Friday, March 31, 2006

La belle province, part I

The last time I visited Montreal, I was 18, and it was March Break. Although I told my parents I was going to see what McGill was all about, the real reason I wanted to go was to drink. You see, the legal drinking age in Quebec is 18. (Is it still? This was, gulp, 17 years ago.) The legal drinking age in Ontario? 19. So two of my best friends and I hopped on a train and spent three days sleeping, eating, hanging out at the Peel Pub, and making frequent trips to the depanneur for Wildberry coolers and (gasp!) peach Durangos. (Ugh. Peach flavoured beer. I know they don't make that crap anymore. Good thing too. I once got a wee bit hammered on Durangos -- probably three -- at a bush party and ended up kissing a guy in a field and then desperately tried to ignore him for the rest of my last year of high school. That was the same bush party where I spotted HS for the first time from across a blurry campfire and thought "Garwsh. He's cuyoot." before heading off into said field.)

But I digress.

Needless to say, I've been taking advantage of my legal drinking status for many years now, so even though I no longer look at Montreal with the boundless energy and salivatory anticipation of an underage drinker, I felt it was high time to go back for a visit. Sober. For the most part anyway. And since Montreal is only two hours from Ottawa (despite what Mapquest says), it only made sense that when March break rolled around this year, my sister and I should go for a quick shopping trip, sans le bebe.

It was so much fun.

We arrived around lunch, so we beelined it to Schwartz's for some tasty smoked meat sandwiches. There was a line-up out the door, but it moved quickly. And here's a tip: don't get the lean smoked meat. This is no time for diets. Go for the full-fat, or if you must, medium. Such savory goodness! And less than $5! We also had the Cott's Black Cherry Sodas, because I thought That Is What You Do at Schwartz's. I'm sure there are people out there with a taste for such things, or perhaps fond childhood memories, but really, byech. Carbonated cough syrup. Sort of like a virgin Wildberry Cooler.

Then we went for a stroll down St. Laurent and some shopping. This was my favourite store. Such flirty, fresh clothing! So many pretty dresses! With shoes to match! So perfect for spring! But did I buy anything? Sadly, no. You see, whenever I go shopping, I want to buy Clothes For The Life I Do Not Have. I have no need for a cute, flowery Ben Sherman shirtdress because, realistically, I'll wear it once and then it will be fall. Shopping these days depresses me, so instead I buy for Charlie. But this trip I promised my sister that I would buy something spring-y for me. And I found the perfect thing here. I tried on a buttery soft, thin, chocolate brown leather jacket. It was as if it was tailor-made, it fit that well. And I looked good, if not somewhat chic. ('cause, damn, Montrealers are terribly fashionable. Does everyone in this city get briefed by Lucky magazine? I even saw someone totally rocking the tricky leggings look that is all over the mags this season.) But alas, although I had found the perfect item for me, I could not justify the $750 price tag. Not with the balance on our line of credit.

Wow. This post is getting long. Still more to say, but I need to finish my freelance work. Part II to come soon, I hope.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Honestly, our neighbourhood is quite clean

Egads, I have a lot to blog about. But it is a lovely, lovely day here in Kanata; the snow is melting, the park play structures are dry-ish, and the sun is warm and marvelous. Charlie and I spent the morning at the park, and dammit, it's good to be back outside. So many thoughts to write down: my new niece, why I have the hates for Orillia's hospital, my brief trip to Montreal, my obsession with finding a hat that doesn't make me look like Kim Mitchell, and lattes! at Tim Hortons!

But since Charlie is waking up, I will leave you with a sweet little ditty that he composed this past week.

(To the tune of "She'll be coming 'round the mountain.")

There are seven dirty diapers on the street. Um-hm.
There are seven dirty diapers on the street. Um-hm.
There are seven dirty diapers, seven dirty diapers, there are seven dirty diapers on the street. Um-hm.
Yay!!! (tambourine flourish)

Monday, March 27, 2006

I have a secret

No one knows about this blog.

Ok, duh, of course people know about this blog. It's on the Internet fer cryin out loud. But I haven't told anyone I know about this blog. Not even HS. Odd, no?

And now I feel I really should tell him, but how do I explain why I've kept this a secret since November? I don't keep secrets from HS, and I know he'll be supportive and all that, but still.

