Retirement Aspirement*

*Not a real word

Well … it’s been rather a long time.  There’s no denying it. I know I just disappeared without a word, and I’m sure it caused many sleepless nights and maybe even one or two Amber Alerts.    It’s not you – it’s me.   But the answer to my extended absence is in plain sight in the of the name of my blog … I just got a little sick of me.  “Me, me, me all the time”.  I worried I might be approaching the point where I became one of those people who find themselves infinitely fascinating, and who simply cannot have an unexpressed thought. Stop me when that happens, will you? But … enough about YOU.

How is it possible that another year has blown by?  It’s 2014.  That’s frightening on so many levels, but this one in particular: In my “corporate” job that I started in 1997, from day one my HR information always said:
“Year eligible for retirement – 2014”

Sadly, that job came to an end, but that other date has stuck with me.  It is officially 2014 – and let me make it perfectly clear … I am in no way “eligible for retirement”.  For the following 10 reasons:

  1. Still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
  2. Not mature, in the maturity sense.  Still the first one to laugh at inappropriate times, dance like no ones watching when clearly, people are watching, and they’re horrified (usually because I’m in an elevator, store, or my car).
  3. Not disciplined.  Would just lay around in my PJs and eat mini chocolate bars instead of going to lawn bowling or to seniors get 15% off days at Shoppers Drug Mart.
  4. Still too good at driving.  I restrict use of my blinker to times when I’m actually turning.  Plus I go 20 kms above the speed limit at all times.
  5. Still have kids at home.  Sure, they are grown ass adults who spend most of their time trying to get away from my smothering ways … “What are you looking for?”  “Who texted you?”  “Where are you going?”  “Did you have a good sleep?”  “When do you work?” “Are you cold/hot/hungry/sad/drunk/crazy?” etc. etc. etc.
  6. Punctuality issues – still arrive everywhere late.  Couldn’t make an early bird special to save my life.
  7. Still HATE gardening.  I believe it’s still illegal and immoral to be “retired” and yet lounge around a weed filled yard with flower beds full of dandelions and skunkweed, drinking daiquiris in a leopard two piece.
  8. My bucket list still involves an actual bucket, and a list of things that I intend to “give a good scrubbing” when I get home from work.  If I retired, I would always be “home from work”. Hence my dilemma.
  9. My dog is too young.  Many retired people I know have a sedentary geriatric dog with warts and mysterious smells and no teeth.   My dog is a mere 3 years old and is full of piss and vinegar and just enough attitude to make coming home from work every night a bit of an adventure.  “What did he ruin today??”  It wouldn’t seem fair to him to just BE home from work every day, and cut his demolition career while he’s in his prime.
  10. Investments.  As a retiree, rumour has it that you’re supposed to have them.  I’ve been heavily-invested for years in things like ½ hour sit coms, Saturday Night Live reruns, and late night eating contests starring me …  going up against – me.  It’s not like I don’t have a financial plan – I’m not an idiot.  It’s just that so far every time I check my portfolio it says “NOT A WINNING TICKET”.

Sure, I’d be “eligible for retirement” if it only meant superficial things like:

  1. Endless repertoire of “in my day” stories.
  2. Brown spots multiplying at breakneck speed.
  3. Upper lip 5 o’clock shadow.
  4. Regularly reach the top/bottom of the stairs without even an inkling of why I went up/down there.
  5. Intermittent rogue nose hair.
  6. Constant muttering.  (I’ve been muttering the whole time I’ve been writing this.)
  7. Bunions that would put Paul to shame.
  8. Fascination with roller coasters officially replaced with growing interest in “Stairlifts”.
  9. Increasing crankiness.  For effect I was going to say , “I put the crotch in crotchety” – but who SAYS that?  That’s disgusting.  Suffice it to say – I’m sometimes cranky.  And lastly, and probably most important …
  10. Waning interest in getting out of bed in the morning to attend any sort of job.

If that’s all it takes, then YES, I couldn’t be more eligible.  I’m frickin’ GEORGE CLOONEY eligible.  But sadly, in spite of official Human Resources documentation from the nineties; I think my realistic retirement date is something like 2034.  So, co-workers —  you’re in for a TREAT.  Because I’m not getting older … I’m getting more and more eligible.polls_maxine_1653_940496_answer_1_xlarge

 
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Filed under Aging, Humor, Thats Life, Work

Livin’ La Vida Loca – Long Weekend Style

This is a nice picture of the dog.  A little less nice of my lawn.

This is a nice picture of the dog. A little less nice of my lawn.

Where was I? Oh yeah….  Update –  I’m not that good at multi-tasking anymore because it appears that I can’t work full-time and blog. So since we still like to eat and even moreso drink, I guess my posts will be sporadic/annual going forward. But as I contemplated what a mess I’m making of the first long weekend of “summer”, I thought it too blogworthy to ignore. I actually had the added benefit of getting Friday off too. This had all the earmarks of being a super productive weekend.

In one of the many ironies that is my life … now that we don’t live on a farm anymore, hubby has gone into farming in a big way … working for a large cash crop operation.  Since this is planting season, basically that means that he is home for about 6 hours in the middle of the night for a much needed shower, feeding frenzy and power nap before being gone again at the crack of dawn. Which means I’m left to my own devices on this … the biggest of all outdoor project weekends. Let’s see … what did I accomplish yesterday? And make no mistake, there are many projects and maintenance things that need to happen. I got an early start…

8:00 am – 10:00 a.m. – Coffee. Put on tv to see news. Accidentally watched whole movie called “The Beaver” with Mel Gibson.  Worse than that, it made me weep, setting the stage for the rest of the day.

