Monthly Archives: October 2010

Le chien qui rit

I met a Ptarmigan on my run this morning. He (she?) didn’t fly until we were abreast. The noise of ruffling feathers and flapping wings was exactly like the noise of the ducks from that old Nintendo game, Duck Hunt.

That noise is unmistakable. That, and the goddamn laughing dog. Why couldn’t we ever shoot the dog?

Audio here if the laughing dog hasn’t been ingrained in your psyche. You’re welcome.

I never owned a Nintendo console, but my cousins did. I didn’t care much for Mario, but I remember Duck Hunt. Perhaps therein lies the root of my fear and dislike of dogs?

Update! This one has better audio, and bonus! They shoot the dog. Isn’t YouTube awesome?


In cutting and hauling, in wood and in print/ We’re feeding a goat that can’t keep itself fit

This has become an evening ritual at our house.

Beep... beep....


Beep...beep... stooooop!

Juuuust right

This is a man who knows how to park a trailer

For the past three nights, we’ve been stowing wood in the large shed. It’s slow going, not least of all because the baby is only content to sit and watch for so long before she wants out of the stroller and in on the action.

I has a wood pile!

It’s also slow going because one trailer’s worth of wood, when neatly stacked and piled, doesn’t seem like much wood at all.

One trailer's worth. That's it? Really?

It’s also slow going because it’s the end of October and we’re burning wood almost as fast as we can stow it.

Junk by junk, row by row/ that’s how the wood gets stowed…

Gathering wood, like laundry, dishes and vacuuming, is a bit like writing for a newspaper. (Bear with me here). You spend hours cutting, hauling and stacking, only to start all over again the next year after the winter burning is through. Laundry is impossible to get ahead on, because even as you’re folding and putting away clean clothes, you’re dirtying others (unless you do those chores naked. Hmm, that’s an idea!). Dishes get cleaned, only to be dirtied again, and don’t even get me started on vacuuming in a house where the wood stove sits squarely in the living room.

Likewise, newspapers. You can slave all day (or week, or month) over a single issue. That edition may the the brightest example of journalism out there. It may spur masses to action, inspire tears and laughs and contribute to a greater public intelligence. It may be copy-perfect, with nary a misspelled word or mismatched caption in sight. The photos may all be well lit and composed. The layout may be flawless. The print job a standard of excellence… but once that press is rolling, the reporters and editors and photographers and copy-editors and layout artists and publishers don’t get to rest on their laurels.

No sooner has the woodshed been filled, the laundry put away and the dishes dried then there’s another fire to light and more chores to do. There’s another roll of newsprint waiting to be inked, more facts to confirm, more stories to tell. I won’t call it a rat race because the work is not futile. But the work is never-ending.

Readers and advertisers alike won’t say, “What a great paper! Why don’t you take a week off?” They’ll say, “What else you got?” Like a goat that’s always hungry, we have to keep feeding the beast.

Sylvia says, 'What you looking at, Punk?'

I may paint a goat’s head on my wood stove, or nickname it The Kid. Or Goat-beast. Or Baa-aaa. What about Titania? No, that was a donkey.How about Billy? Gruff? Shane? Any other suggestions? This is fun!

Eight hours. Natch.

She slept. Eight whole hours. And I didn’t. Of course. And I went and taunted the gods of sleep. “You think you can trick sleep?” they cry, indignant. “Now you will never sleep again!” Then they cackle.

The obligatory new-mom post about sleep. Or lack thereof.

I read a lot of mom blogs. Mommyblogs, if you insist. As soon as I figure out how to post a blogroll in my margin here on wordpress I’ll share some of them with you.

I also read cooking blogs, etiquette blogs, money management blogs, friends’ and acquaintances’ blogs, parenting blogs, writing blogs, fitness blogs and adventure blogs.

But I’ve got a lot of interest in Mom things these days. And there being a dearth of other moms in my neck of the woods, I get a lot of satisfaction of identifying – finally! – with another mother, albeit invisibly and digitally.

And I’ve noticed mom bloggers all have a few things in common: (At least the ones I admire do). Many have overcome some sort of hardship or tragedy (postpartum depression, miscarriage, death of a child, infertility, illness, etc.) They are all honest about the difficulties of parenting. And they all, at some point, bemoan their lack of sleep.

