Blogger Archive 2007 end

Writers write. Moreso when there are monkeys.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Molly the hunter
I couldn’t be sure which cat was responsible but I had to share what awaited me under the table yesterday morning: mouse. Dead mouse. More like a little knob of mouse. With one leg. Tail lay close by. Largely gnawed free of hair and skin, organs semi-exposed. I suppose it’s better than a fully intact dead mouse, I mean, at least there appeared to be an effort to eat the thing. Dead mouse nonetheless.

Later… Having just come into the kitchen and found Molly relaxing in the middle of the floor with one paw laying ever-so-lightly upon a baby garter snake (still alive), I’m reasonably sure that Molly kitty is the great hunter.

Instructions for removal of baby garter snake: 1) place clear bowl over baby garter snake on floor; 2) slide newspaper under bowl and snake (taking care not to smoosh little snake tail); 3) slide a binder or similar book carefully under newspaper to facilitate firm seal between bowl and newspaper and ensure solid base for transportation; 4) observe snake for a moment, attempt to engage autistic son’s interest in captive baby reptile; 5) keeping bowl firmly upon newspaper supported by book, walk out of doors to a suitably sheltered area and release the snake with firm instructions to avoid being captured again.

It should be noted that later when I mentioned the baby garter snake Gabriel, in spite if being a boy’s boy and enjoying play with all things slimy, looked wildly about and immediately assumed the classic reflexive recoil posture: rising up on ball of left foot; right foot up, knee crossing to left; kangaroo-like arms, hands up and front; head cocked, chin down, facial grimace. Hilarious.
Posted by Alexandria at 8:45 AM 1 comments

Saturday, July 07, 2007
Sick on Sicko
I’ve spent much of the day in a haze after catching a matinee of Sicko this afternoon. (I would love to have participated in last weekend’s opening box office but documentaries don’t come quickly to this podunk town.) Michael Moore’s latest film left the camera less on the director focusing instead on his subjects, allowing them to tell the story. I enjoyed it but I’m afraid Moore’s given his audience too much credit: he’s assumed they’ll make a strong enough connection between this human suffering and the criminal profiteering of HMOs and pharmaceutical companies.

If we happen to disappear one day you can look for us in France. Things seem ducky there.

There has been much thumping of chests here about misrepresentation of Canadian health care. While the film does take a rose-tinted brush to our health care system, the realities here remain infinitely easier to swallow than what our friends to the South tolerate. Even fully insured, Gabriel’s chronic health condition would have driven me into bankruptcy years ago. I can’t imagine having had to weigh his best interests against costs. Crazy-making.

I’m in front of the TV watching the Live Earth feed from New York and the Police just closed the event. Global warming seems to pale in comparison to the tragedies unfolding under the US health care regime. That said, Sting is one sexy motherfucker.

And for the highlight of my day…

Spinal Tap + Army of Bass Players — Live Earth "Big Bottom"

Posted by Alexandria at 7:12 PM 0 comments
Labels: Live Earth, Sicko, Spinal Tap

Thursday, July 05, 2007
Winds seem to be passing
The winds, thankfully, seem to be dying down. I’ve just returned from a twelve step meeting and though I can’t say that I feel infinitely better, I can say that I feel far better. I’ve been jammed in for a couple of days now — hungry, angry, lonely, and tired by turns — and the isolation of this small(ish) town is gnawing at my very soul. Over seven years here and I’ve yet to make any friends outside of my recovery group. Don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome and all, but they don’t fill the need of real companions, cohorts in crime, as it were. I have dear friendships that span many many years but they’re relegated to the telephone and email right now. Leaving this place is not an option. I suppose there are always options but the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits (the sole one being my friendships.) I suppose I weigh my son’s support system above all else. It’s just where we’re at for now. But suffering is optional. That’s something I heard tonight that I’d do well to remember.

I just popped back from the blog of a friend of mine who, by rights, deserves a spot on my earlier list of distinguished authors (and remedies the Y-chromosome dominant nature of that list.) Lisa’s writing — simple observations from a Vancouver girl who shares so much of what made up my own life — embodies many of the characteristics I strive for in my own. Check it out.

Oh, and I just caught on to the passing wind reference above. Is my subconscious telling me that life is like a fart?
Posted by Alexandria at 9:24 PM 0 comments
Witches Wind

Managed to get to weed-whacking the borders in the yard. It’s a lot of work maintaining that carefully carefree look. I’m so glad it’s warm again! Loving my back deck and the yard. Gabriel has lined up two wading pools and filled them, plus the inflatable one that’s beyond repair (just a puddle of water in that one, really.) He changed into his swim trunks then added his swimming vest and goggles to the ensemble. Now he’s leapfrogging from one to the other. So very cute.

