Category Archives: Humor

Take my turkey leg torch already

The Turkey Is Done

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Christmas dining 2011 has now been put to bed, and I singlehandedly reinforced the great lengths a mother will go to for her children.  I will stop at nothing to preserve my offspring’s feelings of self-esteem and confidence. So, now that my children are getting some of their own culinary experience and interest, I simply didn’t want to dazzle them tooooo much with my amazing kitchen and cooking skills, and run the risk of leaving them feeling like they could never measure up.  I don’t want them to feel intimidated when the official Christmas duty kitchen torch is passed and they are responsible for preparing all the special festive fixins.  Consequently for our holiday dining I did things like this:

  1. Put out a last minute call to daughter Christmas Eve to pick up water chestnuts for Spinach Dip.  Replied confidently and firmly in the negative to her inquiry as to whether or not we needed anything else.  All was good until we went to make said Spinach dip and I had no — nor had it even once occurred to me to think about getting …. Spinach.
  2. Pre-made the sweet roll dough on Christmas Eve for our Christmas breakfast sticky buns, and instead of “lukewarm” as instructed, added milk cold enough to evidently deactivate the yeast, consequently waking Christmas morning to completely flat plasticene like dough instead of gently risen puffy beginnings of deliciousness.
  3. Undaunted I started over, remaking the dough and forming the little individual buns.  Also pulled out a little known “expert” trick of placing the buns in their greased pan on top of another pan filled with warm water, so that buns would rise faster.  They rose quickly and efficiently and doubled in size, at which point I knocked the pan sideways so that all the gently risen buns slid into the warm water, and bobbed around like cinnamon buoys in a lake.
  4. Cleverly bought a much bigger turkey than in past years, and put it into the oven later in the day than ever before.  As we played a board game and smelled the delicious turkey cooking, we then heard a small explosion in the oven.  We were baffled upon examination – there were thin shards of glass on the turkey breast, but none of the glass casserole dishes appeared to have broken.  In an obvious attempt to make me look like I’m losing my mind (possibly brought on in part to the fact that I lost one of his presents that I bought him 2 DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS and hid, and at the time of this writing has still not been located); hubby asked if I might have inadvertently inserted a wine glass into the turkey, because that’s what the glass pieces resembled.  I was justifiably outraged, but just then with tensions rising, the mystery was solved.  It was the meat thermometer that exploded.  Picked shards of glass off the turkey skin and after much arm twisting I reluctantly agreed not to use any of the drippings for gravy, for fear of glass shavings.  My arguments in favour of roughage fell on deaf ears.

Spontaneous Combustioning Thermometer

5. Then inserted the new meat thermometer that I had received in my stocking.  It’s digital and very high tech, and we anxiously waited for it to announce that the required internal temperature had been achieved. This much anticipated declaration was not made until approximately 10:00pm.  As happy hour extended well into the early evening, I slurredly protested periodically that the turkey was going to look like the National Lampoon one, but dammit, I’m goal oriented and metrics driven, and we had committed to this new piece of technology and we were going to see it through to a 180° reading, come hell or high water.  I was not far from wrong, National Lampoon wise, but on the upside, if you make people wait long enough for dinner they are still extremely complimentary and effusive with praise about the meal.

Now, everything has gone according to plan and the bar is set quite low, and in future years when one of the kids hosts,  even if they invite us over  and have us pick up Swiss Chalet on the way, as long as they spring for the festive meal special, they will have one upped me and can feel like the winner of one of those reality cooking shows.

I also let them win at board games.

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It’s a Wonderful Mom, for a couple of days anyway

Golden Retriever ChristmasIt’s almost Christmas, and as per usual, I’m not sure that ours is going to measure up to the ideal.  I always feel a bit inadequate at this stage of the game.  There’s been a noticeable absence of cool stuff like Rocking around a Christmas tree, or dashing through the snow on a one horse open sleigh. The yard is mostly mud this year, not snow, so the whole sleigh thing (or snowmobile equivalent) is going to be out of the question.  Plus how can I rock around a tree that isn’t up yet?  We are still in denial about our offspring having grown up – we remain locked in the past where they all fought over putting the star on the top so we had to do it 3 times.  So, we’ve been holding off putting up said tree until at least 2/3 of them are home. It’s getting closer and closer to the big day as they; some would say selfishly, insist on living their own lives and delay arriving “Home for Christmas” until the last possible moment. A couple even went so far as to get their OWN trees, which some would argue is actually cheating on our family Christmas, but of course I’m not one to judge.  Heaven knows I don’t want them to worry about me….

