Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What's lurking in the garden ..

When I planted my vegetable garden this year, I was feeling a little frisky. I made raised beds, worked some sphagnum and an organic humus/manure mixture into the clay, and got busy. I decided to try a little companion planting in some of the beds: corn, snow peas, and various types of squash and pumpkins. The corn has shot right up, the pumpkin vines are growing like mutant creatures, and we're enjoying snow peas every day. The zucchini plants, while thriving, seemed to be the shy and understated members of the club. Mwahahahahaha! Look what I found today, lurking beneath the corn stalks:

And what goes with zucchini? Chocolate, of course!

Incidentally, August 8th is Sneak some zucchini onto your neighbour's porch night. Citizens of the North Country, you have been warned!

Life imitates art - Squeeky Monkey pretends to be a statue. Posted by Picasa

"Squeeky Monkey" - our friend E's new kitten - lays in wait beneath the jungle canopy. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 25, 2005

You gotta be kidding me! Let me tell you what, bud ...

I met my husband eleven years ago, when he was stationed at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Those specific circumstances are a story for another time, but suffice it to say, it was a world completely different from the one I inhabited at the time.

Steve's Platoon Sgt. at that time was a completely unforgettable character by the name of SFC Coulter. Coulter was a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, fast-living, blunt-talking paratrooper from Oklahoma. He had no problem voicing his opinions. A Coulter rant usually began with a long draw from the ever-present Marlboro, followed by the trademark Coulterism of, "you gotta be f@#king kidding me! Let me tell you what, bud ..."

To this day, the Coulteresque rant remains one of our favourite inside jokes. When either of us hear something completely ridiculous, Steve and I mimic the long draw from an invisible cigarette and say, "you gotta be kidding me!"

That was my reaction to this story. A measure has been introduced in the New Jersey State Legislature to ban all smoking in all vehicles.

Now, I wear the badge of "Nicotine Nazi" with great pride. No-one dares to smoke in my presence. My parents credit my incessant nagging for their successful endeavour at quitting smoking some 25 years ago. I believe that there is a special place in hell reserved for those who inflict second-hand smoke on their children in this day and age, knowing all that we do about its effects on their tiny innocent lungs. Even I find this measure to be ridiculous.

New Jersey's proposed legislation is not aimed at protecting anyone's respiratory health. Rather, it is being touted as a measure to improve highway safety. Specifically, the bill's sponsor, John McKeon, "cites a AAA-sponsored study on driver distractions in which the automobile association found that of 32,000 accidents linked to distraction, 1 percent were related to smoking." (emphasis added)

Why target a behaviour which is responsible for only one percent of the problem??

Then again, it's hardly a surprising move in a state which once banned soft-boiled eggs.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


In today's New York Times, Thom Shanker writes eloquently about the sentiment I was trying to express in my earlier post about public sacrifice, or the lack thereof, in the face of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Cat in Shop Window, Sackets Harbor NY, July 2005 Posted by Picasa

Queen Anne's Lace and Chokecherries Posted by Picasa

Stargazer Lily in the side garden Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Calling all quilters .. Toronto lawyers need our help

Lest my previous post about over-use of air conditioning be misconstrued as a Canada-the-virtuous versus America-the-wasteful rant, I bring you the sad tale of lady female lawyers enhanced by estrogen who are compelled to run space heaters to counteract the excessively air conditioned ambiance of their Toronto law offices. Jan Wong's excellent article points out that in such office environments, the temperature is usually geared towards the comfort of men in the traditional business attire of a suit and tie. It seems that the female power suit is eschewed for "sleeveless tops, backless dresses, short skirts and flip-flops."(1)
So, let me see if I'm understanding this. While Ontario's power supply is strained to its limits by demand and is threatened by the increase in water temperature of the Great Lakes, fashion dictates that full-on air conditioning is running against ceramic space heaters in places like the bright and shiny Cadillac Fairview tower. Hmmm. Better stock up on flashlights and canned goods, for a blackout seems imminent.
Perhaps it's time to organize a quilt drive to aid these poor women, and protect their bare legs (2) against the bitter chill of their air conditioned offices. /end sarcasm.

(1) Insert Manolo-esque rant deploring the sad lack of decorum shown by the wearing of flip-flops and backless dresses to a place of business.

(2) I'm not a fan of pantyhose, either. I'm wondering why no-one has thought to make pantyhose out of a material like CoolMax, thus transforming a fashion object of torture into one which keeps the legs cool while maintaining a certain level of sartorial decorum.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Yesterday, we took a wonderful day trip to Ottawa. It's such a civilized city, resplendant with museums, green spaces, restaurants, and shops.

Our first stop was the new Canadian War Museum. What impressed me the most, was the care taken to present the human tendancy towards war from many angles. Naturally, I gravitated towards the displays discussing the perspective from the home front.

