I'm sorry, I'll post pictures tomorrow. Too tired tonight.

Suitcase is unpacked. Going to have a bath and hit the sack.

Anyone who knows anything about replacing a stolen Canadian Passport - could you leave a comment (don't even ask, it's a long story, which ends with me using my health care card and a business card and my visa and Kuri to get on the plane in Calgary.)

It's good to be home.

Going Home

I love vacations, but I must confess about this many days in - 5 for those of you who are counting - I find myself longing for home.

I check the weather at home and I think about what it must be like. I pet the Inn Keeper's dog (and every other dog, I must be honest) and I miss my girls. I curl up in bed and imagine the cats on my feet. I buy dog bones and think earnestly of how I miss them. Delta's antics become charming, and I wish Maggie would jump up on me for ear scratches.

I sniff the air, and it smells wonderful, but it is not the air of home. There is salt and brine in the air, and there is not smoke and wet leaves and the nip of frost. The stars are clouded out here, the bright lights of them occluding any - and I think of my back deck and Orion. I wonder what the neighbours are up to, what has been happening at work, and what my mother is doing.

And most of all, I think of my house, of seeing my front door. I think about the dogs meeting me, Mr. Spit* opening the front door and standing on the porch, standing so that I can see him under the porch light. I can hear him calling out "hello darling". I can feel his arms around me - squeezing tightly, I can imagine my head against his chest, and I can smell his cologne and deoderant.

All of a sudden, it does not matter where I am. It does not matter that there has been crab, and beer and yarn stores, coffee in small places and unexpected glimpses of the ocean. It does not matter that are small treasures on every corner, and that I saw the sea lions play. It does not matter.

Home is calling.

(*) Except that there won't actually be a Mr. Spit waiting for me, he's out of town. But still.

This Post is brought to you

By a tired woman, who is filled with crab and shrimp and a mojito, and a brownie sundae with a B-52 coffee.

She is slightly tipsy, and has a badly burned finger, where the screaming hot sparkler on her brownie sundae burnt her hand. It burnt her hand, as she was saying: these things usually get really hot - this one isn't. . . oh yes, it is.

Spent dessert with my hand in my water glass.

The problem with telling you all of this, is that it totally eclipses all of the very wonderful things that happened today, and frankly they are so much more enjoyable and better, so I'm going to think of those things, while I soak my hand in more cold water.

It truly was the most wonderful of days. Everything about it was coloured with magic. I am blessed.

Peas and Carrots and Birthday Cake

Why I'll never forget the first time that I met Mrs. Spit, it was....hm...wait a minute, that's funny...now that I think about it as hard as the remaining four brain cells I currently have knocking around my hollow skull allow, I can't remember the first time that I met Mrs. Spit. Honestly, and not just for the sake of illustrating my crappy memory or my rambling point, I cannot remember it. She's just always been there.

To me, that's how I know that I've found a true friend, not to sound all Lifetime Movie, or Hallmark Card on you, Her Faithful Blog Readers. But that's how I knew that I loved my husband, The Daver. He'd been carefully inserted into memories that he had not been a part of, now seated in the aluminum bleachers beside my parents at my high school graduation, clapping when I walked across the stage, rather than hundreds of miles away, shelving horse food or eating vast quantities of cheese (if you'd seen his recent cholesterol score, this would make FAR more sense to you).

In a more friend-in-the-computer-way, Mrs. Spit is like that, too. Certainly, she wasn't at my high school graduation, not because I can't imagine her in the bleachers with Daver and my parents, but because I'm not nearly tech-savvy enough to have had an email at that time in my life, let alone a blog. I've been blogging for a long time, and she's been my friend a long time, so it's safe for me to assume that she has, in fact, been my friend since we both rode dinosaurs to school, although hers were obviously the more refined and polite Canadian dinosaurs.

The lines have blurred a lot these days between friends who have sunned themselves in each others kitchens like cats and friends who have only met through pixilated screens and words--often pithy if they come from me--in a comment box, and while some might scoff at the notion, it's clear to me that they do not understand. Because to me, The Internet is my friend.

Specifically, Mrs. Spit is my friend.

Because I do not know what else you would call someone who, despite losing her only son, (and my Internet nephew) Gabriel, much too soon, sat tirelessly with me, thousands of miles away, and prayed with me while my own daughter was sick.

I do not know what else you would call someone who propped me up during that time, reminded me that while I couldn't be with my daughter during her brain surgery, God was, and made me believe it.

I do not know what else I could call someone who rejoices with me during the good times and cries with me during the hideous, other than a friend.

Because I certainly know no other definition of a friend.

So today, with you, my friends in the computer, I want to raise a glass to celebrate the birth of a good friend of mine and of yours. Someone that someday I WILL meet, whose kitchen I WILL defile with my debaucherous presence (someone who may regret inviting me to her house), and someone who we are ALL honored to know.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Spit.

Today, my friend, we raise our glasses, brimming full of vodka or gin and we drink deeply to you.

Where You Think You Are

We each gave Lance, the cable car guy our business cards, because he said he'd send the pictures we took of each other, using his camera, to us. Actually, he said his wife would do it, which made me feel possibly more reassured, although the pictures are so boring that I can't fathom what he would do with them. He was bemused of our stories of Canada, and tried to insist that Canada's economic stimulus package should give him a swimming pool. I am sucking on the candy he handed to me, and smiling that he got a camera to take pictures of the tourists, because they always take pictures of him.

The Cable Car guys in SFO are well, colourful. They are loud and sarcastic, and not grumpy, but what my mother would call mouthy. They'll throw you off the car with out a by your leave, because it's full, and they'll stop the car on a street corner, to argue about the sports pool with a colleague.

We took the cable car to the wharf this morning, although we got on the wrong one, and missed our first sailing. And if a vacation is anything, it is a chance to remind yourself to relax, to go with the flow, and to seek out opportunities to be more zen like. As a bonus, we did not have Jane with us, boring and frustrating, insisting on "re-calculating" every 3 minutes.

