A Useful Link

It's not a bad idea to go to the CSPC website and sign up for their email notifications of product recalls. Right now I am obsessively staring at the page about bracelets that came free with Reebok sneakers. They have high lead content and a four-year-old girl died from swallowing part of one. I mean, can you fucking imagine?

Incidentally there are lots of recalls for cheap dollar-store and vending machine jewellery containing lead. I think we will have a "no cheap tacky-ass jewellery" rule in this house.

If you are, perchance, looking for a hydrocortisone preparation, perhaps for a rash which has mysteriously appeared on your oldest daughter's hand, and you should happen to notice that of the three preparations available, "cream", "ointment" and "lotion", the lotion seems to be the best deal, you should know that said lotion is in fact largely composed of isopropyl alcohol. Whoever thought it was a good idea to sell ALCOHOL to put on RASHES deserves some kind of Stupid award, which they can share with me for buying it without reading the ingredients list. I am going to see if I can return it for a refund tomorrow.

Miscellaneous Things

First I want to say that the idea of this unsolicited advice is to publish things that I have learned through my own experience that I did not read about elsewhere, in books or in magazines, or that I read so many conflicting recommendations about that I might as well have not read any. I'm trying to avoid all the really obvious stuff, or the stuff which is widely published. But what I've learned is that all babies are different, and what worked for me might not work for you, so take this for what it is; advice born from the experience of one (well-read, intelligent) mother of two (really easy) children.

Diaper cream is one of those things which everyone has a different recommendation for, which leads me to believe that different things work for different babies. All I have to say here is that diaper creams which contain fish oil will make your baby smell like a salmon cannery, and if you use cloth diapers they will continue to smell fishy even after laundering. Read labels carefully, and try all the other kinds of diaper cream first.

Okay, one more thing. Johnsons 3-in-1 Diaper Cream and Aveeno Diaper Cream have exactly the same ingedients and are made by the same company, so buy the one that's on sale.

Bathing babies is something that I have never quite figured out. They're too big for the kitchen sink (assuming your kitchen sink is clean enough anyway) and too small for the tub, and I can't stomach spending money on one of those in-bath baby holders (which Health Canada advises against anyway). They're slippery as hell, they hate being bathed, and how dirty does a baby get anyway? I resolved the problem by just not bathing my babies very often, until they're old enough to sit up and manage the whole process more-or-less by themselves, as Delphine is. And she still only gets a bath twice a week. Who has time for more?

This is probably too late for the unindentified target for this advice, but perhaps not for you: get yourself a BabyTrekker. They are so much better than the other comparable products I don't even want to go into it. They are way more comfortable, distribute the weight of the baby much more sensibly over your body, and they carry up to 40 lbs, which is considerably more than Delphine weighs at almost three years of age. (I don't let her go in the Trekker any more because I think it looks silly. I am so mean.) Plus you can use them as a front or backpack. I love my Trekker. I just wish they had come out with the Tasteful Taupe model when we bought ours; we have Fugly Forest Green.

You're going to need to get yourself a 5 ml medication syringe. Lots of medications for babies come with 1 mL rubber bulb syringes, which not only make it hard to get the right dosage into the syringe (and then into the baby), but are often too small to contain the whole dose at once. For example, I needed to give Cordelia some Tempra, which comes with a 1 mL bulb dispenser, but I needed to give her 1.25 mL. That means I have to go through the measuring part twice, AND the horribly traumatic squeezing it into the unwilling child's mouth part twice. She's no slouch, and once she's learned that the syringe means foul pink unction, the next part of the dose is going to end up in her ear.

The good news is that some medications come with the good kind of syringe (I think Tylenol is one of them) so don't throw that out after the medication is done, keep it in your first aid kit.

Something more metaphysical to end (because Cordelia's awake now). I had trouble, with Delphine, understanding that she is just a baby for a little while. Intellectually, of course, I understand that she's going to grow up, but in some more primitive part of my brain it seemed that every day of not enough sleep, too many diapers and no time to do housework, let alone read, was just the first day of thousands more of the same. I guess, having never watched a baby grow up before, I didn't really believe it would happen. And it makes sense; any changes in my life until now I have effected through my own labour: I took a course, or looked for a new job, or bought a new condo, or whatever. I'm not used to standing by and watching my life change outside of my own volition.

It's much easier with Cordelia. When I have a horrible day when all she wants is to be held all day, and I have laundry and vacuuming and cooking to do and nothing is getting done, I know that this is just temporary, that eventually she will be able to walk and talk and play by herself, and she won't need me every single minute. That makes it much easier.

