Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Which I Rant About The Canadian Health Care System

Yes, I do realize that H1N1 is a current priority in our hospitals.

Yes, I do realize that our user costs are unusually low compared to other countries.

And yes, I do realize that we are fortunate to have a universal health care system.

Nevertheless, I curse the stagnant state of affairs in the province that I live in. We moved to this city 2.5 years ago and have yet to find a family doctor taking new patients. So now we confine our medical experiences to public clinics, which are fine in themselves but don't take the place of a doctor who knows me or my kids, or who takes a genuine interest in us beyond the problem that brought us to the clinic in the first place. Plus, they prefer to address acute issues, not the day to day grind of checkups and things like that. And now, at a time when one of us actually needs a doctor, we've been referred to someone who might not have an appointment for 8 weeks. Eight weeks! I've lost my sense of humour about this. What the heck is the good of a health care system when we don't get access TO the bloody care we need in the first place?

If I were a vindictive person I'd curse our current Minister of Health, his political cronies (none of whom likely have to face waiting lists when they get ill, I'm sure), the Ministers who went before him (and contributed to the budget cuts that reduced our system to the shambles it is), and everyone else who's made this system the interminable waiting hell it is. Shame on you all.

I'd welcome the chance to pay more if it meant getting care that happened in the same calendar year as the injury, I really would. And I bet most Canadians who have had to face serious medical issues (and have been confronted with these shocking wait lists) would agree with me. So what if our health care system is the envy of the world - from where I stand today, watching one of my kids having to wait - I don't see anything enviable about it.

Nothing at all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Which I Almost Burn Down The House

I almost called this "In Which I Reveal My Inherent Idiocy" but then I remembered that I've already got a post with that title...

It was the Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend; wherein we celebrate, much as Americans do (but we do it earlier), with family and friends and many of us roast Very Large Items like turkeys or geese, and create many a side dish of potatoes or yams (no marshmallows please, I don't care what Nigella says about this) and other roastable products (maple-roasted parsnips anyone?).

So, this being our first house and all, we're having fun creating our own family traditions around all the holidays. This Thanksgiving the kids covered the front steps with mini gourds, white pumpkins, and giant Cinderella pumpkins, grown in the garden; they dipped leaves in beeswax, fragrant additions to the Seasonal Table; they made candle holders with colourful writhing dragons on them, surrounded with black paper, to remind us all of Michaelmas (which is often re-represented by St George fighting the dragon); and finally they brought in armloads of Michaelmas daisies and all the leftover flowers we have in the garden to float in bowls of coloured water with lighted candles. It was all very beautiful. Ethereal. Glowing. Warm. We invited some friends over, we set a turkey in the oven, I made bread and dug up potatoes and peeled many a parsnip.

It was the Yorkshire puddings that foxed me. If only I had put a cookie sheet under the muffin tins I would have been okay. The fire alarm wouldn't have gone off if I'd done that.

But I didn't.

Oh no.

I had to go and douse the muffin tins with generous amounts of oil, then set them in an already (sheila coughs self-consciously) oily oven and no it WASN'T filthy contrary to what Richard the Clean says, without anything underneath them to catch all the dripping oil. And let's face it, I was feeling pretty generous by this juncture of the day, filled with much bonhomie towards my friends and neighbours (and no, I was not drinking - not then at any rate) and it might have been about then that I thought "A giant Yorkshire pudding is much much better than a teeny tiny one, isn't it! I will FILL those muffin cups with batter! They will be giant puddingy puffs!" Sounded reasonable at the time...

So I used what one might call a glad hand with the filling of the muffin cups. All two and a half dozen of them.

Sadly, the oil oozed out all over the floor of the oven after I'd filled them with the pudding batter and slid them in the oven to bake. Not that I noticed, because at that point that I was standing outside on the deck, thinking "Gosh it's hot in that pokey little kitchen, think I'll just have a glass of wine out here in the nice cold air."

It was when I peeked in the window that I noticed the flames.

I dashed in, followed closely by Max (when Large Items are roasted he follows me very closely, because he likes Large Roasted Items and frequently accuses me of trying to starve him by not roasting them often enough for his liking). I gaped. I tried to quell the rising panic in my stomach. I opened the oven for a peek, then shut it. It was filled with flames. Really filled. I don't think I'd ever seen it like that. And it might have been then that I thought "OMG this is a PROPANE OVEN - we're all going to blow up!" (yes, I'm afraid I do tend to the histrionic). But, being the stalwart Jane Austen heroine that I am, I did not shriek out loud, I'll have you know. I did not even panic. And I did not faint into a heap on the floor. Nope, instead, I calmly turned off the oven, and shrieked "RICHARD..!"

Now, accounts vary as to what I said after that. I thought I said "Richard the oven is on fire and we are all about to die come and do something before that happens" Richard thought I said "I've put the fire out but it's still on fire!" And, since he didn't do anything right away, we both think I then said "RICHARD GET IN HERE RIGHT THIS SECOND THE KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!"

