What's not to love?

We're in Leamington this week, visiting our family. We arrived here by way of a 30-hour train ride. I'm sure I'll have more to write about that later.

Today, I pushed Jane on the swings at a park near Erin's folk's place. A neighbour of theirs, who happens to be one of my high-school teachers, stopped by for a chat. He left Jane very curious.

Jane: Who that man, Daddy?

Me: That's the man who taught me math in school.

Jane: Where that man going?

I think he's walking home.

Jane: Where that man's house?

Right across the street from Grandma and Grandpa's.


Jane: I love him.

To boldly go

Erin sat at the computer nursing the baby while Joan (our useless cat) and I hunted for a mouse. It had just run from under the couch to the bookshelf in the corner.

Me: I think we've got 'im, Joan.

Joan: (lays down, starts purring)

I flushed the mouse out of the corner. It ran for the first dark space it saw.

Erin: Where is it?

Me: (dancing, kicking) UP MY PANT LEG!

An editing conversation

As I finished writing my last post, I asked Erin a grammar/spelling question.

Me: 'Driveway.' One word or two?

Erin: One. But just say 'dooryard.' You're writing for a mostly Maritime audience.

Yet another item for Henry's Christmas list

Jane loves to play with a small, plastic elephant named 'Hoompra'. She carries him around, hangs him on low-hanging branches by his curly trunk, and, occasionally, takes him for walks. For the latter, she ties a string to his trunk and slowly pulls him along the sidewalk. He has no wheels, so he jiggle/slides in a way that almost makes him look as if he was actually walking.

A few weeks back, Jane towed Hoompra up our driveway, which we share with our next-door neighbours. They walked out of their back door just in time to see Hoompra's string fall off.

At about this time, Henry popped out the front door. He walked to the edge of the porch and looked up the driveway. He saw Roy (our neighbour) re-attach Hoompra's string and give him back to Jane, who proceeded to pull him the rest of the way up the driveway. Henry was aghast.

Henry: What about me?

Erin: What? What do you mean?

Henry: I want one!

Erin: 'Want one' what?

Henry: A pet rat! Roy just gave Jane a pet rat on a leash! Where's mine?

I'm a horrible parent (part two)

The day was winding down, and 4/5ths of our household was upstairs getting ready for bed. Jane, who is developing a bit of a stubborn streak, was downstairs playing. I stood at the top of the stairs trying to coax her up.

Me: Janey, time for PJs.

Jane: (muted because she's on the other side of the house) No.

Me: Come on, Janer. It's PJ time.

Jane: No. Playing.

Me: Play time is over, Sweety. Come on up.

Jane: No want to, Daddy. No like PJs.

(Here's where I briefly divert to remind you of Jane's fear which has recently evolved about ghosts. At least once a day, she runs into the room we're in and yells, "Ghost! Ghost!" )

Me: (sounding frustrated and tired) Jane, I'm not asking you again. Please come upstairs and get your PJs on.

Jane: No, Daddy. No, Daddy! NO, DADDY!

(a brief pause)

Me: Ghost.

(Insert here the pitter-patter sound of terrified feed on hardwood, followed by hugging and reassurance)

I'm a horrible parent (part one)

It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun shone. Erin sat beside me on the front porch, a pot of tea between us. The baby lay blissfully sleeping on Erin's lap. Henry pedaled his bike up and down the sidewalk. And Jane, sweet Jane, ran laps around the peony bushes.

Jane's giggling reached a crescendo as she careened from one of the bushes toward where I sat on the porch. I was so happy in the moment, so joyfully anticipating the hug she would inevitably wrap around my neck. I decided to cheer her on.

Me: Run, Jane! Run!

Those words instantly changed the look on her face from one of pure bliss, to one of pure terror... because, clearly, I had just shouted a warning that someone was chasing her with a gun.

The poor girl tripped over herself to try to climb the stairs to safety. Tripping over her own feet and wild, screaming tears.

(Insert hugging and reassurance here.)

Overheard at the park

We live near a beautiful park which is a favourite spot for wedding photos.  We've seen as many as 4 wedding parties there at one time. 

Here's an exchange we overheard yesterday between a particularly screechy-voiced bride and her mum.

Screechy Bride:

Mum:  (looking around, feeling embarrassed)  Uh, you don't need a cigarette, Dear.

Screechy Bride:

Perfect Grief

One day, when Henry was just under two-years old, someone gave him a yellow balloon. Despite the pains I took to tie it securely to his wrist, the inevitable happened.

I remember it was a perfect day: not a cloud in the sky, and just a tiny puff of wind. We watched the thing fly away for probably 10 minutes. If it hadn't been so sad, it would have been kinda cool to watch.

There it was -- right there -- floating along. No amount of wishing or crying would bring it back. I decided Henry was experiencing Perfect Grief.

Today, we took the kids to a beautiful park on the other side of the river. We hiked, played hide-and-seek, and skipped stones on the beach. It wasn't until we were back in the car that Jane asked where her turtle was.

Me: Uh...

Erin: Um...

Jane: Turtle, please!

Me: Uh...

Erin: Um....

It was just a tiny, plastic turtle someone gave her a few days ago. She normally doesn't attach to toys, but she had just spent the whole day carrying it around.

She cried the whole way home, and then again when we were home. She had many variations of "I left turtle on beach!", each one more heart breaking than the last.

Little does she know, tonight after she goes to sleep, Erin is going to sew her a small, stuffed replacement. I hope when she wakes up to her new friend, she feels a little better.

Alfie: my new barber

We've walked passed a barber shop on our way to and from the library a zillion (literally, a zillion) times. One day, while Erin and the kids picked out books, I decided to pop in for a trim.

A white-haired, friendly-faced man sat alone on the barber chair in the middle of the shop. He had a black cape around his neck, trimmed by a neat little paper collar. He held a mirror in one hand and electric clippers in the other.

Clippers: Zzzt.

Man: Damn.

Clippers: Zzzt.

Man: Damn.

Clippers: Zzt.

Man: Damn. You have any idea how hard it is to cut your own hair?

Me: About that hard?

Man: Yer right. My name's Alphie. I'll be with you in a minute.

After Alfie finished trimming his own hair, he stepped down and offered me the chair. I sat down and took a look around the room.

A red, vinyl-covered day bed sat in the corner. Posters of old ship wrecks and classic cars covered the walls. Then I spotted a photo that had been clipped from the paper several years ago. It was Alphie standing over a man whose face was covered in shaving foam; Alphie frozen in mid-stroke with a straight razor in his hand.

I love a shave. I used to go to an old, stubby-fingered barber in Windsor who shouted in Italian at a fuzzy TV screen while his razor cleaned my face smooth as Alice's bottom.

Me: Do you still do straight razor shaves, Alphie?

Alphie: I wish. It's the one thing I gave up after I had my stroke.

Me: Oh, that's too bad. When was that?

Alphie: Oh, about six months ago.

He then turned to the work at hand: my head.

Clippers: Zzzt

Alphie: Damn.