Monday, April 30, 2007

How to be Good which a confusing and exasperating trip to the grocery store is described in great and only slightly fictionalized detail... yes, I know this has been done before, and by much better writers than me, but it's MY blog so I get to do it too....

Purchasing groceries has become so complicated lately, and not just because I'm too embarrassed to return standing firm in my decision to boycott Stupidstore. Our food shopping trip last Saturday was a true exercise in 21st century guilt and uncertainty. Who would have thought that good old Harry's Foods could bring out such an stimulating range of neurotic emotion?

As I remember, we wheeled into the fruit and veggie section first.

"Well, I really think we have to start going 100% organic, for the kids' sakes," I said firmly. "All those pesticides, they're just not good for them."

"I don't know," said Mr. IQ, looking worried, "the organic stuff is pretty expensive."

"Are you saying we should save some pennies and risk giving our babies cancer?" I demanded.

"Well, no, but... "

"There you are then!" I said, bustling over to the organic section.

"I want grapes!" said High Intensity.

"Sure!" I said cheerily, and then stopped dead in my tracks. A small tray containing maybe 20 grapes was $7.99. "Ughhfkkgahh" I choked out, unable to speak properly. Luckily Mr. IQ jumped in to save me.

"We can't buy organic food," he said, "it's all flown in from thousands of miles away. It's not produced locally."

I looked at him gratefully. "Yah, think of the fossil fuels being used!"

"That's definitely not something we should be supporting."

"So true," I said. Slowly I scanned the aisles. "But then what...."

"No produce!" declared Mr. IQ decisively. Quickly he moved the cart towards the bakery section. "How's about we buys a pie?"

I snorted. We are not pie-buying people, not even at Thanksgiving. "I don't think so," I said. "Get some bread."

"But wheat is grown with pesticides too..."

"I know but... you know.... sandwiches..." I said helplessly. Mr. IQ grabbed a loaf off the shelf.

"Not that one!" I said, "It has to be whole wheat!"

"This is whole wheat!" said Mr. IQ, confused. "100% whole wheat, look, it says on the label."

"I know, but according to the CBC, that kind of whole wheat is just like white bread. The labels are very misleading. You have to get... WHOLE whole wheat."


"Um, I don't remember exactly," I said, not wanting to admit that I had turned off the radio discussion to play my Dr. Hook CD. "But just because it says whole wheat doesn't mean it actually is. You have to... look for grains or something."

"Oh for fuck's sake..." Silently, we scoured the bread aisles for WHOLE whole wheat.

"How about this one," asked Mr. IQ, holding up a loaf. Carefully, we inspected it. "Look, there's a grain," he said pointing. On the crust there was a lump of some kind.

"Is that a fiber-filled, colon cancer-fighting lump? Or a white bread lump?" I asked suspiciously.

"I don't know!" said Mr. IQ, poking it tentatively with his finger. That got High Intensity's attention.

"You touched it, now you have to take it!" she said sternly.

"Why?" asked Mr. IQ.

"Germs, dad," she said. She didn't add "Duh" but she might as well have, it was pretty obvious she was thinking it.

"Fine, we'll take it," I said, grabbing it and throwing it into the cart, despite my conflicted emotions. "Where to next?"

"Let's stay here," said High Intensity. "Can we get a cake?"

In the meat section, Mr. IQ's eyes glazed over a bit as he stared at the steaks.

"We should have a BBQ now that spring is finally here," he said.

"Red meat!!" I said, "are you crazy?"

"But you turn into a limp, lifeless worm if you don't eat red meat occasionally," he said, holding the steaks close to his chest defiantly. He didn't add, "And as cranky as a three-balled rhinoceros," but he sure as hell wanted to.

"Yes, but the steroids will give us breast and prostate cancer," I said primly.

"And I'll start menstruating when I'm seven," piped in High Intensity helpfully. No, of course she didn't say this. I whispered it in his ear.

"Fine," said Mr. IQ, hastily putting the meat back, "we'll get chicken instead."

"We certainly will not!!" I said, "I read somewhere that there's arsenic in chicken feed, we can't risk feeding that to the kids!"

"Okay, fish then. How about salmon? Salmon is a super-food: It has Omega-3 fatty acids!"

"But farmed salmon has parasitic lice-y type things growing on them."

"Wild salmon then. "

"Wild salmon is endangered."


"Hello mercury poisoning!"

"Luncheon meats?"

"Killer nitrites."

"Cheese, and we can make pasta."

"Saturated fat city, dude. You'd have a heart attack before the meal was over. Besides, milk products cause osteoporosis."

A little tic was starting to become noticeable around Mr. IQ's left eye.

"Get out of here!" he said, "They're full of calcium!"

"I know, but it doesn't matter. That "good for bones" thing is just a big lie being promoted by the dairy farmers. It's actually the vegans who end up with the strongest bones in old age."

