Code Red.

J bounced into the classroom. “We had Code Red Drill today!”
“Really? What is that?”
“The principal says ‘Code Red’ on the announcer thing. We all close the curtain and hide! And David locks the doors!” Whatever it was, it was exciting.

In the ensuing conversation between J, A, and myself, I discovered that schools drill the kids now for Columbine-esque situations. Maybe estranged parents? Each classroom goes into immediate lockdown and the kids get out of line-of-sight from doors or windows. Since there is also Code Yellow (stranger on the grounds, but not yet in the building), I can only assume that these Codes have a number of functions. A’s school, out there in the forest at UBC, apparently uses Code Yellow for ‘dangerous animals’. In my many years of traipsing through those woods at all times of day and night, I have never encountered anything more dangerous than a drunk frat boy.

Both boys agree that Code Reds are really exciting. Remember fire drills, where you had to line up and someone counted everyone, and you waited outside in the rain for the school bell to ring three times? Boring. (Until Tara and I invented the Fire Polka in Grade Ten, anyhow.) But Code Reds are like espionage! You hide! There’s lockdown!

I like that the kids aren’t bothered by what could potentially be a very scary situation. They’re resilient like that. But I hate the fact that they need drilling for things like hostile strangers in the building or on the grounds. Hate it a lot.

Driving and Gardening.

This morning I woke up and went to get a car from the Mini service people. This was because I didn’t want to pick it up from the auto body place last night. You see, the auto body place is in a neighborhood that is a little sketchy after dark. Last time I was there at night, I was propositioned by a drunk from a shadowy alleyway. And it is right across the street from the Burger King parking lot where Todd and I used to sit in his car, drink milkshakes, and count hookers and rats. Good times.

One of the mechanics called me cute yesterday. It made my day, especially since he is a burly, bald giant who never smiles.

Today I have mostly been puttering in the garden. E thinks I am a certified organic loon for making compost tea (“How long will you steep it? Will there be garbage cakes to go with it?”), but I’m pretty happy with it. I trimmed the bamboo in the front yard, and made a fence for the veg patch with the bamboo poles, and tamed the raspberry canes in the side yard. Job well done, me. Ignored the damn lamium, though. I didn’t have the energy for it today.

All the while as I was puttering, I could hear Ian next door and his son, on their endless garden renovation. (Note, Ian next door is on the east side of our house. Fence Nazi cardiologist control freak Next Door is on the west side.) Ian’s backyard is a private Japanese zen oasis, complete with mini waterfall, koi pond and bonsai trees. He and his son work on it all the time. They’re building a raised patio for summer dinner parties right now. They have this happy, easy relationship that’s really apparent as they work. Inner Cynic keeps telling me that no parent-child relationship could be so lovely. But I like hearing Ian laugh as they putter in their zen haven. I find it soothing.

One Of Those Days.

It wasn’t even that bad things happened. But I woke up and I was critical. Poor bus etiquette, bad driving skills, grammar mistakes, poor parenting, questionable fashion, it was ALL in my radar, and I have been firing with no holds barred all day. People Are Idiots. It’s a fact.

Not out loud. It was all inside voice (except when I made a kid spew iced tea out his nose, but that wasn’t vocal, that was just a look), but still, I’m vitriolic.

People think of me as nice. I know they do. I am kind. I help out. I give benefit of doubt.

But today? That’s the other side of me. I’m a hot cup of nasty, brutal, honest bitchiness. And I need a damn muzzle before I get punched in the face.

Two Conversations.

I just sat back and listened to this one.

Kid 1: How many legs does Terry Fox have?
Kid 2: One. See? (holds up book with picture)
Kid 3: He’s dead. He doesn’t have any.
Kid 1: But he’s in Heaven. Wouldn’t God, like, take his cancer away and give him two legs?
Kid 3: Um. Maybe. Would he need two legs in Heaven, or just be OK with the fake one?