I’m sorry for the utterly unoriginal topic tonight, but Sylvia hasn’t slept a full night’s sleep in TWO MONTHS. She USED to be the perfect little angel child who slept 10 hours, and went back for more. These days, she’s up every four, three, two, hell, one and a half! hours.

She started sleeping through the night at three weeks old. And I remember thinking many times how not to get too comfortable. But three weeks became three months and she kept sleeping, right through until September 3. I haven’t had more than a four-hour stretch of sleep since.

I know by averages she is still sleeping more than many babies her age. But… but…. she won’t take a bottle, the only thing that consoles her at 2 a.m. is my milk. Thus, by extension: me.

It’s exhausting. Tiresome. Oh my goodness if I could only get some sleep!

But perhaps the worst nights of all are the nights like this one. I took my book to bed with me at after settling Sylvia in her crib. (The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens. Great book.) By 11 I was still reading. I tried to sleep, couldn’t, knocked over my bedside water glass reaching for the light, saw the time (11:49) and figured there’s no point even trying to sleep now because Sylvia’s only going to be up in an hour.

And now it’s 12:30. I’m properly tired, but held captive by the 18-pounds of sleeping baby in the next room. Why lull my body and brain into false rest knowing I’ll be called to tend to Sylvia at any moment? Or should I to back to bed with the hope – the same false hope I’ve had every night for the past two months – that this will be the night she resumes her 10-hour naps?


I got a post card in the mail today. Not unusual in itself, but it is from a complete stranger, and addressed to me.

My friend Claire introduced me to the wonderful world of Postcrossing, where you exchange postcards with other registered users from all over the world. (Have I told you about my friend Claire? I talk about her alot. She deserves an introductory post of her own, perhaps).

Some people are pretty intense, collecting thousands of postcards and stamps. Others (like me) are especially laid-back, just excited to get mail from another place.

I’ve always been fascinated by how a single sheaf of paper can, by way of a few strokes of the pen, find it’s way from my writing desk kitchen table to another person’s mailbox many thousand of kilometers away. The stamps don’t interested me – the logistics do. Cards and letters transcend language barriers and geographic distances, but how? Oh sure there’s cars and trucks and planes and boats, but keep your practical answers to yourself. Let me sit back and marvel at how very vast our world is compared to one small postcard.

Today’s card came from The Netherlands. Despite my fellow postcrosser’s thoughtful attempt to translate the joke on the front of the card, I still don’t get it. But the note on the back is universal: Greetings. Beautiful country. All the best.


Before dawn

I’ve left the bread and roll mix in the cupboard and have followed where Claire has dared to go before me: Bread. From scratch. (It is Monday, after all.)

The smallest member of the household thought 6 a.m. was the perfect time to get up, so while Travis slept we chewed on kitchen utensils set the dough to rise.

Rising with the sun

Pardon the pun.

Breadmaking is a wonderfully silent activity, have you noticed?

The dough was tougher and heavier than I am used to, and rose lightening-quick. It had more than doubled the pan height before I got it in the oven. The first slice was… delicious! But it’s hard to go wrong with warm bread slathered in butter, you know? It’s a little sweeter than trad. homestyle white. Turns out, it is a sweet bread recipe. Oops. Still: tasty tasty! I’ll make it again.

Meanwhile… this:

Now, see the soft blanket with age-appropriate toys in the foreground:

I turn my back for a second!

Hey, Mom, can you help me out? I'm kind of stuck over here!

I feel compelled to note the Bacardi box holds newspaper and cardboard for lighting the fire. The box itself is a remnant from our move – liquor boxes are ideal for packing, because you can’t overfill them making them too heavy to lift. Unless you fill them with beachrocks. Which reminds me of my latest foray into the shed! Another post in the making. In the meantime, I’m going back for one more thick slice of bread.

I live so close to the ocean…

…the water reflects on my bedroom wall.

…I’ve seen both an otter and a whale from my sitting room window.

…I have to look up to see the gannets readying to dive.

…my car gets sprayed with salt water when the wind is up from the South.

…I can hear the smallest waves on the landwash.

…the salt water is closer than my closest neighbour.

…the moonlight reflecting off the water looks like snow some nights.

…I expect the boat that was built on the back of a whale to surface at any time.