Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Attention Beauty Competitions!

The jig is up. You no longer need to bother with the Interview questions to reveal intelligence (snigger!) and personality (guffaw!). We know it is just filler.

Miss Teen South Carolina was asked: ”Recent polls have shown 1/5 of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map why do you think this is?” This was her answer:

Um. Like .Yeah. Einstein here still managed to be the third runner-up.

The correct answer to the question was: In North America we have placed more value on being attractive, rich and famous. Education takes a back seat (I am sure you are familiar with the back seat Miss Teen South Carolina!) Accountability and personal integrity are ideals for an age long past. With our no fail, social promotion, let’s-not-hurt-their little-self-esteem system in which diplomas are given out like tic tacs, why would you expect any less?

So Miss Teen South Carolina next time you are asked a question that requires you to think, just do what you do best and flash your tits.

You would have gotten to first place had you done that.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Captain Newfoundland. Ever heard of him?

I don’t think he will be coming to a theater near you any time soon; Captain Newfoundland (a.k.a. Captain Atlantis and Samadhi) isn’t exactly, shall we say, marketable. But he is as real a super hero as any other. He is a hippy superhero really, a philosophical guy, always going off in inward rants, and awkward social commentary. This guy is no Clark Kent. He will catch the bad guys, and sit them down and explain to them the Siddhartha method for controlling one's emotions. Captain Newfoundland is an Age of Aquarius type of guy.

Captain Newfoundland is the ultimate “CFA”, which is a Newfoundland saying for a person who is not from the Rock, a person who comes from away. His race came to Earth millennia ago with on a mission to teach young mankind how to build pyramids in Egypt and to become one with the universe in India. I am really not sure why he wasted his time on all this, when the man could have just fast forwarded through time and restored the cod stocks or something useful like that. But who can explain the mind of a super hero? According to legend, his people also founded the kingdom of Atlantis which was almost entirely destroyed (how that happened I was never really sure) all except a little tip…can you see where this is going? That little remaining tip of Atlantis is what is now known as Newfoundland.

Centuries later the Vikings, led by Leif Eiriksson, landed on the Rock and founded a colony. During their first winter, a strange being was sighted, and Vikings being, well Vikings, attacked. The captain then transformed, growing into a giant version of the god Odin. They had a big pow-wow, there was some time travel and probably lots of laser lights, and dancing chicks, and boom they were friends. I was never really clear on why this whole interaction took place. Ah yes, this was the nature of the comic series- a series that took place on the corporeal plane, and the spiritual plane. It was burnt. It was odd. It was something that I believe was the result of either too much wacky tobacky, or not enough time on the psych ward.

There are a lot of weird things about the comic, but the oddest thing of all has to be the fact that the Captain's face is a black mask with an outline of the Island on it. No, I am not making this up, seriously. Look:

Come on, look at me with a straight face and tell me that is not insane! I mean what comic hero has a MAP for a face? It is beyond a little nuts. This full on, you-require-medication-and-full-time-care wacko. And yet somehow it works.

I didn’t pick up the Newfoundland Herald last time I was home, so I have no idea if the series is still alive and well, let alone if the good Captain is still kicking ass. If anyone out there can let me know, I would appreciate it. And if you can update me as to what is going on in the series, I would like that too. Hey, it is always good for a laugh.

pictures from http://jeffwerner.ca/2006/03/captain_canada.html

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hey Danny "Chavez"!

Hey Danny, exactly what broke the impasse between you and Big Bad Oil? There has been much speculation but no real talk on the subject. All Big Oil will say is that they are "pleased" with the deal, avoiding the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room, and the mess it is likely to make. T'is making me more nervous then a dog at the vets office; doggie knows sooner or later he is gonna get snipped.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

N.L. announces $16B Hebron oilfield deal. Maybe.

I know, it is old news now, this story broke yesterday. I was sort of waiting to post about this until I had figured out how I felt about it. But it is clear to me that I will remain two minds on this one for some time now.

