh my gawd. Are these responses to my responses?

Dear RideBobsBus,
I assure you the pictures were just fine, although I do agree the lighting in the second one is a bit more flattering. It's just that I posted an ad for selling a crib and yours was not the desired response. STOP EMAILING ME.

Dear peterman1954,
It means that I didn't ask for it. NOW LEAVE ME ALONE.

Sweet baby jeebus, still more?

Dear sexxxyAndy,
NO, I do NOT 'wanna do it'. I 'wanna' SELL my CRIB. PISS OFF.

Dear FastCarzColdBeerz,

Dear Mary Anne,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Nope, Not Even Betty White

This Grandmother Protection Plan (GPP) describes the protective and mitigative measures to be employed during the pre-adolescent and adolescent years (i.e., years 9 through 19) of the Frecklepelt Eldest Child Project (the Medium Fry).

The GPP has been prepared in order to minimize the potential impacts identified at the onset of the Medium Fry, namely that there is no such thing as a GILF. Therefore, the primary objective of the measures included in the GPP is to prevent Frecklepelt becoming a grandmother before the age of forty. Within each section of the GPP, measures to be addressed by Frecklepelt are noted and described as they pertain to potential reproductively hazardous situations that may be encountered by the Medium Fry.

1.0 Pre-Adolescent Measures
- The Medium Fry shall be relentlessly subjected to scientific trivia and dorky humour from a young age such that it pervades her being and she is unable to suppress expression of her deeply ingrained nerdy tendencies.
- The Medium Fry shall be enrolled in lessons at the earliest age possible for a musical instrument that cannot feasibly be construed as sexy by teenage males. Possible examples include violin, tuba or bagpipes. 
- The Medium Fry shall be assigned household chores, responsibilities and other extracurricular activities sufficient to limit the amount of time available for interacting with boys.
-  The Medium Fry shall be allowed full freedom to express her inherently poor and/or insane fashion sense. Frecklepelt may choose to limit such freedom in situations which may result in an adverse reflection on Frecklepelt's parenting abilities, although strict supervision of the Medium Fry is recommended at such times.

2.0 Adolescent Measures
- Music lessons shall be encouraged to continue for the duration of adolescence. If a change of instrument is requested by Medium Fry, care should be taken to ensure the selected instrument is not cool, sexy, awesome, etc., or of a size or proportion that could be utilized in an untoward manner during band camp.
- The Medium Fry shall be subjected to orthodontic treatment, including head gear, if at all possible.
- The Medium Fry's curfew shall be way earlier than all her friends'.
- The Medium Fry's parents should generally strive to be the most embarrassing people on the planet.
- If Medium Fry develops hips, breasts, any measurable degree of coolness or hotness, or fashion sense that begins to approach mainstream standards, immediately commence the Emergency Homeschooling Contingency Plan (Appendix A to the GPP).

All measures contained within the GPP are subject to all applicable laws and the inalienable constitutional rights of Medium Fry and should not be interpreted by Frecklepelt in a fashion that could be in violation of such rights, including - but not limited to - freedom of movement, freedom of association, and the right to bear cosmetics.

It is recommended that a separate, project-specific GPP be prepared and implemented for any additional children as they near adolescence, particularly those of a different gender. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who Let the Claws Out?

I asked Medium Fry to wash the supper dishes the other night. She goofed off for so long that she managed to stretch that single sink full into nearly an hour and a half of sudsy angst, then was enraged that she didn't have time left to paint her nails before bed. Like, no bedtime hug enraged, and for her that's serious. Whoopty-doo, right?

W.R.O.N.G. The little brat soaped my toothbrush in retaliation.
(Oh yes she di-id!)

You have not seen mad like I get mad when someone interferes with my obsessive oral hygiene regime. Frankly, I had never seen it either because I've never had anyone put soap on my toothbrush before, but I assure you I was plenty displeased. Because Medium Fry was already in bed by the time I discovered The Soaping, I had the whoooole night to weigh the merits of each potential sentence: a reciprocal soaping? Dishes FOREVER? A good old-fashioned beating?

Meh, none of the above. She's a good kid. The next day I asked if there was anything she wanted to tell me and she promptly burst into tears and apologized. All I really had to do was make sure I got all my laughing done before I confronted her so I could keep a straight face while she blubbered. In fact, she was so contrite that when I told her she had to buy me a new toothbrush out of her allowance, she didn't even think to point out that there are about sixty spare toothbrushes under the sink. (Now there are about sixty-one.)