Today was a zen like day. We did not do much of anything we planned on, or if we did it, we did it out of order and slightly off kilter. Alcatraz was amazing, if only because while everyone started at cell blocks and bars, we started at the gardens, lovingly restored to what they used to be. I struggled to name plants, not because I did not know them, but because my brain would fight. What is an annual, small and paltry in Alberta, is a bush, a shrub, a tree, a vine to cover the side of your house. I know fushia, I do not know it as a shrub, trained up the wall.

We wound up at a place called butterfly, which was a wonderful meal, but not what we planned. My blisters had blisters, and we took decided to take the cable car home for a brief nap. I entertained myself during the wait for the car, by petting the jazz musicians' rabbit. She was sweet and small and cuddly, and oh, I miss the boys and girls at home.

We were going to take the cable car and bus to the Mission district, but through a comedy of errors, we wound up 16 blocks into the Haight-Ashbury district.

Haight-Ashbury is the stuff of my personal legend. I have loved its music, its ethos since I was a teenager. While others talked about Woodstock, I thought of the Summer of Love. It was poverty and poetry, drugs and direct action. I love the music, the rebellion, the very idea of creating, of being something new.

Every neighbourhood in SFO has a smell. The real wharf smells of fish, the start of the tourist wharf has sourdough, Alcatraz is steeped in fog and salt and honeysuckle. Downtown smells, well of money, as I look at the big stores. Mission smelled of tamales, taco's, and hait, well, Haight still smelled, just a bit of jasmine incense.

The area was commercialized, with the idea of gentrification taking root. There did not seem to be much to indicate what had happened there. I thought of the video I had seen about the Indian occupation on Alcatraz, hours earlier, and I thought what I have been thinking about since arriving yesterday:

How things change.

One last request - this the day before my birthday. Aunt Becky has written my birthday blog, but I would like if you would comment, in the next few days, to tell me who you are, why you read, and when you started. Consider it a simple way to make my Birthday special.


The Edmonton airport selected me for random pat down, after they had searched my bag twice (they couldn't identify my knitting needles as what they kept seeing on the x-ray.) In Calgary, the baggage carousel would not work, leaving Kuri and I running hard to make our connection. The customs people are possibly still confused about exactly what we are shopping for yarn for, but there you have it. They did at least decide we are not a threat, and let us pass. Where we ran to catch our flight.

The walk up Powell street looked not bad on the map, but alas, maps - transit or otherwise - do not show altitude changes. I am fairly sure that Powell is one of the steepest streets out there. Half way up, I looked at Kuri (who was not huffing at all, I should point out) and said wailed "Please tell me we don't have to go up that mother of a hill." Which was, on the face of it, shocking because the whole city is more or less a hill. Our hotel was more or less 3/4 of the way up the hill.

At any rate, I walked Powell, and I want a t-shirt.

It is Golden here. Even in the pea soup mist that hides the tops of the towers, it is golden. It is both old places and new. The place that Mr. Spit and I ate at during our perfect day, and the wonderful french church with the priest who prays for Gabe, and lights a candle for him on those days that hurt.

It has been a magical afternoon. Our hotel room is at the top of a small hotel, with a lovely resident golden retriever, and it has an elevator with a door you close your self. The room is small and lovely, with a claw foot tub that reminds me of home. I can hear the clang of the cable cars, and I can see outside my window.

A meal in Chinatown (I am not so adventurous as Kuri, and did not go for the entire roasted duck, with head still attached. For someone who has butchered chickens, it looked, well to bird like. I found lovely gifts for my mother, and a few small things for friends, and greatly enjoyed walking around.

Coffee and dessert at the french place again, and back to our room. I will post this as soon as I can, the wireless is slower than the second coming, and I am too tired to go all the way down to the foyer to post there.

(Next morning note)

A wonderful sleep, and a great breakfast. Leaving shortly for the boat visit to Alcataz. See you tomorrow!


I'll have left my house before you read this.

I'll be there about 12pm their time.

Look for me.

We are all our Mother's Daughter's

I should know better than to go grocery shopping at 9 pm at night, when I have not eaten since lunch. (Not my fault, Board Meeting and then errands for trip).

I buy stupid stuff. Over priced and just bad meatloaf, that may not stay in my tummy much longer. Expensive cookies that I love, but need like a hole in my head. Banana flavoured milk. Ornamental corn.

But not, I maintain, the 2 boxes of lucky charms (hey, they were on 2 for $7. I had to buy 2). That purchase did not represent hunger based food stupidity, it represented independence.

Years ago, the rule in my house was that if sugar was in the first 3 ingredients, I wasn't allowed the cereal. And yes, my mother knows all the names for sugar. Dextrose, sucrose, maltose, high fructose corn syrup, she knows them all.

There are not many cereals that leaves one. Indeed, you can't even have mini-wheats. As I recall, there was shredded wheat, all bran, puffed wheat, rice krispies and shreddies. That was it. Not a lot of fruit for the tummy there, mostly just dry, boring cereal.

And still, 25 years later, I am remarkably boring in my cereal choices. Mr. Spit gets all sorts of things. I get unfrosted shredded wheat. Sometimes, sometimes I get radical and I have shreddies. To this day, I like Sunny Boy hot cereal. I remain remarkably true to my upbringing.

I was 18 when I had corn puffs for the first time. 21 the first time I had lucky charms.

Tonight, tired and worn, running through the store trying to find something to eat, I saw the lucky charms. My vacation is starting a day early. I'm having lucky charms for breakfast today!

Anonymity and Accusation

Some of you will recognize that I am writing about something specific. I will say this, and I will say it once. This place is not the place to discuss what you think is true or not.

I want to talk about how we behave when others aren't "watching", I'm talking about the things we do and say when no one will find out who said them or did them. I have no interest in starting the conversation about truthiness, I want to talk about the problem of anonymity. I want to talk about what happens to a group of bloggers that I have always believed are sane and reasonable; kind and supportive and suddenly may not be.