 I haven’t done anything Martha Stewart-esque, (like securities fraud, OR  adorning the house with any homemade crafts.)  I  hauled out the same old tired decorations I’ve been using for the past few decades, and just made some essential touch-ups (example:   ripped off a ribbon from table centerpiece that looked too wrinkled and stained due to careless storage and sloppy wine drinking).

I have purchased all the requisite stuff that I will in early January throw out, such as egg nog, fruit cake, nuts that you have to crack, and hard candies.  I bought a lot of other ingredients to make stuff that let’s be honest, I’m probably not making. So come July I’ll have the usual 3 cans of Eagle Brand Milk, butterscotch chips and graham cracker crumbs that will have expired.

I did make some of my standard delicious treats, like shortbread, which I now eat instead of breakfast so there definitely won’t be any of those left by the time any actual company arrives.

I spent last night at the mall, and holiday spirit was a little bit in short supply.  A few things that rubbed me the wrong way:

  1. Home Outfitters – I have 15 items, some of which weigh as much as a small child. … YES I WANT A BAG. 
  2. So SORRY Sears, to inconvenience you and the giant lineup behind me (since you only have one checkout open in your whole store) because I got all “difficult” and refused to let you  charge me $40 more for a sweater than the sign said you would.  Thanks for taking the time to prove that I was right and then processing my sale without so much as a “Sorry we thought you were lying”.
  3. Hey trendy clothing store – my email address is none of your beezwax when I’m doing nothing other than picking up a gift card for my kid.
  4. Yo – grocery store … I thought “Utility Turkey” meant it might be missing a wing – not that it would look like it stepped on a landmine.

I was also mildly annoyed by some downright cranky staff ignoring me or treating me like I was an idiot for having the gall to ask if they actually have something that they advertised in their flyer the day before.  Adding additional insult to injury, these gum chewing eye rollers were often wearing Santa hats.

It’s 2 days away and I’m officially sick of “So this is Christmas”  “Do they know it’s Christmas time?” and “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”.  One song that doesn’t grate on my nerves is “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – unless of course it’s the Jessica Simpson version, which makes me downright nauseous.  The “Santa Baby” song is kind of fun too, but a little slutty and I worry about my impressionable young daughters.  That songstress is clearly exchanging favours for presents, and we’ll have none of that.  I would rather encourage my girls to set their sights on something worthwhile, like front teeth or even a hippopotamus.

Intermittently I do my wrapping, and never ceased to be surprised by stuff that I bought a few weeks ago and completely forgot about. 

But in spite of all my whining, I’m really not the Grinch.  On the contrary, over the next couple of days I will do a complete transformation.  The things that I preach to my family about all year like fibre, portion control and reduced fat will all go out the window, as I do a complete 180 and get into Holiday mode, and start doling out toxic delicacies like cinnamon rolls, quiche, cheeseballs, truffles and pies.  I will slack off on other rules, like the dog not being allowed in the living room, and not indulging in alcoholic beverages at breakfast.  Hubby may even be allowed to sit and read a magazine without being peppered with reminders about things that need done. Prolonged lazing on the couch is completely acceptable, in spite of how nice it might be outside.

So, enjoy “Christmas Mom”, family.  She is my gift to you.  Remember, “January Mom” is just around the corner, and we’re back to the norm where every sentence she utters begins with: “You should ….”

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Side by Side – Practically

Well, time sure flies, because once again this week it was our wedding anniversary.  And while this one passed without major “incident”unlike some of them, in reflecting, it seems that it was evident early in our life together that romance was going to take a bit of a back seat to practicality. 

For example, back then, who got married on December 1st, except of course people who were putting together a quick wedding and couldn’t wait until June because they would be a family by then?  We did – for the romantic reason that back in those days I worked in an accounting office.  In 1979 the tax laws were such that a husband only had to claim the wife’s income from the date of marriage – so he actually got to claim me as a dependent for the whole year, meaning that our income tax refund paid for our 2 week Bahamas honeymoon.  Now that’s Amore.

Even as we departed the next day on our honeymoon, our dreamy, romantic resolve was tested.  In an ironic twist, we were the only married people on a plane load of “PWPs” – Parents without Partners.  And man, THOSE people could party.  It was the one week a year they got away from their kids. We weren’t even off the tarmac and they were  sitting on each other’s laps lighting up smokes (you could do that then), blasting music and conga-dancing down the aisle  – and making snide comments about how we were sure to become “future members”.

