Monday, May 30, 2011

This is my hood.

This is the huge ornamental crab-apple tree flowering in my yard today. It's a beaut. And it smells drunk. Seriously. Anyway, what you can't see or hear are the bees. LOTS OF BEES.

I don't have a problem with bees. Bees essentially keep the planet alive. Therefore bees are good, except for the timing. I happened to read this just before I discovered the bees: Bee swarm shuts down portion of Ottawa.

And now I'm wondering: who tells bees what to do?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Zoetic (Sunday Lunch)

Home-made spinach pita pizza with
jalapeƱos & portabella mushrooms.
It's Sunday afternoon and I'm waiting for my pita pizza to cool.

The fiddlehead ferns are standing tall in our front yard. My new tree is flowering. Our apple trees are blooming too. My wife and I are planting the garden today: beets and herbs and carrots and tomatoes and spinach.

The light today reminds me of my childhood days and my cousins Laurel and Jo and the way we would putter around my yard in Saskatchewan and examine ant hills and climb trees and catch frogs and build forts and run zigzags through the blankets on the clothesline.

"You must have a garden. Wherever you are." ~from Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Friday, May 27, 2011

How To?

This is my nemesis new dishwasher.
I installed my new dishwasher by MYSELF. And in ten easy DIY steps I learned a &#%!ng important lesson.

How to Install a Dishwasher
1. Eat a bag of Aero Bubbles and wait until 8:00 in the evening to begin.
2. Read the handy instructions on how to remove the new dishwasher from the packing box. Wow. Thank goodness for those.
3. Simultaneously relieve and prolong the anxiety by blogging about the forthcoming project.
4. Tweet about it.
5. Watch how-to YouTube videos.
6. Read the actual instructions.
7. Spend two hours revising the instructions and troubleshooting. Sweat. Improvise. Turn off the wrong breaker. Zap yourself. Turn off all the power. Fight with a fading flashlight. Sweat. Test power. Check. Double check all the hoses.
8. Suddenly realize with complete clarity and confidence: I installed my new dishwasher and I am positive it is going to work!!! Seriously. Holy crap.
9. Open interior to remove the packing material to allow for a test run. Pull out the top rack and notice that it sticks. Look inside at the top of the new dishwasher and discover the interior is damaged beyond repair and it will have to be returned. Suddenly realize the entire two hours was an utter waste of time.
10. Go lie down and cry for a while.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

Dear People who box dishwashers,
Thank you for providing instructions as to how to remove it from the box.
Sincerely condescended to,
                                     me
Okay. In this box is our new dishwasher. I'm about to install it. 'Cause I'm suddenly handy-man-like (and I can even display my butt-crack if necessary). AAAAND this DIY project is going to go so well and so smoothly that my wife won't tease me when she returns home and we won't have to replace the ceiling in the basement because water leaked there all night yesterday. (Oh yeah, too late; that already happened.) This project is GOING TO BE SUCH A SUCCESS that I suspect someone will soon offer me a show on HGTV, working title: Hot Fat Guy Googles How to do Stuff.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Things that are most likely the devil:

If this renovation photo of the floor
in my front entry were a video there
would be lots of swearing. Just sayin.'
OLD LINOLEUM GLUE!

Here's what the floor guy told me yesterday:
1. My house is not square.
2. My house requires a lot of extra sub-floor cutting. (Cha-ching!)
3. He has three kids which he referred to quite affectionately as Psycho, Princess and Troublemaker. (By this point I had grown to appreciate his candid ways.)
4. He won't be finished until Thursday.
5. His daughter graduates from high school on Monday so he can't come on Thursday.
5. He will send another guy.
6. Update: he will bring another guy tomorrow.
7. He can't put a sub-floor in my front entry because the transition to the stairs wouldn't work with the differing heights so he told me I needed to get the glue off. (Thus I just spent the last three hours scraping glue.)
8. He also told me there probably isn't any asbestos in that old glue but suggested that I wet it down as I work, just in case. (ASBESTOS?!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Zoetic (Get Creative Edition)

Can you smell the S'mores?

























There are currently several wildfires burning in Alberta so what's a Canadian to do when there's a fire ban? Play with fire of course. And enjoy the day anyway.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wordfuse (Pitiful Attempt Edition)

blundertaking (noun): blunder + undertaking = the act or endeavor of one who embarks on a task, project or pursuit that he or she is almost surely doomed to screw up; however, the blundertaker, compelled by the remote possibility of success (aka a 1% chance), feels driven to attempt anyway. See here and here. And see here as I continue to attempt do-it-yourself plumbing today. 


(Maybe say a prayer.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

I am the pipe that defeated you.
Neener Neener.
when one pipe won't fit over the pipe it's supposed to fit over. Grrrr....

