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The Young and the Feckless

Canada is a young-and-old country. We’ve been around since 1867, which makes us older than some countries, but not as old as many.  At the same time, we only really became who we are now in 1982. I was alive then, which makes Canada still quite young. 😉

Because of this history, our model of politics and governance is kind of young too. Essentially, for the previous 100 years or so were governed by the United Kingdom in one way or another.  Getting our own constitution and making our own rules in 1982 was kind of like moving out of our parents’ basement, getting a job, and figuring out how to live on our own for the first time. We’ve done pretty well for ourselves since then, but we still have a lot to learn; especially when it comes to improving our relationship with our landlords, who’ve been taking care of the house we live in for millennia.

There are some Canadians, though, who don’t want to grow up.  They behave like a younger sibling who’s still in high school and is having a bad adolescence: they think that they know everything; that rules are for other people; and the only thing that matters is the here and now. So they make rash decisions that can hurt them and their peers down the road, without any regard for the long-term consequences.

It doesn’t help that your sibling and their friends are the popular kids who “own” their high school. This makes them believe that they’re always right and that anyone who doesn’t agree with them needs to shut up or have the shit beat out of them.

It’s so frustrating trying to talk to them about growing up and what it means to be an responsible adult. They just talk over you really loudly while their friends clap and cheer to drown you out. So do the kids who aren’t popular but really want to be. It’s almost like they think your sibling is a friend who actually cares about them, rather than just a dumb kid who’s hiding their own fears and insecurities with bravado and bullshit.

That’s the thing about adolescence: it’s often hard to see past your own fears, so you surround yourself with other kids who only pat you on the back and tell you that you’re the best, even though they’re just as dumb and scared as you are that high school is all you have and will ever have.

At least they’ll all grow out of it one day. Can you imagine if they didn’t, and, say, went into politics when they became adults, and won an election on the basis of more bravado and bullshit?

And then when they tried to pull some foolishness and got called out for it, instead of learning from their mistake they threw a tantrum and tried to burn the house down? Thank god that would never hap-

Oh.

Wait…

🤦🏾‍♀️

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On Mother’s Day

Mom. Mama. Mother. Ma. Mommy. (Mummy if I feel like being particularly British.)

All of these names by which I can be called, and they all feel strange. Not in a bad way, just… strange. I guess it still hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m someone’s mother, even though that someone is a living, breathing body who is currently fast asleep on my lap.

My baby is almost four months old now and sometimes I can’t believe that he’s here. That he’s real. And that he’s mine.

I guess this is partly because the first few months of raising a child are a blur of feeding, changing, diapering, burping, bathing, (not) sleeping, and generally keeping the baby happy… and, you know, alive.

Everything moves too fast – and, paradoxically, reeeaaaalllly slowly – for your poor beleaguered brain to process. So, since I have a moment, I thought I’d process some of being a mom has meant for me so far by making a list. (Of course.)

Being a mom has meant:

  • Creating a mental map of all the creaky spots on the floors and stairs, so as not to wake the baby up when he finally, blissfully falls asleep.
  • Likewise, I now have the stealth and muscle control of a ninja when walking on the non-creaky parts, for just in case.
  • I can file and clip my baby’s nails with the precision of a laser-guided robot.
  • Sleeping without really sleeping is my new normal, lest I miss the faintest, slightest sound of distress from my precious, precious child.
  • Finding it cute / adorable / hilarious to be sneezed, coughed, burped, peed, and/or spit-up on. (Okay, only sometimes. But it’s hard not to smile when my child looks so pleased with himself afterwards.)

And most importantly of all…

  • I’ve experienced a billion-fold increase in my capacity for wonder, amazement, joy, and love. So. Much. Love.

So Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who is the “mother” in a child’s life. We are incredibly, incredibly blessed.

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Kitchen Lime – We Ready

Are we ready?

You sure?

Okay then.

Here we go…

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What a transformation, right? The kitchen turned out so much better than I had imagined.  To be honest, I still can’t believe the difference.

The renovation was officially completed at the beginning of August (only two weeks behind schedule!), but of course there were a bunch of “little things” that need to be taken care of before we could use it.

Like, you know, figuring out where to put all of our crap things now that we have so all of this incredible, lovely storage.  We even have a “garage” for our toaster!

If I could offer one piece of advice to people who are looking to design their own renovation, no matter the space, it would be this:

You Don’t Have to Figure it All Out at Once.

Really, you don’t.  You can start with just one idea, colour, feeling, or item, and then slowly build up your vision from there.  Trust me: it’s easier – and more fun! – than you think.

Now, who’s ready to lime? 😉

 

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Kitchen Lime – Getting Down… to Work

A friendly reminder…

Lime (v):

1) Caribbean slang term for chilling or hanging out.  Origin indeterminate.

