Friday, July 31, 2009

Family is awesome (but not necessarily mine)

Actually it's my Poopie's. I just listened to a voicemail from his sister who lives in California. She's back in town to visit with her brothers and sister. As I listened to her message hoping to arrange a date for us all to get together, I found myself grinning from ear to ear and so looking forward to seeing her again after about a year. I really love his sisters (and brother). I'm so lucky to have them in my family. I don't know what it's like to have a sister but I think these women come pretty close. They rock my socks.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm not the most up on current local events

Most things that happen in the world are outside of Planet Karen jurisdiction and are therefore nothing more than a little spot on my periphery but this news story gets to me.

These were not "honour killings". Where is the honour in this? Domestic violence by any other name still smells like shit.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Get OOT!

TTYL. PMPL. ROFLMAO. BRB. KWIM. IMHO. JK. AFK. POS. These are all internet abbreviations that pepper text and emails the world around. I use them myself (except for POS since I am the P) and I learn new ones every couple of months. Like the latest: OOT.

Here's the context: I'd love to go but I'll be OOT this weekend. I stared at that sentence for ages before I realised that she wasn't using the American "comedian" version of out (which, BTW, in my nearly 42 years in this country I've never heard pronounced that way). She was saying she'd be "out of town". I'd never heard that one before... you?

I'm telling you right now that as a Canadian I'd be perpetuating a stereotype and opening the door to all kinds of stupid comments since most of my friends are south of the 49th. So it looks like that particular internet shorthand is oot for me.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Begging, borrowing or stealing?

I was at Cupcake Camp in February resting my weary red heel clad feet when a stranger came up to me. "Can I steal this chair?" she asked. I knew what she meant and said "Sure".

The other day someone came up to my desk and asked if she could "borrow" a kleenex. I knew what she meant and said "Sure".

But really... stealing chairs? That's not on.
Borrowing kleenex? Ew, I don't think so. Keep your swine flu infested cooties to yourself please and thankyou. Isn't it funny how launguage has evolved? What happened to "Is there anyone sitting here? May I move this chair?" or "do you mind if I take one of your kleenexes?"

I'd love to play dummy one day and say no when someone asks to steal or borrow something they (within reason) have every right to have. But I'm too polite (outwardly). I'm outgoing but I rarely can pull off the art of the sass-back. Can you imagine?

Hapless Victim: Hey, Karen, can I steal this pen from you?
Evil Self: No, and I'm calling the cops. Back away from my desk slowly or I'm bringing out the pepper spray.

Whee! What fun. Nothing like the threat of an assault and arrest to make the day go by faster.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Dream analysis time

I had such vivid dreams the other night. I've mentioned before that I rarely remember my dreams and when I do they're studies in boredom and inanity. Usually just losing my keys or running around late for something. Yawn. When I do have a cool or interesting dream, I usually post it. The other night I had 2. One was truly icky and because so many people in my real life now read my blogs, I'm not going to describe it. Suffice it to say it involved urine and lots of it. Brrrrr...

The other one was strange. I was in a corporate office interviewing for some kind of a scientific research job. I can't articulate what it was because I have no idea what scientific researchers actually do. I sat on one of those crappy school chairs rocking back and forth all during the interview. I kept telling the guy behind the desk that I had no idea what I was doing there, that I had no idea about science and that I didn't even have a clue what they did at this company. Then I promptly fell backwards onto the floor. I picked myself up and sat down again but I wasn't even embarrassed. Then everytime he'd ask me a question I'd fall out of my chair.

After the interview was over, he told me that the company and I wouldn't be a "good fit" the we shook hands. I promptly fainted. When I came to, we were walking in the same direction in the parking lot and he was telling me he had a meeting to go to. You could tell he was trying to get rid of me but our cars were parked side by side in the lot so we were forced to walk together in awkward silence until we got to them.

How weird was that? I can't even begin to think what that kind of crazy means. But this is why I like dreams so much. You can do and see complete nonsense but it seems to fit.

So any takers on trying to read my warped mind?


Friday, July 24, 2009

More on names...