"If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber." ~Albert Einstein

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zoetic (Gratitude)

"Her early leaf's a flower, but only so an hour."
~Robert Frost




















My little family and I visited beautiful Prince Edward Island one summer and marveled at the huge maple leaves we found there. So we brought one home in a suitcase pressed between the pages of a book. Last fall, it began to fall apart. My kids wouldn't let me throw it away. So I drew it on lino and made an ink print of it so we could have that leaf forever. In fact, we could have hundreds of them if we wanted.

This leaf is memory. It's a family experience preserved. It's also a promise.

So much has changed since then but this leaf, just ink printed on paper, remains. Ink on paper...it's a little story itself, isn't it?

And this leaf will always be green. It will always be new. Like today. Today is green and golden. Wide and open. And for that, I'm grateful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tic-Noughts-Ozees!

Image from here.
P.S. These are not shooter glasses.
But they could be I guess.
Does anyone play Xs & Os anymore? I realized recently that I never taught my kids how to play tic-tac-toe. Whoa. They're teens now. That's pretty neglectful isn't it? I guess stuff was on TV all those years. Oh well. Yet another coffin in my hit the parenting nail on the hole in my head or whatever cliche works here.

Are you thinking, what's the big deal? I know. I know. It's an easy game. Maybe even a tad boring? It might build a few more synapses to play Battleship or even dress-up. (I did play those with my kids.) But considering that kids tend to default to games such as flinging sand at each other when they're unoccupied, it's a safe game and a simple game that can even be played IN the sandbox. I say teach it to your kids.

Why? Well. I wasted an hour researching it and now I'm wasting your time too...Did you know that there are 255,168 tic-tac-toe game combinations? (Please pause here for a moment and wonder about the dude who added this information to Wikipedia; I can so relate to him). It's existed since the first century BC. And it obviously teaches strategy. And social skills. And stuff. But more than any of this, if only I had known what it's called in other countries. Love these:

Asia: Wick Wack Woe!
UK: Noughts and Crosses!
Ireland: Xees and Ozees!

Words always spike my pilot light but yeah, I know I keep having this nagging thought...it's still just too easy. So why do I continue to blather on about this? Recently I was asked to recommend my favourite game. Here's the thought process that ensued:

Is it when my teens tell me half-truths? No.
Is it the passive-aggressive games I am forced to play with people at work sometimes? No.
Is it the way I avoid talking to my wife about my feelings and then grow bitter that she can't read my mind? No.
My favourite, favourite game is actually based on Xs & Os. It's Gobblet! YES.

Sadly though, my teens won't play it with me anymore. Why? Because I MUST WIN!

Sorry but I'm not one of those types of parents who let their kids win. However, please don't assume I am the overly competitive type... *tries to prevent the following conversation from happening in my head: "Yes you are." "No I'm not." "Are so." "Are not."*

Oh peeps, I josh. I'm truly not very competitive. Well maybe with some things. Competitive sports? Meh. Competitive cooking? Maybe. Competitive art show? BRING IT ON! Competitive Gobblet? BARE TEETH & MAKE PRO-WRESTLER FACES AND STRUT AROUND.

See. Like for all of us it just depends. As for the game of GOBBLET? I'm COMPETITIVE squared, multiplied by pi. (I don't really know what that means but I'm trying to say that with this game, I whoop yo ass.)

And finally, this brings me to my point. (Whoa. Must work on summarization skills eh?) Go get Gobblet.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Define success. Define failure.

Success? 
Inner satisfaction. 
Outer satisfaction. 
Something learned. 
Something relearned. 
Achievement, mine or others.
Both.
Alignment.
Personal.
Professional.
Growth.
When you want to stare at something. 
Or run your fingers along it. 
Pride. 
Surprise. 
Validation. 
Product. 
More process. 
Leads you somewhere surprisingly inspiring. 
Sweet.
Sweat. 
Meant to be shared.
Given.
Opens windows. 
Opens doors.
Abundantly unseen.
Fleeting.

Failure? 
Opportunity.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wordfuse (What Sucks Edition)

AKA someone's sucking our wallets dry again.
I suspect it hasn’t even crossed your mind but gas prices are a tad high. And rising! No I don’t imagine anyone’s noticed. 



Anyway, I’ve been trying to determine why. So sometimes news programs discuss this issue. That’s informative. And entertaining too. People are interviewed and stuff. It’s especially interesting when they ask gas companies to explain it. Hmm. Doesn’t that seem like a conflict of interest? A tad phony? Words like supply and demand are bantered about like punchlines. But the joke doesn't ring true to me.

So I google it. Ahhhh. Then it all becomes clear. Like fog. In the rain. After midnight. In a power outage. In deep space. In a black hole.