Between the fury and the blubbering, I've got a pretty solid guess as to what's going on. As the prophecy stated, thus has the time of darkness descended upon us: puberty.

Which is terrifying enough in itself, but can you even imagine the horror if I had waited until I was forty to start having children, instead of, er, "waiting" until I was twenty-two? - good lawd, we'd have puberty and menopause occurring in the same household at the same time. A poorly-timed toothbrush soaping would be nothing short of a death wish.

Similarly, given Medium Fry's current emotional state, it occurs to me that if the child discovers all the things I've posted about her over the years - based on her going completely over the edge over a sink full of dishes, and assuming her reaction will be proportionate to her degree of wrathfulness - I *could* be in hot water. So dear readers, don't be alarmed if you don't see any more Medium Fry stories on here for the next eight years or so - I (probably) haven't killed her off, I'm just hedging my bets to try and ensure she extends me the same courtesy.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bare Necessities

Some things are just a necessary evil. Shoveling snow, dentist appointments, hair removal. But I'm okay with necessary evils, I've made my peace with them. 'Cause they're, like, necessary and stuff.

It's the plain old evil evils that really piss me off: those things that are so indescribably villainous and vile that it's hard to wrap your brain around how you can possibly be expected - in modern civilization, in a free country - to be subjected to them with any sort of regularity.

Yes, I'm talking about you, Timesheet.

Dear Timesheet: Did you know I have to get drunk every Thursday night just to cope with you? You're like a Pap test or a family gathering or something, except way worse because I can avoid that shit for most of the year but you - you happen to me every week. Depending on how month-end and long weekends fall, sometimes even more than once a week - o, the humanity!

Timesheet, you nasty bastard, when you're not freezing or crashing, you're going so damned slow that I can feel you sucking the life force out of me with every passing minute. I mourn the countless hours of my precious youth that I've wasted waiting on you to decide whether you were actually going to save.

You know, if you would just come out of my computer we could settle this like men: I'd kick your ass by the bike racks then we could shake hands and move on with our lives. But instead, you hide behind your electronic facade, torturing me every week with your capriciousness. Why, you're a regular cyber-bully! I buy a lotto ticket for every draw and dream of how I'm going to leave your sorry ass and go live in the Bahamas.

Alas, my ticket for last night appears to be a non-winner, so tonight we meet again, Timesheet. You may have won this battle, but you haven't won the war!

Friday, March 23, 2012


I've been naughty lately. Soooo naughty. Alllll night long.
To look at me you might never know, but for a certain je ne sais quoi in my smile...

Yup, I've been grinding my teeth. Hey, who knew.

Hey, my dentist did. So, super anti-climactic story short, I am now the proud (?) owner-operator of a night guard.

Thooooo thexthy.

The kids couldn't stop laughing. No matter what you say or how sternly you say it, with a night guard in it's a fact of nature that you're going to sound like Daffy Duck, spraying spittle and all. Which is probably why they don't call it an "evening guard" or a "late-afternoon guard": you need to be 100% coherent at those prime yelling-at-your-kids times of day or they're just not going to take you seriously.

Night guards also have a super hawt bonus feature where your face doesn't quite close all the way so you wind up drooling on yourself slightly. Like, Saint Bernard slightly. But since I'm an optimist I'm always looking out for the positive angle:

"Hey thweety, doeth thith thing make me look younger?"

"Do you mean the night guard or the bib, Mom?"

"The night guard, thmart ath. And it'th not a bib, it'th a thcarf."

"Oh, sorry, it just looks a lot like a tea towel."

"An abthorbent thcarf then. Gawd, it'th all about themanticth with you lately, ithn't it? Now quit hathling me and anther the quethchun."

"Uhhh, no. You look mostly the same but kindof a little, like, weirder or something. Why do you ask?"


Monday, March 19, 2012

Chicken Soup

For the Environmental Consultant's Soul

By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.
Robert Frost

It was a clear spring day in 2012, full of the kind of hope and promise only a spring day can hold. But even though spring was Pam's* favourite season, she hardly noticed what a beautiful morning it was. All Pam could think about was work.