I was at my desk inputting someone's name into the database named "Luc". It's French for Luke and to my Quebec-born ears (and most french speakers) it's pronounced very differently. So I said the names out loud (softly of course... I'm not a complete kook) and added "look" and "luck" for good measure and marvelled about how they all could sound the same but don't. Then I grabbed a pen and wrote the 4 words down and stuck them in my pocket to remind me to write a blog about it later. See how the brilliant ideas flow? They burst out like Alien out of that guy's chest. Sigh. Listen, they all can't be gold, okay? You try writing one of these here blogs every day for nearly 3 years. Have a great weekend


BTW: In French, Luc is pronounced "l-eu-k"... check out the scene in "French Kiss" where Kevin Kline tries to explain how to pronounce it to Meg Ryan. It's just like that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's in a name?

In case you didn't know, my name is Karen. It's plain and I'm sure you count one or more of us as friends or colleagues. I asked my parents once what other names they'd considered for me. Tara was one and Errol (my brother's name) was the other. Had I been a boy, I would have been named after my dad.

I love that I don't look like a Karen. And in case you are blind or one of those people who "don't see colour", I'm Black. I don't want to be stereotypical but my parents, coming from the West Indies, could have gone the other way namewise. Instead of blending in with the Canadian populace and naming me the most popular name of the day, they could have named me Bernice or Jemima (2 of my aunts) which were popular names in Dominica in the 60s . Ugh.

I didn't like my name growing up. I hated being one of at least 3 Karens in every class. I was always "Karen A". And because I was an A, I was always first for projects or presentations which I hated even more. Imagine my delight when I married a Kaye! Middle of the alphabet for my kids. They're so lucky!

I've grown into loving my name. I love how when you read my name on a piece of paper you can't tell how old I am or what nationality I belong to. Actually, even when you hear my voice you can't tell I'm Black. It messes with people's heads when they see me for the first time and I like that. I guess it's part of the attention-seeking behaviour I've become known for. That's Karen for you.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daddy vs OnStar

So Sunday I went to visit my dad in Montréal. He's from Dominica in the West Indies and I never realised he even has an accent. He's been here since 1965 or so and to me he speaks English with just a tinge of Caribbean flavour. But apparently to OnStar, he's JarJar Binks.

The poor guy got a new car 2 months ago and he wanted to programme the hands free calling feature. For this you have to speak the phone number and the person's name into the car so that all you have to say the name later and the car dials the number for you. Easy enough, right? Well poor daddy couldn't get the car to understand him. Supposedly it kept saying "Pardon?" when he said a number, "Did you mean Kwanzaa?" when he spoke my name, and "Speak English you unintelligible old fool!" when he asked for directions. Okay, I made that last one up but suffice it to say he was frustrated enough to ask me to pack my kids in the car and drive 2 hours to help him..

So on Sunday when I arrived, he thrust a piece of paper at me with about 20 names and numbers on it and told me to read them to KITT his new car. As a reward, he gave me the GPS out of his old car. Score. But now I'm worried. Talk about hands-free distractions. I can picture him screaming at the top of his lungs inside the car, trying to get it to call "Altair"(the way he says it) instead of "Althea" the way I pronounced it, and swerving into oncoming traffic.

And they say technology is so advanced. You'd think it'd recognise a slight lilt, for goodness sakes.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Impossible plastic surgery

I've had plastic surgery. It's a poorly kept secret that I've had my boobs reduced. I could have my Michelin Man tummy tucked if I had the cash. But the surgery I'd have done if I could find the money; if it was even at all possible, would be to reduce the width and length of my feet.

I'm 5'2 (5'3 on a happy day) but I have size 9 feet. What's up with that? Their problem is that they're very very wide. I need a 9 (sometimes even a 10) to get the right width. When I can get shoes that are relatively close in width (they're never perfect), they're more like a size 8 or 8.5.

Now lately I've noticed that my left foot is one size smaller than my right (or the right is one size bigger). Nevertheless, when I buy my usual 9s, the right one fits fine and the left flips off so badly I can barely walk. I've started using inserts in my left shoe to keep it on my foot. What the eff? I'm so getting pissed with the body betrayal crap that happens when you get old.

Anyway, I'll be first in line when this revolutionary new foot surgery comes out. As it stands now (pun intended), there's no way my dream shoes (the "Blue Mouche" Louboutins near my profile picture) would ever fit on my mismatched flipper-like feet. I'll just have to be content with having impeccable fashion sense. Stop laughing.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy campers

Scott and the kids went camping last week and it was wonderful all around. The kids got to canoe and experience the great outdoors and I got peace and quiet for nearly a week. I was so looking forward to the break that I didn't even mind that they'd need to take the car to get there.