(Click on the pictures for a larger view)

This display was particularly thought-provoking. I can remember my Great-Aunt Eileen talking about rationing of meat and milk during WWII. How times have changed. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but the fact that my adopted country is engaged in wars on two different fronts doesn't seem to affect the day-to-day lives of most people. Apart from the ubiquitous and (to my way of thinking) meaningless yellow "support the troops" magnets on the equally ubiquitous SUV's, the wars just don't seem to weigh heavily on the nation's conscience, let alone call for any sacrifice. The conflicts later evaporated from my own mind as we enjoyed dinner at Darcy McGee's, a fine Irish pub just steps away from the Parliament Buildings. I am fully aware of my own hypocrisy, thankyouverymuch.

On a separate but not wholly unrelated note, there was a gaggle of super-achieving Air Cadets at the War Museum while we were there. This particular group had converged upon Ottawa for their initial briefing before departing for all corners for the world as part of the International Air Cadet Exchange program. I was fortunate enough to visit Washington DC and Florida as part of this program (mumble mumble) years ago. While talking with one of the cadets, I realized that he wasn't even born when I went on Exchange. How the hell did I get so old????

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I've been waiting for this day for so long!!

I waltzed through the doors of our local Walmart at 0700 this morning. I plucked a copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince from the hitherto unwrapped pallet, did a little dance of joy, paid $17 (taxes included) and came home to read it.
I read the first 16 chapters, then it was time to go to the theatre to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Mr. Johnny Depp was just as delicious as I had hoped. His portrayal captured the mirth and sparkle of Willy Wonka that had captivated me so many years ago in my repeated readings of Mr. Dahl's fabulous morality play. To my delight and surprise, Freddie Highmore was brilliant as Charlie Bucket. He captured Charlie's innocence and purity of heart, without being cloying. Well done!
When we came home, I read another ten chapters of HP & the HBP, took a siesta, then finished the book.
I will not spoil anything for those who have not had such a decadent day as I have .. but suffice it to say, JK Rowling is a genius.
Was anyone else surprised by the ending?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Holy Heatwave Batman!

No, I'm not going to whine about how hot it is here. There's a nice breeze, we have lots of shade trees, and plenty of fans.
I just want to point out that yesterday, the hot spot in Ontario was Moosonee, at 36C.
Kyoto Protocols, anyone?

Kids these days, you can't get anything past them

Presenting a little vignette from my life.

Miniature Rose and her going-on-eight year old son are shopping at Sam's Club.

Rose sees that they have finally received a new shipment of the elusive General Tso's Chicken. "Wooo-Hooo!" she says to her son as she places two boxes of this tasty treat in the cart. "Your Daddy will be happy as a clam!"

The kidlet replies, "Hey Mom! You just used an idiom!"

I think I was in high school when I first heard the word, "idiom."

Three cheers for the literacy collaborative.

Monday, July 11, 2005

And speaking of having absolutely nothing to complain about

It's 4:20 in the afternoon. The most taxing decision of the day thus far has been whether to use fresh rosemary or fresh dill to season the roasted red potatoes. I had to take a whole ten steps out to the garden to gather my herbs. Decisions, decisions. I opted for dill.

I was thinking the same thing, but didn't want to appear insensitive by blogging about it

The Sun-Times has a piece written by Richard Roeper which skewers the TV coverage of Hurricane Dennis. I simply must put a direct quote in my blog, just for posterity:

Admit it: Even as you were expressing sympathy for all those people fleeing hurricane Dennis, you were cracking up at the spectacle of reporters for CNN, Fox News Channel, et al., as they struggled to keep their footing while being pelted by the heavy rains and winds. It's just so . . . stupid.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Bear in mind, our TV died 11 months ago and we haven't replaced it yet. So I'm a little like Rip Van Winkle when it comes to the flickering box.

I caught a bit of CNN's coverage on Sunday morning while we were at Bradley's getting some ACU nametags sewn up. I'm sure that anyone who witnessed me bursting into fits of uncontrollable laughter must have thought I was insane, or insensitive, or both. I simply could not suppress my mirth when Soledad O'Brien asked the dude in the rain gear, holding on to a fence and gasping for air in the torrential rain,"can you give us a sense of what it's like out there?" Why, Soledad, it's a lovely day here, a perfect example of why so many people choose to live in Florida! C'mon in, the water's fine!

