Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Odd Comment Thing

I am noticing something odd about Blogger comments lately. Most comments that someone leaves show up, but occasionally one of two things will happen. Either I will get a notice in my e-mail that someone left a comment, but the comment never appears on Library Squirrel. Or, a comment will appear and I will never be advised of it in my e-mail - and then I will stumble across it by chance days later. It's very odd.

I love getting comments, of course, so to not see that they're there is a bit startling. And if you've ever wondered why I rarely comment on the blogs of others or answer comments, it's because I think all the comments that I leave sound stupid. It's something about not having found my comment voice yet. I always read them after I've posted them, and think I don't sound like myself, or I sound dippy or tinny or whatever. There's altogether too much self-flaggelation involved to do it on a regular basis.

That being said, I am often able to comment on Carmi's posts because he asks such nice open-ended questions, and I admire Liz's excellent commenting style - may I be such a natural some day.

Financial Sense

Jim and I were very brave a few months ago, and went to see our financial advisor. Don't get me wrong - we like her a lot. It's just so embarrassing to sit and admit to someone that you've run up your credit card balance, even if it's for something solid like doing home renovations. It feels a lot like going to confession, actually. Purgation. Anyway, we did it and now I'm very glad.

She never tells us anything that sounds like rocket science - she always just seems to get us to think straight about it all. We've now cleared our credit card and have consolidated it all into a consumer loan that we're paying off at a reasonable pace. I've started my RRSP again after a few years' hiatus. We're saving for a car. I got myself a CAA membership, so I don't have to pay for any more tow-trucks should the need arise. We still have the same debt, but now there are plans in the works and I feel like a huge load has been lifted from my shoulders. I am financially hopeful.

And the strange thing is that now we occasionally have a little extra money to spend, through unexpected windfalls. It's like the story someone told me once about the librarian who took up feng shui. She put a small fountain in the corner of her office, because running water in that corner was supposed to attract money. At some point soon after, she had so much grant money to spend on the library system (and so much extra work to go along with it) that she had to turn the fountain off! We aren't rolling in it anything like that, but now I can buy the occasional small treat with real money, with absolutely no guilt! It's all good.

On a vaguely-related but fictional note, Jim dreamt last night that I won $30 million in the lottery, and that we decided to buy and renovate every old house in the neighbourhood. It's too funny. Man, that would be fun. I would say to my personal assistant, "Marco, go and order me a 3 1/2 foot clawfoot tub for this space, even if you have to get it from Chicago. Nothing else will do." "Very good, madam," Marco would say. Just like a Wodehouse novel.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Los Patrones

People never cease to amaze.

A few weeks ago, one of our more self-sufficient patrons was having trouble with the printer and I offered to print stuff off the web for her from my machine. She wanted to go to the Vatican website and print a speech by the new Pope. This was not amazing. What was amazing was that she wanted to print the speech in English, French, German, and I think Spanish. She can read all of those languages, and wanted to see if he had said anything differently to each group. I love it when people surprise me with their skills.

And the other night, a marginalized patron who for years was obsessed with statistics on serial killers in Canada (yes, rather creepy research), has now refocused his energy on reading poetry. Makes this librarian so happy. Sniff.

Life is good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Little Engine That Couldn't

By last Saturday, we had been on the nighttime Potty Train for two weeks straight. Some nights Sprout was dry all night, and other nights he peed his pants once or twice. I was supportive the whole time (getting mad at little ones for peeing the bed is not really fair), and would leap out of bed and change his wet sheets and his pajamas with grace and aplomb.

But after two weeks, I just couldn't do it anymore. I needed more sleep and fewer strenuous midnight capers. We put him back in diapers at night.

And the sleep. Oh, the sleep is good.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Before and After Back Entrance Photos

When we first bought this house, the back room was a separate room, with a false wall and a door on it. In this photo, you can see that the room had wall-to-wall carpet, and you can just glimpse the back exterior door outside the room in a tiny foyer. While Jim was ripping out the bathroom, I set right to work in this back room ripping out the carpet and refinishing the fir flooring underneath.