Don't get me wrong, I am mostly elated. On its face, this sounds like a wonderful coup! Finally Newfoundland is not being bent over the fence- it looks like we may actually be getting somewhere. Maybe regaining some autonomy and respect.

However wasn't this deal dead in the water last year? Didn't the oil companies want tax breaks in exchange for the equity stake? What happened to that demand? I know, we are going to put up more money now...but still.

Maybe I am just too cynical. Is it me or is this deal a little too close to the October provincial election? Perhaps I am worried that this, like other projects, will end up half in, half out of the province, with workers shipped in from all over the world. It could be the lack of details surrounding the deal that worries me; more to the point: what did we give up to get this memorandum? Or maybe it is because 2015 is a long ways away, who knows how much feces could hit the fan before then?

Its nerves. Yeah, nerves. I am just jittery because nothing is signed yet. Right?

It is more like I am scared to believe. I have heard this song before, heard it too often, for too long, from too many politicians. It goes a little something like this: "We will achieve economic self-reliance. We will bring our sons and daughters back home!"

And yet here I am.

So, congratulations on your recent win Danny Williams. Really. I hope this historic memorandum of understanding is everything you claim. But you will excuse me if I don't pack my bags just yet.

* picture from http://www.petro-canada.ca/images/general/Location_Map_Oil_Only.jpg

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I can see you infected finger person!

Would the person who found my blog by entering the following words into google: “red line going up arm from infected finger” please stand up. Are you standing red line infected finger person? Good. Now get off the internet and haul ass to the Doctor’s office will ya? Jaysuz.

I almost dropped my tea this morning when I read that in my site stats. I can see what types of searches are performed and the search engines used to do it- sometimes it is really weird to see how people get here, and other times it is downright scary.

In recent years, it has become increasingly popular to use the Internet to diagnose everything from a simple tummy ache to congestive heart failure. I don’t remember Dell shipping an honorary medical degree to me when I bought my computer. I mean I can check the box again but I am pretty sure all I am going to find is the bill.

The net has got to be bad for hypochondriacs. If you do a search with just headache, nausea, and dizziness as your symptoms you will find yourself with any thing from vestibular balance disorders, to ear infections, to cancer. Pick your poison!

Hey, I am all for people empowering themselves with information, and being proactive about your health- but when you have got a “red line” going up your arm from your “infected finger” you should not be on the net. You should be at a hospital somewhere, probably hooked up to antibiotics.

Now I understand a lot of people want to avoid going to a crowded ER, where if you weren’t sick before, by the time you get to see someone and get out of there it is a good bet you will have caught something new. Consider it a parting gift from Canada’s health care system to you. A perverted little loot bag of disease. Yes, I understand your reluctance, but there are other options. Call a nurse! They are the ones who really know what is going on anyway! Many provinces have a system like we do in Ontario called Telehealth where you can call a nurse if you need to. I have called it many times, and saved myself trips to a walk-in clinic or an ER. In Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador the number to call is HealthLine - (1-888-709-2929) where you will receive bilingual, not-urgent health care advice. But when in doubt people, don’t log on, or call, just get to the hospital and take care of yourself.

Do you hear me “red line going up arm from infected finger” person? Do ya huh?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cell Phone laws protect the stupid...and the innocent

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador calls on all provinces to follow its lead by banning use of hand-held cell phones while driving. I applaud this action- there are too many distracted drivers out there and those driving while babbling on the on the road are among the worst. I am not sure why there is any opposition to this legislation, it seems pretty common sense to me. And I have to say it warms my heart to see Newfoundland leading the charge.

I remember when cell phones first became really popular, I was younger and I thought it was cool. My parents, who tend to drive long distances for work on empty Newfoundland highways, really liked the security cellphones offered should they break down or need emergency assistance on the road. Let’s face it there are stretches of road home where you can drive for 2 hours and not see a gas station or another car. And yeah, it is nice when you were going to be late for dinner, to be able to call ahead and let people know. They were great for that sort of thing.