Kid 1: Why are there homeless people here but not at UBC?
Me: They probably are at UBC, but they sleep in the forest, so you don’t see them.
Kid 2: Why?
Me: Because they don’t want the police to catch them.
Kid 1: Are they illegal?
Me: No… but some of them are a little bit…well, they don’t think like we do.
Kid 2: I saw a homeless! Downtown.
Kid 1: I saw them here sometimes.
Me: Yes, Vancouver does have a lot of homeless people. Sometimes the government hasn’t cared very well for the people who needed it.
Kid 3: Why? Do the police arrest them?
Me: No. They want to take them to shelters. You know that word, right?
Kid 1: Yeah. A safe place. Why don’t they go?
Me: Well, sometimes there are…bullies in the shelters and they aren’t really that safe. Some people prefer not to be near the bullies.
Kid 1: I would say, Hey, Polices! He is being mean!
Me: Sometimes there aren’t that many police officers around.
Kid 3: So the safe place isn’t even safe?
Me: Not always.
Kid 1: That makes me feel lonely.

Spider Guts on my Sock and I’m OK.

I used to be afraid of spiders. I’m not scared now, more unsettled. Several years of living in spider-accessible basement suites have cured me. Mostly. I squeaked and stomped on the one I just found, but I used to hyperventilate, so I think I’m doing OK.

I’m practically cured, compared to the time my brother and I cleaned out my aunt’s understairs shed.

I went along confident that he would take care of the spiders. He thought the same for me. We didn’t know that we had the same fear of spiders.

When we realized that both of us were as scared as each other, we compromised. What it looked like was this:

I heaved a bicycle/garden hose/roll of chicken wire out of the way and darted in with a can of Raid, targeting everything that looked as though it might be a spider. I found myself chanting “Die, die. die!” Then I leapt out of the way as my brother clubbed the area into submission with a baseball bat, also chanting, “Die, die, die!” Then we both ran out of the shed and stood in the backyard, panting.

“You think it’s safe?” we’d ask each other. After a while we would go back in the shed, baseball bat and Raid can at the ready, to do it again.

My squeak-and-stomp routine today is practically medal-worthy, in comparison.

I’m just glad we don’t have scorpions.

It Started With A Hat.

Well, really, it started because I want a new hat. My standard Beatles/Sandinista/Eastern-Bloc-Cutie hat is still great. And you can see it suits many of my moods. But it is black. And since we’re moving into spring, and away from the dark colours, I thought I would do a little research on hats.

I thought I could make one, so I went looking, in the wide Internets, for hat patterns.

There are a lot of hat weirdos in the wide Internets. There’s a fat guy with glasses and five o-clock shadow who makes puffy berets for other fat guys with glasses and five o-clock shadow. There are sites with hats ‘for maximum modesty’ done by women who still believe that showing their hair will cause Teh Mens to Lose Control. I even found a site that offered hat patterns alongside shroud patterns for babies and children and even adults. Hats n’ shrouds. Yikes!

Not so many years ago, if I wanted to make a hat, I would have to go to the library and look in books about millinery skills. But the world has changed, and now any old person can just go online and find out 137 different hats to make (or shrouds, should they need the info).

My students goggle at me when I tell them I am older than the Internet, at least in this incarnation. I tell them about modemming at 2400 bps, using actual dial-up lines to talk to people. Before Windows. Before mice. Before embedding images, before we even HAD images, other than smilies and ASCII. Then they ask what ASCII is and I subside into the corner, Geritol in hand.

No, really. When they understand that I grew up without Wikipedia (“Encyclopedias. They were like Wikipedia in book form, kids!”) they are amazed by the fact that I know anything! When they realize that I predate LOLcats, they wonder how I ever got a sense of humour.

I feel as though I am a part of a bridge generation. No, we are several generations, but we are somehow very different than those younger than us. We won’t adapt to new technologies as quickly as they will. They’re starting younger, after all. But if, for some reason, the technology fails us, we have the backup plan: We remember how to look it up in a book.

That said, and hat weirdos aside, there are some great hat patterns in the wide Internets.

