Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mr. Hoffman and The Fire Dwellers

For I am not Emily Kimberly, the daughter of Dwayne and Alma Kimberly. No, I'm not. [in a deep voice, pulling off the wig] I'm Edward Kimberly, the recluse brother of my sister Anthea. Edward Kimberly, who has finally vindicated his sister's good name. I am Edward Kimberly. Edward Kimberly. And I'm not mentally ill, but proud, and lucky, and strong enough to be the woman that was the best part of my manhood. The best part of myself.

I’m not mentally ill, but proud, and lucky, and strong enough
to be the woman that was the best part of my manhood.
The best part of myself.

As I listened to Mr. Hoffman speak in the video below, I recalled a passage from Margaret Laurence’s “The Fire Dwellers” when Stacy MacAindra (née Cameron), a 40-ish housewife, is riding the bus.  A lovely teen sits down next to her, and Stacy wonders to herself, “What’s she seeing? Housewife, mother of four, this slightly too short and too amply-rumped woman with coat of yesteryear, hemlines all the wrong length….lipstick wrong color, and crowning comic touch, the hat…”   But as only Stacy knows, “under this chapeau lurks…a tigress.”

As does within us all, no matter what the veneer may indicate to the contrary.

If only everyone could have this kind of epiphany.


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Filed under Film, Life In General, The Mama Goddess, Uncategorized

♥ Love Letter To Canada ♥

Happy Canada Day, all!  It’s our nation’s 146th birthday, and my 46th blog post (I’d like to claim I’d planned that).

When I was an elementary school student, one of my favourite assignments was geographic research.  I recall penning (penciling?) compositions on San Salvador, Florida and Rome, however the ones that gently squeezed my little Canuck heart were inevitably about Timmins, British Columbia and Toronto, among others.  I remember happily flipping through encyclopedias in the school library, eager to gaze upon grainy 1970s photographs like this one:


Ontario Place, Toronto

or this…

St. John, New Brunswick

St. John, New Brunswick

or this…

Swartz Bay, Britisih Columbia

Swartz Bay, British Columbia

In the years since, I have travelled to the West Coast numerous times, and have spent time in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  Six out of ten ain’t bad, but I do palpably feel the absence of the midwestern provinces, and what I wouldn’t do to get to Nunavut, NWT and the Yukon.
One day, I whisper to myself, one day.

I have fundamentally Canadian images burned forever into my brain, that give me a little tingle every time they rise, unbidden.   A photograph of a grain elevator in Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.  Nighttime pub crawling in Montreal with my friend Andy.  Sprinting down an eastern provincial park beach, tearing off my clothes (bathing suit conveniently underneath), and jumping into the salty Atlantic for the first time.  Strolling through Stanley Park in Vancouver, on a warm yet soggy March day, almost having the place to myself, and spotting an immature eagle, perched majestically in a tree, watching me.  Just missing my PEI friends as I arrived in Kensington, yet because of that, having the most beautiful night camping by the water.  Listening in awe as my cousin in Moore’s Mills, New Brunswich spoke fluent French and English to her children.  And, of course, years of memories from hometown Ontario, like watching the CN Tower being built (on my first visit I bought a pen, which had a picture of the tower and a little elevator that moved up and down as you tilted it).

Other memories from my Book Of Canadian Recollections include:

  • Getting all excited about traversing the then 5-year-old Confederation Bridge spanning NB and PEI, almost 13 kilometers long (that’s 8 miles for Americans, y’all).  Realizing immediately that they’ve built the barriers so that drivers can’t see over them and get distracted.
    Experience rating: meh.
  • Ordering a ‘Relic’ burger at Molly’s Reach restaurant in Gibson’s, British Columbia.  Bruno Gerussi, FTW.
  • Hearing Stan Rogers for the first time.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Buying a beautiful print of A.Y. Jackson’s Yellowknife, Northwest Territories from a woman who had originally purchased it because it brought to mind her days there as camp cook for a group of geologists. I sat contentedly for the next hour as she regaled me with stories.
  • Heading to the Canadian National Exhibition every year with my father, whose commitment to procuring a Shopsy’s corned beef sandwich each and every visit bordered on the religious.
  • Breaking down en route from Montreal to Lac-des-Seize-Îles in a torrential rainstorm, and proceeding to travel with the French CAA guy and his girlfriend, windows rolled up, them smoking cigarette after cigarette, as we communicated directions in Franglaise.  Good times.
  • Canada Vignettes.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Stepping into the narthex of Notre Dame cathedral in Montreal for the first time.  Words cannot express.
  • Living through ten (count ’em, ten) London, Ontario winters.
    Snow.  Oh God, the snow.
  • Meeting fascinating people:
    Gordie Tapp of Hee Haw fame in the waiting room of my optometrist’s office (circa 1978).
    Bill Lawrence, former host of Tiny Talent Time, who became the perpetually cheery weather guy at CBC.
    Guy Paul Morin (acquitted of murder in 1995), in a CBC elevator, where it took me about 30 seconds to connect the face to the name.  Suddenly overcome with the enormity of what he must have gone through, feeling  I had to say something, I turned and offered a simple ‘Congratulations,’ to which he humbly replied a quiet ‘Thank you.’
    Ken Bell, WWII photographer, at his home in Gibson’s Landing.  What an honour.
    There are more, but I don’t want to make you jealous.
  • Dating a Francophone separatist in the early 90s and realizing in my Ontarioan ignorance that we still have a long way to go in that department.
  • Each and every summer from time immemorial, having at least one opportunity to float on my back in one of our beautiful fresh water lakes, my heart filled to overflowing with gratitude.
  • Richard Condie.  ‘Nuff said.
  • 1992: The Tragically Hip releasing Looking For A Place To Happen, because any band that can somehow fit Jacques Cartier into a  tune is well, the coolest ever.
  • Having it slowly dawn on me that every other white clapboard Catholic church on the East Coast is named St. Peter’s.
  • Standing under two-hundred-foot trees in Capilano, British Columbia, and being reminded of my smallness in the world.