10:00 am – Dug up a few dandelions. Played the “weed-or-plant?” game trying to figure out what else to pull out, got tired and came back in the house to eat a couple squares of chocolate bar in case my blood sugar was low. Ate 12 squares.

11:00 – 12:00   Read paper outside and threw ball for the dog. Was impressed at how far I could throw it from a sitting position.

12:00 – 2:00 LUNCH

2:00 – Went to get wheelbarrow to collect pulled weeds, only to discover it has flat tire so it’s too hard to push.  Aborted mission. Sprayed dog with the hose.

2:15 – 3:00 – Googled what to do when your daffodils look like mine do … Got distracted by Facebook, looking at all the cool, fun and productive things that other people were doing this weekend.  Lost interest in doing anything about the daffodils. I don’t think I did anything with the daffodil remnants last year and the world didn’t end (much to disappointment of Mayans).

3:00 – Decided to fire up the push mower to cut some grass, because cutting the steep hill with the riding mower is too death defying for me. It’s hubby’s job, as he is heavily insured. Began a series of phone calls to tractor-dwelling hubby.

Call # 1:  “If I just put some gas in this should it start? Do I have to put anything else in it like oil?”

HIM: “No, that’s it. Should start right up.”

Call # 2:  “Is there a special button or anything that I’m missing? It’s not acting like it’s going to start at all, ever”.

HIM:  “No, no button or anything. You could tape up the idiot proof handle if that’s making it awkward, then just use two hands to pull the cord.”  I let the questionable “idiot” reference slide.

Call #3:  (This one took a long time to answer and turned out to be entirely one-sided) “ Yeah, it’s not going to start. My back hurts from pulling. This is stupid. I hate this.” Click.

Call #4: “I think I know why it won’t start. I can see it’s got a little leak in the hose. It’s probably because of how you stored it. Why did you put it away like that? Is there any way I can plug it? Is it going to kill the grass? Where should I put it so that the whole tank of gas leaking out won’t matter?” He dutifully answered all the questions but I don’t remember what he said, because I already lost interest in cutting the grass, and ceased to care whether leaking gas killed it. I ended the call.

4:00 – 7:00  Attempted to clean out the garden shed. Mostly whipped myself into a swearing frenzy after seeing all the junk that we’ve still got after our big move last year. Unless we’re going to be building a railroad in the foreseeable future, I think that there are a lot of giant pick-axe type tools that we can get rid of.  See exhibit A.

Exhibit A.
Dog added strictly for scale. The blue thing weighs roughly 250 lbs.

Also made mental note to ask hubby why it is that we can’t get rid of the 3 saddles we have. We managed to part with the horses years ago.  Failing a roving herd of wild mustangs making an impromptu appearance in our yard … I just don’t think we need them. Call me crazy. To make my little cleaning task even more interesting, the garden shed is home to several hundred bees including I’m pretty sure, those of the Killer variety because they are as big as birds, and they were all engaged in a fast paced game of “dive bomb and try to touch her head”.  That wasn’t so bad … kind of took my mind off the blackfly bites I’d been collecting all day.

Stopped cleaning when I dropped super heavy silver part of air compressor hose onto my shin.

6:45 – 7:00 – Iced shin.

7:00 – 7:05 – Pulled weeds from between deck boards.

7:06 – Got sliver.

7:07 – 8:00 – Worked on getting sliver out. Finally got it out, treated the wound and dressed it.  Decided I best have a stiff drink like on the western movies when somebody has to get a bullet dug out of their flesh.

8:00 on ….  A blur of educational shows like The Soup, Fashion Police.

11:30 – My back was pretty sore by this time, so took hot bath with glass of Baileys and read about world issues like Avril Lavigne’s wedding plans and Prince Harry’s polo skills.

12:00 midnight. Hubby home. Calls into the bathroom. “Did you get the gas for the lawnmower from that red can you left in the middle of the driveway?”

“Yes!”, I shot back.  Thinking the whole time … “So sue me for not putting it away. It’s heavy, and I’ve been slaving all day….”

His two word response was the perfect capper to my day:   “That’s diesel.”

Of course it is.  Is it Tuesday yet?

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Filed under Home and Garden

Sometimes it takes 2 to DIY

English: Logo for The Home Depot. Category:Bra...

English: Logo for The Home Depot. Category:Brands of the World (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some things never change – like, for example, the simple satisfaction from a job well done. When there is a problem with something, and you are able to fix it and make it better again, or build something from scratch, that is some powerful sense of accomplishment right there. I can think of only one thing better than being a successful “DIY”er. It would be being a “DIYD”er – or a “Do it Yourself – Director”. I’m awesome at that. Our new place is great, but, let’s face it – there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. We tackle things as a team. My contribution is as follows: Identify projects. This can be done in a number of ways, but I tend to go with:

Conspicuously staring at imperfections while subtly shaking my head and with an occasional heavy sigh thrown in. For effect, this is best done while spouse is trying to point out something unrelated and usually pleasant.