However, that is not what they have become. Like Lapdogs and Rottweilers, cell phones became status symbols for self important imbeciles everywhere. If you didn’t have one attached to your ear you were not worth talking to. Now every goon with a cell plane is talking long and loudly anywhere and everywhere all the time. I am not sure I would be so annoyed if they were saying something at least halfway interesting but most of it is so banal.

But you know, it isn’t just these permanently connected egomaniacs who are causing problems. Car accident statistics indicate 98 percent of reported accidents involve a single distracted driver. Rubbernecking was the highest percentage of single distractions, followed by driver fatigue, looking at scenery or landmarks, passenger or child distractions, adjusting the radio or other music form, and cell phone use. I have seen people put on make-up while driving, I have seen folks reading the paper, I saw one guy…well, he was making himself pretty happy lets just leave it there (Note to people who drive in cars: Folks who drive a van, truck or semi can see pretty much everything you do in a car).

Unfortunately we cannot legislate common sense, even though we try. Like the seatbelt law, this one is apt to get a number of people upset, but after a time, it becomes habit to comply. As much as I wouldn’t mind it if a few of the morons out there removed themselves from the gene pool before they bred, I know that nine times out of ten these morons who cause accidents are seldom the ones hurt. Some kid crossing the street, or another driver who is doing all the right things usually gets the worst of it. While the moron walks away without a scratch. Yes, sometimes we have to protect the idiots against their will in order to keep the rest of us safe.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

One of my Favourite Newfoundlandisms

Here is a new feature for the blog: "Favourite Newfoundlandisms"

Today's winner is:

"I am so hungry, I could eat the arse off a low flying duck"

What are some of your favourite Newfoundland quotes or popular sayings?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Seattle's Fremont Troll has escaped, Irritates Bloggers

The Fremont Troll has been lurking under the north end of the Aurora bridge in Seattle since 1990. But about a week ago the 18-ft. tall mammoth vanished into thin air. The missing Troll worries authorities because it has been off its medication for sometime now and police are afraid that the grey beast could hurt itself or someone else.

There have been numerous sitings but none have been confirmed. Analysts are now viewing security footage from a local Internet cafe where tipsters say they saw the Troll surfing the net and eating Paydays. Servers in the heart of Seattle's technology center are adding credibility to this claim as they have noticed a marked increase in Spam and Internet Troll attacks on Blogs, Forums and Chat rooms.

If you see this Troll, do not engage it. Without medication it has no control over its emotional centers. It is impervious to reasoning as it has the mental capacity of a toddler. Just proceed as though you do not see it, and contact authorities immediately.

Or you can do as I have, and record their IP address. Should the Troll come back to disturb me, I shall just have to send it something nasty.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wedding Stories, and the Art of the Open Bar

I was a wedding this weekend, for a friend of mine and his girlfriend. There they are----> Ain't they purdy? This was a very important occasion, not just because it was a wedding, but because it was a wedding with a free bar! Ha! Just kidding. It was important to me because I happen to think a lot of Andre, and it was good to see him happy. It was also a momentous because my husband and I got to go out! Outside, together, sans baby, like normal people do! Wahoo! When you live away from home, getting a baby sitter is hard. I do have an Uncle here, but he and his wife have three young kids- so I don’t feel right about asking them to sit for me, but this occasion was too important to miss, so that is exactly what I did.

It was really good to sit with friends and have adult conversation. And it was wonderful to be able to have a drink or two. Ahhh yes. Nine months of pregnancy and 7 ½ months of breast feeding make for a very dry Nadine. So I had a glass of wine, then a Vodka and cran, then another glass of wine…I was having a laugh with friends I haven’t seen in awhile. Dancing and laughing with Don was a lot of fun too. And it is thirsty work let me tell ya! I found myself really enjoying the wine- until the flashback.

Yes. Yes. The Flashback. I had been to a wedding before where I was going through wine like this. And then beer. And then Vodka, and then Scotch. I don’t think that ended well. No, not well at all. Want to hear the story? Well, sit back and get yourself a drink.

The wedding was in 2003, in Kingston which is a little over 2 hours from here. It was for my husband’s childhood friend Mike, who was, as we say back home, a bit of a hard case. We drive out on the Friday after work. The traffic was heavy and it was raining cats, dogs and various rodents the whole way out. Nice start.