I had planned to take the bus and my bike to anything I needed. No problem. The trade-off was that I was to get a few days off being a wife and mother. The cat was a small price to pay. Well that was the plan, anyway.

My neighbours Willy and Deb came to my rescue. As the van drove off, Willy came out of his house waving the keys to their second car. They'd been telling us for years to take the car anytime we needed it but we've never taken them up on it. Until last week.

The funny part was that I only learned to drive in 1999 and in that time we've only ever had 2 fully loaded minivans. This car was small and all manual (except for the transmission... I can't drive a stick). With the van, I got in, drove, parked and locked it with the fob. With this one I had to find the shifty thing which was on the floor and not on the column, I had to wind down the windows and the windshield wiper controls were in a different place.

I drove it once from day to night and couldn't figure out how to turn the headlights on. I had to ask a friend. Wow, that was humiliating. Someone at work asked about the car I was driving and all I could reply was that it was blue. I'm such a girl. I still don't know what kind of car it is. What I do know is that it's lower to the ground than my van, stops on a dime, has a tiny turning radius and took $7 gas after 4 days of daily driving. I've never bought so little gas in my entire life.

So I just want to express a public thank-you to my awesome neighbours Willy and Deb. They made my life absolutely perfect while my family was away. And don't think this was all one-sided. Oh no... they're getting a whole entire basket of muffins for their trouble. Oh yeah... I know how to treat 'em right, eh?


Friday, July 17, 2009

Your mama...

Your mama is so stupid she sits on the tv and watches the couch.


**This is just something that made me laugh me ass off when I first heard it and giggling off and on for days. It was not my intention to insult anyone or their mothers. Plus, look at the short blog you get to read today. Now get back to your lives.**

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Today is the last day

You may or may not know this but I'm rarely alone. Twenty-one years ago I lived with my dad. Then I moved in with Scott. Then we had kids. The only time I'm truly alone is on my drive in to work. Until this week. Scott and the kids went camping Sunday night. I refused to go so I've just spent nearly 5 days in complete and utter bliss. I feel like such a bad mother and wife.

I'm supposed to miss my family but I'm in heaven. Do you know what I had for dinner Sunday night? Popcorn. Wanna know what I did Monday night? I went to the movies. Two of them. (The Hangover and The Proposal if you must know).

I sit quietly, watching tv and surfing with my laptop at the same time. The dishwasher has had the same plate, fork and cup in it for days. I move more slowly, I wake up and go to bed when I please and the house hasn't needed sweeping in ages.

I feel both wonderful and awful. Scott took his cell phone to the campsite (yes, I'm aware of how that sounds) and when I talk to the kids I say I miss them. Because I miss the idea of them. I know they'll be back later today and I'll be happy to see them but tonight when I'm watching So You Think You Can Dance and gazing longingly at the laptop or breaking up another kick-fight I'll wish they were back in the woods huddling in their sandy sleeping bags.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What's up with cats?

Why when I have 2 baskets of clothes on my bed does Taz choose to sleep on the clean ones rather than the dirty?

Why when he's sleeping on my duvet and there's a vast expanse of bed to choose from does he choose to relocate onto the weirdly shaped, poky bra that I just took off and threw there in a heap?

Why when I pull out a book to read or a journal to write does he choose that very moment, after ignoring me for hours, to lie across what I'm doing?

Why does he start purring the second I look at him?

Why is Taz completely fabricated from awesome?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Henry makes me laugh every day

The other night we were watching Aliens and Henry made us all crack up. Here's the exchange:

All of us are lounging on the couch and Henry sees Ripley on the screen.

Henry: That lady has sperm.
All of us: WHAT?!
Henry: That lady has a sperm.
Scott: How do you figure?
Henry: Because her hair is all curly.
Scott: You mean she has a PERM.
We all fall around the livingroom laughing our asses off.
Henry: What?

That kid makes me laugh 'til my stomach hurts on a daily basis.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Hands-free cell phones in cars

They're supposed to be safer than using a handset while driving, right? Well I didn't feel too safe when I saw that lady last week with both her hands on the wheel, granted, but yelling at what appeared to be her car radio. Her head was down and both eyes were zeroed in on a spot waaaay below the dash. Not on the road.

Oh sure, hands free is safer. Instead of swerving all over the road and maybe getting a ding on your bumper, you plow headlong into a tree at speed. You can just taste the safety, can't you?