Incidentally, it seems this is a hard lesson to learn; I still have moments which I think the Delphine is going to be a whiny, needy, contrary toddler forever, even though I know, logically, that one day she will be a pleasant and helpful three-year-old. I just can't see how it will happen, because I haven't seen it happen before.

Don't You Have Another Kid Too?

Yes, poor Delphine hasn't been getting much screen time here, we're too busy with the baby and books and unsolicited advice. But she's still here, very much so.

Delphine is... funny. Delphine likes to pretend. When she pretends to do something, like open a pretend suitcase or put on a pretend boot, she makes a "shhhick" noise, her own all-purpose sound effect. (She learned that from her Daddy, the master of sound effects.)

The other day Delphine and Daddy were going to the pretend beach, and Daddy had to put on a pretend wetsuit, so Delphine helped. She pulled it up over his legs and arms and zipped the pretend zip up the front. Then Daddy had to put on a pretend sunhat; Delphine patted it around his head as if she were encasing him in playdough, and then, with a flourish, tied it under his chin with a huge, pretend bow. It was at that point that I bust a gut laughing; Delphine didn't see the humour, and so left the room. Blake asked "Where are you going?"

"To the swimming pool."

"Should I swim to the pool with you?"


So Blake did the worm out of the room, oscillating along the floor. I think I actually died from laughing and I'm typing this from the afterlife. Kids are funny, and if your husband happens to be funny too, you've hit the jackpot. (Even if no-one else thinks he's funny, it still counts.)

Delphine's into fairy tales. She likes "Goldilocks", "The Three Little Pigs", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Henny Penny" and "The Three Billy Goats Gruff". Reading fairy tales to her has made me realize how common fairy tale references are; they're everywhere. I am so pleased and excited to be introducing her to this piece of our culture. This is why I became a mother: I get such pleasure from reading, from knowing about things, from recognizing things in unexpected places, from putting ideas together, from intellectual life in general, and I am so keen to share that with my children. I guess this is why athletic types like to take their kids out to play ball and stuff, and why it's so purturbing to have a child who doesn't share your way of thinking.

We've also started reading Dennis Lee poems, and she has a few of them memorized. "Mumbo, Jumbo, Christopher Columbo, sitting on the sidewalk chewing bubble gumbo; I think I catch a WHALE; I think I'll catch a snail; I think I'll sit around a while, chewing bubble gumbo." It's nice to have these things in your head so you have something to say to yourself while you're, you know, in the shower or walking around. She has an uncanny recall for text and poems; yesterday I caught her reciting entire paragraphs of "Henny Penny" to herself. I don't know if that's unusual or just part of the incredible learning machine that is a little kid's brain.

But I'm glad to be filling it with these things; what do kids who aren't read to talk about to themselves?

She's about, oh, eighty percent potty trained. How did we do it? I don't really know. We read lots of books about it, and talked about it a lot, and worried about it a lot, but we didn't reward her or coax her (much). In the end she has almost potty trained herself, just like the books said she would.

She still chooses to wear pull-ups some days, but she always poops in the toilet, and when she pees in her diaper it's because she has decided to do so. How do I know? Because she tells me about it. "Do we pee in diapers?" "Yeah, you can pee in your diaper. Do you want to go pee in the toilet?" "No, I will pee in my diaper." Waits... "I need a new diaper." Fortunately she can change her own diaper now. Hooray for pull-ups!

Incidentally, according to that history of childcare book I read, apparently the potty training of Louis the somethingth of France started when he was eighteen months, and ended when he was around three, so this timetable for toileting isn't some product of our degenerate times and diaper companies; it's just when the brain is ready. (Although I still think you can train, in the Pavlovian sense, your baby or young toddler to go in the potty if you work on it.)

What else? She dresses herself, although not usually as promptly as I would like her to. She loves to wear her yellow rain jacket and gets very angry when she has to wear her snowsuit instead. She eats, but not very much, and I am afraid I don't make fruit and vegetables enough of a priority. When you only eat (apparently) half a cup of food a day, it's easy to fill yourself up with meat and bread. I am trying harder.

This weekend we had our first bona fide scary toddler-running-into-traffic moment (and hopefully our last). There wasn't really any traffic, it was a little tiny street next to a park and there weren't any cars on it, but it was still very bad and there was angriness and a stern talking to. What happened was that she was wandering around the park with a friend, and neither she nor her friend were responding to me or the friend's mother calling their names. They got a little too far away from us and too close to the street, and just wandered out between the parked cars.