I’ve been a little persnickety the last few days. Not sleeping well because Gabriel’s got his entire animal zoo in my bed. The other night I gave up and moved into his bed (blessedly animal-free.) Five minutes later he climbed in there with me. Can’t win. In spite of my best efforts to eject the child and his zoo from my bed so I could get a good night’s rest last night I awoke around two and couldn’t get back to sleep for a couple of hours. Witches wind. Maddening. Tired. Luckily I’m really enjoying my book: A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain. I adore his writing. In my insomniac haze I made a list of the writers that I enjoy and emulate the most: Anthony Bourdain, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Coupland, Stuart McLean, and Nick Hornby. (I reserve the right to add to this list at will. Estrogen sorely lacking there.)

I’m smoking way too much these days but I figure you pick your battles, right? Why make life harder right now (when it’s feeling not very easy.)
Posted by Alexandria at 5:40 PM 0 comments
Labels: gardening

Friday, June 29, 2007
The high price of napping.

Summer holidays: day two. It’s an extremely dark and rainy day so naturally I retired to the couch after lunch. Awoke to find my laptop inscribed with the words "The End" and "Ducks Park."
Evidently my son chose to lay his paper directly on top of my computer before writing with a Sharpie and it soaked right through. The high price of napping. How the hell do you remove permanent marker from a MacBook case, you ask? To the internet!! Turns out I’m not alone in this one…

And I have learned of many sites dedicated to helping one with life’s little inconveniences.

Top of the list seem to be Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and non-acetone nail polish. Less probable, though no less highly regarded, is the "draw over the marks with a dry erase marker and the permanent marker will wipe right off with it." There may be science to that but I’m having a hard time buying it.

Compared to the time my olde tyme iBook suffered a dismantling of key caps at Gabriel’s hands, I guess it’s not so bad. (Flickr has some examples of that one as well.) When it happened again a few weeks later, behind closed doors during a birthday party, Gabriel hid the evidence in the recycling bin — the one with the paper shredder. We interrupted birthday cake so that everyone could help me sift through bits of shredded paper in search of opaquey-white keys and those thin white plastic doohickeys that impossibly click together to suspend key caps to keyboard.

Guess this is what I get for letting him eat nothing but granola bars and Goldfish Crackers all day.

ps: Just finished my first Kakuro puzzle. Down with Sudoku — long live Kakuro!!
Posted by Alexandria at 9:12 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Crow vs. snake
I was just sitting outside and noticed a crow flapping around with something and alight to my neighbor’s roof with what appeared to be a piece of rope in its beak. "Lovely, it’s building a nest," I naively thought to myself. Then the rope started thrashing around and as much as I’d prefer to think it was simply a very large worm, the musculature was clearly reptilian. The writhing, thrashing rope/snake made efforts to slither away; to watch the battle one wouldn’t immediately think that a roof was the most brilliant stopping point the crow could make. Just when it looked like that little garter snake had successfully made a break for it the crow hauled it back again and continued pecking it into submission. Peck… peck peck peck… peck… peck peck peck peck peck. After about five minutes things grew quiet. Peck peck. And then the crow flew away with the now limp rope/snake, dead (or dazed enough for transport) and ready for whatever came next. I wonder if there was a little crow family waiting back at the nest. I’d probably feel better about the whole thing if there were baby crow mouths to feed.
Posted by Alexandria at 6:24 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
NDTA rant
The. Mind. Boggles. Just back from a meeting of the PAC Executive for my son’s school (that’s like the PTA except there’s no teachers involved but only if you live in Nanaimo but that’s another, yet not entirely unrelated, rant.) These meetings leave me aggravated at the best of times and fulfill many of the stereotypes one might have of a bunch of mothers sitting around *talking* the business of their kids’ educations. (Read: conducting a little business between hen-pecking about other things. No wonder we can’t get the fathers involved; they have the good sense to stay away.) During the hour and half (during which we accomplished about thirty minutes’ worth of work) much discussion was given to staffing for the following year. To set the stage, our small (200 student) inner city school has endured huge losses over the last couple of years. Two of our senior teachers passed away from cancer, one of whom would be nominated for sainthood if it didn’t have to involve the Catholics. Our principal was reassigned mid-year. One teacher is retiring this year (though no tears shed there on account of her yelling at the students and all. Bah bye.) Three of our teachers were in ‘temporary’ assignments and laid off. Four have posted out to other more attractive positions. And our principal has now been reassigned. (Sure, she was new to us this January but she was ours nonetheless.) That leaves two, count ’em, two, of our existing teaching staff returning next year. It’s like a complete reinvention of the school. And for the most part we have the wisdom of the Nanaimo District Teacher Association and BC Teachers’ Federation collective agreements to thank for the shuffle. These are the agreements they voted to be governed by! The silver lining would be that the new teachers posting in will have secured permanent assignments so we shouldn’t have to deal with this roller coaster of layoffs next year. Except that one of the teachers coming in is on medical leave so we’ll be given another temporary body. Explain for me the wisdom of allowing someone to post for a position that they won’t even be occupying?! Couple this with CUPE’s agreement governing the Education Assistants that *teach* my autistic son; it’s more about securing positions by seniority (as opposed to experience and ability) and ensuring timely break opportunities (disregarding the child’s needs); I’m on the verge of leaving the District. I wouldn’t be the first parent to run screaming from the area for the sake of my child’s education. I wonder how much property I could buy in Errington?
Posted by Alexandria at 8:54 PM 0 comments
Labels: education, Nanaimo

