Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back from our 'caching trip

End result after three days of searching? A mere 34 caches logged. Most of this had to do with my (very) poor but well meant planning for the first day, which I quickly amended for days two and three. Still, we had a great time. Son and I fought occasionally, and we got sarcastic with each other occasionally, and at one bad point I told him, "Just because I've never smacked you in twelve years, don't think I can't start now." Niiiiiiiice. But MAN we had fun, at the end of the day the thrill of the hunt takes over.

Geocaching is a fabulous activity for everyone. You do need to purchase a handheld GPS unit to play, but they come down in price every day. And for a $200 investment, you can give yourself and your family a wonderful hobby for years to come. Trust me, check it out at

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Lessons of Childhood

My ex-husband and I have brought Son up as well as we can. I'm sure we have made mistakes, the same way all parents do, but we also know we have imprinted our deepest values on him.

Son and I are currently staying in a hotel. This evening, I sent him down to the vending machine to get himself a Diet Coke. Before he got back to our room, I could hear his footsteps thundering down the hall as he ran back. (Running in hotels is something he knows not to do.)

"Amah," he panted when he arrived, "I put in the money for my Diet Coke but THREE came out. I only took one, I left the other two because I'm honest."

I told him to go back immediately and GET the other two, otherwise his honesty would be wasted by the next person to walk by. When he returned to our room, I called the front desk and explained the situation to the manager: my son had paid for one Coke, he had received three, and he wanted to return the other two to the appropriate department. The manager (who happens to be a good friend of mine, and knows Son's moral character very well) thought this was wonderful, and offered the suggestion that the hotel was so impressed by his honesty that they wanted to give him the other two Cokes as a reward for reporting this.

And I was all, "Dude, but then what the hell am I going to do with three Diet Cokes??" And, really? Why should he get a reward for doing the right thing, the obvious thing?

My child may not have had the benefit of a religious education in his life, but he does know the Cardinal Rule: Don't take anything that isn't yours.

Don't steal, because it's not yours. Don't defame someone's name, because it's not yours. Don't write graffiti on rocks, or carve things on trees, because it's not yours. Don't lie, as anything that happens because of that lie is not yours.

It's really not such a difficult concept.

But I am still filled with such, such pride when Son lives as he has been taught to live.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wish us luck

Tomorrow morning Son and I head off for a two-and-a-half day trip to Prince Edward Island to do some binge caching. Husbandly One thinks we will do 21 caches, Son thinks 50, and I am hoping for 100.

At the end of the day, I don't care if we only get five's the hunt that's fun. Wish us sharp eyes, fair weather, and good bug spray!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

There are garden centres, and then there are garden centres

Yesterday Husbandly One and I needed to run a few errands, and found ourselves near a relatively new gardening centre we had never visited. Husbandly One suggested we stop in, just to see what they were about. (My Lord I love than man.)

We walked around, and I certainly admit their brand new facility was beautiful and interesting. But I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw their huge, end-of-season annuals section. BIG sale was going on. You could purchase a six inch pot of scraggly, dying pansies for the rock bottom price of $5.99 ! Everwhere I looked, over a sea of questionable plants, were the same shocking prices.

I felt like finding an employee and saying, "Hi, just a question out of curiosity here. You DO know that it is the end of August, right? And you DO know that any annual planted now will be dead within a month, right?"

Six dollars my foot.

I will never visit that gardening centre again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Open Letter to The Ass Clowns I Met Today

Dear Ass Clowns,

This afternoon, Son and I went geocaching on foot to a location which is both remote and yet within 3 kms of our house. We enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, we enjoyed our time in nature, we enjoyed our time with each other, we even enjoyed the light rain that made us decide to return home earlier than anticipated. What we did NOT enjoy was you.

On our way out of our remote location, I suddenly spied "something" on the side of the trail three hundred meters ahead of us. I slowed my pace, Son questioning why. I said, "I just have a weird feeling about this." He looked again, and said, "Oh Amah, it's just backpackers."

Yeah, but my Spidey senses were tingling. My first thought was "I am a woman alone with a child on a deserted dirt road, and I don't feel good about whoever is ahead." Something was not right about the two people who had emerged from the woods, and even though you were still so far away I couldn't tell if you were men or women, I was hesitant to go any closer.