"Look, we managed to get bread, can we just find something to put on it?" he asked piteously, "I mean, I'm totally starving."

"Well, uh, I was thinking of some nice tofu."


"Yah, I saw a recipe, you just mush it up, and, uh, add some spices and it's supposed to be really... delicious."

"But tofu has estrogen in it."


Mr. IQ's voice lowered to a whisper. "Man boobs," he hissed worriedly, "Could... could eating it give me man boobs?"

Half an hour later, our one loaf of bread was starting to look pretty lonely in the cart.

"Let's just circle around one more time," I said, ever the optimist, "there must be SOMETHING we can buy."

"Like maybe something like potato chips," grumbled High Intensity


"Good idea," I said, "but, uh, can we go by the baby section first?"

"And the candy aisle?" asked High Intensity.

In the baby aisle we didn't make eye contact as I grabbed a box of environmentally destructive disposable diapers.

"Those stay in the ground forever you know," said High Intensity, having been fed all the propaganda by her school last week during Earth day celebrations.

"Hey! That's pretty smart!" said Mr. IQ.

I made a panicked noise. "DON'T CALL HER SMART!!" I whispered.

"Why not?" he asked.

"According to this article I read, telling kids they're smart just kills their work ethic and sets them up for failure!!"

Mr. IQ looked slightly ill.

We paid for the diapers and headed out into the wrinkle-creating, skin cancer-causing/vitamin D forming, cancer PREVENTING sunshine. Then we got into our fossil fuel-consuming, greenhouse gas producing/absolutely fucking necessary vehicle and headed for home. Unhappily, we split the loaf of bread for dinner. Then Mr. IQ broke down at midnight and ordered pizza. It was totally delicious.

As that old wicked witch would say: "Oh, what a world, what a world."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Oh So Tired

...hey, I kind of like it when the font is screaming at you, it makes it look like I've gone insane!!!!...

We had a playdate here yesterday. "Playdate." The first hundred times I used that word I said it smirking, my fingers making little quotation marks in the air to show how dumb and corny I thought it was. Now it's part of my vocabulary, said more with a shudder of horror than with amusement. The mother was very nice, and thoughtfully injected her daughter with a triple dose of speed and amphetamines before she dropped the kid off, just to ensure we'd all have a really good visit. I shall be sure to return the favour the next time I dump High Intensity off at her place. It's really great the way mothers look out for each other these days.

Actually, it was a relatively short playdate, lasting only about an hour. They spent the majority of the time eating a box of these weird sausage casing-enclosed popsicles I picked up in Chinatown, which I threw at them about 15 minutes into the date because they were already screaming at each other and I just WASN'T IN THE MOOD. And don't you all be thinking to yourself, "And she calls herself a TEACHER????" I teach civilized TEENAGERS not wild pre-school animals, OK? Anyway, they split the box, and when the mother came to pick up her kid I was lying limply on the front steps and the two of them were chasing each other around the pine tree in hyper-crazy circles. The lawn was strewn with what looked like hundreds of used condoms, foreshadowing, perhaps, the parties they'll be having ten years from now. "They're Chinese popsicle wrappers," I explained, but I think the mother thought I was speaking euphemistically because she gave me a funny look. Hopefully she now thinks I'm crazy and incompetent and won't entrust the care of her daughter to me again. Ha, who am I kidding? She'd do anything for an hour's free time, she doesn't care what psycho is taking care of her kid. I know this to be true, because I feel the same way.

Mental fatigue is wearing me down. As she grows older, Baby Fangs is getting more and more pissy about being left alone on the floor with a bottle of Windex for company. High Intensity is always demanding, and while part of me, I can assure you, treasures this time I have with her, part of me is always screaming inwardly, "GIVE ME A BREAK ALREADY!! I JUST WANT HALF AN HOUR TO MYSELF!! IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?" And everything, everything that I do occurs in these horrible, monotonous, frustrating cycles that I can't seem to break free of. Cycles like:

-The Cleaning Cycle-

1. Tidy room
2. Tidy another room
3. Return to first room and tidy again
4. Bang head against door
5. Repeat

-The Personal Hygiene Cycle-

1. Wash and put on clean(ish) clothes
2. Bravely endure puking and/or diaper malfunctioning and/or crazy crafting-experiment- gone-awry scenario
3. Moan a bit
4. Repeat

-The High Intensity Cycle-

1. Hear screams
2. Calmly deal with it
3. Hear more screams
4. Less calmly deal with it
5. Hear hysterical "Old Porky is off to the Vienna Sausage Factory" type screams
6. Snap
7. Room banishment/sobbing
8. Repeat