For someone as into free speech as I am, it's perhaps a bit surprising that I don't allow anonymous comments. I don't and I won't. If you go back to the start, I tell you that I think my blog is like a living room. People don't walk into my living room and tell me that they think my couch is ugly, my dogs are badly behaved and what am I thinking wearing horizontal stripes when I'm fat. Or, they don't do it more than once.

Which makes what we all know we do on the way home even more bewildering. We would never say those things to someone, but we'll say them to our spouse - in the car, on the way home. We'll whisper them to our best friend. And we'll write them, anonymously on a blog. And I will stand up as a guilty party. For someone who does not always make the most brilliant fashion choices, I can be profoundly catty. Embarrassingly so. I've commented about your children who were having an off night, and I've suggested you were a terrible cook. I've said other, more horrible stuff. All because I knew you couldn't hear me. I will say lots of things when I don't have to look at you.

Oh, we all have a small, nasty and miserable part of us. We all have a part of us that doesn't want to help, wants nice neat answers, wants to be the centre of our own universe. We have a part of us that thinks we are just - ever so slightly - better than the person next to us, that we deserve just a bit more. Our kids are smarter, our husband is better looking, our house is nicer. We have a part of us that wants to see the world as a nice and safe place, and wants to assume that anyone in pain or distress somehow caused their distress.They deserved it, we reassure ourselves, and in so reassuring, we remove our obligation of help, or even just the debt of mercy owed.

And the small, mean parts of ourselves come to the surface, and if we don't control them, our thoughts become small and mean, and our thoughts can become words. The most terrible of all is when our words become our actions. As a practicing Christian, I name this tendency - Sin. We are all flawed, we are guilty of things done and left undone, to quote the words of the prayer book. Whatever your faith base, I think most of us are particularly aware that there are some "not nice" parts of the world. I think some of us call those behaviours what they are - evil and sinful. They are not the best of us, and they have no place in our lives. They are destructive and hurtful, and they diminish us as humans. We are less than the Children of God when we do this.

It so happens that I think anonymity is the bane of the internet. Take a reasonably moral person, add in the chance to feel a bit better than someone else, to give rise to their less sane, baser thoughts, and who among us would always be strong enough, moral enough, virtuous enough to not take that opening? Truthfully, I think none of us.

And so I return to what I don't allow. I don't allow anonymous comments on this blog. I won't give house room to the insanity that can come from anonymity. I won't be the person that hosts vitriol and invective and blind judgment, knowing that when there is no accountability, our less sane, more base selves often rule - our best selves disappearing. I won't give space to meanness. Either you put your name to it, you stand up and say what you think, what you believe, or you don't say it here. Because if you wouldn't say it if you had to sign your name, if you save up your comments, your thoughts for when you don't have to be accountable for them and you can hide behind anonymity, you aren't engaging in free speech.

You are engaging in cowardice.

And cowardice, and the situation that inspired this blog both make me want to vomit.

Monday Miscellany

  • It is just possible we have the peeing cats under control for now- maybe? Please? Thanks for your excellent suggestions last week. I cannot fathom what set the furry slugs off.
  • Delta does not have ear mites. She has a yeast infection in her ears. So, she gets her ears cleaned every night, and drops of monistat, for dogs. This is not going well.
  • Lastly, the geolocator on Histats tells me that in the last 30 days, 67 people have viewed my blog from San Francisco (and a few more from surrounding areas). Could one of you, or all of you make recommendations about where we should eat my birthday dinner on Sunday? Thanks!
Ahem. Only 3 more days!

Shiver Me Timbers

Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates
Mark Twain

(It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day, me matey's!)

Because I'm Curious

I was getting dinner for the dogs, after eating my own (Mr. Spit is out of town still), and I got to thinking about all of you.

I'm wondering. . . .

What did you have for dinner last night? No, really, I'm curious.

(I had fresh perogies from the Farmers' Market - potato, bacon and onion; sour cream, a BC nectarine, a glass of 1% milk and about 8 tootsie roll's.)

Really, c'mon, dish. What did you eat?

Yes, that is a perogy on a fork. It's from Glendon, Alberta, and it's part of Mr. Spit's personal "big things in Alberta" photo album. I spared you the giant kulbasa sausage from Mundare, Alberta, mostly because I didn't think we could trust Aunt Becky to behave herself!

There is Only San Franciso

There is only San Francisco, because there is no Gabriel. And I don't want to be one of those crazy dead baby mum's. I worry I make too much out of it already, I talk about him too much as it is. I worry that my friends, my neighbours, my colleagues, they are telling themselves that I am not quite right since his death, that I am touched in the head, on the long, slow decline. But, I wish I could make you understand:

There is only San Francisco, and I am only one of those lucky people who has "all this money", because I didn't chose to be a DINK, I wanted my son. I went back to work because I had to keep living even though at times it seemed less painful to stop.

There is only San Francisco, and I have all this spare time and I can only phone a friend and say "Let's go" because no one needs me to tell them a story or change their diaper.

There is only San Francisco because when I went to bed tonight, it was with no boy child to crawl in and give cuddles, no boy child to nurse. There are only ugly sobs, tears down my face. There is only me sitting with his scrap book, tracing the outline of his feet, running my hands over them while I sob, and your words in my ears.

There is only San Francisco because I make a choice, even though my sorrow and grief overwhelms me this exact instant. I chose joy. I chose to enjoy. I chose to keep living. And I will chose to enjoy myself in San Francisco.

And when you tell me that I am lucky, and that you wish you were me, forgive me, but I do not think so.

For me, there is only San Francisco.

And on the balance, I do not think you would chose that.


I was thinking of Barbra Coloroso's concept about relationships today, in that she says you own 50% of a relationship, and you can influence 100% of it. We forget this some times. We forget we can only do so much in any interaction between 2 people.

Others can't control what their words do, all the time. Yes, some words have more power than others. We know that some words have incredible power, and there are ways to be kind and ways to be unkind. We can chose our words to be kind and gentle, or not. But sometimes, even with what we think are gentle words, what we think is kindness, we run into problems.

