Friday, 27 February 2009

There is More to Baking than Just Sliding a Tray into the Oven!

I preface this entire post by stating "Well, He started it!!!"

My beloved is a wonderful man. He is smart, sophisticated and he has the patience of Job. (He has put up with me and all of my narishkeit all of these years!) But, he also has his limitations. He cannot do laundry to save his life, (not a real problem because I kind of like my clothes to come out of the washer the same colour that they went in!) he isn't much of a sports fan, (he likes to watch the games, but he can do without the jock-talk!) and he isn't much of a cook. Now in his defense, he has improved greatly over the years. He now can sustain himself on a hell of a lot more than just scrambled eggs and cereal, as was his practice when we first tied the knot. Today he is a whiz at pasta sauces, he can grill anything and do it with flavour and panache, and he can whip up a mean taco. He cannot, however, despite his greatest boastings and protestations, BAKE!!! Baking is strictly my domain in our house and he knows it. 

Now, both the Husband and the Progeny have spent a great deal of their lives complaining that while it is true that I bake some mean-ass cookies, very few of them are designated for them. Most of what I bake goes elsewhere; either for parties, Oneg Shabbat after services, or as host gifts. So, I thought that I was providing a special treat for the Husband when, before I left to return south, I left him some pre-baked oatmeal raisin cookies. Here is how it goes. I put together the dough. I pre-form all of the cookies into individual balls. I place almost 3 dozen of said cookie balls into a very large Ziploc freezer bag and I freeze them. I explain to the Husband that all he has to do is take a few out whenever he is in the mood for fresh-baked treats and bake them  in a 300 degree oven for 22 minutes. He is excited, thrilled at the prospect and, if I might say, quite grateful. Then the shit hit the fan!!!

He came down here to spend a few days of fun and frolic in the sand and sun. (Oh, grow up people!! We have been married for almost 24 years and my kids read this!!) While here, Twin Son's Better Half, knowing that he would be returning in time for Shabbat, invites him over for Friday night dinner. He graciously accepts, but he worries that since he will be returning late Thursday evening, he won't have enough time to pick up a suitable host gift. (We were raised right!!) Then it hits him like a bolt of lightning from the sky! Why not take our dear friends fresh baked cookies. Before he leaves, he repeats the baking instructions as he remembered them, to me. 

Husband: "So, I bake them at 350 degrees for 22 minutes."

Me: "Only if you want scorched disks suitable for usage as hockey pucks!" 

Husband: "Well, I can't remember!"

Me: "300 degrees for 22 minutes."

Husband: "Should I defrost them first?"

Me: "Only if you want them to be edible."

Husband: "For how long?"

Me: "Until they aren't the consistency of golf balls."

Husband: "Oh!"

He gets home last night and proceeds to follow MY directions (not without a phone call or two, mind you!) and the cookies come out perfect. (At least he says that they are perfect.) Now here is the clincher. He tells me that the cookies that HE baked are great. HE BAKED????? He slid the f*&^#$g things into the oven. The oven baked them. He would have had to expend more effort with Pillsbury dough!!!! He is now strutting around like Mr. Betty-f*&^#$g Crocker, telling anyone who will listen about his culinary prowess. He started this war of words, so I am now finishing it by telling the entire blogospere of his duplicity. Twin Son and the Better Half, I hope that you know him better than this. I hope that you of all people can recognize my oatmeal raisin cookies (a recipe that I attribute to my mother, by the way!) and let the Husband know that he can't get away with such nonsense. Oh, and Husband--I WIN!!!!

Shabbat Shalom to all who observe!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Gotta Hate February!

Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman must be living a parallel life to mine. Zits is one of my all-time favourite comic strips, in part because I have lived through parenting two teenage boys, and in part because it is just plain funny. Today's strip seems to sum up the feelings of most people who live in the north. February may be the shortest month of the year, but it feels like the longest to anyone who has to endure the gray, the snow, the ice, the gray, the mess, the gray, the lack of sustainable sunshine, the gray, the salt stains on the bottom of every pair of  pants and did I mention the gray? Why else would I escape and spend as much of the month in the south as I can? I used to joke with Younger Son that the only redeeming thing about the month of February is his birthday. I have come to believe that this is not so funny anymore. As this nightmare of a month draws to a close, just remember that the days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting a bit warmer and the gray is becoming a bit less pervasive. I will be rejoining you all very soon, when I can be certain that there are a few more bright days than gray ones. Until then-laugh a little at Zits.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Why is it?

