Pizza and chipmunks. And Florida

pizza bite

I get up before everyone else, and I plunked on the kettle and pulled some leftovers out of the fridge. Both boys had been out late, which meant leftovers would actually be a thing. If they’re home, no way. Especially pizza. That’s what I found. Nice.

Pip is still besotted with the chipmunk under the step. She sits in the front door for hours, posed just like this, one paw up, waiting. Yes, that’s a wooden spoon propping open the window. It’s like Iron Chef meets MaGyver around here. She is adorable, and sometimes JoJo comes up and pushes her aside so she can have a turn. I call it Waiting for Chipmunk. Like Godot, but with a chipmunk.

pipster 3I snagged a bunch of library books to take to the cottage, and I’ve been plowing through them. I still prefer books. I read everything else, it seems, on line, and I haven’t got a daily paper since I stopped writing for the Star years ago. I do know what I miss, however: bus plunge stories. I’ve mentioned them before. When you’re laying out a paper, you have these little 2 inch gaps sometimes, and you hunt around for short pieces. A bus plunging off a cliff in some country nobody has ever heard of fits these spaces nicely. You will get a country, a bus, and side of a mountain. It’s like nobody needs any more info, maybe a body count, but that is all. The thing is, if you’re not reading a hard copy of a paper you miss all the little stuff.

Everywhere else, including the ‘serious’ papers are grabbing sensationalism and skirting real news all too often. In the old days, the phrase was, “if it bleeds it leads” which was kinda crass and cruel. Nowadays, it’s “if it’s Kardashian, it leads” which is even more crass and certainly reducing the collective IQ rather than adding to it. There are entire sites devoted to the things that happen in Florida. Florida itself is a punchline. I’m not sure if it’s a chicken-and-an-egg thing, or a self-fulfilling prophecy, but Florida produces some strange things. Don’t believe me? Check out this name. Told ya.

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O Brother, where art thou?

This Motherlode is from nearly 3 years ago, but we were talking about it yesterday and it made me nostalgic. So, rerun.

“We really need to eat at the table more often,” I told the boys as we sat down on Sunday evening, together, finally.
“You made us do that every night when we were little,” replied Ari, 17, as if I’d been meting out punishment.
“Yeah, but back then, it was so rushed and crazy. Remember we’d get in at 6, and start running around?”
“Hey, Ari, remember First Base?” asked Christopher, 20.
When Ari was in grade one and Christopher was in grade four, they’d started going to the afterschool program because I was working later. Thousands of working parents do it every day, but the momguilt (yes, that’s one word; I’d trademark it if I could) was overwhelming for me. As a child, I’d walked home from the very same school to the very same house every day. I’d always worked, but the divorce meant a different, less flexible job, and I was now working outside of the house. The kids bore the brunt of the change, as kids always do.
Though day to day the boys were locked in eternal combat with each other, when I wasn’t there Christopher was an excellent big brother. Ari hated being bossed around, but when trouble hit (usually trouble Ari instigated) he had no qualms about letting his brother step in to save him. I’m sure there were more than a few kids waiting for Ari’s big – and bigger – brother to graduate from whatever school they shared so some scores could be settled.
Sitting down to dinner – such as it was – was a chance to regroup each night and dissect the day. We’d stumble into the front hall, a jumble of backpacks and boots and art projects, and I’d stare at the kitchen and wonder what would take half an hour to make. They were typical kids: one would eat cooked veggies; one would eat raw; one would eat fruit; one would eat salad. If I changed things up and served fish or pork, they’d ask why the chicken tasted funny.
Now it’s their work schedules that make us compete for table time. They’ll eat almost anything, they still laugh until milk comes out their noses, and as I found out on Sunday, they’ll finally tell me stories long held back.
“Of course he remembers First Base,” I told Christopher. “You both made me feel I was made of evil for making you go.”
“No, you don’t know what really happened,” he said. I looked at Ari, who grinned.
“The first day we were supposed to go to First Base, Christer told me in the hall not to forget,” started Ari. “He said ‘remember to go to First Base’.”
“Well, that was good of him,” I replied. Christopher is not my remembering kid. Ari is. This was a mild surprise.
“No, Mom, listen,” continued Christopher. “I got to First Base, and he wasn’t there. They were doing attendance, and they asked where he was. I said I didn’t know, and then all of a sudden I did. I went out into the school yard, and there he was.”
“So, he went out like the year before, waiting for me to meet him,” I concluded.
“No. He was sitting on first base. On the baseball diamond.”
My baby waited 20 minutes until his big brother came to get him. They’ve both remembered this for 11 years, and I heard it for the first time 11 years later. And all this time I thought I’d been protecting them.