A co-worker had a small hissy fit yesterday. She came into where I sit, to ask about how to write a cheque for the Social Committee. And 3 of us understood her question to be "How do I write a cheque?" And we were a bit surprised, because who doesn't know how to write a cheque by the age of 25? There was a bit of gentle teasing. And she got quite upset, and stomped off.

I went over later to apologize for the teasing, and indicated that it was ok to not know how to write a cheque, and especially dumb and thoughtless to assume that someone who came from another country would obviously know how to write a cheque in Canada. I explained that I was sorry I made that assumption.

But, the very bottom line is that my co-worker thought this assumption of mine, because she was from another part of the world and so wouldn't necessarily know how to write a cheque, was racist. She thought I was implying that all Asian people were stupid and couldn't write cheques.

And as I was talking it over with my manager today, I thought hard about what I was willing to own. I was willing to own that I assuming everyone over the age of 25 knows how to write a cheque was dumb - especially when they don't come from North America, and I was willing to cop to teasing someone, but equally so, my words of apology were not meant to hurt, and indeed, were meant to help.

When I made the comment about me being wrong to assume that someone knew how to do something when they came from another part of the world, that wasn't meant to be racist. It was meant to say that it was wrong to make assumptions based on my cultural experience. In fact, it strikes me as its own brand of racism, to assume that everything does things the way we do in North America.

And while I can be sorry that someone thought my comment was racist, I'm struggling with intent. It's not that I don't think people can be blind to their racist tendencies, I think we all know that its entirely possible to be a profound bigot and think that you aren't, or to think that your bigotry is based on truth.

What causes me so much distress is that I was trying very hard to not be racist. I was trying very hard to be inclusive, and allow for the different experiences of people from different cultures. And I'm worried that I really am a racist, and I don't realize it. (Mr. Spit telling me he could see how I could be perceived as a racist in this position probably doesn't help my unease.)

And I was left saying that I was sorry indeed this person thought I was being a racist. Deeply sorry, and deeply troubled. But, I was quite sure, upon self examination, that this wasn't my intent, and I can only own so much of what my words do. I can only speak to what I intended to do, and think about the way my words are likely to be perceived. I can chose words with care, and I did, when I apologized, but it does seem to me, there is another 50%.

There is a 50% that can take words the way I didn't mean them, and there's not much I can do about that, other than be sorry my words were taken the wrong way.

It's a really sick feeling.

The Mystery of the Cat who Wouldn't Stop Peeing

Brown Owl (who doesn't have a blog, but could and should) suggested that I might particularly enjoy Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who series. . .

Right now, I'm living a particular the cat who hell of my very own.

The hell of a cat who is "inappropriately eliminating"

It started in August, when Mr. Spit's files came home from his old job, and were promptly peed on. It's continued. Some clothing, more paper, a jacket of Mr. Spit's, their cat beds. . .

The vet assures us they don't have bladder infections. Possibly crystals in their urine, so we switched to super premium only available from the vet food. But, still with the peeing.

And there is . . . This smell, by my computer. We thought it was caused by the pee in the basement, right next to the return air vent that is attached the vent right by my computer, but we have cleaned up the pee in that room, put in a volcanic rock deodorizer, closed the door to keep the cats out, and taped over the vent for now, to allow the smell to dissipate.

But still, there is a smell around my computer. It smells awful. Terrible. Icky.

So, tonight, I went to Pet Smart. I bought:
  • a feliway diffuser for the dinning room plug in (where my computer is)
  • Some feliway hormone spray
  • Wheat litter for the litter boxes, in case the boys don't like their old Costco litter (possibly not chichi enough to go with the vet food?)
  • Some natural herbs that promise to attract the boys to their litter box.
At the suggestion of the lady at the store (who was at least able to sympathize), I have hauled out Max's litter box, on the suggestion that possibly one cat is exercising dominance over the other, and preventing access to the litter box.

My craft room is now accessorized with a litter box, you know, just in case.

I spent a good portion of this evening, crawling around on my hands and knees, sniffing for cat pee, and wiping down with Nature's Miracle where I found it.

Then after that, I went around spraying with the Feliway hormone spray. Feliway, which promises a happy cat. The furry slugs ignored the entire process.

Even though I am dead tired, the nice lady at the pet store also suggested quality time with the furry slugs, so I'm going to the out the feather thing and play with the cats for a bit as well.

Here's the Important Question:

Have I missed anything? Is there anything else I could or should do?

You Load 16 Tons

As promised, the story and the picture of the front of the house, with almost everything done (we still need the new fence. And grass. Grass would be great).

Alright, for this to work at all, you will need to do this blog in stages.

16 tons

I have attached a YouTube link above. If you wouldn't mind, would you go and get that playing in another window. (If you are running a windows based system, right click on the link and chose the closest option to "load in a new window". Ok, off you go. I'll wait.) For verisimilitude, you can imagine Mr. Spit and I, covered in gravel dust, and singing this.

All right, so we have:

2 tons or so of concrete removed. There was the concrete we all saw weeks ago. Underneath that, there was another layer of concrete. And then there was a layer of asphalt (it was about this time our neighbour started joking he could see Jimmy Hoffa's nose!). It was like a bad infomercial. It just kept coming and coming. . .

Which took us down about 10-12 inches, and in some places as far as 24 inches below what we might reasonably call grade. Now, if you think about it rationally, bricks are about 3 inches thick, and what goes out, must come back in.

(If you haven't reach a chorus yet, just wait. . . )

One makes up that difference with dirt and gravel and sand.

Sing it with me.

You load 16 tons and what do you get?

Oh, about this.

This is not a blog post with Pictures of the Front of the House

If you would like one of those, please come back tomorrow, when there will be light, so that I can take said photo's.

This is a blog post to say that it is done.

(and also to say that Mr. Spit did the lion's share. He nicely fired me from putting in the bricks, since I am, as it turns out, not very good at that).