Kitchen lime (v):

1) Caribbean slang term for chilling or hanging out in the kitchen at the end of a house party.  Usually extends well into the night / the next morning because people have no behaviour and don’t know when to leave your house.

2) What I expect will happen once our kitchen is renovated.

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I can hardly believe that almost a month has passed since the kitchen renovation began.  I’d fully expected to be posting weekly updates, keeping track of every detail.

But I forgot that life doesn’t stop simply because one of the most important rooms in your house is being renovated. It feels like it should, though, shouldn’t it?  At the very least, people should get “renovation leave” from work so that they are on hand to deal with any issue(s) that may arise, and free to run around getting paint, light fixtures, furniture, etc.  But I digress…

The contractors we hired have been working steadily since Day 1, sometimes even on weekends.  It’s a small crew, so I am amazed by how quickly – and properly – they have been accomplishing each stage of the renovation, including handling the unforeseen challenges¹ that come with fixing up a nearly 100-year-old house that has had several owners, at least one of whom didn’t know WTF they were doing when they DIY’ed the kitchen ~40 years ago.  (Not that I’m still annoyed, or anything…)

So, here is the “show reel” of what has been happening in our kitchen over the past four weeks (hover over each image to read the captions):

The work is scheduled to be completed this week (!).  Which means the next update will be…

The Big Reveal.

Dun dun dun!

 

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¹ Thankfully, they were quite minor, and didn’t add too much money to our budget, nor too much time to the renovation schedule.

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Kitchen Lime – Getting Started

Lime (v):

1) Caribbean slang term for chilling or hanging out.  Origin indeterminate.

Kitchen lime (v):

1) Caribbean slang term for chilling or hanging out in the kitchen at the end of a house party.  Usually extends well into the night / the next morning because people have no behaviour and don’t know when to leave your house.

2) What I expect will happen once our kitchen is renovated.

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Yes.  It’s true.  After nearly three years of living with a dated, non-functional kitchen with insufficient storage, minimal counter space, and strange layout, it is finally being renovated.

(Note: JustHusband and I had planned do to it shortly after we bought our house, but then the backyard fence fell over. And the furnace crapped out.  And then the water heater needed replacing.  And then the roof needed re-shingling. And then, and then, and then…)

Anyway, here are the “Before” pictures:

What isn’t visible is the mould around the sink faucet, or the worn/rotting wood at the edges of the cabinet doors, or the fact that the exhaust fan doesn’t work, or that the fridge is against a wall that’s on an angle to accommodate for the tree at the edge of the backyard.¹

Demolition began today and had I been home, I would have gleefully taken a sledgehammer to the cabinets and countertops.²  I do the (vast) majority of the cooking in our house, and while I would never consider myself a master chef – not that I’d ever desire to be one – it has been increasingly frustrating to prepare meals in such an awkward space.

Thankfully, since I was raised on a steady diet of Debbie Travis, Trading Spaces, and Candace Olsen, and then regularly consumed HGTV, the Property Brothers, and Love It or List It as an adult, I have ideas upon ideas for the new kitchen design. In fact, the contractor we’ve hired is using my drawings (just, you know… to scale.  And to code.  🙂 )

I am truly grateful that JustHusband understands that while our money is paying for the renovation, it is going to be my kitchen. Watch this space to see how it all goes!

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¹ Not that I mind, too much: I love that old tree. It just makes for an… “interesting” kitchen floor plan.

² The only things I’m really going to miss are the floor tiles:

7. Floor tiles

I’d hoped to preserve them, but all the contractors we spoke to said that they were too cracked and damaged in too many places.

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TOFTS

I turned 40 last year.  It’s an age that’s supposed to be a cause for anxiety, denial, and concern, especially for women.  But for me, it was pretty much the opposite of that. Turning 40 was both revelatory and celebratory, in that I slowly came to realize that I have learned, grown, and accomplished quite a bit in my short time on this planet (yes, short: in the grand scope of the universe, 40 years is but the blink of an eyelash).

I also had a revelation that being 40 makes me officially TOFTS: “Too Old For This Shit“, where “shit” = “foolishness”, as in “a set of damn foolishness”, as my Trinidadian grandmother used to say.

To me, this realization is a cause for celebration, and is at the root of my belief that my 40s will be some of the best years of my life.  So, in honour of the fact that my 41st birthday is just a couple of weeks away, I present the S I’m T O F, in no particular order of importance:

Morbid fascination with the reality carnival sideshow that is the Trump “presidency”, of the kind typically reserved for horrific car accidents: Way to trivialize that the man’s rhetoric has led to people being murdered in the streets.

