Saturday, September 27, 2008


You know . . . when I'm writing I swear I like editing better.

When I'm editing I swear I like writing better.

Let's face it, I'm a grass is greener writer.

I think I figured it out...

I think I figured out what bothers me so much about American politics.

On one hand they focus far too much on what a candidate looks and sounds like (rather than what they say).

On the other, they take it all SO seriously. Like a hairdo or a 15 second video of a stammer is going to decide how they vote.

So much energy is spent talking about the person's personal life or the pins they put on a lapel or what small errant slip of the tongue might indicate. They expect total and complete perfection in every word.

Mispronunciation? Oh, obviously that means he/she is an idiot. Forgot your flag pin? Oh you are anti-American. Stammer? Total idiot.

Whatever would they make of our candidates? PMs whose native language isn't English, heavy accents, facial paralysis... I mean I was never a fan of ol Jean, but you wouldn't catch me judging him on what he looks or sounds like. We could even forgive some of the dumbest sounding statements because we know that people aren't always perfect and don't always speak in perfect evening news soundbites.

It's almost as though they insist that their candidates be media savvy OVER being a person of action. Almost like they believe it's what you SAY and how you say it, not what you DO.

I've never realized how spoiled we are up here in Canada to have voters that can look past the first layer, past the news soundbite, past the mispronunciations and unpolished interviews. We're much more forgiving.

And, obviously, to my American friends and readers... I realize that not everyone is like this, but these days I can't seem to read as many blogs as I once did without tripping over the same Palin video clips accompanied by the nearly identical commentary about what she sounds like or if she stammers or if she looks nervous.

(Oh, and anyone who says that living next door to Russia doesn't give you any foreign policy experience . . . has never lived right next door to a large and powerful foreign country. Most Americans wouldn't consider Canada that powerful, I get that you don't give us a second thought. But Canadians? We know how our lives are affected by America . . . and our provincial leaders have trade experience and more because they share a border with America.)

(I'm tired of hearing that Obama only says "Change!" The people who use that as some kind of dig have not gone far enough to actually look up what he DOES say. Do your research, he gets a tad more specific. LOL)

Ok, now hopefully I haven't offended the pants off of everyone. I'll try not to be so CANADIAN and say SORRY.

Libel Insurance: The Non-Product

So I'm phoning around for house insurance quotes.

I was surprised to hear that the last insurance company offered me "Libel" insurance on my home insurance. To understand the libel issue, you really have to be Canadian. For Americans you have your "freedom of speech". In Canada, the onus is on the WRITER to prove that what they wrote is true. This means you can be sued by anyone for something you wrote, even if it was completely true. If they don't like you and want to shut you up, well, they just have to sue you and put you tens of thousands of dollars in debt, you lose your home and are destitute and suddenly you don't want to write anything risque any more.

Truth is a defense, yes, but it won't stop you from being sued and spending thousands upon thousands in legal fees. So I was kind of hoping that this libel insurance thing was the real deal. But here was the very frustrating conversation:

Her: We offer libel insurance for $200 a year.

Me: Oh yeah? Even if I'm a writer and I write books?

Her: Yes.

Me: That's very interesting, I'm a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and libel is a topic that comes up quite often. See, there's this thing called libel chill where freelancers don't write hardcore journalism as much because they are worried they'll be sued for libel.

Her: Um, can you hold?

Me: Sure.

I'm thinking, crap, why did I tell her that? Why did I admit it? I could have GOTTEN libel insurance. Oh, wait, because it would have been dishonest and they probably would have denied any claim anyway.

Her: Hi, um, so we can't offer that insurance because you publish your writing.

Me: But, it's LIBEL insurance. How would someone know I wrote something to sue me about if I didn't publish it?

Her: Well, if you say something and someone sues you -

Me: - no, spoken is slander, libel is written. Do you offer slander insurance then?

Her: Well, um, no, see, libel insurance is for if someone sues you over something you write. But you publish what you write.

Me: Right. Because for them to read what I write, I'd have to put it "out there", so I'd have to "publish it". How else would they read what I wrote? If you write something on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket, it's not published. But if you put it where someone can read it, like, say, on a blog or in a magazine or in a book . . . then legally it's published.

Her: Right, but you get paid.

Me: That doesn't matter, publishing is publishing regardless of whether or not the writer is paid.