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What I’m Really Thinking

No, not me. It’s the title of a series that runs in The Guardian. It’s gossipy and judgey and occasionally mean, so it works on a grey day like this. People submit short, anonymous essays on what their job or situation is, and tell you what they’re really, well, thinking.

Today’s is from a guy who knocked up the woman he was dating, and is now stuck with her and a kid that he doesn’t want. The headline says ‘reluctant’ dad, but that’s being downright cheerful as well as misleading. Dude is miserable, and has a bag packed by the door – mark my words. No matter; it’s that poor kid who will bear the brunt of these two idiots.

But I shouldn’t say that, I suppose. At least he’s being honest. Nobody says much that’s too honest anymore – too much risk of insulting somebody, somewhere. Every time I hit ‘publish’ or file a column, I’ve read it 6 ways to see who I’ll enrage. A few years back, I was writing dialogue – directly out of the mouths of babes, of course. One of the kids said something was lame. A reader sent me a diatribe (seriously; I bet it was a 2000 worder) demanding that I apologize. Because her son had been in a wheelchair, and was lame, and he’d died, and I now owed her a published column explaining why I would never again use the word lame. I got right on that.

I try to be conscious of situations somebody might be in, then I realize that I don’t get the least offended when someone tosses off crazy jokes, or boob jokes, or anything else. If there is no intention to wound, what’s the point? I find there are two scenarios: somebody can say “Oh man, she was acting crazy, I didn’t know what she was going to do next” and I’m going to shrug. Colloquial usage. Then there is “people need to not hire crazy people because they will come into work and kill everyone.” This is the one I speak up about, because this is the one that could damage. I pick my battles, or else I’d do nothing but battle, all damned day.

And you all know us crazy people need our rest.

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Outa here

Cottage bound. Various configurations of 7 kids (at last count) will be joining/arriving/departing and plunging the next 6 days into some manner of chaos, I’m guessing. But as Mama Anchor Pin, I”m going now. Pray for my sanity. Pray for my sobriety. Pray for my dock. Pray for Maggie, who is deeply opposed to change.

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When they give you a car, you drive it

I’m running ragged trying to get everything lined up to take the kids to the cottage on Wednesday. We are apparently at 7; I have no idea where they’re all gonna sleep, but they’ve assured me they don’t care and it will all be fine. This will be interesting; we have a 3 bedroom cottage, but one room is called The Coffin, and with good reason. It holds a set of bunks – barely – that we had to cut to make fit. You should see the look that comes over a newbie’s face when someone says “you get the coffin!”.

The blue room (we call it that because it has blue blinds) has a double/single bunk, with a double mattress that pulls out. It takes up the entire room. The red room (you guessed it: red blinds) has a lovely queen sized bed. And that is it. It is the largest room. Guess which room is Mama Lorraine’s? Ha. Yes. I have a little TV with a built in VCR, and we have a stock of over 100 movies that date back 20 years. I ditch the brats and go to the red room at 8, and watch Mel Gibson when Mel Gibson was still Mel Gibson. Hello, The Bounty…

That leaves the kids sorting out the living room (couch and love seat and open floor) and the other rooms. I don’t care where they sleep. I just dropped 300 bucks on the pre-shopping; I’ll get up there and go to town and drop another 200. Let the games begin. Thank you to LandRover for the LR4 in the driveway that will get us there safely and in extreme comfort.

