Didja catch the SNL clip of Tina Fey channeling Sarah Palin again? Spek-tacular. But how the hell did they locate another of those sparkle Barbie sweater tops so fast? I mean, I’m sure they will be all the rage at the next Republican family hoe-downs (for the uncurious: Palin’s little twinkle pop top was pretty heinous. It was like shards of glass clinging to a synthetic animal pelt) where they all want to be (or do) Sarah Palin. Watching Trump’s wombat face pucker up as she went on and on and on and on was awesome. He’s so used to the being the one who jumps out of the cake, it must have been hard to let Wolverina have all the screen time. Somewhere John McCain is chuckling like a madman.

I’m sorry Celine Dion lost her husband, but I will never get my head around the fact he met her when she was 12 and patiently waited for her. Ew. Sorry, but ew. It’s not like they met and then didn’t see each other again for 15 years or something. Ew.

A young woman was murdered in a Hamilton hotel a few days ago. She was there with her husband. He went out. She was murdered by a dude who was found hanging from a tree a little later. She was a sex worker. Her husband knew. WTF? Sometimes this world makes me throw up. Oh, and that filthy bastard Graham James, the hockey coach who sexually abused his players, got day parole. Can I get another WTF?

It’s dark outside at just 12:20. Shelby has been digging in the mud out back and can’t understand why I refuse to keep letting her out to continue her dig. She has this one awesome hole she digs like it’s her job. My writing ability is perched on a shelf somewhere, just out of reach. I’m supposed to get blood work done but I keep forgetting to fast. I think my spirit animal is a sloth.

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Lotsa reading….get comfy

Wanna make more sense of the whole oil thing? Read this. I admire when someone can take complicated things and make them clear. I have no use for people who swim around in jargon and congratulate themselves on keeping things beyond the reach of those who aren’t specialists. This article is an excellent example of how to present a lot of facts and concerns in a really clear light. Thank you, Michael Klare.

Since like me you’ve now finished all your chores for the day (hahahahahhaha) read the best magazine pieces published last year. You’ll want to spend some time; I haven’t read them all, but I’ve read a lot and all I can say is, the writing business is stronger than ever.

I have a new producer on my show and she calls me Miss Thang in my earpiece and it cracks me up. Adapting to someone new is always hard, and my last producer and I had an excellent thing going. He handpicked Andrea, and she is awesome. You know when you see them doing a helicopter rescue and a guy is dangling at the end of a long rope and has to pluck someone else to safety? I’m the guy on that rope, and my producer is the person flying the ‘copter and trying to line things up. Of course nobody lives or dies if we eff it up, but that is how it feels. Without the live or die part.

Go read.


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It’s been a year. I miss you, baby. maggie working

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Older, yet no wiser

Webgod Jeff emails me and says, “check your site, that’s your birthday present from me.”

Pammy emails me and says, “I was about to send you the perfect card and then it said I had to pay for it. So instead here is a never before seen pic of Alfie”

Ari wandered into the kitchen and had a fifteen minute conversation before I said, “it’s my birthday” and he said, “oh yeah, I forgot.”

Gilly outed me on FB where I’d hid the setting.

Roz emails me and says, “Happy birthday, you ol’ boot”. This is apparently her new go-to name for me. Awesome.

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The point of rattlesnakes

Great read about rattlesnake hunting. Worth it just for the opening pic, but stay for the read. I can’t even quote all the great lines. There’s too many.
(My title is some southern Ontario humour at work…)

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Happy 2016


Edit: Roz just called and said, “Happy New Year, you ol’ boot”. If asked if you’d like to have a sister, say no. She explained her word choice by informing me yes, they’d been drinking. They started with samosas this morning at breakfast. You know, that famous samosa recipe of orange juice and champagne.

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Alfie, ready for the storm

So. I bought Alfie a coat for Christmas. I know. I can’t believe it. And with the storm, he finally got to model it.



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What I was doing last Christmas Eve

I ran this on Facebook last year. Yeah, I’m cheating with all the reruns, but consider this the Lorraine Version of It’s a Wonderful Life, thought a little less wonderful. I cooked all day long – got 4 lasagnas and 6 Shepherd’s pies in the freezer for Pammy and Christer, because once you move out you need socks and underwear and instadinners.

(December 24, 2014)
So, I’m in charge of the turkey. No problem. I’ve done this a hundred times, though admittedly with a sister lurking at my elbow. But that sister had *just* got her power back, so, I’m cooking the turkey.

