Friday, June 24, 2011

Wordfuse (Celebration Edition)

Interjection (inspired by the phrase just sayin'.)

A phrase used to describe the sheer unrestrained joy when one's DIY HELL blundertakings are finally FINALLY over!!!!! This unbridled elation may be accompanied by several fist pumps and a variety of other exaggerated celebratory behaviour. (And probably scotch. Lots. Of. Scotch.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers' Day Gifts

Dads: you must save the Fathers' Day gifts.
Dear Daughter & Dear Son,

I saved all those handmade gifts you gave me. They are adorable. I treasure them. Kudos to your teachers for fostering the arts and for helping provide evidence that you once thought I was "#1" and "the best."

And now that you are teens and have a tendency to loathe me at times, these have become even more precious. I am going to start using them for guilt purposes. Next time you stomp away to your room in a huff or ignore me, I might just hang one of these on your door or put it under your dinner plate.

Have a nice day.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I had no idea.

Whistling in the dark?
I always wanted to be a father. I had no idea.

Being a father is hard. It's not like my two teens make it hard, at least not any harder than any other kids do. I love my kids like I love writing. More. But I had to grow into this role.

I am not a friend to my teens. I do not treat them as equals. Instead, I'm a coach. That's how I would describe it. Their personalities demand it. I teach. Encourage. Discipline. Enforce boundaries. Help set goals. Advise. Make them think. Steer them toward their talents. Question their choices. Force them to make choices. Push. Pull. Mentor. Counsel. Cheer. Convince. Collaborate (to a point). Remind them to shake it off. Believe in them. Caution them when they win. Love them when they lose. And sometimes I just let them play while I go regroup.

I wish I could be more, and less. Less selfish. I wish I were one of those born-to-be-a-father fathers. They do exist. I know some. Sure. They're human. They only seem perfect. But still...

Don't tell them, but there are times when I don't father my teens. And you know what? Those are my absolute favourite times being a father. Those times are rare. Some examples:

When we travel together. Our favourite trips north south east west mean so much to me: wandering together, discovering, exploring, sharing. Love that. When I listen to my son play guitar. When I listen to my daughter sing. When my son and I golf; I never act like a parent during those excursions. (We eat chips, catch frogs, find lost golf-balls; I let him lead; he's a much better golfer than I am.) And I'm never the parent when my daughter and I discover a new song or new book or a quirky movie to share, discuss, revel in.

It probably doesn't seem like much. But that's just the way it is. Right now anyway. When they were young, everything was a discovery together: snow, debating if the moon is a boy or a girl, the ocean floor covered with starfish. Loved that. But they are becoming their own people now, just as they always were, just as it should be.

Yes. Fathering is hard. I had no idea.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Image from here.
I'm not a car snob. I could care less. As long as it works. (Don't ask me how it works; I don't know.) There is one type of car I love though....

Old cars. Clunkers. At my age I no longer want one, but I love old cars. I'm not referring to vintage cars or collector cars. That hobby confuses me. I pine for cars that won't pass inspection, the ones that negatively affect the environment. They're rare now. Every time I encounter one roaring down the highway like a lawnmower it transports me to my high school/University days. Beaters. Love 'em.

My first car was a heap. My Dad bought several beaters for me (he was kind of a hoarder before hoarders had TV shows and mental health professionals). Never much more than $500, their engines were in decent condition, their bodies in need of reconstructive surgery or at least a serious make-over. I didn't care. (Cars today look like they're on botox.)

My first car was blue, a 1970s something-or-other barge of a car. (I'm can't remember makes and models; it's not my thing.) Rust bloomed here and there. Even the windshield wipers were gigantic. I could fit eight friends into that beast, easily. It had a hole in the interior ceiling. The trunk seemed just as large as the interior. No seat-belts. And it was puuuuuuure freedom.