-The Brain-Numbing, Don't-Have-to-Think, Cheezy 70's Music Cycle-

1. Play Doctor Hook's Greatest Hits CD
2. Feel pathetic
3. Reminisce about good-bye party in S. Korea when forced by lovely post office students to get on stage and perform karaoke version of Sharing the Night Together (oooh-yah, all right) without being allowed to get mercifully drunk first
4. Quiver with embarrassment
5. Watch with fondness as High Intensity gets down to Sexy Eyes
6. Realize she's going to be like those losers in junior high who were into Elvis because that's all their parents listened to
7. Feel guilt
8. Repeat

Actually, it's this last cycle that really gets me down. Listening to crap because it's all my poor overloaded brain can deal with means that I'm really in a bad place. But lucky for me, I have a daughter who is not completely unsympathetic to my situation. The other day I was in her room and we were drawing together, and suddenly I closed my eyes and rested my head on her bed. She looked up from what she was doing and stared at me with a concerned expression. "Do you feel," she asked curiously, "like a dog? A dog on a scale that's about to die?"

"Yes, exactly like that."

"I thought so," she said, and let me rest quietly for at least two minutes.

It was a nice break.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunday Night Office Update

...well, except that I'm posting this on Tuesday morning: I really need to learn how to post pictures by myself...also, I can't seem to get the font size to calm down here...damn it, I really need to take a computer course...

hen I was in grade six, my teacher, Ms Y, got the brilliant idea to have me and Chris Badboy, the two class slobs, share a desk together. The idea was for us to wallow together for a while in our collective sordid mess until one, or both of us, cracked. She figured when we hit the inevitable rock bottom we'd come to our senses, realize this was no way to live, and together figure out a way to spend the rest of the school year in organized harmony. It did not work out. We hit rock bottom on the second day, and stayed there, week after week, month after nightmarish month. It would have been bad enough with only one person's crap crammed into that space, but with both of our stuff all mixed together, there was no hope. Just the words, "OK class, everybody find a pen," would send both of us into a whimpering panic. At least 137 times a day we'd frantically empty out the desk in an attempt to find our math notebooks, coloured pencils, whatever was needed. Then we'd cram everything back in. It wasn't much fun. In retrospect, we must have made for some funny stories in the staff room.

The desk we shared was actually a long rectangular table with a big open mouth-like space below for storing stuff. My parents have a picture of us sitting beside it on science fair day; I'm proudly holding the frog I dissected and Chris Badboy is sort of smiling sheepishly beside me. The storage area of our table is clearly visible and you can see all the stuff we've jammed into it spilling out in all directions. Hilroy notebooks are folded into two. A small half-eaten sandwich is gasping for air somewhere in the center. Papers limply droop out in odd places, looking like toilet paper tails hanging unnoticed from people's pants. Sometimes out of curiosity, we would give these papers little tugs to see where it would take us. Occasionally it would unearth something good, like a missing assignment, or a tasty lost chunk of lunch, but mostly, it would only cause a startlingly loud avalanche. Then we'd be in trouble.

At Christmas, Ms Y wrote a poem about our class based on A Visit from St. Nicholas. Her line for us was:

With Ms Y at the front, leading the rest
There was Whippersnapper and Chris in
One h*** of a mess

Ms Y was a stubborn thing, and even though her plan backfired and we learned absolutely nothing about the art of tidiness from each other, she sadistically kept us stewing together in our collective slob juices until the end of the school year. When we cleaned out our space in June, Chris Badboy had the misfortune to stumble upon a plastic bag wedged near the back of all our compressed crap, and made the mistake of opening it and taking a peek inside. There lay the frog I had dissected for the science fair back in February. My memory is a little foggy, but I do vaguely remember a shrill girlish scream, followed by a slimy plastic bag being thrust into my hands and a scampering sound of footprints running far, far away. It's sad, really. Chris Badboy and I never really spoke much again to each other after that year, and in grade nine he was sent away to some special farm for kids with drug problems. I really hope sniffing that rotting frog wasn't what originally sent him fleeing into the comforting arms of memory-fogging substance abuse. That would make me feel bad.

I'm reminiscing about all of this tonight because if I thought sharing a DESK with a fellow slob was bad, well, sharing a HOUSE with one has been, well, just a little worse. But school is over, and the office transformation is about to begin in earnest and if that isn't reason for bleary-eyed optimism, I just don't know what is! But to ensure that the operation doesn't fizzle out and stall over the course of the next few weeks, as is its wont to do, I've decided to post pictures of the damn room, and every Sunday I will continue to do so until the stupid thing is finished. Ugh, here they are, how embarrassing:

Note the attractive pink walls with girlish trim. Note the stuff spilling out everywhere. Please accept the very real and fervent vow that not a SINGLE THING IN THIS ROOM, (except, I suppose, the computer, partly) BELONGS TO ME!! Yes, it has been like this since we moved into this house four and a half years ago. (Note to people living with pack rats: Never say to the movers, "Oh, just dump everything in there for now, he'll sort through everything and organize it later." Later could mean very later indeed.) I think Ms Y would be pretty amused to know that living with a total uberslob has indeed worked magic on my soul, and I am now obsessed with organization and neatness. You should have had us sharing a house, Ms Y!! That would have worked!!

