Friday, April 29, 2011


When I got up this morning at 5:15, unable to sleep any more for wondering what the dress looked like, I discovered that my PVR didn't record the Royal Wedding. I'm devastated...I will have to watch the highlight show like some sort of yob.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I have just come inside from breaking up a fight in my front yard. Charlotte was yelling at her sister, "AND YOU'RE SO RUDE! WITH YOUR [sneering] 'TWEEN' AND YOUR 'DUH' AND YOUR 'WHATEVUH'!!"

Emily retorted nastily, "I'm getting older, y'know! I say things I hear older kids say! I can't help it if I'm a tween!"

Apparently she learned she was a "tween" on Thursday night, from a younger friend.

If there's one thing I'm sick of, it's this endless, tiresome stratification of childhood. It used to be, you were a child until about 13, at which time you grew up, became a young woman, and let your skirts down.

Figuratively speaking, of course, since it was the 1970s and not the 1870s. My skirts were always more or less down, if by skirts you mean trousers, and now I am realising I have just said my trousers were always down. Moving on.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oh, HELL no.

Leaving the dollar store today, I saw a minivan parked up against the curb, with no one in sight except a toddler in a car seat in the back. This is something you notice a lot more when you're a parent with young children - you hesitate near the car, peer inside, and then usually a harassed-looking mother, standing within about 15 feet, will lean out of the gas station/convenience store/phone booth and call out "I'm right here, don't worry."

This time, nobody was around. I waited for a minute and went inside to the cashier (staying within sight of the vehicle) and asked her if there was any security staff. "No," she said, taken aback, "but there's mall security - why do you need it?" Just as I was explaining the situation, a woman came through the other cash register, left the store, and got into the van. "Oh," the cashier said excusingly, "she only came in here to return something." (That makes it okay, then.)

I left the store and, by coincidence, followed the minivan through the parking lot to the grocery store at the end of the mall. The van pulled into a space, and I parked a couple of rows away, deciding to leave a note on the windshield when they went into the store, telling her that I had seen her leave the child alone, and that she was lucky I didn't call the cops.

As I rummaged for a pen she got out of the car, gestured towards Thrifty Foods and said something to the child, then to my utter shock she left the child in the backseat, and walked into the store.

"OH HELL NO." I said loudly to myself. I went over to the van, and as I approached I could hear the child crying her eyes out.

Before the mother came back out, I had time to stand there dumbfounded, accost a passer-by for her mobile phone, call Mr HSB to get the non-emergency police number (no answer at my house), call 911 and give all the information, then wait for several minutes longer, listening to the little girl sobbing for her mother.

She came out of the store after 7 or 8 now I was in a towering rage and I let her have it with both barrels. "I suggest you wait for the police to get here - I've called 911 about the toddler you left in your van."


"You heard me. You might as well wait for the police since they're on their way."

"How dare you! You don't know anything about me!"

"I know one thing about you - you left a toddler alone in a vehicle. How old is that child?"

"She's three! And she's fine!" And then again, "You don't know anything about me! You don't know what kind of person I am!"

"I know exactly what kind of person you are. You are the kind of person who leaves her child alone in a car twice in one afternoon - I followed you here from the dollar store and you did the same thing there."

"How dare you!" she gasps.

"Do you know how long it takes someone to steal a car? Thirty seconds. You were in that store for more than FIVE MINUTES." (I'm nearly shouting now.)

"It was locked!" (She's shouting right back at me.)

"Tell it to the police. You left that child in the car, which is both ILLEGAL and WRONG, and you KNOW it's wrong: that's why you're so mad."

"Do YOU even have any children?" she asks me, as though she thinks that if I had, I wouldn't mind what she has just done.

"Yes I do," I replied coolly, "I have two. And they are supervised at all times."

I thought she was going to punch me for that one.

She gets the child out of the car, so I stop talking. She's holding the little girl now, and we stand there for a few minutes waiting for the cops. The daughter says, "Why are we standing here?"

"Because this lady thinks....thinks I'm mean to you."

I don't say anything - it's not my place to make a mom look bad in front of her child...not that this chick needs my help looking bad.

"I'm calling my husband," she suddenly says. She puts the child back into the vehicle and climbs into the driver's seat. "Hi, it's me.....I was at the store and I left Nora* in the car for thirty seconds and I come out and this lady is screaming at me that she's called the cops.........I don't know!, just a lady in the parking the cops are coming and this is ALL YOUR FAULT IF I HADN'T HAD TO COME DOWN HERE FOR YOUR STUPID TAPE NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED!!!!" (She's in the car sobbing and I am standing at the rear bumper, watching for the cruiser, arms crossed, the picture of "WHEREVER THERE'S INJUSTICE, I'LL BE THERE!", trying not to have inappropriate laughter at this 'tape' remark.)