I just wanted a space to call my own, where I could spew out the stuff that rattles around in my head, without thinking about an audience. And someplace where I could practice writing blurby bits, to see if maybe, just maybe, I could string together something a little more complex than my usual daily conversations with a two-year old.

What to do?

Friday, March 17, 2006

To the woman who cut me off in the grocery line-up

While your one-metre sprint to get to the checkout before me was quite impressive, I'll bet you were regretting that decision when Charlie decided to unleash all the possible misery of a grumpy two-year-old at the highest and loudest pitch possible. Did you not see that my son was already trying to climb out of the cart as we beelined for the checkout? Did you not hear him screech "IT'S TIME TO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"? Luckily the woman behind me did not give me the Stink-eye of the Childless. Luckily she understood and sympathized and wondered aloud when temper tantrums end because her daughter is 3 1/2 and showing no signs of giving them up. Ugh. Oh, and Charlie was up at 4:15 a.m. today.

Only only only only only only.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The sky is flecked with signs of hope

I probably shouldn't decree this to the Internet, but dammit, life is good these days. I had a fab but quick trip to Montreal to do some shopping with my sister, I went out to a hockey game, a friend is about to adopt a baby boy, my SIL is about to have another baby, and it's raining. Yep, rain. Not snow!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What I love about Ottawa

It's freezing rain here in Ottawa today, and already I have seen two salt trucks on my street. Two! And I live in the burbs! Man, this city knows how to deal with winter. Unlike, say, Toronto with its devil-may-care, I'm-sure-it-will-melt niavete. Oh sure, it will call in the military, but clear the side streets on a regular basis? Um, no. I never saw a plow on my street. Not once. And I lived in the same neighbourhood for three years.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Something to add to the CV

After dealing with/managing/negotiating with/staring in disbelief at the crankiest Charlie I've seen in a long time -- whose reasoning and wants were so irrational and dada-esque it took my breath away -- I thought "I'm learning many skills I could have used in my last job."

Although I doubt I could have distracted my boss with chocolate milk and Dora the Explorer.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The best way to watch the Oscars

Fire up PVR. Pause live TV just as the show starts.
Give toddler a leisurely bath. Feel no pressure to hurry him through his bedtime routine.
Order chinese food.
Read "Blueberries for Sal" twice.
Put toddler to bed.
Food arrives. Pour a gigantic glass of Cave Spring Reisling. Heap plate with food.
Unpause the show an hour after it starts.
Watch the telecast. Fast forward through all ads, musical numbers, technical awards, and most acceptance speeches. Pause again to clean up dishes and brush teeth. Hop into bed.
Catch up to live telecast just before best director is awarded to Ang Lee.
Sit through the last half hour live.
Feel like you've made efficient use of your time since you didn't miss Jon Stewart, the designer outfits, Jennifer Garner's near slip on stage, or the look of shock on Jack Nicholson's face when Crash won for best picture.
Realize your love for your PVR.
Go to bed.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Yesterday I made this for the family. Charlie actually ate it without complaint. HS LOVED it. Our totally gracious guest loved it too (but she's so gracious, she may have had two helpings just to be polite). And I thought it was awesome in that tastes-like-mom's-1970's-cooking kind of way. I only used mozzarella cheese, and I had a small strip of the pan without ground beef for Charlie. So yummy! So easy! And the best part is I found it in the comments in Julia's blog . She is very smart and funny and her spicy shrimp pasta is the BEST pasta recipe I have ever made, bar none. It's spicy, but in a harmonious layering of intriguing tastes, not in a render-your-tastebuds-inert, way. And it's easy! And perfect for entertaining! And you really don't have to use a cup of olive oil, so don't be scared. (I have used both 1C and 1/4C for this recipe, and it was delish either way). My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it. Time for some ziti leftovers!

Yet another reason

Going to Florida cost about $2000 LESS than Club Med. Even with all the shopping.

And that's it about Florida, I swear. You might start to think that I'm some freaky buzz marketer or something . . .

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I heart Florida

Damn we had a good time. So why does Sarasota kick Ixtapa's butt?

1. Vacationing with your in-laws = free babysitting.
HS and I went to see Brokeback Mountain. And we went out for dinner. And it wasn't even the same night! We had so much food here, I thought my stomach would explode. With happiness.

