Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hi, I'm stupid


One day into the holiday without TechnoBoy and I have

a) completely soaked my laptop bag and the carpet on the floor of the van. I have not yet asked darien-the-commenter if I ruined her leather purse in the process.

b) left the charger for my camera battery at home

c) left the power cord for my computer at home

d) said "NO. BARK." to the dog 816 times.

e) been startled out of a sound sleep twice by a barking dog, who just happens to belong to me.

Right then. Off to load the van. No clue what I'm doing with the laptop while the bag continues to dry out.

(also may I just add that attempting to sleep with one of my children is like trying to sleep in a blender? There's a lot of thrashing about and flailing - I was trying to read after the kids went to sleep and the book I was reading was punched out of my hands not once but twice.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In which I try not to rant

So life is about learning.

Here are a few things I learned in the last week.

1. There is such a thing as an INTERNATIONAL warranty. Do not assume that the camera you purchase in the US can be fixed in Canada if it happens to malfunction a mere 11 days after you bought it, unless the warranty card in the box says "International" warranty.

2. Very few camera manufacturers offer warranties that are valid in both the US and the Canada. Nikon most assuredly does not.

3. I bought my camera at an electronics store that shall remain nameless. However, may be in your BEST interests not to BUY anything there. No matter how BEST the claimed BUY is. I have never dealt with a more spectacularly unhelpful retailer.

It did not matter how many phone calls I made or how many different scenarios I thought up, they would not help me exchange the camera in time to have working camera before my vacation. Their overall attitude was "Sucks to be you." There was nowhere, apparently, in the entire United States of America that I could courier my broken camera to to have BB deal with the faulty product they had sold me. I was willing to drive the stupid thing back over the border to a BB there, but I wouldn't have made it before their 14 day return policy was up, and there was certainly no budging on that score.

So my camera is now on the way to Nikon in the US to a place that deals with US Warranty repair.

The kicker? If I had DROPPED it, I could have replaced it through my VISA purchase protection plan. Immediately.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Snarky Susie Sets You Straight

I endeavour to be helpful. (I seem to recall a post that once advised avid seamstresses not to remove the cap from the Fray Chek with their teeth, lest they squirt the noxious substance up thier nose.)

This post is advice for aspiring poets. I have recently read and rated approximately 500 poems for a fall issue of a magazine, so I guess that makes me one of those Editors I'm so scared of. There's some kind of message in that for me, but today is all about you, the poet who would like to sell your poems to a magazine. Here's some advice from an Editor, who is actually just a human being.

1. Taking a sentence and
inserting random line
breaks does not make
a poem out of

2. if the sentence you do take
and like a pretzel twist it
just so that a rhyme you make
you look like a nitwit.

3. why yes! I did! notice that word! because i am! smarter than you seem to! expect your reader to! be! but ! I don`t! want to publish! your poem! because! exclamation marks! annoy! me! and all! my editor! friends!

You can all thank me later.

Tomorrow's advice involves the purchasing of electronics south of the border when you live north of the border. As a sneak preview as to its basic gist, the subtitle is: Don't.

Friday, July 18, 2008

So that was mistake - or was it?

Took the kids to a lake here in town (yes, right in town. It's a life of hardship, I tell you) today, with a friend along for each of them. Half an hour after we got there, it started to rain and then there was lightning, and then we got kicked off the beach. So we went to Dairy Queen instead, because, as I said, "After a hot day at the beach, we need ice cream to cool off." And then I got the eye-rolling I deserved.

So that was a waste, except it wasn't, because the other two kids are still here, and so I have some much needed FreeFall collective reading time.

and last night, I peeled five potatoes too many for supper, so that was a waste, except I saved them and now tonight's supper is that much closer to being done.


I'm looking forward to my next mistake!

Where to start?

My BIL wrote a song to his firstborn, almost 13 years ago.

"I'll keep trying to answer your questions
the way a Daddy should
and reminding you that Jesus loves you
and God is always good."

Jesus loves you, and God is always good.

It must have been at least three years ago that I became aware that one of my children was praying fervently for something I was anguished to be unable to deliver. How heartbreaking it can be, to stand back and wait for God's timing in the lives of our children.

And yet. How very comforting it is when the "Wait" turns to "Yes".

Tonight my heart is alive with praise, and although it is late, and I am tired, I could not go to bed without thanking God publicly for blessing my child beyond all that was asked or imagined.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Snippets

(bonus marks for readers who catch the Monty Python reference)

1. We're all back home, the five of us, and it is lovely. My daughter has picked up a British accent that someone left lying around to be inhaled - my SIL doesn't know where it came from, but apparently she's had it for four days now. She sounds ever so much sweeter when she's rolling her eyes at me now.

2. The dog is napping beside me on the couch (no, wait, on a blanket on the new couch, because she is SO not allowed on the couches) and every time I move my hand she bares her belly at me just in case I was planning to scratch it.

3. A photo showing how to make two geeky Canadians walk around saying "Have you in fact got any cheese at all?" for several hours - tour a cheese factory. This is in Tillamook, Oregon, and those orange lines? Long lines of blocks of cheese.