 Then fast forward a couple of years to an anniversary that we decided to celebrate by going to a romantic lodge in Haliburton.  We made our way to the quaint destination, and when we booked in, we were informed that we were the only non-members of a family reunion that was taking place at the lodge. They had booked all the rooms plus the cabins.   We both got dressed up into our nice evening wear to go have our anniversary dinner in the dining room downstairs, and found it completely full of the very loud, very boisterous “Mc-Something” clan.  We attempted to hold hands and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes, but it was somewhat diminished by the fact that the family reunion people had selected this night to hold a “funny hat contest”.  It’s hard to sustain that come hither “look of love” glow when you’re interrupted and asked to pass the salt by a man wearing toilet paper roll antlers at the next table.  We finally adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” attitude, and instead of spending the rest of the evening reminiscing about our wedded bliss, we cleaned up at their Euchre tournament.

One downside of a December anniversary is that you are also competing with the Christmas party crowd.  Another time – our 10th , we went to a very nice upscale restaurant in our town, and it was SUCH a big deal because by now we had a couple kiddies so we usually only dined out under golden arches.  This night, with Grandma babysitting, once again we’re all decked out in our finery, and they sat us in a room at a cute little table for 2, right beside a long table that sat about 24 people from a local firm celebrating their Christmas party.  There were non-stop speeches and service awards all night.  (It sounded like a nice place to work.  I made a mental note to send them a resume.) Ever impressionable, I found myself wishing I had thought to get hubby a 10 year plaque. 

Of course there have been lots of anniversaries since that one – and this year we took practical to a whole new level.  I stopped at the drug store the other night to pick up an anniversary card, and lo and behold, found my beloved in the same aisle, on the same mission.  But he had already been to one store and come up empty handed.  He explained that there were none that expressed his feelings.  I completely get that.  He likes to get the sentimental cards, and couldn’t find any that said “I love you, moreso when you aren’t being a bitch”.  And as per usual, the ones I looked at for him all had me gagging and laughing out loud, – not because he isn’t wonderful, but I’ve just never been able to pull off a “You complete me” with a straight face.  My go-to card usually mentions something about stealing the covers, or pictures of a couple of cute dogs snuggled up together, and the sentiment is implied and unspoken. So in this instance, instead of actually purchasing cards, we just pointed out to each other the ones that we would have purchased. (I went the high roller route and chose the pricey “sound” one that blared Shania Twain’s classic “You’re Still the One”.)  Then we spent the $10 on lottery tickets instead, and left the store.

Then yesterday, on our actual anniversary, we very practically went to a restaurant where we’ve accumulated a substantial number of “VIP” points, and we need to use them up, because we think we won’t be going there much in the future.  First we had to wait at the bar because neither of us even thought of making a reservation. The romantic ambiance was established almost immediately, as they had an Ultimate Fighting show on the bar tv, and there were numerous scenes of heavily tattooed, bald and buff fighters with cauliflower ears and blood coming out of their mouths.  Romantic AND appetizing.

The hostess then sat us in a booth beside the entertainment (that’s new), a 70 ish Scottish man with a guitar who started up the minute we were seated, singing loud mournful ballads, with the odd Jimmy Buffett and Roger Miller thrown in for good measure.  Conversation was out of the question.  So, not wanting the evening to be a total bust, in my mind the evening focus shifted from romantic dinner to mouth-full sing-alongs of “Those Were the Days”, and “Trailer for Sale or Rent”.  Hubby was unphased by my impromptu booth-side Karaoke. After all these years he knows that if there’s music and I know the words, I can’t resist.  And truthfully, knowing the real words isn’t a deal breaker.

At the end of our day though, we carried out our ritual of getting out the wedding album and looking at the skinny bride with the sausage roll flipped hair, and the dress that copied the one in the Rocky movie, and the lean groom with the jet black hair, mutton chops and Magnum PI moustache.

Those Parents Without Partners may have been half right.  After all these years, we may be a bit lighter on the romance – but we are PWPs. Partners who are Practical.

 

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Failure is a Gift… and My Gifts Are Failures

Well, it’s about a month until the big event, and time to start the nightmare that is Christmas shopping.  Trying to buy other people something they want.  What a concept.  If they want it, and are over 16, and they have the means — or even if they don’t have the means but have a credit card — chances are they already bought it.

This makes shopping even harder, because now I have to think like a marketer, and identify an unmet need, and then fill it.  I need to buy people something they don’t even know they want, but that will delight them, ideally beyond their wildest dreams.  This is a tall order, and one that I have been known to take very seriously.

I’ve failed miserably at this in the past.  I used to be a sucker for gadgets. My first gift to my then boyfriend back in 1974 was a “hot lather machine” for shaving.  Seriously.  And I couldn’t WAIT for him to open it. He was barely old enough to shave, and somehow I thought that the only thing lacking in his life (now that he had me, the ultimate prize) was the foam that he put on his face before scraping it with something sharp, was too cold.  Life altering indeed.  Even more staggering is that he used it, but I think that’s just because we were in the early stages of relationship training where he still did what I said.