Arguments for “free speech” that are really just temper tantrums over the loss of privilege – not rights – to say harmful and offensive things without consequence: Freedom of speech has never been about being able to say whatever damn foolishness you want and then not have anyone point out that it’s foolish.

The Sugarcoated Language of White Fragility: To be clear, I’m TOF White fragility, not that article. The article is both much-needed these days and long overdue.

False equivalencies: For example, giving the same amount of air time to a social justice advocate and to a racist because “both sides” need to be heard. No. They do not. The inherent humanity and value of people of colour is not a matter of debate.

Fears that robots will take over our jobs: First, robots have already taken over jobs.  It’s just that those jobs were held mostly by working- and lower-class people, which is why no one really gave a shit. Second, robots will take over our jobs – where “our” = middle- and upper-class people – only if we design them to do so.

Of course, like any good Gemini, I see at least two sides to everything, and I value balance (which is not the same thing as “equal”; see point #4).  So, here is a list of things I am not too old for, things that I plan to pursue fully during my fifth decade and beyond:

Radical hope: “This is the joyous destiny of our people—to bury the arc of the moral universe so deep in justice that it will never be undone.”

Puppies & PronoiaPuppies = self-explanatory. Pronoia = the antidote to paranoia.

Deliciously decadent chocolate birthday cake: Or, you know, chocolate any-time-for-any-reason cake. 🙂

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Let Me Tell You a Story

Once upon a time, JustHusband and I took my family out to see Hidden Figures: my Mom, my Dad, and my Auntie.

The five of us piled into my parents’ small car, because the big car wouldn’t start. Auntie, who is just over 6′ tall, sat in the front. JustHusband, who is almost as tall as Auntie, sat in the middle, his legs all folded up like a praying mantis. (It’s a good thing he’s so bendy.)

Auntie walks with a cane and has difficulty climbing stairs, so when we got to the theatre we sat at the front, in the seats specifically designed for accessibility.

Though I usually prefer to sit near the back of the theatre, those seats were perfect for me, too. A couple of weeks ago, I slipped and fell on the ice and really banged up my knee. So, I hadn’t been looking forward to climbing stairs at the theatre, especially in the dark.

Anyway, I’m not going to tell you the story of the movie, because you should already know what it is. (If you don’t, go look it up. Right now. I can wait.)

What I am going to tell you is a story about stories.

We all already know lots of stories. We know stories about fairytale characters like Cinderella and Snow White. We know stories about famous people like Brad and Angelina.1 We know stories about people who do positive things in their lives, and stories about people who don’t.

We also all know our own stories. We know the stories that make us look good, and the ones that make us feel bad. There are stories where we are the main character, and ones where we are just part of the crowd. We have stories that belong to everyone in our community, and stories that are ours alone.

Stories are part of what makes us human. There are people who even believe that we are human because we have stories. Whether they are true – and there are some people who would say that all stories are true – stories are fundamental to our understanding of ourselves and others. Stories are so powerful, they can literally change the world. But do you know what else is powerful?

Untold stories.

Untold stories are powerful because they, too, affect us. The story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson had an enormous impact on our lives but, until now, the only people who knew that story were the ones who had already lived it.  But when an untold story is finally told, its power is far greater than it would have been initially.1

This tells me that there is a clamour – a hunger, even – for untold stories. It tells me that we humans know, instinctively, that the stories we don’t know about are the ones we most need to hear.

Think about that for a minute. (Right now. I can wait.)

What is the story you don’t know about? What is the story you most need to hear? Go out and find it. Better yet, go out and tell it.2

I know my family is glad that the story of “Hidden Figures” was told outside of those who already knew it.

Because of who we are (nerds), the colour of our skin (except for JustHusband, but I don’t hold that against him, obvs. 😉 ), and when we came of age (collectively, a 50-year span covering WWII, the space race, the heyday of Canadian multiculturalism, and the advent of global Benetton-ism), “Hidden Figures” is also kind of our story, too.

After the movie, we piled back into the car and went out for dinner. (I’m sure JustHusband was glad the ride was short.)  Mom became best friends with our server3, and I confirmed that I’ve inherited at least some of Dad’s artistic talent:

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At the end of the evening, my family dropped me and JustHusband off at the subway station then headed back home to suburbia, all of us feeling the kind of contentment that comes from spending quality time with family.

I probably don’t need to tell you what happened next, but I will anyway:

We all lived happily ever after.

The End.

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1 This is one reason I think Hidden Figures is receiving such critical acclaim and kicking butt at the box office.

2 After the movie, with wonder in his voice and bewilderment on his face, my dad said to me, “I don’t remember hearing anything about this back then.” To which I replied, “I know, Dad. That’s the point.”

3 This may have had something to do with the fact that her margarita was a double.