October 2005

Simon discovers hockey

by DaniGirl on October 31, 2005 · 13 comments

in Ah, me boys

In nominating me for the Bad Mother of the Year award, be sure to include the fact that every night after I put on his jammies and brush Simon’s teeth, I bring him downstairs to give him a bottle and watch 10 minutes of Entertainment Tonight with him while he cuddles in my arms and drinks it. I figure that’s at least three strikes – a nightly bottle and he’s almost two, a reinforcement that mommy’s love and TV are linked, and the fact that we probably could be watching something educational like the weather channel, but I like my nightly 10 minute microdose of celebrity trash.

Except, Entertainment Tonight (and the new -gag- ET Canada) are only on weeknights. Sundays we dial in to America’s Funniest Videos, where Simon chortles and observes, “Uh oh!” at the hapless twits falling off of chairs and being beaned by pinata sticks. That leaves Saturday evenings, where through the fall we enjoyed an inning or two of playoff baseball while I explained the finer points of bunting to advance the runner and the difference between a knuckleball and a slider.

Now that the World Series is decided for another year and hockey has returned, Hockey Night in Canada seemed a good place to while away a few minutes this past Saturday night. (I’ve taken it upon myself to educate the boys in their sporting life, god help them. Beloved, my artistic soul, certainly isn’t going to do it!) And well, well, well, it was the Ottawa Senators versus the Toronto Maple Leafs – our favourite rivalry.

As soon as I flipped the channel to the CBC, Simon was excited. “Hockey game! Hockey game!” he said enthusiastically. I have no idea how he knew, but he knew. We watched for a while, and I explained the power play that was favouring the Sens, and then the two man advantage. Just then, the Sens scored and I cheered – “SCORE! Hooray, they scored a goal!” to which Simon replied, “Uh oh.”

“No no, Simon,” I explained, “that’s good for our team. We scored a goal.”

Simon, watching the replay, said it again: “Uh oh.”

Uh oh indeed. I think he’s a Leaf’s fan.

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Ghosts of Hallowe’ens Past

by DaniGirl on October 31, 2005 · 6 comments

in Uncategorized

Much to my disappointment, the weather in October wasn’t conducive to our annual trip to the pumpkin patch this year, so we don’t have the kind of truly adorable pictures we’ve snapped in prior years (if I do say so myself!)

However, since this is blog’s first Hallowe’en, I have no trouble hauling out the old photos to give you the proper chance to ooh and ahh over my scrumptuous pumpkins of years past.

First, Tristan the Great Pumpkin of 2002:


Then, the pumpkin became a monkey in 2003, and I became the pumpkin (at 6 months pregnant):

Last year, there was a new pumkin in town, and the monkey morphed into a caterpillar:

But I really do love a good pumpkin patch photo (also 2004):

Happy Halloween!!

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Talk to me about this bird flu thing…

by DaniGirl on October 28, 2005 · 18 comments

in Uncategorized

I’m curious. What do you think about this whole avian flu thing? Are you stockpiling peanut butter, paper masks and drinking water? Are you getting a flu shot? Are you rolling your eyes at people who even mention the words “flu pandemic” in conversation? I know about a hundred people drop by here on the average day, so if you haven’t joined in the conversation before – speak up! I’d really like to hear from a wide range of people on this one (God bless the Internet.)

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty quick to dismiss the pandemic fear-mongering as much ado about nothing from the wingnut and fringe crowd. You might remember that Canada was hit particularly hard by the SARS virus in 2003, and I dialed in to the daily federal government communications conference call on that, so I had a pretty good view from the inside. In the end, it was the hype and hyperbole that scared me more than the virus. Up until recently, I was lumping the public’s reaction to an inevitable pandemic in with their response to SARS and the Y2K thing – and dismissing it as mass hysteria based on hype, misunderstood facts and rampant speculation.