And I distinctly remember presenting my sisters with such technological wonders as nail dryers.  Because what girl hasn’t suffered  through the cruel hardship of having to wait for her nails to dry, or heaven forbid “wrecking” a freshly polished talon (which we all sported in the 70s) before it was sufficiently hardened?  Much like Dr. Drew, I was able to act as a Lifechanger and bestow upon them these nifty gadgets that would actually blow on your nails FOR you. Talk about luxury.  Ivana Trump had nothing on us.  I think that these gifts would have been more meaningful if my siblings were asthmatics or something, and blowing on their own nails presented more of a problem, but sadly these ladies have always enjoyed perfect health so I wasn’t able to have quite as dramatic an impact.

What other useless gadgets have I gifted, you ask?  Well, I’ve attempted in good faith to transport my sisters and girlfriends from their kitchen tables to luxurious spas, by providing them with the rare and coveted facial steamer.  So what if you can accomplish the same thing by leaning over your boiling kettle, or opening the oven door during broiling – at the time I was almost exclusively shopping at the high-class “Consumers Distributing” store, and from the picture in the catalogue it seemed like a definite  life changer, in an  elegant  “Calgon take me away” sense.

And remember back in the seventies when everyone smoked?  Well, everyone except my dad.  My mom chained smoke (God rest her soul – not a coincidence ).  So I was able to find the perfect gift to solve the problem of my dad’s constant bitching about secondhand smoke.  It was of course to buy her a ‘smokeless ashtray’.  I expected to win hands down the favourite child of the season award that year.  But surprisingly, turned out not to be a big hit.  Mom was annoyed because the thing basically smoked her cigarette down to the filter in seconds, as it was powerfully “inhaling”  the whole time it sat in the ashtray.  Consequently her number of smokes per day skyrocketed.  And while Dad was hard of hearing, the industrial sounding hum that this thing emanated seriously impacted his enjoyment of Bonanza reruns.  Conclusion:  total bust.

 And sometimes, without intending to, in my zeal to dazzle I guess I could be downright insulting.  But, keeping in mind that I aspired to improve lives in a similar fashion to Richard Simmons and  “Oprah’s Life Class”, when my dear friends complain about cellulite, naturally I take that as a challenge to come to the rescue.  The quizzical (disbelieving?) expressions on the face of recipients whom you’ve just (at no small expense, might I add) gifted with an anti-cellulite product is something that must be seen.  Never mind that in my head I visualize them, because of me, now being able to rock their Daisy Dukes, and not in a “the People of Walmart” kind of way.  It’s true what they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

But I am not always on the giving end of crappy gadget gifts.  My husband gave me something for Christmas early in our married life, that signalled that indeed the honeymoon was over, and had me seriously questioning our compatibility.  My feelings were hurt and I couldn’t believe that he thought that this was a suitable gift for me, his trophy wife.  It has gone largely unused, but I’ve kept it over the years, just for spite. 

It’s Black Friday and I’m hitting the mall.  Let the games begin.

 

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All I Want is Dust in the Wind

The weather is terrible. It gets dark in the middle of the afternoon.  My half-hearted job hunt has stalled.   I have a boring empty nest and way too many mirrors in my house.  November is officially the most depressing month on earth. There is one thing in my life that doesn’t suck right now. Unfortunately, it’s my vacuum cleaner.

I’ve been kidding myself for a long time that I could make this relationship work, with what in an ironic twist is called a  Hoover “Windtunnel”.   I dutifully haul it out a few times a week, even though it weighs a ton and I have to schlep it up and down the stairs. But I finally  had to admit that one of us is just going through the motions.  Things hit rock bottom the other night when it couldn’t pick up – wait for it ….. an onion skin. That’s right, the transparent single layer outer shell of a cooking onion proved to be too daunting for this particular Windtunnel.  It twisted and flapped pathetically at the end of the hose – almost going, but then not quite – taunting me by making a little noise, kind of like someone blowing on a blade of grass.

I’ve become completely unreasonably obsessed.  I fight with this thing and curse, and hubby tries to calm me and asks me to step away from the Hoover, and suggests maybe I should, “Eliminate the middle man and just sweep the rug –  it works just as well”.  But lets all just calm down and  HOLD ON A COTTON PICKING MINUTE. I come from a time long ago, when men were men, and when you had a job to do, you damned well did it.  Why should this Hoover get off scott free while I work up a sweat trying to sweep a rug that was clearly intended to be cleaned through a process of powerful sucking coupled with a solid session of beater-barring? 

