Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Jurassic Bathroom

When my brother was very little, like 4 or 5, he wanted to be a paleontologist when he grew up. And he called it “paleontologist”, not “dinosaur farmer” like other kids. 

My father was fascinated with fossils and geology and the ice age and all things associated with rocks and minerals. His idea of a museum trip was going to Garson quarry.
I dated a dinosaur when I was a teenager. It never went very far. He wasn’t a very good kisser. But still, you never forget your first kiss, even if it was stone cold.

So it will come as no surprise that I am equally fascinated with the fossil formations that I have discovered in my bathroom tile. Yes. My bathroom is chock full of mesozoic wonders and I’m not talking about the stuff Brian is responsible for. 

Jurassic Bathroom

Yes, as if frozen in time, several creatures have been preserved for eternity in stone and now line the walls and floor of my bathroom. I often sit and ponder them, while I sit and ponder the problems of the world. Which is my code for going poop.  But I don’t ponder for a super long time or anything. Just the normal amount of time that one sits in a bathroom. My problem pondering time is totally, totally normal.
I can’t help but wonder how all of these pre-historic creatures came to be encased in my bathroom tiles. A meteor strikes the earth, a volcano erupts spewing lava hither and yon, flash freezing embalming the beasts in ice for all time. Life stories told in stone. Tombs of granite , fossilized eulogies.

Jurassic deer

Jurassic bunny rabbit

Adorable Jurassic mousie

Jurassic Jack Russel Terrier

Jurassic Baby Reindeer

Good natured Jurrasic Baby Cow

Jurassic Giraffe

Jurassic Seagull in flight

Hmmm, it occurs to me that the tiles in my bathroom are ceramic, so that means that they were probably produced not by some catastrophic natural event or ice age, but rather  by a human or a machine or something forming muck into slabs.  

Plus, they are way smaller than they probably were in prehistoric times, unless there was a tiny dinosaur age where domestic animals of today roamed freely in tiny herds, living for months off of a leaf. No, they probably were shrunk.

The only answer to how all of these  animals were shrinky- dinked and then caught in my tiling is that there must have been the involvement  of an evil wizard.
It’s really the only explanation. 

I kinda had a feeling that there was an evil wizard in my bathroom. And not just because of the stuff that Brian is responsible for. That’s not a wizard. 

That's just evil.

Monday, 28 November 2011

If I Had Fifty Million Dollars - Craft Cabin Edition

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’d do if I won the lottery. My life is pretty damned good, so I’m not complaining, but I’m one of those “more is more” people. Today I’d like to introduce to you the first of a bazillion blogs called “If I Had 50 Million Dollars”. The Barenaked Ladies really dated themselves with their “If I Had A Million Dollars” song, didn’t they? I mean, today they could maybe pay off their student loans with a million bucks. Or pay their entertainment lawyers. Yah, Canada's Male Sweethearts, not going to get you too far anymore. 

Everyone fantasizes about what they would do with an epic windfall. Pay off bills, help family members, travel, establish scholarships, buy a new car. We’ve all got a few expensive dreams we allow ourselves to distract ourselves from taxes, visa bills and rising food costs.
So, first let’s assume that I’ve won a mega lottery.
By this I mean that Brian has won lottery, because I don’t buy tickets, but remember, this is a fantasy and I’m assuming he’d give me all of his winnings.

Anyway, secondly, let’s assume that I’ve taken care of my family - set them up and taken care of all their wants and needs, etc. Ok, all that obligatory generosity - out-of-the-way!
I would, of course, buy the lake front Muskoka house of my dreams.
And near that house of my dreams would be a super freaking awesome
Craft cabin. Could be.

Not just a nook, or a pile of wool in a basket by a chair. No. I need an entire building devoted to being twee. Situated on our large lake front estate, nestled in the pines, would be Ellen’s Craft Cabin.
It would have amazing light spilling through large lake view windows,  for oil painting and courting the muse.

There would be a fireplace, for all crafting cabins must have this essential ingredient for cozy twee-ness.

