Patrick Eating Marbled Rye While Watching TV Last Night

A still life.


PS I'm fine. Things are fine. We're all fine. Well, Edward has pneumonia but thanks to the discovery of antibiotics he, too, is mostly fine. We went to Canada. We went to Canada and stayed for quite a long time; long enough for the Canadians to get sick of us and for me to decide whether I want to go with a southern Ontario accent this winter or something more Island ('See yehz' is my new goodbye.) The entire family says washroom and we immediately apologize when someone bumps into us.

Here's a story for you:

About a week or two into our stay on Prince Edward Island we stopped for gas and I went inside to pay. While I waited I eyed the bags of Anne of Green Gables lobster-flavored potato chips (true. I swear that is true) and suddenly my attention was caught by a bottle of amber colored fluid. I was intrigued. 'Pepsi Gingembre' read the label and I said it aloud, all quebecois, Peepsee Gingembrrrrrrrrrre.

"Gas and this, please," I said thumping down the bottle.

The nice young man looked at the gingerpepsi. He cleared his throat. 

"Have you, uh, had that before?" he asked.

"No," I said, "but I must. Why, is it totally disgusting?"

He cleared his throat again, "Let's just say I've never had a repeat customer."

"Ha!" I said, "You've just had the wrong customers. Ginger! Cola! Together! It's so obvious I'm surprised no one has thought of it before."

"I really don't think you should buy it."

"Nonsense! I'm sure it's delicious." 

"Well, OK," he said, "Good luck. See yehz later."

"See yehz later," I replied. "When I come back to buy more Ginger Pepsi."

The next day I was somewhere trying to buy something when I discovered that I had misplaced my credit card. Hell, I thought, what an incredible nuisance and proceeded to mentally backtrack until I realized that I must have left my card with the gas station cashier when I walked off with the Pepsi.

How. Embarrassing.

I called them and said, I think you might have my credit card? And the person who answered said, blue card, your name is Julia, silver car, came in yesterday? yes, yes we do.

So I drove back to the station and when I walked in I was relieved to see a completely different person behind the counter. There is something shameful about being a doofus and doubly shameful about then having to face a witness to your doofusdom.

When I got up to the front of the line I leaned forward and rather furtively said, you, ah, have a credit card of mine?

The guy grinned.

"Yep! We do." he said. "And how was the Ginger Pepsi?"

I gaped.

"How?" I asked. "What?" I said.

"He's my brother. He told me he tried to talk you out of it and he wasn't surprised you go around leaving your credit card all over the place. You know, because, Ginger Pepsi."


There you go.

I hung my head and for a moment I thought about lying, but one can't really lie in Canada; not with the beneficent presence of Justin Trudeau hovering everywhere like a gentle golden glow.

So I confessed: "The Ginger Pepsi was quite literally the most revolting thing I've ever drunk in my life and I once made myself sick on Southern Comfort. Absolutely foul. The worst thing ever. I was wrong. Utterly wrong. Please tell your brother I should have listened to him and if he ever gives me soft drink advice in the future I promise I will listen to it."

He handed me back my card, "So you're not going to want the cases we set aside for you? Pretty good deal."

"Guk," I said firmly. "See yeh."

"Yeah see yeh," and I could hear him laughing at me and with me all the way back to my car.


Comes With Chips

A couple of weeks ago Caroline rather breathlessly announced that she and her friend K were going to start a band.

"I'm going to be the singer."


"And he's the drummer." (Of course he is. Aren't they always?)

"Great," I said.

After a pause that stretched on while Caroline stood there, blinking at me, I asked, "And?"

"Well the thing is... and you should know, you should know that we're going to do a lot of Scottish songs, so you'll like that... ."


"Well, could you loan me the money so I can buy him a drum set?"

Short answer - no.

Longer answer - from now until the end of days, the answer to the question "Mom, could you loan me money so that I can buy [person] a drum set?" is always going to be no. Always.

