penelope and bumblebee

Good grammar costs nothing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hi Honey, We're Home

Don’t know why I’m having such a hard time with the homecoming post, but I just am not sure I can encapsulate our trip in a witty, engaging way right now.

How can I possibly share the sublime irony with which we opened my dad’s kitchen cupboards to find that he had already bought groceries for all of his visiting children, only he forgot that those same children are no longer five and don’t really eat things like this anymore?

Except, of course, you’ll notice that the bag is almost empty, and I brought home a toddler and a husband with a newfound fondness for CocoRoos.

And really, unless you experienced the stomach ache, I cannot possibly illustrate the sheer gluttonous food-fest that is the Golden Corral buffet. Christ, that place is addictive. You should have seen our plates, loaded with such mouth-watering combos as broccoli and jello (bee’s pick), chicken tenders and refried beans, and my favorite, onion rings and banana pudding. Did I mention that we went twice and that’s only because when I rallied for a third time, I was overruled (3-5) and we went to a Chinese buffet instead?

I’m also having a hard time figuring out how to convey the week-long evolution of my husband’s early-life crisis, which began with his 31st birthday and found him driving a minivan full of kids, wearing argyle socks, doing puzzles and playing shuffleboard not two days later. By the way, shuffleboard rocks, and chris is the champion. We told him it’s because we are Jewish and shuffleboard is not a Jewish sport, like Mah-jong or eating.

Also, I can’t believe I didn’t take more pictures of my dad’s amazing new place, a very quaint gated community (don’t get all, Exclusivity! Snobbery! Privilege! on me – my dad essentially lives in a double-wide, and pretty much every community is gated – not sure who they’re trying to keep out. Maybe some octagenarians that prefer my dad’s shuffleboard lanes to their own?) where everybody waves to each other, and I’m pretty sure my 64-year old pater is one of the youngest residents. That, of course, is fine with him. My dad doesn’t move very quickly and likes the quiet life. And he’s got it. Us kids are just happy that he’s happy, isn’t renting (as he was for the first year back in the states), and that we have access to tennis courts, a pool heated to soup temp, a clubhouse with poker and pool tables, crazy-ass birds that walk around like they own the g-d place, and did I mention shuffleboard? God, I love shuffleboard. Oh, and you really have to watch yourself when you’re walking around, as there are no sidewalks and at any moment some crazed senior citizen is very likely to come whipping around the corner in their golf-cart (the preferred method of transportation within the gates).

Of course, the most difficult part for me to accurately express is how wonderful it was to spend a week with my family. There are no other people in the world who understand (and, well, often misunderstand) me better than the 7 other people I vollied for bathroom time with last week. To see my dad on the floor colouring with both of his granddaughters; to play skip-bo (our family game) with all of my sibs at the same time; to laugh about the contents of my dad’s fridge and his meticulous, deliberate, thoughtful way of doing everything; to watch my baby’s face light up when a family of egrets (florida’s answer to pigeons) cross the road; to sit in the sunshine while my neice splashes in the pool with my husband – well, you know what those moments are like.

And now? Well, Bee has finally adjusted to being home again, the laundry is done, and we are broke, just in time for the holidays. That’s ok; I’ll just get creative – and really, who doesn’t like seashell paperweights?


Don't forget to check out how we northern mamas rock it at Mommy Blogs Toronto!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Off We Go

It's been a pretty crazy week at casa penelope; besides chasing politicians off my property and figuring out what the heck to do for chris' birthday yesterday, i've also been preparing the fam for our vacation, which starts when the car arrives at 3:30 tomorrow morning. yikes.

don't feel too bad for us; once we get some coffee into us (maybe just some boob into bee), we'll be on our way to sunny florida for american thanksgiving with my american family. hooray!

this will be the first time since my dad moved back to the states almost two years ago that all of my siblings will be there at the same time. So, besides seeing my family, here are the top 5 reasons I can’t wait to shlep all the crap that you need when travelling with a toddler and get on that plane.