“Hey, Darling” he says. (He sometimes calls me ‘Darling’, and I figure – hey, if the shoe fits.) “Look at that crazy dog!” He points at our pooch, laying upside down, sleeping adorably on the floor.

BUT I of course, can manage only a fleeting glance at the right-upside-down-dog, but then my gaze drifts over to a missing piece of wall trim nearby. I adopt a sad, melancholy face, not at all what he was expecting when he pointed out the cute pet … and then BOOM, fixing piece of trim just moved up the priority list.

When that doesn’t work, another subtle tactic is the unnecessarily loud phone conversation with my sister that lists all the things that need fixing/are unbearable, and always hinting that I would be much happier (and some might even think, nicer) if only these projects were done.

Sometimes I perpetuate the myth that “we” do jobs, by accompanying on a trip to Home Depot. Once there, I usually

a) Complain that I’m hungry because I can smell Subway.

b) Fill the cart with a bunch of stuff we didn’t intend to buy, like plants and mops and organizers.

c) Lose him at least 3 times, and zoom around up and down the aisles like a crazed mall walker.

d) Act bored, possibly even climbing a rolling staircase to the top, or laying on some plywood stacks just to pass the time while he does tedious stuff like “calculate” and talk to old guys wearing orange aprons and shorts and workboots, during which time I’m trying not to laugh when they say stuff like “caulking”.

We get out to the truck and I sometimes have to sit there for 10 minutes while he figures out a way to fit everything in and on top of the vehicle. During this time I play with the radio and creepily stare people watch. I always perk up on the way home, with the truck loaded down with mysterious ingredients like concrete and wood and “caulking” (too funny).

“How long do you think it will take us to get this done?”, I inquire, eagerly.

He always plays along … and goes into a Mike Holmes-esque recitation of all the things that have to happen:

“Well, first we have to sand and then I’ll cut out those old pieces of wood and cut news ones and put them in and then it will all have to be caulked (I’m dying!) and then we can paint with the primer and then paint with the nice new paint that you picked out…” , but by then I’ve glazed over so badly there’s no coming back. AND – we both know that I’m not doing any of that. He will do it, and it will be perfect, consistently way better than I could have imagined. I will wander into the room where the work is going on and cheerlead, “That looks AWESOME! I love that colour I picked out!”

(It’s always some variation of beige.) I may even deliver a well earned beverage.

When the job is done he will call me in to admire it. Sometimes I take before and after pics. It is without exception, done equal to or better than if we had hired a professional. His talent at doing absolutely everything never ceases to amaze me. I’m always impressed. However, sadly, my satisfaction is always fairly short lived. If for example, he tries to bask a little too long in the warm glow of accomplishment by a couple of days later by saying something like, “Remember how that room used to look?” I usually say something sensitive and motivating like, “Yes, but … have you SEEN that laundry room? Let’s not live in the past”.

Here’s a pic of OUR latest DIYer project. I heard it was going to be an exceptionally hot summer, and phoned him on my way home from work a few weeks ago. I didn’t mince words:

“We need one of those pools from Canadian Tire.”

“Aren’t they expensive? Where will we put it? Aren’t they ugly? Do we have enough water?” Sometimes he’s very inquisitive. And, obviously, none of these things are my problem. He picked one up.

There was a slight delay with the installation, when he read the assembly directions and it said “you need 3 people” to set the thing up. When 2 hot weekends passed and he realized that at no point was I going to lift a finger, so the chances of getting a third party were akin to the snowball’s chance in hell, he got fed up and did what he does best. Did it himself. I arrived home from work, it was installed on a spot where he had painstakingly and perfectly prepared the ground. He called the water delivery service and got it filled up, and by the next day we were swimming.

A recent and fairly effortless project

Now was that so hard? Best part is, the kids keep raving about what a great idea I had, as they lounge in and around this pool.

Well, I can’t take all the credit. It’s just not my nature. I’m a team player. And, it may sound corny, but in my case it’s especially true … there is no “I” in team.

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Filed under Family, Home and Garden, Marriage, Thats Life

Living in Harmony, minus the “e”

Well, I think we were ill informed when we bought this place, and we would sue the real estate agent if we had one, but we bought it from Kijiji so I guess that’s out.

Nowhere in the fine print of the ad did it mention that the eventual purchaser would be rendered completely unproductive due to the spectacular view. I spend every minute at home with my increasingly ample butt firmly planted in a lawn chair or swing, staring out at the beautiful vista. If the weather is inclement, I sit in the house and gaze out the various windows. It’s all I can do to tear myself away and go to work! And blogging – well, forget about it. I thought I had better make an attempt though, or maybe WordPress will revoke my privileges.

Plus, when you spend your time staring out the window, you have time to reflect about all kinds of things you could blog about. For example, recently I thought about dating. Plus, I ran into an ex-colleague who, the last time I checked, was happily married, but things have changed in recent years, and on this particular day he was out on an “internet date” on a patio.

It got me thinking – I just can’t imagine inflicting myself on dating anyone at this stage in my life. Especially, those internet sites like e-Harmony that have you fill out a questionnaire and then match you with your perfect match. I can only imagine what the guy who ended up with ME as his perfect match, would have had to say on his questionnaire:

My Perfect Woman :

Physically, my preference runs to women with loose skin on her face and even looser on her neck, and she has a faint, light fuzz above her upper lip, and maybe even the occasional mole with a saucy rogue whisker. As for her hair, I’m not crazy about long tresses, but instead prefer thinning, shorter sassy cuts, with at least ¼ inch of grey root. Speaking of hair, I’m a big fan of the ones that sometimes peek out the nostril and occasionally glisten in the sunshine.