Pam had been involved in an all-engrossing project for months. She had harboured hope for it when it was only a twinkling in a client's eye; nursed it through the tricky cost estimate stage; celebrated with pink cigars when she was awarded the proposal. That was when the the first warning signs had cropped up: "But they told me specifically not to put that in the scope, how is the budget going to cope with that change?"

Things had gone steadily downhill from there. The client seemed to be withholding several crucial pieces of information, while rapidly and randomly changing others. The timelines were practically tripping over one another. Pam wasn't allowed to make half the calls she needed to make, and the ones she was weren't being answered.

In short, Pam was overworked, overwhelmed and over budget, and that wasn't even the worst of it. What bothered Pam the most was the direction this whole project was taking. What she had initially believed was an exciting and important project appeared on further scrutiny to be a boondoggle at best, and a deleterious debacle at worst.

"What is the point of all this?" thought Pam. "Am I really going to spend the rest of my career facilitating more holes in the ground? Where is the positive impact I once dreamed of making in the world?"

It wasn't long before Pam was having a full-blown crisis of conscience. She began spending her lunch breaks perusing job ads, but she had a mortgage to pay and it seemed as if all those soul-satisfying positions just didn't feature paycheques that could support her lifestyle. How would the children ever be able to go to private kindergarten if she left her job now? Pam's golden handcuffs grew a little tighter each day.

Dissatisfied and disillusioned, but with no discernible way out of the pickle she was in, Pam continued her work on the project. When final deadlines began rapidly approaching, she started working weekends as well. This is where we first encountered Pam, unhappily braving crappy weekend transit schedules to make her way to an office she resented, to work on a project she no longer believed in, on a beautiful spring day that she barely noticed.

Pam was cranking through the final details of the project when she discovered something that stopped her dead in her work. "No," thought Pam, "it can't be..."

She ran through the evaluation process again, and then, with growing excitement, once more just to be certain. "It is true! It is!" cried Pam. "And all this time I've been so worried, for nothing!"

In that single, simple moment it was as if Pam had found a new lease on life. All her doubts about the purpose and meaning of her work, all her questions about the moral and ethical value of her projects were laid to rest. What Pam had discovered was this:

The project would have no significant cumulative effects.

Pam was so very surprised. It looked as if the kids could go to private kindergarten after all! Pam treated herself a new designer dress to celebrate.

* Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Influencing the Weak-Minded

Is it wrong of me to use the Jedi mind trick on my own kids?

'Mom! Mooooommmmm! Come play race cars wif me.'
You don't need me to play race cars with you.
'Mom, where are you?'
This is not the parent you're looking for.
'Mom, why are you hiding in your bed?'
I can go about my napping.
'Awesome! I'm coming in to play fort wif you!'
'Mom, that's a bad word.'

Not that it ever frigging works, mind you.

I am fully convinced of the Awesome Untapped Potential of the Mind. Trouble is, that "untapped" (or, in this case, un-desired-results-producing) business makes it tough to maintain my conviction sometimes. It's not that I'm lacking motivation in my efforts, though - for example, there have been a few** "select" situations over the years when I've been really desperate to make some small interloper or another go away, but I always figured it didn't work those times because my attention had been diverted to somewhat more compelling anatomical regions, ergo my brain was clearly not operating at its Jedi best.

And today, well, I think it's pretty reasonable to chalk today's failure up to my being half asleep. Full Jedi mastery is always easier when I'm not in my afternoon slump.

There's a slightly trickier alternative theory as well: it may be that the Jedi mind trick only works in the expected way on adults. Kids, on the other hand, will always do exactly the opposite of whatever it is you actually want them to do - except when they don't, which further complicates things - so in order to effectively manage their behaviour through mind control techniques one may have to employ the less well-known art of Jedi reverse psychology:

'Mom! Mooooommmmm! Come play race cars wif me.'
I am the best person to play race cars with you.
'Mom, where are you?'
You don't want to play race cars with your sister.
'Mom, why are you hiding in the basement?'
Race cars are less fun by yourself.
'Awesome! Let's play ball hockey! I'll get the hockey sticks!'
'Mom, that's a bad word.'

Or maybe I just haven't got the little hand wave down right.

