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This year our country will celebrate its 150th anniversary, so the teachers who run the school radio at my school, my tiny French Catholic elementary school, have decided that it would be nice to honour all sorts of Canadian people, to show how diverse Canada is. 

The kids have been encouraged to do their own research, find an interesting person to honour, write their biography and share it on the radio. They’re not always very inspired by their subject, so more often than not we get a short wikipedia excerpt about people we’ve never heard about, containing super long words painstakingly read by a 10-year-old.

AND SO today our school radio paid a surprising and vibrant tribute to a porn-o-graphic actress, followed by a brief panicked intervention by our acting principal who said she was, of course, “a photographic artist” (no she wasn’t).

And then we all fell over laughing, because what the hell happened. (I strongly suspect that our uninspired radio researcher googled “Ontario Actress Famous Adult”  and had no idea what “pornographique” meant, but decided that since it ended in “phique” it was probably about math or science and he might as well chance it. WELL PLAYED KIDDO)    

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We got a new washer and dryer today and I am ridiculously excited about this. Our washing machine died unexpectedly on Sunday (choked on a very full load of flannel bed sheets, bummer) and since our dryer had been creaking like a fucking pterodactyl on speed for the past few months, we decided to replace both appliances. (No, we didn’t try to fix them - they already exceeded all expectations by living a full VERY BUSY 15 years).

The new appliances are very big. Probably roomy enough to fit an entire Froglet. I know because she tried - she went head first into the washer and I am pretty sure she might have fit. I am not that confident, however, that she could have gotten out again. 

rainette: Froglet! Don’t! Get back out!

Froglet: I am sure I can…

rainette: Froglet. I am going to take a picture of your butt half in the washer and POST IT ON THE INTERNET.

Froglet: shitnowait - here, I am out. 

This, I am afraid, is how the 21st century works at my house. 

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I have a trainee these days and she’s super nice but OMG how are you such an extrovert, trainee of mine?

Please don’t follow me to the bathroom! It’s creepy as hell, I am not fond of communal peeing, and HOW THE FUCK do you not realize that I don’t even need to pee, all I want is five minutes of silence!

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My father-in-law sent Froglet a card (and a big cheque) for her 18th birthday. On the card, he carefully and very clearly printed the dates of every single French election for which she is allowed to vote in 2017. 

Because he’s awesome like that. <3 

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This weekend I firmly scratched “Dog sledding” off my bucket list. I am also contemplating going down said bucket list and carefully editing out every activity that involves a lot of speed with few possibilities for braking or steering (I have ALWAYS hated tobogganing for that very reason). 

Anyone who says dog sledding isn’t a fucking sport because the dogs do all the work deserve to be tied to a sled in a motherfucking forest on a particularly icy day and see what happens. I, for one, have learned that I am only good at one part of it, and that’s the ear scratching. I will happily scratch all the ears in the world and massage all the furry faces into blissful contentment. I will not EVER set foot on a sled again. No, no, it was fun - everybody else in the family loved it, it’s just that I spent most of the ride being scared for my life, and also I fell at least twice and falling on ice is not the same as falling in snow, as my knees keep reminding me today.

Our guides were awesome and the dogs were endlessly fascinating, Each of them has its own personality, and while they often look the same, you can soon tell them apart just by seeing what they do. 

Our first lead dog, whose name I can’t remember, just wouldn’t start. He squarely sat on his bum, ignored our yelling and contemplated the neighborhood (he had to be swapped for another lead dog. I sweat that he laughed at us when they carried him off). 

Husband’s lead dog, Ice, would not stop for anyone, not even with two people fucking STANDING on the brakes. At some point he caught up to the sled in front of them, and the guy standing at the back of the sled nearly fell off in surprise when ALL OF A SUDDEN a big furry head appeared between his legs. 

Havoc (OH JEEZ I WONDER WHY THEY NAMED HIM HAVOC HAR HAR HAR) is unspeakably strong and not that bright. He needs two harnesses because he will easily break through a singe harness. This gave Sequoia, who was running behind him, a break and she mostly enjoyed the scenery without ever pulling anything (her line stayed slack the whole time).

Olga is unimpressed with the whole pulling business as well. She is also very smart (apparently she likes to start fights and then she stands by the sidelines to see what happens  - like the legendary Fox of North York, who pees all around trees and enjoys watching dogs go crazy trying to follow his scent) and easily bored, so not only did she never pull, but she also occasionally tried to stop everyone to sniff a tree or enjoy a bank of snow. 

Klondike likes to run but she likes to run free and she resents having to pull people. 

Guide: watch Klondike, she’s going to try and throw us against the tree.

Klondike: runs straight into the tree

Froglet and guide: narrowly avoid tree.

Froglet: well done! …. oh wait, ditch.

Guide: OH SHIT!

Klondike: makes for ditch

Sled: falls over.

And then there were squirrels. 