A couple of "why is its" to help us better endure hump day.
  1. Why is it that every single article, news feed or electronic media story on ponzi-scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff makes specific mention of the fact that he is a Jewish financier, but a feel-good story like that of Miami banker Leonard Abess giving more than 60 million dollars of his own bonus money to loyal staff members ignores his Jewish heritage? Is there a Jew=money grubbing stereo-typing at work here? Hmmmm?
  2. Why is it that the Republican party is pinning their hopes on a clearly untested and unfit for national office neophyte like Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal? His response to the president's speech last night was odd, choppy, poorly delivered and panned by left and right-wing pundits alike. Could it be because the party of exclusion is chomping at the bit to become the party of inclusion, and a leader of colour is exactly what they require right now? Hmmmm?
  3. Why is it that we laugh and giggle at "plumber's butt" when we see it in trade workers, but we gawk at the "whale tale" of a young hot woman? Isn't a butt crack a butt crack? Hmmmm?
  4. Why is it that 74 degrees and breezy is "fricking freezing" in South Florida in February, but 74 degrees and breezy is shorts and tank tops weather in Toronto in July? Hmmmm?
  5. Why is it that it seems to be ok and perfectly legal for a major aboriginal leader to spew hatred and filth at Jews, and these invectives are continually repeated verbatim in both TV and newspaper recounts of the incident, but it isn't ok to say fuck on television? Hmmmm?
  6. Why is it perfectly reasonable for the Maple Leafs to be the laughingstock of the league in perpetuity with no Cup in sight for at least a generation, and yet raise ticket prices in a time of recession? Hmmmmm?
  7. Why is it ok for the Carolina Panthers football team to spend millions of dollars signing 3 elite players this week, while laying off 20 staff members from the office that have been loyal to the team since its inception? The team says that the economy made the layoffs necessary. Hmmmmmm?
  8. Why is it that nobody in South Florida seems to be able to sit through a 2 1/2 hour movie without talking, crunching paper, answering their phones, getting up 3 or more times, changing a baby (seriously!!) or some other activity better done elsewhere? Hmmmmm?

Feel free to add your own to the list. Happy Wednesday all!!

Monday, 23 February 2009

What Exactly is Hate Speech if Not This?

I am a proud Canadian Jew and for the most part I am gratified by the way that my countrymen and government have supported my people. But, my goodwill has being severely tested over the past 24 hours. First off the mark was the reprehensible decision by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) university workers to pass a controversial motion calling for an academic boycott of Israel. This report is from the Toronto Star.

Although the motion didn't call for a boycott of individual Israeli academics - as some union members had suggested last month - it encourages union locals to publicly discuss boycotting Israeli universities and to push Canadian universities to end any research or investments that could benefit the Israeli army.
The committee, which represents the union's university workers, called on the union to develop an education campaign on what its proponents label Israel's "apartheid" practices, such as building a wall around Palestinian territory and invading the Gaza Strip in December; asks the union to back an international campaign of sanctions and boycotts against the country and asks the national union to start researching Canadian connections to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The boycott, however, stopped short of calling for Canadian universities to ban Israeli academics, an idea previously floated by CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan.
Obviously Jewish organizations are appalled by the motion, and kudos need to go out to two local CUPE chapters at the University of Windsor that have said that they would disassociate from the union. This is not the first time that Canada's largest service union has attempted such a blatantly anti-semitic action and I am certain that it won't be the last. And while it is simply a motion adopted by a committee of the union and not binding to the union as a whole, it does set in motion a dangerous course of action that needs to be meticulously monitored.