Her: But, we can't offer libel insurance on anything you publish.

Me: Ok, so your libel insurance covers my diary and the notes I write and stick in my pocket.

Her: But if you say -

Me: - that's spoken, it's slander.

The poor girl, I felt a little bad for her at the end. Selling a non-product and not knowing what that non-product even is...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


As we start to get ready to move, I start thinking about my new "office". Originally I was hoping that I'd get an actual office ROOM. Like, with a DOOR. But I realized quickly that every home we looked at with that all important potential office . . . just didn't work. The room was always too far away from wherever the kids were going to play.

So, for a few more years, I'll be working away in an area just off the playroom. In our new house it will be in the basement, in the "bar" area. The kids will have a larger, longer area. If the area were shaped like a capital L, then my office is in the horizontal part, the kids play area is in the vertical.

I was searching around for great home office areas and found one site that had pictures of "famous" home offices. Except it also had lots of PRON sites as advertisers. So. Not linking there!

But HGTV seems to have some great ideas. But what I really found interesting was a search on Flickr for home offices. I almost can't make up my mind, but I have many years in this house to decide on the perfect office. I think the walls will be blue. That's as far as I've gotten.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Octopus Moms

I was recently interviewed by Lisa Bendall, a fellow PWAC member about being an Octopus Mom. Lisa is also one of the many multi-tasking moms you come across these days. She was interviewed about her life as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I love the trees - they give us such privacy, not to mention they'll keep the house cooler in the summer! It looks like I've have gardens to keep up and everything. I love it!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Buying a House? Don't forget the Valium.

In the grand scheme of things, with all that is going on in the world, there is little need for more drama. As I write this there are stories playing out on TV of horrible things that have happened: floods, deaths, war, loss. But please bear with me for a moment while I tell you a little story about buying a house.

Do you remember the post about buying a house?

Well. We KNEW it would inspect well. We KNEW it. And sure enough, the inspector kept saying "wow" and "they wrote the book on pride of ownership" and "this is a GOOD house". He was happy to be teaching me these little tidbits about a good house with a good example in front of him. Normally he'd be showing someone a problem and saying "now it should look like . . . "

Now, we'd been pre-approved for about $40K more than the accepted offer, so we figured we were golden, right?

Um, wrong. See, we were doing the "zero down" thing that they are taking away as of October 15th. We were fitting in under the wire. Except that last week was probably the worst week in the last five years to try and get a mortgage. The US was imploding; stock markets were roller coasters; companies were being bailed out by governments. We could NOT have timed it worse.

The lender decided that they wanted an appraisal done to make sure that what we were paying for the house was what the house was worth. That way if we default on the mortgage the day after we sign, they can turn around and sell it. This makes NO sense to me because it's the buyer and the buying market that determines the worth and value of a house. The answer to "what's it worth" is always "what someone will pay". The bank doesn't factor in "one block from Army Boy's school" or "across the street from where soccer is held each spring". No, they look at theoretically more concrete things. (What they are, I don't know..)

It wasn't enough that the city's tax assessment put the house's value at almost $100K more than what we paid (I'm going to have a chat with the city tax department about this one, let me tell you) because that has more to do with what it will cost the city to maintain your street/community/alley etc...

There were miscommunications with the appraisers, they had to come back to appraise it (I think they only did a 'drive by' the first time) and they promised a 24 hour turnaround on the report when it took much longer than that... I feel bad that the realtors and the mortgage broker had to do so much work - whatever kind of commission they get, they earned every single penny just having to deal with me. I'm not patient. Factor in that I was sick (fever, ear infection, headache...) and you have a very cranky client.

We were told that yes, we'd been approved for the dollars, just not necessarily on THAT HOUSE. Because the appraisal came by under the purchase price, suddenly the bank didn't want to insure that mortgage. Or, um, the insurer didn't want to insure it and so the bank wouldn't lend it. Something like that. We were qualified to buy, just not any house. The bank wanted their say. In other words, pre-approval means sweet tweet.

The mortgage broker (who I'm sure had better things to do on a Friday night) spent hours on the phone with managers from BC to ON trying to find out how much the silly property had appraised at. Were we talking a difference of $500, $5000 or what?