We get to the room at the hotel, a little smelly, very tiny, but it is somewhat clean. After checking in and unpacking, we head to the local bar where the wedding party was having a pre-weddin’ social. When we arrive I notice there are kids running around, babies everywhere, and a lot of people I don't know hitting the bottles pretty hard. Since I am driving, I must watch all this and not participate. I consider how the eight year old feels watching mommy getting soused, and wonder briefly about the affects of alcohol on mother's breast milk. Then I decide I don't care. How the kids got into the bar is beyond me. It was not a restaurant.

I was introduced to a number of the people at the wedding, and I am dismayed to discover that only three of the guests are Don's friends, I only know two of them. Even more distressing is that the rest of them are lawyers. Most of the night is spent listening to the group masturbating with stories from law school, or their legal firms (Now before the comment section is filled up with accusations that I am an antilawyerite, let me assure you, I love lawyers. Some of them are my best friends. I just hate the ones who are full of themselves). Thankfully Jeff Hogg and his wife Sherri were there, so I got to talk to someone while I watched husband get soused. He doesn't do that very often, so it was ok. Kind of funny to watch actually.

The next day we head over to Fort Henry for the wedding, and after 2 short hours of waiting to get across the causeway we arrive. I am thinking to myself that this might actually be nice- we will be near the water, and outdoors for a wedding…that would have been really cool. Except that is not where the ceremony is. Nope, we are doing that in a bunker at the top of Fort Henry. A small urine smelling bunker. It is dank, there are no windows, save the three missing bricks at the front of the bunker. But my, those white silk ribbons on the brick sure do look nice!

The woman in front of me must have marinated in her perfume and it was making me queasy. A wedding guest was late so the bride's family held the wedding up for them, while we waited like sheep in the bunker. I was getting a little claustrophobic; my eyes start to roll in my head, and I was tachycardic. The pianist squeezed into a piano at the front of the bunker played the same three songs over and over again. I started to see stars. The couple behind me rehashed the same stories I heard from the night before. How thoughtful.

Finally the wedding started, and the rest of it was pretty well engineered. We laughed and clapped in the right places. Pictures came after that, and Lord, if I have to start describing that whole set up, I will have to start drinking again.

I am honestly quite ill by that point so I went to the washroom: splashed cold water on my face and went outside for fresh air. I felt a little better when I was given an intriguing bit of information from the groom: Drinks were free until dinner. I figure, hell, I feel like crap now, maybe a drink or two will help. Somehow forgetting that this is now 6:00 pm, and I haven't eaten since 11:30.

Well I got a drink, and get a round for the people I can talk to (Don, Jeff and Sherrie) and sip. And sip. Around me, more stories from law school, and talk about how much money they made last year before taxes. Don is talking to Mike and Jeff, someone gestures to him and Jeff and asks who they are. The reply is "They didn't go to law school." so they moved on to the next topic. Someone was kind enough to get another round. And we all say thank you politely and gulp. Now there was no fraternizing with the law crowd. I was starting to think we scared them. I get another drink and asked myself "Am I scary?" This continued for sometime, and we learn that dinner will be delayed a bit. There are some other scripted items which must be completed first. I am not sure what they were right now, but I remember it had something to do with pictures, and Randy Travis. I drink.

Sometime later, and trust me, I don't remember, dinner is served. I think by this time I have set a record for how many times one person can curse between breaths. Most of what happens next is a blur. I remember feeling a little off. And concentrating on my turkey. I had a piece held up on my fork for a long time. You can meditate with turkey you know. It is quite calming. Suddenly I knew I had to move...and fast. Don says he looked at me at that point and feared for someone's life. I looked angry. I was not at that point. I had one goal. To get out. To get to the bathrooms.