I'm not sure whether, at this age, I should expect her to respond to verbal commands (and I have just failed to instill that in her), or whether she's still young enough that I need to stay close and keep control over her physically. Either way, I will definitely stay closer to her from now on, in potentially alarming situations like that.

Cordelia at Five Months

Cordelia is five -- actually five and a half -- months old, but she's growing out of nine-month sized clothes, and fitting nicely into twelve month clothes. She is freaky huge. Fortunately she is freaky strong, too; she can sit up for minutes at a time. And she's working on crawling, but she hasn't gotten much past the lying on her tummy, kicking and getting really pissed off stage yet. She shuffles her way around the living room quite effectively, though, usually ending up near the (moving) glider rocker ottoman, ready to have a leg broken or a head bonked. I have said it before, and I'll say it again: it's astonishing how quickly and how far a supposedly non-mobile baby can move.

All the reference books, and the doctor, would like to know if she is cooing. I don't know about your babies, but my babies don't "coo". Mostly she makes this noise which I haven't been able to come up with a word for, because nothing else on god's earth makes it; it's most like a groan, with some kvetch thrown in. Like, Heeeeeaaaaagh. And that's when she's happy. No-one could ever call it cooing.

(Does anyone's baby coo? My friend Ellen's baby Maxine makes these awesome hellmouth, troll noises: GRREEEAAAAUUuuuuch.)

We started her on cereal (even though they are saying now that you should wait until six months) because she was so desperate to be part of this eating thing that everyone else is doing. She's done rice, barley and oatmeal baby cereals so far, and she doesn't hate them. Once she passes six months I am going to start her on vegetables, and then she will see what the excitement is really about. Carrots! Parsnips! Oh my! (Oh, unless those are the ones with nitrates; I will have to look that up.)

I was kind of sad to start her on food; I thought, "this is the last time I will have a baby who exclusively breastfeeds". I expect I will have thoughts like that a lot. It was a brief moment, though; really I am very much looking forward to having two little girls, rather than a little girl and a baby. Babies are nice but little girls are better.

We're tiptoeing around the bedtime thing, thinking about it. Right now Cordelia's sleep, especially in the daytime, is pretty disordered, and I know she's old enough now (and definitely big enough!) to have a proper two-nap schedule, rather than the three or four mini-naps she's taking now. I also think she's old enough (and again, big enough) to go through the night without nursing; the trick now is to teach her that.

Last night we put her in the crib (already asleep) in the evening, and we had the evening mostly to ourselves. She woke up a couple of times, and both times we soothed her back to sleep and then put her back in the crib. I expect at some point we will put her in the crib and let her cry herself to sleep (because we are SO MEAN! And because it worked so well with Delphine), but I want to get her used to the idea that the crib is safe, and for sleeping, first. (Until now she has mostly slept in the high chair or on my lap or in bed with us.)

Generally she continues to be a charming and sweet baby. She's not so ready with the smiles for strangers any more, but she still blesses Blake and I with the huge, gummy, ear-to-ear grin that I hope she never grows out of.

March (of the) Books

Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy by Louise Bates Ames and Frances Ilg is useful, like the two-year-old version. They're pretty old (this one is from the mid-eighties) so they're weirdly time-capsulish. This one gives a suggested plan for your kid's third birthday, and it's all "you should be able to manage this with the help of two or three other mothers". Presumably Father is in the drawing room smoking his pipe?

Your Call Is Important To Us: The Truth about Bullshit by Laura Penny. It must be very hard to write about bullshit, because Don Watson tried to do it, and failed, and now there's this. It started off pretty well, but eventually turned into an all-purpose lefty jeremiad, with the usual anti-corporate, anti-globalization, anti-consumer (Evian is naive spelled backwards!) stuff. Not so much with the bullshit. She also handily ignores the great steaming heaps of the stuff generated by leftish groups like anti-GM protesters; as if conservatives have a monopoly on bullshit!

Me and Mr. Stenner by Evan Hunter. I was glad to find out that Evan Hunter is the pseudonym of Ed McBain (actually, vice versa, but I'm not sure what the latin for "real name" is) and that he's written a million books. This one is a book for young adults, and I really enjoyed it. Hunter is a genius at capturing dialogue, and this is no different, except it is set (and written) in 1976 so the dialogue is kind of quaint. I wish he had written more young adult books -- this is as good as Judy Blume.

