What's Worse Than a Joe Job?

Generally speaking, when you are planing a remodel job repair job, you budget your materials, plus about 10% for waste, things you hadn't expected. When you own an older home, you plan for about 20%. When you own the house that Joe fixed up and flipped, oh, you budget at least 50%. A times like today, 200% would have been a safe-ish budget.

This is what we started with, 5 years ago. It's actually not too bad. There were other, much bigger issues to deal with. But, finally, the outdoor carpet, in addition to being the ugliest thing you have ever seen, was falling apart, the lattice type rails were so far from meeting code they were going to meet it on the backside, and while you can't see it, over to the right, just at the top of the stairs, there was this squishy/wobbly/move a bit disconcertingly when you stepped on it part. Which we solved by putting a planter there, but you have to admit, when you have squishy/wobbly/moving floors, maybe putting extra weight there is not going to be a long term solution.

Time for another remodel repair job at Chez Spit.

All good remodel repair jobs start with the judicious use of a crow bar. Also, enough dirt to start a whole new farm. I know where all of Alberta's dirt blew during the dirty thirties - right onto my front porch! And yes, with the stunning bit of carpet removed, we get our first bit of news - those stairs can't be stained, they have to be replaced.

Cha-ching! $75 for new stairs!

And the next revelation, that wasn't plywood under that carpet, that was tongue in groove planking, covered by roofing tar, plastic matting and some flyers. No really, there were flyers glued to the floor, where it was uneven. Moving on to plan B, which is to rip up the existing floor boards, and replace with deck planking. (Plan A had been to cover with that textured stone effects paint.)

No Cha-Ching as the cost is the same, and laying planking will actually be faster. That's a bonus for the Spits!

Oh, the squishy spot? That's a rotten floor joist.

Cha-Ching! $150 more in wood for this rotten floor joist, plus the other 3 we are going to find later on. Also, lose 3 hours pulling out the old ones, and putting in the new ones. Add an extra $20 for new fasteners.

A nice view of the deck, with 80% of the garbage we found hidden under it gone.

Cha-Ching! - $15 for contractor grade heavy garbage bags to haul the wood lathe from something out from under the deck.

Know what would be really cool? If we pulled off the ugly vinyl siding on the bottom and sides of the deck, and used cedar shingles, which we could stain grey to match the railing and the deck planking, right hon? Dream-Cha-Ching! - $75 and 2 hours locating them.

Keeping-Up-With-Reno's Cha Ching! - $90 for a new mailbox. Cause we can't put that piece of work back on, now can we?

So there you have it, original budget of about $300, now at least twice that.

What's worse than a Joe Job? Remodeling Repairing his original work.

NB: This is a REPAIR job. A REMODELING job would require us to go to the City, submit our plans, get a permit, and fix some of the problems that exist (all I'm going to say is this: it has stood for almost a hundred years that way, I'd say the method is working, even if it doesn't meet code). At the end, we would have to pass an inspection. Old houses don't pass inspections.

Found Time

I am sitting here at my computer, and I should really be outside. I will write until my coffee maker beeps at me, telling me my decaf is done, and then I will sit in my chair and watch the changing of the light. I will find time. I will live in found time.

It is easy to call it lost time, this summer that should have been something else. In October of last year, we remembered how easy it was on Chlomid to conceive Gabriel, the first cycle. And we did not imagine that it would be hard. So hard, this time. And that cycle was a bust, and we waited on the next, which was also a bust, and more busts and more back to back to back drugs and pokes and prods, and living in increments and finally the last 2, breaking my heart and ending in such early miscarriages I was left with a used pregnancy test that literally showed half a plus sign. Out of breath, out of heart, out of will, out of time.

And last fall, in late September, as I put my garden to bed, savored my sweet peas that are so wonderful in their new garden bed, I grieved a bit, thinking that I would not be able to garden this summer. Thinking that in my 5th year, when things were getting easy, I would not have my garden. And the grief was not just for my garden, but so for me as well. That unlike other DBM's, I will get sick again, this could happen again, and bed rest is a forgone conclusion. I was, to be quite honest, pouting about my hard life, just a bit. I pouted a bit, wondering if I would be on bed rest, holding on to a baby at the hospital, or grieving another child not with us.

I decided to play. I decided:

I was going to make the best of this summer. I was, as much as possible not going to mourn what I wasn't doing, being: I was going to celebrate what I can do. I was going to sit in my backyard, drink pomtini's and weed. I was going to stain my deck and rip out my front veranda, and repave my front walk. I was going to stand on my front porch and watch the fireworks from the Ex, every night, and I was going to sit in my back yard and listen to the merlin chatter at me. I was going to dead head, and wander around with a cup of coffee, and see what grew during the day. I was going to tell the Madonna lily to pick up it's socks, and be impressed by the lilies.