I realize that any last remnants of pride I may have are being tossed to the wind with the posting of these pictures, but keep in mind, at least 75% of the contents of this room were actually removed in March to either the basement or to thrift stores. That's right, you're looking at a "cleaned up" version of this space. By the way, if you could spare the time, be sure to leave a comment on how incredibly UGLY the desk is. He found it in a back lane and dragged it home to be with us. Now he refuses to part with it. What a nightmare, it's like the Santa Claus Trophy, only way bigger, so I can't hide it behind a pillow or something. Again, I must remind myself that he's not:

1. A wife-beating alcoholic
2. A two-timing bastard
3. Stephen Harper it could be a lot worse. Right?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Totally Over the Top

...this is so weird, you just might want to run away right doesn't even make any sense....

....(I'm terribly angry)....

It looks like my plan to boycott Stupidstore is going to have to be shelved for a while, at least with regards to our bacon supplies. A thirteen-year-old was found here in the West End with a fully loaded semi-automatic weapon which he apparently used to threaten at least one person with. Having such armed miscreants in our midst means there is no way we can go ahead with our plan to become independent pork producers. If we bought a pig and set it free for the summer, as was my plan, our little curly-tailed porcine buddy would for sure become fodder for target practice. Then I'd stumble upon the little delinquent eating MY spare ribs. Given what occurred on Sunday, I know I would NOT be able to control my temper, and I'd say, "Hey, gimme back my spare ribs, you little bastard!" Then I'd yank them away from him! Yeah, that's what I'd do. But the jerk would have already eaten everything else.

Of course, taking the spare ribs would send this little freak OVER THE EDGE. He'd have been saving the best part of the pig for last, and now it would be gone! He'd run home and make a crazy little "multi-media package" and send it off to some television station. Then he'd head over to our back yard and take out everything. Cows, chickens, even the ostrich we'd purchased for its "leaner than beef yet still rather tasty" flesh. Total destruction. He'd take out himself too, naturally. Big news. The television network would receive their little "care package" and OF COURSE they would run it on air! The big executives would practically piss themselves thinking of the through-the-roof ratings and their subsequent bonuses! Then it would get on the Internet, and every misguided youth in the country would watch it. Pig-shooter boy would become a cult celebrity! Fabulous! You really can't make this stuff up!

Meanwhile back at home, Mr. IQ would be despondent over the loss of the pig, sobbing disconsolately into his pillow at night and really getting on my nerves during the day, singing a sad, warbling rendition of "Mama's little baby loves crackling, crackling..." all the freaking time.

"Aughh, snap out of it already!!" I'd finally shriek. So he'd go off to get some counseling, from someone like, oh, I don't know, maybe... George W. Bush. He'd say, "I know I'm Canadian, George, but you seem to really understand this gun thing, so I've come down here for some comfort and advice."

"Well, IQ, " George would say, sneaking a look at the clock surreptitiously, "I wouldn't worry too much about it. Your little pig friend is in heaven now. No more pain!"

Mr. IQ would furrow his brow, and look confused. "But, uh, I'm not sure my pig was a practicing Christian, George..."

"And his killer is burning in the deepest pits of hell!! Surely you can take comfort from that!"

"Well, uh, I guess... but I've never really believed in he--..."

"Look IQ-tee-toot toot, your problem is you're concentrating on the past, when the future is what it's all about. You made mistakes. Now deal with them. Repopulate the garage. More pigs. More cows. More ostriches. And this time, no fooling around."


"Guard 'em boy! Guard 'em with your life!"

"Gggg..guard them?"

"With a gun boy! Here, I'll give you mine!" George would reach into the crotch area of his pants and pull out his heater. It would be warm, but not because he's recently fired it. (At least I hope not for your sake buddy!!) (Heh heh heh.)

"Uh, thanks George," Mr. IQ would say, holding it awkwardly.

"Listen," George would murmur, getting confidential, "I wanna ask you something, since it relates to what we've all been talking about here."

"Okay, shoot," Mr. IQ would say, fondling his new gun.

"I've got a new campaign slogan and I'm hoping they run with it in 2008. It's, uh, A Chicken in Every Pot, 'cause There's a Gun on Every Lot! Do you like it? It's snappy, don't you think?"

"Whippersnappy," Mr. IQ would mumble politely. George would blush with pleasure.

"I made it up myself," he'd say, somewhat shyly.

"It's great."

Encouraged, George would get brave. "I've got another one too!"

"Hit me baby, one more time!!" Mr. IQ would say encouragingly, twirling the gun and his Farrah Fawcett-like hair around and then pretending to shoot a bad man.