My second car was red, a little newer but still from the wrong decade. Smaller but more rust-blooms. And an interior broiled by the sun on some used car lot until it cracked. Seats doubled as back-scratchers. The rear doors didn't often open. A year later, the rear door handles were ripped off after my friends simply pulled harder to open them, forgetting the handles were useless. Again, pure freedom and fun (especially when the girls had to crawl into the backseat).

My third car was brown. Again 4-door; again wrong decade. Once, at a party, a friend backed into it. I had left the party for a while to attend a different party so he couldn't locate me and confess so, concerned, he called me the next day. I had driven it home that night but didn't notice the dent. I told him not to worry about it. With all the rust, what difference would a dented door make?

Cars are so expensive now people are rabid about protecting them. I can't fault anyone for that. It's a big investment. I forget sometimes. Our vehicle is new and shiny and predictably reliable but lacks personality. Where's the character?

Speaking of character, there's only one problem with those rust-heap, high rev clunkers I love. Nowadays pretty much only serial killers drive them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

5 Things

(My idea book overfloweth.)
Why write?
I believe that writing

1. heals, yourself first (then others).
2. builds: words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, prose and poetry but moreover, it architects ideas, ideas upon which people can stand and speak and change the world.
3. reveals the wizard operating the wizard behind the curtain.
4. creates & preserves & even damages (be careful: it's powerful).
5. echoes (it's a kind of alchemy time travel too).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

How long has THAT been there?!
Sheesh. It's just another sign that I should
quit with the pathetic attempts at DIY.
getting screwed by your own shoes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wordfuse (Spousal Edition)

fiddlestickler (noun): fiddlesticks + stickler = a person lacking compromise who stubbornly insists on something, something really quite inconsequential, pointless or petty. Fiddlesticklers express impatience when others do not jump on the their bandwagons-to-nowhere. See wives; see husbands.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

Tricks of the trade, the idiot-genius trade.
DIY essentials: pink spackling (dries white),
a putty knife and a stapler?
If I haven't completely bored/whined you to death with my series of pitiful DIY projects of late and late and late and late and late, then read on....

I tweeted recently that my war with plumbing is over. I finally waved my toilet-hole-in-the-floor-coloured white flag and wept. Twice. The new dishwasher, the sequel, is finally installed but I wasn't even going to attempt today's project but some bastard on YouTube convinced me I could replace the exhaust fans in my bathrooms.

Think of the saddest movie scene you know. Is it when Jenny tells Forrest Gump what's wrong with her? Is it when the boy tells his mother the truth at that street accident traffic jam in The Six Sense perhaps? Or is it when Ron Burgundy's dog gets punted off the bridge in Anchorman? Oops. That's more hilarious than sad. Anyway, my point is...I just felt so so sad. Why?

I'm sure you don't want all the details but let's just say my saddest most defeated DIY moment yet occurred today when I stood below a hole in my bathroom ceiling while bits of insulation wafted down around me holding in my hand the wrong fan for the wrong hole for the second time and the biggest hole is in my head for even attempting another DIY PROJECT! WhY oh WHy OH wHY is THiS HapPEnINg TO mE?!!!

Cut to five hours later. Both bathroom exhaust fans are installed. I was left with just one problem (perhaps more if the house burns down tonight): I had to patch a hole in my main bathroom ceiling. Indeed I felt this was a minor problem as I have once before repaired drywall using a very clever method I saw on some show. Simply cut the drywall about two or three centimeters larger than needed. Score the back of the drywall to the right size and remove the drywall leaving the paper intact on one side. With that paper border, it's like putting on a band-aid. Then I remembered I've only used this on a wall, never on the ceiling.

Well. Gravity is a BASTARD.

It's supposed to stick to the drywall mud (see pink spackling in pic) but IT WOULDN'T STICK. (Cut to saddest scene again because let's face it; I'm so BLEEPIN TIRED!!!) I fought against the dark thoughts though and yelled to my teen daughter for help. I asked her to bring me some tape. I didn't work. And then suddenly, I reckoned there was one tool that might save this day from hell: the stapler. She fetched it and I stapled that STINKIN drywall to the ceiling.