Finally we heard that it appraised at $5K under the purchase price. Ah, for the wont of $5000. We found the extra $5000 and I signed the paper at 7:55 pm. Just an hour and five minutes before the 9 pm deadline.

And about three hours after I'd lost my mind. I was literally sitting in a chair, staring at the roof and almost not caring which direction this deal would go as long as it would be over soon. Actually, now that I think about it, that reminds me a lot of childbirth. "I can't do this any more, make it stop, make it go away, get it out."

If you are in Calgary and need a home buying team, please let me recommend Kari & Mark Ashlee as well as Debbie Weiss with ProLink Mortgage. Bar none, the best team you ever want to have.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Heart Words

I know, some people are driven BATTY by the phrase "I heart..." but I kind of like it. I like playing with words, making them mine and using them the way I want to. I even like breaking some grammar rules as long as I know I'm breaking them. Because it's horrendous to break them accidentally.

But I love finding words. I subscribe to several "word of the day" newsletters and my current favourite word is cicumlocution. It's the BEST word for the coming political races, isn't it?


*1 : the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea

2 : evasion in speech

Example Sentence

*Mr. Harvey was notorious for his tendency to engage in endless circumlocution when a simple, brief explanation would suffice.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Happy End to House Hunting

Just a little over a week ago Major Man and I decided to see if we could get approved for a mortgage. We're in Canada (as many of you may know) so the rules are a little different than in the US. We're not facing a mortgage crisis of any magnitude though the market is softening considerably.

We discovered that the Government was putting some rule changes into effect on Oct 15th. Taking away the 40 year amoritization and the "no money down" option, though you can still withdraw from your RRSP to put money down on a home and you have 15 years to pay that money back. Easily done when you contribute regularly.

The government wants to avoid what is happening in the US so I'm glad that they are making these changes. It would mean that we'd be years away from owning a home though. Since Major Man was finally in a good job and I have a long term job, we figured we'd give pre-qualification a shot. We were more than mildly surprised to learn that we qualified for a decent mortgage. This was last Thursday, the 4th.

We about 20 homes in one week and yesterday we signed the paperwork to buy one! Boy, that was quick! We looked at it twice, first it was just me, then I brought my husband. The couple who owns it now has lived there for 42 years. It is in pristine condition. The deal currently hinges on the home inspection, but I can almost guarantee that there will be no surprises there. The house was immaculate. One of the coolest things was that this couple bought everything brand new in the 60s and they did NOT replace anything. They fixed and maintained. Everything is original except the white carpet in the front that covers the original hardwood.

Have a little look-see:

Just walking up, you can see that it's got a nice front yard, very clean.
There's a carport, no garage.
We really don't need a garage, neither of us 'tinker' in there!

The bathroom is awesome in green, lol.
But look! Dual sinks!

The light is pretty good in the master bedroom.
Inside the closet was a 75 pound turquoise green vacuum cleaner.

This room nearly did me in.
Look at the retro walls!
The bar! Glass on the wall!
The fireplace is a fake electric one. Love it.
(But, uh, those walls are getting painted!)

The backyard was beautifully maintained.
Gas firepit!

There's also a fenced off garden.
There are many bunnies in the neighbourhood, so I'm glad there's a fence.

Note that the cooktop, fridge and oven (which you can't see here) are ORIGINAL.
There are buttons on the cooktop to turn on the burners.
The inside of the fridge? Turquoise green of course!
With an "icebox"!

Do you see how shiny that floor is??

This will be a reading area.
The kids can eat in the kitchen.
No eating on the white carpet.
Punishment: disem-Nintendo-ment.

They've offered (and we TOTALLY ACCEPTED) to let us keep their floral couch and chair.

What keeps sticking out in my mind is that for so long I thought that home ownership was a fantasy, I'd never own a home. If anyone is fighting their way through debt, divorce, single-parenthood and feeling stressed, let me tell you: IT GETS BETTER. You can do it!

I feel incredibly lucky to be moving in to this home that has nurtured a family for 42 years. The couple who we bought it from had cards from their recent 50th anniversary proudly displayed. Did you hear that honey? Only 47 more years for us.

And the best part? If you look at this picture, you can see how close the house is to TWO schools. Army Boy attends the elementary on the right, while the junior high school is on the left. In the bottom left hand corner is the community centre. This big field is also where we play soccer every summer! Location! Location! Location!

Now, to start the packing . . .