Whoever wrote the dogs in “Up!” knew exactly what dogs are about. They’re all muscle, controlled energy, unconditional love, deep wish to be a good boy and then there are squirrels and everything goes to hell. 

We were moving at a good speed when all of a sudden my guide yelled OH SHIT and a squirrel crossed the path in front of us. And then three things happened all at once: the guide stood firmly on the brake, the dogs veered sharply to the right, and I stayed exactly where I was while the sled went… elsewhere. Inertia saw its moment, grabbed me firmly by the center of gravity and propelled me unto the ice on all fours. 

Ow. 

Thankfully, the following squirrel stayed on the path. 

Sadly, the path was a very steep, icy hill. 

(I stayed on, but OMG the fright!) 

To sum up my experience of dog sledding: lots of fun for young folks, very fast, good dogs, many trees, hidden ditches, mostly good dogs, SQUIRRELS, fuckton of bruises. Oooof! 

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I had the time to take a picture during a short break.

Somehow Husband managed to take a video, which is astounding considering how fast the dogs go and how unstable the sleds are on the ice, but he loses points for holding his phone upside down (the dogs look like they're running like flies on an icy ceiling, which is hilarious and not entirely improbable - all you need is the right kind of squirrel to incite them).

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The lake is frozen solid. This is the first time I walk on actual water OMG and it’s a glorious feeling. Lakes in France don’t ever freeze enough for this.

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Birthday girl on ice!

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I had the time to take a picture during a short break.

Somehow Husband managed to take a video, which is astounding considering how fast the dogs go and how unstable the sleds are on the ice, but he loses points for holding his phone upside down (the dogs look like their running like flies on an icy ceiling, which is hilarious and not entirely improbable - all you need is the right kind of squirrel to incite them).

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The lake is frozen solid. This is the first time I walk on actual water OMG and it’s a glorious feeling. Lakes in France don’t ever freeze enough for this.

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Birthday girl on ice!

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On a completely different note: I love how all the emails sent by candidates to the Presidential elections in France go straight to my primary inbox except for Marine Le Pen, whose emails go straight to my spam folder. Well played, gmail. Well played. 

(Froglet turns 18 just in time to vote. Every vote against the Front National is a good vote - her request to be added to the voting register at the French Consulate is signed and ready to be mailed.) 

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I have to pack for the weekend this morning so OF COURSE I am procrastinating, because while Froglet might be super excited to go dog sledding for her birthday, I can imagine several other ways to enjoy a day that do not require quite as many layers of clothing (it’s the having to run next to the sled whenever we go uphill that worries me the most).

So I’m on my phone googling sunfish, because I know next to nothing about them and the rant I saw (and reblogged) is hilarious. I really am interested in animals and evolution and uh, I don’t really believe there are useless forms of life (in the biological sense, that is).

And the rant is on the first result page. With a lengthy reply from a marine biologist, and several pages of comments. And I am … sure there is a lesson from this somewhere, or something to understand, but I haven’t figured it out yet - or maybe I have… but I am not yet ready to listen.

I guess I should pack my suitcase while I think about this, and make sure I don’t forget my long johns…

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Froglet's Cat: Me hungry.
Me: OK, OK. I'll feed you.
Froglet's Cat: *jumps on food*
Me: Enjoy, Theo.
Froglet's Cat: You gave me food! who's a good human? YOU're a good human! *flops on back* You may pet the fluffy belly now.
Me: ok, but then I have to...
Froglet's Cat: you may pet the fluffy belly.
Me: Theo, I also have to...
Froglet's Cat: Shhhh. shhhhhhhhh. Pet the fluffy belly. Fluffy belly petting is only priority.
Me: Oh, what the hell. Who am I to disagree anyway.
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We had a Visitor from the local Catholic Parish today (oh the joys of working at a Catholic school), an elderly, very pious woman. She wasn’t entirely prepared to deal with a bunch of seven- and eight-year-olds. 

Visitor: usually I work at St Something Secondary Shool, but today I am thrilled to be with you…

Daniel: OH! I know someone who goes there! Do you know Abby? She goes to that school!

Visitor: Ahahahaha, I’m not sure, I am not that good with names. My computer *points to her head* doesn’t work that well anymore, see.

Leo: That’s your brain. You mean your brain.

Visitor: yes, it is my brain, but I call it my computer, ahahahaha.

Leo: *slowly, in case she doesn’t get it* That’s not how it works. Your COMPUTER sits on your desk. The thing in your head is called a BRAIN.

Visitor: …OK. moving on. CHILDREN, I made a very special trip to see you today! I came with…. Can you guess?

Chorus of kids: JESUS!

Leo: a streetcar? 

Visitor: *glares at Leo* Jesus, indeed. Jesus is with you - with every single one of you *beams*

Leo; Wait. How many Jesuses are there? one THOUSAND?

Visitor: *quietly seething* NO, there is only one. But he is everywhere.

Leo: *frowns* But how does he do this? Does he divide himself?