Then I read a blog entry from someone for whom I have immense respect, and she was taking this whole thing very seriously. Within three days, another mummy friend – whom I would consider the antithesis of the chicken-little type – told me about all the research she’d been doing, and how genuinely frightened she is. It was enough to make me stop in my tracks and take a good look around.

This week, Canadian health ministers and representatives from international public health organizations met here in Ottawa to discuss plans and options in the case of a flu pandemic. That’s probably a large part of why at least the local media has been saturated with all things avian this week – and part of the reason I’m interested in your view from out there. I read an article a month or so ago in Macleans magazine that reinforced my previous opinion that the fear of the flu is out of proportion to the actual risk we face. Read it if you have time, it’s a reassuring counterpoint to some of the more scary information out there.

And that’s exactly the problem. Instinctively, I want to read information that confirms what I want to believe – that this whole flu pandemic thing is hype, and that the risk to me, to my kids, to my family and those in my life, is minimal. After all, only 60 people have died so far. (Perspective check: each year, 250,000 to 500,000 people die from the flu globally, 500 to 1500 of them in Canada, and most of those people are already sick or elderly. Stats courtesy of Health Canada.) The bird flu has not yet transmitted person to person. Yes, the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 decimated the population around the globe – but think of the advancements in medicine and science since 1918. There was no public health care, no vaccines in 1918. That’s the year my grandmother was born – we’ve come a long way, baby.

Waffle alert!! And yet – I’ll be lining up next Saturday to get my flu shot for the first time ever. They’re holding a clinic near my house, and it’s just too convenient not to do it. I’m going to get the boys vaccinated for the first time as well. I’m a believer in vaccines, and since they’re free I can’t come up with any good reason not to have everyone get their shot.

That’s my concession to fear, I guess, although it’s more because I think it’s a smart and practical thing to do, rather than because I believe we are facing the possibility of society grinding to a halt when the pandemic hits. (Touches wood.) I’m not stockpiling peanut butter just yet. But I’m not sticking my head in the sand either.

Just this morning, I had to resist the urge to get my knickers in a twist when I read that if there were a flu pandemic and a vaccine were developed, the Canadian Public Health Agency has said that kids aged 2 – 18 would be the last ones vaccinated. They’d have a hell of a fight on their hands if they denied me when I took my kids in to get vaccinated in my place. Take a deep breath, I told myself, that’s a lot of “ifs”.

What do you think? Please comment, because I’d really like to hear a range of perspectives on this. Are you taking steps to protect yourself, your family? Are you worried? Are you stockpiling fresh water and tins of soup? Or do you think the whole thing is just the latest media frenzy and that we’ll all be shrugging sheepishly when this, too, peters out to nothing?


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I love character books. A book doesn’t have to have a strong narrative structure or a lot to say, but I do love a book with endearing characters.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is a charming, unique book full of quirky characters. I first heard about it from a classmate in my French class a few months ago. Her linguistic skills are a little bit more advanced than mine, but I did manage to understand and retain the fact that this book is part of a series written by a Scotsman who grew up in South Africa about a woman who inherits a considerable sum from her father and uses it to open a private detective agency – the very first one operated by a woman in all of Botswana, maybe all of Africa. Seemed a little incongruous at the time, but then my translation skills are questionable at best.

When I picked this book up, I was expecting something along the lines of Stephanie Plum in the books by Janet Evanowich. I like her books because they’re quirky and funny and fast-paced. The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is definitely quirky, but it is almost plodding in an endearing sort of way. Mma Ramotswe is insightful where Stephanie is dippy and polite where Stephanie is hopelessly crude. She’s also likely the size of three Stephanies put together. They’d probably like each other a lot, but I can’t imagine a universe where they’d intersect.

Having said all those nice things, I must now admit that I’m stalled about a third of the way into this book. I really like it, I would recommend it to you in an instant, but I’m not sure if I’m going to finish reading it. My number came up for The Kite Runner in the public library queue (I started at 585th in line back in the summer) and I dropped this to read it. Looking back, I’m not so sure I should have bothered, but that’s a blog review for another day. Even though I genuinely like The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, I’m having a hard time convincing myself to pick it back up again.