She hangs up, gets out of the car and comes up to me, tear-stained but defiant. "My husband says I should go home so I'm leaving. If the cops want to talk to me they can come to my house."

"Sure," I say politely.

"I'm sure you have my license plate number," she says scornfully.

"Yep," I reply.

And off she goes.

Here's where it gets interesting. I stood there in that parking lot, waiting, for nearly an hour. Not a sign of a police cruiser anywhere (though an ambulance came to the parking lot - and the attendants went in and came out with bagels and Pom, and a fire truck came by on its way to the salmon barbecue fundraiser in the next block).

Finally I marched into the grocery store, politely requested the phone book, and got the girl to dial the non-emergency police number. By this time all my anger was completely displaced onto the RCMP. Here's what I said when they answered.

"Hi. I can hardly hear you, by the way. Look, I phoned 911 nearly an hour ago about a toddler left alone in a vehicle in the parking lot of Thrifty Foods. The mom came out, I had words with her, and she has left, and I am still standing here waiting for you. Are you coming, or what?"

"Oh, uh, yes, uh, hang on a second...Yes, the car assigned to you got held up with another situation, but he's on his way now."

"So, I should stay here and talk to him? Because I have been here for an hour. If I had called the SPCA about a dog in a car, they'd have been here in fifteen minutes." (You should have seen the faces on the people in the nearby lineups, listening to this conversation.)

"Uh........yes he's on his way now."

"Good. Thank you."

He did show up, eventually, and heard the whole story. I told him, "She might tell you I was screaming at her, but I wasn't. She asked me if I had children and I said yes, I had two, and that they were always supervised....I think that was a little inflammatory. But I wasn't screaming."

"No, that's okay," he said, shaking his head, "I'LL scream at her. I'm going to call the Ministry and we'll go to her house."

"Yeah, put the fear of God into her," I said, "hopefully she'll be scared to do it again."

He did apologise for keeping me waiting - citing "limited resources", if you can believe it - and I think he was taken aback when I said "Yes, I understand you have other situations I'm not aware of, that you have to prioritise. I am concerned, though, because there was a child involved and it did take you an hour to get here."

I was fairly polite and respectful, though - aware, as I am, that cheeking the police can get you into serious trouble.

As loth as I am to be the instrument of someone's family drama, I am even more loth to stand by while this kind of crap goes on. As a parent of young children, you DO see this stuff - you see little two year old dudes wandering around WalMart trying to find their mums, or a little guy burning around the aisles of the grocery store, laughing like a maniac all by himself. But you usually see, or hear, a parent rushing around calling "Austin! AuSTIN!" And, if you're like me, you follow the kid around, at a non-threatening distance, until he gets reunited with his parent.

Leaving a toddler alone in a car, with one window three inches down, for nearly ten minutes, outside two stores......that is not happening.

* I changed all the names and locations.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Only ten more days until my mood rises with our Lord. Can't wait.

In the meantime, I made the mistake of watching this new TLC show called "Extreme Couponing". Has anyone seen this? After watching for about forty seconds I wanted to climb in a hot bath and open a vein.

Here's my problem. Well, here are my problems, I should say.

Word for the week: parsimony. The quality or state of being stingy. Adj: parsimonious. There will always be people who will do anything to save a dime, and on the flip side there will be people who would rather spend ALL their dimes than sacrifice a pleasure or preference. Of everything in this very opinionated post, this is the most subjective and potentially offensive part, so I'd like to note that this is my personal feeling in response to this particular show - and to assure you that though I disparage the extreme couponers, it doesn't necessarily follow that I can't appreciate the value of thrift and good management.


The cheapskates on this show are unbelievable. The amount of time they'll expend, the sheer number of hours involved in collecting and sorting hundreds of coupons, memorising store policies, dividing their purchases into two or more carts so that everything is grouped to maximise savings, according to double or triple-couponing, the mental energies directed to this whole exercise....and all so that they don't have to PAY FOR THEIR FOOD. It seems so dreary, so miserly, so small-minded. It's all so narrow and pinching - the complete opposite of words like largesse, generosity, good-naturedness, open-handedness.

