Thursday, March 11, 2010

Long Distance Call

Its time. I'm ready.

The Mother Ship can come and fetch me now. I have more than completed my research on the bizarre and repetitious life of the common domestic female.

I have accumulated extensive data on All Things Laundry; stain removal, the benefits of hot- warm-cold wash/rinse cycles. I can wax eloquent on the relative merits of washing diapers at home, engaging a service or going green disposable, as well as the myriad of environmental and social implications thereof.

I have innumerable tricks and tactics to create something out of basically nothing and confidently present it as valuable -- such as a meal, a curtain or a vacation.

I have developed incredible and almost inexplicable skills. I keep a constantly updated bank of detailed notes on who takes what in their coffee or tea; what is the alignment of the planets when herbal or Chinese tea is favoured? Who likes weenies in their beans and who likes them straight? Exactly how long does it take to get a four year old out the door in how many weather appropriate layers and how far can you get before they have to empty their bladder?

I know never to leave the house without it. "It" being antihistamine, tape measure, clean socks, pencil and paper, apple juice, Swiss army knife, a flash light or a Humpty Dumpty toy, depending on.....

I have amassed endless amounts of information on depending on.

Never did I master the art and appreciation of mathematics, but after years of screw-ups and do-overs I suspect Revenue Canada looks forward to my annual efforts to complete income tax forms for 5. They surely provide comic relief. Should I manage to get them even nearly right one day, I fear they would be disappointed. So I should really get out now while I'm still hot.

And, really, I can't take much more. Useless information bleeds from ears. My brain cells are rapidly becoming liquified by the herculean effort to understand: why can't a man follow very simple directions? How can grandparents fail to recognize their own beloved grandchildren in a photograph, spending a dottering three minutes searching for their cheaters then holding the photo at arms length and squinting and still look dubious -- yet they can see and be obviously offended by a speck of dirt hardly large enough to cover a bug's bum twenty paces away on a kitchen counter? Why is it that a university aged young woman can't bear to let her much, much younger sister come anywhere near the cottage doll house? Because she might mess it up. I thought that was called play.

Come get me. Return me to my planet. I'll work in the cryptonite mine unearthing dilithium crystals for the rest of my days with a broken back and a smile on my face.

It would have to be easier than this.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cranky Afternoon

I have a lot to do. Really. And I have done a lot already. None of it is the Middle East Conflict solving stuff, or curing cancer or developing sheer stockings that will never run. I have real things to do like cleaning the cat box, reupholstering the damn couch that I have hostile feelings for (long story, not blog-able) and painting, repainting and putting baseboard and/or 1/4 round on 75% of my house.

But all I want to do is eat chocolate eggs, drink coffee and knit.

And scream into the abyss from time to time. Mostly about that friggin' couch.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

one addiction for another

one addiction for another

I gave up wine for lent.
I know, "what was I thinking?" If I was drunk I could probably come up with a witty answer. But here in the dark depths of sobriety, I can't think of one.
And its true what they say (whoever they are) you may give up one addiction but you remain addicted. The obsession is merely replaced by another.
At the moment, I am jonesing for another glimpse of the patterns on My knitting advisor/local wool shop owner/enabler Lisa, of The Naked Sheep, put me on to it when I presented myself blubbering ten minutes before closing time on a Saturday. No doubt she had already ministered to throngs of the knit-witless all day and was happy enough to put me onto this web-crack just to see the back of me. She wrote down the address, showed me how to sign up and directed me to the patterns page, patted me on the head and shoved me out the door with the flimsiest of cautionary tales: "You have to be careful, you can spend a lot of time and money on this one".
My eyes are dry, my head is aching and my fingers are itching to knit a basket of fruit, a gecko or a snazzy carry-all that looks compellingly like a severed head with dread locks.
I had been able to pull myself away from the eBay vintage pattern section after only a few hours of contemplation. In fact, no, there is no one I know who would benefit from a circa 1971 hot pants and maxi length fringed vest combo in lime green and orange.
But is too fulsome, too mesmerizing. There are thousands of pages of scarves, sweaters and hats and socks. And don't you want to knit a leafy beet? Doesn't every living soul NEED to knit a leafy beet? And a tit. I can't even say that word out loud but I want to knit one now. Alright, probably two. What about sushi or a balaclava with an attached beard?
Oh G'd, make it stop, make it stop. Close my eyes and close my account. The kids need supper and I have to go to the drug store.