Anyway, the boy's birthday party is this weekend and she agreed that a Pokemon gift pack would be an appropriate present without even mentioning bongos, so I suspect that the band might be breaking up. Probably for the best.


Allow me to give you a piece of unsolicited advice. If you ever succumb to your daughter's year-long campaign to get a bird just go ahead and get two. Because you will INEVITABLY wind up with two.



Crivens and his new best friend, Waily. 

Honestly, I couldn't stand it. Caroline would go to school and Crivens would just... sit there. He wouldn't chirp. He wouldn't play. He just stared into space and looked as if he was thinking about the bell jar. It was so depressing. So one day I went to the pet store and got a small quarantine cage and... another bird.


The family processed this addition in their own ways

[Steve -resignation; Caroline - joy; Edward - interest; Patrick - nauseated incredulity

Patrick doesn't care for the parakeets. In fact, when a section of his back reddened during recent allergy testing, Patrick said, "Which one is it? Is it birds? Oh god please say it's birds." It wasn't birds. And it wasn't an actual reaction. Patrick has no allergies. He might have some immune issues but we're still looking into that and, besides, that's another story.]

and now we are a two bird family.

They play. They groom each other. Waily taught Crivens how to use the swing; Crivens taught Waily that I'm not trying to poison them when I feed them lettuce. It's all very jolly and while it is true that they NEVER SHUT UP OH MY GOD THE SCREECHING I think our house is the better for having them.

That said, I still wish she had agreed to a damned guinea pig. I hear guinea pigs are quiet.

Oh! Speaking of which, just this week Caroline came home and told me that her friend Y's guinea pigs died on Monday.

"Oh how sad," I said. Then, "Wait. What? Both of them?"

"Yes," said Caroline as she reached for the black crayon and started a condolence card.

"Both of Y's guinea pigs died yesterday morning? At the same time?"


"Oh," I repeated. "How sad."

Now, I know I've been listening to a lot of Agatha Christie lately, but doesn't it seem highly irregular to you that two guinea pigs dropped dead on the same day? I suspect foul play.


Audiobooks! I knew there was something I have been meaning to talk to you about.

The children and I just finished the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. At least, we finished as many as we could because there is still one unpublished book left. I hate it when I do that. I try to only get series (serieses?) that are completed but this time I failed and it is especially annoying because nothing, ever, gets resolved or answered in the first five books. It became a running joke with us: the book would end and we'd all look at each other and say, "Hold on. It's over? But what about mysteries one through twenty? Who are Penny's parents? Why were the children left in the woods? What's the deal with the room in the attic? How will Bertha the ostrich get back to Africa? SIBERIA?????" And so on.

That said, it is a charming series and wonderfully narrated. I'd recommend for grade school kids, although Patrick and I were able to enjoy it because it is very well-written and witty. Her ability to work with leit motif is unparalleled.

Right now we are about to finish London Eye Mystery, which I picked up as something to tide us over between series. It's... ok. I dislike the narrator and found his attempt to convey Asperger's by being sorta... gummy-mouthed borderline offensive. We have about half an hour left so it's possible it all comes together in a brilliant kaleidoscope of plot, but at this point I'm not holding my breath. There is so much to be resolved and so little time left that Patrick and I are worried that the ending can only be either banal (mystery solved and it's all ok, folks!) or tragic (oh dear, a corpse.) I'll let you know.

I'm trying to decide on our next series and would welcome suggestions. We have another massive road trip coming up (what can I say, I love Canada) and we need something really good. I am contemplating the Lockwood & Co books but would like to know: 1) if the series is finished and 2) if it might be too dark for the twins. Or me. Hunger Games killed me and I wasn't too happy by the end of Bartimaeus either.

What about Eragon? Worth it?

Please advise.

Updated to add: Ohhhhhhh! She DID manage to wrap up the London Eye Mystery after all. I stand corrected.