Well fine friends. I did not make it to the bathroom. And the two gentlemen who were at the bar down the hall from the dinner room can attest to that. I almost made it out of the little bunker. But not quite. A sad mixture of white wine, red wine, some scotch and a morsel of turkey made a second projectile appearance in the doorway to the outside air. I don't remember the next few moments. I do know that Sherrie came outside with me and held my head up for about half an hour, trying to get me to eat. Not much success on that front. Don came out a few times to make fun of me and disappear. Finally he decides it is time to haul my sorry ass back to the hotel. The sorry spectacle was the highlight of the evening for the non-lawyers...and they left shortly after we did. Needless to say, I did not make it to the boat trip the next day.
So back to 2007 now, and with that Flashback oh so fresh in my mind I decided I'd had enough wine, vodka and amaretto, and chose water instead. My mamma didn’t raise no fool.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Newfoundland Toutons Recipe or Deep Fried Heaven

Warning: This is not low fat. This recipe will never have one of those Heart and Stroke foundation stickers on it. As a matter of fact, consult your doctor before making this recipe. Oh but if you can sample these delights, you will declare they are totally worth the potential myocardial infarct.

Now there are a number of different ways these babies are served. Some people eat them with the scrunchins, others without. Some people have them with butter, others serve them with molasses, and others with both. I like it with both, hey you may as well go whole hog here.

• 1 c 2% milk .
• 1 (16 g) packet traditional yeast .
• 2 tbsps shortening .
• 1 tbsp sugar .
• 1/2 c lukewarm water .
• 1/2 tbsp salt .
• 1/2 c cold water .
• 1 tsp sugar .
• 1/4 lb finely cubed bits of fatback pork .
• 5-6 c all-purpose flour

You will need a deep fryer with cooking oil for our family’s method. Though some people do it with oil in a frying pan or fry the toutons in the pork fat until golden on both sides. We do them in the deep fryer because it is safer and because the toutons come out lighter and less doughy.


We begin by making bread dough. If you have your own recipe and already know how to bake bread you can go to the front of the class and skip to step 9.

1) Dissolve 1 tbsp sugar in the lukewarm water. Sprinkle top with the yeast let this stand 10 minutes, then stir briskly with a fork.
2) Scald the milk; add shortening, stir until melted.
3) Add cold water, salt and 1 tsp sugar.
4) Make sure that the milk mixture is lukewarm then add yeast. Stir until mixed.
5) Add 2 c flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
6) Gradually add more flour until you have a moist dough that no longer sticks to the bowl.
7) Turn dough onto a lightly floured board & knead for at least 10 minutes.
8) Shape into a ball and place this in a greased bowl, turning the ball to grease the top. Now my Grandma Browne used to make a sign of the cross over the dough with her wedding ring, as it had been blessed. You don’t have to do that part, but her bread always came out perfect. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. When it is almost ready, fire up your deep fryer.
9) And now for the fun part: punch down the dough a little (it might fart a bit but that is ok.- it is just air escaping). Then tear off pieces of dough (approximately 1/3 cup). We just pull it apart in sort of circular shapes, but some people who do them in the fry pan in pork fat pull them a little flat. It makes ‘em easier to cook in the fry pan I guess.

Now here is where the recipes diverge:

Scrunchins method:

10 a) While you are doing this recruit another foolhardy soul to make the scrunchins- which is fried pork fat. I can just feel my arteries clog now as I write that. Cut up the pork fat into teeny tiny pieces and then fry until scrunchins are golden brown & crisp. Now as I said before, some Newfoundlanders do not use the deep fryer like we do. At this point they remove the scrunchins and fry the toutons in the pork fat. I don’t like it this way- but you might. If you do try it this way you can put some scrunchins on the touton after it has cooked in the pork fat and begin to eat. I have seen people use this as a side for baked beans instead of serving buns.

Non Scrunchins method:
10 b) Once you have torn a few pieces of bread dough off, carefully drop them into the hot oil. Careful not to splash yourself. Have a box of salt standing by in case something bursts into flames; remember you can’t use water on fat fires. The dough will drop to the bottom of the fryer, and pop up and then bob in the fat, turning a beautiful golden brown on the bottom. Flip them over and let the tops cook, and haul those babies out. Drop them on a piece of paper towel to remove some of the excess fat. Snigger- like that willl really make a difference. Now put a few on your plate drizzle with molasses and a pat of real butter. Yes the real stuff, not the plastic yellow poo euphemistically known as margarine. Take a moment to worship your creation, and then pop that sucker right into your mouth….ah…that’s it. Yes like that….ohhhhhh.

