Monday, February 28, 2011

...And Now For Something Completely Different.

If you saw someone walking down your street dressed like Helena Bonham Carter would you think:
a. This woman is fun-loving and whimsical.  I will ask her in for a cup of tea, or
b. This person probably has a court appointed guardian to control her finances because she is clearly mentally incapacitated. I should lock the front door.



The answer is B. I'm not saying HBC IS crazy, I'm just saying that she dresses like someone who is crazy.

And don't get me started on the hair. I'm itchy just looking at it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Of Methanethiol And Evolution.

Opinions are like farts. If you try and hold them in, you will make yourself ill. The key is to let your opinions and your farts out in small doses and in venues where you are less likely to offend sensitive people. If this isn't possible, just let 'em rip and deal with the consequences.

Today, Imma gonna fart all over my blog.

A few weeks ago I left a comment at Fairly Odd Mother's blog about feeling like the last agnostic, pro-evolution, non-polygamist homeschooler left standing. I received several reassuring emails that I am not alone. There are many homeschooling parents out there who believe in evolution. Parents who read widely on the subjects of science, and theology and write beautiful posts on a wide range of topics. Parents who don't pucker up their sphincters when I say, "it doesn't diminish the power of Christianity or the legitimacy of the Bible, to think of Genesis as allegory."

Creationism (which neo-creationist are trying to rebrand as the equally dumb, but less offensive-sounding "Intelligent Design") is a complete load of bullshit. The world is not 6000 years old, it is 4.54 billion years old. As much as I enjoy The Flintstones, dinosaurs and humans did NOT live at the same time. Modern science is not incompatible with the notion of a supreme being, but rather supports the idea of theistic evolution. Evolutionary biology is not in opposition to the mainstream (read: non fundamentalist) teachings of Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism, or Buddhism, or Hinduism or Confucianism, or Taoism.


Phew.

It feels so good to let that out. However if this post has made you queasy, please don't feel obliged to linger. I'll understand if you want to leave, and never return.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Today was a very long day at the end of a very long week.

Homeschool lessons were suspended this week as I worked on a report for the boys' distributed learning school. It's a small price to pay for the financial and professional support the system supplies, but I find these three times a year deadlines to be immensely stressful. I have no issue with reporting the great strides they've made in the core areas of math, language arts, science and social studies. I falter when it comes to the areas of health and arts. These are the areas that fall to the side as we focus on the things that are interesting and important.

Yesterday I finished off the reporting documents and was free to focus upon today.

Our eldest child participates in a competitive sport, and his club hosted a meet. This necessitated A LOT of work by A LOT of people, one of whom was Mr. Wrath.  He had a long, complicated week at work. After spending hours at his job, he'd come home and spend hours and hours at an assortment of tasks that would have turned me into a blathering, raging, vodka-swelling loon.

My volunteer contribution was 24 muffins for the potluck lunch. I think they were quite delicious, however they did not prove as popular as the tray of Costco muffins. I'm a bit hurt by this. Well, I would be, if I hadn't just eaten two of my leftover muffins with melted butter.

I justify my minimal efforts on the fact that I homeschool. All my powers (both macro and micro) of organization are consumed with planning and teaching. There is nothing left to spare for this -- or any -- organized sport.

I can't help but wonder what excuse I would use if the boys were in a traditional school. I'm sure I could come up with something other than the true reason: I just really don't feel comfortable in the milieu of organized sports. Why are there so many rules and regulations? Is there some guideline that children's enjoyment of a sport is in direct proportion to the amount of stress it creates in the lives of adults? Why can't we all just agree to openly mock the overly-involved sporting parents the way we mock the stage mothers on Toddlers & Tiaras? Why did everyone eat those Costco muffins and not mine? I HAND GRATED those apples, you know!?

That's not to say today wasn't enjoyable. It was tiring, but it wasn't boring. I ate a muffin. Or 12.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pope.

Last week I also cleaned off the shelf above the microwave, home of the Pope Bell:


He serves three functions:
1. making non-Catholic friends and family, stop and wonder if they should draw attention to the unseemliness of my cultural and religious heritage.
2. making me think of my mom who bought this at a garage sale because she knows about -- and is amused by -- point #1.
3. saving me the indignity of yelling when I want the children to come to the dinner table.

As I moved him out of the way of the cleaning cloth, the Pope Bell tintinnabulated1 very quietly. The boys came racing up the stairs.

"Is it dinner time?'
No, I answered
"Can we have cake?"
No. 
"Can you make us pancakes?"
No.
"Pancakes AND bacon?"
No.
"Yes! Bacon!"

I can't decide if this indicates my children are well-trained or underfed. 

| - | - | - | - | - | - | - | - | - | -

1 -- using this word at suggestion of Mr Wrath.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kitchen Party.

I spent five hours on Thursday cleaning out our spice cupboard. The time commitment reflects both the size of the cupboard and it's filthy state.