I like to fancy myself as a more than a doofus now and then and considering I have some higher education, shouldn’t I be able to understand why gas prices are so high? The long answer: nope. So therefore I’m forced to devise my own theories based on events that are clearly linked:

~Natural disasters disrupt millions throughout the world. Gas goes up.
~War in Libya. Gas goes up.
~Conflicts in Syria continue. Gas goes up.
~Osama bin Laden is killed; terrorists vow revenge. Gas goes up.
~The Canadian government decides to have an inquiry regarding high gas prices. Gas goes up.
~Someone claims the world is going to end next Saturday. Gas goes up.
~Oprah ends her show. Gas goes up.
~Arnold Schwarzenegger splits with his wife after 25 years of marriage. Gas goes up.
~Charlie Sheen says something stupid. Gas goes up.
~Donald Trump says something stupid. Gas goes up.
~An oil baron needs to buy another airline or maybe Mexico or something to make himself even more rich. Gas goes up.
~Uh oh. I just realized that by posting this...yup, you guessed it: gas goes up. 

Wordfuse (Schadenfreude Edition)

knee smirk / knee smirk reaction (noun): those moments when, despite one's best efforts to remain straight-faced, it is impossible not to smile (and probably laugh) even though it may be a tad insensitive to do so. AKA cracking up at someone else's Schleprock moment. See this poor guy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Necessary.

Seeds hide orchards.
Sometimes random and shocking and hurtful things just seem to happen. And those events seem so pointless and overwhelming and frustrating. Mother's Day last year was awful. For my wife and for me. I couldn't even write about it. And I still can't. Not yet. It doesn't matter anyway; it's not the point of this. We've all had heartbreaking experiences. Sometimes what can we do but cry?

And then a year goes by.

This Mother's Day was much different. I planted a tree. It was not intended to be symbolic. It had nothing to do with my Mom or my wife or with anything really. Our Mayday was dying. I knew I had to remove it but, maybe we could save it somehow? For the past ten years, that tree would typically bud close to my daughter's birthday in April and flower by my son's birthday in May. That tree meant something to me. And everything in life is supposed to mean something, isn't it?

But my son and I cut it down, chopped out the roots with an axe. It was all so violent. And I realize now, necessary.

Just like last year. Necessary.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Those are supposed to be balloons.

This is supposed to be me. Those are my
eyebrows, my blue eyes and that is my bum-chin.
In real life I'm not so skinny. Sigh.
(And I have another arm, etc.)
Many people I know are quick to comment that they can't even draw stickmen.

Bullstick.

Most people can draw the basics; they just don't take the time to practice. I however, love to draw, even stickmen. But as you can see, stickmen are not exactly my medium.

However, there is someone I know, someone who's celebrating a birthday today, and his medium is definitely stickmen and even, ahem, stickwomen. See for yourself. Aaaand he can write too. Did I mention he lives in the Caribbean? Yeah I know. It would be easy to hate him. But I've tried. And I just can't. He's a good man. Happy Birthday Vinny C.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Secret Departments?

Just like my showdown
(except not).
Based on this recent and shockingly unexpected outcome, I felt inspired to continue my phone-the-service-provider-rampage. So I contacted my satellite TV company.

Before I phoned, I chatted on their website with "Marites B." Like me, you might wonder, why the B? What are the odds that there were two ladies named Marites working there? Doubtful. I pushed this extraneous thought away (as well as a nagging feeling that I was chatting with an inmate in orange coveralls named Larry) and explained that I had received a flyer from one of their competitors offering a MAJOR deal.

Marites B didn't seem impressed.

[cue theme music from Clint Eastwood's The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly]: "I am prepared to CANCEL my satellite service." OH YES I SAID THAT. YES. I. DID. MARITES B! CHECKMATE!

*crickets*

A disconcerting three minutes later Marites B finally responded with this:
"To cancel your TV services, please call 1 888 bla-blah...."

WHAT?!

So I explained to Marites B just how this was going down but I communicated in question form because I'm tricky like that: "So are you saying you don't have any special offers? You're suggesting I go with another service provider?"

Marites B: "No. Only the loyalty department can match the offers [sic] that was given to you."

The loyalty department? WTH? They have a loyalty department?

(I was suddenly reminded of the time, as a young man, I braved getting stabbed to enter a skeevy bar to purchase off-sale beer and so I nervously skulked may way through the drunks to the counter and asked for a 24-case but the grizzled bartender made no reply, only pointed to the other end of the bar so I slinked over to where he pointed and five seconds later the same man moved to that location and said, "What the f#!& duh-ya want?").

So I phoned their 1-888 number but this covert "loyalty department" wasn't among the automated voice choices until I swear that it remarked, "You're still on the phone? Fine. Press 5 for all other inquiries aka the secret loyalty department."