Repeat until stuffed like a turducken… (What is a turducken you ask? Well that my friends is another heartstopper we shall explore in the near future).


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Newfoundland Art

I recently saw Rex Murphy interview Newfoundland artist David Blackwood, an artist whose prints and paintings haunt the imagination. I have always wanted to have a piece of his work, but as many of them start in the $5000 range, it ain't gonna happen. When I was about 14, I saw his print Fire Down on the Labrador at an Arts and Culture Center and I was mesmerized: I could barely pull my eyes away. Something about the piece just held me there, locked. My mom has one of his Mummer pieces, and when you walk into her living room your eyes are drawn to it and your body follows. It is amazing how he has the ability to pull you into his world and hold you there.

While I will never own a David Blackwood, I do have a couple of pieces of Newfoundland Art in my home. They comfort me, they bring me strength and give me a sense of place. I would love to have more, but there are more practical things we need to do around the house first.

I have one by
Ken Power, called Silent Night. It is a winter scene off Signal Hill. I also have Lighthouse Point by Dave Hoddinott which is a beautiful night scene on the water. And finally, I have The Berry Picker, by Ed Roche that I love; which is unusual for me, because I often do not enjoy paintings with people in them for some reason. Who knows why, I am weird that way.

There has been a recent explosion in the amount of Newfoundland Art to be had out there at prices that allow the proud Newfoundlander (or other art lovers out there!) to attain it. I have used http://www.newfoundlandart.ca/ a number of times to purchase pieces, and they have been sent to me framed, and beautiful, and eager to take their place on my wall. So for those of you who live away and often find yourself homesick, check out the website, and think about buying a painting, print or poster. You will be supporting a talented crew back home, and you will do yourself a world of good.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Provincial Mariners' Memorial

Newfoundlanders have been tied to the sea for over 500 years. It isn’t just because so many made their living on the water, because often you will find Newfoundlanders during scarce leisure time by the sea, or a brook, river or pond with a line in the water. Or with a camper parked by a tranquil pond with a campfire and guitar nearby. The ebb and flow of the tides, of water, is inexorably linked to our people; to every inhaled and exhaled breath of a Newfoundland native. And while pull of the water sustains us in so many ways, it has also resulted in thousands of deaths. It seems that the ocean demands a price for all that is taken from her, and sometimes that price is paid in blood.

There is a price paid by those left behind as well: families left grieving and broken because their dads or other relatives were taken by an obdurate ocean. It is made more difficult when the ocean keeps her dead, for the families have little sense of closure.

A memorial was unveiled this week to pay tribute to all those lost at sea, and to offer some comfort, and recognition of the sacrifice made by those left behind. A life-sized bronze statue of a woman staring over a small pool of water was unveiled in Grand Bank, N.L., as the Provincial Mariners' Memorial I have yet to see this for myself but the image provided by the site reveals a moving structure- imbued with the dignity and grace demonstrated by so many Newfoundland families who have lost loved ones. I have included the image here, but I encourage you all to visit the official site to see how the work was done, and to learn about some of the shipwrecks recorded there.

I would really love to have some pictures. If anyone out there plans a visit, or lives near by please feel free to message me and let me know- I would appreciate it. It is a haunting memorial just in pictures, it must really be something up close.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Cautionary Tale

Ok, I promise you that this is not going to become a Mommy Blog, but I have got to share this little story about Wil. Partly because I know writing is therapeutic and the exercise might help me feel better, cleaner, and partly as a warning to all those newbie moms out there. I feel a little like Lady Macbeth at the moment, except it is not blood I keep washing off my hands…

Living in Toronto these past weeks has been like living in someone’s armpit. The dank humid air smells skunky; it’s rank stale heated air that just hangs there; clinging, clogging every pore. It’s noon, and the sun has reached its zenith, a blazing eye burning in the sky, its mocking me. It sees the future.