That was what I was going to do.

And the setting sun outside my kitchen window, as I write this, tells me that summer is drawing to a close. Not completely, we have at least another month, more likely 6 weeks, but the bloom is quite literally off the rose.

I still don't know what we will do. I have another 8 months until I can see the next specialist. But . . .

My coffee maker has beeped, and I am going to get my book, and I am going outside, and the book will sit on my lap, the knitting on the side table, and I shall simply stare, not idle, merely finding time.


I had my regular meeting with my manager today. And while we had a very rocky start, since my old manager went on stress leave, and I have been reporting to the new one, things have been better. Much better. We still don't see eye to eye, but we aren't hating on each other, either.

Among other things, I have been getting feedback about my job performance for the first time in 2 years. Real, actual, feedback. Things done well, and things to improve on. Which is great. Honestly there was nothing surprising, I tend to dominate the discussion in meetings, I'm sometimes impatient with people who are slow to catch on, and the like. It's absolutely true. She's also said some nice things about me too.

I got some feedback, via her, from another business unit, for the huge project I have been working on. Some of it was true, and I know I need to work on those issues, some of it wasn't worth the proverbial paper it wasn't written on, and 1 piece was just odd. (Apparently I have negative body language? Huh?)

But that's not the issue. This is the project I knew very little about, spent a pretty fair bit of my own time bringing myself up to speed, so that I could hit the ground running. This truly was a case of "a lack of planning on your part is now going to equal a very huge, very stinking crises on mine).

So, of the 5 pieces of feedback this business unit provided about me, 2 were valuable, 1 was a situation that I would handle differently now that I know my boss better, and 2 related to stuff I wasn't going to win at, any way it happened.

But of the 5 bits, some worth hearing and some not, there wasn't a single good thing. They had nothing good to say about me. Not at all.

And I won't lie.

That was a kick in the teeth.

Excuse me, while I slink off to a job interview tomorrow, with lots and lots of answers to what my weaknesses are.

There's Still a Reason

The good news is that my maternal unit does not have a kidney stone and probably not a bladder infection.

And we convinced the doctor to re-test in a few days, since an IV course of Cipro seemed excessive for the situation. (my mother having "issues" with antibiotics)

The bad news is that it's likely a bursa in her hip socket. Also, she has a cyst on her kidney, but that's probably not causing the pain. They'll check it again in a few months.

And the neurologist, cardiologist and orthopedic surgeon have to get onside to figure out about replacing her knee and hip. Also, her daughter thinks they should get a consult from the infectious disease specialist, you know because of the bone eating disease she has (osteomylitis).

Organizing specialists for someone with all my mother's problems is like herding cats.

So. . . More tests. And some morphine. And Dramamine. And another trip to the ER.


There's a Reason I Don't Have a Blog Today

the deck is stained.

the deck has stair rails.

the front veranda has no indoor/outdoor carpet on it anymore (and which idiot invented that, anyway?)

the front veranda has no railings (but oh, I love sledge hammers!)

the front veranda is missing some floor boards (ditto on the crow bar)

the front veranda has a rotten floor joist (and that's how you see yourself over budget and behind time, before the project has even really started.)

Pictures tomorrow. More Advil right now.

Health Care Reform

A Canadian tells it like it is. . .

John Rawls, in Justice as Fairness says that the fair way to choose the societal structures that will serve you is to do so behind a Veil of Ignorance. Effectively, you make your choices about the society you will live in, its laws, its rules, its social safety net, without knowing who you will be in that society. You don't know if you are male or female, if you are able bodied, or a paraplegic, smart or not, the poorest immigrant, or the most powerful person in the world. You chose on what you would want, based on knowing nothing about your life, knowing that you could need every ounce of that social safety net, or that you could spend your life paying for it, and never need it at all. This is the way, Rawls says, that we get justice as fairness.

And it seems in our world, that we should get fairness this way. Its smart to assume that you could get the worst of the cosmic dice toss, and you could be poor, disabled, not smart, not wealthy. For every opportunity to be healthy, wealthy and wise, there is an equal opportunity that you won't be. That would be the safe assumption. Not everyone in Rawls' society is going to be healthy, wealthy and wise. It's the law of averages. You may all have unlimited opportunity, or at least believe you do, and that's fine, but you won't all succeed.