Pavers are in. Remainder are moved to the back yard.

25 - 55Kg bags of concrete are moved to the back yard (it was on sale!)

Polymeric sand is swept into the cracks and watered.



Saturday Quotes

Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining

Jeff Raskin, interviewed in Doctor Dobb's Journal

The computer was not fixed. I have a new hard drive, and will have to find time to take everything off the old one. Half of my drivers were missing, and my resolution is absolutely bizzare, but I can finally connect to the internet, and I have email.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing, as I am $200 or thereabouts into this whole fiasco, is that I find myself saying, over and over, "at least my data isn't gone".

My computer exploded on Thursday, and I am thankful for the priveledge of being able to install my own hard drive. That's something, Mr. Gates.

(and no, Mac users, smugly pointing out that your Mac is better isn't going to help. And if you do, I will become very cross and might delete your comment. I've had enough of that, thanks.)

Sanity in Pictures and With Math

Well, not really, because I'm not all that good with photoshop 6, and after you have heard about my day, you will understand why I am not even going to open it up.

So, let's let the diagram below indicate Mrs. Spit's sanity continuum


In the normal scheme of things you would probably rather be at the extreme left hand side of things. When we do the Sanity Math (tm), we note that Mrs. Spit is on vacation, but. . . She's also doing a home reno. On the bright side, Mr. Spit, we all discovered yesterday, is not dying of leukemia.

All of this Sanity Math (tm) puts Mrs. Spit about here on the Sanity Scale(tm) as a starting point.


Then she woke up. Slept late because she could, but discovered Rona will not be delivering the 512million bricks she needs for her front sidewalk until Saturday (they were needed today). Also, due to a slight mis-calculation the Spits require 2 more tons of gravel (plus the stuff from the back that still has to be moved). This puts the project 20% MORE over budget.


Come home from running errands and discover that Delta has shredded the entire box of Puffs Kleenex all over the living room floor. (Puffs purchased because nose is very sore from cold).


Go to Lee Valley to purchase gardening things, even for other people.


Go home, try to leave a comment on someone's blog. Computer stutters, pauses, flashes the blue screen o'death and then shuts off. Kernel error? Shut down, repair, re-install, re-index files, re-start, re-start, re-start. Leave for doctor's office, where Mrs. Spit has her "annual" exam. (some of you will get this. If you don't, ask the woman in your life to explain it).


Go to office. Sort through email. Try to be discreet. Charming co-worker.


Go home, have extremely tense words with Mr. Spit about exactly what to do with the laptop situation (which has not solved itself.) Mr. Spit suggests (gently!) that "I hate it and I wish it were dead" are not the most sensible words to use about a recalcitrant laptop.


As a result of tense words and moments of irrationality, leave house late to get to dinner at friends' new house. New house in neighbourhood you don't know. Pause to shift all the flyers that are being delivered to your house, so former TGND can deliver them and fund her trip to Japan next year. Bicker more while doing it. Get in car, late, while solidly not.talking.to.each.other (also tm).


Arrive at friends' house, greet them, enjoy dinner very much. Most beautiful garden, that you might get to muck around a bit in next spring. (Not kidding about the meal, and the friends, they made the rest of the evening slightly more bearable)


Attempt to drop Laptop off to London Drugs to be fixed. Tech can't touch it for 2 weeks. Suggests trying repair disk. Point out, you cannot remember your admin password. Password hint is "my first". First what? No one can help if you can't remember your password.


Get home. Realize that mother's cat has arrived. This will not do good things for current cats, that are still peeing everywhere. Also, has interloper cat been treated for ear mites? Phone rings. Is mother. Mother is in Red Deer, mother's clothes are apparently at her back door here in Edmonton. Add in "drop suitcase off at Greyhound" into already busy schedule for next day. Drive to Mother's to get suitcase, pull up to house, realize that mother's house keys are on hook at your front door, from the last time she lost her keys and had to borrow yours.

[---------------------] X

Return home. Refuse to go anywhere. Demand ice cream float. Husband has fixed computer. (Perhaps it only required someone who wasn't fantasizing about the things they could do to Bill Gates' body with a ball peen hammer, as payback for Vista.)


Now, things aren't in the red zone right now, so I'm going to go to bed. I'll talk to you later. Maybe.

Dodgy Theology

I sent my best friend an email about the shoe club, as soon as I heard about it.

I got an email back.


Proof that there is a God, and that she loves us!

And my conservative theological soul sighed. And reminded myself that she and I really must discuss this.

But, there is a shoe club, and I am loved.

So. . .
Running Fast to Stay in Place

Never too bad for plaid!

And you thought diamonds were a girl's best friend.

Not a lemon here.

A Good Day Indeed

  • For those of you who follow Make a Wish, it's a MGUS (Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) Which is nothing to worry about, according to the oncologist, and there is every expectation that Mr. Spit will live a long and hearty life.
  • In celebration, we went to the Second Cup and had a latte and a slice of chocolate cake.
  • I am feeling much better. I am in the runny nose part of the cold, which is great, because it means the "my body feels like someone took a hammer to every part of it" bit is over.
And I present this photo. . .

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a paved road. I think I may weep with joy!

A Working Definition of Love

Is the man who goes and finds the Safeway employee to go and open the bakery, so that I can have my chocolate cup cake with 3 inches of orange icing. And then he goes and gets a slurpee to soothe my throat, and only laughs at me a bit when I am convinced that I have H1N1. And when I am sure I will never eat again, he insists I have a smoothie, and doesn't insist that I eat anything else.

Then he piles on every blanket, but also puts the fan in the window, knowing as soon as I am finished being freezing, I will be sweltering.

And now, he's cooking me cranberry brie in phyllo pastry from M&M, on the BBQ, because we still don't have a stove.

And I'm moping about the house, whimpering because my very bones hurt, and my throat feels as if I have swallowed glass, and my head will explode.

I am a blessed woman.