Today a second and even more disturbing turn of events. A Saskatoon judge acquitted former aboriginal leader David Ahenakew of wilfully promoting hatred against Jews. This was the second trial for the former head of the Assembly of First Nations after he spewed ugliness during a speech at an economic seminar six years ago. In that speech he called Jews "a disease" and he appeared to justify the Holocaust. Here is Mr. Ahenakew in his own words."
"How do you get rid of a disease like that, that's going to take over, that's going to dominate?"  "The Jews damn near owned all of Germany prior to the war. That's how Hitler came in. He was going to make damn sure that the Jews didn't take over Germany or Europe.

"That's why he fried six million of those guys, you know. Jews would have owned the God-damned world."

His first trial ended in a conviction and he was fined $1000.00 and he was stripped of his Order of Canada. The verdict was overturned on appeal setting the stage for trial number 2. Let me ask something of Provincial Court judge Wilfred Tucker; "If this shit doesn't fit the legal criteria for hate speech, what does?" Now I am no lawyer, but it seems to me that this fits the bill. The judge said that while he abhors the comments, he didn't believe that Mr. Ahenakew intended to promote hatred. NO?? He wants to come to my Pesach seder??? Please, don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining. (Thanks Judge Judy for that pearl!) To make matters worse, the native leader testified during his trial; "Everybody says I'm a Jew-hater," he told court. "I don't hate the Jews, but I hate what they do to people." My fellow Canadian Jews, be very aware and be very scared.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

A Pre-Oscar Musing

I love Kate Winslet. I have always loved Kate Winslet. She belongs to an increasingly shrinking group of movie actresses that seem to have valued substance over style. She has been meticulous in her career choices. Beginning with the sublime Heavenly Creatures, and continuing a year later with her Oscar nominated and  incandescent performance as Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, Kate refused to be type-cast as a ditzy and sexy ingenue. And sexy she was. Never one to be a slave to the Hollywood hype for rail thin actress, Kate has insisted on being a role model for real body types and healthy body images. She followed up these magnificent performances with the mega-hit Titanic. (hated the movie with a passion, but not because of Kate!) Nominated again, she could have been vaulted into Julia Roberts money territory, but she chose instead, to star in the strange and independent Hideous Kinky, the Marquis de Sade story Quills, the role of young Iris Murdoch (yet another nomination!) in Iris, and the phenomenally brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. (nominated again!!) She found success in Finding Neverland as J.M Barrie's muse, and rather than sit on her laurels, chose the very disturbing suburban drama Little Children (nomination number 5!!) and the mindless fluffy comedy, The Holiday. Five nominations before the age of 30 is anybody's definition of success, but Kate wasn't done. This year has been her best yet. With turns as the bored housewife in Revolutionary Road and the concentration camp guard in The Reader, (nomination 6!) Kate has launched herself into a new stratosphere of accomplished actresses. Brilliance is not a word that I use lightly when it comes to acting, but Kate Winslet is certainly in that territory. So, it pains me to ask, "What the hell has happened to Kate Winslet during this award season?" She is almost unrecognizable. She is actively campaigning for this Oscar. One cannot turn on a talk show or open a magazine or newspaper without an interview featuring Kate. She has dropped weight and it shows in the designer dresses she has chosen for her preening red carpet walks. She has been positively flighty and ridiculously giddy. Her acceptance speeches have been stupid and vapid, and she comes off as a cross between Sally Field and Paris Hilton. She is being over-managed by Harvey Weinstein in his zealous campaign to drive voters to The Reader and away from Slumdog Millionaire. I want to cry and scream every time I see her on TV these days. 

If Kate Winslet loses tomorrow evening, she will join Thelma Ritter and Deborah Kerr as the actresses with the most Oscar nominations and nary a win. Pretty heady company. If she does win, I suspect it will be a combination of  the Hollywood establishment believing that she is long overdue for a win, and as a result of an impressive media campaign by her producers. I saw The Reader. A terrific movie to say the least, but not Kate's best performance by a long shot. I will be cheering if she does win, but if I had a vote this year in the Best Actress category, it would go to Meryl Streep in Doubt hands down, and Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married would receive serious consideration. Kate, I love you girl, but you need to remember who you are; a wonderfully gifted artist who needs to stay true to her calling. This role of dumb "Hollowwood" starlet simply does not suit you!