Can I just say as nicely as possible, that Americans don't always seem to make the safe assumption? It seems like many Americans, rather than assuming they will be the poor sap, assume they will be rich and powerful. I have to confess, I've never met so many people who believe in the awesome power of a boot strap. Especially when all the evidence of the world seems to indicate about 10% of your population succeed by bootstraps, and the other 90% of the population languish in whatever socio-economic strata they were born into.

This is the only way I can understand the American health care system - other than to consign most of your country as selfish, thoughtless hypocrites who have no thought for their fellow man(1). I can only think that you all believe you will fall into the healthy, wealthy and wise category. I think your faith in yourselves is commendable, but perhaps not that sensible. Some of you will be poor, sick and weak, with no health care.

So, to Canadian health care. I won't lie. We don't have the Rolls Royce, the Porsche, the Aston Martin of health care. We have a nice, reliable Toyota. It looks ok, it gets you where you want to go, but it's not fast, and as you drive by, no one looks at it and says "Wow!".

When I got sick with Gabe, I had world class care, as quickly as I needed it. Care that literally saved my life. No complaints. I want to see an RE to try and get pregnant? It's going to take 11 months to get in, and if I need an IUI, that's $1500, including the drugs. An IVF is $9K, including drugs. Our system is not perfect. Not at all.

The reality is this: If you have gold plated health coverage, that can't be cancelled, in the US; you don't want a Canadian system. You get faster treatment, at nicer facilities, with more renowned specialists, than you would in the Canadian system. I get why you might be opposed to change. I really do. But, as near as I can figure, from pretty extensive reading, that's not most of you. That's not even a third of your population. Maybe a quarter.

What about the rest of you?

Could you please explain to me why you are not rioting in the streets about the state of your health care system?

If you have coverage with an insurer and it's costing you $500 a month for your family? I bet your take home wage is the same as mine, with the higher taxes I pay. If your coverage can be cancelled when you lose your job, or can't afford to pay your bills, if you aren't covered for pre-existing conditions, well, your system is screwing you. If you've ever had a HMO tell you that they won't cover you for that doctor, because they are out of network, well, the Canadian system has 1 network, Canada. If you've ever driven past a hospital that was closer to your house, to go to the one in your network, if you've ever had a doctor file an appeal to an insurance company to get the treatment they say you or your family need, would you please explain how your system is better?

Maybe it's just me, why hold out hope for an Aston Martin system that you don't have access to? Why not insist on the Toyota? Maybe it's a Canadian thing, but I'd rather know that I don't get to see an RE at the snap of my fingers, but my neighbour next door, the single mum whose barely making ends meet, gets health care coverage. And in a catastrophe? We both get treatment.

Learn something from us, would you? A reliable Toyota in your driveway is still better than an Aston Martin in some one else's.

(1) Except not my readers. You are all nice.


The notice for the package arrived on Monday - which is only a bit strange, because the notice of the package that they delivered, indicated that they weren't delivering my package because of the construction.

Today was one of those days. I woke up in the middle of the night, losing all of the things that I had eaten at a Taste of Edmonton yesterday, and while Mr. Spit was fine, and this wasn't food poisoning, when I actually listed the combination of food I ate, all together, it made me ill again.

And then it was a busy day, although a day with some satisfaction, as 6 weeks of work, represented by 14 inches of paper, that I carefully shepherded around the building, for various people to review and approve, was made into policy today.

But, I stumbled my way through a conference call, answered about 5 questions, and then carried on. In the back of my mind, excitement over a parcel. Tired and stressed from some personal challenges at home, and still feeling icky.

I arrived at the post office, carefully picking my way around the construction, the holes in the ground, and the barriers, and presented myself at the post office wicket, with my tag.

Out came the parcel - a brown envelope, with no return address, post marked Muenster.

Munster. Muenster?

I've been to a Muenster, and I was looking at the package, and suddenly I thought:

"Oh please, by everything that's holy, please, please, please, don't tell me I left a pair of my underpinnings under the bed, and the holy Oblate father's have washed them and mailed them back to me. Please. My day is bad enough."

Why yes, that did happen to me at another place I stayed at.
Yes, his grandmother sent them back to me.
No, I don't want to talk about it.

I was surprised and delighted to get a package from the Muenster. The Munster in Germany. With chocolate, and with a shopping bag from the everything store (why don't we have one here?) that has a quote from Coco Chanel in German (I shall feel very cosmopolitan at the farmers market) and the absolutely coolest salt and pepper shakers ever. Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper. Totally cool. Have I mentioned that I really like them?

From the lovely Alice! Who is our new favourite. (1)

Many thanks. Many, many thanks. It was the bright spot to an otherwise awful and wretched day!