Suddenly, a groggy voice: "Hello. My name is Shannon. How did you get this number? No one is supposed to know about this number. I bet Marites B screwed up again and told you we have a loyalty department. FRICK! NO ONE IS SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LOYALTY DEPARTMENT! How may I help you?"

Ten minutes later, my bill was lower, I had more TV channels, an HDTV/PVR receiver and a better deal than the other satellite company plus one nagging thought: why is all this awesomeness happening to me?!

(There may or may not have been hopping at this point. Just sayin'.)

And now you too know about the shhhh-secret-hidden-in-the-basement-with-only-one-phone-loyalty-department. You know what this means right? Go. Kick. Some. TV. Ass. Peeps. Meanwhile, I will be contacting Michael Moore.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Boy Who Cried...

Uh, this post has nothing to do with Team Jakeward.
Instead, it's a monthly meme: 

the Character Assassination Carousel.
The brainchild of the the ever-clever Ninja Mom
 bloggers are invited to challenge notions regarding
 children's lit. AKA kids' lit can be freaky.
 Last month Beta Dad took a stab.
In June see what Alicia does with this meme.
Veritable touchstones of moral development, who would possibly criticize Aesop's Fables?

Uh. I would.

Okay. I'll back down a bit. I can't criticize all of them. Just one. Arguably the most famous one: The Boy who Cried Wolf

For discussion sake one could re-read the story or perhaps allow me to summarize it in two words: kids lie.

*blanching* WHAT?! Kids lie? Well of course they do. But surely not my kids. Other kids lie, but not my kids! Why would my kids lie? We have a good relationship. We talk all the time. We are so close. *blinks*

Famous last words. Anyway, more on that later.

First, let's examine this fable in a series of questions and answers:

Q: What in hell possessed a village to put one kid in charge of all of the sheep, their very livelihood? What? Gary Busey wasn't available?
A: Yeah, yeah. I know. I'm not supposed to interpret a fable literally but come on. This was mistake #1.

Q: After he's proven unreliable, irresponsible and a narcissist, why give him a THIRD CHANCE?
A: Basically a rhetorical question therefore, last time I checked, no answer required.

Q: Does it scare anyone else that nobody checked on the kid the third time? Sure, he was a liar, but who abandons a kid screaming WOLF?! And who's going to explain it to the authorities that they were just "teaching him a lesson" when the forensics department finds his left elbow?
A: This is creepy. It's like a page torn from the Lizzie Borden Handbook for Parents.

Q: Does this story really teach that "no one believes a liar, even when he is telling the truth?"
A: Doubtful. Here's what I think it teaches kids instead: never tell the same lie twice. (I suspect the boy who cried wolf grew up to become Jack in Lord of the Flies.)

Q: And finally, who cares?
A: I do. Why? Three reasons:

1. I detest when kids claim to be bored and they want adults to do something about it. I believe this is why the expression "go fly a kite" exists. Kids do not lack imagination. Foster curiosity and creativity. Help them develop their own ways to cope with so-called boredom which, in most cases, it just an excuse to be lazy.

2. We must be realistic about our little brats angels. They lie. Think about it. Did you? Look around: our immediate environment is based on lies. Ever watch a TV commercial? Isn't the story about Washington being "unable to tell a lie" a complete fabrication? And who teaches them to lie? We do. Tooth fairy anyone? Don't we expect them to lie when Grandma asks them if they like school?

3. Sadly, this story teaches that lying is powerful. Which it is. But it's so destructive too. I know this because I WAS The Little Prick Who Cried Wolf (alternate title). I gorged on that power as a kid. I lied so much people asked my mother when her baby was due: the uh, nonexistent baby I told everyone at school she was expecting. (Just imagine that P-T interview.) Lying is disrespect. Theft. It exploits people. It's passive-aggressive. Manipulative. It puts everything in doubt. It's insidious. We harm others and ourselves when we lie. Eric Hoffer said, "We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves." The Boy Who Cried Wolf misses the real teachable moment: honesty is the real power. Why not demonstrate the consequences and rewards of telling the truth instead? Truth inspires people. Real honesty heals. That's the lesson kids need to hear. Again and again.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wordfuse (World Events Edition)

"Five great enemies to peace inhabit within us:
avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride.
If those enemies were to be banished, we should
infallibly enjoy perpetual peace." ~Petrarch
triumphew! (interjection):  a long overdue expression of relief at hearing the news that Osama bin Laden's reign of terror is finally over. Please?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

This sort of thing happens to me a lot. Sigh.
when the new google doodle diverts one's attention so thoroughly that one forgets what one planned to search for.



P.S. Hey Google? Why is there no Canadian/international version of this terrific contest (which has some pretty sweet prizes and does something I love: fosters arts education).

And another thing: what was I about to search for 25 minutes ago?
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