20080706123845_single red maple leaf

The ties I have to this place are not the silken, tenuous kind; no, these are most surely comprised of diamond-encrusted titanium links. And though enormously strong, they are neither awkward nor heavy, and provide a centering and stability I can’t imagine getting from anything (or anywhere) else.

And with that, I will leave you with Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s The Log Driver’s Waltz, 1979, Canada Vignettes.

Happy Birthday, Canada.  I love you.


Filed under Music, Nostalgia, Uncategorized, Wanderings

The Republic Of Erin

New blog, y’all!

Always seeking ways to feed my GIF obsession, I have started a new blog on Tumblr called “The Republic of Erin.”
It’s my life.  In GIFs.

GIFs are the Western world’s shallower version of the Japanese kanji.
One symbol, one image, that expresses SO much.

Please stop by

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.  It’ll be better than Cats.

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The Truth About Cats And Dogs

Dog: I lof you. I lof you so much.
Cat: No.

I am a long-standing dog lover, though from 1987-2007 I had a cat, name of Alex, who was affectionately dubbed “The Little Black Ball of Hate.” Quite apropos.  And her long life, I believe, is a testament to the phrase ‘only the good die young.’

While I am now the caretaker of only kids and canines, I’ve always regarded cats highly, even volatile (see: batshit crazy) pieces of work like Alex.  I recall a greeting card I’d read back in the 90s, which stated on the front: Cats always know how you feel.  Opened the card and it read: They don’t give a shit, but they know.

Yup.  That about sums it up.

With that, let me share with you a highly amusing video entitled Proof That Cats Are Better Than Dogs. Brilliantly done, and remarkably accurate.

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Hey, Jules


It never ceases to amaze me, never fails to continually cement my belief that we are all interconnected.  Happenstance, coincidence, fortune, serendipity; call it what you will, but I call it bunk.  I firmly believe that all of those weird little things that happen to us were always meant to be, and luck ain’t got nuthin’ to do with it.

Last evening, I’d planned to head in to my hometown to see a friend’s band, Ugly Dog.  Unfortunately, I’d had an awful headache since early yesterday morning, and was questioning if a night out – guaranteed to finish late – was a wise move.  However, once Don, lead guitarist for Ugly Dog (and my neighbor and buddy) called to say he’d be over at 8:15 to pick me up, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go.

The headache persisted, but I was seated with a fine group of people, enjoying the conversation.  Started chatting with a guy named Dave, and we discovered we both grew up in Burlington.  I went to Central High School, he went to Nelson.  Casually he mentioned that his sister is a secretary at BCHS.  I wondered aloud if she were working there waaaaay back when I was attending and asked how long she’d been there.  “Oh, a very long time” he responded.  And so I asked for her name.

Now, I’ve only ever known the name of one secretary who’d worked for the school.  She was a lovely individual, always had a sweet smile on her face, and I’d met her back in ’78, when she’d been the Brown Owl of my brownie  pack.  I adored her.

“Lynn Gray,” he said.  And sure enough, that was the name I’d had on the tip of my tongue.  Thus a happy chat ensued about what a small world it was.  Made me forget my aching noggin for a bit.

What I just shared with you, dear readers, was a mere tidbit, a preamble for the big story.  Now, my friends, is where it gets a bit bizarre.  Thinking retrospectively, perhaps my conversation with Dave happened so that what came next didn’t completely short-circuit my brain.