The love of the blogosphere is amazing. Truly amazing.

(1) It was Sam, then Martha, and now Alice. Send chocolate, you could be next. I'm fickle that way.

One Other Thing

If you read Make a Wish, there's a post there that you should read.

I tell myself

I tell myself the same thing I tell all the new dbm's. That it is only scary the first time. The first time it hurts so bad you think your heart will explode. The second time? Oh, it still hurts, but you've learned what you can live through. I tell myself this.

Taste of Edmonton, in 2007 was the first place Mr. Spit and I realized what it was to be pregnant. It was the first place, as a pregnant woman and her partner, that we looked at parents and said "we will never". It wasn't the only place, it wasn't the only time that my stomach refused food, or that I suddenly gagged, it wasn't the only time we were part of the pregnant club, but it was the first place. The first time.

And when I went last year, last year when I should have been going with a 4 month old infant, I will not lie, it hurt. Not in the way it hurts to watch a baby be baptized, or hear parents complain about their kids, but in that vague way, the collision of what should have been and what is. And I told myself not to look at the babies, not to look at the parents, not to imagine, and never to look at a child who should have been Gabriel's age. It was not soul ripping, but it stung. Oh my, it stung. It was a time and place where what should have been and what were, were so terribly close to each other, that I couldn't not help but believe that there was a couple there, like us, who went home with their baby.

So this year, this year I was looking for visible signs of progress. To tell the truth, I was looking for it not to bother me. That was progress to my mind. If it hurt last year, it should not bother me this year.

And it did. Of course it did. Of course I cannot enjoy this the way I did. And out of the event, I can take a deep breath and tell myself the truth, that enjoyment will come in new and different ways. That maybe I will always remember, particularly, at this event, those first few days that Gabe and I had together, what was the genesis of our little family, even if there is nothing left to show for it.

And I can tell myself, now that I have my breath back, to have a cup of coffee in my back yard, and enjoy what is, and not let the pain and sorrow of what was crowd out joy.

Joy is a choice, and again today, I will chose it.

Behind the Arena

My post last Friday reminded me. I have lots of reasons I think we should teach some form of sex education in schools. Mostly because I think if we could leave off the birth control and abstinence, we could actually teach people about what is happening to their bodies, and that would be useful. Also, because it's less traumatic. Honest.

I was 8. I'm pretty sure. I was in grade 3, which according to my calculations means I must have been 8. (such is the virtue of a September birthday). He was too. And he kissed me behind the skating rink, much against my will. Nowadays, we would likely scream about sexual harassment and drag him off in handcuffs, and while my memory indicates that Billy Johnstone was a miscreant, I'm not sure that's a completely sane way to handle situations of this nature. But, I digress.

I was, in a word, hysterical about this kiss. No seriously. I was screaming and crying and convinced my family would dis-own me. This was not exciting, and let's face it, 8 year old Billy was not a true romantic. Or even a gentleman.

Why? Why was I hysterical? Oh, yes.

You see, in the background is a cousin, who is pregnant out of wedlock. This is a huge controversy in the family, filled with yelling and shouting, and tears. Oh good grief, the tears. And then the shouting. And the rushed wedding. And the tears. More shouting. And the maternity wedding dress. (And if you were interested, they are still married, some 22 years later.)

I was a smart kid. No really, don't snicker. I was a smart kid - my teachers even said so. But. . . I had a great idea on how babies got in their mother's tummies. I don't think I'd even given a lot of thought to how they got out, but I was convinced I knew how they got in. I didn't need someone to tell me how babies got there, I knew.

Kissing. (1)

And Billy Johnstone had kissed me.

And if you were 8 year old, logical Mrs. Spit, of the neat clothes and the double barreled first name, this was a disaster. A - does the circus accept pregnant 8 year olds because you aren't going home - disaster.

So please, whatever you feel about sex education, could you spare a few moments to explain to your kids that kissing doesn't cause babies. Because Mrs. Miller wrote some sort of note to my mother, and I'm not sure what it said (and I should ask her tonight, but anyway) however funny the letter probably was, it would be better if your kids didn't need the letter.

Me, with my blood running cold. Mrs. Miller's feelings of wretchedness as she tried to explain this whole mess to my mother. "Dear Mrs. Spit's mother, please explain to little Mrs. Spit where babies come from. This lack of knowledge has caused an uproar in my third grade classroom today, and this simply cannot continue. . ."

Chop Chop, go explain the cabbage patch, the Easter bunny, the baby fairy, whatever. Just make it clear, kissing doesn't cause babies. Also, neither does swimming in a hotel pool.