Where to I sign up for rehab?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ottawa Winter

There is persuasive evidence to the contrary, but I find it difficult to believe that Ottawa is not 365 days in winter. I know the stories about the Dutch princess being brought into the world in war time Canada -- apparently a kitty box of Netherlands soil 'neath the bed so we couldn't claim the Royal Bundle Bunny as own in the next Eaton's Most Beautiful Baby Contest. And I know this resulted in the annual spring Tulip Festival. But I don't get it.

Here's what I love about Ottawa: skating on the canal, stopping for free hot chocolate, skating more, stopping for free soup, skating more, buying a beaver tail and eating it, skating more, singing william Perry's "Jerusalem" at the top of my lungs BADLY as I make it to Dow's Lake, then repeating the process in reverse.

At the end of the day you catch sight of yourself in a shop window and realize it looks like you rolled in the beaver tail because of the amount of it spread on your sweater and in your hair. Briefly you pause, consider how much hot water and conditioner you'll need to rectify the mess you have become. Then you shrug and just go buy another beaver tail. Maybe you can just even out the distribution of maple butter this time. Better ask for the chocolate too. It matches your hair colour better. And if you have to, you can always go for thirds. With a chaser of insulin.

Its fun. Narry a tulip as far as the eye can see. And with respect and gratitude to the Dutch for the bizzlion bulbs they have provided over the years, I don't miss them.

Ottawa is winter.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The North Pole

Dear Sir --

In the past you have ignored my repeated requests for a holiday timed encapsulated brain tumour. Yes, I understand times are tough and you are not as young a creative as you used to be. Maybe a tumour is too much to ask for.

Therefore, I have decided to change my request to something more easily installed. I imagine it will also be more successful and certainly more greatly appreciated by my near and dear.

I have been a good girl this year. I would like a nice prezzy. I would like a title/tag line.

Something like "Margaret Beach, Inter-supra-solar-system Super Consumer of No-Frillsian Feline Comestibles" -- but better. Something that is so impressive sounding that it confounds the reader/listener but also charms them. Nay, hypnotizes them. Something that says "she is fabbo, and if you are too ignorant to comprehend why, then you should just give up and worship her and buy her gifts"

I see this as a win-win game plan. You get off easy in the manufacturing department. All you really need is pencil, paper and a few elves chained to their desks churning out notions until they spin the golden line. It can happen. I have faith. I believe. Easy wrapping and merely have to program the thing in following my name every time I write it. Really I'm doing most of the work here.

So gimmee.

Yours with sincere respect,


Friday, September 11, 2009

Wild and Wooly Thing

I did It.

No, not that. Of course I've done that and I have a house full of kids and a magic bottomless laundry hamper to show for it. And because of that when some one says "movement" or "sit in" my mind goes directly down the hall to the bathroom. I don't think of taking such issues to the street.

But this time, I found a whole new direction and I stood up and marched for the cause -- straight down to the boardwalk with the other women. Men were invited, of course, but none were brave enough to take part. We gathered ourselves and our spirits and right there on the beach in full view of any person passing by (and several dogs, of course) we did it.

Without reserve, we knit.

It was Worldwide Knit In Public Day!

Surely you have it marked boldly on your calendar. No? Never heard of it? Seriously.....?

Well, me neither, but as soon as I caught wind of it all I knew I had to take part. I had never been much of a radical. I had never before answered a "call", unless you count giving dirty looks to people that idle their cars needlessly outside the school. But when the Naked Sheep informed me now was the time to come out of the granny woollen closet and declare myself a secure stitcher, there was no question. I was unashamed and unabashed of this nearly lost skill, poo-pooed by modernity as a occupation of brittle blue haired types with pickles up their bums, luddites in high waisted underpants creating coarse mufflers and pointy mittens in hard milled acrylic. How many acryls had to be shorn to feed their ugly habits? I knit. Of course I knit! In cotton and wool and silk and hemp. I kept my babies and tea pots warm and cosy. I secured my future mother-in-law's approval and support with a pair of argyle gloves for my husband back in the day.