Alleluia. Amen.

Je t'adore


All good stories start at the beginning. The question, for a really deep story is to determine where the beginning actually is.

We could say that it started when I was driving home from a function last night, coming through the University of Alberta, and down a hill. I deliberately took the long way home, so that I could drive part of the route I used to take home from University every day.

We could say the story starts a few days ago, when the daughter of a colleague was attending orientation for her first year of university, and I was surprised to hear that she didn't go to the beer gardens. After all, what is the first week of university if not beero'clock?

Equally, we could say that the story starts in my first year of university.

We could say that the story does not so much start at all, but continues, and it picked up again a few months ago, when Mr. Spit and I faced some hard decisions.

I'm going to start the story with me in University, as long as we understand that it probably really doesn't start there. Or, maybe part of it starts there, and part of it starts a few months ago, and most of the words came to me as I drove home last night. The gist of the story is this: in my first year of university, I struggled to bridge the gap. I don't think this is particularly strange, I suspect many kids get to university and struggle to find their place.

And none of this would be especially remarkable, but I had never failed before. Oh, sure I wasn't such a stunning success at hiking or snowshoeing, but honestly, I had never failed anything. Academically I was a success (except for math, but we won't talk about that). I might not be Einstein, but I could learn enough to scrape a decent pass in Physics, Chemistry and Math.

In the rest of the subjects, I did more than well enough. Well enough to get early acceptance and a few scholarships. Well enough to get a great scholarship to McGill. (Which I didn't take, but that's another story)

I'm not sure what I expected, perhaps that University would be a continuation of high school, only with more people.

It wasn't.

Most of you will not be particularly surprised at this, but I hope you will be compassionate when I tell you that I was. Most of you will not be shocked when I tell you that first year calculus is brutally hard, even when you take the extra tutoring, even when you take the calculus for dummies pre-class.

I will tell you that the University of Alberta requires you to take Calculus 114 to get into the faculty of business. And that I wanted into the faculty of business. I had great plans for what I was going to do. And it wasn't going to be an arts degree (do you want fries with that?)

And the University is remarkably intransigent on the subject of Calculus and business, and unless I passed that darn calculus course, I wasn't going to get into the faculty of business. And let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I wasn't going to pass that calculus course. I tried. Twice. You can tell me that anyone can pass calculus, and I will tell you firmly that no, some of us never will. We will simply never get it.

Which left me, at the end of my first year of University, exhausted and overwhelmed, and utterly without a plan.

I didn't know what to do next. About the only course I was doing well at was anthropology. I did really well at it. Got top marks. And I met a friend, and we were at this Christian seminar, and I announced I was going to major in anthropology. (Oh, you can laugh. She did). And if this is the story of anything, it is the story of how Mrs. Spit does and does not handle failure, and change and ambiguity. The story is only a little about anthropology.

The problem, as the more observant of you will notice, is that I, like many others, do not do well when my path is unclear. When I can't see the road in front of me for miles and miles, I don't have a map, I don't have a destination, I don't do well. I'm purpose orientated.

And I can tell you all of that, at almost 31. At 31 I do not know myself perfectly (the work of an entire life time, that) but I know myself somewhat, and I know what I am good at, and what I am not good at. I know, at my core, who I am. I am self aware, I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I know what I am. I know who I am.

At 19, I do not think anyone can be held responsible for not knowing who and what they are. I do not think they can be held responsible for not handling the in-between places, the margins, the outliers well. And I don't think you can hold yourself responsible for not knowing that change is hard.

I thought about how I didn't take orientation when I talked to my co-worker. I grieved all I missed out on, while I tried to find my feet and catch up. I drove home last night, remembering a lost young woman, and I remembered what it felt like to be lost and confused, and about to major in anthropology because it's the only damn thing you are good at, and who cares if you are passionate about anthropology, you get good grades in it.

Remember when I told you I wasn't sure where the story began? I'm not sure where it ends either, except perhaps to say, 12 years later, I still don't like it when I don't have a map.

'Nuff Said. . .


Today I need to sit down and write out my to do list.

On it include such things as finish digging down the path, compact dirt, gravel, sand. Order paving stones, install paving stones.

Touch up paint on front porch, clean up back yard, including installing new motion lights and decorative stars. Finish painting the garage door.

In the house I should clean the california sunshine celiling panels, flip over my summer wardrobe to winter, put away my summer shoes and tidy the basement a bit.

I should brush all the animals and clean out the desk. I should be knitting some stuff.

I also need to meet with an Executive Director for a new board I will be sitting on, and pick apples with a neighbour.

I should have a nice list, broken out by priority and day.

Bugger that.

Mr. Spit and I are going to Fort Edmonton Park.

Talk to you later.

The Spits Go to the Vet

I would complain that the vet visit was $580, with the promise of another $100 in 2 weeks (ear mites).

But I won't. As I was paying the bills and Mr. Spit was hefting the expensive prescription cat food to the car, the owners came in with the lovely grey cat.

Unlike many long hairs, she was immaculately groomed. She was happy in his arms, and when I went to pet her, I saw the tumor on her face.

And she was there to be euthanized, and his eyes were liquid, and the cat's were trusting, and my heart was breaking.

And I walked back over, and when they announced the total was $580, I changed my tune and I said that will be fine, and handed over my bank card, and Mr. Spit hefted $80 worth of vet food for the boys (that will hopefully help with the peeing everywhere problem).

I made another appointment for 2 weeks, go get another set of shots for everyone, to deal with the ear mites, and I was thankful that money was all it took.

A very wise woman once told me that if it was a problem you could solve with money, it wasn't a problem at all.

And I'm thinking of a grey cat, and an age spotted hand that petted her with the familiarity of 15 or so years, and I'm thinking of a hand with nothing to pet tonight, and she's right.

The worst things in the world will never be solved by money.

If it can be solved with money, it's not a problem.

Weekends are for Quotes

Vacation is what you take when you can't take what you've been taking any longer.

