Category Archives: Friends

Hug a librarian

Apparently yesterday was “Hug a Librarian Day“. 

My kid at the Frances Morrison Library in Saskatoon

My kid at the Frances Morrison Library in Saskatoon


I didn’t get around to hugging any librarians (though I know and have huge respect for several – I’m looking at you, Michelle, Krista, Sonya and Betty), but I wanted to write a post today about how the library has tangibly changed the quality of life for my family.

If you dig back into the archives of this blog, you’ll see that a few years ago my mom was diagnosed with something called Mycobacterium avium complex, or Lady Windermere Syndrome. It was good news at the time, because it was treatable and curable, as opposed to the fourth stage lung cancer they initially thought it was. Three and a half years later, she still has it, and after a few very intense and long courses of treatment, she’s just not responding. Her lungs are shot. They’ve been described by her doctor as old underwear – no elasticity left.

As such, she doesn’t get out much. She’s around 85 pounds and is susceptible to illness, so big shopping trips or outings are just not a good idea.

Last summer when we were visiting her, I took her to the library and signed her up for a card. She’d had one years ago, but it had lapsed and she hadn’t got around to renewing it.

Since then, I’ve taken on the role as her own librarian – going online, choosing and requesting books for her that the library then puts on hold. My sister, who lives in the same city as my mom, then goes and picks up a stack of new books and returns the finished ones. Since September, I’d wager she’s read at least 150 books, and that number is probably conservative. She’s close to reading a book a day.

These books, which range in genre and era, have changed her life. They take her places she can’t physically go. They give her something to think about beyond what’s outside of her window or the rattle in her chest. They’re keeping her mind sharp and her wits intact. They make her laugh and keep her riveted and always give her something to talk about. They keep her company while my sister’s at work and the temperature is -40 degrees Celsius (it really is that cold in Saskatoon).

So, while I didn’t hug a librarian yesterday, I’m so thankful for them and for libraries. My mom is, too.




Filed under Book Challenge, Books, cancer, Family, Friends, Library, weather

Dusk-Til-Dawn, Family Style

Last night we packed up the car with a ton of blankets, snacks and pjs (for the kid) and went to a drive in. It was a triple feature — not quite a “dusk-til-dawn”, but pretty close.

In the true tradition of multi-feature drive in experiences, the owners pieced together a disjointed, and terrible collection of movies. In this case, it was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Prom, and I Am Number Four. Obviously, the draw was Pirates, but in our case the clincher for us parking in front of screen number one was that they were all rated PG. With a kid in tow, we actually exhibited some parental guidance and avoided the other screens with movies we both wanted to see.

But going to a drive in isn’t really about movies at all. It’s about the experience. The making of a nest of blankets in the back seat, the giant drinks in the car cup holders, and the visit to the circa-1965 playground directly in front of the screen, which features a pure metal slide at a solid 60-degree angle and a side rail that stands about two inches off the side (yes, we saw a 4 year old crash off the side about 5 feet from the ground).

This was our second drive in in about 11 years. We tried to go when Scarlett was two, thinking she’d fall asleep immediately, but after trying to watch The Bourne Ultimatum with her climbing on my head and honking the horn with her feet, we let it go.

This time, she was thrilled. Could she tell you anything about the plot of Pirates? Probably not, but neither could I. But all day today she talked about how it was such a special and fun night.

It made me think a lot about going to the Sundown Drive In in Saskatoon. Here are a few of the drive-in movies that I sat through back in the late 80s/early 90s:

That’s all I can think of right now. Remember anything else from the days of my Lada at the drive-in (I’m looking at you, AT, EG  and JC)? Please comment.



Filed under Family, Friends, Movies, Parenting

To the moms who matter

It’s Mother’s Day, and a day I tend reflect on the moms in my life, including my own beautiful, stellar mom.

Today, I send love and respect to all of the moms I know.

To the moms who work far too much and spend their days feeling guilty and their nights cobbling together school projects, squeezing in haircuts and organizing everyone’s lives.

To the moms who stay home with their kids and worry about coddling them and feel guilty for wanting adult conversation.

To the moms with kids who challenge them in ways they never imagined.

To the moms with perfect kids who are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

To the moms whose babies were conceived during one night stands or on wedding nights or after a bottle of Shiraz or following months of injections or in a petrie dish.

To moms who battle the baby blues.

To moms who breast feed and to those who don’t, and especially to those who don’t judge the moms that do the opposite of what works for them.

To moms who literally cross the earth for their children — to China or Haiti or South Africa or Ethiopia.

To moms who aren’t afraid to admit that sometimes it’s really freaking hard.

To moms who fall in love all over again every time they see their child.

To moms who have amazing partners and to those who don’t.

To women who dread Mother’s Day because it’s another reminder of how they aren’t moms.

And finally, to my own mom, who lost her own mom on Mother’s Day, and who has given me immeasurable love and the world’s best example of how to do this amazing, incredible and terrifying job. I love you.

And now, some sage words from a great mom, Tina Fey from her book Bossypants — a prayer for her daughter. If you haven’t read this, go get it!

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

 May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Bea……uty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


Filed under Family, Friends, Parenting, Uncategorized

10 Things

Yeah, I’m back. I admit it: I’m a fairweather blogger. Actually, I’m more of a crapweather blogger, but what of it?