The band was just finishing their first set when a lovely, tall, 20-something blonde approached them to request a song.  The moment I saw her, I was struck with a feeling of familiarity and an emotion so strong that I was momentarily stunned.  I knew I had to find out her name, to confirm what I intuitively knew was true.  As I approached, I heard Tony, lead singer for the band, ask her her name.

“Julia.”  She said.  “Julia Shrive.”

A little while back, as some of you may recall, I posted a birthday message for Scott, a dear friend who had suddenly passed away on February 14th of this year.  I’d known Scott since we were in grade 9, and he’d been one of my best friends, despite a 15-odd year period we were out of touch (brought about by youth, pride and folly).  When I reconnected with him several years ago, we both apologized for past assholishness, and were instantly friends again.  Scott was my go-to guy for irreverent and immediate cheering up, and he never once failed to get me smiling again.  In fact, at one point during his funeral service, the emotion of  the day and of those around me began to wear down the thin veneer of composure I was trying desperately to maintain.  I started to panic, because I had been asked to read a poem, and the last thing I wanted was to lose my cool beforehand and become a weeping, soggy mess at the podium.  So I did what felt natural.  “Scott,” I addressed him in my head, “Say something.  Say anything.  I need to keep it together, if only for today.  Be a pal.  Get me through this.”  Immediately, he responded, “C’mon, you big pussy!  Suck it up!”

It was exactly what I needed, and I proceeded through the reading and the rest of the service with a grin on my face.

Returning to last night.  Julia Shrive is Scott’s eldest daughter (he has two other beautiful children, Elizabeth and Sammy).  While I have always known all about Scott’s kids (because if he wasn’t talking about his awesome wife, Steph, he was bragging about them), she and I had never actually met.

I tapped Julia on the shoulder and she turned, a pleasant and inquisitive look on her face.  I stammered out something about having seen her and thinking I’d recognized her, and then introduced myself.  Her face registered the same stunned shock I’d felt moments earlier.  Without a word, she grabbed my hand and led me through the crowd, searching, presumably, for a spot we could sit.  (I’d like to mention at this point that we must have been quite a sight.  Julia is a good head taller than me, with legs up-to-here.  I was scampering behind her like a wiener dog, just trying to keep up while avoiding falling over my own feet.)

I can’t speak for Julia’s impression of the next forty-five minutes, but for me it was one of the more wondrous moments of my life thus far, looking into Scott’s daughter’s eyes, talking to this articulate young adult about someone we both knew so well, yet in wholly different ways.  It was like finally getting the complete picture of him; me telling stories about he and I as goofy 16-year-olds  (and maturing into goofy 40-somethings), she relating love-infused tales of the man who was her father, his formative and enduring influence on her, his adult roles as soul-mate to Steph, and adored dad of three remarkable young people.

I have many reasons in my life to feel grateful, but every once in a while something unexpected happens that makes you realize what pure gratitude feels like.

Scott, my dear friend…I knew well before yesterday that you were beloved by those around you.  You drew people to you because you’d always had that something, that undefined and yet tangible quality that made you who you were.  I don’t know exactly what forces were in play that put Julia in my path, but that connection has made me that much more certain that you are right here with us, participating in every moment.  I am so much better for having known you as I did, and for being given this most recent gift that allowed me to see a side of you hitherto unknown to me.

With that, I will leave you with The Wailin’ Jennys‘ ‘Away, But Never Gone.’  It encapsulates everything I want to convey at this moment; that despite physical absence, the soul remains ubiquitous and eternal.

Scott and Julia, 2012

Scott and Julia, 2012

The moon’s on its way to its nightly shift
The frogs fill the creek below
The tall grass waves a farewell to the day
The wind moans sweet and low
The heron tucks his head in his wing
The fish in the lake float along
The sun sinks from sight
Away but never gone

The dawn brings the dew like a thousand jewels
A nest rustles high on a bough
A blue egg stays warm in the cool of the morn
Under a red breast of down
The clouds turn and stretch, the moon checks its wrist
gathers itself with a yawn
And winks to the sun
Away but never gone

And all o’er the world as it turns and it turns
the stars twinkle off and on
And we come and go
Away but never gone

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This is one of my two dogs. Her name is Sissy.

Sissy(She came with the name, haters.)

Sissy has one remarkable skill that never fails to amaze.  She can differentiate the tiniest of noises from another room of the house.

For instance, when she’s napping in the living room and I go to the ‘drawer of torture’ to get the doggie nail clippers or teeth scraper (which I do ever-so-quietly, because serious dog trauma), she’s like this:

♪ La da dee dum ♫

And yet when she’s gallivanting outside (chasing bumblebees, peeing on things), and I’m preparing my lunch in the kitchen and (silently) drop a piece of pasta salad on the floor, she’s all like:

Macaroni ninja has been SUMMONED!