A year later, we decided to replace the exterior door with a french door (so the kitties would have somewhere to sleep in the sun), and then a few days later we spontaneously removed the door to the back room and the false wall in a quick act of bravery.

This meant that we had to move the lightswitch (the cable hanging out of the ceiling in the photo on the left) and we had to do a lot of plaster patching around the door.

It also left some problems to solve on the floor. We had to do something with the mess of vinyl flooring that was left and we had to do something with the furnace vent that came up in the middle of the floor. We agreed to leave it all alone for a year, until we had more money, but I was pregnant by this time. The pregnant brain makes you do silly things. One night I sent Jim out to get me ice cream, and by the time he got back I had picked the vinyl flooring to bits and so we had to do something with it. Jim was not impressed, but what do you do with a crazy pregnant woman other than hunour her.

After much discussion and research, we decided to move the furnace vent to a wall and to replace the vinyl in the entrance with ceramic tile.

Neither of us is skilled enough to set tile in the pattern that we wanted, but Jim did a fine job of prepping the subfloor before the tile-setter came. It turned out beautifully. Then came the stressful job of squaring up the gap between the tile and the wood floor without wrecking the floor, so that Jim could fit in a small piece of wood trim. He consulted with our neighbourhood cabinetmaker, borrowed his sawsall, sweated a little, and bravely took the plunge.

It worked out great after all the worrying, and now we have a smashing back entrance, a room full of light, and a blend of floor coverings that don't annoy the senses too much.

In this last photo you can also see the tiny cat door that gives furballs access to the basement (with a bar across the middle to keep human babies from falling down the stairs).


Sprout continues to be bald while the head lice are eradicated from everyone's head at daycare. It's very funny. He looks like a little man.

The other night we were in the big chair and he was breastfeeding, and I looked down and exclaimed, "Oh my god, it's like nursing Kojak!"

This is one of those Saturday mornings in pajamas, watching cartoons with cheerios (and monkey, of course).

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Word Report

I have been thinking about words lately, especially since Jim is still letting me whup him at Boggle occasionally. Perhaps a regular word report? Why not spice up all this squirrellery with a bit of orthography and etymology.

My best Boggle words from our last game: peon, roil, rout.
My best stream of Boggle words from the same game: snow now how sow low lower slow slower show shower (the base and artful rhyming method by which I whup the aforementioned Jim).
Jim insists that I may win often, but his words are more elegant: peen, retool, lithe, dower, hone, petty. Perhaps he is right.

My current favourite word: 'parse'. (With 'rotund' and 'rotunda' together in second place, chasing each other around like rats on a wheel.)

Proud Mama

Sprout's latest thing is this:

If we are out in a public place and some stranger decides to chat with him, they will invariably say, "And, how old are you, little one?"

He used to answer "five", or occasionally, "forty one". He never says his actual age, which is two.

He was asked his age three times by chatty ladies on Saturday, and in all three cases he answered like this:

"Not as old as you."

I have no idea where he learned this. You can imagine my pride. Thankfully, one of the grandmas didn't understand him at all, and another thought he said, precociously, "How old are you?!?" back at her, and that made her laugh. I smoothed it over with the third woman who actually understood him, and then we hightailed it out of there.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Too Much in My Brain

Jim and I both lead very busy lives. If we occasionally snap at each other, we always come around to saying something apologetic like, "Sorry, dear, I just have too much shit in my brain," which means 'I have too much to think about and it's making me tense.'