So, using the part of my brain that has me driving past gas stations that have put the price up, even when my low fuel light is burning brightly and the next closest station that might have cheaper gas is 10 miles away,  I maniacally pick up dirt and then jam it into the hose. Sometimes if the particular piece of debris is too long, like a toothpick, and gets stuck sideways, I will break it in half and feed in the two pieces separately.  I’m nothing if not committed to seeing that this DAMNED Hoover fulfills its contractual obligation.  It has one job.  “SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP.” (Just a small sampling of my verbal tirades).

Somehow, this makes sense to me, and it is why over the last few years, vacuuming the rug on the stairs really means that I can be found rubbing the convenient “stair attachment” furiously along the carpet and then sitting down every third step or so, working with the little pile of cat hair and dust bunnies that I’ve basically “plowed together” by friction, and then trying to coax ­­­­­the material down the nozzle, rather like a mother bird force feeding reluctant and somewhat bulemic young ones. 

It would be okay if that’s the best that was out there.  But I know that there are magical models out there that can suck up ball bearings at the drop of a hat.  Why, — and I’m not proud of this – but I happen to know firsthand that a full-grown finch in a cage can be effortlessly sucked off a perch, if you’ve got adequate suction mixed with just a hint of  easily distracted.  Side story:  Many years back I was helping a friend’s mom in her pet store, and was vacuuming out an occupied cage, whilst chatting away with the lady.  I turned to look at her to make a particularly salient point, and then when I returned my gaze to the cage, it was no longer occupied. I looked down to see two tiny stick legs kicking madly at the end of my nozzle.  I then had to follow the trail of the hose of the central vac to pull it out of the wall, where the little yellow guy plopped onto the floor, visibly shaken. I placed him back on his perch … and fun fact – “scare the shit out of”, is a real thing.  The timing of this incident came fresh on the heels of the time I helped by cleaning out an aquarium after having just applied nail polish remover (who knew that fish were THAT sensitive).  I was tactfully informed that my assistance, voluntary as it was, would never again be required at my friend’s mom’s pet store.

Totally digressed again, but it’s my prerogative.  Mmm …  perogies. (I may  have a serious attention deficit issue.)

I know that there are some amazing vacuum cleaners out there now, that can have your old tired rugs looking like they’re brand new.  But they also cost about $700.  I don’t want to spend that much on something as boring as dirt removal.  I could get something really good for $700, like multiple restaurant meals, or my hair cut and coloured 3 and a half times, or laser eye surgery on one eye – (the blue one),  or a spider vein-ectomy on one leg – (the bottom one, when I cross them).

But for now, it’s business as usual.  I’ll just hunker down and do battle with the uncooperative Hoover.  Someday, my Dyson will come.

A Dyson DC07 upright cyclonic vacuum cleaner u...

Image via Wikipedia

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My Multiple Breakdowns

Car Repair

My better half is good at working on cars.  But it’s a double-edged sword, because we never buy new – we always buy used vehicles – ones he knows he can breathe life into long after their best before date. Which means that on occasion we’ve been left stranded.  Like on a Monday morning a few weeks ago.

When my city dwelling daughter comes home now for the weekend, it’s like the Amazing Race come Monday morning when I have to get her into the train station an hour away to get her to work on time. We sped out of the laneway in the pitch black, just before 6 am.  Not far from the house we both heard a noise – a clunk. 

“What was that?” 

We made up female type explanations for it:  

“Sounded like we ran over something … but we didn’t.  Something must have fallen over in the trunk.”

A few more feet down the road, then CLUNK

“What was THAT?”  my daughter shrieked.  

“I don’t know.  Call your dad.” 

I came to a stop and threw it into park.

“He wants to talk to you.”   

Him:  “What happened?” 

I gave him a clear and concise assessment of the situation:

“I don’t know, we heard something clunk.  She’s going to miss her train.  Come right away.”

“What did it sound like? I need to know what tools to bring.”

 “I thought I had a flat tire but I don’t think I do. But I might. Hurry up.”

 “But what did it sound like?”

 “It sounded like I shouldn’t be driving it.  Why are you still home?”

Cue the rain.  We sat on the side of the road in the now hurricane force rains, awaiting his arrival.  It felt like an eternity, but it was really only about five minutes.  When he arrived, we wasted no time.  We leapt out of our car, flinging luggage, purses and lunch bags into his truck with all the care of Air Canada baggage handlers.  There was no time to waste. We jumped into the truck and zoomed off, leaving him to either find a way to drive the crippled car, or walk home in the rain.