Monday, June 18, 2007
I am electrical
I am woman. And I do electrical. As a single homeowner I’m learning things about, well, things around the house. I try to read up on things so I can conduct minor repairs on my own. I know enough to know when I don’t know enough and leave it to the professionals (like repointing the chimney.) But electrical has always scared the bejesus out of me. Something about volts (hundreds and/or thousands of them) coursing through wires, seeking emancipation via my tender flesh, has made me loathe to attempt even the most minor repairs by myself. All that changed today.

One of the outlets in my living room floor (olde tyme house, can’t really string wire through the walls) has been dodgy from day one. Removing a plug loosened the thing to the point that the socket doodad broke and the whole thing became unstable and, in a word, unsafe. The last straw came this afternoon when I pulled something out of the socket: with a mighty sparkly flash the room fell silent and dark and the smell of ozone filled the air. I jumped back, looked for evidence that anything had actually caught fire (it hadn’t), and knew it was time to do something about it.

The lady in the hardware store helped me determine the best replacement socket for the job ($0.79) and I set off to consult my cousin in hopes that he would, instead of talking me through the fear and mechanics, favour just installing the thing himself. No luck. He did helpfully offer, however, that once the power was cut to that circuit, the replacement was virtually idiot-proof. I wasn’t so sure.

Blowing the fuse had helpfully identified the appropriate circuit so after double-checking that it was disabled, and then checking again just to be sure, I gathered my screwdrivers and hunkered down to do the deed. A short time later I emerged victorious, socket and cover installed, marveling how ham-handed electricians could do such tiny-fingered work. Flicking the breaker, the juice coursed back into the living room and I tested the table lamp on the outlet. Mercifully nothing pop or fizzled and clean illumination was ours once again. Nothing appears to be alight, even now. I am woman. And I am electrical.
Posted by Alexandria at 4:02 PM 0 comments
Labels: electrical, home repair

Saturday, June 16, 2007
Check out my Aug 17/06 post "Slurbuck’s" and rejoice! The fine folks at 7-11 saw the genius in combining coffee with Slurpee technology and give us… The Slurpuccino! Check out the press release from

Jun 12, 2007 12:03 ET Cappuccino Meets Slurpee in 7-Eleven(R) Canada’s Newest Fat-Free Summer Drink