I spent yesterday tooling around the cottage neighbourhood, doing a cursory check of things before we got in later this week. I had two goals: see the cottage, and make excellent use of the gorgeous 2014 911 Targa S that got delivered on Friday.
targa wonderland 2
Pretty, huh?

Sniffing out a column idea, I went on Twitter, where I have nearly 2000 followers (nearly; hear that? Go on Twitter and follow me. I’m at Tweeetlorraine; I’m funny) and asked who wanted to come with me. A woman in Hamilton was first through the gate, but Saturday didn’t work for her. Next up was Jay Kana, who writes car stuff for Mississauga Life. Off we went, 9am from Mississauga. Stopped in to meet another Twitter friend, Patti, in Bala, and then popped up in Pat’s driveway (from these boards) north of Parry Sound. It was a fun day. Jay was a good sport – you all know how mercurial I can be. How I love that word. For anyone raising an eyebrow, Jay was smart enough to haul in another friend who knows both of us to vouch for him. Smart guy.
targa bala
Oh, and did I mention that our dock is gone?

Sigh. All the way home, all Jay heard was “my dock is gone…” I’m not sure there is an answer for that. Except now I have to make 7 able bodied beer- soaked youth troll the lake in two canoes looking for a wayward dock, and haul it home. I don’t think it is even good enough to burn. After last year, it had only been held in place with a rope. As Roz said when told it was missing, “I’m sure somebody wanted the rope”.

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I have been a bad blogger

Oh well.

I apparently am better on Twitter. I got this week’s stats in, and waaaay more people read my stuff on Twitter – thousands and thousands more. Because you get held to 140 characters, I’m guessing, so I can’t go on and on and on…that, and I am both pithy and pissy, interchangeably. I moved around from those stupid world cup flags on cars to Toronto’s mayoral campaign to Peter Dinklage posing with Grumpy Cat to pondering why JoJo was eating an oatmeal cookie last night to “”I’m drinking red wine because I’m eating gingerbread men. It’s obvious.” Kids ask such stupid questions, sometimes.” I admit it; I find Twitter useful. I’m at Tweeetlorraine. That’s three ‘e’s.

I don’t care too much about the NBA and NHL draft – sporty things are a few rungs down my ladder. Then I saw a name I recognized – Nylander – a Swede who played in the NHL. His kid got drafted: tell me this isn’t a ridiculously good looking kid. I’ve heard he’s a brat. Of course he is. And coming to a Leaf uniform near you.

I have wee tomatoes and peppers on my plants.

I watched a draining, slappy back-and-forth between McLaren at the Globe and Peter McKay’s wife on the fact he’s a dolt who openly describes women as diaper-changers and men as world-changers. You can go find it; the open letter format, which I’m sure I’ve done at some point, is lazy. To target not the target but his wife is worse. I’ll give the final point to McLaren, though, because of Mrs. McKay’s insistence that the left-wing media hates them. Uhm, only the Toronto Star doesn’t consistently endorse Harper. Everybody plays for your hubby’s team. Left-wing media, my arse.

To read the last word on McKay? Go to Tabitha Southey . Now, she gets it smack-on.

I better go weed.

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School’s out

I’m sitting here wondering why it feels so much like Friday to me. I’m not a weekend hound, really, because I work most days and they all kind of run together. But today is supposed to taste like Wednesday and instead is giving me only a Friday vibe.

Wrapped up Season Two of Lemon Aid last night. Apart from my producer and tech director, I work with a crew of kids (mostly late teens, early 20s) who are in media/broadcasting programs or who want to be. They’ve volunteers with Rogers, and the gig is a coveted one. They work them hard, they learn a lot, and it’s a great place to start out. I love my crew. Each season, I’ll see about half familiar faces as some remain, some move on, and others take their place. They’re smart and they’re sweet, and I treat them as my own kids. That means they see all the mistakes, hear all the bad words, and back me up no matter what. In return, I bring them doughnuts each week. It’s not a fair trade, but by 8 o’clock on a Tuesday night, sugar is king.