I'm going to mention it to TGND, also that boys have cooties, and that Mr. Spit has a temper, and can be relied upon to greet any dates at her front door. If need be, he can probably also borrow a shotgun to clean. All night. Large shotgun. Piles of ammunition. Well, you get the idea, right.

(1) And I can already tell what some of you are thinking. Yes, I did straighten out how babies got there. Honest. I'm all good now. Something about a stork and a black midwife's bag, right?

We'll Call This One . . . .

I'm not a moron. No, really, I'm not.

I have a university degree, with economics. Which can be really freaking hard. Really hard. I regularly read Canada Revenue Agency Interpretation Bulletins, and I have spent the better part of a month reading the FINTRAC guidelines, which do not provide much in the way of guidance. (The CRA Bulletins don't interpret much either).

All of this in spite of the fact I can't count to 11, and I can't do really basic math, even with a gauge calculator.

But, I'm not a moron.

Nope. Not me.

It's just that it was late on Wednesday night, and I really wanted to bring my sweater to knit at the Knitting Philosophy Club, and I was doing the gauge swatches, and they absolutely weren't working, and I had tried 3 different needles, so I had to pull up my gauge calculator, and well, I did something really wrong.

Non Knitting Explanation: Gauge means the number of stitches you get per inch. If you are getting more stitches per inch, than you should, and you don't increase the number of stitches you are knitting with, your sweater will be too small. Similarly, if you are getting fewer stitches per inch than you should, and you don't decrease the number of stitches you are working with, your item will be too big. Either way, get it wrong and you'll find yourself looking for a chilly elephant, or a cold barbie that needs covering up.

So, when my tired brain tried to tell me, several times, on Wednesday night, and then again on Thursday at lunch that there was something wrong, because I was knitting more stitches per inch than I should be (remember, that makes your work smaller, not larger) and I had cast on fewer stitches to begin with, as I knew my gauge was wrong, well, I really should have listened.

Because 2 wrongs don't make a right.

They do require you to rip out 10 inches of knitting. Or, to put it in a more painful way, around about 17, 000 stitches.

Good Reads

I read Nicholas D. Kristoff's column in the New York Times, which really means not much of anything, other than it's a good column, and you should read it, and maybe you should take one of the more obscure causes that it features, and maybe you should write a letter to your government people or send some money to a cause, or maybe even just tell people that there are still slaves in our world.

Kristoff happened, just before the 4th of July, to have a column on children's books. He was asking for children's book recommendations, and talking about his own favourites. And I read along, nodding. And thinking.

I read the comments, as I was curious about what other people remembered from their childhood. And there was someone, like there is always someone, who was complaining that the books suggested had no relevance for low income kids. Specifically, this person was complaining that low income African American's couldn't relate to the stories listed.

I was, I still am, astounded. Does this person read? I'm not attempting to make an ad hominium attack, but really, I thought Susan was a wet blanket, and Edmund a jerk, and I know next to nothing about the life of an English school child, and I've never been transported to another world. But I remember Aslan, and I had a picture in my mind of Cair Parvel, long before the movies.

However much I might wish for a house elf, there is no Hogwarts, I will never be sorted, and I have no idea where to get myself a wand. But I have read every book. I am a red head, but not an orphan, I've never been to PEI, and I didn't smash my slate over Billy Johnston's head, even when he made me kiss him behind the skating rink. But I understood Anne's anger, and I understood when she told Gilbert that "an iron" had entered her soul."

I have never fallen down a rabbit hole, and met a Queen who demanded people's heads, I have never raced an Arabian stallion in the dessert, nor have I ever owned a black horse. Obviously, I'm not a horse, but Black Beauty's story captivated me. I've owned dogs, but never lived in Saskatchewan, and I still smile at The Dog Who Wouldn't Be.

I'm not a nurse and never wanted to be one, but I loved Cherry Ames, and I still read Madeline L'Engle's books, both Sci-Fi and non, and every time I get the great chance to read them again, I find something new to chew on.

You see, children's books are about stories. There's not a common theme among them, but I loved them all. Every last one held my attention, even some 20 years later. For some of them, I can close my eyes and tell you where I was, how old I was, when I first read them.

And there is a deficit in stories. Even in the stories above. Yes, the story of the child in Harlem, surrounded by drugs and murder is not present. And it should be, in some form. I think understanding comes from listening to others' stories. But, even in all the books above, my story isn't present. You won't find a reflection of my childhood. A book doesn't have to be about your story to be enjoyable.