Friday, July 10, 2009

I think I broke the internet

Yesterday I posted those cupcakes that I made and I've never had more hits or recipe requests in my history as a blogger. Who knew the sweet treat cheat would be so popular? I'm definitely bringing a batch of these to cupcake camp next year...

Anyway, I want to really stress that I did not invent this recipe. Somebody retweeted a flickr photo stream onto Twitter a couple of days ago and they looked so cute and easy I copied it. I am not a brilliant baker. I'm just a lowly forger.

Here's where I found the recipe. Theirs came out nicer because the top didn't cave in like mine did. The recipe is there as is the method. It's just a couple of boxes of cake mix and store-bought frosting tubes. I made them in about 30 minutes.

So I'm giving all the credit where it's due. I deserve a treat for that, right? A sweet, hamburger-shaped treat...


Thursday, July 9, 2009

I will not be ignored

I don't get irritated easily. I'm quite a laid-back mum if I do say so myself. But besides the previously mentioned what?/pardon? issue, I hate when the kids ignore me when I call. I never ever call them for nothing. It's because I need to speak to them face to face or something needs to be done. If it's super important I'll seek them out but if it's something like "come and put the milk back in the fridge" (another irritant), I'll call out. I'd say 90% of these exchanges take place when they're downstairs and I'm up:

Elliott: Yuh?
Me (apoplectic now): Don't say "yuh" say "coming" then get your ASS UPSTAIRS!! (yes, I say "ass" to my kids)

We go through this at least 3 times a week. This is what I'd like to happen. It's rare but it actually does happen from time to time:

Me: Elliott!
Elliott: Coming! (smelly size 12s pounding up the stairs)

It doesn't matter how immediate the actual arrival is to the acknowledgement. I just want to know that you heard me calling. Okay? OKAY??!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

School clothes vs. Play clothes

Did your mother do this to you? Do you do it to yours? When I was younger We had 2 separate and forever distinct wardrobes. Nicer clothes for school and church and crappy clothes for everything else. We'd have to come home from school and change out of our school clothes and put on our junky stuff.

Time sure changes. Nowadays no one knows what "Sunday best" means either because we're still at the cottage or hung over on Sunday mornings or because we simply wear our comfy clothes to church. After all, God doesn't care what you wear, as long as you're there, right?

My kids wear their cruddy clothes to school. I don't really mind. I'm Godlike that way. I do take a page out of my mother's playbook for the first day, though and try to get brand new clothes (down to shoes) for everyone. After that first day all bets are off.

I didn't realise that I was doing different for myself until just last week. I've always worked in really casual places. Daycares and stores mostly. Now I work in an office and sometimes even have meetings. I wear heels, nice pants and pretty tops. And the second I step in my front door I kick off those heels and put on jean shorts, converse and a hoodie.

After 30 years, I'm doing school clothes and play clothes again. I kinda like it.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Karen Update

I realise that I haven't given a what's-up-with-me update in ages. Here's what's happing in the life of a harried housewife. Hold on, it may get long:

The kids are finally off school. Their report cards were surprisingly good. Well, I say "surprisingly" only in reference to 1/3 of the children. The 1/3 who has a dirt-stache and can eat 3 hamburgers and a hot dog in one sitting. You guessed it. Elliott. His science teacher had been sending dire emails to me about how he'd fail if he didn't hand in the 4 outstanding assignments he hadn't done. Grrrr. Anyway, he managed to get them in and get a 75% on the course. I don't know how he does this stuff.

Last week he babysat and did quite well. The only incident was the bathroom door thing that I posted about last week. Thank goodness that was all I had to deal with.

Scott's off for the rest of the month and wants to go camping. If you've read this blog for any length of time you know my feelings on the great outdoors. In short, they have their place. Outdoors. Ideally when I'm indoors. Scott kindly (and obligingly) asked if I wanted to come. Instead of hemming and hawing all maybes and we'll sees like I usually do, I flatly said no. I'm too old to enjoy sleeping outside, consuming tepid food and drinks and fishing sand out of every orifice. Not to mention no makeup, perfumes or lotions. This is the 21st century, people. Why on earth would I want to rough it? It's one thing to be a luddite while living like a luddite. It's another to leave the lap of luxury to luddite myself. It ain't happening without a fight. So they'll be gone for a few days next week and I'll be blissfully alone. Everybody's happy and rested when we come together again.

The kids are signed up for canoe camp. They'll be going the first 2 weeks of August. They can't wait. And it's day camp so I don't have to do without them at night. Awesome.