2. And free babysitting means time for shopping! Sadly, I seem to have lost the ability to buy things for myself. I don't know what is wrong with me. I used to work in the Eaton's Centre, and I could shop every day on my lunch hour. And I did. Not only was I well-appraised of what was in the stores, but I could also stalk my favourite items and snap them up as soon as they went on sale. Ah, sweet memories! I do, however, have amazing abilites to buy stuff for Charlie. We hit this outlet mall, where I purchased a full wardrobe for Charlie for the next six months and gifts for everyone I know with kiddies. (Why isn't there Carters in Canada? So cute! So reasonably priced! I found some sleepers at Costco once, but that was it.) I got great books at TJ Maxx, and not just the books with typos that seem to find their way to Winners, but Dr. Suess! and Eric Carle! And, of course, Target. Ah Target. How I love your aisles of cleverly designed, well-marketed merch. Where else can I get non-toxic stainless steel cleaning wipes, a flattering t-shirt cut just right for lower rise jeans, yummy and cheap chocolate truffles and the softest baby blankets ever all in one cart? Thanks to my brother-in-law for that gift card! Best Christmas present ever!

3. Sand, Charlie's favourite toy.
We went to the beach. A lot. Not because the weather was perfect, which it was, oh no. Because we discovered that with a purchase of a $2 shovel and pail, we had at least an hour of occupied toddler time. I don't think I've ever strung those words together before this trip.

4. Busch Gardens is great for toddlers!
Who knew? I thought it was all extreme roller coasters, but oh no. There are lots of animals to look at; two kiddie-sized play areas with lots of rides, a huge covered sandbox, a big bouncy area, and lots of climbing equipment; and free beer. That's right. Free beer. Because Busch Gardens is owned by Anheuser-Busch, ergo, free samples of Bud on tap. Of course admission was a whopping US$58, so is the beer really free? Not so much. But after two samples, it felt free. And it was not busy at all, so we didn't even have to contend with crowds. We normally wouldn't drag Charlie to an amusement park, but we were meeting friends there, so we were kind of stuck paying the massive admission price. I thought it would be $30 tops, so we wouldn't mind leaving early if Charlie was desperate for a nap. But after coughing up the $116 to get in, we stayed the whole day. And Charlie did ok until until 5 p.m. when a broken granola bar brought forth all the sadness and despair of the 21st century (complete with hot splashy tears and frequent wails of "granona bart!!! my granoooooona baaaaaart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Charlie fell asleep in the car on the way back and didn't wake up until 7 a.m. the next day.

5. Cracker Barrel!
Damn those biscuits are gooooooooooood.

So there you have it. I could use another week right about now. But today isn't so hideously cold. I even thought I felt a teeny-weeny hint of spring in the air. I must be hallucinating. Nevertheless, these delusions give me hope.

Florida, the back story

Finally. Charlie is sleeping. My proofreading project is in the mail. The guests are off visiting family. I have a few moments to myself. Sweet.

So finally, here is a post about our trip to Florida, or Why Sarasota with your in-laws is WAY better than Ixtapa when you're traveling with a toddler.

Why you may ask? Two words: gastrointestinal infection. Follow those two words with "the highest ungodly fever ever" and "no planes home until Saturday" and that pretty much sums it up.

Let me explain. As part of the deal in moving to Ottawa, HS promised that we would go somewhere warm every winter. Winters are long, cold, and snow-bound in Ottawa, and I hates me some winter. I am trying to like it, what with the new skates and the attempts to ski etc., especially since Charlie seems quite happy to roar around outside when it's -17C. Anywho, last year we went here. Looks lovely doesn't it? It is. And babycare too? That sounds like heaven! Um, yes, it SOUNDS good. But the reality? Let's just say (thanks to David Foster Wallace) that I dubbed our trip "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." Yes, the location was fantastic: gorgeous, sunny and hot hot hot. We even met a really nice couple to drink margaritas with. And despite Charlie's lamentations, HS and I had some couple time while he was in the on-site daycare. We swam, we drank, we tanned. For three days. Sure the rooms were musty and buggy and the beds were rock-hard, but who cares when you're spending all your time outside, right? Well, you're gonna care a whole lot when your one-year-old suddenly spikes the highest fever of his young life along with a raging case of diarrhea. So there we were, stuck in a room that is one notch above a cabin at sleep-away camp with our sick, sick baby and no way to get home until the end of our week. It was hell.

We were determined to do something different this year.