Birthday Races

Okay, I was out for about two hours yesterday and came home completely wiped out. I could not participate in the Olympic-themed fun as an athlete, because I am coughy and germy, but I got a lot of good photos as ‘Press’.

Bo was surprised and delighted. They had various ‘events’ to compete in, including the above three-legged race and one bizarre relay that included cartwheels and singing O Canada in English and French. (Everyone had to fake the French:O Canada, notre maison et…aussi notre place. Ce’st vrai que nous vous aime, Dans tous notres fils….dites…) Beth, how bad was that?

After the events, everybody else went to have a toga-and-finger food party, and I went home to the couch.

Sort of About Nothing.

A few days ago, E brought in the mail, and there were a couple of copies of Cook’s Illustrated in the pile. This puzzled us, because the only time it has come to our house was when I grabbed an issue from Tara in December for a shortbread variation. I should have known I was not firing on all cylinders when I wondered, “Maybe they microchip them to see where they go? And then send enticing issues…? Maybe they can see into my kitchen. With satellites.”

Turns our Morgan and Tara got me a subscription. No microchips. Thanks, M&T!

Yesterday I woke up and my throat was like knives. Thank you, body, for getting sick on my busiest day, right before a really, full, fun weekend.

Seriously, I had a birthday toga party, hanging out with Gen and Arwen, shopping, and dinner out with E all planned. This has been pared down to hanging out with my brother’s friends for an hour (It’s his birthday today! And my number one Godson’s! And E’s best friend, who is also a Scott! March 6 is a big day around here!) while I blow my nose incessantly and curse my mucous production.

So now I am a snotty, bitter mess. Fuck you, body. Do you KNOW how seldom I see my friends? Or that I NEED to buy underwear? (Also, who is stealing my underwear? I used to have more pairs than I do now.) Or that I was going to be taken out for STEAK, but you can only handle soup! Fuck you very much, stupid, frail body.

At least I have Cook’s Illustrated to keep me and my ginger tea and endless kleenex company.

He’s The Smart One.

“So tell me why this lecture is arcane,” I suggested to my brother as we were walking to lunch.
He said a lot of things about apperception and synthetic and analytical unity.
“Okay,” I said. “You just be sure to call me when you need an in-depth analysis of the evolution of the Sexy Faerie in Young Adult Literature.”

I went up to UBC today to hear my brother give a lecture on what is apparently the hardest part of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, which is something he knows a lot about.

I was lost, which I fully expected to be. I was also really interested, because Bo is a wicked lecturer. Sandii came with me, and she thought it was really interesting, but she is much more analytical than I am. Follow a logical train of thought? I will get lost in the woods every time.

On the way home I told her, “That’s why I tell people he’s the smart one.” Which I do. People seem worried when I do, like I’m telling people I am stupid. They rush to reassure me, which is lovely, but unnecessary.

General (and even specific) knowledge, I have in droves. Want to know where bongos live, the effect of beamier boats on the BC fishing industry, or how to cook a salmon 137 different ways? I know that stuff.

My brother, however, has way more smart-guy Philosophy stuff crammed into his brain than I do. Tons. I’m impressed with his brain, and that’s actually something that doesn’t happen a lot.

I’d like to sit in on a class that was less arcane. Maybe I would have a clue.

Zoology On The Fly.

At work, our reading and vocabulary exercises often have to do with animals. Animals, as a subject, are generally popular with the kids doing the exercises. They ask questions, and the questions breed more questions, and sometimes we can all learn something new and cool from the conversations we have.

There were two questions I couldn’t answer definitively today.

1) Can an aardvark swim? Um. I told the student that since aardvarks live in hot and dusty places in Africa, its probably not a big factor in their skill set.

2) Can crocodiles stand on their hind legs? I said: Probably not, because their bodies are heavy and they need the support of four legs. Their legs can support their bodies, but do not hinge that way. (I got down on the floor to show that while they can lift their bodies somewhat, they have the wrong legs for standing upright.) Besides, if a crocodile stood on its hind legs, and chased us, we would be WAY more scared of crocodiles!

Another memorable lesson. Just not the lesson the company intended.

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