I have a newsflash for the commenter:

That isn't why we read. We don't read to hear our own story. We know our story. We read for other stories, to inspire, to delight, to teach, and truly, for a few hours of escape, into someone else's life.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have 3 books left in Alexander McCall Smith's Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and then I think I may crack open a Nancy Drew.

I do, after all, still own every last one of them, including the cook book.

That Reminds Me

Susan's post about seeing her husband, but not really, reminded me of how my father and my uncle met.

Years and years ago, long before I was even a twinkle of a twinkle in my father's eye, my father went up to Yellowknife to work. The thing you really need to know about Yellowknife is that it's a small town. (Also, that an ice road connects it to the mainland, because of the whole Slave Lake thing, and that food is actually cheaper in the winter as a result of the road. Also, yes, it really is light for 24 hours on the 21st of June, and more or less dark for 24 hours on the 21st of December. And, also, the northern lights are more amazing than you can ever imagine.)

But, back to the point. The Yellowknife of circa 1965 is tiny. It's the major city in the North West Territories, and it's population is about 4,000. No, really, I'm not kidding. It's that small.

And so, my father arrives, to work on something or other, and people on the street, in the store, in the bar, start asking how Faith is? and the kids? And my father stares blankly at them. Very blankly. And he insists that his name is Howard, he's not married, has never been married, much less to anyone named Faith, and he doesn't have any kids. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not a one.

And the people in the bars and the stores on the street actually get mad at him. Really mad. "No", they insist. "Stop the stupid games. Who is this Howard? You are Ken, and you are married to Faith, and you have two children."

And finally they met, this Howard, and this Ken. They were and are brothers, full brothers.

My father says that he knew this man, this person named Ken, husband of Faith, and father of a son and daughter was his brother, when he unthinkingly opened the cupboard, and the bottle of Tabasco sauce was in the cupboard. There was no need to explain what happened to their mother, how she fled, and wound up in Yellowknife. The bottle of Tabasco was proof in a way that blood tests and genealogy could never be.

30 years later, I was in Yellowknife for a wedding, my father had passed away on the first of May that year. I had not found out until the end of July, only 3 weeks before. Now, my father had not really been a part of my life in years, but I was struggling. It's not that I hadn't been fatherless - I had, for 10 years, but now I was an orphan, and that was a different thing entirely.

And one morning, I was laying in the place between asleep and awake, and my uncle's voice came down the hall, so like my father's.

And like my father, I knew that this was family.

Bite Your Tongue

I found myself biting my tongue a few weeks ago. And I will tell you, that if Gabriel's death has taught me anything, it's to bite my tongue. I'm still not as good at listening to others, behaving with gentleness and kindness and compassion, as I would like to be. I'm still learning the discipline of silence, shutting down my need to be right, to appear smart and with it, and capable. I'm still learning the truth behind the words that I'd rather have someone think me a fool because of my silence, than open my mouth and conclusively prove it.

As the taste of blood filled my mouth, I heard a woman telling me that she understood exactly what it was like to lose Gabriel, based on her very recent 10 week miscarriage. I'd rather the blood filled my mouth than boiled in my body. I'd rather I clenched my jaw and my hands, than feel my heart clench and my mouth open as a result of the sting in the words.

Because that's not true. And it isn't that this wasn't a painful, horrible and traumatic experience. She loved her baby, she wanted her baby, she was going to have a baby, and then in a sudden moment that hope and dream and wish was gone. And that hurts. It just plain does.

But it hurts me that she used my very different experience, it feels like she co-opted it. Because a miscarriage is different than giving birth to a dying baby.

Glow in the Woods had a post from a grief counsellor today, and this grief counsellor remarked that we each need to feel companionship and support from those around us, while still having others acknowledge our unique experiences. This well, resonated with me. I believe it. That we need commonality, but also to be allowed to have different things to grieve. And I was trying to error on the side of her feeling not so alone, that there were others out there. But. . . .

My dead baby is not yours. Wrapped up in Gabriel's life, encoded in the DNA of memory, is the last kick, the need to push, sitting on the floor holding him. Wrapped up in Gabriel is a child who gasped for breath, with us for 30 minutes. Wrapped up in the memory is holding my son as he died. Wrapped up in my memory is passing 12 weeks of pregnancy, and thinking, believing, really, knowing, that all the risk was over. I was going home with a baby.

Wrapped up in my grief is not just the loss of Gabriel, but the loss of any right to have a carefree pregnancy in the future. In the middle is the confession that Mr. Spit made 6 months after Gabe's birth, that they told him I was going to die. The knowledge that I am extremely high risk. I will get sick again. Wrapped up in Gabriel's death is the knowledge that we cannot seem to have another child. In the midst of the grief for Gabriel is the sad statement that we have a baby in heaven, and we aren't very able to have more.