Oh, I know, I know. We are doing a bunch of things around the house, so it a working vacation. . .

But today, with 8 entire days ahead of me, life is filled with infinite possibility.


Anger and Forgiveness

It has taken me 18 or so months to finally forgive once dear friends their carelessness with us after Gabriel's death. And that's what it was, not malice or meanness, just carelessness. It was a lack of thought and foresight, nothing more. Didn't understand what it was to be us, and couldn't/wouldn't/didn't learn. In its own way, it was apathy.

I have lived the hurt, when I think about the things these people did and did not do. About a year ago, Anna suggested I write down every single thing that they did to hurt us. Anna, was, as always, wise. Because mostly what I did was minimize the horrible things. I kept saying, ignoring all the pain in my heart, that what they did wasn't that bad, and they did try. And Anna didn't debate that they didn't try, but she also forced me to own up to the hurt. She forced me to own up to a powerful truth, in situations like mine: apathy is far more dangerous, more painful, more devastating than malice. If perfect is the enemy of the good, then our own comfortable lives can be the enemy of compassion. So, I wrote the list, from my place of discomfort.

And then I got angry.

I've spent a stupid amount of time angry. Disgusted with them. The "and you call yourself Christians, you are horrible, terrible people" type of anger. Anger I am embarrassed to tell you about. Oh, it's satisfying to think about all the things you would like to say, but you really do know that what you would say is unreasonable, and not fair. This is not your best self, or even your rational self, and you know that in anger you would blast them, forgetting what was good, losing that in the pain and hurt. You know you are being unreasonable. You are sinning.

It has been a constant struggle, this forgiveness. I believe that we chose to forgive. I forgive because I am commanded to. I am reminded that I am fallen and have been forgiven much. Realistically, I forgive because at least the rational part of me accepts that it hurts me more to hold on to anger than it does to let it go. I don't get back at anyone while I nurse a grudge. I rip and tear my own heart apart.

But mostly, when I think back to Anna's list, what hurt was when they placed their children, their family, their needs and wants and lives above our hurt. When they made us deal with their kids, because they couldn't be any other way, because they couldn't leave their identity as parents behind, and simply be our friends. What hurt is when they spoke without thinking, acted without pause. When they sacrificed the cause of compassion for ease. When they did things to make it easy for themselves, and harder for us. When they stomped into painful, broken space and they did not stop to care.

On a deeper level, what hurt was that we expected so much more. What rips and tears is that they were not the people we thought they were.

And finally, I realized a terrible and powerful thing: this was who they were, and this was the only way they could be. I might wish them more compassionate, I might have expected them to be more merciful, I might have wanted more care and concern, but they did the best they could. And whatever I might think of their best, they did theirs. And I guess in the continuing process of learning, I have learned about what not to do.

And finally, between those two realizations, some 21 months later, I have learned enough to forgive.

and, please God, enough to do better for others.

You Can Learn From Anything

I was in Michael's, picking up a stamp for the thank-you cards I sent after Gabe's death, and there was this magnet, and I have wished, ever since, that I bought it.

You can learn from anything

I reject, completely, the notion that these sorts of things happen for a reason. Gabriel did not die so that Mr. Spit and I could be more compassionate, he didn't die because God needed him more, he didn't die to teach us to depend on God, he didn't die because of something I did, or did not do. He didn't die so that Mr. Spit and I could grow closer, he didn't die because of my mother's heart attack the week before. He simply died. It was and is hellish and awful, and there's no great meaning in it.

If you must have a reason, let it be this: Gabriel Anton died because pre-eclampisa is a terrible disease. It is a disease first recognized 2000 years ago, and even today, it takes a mother's life every 12 minutes. Gabriel died because pre-eclampsia kills. Gabriel died because the only cure for pre-eclampsia, 2000 years after its discovery, is to deliver the baby.

You can learn from anything.

I remember the magnet, because it was part of a choice I made, on December 11, 2007 and on September 3, 2009. I made a choice that I would learn from this. And that decision never has rested easily. I don't want to find meaning in Gabe's death, particularly, if only because it seems to me that if I can find meaning, Gabe's death meant something, in some sense, it happened for a reason. Maybe, my brain whispers, if it happened for a reason, it should have happened. It wasn't merely evil that touched our lives that day, it was planned, it had to happen. It wasn't just some sort of dumb luck.

In spite of my misgivings, it seems to me that it is the nature of human's, it is the image of God in us, to find some sort of meaning in things. When we can't find reason, we try to find at least something we can take from the experience. So, I decided if there wasn't any reason to find, at least there was learning.

And I think, at least part of what I have learned is the danger of apathy.If Gabriel's death has taught me anything, it has taught me the danger of the halfway gesture, of giving just enough, of not going all in.

And thank you for your very kind words and your support yesterday. I still don't have a paved road, but I do have people to call at the City, to start demanding answers. I cannot help but think that if I lived in one of the Tony neigbourhoods, it would only have taken a month or so to replace light standards, sidewalks, curbs and re-pave the road, not 3.5 months. And that makes me angry indeed.

Today's Word

Should likely be PMS. But isn't.

I would like to point out, I am generally speaking a normal, sane person. I truly do strive to treat people with kindness and respect. I'm not given to hysterics. I almost never use rude words when talking to people. I can't think of the last time I really lost my temper and shouted. (Please, someone from real life interject and tell the lovely people in my blog I'm reasonable and sane, much of the time)

All of which is to say, this morning was an aberration, and not my most shining hour.

I'm not proud of this morning.

As you may recall, I went to bed with a fair bit of dread. I awoke, again, to the dulcet tones of heavy equipment, and stopped trying to fall back asleep because the sounds were right outside my window. And I got out of bed (dragging) and looked out the window. Surprised by fog, was I.

Except, that when I went to let the dogs outside 5 minutes later, I was coughing and choking. That wasn't fog preventing me from seeing across the school yard, that was dust. And my windows were open. I did run around shutting them, but too late. You can write your name on my kitchen floor.

at 7:15 or so, my car was in front of my house, and the equipment was moving around, making one hell of a mess.

at 8:15 I went down my front porch stairs, and my car was gone.


yes, that's right. In the space of an hour, it was gone.

