Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beautiful Bathrooms

...or washrooms, depending on your bent.

The NCC has built some seriously beautiful washrooms in Vincent Massey Park. Now, I know, no one usually gets excited by washrooms, especially public ones, but these are gorgeous. Yes. Gorgeous. URBsite has posted on this already -- go there to see details about the pavilions.

 Not only that, they're green, using the newest technology to keep them running with minimal impact on the environment. The cost of these was likely pretty steep, but as I'm always complaining about, Canada needs to take a more European approach to public architecture: if you're going to build a bus stop (or a washroom), why not make it a beautiful one?

The new Skateway chalets are also pretty swell -- and expensive. At 750K a pop, I hope they smell better than the old ones.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Also, not scary.

That would be Stephen King.

For readers of this blog, you might think that I listen to nothing but the ever-distracting and difficult-to-spell Jian Ghomeshi. That's not true. I also listen to the ever-distracting and super-difficult-to-spell George Stroumboulopoulos (I'm memorizing that one for Pub Trivia night).

But yesterday, my friend Jian had Mr. Scary King on Q. To my surprise, King was fun, thoughtful, humble and interesting. The sort of guy I'd probably want to invite over for dinner, or to my Oscar Night Party(c). I suppose he can afford to all those things, because he's richer than God, but I found his words reassuring. Which is not what you usually associate with Stephen King.  

In fact, I listened in the car, sat in the car after I parked it, still listening, ran inside so I didn't miss anything, and then stood by my radio to catch the end of it. And now I'm blogging about it.

Thank you, Mr. King. I read your short stories when I was in grade 11 and working at Fable Cottage in Victoria, where when evening fell and the tourists were all gone, your stories scared the shit out of me. For the first time in 30 years, I might pick up another one of your books.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rethinking Shatner

Bill Shatner was on Q  with Jian Ghomeshi today -- I just looked up that link and I always forget how astonishingly handsome Ghomeshi is, it's very distracting, thank God he's radio otherwise the laundry would never get done, it would be like the Kratt Brothers all over again -- and I gotta confess: Shatner doesn't peak out the scare-o-meter. Nope, not at all. He's loopy, sure, but not as scary as all that. In fact, he says a bunch of smart things, is very charming and...okay. I was maybe just a little smitten.

I may have to modify my blog's tagline, though I'd still keep the Shat there.

I listened to a lot of CBC today; Canada's mothercorp is marking its 75th birthday. I heard a dynamite clip of Barbara Frum taking out an unforgivably sexist Harold Ballard. She was the very definition of class.

The vitriol displayed by Ballard is what is truly scary. This was 1979, not that long ago, an age where women "had come a long way, baby" and we were a generation past the Mad Men-esque office gropers.

Shatner may be a product of his age, and Ballard too, but the former is full of life and inquisitive joy, while the latter is merely bitter and hateful. And dead.

Musically Impaired Thieves

Really? There was something about a 2002 VW Golf that screamed, "Take the parking change! Mebee there's gold in that thar glove compartment!"

While I appreciate you didn't break in (I guess I left it unlocked), and that you didn't take the decrepit Nintendo DS or my "You say tomato, I say fuck you" car freshener, I find it rather unnerving that my car isn't safe parked in my back laneway. And that now I have no parking change.

But you didn't take my CDs. What's wrong with my music? You don't like my music? WTF is wrong with you???

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Scary Thing!

I forgot, in my terrified state, to post my scariest moment of the week: submitting to the Canada Writes Short Story Prize. I mean, it's not scary if I don't think about it, but it's hard to put on the back burner. I've never done anything like this. Ever. I don't buy lottery tickets; I don't enter contests. I don't write short stories. I write big long heaving things that snap wrists and test eyesight.

But let's face it: I'm in a bit of a writing limbo while I wait to see if Sandy can work her literary magic and convince a publisher to air my big scribbles. So I might as well do something constructive in the meantime that doesn't involve rocking back and forth in the corner. I've illustrated the upcoming book, Witches Don't Do Winter, and I've taught BoyChild to take the bus on his own (thank you OC Transpo), so I thought I'd dust off my short fiction files and see if there was anything worthwhile.