***UPDATE!!! So Kate wins and behaves like the Kate of old. Real, effective, gracious and not bubbleheaded in the least. Welcome back Kate. I've missed you for the last 3 months. Nice to see that the aliens returned you before the Oscars!!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Civil Rights

I have had the privilege of being happily married to the Husband for almost 24 years. I cannot imagine what it might feel like if overnight, somebody told me that my marriage must end. The following video come courtesy of the Courage Campaign attempting to block the totally discriminatory behaviour that is the fallout from California's henious passing of Proposition 8. Ken Starr (yes that Ken Starr!) filed a brief last month on behalf of the "Yes" campaign that would forcibly divorce 18,000 couples that legally wed before the nightmare of Prop 8. Please sign the petition and help put an end to this obvious discriminatory action. We in Canada have welcomed same-sex marriages for more than 5 years now. Let's help drag our American cousins into the 21st century.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Miss Manners Could Make a Fortune Down here!

I like to think that there is a shred of decency and integrity amongst the residents of this area, although on many days identifying the "politeness gene" takes a great deal of effort. I have spoken at length about some of my interactions with the "manners challenged" at the grocery store, banks, drug stores and the like in the southern home, but it is in parking lots that the true rudeness of many South Floridians really shines through. 

Some friends and I decided that we would take in the annual Coral Gables Art Festival today. It is a glorious Saturday in Miami. The temperature is in the low 80s and there is a slight breeze. The sun is shining and there isn't a cloud in the sky. I am relating the weather because this is the kind of day that lifts the spirits and increases the happy quotient. I promise all of my friends and family who are struggling with colder climes that I am not gloating in the slightest. I merely am pointing out that it is a perfect day to do whatever the heart wants. (Valentine's Day pun!!) We decided to head down to the show early, because prior excursions have proven the scarcity of parking and we wanted to beat the heat. We scored. We found a wonderfully convenient location within easy access of the festival and adjacent to a lovely outdoor cafe where we had decided to lunch. All in all, the day was looking quite perfect. 

After spending about 3 hours milling about with hoards of other art lovers, we headed back to the restaurant and dawdled over lunch. As an added bonus, our server informed us that if we presented our parking tag, she would validate it for us, saving about $20.00 in forced taxation without representation. As the four of us returned to the car, we noticed a number of drivers aimlessly circling the lot, desperately waiting for someone to vacate. As we approached our car, a lovely young man politely asked us if we were leaving and if he could have our space. Of course, we obliged and even slowed our steps in order to give him time to swing back around toward the spot. We also informed another driver that we had already promised the prime piece of real estate to another. We felt like the prettiest girls at the ball and everybody wanted to dance with us. We backed out slowly, as our new friend waited patiently beside us. Just as we completed our exit, a prima dona in a very expensive SUV gunned her motor, and literally flew into the spot ahead of the polite young man. We stared at each other dumbfounded. She knew that there was somebody else waiting for the spot. We did everything but paint a bright red sign on it. She casually exited her vehicle and with no embarrassment at all, walked away. Bitch with a capital "C"!!!! We tried to console our new friend, but he just shrugged and continued the search. I almost felt like getting out and keying her car, but this stupid sense of morality that I have, dogs me with every thought. Not only that, they carry guns down here! Who raised these people? When did it become ok to screw your fellow human being at every turn and only look out for oneself? The entire city needs a course in manners!!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Seventh Circle of Hell!