1. can you say ‘sleep’? with a gramps (he’s called Big Guy – my neice named him when she was about 2), two aunts, an uncle and an 8-year old cousin right down the hall to entertaintain my daugher at 7am, I’m going back to bed.

2. sun.shine. it’s 29 degree where my dad lives today. It’s 6 degrees where I live. Enjoy the rain, chumps.

3. ross. cheap, dirty and supremely satisfiying (like me!). this messier sister of winners nets the greatest steals in the history of bargain shopping. Last year I got bee and my neice similar ralph lauren tennis dresses for about the price of a grande latte in the t-dot. (ok, I exaggerate. A latte and a biscotti.)

4. the brevard zoo. This quaint destination is just the right size for bee (about a fifth of the size of the toronto zoo), has a giraffe-feeding area, and so far holds her interest so completely that we don’t even have to give going to one of the pricier, more commercial, more obnoxious, more mouse-filled attractions that the area is known for even a flicker of consideration. at least for a couple of more years.

5. southern hospitality. Say what you want about the US (and I often do), the folks where my dad lives are NICE. And they always tell me how cute my kid is, so I like them even more. I can almost overlook the fact that they all voted for george w and sport bumper stickers that say things like ‘god, guts and guns made america.’ (shudder)

so, while I’ll be thinking about y’all (see? It’s like I’m already there) while we’re gone, I probably won’t be checking in. I think you can guess why: dial up. Yep. Me and the internet are going on a break for the next 9 days or so. I might manage to sneak in the odd midnight session, so leave the window open for me just in case. If not, have fun, stay warm and we’ll build a sandcastle for you.

Monday, November 13, 2006


*edited - the results are in*

Today is municipal vote day where I live, and I don’t know about you, but I’m voting. (I hope you are too, if applicable) The incumbant in my area has gotta go. He is one of the good ol’ boys who had a nice run under mayor quimby – I mean, lastman – but it is time to see the changing of the guard.

But I gotta say – while I might know who I want for mayor, the city councillor choice in my area is not an easy one. I used to live in a riding where I helped elect in a fresh-faced, do-gooding, way left-leaning nice young man who cared about the things I do. Three years later that same young man is not so fresh-faced, and seems to have been well worn down by the half dozen committees he is on, and probably just from the gigantic amount of red tape, juvenile shenanigans and rhetoric one has to wade through to get anything at all accomplished at the municipal level. But at least I know he has tried. Hopefully he gets in again. Alas, it won’t do my corner of the woods all that much good.

I get to choose from the aforementioned good ol boy, and the second choice of the left leaning party, as their first choice decided to run elsewhere. The other candidates have afforded themselves so little visibility that I would not even recognize their names on the ballot. I have taken it upon myself to try to learn more, but they have so little faith in their chances of being eleccted that they have not even set up a website. Not even a blog. So, we’re down to two.

Should it be the good ol’ boy or the second choice? Really, I pretty much know who I’ll vote for, so let me turn this into less of a debate and more of a story. Let’s call the story:

How I Managed to Run Two Politicians Off: A Case Study

Or, if that’s not catchy enough:

Politicians Are Scared of Me

Yes, let’s go with the latter.

So, like I said, well in advance of voting day, I like to know what I’m in for. I do my homework. Sometimes, in order to get an A+ on my homework (or at least a gold star), you have to ask clarifying questions. So I do. (all questions have been paraphrased for your entertainment)

For the Good Ol’ Boy:
(asked via email, approx. 4 months in advance of polls)

Dear Fat Lazy Incumbent That Has Done Nothing To Earn His Paycheque Except Play Croquinolt With The Local Kiwanis And Maybe Judge a Pie Eating Contest At Last Year’s Canada Day Celebration,

Dogs piss where my baby plays despite no less than 6 signs touting the by-law warning that dogs are not allowed in the fenced-in park.

What are you gonna do about it?

Sincerely, someone who pays a lot of taxes in your ward.