"Guns don't kill pigs, pigs kill pigs!! As in, scum-sucking criminal-type pigs, not police pigs, kill, you know, the tasty kind of pigs..."

"Not as catchy..."

George would look a little crushed. "Yah," he'd admit, "That one needs some working on." An awkward silence would follow. George would pretend to do something important, like shuffle papers.

"Well, I've got to get going" Mr. IQ would say, taking the hint and heading for the door, "Thanks a lot. I feel a lot better. It could have been a lot worse, I mean, after all, it was only a bunch of dumb animals we lost. It's not like it was 32 NICE INNOCENT UNSUSPECTING PEOPLE WHO WERE KILLED or anything like that."

George would stop shuffling his papers and look genuinely shocked. "Good god man," he'd say, "Of COURSE it wasn't PEOPLE! If it was PEOPLE we'd have to... BAN GUNS or something!!"

Both men would start laughing uproariously: Ha! Ha! Ha!

Everything just makes me so sick these days.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


...oh bloody hell, it's that damn conscience of mine bugging me again...

It has occurred to me that sticking my bloodshot, rage-swollen head into the personal space of a little old lady and hurling inanities about parks and the human condition and grocery shopping on a beautiful spring day is not the best way to help speed up humanity's slow and uncertain journey towards that idyllic time in yon future when we as a world come together to embrace, call an end to all hostility and shake the collective kumbaya snuggle-boogie together.

And it's certainly not the sort of action that is going to help rid the world of these horrible, horrible school shootings.

Sigh. Yeah, she was rude and cranky and brusque, and, just between you and me, I truly think she was about as concerned for my baby's safety as she is about the fate of endangered Peruvian rain forest species. Really, truly, honestly, I think all she wanted to do was just boss me around.


Kurt Vonnegut wouldn't have gone over to an old lady and given her hell, even if said old lady was a big crank.


1. As Pamela pointed out, she's sure as hell not amassing a fortune working as a door greeter at Superstore.

2. It was her Sunday afternoon too, and the first nice day of year for her as well. And what was she doing? Working.

3. But why did she have to be so nasty?

I hope she's thinking about the whole incident too. I hope she's thinking about that crazy woman who ranted on about... (what the hell was she ranting on about anyway?...) and thinking:

1. Wow, it must be hard taking care of two small children all by yourself. (It is. And I've been doing approximately 99% of the childcare around here for at least a week because Mr. IQ has exams right now.)

2. That baby was awfully sweet. Was she really making everyone smile?

3. But... but why did she have to be so nasty?


By the way: Thanks for being tactfully silent on this point. I suspect you were all thinking of this yourselves, and decided to let me figure it out on my own. Blog people are swell.

Monday, April 16, 2007


...and the blogger would just like to preface this with the confirmation that she is NOT going crazy, really; she's mourning the death of Kurt Vonnegut. Also, she read a brutal article about a young Sierra Leone girl who had her hands amputated when she was twelve years old and it's been haunting her all weekend. I suppose, for the purposes of this post, it would have had more symbolic resonance if it was her feet that had been chopped off, but so it goes....

Baby Fangs has gigantic hands. When she crawls on the floor they sort of splay out on either side of her, and my intense and unconditional love for her does not prevent me from noticing that when she does this she has an appearance not unlike that of a tree frog. A tree frog with Clarence Darrow's head. She has started to stand up on her own which means she is probably weeks away from walking and then (*sob*) she won't be a baby anymore, technically she'll be a toddler. This has me worried, at least from a blog perspective, because while "Baby Fangs" has a rather sweet, benign sound to it, "Toddler Fangs" sounds ominous, and makes me think of Chucky dolls with knives. When she's standing upright, her huge, tree frog-like hands aren't at all apparent, so calling her my little tree frog won't work.

And I refuse to call her Clarence.

When High Intensity was a baby, she looked like, um, uh, well.... like Adolf, uh... Hit...ler..... We took pictures of her, and with the suspenders, affixed black, squarish moustache, hair combed over just so and German war songs blasting out from the stereo, the resemblance was quite striking. Oh boy, now you think I'm a Nazi. I'm not. Well, maybe a recycling Nazi.

But speaking of Nazis...

Today was the first nice day of the year. The plan was to spend the day walking to Superstore to pick up items for a picnic, and then go to the park. But when we got to the store we were STARVING so we stopped in the food area where they've set up tables and ate our lunch there. I people-watched, and I have to say, the miserable winter we just went through has been hard on the fine folk of this city. Wow, did people look bad. Grey and foul and not smiling at all. However, when they saw Baby Fangs, crawling her jerky, enthusiastic, tree frog crawl around the floor, they would beam. Everyone smiled at her, even people you would not think would smile at a baby, even people who looked like they hadn't smiled since Diefenbaker was in power. They would slow down their grocery carts and give her waves and one guy who looked like a mafia hit man bent down to pat her head. It was nice seeing all these gloomy people, who were spending the first nice day of the year inside, shopping for mountains of groceries, perk up when they saw her. I felt like I was doing a community service. I was very proud of her.

