Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Learning to Skate

I am trying to teach Sprout to ice skate, and he's finding it pretty frustrating. At some point he wants to quit and do something else. Any other kid would say, "I don' wanna do dat anymore."

My child? He says, "I would prefer to be wearing my boots, actually."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Falling Off the Wagon, As the Day Progresses

I am in good spirits, considering that I am working the Reference Desk all day on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, a patron has just brought us a box of Pot of Gold chocolates, in appreciation of our services. (GOD BLESS THE PATRONS WHO BRING CHOCOLATES!)

I have opened the box of chocolates, and am falling swiftly from my lofty place of caffeine-free healthy living. I am finding particular solace in the 'Hazelnut Bouquet', followed closely by the 'Maraschino Cherry'. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

You Can't Write Dialogue Like This

If you're Canadian, or very very lucky, you have probably seen the National Film Board short, "The Big Snit". We had our own big snit this weekend chez nous.

The scene: Sunday morning, a week before Christmas. General cleanliness in the house, but a few piles of clutter here and there. One pile of clutter is topped by a beautiful wreath we bought last week. The wreath is very delicate and decorated with dried prairie rose hips. I am in clean-up-for-Christmas mode. Jim is sitting morosely in a chair because he has a bad cold and is cranky. Sprout is fluttering hither and thither, spreading Sprout-like babble and chaos.

I pick up the wreath, and head for the front door, to replace our usual wreath with the new one.

Jim: Don't hang that on the front door!
Me: Why not?
Jim: Because it's going to get wrecked. The berries are all going to get crushed and fall off of it. It should be hung somewhere else.
Me: Like where?
Jim: Like in the kitchen on the wall or something.
Me: Fine. Here. Go hang it up.
Sprout: [Oblivious to bickering] Dat is a bwoobewwy!
Jim: I'll just put it right here. [Places wreath back on top of the pile of crap that I'm trying to get rid of.]
Me: You're just going to put it back where it was? I'm trying to clean up for Christmas!
Sprout: Mommy, I found a bwoobewwy!
Jim: I'm sick.
Me: I'm sick too. (But we've already established previously that my cold is not as bad as Jim's.)
Jim: Oh, so you're going to turn this into an Aunt Frieda-esque 'I'm sick but I do what has to be done anyway, and you should too' conversations.
Me: [Grr.] I just want to get the wreath out of the way. If we didn't plan to hang it up, why did we buy it?
Jim: Fine. I don't care. Throw it in the garbage for all I care. Throw it away if it's bugging you.
Me: Fine. If you don't care, and it could go in the garbage, I'm going to hang it on the door. After all, if it gets wrecked hanging on the door, then we'll throw it in the garbage afterward.
Jim: Go ahead. Fine. [Stomp, stomp, stomp, as he shuffles outside to smoke cigarettes.]

We've both been laughing at ourselves since this happened. Being married can be too funny sometimes.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Monkey Hunt

We have the smallest house around, and I have decluttered almost to the point of austerity, so it should be impossible to lose something, right?

Well, the other night, we lost my son's beloved monkey. One minute he was carrying it around, and the next minute it was gone. I searched for 20 minutes. Under every cushion and every bed, in every toy box and closet. When asked, Sprout himself would only say, "It's in the backpack," which I searched three separate times.

And where was it? In the kitchen drawer with the tea towels and the oven mitts. Ah yes, of course. Why didn't I think of that.

Friday, December 16, 2005


I have served a patron at the reference desk three times in the last month, and each time he starts the conversation with "Hi Sweetheart!" It's a bit disconcerting, so I always stare at him with narrowed eyes for a fleeting moment. After that, though, there are no hints of flirting, so it seems that it's just a greeting.

Today, he was on the hunt for a stack of books on arson investigation and casualty checklist investigation.

"Aha!", I said to myself, "a private eye!!"

(And one that has spent too much time watching gumshoe detective movies.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Today's word is 'palimpsest', which for some reason I always confuse with 'crepuscule'. I always think 'palimpsest' has something to do with the sun coming up or going down. And I'm always wrong.

This word confusion reminds me of the fleeting few months of my university life where I had taken enough French classes to be close to some level of fluency. When I hear a word, I often see an associated picture in my head. After a few years of French lessons, I started to have double word pictures in my head for two words in particular! The words: 'chair' and 'pain'. In French, 'chair' means 'flesh' and 'pain' means 'bread'.

It doesn't happen so much now, but in those years, if I read the word 'chair' in either language, my mind would flash images of a chair and a hunk of flesh at the same time. The same used to happen with 'pain': I'd get images of bread and pain at the same time. It was very odd. "Zut!", I would say to myself. It kept me amused.

Before and After Reno Photos: Back Room Corner

I took photos of every corner of our house on the day we first took possession, but some of the pictures didn't turn out.

Thus, I do not have a true pictorial record of the shockingly ugly closet that was in the corner of the back room of our house. I have drawn you a picture (excuse my bad perspective attempts) of what it looked like - imagine a floor to ceiling cabinet made of two-by-fours and plywood, with metal sliding doors on top and bottom painted to look like wood panelling.

In the wall next to the closet were two small doors to extra storage - space stolen from the closet in the bedroom on the other side of the wall. As I said before, the floor was carpeted - did I mention carpeted in a lovely shade of puce?

I ripped the big metal/plywood closet out that first day, and the carpet the day after.