My road was gone too. Again. 3 foot hole where my road was.

How in the world could someone steal my car with all these people in neon green jump suits around? How, I ask you?

I phoned around, a tremble in my voice.

I did locate my car.

An hour later.

Towed out of the way.

Towed around the corner.

Except not around the corner, because that's ripped up too. Around 3 corners. Located, covered in dust. Just like my floor, except worse.

And so, the horrible, nasty things I might have called the construction guy?

Totally brought on by still not having a road. Or a car. Or anyone to turn to, as I try and figure out when I might have a road again. . .

And I really didn't mean the things I said about his intellect, or his character, or his ability to function in the world?

I really didn't mean them.

I meant every word I said about his organizational ability. Every. Last. Word.

And I don't give a darn what he told his co-workers, it had nothing to do with PMS.

Everything to do with being fed up.


And Lo, it has Come to Pass

On the first of June, they pulled out my old light posts, and then they gave me a large and deep hole, covered with a sheet of plywood for the weekend. Verily, I tried not to think about this whole hole swallowing up small children, large dogs, or the drunk guy and his shopping cart. And s'truth they closed it and put in a new light standard, which has twice the light, ensuring the bright face of Venus is dull and dim. Then the scurvy naves took the sign off the old light standard, warning all and sundry that my street is a NO PARKING! zone during STADIUM EVENTS! (not that anyone enforces this, other than to miss the permit on my car, giving me another ticket that I will have to phone and argue about).

And lo, it was progress, and it was good.

On the first of July they took away my grass, and then my sidewalk, leaving me with a 4 foot chasm, and no mail service for 2 weeks. The chasm got shallower with gravel, and then after another week, they gave me back a side walk, surrounded with weeds and gravel bits and clumps of concrete. Delta barked for weeks, angry that we did not bid her warning, allowing those pox-ridden city people to take her sidewalk. She was just getting over the shock when they stole her sidewalk on the other side of the street. Mayhap she will never be the same again.

But lo, it was progress.

In the middle of July, they gave me back my parking sign, but not on the street. Oh, ho, they put it right in front of my house, where I cannot but help to smack the passenger side door into it. And prithee, I found a gorbellied dismal-dreaming scullian in a white hat, and I demanded that he move it, and he said nay. (And on a side note, always find the guys in the white hats, the ones in the yellow hats are idiots, but will wolf-whistle at you, which is a nice pick up to a crummy day. They have no answers about time lines though)

But lo, it was. . .

On the first of August, which was also a Saturday, they took away my street. With loud and smelly equipment, and back-up alarms, beginning at 7 am on the rump, they started digging. And lo, my street was gone, and in it's place was a 5 foot hole, and the neighbour's dog from down the street really did get lost. And then they ripped up much of the rest of the neighbourhood, leaving me each night, bereft, as I tried to figure out where I might park my car, and frantic each morning, as I could not remember where I parked my car the night before.

And in the middle of August, verily, it did rain. Turning where the road once was into a crater of water and slime, and meaning that I could boat to work, but not walk my groceries into the house. And construction stopped entirely, and hasty consultation of entrails bid no answers to this watery mess.

But, lo . . . .

And in the last week of August, a machine of great munificence did come, and it was called a packer, and thee house did shake, and they did give me a gravel road and more cracks in my plaster. And it came to be that I ran into my city councillor at a community event, and I did tell him that if those sordid and vile machines woke me up one more time at 7 am on a Saturday morning, and if I had to wash the dad-blamed deck off once more, I was going to phone him up, and he'd better be out there with his sword and shield, protecting my precious sleep, or knock on another door for him during an election, I would not! And he was alarum'd, but could help me not.

But. . . .

And forsooth, it is, this day, the first of the month, and lo, there is equipment outside my house, and hark, a water truck sprays down my gravel road (making an unholy mess), and lo, I am left on my covered in dust, newly stained front porch, screeching like a fishmongers wife,

"Thou beslubbering rump-fed boar pigs, if you take another damn thing away from my infrastructure, without bloody well finishing what you've started, I'm going to smack you upside the head with your own shovel".



The, well, not problem, but the thing about reading a lot is that you often find yourself reading several books at one time. In my case, fiction and non-fiction, at the same time, and then you find yourself making connections.

I'm reading Madeline L'Engle's Austin Series, and I'm in Book 3. And I'll blog a bit more about the books as a whole, but I think it's worth talking about Apathy. I'm listening to 3 religious characters, a Rabbi, a Methodist and an Anglican (which sounds like a joke and isn't) and I'm hearing them all say just about the same thing. Obedience is its own form of freedom and apathy is a sin.

A recent prescription change has left me very ill, needing to be close to my washroom, and I've been sitting at home. (And that's enough said about that, trust me)Effectively I have a book going in every room, and I get about 45 minutes, before my attention is distracted. I'm also reading Barbra Colorosso's book about Bullying, in which she talks about roles, and the roles we play and the roles we force our children into. She spends a fair bit of time talking about not just bullies and their victims, but about the bystanders who watch, and the options open to them. She talks about apathy as the main reason bullies have power. They have power because we don't care enough, we aren't skilled enough, to intervene. And then I'm reading through Colin Thatcher's defense that he didn't kill his wife. And a bit of PPZ.

As part of a whole thing on forgiveness, I've been thinking about apathy. I've been thinking about enough and going the extra mile, and just being a bystander. If I had a goal in life, it would be to never be a mere bystander. To stand up and be counted, to respond to my fellow human beings. To not give what is easy, what is convenient, what is 'just enough' but more. To involve myself in someone's life. To make time for others.

And I'm not particularly successful. I'm still self absorbed, wrapped up in my own life, but still, working on it.

A day spent, looking at the problem of apathy. It's not a bad way to spend it.

Word of the Day