A variety of “craft zones” would be set up that would include sewing machines stations, knitting nooks, needlepoint niches, paper craft tables.

craft station of awesomeness

Built in supply cupboards and shelves line the walls filled with all the accoutrements of squealingly delightful nobblery (Nobblery is a word I made up for awesome piles of amazing little things like ribbons buttons, bits of lace, rubber stamp parts, tiny bells, sew-on googly eye buttons for puppet making, bottles of glitter dust, pots of glue, squares of brightly coloured felt, construction paper, etc. I am giggling just thinking of this).


I think this fantasy stems from a distinct memory I have from my childhood. I was invited to my friend Pam’s birthday party and my mom came up with what I figured was/is the BEST GIFT EVER. It was a wrapped box (an old Arrow shirt box from Eaton's), with inside a pad of coloured paper, crayons, scissors, glue, sparkle dust, cheap water colour paints and plain paper. Pure magic. I must have whined and whined because I think I got one or two from my birthdays along the way. To be well stocked in crafts meant I was ready to be uber creative, and therefore, cute.

Anyway, back to my CRAFT CABIN and all it’s delights.
There would be long tables (2) for cutting fabric.  A wall devoted to yarn, threads and silk thread for needlepointing. 

Needlepoint canvas on roller bars.  A clothes line outside for hanging tie-dyed nonsense. Easels (3) and canvas all at the ready. Potters wheels (2). Kiln outside (and instructions. And insurance).

A built in sound system will quietly pipe in classical music or, if I’m feeling zany, Irish folk music.
A small fridge for holding beverages and snacks....
For my epic crafting weekend parties!!!

 My crafty pals would drive out after work on Friday (or whenever they wanted, really), and I’d get them settled in their guest rooms. We’d  have a nice light dinner and then we’d all retire to the gazebo on the dock and listen to the evening birdsong. I’d serve only the best cheese and not on white plates either because Ryan told me once:  

He said that.

Ok, it was a joke, but I think he truly meant it. He has strong opinions on cheese presentation. Kind of makes it hard to really get to know him.

We’d listen to Loralee M. and Lori K sing the Children’s Prayer from Hansel and Gretel.  And then we’d all go back to the main house for a good night’s sleep. The next morning Ryan would make us his gingerbread waffles and then we’d go for a nice walk in the woods where I wouldn’t kill and dismember any of my friends. We’d come back and go directly to the CRAFT CABIN!
 Oh the crafting that would ensue. Crafty pals could try a bit of this craft a bit of that craft, or they could just stick with what they know. It would be a little like Kindergarten, but only people could drink wine if they wanted to. I mean, it’s just after breakfast, but I’m not judging you Megan.

Lunch would be brought to us by Brian who will do this one small favour for me in return for having me out of the house for the entire day so he can scream at the football game in peace.

After a long day of heavy duty crafting, we would sit in front of the fire and talk about how awesome we are and how lucky we are to have each other. And how we don't need 50 million dollars to get together for crafting parties, and we don't need 50 million dollars to have fun. But apparently some of us need booze to have fun. Not mentioning names, Shmegan.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Foodie Friday- The Gull and Firkin

As I’ve mentioned, Brian and I don’t like change. We are total willing love slaves of routine. I get upset if there’s not hockey game on Tuesdays - and I don’t even watch the game. I just don’t like any one else screwing with my schedule, you know.
So it won’t surprise any of you to hear that Brian and I go to the same restaurant for date night every week. 
When we first moved into our new neighbourhood we tried a different local restaurant every week. It was kinda fun, exploring our new hood, and we probably could have fallen into that as a routine - you know - the routine of eating somewhere different every week. But we’d gone a few times to The Gull and Firkin and they did something that altered the trajectory permanently.
They learned our names and had our drinks ready before we’d ordered them.
Clever. Very clever indeed.
We were so thrilled that we’d, you know, made the cut with the cool kids that we stopped going anywhere else. I mean, how could we? We wanted to go where everybody knows our name.

For the first couple years we went every Friday after Brian got home from work. We sat in the same section (called “The Snug” at the back of the pub), and if we could, the exact same booth. 

Crazy, soda-fueled fun.

I always think it says The Slug. But it's the Snug. Either way, I want to sit in it.