I have a bit of a foot fetish – well, bunion fetish would be more accurate. The bigger the better – ideally they are spilling out through the sides of her Tender Tootsies. And heels that are deeply cracked and are the colour of grey concrete are a real turn-on. Still with the feet – if hers turned out ever so slightly, so that her tracks in the snow resemble the letter Y, that would be adorable.

Conversation wise, my preference runs to someone whose banter consists of mainly status updates on what each of her kids are doing, and who makes a habit of blurting out things like the household maintenance tasks that need to be done, and upcoming bills that need to be paid. Ideally she would also use me as a sounding board for her righteous outrage whenever someone like Bell Canada or Service Canada takes advantage of her good nature and deals her an injustice.

I like a woman who is health conscious enough to mentor me and educate me about nutrition , yet is edgy enough to singlehandedly dummy a family sized bag of Miss Vickys chips with such enthusiasm that she cuts up the inside of her mouth – giving us yet another conversation topic for the next few days.

I want a mature woman, but one who still has a playful, youthful side – like for example, can still pull off a major eye-roll, usually when I’m sharing my plans for an upcoming project – or just generally talking about my aspirations for the future.

Well, I guess it’s not out of the question – I do sound pretty hot when I see it all written down like that. ( I am REALLY HOT, actually). But there’s the whole communication thing, that would be a pain, learning to read each other. Like for example on the first date – he would probably think it’s going exceptionally WELL, just because my pants would be undone in the car on the way home from the restaurant, and my bra would be off and yanked out one sleeve seconds after arriving at home.

UGH …. just thinking about it is exhausting. I feel an overpowering urge to renew our vows.


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Filed under Humor, Marriage, Uncategorized

Glass Houses

A little over one month later, and it’s hard to believe, but we’re now settled into our new home.  And by settled in, of course I mean we have paths winding around all the boxes.  We basically stopped unpacking once we had located the essentials — various remotes, sweatpants, and the bottle opener.

In the final couple of days on the farm I nearly killed myself cleaning. I wanted to leave it nice for the new owners. I completely wore off all of my fingerprints through inexperience and aggressive use of SOS pads.  Housekeeping was never my forte and my complete disregard for dusting is world renowned.  After removing all the furniture I couldn’t help but marvel that my family members and pets are all functioning reasonably well without the aid of a respirator.

Luckily that means they are well prepared for coming to visit the new place, since the sellers did not share my enthusiasm for impressing with one last epic cleaning session.  And heaven knows I’m not about to start in cleaning this place too.  In a word, eff that.

Not to sound cranky, but the previous owners also ignored the part of the deal that said that window coverings were included, so all of our windows are bare.  We weren’t madly in love with the draperies or anything, but I worry that our  window  exhibitionism might prevent us getting invited to any neighbourhood events. They say good fences make good neighbours, but when you get to be our age and you’re so hot you sleep in your underpants, I think blackout blinds are also kind of a public service.  We may have trouble making any new friends if we don’t get some blinds soon.

We’re having minor issues getting adjusted.  The dog has claimed the basement bathroom toilet (did I mention we have 3?) as his personal drinking fountain.  But he can hardly contain his excitement as he gallops in for a drink.  He’s so enthused he can’t help but wag, and the door is on a bit of a slant, ­so the minute his wagging tail touches the door, it promptly slams shut behind him, and his awesome flushable fountain room changes instantly, becoming a terrifying prison. Eventually someone always finds him, but not always before he has a panic attack and rips up the toilet paper or takes a dog sized bite out of the shower curtain.

Hubby says “barn” instead of “garage” all the time. 2 of the 3 cats have developed agoraphobia/eating disorders. They have quickly forgotten their past lives as adventurous outdoorsy “barn cats”.  They are basically living my dream life, by eating constantly and never leaving the house.  The other cat regularly ventures out and about while the other two peek out the window at him, between mouthfuls.

Our issues are more than made up for though, with sweet amazing benefits like …. wait for it …. a truck comes and picks up our garbage and takes it away.  We were giddy the first couple of times it happened.  It’s like magic.  You put it out by the road, and then when you come home from work, it’s gone!  The first time the anticipation was too much – I phoned home at lunch to say “did they take it?”  Not that I minded those 20 years of wonderful Saturday morning rides into the dump, riding in the truck surrounded by recycles and odiferous trash bags. That was some quality time, right there.

I’ve changed jobs, and now drive to work via a big city on a highway. I’ve been trying a number of different routes, but don’t have the greatest sense of direction so have pulled a lot of u-turns.  Plus I’m not used to this highway driving, I always drove my commute along scenic country roads, and I used to amuse myself by honking the horn at the cows and horses in the fields, to see if I could get a reaction.  Now I’m surrounded by other commuters, so I amuse myself by staring at other drivers and grinning, and sometimes uncontrollably sit-dancing at stop lights.  Sometimes when I’m doing dead arm robot other drivers think I’m waving at them.  They never wave back.

I don’t know why they aren’t friendlier.  I’m always fully dressed.