For the Second Choice
(asked via email approx. 1 month in advance of the polls)

Dear Marginally Left-Leaning Second Choice Candidate That Will Probably Be Elected Simply Because You Are of the Same Nationality As Most of the People In This Ward (but at least you are a marginally left-leaning woman),

Subway Stations in Your Ward: 6
Subway Stations with Elevators in Your Ward: 0
Number of Times I Took the Subway with My Baby While On Mat Leave After the First Time When Not Even the Escalator Was Working And It Took 10 Minutes for Someone to Offer To Help Me Shlep the Fucking Stroller Up the Stairs: 0

What are you gonna do about it?

Sincerely, someone who pays a lot of taxes in your ward.

No, no, that wasn’t the part where I scare the politicians. It was when they came round to muster up support for their vote that I scared them.

I scared the Good Ol’ Boy when he came to my door last week. We chat for a minute, I listen to his spiel and then inform him that he never answered my email. He apologizes, and says that it is a very busy time. I tell him that I sent the email in the summer. (he backs away, to the top step leading off the porch) We discuss my issue. He tells me that by-laws are rarely enforced. So why have them? I ask. (he takes another step) As a code of conduct, he says. but nobody’s listening, I say. (one more step) Well, you have to complain first, he says. Well, I did, to you, I say. (he’s on ground level) Well, he says, I’ll look into it; we understand your problem and hear what you’re saying – goodbye! (he’s gone)

Chris is laughing at the emply porch and impressed at my prowess at getting rid of politicians. One down.

I didn’t get to scare the Left-Leaning Second Choice in person, but I scared one of her people when they called. they tried to tell me how wonderful their candidate was, and I responded by basically reciting her CV so that they know that I know my shit and tell her I already emailed. I get the ‘busy time, yada yada’ speech, and just ask her what her candidate’s plan to increase TTC accesibility in her ward is. Oh, well, she’s very much in favour of accessibility on the TTC; very much in favour! (this late in the game I’m convinced that she’d be in favour of better benefits for blind monkey fruit merchants if it would get her a vote) But what is her plan?, I ask. Well, she’s very much in favour, thank you for time, ok see you at the polls! Click.

Chris is laughing again. Two down.

I got a chance to scare the Good Ol’ Boy regime again when one of his people came to the door yesterday, attempting to leave a doorknob flyer on my doorknob. ‘Hi!’ I say, pulling open the door. He stammers a greeting, clearly not expecting to talk to anybody, and tries to shove the flier in my hand. He wants to know if they can count on my vote. ‘Well, you can count on me voting, but probably not for the Good Ol’ Boy. Plus, that’s a ‘No Flyers Please’ sign, so you can have this back.’ He leaves. Quickly. Chris laughs.

This is a fun game. Too bad it ends tonight, when I do my civic duty and decide which pussy to vote for.

*well, we got our mayor, but the good ol' boy won by a measly 20 votes.*

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Yoga Kicks Ass

Yeah, mine.

Last night, after a shameful absence of many months due to, well, laziness, I got off my keister and actually used one of the 20 class passes that have been sitting in my little bowl for at least half the length of the brit/fed-ex marriage.

It was invigorating. It was refreshing. It was rejuvenating.

It was nauseating. Literally. I almost barfed.

Now, this was no Madonna/Esther yoga-work-camp-I-must-keep-up-with-the-20-year-olds regime, but this ain’t your grandma’s yoga class either. Ashtanga flow, people. I was sweating.

I have a love/hate relationship with yoga. With all organized physical activity, actually, but especially with yoga. Because if you get to know me at all, you’d think, I bet she does yoga. You know, I eat tempeh; I have a naturopath; I own hemp clothing. Clearly, yoga is right up my alley. Except my alley is really just a one-way, dead end road to the couch.

Even when I wasn’t a tired mother, it took a lot to get me to the gym or the yoga studio. Much like my crafting aspirations, I have high hopes when it comes to exercise. I join gyms, I get cute workout gear, I tell everybody of my plans. And I go twice and make excuses and hockey season begins, and that’s that. The problem is, in those days I was partying and going out dancing and couldn’t conceive of turning 30 and I hadn’t built a baby. In other words, I was young and skinny. Now, not so much.