But, that comes with the territory of being head mechanic.  We’ve been stranded so many times it’s hard to count.  Like many years ago when we were on our way to the babysitters to drop off our youngest while we went to my uncle’s funeral.  Once again it’s torrentially raining.  We’re on a country road … suddenly the rear wheel falls off.  It seems that when hubby was changing tires on the weekend, he forgot to tighten that one up.   Did I mention he was supposed to be a pall bearer at this funeral?  He tried to put the tire back on but couldn’t … this was pre-cell phone days, when you had to walk to the closest (usually creepy) house to use the phone.   We ended up taking our babysitter’s van to the funeral, where my bedraggled, sweaty and soggy husband joined the other five impeccably groomed pall bearers, reminding me of  the Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the others”.  (In the 90s I always thought in terms of Sesame Street songs.)

Wheel falls off?  I see your wheel and I raise you one axle.  That was the year when the kids were little and they were going on their annual Christmas shopping trip with dad down to the mall, on December 20th. They were in our 1990 Suburban, which we bought in 1996.  As they cruised along my husband heard a little bang and then suddenly the kids in the back seat kind of “dropped”, like they were in a low rider.  He looked out his side window to see his left rear wheel zooming up past him, picking up speed, veered in front and then jumped into the ditch and about 100 feet out into a farmer’s field. He managed to get the Suburban stopped on the roadside.  A pick-up truck pulled up behind him, presumably to offer assistance.  The guy ambled up to the window and casually asked, “Are you going to put out that fire?”  It seems that when the rear axle broke, the friction caused a small fire under the vehicle.  One of his biggest regrets is putting that fire out.  The thing was insured, we would have been much better off than the $2,000+ repair bill.  Side note – I think that’s the year my Christmas gift was a ShamWow.

You may think it’s always raining when we’re stranded.  Not always.  Sometimes it’s a blizzard.  This brings me to our 1994 Astro Van, which we bought in – you guessed it – 2000.  This was a “luxury touring van”, which had its upside because it had cool things like drink holders and reclining seats for everyone –critical when you have teenagers who are constantly thirsty and exhausted from being sullen.  The truck had its down side though – a sliding side door that required secret handshake treatment to close. You had to lift up and a hold the handle just so – or you were screwed – it would fly open when you turned corners.  Whenever we were transporting other people’s kids – which was constantly because teenagers also have to bring a friend everywhere in order to make family functions tolerable … there was always a chorus of “DON’T CLOSE THE DOOR”.  Only family members knew how … and if you did it wrong, then tools had to come out, sometimes accompanied by colourful language that we would rather our children’s friends not know that we know.

Anywhoo – It’s the blizzard of all blizzards, and hubby and I making our way home from work.  The Astro Van decides it’s only going partway, and strands us a good 18 kilometres from home.  Try as he might couldn’t get it going.  Along came a police man who we happened to know through hockey, and he loaded us into the back of the cruiser and gave us a ride home.   I thought the kids would be worried sick.   Interesting to note that teenagers are way more okay with it when parents come home in a police car than vice versa. Their main concern was whether we thought the school buses would be running tomorrow.

Those are really just the tip of the iceberg.  There were many more incidents. But in spite of all the breakdowns, I’ve come around to his way of thinking. Who needs new cars?  Warranty Shwarranty.  All these adventures on the side of the road keep things interesting, and I figured out how to spend some of the money we save by him doing our car repairs.  It’s called CAA.

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Filed under Family, Humor, Memories, Thats Life

Causing a Scene Up on Aisle 3

Ah, the grocery store.  There once was a time it was my happy place.  I remember starting out as a newlywed, getting all decked out in my makeup and pearls for a trip into town to buy all the chips & dip, pop and cookies we would require for the next week.  Then seven years later, I was the one with no mascara, and the carseat in the cart, stacking groceries all around the kid, making more responsible purchases like Similac and Arrowroots.  Then I became the one with the unbrushed hair and big dark circles under my eyes, pushing two kids in one cart and dragging another cart behind me loaded with stuff like organic apples, diapers, Cheerios and Clamato Juice (hey, a mom’s gotta live).  Then before long, we were up to three kids, and I was the yummy mummy scraggy frump pushing just one cart again, with one kid sitting in the top part (that was always fun – trying to hold a squirming kid up high enough to get the legs in the cart holes –akin to putting a worm back down the hole), and two kids hanging off the side. Or sometimes one of them would be scrunched up where the cases of pop should go, and the other one would be racing around a few aisles over, annoying other shoppers.