And it cost me something to bite my tongue. It cost me something to not correct her. I bite my tongue. Sometimes hard. In the end, I'd rather bite my tongue, until the metallic taste of blood hits my senses, than shut down or shut out some one's story.

But, it hurt. Stories are so different.

Every Day Ethics with Mrs. Spit

The Scenario:

You go to the local big box hardware store, and you find a patio set - a table, 6 chairs and an umbrella on sale, for about 50% off.

You can afford said table, and while it doesn't spin you right around, and form your every dream, it is more than adequate, and much better than the old white plastic one, with the artfully engraved four letter word on one side.

So, you, after some confusion with the teenage boy cum store clerk, who doesn't seem to have any sort of grasp of basic requests, manage to get a hold of your 3 boxes.

When you arrive at the checkout, the clerk scans the bar code. As she is hunting, and you are schlepping 100 pound boxes around, you are extremely convinced it is the only bar code on any of the boxes.

When the price rings up on the till, the price is $100 less than the price on the display model.

Do you say anything?

Monday Miscellany

As variously promised, the Adirondack chairs are assembled, varnished and ready for seating.

Which is good. Because my street, last night has a large pile of dirt on it. Today, they are ripping up the street. (You would have thought we would have gotten a sidewalk first, but apparently the City of Edmonton exercises the 'make everything look really, really bad, before you make it look better' school of project management.)

Also, Canada Post has suspended our mail delivery, as Mr. Spit and I have neglected to provide their letter carriers a safe working environment.

So, no street, no sidewalk. no (mail) service.

A Mari Usque Ad Mare (except for the bits with no sidewalks)

Saturday Quotes

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view.
~H. Fred Ale

Village Children

I actually wrote this a few days ago, and then I got stuck. Because I could identify the many reasons why I thought we should care for others, even when there was no obvious reason for us to do so. As it happened, the other night, I was reading Alexander McCall Smith's The Full Cupboard of Life, and in it, the main character Mma. Ramotswe is reflecting on exactly this, the notion that it takes a village to raise a child. And she makes the both simple and breathtakingly beautiful point that we - the village - raise children, because when these children are older, we will have taught them - by our very care for them - that they are responsible to care for the village.

And frankly, that seems to make the point better than anything I could say. But, because I've put all this time into it, you might as well read my musings anyway.

I got to thinking about the whole "it takes a village" thing last Friday night, as Mr. Spit and I took The Girl Next Door (TGND) to dinner, to celebrate her marks at the end of grade 10. You will note, those of you who know us, we are not TGND's parents, but we do seem to find ourselves doing things with her. (and I am compelled to add that TGND is a lovely, remarkable young woman, and this is not a hardship)

I heard someone remark, a few weeks ago, that they don't think it takes a village to raise kids, that this job is best left to parents. And I was a little harrumph-y about the statement. At least in part because the person making the statement has derived a great deal of support from the world around her, and I thought that it took real moxy to suggest that in spite of the support she got, the help, the assistance she received, she was perfectly fine on her own, doing fine raising her own son, without our help. Harrumph.

But, rather more than that, I would posit that most people who argue it doesn't take a village to raise a child, don't actually believe what they are saying. Hands up, anyone, who thinks that I should ignore the child of 3 who runs into the street, because the child isn't mine. If it doesn't take a village, I have no responsibility to your child, the child is, after all, yours and not mine, and it's not my job to grab your child. It's your job to watch your child. I think we can all agree that we would prefer I ran out into the street after the child and grabbed it by the arm. That's rather enough said about that.

And if we can accept that, I think we can all accept, particularly in Canada, but even in the US, that when you have a child, on the whole of it, the government bears a rather larger burden for the financial cost of your child, system-wise, than your taxes happen to pay into it. And if that's true, I think we can say that in my end of the village, I am paying your child's bills, and even if it doesn't take a village to raise your child, it would seem to take one to pay for a child.

Rather, it seems to me that the parents above, they are fine with the village, until the village wants to do something with their child that they don't want to do. And sometimes they might be right to object. It equally occurs to me though, the rights of a village and the rights of a parent might not always be mutually exclusive. There is, at least according to my mother, more than one way to skin a cat. And there is always room to respect the rights and concerns of each other.