Perfect Parents: Baby-care Advice Past and Present by Christina Hardyment is a book which chronicles the changes in advice given to parents from the 1700s until now. This is a lovely book because it makes you realize that despite all the crazy-ass things people have done with their children, society still seems to chug along. It was a surprise to me how much variation there has been in childcare practices; I had a vague idea that in the Olden Days everyone was really strict, and now everyone is really permissive, and that's all there is to it, but really there has been a lot more subtlety in parenting practices over the centuries. Hardyment is a historian, so there is a lot of discussion about how historical events like wars inform parenting.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is annoyed or bewildered by the variety of advice out there. I only wish it were newer, so I could hear what Hardyment has to say about the judgemental insanity that is Dr. Sears and attachment parenting. (Which is, like the curate's egg, good in parts.)

The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter. Evan Hunter -- Ed McBain -- wrote The Blackboard Jungle! Cool! So I had to take it out of the library and have a read. It's really good. Can I just stop saying that Hunter/McBain books are really good? That would save some typing. It's about a novice teacher dealing with the, well, crap of working at an inner-city vocational school. There is an especially good rant in the middle about vocational schools and teaching and what does it all mean?

Obviously, I think this would be a really interesting book for Kathryn to read since she is also a novice teacher dealing with lots of crap, but I am reluctant to because if she didn't like it I would be very sad. So Kathryn, I recommend this book but if you don't like it please don't say anything!

Good Stuff I Bought

You know how all makeup claims it's the best thing since they invented makeup, and it will change your life? Well, Cover Girl LashExact won't change your life, but it does do what it claims, which is not clump. As far as I can tell the goo in the bottle is the same as ever, but the wand is new technology; it's not regular bristles like a normal mascara brush, but little plastic bristles very evenly spaced. It works a dream.

The next thing I like is something my mother sent us, a set of three CDs called 100 Silly Songs. It has every kid's song you have ever heard, plus a few that haven't been heard for decades because they're quite politically incorrect, like "The King of the Cannibal Islands", or "I Wish I Were A Little Bar of Soap". They're all nicely arranged and well-sung, with complete verses. It's almost like a reference CD.

The last thing I have bought that I like is my new crumb sweeper. I didn't get that brand -- mine is much cuter -- but the idea is the same. It works really well at picking up the crumbs off the tablecloth after Delphine the barbarian has eaten -- I just, swoosh, sweep it across the table and the crumbs are gone as if by magic. (I use a tablecloth because our table is wood and I want to keep it nice until the children have manners and are less prone to drumming on the table with their forks and such.) I am looking forward to the post-croissant cleanup on Sunday.

Some More Advice

First I need to add a couple of things about the high chair. You probably already have a thousand thin flannel receiving blankets -- if you don't now is a good time to go get some, or better, find a friend (or an aunt with a friend) who has a serger, and get them to make you a bunch of two foot by two foot squares of flannel.

Once you have your pile of blankets, fold one up so that it lines the high chair under the baby. Then when the inevitable explosive poo happens you will only have to wash the blanket, not the entire high chair cover. Repeat as necessary for bouncy chair, car seat, stroller, etc.

You'll also need a rolled up hand towel to prop next to the baby in the high chair, so she doesn't topple over sideways. Like this.


I haven't come across a brand of diapers which isn't perfectly adequate. They all seem to do the trick, store-brand or name-brand alike. Huggies are a little nicer in that they are softer and stretchier, but they don't objectively function any better. Pampers are just weird because they are scented: why? If you get on Huggies' mailing list they will send you big fat coupons on a regular basis, so you can feel a bit better about spending huge piles of money on diapers, but I'm not sure how I got on the list. Maybe just email them and ask?

Wipes, on the other hand, are not all created equal. The cheap brands all seem to be smooth and thin and useless at sponging up poop. We stick with Huggies-brand wipes when we're out, and wet washcloths when we're home, which you probably won't want to do unless you launder your own cloth diapers. Huggies are more expensive, but since you probably use twice as many of the cheap kind maybe it works out in the end. There might be other good brands out there, but I'm warning you, buy a small package to start off with because you don't want to be stuck with 200 lousy wipes.

I don't think you're using cloth diapers because you're not INSANE, but if you do and you wash them yourself, let me tell you the big secret: use Tide. There is all sorts of advice out there to have two diaper pails, or to soak overnight, or to rinse with vinegar, blah dee blah dee blah. I just stick the diapers in a pail all by their smelly selves, and then dump them in the washer on a heavy-duty hot cycle with Tide. Voila, fresh, stain-free diapers.