There were two times in my life when getting me to yoga was not a motivational endeavour even tony robbins would have given up on – in Israel, and post-natal. In Israel, going to yoga was so easy that really, I would have been a loser not to go. I was on a Kibbutz, where everything is about 3 minutes from anything else, and the yoga studio was right next to the dining room. Yoga, then food. No-brainer. Plus, we did our yoga class in a bomb shelter. That is a huge statement on how people who live in a war zone deal with war. But that’s a post for another day. Let’s keep things light.

So, this one time, when I was doing yoga in a bomb shelter in Israel, I farted as I was in a shoulder stand. Pretty loud. Nice. There was an old guy next to me, and I pray that everybody just blamed him. (btw – people fart all the time in yoga class, as you are doing all sorts of good, healthy things to your digestive track. if you are going to do yoga, make sure your studio has good ventilation.)

And post-natal yoga, well, that was more of a survival tactic; a reason to get out of the house and show off my cute newborn with all the other desperate new moms showing off their cute newborns. It’s almost mean that you are not allowed to do post-natal yoga once your baby is mobile. Talk about rejection.

Well, I’m not in Israel anymore, and I’m probably closer to prenatal yoga again than a mom & baby class, but off to the studio I go. Where I stretch and strain and sweat and swear and seriously wonder when this is going to finally end, because holy fuck, what is this, a 5-hour class? But of course I glimpse at my neighbour’s watch and see that it has been about 25 minutes, and we have over an hour to go. WTF?! Oh wait, no time to ponder how time has entered some backwards flux, because –

– and exhale, up, and inhale, step back and spread those fingers and lift that pelvis and turn your tummy into a ladle (a ladle? My tummy is more like an ice cream scoop. With a scoop of ice heavenly hash in it. a double scoop.), and exhale, right foot forward and hands to the sky and lift your left foot and bring your right hand back and recite the second verse of the The Highwayman and heels back! Now breathe…

Aaah, isn’t this relaxing?

Ok, I must admit that even though I seriously miss on some of the choreography, and there is no way my body will ever agree to contort into the fish pose, I actually do feel pretty good by the end of the class. Motivated enough to walk home and stop along the way for a falafel, which effectively cancels out all the good I may have just done to my body. But, yummy.

Guess I’d better go back next week?

Monday, November 06, 2006

We Met With a Handshake and Parted With a Hug

my 50th post! in honour of it, a tribute to you.

That heading is so not typical me, but aptly describes my feelings about Metro Mama’s Toronto Blogger Cocktail Party Saturday night.

Due to chronic absenteeism, this was my very first time meeting in person many of the amazing women I have known in the blogoshpere for months, and I tells ya, ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby.

I was looking to this night with anticipation for weeks, but as the date of the ‘do drew nearer, I started to feel a little anxious. Would I get along with them in real life? Would I have anything interesting or clever, or at the very least coherent to say, or would my words, without benefit of the editing power of blog posts, betray me and have these people wondering just who the ghostwriter at penelope and bumblee is? What would I wear? These (and many others) were questions that swirled about in my head until we literally opened the door to MM’s place and began discovering the answers (except the ‘what would I wear’ question. Luckily for all guests I figured that out beforehand and did not show up in the buff. Next time.)

I was a bit thrown off when we arrived; everybody was slightly more civilized than I am used to (read – our friends are serious losers and do things like belch – why was no one belching!?), and I was afraid that my exhuberance would have no outlet. I made a few stupid jokes about identifying each other by our children’s picture, and saying things like, wow, you’re a lot taller than on the internet (waka waka, I’m here all week. Try the veal.), and then retreated to the corner with chris to make more stupid jokes, guzzle a beer and find a lampshade that fit.

And then I met the wonderful Kitten Pie and her hubs, Mister Pie. And then I met one of my blogging idols, the mistress of Bub and Pie and her husband, master of the squash-o-lantern. And CrazyMumma, who I just want to be friends with, y’know? And Something Baby Blue’s Jana who I loved as much as I knew I would (and thankfully did not come to blows with over a who-loves-darcy tucker-more comptetion – btw, she would have kicked my ass). And then Mamalooper and Lisa B , who are awesome. And the super GORGEOUS Sunshine Scribe , who I laughed it up with real good. And Her Bad Mother, who has eyes and intellect that are electric. And Urban Mommy who was away from her wee babe for the first time, and even though I didn’t get to chat with her or Ali or Mouse as much as I would have liked, it didn’t take long to figure out these are my kind of people as much in 3D as they are in the blogosphere.