Later while on the phone with my mother I mentioned this project. She said those kind of cleaning jobs are always the hardest because they take so much effort, and no one really sees or appreciates the outcome. This would be true for some people. But not someone like me, who owns a digital camera and has blog. Here is the after picture:


It didn't occur to me to take a photo of it pre-cleansing, but it was bad. We had multiple containers of cumin and coriander and nutmeg, and three half-used bags of black pepper and four boxes of cream of tartar:


These are remnants from the days when I made play-doh frequently. I threw away the three opened boxes and kept one, but I'm not sure what to use it for. Any suggestions are appreciated.

I've been on a cleaning/tidying spree this week. It started when I found plastic storage tubs for sale. I was inspired to sort out the bathroom cupboards. I did away with my collection of half-used hair products, out-of-date cold medicines, nursing pads and baby change pads. I momentarily considered keeping the three packages of never-used Monistat, that I had stashed away for emergencies. But cooler, non-itchy heads prevailed.


After the spice cupboard I tackled this one:


In this cupboard I found a small tin of instant coffee that I bought in Greece in 1995:


I still do not understand why during my three weeks in Greece I couldn't find a single decent cup of coffee. Italy and Turkey are renowned for their excellent coffee culture, but Greece? In Greece, all I could get were tepid cups of instant. I bought this tin because if I was going to have crappy coffee I was going to save money and make it at the youth hostel.

Regardless, I am charmed by this tin. Both by the Greek letters AND the fact that it looks like it was made in the 60s.

Now seems like an excellent time to confess to the perfect strangers of the internet my long held belief that my family has an inappropriate fondness for bowls:


Five types of bowls. Two types of plates. Can you tell we really like stews and cereal?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Feminist Is Born.

The day of my kindergarten class photos, I joined my classmates as we walked single file down the hall to the school's cafeteria. We took turns sitting in an old desk with a scarred, wooden top (with a hole for an inkwell) and wrought iron legs, situated in front of backdrop of old books.

When my turn came, the photographer attempted to coax a smile from me with a line he'd probably used countless times before and after: How many boyfriends do you have?

Evidently, I found this inquiry to be highly inappropriate:


"Shut up, you dirty ol' perv, and take the damn photo."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cake.

Nine years ago at this very moment I was whacked out of my skull on demerol.  Not just for kicks, mind you, but because I was birthing a baby. It took 17 hours before my 8 lbs, 13 ounces baby made his debut. 7 lbs of that was head, by the way.

I was five hours into labour (or maybe it was 45 minutes, or 3 seconds -- I don't know. I was on DRUGS!) when I had an epidural. "The nurses think you might need one," said my kind, but far too polite doctor. I agreed, because I could tell that my screaming/mooing whilst vomiting routine had long since lost it's appeal for the nursing staff.

The anesthesiologist arrived, and I was handed a clip board with a consent form. I picked up the pen and looked at the paper for almost a minute.

"Honey, you need to sign right there," Mr Wrath, assuming I had fallen into a drug-induced, moo-filled coma, pointed to the bottom of the page.

I snarled at his patronizing tone, "I know. It's a legal document, I'm not going to sign it without reading it first."

My doctor said, "Don't bother. You're under the influence of narcotics so the damn thing wouldn't hold up in a court of law."

"Bring it on!" I put pen to paper, while the anesthesiologist went white at the prospect of a future malpractice suit. 

My husband's favourite story of this day is how the baby (born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck) was immediately shuffled across the birthing suit to the french-fry warmer (I'm pretty sure this isn't the real name for this piece of equipment) and an oxygen mask was placed over his mouth. It took the doctor a few seconds to realize the oxygen tank wasn't opened and then with a flick of the switch our baby went from blue to pink, from quiet to screaming. I remember none of this because I had zoned out. The demerol had long since worn off, replaced by sheer exhaustion.

Fast forward 9 years. Turns out that big head was filled with big brains. He's a verbose, science-loving, Trekkie-in-training, imaginative, highly-competitive, speedskating, padawan learner. He's celebrating with Ben-10 toys, and lego and a Guinness-chocolate cake that his daddy made:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cupid Is As Cupid Does.

I have a theory that the importance people place on Valentine's Day is inversely proportional to the stability of their romantic relationship.

That is to say that now that I'm happily married I don't care about Valentine's Day nearly as much as I did back when I was single. And desperate. I'm sure that I am not the only woman who in her late teens or early twenties stuck it out in a doomed relationship just so they didn't have to go through the shame of being alone on Valentine's Day.  Am I?


I can only clearly remember three Valentine's Days.

Last year when I gave my husband a Starbucks coffee mug. Mr. Wrath gave me a Starbucks compilation cd of love songs. This is what happens when you spend February 13 hanging out at airports.

I also remember my first Valentine's Day with Mr. Wrath. We instituted a rule to spend less than $15. I bought him a Stuart McLean book and a finger puppet of a bird. I can't remember what he got me. Neither can he. What I do remember is how a coworker reacted to this meager gift exchange. Her plans were decidedly more grand: dinner out at a fancy restaurant with her boyfriend, a night at a five star hotel. He was going to give her jewellery. I had a pretty good idea what she was going to give him.