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Filed under Home and Garden, Humor

New Home-ward Bound

The maple lined driveway of the farm on a frosty morning

Well, we can relax.  We found a house on Kijiji. And today we get possession of it.  Thankfully we have 2 weeks to move, which is great because it turns out I’d rather do other stuff – like write blog posts – than help move.

*Disclaimer – the pics in this post are kind of random – photo albums are already packed so not much to work with.

This major life event, causes me to reflect on our other homes of our married life.  All three of them.   When we got married, I moved half a block away from my parent’s home, into a cute little house we had rented. We thought it was a palace.  It was tiny, without a basement, and had two little bedrooms. When I put stuff away in the cupboards, I could also do a weather check, because there were huge cracks where I could see outside – that is unless they were too iced up.  Our castle had a “portable toilet”, which was especially pleasant since we hosted lots of parties with our 20-something pals, where mass quantities of beer were consumed.

We stayed there 3 years.  Hubby had always wanted to have a bit of property, so we found ourselves looking ½ hr north, at a 10 acre piece of land with a cute little bungalow.  It had no basement, but the toilet wasn’t portable so it had me at hello. The young couple who were selling it had built it themselves, and we were young and naïve enough to think that was a good thing.  In hindsight, Mike Holmes would have been apoplectic.  The young couple was extremely good at staging and had really nice furniture.  We were dazzled by the charming décor, and so excited at the prospect of our “hobby farm” that we failed to notice that the house itself kind of resembled a double-wide, and that parts of it were held together with fence staples.   The reason I know this, is because fast forward a few years, when we had 3 little kids, and those 3 little kids had 2 little friends over to play. It was a windy afternoon, and they were all 5 playing in the living room, and the drop ceiling got real literal and “dropped” on top of my happy little toddlers.  After that, helmets were mandatory as we searched for our new home.

By now my hubby’s appetite for land had become insatiable. He wanted a farm, and he had a list of attributes it had to have – bank barn, maple trees, creek, etc, etc.  We started looking another ½ hr north, and looked at so many places that I eventually stopped going with him because it was too hard to haul all the kiddies along.  One day he came home and said he thought he’d found the place. It was a January day, and I remember riding in the car to look at it and driving for what felt like hours through frozen tundra.  The house had been empty for a year, so the staging was a little less inviting than our first house.  Each room had a charming little pile of dead cluster flies under the window.  And there was a decided “hill” in the floor of master bedroom.

Winter morning view from the barn.

On the bright side, this place had two toilets of the not portable kind, and it had a basement.  So what if it was the kind of basement you don’t want to go into unless under threat of a Wizard of Oz category tornado.  I had chronic fatigue also known as numb-y mummy syndrome in the 90s, so robotically signed the papers, and we moved in on June 26 1992, with a 1, 3 and 5 year old.  My biggest concern was how I was going to keep them all safe, with a pond and a creek, and a barn with a ladder up to the rafters. I had visions of a well-worn path down our driveway from emergency vehicles, and being on a first name basis with all the 911 operators.  Hubby was enthralled with all the fields and dirt and trees that we could call our own.  He saw past the insulbrick and the long grass, and fell deeply in love with the maple lined driveway and the white board fence and the big red barn and the bush out back. He thought this was a great place to raise the kids.  Turns out, he was right. (I can admit that, because he hardly ever reads this.)

Move in day, June 1992. Note the well manicured lawn and my future fashionista sporting the toga look.

The hard farm life

After 20 years, we’re moving on.  It’s bittersweet – it’s a small town and most people have lived here FOREVER.  The folks in our community who eyed us suspiciously for the first 10-15 years, have started to warm up. (Mercifully we didn’t realize at the time how sorely we stood out at our kids athletic and school events.  We thought we were anonymous, and really we might as well have been wearing sandwich signs that screamed “stranger danger”.) Now ironically, we will  be making trips back to the old hood to visit. We will miss our pals.

Even though we’re empty nesters now, the kids are having a hard time with saying goodbye to the old place.  I tsk tsk them and tell them how great the new place will be … but secretly I’m dealing with flashbacks of 3 little curly headed imps fishing through the cracks in the bridge at the creek, or all 3 sleepily listening to Tom Petty songs while crammed into a tractor cab with dad as he plowed fields, or 3 teens huddled behind the driveway trees waiting for the bus, or countless family barbeques with spectacular sunsets.

I can’t think about that too long.  Instead I choose to focus on the fact that the place we’re going to has an unprecedented 3 normal toilets, and a basement that I will willingly spend time in, even without weather network alerts.

And the best part is, the family moving in to our old house has 3 little kids under 5.  The dad is visibly excited about the fields and barn and trees and bush.  The mummy is not at all numb-y, and is thrilled about calling our old farm home.  They think it’s going to be a nice place to raise kids.  They have no idea.

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Filed under Family, Farm Life, Home and Garden, Memories

It’s Awards Season

Ahh, awards season. Always so fun and unpredictable. I watched the Golden Globes a few weeks back, sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for Ricky Gervais to do something shocking, and was hopelessly disappointed.  Then it was onto the Grammys, and the antics of big haired twangy, country singers both male and female,  followed up by the flying pink haired Minaj girl having a Cirque de Soleil style exorcism.  Once again – disappointing.