Thanks to the drunkhouse down the street, the story fragment that spoke to me most was the one about a dazed kid winding his way home in Halifax after having traded away his expensive bike for a bum's shopping cart. Yeah. It's got "prizewinner" written all over it, eh? But in the writing of it, I bonded with my daughter and paraded ideas past my husband, and generally had a good time. I felt like a writer.

Which means that in the act is the proof. Some days -- not all days, of course -- but some of them...are good days.

Season of the Witch

I scared the bejeezus out of the GirlChild this morning. It went like this*:

RIOPELLE: 'Morning, sweetheart!
GIRLCHILD: Remember, Mum, I'm going to Carine Wilson High School today for the leadership conference!
RIOPELLE (looking down at her costume): Really? So am I! We can hang out!
GIRLCHILD: [crickets]
RIOPELLE: You can introduce me to all your friends!
GIRLCHILD: You're kidding, right?
RIOPELLE: Yeah. I'm going to a different school.
GIRLCHILD (under breath): Bullet. Dodged.

*I was dressed as a witch: green striped stockings, a hella big wig, black bicycling shorts, black top and a colander hat.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nice People Live Here

I know, I know. Not scary and this whole friggin' blog is supposed to be scary and shit and whatnot, but maybe on some level this is actually scary. That Canada is filled to capacity with Nice People.

So my car breaks down while on my way to pick up the BoyChild. I was already running late because I was watching Dr. Phil interview the Milk Box Kid who'd been kidnapped and abused by the head of security at her middle school...for 10 years!!! Okay. So, I break down and am at the side of the Queen Elizabeth Parkway, everything cuts out (Alan Neal yammering away about something I can't remember because I was still wondering how the hell the HEAD OF FRIGGIN' SECURITY at a SCHOOL gets past the personal reference checks -- thanks, Dr. Phil, for erasing the meticulously created Canadian content that took Alan Neal's team hours and hours to put together). Phew. Okay.

So my car breaks down. Right away, within seconds, a nice Haligonian couple stops, lend me their cell phone (because I forgot mine on the coffee table because I was watching...well, you know), and I call CAA. WHO TOOK OVER AN HOUR TO GET TO ME. But more on that later.

During my HOUR LONG WAIT / BATAAN DEATH WATCH, no fewer than 6 cars stopped to ask me if I needed help. And they weren't all from out of town! They seemed to live here! And they weren't perving on me because, hello, I'm old now and don't attract that kind of attention. Just because they're nice.

So, while it was shitty that my car broke down and CAA took over an hour (and two phone calls, one from the nice guy who stopped and called on my behalf and who used to be a CAA guy and gave them polite shit and got the guy there in 30 seconds), people in Canada generally and Ottawa in particular are, indeed, nice.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Squirrels Are Some Scary

Seriously. Squirrels give me the wilies, ever since one of them got stuck in my basement kitchen and couldn't get back out again. It was like those bike races you see when the bikes are going sideways around the track -- it whizzed around the friggin' walls. And it screamed.  Guess what? So did I. I left my back door open (all at the other end of the apartment, the only door out) and left the place for hours. I still came back in with a broom (like that would have protected me because that little mofo was pissed).

So trying to throw out my empty Starbucks cup at the beaches in Toronto became a terrifying experience based on the following video. EEEEEEEK!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

These People Are Running the Show

Now, I like a good parent council meeting as well as the next person. There are types that end up on parent councils, and I guess since I'm usually there, I must be one of them. But I resist being pegged as like them. One of them, but not like them.

I'm not athletic enough to be a soccer mom, nor do I have the correct haircut. Nor do I ever show up at soccer games. My kids play video games and hang out at parks at night. They don't play soccer. I don't have a government job, so I don't weigh in at the meeting with a perky, "I know! Let's make a critical path analysis!"  I don't know anything about numbers, so when someone asks for the 'actuals' vs. the 'projected', well, that's when I start wondering if Pan Am was premiering tonight and whether I can make it home in time.