Anyway, some days I'm fascinated by the thousand thoughts that chase each other around in my head like squirrels gone mad. Here's an average clip of my inner dialogue, during, say, a walk to work:

* I hope we don't get lice!
* I should wash all the towels and bedding in the house every day.
* Did I book the computer lab for next week's program?
* How come I never have time or inclination to polish my boots?
* I'm just not a boot polisher. I should accept that.
* Do I have a parking permit for my car tomorrow?
* Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.
* What would I do with 3 million dollars?
* Lottery tickets are a sign of despair. I shouldn't buy lottery tickets. (Voodoo-Catholic moral upbringing)
* What will we have for supper?
* Did I remember my lunch?
* Did Jim remember his lunch?
* Am I an insane person? I certainly couldn't live with me.
* I have to remember to send that memo today.
* If I write two Christmas cards every day, I could actually get it all together to send cards this year.
* Yeh, like that's going to happen.
* My house is a mess.
* My head just itched! I'm sure it's lice!!
* They still didn't put the windows in on that house renovation I'm watching. I wonder why.
* Will my sister every come back from Ontario?
* Dat bitch.
* At what point does 'dark night of the soul' turn into lukewarm/lapsed Catholic? Which is worse, lukewarm or lapsed? Jesus would say lukewarm.
* What do I do about that? (despair)
* I have great hair today. Some times I look like such a dog, so I gotta cling to this hair thing.
* Maybe I should call Aunt Frieda. (guilt)
* If I call her, she'll just piss me off and then I'll yell at her, producing more guilt.
* Was she always nuts? Do I remember a time when she wasn't nuts?
* Hmm. Nope.
* I need to remember to buy olive oil, saran wrap, and kale.
* I'm pretty awake for someone who still gets up with her child 2-3 times per night.
* Maybe I should hire a maid to clean the bathroom and wash the floors.
* Did I eat breakfast...?

Itchy Scratchy

So now a child at Sprout's daycare has lice. Even the thought of it immediately makes my head itch.

I don't want to get lice myself, and I REALLY don't want to put toxic shampoo on Sprout's delicate, eczema-prone head. So, with a lightningbolt idea tonight, we actually decided to shave Sprout's little head. I cut all his longer hair off with a scissor, and Jim managed to shave part of his head in the bathtub (before there were too many adamant protests).

If we manage to shave his head entirely, people are going to start giving us cancer donations in the mall. Or call Social Services. He looks hilarious.

None of the research I've done suggests head-shaving as a solution, but we both figure that if there's no hair to lay eggs on, then why would a louse go there in the first place. Sounds airtight to me.

And if I get lice on my own head? Bald as an egg, I swear.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


If you asked two-and-a-half-year-old Sprout, this week, what he was going to be for Hallowe'en, he would say consistently, "I going to be goat!" which translates into 'I'm going to be a ghost.' Despite having tried on and having liked the Mexican costume that I put together for him, and despite having had many conversations with me about being a Mexican for Hallowe'en. "I going to be goat!"

He was the cutest little Mexican. His daytime caregiver, Auntie, spent the day drilling all the kids on the importance of using their manners when trick or treating, so he was also a very charming and polite trick or treater. The police chief lives down the street from us, and when he opened his door and said, "Now, what can I do for you?", Sprout answered, "You could give me candy. Please." It was very funny.

Because of the cold weather and the rain, we had very few kids to our door, so by the end of the night Jim was giving them quadruple portions. "Wow! Wagon Wheels!! And you're very generous, thank you!" All children are thrilled to get Wagon Wheels for Hallowe'en, by the way; I don't personally understand the attraction, but Jim - being an eternal five-year-old - always remembers and insists.

I completely forgot to dress up for work, but there were a few great costumes. A trio of my co-workers dressed as library beauty queens, with false eyelashes and banners across their chests sporting titles like "Miss-Information".

But the best Hallowe'en story around here was from the six-year-old boy who lives down the street. One day while he was playing in front of our house with Sprout, I was hanging little plastic ghosts from our tree for Hallowe'en, and Wonnie asked me, "Do you celebrate Satan's birthday? Hallowe'en is Satan's birthday, you know." Blink, blink. "Not everyone believes that, Wonnie. For some of us it's just an occasion to dress up and have fun," I said. "We believe it because it is true," said Wonnie. I tried not to come down too heavy on the child, but it was a bit silly. "It's not necessarily true, Wonnie," said me. After we stared at each other for a few minutes, the conversation turned to other things.