Well, ha ha, turns out I was wrong. You were no threat at all. Your crazy ass, aggressive, unleashed dogs were the REAL problem.

What were you thinking while you watched your two dogs tear off in my direction, barking wildly? When you saw me grab my son and put his body behind mine, did you find that amusing? I think you must have, because you certainly didn't seem concerned about this. I stood in a dirt road, protecting my son, while your dogs stood less than two feet away from me, baring their teeth and barking up a storm. They would jump back a few feet and then charge us again, while I stood motionless. My son's hands were dug in my sides, but I didn;t feel that at that time. I watched your circling dogs as well as I could, turning my body to keep Son as far away from them as possible. I made up my mind that I was going to have to fight the black dog, and hoped the yellow dog wouldn't jump me because of it.

While this was going on, I could hear one of you saying, "Oreo, c'mere. C'mere Oreo, c'mere." You never increased your speed over an amble, you never dropped your heavy backpack so you could run, you just meandered along while I contemplated whether I should hit the lead dog with my left arm, which is my strongest, or with my right in case I was badly mauled and needed to preserve my writing hand.

When you got within 200 feet of me, your dogs suddenly ran off in to the bush. I stayed immobile, waiting for you to collar them. You disappeared in to the brush behind them, and I slowly started walking away.

That's when your dogs charged us from behind.

I whirled around, once again shoving my Son behind me, ready to face your lunatic dogs again. My legs were shaking from fear at this point, but you kept up your slow pace as your dogs once AGAIN circled us, once AGAIN let me know I was infringing on their territory. My 12 year old Son began to cry around that point, asshole. He was so scared that all he could moan was, "Mummy.....Mummy...."

YOU, on the other hand, still saw nothing wrong. To your credit, this time you did kind of lope towards your beasts, saying, "They don't bite, lady."

Excuse me? They don't bite? And what exactly do you base that fact on, all the other people they have terrorized?

The dogs took off again....and two minutes later they once more charged us. Finally your wife realized she should do something, and slowly walked over to grab the choke chain on the less aggressive of the two dogs. She tried to grab the aggressive one, but he snarled at her, so she stepped back.

Your wife, the OWNER of this dog, was too scared to grab it.

And then it charged us again.

At that point, I started to cry. Tears of pure rage and maternal instinct. Sorry to tell you mister, that dog came within six inches of me attacking IT. Perhaps you realized this, because for the first time you ran towards your good friend Oreo, telling him to "Quit it, boy, c'mere. C'mere. C'mere." Because, you know, that was so effective the first time.

Demon Dog bounded off in to the woods again as you approached. I stooped down and picked up a good sized rock. I was done fucking around with your fucking dog. I spread my feet in a defensive stance, balanced as carefully as I could with a 12 year old hanging on to the back of my T-shirt, and waited.

Eventually you reappeared with the dog finally on a leash. You looked at me petulantly and repeated, "It's not like my dogs bite."

I couldn't even speak to you, I just took son by the hand and resumed my walk the hell out of there. A few hundred feet further on, I passed your wife who was holding back the other dog (barely) on its choke chain. "Gee I'm sorry our dogs scared you, they're just being naughty naughty babies."

Lady, you want to be some glad I had dropped that rock, because otherwise I may have bashed the side of your head in.

I have never been so scared in my life. I understand the desire to allow your dogs off-leash. I ALSO understand the responsibility of ensuring your dogs won't attack a 5'3" woman with her child.



Monday, August 18, 2008

What's in a Name?

Really, what IS in a name? Do you know why your parents named you the way they did? Do you know what they would have named you had you been of the opposite sex?

I do know why my parents named me, but I have no idea what they would have done had I been a boy. I assume they would have given me the name they ultimately gave my younger brother, which was my mother's maiden name, but I don't KNOW, for all I know I could have ended up a boy named Alan. I wish I could still ask my parents this question, but they have both been gone for two years, so I will never know what would have happened if I hadn't been a girl.

But I AM a girl, so I can share my story with you.

First, I hope we all know my name isn't really Irma,right? Because "Irma" doesn't figure anywhere in the story I am about to tell you.