4. Tomorrow morning it's Office Hours Or Else. 9 till 12, I'm working. Not for pay, just Being A Writer. The best part is, it will be in my pyjamas.

5. There was no drive by weeding done while we were away.

This post brought to you by my left brain


(and yes, I do realize that the commonly held opinion is that my left brain atrophied and was surgically removed long ago)

So we had company earlier this month who showed us many pictures from their trip driving the Alaskan highway, and I was personally amazed at the quality of the pictures taken with my friend's teeny tiny wee little (pop quiz – how big was it?) digital camera. TechnoGuy and I had many hours to talk while driving and changing into the hibiscus dress (me, not him, although I did suggest he give it a whirl) and it came out that yes, I would love my own camera again, and somehow that led to a Best Buy and a Nikon CoolPix (10 MP! Apparently that's GREAT!) It is (guess how big?) and oh so portable and also my very own, so the people who check our pictures periodically will once again be treated to several pictures of TG taking pictures. Also the reason it is so hard to get good pictures of TG is – no-one ever takes any pictures of TG. How great is THIS pic?

And now we are going out for lunch in a few whiles with my brother and his wife and I thought, hey wouldn't it be cool if I could show them pictures from our recent trip over lunch?

So I took the pictures off my camera and synced them to my Zune and then I chose several pictures from TG's camera and synced THOSE to my Zune, and now I have two new slide shows on my Zune to show at lunch time.

This involved SD cards and card readers and cords plugged into the right places and learning of new software and - brace yourself – I DID NOT WHINE OR MOAN ONCE. Nor did I slide my beloved laptop over to my husband and say "Oh never mind, I'll learn the next time."

Old dog, new trick – it CAN be done.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where We've Been

Oh, away. Tuesday we kept driving over state lines saying "Hey, the dress has been to Idaho now" but I never felt like stopping to change just to take a picture of a sign saying "Welcome to Washington" with a large woman standing beside it, so here's another picture from Monday that I liked.

And here's where we were yesterday. I listened to a guide talking about how fast the landslide moved and scribbled data like mad, but really, it boils down to - wow. It was awe-inspiring and sobering and the stories of people surviving by riding logs through a mudslide and people with tiny babies racing for their lives brought tears to my eyes.

And here's a little shot I like to call Are We There Yet?

And in shampoo news (what? don't you all have shampoo news?), on Tuesday morning my hair smelled like lime and coconut and boy, do I want to find a Bath and Body Works and get me some of that product, and yesterday my hair smelled like oatmeal cookies, which was ...distracting ...and today my hair just feels clean. No identifiable odour.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

hey guess what?

This morning, in the hotel room, I kissed my husband good morning and nobody rolled their eyes and told us to get a room.* Nobody is asking for breakfast and noone turned cartoons on at 6 a.m.

How is this possible?

We are on a holiday without our children. Where are we going? We don't even care.

Do I miss my kids? You bet. B is off to Bible Camp for the first time this year - is he okay? can he sleep without John Avery Whittaker on the CD player and a fan blowing straight into his face? A is at "cousin camp", which is really my SIL being a fantastic woman and taking a week out of her summer to make amazing memories for five young girls. I even miss the dog, but I don't miss having a dog in a hotel room.

A friend with several children found out we were going and could not stop enthusing about it. You can eat ice cream in the middle of the afternoon and not have to share it! You can eat in a restaurant and not cut anyone's food! She called me aside and pressed something into my hand. "It's a sundress," she said. "If I can't go anywhere, at least my clothes can!"

So I present to you -

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress, Installment One, Wild Goose Island, The Going To The Sun Road, Montana

*Yes, this has happened in the past. My response was "We did!"

Thursday, July 03, 2008

That was so easy, I'm doing another one

Thirteen Books You Should Read (All fiction). (if you want to) (in no particular order, or rather, the order in which I thought of them)

1. Love Walked In, by Marisa de los Santos

2. Belong to Me, by Marisa de los Santos, sequel to the above

3. Healing Stones, by Nancy Rue (seriously. Every single Christian everywhere should read this. What are you waiting for?)

4. The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin)

5. Touch the Dragon, by Karen Connolly (I hope I'm spelling that right)

6. Running Toward Home, by Betty Jane Hegerat

7. Awakening, by Angela Hunt

8. Arena, by Karen Hancock

9. The Shadow Women, by Angela Hunt

10. Secrets, by Kristen Heitzmann (number of n's in the last name may vary)

11. The Hidden, by Kathryn Mackel

12. One Smooth Stone, by Marcia Layccck

13. Peace Like A River, by Leif Enger

Right then. That's your summer work cut out for you.

Can I type thirteen things while it's still Thursday?

1. A recently got an award at school for being an "Effective Communicator". This was an end-of-year award and was given to only 5 students in her grade. It was a recognition of her ability to communicate effectively in written reports across a variety of subjects.

She did not know she was getting the award.

She walked up to receive the award wearing a T-shirt that read "I can talk my way out of anything."

2. "Have you seen the thing goes on this thing?" I asked TechnoBoy recently, thinking privately of that Billy Collins poem that starts out "The nouns are the first to go ..."