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – June 12, 2007) – Just in time for summer, 7-Eleven in Canada has created a non-dairy, fat-free and cholesterol-free, cappuccino flavoured Slurpee. Slurpuccino is now available at all 463 stores across Canada for those wanting their favourite frozen cappuccino drink without all the fat. 7-Eleven’s new beverage has 150 calories per 12 ounce serving. Most frozen cappuccino drinks from other vendors have between 190 and 300 calories. Slurpuccino also has no fat whereas competing frozen cappuccinos do. 7-Eleven’s innovative Slurpuccino contains coffee extracts but has minimal caffeine. With 3.45 milligrams per 12 ounce serving, Slurpuccino has less caffeine than a Coke Slurpee and far less than an average cup of coffee. "We wanted to create a fat and cholesterol free, icy cappuccino drink that would be a fun and tasty alternative for people who love coffee and Slurpees," says Brad Beaton, product manager for 7-Eleven Canada. "Slurpuccino is a refreshing frozen cappuccino drink." Slurpuccino is available for the same price as other Slurpee favourites such as Fanta Sour Green Apple and Powerade Fruit Punch. Ranging from 99 cents to $1.79, Slurpuccino is the best value for frozen cappuccino in the marketplace. The idea behind Slurpuccino originated in Canada over a year ago. In talking to customers across the country, coffee flavour was consistently mentioned as a favourite but they expressed concerns with fat content in icy cappuccino drinks. Beaton says that’s when they knew they wanted to create a fat-free cappuccino flavoured Slurpee. "Now not only can people enjoy Slurpuccino’s smooth and creamy taste but they can also appreciate it’s a fat and cholesterol-free, more affordable alternative to the majority of frozen cappuccino drinks currently available." Slurpuccino was unveiled in 7-Eleven stores across Canada on June 1. It is available at the Slurpee machines.

Posted by Alexandria at 11:38 AM 1 comments
Labels: Slurpee

Friday, June 15, 2007
It’s a jungle back there
Our back yard is a lovely green oasis in the centre of the city. The swath of devastation left by our neighbor’s garage renovation was quickly replaced by lush buttercups and the blackberry snakes skyward again. In light of the new growth, and motivated by a patch of dry weather, I managed to stake the early peas and dig and plant the vegetable beds which meant appropriating them from Gabriel’s use. He had installed all manner of plastic flowers and twigs to create his own special gardens: "Come and see the flowers." I love to see him play in the earth but the corn really needed to go in.

And so he has moved on to "the jungle". This is the space between the back fence and the vegetable patch, wild and lush and overgrown, where his little bottom has padded down the tall grass. He is effectively obstructed from view at the other end of the garden so I imagine he feels very safe. It’s just the kind of magical spot I would have sought out as a child: sheltered and close, surrounded by trees. All around this flat patch he’s placed the colourful windmill flowers, twigs, a watering can, and plastic animals. It’s a wonderful place to eat an ice cream cone, especially when that constitutes dinner.
Posted by Alexandria at 6:14 PM 0 comments
Labels: autism, gardening

Saturday, June 02, 2007
Why Gabriel shouldn’t answer the door.
Safety isn’t one of Gabriel’s strong suits. His autism leaves him completely clueless when it comes to street safety, stranger danger, and the benefits of keeping your body from employing gravity to meet the earth at great speed. I can find ways in which his fearlessness allows him to live life free of petty fears like my own neuroses. But opening the door to strangers isn’t something I’d like him to be fearless about.

His behaviour consultant and I came up with a social story to the effect of "grownups open the door" but I haven’t been as consistent with this as I should. We live a quiet life and most of the people who come to the door are family and friends. Even the Girl Guides don’t go door-to-door these days preferring to set up camp outside of Wal Mart.

Now, the Jehova’s Witnesses tend to hit our area on Saturday mornings; I often see them skulking about my neighbors’ as I head to my regular meeting. But we were home this morning and I’d taken advantage of the weather to weed-whack and putter in the back garden.

So I come in from the yard and there’s something sitting on the arm of the couch. "Follow The Christ!" it implores. The smiling, bearded man in the white and brown clothing on the flyer seemed friendly enough. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him termed "The Christ" before (as opposed to "A Christ" or just "Christ". Is it a name or a noun?) Closer inspection revealed it to be an invitation to a major mass JW baptism this weekend.

I can only imagine what confronted the unwitting JW’s when the door opened: a ten year old boy in pajamas with major bed head exclaiming, "bye bye ducks!" and wandering away. Maybe he shared excerpts from Robert Munsch’s Alligator Baby ("aaaaahhhhh!") I wonder if they asked him if he was ready to be admitted to the kingdom of heaven? And if so I wonder if he said, "Disney Classics Dumbo field trip" or "foam soap purple dinosaur." They and he are the only ones who know what happened that day.

Me, I was just glad to see that nothing was missing. I suppose if my ten year old autistic son is going to open the door for any stranger in this neighborhood the JWs are better than anyone. Don’t imagine we’ll see them again soon. Time to review front door safety, maybe tweak that social story and put it back into heavy rotation.
Posted by Alexandria at 4:42 PM 0 comments
Labels: autism, Jehova’s Witness, safety

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