A question for the commenting crowd: when you read, do you choose things that are familiar and to which you can relate, or do you like to read about people who are completely different from you, whose life experiences are completely dissimilar to yours? I was initially doubtful about both The Kite Runner and The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency largely because they are set in a world completely different from mine. What do I know of Botswana or Afghanistan? And yet, I found the setting and the striking differences from my experience to be one of the most compelling things about these books.

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Dani the Virago

by DaniGirl on October 26, 2005 · 4 comments

in Uncategorized

I like the Word of the Day doo-hickey in my sidebar. Most days I know what the word means in a general context, if not the specific definition, but I’m always pleased to see an entirely new word that I don’t recognize at all. (Yes, I am that geeky.)

Today’s word is virago, a word I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, so I clicked on it. Here’s the definition:

Word of the Day for Wednesday October 26, 2005
virago \vuh-RAH-go; vuh-RAY-go\, noun:

1. A woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and courage.

2. A woman regarded as loud, scolding, ill-tempered, quarrelsome, or overbearing.

The intrepid heroines range from Unn the Deep Minded, the Viking virago who colonized Iceland, to Sue Hendrikson, a school dropout who became one of the great experts on amber, fossils and shipwrecks. –Ann Prichard, “Coffee-table:
Africa, cathedrals, animals, ‘Sue,'”
USA Today, November 28, 2001

This virago, this madwoman, finally got to me, and I was subjected to the most rude, the most shocking violence I can remember. –José Limón, An Unfinished Memoir

Virago comes from Latin virago, “a man-like woman, a female warrior, a heroine” from vir, “a man.”

Now, I’m not much of a feminista but I have to tell you, I’m a little troubled by this definition. What, is number one how women define the term and number two is how men use the word? There’s a lot of ground between being a woman of courage and extraordinary stature, and being a raving shrew. Which one do you think I’d prefer to see carved on my tombstone?

And then, to add insult to injury, we get to the etymology of the word and apparently a strong, courageous woman is — manlike? Oh please!

You know what? You can call me a virago any day.


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I’m rich!!

by DaniGirl on October 26, 2005 · 7 comments

in Uncategorized

Thanks to Colin at Ottawa Family Fun for this bit of silliness:


My blog is worth $22,017.06.
How much is your blog worth?

Not quite the $40M I am going to win from the 6/49 lottery tonight, but at least it would buy me a new car so I can ignore the transit strike! Any buyers out there?

(It kind of freaked me out at first, because the information page talks about Tristan Louis’ research on the value of links. Guess what Tristan’s middle name is? Louis, of course.)


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The 40 foot limo

25 October 2005 Uncategorized

I have a love-hate relationship with the bus. No, that’s not quite true – mostly, I just hate the bus. I know Ottawa has a really good bus system compared to some other cities, and the bus I catch half a block from my front door leaves me within a 10 minute walk to work. […]

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I win!

24 October 2005 Uncategorized

True confessions time. Having children was not a completely altruistic thing for me. I had, in fact, not one but two hidden agendas. First, I wanted someone to play catch with me. Beloved is an upstanding citizen, outstanding father and extremely patient husband, but he is not in any way, shape or form a sports […]

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Zed versus zee, a love-letter to Nancy

21 October 2005 Wordplay

It’s Nancy’s fault. She asked “So, which one is it (zed or zee)? Anyone know? And should we really care? Is it really a Canadian versus American thing? Or something else?” Ooo ooo ooo! (dances in chair, waving hand in the air) I know, I know! I care!! In fact, my darling Nancy, it is […]

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Sweet AND salty

20 October 2005 Uncategorized

Lunchtime came and went during the meeting that would not end, and I’m starving and cranky and feeling entitled to a treat so I ask the cabbie to drop me off at the mall instead of the office. I’ve recently started working out three days a week again, so I’m also trying to instill a […]

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