The third Valentine's Day was the aforementioned staying-together-just-so-I'm-not-alone year when I was 21. I went for dinner with the douche man-child person I was dating. I had a steak and a beer. He had white wine and a salad. Those food orders speak volumes, yes? Mine says: I'm not even going to try and impress you with my daintiness. His says: I'm a self-important douche.  When the evening was over, I felt relief that I'd made it through the triad of holidays that all single women dread. I dumped the douche a few weeks later.

As for this year, Mr. Wrath and I placed an order for more David's Tea. I'm most excited to sample their variety of Lapsang Souchong. It's the tea Hercule Poirot drinks!

So what are your plans for this Valentine's Day? Do you go all out? Do you just ignore the day?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eat The Rich.

I like celebrity gossip. I'm not going to try and justify this interest using sports analogies or pop-psychology or sociological and anthropological double talk. I simply enjoy judging the lives of rich, privileged people.

I do however think that not all celebrity is gossip is created equally. Some stories are life affirming or inspiring, while others are demoralizing.

In the former category I include these types of fun/lite/distracting stories:

√ Pregnancies,
√ New Babies: I breathe a sigh of relief every time a new celebrity baby is given a proper name (Christina Applegate's Sadie Grace). But even if the child is given something awful (Amy Adams' Aviana Olea Le Gallo) I'm still happy,
√ Weddings: Yes, I'll be watching the Royal Wedding in April,
√ Engagements: It's surprising how often celebrity engagements frequently do not culminate in an actual wedding,
√ Celebrities using their fame for charitable causes. All hail the queen of do-gooders: Angelina Jolie!,
√ Plastic surgery: the smaller Natalie Portman's nose becomes, the less I like her,


√ Stories mocking Scientologists: it's a cult! A cult based on an alien invasion of planet Earth and the reincarnation of clams. I find it amusing when Scientologists get knocked about by the press,
√ Deaths of natural causes after a long life,
√ Stories of newly found sobriety, and
√ Ugly dresses at award ceremonies.

Then there are the kind of stories that are boring or mean or depressing:

√ Movie premiers. Uh. Who cares?,
√ What the children of celebrities are wearing,
√ Break ups or divorces, especially if they involve children or infidelty,
√ Celebrities drinking and driving. I'm so disappointed in Alan Tudyk,
√ Stories about Sarah Palin or her children saying or doing something stupid. She's dumb. Her kids are dumb. And dumb people still love her. This just makes me depressed,
√ Custody battles. As an aside: Is  Halle Berry certifiable or does she just need to hire a new publicist?,
√ Anything to do with Oprah,
√ Anything that has anything to do with any reality tv star,
√ Jennifer Aniston and her shrivelled up ovaries on vacation in Mexico drinking and smoking and suntanning,

√ Articles that are about musicians. Especially if they are named Bieber, Gaga, or Miley,
√ Revising the details of Michael Jackson's life and trying to convince people he wasn't a pedophile who preyed on children. He was. He did. The. End.,
√ Deaths by unnatural causes after a short life,
√ Public intoxication and/or mental illness,
√ Cooch flashing. This seems to be a waning trend. Thank heavens, and
√ Kanye West. Why is he still famous?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Usage Based Billing.


On January 25, 2011, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (aka CRTC) approved Bell Canada's request for usage-based billing for internet access. There's been a lot of chatter about this online.

It now looks like the decision may be rescinded, but I'm still going to send letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Industry Tony Clement's office, my own Member of Parliament (even though he's buggered off and his office is only being manned by clerical staff), and CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein. I hope others will follow through with their brave talk online by sending these officials letters. 


Here's mine:

• • •
Stephen Harper, MP
House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

February 15, 2011

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Re: Telecom Decision CRTC 2011-44.

I strongly oppose the recent Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ruling permitting UBB by telecoms.

Bell Canada’s proposal to limit alleged bandwidth abuse, is not about recouping costs (because $2.00/GB is $1.98 above their real costs). They want to force Canadians away from their keyboards and back to their chesterfields and their satellite tv receivers. Yes, this is all about Bell Canada attempting to prop up their main revenue stream: the increasingly obsolete distribution system of satellite television. It is not appropriate for the CRTC to bolster the profit margins of an already successful company just because fifteen years ago Bell Canada misinterpreted the future of entertainment.

It is obvious that the CRTC does not understand the myriad of ways Canadians use the internet today. Chairman von Finklestein also doesn’t appear to appreciate how vital the internet will become for Canadians (of all ages, and income levels) in the very near future.

On a personal level, the fee model will have an adverse effect on my family. We live in an isolated rural area. The internet is integral to our quality of life. We use it for banking, shopping, accessing the news, borrowing library resources, watching television, buying music, playing games and communicating with friends and family. We will not be able to afford these options if our service provider adopts UBB.

In addition, our sons are registered with a Distributed Learning school in British Columbia. They use the internet to research projects, download textbooks, watch educational videos, attend teleconferences, and participate in electronic classes with their teacher. Increased fees for usage will limit my sons’ educational opportunities.

Please help bring an end to Telecom Decision CRTC 2011-44.

Sincerely,


Nan | Wrath Of Mom