Visitor: what? No, he doesn’t have to! But he still sees everything.

Leo: *tilts head* So… he must have about two thousand eyes?

At this point Leo’s teacher interrupted the conversation for a quiet one-one-one with Leo, to my great dismay because I was thoroughly enjoying the show. 

Leo is currently in grade 1; if everything goes according to plan, he wil be in my class next year, and I am looking forward to it. 

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Me: goodnight sir, bye M, see you tomorrow!
Trainee *checks lists of parents*: OK, who's next?
Husband *has come to pick up the car, waves from the corridor*
Me: Hi! Come on in!
Trainee *looks up, whispers*: whose parent is that?
Me *kisses Husband squarely on the mouth*: HI!
Husband *points to trainee with a worried expression*
Trainee *stands frozen with her mouth hanging open like she's just entered the Twilight Zone*
Me: oh - sorry. Trainee, this is the parent of my two kids, aka Husband. Husband, this is Trainee.
Trainee: OMG WARN ME NEXT TIME.
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Me, coming back from work in the afternoon: OMG, look at my kids! They're doing their homework! Together! They're so responsible and mature, I love them so much!
Me, three hours later, coming back from rock choir practice and finding the front door locked, every single light on and the cats sadly unfed: Dammit. Somebody remind me why I thought reproducing would be a good idea.
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Rise Up! Awesome song, awesome soloist. 

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I am a little tired of tumblr right now. I feel overwhelmed with the whole US political context right now and half my dash is about politics and the other half about iambic poems about cows and I AM SO DONE WITH THE COW (may it lik the bred in peace).

Thing is, many of my old LJ and DW friends migrated to tumblr, and if I only post here they won't see my posts... so I don't know.

ANYWAYS: my rock choir just had a concert and I posted videos! :D I hope you enjoy them. They're friends-locked but if you'd like to see them and don't have access, let me know.
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hellenhighwater:

am i the only person who is like…really confused what my brain is doing while im sleeping?? like, today i woke up with the name PAT BENETAR in my head like it was in neon lights. i dont know who pat benetar is. i had to google her. turns out shes a real person.

 a few weeks ago, i woke up while partway through calculating how many days threescore fortnights would be. this sort of thing happens on a regular basis. 

and its not like its part of a dream im having. with both of those things i had had completely unrelated dreams. its like during the process of waking up my brain just fixates on a totally arbitrary scrap of data and drags it up for my conscious mind to deal with

I once read an article (I don’t remember where) about sleep on an evolutionary standpoint, wondering how the hell it could be justified in a “survival of the fittest” world. I mean, if you’re a prey you spend a lot of time unconscious while predators roam around you, and if you’re a big predator with huge teeth you waste a lot of time sleeping while the happy gazelle grazes freely. It really doesn’t seem to make much sense so the only explanation is that it probably serves an important purpose. 

I don’t think we fully understand how it works beyond “your brain is reorganizing and you will not be able to access your thoughts until it’s done defragmenting and rebooting”. However, over the course of the past years I’ve gone from being confused to being amazed, because OH BOY does my brain ever work while I am asleep. 

I joined a choir/vocal ensemble a while ago and my first few weeks were enlightening in that respect. Every time we met, we would work on two or three songs with really complicated harmonies; I would go home frustrated that I still remembered the last song we’d worked on, but not the first; I’d go to bed. 

Two days later I would find myself absent-mindedly humming the “forgotten” tunes in the shower. 

As time went on and I had to memorize more complicated harmonies for songs, I realized that there was literally zero point in trying to hammer a thing into my brain in one sitting, but if I allowed my brain to disconnect and deal with the information in its own sweet way, it would plant it in, solidly screw it where it belonged and dust its hands with the satisfaction of a job well done. And then I would wake up and KNOW THE THING. (And never ever forget it, but that is another story.)

For me, this works best with music and sounds. @hellenhighwater  , I didn’t know you could see written words in dreams (I don’t think I ever did) - how do you learn things in general? Are you a very visual learner? Maybe your brain picked up the name Pat Benatar somewhere and was trying to indicate to you that this might be of relevance to your life? Because our brains work a lot while we sleep but that doesn’t mean that they always make sense or follow a logical rule.

Because another thing I discovered over the course of the past two and half years, which have been FILLED with music, is that my brain focuses on sounds and music but I don’t get to choose what music my brain decides to focus on while I sleep. The day after I first watched the trailer for the new Beauty and the Beast, I woke up with the entire fucking SOUNDTRACK of the animated version at the forefront of my mind (”there must be more than this provincial liiiiiiiiiiife”). I was SUPPOSED to memorize a totally different set of songs, and I had not watched this movie since my girls were little, but apparently music stick to my brain forever and my brain decided that this was relevant. Okay then. I also once woke up humming a Eurovision song that I had not heard for about 20 years, and I have no idea why.

I am entirely fascinated with this process - anyone else, if you’ve had similar experiences, I’d love to hear about them.    

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