And it worked.

There was a silent pause as we stared. Then we burst into laughter after my daughter said, and I quote, "That is the most redneck thing I've ever seen." I, however, prefer the term idiot-genius.

Friday, June 3, 2011

This is my hood?

Total bummer. Thanks a lot June. (April's evil twin.)
I hate to perpetuate a Canadian stereotype but yup, this is happening RIGHT NOW. (Don't choke on your cornflakes.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

Or, maybe not.

I discovered this video after surfing a news site which featured a new tab marked “idiots.” Naturally, I HAD to click. Here's the thing. I admit I have to chuckle at this guy. Who wouldn’t? And yes, I guess I would agree that this man is indeed correctly categorized as an idiot in this circumstance but I also must admit this: I completely understand him. To be quite honest, I might have continued mowing my lawn too.  

And I suspect I wouldn’t be the only guy. Am I right guys? It’s all about how we guys think.

Now wives/significant others reading this: don’t misconstrue this. I am not suggesting we men typically think like idiots. Stop nodding like bobble-heads. My goal is to defend men. Let me explain.

Try to imagine the determined lawn-mower-man’s thought process...Say it’s a weekend. Say a guy has a lot of things on his to-do list. Say he ALWAYS has a lot of things on this to-do list. Say he wants to get them over with. Say there’s something important happening later. Say there’s beer and/or nachos involved. And say he was almost finished the lawn anyway.

See? It all makes sense now. We guys take risks simply to be more efficient. There is a price to pay though: according to, men are 82% more likely to be struck by lightning than women.

Uh oh. I just realized something. Maybe lightning is attracted to idiots? Bummer. Most likely that means I'm next.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Zoetic (Lucy)

Written by Lucy, my grandmother. [1913-1985]

Just a few days ago I was thinking about my cousin Jo and then what happens? A letter in the mail. I haven't corresponded with her for at least five years, maybe more. We live so far away from each other. She's a terrific person: kind and funny and supportive and empathetic and one of those people who conspires to make others happy. Including me. (I hope I've done the same for her a few times.) Jo is a tiny blonde with curly hair and a bottomless heart. Our Grandma Stewart died when we were still kids and even though I've never told her this, Jo always reminds me of our shared grandmother so when she sent me our grandmother's written history it seemed especially appropriate.

I never saw my grandmother stand. The entire time I knew her she was stricken with multiple sclerosis and wheel-chair bound. My first memory of her is in front of the TV, me on the floor, her in the wheelchair, Grover debating with Cookie Monster.

Before the M.S. changed her life so drastically, I knew she was an artist but Jo's gift taught me things I didn't know. Most astonishing to me is that she wanted to be a writer but all of it ambushed me. Here are some of her words:

          "I was born in the Markinch area (a Scottish settlement in Saskatchewan) on February 25, 1913 in the biggest snowstorm that year. There was a lot of excitement about my birth because there were twins. First a little boy was born. The little boy was dead. Mom and Dad were not expecting me. When I came along, all four pounds of me, Aunt Lucie said, 'what are you going to do with that wee little doll? Why, she can sit in my hand!'
          Mom smiled and said, 'I'll wrap her in a blanket first and then a pillow, so she's an armful.'
          Aunt Lucie gave me my first bath while Mom shed a few tears for the dead little boy...when Dad returned a couple of days later from Regina, there I was. The baby boy had been put out in snow. Dad cried, as he hated to have to bury the baby. Aunt Lucie cried too. She suggested Mom and Dad call me after her so they named me Lucy."

I knew none of this. Not that she was a twin. Not how she came to be Lucy. Not even her birthday. Reading the 39 page document and the attached news articles was like discovering a room in the attic, like opening a place in my life that had been there all along but I didn't even know I'd been living with it. Thanks Jo.
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