He looked at me. "A hundred thousand words in the English language," he said, "and yet so many items are called 'things'."

3. There are way more than a hundred thousand words in the English language. Go look it up.

4. A made supper on Tuesday. Chicken skewers, with the chicken dipped in sweet'n'sour sauce. She got the sauce recipe off the internet. I asked her to print the recipe for the sauce afterward, because it was really good sweet'n'sour sauce.

"Oh, I changed it," she said. "And I don't remember how, I just thought maybe it would taste good with pineapple juice in it and ..." and I lost the rest of what she was saying because I'm 47, and it still makes me nervous to change the Recipe. When I make up a recipe all by myself, I feel like WonderWoman. Until we taste it.

Any chance I can grow up to be just like A?

5. TechnoBoy has a job, starting July 16, that is not downtown. He will not have to pay for parking.

6. I took the dog for a long walk tonight. By the end of it, she was trudging along beside me like I was punishing her.

7. We are having good friends come to visit from out of town tomorrow night, that we haven't seen in a few years. I am delighted.

8. No-one has done any drive-by weeding in my garden. I don't know why.

9. Seriously, wouldn't that be a great thing to do for someone? Wait till they left for work in the morning, and then go and do their yardwork?

10. If you're thinking of trying #9, I can pretend not to be home all day tomorrow.

11. Remember those jeans I found the day before yesterday? I'm pretty sure the reason I didn't take them to California with me when we moved there was because they were too small. They are not too small now.

12. Sue's tip for drinking lots of water all day: Keep a glass in the bathroom. Every time you go in to spend a penny (tee hee), fill the glass with water before you sit down, and drink it while you're sitting there.

13. I can take 18 minutes to type this because it is still Thursday for another 18 minutes. I am not going to, however.

Okay goodnight to those of you who have not dozed off reading this.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

six hundred and forty three? really?

This is my 643rd post. Who knew?

Okay, whatever. I'm still alive. I think about posting often, but I'd have to stop doing nothing in order to do that, and I'm having too much fun.

Either that or the spousal unit and I are taking advantage of this period of coincident unemployment to gaze lovingly into each other's eyes and say things like "Will we ever get all this crap organized?" For the first week, or maybe even two, or maybe all the way till yesterday, TechnoBoy worked industriously while I took desultory stabs at things and then sat down, resolved to Do Better tomorrow. And lo and behold, tomorrow was yesterday, and today, and there has been much sorting and flinging of trash, and taking of things to Goodwill, and also much chortling over the clothes we wore 20 years ago (that you can now go buy for yourself, at Goodwill. And really, you must hurry, because a pale yellow cotton men's suit is going to snapped right up!) The coolest thing I found was the pair of shorts I've been wondering about, off and on, for at least three years, and also - a few months ago, I was delighted to find a pair of Cotton Ginny jeans, in my size, at the consignment store. A few days ago, I realized that now that I no longer go out among the people to work, I may have to invest in another pair of jeans. I looked sadly at my lovely Cotton Ginny jeans, circa 1998, as I thought this, because they cannot be purchased now. And all this time, there was a pair of nearly new jeans exactly like them hiding in my basement closet.

Moving on. If you ever need a pencil for anything, we have a box of assorted pencils, pens and crayons wearing approximately 400 lbs on our games shelf. And the games shelf is so tidy it brings tears to my eyes. (My version of tidy, however - I am expecting Very Tidy company in a few days, and I am well aware that the disorganization in my house will cause internal tongue cluckings. I do not care. I am doing the best I can with the personality I've been given.)

The most freeing thing for me this week has been to realize YOU DON'T HAVE TO KEEP IT. If your friend's well-meaning sister gave you two dozen workbooks that her daughter didn't use and your child has shown no interest in, you are under no obligation to keep them. Some rodent in a landfill somewhere might need to catch up on its Grade 7 math. That lovely whatever-it-is that someone gave you for your birthday five years ago, that you don't know how to work? Goodwill needs SOMETHING to sell. The pieces from a 50 cent necklace that was broken so long ago no-one in this house remembers it? It's time to free it from the confines of your house.

And so I have been merrily pitching things, and giving things away, and packing boxes for Goodwill. TechoBoy has been resolutely Not Looking in the boxes because we are both horrible horrible packrats. He looks in a box, and All Is Lost. The Hats were the worst of all. He picked up a faded faded faded (ie very light in colour) ball cap, a ball cap that was a rather noticeable shade of orange in its youth. Time had done no favours for the general appearance of this cap, so I put it in the Do Not Keep pile. TechnoBoy picked it up, and his eyes got misty. "You wore this for a lot of great canoe trips." Yes, yes, I did, but I am doing the suffering for our children, honey, when we are both dead and gone, and they have to figure out what to do with this entire housefull of happy memories.

The hat is gone but the memories aren't.

Still, I couldn't quite give away the tiny red and white Canada jacket both my children wore. It's hanging up there with my wedding dress and my grad dress.

And now I'm going to bed, because company is coming tomorrow morning and the house, while it is tidier than it has been in living memory, has a layer of filth on it like nobody business. (sic)

Anybody have any idea how to clean silk plants? Or, indeed, why?