But nothing prepared me for the surprising event of this past weekend, when I was nominated for an award in my own right!  A “Versatile Blogger Award”.  Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.  I pulled a complete Taylor Swift, all wide-eyed and open-mouth flustered.  Luckily there was no access to a microphone, because I can be quite wordy in my speechlessness (I am the queen of the 1,000+ word post). Suffice it to say that they would have turned off my mike and turned the lights off, and had the band start up just for good measure.

I’ve been called lots of things in my time, but I like “versatile” a lot.  It reminds me of an old Rosalind Russell movie with a child star Natalie Wood in it where she sang “Let me entertain you, let me make you smile” …. and then the last line of the song was “I’m very versatile”.  I’m leaving out key details, like the fact that the movie was about a stripper named Gypsy Rose Lee … but that’s neither here nor there.

It seems I was nominated by the lovely and talented Jonesingafter40 , a lady after my own heart, with whom I have at least two things in common – our firstborn offspring just happened to be dogs, and we both began something monumental when we turned 40.

So without further ado … let me get on with the responsibilities of the honor.  This tiara weighs heavy on my head.

PART # 1 –  I have to tell you seven things about myself.

  1. I started my university studies when I was 40, and graduated the year I turned 50. I have remained 50 for all the years since.
  2. I’m a stress baker.
  3. I have great posture, but it’s fake, because I have stainless steel rods in my back, from a scoliosis surgery when I was 15.  .
  4. I am a compulsive proofreader, and grammar corrector.  (Note – corrector is not a word.  I would have corrected that.)
  5. My dad was 20 years older than my mom.
  6. The last thing I won (besides arguments) was a joke telling contest at a comedy night in a bar.
  7. Erma Bombeck was my hero.

PART # 2 –  I get to tell you about 15 other bloggers that I enjoy.  They are clever and witty and make me wish I thought of that …

  1. becomingcliche
  2. randombraincells
  3. year-struck
  4. ashleygillian
  5. whatImeanttosay
  6. imonthebandwagon
  7. ramblingsandrumblings
  8. ohmygawdjustdowhatisay
  9. randomreasoning
  10. hyperboleandahalf
  11. crabbyoldfart
  12. formerlyhot
  13. lesleycarter
  14. emjayandthem
  15. theuglymoose

Sincere thanks for the nomination. I’m always surprised when people I’m not related to, read my stuff of their own free will.

I do hope this tiara doesn’t make me look fat.

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Filed under Humor

Time Marches On

"Totes" - not just an expression of agreement, but a sophisticated filing system for borderline hoarders

This has been a long span between blog posts, but I have a good reason.  We’re moving … for the first time in 20 years.  No more farm life for us.  When we signed the deal way back in September it seemed like a great idea.  “On to the next chapter”, we agreed, and high-fived to seal the deal.  But as our closing date of March 15th looms, a few troublesome realities have cropped up.  Like for example, before cutting us a cheque, the people who bought our place expect us to leave … and to take all of our crap.  Did I mention we lived here 20 years?  We have accumulated a lot of crap. 

We’ve always lived by the tried and true “let’s keep it and decide later” school of organization, and we have a giant barn, which served as great storage for innumerable Rubbermaid containers full of papers.  Each year we socked a few more away.  Out of sight, out of mind. Plus, being classic helicopter parents, we thought everything our kids ever created was brilliant and we kept every single piece of paper they produced from nursery school until roughly, yesterday. Believe me, they were quite prolific.

We’re now trying to get it down to one tub per offspring.  We can be found each night, rummaging through the dusty totes. We had a lot to get rid of , so did get progressively more discriminating and established new ground rules.  All school worksheets – gone.  All the math notebooks and tests – gone (It didn’t stick anyway).  All “that doesn’t even look like a horse” drawings – gone.  Can’t tell which kid did it – gone.  Anything in French – gone.  All “participant” ribbons – gone.  Assignments with any teacher comments that contain feedback that resembles criticism – gone.  I prefer to remember the happy times of enthusiastic and unbridled achievement…. so pretty much anything the boy did between grade 10 and grade 12 (both years) – gone.  

In the “keep” pile, are multiple, multiple “Lifetouch” sheets with 24 school pictures in the same pose with each kid, for each year.  Not sure why we always went with the “25 prints” package, when we only had one set of grandparents.  Also, not sure WHO dressed those kids and did their hair on picture day, but it was someone with a cruel sense of humour for the most part.  Also “Keep”:  any piece of paper/macaroni craft/tissue, that says “You’re the best Mom/Dad/Parents …  we do need that  validation and we’re not above digging through a dusty tote to get it. Plus, I want that evidence handy, and strategically on display when they are making our elder-care decisions.

Our ticket to the "Good" old age home

Something else I kept were multiple copies of the local newspaper if our kids made it in.  Cleverly though, I kept the whole paper, so have spent a good portion of my time this week thumbing through 10 – 20-year-old newspapers looking for likenesses of my kids or their names in small print, so I could reduce bulk and just rip the page out, which apparently I was just too busy to do in the 90s, because then it would have been too dangerously close to scrapbooking.   This has proven very time-consuming though, as I am easily distracted and inevitably end up poring through the classifieds, and beating myself up that I didn’t buy EVERYTHING at those prices.