We have lots of fond memories from shopping with the kids.  Like the time our youngest was sitting up in the cart, when she was about two years old.  Another lady pushed her cart up close to us, and she had a little baby about three months old.  The cute little baby was staring at our little Laura, and the mother and I exchanged smiles and nods, sharing the glow of motherhood.  As we both examined the bacon, I saw my daughter lean closer to speak to the baby.  I thought to myself, “Aww,  precious”….  then she said, in a growly, Clint Eastwoodish voice:

What are YOU gawking at?”  I scurried away

Kids or no kids, grocery shopping is a lot harder than it looks.  You are expected to make a lot of decisions, plus perform some fairly complicated math calculations.  At the front door is the first major decision – push cart or hand basket?  Let’s be serious – they should completely get rid of those hand baskets.  On the rare occasions that I have convinced myself to use one, I can be found moments later, one aisle over, staggering under its weight.  It’s like they conspire to put all the heavy things on sale the day I use a hand basket.  I’m the queen of the heavy impulse buy. Potatoes , juice, beans.  I then have to alternate carrying it with two hands between my legs like a toddler learning to bowl, or casually dangle it off my forearm like a purse – ignoring the excruciating pain and increasingly deep dent in my flesh.   I ran into a friend shopping recently and she had a hand basket that she had stacked so high that she couldn’t even lift it, and had resorted to leaving it sitting in the aisle and bringing purchases back to it, stacking it higher and higher.  Thank heavens I arrived with my push cart – I did my good deed for the day by giving her 200lb hand basket a ride to the checkout, while she walked alongside with her hand atop the highest items so it wouldn’t topple.

And speaking of running into friends – is there anything worse when you’re just trying to get your groceries and get out, than getting to a section where you need something and two other shoppers — apparently long-lost old friends– are blocking the aisle and have pushed their carts together and are playing catch up with all the news in each other’s lives, and all you want is to find the spice that you need and be gone?  They make half-hearted attempts to move their carts closer to the shelves, but inevitably you need something that they are blocking entirely.  Those inconsiderate people piss me off.

Yes – come to think of it there is something worse.  Occasionally when I see somebody at the grocery store that I haven’t seen for a while, and we’re trying to have a conversation – maybe she’s showing me some  pictures on her cell phone or something – and other shoppers look all aggravated and make “tsk” sounds and try to ram their carts by, or reach past us to get stuff.  Those ignorant people piss me off.

One sure-fire way I know to make sure I see everyone I know in town is to go to the store without any makeup on, dressed like a slob.  Guaranteed all my friends, enemies, and the ageless cheerleader from high school will be all up in my business.  Those are the days that I’m forced to shop without my glasses on, and operate like Mr. Magoo and can’t see anyone, least of all that slim, well dressed do-gooder lady with the cute haircut whose kid used to hang out with my kid.  Sometimes might have to skip a few aisles to avoid an encounter, and go home without a few items I really need, but hey – priorities.

However, should I have just come from the hairdresser and be wearing one of my business suits that is from this decade, in full makeup complete with lip gloss, I guarantee that I will not see a single soul I know.  If I should see someone familiar – I won’t be able to catch their eye, despite whistling, waving and full on jumping jacks.

Plus, regardless of how much time I spend shopping.  Once I’m officially trapped in the checkout line, I always see something in someone else’s cart that I meant to get.  And I want it.  Bad. I weigh my options … create a distraction and just grab it?  Offer to buy it at a premium?  None seem feasible, so I say “back in a minute” and then walk-run through the store trying desperately to get back before the checkout person has finished running all my stuff through.  Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t.   Sometimes I get distracted, and keep shopping and have to be paged.  So what, who cares.

A recent grocery shopping trip was a little hair-raising.  I completed my purchases, paid and then was on my way out with my cart loaded with bags, when I was stopped dead in my tracks by a huge candy display that I had missed on the way in.  How is that possible?  Candy is just about my favorite thing! There were a couple of other people browsing, which added to the sense of urgency.  Could this be the candy sale to beat all candy sales??? However, good sense prevailed (I am after all, in the words of my daughter, a grown-ass woman) so I decided not to buy any candy and instead I pushed the cart in a most dignified manner, out to my truck in the parking lot.  Once I got out there and opened the back of the truck to begin loading my bags of groceries in, I made the unfortunate discovery that I had actually pushed someone else’s cart out to the parking lot, full of unpaid for groceries.  I raced back inside,  and mine was still stalled beside the enticing Fuzzy Peaches and Licorice display.  Nearby there was a bewildered looking man with his arms full of fruit and vegetables who appeared to have lost something.  His wife looked irritated.  I dropped their cart off close to them, then grabbed mine and headed back out the door as they stared.  I quietly muttered the only thing I could think of …

What are YOU gawking at?”