I brine. It’s a brilliant goof-proof way to do the turkey. But first, you have to clean the turkey. I just launched it into the sink, where I gave it the once over and declared “now, this is a clean turkey”. In Sommerfeldville, you have to say that. My Dad always did; my sister always does. I’m pretty sure we’ve never seen a dirty turkey, but it seems important to remark on how clean it is. So, check. Then you have to pry it open, because the Turkey People always tuck it all up like a Romanian gymnast. In one end I find the neck, which we call the penis, because, Sommerfeld. In other end is the little bag of goodies that looks so much like a scrotum I wanna barf. Not that there is anything wrong with scrotums, but please, be real, they’re pretty ugly.

Once clean(er), I rub it with salt as if I’m putting sunscreen on my firstborn. Not the second kid; we all know you just fire the second one out the door and yell “don’t eat the really weird bugs” because hell, the first one lived, and parents get tired. I then dump it in the cooler and fill it up with cold water. This takes forever because I gave No Power Sister my big measuring cup because I couldn’t remember what I ever use it for. I just remembered.

Then I have to put this whole mess somewhere cold, and I think the deck is colder than the garage. I don’t want to screw up the only part of Christmas that has been entrusted to me. I plunk it out back, and think, “hey, what if a raccoon rips open the lid?” because that could happen. I look around for a rock. I do not have any rocks. I do, however, have a 24 pack of beer that weighs at least as much as a rock. Right? It occurs to me that a raccoon might be able to lift a 2-4 of beer, but then I think that if its liver lives through all that beer, the salt-soaked turkey will destroy its heart.

I bought a bunch of herbs today. I wasn’t sure what kind, because this detail was always a sister’s job. I know we stuff things up there before we bung it in the oven, so I just bought things that looked like a person on a cooking show might hold them up and say “now add this”. And a lemon. Some of the herbs spilled out on the belt, and my checker wanted me to get other ones, but I told her not to worry, it was only getting crammed up a turkey’s whazoo. Take that, spellcheck. The man behind me in line, buying seasonally appropriate eggnog, kind of looked at me funny. Dude: you’re buying stuff that tastes like snot.

I might write a recipe book.

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A rerun of a rerun, this must be a record

It’s Christmas. I get like this. So sue me.

Searching for what you already have
Posted on December 23, 2012 by Lorraine

I’ve never done this before. I wrote this in 2009, and had an editor make me rewrite it, totally. The finished product that ran back then actually resembled what I’d initially written very little. At the time, I remember being a little bummed, but as is the case for all but the loftiest, you do as you’re told. It’s not that I didn’t like the rewrite. It’s just that it wasn’t what I wanted for this. So, because I can do what I want here, I’m running my original unpublished piece. Even if The Editor was right, this is still what The Writer wanted to say.

(2009) Nearly 11 years ago on a bloodless March afternoon in an airless attorney’s office, the words “the children will alternate Christmas Eve and Christmas day between both parents” seemed an amicable and sane solution at the end of a hopeless marriage and worse divorce negotiations.

I’d bought my parent’s house – my childhood home – and upon doing some renovations, I’d decided that the fireplace in the living room had to go. “Nowhere to put a couch,” I’d reasoned. And two little boys and open flame seemed like an unnecessary combination. For the record, don’t make fireplace decisions in May.

As I removed the mantle, a trove of lost artifacts was revealed. School photos, newspaper clippings, greeting cards – all important enough to display, yet oddly not missed when they disappeared. I shoved the lot into an envelope, deciding to sort them another time.

Fast forward three years, and that “alternating” scenario was real. In the days leading up to my first Christmas Eve without my sons, I came across that envelope, wedged behind dusty decorations. Dumping it out, my eye caught a tiny yellowed clipping I’d never seen. A small notice announcing a Christmas Eve service in a Kitchener Lutheran church.

When my father came east from Saskatchewan, he settled first in Kitchener. This was before he met Mom, before he worked in Hamilton, before he had the twinkle in his eye that would become me. And, of course, my sisters.

As was true for many prairie boys, the church held a special place in my father’s heart. I knew this only because I’d been told; by the time I was small, he had left the church, a divorce I’d come to learn was every bit as horrid as most. Holding this scrap of paper, I realized it was from the early 50s, and predated all of us; I also knew my father, dead three years, was telling me what to do on my dreaded Christmas Eve.

Confiding only in my sisters, I made plans to find the church. Both had offered their homes and company to me; but both would be missing my boys as much as I was, and empty chairs are never more acutely felt than during the holidays. A new journey, especially one that seemed destined, would make this about me and my gone- forever father, instead of my gone- for- a- day boys.