Our server was Jenny, who looks like Winonna Ryder, but I have a feeling she swears like a sailor. 

We ordered the same thing. Brian had  a pint of Heineken, and the Firkin Burger with mayo, no gravy on the fries.  I would have a club soda with lime, and the grilled vegetable salad with grilled chicken and goat cheese, dressing on the side. 

Brian's dinner for many date nights.

My date night dinner. I like cheese.

We had “a usual” which made us feel like we were the main characters in a TV detective show as opposed to a tired writer and his nervous girlfriend.

One day, Jenny wasn’t there. And she didn’t come back. She’d moved to SATURDAYS. W.T.F.  The owner/manager of the pub, Dana Kerbel said that we’d survive. She had a lot of excellent staff.

Dana who is always nice to us.

So we got to know Troy who always says “Hey Guys” and “Do we even need menus today”?

In the summer, Troy moved to working the patio crowd. 

So we go to know Ashley. 

Ashely offers us an array of condiments.

It’s always hard to work in a new server. They might not know that for about one hour a week, we are SPECIAL. Eventually, they learn. And now Ashley knows. And we like Ashely. Lots of people like Ashley. She was even written about in the Toronto Standard. She’s that famous.

Then we brought home our new puppy Sam, and we had to move our date night to Saturdays because he is so bloody demanding and high maintenance and adorable that we’re too busy on Fridays to deal with his myriad needs and then go out for dinner. So Saturdays was the new routine. 
Saturdays and the return of ... yes.... JENNY. Sometimes she’s not even our server, but she’s in the pub itself, so that makes us a little less anxious. We hardly see Ashley any more. I think we kinda freak her out with our bland exteriors and robot like ways. She is innocent. 

As we've got to be more relaxed with Ashely, we sometimes order a different thing. It has taken her a while to make us feel safe, but we look to her now for guidance and care.  Brian has medium wings with double dill dips. I get the chicken curry with Naan.  
Brian was sceptical about the wings with dill dip thing. He was a firm advocate of the blue cheese dip. He has since been won over to the dill dip side, thanks to the Gull and Firkin. He tells every about how he likes the dill dip better now. He tells EVERYONE.

Gull and Firkin chicken curry. My choice on a cold day.

We’re usually there pretty early, like 5pm, so it’s relatively calm, and other than a few children, there’s nothing to complain about. 

Jenny says (and we listen to everything Jenny says) that it gets pretty crazy in the evenings. I like to hear that. I like to think that I’m part of the calm before the storm. They like us because we’re predictable and don’t linger. We order the same thing. We have two beverages each, and we’re gone. 

Julia,  Jenny,  Dana and Anna. If I've gotten names wrong I will eat my hat. Or Brian's french fries. One of those things.
Note the halo of light over Jenny's head. She is God's favourite.

You should go there and watch a sporting event. It seems to be the thing to do judging from all the positive reviews of the place I found on the innermicnets. If you do, sit in Troy’s section but then all of a sudden, without explaining, move and sit in a different section. See how you like that, Troy. It hurts, doesn’t it? It hurts.
Nah, just kidding. Sit where you want. 
Except our booth. Stay out of our booth. You never know when we’ll show up.

Actually, you know exactly when we’ll show up, so other than Saturday late afternoon, you can sit in our booth.  Have fun. Leave a good tip.

My Funny in our booth

Our booth. Stay out.

our dining companions for many years.

Do not let the smile fool you. Sit in our booth and I will kill you. I will kill you. Someone is sitting in our booth right as this photo was taken. There was blood. So much blood.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Two Traffic Safety Solitudes and How They Impact on Pre-Teen Sexual Education.

Ontario and Manitoba are the provinces in the middle of Canada. You might say that they are the icing in the sandwich cookie that is Canada. And although there are many differences between Ontario and Manitoba, there is none more glaring, more significant and more controversial than the difference between how young students in the two provinces are helped to cross streets near their schools.
In Ontario, at least from what I can tell, children are ushered across roads and intersections by crossing guards. These adults are employed by Toronto Police Services and have a distinctive orange vest, and jacket with a logo that indicates their post. 