I no longer believe that she was in rescue twice before coming to us.
I think she was hanging out with Oscar Goldman.


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Bully For You!

FarkusCry, cry for me crybaby! Cry!

BULLY (n.)
1530s, originally “sweetheart,” applied to either sex, from Dutch ‘boel,’ “lover; brother,” probably a diminutive of Middle Dutch ‘broeder’ meaning “brother.”

We’ve come a long way, baby.  Just not in the right direction.

This weekend, my daughter was the victim of bullying.  I’m not talking about your garden-variety meanness here; the kid in question called her a fucking bitch, fuck face, told her she was a ‘ho,‘ proceeded to hit her with a stick and then pushed her into a tree.  This all happened at the end of my street.

He’s eight years old.  And in her class at school.

I have mixed feelings about the situation.  I have a very headstrong daughter, and when he continued to call her names, she continually went back to tell him to stop, though the older girls she was with asked her repeatedly to just come along with them.  I spoke to my girl about this, and told her that her friends had been correct; they should have either come straight to me at the onset or found another known adult to help them.  As it turns out, another parent who lives closer to the end of the crescent had heard the commotion and went out to investigate.  Witnessing the abuse, she approached the group of boys and berated them for their behaviour.  Emma’s attacker ran off, but the others stayed.  One of the boys, frightened by this unknown adult, called his parents, who arrived within a few minutes.

The three girls ran back to my house to tell me what had happened.  I immediately took them back to the park and had them play on the climber while I went over to find out what I could.  By the time I arrived, however, three parents from my street were standing in the park facing off with the one child’s parents. I approached the group, and after a few minutes of listening to the adults shout at each other, I interrupted and said to the mother, “Hello.  My name is Erin.  I’m the mother of the girl who was bullied here today, and I’m hoping we can talk.” At which point I reached out my hand to shake hers.

I got this:

Not gonna happen.


She was really on a tear, and extraordinarily defensive.  I understand that no parent wants to hear that their child might not be the angel they believe them to be, however even after listening to the adult and several kids who had witnessed it, she steadfastly refused to believe her child had been involved.  I told her, calmly, that I had three girls who backed up each others’ accounts, to which she responded, “So where is the girl?  Where is the girl this happened to?  Is she here?”  I replied that yes, my daughter was present, however there were a few things I wanted to clarify as adults beforehand, and I had instructed her to play on the climber.  I said, “You have to understand that my eight-year-old is distressed right now, and it would upset her if she were to be asked to come and speak to an angry adult she doesn’t know.”  To which she responded, “Why do you make it sound like her age is important?  My son is eight, too, so what? I keep hearing these stories from everyone else.  I want to talk to her, now!”

Ahem.  Let me pause, here.  My policy when in the midst of an emotional power keg is to transform into a Zen Master.  I speak calmly, quietly and unexcitedly.  I smile sincerely.  I employ body language that allows the other person to understand I’m truly listening to them.  However, at this point, when the woman repeatedly referred to my recently-traumatized daughter as ‘she’ and ‘her’ and ‘the girl,’ and for some reason believed I would actually make my kid face off with a raving, batshit-crazy adult, I realized I wasn’t in the least interested in continuing the conversation.  Fortuitously, she was distracted by a baited comment from someone else, and I moved away.


Over the next few minutes I spoke to the remaining kids and got their side of the story.  They admitted there was bad language, though they weren’t in agreement as to whether or not my daughter was hit with a stick.  They asserted my daughter continually went back and engaged the boy, until she was called away by her older playmates.

This morning before school began, I had a meeting with the school principal to apprise him of the situation.  He agreed that he would speak to the teacher, and ensure that at no time of day would my daughter and the boy be left alone without adult supervision.  He will be speaking to one of the girls my daughter was with, who, as a school lunch monitor, has apparently witnessed the boy bullying Em and others in the past.  He will get the names of the other boys who were present.  He will take the boy to a different classroom for lunchtimes (when no teacher is present).  He will be calling the boy’s parents.  All these things I agree with, but I have to say I’m still concerned with potential run-ins on the playground and in our neighborhood.  What to do other than reiterate to my girl that in the event she cannot avoid this boy and he bullies her again, she needs to either a) walk away, b) run away c) run away and get an adult, pronto?

I have this inkling that 30+ years ago, this would have been handled differently.  I’m quite sure the school wouldn’t have become involved, and that I’d be speaking directly to the boy’s parents.  Thing is, in this world of BureaucracySpeak, I find myself out of my element, because my common sense reaction is no longer necessarily the most efficacious route to resolution.

What would YOU do?


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Filed under Health and Wellness, Nostalgia, Rants, The Mama Goddess, Uncategorized