I was born on a cold day in 1969, and my parents were told, almost immediately, that I would not live. Things had gone very wrong for me during delivery, and they should not have any hope, they should not pray for miracles, they should just accept my brief passage through this world.

Imagine being 23 and 24 years old, first time parents, and being told your baby was going to die. And further imagine that you didn't even have a NAME for that baby, because you couldn't agree between your two favourites.

Now further imagine that somehow your baby daughter held on, somehow after eight days she came came back from that gray land, back to the land of the living. How would you, now joyfully, name that baby?

Both of my parents "votes" came from popular music of the day, and, in context of my story, I really don't know which one fits better. And the really interesting thing, to me, is that they both cast their votes long before I was born, but both votes ultimately address my tenuous birth.

Daddy's choice was Caroline, after Neil Diamond's song "Sweet Caroline".

Where it began
I cant begin to knowin
But then I know its growin strong
It was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who'd have believed you'd come along

Hands, touching hands
Reaching out
Touching me, Touching you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
To believe they never would

But now I look at the night
And it don't seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two
And when I hurt
Hurting runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when I'm with you

Warm, touching warm
Reaching out
Touching me, touching me

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
To believe they never would

My mother's choice, on the other hand, was to name me Jennifer after Donovan's song, "Jennifer Juniper."

Jennifer Juniper
lives upon the hill,
Jennifer Juniper,
sitting very still.
Is she sleeping ?
I don't think so.
Is she breathing ?
Yes, very low.
Whatcha doing, Jennifer, my love ?

Jennifer Juniper
rides a dappled mare,
Jennifer Juniper,
lilacs in her hair.
Is she dreaming ?
Yes, I think so.
Is she pretty ?
Yes, ever so.
Whatcha doing, Jennifer, my love ?

I'm thinking of what it would be like if she loved me.
You know just lately this happy song it came along
And I like to somehow try and tell you.

Jennifer Juniper,
hair of golden flax.
Jennifer Juniper
longs for what she lacks.
Do you like her ?
Yes, I do, Sir.
Would you love her ?
Yes, I would, Sir.
Whatcha doing Jennifer, my love ?

I'm not going to tell you which name ultimately won. I'm just trying to tell you that, based on my precarious entry in to this world, the lyrics of both songs make me weep with thanksgiving and love for my parents.

I answer to one of those names, but I would gladly answer to the other name, as well.

Unstructured Vacation

I normally have my vacations planned out months before they occur. I know where we will be, I know what we will be doing, and I know what it will cost. I plan plan plan plan plan plan. Until this year.

I am currently on vacation. I am at home. I have no idea what I am doing tomorrow....then again, until I did it, I had no idea what I was doing TODAY, either.

Last Friday: finished work. Ex-Husband dropped Son off at my house in the evening.

Saturday: Son and I went berrying. Shut up, it is SO a good activity for a 12 year old boy to share with his mom, particularly since we do it every year. We brought back a healthy basket of raspberries, and a HUGE basket of blueberries. Once back home, we flash froze tons of both so that we will have yummy baking ingredients next winter. Son and I then made some decadent cream cheese & berry tarts. We also shoved many handfuls of berries straight down our gullets, but whatever, I'm not admitting to any of that.

Sunday: Nothing. We ate more of the tarts we made Saturday, but other than that? Nothing.

Today: Husbandly One had to go to some corporate golf thing, leaving Son and I at home sans car, so Son and I went geocaching. Clearly we could only pick caches within walking distance of our house, but....well, OUR idea of "walking distance" may be a bit longer than yours, ha ha.

Son and I left the house around 11:30 am, and arrived back at 4 pm, both exhausted, both a bit sunburned, but with three caches under our belts. We then went to my Mum's house for dinner, and are now back home, still waiting for Husbandly One to get back from the golf thing. (Win me something GOOD, baby... every year it is one of our friends who win the trip to Vegas, while you bring home yet ANOTHER golf umbrella. Please, this year? Win something GOOD.)

Tomorrow? Umm, we may go caching again, my sister may join us.