And for this day I took up not just two needles but four and knit a sock in the round in a circle of like minded knitters: independent, proud and forthright. Women who spoke their minds and who had a plan. As a paddle boarder slowly crossed the lake beyond us some one in the group was inspired. "Lets knit him a sail!" she cried.

This was not a cottage pass time were were participating in, this was a classic art renewed and redefined. This was no country bee, it was a heady be-in of wild and wooly urbanites who knew who they were and the difference between murino and alpaca and didn't care a darn (in fact they all knew how to darn!) if they were seen to know it. Right there. In public.

Fo a brief and shining moment, I was one of them.

Then my 15 year old joined me for lunch from her near by work place and kept calling me "Mummy". After that my husband totally blew my cover when he showed up with our four year old in tow and told me it was time to go because we had to get groceries.

I was busted right down to domestic dabbler. It was plain I not the able fibre artist I longed to be.

But next year..... I'll be ready. I've marked my calendar. World Wide Knit in Public Day 2010, here I come. I have just enough time to knit myself a mustache as a disguise.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dog Tale

When I was small my mother got a St Bernard. One of those huge furry beasts with big jowels and droopy eyes. In fact, she eventually got two. What was she thinking? Did she believe those little barrel shaped flasks that St Bernards are so often pictured with were bread in somehow, complete with a self replenishing supply of brandy? What she got was a steady stream of drool from the dopy male, and a hyperactive, faeces eating female who was impossible to train. You may imagine how this informed my opinion of dogs.

Back episodes of Lassie and The Littlest Hobo assured me that dogs could be good and clever. They could rescue babies from burning buildings and perform tricks like shake-a-paw and settle-middle-east-conflict. But I kept my reservations. I refused to join in my children's chorus of "I Wanna Dog". I knew who would be walking it in the bad weather. I knew who would be on poop patrol and brushing its canines and coat: it would be the same person who cleaned the cat box and cleared up the kitty puke.

Yours truly.

Then something happened -- in the midst of a Christma madness, DIY kitchen renovations, visiting relations wedged into my little house along with the usual cast of six, a record snow fall and enough stress that I felt faint and inadvertently summoned the full emergency squad (police fire and ambulance) when I made an innocent little inquiry about symptoms of a low level CO2 leak -- puppy thoughts invaded my brain.

I had been hoping for an operable brain tumour. Nothing too serious. No loss of speech or motor control. Just something that needed immediate attention that would keep me alone in hospital at least until New Years. No visitors, no worries, no cooking for 9 every night. Surely I'd get a swanky set of jammies out of the ordeal. Win-win and something flannel with satin piping in a cup cake print.

But that wasn't working out. So I got a puppy instead. Completely logical, right?

I vowed not to become one of Those People. You know, Those People who work their lives around their dog's whims and bowel movements, who wipe their noses on their tiny canines murmuring "hoozawuvvywoggie?" before stowing them away between their listless bosoms. And my dog would not be one of Those Dogs -- quaking bug-eyed things who piddle at the slightest provocation (usually on you), before returning to "mommy's" dark, protective cleavage.

But I have gone dangerously close the edge. I once attended the dog cafe at the organic farmer's market, in which dogs lounge with their people, enjoying a home baked snack and a fair trade coffee. Heady with the thrill I got deeper into the whole scene. I hit the road to a hip outdoor festival-come-love-in, a be-canine-in -- Woofstock -- a festival of all things dog in downtown Toronto.

They closed whole blocks to accommodate the crowds and their dogs. Or vice versa. There were product stalls and demonstrations, water bowls everywhere, herds of horse sized Great Danes and fashion shows of denim clad chiauaus. A parkette fountain bubbled over with water loving dogs. There were savory samples in all sizes from Teeny to Bruiser. Competitions for dogs who could fetch farther higher and faster. Dogs of all kinds and people who loved them.

Yes, there were Those People and Those Dogs, but mostly dogs who didn't know they were dogs, and people that were happy to help them maintain their illusions. Happy dogs, grinning dogs, social dogs, happily sniffing each other's bums and wagging their whole selves in unbridled joy.

My little dog and I had a grand time. Stoned on puppy love I collected arm loads of samples. Stellerphant and I staggering home, high on the scent of panting dogs and kibble breath and crashed on the kitchen floor, too wiped to recount the wondrous tale.

"Its just like they say," observed my husband "If you can remember Woofstock, you weren't really there."