That they are paid TPS employees gives me some relief because, I gotta tell you, some of the guys doing the gig, well, I’ve always wondered of they’d be doing their gig for free, ya know? So at least they’ve been vetted by the cops which provides some reassurance that the scruffy 50 year old man telling Jimmy to look both ways doesn’t have a hidden and Law & Order SVU styled agenda.
In Manitoba, the responsibility of getting our youngsters safely across streets rests squarely on the shoulders of 10 and 11 year old kids who volunteer for the job. They wear an orange sash/belt thing over their parkas and carry orange flags.

 There is no real screening process, so there is no way of knowing whether or not these children are child molesters or not. They are more interested in candy and collecting crap from dollar stores.

Kind of like your Auntie. Ya. You know the one.
Anyway, growing up, I was a patrol in Selkirk, Manitoba, my hometown. 
I did it for the prestige. I felt pretty grown up and powerful telling those 7 year olds when it was safe to cross the street. I could stop traffic if I wanted. And oh, I wanted, people. I wanted.

I also did it for the half day off school that all Manitoba patrols were given at the end of the year to go to the Shrine Circus in Winnipeg. The annual circus, put on by the Shriners, was a huge deal for us kids who hadn’t seen a big-time circus, or have access to cable television. Still, we knew it was kind of lame, but because we were children, we squealed with delight because it made the teachers smile and we might, just might, get a balloon animal. I had pimples at age 11 so never got a balloon animal. In fact, I was never given a balloon animal until I was an adult with visible cleavage. The world is a sad place.

There were the elephant and dog tricks, the big cats were out for about 10 minutes before they were rushed back to their owners who just rented them out to the Shriners.
The clowns were.... well, Shriners in makeup driving little cars. Doing their best imitation of what they figured clowns do. The little car. The tiny bicycle. The ducking-the-long-swinging-ladder bit. We laughed, but we were only trying to make the best of our half day of freedom. I mean, we stood outside in -40 degrees at 8:15 in the morning for this. We were going to have fun, Dammit!.
Because we were from Selkirk, we were assigned seats in the VERY LAST ROWS of the WInnipeg arena. Both years that I went, this was the deal. Selkirk gets all of the flotsam I tell you. We get no respect.

So anyway, yah,  the real show was not in the Big Ring. It was in the last rows of the Winnipeg arena because I was more fascinated by Adele Gelder and Doug Mercer kissing throughout the entire show than any tired and enslaved elephant walking on it’s hind legs. I mean, kissing was a BIG DEAL. And they were kissing the whole time. I wasn’t even sure how people went about boy/girl kissing. It was a Hollywood mystery to me. You could never get close enough to the actors’ faces to see what was going on. So basically, to me, I figured that this must be what kissing was:

So while everyone else was watching the clowns throw candy to the first two rows of the audience (kids from River Heights, I’ll bet you), I was enthralled with the pre-teen pre-sexual drama going on not two feet away from me. How could they breathe? Was that fun to do? Was she.... how can she chew gum AND smush mouths with him at the same time? Why wasn’t the teacher doing anything? Is she allowed to smoke in here? Would I ever be pretty and popular like Adele Gelder and get to smush faces with someone?

The answer is no. At least not til I was old enough for it to be weird that I’d never been face smushed. By then, thankfully, I’d been exposed to cable television, and had a better idea about what kissing was and how it was supposed to play out. I was shocked to learn that tongues were involved. Wouldn’t that kinda ruin it?
Ultimately, then, my question now is: How do children in Ontario learn about kissing, if they are not able to be crossing patrols? Both provinces had similar rates of teenage pregnancies in the 1970’s, and as you know you can get pregnant from kissing a boy, so it’s not like a lack of information led to an increase in  precocious sex or teen mothers in Ontario. No. Ontario kids learned about the birds and the bees from somewhere other than the Shrine Circus.
Probably at Ontario Place.
Yah. Ontario Place.
Where Ontario pre-
teens go to learn about sex
Wadhera S. and Millar, W. (1997), Teenage pregnancies, 1974-1994. Statistics Canada Health Reports, Winter 1997, 9 (3).