At some point over the next two weeks, Son has specifically said he wants to go to Prince Edward Island, and I will certainly take him for a night or two, along with whatever sightseeing that entails. I am just a little surprised at how well I (as the Master Planner) am dealing with this two week period where I don't have a single concrete plan. Maybe I am learning to mellow out...??

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Being a chick

Once again tonight, I am feeling a bit perplexed over my complete inability to be a girl.

Things that reassure me of my own femininity:

Well, the big one, I've had a baby. Nuff said.
I never wear trousers to work, I am truly more comfortable in a skirt.
As far as my shoes go, I believe the higher the heel, the better.

And...umm....that's all I got.

I don't know how to use makeup, I don't know how to do stuff with my hair, I can't put sweet kittenish outfits together or dedicate the time for personal grooming that I assume most women do without thinking. I would LIKE to have those skills, but somehow I didn't get the genes for it.

Now, take my aunts, or my mother. She was 4'9" and 85 lbs. She spent most of her life forced to shop in the children's section, but the woman was undeniably A Woman. She had style, she had class, she had the perfect jewelry, even if she was just ironing in the living room. And this was not an affectation, she presented herself this way without even thinking about it.

I am the tallest, gangliest woman on my maternal side, at a shocking and unthinkable 5'3". Maybe that's why I just can't "get" this girl stuff, I'm too freakishly tall.

Usaully it doesn't bother me, this genetic mutation I have. But every now and again, I wish I knew how to do those girlie things. Hell, I wish I considered shaving my legs a priority. (it's not a priority because, umm, I have several long skirts.)

I wish my Husbandly One could come home to a vision of womanly loveliness...but he can't. He's got ME.

Oh well, he comes home to me, anyway. Maybe he doesn't mind my awkward, gangly ways as much as I do.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday thoughts

When I get up before Husbandly One on the weekend... I creep around the house, making as little noise as possible so he can sleep. I close our bedroom door, and then sit in silence in the living room, reading, until he wakes on his own. (Please note this may mean me being all silent and mouse-like from 8 am to 1 in the afternoon) When he wakes, I immediately get him a coffee, and we start our day.

When Husbandly One gets up before me... well, that has never happened before, ever, until today. When Husbandly One gets up before me, he leaves the bedroom door wide open. And turns on the TV so he can watch the Olympics. Loudly. And then when I stomp out of the bedroom, he looks so contrite that I sort of forgive him. Until I realize no coffee is forthcoming. I finally say, "Well, I'll just get my OWN coffee, shall I??"

More contriteness. Ok ok, dude does not know how to be The First Person Up. I still love him.

I poured my own coffee, and opened the fridge to discover there was not so much as a drop of dairy product to put in my coffee. Much swearing and banging ensued. And as I grabbed my car keys and ran my fingers through my un-combed bedhead before leaving the house in search of milk, Husbandly One said, "Oh, since you're going out, can you also pick up...."

Good thing for him he never finished that sentence.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bitterness and Beer, both with a capital B

I have finally got around to reading the concert coverage in the newspaper, and while it appears most people had a fabulous time, I was personaly affronted by the people who complained about the "exhorbitant" price of beer at the site.

I do not speak for my company, I do not pretend for even one second that what I am about to say is officially sanctioned, because I assure you it is NOT, and I could get in to a lot of trouble over what I am about to say....

You're right, $6.50 for a beer seems like a lot at first glance. But did you consider how much it cost us to move our entire operation to a FIELD? Did you consider the number of trucks we needed to rent to simply get our stuff there, and how much that cost? Or the refrigerated trucks that needed to be kept running 24 hours a day for two days (trucks we ALSO rented). Did you consider our additional payroll, or the fact we needed to buy two dozen barbeques? Did you consider that we spend thousands of dollars printing the very drink tickets you complained about?

All I'm trying to say is that, at "my" concert or any other, I understand the first reaction is that we are ripping you off with our high prices. Please know this is NOT the case, we actually make less profit per unit at a concert than if we were serving you back at our regular place of business.

Rock n' roll don't come cheap, people....not to you, as concert goers, and not to me, as a supplier.

Getting off my soapbox now.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I am now two days post-concert, and the fatigue is actually getting worse.

