As some of you know, Erin has stepped away to Mongolia. She left on Sunday for New York and Vivian, Nora and I took her down to the airport to see her off. The girls are in good spirits, though they miss their mother fiercely, as do I. Erin, meanwhile, is now in London as I write this. Her plane journey went from Toronto to New York, with a day stop to rest, then New York to London, with another stop to rest, and then lay over the night due to equipment problems. From there, she's heading to Hong Kong (thankfully her travel partner scored an upgrade to first class), then Beijing, then Ulan Bataar, then some town I've never heard of in western Mongolia. She returns on September 9, after taking a similar circuitous route.

The things we do for our writing.

Not only is Erin away, but grandpa Michael and grandma Rosemarie have headed off to Niagara Falls and Montreal, for some well deserved vacation fun. They've left Molly the dog with me, which has helped me get my average number of steps up again (it had fallen off a bit once I stopped taking the kids to school -- something that was best done by walking -- and instead took them to camp, which can only be done by driving).

Molly is in good spirits too, though she misses her owner Michael something fierce as well (and, seriously, she does miss him fiercely. Watch this video of how she reacts when he comes home after being away a whole month in Australia). However, she seems to have gotten used to me, and kind of likes me, and likes to be walked by me. She seems to be in good health too -- energetic and lively and doing her business when she's out on her walks but... she's been doing her business a lot.

Previous experience has told me never to leave house without at least two poop'n'scoop bags in my pocket whenever I walk the dog. I really, really wish previous experience wouldn't tell me that, but it does. I've also tried to be good for the environment and have invested in compostable poop'n'scoop bags which, when used, are stored in the compostable paper bags in the green bin in the garage.

It's been a long week, and I don't mind telling you that even wrapped up in paper within a green bin, these things reek something fierce. And Vivian is of that age where she reacts dramatically to bad smells, calling them out. Possibly this is karmic punishment for my days as a pre-teen when I thought flatulence was gloriously funny, and reacted similarly around my father.

Well, anyway, coming back from walking the dog, I deposit the deposit in the green bin and step back in the house, turning on a conveniently located bathroom fan to try and disperse the smell. At just that minute, Vivian entered. Her eyes widened and she started gagging. "Oh, my GOD! WHAT is that SMELL!" She staggered. "Dear GOD! It's HORRIBLE! ACK!" Her hands are around her neck at this point.

I explain the cause of the smell, which doesn't alleviate the pre-teen gross-out factor. We stagger out into another room, and she's still pretty frantic. "I can STILL smell it!" she shrieks.

At this point, I can't help but tease her a little. "That's because the smell molecules are still in your nose."

"ACK!" she screams.

"You need to breathe in and out more," I said. "Get new smells!"

And immediately I constructed a scenerio, of some poor sod who'd smelled a smell he didn't like, and was reacting similarly to Vivian. "Quick! Breathe out this window!" I shouted. Then, miming the poor guy's reaction, I shouted, "SKUNK!"

Vivian laughed.

"No, no!" I shouted, miming moving to another window. "Try this one!" Then "DIRTY DIAPERS!!"

Vivian just about collapsed at that point.

We imagined the poor guy staggering around, until finally passing out, only for some other guy to show up with a rose. The guy with the rose would stare, then shrug, and say, "I guess I'm too late!" before walking off.

Vivian has started writing stories of her own. This might come up. If so, I want my cut.

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