I had just fed The Boy, and changed his diaper before putting him down for a nap. I decided not to put his shorts and tee back on because he really didn’t need it- he was too warm.

About two hours later he awakes…I can hear his soft little coos, he is babbling away in a language only other babies and stuffed animals understand. His electronic frog Baby Tad is in the crib with him and they seem to be playing nicely. Tad is singing “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”. I love it when he wakes content, it makes me happy. All is right with the world. I figure I can leave him up there a bit, and finish up the kitchen. I have done this before, when he allows it, it helps me get stuff done. Heck he is safe up there in his crib. It is a few moments before I realize Tad is no longer singing, and Wil is not longer cooing. Come to think of it, it’s been quiet for awhile. Too quiet. I dry my hands and make my way upstairs.

Just as I turn up the last few stairs the smell hits me like a moose on the highway. I groan- this is going to be a helluva diaper change. Oh it was a tad more than a diaper change.

The first thing I noticed was how brown his hands were on the crib bars, and what is that on his leg…is that…? OHMYGOD that is! Oh, oh please no. I edge closer, my face in my hands, I am whimpering a little and my eyes are tearing from the smell. Baby Tad is dead, lying tits up in the crib, his lifeless keypad will never again light up and sing. He seems to have had the worst of it- I could no longer clearly make out his features. It was only his blue “On/Off” pad on his foot that identified him.

The crib sheet looks like Van Gogh’s Starry Night, except the medium was clearly not oil on canvas. The rungs were coated as well, his security blankie “MooCow” lay half in/half out of the crib. It looked like it was trying to escape- but never quite made it. I sympathized. I was pondering my own escape.

But The Boy is there, looking up at me, smiling with all of his three teeth, arms up in the air. He wanted up- but I wanted to run and hide. Damn where is a level four containment suit when you need it?

I picked him up, holding him at arms length, and carried him to the bath. I turned on the water and just let it run while I wiped, and cleaned, and wiped and cleaned, all the while muttering soft though not quite religious prayers. I did it over and over again until the water ran clear. But oh, oh I still had the rest of the mess to deal with. It was waiting for me. Waiting there in the bedroom, in the cruel, cruel heat of the summer.

There is a lesson here folks: They may be warm, and they may like to run free with just a diaper on, but I don’t recommend it. No, I don’t recommend it at all.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Old Ways

Recently I blogged about the state of our current health care system, and the very next post pointed readers towards a cooking blog slathered in butter. If this is not clear evidence that I am an emotional eater, I am not sure what is. Anyhow, I found myself going through old cookbooks- trying to find something low fat, and somehow still tasty. I came up with nothing. Na da. Zip. Ziltch.

One of the books I often turn to for recipes is one that the Downhomer put out a few years ago. It is not your average cook book, nor is it one I recommend for beginner cooks. There are lots of recipes that are simply a listing of ingredients and one or two measly lines of directions. I guess you could just wing it if ya had to. In spite of that, the Downhomer cookbook is one of my favourites- not only does it have a lot of recipes from home, it has a bunch of Newfoundland Folklore tucked in between the recipe for Fisherman’s Brewis, and Toutons. There are poems and stories, jokes, silly illustrations, even a section on how to tie knots, and of course, old Folk Medicines. Some of them made me laugh, and some of them took me back in time…not literally geesh.

I remember as a kid in high school, I had an infected hangnail- don’t laugh, this really hurt. The tip of my writing finger was three times its normal size and glowed a bright, bright red: picture ET’s finger. This set me in a bit of a panic because Public Exams were days away, and the infected finger was on my writing hand. Schools these days would have let me off, or some one would have scribed the exam for me, however back then, it was tough noogies. I would be writing the exam unless my hand fell off. Never fear though, I had Grandma! She told me how to make a bread poultice and after 24 rather gross hours later the swelling had eased and white puss spewed forth. It still hurt to write, but I could deal with it.