There were other Rubbermaid containers too, filled with fun facts, by way of receipts. My wedding dress cost $279. Our honeymoon for two weeks to Bahamas all-inclusive cost $1080, for both of us.  Fuel to fill up our oil tank was 39 cents a litre when we moved into this place.  We got our septic system pumped for $70 in 1989.  Additionally, we had the good sense and foresight to keep a little brown envelope with somebody’s extracted teeth in it.  Also, I worked with someone somewhere whose name was Pat(?) who was sooo “sorry to see me go” that she/he bought me a card.  I have no memory of this co-worker, but ironically, I was able to name  every kid in a yellowed and ancient looking photo of my grade 1 class.

Yes, life has become a fun-filled, time consuming, teary eyed meandering trip down memory lane. Because we’re easily distracted  procrastinators by nature and we have to examine each piece of paper thoroughly and play the arguing remembering  game about the timeline of events of our lives thus far, we haven’t had time to exactly hammer out some details, like exactly where is going to be our forwarding address.  But we’re not too worried about it.  We don’t have to be out until March.  And luckily, it’s a leap year, so we’ve got that extra day in February. 

This year March may come in like a lion, and go out like a middle-aged couple and a dog  and 3 cats living in a van, down by the river.

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Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Memories

Marley Schmarley – Timber was Golden

Our firstborn, Timber.

Saw a bit of Marley and Me over the holidays, and it makes me sad + mad.  Sad for obvious reasons – I always hate it when (spoiler alert) the dog dies.  And mad because I didn’t listen to my dear friend Charlotte back in the early 80’s when she urged me to write a book about my firstborn son who just so happened to be a Golden Retriever. My Timber was equally if not more interesting and a lot less messed up mentally than that Marley critter.  I could be the rich author raking it in instead of John Grogan (plus isn’t he busy enough singing  “You Raise Me Up”?), and Jennifer Aniston could have played me in the movie, since she’s basically my Doppelganger. My book would have been called Me ‘n Timber, because grammar wasn’t my strong suit in the ‘80s. 

We got him as a pup in June of 1981, and we did that obnoxious thing that people who love dogs do, of going to see the puppies at 3 weeks of age at the breeders, and picking one out and then going to visit him until it was time we could take him home.    I remember picking him up and putting him in the back part of our “Scout” truck, but he didn’t like it there so I had to stop and get out and put him on my lap, where he rode the rest of the way standing up on my lap looking out the side window.  That set the stage for how he was going to be brought up.

The beautiful run and house hubby built for Timber. We didn't ever have the heart to lock him up in it. This was a staged photo-op.

The first day that we left him alone while we went to work, he didn’t really like that either.  So every day after that, he came along to work with me.  I worked at a vet clinic and he basically became the clinic greeter.  He would sit by my desk in the back, or hover outside the surgery, depending on where the action was.  He would run out to the reception area whenever anyone came in and wag and look behind him as if to assure them that somebody would be right out.  Sometimes he slept out in the reception area, and would be too lazy to bother greeting anyone but would just lie there thumping his tail instead.

We used him at the clinic shamelessly.  He was in charge of keeping yappy dogs quiet who didn’t like to be left alone.  We would put him in the kennel room and he would lie there like an annoyed babysitter.  He was our in-a-pinch blood donor.  If a dog came in that had been hit by a car and was dangerously close to death, we would borrow some blood from Timber, tapping right into his vein in his neck and he would sit there still as a statue as we let gravity help us gather.  (Apparently matching blood types isn’t a must do if it’s only happening once.) He would let us place orphaned kittens or cotton-tail bunnies on him for warmth, in between the times when we would feed them with tiny bottles.  He would let them snuggle in to his furry belly, and he seemed to quite enjoy it, although if you made a fuss he always looked embarrassed like he wanted to stress that it wasn’t his idea.

Babysitting a lonely kitty

Doing candy striper duty, walking a patient.

Dr. Timbers, ready for surgery

He was a seasoned commuter, and our family of 3 would set out together each morning. I had to drop hubby off at work and then Timber and I had another 20 min. drive to the clinic.  We drove a big old 1967 Ford Galaxie, and he had the whole long bench backseat to himself.  He would sit leaning super-casually against the door, gazing out the window – he never did that dog thing of sticking his head out.  I expect he thought that was way too unsophisticated and dog-ish.  Occasionally he even used the armrest.

The Galaxie, our sweet ride

 Not that he was perfect.  He got into trouble sometimes.   One day hubby was driving us along in the a.m. and I was having my usual breakfast of a banana, when we both smelled something horrific.  We could barely breathe, and then looked in the back seat and a rather sheepish looking Timber had just yacked up an impressively sizeable cat turd, still coated in litter.  It was disgusting.

Another time he helped himself at home in the morning to an entire pound of butter.  Strangely, it didn’t agree with him, and though he held off his nausea until we got to work, he hurled up a pale yellow oil slick about 15 feet wide right beside my desk.  I couldn’t even clean it up, it was far too gross – the paper towels just slid around on it.  My co-workers cleaned it up while I gagged helpfully in the corner.  In spite of mopping, people were slippity-sliding past my desk (which held an abacus and a lot of carbon paper, because it was the 80’s) the whole rest of the day.

PLUS he once consumed an entire cheeseball that I had slaved over.  It was Christmas Eve, and we were entertaining and we went to the door to see our guests out, and he joined us a few minutes later, but couldn’t stop licking his lips.  We discovered that the coffee table now held crackers only, with a big gaping hole where the beautiful crushed-pecan coated cheeseball used to be.  (In his defense, he may have mistaken it for a giant round cat turd coated in litter.)