Tonight, however, was in a league of its own. Anarchy. Side conversations and no agenda and no chair. Teachers looking uncomfortably at each other, wondering how alike the kids are to this bunch of yo-yos. I resisted stepping forward. You know how it is. Dead silence when someone asks who wants to be chair? And I almost always end up saying, "I'll do it!" I didn't. I think I'm getting crotchety in my old age.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ravening Hoards Terrorize Ottawa Home

Newsflash: my family will eat the varnish off the doorknobs. Locusts appear finch-like in comparison. I was left with no recourse.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Frogs -- which food group?

Scary scene of the day: herding quarter-sized frogs into the penned in area for my sister's free-range chickens...and watching them fight to eat them. Ewwwwww.

I took a dozen eggs. mmmmm. Frogs.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hello Students. Welcome to My Bedroom.

I like a party as much as the next person. More, probably. Especially when the piss-up involves young things effervescent with the thrill of freedom and summer still clinging by its toenails to the coming fall.

Hundreds of froshy students, spilling out into the back alleyways and up the (my) street, enjoying the night, enough liquor to block out the imminent pain of failing every single class of first semester. Sounds great/familiar, right? Yeah, I enjoy a good party.

Especially when it's pretty warm and I can open my bedroom window as I'm trying to get to sleep at 2:15 am. At my age, I don't even have to get out of my own bed to enjoy the party. It's here. In my bedroom. The alarming inebriated kid sitting on the curb about 20 feet from me (lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling), talking/begging/pleading on his cell phone, beer sitting beside him might as well have been sitting at the end of my mattress.

I had come in earlier, having taken the dog for its pre-bed stroll, and heard buddypukeshisguts on the phone, reeling on my doorstep. Doggie stuck his wet nose in his ear and he didn't even notice. Yes, that drunk. I woke up this morning and he was gone. His beer bottle was gone. But he'd thoughtfully left me a thoughtful crumpled Kleenex used to thoughtfully wipe his chin after he'd thoughtfully barfed up his (thankfully) negligible dinner.

Hi Old Ottawa South Porch Sale people! Welcome to my house and my puddle of puke!

Now comes the scary part. Last night, the kids weren't playing any music. What kind of party doesn't have music? Just drunk first year college students. Conversing. Can you imagine the quality of those conversations? But no music.

What is with kids today?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Truly Frightening: The Tax Man

I am a very, very good citizen. I do my taxes. Okay, I pay someone to do my taxes. I have a fully-justified fear of numbers, no doubt due to Mr. Foster, my Grade 11 algebra teacher. One time, he took my right shoe in exchange for a text book I'd forgotten. Jerk.

So I didn't appreciate The Man harassing me for my 2009 GST return. I wasn't doing consulting work that year, so I hadn''t collected GST. Or, I thought I hadn't. But trust The Man to hunt me down. And to be a jerk about it. I had an abrupt call with The Man (a.k.a. "Dorinder") yesterday. I was reasonable. I was the voice of reason. But The Man was swinging a big bat and knew it. It's like that customs/border guy that's bored out of his braincase and who decides that he's going to make you run around like a Pekinese on amphetamines.

Scary that these people are The Man. Scarier? Me trying to do the paperwork.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Scary Stuff #1

Want to know what's scary? Entertainment Tonight.

Where else can you feel really, really smug and at the same time experience the jaw-dropping phenomenon known as age dislocation? Yeah, I'm not as batshit crazy as any of those celebudancers (oh, Chaz Bono, you look like you're having fun, but I see the pain behind your chubby wee smile).

However, I sure don't need to see how far Eddie Murphy has fallen in my lifetime. Because that either happened really, really quickly or took a hella long time. The year I graduated high school (like, last week), he was the bestest thing on SNL, and next thing you know, he's a friggin' donkey.