There has been a great deal of discussion lately about the essays on Facebook entitled "25 Random Things About Me". Time Magazine even wrote a tongue-in-cheek blog posting railing about the banality of the entire exercise. I actually have found a certain voyeuristic pleasure in these little postings. It is sort of like having a tiny little window into the lives of people that you thought you knew. While I haven't yet constructed my own list, (I am still attempting to come up with 10 that are even remotely interesting!) I have been thinking about other possible "lists" that might be somewhat enticing for people to read. "25 Uses for Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" or "25 Ways to Cook Tofu" just didn't seem to have the same cache, so with the encouragement of Twin Son's Better Half, I thought that I might share with all of you "My 25 Visions of What Hell Must be Like".
  1. Hell must have a roundabout like the Hollywood Circle. Souls endlessly trapped in their non-air conditioned vehicles, moving concentrically for all eternity, with no hope of ever getting off.
  2. Hell is having 14 children all under the age of 7 with no job to provide for them, no spouse to help with the care, and no viable place to live. 
  3. Hell has no PVR. Please tell me how we survived without this remarkable little gadget? We actually could only watch one TV show at a time. Imagine the inhumanity!
  4. Hell is a world where Paris Hilton is a celebrity and people actually care if Michael Phelps toked from a bong. Oh,wait! Riiiiiight!!!
  5. Exercise in Hell consists of a continuous loop of Richard Simmons' "Sweatin' to the Oldies".
  6. Hell is having to sit and watch Mamma Mia and suffer through the nightmare that is Pierce Brosnan's singing. 
  7. Hell is school curriculums without art, music, phys-ed, or drama. If our children are only educated in the "Three Rs", what will have they have to read and write about?
  8. Hell is a place with endless political ads.
  9. Hell is one giant circus with clowns so numerous it boggles the mind.
  10. In Hell, it must be impossible for any woman to be properly fitted for jeans, bras, or bathing suits. Oh, wait! Riiiiiiight!!!!
  11. I am certain that in my suite in Hell, I will be forced to listen to Bobby Vinton, Perry Como, ABBA, Celine Dion, Josh Groban and Mariah Carey for all eternity.
  12. Hell is definitely a place where Conservative Republicans rule. They must be there. Who else will be checking up on all of us wayward liberal souls, to make certain that we are where we are suppose to be and burning the way that we are supposed to?
  13. Hell has no chocolate!
  14. Hell has no James!
  15. My idea of Hell is Toronto in the winter. Snow, sleet, ice, wind and temperatures hovering below glacial, make the balminess of Hades seem positively enticing. 
  16. Hell is a world in which dogs are made to wear clothes like people and people wear leather collars like dogs. Oh, wait! Riiiiiight!!!!
  17. My idea of hell involves having to do all of my grocery shopping every week at Publix on Hallandale Beach Blvd, all the while double parked in front of the store. The devil couldn't come up with a better torture than that one.
  18. Hell is being made to drive across Steeles Avenue between Yonge and Bathurst for all eternity, and being forced to hit every single pothole in the process. 
  19. It must be Hell when men who throw a blazing fastball make hundreds of millions of dollars, but men who run into blazing buildings can barely afford their mortgages.
  20. It must be Hell when people who create art, music and beauty can barely afford food, but people who create nothing except ways to make more money are flying around the world on corporate jets.
  21. It must be Hell if the Husband is being forced to don a tie!
  22. In Hell, all television commercials have talking babies, talking animals or old politicians hawking Viagra!
  23. My Hell includes squirrels!
  24. I am certain that in order to get to Hell, I will be required to travel across the River Styx in some manner of aquatic device, puking over the side rails for the entire voyage.
  25. I am certain that in Hell I will be housed next to the chain-smoking, perfume wearing, lily-planting family, who buy all of their creams and lotions at the Body Shop, and cook fish every evening for dinner. The odours will be enough to send me screaming for relief.
There you have it. Feel free to chime in with your own. These are my ideas of Hell, but true Hell is a life without family and friends. 

Friday, 6 February 2009

I Hate "Shit Hits the Fan" Days!

We all have days like these. They are the ones that you know are coming. You can feel it in your bones and the little voice at the back of your brain is clanging warning sirens. No matter how fast you try and out run it and no matter how hard you try to hide, it catches you. Those are the days we want desperately to avoid, those are the days when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Every parent immediately knows what I am talking about. This is the day when you really find out what is truly on your son's report card, or the real reason why your daughter hasn't spoken to her best friend in a week. This is the day on which all work projects are due and because of procrastination, haven't even been started. This is the day when, no matter who you are or where you sit on the pecking order, you have to face the truth. These are the painful days; the days when you can't always make wrong right. These are learning days; the days when you become better educated in the way the world works, and you vow that you won't make the same mistakes again. These are days full of regret, anger, frustration, screaming and blame. 