The whole story of the dinner out starts a few weeks ago, when I came in from a board meeting, and Mr. Spit told me that TGND had finished her exams, and figured she hadn't gotten a mark below 75%. I think there are probably lots of reasons that we decided to celebrate TGND's marks. We have something invested - not much, but something - in them. I've helped with Macbeth, Mr. Spit assisted in the construction of a roller coaster thingamijigy for Physics. But really, that's not enough to explain a celebratory dinner, a gift card to her favourite store, and a card that told her we were proud of her hard work. After all, that's not our job if it doesn't take a village.

But more than that, it seems we have a responsibility to be involved in TGND's life.

And this is where, as I noted above, that I ran out of steam.

So, in the thoughts of Mma. Ramotswe, there are lots of reasons for us to take TGND out. One of which is so that 20 years from now, she can take another young woman out, and tell that young woman she is proud.

Perhaps what Mma. Ramotswe is getting at is this: the investment required in a child is huge, massive, it beggars belief. It is both selfish and foolish to think that one or two people can invest deeply enough, without the assistance, the support and the aid of others around them. The village.

And in turn, I'll look back, at Sherry, and Cheryl and Gary, Lynn and Joe, Otto, Simon, Lori, Jenny, Kate, Howard, and I will remember the time they gave me, the village that surrounded me, and surrounds me even now.

This Post brought to you by . . .

ST:NG and a back injury. Also, since I can't move much, a finished baby sweater.

(except for the buttons, because I don't know if it's a boy or girl)

Long Live Data!

And does anyone have any clue why Blogger refuses to publish my scheduled posts? Anyone else having this problem?

5 Minute Rant

In addition to sitting on boards, guest speaking for charity and volunteering at charitable events, Mr. Spit and I donate regularly, through pre-authorized withdrawal from our account, to several charities. Which doesn't make me amazing, but it does indicate that I'm involved in my community.

So, when I'm in Safeway, and I indicate that I don't want to give my $1 for Muscular Dystrophy - which is a worthwhile cause - I'm really not sure why you need to look at me and conspicuously donate $2 to the cause, as I am picking up my groceries.

Because I will think you are a prat. A big prat.

And for what it's worth, I didn't give my $1, because that's the third time you hit me up for this campaign, and I've already given $2.


You would think that I would know better. I, of all people, would know better, that only 2 months later, it would still hurt.

I was, mostly, OK to be back in Anna's city on Sunday.

But, you would think, I would know better.

The hurt of losing a friend doesn't end in 2 months. Raw memory doesn't fade that quickly, and when we turn those memories over this soon, there are still sharp edges to catch fragile skin that has only started to heal over. Sudden memory stings.

It stung to drive past Peter's Drive In, and remember seeing her in March. It stung to think of her, grasping my hand and telling me that she was sorry I wasn't pregnant that month.

It stung to think of her telling me that she was pregnant. It will sting on New Year's day, when that babe was due.

Still miss her like crazy.

I was there and she wasn't.

And it stings.

Monday Miscellany


You don't assemble your lawn furniture in the middle of your living room? Not even with beer? Really? Honest?

Oh well, this guy goes!

(and sorry for publishing on Sunday night. Blogger has decided not to schedule publication and IE 8 has decided to stop displaying pictures. I'm going to have a beer too.)

I Don't Even Want to Write This

I was at a presentation for work, a few years ago. A member of the RCMP was presenting, and talking about the ways in which criminals could steal identity.

There are, for your information, a lot of different ways to steal identity. Your mail, information contained on a 3rd party computer, and yes, from the dead. Including dead children. Gone are the days when thieves troll graveyards, now they use the Internet.

Obituaries. Notices, news paper stories, and I would imagine, our blogs. I have seen a few photo's in the last few weeks of babies' tombstones. My heart breaks at having to say this. It, literally, leaves me feeling sick. But there are names and dates on those photo's.

It's probably not a good idea to put up those photo's, on an non-password protected post. It's a lot of information. That could be used for purposes that you aren't completely expecting.

In theory, most jurisdictions now have "deceased" stamped on birth certificates of the deceased. In theory. And in theory, most places will link their birth certificates and their death certificates. In theory.

In practice, it's very easy to use the information from a dead child to get a birth certificate, and then to get a SIN, and then away you go.

Is it common? No, probably not. Although a search of the Internet indicates that it does happen.

I'm sorry. It just seems wrong that I should even be writing about this.

$187 CAD

Canada Day Stash. Don't look at me like that. It was on sale. On Sale. At it's for already established projects. (well, mostly, except for the stuff that isn't. Why do you have to be like this anyway?)

Toby doesn't care about the stash either.

The Maple Leaf Forever

Happy Canada Day