Timber loved every person he ever met, with the exception of one man, who unfortunately was someone we had to see regularly.  He turned into a whole different canine when the dead stock guy came to clean out the freezer of all the dead animals. As the guy would go up and down the stairs to the basement, carrying out the dearly departed “petcicles”, Timber would growl and back up, as if to say “You’ll never take me!”.  The guy was kind of a creepy ghoulish character – I mean who does that for a job, especially in the 80’s when the economy was booming? He could have been doing something awesome like pumping gas or renting out beta movies.  But I digress …

Timber was a remarkable boy and enjoyed all the privileges that went with being an only child, at least until we got some offspring of the two-legged variety.  Then there was a bit of a power shift and he begrudgingly took on the role of family pet. I always knew he was acting though.

Timber Darling, 1981-1988

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Filed under Animal Stories, Family, Humor

Hair today …. Don tomorrow

Recently I was watching Barbara Walters interview Donald Trump – and it occurred to me that one of them has almost the exact same hair as me…. and it wasn’t Barbara.  It’s official –  the Donald and I share lifeless looking, odd coloured clumpy yet wispy coifs  – not unlike the rather large full body mats my newly feral cats now sport.
speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Image via Wikipedia

My hair has no real part, it just goes every which way it wants.  There are little flippy things at the side sometimes, whenever it feels like it.  There is no predicting what it might look like from one day to the next.  The level of ridiculousness seems to be directly related to the occasion, and the necessity to be presentable. If I have nowhere to go that day, and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I’ll sometimes think to myself,  “Hmm, not bad – a Bonnie Franklin post-One Day at a Time thing going on”.  But then without a doubt, at my next event where I have a real vested interest in NOT looking ridiculous, like an old boyfriend is going to be there or something, (ha) then sure enough I will have something that either looks like I:
  1. am wearing a sideways Bump-it 
  2. have an aggressive head tumour
  3. am sprouting horns
  4. have purposefully flattened and parted it for my best Gomez Adams impression

Should I have something really important like a job interview, I can pretty much count on rocking something closer to the Donald Trump or even Don King look.

Don King

Image via Wikipedia

 I don’t know exactly when this happened – if I had to nail it down to a decade I think it would be the 90s.  I used to have normal girl hair.   At one point it even moved, and had what I believe they call “body”.  Now the texture is similar to the angel hair we used to put on the Christmas tree.   This new thin, dullness was further aggravated by a recent Groupon experience.

Without Groupon, I never would have considered going to that nice, trendy salon that was practically in the city.  It was all decorated in black and white, with lots of angles and flattering lighting.  It’s obviously for people who are extremely sophisticated – like those types who accessorize and dress differently according to what season it is. (Even though they’re going to be too hot in those sweaters.)

But – it was only going to cost me a fraction of the price of the normal fancy salon haircut, and since my nest emptied I’ve been trying to care about “me time”, so why not live a little and be adventurous?  I went in and sat in the chair and the chic girl looked up from her texting and with a thick, exotic accent spoke to me, while trying to hide her disappointment. 

“What are we going to do today?” 

Then I muttered a bunch of incoherent things about

“It’s too long at the back …. but I don’t like it when the back gets the clippers on it because then it’s boy hair.”

“I don’t really like bangs, but I really hate my forehead, and headbands are out so leave it long…”  

Yadayadayada ….  And then I ended my speech with my signature, “It’s only hair” tagline, that used to go over so well at First Choice.

The whole time, I was admiring her cute fashionable outfit and her long locks (which I now understand were extensions).  Anyway, I hated for her to have such a boring customer, and I just got completely swept up by the pounding dance tunes and complimentary trick mirrors – and  when she started talking about doing something “funky” I agreed wholeheartedly.  Bring it.  I’m all about the “funk”.  I’m practically Grand Funk Railroad.

When she was finished I looked pretty decent – old boyfriend decent even, with my dramatic, Twiggy-esque “statement” hair, all carefully “messy” and with dramatic sideburn things.  Luckily I had a date with hubby and some manual labour – I struck quite an impressive figure in my hard hat as I helped him drag and chip brush.

But … in the cold light of the next day, when the glow of funky chic had worn off, I had to deal with it myself.  It became evident that what “funky”  really amounted to, was her cutting all the hair away from around my ears.  Equally problematic, my ongoing funkiness was going to be directly dependent on me having to do stuff that I don’t know how to do.  Like use products … and pull my hair into dramatic “wisps” onto my face.  After working on it for half an hour, I had moved away from resembling high fashion Twiggy-esque model, and settled on a look that was closer to be “Sad elf with huge hairless arcs above ears” .

That was about 8 weeks ago.  It  gradually morphed from sad elf to Donald Trump.

Now comes the hard part – going back to my usual hair dresser like nothing ever happened.  I already have a reputation as a problem client, who takes in pictures of cute haircuts that I want to her to give me, that are virtually impossible for me to have. 

“Yeah, that’s cute – but that wouldn’t work on you.  Your hair is too thin/short/long/patchy/thick/cowlicky”… the list is endless.

Now that I cheated on her with Groupon, I feel like I need to make an effort to be more faithful and lower maintenance.  This time I’ll take in a picture of Donald.  And maybe a promise ring.

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Filed under Aging, Fashion, Humor