But regret, anger, frustration, screaming and blame can't hide the fact that the shit hit, and hit hard. It can't hide the obvious disappointments and it can't hide the truth. The only good thing to come out "Shit Hits the Fan" Day is the hope that you will be a better person for the education and a new opportunity will present itself. Thank God these days are fewer and farther between.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A Stress Test Should Not be Stressful!

I absolutely despise going for medical tests. Yes, it is true that they are tremendously invasive on both body and time, but those are really the least of my concerns. What I absolutely hate is how they intrude on my privacy and personal space-and this is only in the waiting rooms!! I encountered one of these experiences this very morning.

My doctor, being the obsessive-compulsive soulmate that I require and adore, sent me for a cardiac stress test. Now let me be clear-there is absolutely nothing wrong with my heart that a better family history couldn't cure. My father, paternal grandmother, maternal grandfather, and several uncles have all suffered from some form of cardiac ill health, so my anal-retentive physician demands all appropriate tests be done every couple of years, just to keep tabs. The test itself is really nothing. It involves being hooked up to contraptions resembling something out of the imagination of Mary Shelley, (the author of "Frankenstein" for all of you less than literate souls) while running one's lungs out on a treadmill. Following the excursion up elevations reminiscent of my trip to San Francisco, a technician smears gunk on my tits to adequately image my heart. (Gunk on My Tits! A top ten hit from Lionel Richie, I believe?) The whole experience was over in 10 minutes and that was long. (Apparently I suffer from unusually low blood pressure and it took higher, longer and faster treadmill times to get my heart rate up to the maximum.) It was the hour before that challenged my patience and frayed my last nerve.

My appointment at the clinic that is 5 minutes from my home, was scheduled for 10:30 am. Being the nut that I am, I arrived 10 minutes early. (I realize that this is a sickness, but I can't help my punctuality.) The clinic is in a strip mall that also houses a popular Israeli take-out place, a camera shop and a snowboarding store that was mobbed. In short, finding parking was a challenge. I ask you, what kind of cardiac clinic doesn't have adequate parking for its patients?These are people for which simple walking tasks can be difficult. Not only that, the temperature has dipped to ridiculously frigid levels again, and breathing for this middle-aged asthmatic has been taxing at best. I cannot imagine what it must be like for someone with real issues. To make the parking and walking situation even worse, the plaza has neglected to adequately clear the ice in front of the clinic door. Traversing the path to the door was a real challenge and I am able-bodied! 

The clinic was packed solid with people. Russian people. Lots and lots of Russian-Canadians. Apparently the clinic is run by Russians, so the community feels quite comfortable there. All of the medical secretaries speak fluent Russian and most of the technicians are also conversant. After checking in and finding no chair to park myself, I stood at the door at took in the ambiance. There was none. No magazines, no brochures to keep patients informed on the latest in heart healthy diets; nothing. Just the stale smell of sweat, the halitosis from the old man standing beside me and twenty cell phone conversations happening simultaneously in Russian. There were several spouses cursing at each other, (I think it was cursing!) an old lady knitting to stay busy, and a woman that had on a matching cobalt blue scarf, purse, running shoes and leggings. Seriously! Identical colours all! Nobody could remove their jackets or various winter layers, because there was no place to hang them, so we all basically sweated our way through the wait until our names were mercifully called. I think that it is a rehab technique designed to melt away a few extra pounds. There was plexiglass surrounding the admissions desk that was so high as to encase the workers in a literal bubble, and it had no appropriate speaking hole so that the elderly patients could not hear the questions being asked of them. One man actually began screaming his answers to the secretary.

