Merry Christmas - 2010

Merry Christmas to all out there on the Wide World Web. I've been on here a long time, my first access was subsidized dial-up via National Capital Freenet. Not sure how long ago that was, but my account is "only" ae237 and was using a DEC Vt-100 terminal and a 300 baud modem. Likely was sometime in the late 90's, I remember was mostly list-servers and forums online, but there was this exciting new thing called Mozilla - a browsing type interface for the internet.  And here we are now with smartphones and Twitter. Oh well, I'll have lots of stories for my grandson about the old days.

Lower pressure Christmas this year, as did the kid things two weeks early, so spreads it out a bit. I dropped in to say hi to my son at his work on Thursday, then went across the street to my local pub. Only a few there, I had a couple of pints of Bud Light and a serving of their excellent fries. April was at the bar - she bought us all a round of shooters. She made them with Butter ripple and Green Sourpuss something plus some other bits and pieces. Was a shooter so not to be sipped anyways - went down fine.

Walked home to relax and read for a while, then off to a party at a friend's condo downtown on Christmas Eve. I brought my tourtiere. Others selections there included pierogies, and a herring salad. Much better tasting than it sounded to me initially, seemed like a potato salad with lots of onion and bits of herring. People also brought some mini-quiches, an apple crumble, and various desserts. Good food, good conversation - thanks Anna.

Edit - just found out that the salad was herring, sliced onion, chopped apple, and sour cream. Recipe to follow. 

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NaNoWriMo, a scattering, jazz, Christmas, and annoyances

Time to take a break and write something. I dropped by my local Bridgehead today and Devon mentioned she hadn't seen me in a while. When I explained that I'd been too busy being retired to sit and relax, they were all pretty amused. But here's what I've been up to:

NaNoWriMo - I "won", as in I reached the limit of 50,000 words in November. That's about 200 pages worth. Actually, was 50,403, but who's counting. Only a final draft though - lots of editing to do before even think of publishing.

A scattering - my mother Marie took ill suddenly, just before her 95th birthday. It was mainly pneumonia, she lasted only another 5 days but luckily it was enough time for us all to be with her and help her along - talking and joking almost right to the end. A long and mostly good life we all thought - ups and downs like all of us, lots of friends lots of places. Some places she lived - Sturgeon Falls, Cheminus, Kirkland Lake, France, North Bay, Toronto, Mexico. We scattered her ashes in the cemetery in an Oak grove. Her maiden name was Beauchesne (beautiful oak), so a nice touch we thought.

Jazz - Our New Horizons band played last night at a fundraiser in Barrhaven, five pieces. Slightly nervous with our first public performance, but went well. We will be playing again Dec 8th at Dominion Chalmers Church.  

Christmas - I'm having the kids over to my new place December 11th, so will need to get going here on decorating and presents. Oh, and finally unpacking everything, as there's not really anyplace to hide all these boxes. I may have to carry more stuff out to the curb, or down the street to the St. Vincent de Paul store.

Annoyances- We finished all our mural projects for the summer, to very positive feedbackl from our customers and communities, we're just wrapping up now. Our "friend" Frank contacted our latest customer, Odawa, in mid November, with the same old same old in his email, even further off the mark this time, it is annoying in a way but does give more opportunities to enlighten all those included on the mailings.  We're hoping to do more projects over the winter, indoors of course, some Art For Action type projects with some schools and youth groups.

More details below on all the above.

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Sparkly things - Parenting - how much is too much?

The following article was written for this month's newsletter for a group I belong to. Basically we are a group of people that are good at solving mathematical and spatial puzzles, and that also share a fascination for sparkly things. We also share a corresponding lack of focus, so are thus unlikely to rule the world/country/city/home. We also have varying degrees of social skills, but we aren't all like Sheldon, many of us are fun to hang out with and have egos that fit quite nicely into our skulls. Some of our members are politicians, some are philosophers, some are cab drivers, some are unemployable. Many are parents too, possibly with some unique problems - hence the article. Note that I pretended to a more extreme stance than my own views, in the hope of encouraging some debate in our group - or here in my blog.

The article ... 

I think that we, as Mensoids, tend to parent too much. Too much time, and too much obsession over details. Not that I blame us, really.

Part of growing is learning, and part of that is taking risks, and part of that is occasionally failing. As young Mensoids we excel with ease in some things, and we learn to like and prefer that success. So we choose to chase after sparkly things, hopping from topic to topic, avoiding risks and the discomfort of failure, encouraged by overprotective parents who believe - rightly so - that we are special in some ways. But just as we excel in some things, we balance it by often under-performing in some others, such as social skills and communication. And occasionally show a lack of patience with others that don't “get” us.

Because of this we often have difficult childhoods - I know I did. I didn't have many friends that were suspended from kindergarten for a week. But more on that later.

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Childproofing for grandkids

When I was a kid, a baby boomer, back in the olden days (yikes), I don't think there wasn't much childproofing done for us. Parents back then didn't have many parenting guides to help or confuse them, just their parents' advice. And of course Doctor Spock.  I seem to remember we had gates at stairways to protect us, or maybe an ironing board across a doorway, but that was about it. Our parents probably did the same for a new baby or a new puppy. The rest of the world was right there for us, with all it's thrills and spills, adventures and hazards. I was free to poke things into electrical outlets, sample the cleaning supplies, or flush things down the toilet - not that I recall doing any of those things. I was also free to open kitchen drawers and doors, and that I did. In fact I used to play under the kitchen sink, that cupboard had some pots and pans in it, and utensils on hooks, and was a great place to pretend and escape reality. I did that often, preferring solitary play to socializing - a trait that would later on get me expelled from kindergarten for a week. But that's another story.

For my own kids we had had more guides and courses to tell us how to be parents, and the stores sold the aforementioned gates, plus covers for doorknobs, latches for kitchen doors, and bumpers for sharp corners. Great presents for baby showers. And it seems to me those all stayed installed until the youngest was maybe 3, an ongoing challenge for parents and visitors, and something for the older kids to eventually figure out. When we finally did get around to removing all those protections It did feel weird the first few day to not have to be flicking hidden latches every time we went to open something.

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