And we might be right. I think I did say that.

Fortunately that got him into the kitchen pretty quick. In fact, it got everyone into the kitchen. I remember wondering why everyone would come into a place that was about to blow up at any moment. And realizing that I couldn't very well cut and run with all them standing there, about to blow up with MY stove. And fortunately Richard took matters in hand and started doing something: "Get the Yorkshire puddings out of the oven! Shut the oven door! Quick!"

So we did.

And the fire went out.

And Richard said "Why don't you ever clean that stupid oven? Look at all that oil!"

And our dinner guests said "Wow, it's exciting over here."

And I said "I need a drink. Stop talking about cleaning the bloody oven, Richard, and get me a drink."

And Max said "Will the Yorkshire puddings be alright? Will we still be able to eat them?"

And you know, they were. And we did.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Stop Go Animation Boys

Oh those wacky stormtroopers: they get up to the craziest stunts.

(I hope you can hear the deep deep irony in my voice as I am forced to endure more than one lecture on the difference between storm troopers and clones and sith lords and jedi guys and the fact that it's KWAI Gon Jin and not QUEUE Gon Jin...)

Ahem. (Sheila clears her throat)

I am using this blog as a platform for the advertising purposes of my male children, who have changed their names to stormavenger12 and 99skyguy and are now living on the planet of YouTube, making stop-go Star Wars Lego videos, not to mention requesting that I post every single one for them (except for two that stormavenger12 is desperate to upload but my really nice but slightly slow "stupid slow and REALLY ancient computer" can't read the disk from the fancy pants new computer that Richard has so they remain suspended in hyperdrive). And you too can see every single of the current videos if you go to YouTube. Or just click on the links. T

Told you I'm using this blog for the purposes of advertising. But I don't get any revenue from this, sadly. Maybe a few dishwashing sessions, or the odd sweep-the-stairs extravaganza...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Last of the Really Great Sun Days

At least, I'm thinking these will be the last of the really flukey hot days. It's been gorgeous all week, thankfully, because none of of us are really ready for Serious Fall Weather. I'm still clinging grimly to my sockless wardrobe attire. Today we wore sleeveless clothing, worked a bit in the garden ("In Which Sheila Transplants A Japanese Maple When She Really Shouldn't and Discovers That She Really and Truly Hates Bishop's Weed"), hung the laundry outside to dry in the morning sun (it dried in an hour!), and then, because we were all at rather desultory loose ends, went for a walk.

We live near a secluded nature sanctuary, so we went there to do the loop around the lake. And no, don't listen to people who tell you that it's a swamp. It is a lake. A small bird-bug-amphibian-filled lake.


The first thing we noticed were the grasshoppers. They do this every year at this time, and today I was glad to have the camera handy. Can you see what this one-legged wonder is doing?
Hint: I'm humming The Circle Of Life from The Lion King in your ear right now...
No wonder it's one-legged: there are many brisk walkers traversing these paths and I don't see many of them leaping and shrieking and gasping "Watch out for that grasshopper!" the way that FDPG and Dominic do.

It was sublimely peaceful to walk across the bridge, even if the silence was continually punctuated by Max and Dominic experimenting with reasons for why jogging was not allowed on the floating boardwalk...




The other thing we noticed was all the algae on the lake. There was more than we've ever seen before. It was odd. So odd that a biologist and her assistant were gathering samples to take back to their lab to see if they could find a reason why the algae was so, err, vibrant this time of year. She joked to the twins that they had a café at work and she would sell Algae Soup after they'd run their tests. FDPG was deeply suspicious that they might actually try such a thing, even after the biologist reassured her (more than once) that she was just joking. A very literal girl, is our FDPG.

Look! Crop circles! (at least, that's what FDPG said they were)

I'm thinking they're pretty sloppy aliens, with crop circles that irregular.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Max Makes More Movies

(there, no one can accuse me of not liking alliteration)

We finally loaded Max's Star Wars stop-go animation movies onto YouTube. They mostly involve clone troopers doing very silly things that cause great hilarity amongst the younger set in this house. I think this is the first three he made (I think he made these in late spring). I was deeply amused to discover that there are a lot of people out there who like to call themselves Stormavenger. Ahem.

Warning: a shark may or may not have been injured in the making of one of these movies
. It's hard to tell.

Here's the first one. Here's another one. And here's yet another one, in which coffee seems to feature prominently (sort of like how it does in our house).

Oy, have you ever tried to load something onto YouTube? I guess I have more of the Instant Gratification Princess in me than I thought, because it sure seemed to take a long time. He wants me to load several other movies onto YouTube today. Soon I'll be saying "But wait! There's more!" Because there are more. (gosh the fun never ends around here)