And then. The Nazi Door Greeter came rushing over and snapped at me impatiently to get my baby off the floor. "She might get hurt," she told me brusquely. I felt like a child who'd been reprimanded by a control-freak teacher. Crushed, I sat there for a little longer with Baby Fangs on my lap and continued to watch people, but it wasn't any fun anymore, and no-one was smiling, and what kind of world is this anyway when a baby isn't allowed to crawl about?

I got MAD.

I don't usually get mad, I mean MAD mad at little old ladies just doing their job. But for whatever reason, this really hit a nerve. I stared at the food hoping to see something delicious to take my mind off it all, but since I'm on a Spring Health Kick (which is going about as well as my January Health Kick went, thanks for asking) there really wasn't anything good enough to distract me from my ANGER.

So when we left, I went over to the old lady and gave her hell. Then we went outside, and the plain-clothes store detective came running after me. And I started to bawl, right there in the parking lot. I said it was pathetic that on such a nice day everyone was inside shopping. I said the baby was cheering everyone up. I said people should be at the park. I said I was the mother, and I could look after my kid just fine by myself. Then I said, " I must sound like a total nut," and was not contradicted.

I am totally embarrassed, but in my defense I know I'm right. I am a teacher. I know people, and her crawling on the floor there was not pissing off ANYONE except the Nazi Door Greeter. And she was not in any danger because I was watching her like a hawk. I would chew off my own arm before I'd let something bad happen to her.

Kurt Vonnegut would have liked to have seen babies crawling around on the floor.

But anyway, that's it, I'm done with Superstore. We're going back to the land, and becoming totally self-sufficient with regards to our food. I'll dig up the back yard and plant tomatoes, cabbages and yams. And orange trees. It's very important to eat one item of citrus a day. We'll keep a cow in the garage and I'll learn how to make cheese, jam and ketchup potato chips. Hmmmm, we'll need to get some Bordeaux grapes growing back there too. Ooooh, squishing them with our feet to make wine will be fun! We'll let a pig run wild through the streets of the West End in the summer and then come autumn, Pa, I mean, Mr. IQ will catch it, butcher it, smoke it, and blow up the bladder for High Intensity and Baby Fangs to play with. Ha!

That'll show that stupid Superstore a thing or two.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


..."Sweep the floor, and sweep it again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that and everyday of your life; --if not that floor, why then --some other floor"...

Those are the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay, written when she was nineteen years old. I guess she didn't like sweeping floors. Her biographer said that "few young women have ever put it more clearly --or fiercely--" how much she hated housework. I suppose she was indicating that this was an early sign of her promise as a poetess. Yah, I can see that. It takes a real GENIUS to express how much SWEEPING THE FLOOR SUCKS.

Oh, ignore me, you know I'm just jealous. When I read about all of this in her biography I knew that she would go on to write the funky My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night poem and never sweep another damn floor in her life. Inspired, I tried my own hand at writing a little floor-sweeping emancipation ditty, but it lacked the passion, the fervor, the nymphomaniac, drug-addicted, father-abandoned-me-in-my-youth sort of stimulus needed to dash off a real zinger and free me from my bondage to the broom. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to get away from the lines:

Old Fangs explodes at both ends
I'm covered in her shite..

And why was this? Why did I have to be so crude? Because last Tuesday, at approximately 3:17 pm, we here at the House of Whippersnapper entered that much anticipated "Anal Phase" of High Intensity's (so far!) really fun and charming journey towards mature adulthood. And I say "we" because while it may be only old H.I. who is technically going through it, all members of this household are suffering, my friend. All of us.

Although there had been little hints here and there that we were getting close to this much heralded developmental phase, we most definitely reached the point of no return on Tuesday when she presented me with the following picture and gleefully shouted what it (so obviously) was:
Despite the frequent updates I make on this blog regarding the condition of my bowels and the crude bean dinner references I write about with embarrassing regularity, I'm not really an outhouse humour sort of gal. Thus, when I saw this picture, my eyes widened until they were the size of large, overripe melon balls. My mouth gaped open and I could not muster the force needed to keep my dumbfounded tongue from limply hanging out of it. And my larynx, jolted awake by the emergency signal from my much horrified brain, let out an unhappy sort of noise reminiscent of a cow in labour. Perhaps I was overreacting but... those turds. They were so gross. And why... why did there have to be... so many?

In short, the picture kind of shocked me.

Now, High Intensity is not the sort of lass who spends a great deal of time considering the feelings of others. Dare I say, she often takes an unhealthy and discomforting amount of delight in working me up into a neurotic, fire-spitting frenzy pissing me off a little. But this situation was different. I wasn't angry. I was only... speechless. And I guess this kind of freaked her out a bit, because old momburger, despite everything, is never really ever at a loss for words. Quickly, she flipped the picture 180 degrees. "It's not a bum, mom!" she shouted anxiously, "Actually, it's mountains! With snow falling on them!"
Oh how beautiful. Snow falling on mountains. Old Georgia High Intensity O'Keefe. Perhaps an early sign of her promise as a great landscape artist?

Somehow, I think not.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

...Yay, it's Saturday night! Mr. IQ has been working SO hard, and he needed a night off. So I laced his dinner with sedatives and when he finally passed out on the stairway I tenderly covered him with a blanket and made a mad dash for the computer! And here I am! Finally! Unlimited computer access without someone standing over my shoulder and making me feel guilty! I blame him entirely for me writing Karma Sutra instead of Kama Sutra in the last post! Damn it, he doesn't give me enough time to edit myself properly!!...

I am not, it must be confessed, much of a gourmand. I have been known to open cans of tomatoes and eat them like soup. Cold soup. High Intensity, on the other hand, has developed into the Grumpy Gourmet. If I give her a bowl of canned diced tomatoes (nicely warmed) and try to pass it off as soup, she'll say, "Mom, this is canned tomatoes," and refuse to eat any of it.

"But it's tomatoes aux fines herbes," I told her the first time I did this, pointing to the French side of the label. "That means it's very fancy."

She fell for it once, and cautiously tried some. But never again.

A few years back, someone at my school got the bright idea to put together a cookbook comprised of our staff's favourite recipes. Of course, I cook a lot more now, especially with Julia High Intensity Child around, but back then I never cooked. It would have been a little embarrassing handing in a recipe like:

Open can of tomatoes
Heat, if feeling ambitious
Um, maybe take the contents out of the metal can first? It's going into the microwave...
Wow, I thought I was lazy.

So I ignored the request for a recipe. But even though I did not contribute to the book, I still received a copy of the thing. And for reasons that are difficult to explain, became weirdly, inexplicably fascinated with this one potato recipe I found in it. I have never made the dish, but its ingredients haunt me, and I've described it to practically every person I know. I always have a good time with it:

Me: Wanna hear about this recipe?
You: Sure!
Me: A potato recipe!
You: Right on!
Me: Okay, here are the ingredients. Ready?
You: Yah!
Me: A package of hash browns.
You: Right on! Hash browns!
Me: A can of cream of mushroom soup.
You: I LIKE where this is going!!
Me: Two cups sour cream.
You: Hallelujah!
Me: One cup shredded cheese.
Me: A cup of butter!!
You: Suicide! Coronary city, batman!!
Me: And rashers and rashers of bacon!!
Me: Mix, bake and serve!!
You: Death in a pan! Love it!
Me: It's called "Bertha's Potatoes!"
You: Bertha, them's some lard-ass potatoes you got there, man!
Us Together: Ha! Ha! Ha!

Over the years this "Bertha's Potatoes" recipe has assumed mythical proportions in my brain, symbolizing, well, I guess symbolizing everything that I think is wrong with North American culture right now. I mean, don't get me wrong. I like my cheese. I like my sour cream. And of course I like butter, hash browns and bacon. But all mixed together and then served as a side dish? Too much, man. Too much.

This weekend my in-laws are in town for Easter. They phoned us on Thursday and said they were rolling into town for the weekend with a ham. They are big meat eaters, and my step-mother-in-law prides herself on never, ever eating vegetables, so when they're here I tend to cook things I don't normally eat. Armed with the culinary motto of my aunt, who is a great cook ("twice the sugar, even more fat!") we tackle huge, ambitious, butter-laden recipes which invariably lead to failure. During our huddled conferences near the end of the cooking process, a panicked Mr. IQ will whisper, "It tastes terrible! Augh! Augh! What do we do? What do we do?" and I will whimper, " I don't know!! Add more sugar! Add more fat!" And both of us will start running around the kitchen like crazy Swedish chefs melting butter frantically and hunting for the sugar bowl.

Wow, have we ever served some wretchedly awful meals.

Having not quite recovered from making Christmas dinner yet, the news that we were to cook up the big Easter spread didn't exactly fill me with feelings of euphoric glee, but they're family and we love them, so of course we agreed to their plan. Less than enthusiastically, I hit the Internet to find an Easter menu, and found one. Can we say Bertha's potatoes times one million? In addition to the Holiday Ham, there are the "Potatoes Grand Mere", "Party Potatoes" and "Parker House Rolls", as well as two desserts, a sassy Lemon Truffle Pie and its sweet ingenue cousin, Little Miss Strawberry Pie. The Potatoes Grand Mere call for two cups of whipping cream, one tablespoon butter and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. The "Party Potatoes" contain 1/2 cup butter, one package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream and then three additional tablespoons of butter. And to make the Parker House Rolls you'll need one cup of whole milk (and yes, they specify "whole" milk), 1/2 cup butter, and then even "more melted butter." I didn't even look at the recipes for the pies. My heart was already seizing up from the potato recipes, and just seeing the words "more melted butter" had made my stomach start swearing and I'd been forced to undo the top button of my pants.