Even Chris, who kinda doesn’t get the whole blogging thing, stopped making jokes about me accompanying him to a gathering of on-line halo players (don’t worry; no such animal exists – the gathering, that is), and had fun.

Conversation flowed easily, from talk of blogging and politically-loaded conferences on mothering to raves for babies and home renovation and yes, we talked about you if you weren’t there (with love, with love!) and it took until about midnight before we started talking about our kid(s). By then we were good and liquoured up and became privvy to all sorts of sordid confessions like ‘I’ve seen my fat gay neighbours nekkid!’ and, ‘my kid is kind of mean!’ and, ‘well I let mine perch on precarious objects of questionable height!’ and, ‘I don’t know what a meme is!’ (thank you chris and g. for clearing that up) , and ‘I don’t know what a star is made of!’

And proudly, we stayed ‘til the end, and do you know how long it has been since that has happened? Sure, I see the asshole end of 3am all the bloody time, but when you purposely stay up late? Well, you feel like crap when your snotty, sniffly babe wakes up at 7 and won’t go back to sleep no matter how much you beg, but that is another post entirely.

So, thank you Metro and Sean; you have been great friends and great hosts for years, and Saturday night was certainly no exception.

p.s. ladies of the t-dot that could not make it - next time, next time. there are still plenty of really embarrasing confessions to be made.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Penelope's Reading List

You don’t have to be a scholar to enjoy The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood’s contemporary, feminist retelling of The Odyssey, from the point of view of Odysseus’ put-upon and misunderstood wife, Penelope.

In The Penelopiad, we read of how Penelope (obviously) bore the brunt of her husband’s absence, spending twenty years in Ithaca, warding off a throng of brutish suitors and her ill-willed mother-in-law. All the while her wayward husband is bedding goddesses and getting fat off of a growing legend and rumours that it is entirely possible he himself has been spreading as rapidly as an ancient STD. (Surely Syphilis was some goddess’ dirty stable boy)

This is an entirely plausible version of Penelope’s life, of her afterlife and of her greatest regret and sadness – the slaying of her twelve favourite maids upon her husband’s return. Atwood’s Penelope is doomed to carry the weight of their deaths on her demure shoulders for eternity – a weight that the slayer has absolved himself of shouldering.

Alwood also delivers a juicy account of Penelope’s acrimonious relationship with her bitchy, war-mongering cousin Helen, whose shallow and spiteful demeanour is dullened little by an event as insignificant as death.

What is most impressive about The Penelopiad is Atwood’s deft handling of the logistics of it all; Penelope is telling her story to a modern audience, and the ease with which Atwood handles details – like the acknowledgement that Penelope’s mythical Hades is little like our own modern, Satan-patrolled hell – is genius.

This is the author at her best: light-hearted yet lightening sharp, academic yet entertaining. If you have ever seen Margaret Atwood speaking in person, or even in a taped interview, you’ll know what I mean. The Penelopiad is Atwood speaking to us – the clever, casual tone; the dry wit and the ability to make us open our eyes to struggles we would prefer not even acknowledge the existence of. This is the fun version of Alias Grace.

That Atwood almost passed on this project (being one of several in The Myths Series including Jeanette Winterson, Alexander McCall Smith, David Grossman and others) is unfortunate, as it ranks as high on the list of required reading re-tellings as Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, and Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea. Surely, Penelope would be pleased.

Apologies in advance to all involved in NaBloPoMo (or is it NoGoBloMe?) -
it is only day 3 and i am already behind in my reading. i can't keep up. go on without me; we'll always have october.
(but i'll do my very best, because you all have such smart, funny, amazing things to say, and your blogs are pretty much my mommy crack. i just might not get to comment as much.)
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape