Ever wondered what happens when a distinctly Asian flavor meets good old Canadian maple syrup?
It's a delicious dust-up and you can check it out over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Ever wondered what happens when a distinctly Asian flavor meets good old Canadian maple syrup?
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I was certain I was destined to be a lifer.
I had an excellent job in an industry I love. I had been there nearly a dozen years and everything about it felt as comfortable as an old shoe. I was deeply appreciative and rightfully so. I told myself I would be a fool to go anywhere else. Ever.
What I didn't admit, even to myself, was that I was scared.
I can see now that the birth of my child coincided with the slow, steady death of my nerve.
I grew up presuming that fate would smile on me, but the trauma of Graham's birth showed me that fate laughs at presumptions. I had always assumed that my baby would be perfect and yet I was forced to consider that he was not.
Several stressful events occurred in the months immediately following his birth and almost overnight I became a worrier. I worried about everything. I felt insecurity creep over me at the strangest times, like a rogue dark cloud on a sunny day. I mourned my old self, but felt powerless to truly reclaim the loud, brassy girl, brimming with confidence, who always thought she would rule the world by the age of 40.
I know now that Don Mills Diva was a last-ditch effort to rescue that girl - a way to try and write myself back to the place where I wanted, needed, to be.
I wrote my way through a heap of pain this winter. I wrote brave, declarative statements when I felt the most shaky. I reached down inside myself, gathered together my shredded guts and sent them across the Internet, desperately hoping the the bravado contained therein would reflect back and somehow restore me.
And a funny thing happened: it worked.
The more I wrote the more confident I felt. The more confident I felt, the better I wrote. I found my voice, in every sense. I gained a lot of readers. I met - virtually and otherwise - a lot of people who expected that Don Mills Diva would be a woman of strength and confidence.
And I found, quite suddenly, that she was. Once again.
I travelled to San Francisco for the BlogHer conference and I met dozens (hundreds?) of you. I dressed up and acted sassy. I even bogarted the microphone at a packed seminar.
And then this week I started a new job: the kind of job I had started to resign myself to never getting.
Thanks to Don Mills Diva and to you, I now feel certain that I am indeed destined to be a lifer - here on the Internet anyway - where I will write my way into whatever my heart can imagine.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
It is past midnight. Graham and I are laying together on a double bed at my parent's house, a novelty which so excites him he has resisted sleep for hours. I am weary. Past weary. Cuddles and whispered endearments have long since given way to hissed admonishments.
"Isn't it soooo fun to sleep on mommy's bed?"
"Go to sleep."
"Sorry 'bout that."
"We can talk tomorrow."
"Shush Graham, go to sleep!"
"WHAT?! WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT IT CAN'T WAIT FOR MORNING!"
"Mama, I just wanted to tell you that your hair looks terrific and that you are pretty like a princess."
"Oh...okay...well, thank you."
"Isn't it sooo fun to sleep on mommy's bed?"
"Yes Graham. Yes, it is."
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I would love to be rich.
Like, really, really rich.
Rich enough that the day-to-day of stress of paying mortgages and bills would be a thing of the past for me and the people I love. Rich enough to travel the world with Graham and teach him first-hand about politics and culture.
Rich enough to start a foundation to provide seed money for poor women who want to start small businesses. Rich enough to buy a penthouse in New York, a beach house in the Caribbean and a farm with lots of horses and dogs north of Toronto.
Rich enough to....umm, okay you get the point.
The point is, like 99% of the population, I can always find ways to spend extra money. And that means, straight up, if my writing here at Don Mills Diva allows me to earn extra money, I will accept it gratefully and with no sense of shame for having somehow sullied myself.
But I do have a few rules:
1. My ads will be found in my sidebars only. I am not interested in pay-per-post and I will not slip product reviews and pitches into this middle column.
2. I am thrilled to accept money and/or free stuff in exchange for writing on my review blog: that's what it's there for. I will write a teaser here on my main blog and readers may or may not choose to click over and read the product review.
3. I will always try to express my opinions freely and not be influenced by how people might react to my words. I freely admit this is a constant struggle, in life and on my blog.
(Note: I don't curse here. Not because I'm afraid to offend potential advertisers but because I endeavor not to curse in real life. Also, I don't reveal gory details about my family life here because, well, some things are private, thank you very much.)
It's pretty simple. I don’t think it’s terribly controversial. I write to the very best of my ability. I work my butt off. I endeavor to entertain and enlighten and perhaps even incite and if I do it well enough, for long enough, I could make some money. If that happens, I think I will deserve it. If it doesn't, well, I probably deserve that too.
Neat how that works, huh?
So why do we, and by we I mean women, make it so complicated?
Monetizing your blog or blogging for bucks was a popular seminar at the recent BlogHer conference and the notion that women should dare earn money from - GASP! - writing about family life was a hot topic of discussion.
To steal a line from Scarbie Doll - This is why we don't rule the world.
Can you honestly picture thousands of men wringing their hands and clucking their tongues over whether accepting payment for something they do well is tantamount to defiling themselves?
I didn't think so.
I learned at BlogHer that there are 36 million people in the blogosphere every week: that translates into an awesome economic opportunity for people like me, whose fondest dream is to earn money from their writing.
I would do this for free. Hell, I practically do do this for free.
But if one day, by writing on my own terms in my own space, I manage to earn enough readers to actually make me rich, I'll be damned if I'll demure and giggle nervously like some modest, 19th century maiden.
I will stand proud. I will accept my due. And I will cash the check.
Just like a man would.
Friday, July 25, 2008
I interrupt this series of provocative, issue-oriented, BlogHer-inspired posts to bring you...
"Gratuitous Cuteness", a true story of a boy and his french fry, told in four parts.
Regularly-scheduled programming will resume tomorrow when I discuss monetization and blogging for bucks - you know you don't want to miss that!
Oh, and also, if the sight of Graham stuffing his pie-hole has got you feeling a bit peckish, hop on over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews where I've just posted another of LeeAnne's fantabulous creations.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
My name is Kelly.
My husband is Rob and we have a son named Graham. We live in the Toronto neighborhood of Don Mills. He is a sound recordist and mixer for television and feature films and I work in communications in the same industry.
I could go on. I have gone on. You can read through my archives and check out a movie I produced, figure out where I grew up and went to high school. Where I used to live. You can read about my mom and dad and his faithful dog and even where I like to vacation.
And that doesn't scare me.
There was a very popular seminar on mommy blogging and public parenting and privacy at BlogHer last weekend and I wasn't there. I didn't go because I'm not interested in that debate. I refuse to wring my hands or gnash my teeth. I get that some people are deeply conflicted about exposing themselves on the Internet and I do, truly do, empathize with them.
But I'm sorted. I'm good. And I'll tell you why.
I am a writer - a writer with a fairly extensive background in reporting and writing for newspapers and I bring this up again not to make myself feel important (okay, maybe just a little) but because it is relevant.
In the lifestyle section of every newspaper in every community across much of the world, columnists publish under by-lines with their real names. Their photo is often featured and they routinely write in first person and reference their families.
We have columnists in Toronto who I feel I know personally and I'm quite sure that's their intention: that's their job and several of them have been doing it for many, many years.
And that's what I do here. I build relationships with my readers by writing about the beauty and poignancy of family life. And I reject the notion that because I do it on the Internet I am somehow more careless and tawdry than those who do it in my local paper. (I'm probably actually safer because only a tiny fraction of my readers are within striking distance of me and my family were they so inclined).
I find it endlessly ironic that I was lambasted for "pimping" out my child in Canada's national newspaper when that same paper often proudly features a sexy, young columnist and single mom who routinely discusses parenting as well as her sex life and personal relationships in far more detail than I ever have. (Read my response here).
Repeat after me: this is not a diary.
It is a column. A lifestyle column, featuring a working mom named Kelly, her husband Rob and a beautiful boy named Graham.
I hope you will continue to enjoy it and if you're ever in Don Mills? Do look me up.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I have always been a rebel in my own mind.
I’m like a lot of people out there: I adore the notion of myself as daring and fearless when, in fact, there is little about the way I live my day-to-day life that could be considered radical.
I am a working mother. I am a wife. I’m a bit of a smart-ass, but when the chips are down I’m loath to actually offend people. Sure I fly float planes in my spare time and it’s an interesting pursuit, perhaps even brave, but I’m about 70 years late to the aviation revolution.
What I do here, what I write about on Don Mills Diva, is not courageous. I’m fluffy and I have always owned that. I am a manipulator. At my best I can choose and position my words in such a fashion that the tears and chuckles of my readers are almost involuntary.
I’m shameless, really.
This blog is not my personal diary and it never will be. My intimate struggles - and you must trust me when I say I have intimate struggles – are not detailed here.
I am not Mr. Lady, who stood beautiful and alone on stage at BlogHer, read this post, brought the facking house down and goddamn-broke my heart. I am not Maria – she of the shirt - who teases me for saying facking when I really mean…well, you know.
So why did I grab a microphone during a BlogHer discussion entitled Is Mommy Blogging a Radical Act? and declare “Hell yes, it is!?”
Because I am a writer.
Because I have always been a writer. Because I have spent my whole life searching for an audience and now I have one. Because I had piece after piece rejected by (mostly white and male) newspaper editorial boards and now their opinions don’t matter. Because you are here, reading me and, presumably, it is my writing brought you here and my writing that can drive you away.
I start my dream job on Monday after submitting a resume that prominently featured Don Mills Diva. I’m going to be the director of communications for these people, partially because I used this little humble space on the Internet to prove that I can write: to prove that I can compel people to want to read the things I choose to write about.
And no, I do not choose, and will not in the foreseeable future choose, to detail how my family has been touched by pain and stress and mental illness.
But I will continue to write and I will endeavor to entertain and I believe with all my heart that my hard work and dedication will continue to expand my readership.
Pretty facking radical isn’t it?
Monday, July 21, 2008
And this is the last time I shall post pictures documenting the revelry, I swear.
I shall commence shortly with issue-oriented posts born of BlogHer panels. I shall weave in some of the highlights and the revelations and I shall entertain and incite you, I promise.
But I do have a few more party pictures and just to placate you and to thank you for your indulgence I reveal to you the back of Maria's shirt.
It says: "Just kidding. Jesus loves you!"
And so, onward to the pictures...
Yours truly and Backpacking Dad hamming it up for our adoring public.
Mandy and Greeblemonkey at the wild and crazy cheeseburger party,
which hotel security shut down after less than an hour.
Thank goodness Ronald and I made up after our infamous dust-up.
Otherwise I would have felt a little hypocritical stuffing my face like I did.
Thanks for journeying with me - it's off to sleep and real life tomorrow...
Sunday, July 20, 2008
My husband begged me not to fall back into old habits.
"You're better than that now," he said. "You're worth more than that. We may not be rich, but we've come a long way since those days".
But I missed the excitement of it, you know? The thrill. I missed just being young and adventurous and not caring about long-term results or consequences. Truth be told, I craved the excitement of something just a little bit dangerous.
And so, the night before I was due to leave for the BlogHer conference in San Fransisco, I threw caution to the wind and I did it.
What wild and crazy thing did DMD get up to on the eve of BlogHer? Scoot on over to my Shooting For Hip column at Better Than A Playdate for all the deets and pictures too...
Saturday, July 19, 2008
There are so many things to write about: deep things, profound things, issues and ideas about blogging as a radical act, mothering in an on-line community, privacy, monetization and personal power.
And I will write about those things, I promise. I will let all of the ideas swirling about my still-recovering-from-Thursday-night brain marinate and then I will write.
But until then, enjoy the party - I wish you were here.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I expected it to be overwhelming and it is.
There are 1,000 people attending this conference. There are corporate and media representatives everywhere.
It. is. intense.
Is is also a lot of fun. So much fun, in fact, that I spent my first few waking hours this morning nursing the first hangover I can remember suffering since Graham's birth.
But I feel better now. And I am learning a lot. So far I have learned that mommy blogging is a radical act and that I simply must be on Twitter.
And I have definitely learned that these days five glasses of wine is waaay past my limit.
A few people I've been hanging with...
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
You might think that ruining my parents' anniversary was the highlight for me this past weekend.
But you'd be wrong.
I neglected to mention that one of the other reasons I journeyed up to my old home town was an informal high school reunion / dance that was held at the local Legion Hall Saturday night.
I am one of the few people who will freely admit that I thoroughly enjoyed high school, so there was no question that I would accept any invitation to walk down memory lane. I dragged Rob along and we both had a great time, dancing and chatting and generally staying out way too late.
Here's me with some friends I have not seen for nearly 20 years. That's me on the right. The guy in the middle? He was my first-ever boyfriend. Our scandalous romance started when I was a ninth grader and he was in grade 13. He still has the quick wit and sense of humor I remember and a great time was had by all.
So let's talk about new friends...
Just one more sleep til I go to BlogHer and make a whole bunch of new friends and memories. I'm rooming with this lovely lady, sitting beside her on the plane, meeting these guys at the airport and have plans to hang out with her and her and her.
I've read a lot of posts in the last few weeks about how nervous people are about traveling to San Francisco and meeting fellow bloggers in person but I'm not scared, just excited. Perhaps it's because I really am a diva, or perhaps I lack a certain self awareness or perhaps the caution that "it's kinda like high school all over again" actually sounds like a good thing to me.
Especially because I know I will not be committing this fashion faux pas again.
See you in San Francisco peeps!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Why do you blog? How do you blog? And how do on-line relationships and blogging fit into your real-life world?
I know you’ve all got lots to say about this because, well, don’t we all? It’s a life-changing thing, blogging is, and one of my most favorite bloggers, who also happens to be a researcher at the University of Waterloo, has set up a survey of blogging practices that you really should participate in.
I’ll let her take it from here:
“Have you ever been freaked out when a casual acquaintance from ‘real life’ found your blog? Or when your Sitemeter showed a steady stream of Google pervs visiting your site? Do you wonder about whether to put up photos of your children or your friends on your blog, for fear of your privacy? Many of us have experienced these unsettling moments, and questioned or even changed our writing styles and our habits as a result.
What strategies do you use to reach the audience you want, while maintaining your own privacy? Most bloggers use some kind of anonymization or privacy strategy, a ‘screen name’ being the most simple and obvious.”
Please help her out and contribute to the study of something important to us all by clicking here. You can also contact Aimee directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. She is going to BlogHer in San Francisco and she’d love to interview you in person: if you’re going send her an email at the address above.
It’s BBQ month over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews and I just posted LeeAnne's latest unique recipe for grilled haloumi cheese. It’s perfect if you’re lactose intolerant or vegetarian or if you just plain love tasty cheese. Check it out!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Yesterday was my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary and I almost ruined it.
I almost ruined it because for a few hours yesterday my mom and dad were too consumed with worry that I had crashed my father’s float plane to actually enjoy themselves.
The day started out innocuously enough. Rob, Graham and I had arrived on Saturday and spent the better part of Sunday morning lounging around the lake. My parents had plans to go to concert featuring Irish folk music at 2 p.m. in a town about a half hour away and I was planning on tagging along with Graham.
Rob was heading up to his brother’s cottage further north for a few days and we decided I would fly, rather than drive, him up. My parents stayed with Graham.
“If I’m not back by 1:30 p.m. or so just take Graham in my car to the concert and I’ll take your car and meet you there,” I advised blithely. “I should be back, but if not I’ll just be 10 or 15 minutes behind you.”
Rob and I took off about 12:30 p.m. for the half hour flight. The winds were strong. Although staying straight and level and maintaining altitude was a struggle, both the plane and I were capable of handling the conditions.
Until we landed.
Because minutes, seconds really, after we landed the winds at our destination lake started to howl and whip the water into frothy waves.
A float plane is a graceful bird in the sky but a heavy, sluggish chunk of metal on the water. Virtually powerless, I spent 15 minutes alternately driving and sailing the plane just a few hundred metres to the dock where we tied up and waited for the winds to die.
I called my parents but they had already left. I left a message but they have an old-fashioned answering machine from which you can’t retrieve messages. They weren’t carrying a cell phone. I called my brother but he wasn’t home.
I was left to sit and wait out the winds with a churning stomach and a heavy heart, knowing that my parents would be growing more and more worried as time ticked by and I failed to arrive.
I knew they had been looking forward to the concert for some time and would now spend it running after a toddler and worrying about me. But I also know that 90 per cent of flying is decision making and it is far better to worry than to grieve.
I thought about our friend who succumbed to the skies just a few months ago and about how all parents worry about their children. I thought about how I sometimes lie awake at night plagued by nightmares about the dangers that lie ahead for Graham. I am 38 years old: I wondered how many times my parents had been forced to fight the creeping fear that their worst fear might be coming true.
Finally by 3 o’clock, the winds settled down. I kissed Rob goodbye and took off, fighting the plane’s instinct to jump like a spirited, wild horse into the still lively air. By the time I landed at my parents’ place a half hour later all four of my limbs were aching with exertion. I docked as quickly as possible, jumped into the car and headed to the concert.
It was 4:05 p.m. when I spotted my ashen-faced parents in my car, pulling out of the concert area, just as I was pulling in. I beeped the horn and they started. As if in slow motion, I watched their faces lift and their eyes brighten. We exchanged waves.
“I’m proud of your decision-making,” my dad said later. “A good pilot doesn’t try and take on Mother Nature. Today was a good experience for you.”
But it wasn’t a good experience for him, of course. It was a stressful and scary experience, one of many he and my mother have endured in 45 years of marriage and 42 years of parenting.
“I’m proud of you too Dad,” I said. “Happy anniversary.”
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
I don’t care if everyone under the sun disagrees with my favorite advice on how to stay married: I shall continue to believe that one should always go to bed mad.
I feel compelled to say this because I was at a wedding last weekend where once again I heard someone dust off that old chestnut about not letting the sun go down on your anger.
To which I say: anything that helps extinguish my anger, including darkness, is a good thing!
The worst arguments I have had with Rob have been late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Hurtful words are like dark, foolish thieves that appear under cover of night bent on stealing reason and rationality. They are born of frustration and fatigue and – in my case – a desire to shut the fight down so I can get some sleep.
And we all know that the words that shut a fight down are the words we inevitably regret the next day.
I believe my happy marriage has been preserved on more than one occasion by a conscious effort on my part to bite my lip, stop trying to thrash or shout my way to a resolution and JUST GO TO SLEEP!
And as much as I may toss and turn and mumble bitterly before I drift away, there’s something about the morning sunlight that usually makes thoughts of murdering my husband seem just a touch melodramatic.
There is a certain hour of the night in which it becomes impossible to be logical about anything and despite what anyone says, it’s better to hit the hay, than hit the husband.
My advice to newlyweds out there? Go to bed mad – it’s better than staying up all night fighting.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
It’s been more than a year but I still remember the look on the police officer’s face when my car slid to a stop, just inches from where she sat in the passenger’s seat of the cruiser.
Her mouth was open and her eyes wide with surprise…before she narrowed them in a glare.
I was driving through an intersection on a light I had watched turn green on my approach. I had slowed to accommodate two cars squeezing in left turns on a red light in front of me. In a split second I reacted and took in that those drivers too, had narrowly avoided hitting the police cruiser which was proceeding straight through the red light.
The officer gestured that I should pull into a nearby parking lot. I did, immediately. Her partner, a young man with a ruddy face and an endearing expression approached my car.
“You came pretty close to hitting us back there,” he said.