Incidentally, in other laundry news, most stains ever encountered by man or baby can be removed with an overnight soak in a wash basin with hot water and some Oxy-Clean. I just used it to get some thirty-year-old stains out of a hand-me-down blanket from when Blake was a baby. It's freaky-good.


If you're nursing, the best advice I can give you is to sleep with your baby. I've slept with both of mine and I had to nod politely through all those conversations with other mothers about being so sleep-deprived, because I'm just not. Baby wakes up, you offer the boob, baby nurses while you drift back to sleep. And sleeping with your baby is just nice. It's lovely to be able to smell her soft round head in the middle of the night.

I don't know if I would try it if I were bottle-feeding, though, because breast-feeding mothers actually sleep more lightly than normal people, so you're less likely to squish your baby in the night. Also don't sleep with your baby if you smoke (!), or if you've been drinking or taken medication which makes you sleepy like Neo-Citran. Also the baby should sleep next to you, not between you and your husband, again because of the rolling-onto issue. We have a bed rail on my side of the bed but it's just a technicality, because your baby will glom onto you like a remora. It's astonishing how quickly a supposedly non-mobile baby will make her way across a bed to the nearest warm body.

(Having said that, I still think the bed rail is a good idea. And don't put the baby on the bed between you and a wall, there's just too much scope for disaster there.)

You'll also want another one of those receiving blankets under your baby and your boobs, to catch poop and spit-up and spilled milk. It's a lot easier to change a small blanket than your entire bottom sheet.


Blake's advice for dealing with a crying baby is, do everything you can think of. Then do it again. Eventually something will work. My advice is, do all the sensible things (feed, change, burp, rock, etc) and if nothing works, take off all her clothes. Ostensibly you're looking for rashes or irritating tags on her clothes or whatever, but I find babies just like being naked.

Remember crying peaks at six weeks, so this won't actually go on forever. And if you have done everything you can think of and she's still crying (and you don't think she's sick), remember to keep cuddling her. Even if you can't make her stop crying at least you can give her comfort. (Unless you think you might throw her out the window; in that case, put the baby down (somewhere safe) and back away (maybe into the shower or something) -- give yourself a time-out.)

Another thing you might do, although I don't remember doing this with Delphine, is go out for a walk. Fresh air usually settles babies down and if she's tired the stroller will help her sleep. Our midwife told us about a 24-hour drugstore where there are often groggy parents doing midnight laps with their babies in strollers.

One thing that helped me when I felt like a lousy parent because I couldn't stop Delphine from crying was to think about people with sick babies. Blake was really sickly when he was a kid and he must have spent HOURS of his life crying, and it doesn't seem to have done him any harm. I have a friend whose baby had open-heart surgery at six months -- he must have cried so much, and there was nothing his parents could do, but he is a perfectly normal and happy kid now. So don't put too much stock in the crying -- it's upsetting to you, the parent, because it's meant to be, but it doesn't always mean something is horribly wrong that you can fix.

February Books

Who Runs This Country, Anyway? A Guide to Canadian Government by Joanne Stanbridge is a kids' book but since I knew nothing about the structure of our government I needed something with small words and lots of diagrams. This served the purpose and now I know more stuff.

Fiddlers by Ed McBain. Ed McBain is dead. This makes me sad. Ed McBain wrote lots and lots of books, and I have only begun to scratch the surface of them. This makes me feel a little better.

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner is pretty good fluff. Yeah, they made that movie about it. I'm sure the book is better -- it's pretty thick and I'm sure they had to cut a lot of it out to make a movie. I won't be renting the movie to find out though. (It wasn't THAT good.) The characterization is a little suspect, though; people change but the author isn't really convincing as to why they change.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail by Jared Diamond took me forever to read, not because it's badly written but because it's long and Diamond is teeth-achingly thorough. He examines at least eight societies in minute detail in order to make himself clear. It's more like taking a course than reading a book. By the end you're well and truly convinced, though.

It was an interesting read in light of the other book I read about how it's all going to hell, The Long Emergency; Diamond isn't as pessimistic but it's clear that he's thinking something big is going to happen within our lifetimes or those of our children (although probably not his since I think he's in his seventies. The man is awesome! So smart and sprightly and he has that dapper Abe Lincoln beard-but-no-moustache thing going on.)