Sometime the old ways are the better way to go. I took care of my infected finger without a trip to the Doctors office, without antibiotics, without pain medication. There was no harm done to the environment. It was simple. It worked. We need to start looking to a lot of what our ancestors did to survive and learn from them again.

I am not saying that you eschew the hernia operation and instead split a green witch hazel tree and pass through it. Or that you should forgo the tourniquet in favour of stuffing the wound with an application of cobwebs and turpentine of fir. Modern science has saved many lives, and improved the quality of life for many more. However, it seems to me that the price paid for the progress the modern world offers is our sense of balance. And I am not sure how to get it back.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

So you say you can't cook?

Well now folks, (let's face it people, we are mainly addressing the males of the species) here is a blog for you: Pioneer Woman Cooks

This woman has a variety of meals as long as you want great flavour and nothing remotely close to low fat. I mean, there is probably three recipes on there that don't require butter. She has great wit too, you can't help but smile as you read her blog. Essentially she goes through each recipe, step by step, with photos of each part of the recipe, and tips on how to make it turn out just right. From the assembled ingredients, to the finished product, it is all laid out clearly for you. The instructions and visual aids are so clear that you would have to be either allergic to kitchen utensils, or have attained my husband's level of culinary ineptitude to screw it up.

So next time you have that hot date, or maybe the in-laws are coming over and you want to impress, check out her website. She will get you through it....a few pounds heavier then you were when you started, but hey, nothing is perfect.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Healthcare: How much care is there?

I had some tests done recently, blood work and such; when the results came back I was told I needed to see a specialist. I was sent on my way, with a promise that my doctor’s office would call me with an appointment time. Which they did yesterday and the conversation went something like this:

“Ms. Browne we have an appointment for you, have you got a pen?”
“Yes, shoot.”
"You See Dr. LongnameIcan’tpronounce on March 9th, at 2:15”
‘I’m sorry did you say March 9th?”
I asked a little shrilly.
“Opps, sorry, it is March 13th”

I almost asked her: "Of what year?", but I held my tongue. When I hung up the phone my emotions were swinging from total shock to a festering anger- with a little fear in the mix just to make it more interesting. Whatever is wrong with you, I told myself in calming tones, it can’t be serious- you would be in before next year if it were serious. Right?

All the emotions and worry I was feeling dialed up several degrees when the phone rang again later that evening. My Aunt C. had a cyst removed a week ago today. It made its presence known rather suddenly, and due to its size it needed to come out quickly and be tested. I was home then at the time, and I visited her in the hospital, she was tired and uncomfortable, but she was hanging in there. When I got back to Ontario I called to see how she was doing, she was still nauseated and really warm, but she felt she was doing better. It turns out she wasn’t.

They “nicked the bowel” when they removed the cyst. She is in hospital now, for more testing and surgery. And I can tell you folks, my anger now is a wild animal gnawing away at my insides.

I understand that Doctors are not gods I understand that they can make mistakes. As much as I want to strangle her doctor with his own stethoscope I know human error is rarely the whole story. This is endemic of a long chain of system failures. I can blame the doctor all I want but that won’t help my Aunt, nor will it prevent others form suffering the same way. I know that many doctors in Canada, especially rural Canada, are overworked. They are tired and that makes them prone to making more mistakes. But while I can see how mistakes can happen, it does not excuse it. We need to take a serious look at health care: the whole of it.

I don’t want to see us go the way of the US, with HMOs running the show. Their system only works for those who can afford it. However, what we have here isn’t working well either. This is not a problem that will be solved by throwing more money at it; this is something that can’t be fixed just with cash.

Why are we allowing so many Doctors to graduate and head south? Is there really nothing we can come up with to entice them to stay? Why are we using marks the main prerequisite for getting into medical school? Don’t we know that there is more to taking care of someone than just memorizing symptoms? What happened to quality control within a hospital? How do you open someone up and remove the ovary instead of the cyst? How do you sew someone up without checking for things like a nicked bowel, or sponges left in the abdomen?

I don’t have the answers, I just have a lot of questions. And a million worries.