So I think that's it for the summer update. I'm still plugging away at work and loving it. I'm a little nervous about some new tasks that Pat has in store for me but if he has faith in me then I'm not going to let him down. I'll be baking a lot in the next little while. Someone posted the cutest little cupcakes on Twitter so that's my latest project. Of course I'll always be here gassing on about one thing or another. Like this dream I had last night about bedbugs and people with bleeding eyes....


Monday, July 6, 2009

So who birthdays the birthday girl?

I just made a really awesome cake for my boss' birthday. Mayan chocolate mayo with rich chocolate frosting. Truly decadent. I may post a photo of it to my woefully ignored food site.

Anyway, a few months ago my boss told me I was to be what I'm calling the "birthday fairy" for the office. You know... the person in charge of keeping everyone's birthday unignored by getting a cake and a card signed by the whole group. I love to do it since I get to show off my baking skills and have everyone parade to my desk to sign the requisite birthday card. It's right up my alley in terms of basking in splashover attention because everyone enjoys the cakes I make. But here's the head-scratcher...

My birthday is next. As much as I want to, social norms dictate that I can't get everyone to sign a card I bought for myself. And do I really want to slave over my own cake? Okay, for me it's less of a slave and more of a loving ministration but my point is still valid. I know this place is busy and when Pat gave me the fairy task it was so he could have one less thing to think about which means if I don't do something no one will.

I'm not one to let my birthday go by quietly. At the advanced age of 42, there may not be many left. So how do I tactfully (yes, I'm aware that it's a route I don't often go down) get a cake and a card from my little gang?


Friday, July 3, 2009

The never-ending blog fodder family

I've been keeping this blog week-daily since 2006 and sometimes there are dry spells. But honestly I have more stuff to contribute here than I ever thought when I started thanks to my wacky family. Sometimes I think we should be the subject of a sitcom or reality show. Then I realize that most days we are truly boring and I perish the thought.

Case in point: I've been leaving the kids alone for a few hours a day so I can come to work. I'm working shorter hours (8:30-2:30) so I can still spend a good part of the day with them. And don't worry... in case you forgot they're 13, 11 and 9. I told them at any point they can call me for any reason. For any reason. One day they did just that. When the office phone rang I could see on the display that it was from home. I said a mental (and, unfortunately, audible) "uh oh" and, put aside my usually pleasant phone manner and answered "What happened??!"

It was Audrey. She explained that Henry had locked the bathroom door and shut it. They were all locked outside and she had to pee "real bad". Of course my first thought was that she should use the bathroom downstairs. She flatly said no. I understood why. It's small, cramped, gross (since I'm afraid to go in there to clean it) and anytime I've seen a centipede in the house it's been in there. UCK.

So I settled in for the instructions:

Me: Go into my bedroom closet near the window. On the closet floor you'll see a red bag with knitting needles inside. Grab one that says 4.5mm. Do you have it?
Audrey: Yes.
Me: Go back to the bathroom door. See the hole in the handle? Push the knitting needle into it and turn the handle at the same time. Are you doing it?
Audrey: I'm getting Elliott to help... okay... THANKS MUMMY!

Disaster averted.

I explained to my tittering co-workers what happened and how I'm thankful for a few things:

1. That I knit
2. That it hasn't been so long that I've knitted that I didn't know where those darn needles were
3. That our bathroom doorknobs have those little unlock holes in them to unlock from the outside
4. That I know how to unlock them... I have no idea where or when I learned how
5. That the kids knew to call me and not 911
6. That this was the worst thing they called me for while they were alone.

See? Daily comedy.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

My U5 blog

I've been listening to the funniest podcast. It's called the Pine Valley Podcast and it's about the soap opera All My Children. I won't bore you with the details but they use a term called "U5" to describe actors who only get 5 lines or under in an episode.

It got me thinking about being more succinct. Not quite the way Scott would like in last week's blog but could I write an entire blog in 5 sentences?

kxx (looks like the answer is "yes" and no this one doesn't count)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Here's a quiz for you

Here's a good one for you...

What is 142 today, has amazing health care, temperate weather, the best hockey players in the world, is the safest place to raise a family, is yearly in the top 5 of the UN's Best Countries to live, has the most notoriously polite population and really rocks hard?

Why it's Canada, of course! God, how I love this place. I would never ever move and you can take that to the bank. Happy Birthday to my home. I love you.