Ingrid and the Wolf by André Alexis is a book for young adults which I would have loved when I was younger. I still quite like it now. It was too short, though -- I would have wished it had gone on for much longer. As an adult I see that it is a good length for the story, though.

Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man by Charles Barkley . Not much to say -- this didn't suck.

Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender by Louise Bates Ames . You know how everyone says "my kid didn't come with a user's manual!" Well, here it is. This is just a discussion of what kids are like, and it's one of a series covering different ages. There isn't much specific advice, but what there is is delightfully non-judgemental and pragmatic. I'm reading the one about three-year-olds, and their recommendation for dealing with three-and-a-half-year-olds? Put them in daycare, because they're at an age where they want to evoke an emotional reaction in their mother, so they act up. With a daycare provider, no emotional reaction, no acting up, everyone is much happier. Failing that, they say, get a babysitter. Awesome!

They also give some advice which set my mind at ease: they give you a bunch of "techniques" (ie, tricks) for dealing with your toddler and getting things done, like saying "Let's put away your toys" instead of telling the kid to do it and then getting into a huge battle of wills ending with the inevitable timeout. If you say "Let's..." then you can just go ahead and do it without your kid's help, and no-one has lost face. I had been thinking that I can't do stuff like that because I Have To Show Her Who Is Boss -- Ames says it's more important just to get through the day without a thousand battles than to make every interaction about who is boss. So, very useful books.

Unsolicited Advice

I have this friend who just had a baby, and I am about busting with advice that she does not want. But! There is so much I have learned about babies! I want to share!

So I will non-agressively put what I have learned here so she can take my advice or not without giving offence, and also so it's available for anyone else who wants it.

Of course I don't suggest that all of this advice will work for everyone, but some of it will work for someone, and I think the more we all talk about how we handle this parenting thing the better off we will be. (To that end you should go read Mimi Smartypants and Dooce.)

Your baby is going sleep most of the time, but after she's a couple of weeks old she'll be awake sometimes too. Most of the time you'll be feeding her and changing her diaper, but sometimes you're going to want to put her down. Get a high chair. One that reclines a lot so you can put a newborn in it. We have an Evenflo Simplicity Easy-fold which I am very happy with. Cordelia sits in it and hangs out while I'm cooking or typing or whatever. Also it has wheels on it so I can wheel her around the condo with me. (You're not supposed to wheel it around with the baby in it, but whatever.) And I tip it all the way back and put a blanket on her and a soother in her mouth, and bang, she's asleep. (I think the way the chair surrounds her is more comforting than lying flat on her back in the crib -- she's only four months out of the womb, after all.) It's her one-stop captain's chair.

Interestingly I haven't heard this advice anywhere else -- where do other people put their babies when they're awake? Alone in their crib? In a bouncy chair so all they can see is knees? Flat on their back in a playpen to look at the ceiling? I don't know.

Okay, that's all for now because Cordelia is howling (in her high chair -- it doesn't work miracles!).

Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea...

No particular reason for that title, I just always wanted to use it, and it is generally true. In fact, I could pretty much use it as the title of my entire journal.

First some shout outs (shouts out?) to my crippled friends. On the other side of the pond is my friend Frances, who I knew when I was in the equivalent of grade seven and eight, and who I have by some miracle managed to keep in touch with ever since, off and on. We barely know each other, really, but we persist in keeping in touch because we're stubborn like that. And as it turns out she likes Minette Walters too, so she must be at least as cool as she was back in 1907 or whenever.

Anyway, she is laid up with a broken leg which she suffered in a bar fight at the hands of two unnamed female assailants while nobly protecting a friend. Fortunately Frances is a kickboxer so if she has a broken leg I shudder to think what shape the others were in.

A little closer to home, my friend Kathryn (Delphine's "beatifuw Kafryn") also broke her ankle over Christmas. Sadly she doesn't have a good story like Frances, but she does have an assortment of plates and pins in her leg which necessitate her carrying a card at all times stating that she is not a terrorist. I think that's pretty cool.

Kathryn is one of those people who seems to be blessed with longer days than the rest of us, because she crams in so much. Besides being a teacher she also is in at least two bands (she plays flute and piccolo) and my choir. She plays volleyball and just the other day I suggested we go skating together sometime (after she's better, of course) and she casually mentioned that yeah, she's a certified CanSkate instructor. All this and she's pretty too. She has a new blog so all y'all can read about her interesting and busy life. (No pressure, Kathryn.)

Cordelia just woke up so that will have to be all for now. I'm off for a cuppa tea.