Happy National Laundry Workers Week from the Goddess of Laundry herself. What I *heart* about my neighbourhood is that everybody uses their clotheslines. According to laundrylist.org, most of California's 35,000 homeowners' associations ban outdoor clotheslines. It sounds like that X-Files episode, but 'tis shockingly true. A few years ago, when California was being held hostage by Enron suffering from rolling brownouts, Doonesbury chronicled the madness. If you know me in real life, you've already heard my theories on the Karma of Laundry. If not, I'll blog about it later. Nil desperadum. In the interim, celebrate this week and let it all hang out.  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 10, 2005


I have recently added nealenews.com to my daily internet rounds. This Neale person is a Canuck Drudge wannabe. It's a pretty interesting site.
The dominant link this afternoon goes to Hartley Steward's column in the Toronto Sun. Mr. Steward lambastes Prime Minister Martin's interactions and photo ops with Bono at the G8 summit, calling the "PM's fawning over Bono embarrassing."
Unlike Mr. Steward, I believe that it can be appropriate for celebrities to use their fame in order to bring social issues into the spotlight. Bono is articulate, passionate, and possesses a deep understanding of African issues.
What confounds me, what compels me to blog, is Bono's attire and demeanour during the aforementioned photo op. Bono, my darling, you know I love you. I, too, would be fawning over you like a maniac, given the opportunity. But what the hell are you wearing? The scruffy, who-cares-about-hygiene look works for concerts, but while meeting with world leaders, a razor and some shampoo are your friends. You do clean up quite nicely, blending hipness with decorum without selling out to the man. Time to fire your stylist, honey.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

An open letter to the lady sitting behind us at Red Lobster today

Dear Cranky Old Broad much-revered, well-respected silver haired lady:
There is something that I would like to bring to your attention. Although they are cozy, the booths at Red Lobster are not soundproof, anonymous sanctuaries. I would also like to point out that your voice is loud and it carries over great distances, especially when you are agitated about something.

I am not in the habit of purposefully eavesdropping on private conversations, but, try as I might, I could not ignore your ranting. Believe me, I tried. I really, really wanted to enjoy lunch with my husband and my son. In a few short weeks, my husband will be in Baghdad, and I will spend the next year or so holding my breath while trying to hold it together for the sake of our son. But your complaining voice intruded upon our little oasis of calm.

My mamma taught me to respect my elders, so I refrained from addressing you at the restaurant. Mamma didn't say anything about blogging about annoying people, so here I go. What I really want to tell you, cranky old woman, is this:

If, for the duration of an entire meal, you can complain about the situation concerning access to your boat launch .. you have nothing to complain about. SHUT. UP.

Friday, July 08, 2005

An open letter to Mr. Gene Wilder

Over the past week, I have conducted an intensive study of your portrayal of Willy Wonka in the eponymous film, vis-a-vis my son's repeated viewings of the movie. I stand by my original assertion that your portrayal of one of my favourite kid-lit characters was less than satisfactory. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you turned a delightful, albeit fictional, little man into someone in desperate need of a slap up the side of the head.
So, it was with great sadness and more than a touch of irritation that I learned that you have been badmouthing the delicious Mr. Johnny Depp in his role as Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's adaptation of Mr. Dahl's delightful morality play. I will reserve my full judgement until I have actually seen the film .. but hey! It's Johnny Depp! I'd pay eight bucks to watch him floss his teeth!
In the interim, Mr. Wilder .. have an everlasting gobstopper and shut up.

Monday, July 04, 2005

One of dozens of flying jewels in the Butterfly House at The New York State Living Museum aka the Thompson Park Zoo. Perhaps I'm a simpleton, but I just don't get it when I hear people whining about how awful it is to be stationed at Fort Drum. There are so many great family-oriented attractions in the area, and the zoo is just one of them.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 02, 2005

He forgot border-hopping nurses but I'll play along anyway.

Canada's new ambassador to the United States, Frank McKenna, has charged Canadian ex-pats with a new mission: to take our country's message to Americans.

Mr. McKenna is asking Florida/Arizona snowbirds, Hollywood actors/comedians, NYC investment bankers, and the university academic community to dispel myths about the Great White North .. you know, the stuff Bill O'Reilly usually spouts when he's run out of other things about which to spew venom be righteously indignant.

So, here's my public service announcement, lifted straight from the Toronto Star:

Canada is the largest source of imported crude oil in the U.S., bigger than Saudi Arabia or the yet untested reserves of Iraq.

The country has rotated 13,500 troops in the war on terror, has committed $300 million to rebuilding Iraq and is about to deploy a reconstruction team to Afghanistan.

None of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists entered the U.S. from Canada.

Canada-U.S. trade supports more than five million American jobs.

And while we're on the subject of Canada's gifts to the world, I'd just like to apologize, on behalf of my home and native land, for Mike Myers' blasphemous touch on The Cat in the Hat, and for Jim Carrey's sulleying of The Grinch. Please, Mrs. Geisel, do not allow any Canadian comedians to touch your late husband's works. I'm begging here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Close encounters of the penguin kind

Happy Canada Day! We broke with tradition this year, and stayed in the US rather than making the trek up to Ottawa.
Instead, my son and I went to the Rosamund Gifford Zoo in Syracuse today. The new penguin exhibit just opened, and it is spectacular. There are six different spots from which to view the penguins. The colony of fifteen Humboldt Penguins can be observed from above and below the surface of the water. William was fascinated by the birds, and so was I.
The exhibit is also rich in information about this endangered species of penguin. It's well worth the trip to see these beautiful birds.