With my sister over my shoulder, we Googled and Mapquested from the brittle clipping. The church was still there; it still celebrated Christmas Eve on the same night. What I didn’t realize was that Gilly was also checking weather reports.
“Rainey, there’s a huge snowstorm coming in tonight,” she said quietly.
“Write this down: take exit….what?”
“Storm. You sure this is a great idea?”
“No big deal. I still have the Laredo,” I told her. The ’96 Grand Laredo would be gone soon too, and I figured a heroic trek in a violent snowstorm was as good a farewell as any.

In a strangely silent house that night, I got ready. Snow was already swirling; I tried to think what I could wear that would be appropriate for a dour German church service as well as flagging down help beside a Laredo stuck up to its door handles in snow. I realized bulky and warm would work in either scenario. Grabbing my map and the clipping, I headed out.

A decade later, I can still see in my mind all the places I should have turned around. Highway 6 north was already blowing slanted sheets of snow from field to field across the four lanes of traffic. As the road narrowed, drivers slowed to a crawl. My hopes that Hwy 401 would be any better were dashed as I crossed the bridge to the ramp: a single lane creeping along, two black stripes the only thing visible where usually thousands of cars thundered pass every minute.

The ramp itself was icy, but I joined the queue, wondering at the pull we all feel to be there, to be here, to be somewhere, on a night like this. Thirty minutes became ninety, and I cried tears of frustration that I was messing up my message. Surely all this was leading me to some new understanding of myself, but I wasn’t finding it on Highway 401 during a blizzard.

The truck was handling fine, as long as I stayed off the brakes. Which was just as well; the damned thing needed brakes every 20,000 kilometres, which totally aggravated me.
“What kind of vehicle needs the brakes replaced every 20K?” I said out loud.
“The kind where you’re too heavy on them, that’s what,” I heard my father’s voice say back.
“That’s crap. I am not hard on brakes, and you know it. This thing’s front end is too heavy,” I told him.
“Well, then it was a stupid purchase. You should have done your homework,” he said back.
“I didn’t purchase it. It’s leased,” I told him. Stupidly. Even in my head, even in an imagined conversation, I knew what was coming.
“Leasing is for idiots. Paying those conmen to borrow their car,” he growled. “Do your homework and buy a goddamned car that’ll last for ten years. That’s how you buy a car,” he finished.

I didn’t bother to ask if he knew I was putting myself in mortal danger just to go visit his goddamned church.

I finally found my exit, and pulled into a city where under a heavy blanket of snow, everything looked the same. I stopped to check my map again, but within minutes was hopelessly lost. As usual. Deciding it couldn’t be hard to find a little church on Christmas Eve, I crept around peering through the windshield.

If the world is ending, go to Kitchener. They have churches everywhere in Kitchener.

I revised my search after another check of the map. My truck had a compass thing in it, but all directions confuse me and I’d never bothered to ask anyone if NE meant you were heading northeast, or coming from it. It wasn’t helping much, and Dad had gone silent. But I figured if I could just find a small, stark church full of frumpy people, I’d have my Lutheran congregation.

I found it. With the parking lot overflowing, I hauled the truck up on a snowbank, and leapt down. I was late, and I could hear the music. Eyeing buried sidewalks, I crept up to a door on the side near the back, and gave it a gentle pull. Locked. Suddenly, it swung open, and a not- frumpy- at- all lady graciously ushered me in.

Sneaking into one of the only empty spots on the end of a pew, I quietly looked around. Beautiful stained glass windows shone just from candlelight, placed at the base of each one. I tugged the Christmas program from the slot in front of me, gazing down the list of hymns and carols, trying to ascertain what I had missed.

Childhood memories flooded back. My father was a lousy singer, but when my oldest, at age 4, had handed everyone lyric sheets one Christmas and announced we were all to sing carols like in his preschool, Dad had croaked along, laughing. And like all good Germans, Silent Night was more than a song to him.

When the choir began this gentle, soaring carol, I knew I was supposed to be here. Every decision I’d made, from a broken family to a broken mantelpiece, had brought me here. As I shook hands and hugged people I’d never see again, I didn’t bother wiping the tears from my cheeks. I figured everyone there had their own reasons for being there, and I may have been alone in their midst, but I wasn’t lonely. I went back out into the night, where the snow had stopped. The trip home was calm.

I’ve lost that clipping. It no doubt swirled off the seat and out in the wind of an open door that night. I looked for it, certain that losing it meant yet another thing I’d messed up. But it didn’t mean that at all. My father had taken me where I needed to be that night, and given me the understanding that missing him didn’t mean he wasn’t there.

That journey started me on a thousand more.

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If this doesn’t make you smile…

…there’s just something wrong with you.

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