Bertha's Potatoes, you've been replaced.

I spent most of Friday in a bit of a depressed stupor, dreading Sunday for about four thousand different reasons, but then, miraculously, I was saved. Dinner is going to be at Mr. IQ's step-brother's place, and all we have to do is bring a salad and dessert! Yay!

Have a great Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Post with Anticlimactic Ending

...oh dear, there are a lot of references to sex in this post...

Our kindly neighbour "Bob" dropped by a few days ago to make inquiries about our stolen stroller. He knows of its loss because he has been witnessing my struggles with the temporary replacement, a rusty, perverted thing that absolutely refuses to unfold unless I agree to do weird, Kama Sutra type things with it. Our intimate couplings on the lawn have been frankly indecent and having people walk by when I'm in the middle of one of these trysts, especially if I happen to be moaning at the time (from frustration) can leave me feeling pretty awkward. Kindly Neighbour Bob's head always seems to be popping over the fence during our sweaty entanglements, too. I find that kind of annoying.

Anyway, he came by because there was an errant stroller in the back lane and he thought it might be ours. It wasn't, and end of that story there, but I mention all this because he rang our doorbell at a time when, once again, our front hall was filled with crap from the basement, and everything was looking particularly slovenly. This was more than just a little embarrassing because Kindly Neighbour Bob is one of life's keeners. On snowy mornings, he is up at 6:30 am shovelling the sidewalks. In the fall, I have seen him stand on his lawn with a big garbage bag catching leaves as they fall from trees. One year he even came over and raked our back yard for us because the sight of all the leafy, unraked disorder was driving him nuts.

Actually, and most unfortunately, I think we, in general, drive him nuts.

Anyway, he came over, saw the chaos and I was embarrassed; I gave my usual "Ha ha ha, I live with a pack rat" speech, and he left. Then I sank to the floor.

"Arggh! Now he thinks we're pigs!" I howled unhappily.

Mr. IQ didn't seem too concerned. In fact, he didn't even respond, so I thought he hadn't heard me. But obviously he had, for the next day he presented me with an academic paper he had downloaded off the computer at school.

"Here," he said grinning, "find out what "Bob" thought of us."

The paper was about what insights into personality rooms give strangers about the people who inhabit them. It was entitled "A Room with a Cue." (GET IT??) ( I sure do!) (Proof: HA! HA! HA!)

I took the paper and looked at it suspiciously. It had paragraphs like:

The WAM concept of meaning systems and the RAM concept of good information can be brought together by interpreting the concepts as the two halves of Brunswik's (1956) lens model. Recall that cue utilization refers to the relation between judgements and observable information in the environment. Thus, cue utilization is similar to the WAM parameter of meaning systems, and cue validity is similar to the RAM parameter of good information.

Oooch, reading this made my head hurt, and a sudden strong desire to go hide out in a closet with a copy of Nancy Drew and The Secret of Shadow Ranch flooded over me. But I must admit I was kind of intrigued too. I grew up hearing and thinking about these kinds of things because my mom is big into graphology and personality types. If she checks out your handwriting and your W's are a little too buttock-y looking, she'll think you're a pervert. If your y's and j's and g's are a little too dangly she'll think you're a pervert. And God help you if any of your letters are shaped like penises! Well, I'm only guessing here, but I'm fairly certain that if they are she'll think you are a pervert. Of course, she's very proper, she would never actually use the word "pervert." She would blush and mumble something demure about "sexual issues." And then never look you in the eye again. But it's all very scientific. She looked at a writing sample of an old principal of mine and she nailed his personality cold. ("Asshole.") Of course, she was a teacher too, so she knows what principals can be like....

Anyway, to make a long story short, I struggled through the paper, skimming over parts like the one above, and perking up a little when phrases like “marijuana posters” appeared. But actually, the whole thing wasn’t that informative, at least not for me. There was no discussion of what different room styles meant with regards to personality, only an analysis of how accurate people’s impressions were. Of course when asked, I told him that his messy office indicated that he was fixated on his mother’s breasts, and the tendency to accumulate things meant he had a latent spanking fetish. But of course he didn’t believe me, and no more was said about it, which leaves me wondering why I have written so much about something that really had such little consequence on our lives. It’s a strange irony: The more boring my life gets, and the less computer access I manage to secure, the longer my posts become. Go figure.

Hopefully something really exciting happens tomorrow so I can fire off a really brief, two paragraph post!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Gulp, No Pressure

...gulp, no pressure...

Oh crap. No pressure.