For a number of months, as we worked on other projects, the back room looked like this next photo. You could see the paint 'shadows' of past decorating, both before and after the metal closet. Some of these paint 'shadows' confirmed our suspicions that this room was added on originally as a kitchen (you could see the traces of hanging wall cabinets, and all the electrical plugs are still up high on the walls as if they were set above countertops). In this photo, you can just barely see that tiny wall cabinet behind the bookshelf.

When our second winter here rolled around, we decided to clean up the back room before the Sprout was born.

Jim took out the false wall cupboards (doubling the space in the bedroom closet opposite), and I plastered and smoothed the walls on the whole room. It took days (and a lot of plaster).

We painted the room yellow (or more precisely, "Blonde Beauty"), and it was bright and cheery, but was in desperate need of some quality shelving. Two years later my sister made the wise decision to go to furniture design school, and last summer she built us a beautiful built-in bookshelf.

Here it is with painter's tape around it.

We thought about doing natural wood shelves, but we had just blown our wad on a new fence and deck. So, we went for paint-grade plywood to match the rest of the trim in the room, with adjustable shelves.

It's so sturdy that you could climb it in places - but we aren't telling the Sprout that.

Once the painting was done and the adjustable shelves were in, we loaded it up with books, knick-knacks, and our clunky old TV. It's very elegant. And the piece de resistance: the built-in dictionary shelf above the television. Perfect for settling arguments over Boggle or the daily crossword.

There's a bit of quarter-round missing around the bottom, but one can't rush into those last little details, now, can one?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Squirrel in Pearls

Okay, not pearls, but vintage! For our raucous staff Christmas party this weekend, I dusted off one of my vintage outfits to live - for a few hours - my former clothes-horse life of glamour. I wore a floor-length skirt with a matching top - made of material with tiny silver filaments woven througout. Happening to glance at the tag in the back of the dress, I had a good laugh, because my dress was made of 90% polyester and "10% metal." Now that's dressing up. This squirrel doesn't wear metal every day, you know.

And today I am sporting green, wool, old-lady pants (the ones with the crease sewn on!) that I purchased at the Mennonite Clothes Closet on the weekend (only the most fabulous thrift shop in all of Saskatoon). I vascillate between "they're so ugly" and "they're so cool" in my opinion of these pants. One minute, I'm Katharine Hepburn slouching around in "Desk Set", and the next minute I'm sure that my butt is screaming "TanJay"!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

All Blogged Out!

I've been on a blogging frenzy this morning, but everywhere else but here. Can't possibly dredge up any new material right now, so I'll link you to my other efforts.
I wuz here, here, and here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Pancho Villa

It was a cold night for little Mexicans on Hallowe'en, so ours went complete with earflaps and a warm coat under his sarape. The grandmas on the street got a real kick out of him. And, since Auntie from daycare had spent the day drilling good manners into them, Jim got to listen to Sprout charm the candy-giving folks with his pleases and thank yous.

On the Wagon

Not the booze wagon - the crap wagon. I decided, about 10 days ago, to stop eating crap.

Yes, yes, this may indeed turn into Gwen's latest self-improvement project, and may dissolve and be scattered to the wind just like so many other ardently-wished wishes. But I'm doing it anyway.

I am doing it one day at a time, as the anonymouses suggest, and it seems to be working. It helps that I have a friend in OA - overeaters anonymous - with whom I had a fascinating discussion a few weeks ago. She said that after doing some of the OA work, she discovered that she overate as a rebellion against her parents. But who did overeating really hurt? Only herself. I was trying to figure out why I overeat (and I definitely overeat; my metabolism has just allowed me not to pay for it yet). (I have a theory but I haven't yet worked it out completely.)

Anyway, so I resolved to spend a day eating less. No muffin with my mid-morning coffee break. Decaf with my mid-morning coffee break instead of high-test. Absolutely no dipping into the 'emergency' chocolate stash that we have at work. Skip the chocolate bar for dessert after lunch. Skip the ice cream before bed, and have a nice cup of 'sleepytime' tea and toast instead.

And then I did it for another day and then another.

I didn't notice any changes for a few days, but then I suddenly started getting excessively stupid! Unbelievably fuzzy. My caffiene crutch was gone, and I was loose as a goose. So much for 'my child wakes me up 2-3 times every night and it doesn't seem to affect me anymore'. Ha ha ho - it was all a choco-chemical reality. The Mummy walks!

After the initial physiological shock, I'm adjusting, and I'm really starting to feel fabulous. We'll see how far into the Christmas season I get.

Holiday Blog!

We are having a terribly good time in our department at work creating a holiday blog for our friends near and far. I'm going to e-mail our past co-workers about it as soon as I get a chance:

Information Services Holiday Blog

It's giving non-bloggers here a good reason to try it out. Ho ho ho.

Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore...

Last weekend, I purchased the ugliest 70s swag lamp from the Habitat for Humanity Restore. We need to get our back room rewired so the light hangs down over the dining table, but we don't want to spend the money on it right now. Instead of spending $100 on a temporary fix, I decided to find an old swag that plugs into the outlet to try to make it work for cheap.

I struck it 'rich' at the Restore, where they actually had five swags for me to choose from, and all the lighting was 25% off! So, for $7.00, I got the brown wicker upside-down tulip-shaped swag lamp with the giant globe inside. It's ugly, but it works like a damn.

And it makes me giggle. Every time I look at it, I want to sing Nana Mouskouri (sp?)songs. Cumbaya...


After a long hiatus and absolutely no blogging, I am back. Mea maxima culpa.