When life gets stressful, I make lists. As such, here are 10 things that I’m really looking forward to (in no particular order):

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Even though it’s in 3D (which I hate, thank you very much), I can’t wait for the final installment of the film franchise. Harry, Hermione, Ron, the final battle, Bellatrix getting taken down by Mrs. Weasley–it’s got to be amazing.

2. The Mother’s Day Tea at the kiddo’s school. Here’s her performance from last year:

3. The Royal Wedding. When Charles and Diana got married, I woke up in the middle of the night and sat glued to the TV in my dad’s La-Z-Boy chair. I obsessively collected Royal Wedding paraphenalia including Charles & Di paper dolls and every hardcover book on the couple to ever hit the bargain table at Coles. I am so watching this wedding.

4. The movie version of The Help. I really loved this book and can’t wait to see the movie. Emma Stone is a gem and I think she’ll make a great Skeeter.

5. Mommy/Daughter Week. Every summer, Scarlett and Chad spend a week hitting every theme park in the province. This year, I’m countering Daddy/Daughter Week with Mommy/Daughter Week. It won’t involve roller coasters, but it may involve manicures and fancy picnics. I can’t wait.

6. A visit from my mom. It’s been over six months since she was diagnosed with MAC, but she’s still not able to fly. We were hoping she’d be able to come for Easter, but we’re now keeping our fingers crossed for a May visit.

7. Berry season. I can’t wait for all of my favourite berries to be in season. I’m tired of paying premium for the only fruit that doesn’t make me projectile vomit or erupt into hives.

8. Tom’s weather. I bought two pair of Tom’s shoes last summer, and wore the hell out of them. Once I can feel convinced that it won’t snow again, I’m picking up two more.

9. Mad Men Season 4. We watch TV on Blu-ray or DVD, so we’re always way behind. I don’t have to wait long for this one, though–we’re starting it tomorrow.

10. The weekly meeting I attend every Friday at 2:00. It’s hands down the best workday hour of the week.

I feel better already. What are you looking forward to?


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Filed under allergies, Books, Family, Friends, Movies, Parenting, TV, Uncategorized, weather

Yay for YA!

I love to read. I started when I was three, and pretty much haven’t stopped. I’ve dabbled in almost everything–from Tolstoy to L.M. Montgomery, from Judy Blume to Robertson Davies–and can find satisfaction and value in most genres.

As with movies, I choose books based on reviewers I trust, authors I’ve read before and liked, and recommendations from friends.

Recently, a good friend of mine recommended–and then physically ordered for me–a series of books, which I just finished. WheThe Hunger Gamesn I brought them home, my husband took one look and snickered. Why? They were published by Scholastic Press.

Yes, that Scholastic Press–the publisher that has teachers put order forms in my kindergarten kid’s backpack, so I can buy children’s books at ridiculously low prices.

Despite the taunts, I started reading, and couldn’t put them down.

The books–The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins–might be written for a Young Adult audience, but this Middle Aged Adult found them to be riveting.

If you haven’t read them yet, pick them up. They’re probably shelved near the Justin Bieber autobiography, but trust me–it’s worth the shame.

Thanks, Lauren!









Filed under Books, Friends

Giving Thanks

When my mom got sick, the one thing that kept going through my mind was the size of our family. It’s tiny. Here’s what our family tree looks like:

My mom’s dad died before I was born. Her mom died when I was four. She had one sister, who never married. She died a few years ago. No cousins, no grandparents, no aunts or uncles. That’s it for that side.

My dad’s dad died before I was born. His mom died when I was five. He had a bunch of brothers and sisters, some of whom we never met. Some we did, but barely. I’d be hard pressed to list them, let alone get in touch with them. They might as well have never existed. So essentially: no cousins, no grandparents, no aunts or uncles. Also, my dad died seven years ago, so no dad either.

Then there’s me and my sister. We each have a husband and a five year old daughter. Besides that no nieces, no nephews.

Like I say: tiny.

So, when I remember Thanksgiving as a kid, I don’t think about movie Thanksgivings with a kids’ table and uncles reclining to watch football or whatever. What I do remember is the extent of my parents’ generosity and the lesson they taught me about friendship.

You see, practically every year of my childhood my mom would whip up a turkey feast and my dad would find people to eat it. Yes, the four of us would eat, but my dad always opened the door to our home to people who didn’t have any family. He’d actually put up notices at university dorms welcoming international students who had nobody to spend the holidays with.

As a surly tween it drove me crazy that we had to invite these weird people in our house for Thanksgiving, but once they were there it was kind of amazing.

Some of these students came once and never again. Some became family friends and came back for Christmas dinner and Easter, too. I remember two students from Kenya–Enos and Joash–who came for several dinners at our home. They both had kids at home, and were excited to spend time with my sister and I. We thought it was pretty funny to see their reaction to snow and spent one afternoon building their first snowman with them. When they finished up at university and returned back to Kenya, they would send us letters and photos of their respective families.

Now, 30ish years later, I’ve just spent an amazing Thanksgiving feast in the company of wonderful friends, and I’m very thankful for each of them.

Like my parents taught me, I want Scarlett to know that even though our family tree is more of a telephone pole, it really doesn’t matter if you’ve got wonderful friends to spend time with. 

Lucky for us, we do.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Filed under Family, Friends, Parenting