When I finally got home Saturday night I ended up staying up til 5:30....when I then went to bed and had visions of people flashing across my brain, all asking me questions, all asking me what to do next. I have no idea what time I fell asleep.

Sunday morning, Husbandly One (who was already showered and dressed) poked me long enough to get me to wake up. He went back to the site, and an hour later my step father drove me the hotel so I could reconcile the bedroom account for the concert. I got home at 5pm, completely drained. Husbandly One walked through our door at 10pm, we talked and looked at TV for an hour and a half, and then we went to bed.

I went to bed with Husbandly One.

I actually got to feel him fling an arm around my hip before we both collapsed. I can't remember the last time we managed that. Bliss.

This morning, Monday, he left for the hotel at 11am. He kind of woke me to let me know he would be home around two. At 1:30, he called me to say it would be at least 5pm before he got home. And it was pretty obvious to him that his phone call had woken me up.

It is currently 6:30pm. I am still so tired that I want to die. But Husbandly One is still at work, trying to sort out the acounting and put this whole thing to bed.

There is no way for me to explain to you how physically tired I am, so I know there is no way he can explain to ME how tired he is. I worked maybe 20% as hard as he did, and I feel like I'm going to die. He did so much more, but he still gets up every day to go back and do still more.

That man is my hero.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Life In The Fast Lane

One of the songs I kinda-sort-half heard at the Eagles concert yesterday, but it sure fits my mood right now. (And the reason I only half heard it? I was too busy.)

As I mentioned previously, we organized and deployed the catering for 45,000 concert-goers yesterday. I wasn't the principle person doing the organizing -- that would be Husbandly One-- but I certainly did my fair share of advance work, and I DEFINITELY did my share of work on the addition to handling the riders and requirements of four bands back at the hotel. I have worked hard on this all summer, this week I worked crazy hard, and then concert day itself? I have never worked that hard in my life.

When we managers finally left the concert site last night around 3am, about half of us had lost our voices entirely, a quarter were experiencing back pain, and the rest of us felt fine except for our feet. Just amputate them now, okay? (that would be ME.) But we were all exhilirated, we were all riding that high that comes from hard work and a successful day.

I would love to give a detailed, blow by blow account of the day, because it was really cool, very interesting, exceptionally stressful, and the most fun I've had in a long time.....but to do so would give away way too much about me, my clients whose privacy I take very seriously, and the way we run our operation at work. But do let me tell you that the day was a huge success, despite the weather, and we are very, very proud of how it went and the money we made for our company.

(Now isn't THAT an interesting thought to come shooting out...I am proud of the money I made for "my company:. No, I don't own the damn thing, so I'm not going to get a dime out of the extra work I have done on this project. But I sincerely love the company I work for so much that I, and my fellow employees, will fight to the death to ensure its success. Lucky me, to work in an environment that inspires such devotion from its employees, because I am not the only one. We love our workplace like it was a member of our family.)

Listen, I am so tired I can barely see; I worked extra hours all summer, but this week I worked an average of 17 hours a day and I am just about done in. So the one Concert Story I feel compelled to share right now, without breaching client confidentiality, is one I did not even experience myself.

During Concert Day, most of our staff (including yours truly) was at the concert site. Only two managers were left at the hotel, to oversee all the employees, working in all departments, who weren't required at the site. One of the managers, Claire, told me that she was going about her normal business in the early afternoon when she heard the most amazing piano music coming from our banquet floor, one open level above where she was. People often bang around on our grand piano if we happen to leave it unlocked-- and we have all heard "Chopsticks" more times than we could count-- but what she was hearing was so beautiful and melodic that it stopped her in her tracks.

Curious, she went up the escalator to see who was creating such music...and discovered John Fogerty at the piano. He had found a completely deserted banquet floor with an unlocked grand piano, and just wanted to play to relax. He was not playing his own music, or CCR tunes, but lovely classical pieces.

She quietly crept back downstairs to the lobby, and had the lobby Muzak turned off so the beautiful music would be better heard.

I have known Claire for years, and I have never once seen her when she wasn't moving. But she sat down in the lobby and enjoyed her own private piano concert for thirty minutes, a concert John Fogerty never knew he was giving.

Now, isn't that a lovely story?