“But the light was green. I didn’t hear a siren; you didn’t have your lights on.”
He shrugged. “Maybe you had your radio on?”
“No.” I didn’t.
He glanced in the back of my car, Graham fidgeted.
“Talkin’ to your baby?”
“He was asleep until just now.” I gulped. “I was watching the lights and the intersection. No one was stopped. Those two other cars almost hit you too.”
He went back to the cruiser where his partner still sat, glaring at me.
I waited. And waited. Graham started to wail. It was 15 minutes before he returned.
“I’m gonna have to charge with you failure to stop.” He looked at Graham. “Is he okay?”
“He’s just frustrated,” I said. “We both are.”
The police officer sighed and I thought I saw something flash across his face. Sheepishness?
Emboldened I stammered, “I’m a very careful driver. You didn’t have your siren or your lights on. Someone less careful would have hit you.”
He leaned in and handed me a ticket. “Go to court,” he said. “It’ll get knocked down.”
And so I did.
It was a few weeks ago. I took a holiday day from work, partially so I could attend and partially to attend to a million other errands I had been neglecting.
He was there. In a nice suit and looking younger than I remembered.
The prosecutor pulled us aside. “So, you can plead guilty and we’ll accept an $80 fine and no points. Does that work?”
Inexplicably my eyes filled with tears.
“I did stop. I know you think I’m just some stupid woman driver, but I’m not. I have spent years studying how to maneuver a few tons of metal around.”
Both men shuffled uncomfortably.
“Do you want a trial?”
I sniffled and nodded, mortified because the tears would not stop coming.
“I can’t plead guilty to something I didn’t do.”
And so I got a trial date two weeks hence. And on the way out I fell in step beside the young officer.
“What did you mean by that?” he asked.
I shrugged, embarrassed now. “I’m a pilot.”
“Wow, cool.” We walked in companionable silence.
“You know, you could be a Formula One driver. You still almost hit me.”
“You looked at me like I was some kind of cliché, silly woman driver. But if I didn’t have the training I have, I would have hit you. You know those other cars almost hit you too.”
“How come they never heard your siren or saw your lights?”
He shrugged. “You have to do what you think is right.”
I showed up for the 1:30 p.m. trial yesterday on my lunch, with the naïve hope that I could make it back to work within my allotted hour.
The young officer saw me enter and scooted over to sit beside me.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” he said. “If it’s financial, I could talk to the prosecutor.”
I bit my lip and sighed.
“I don’t want to sway you. But you stand a real good chance of getting convicted.”
I looked at him. All of a sudden I felt tired, exhausted really.
I thought about how busy my life was lately. I thought about what a long and difficult winter, financially and emotionally, Rob and I have endured: about how many things, important things, have caused me stress over the last several months.
I thought about a piece I wrote a few months back in which I expressed a desire to teach Graham which battles are worth fighting. I considered that if I left in the next 10 minutes I wouldn’t have to use any more holiday time.
I thought about how my dogged insistence on doing things the hard way has always made things difficult for me. I thought about how I wished that Graham would learn a better way.
And I sighed and I lifted my damn stubborn, figurative foot off the brakes.
“I want to move forward,” I said.
So I pleaded guilty and accepted a reduced fine: $50 and no points.
But I still asked for, and received, 90 days to pay it.
Because I don’t want the Man to think I’m dead just yet.
Monday, July 7, 2008
I celebrated the glorious weather this past weekend at my parent's house on the lake where I went swimming for the first time this summer.
And before I did, I performed the annual check that has become my own time-honored summertime ritual, as much a part of the season as grilled steaks and black fly bites.
I performed the bikini check.
Check out the rest of my Shooting For Hip column over at Better Than A PlayDate. I even posted a picture - honest to blog!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Rob and I fell in love with our house at first sight.
We knew we couldn't afford it, but we took to dropping by during the months it languished on the market, chatting up the owner, an elderly Austrian man, in the hopes that maybe he would see that we were meant to have it, despite our limited financial resources.
And on one such visit he told us about Charlie.