I don't have any idea what their other expenses are, naturally, but I don't imagine those people are taking public transit, turning off lights, installing solar panels, or disconnecting their cable TV service. I'm willing to bet that most of their money-saving initiatives are directed at their food - the nourishment of their bodies, the fuel that keeps them alive, the single biggest factor in the health of humans. Which brings me to...

Food Value
90% of what I see bought on this show is packaged food. Aside from the odd trip to Meats or Dairy, these people are spending hours cruising up and down the centre aisles of the grocery store - and doesn't everyone know by now, hasn't everyone heard this truism: that the FOOD is found on the outside four walls? Bread, dairy products, meat, fruit and vegetables. You can live your entire life - longer AND better - on just those, never having seen a Frito Lay or bought a can of Campbell's. How many coupons are published to help you save money on fresh produce? Hardly any. Why? Because those are actually worth your money. They can be difficult and costly to grow, maintain and transport, and their nutritional value is both potent and fragile. So far, I haven't seen a single head of broccoli or bunch of carrots on this show. And people, let me tell you something I'm sure you already know: what prepared packages of food have to offer you, you don't need.

Obsessive Behaviour
Well. This one's kind of obvious. Reality TV thrives on obsessive behaviour, but there's something extra depressing about a person who spends weeks clipping bits of paper, spends five hours pushing a cart around choosing what the coupon marketers want them to choose, burns holes in the checkout screen with their eyes in case the coupon doesn't get entered properly, and then crows triumphantly when their bill is reduced by 90%. Great job! You've taken home a bunch of crap and preservatives to cram into your family's mouth for the next several years. Every time you eat some of it you can congratulate yourself that you didn't pay for it. The only thing better than butylated hydroxytoluene is FREE butylated hydroxytoluene.

What draws these people to extreme couponing is not need (I don't imagine TLC is going to be featuring truly poverty-stricken people on this show - from what I've seen the families are more likely to be covered in bling and loading their free groceries into huge shiny SUVs), it's the gloat-factor - the feeling that they've put one over on the Man, got something for nothing, And THAT'S the obsessive part. "Extreme Couponing" is a shiny, tidied version of two other TLC shows - "My Strange Addiction" and "Hoarding-Buried Alive". For the hoarding bit, read on.


In order to save the most money, you need to be able to buy in quantity. Nobody really needs to have ten boxes of Frosted Flakes at once, so you have to store what you don't use right away. Do I want to have a garage stacked floor to rafters with non-perishable food, which is mostly processed and packaged trash, preservatives, and chemicals? What does it add to my life - the knowledge that if I have the urge for chips and ranch dip, it's right there for me? Or maybe the thought that if World War III breaks out, I won't have to loot the Piggly Wiggly, but will be able to fend off all my neighbours with a shotgun while cramming one of my 250 free packs of Twinkies? I don't need that. Neither, I would argue, does anyone.

*   *   *

Probably some readers will think I'm crazy and sit there telling their laptops in a loud voice how wrong I am. Straighten me out in the comments - go ahead and give me a blast! I'm sure I'm overlooking something important - like perspective. And on that note, I'd like to point out, through clenched teeth, that there is no such word as "cuepon". Of the many abominations perpetrated against the English language, that mispronunciation is among the most irritating.

Okay, and now just let me check......hang on, give me a second.....Yep, I think I've probably offended everybody. I can click 'Post' now.

By the way, a point of interest - in Canada, we don't have double and triple couponing. Every coupon I've ever seen has, in the fine print, "one coupon per customer per product". So "Extreme Couponing - Canadian Edition" would be an awfully short-lived experiment, wherein we watch Doug Mackenzie save $2.50 on a single package of back bacon and get 50% off select garden hoses when he buys one at regular price. There might be a mail-in rebate, but I wouldn't count on it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I gave up happiness for Lent.


Monday, April 04, 2011


Aren't you all helpful! In the end it wasn't as bad as I had feared - after sprinkling baking soda, waiting until it dried, and vacuuming it up, there is no smell whatsoever. I did it twice though, just to make sure. The whole thing didn't even take a full 24 hours. All's well that ends well.

Vomit certainly strikes a chord with people, I'll say that...a surprising number of comments and emails came my way after the last post.

As to the children, they appear to be nearly fully recovered, and are dealing with the uncertainty of life after the stomach flu. My little daughter said yesterday, "Hm. These days I have to be careful with my burps."

Then her older sister added "Yeah, the toots too. Watch out for those."

And I - I can't wait for summer.