After about 20 minutes, a chair finally opened up and I was able to sit. Unfortunately the man wedged in the chair next to me had just come back inside from having a smoke, or 6. He is a cardiac patient, for f@#$ sake and he went out for a smoke! He reeked in a way that I cannot adequately do justice to in words, and he triggered an asthma attack severe enough to elicit use of my puffers. Great! I haven't even gotten on the damn machine yet and I am already wheezing. I waited another one half an hour before I was called, but by then I needed a shower, a tea (or something stronger) and a Russian/English dictionary. I honestly think that the couple across from me was plotting the demise of the cardiologist/owner of the establishment, but my knowledge of the language is still not up to par despite my hour long immersion. 

When will the medical community start treating patients like people? I truly believe that every doctor, nurse and technician should have to endure the system for a week so that they might know what it feels like to be on the other end of the enema. This was my experience on a good health day. Imagine what it might have felt like had I been feeling crummy like most of the people that I shared my morning with. All we want is a little humanity.

Monday, 2 February 2009

6+8=What Were You Thinking?

I am the proud and doting mother of two wonderful and finally adult young men. When Older Son was about six months old, there was a report in the local paper on the birth of quintuplets. 21 years ago, quintuplets were still newsworthy; unlike today when 6, 7 or 8 babies at a time seems to be what it takes to make the papers. As a young, exhausted, and often times alone at home first time mother, (The Husband traveled a great deal in those early days for business) I stared at the report with incredulity. All I could think of was that could have been me. I couldn't even imagine the possibility of trying to feed, diaper, clothe, coddle or bed 5 "Older Sons". My imagination would run wild. What about trying to potty train 5 or teaching 5 their Bar Mitzvah portions or, worse yet, teaching 5 how to drive? How would we send 5 to camp or college, or how could we possibly pay for 5 weddings? These wild thoughts were coming from a relatively sane, financially middle class, healthy, very organized young woman who had tremendous family grounding, an involved and supportive husband and only one infant at that time to look after. 

Five years later, I became the proud and doting aunt and cousin/aunt of two sets of twins. I watched with further incredulity as The Little Bro and the Ying to his Yang coped remarkably well with three children under the age of 3, and the Sister/Cousin and her Israeli were hell on wheels with 4 kids under the age of 5. I saw first-hand the sleep deprivation, the coordination of schedules, the massive amounts of familial help required, the financial compromises made, and the positive energy expended necessary to make it all seem so effortless. Again, these families were happy, well-adjusted, financially solid and with two involved, if not chronically tired parents. 

I remark on my personal experiences in order to try and provide some perspective in the weirdness that occurred in California last week. If the news reports are correct, a single 33 year old woman with 6 children under the age of 7, (including one set of twins!) gave birth to a litter of 8 more. She lives with her parents in a modest home and, is attending school to advance her career. There is no father involved that anybody will speak of, and it has become increasingly obvious that the woman conceived the octuplets through fertility treatments. Her mother has stated publicly that she may have some emotional issues and that she may be obsessed with having children. It should be noted that by all accounts she has been a very concerned and caring mother and that her children are well tended. So much not the point!!!

There are so many questions that need to be asked. What kind of fertility specialist even begins to think of treating a woman who already has 6 children? Doesn't that sort of defy the logic of someone being infertile? Isn't there or better yet, shouldn't there be an ethical code of conduct that these doctors ought to follow? Knowing that the woman is already a mother of 6, what kind of doctor implants as many as 8 embryos, knowing of the possible nightmare scenario that did occur? This physician had to know that selective reduction was already a hot-button issue for this woman, and that she would never agree to culling the herd. What kind of family doesn't attempt to intervene with a clearly troubled woman to stop obvious self-destructive behaviour? Who is footing the bill for all of the medical procedures that have already occurred, and will most assuredly need to occur at some future date? 

We as a society need to assume some responsibility for this travesty. We gawk and make celebrities out of the Gosselins and the Duggars and we marvel in their fortitude. Jon and Kate aren't shy about why they do their show. It is to pay for college education for their children. There are already reports that "Mom of 14" will have sit downs this week with Oprah and Diane from her hospital bed. She has procured an agent who is actively seeking sponsorship deals so that she might pay for the 250 diapers per week that will be required. Maybe some network somewhere will offer her a reality show too!

This is a case that cries out for intervention on so many levels. All we can hope for is that something will happen for the sake of the children.