I had a photographer along last night; when I get some pics, I’ll put them up. Everybody was a little chippy and hyper, like the night before Christmas, or more likely, the end of exams and the start of the summer. I thanked them a dozen times for all their help this season – so much can (and does, occasionally) go wrong, I”m lucky to have them on my side. Sometimes the prompter would slip, sending my careful words flying off the screen. I’d start laughing, because this is live TV, and I just proved it was live. Most of the show is unscripted, but the careful bits – openings, closings, counts to breaks – are scripted to tie it together. When I lose those, I have to wing it, with varying degrees of success.

We’ve had battery packs die. Try to keep a straight face while a tech is slithering – literally – on the floor out of camera range to change the pack. We’ve had cell phones go off; we had a guy snore off camera sitting in the dark a couch on a nearby set. I still tease him, because we all started laughing. How can you not? I have had my mind go completely blank as I lost a train of thought. Skidded to a halt, stared blankly at my guest and said, “man, I had no idea what I was about to say.” And then I start laughing. See a pattern here? We have great callers. Some ramble a little, some leave their TVs on in the background so there’s a bad echo and they’re watching me listening to them and they get messed up. We get it sorted.

People have asked a huge cross section of questions this season. We’ve told people to flat out not buy a particular used car they’ve been offered; we’ve had people ask for that advice and not be happy when they get it. I’ve had mechanics have to tell people it’s time to leave a car behind they don’t want to, but often the suggestions have been encouraging. There are great mechanics around, and I have some of the best on my show. The APA website recommends mechanics all over. If you have one you love, nominate them.

We had a few nights of frat boy phone calls, rude and live on air, which stresses me for the viewers above all. We got it shut down, and the call screeners – some of those kids on the crew – are now excellent at guarding the fort. If you know me, you know I do not have a poker face, so I’m sure the dirtybirds (points if you remember Stephen King’s Misery!) got a kick out of my wide-eyed gobsmacked face. I really need to be cooler.

Guests are generous in giving their time. In all weather, coming out at night after working all day, and helping us deliver what I hope is an informative, fun show. It’s cable, it’s local and we try to do shows that matter to the viewers. The fact I have so much fun with it is a great bonus.

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You say tomato, part II

So I went and bought some stuff. It was all cheap, which was awesome, and kinda big already, which was more awesome.

I bought a bunch of kinds of tomatoes, because there weren’t more than two of any one kind. I bought a bunch of different peppers. Everything looks healthy, except one sad little tomato plant that looks like it has a spinal injury. The thing was, I took the two beside it, and I knew nobody would buy it, so I bought it so it wouldn’t be lonely.

As I was hauling everything out of the car (another hybrid; when am I going to learn I get no trunk with a hyrbrid??), my neighbour ambled over with some stray plants. “I see you’re planting, I have some extras, this is a pepper, here’s a few hot peppers, here’s 2 eggplants, and those are zucchinis”.

I stuck everything in. Then I went to water, and my hoses are all messed up. I got one attached, and I turned it on. Nothing came out the other end. I waited. I untwisted the do-ey uppy part and got sprayed, but at least I knew the water was working. I screwed it back on. Nothing. I imagined a nest of something halfway down the hose thinking they were in a tsunami. I unhooked that one and tried another hose, but it has all those stupid Gardenia attachments that cost a billion dollars and work with nothing but each other. It’s like making me learn to speak Hungarian or something. I can hobble together things with any other kind of attachment or tool (well, I like to believe I can, like Lorraine McGyer) but that Gardenia crap does not play well with others.

I finally had a cut end of a hose, so I just stuck it into the tap. I kind of squooshed it in there, and then I very gently watered my garden. It only popped out once. I’m aware nobody is taking notes hoping to replicate this experiment.

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You say tomato.

Pammy: “I can’t wait until the tomatoes are ready in the garden.”
Me: “Uhm, I never got any put in, honey.”
Pammy: “Whaaaaaaa? Why not?”
Me: “I kinda forgot.”

I will be out shopping for tomato plants today that are hopefully already a foot high. Then planting them in the rain, no doubt, to prove I’ve learned my lesson.

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Happy Father’s Day

lorraine-dad-fathers-day

National Post readers finally get to meet my Dad…love you, Pop. Miss you.

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