She was a pretty girl, he said, despite her advancing age. Many nights she didn't have the means to feed her family and so she would tap on the back door. He didn't mind. He had grown used to seeing her silhouette in the moonlight. He had grown to depend on her dependence.
"I worry," he said. "I worry that whoever buys this house won't look out for Charlie like I do, that they won't care about her. She's old now. She needs me."
We will, we promised him. We will look after Charlie.
And he nodded. A deal is a deal.
"It's time you made an offer," he said.
And so we made an offer to buy the house. And it was way too low, but he accepted it to our great surprise. We were home owners.
And only a few days after we moved in Charlie tapped on our back door, just like we knew she would.
She was very old and much more frail than we had imagined. And she had a little one with her, her daughter we assumed. They were bloodied, as if they had been in a fight. Her daughter was missing most of one ear.
We were nervous, but we fed them. They were wary of us too, but too weak to refuse our kindness.
They came almost every night after that. And all that summer Charlie grew older and weaker and her daughter stronger and more robust.
And one night Charlie didn't come. Her daughter tapped on our door. Her mangled ear glittered tragically in the moonlight. We gave her extra food. We knew we would never see Charlie again.
It has been six years since we last saw Charlie but her daughter, instantly recognizable by her ear, taps on our door several nights a week. She has no fear of us and we have no fear of her. Horace treats her as a contemporary. Graham is enamoured of her.
Charlie's daughter has a family of her own now. Every year she has a new family in fact. And every year she lines her youngsters up and nudges them towards us one by one.
And sometimes we feel a little strange about the whole thing. We wonder if maybe Charlie's dependence and her daughter's dependence on us is wrong in some fundamental way: if perhaps we are somehow subverting the laws of nature.
But after all is said and done, we conclude, Charlie and her family were here long before we were.
And peanut butter sandwiches are cheap.
And a deal is a deal.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
We all say things we don’t mean.
We utter inanities like “sorry” and “no worries” and “I’m fine, how are you?” in order to grease the wheels of social interaction. We say things we don’t mean to placate people and smooth out situations.
I don’t know at exactly what age we learn these subtle deceptions. I do know that Graham has just started practicing them. And the fact that he’s not overly clear on the whole concept produces results that are equal parts amusing and unsettling.
Graham has learned, for instance, that “sorry” is an amiable thing to say. It matters not whether he is actually sorry. He blurts it out at the slightest hint of my displeasure, which would be endearing if not for the aggressive volume and tone of his voice, which indicate he is anything but sorry.
He hurls “SORRY MAMA!” at me like a weapon, figuring it will stop me in my tracks, so he can go merrily about whatever behavior it was that elicited my displeasure in the first place. He seems genuinely surprised when I don’t accept his “apology” and puzzled when I try to explain that he needs to mean the things he says.
How can I blame him for being confused? Haven’t I already admitted that I am a liar?
But Graham has taken my feel-good strategy one step further. He apparently figures that the best defense is a good offense and therefore employs lavish terms of endearment and displays of affection even while he is misbehaving.
When I chastise him for getting carried away rough-housing, his head butts and slaps morph into ferocious “missile kisses” delivered with the exact same intensity and painful results.
When I tell him that it hurts my feelings when he says things that aren’t nice, he shouts and snarls what he thinks I want to hear: “AWW, YOU’RE SO CUTE MAMA! I LOVE YOU MAMA!”
Less than a year ago I was marveling at how completely transparent Graham was, about how a two-year-old’s tantrums were born of the kind of pure emotion adults wish they had the freedom to express.
But now it is clear he is experimenting with how to manipulate his words and actions in order to get his way and placate those around him.
It is funny and fascinating and oddly discomfiting all at the same time.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Sure there was a bouncy castle, games of chance, a juggler, a steel drum band, face painting and hot dogs at our local park's Canada Day celebrations earlier today.
But, you know, it's just not a party until a demented clown hands your kid a phallic-looking balloon dog.
And he falls in love with it.
Happy Canada Day everyone!