** Possibly more than a few. You know how it is.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The B's Knees

Many aspects of being a university student with a small child at home weren't easy. Aside from some obvious student-parent issues - for instance, How to Feed a Family on Twelve Cents a Day - I generally found myself with an issue that perhaps doesn't quite fit the student mold as it's commonly viewed: namely, I had far more brainpower available than time. Therefore, in order to maximize overall results (i.e., GPA), my brainpower needed to be harnessed in the most effective manner possible given the allotted time.

Unfortunately, my brain is a lazy slug that plays nasty tricks like setting my body off cleaning the bathroom then taking a rest itself. I figure the equation looks something like this:

GPA = (b/t) - P

Where b = brainpower, t = time and P = my propensity for endless procrastination via household cleaning.

So I made two things: one, a schedule ('You can wash the floor for ONE HOUR and then you HAVE to study, got it?'); and two, an Excel spreadsheet. I used the schedule to relentlessly nag my brain into action, and the spreadsheet to calculate the precise minimum amount of effort required to achieve a 4.0 in any given course, which assisted me in prioritizing all the nagging I had to do to myself.

Sure, there were bumps along the way - Physics springs to mind - but it was actually a pretty good little system and once I had that parchment With Distinction in hand I felt pretty darn smug for having cracked one of the great mysteries of studenthood.

A few years later I have come to understand that no one - not one single person, entity, potential employer, no one - gives a shit about my GPA. They never have, they never will. It just doesn't matter. The only person who ever cared about it one iota... was me.  I would have been well served to set my sights on a B average and get some more sleep.

This past weekend, I took Small Fry to the dentist for a check up. "Oooh!" they said. "Aaaah!" "You know," said the dental hygienist, "I don't think I have ever written this on a file before, but I am definitely writing it this time: Excellent home care!"

Do you hear that, people? Excellent home care. Excellent. I excelled at prying those miserable little jaws open every night for the past four years, risking life and limb patience and digits to floss and brush those minuscule, razor sharp chompers, and finally - finally! - my time for recognition had come. I swiftly touched up my makeup and unfolded my prepared speech.

Interestingly, despite my high GPA - which could theoretically be used as a proximal measure of (at least!) a keen ability to cram information into my brain in a reasonably thorough and retrievable way - it seems I just never learn. Because, guess what? No one - not one single person, entity, potential employer, no one - gives a shit about whether there exists in a filing cabinet somewhere in Calgary's northwest a note that my child received "excellent" daily hygienic care on his deciduous teeth. Once again, the only person who ever cared about it was me.  And, once again, I would have (in fact probably the whole household would have) been well served by me setting my sights on "pretty good" and enjoying life a little more.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Leap Post!

Rare are the New Year's resolutions that I actually stick to for more than approximately one menstrual cycle. But today marks sixty days since 2012 kicked off and I've still managed to hang on to one last shred of self-respect resolution: dress up for work every day.

I admit, I'm one of those people who really works the "casual" end of the business casual scale. No, not that end - a little further - keep going - leeeetle more - yup, right about there. My MO over the past couple of years has pretty much been to throw a scarf over whatever I'm wearing and call it a day (bonus: hides toothpaste stains!), and actually that's a few steps up from when I used to do significant amounts of field work and was known to wear pigtails and mud boots at the office on occasion. (Don't worry - strictly on casual Fridays.) 

Besides needing a way to justify a fairly serious bout of shopping, I was prompted to make this particular resolution largely because it dawned on me that not everyone realized that my wearing mascara indicated that I had dressed up for the day. I mean, if you can believe it, some people wear makeup even when they're not at work! In my mind, I had been dressing up for quite a while already when it occurred to me that eye makeup was perhaps being inappropriately utilized as my sole indicator of dressed-uppedness and that maybe, just maybe, I needed to catch the rest of my attire up to my face.

So I did. Frankly, it's created something of a feedback loop: Shiny New Me has been experiencing a lot of intangible benefits over Crappy Old Me. For instance, I can tell that people really respect the hell outta me when I'm wearing pointy, uncomfortable shoes with my slacks. Plus my appearance occasionally elicits compliments these days. From men. Be still my throbbing feet beating heart! Why, one day it's all "Hey, you don't look like total arse all the time any more" and the next I'm having to beat them off with a stick!

... with a pool noodle?

... a limp spaghetti?

Alright, seriously. Can someone please just make a pass at me? This is a LOT of work to do every day for nothing, you know.