Yes, I realized I have come full circle. Once again I shop alone. And I may be a grown ass woman, but I can annoy other shoppers even better than my kids ever did.  And there’s still so much to look forward to in my shopping career.  Next milestone at the grocery store – the driving carts, and bad parallel parking in the Polident aisle.

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Criminal Minds – Canine Edition

I’ve been getting some requests for an update on that DOG my family brought home without my knowledge, blessing or input.  (Okay,  maybe nobody asked – but tough, I’m going to report it anyway.) His name is no longer “Murphy”.  We discovered that he’s a bit challenged intellectually, and he likes to run and run and run … so then he became “Forrest”, as in Gump.  But that’s where the similarity ends. We’ve had him for three months, and he’s got a rap sheet a mile long.

 Top 10 Crimes over the past three months:

  1. Vandalism – Ate ½ of nice black leash as rebellion against having to stay in the porch because he was wet, and smelled like – you guessed it – a wet dog.
  2. Theft and destruction of property – within the course of ten minutes and (while in full view of hubby who did not notice either deed) he both:
    • Dug up/pruned with his teeth, my only surviving,  non-holey Hosta
    • Stole black bra from clothesline and paraded it about the property like he was at a Victoria Secret fashion show
  3. Destruction of more property – Over the course of a couple of days, systematically, knowingly, and sneakily chewed the little leather piece that goes between your toes from THREE separate pairs of #1 daughter’s flip-flops. To add insult to injury, the shoes looked normal until she went to put them on, and they became anklets.
  4. Vagrant-like behaviour – Rolled in something disgusting, requiring an immediate bath, even though it was nighttime and hubby was home alone with a migraine and had to perform the bathing all by himself.
  5. Repeat vagrancy offense – Morning after emergency bath, rolled in cat poo and presented himself at the door to be let in with full turd still intact behind one ear.
  6. Trespassing – he decided to accompany a group of Mennonite children home from their bus stop as they walked past our house.  By the time hubby noticed he was gone, he had been absent for a while.  Had to jump in the car and drive down our side road to their farm, where the one-canine crime spree was gleefully chasing their horses around the paddock, barking like a lunatic.
  7. Indecent exposure and lewd, inappropriate behavior, unbecoming a dog –  Whilst wrestling on the kitchen floor with the girls, he knowingly or unknowingly released what they call the “red rocket” and one of them full-on grasped it by accident.  There was much screaming and hysteria, and then talk about being a “pet-o-file” and then finally,  “show me on your doll where the bad lady touched you.”  None of us will be recovering from that anytime soon.
  8. Terrorism – Singlehandedly banished our beloved the cats into exile.  He eats their food, and poses menacingly in the doorway.  My three little feline friends are officially feral now.  Sometimes they sit in the window when he’s in another room and stare in at me with tearful yet wild eyes, one paw held up against the window pane, longing for the days when they ran the house.
  9. Grossness – Self induced bulimic behaviour whilst traveling in the vehicle, so not only can we not leave him alone, we can’t take him anywhere unless we want to end up on the side of the road scraping warm, half-digested piles of puppy chow flecked with pieces of wood off the upholstery.
  10. Conspiracy leading to slander – He’s running with the wrong crowd. At precisely bedtime on a Monday night when he was let out for one final bio-break, he purposefully had a secret rendezvous with the stinkingest skunk in the county.  Of course it was 11:00 p.m. , and we had to wait until morning to get him cleaned up. He had to sleep outside, tied up like the common criminal that he is quickly becoming.

The good news is that having worked at veterinary offices for many years, I know that a foolproof remedy to remove skunk scent from a dog is a good soaking in a feminine hygiene douche product.  That’s right – Summer’s Eve.  Massengill – that sort of douche.  The bad news is that this is a small town and it doesn’t go unnoticed when your husband is waiting at the door in the morning for the drug store to open, and hastily purchases as many douche products as he can carry. 

However, he is still technically a puppy and we are trying to keep in mind that we didn’t give up any of the children during their youthful escapades (almost doesn’t count).  Plus,he’s also skilled at one other thing that means we’ll probably keep him around – occasionally he does a convincing impersonation of a good dog.

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Filed under Animal Stories, Family, Humor

The Dentist – “Slight Discomfort” My Butt

Had another classic “would only happen to me” experience recently.  I had to go to the dentist, and months ago when they asked what time worked for me, and offered up the coveted 8:00 a.m. spot on a July Friday morning, I said enthusiastically, “Yes, that works!”  Yes, that probably does work – for every other grown-up in the world but me.  I aspire to be the kind of person who already has completed something significant (like a dentist appointment) by 9:00 a.m., but the truth is, I have very rarely ever been anywhere by 8:00 a.m. – including places that I’m really excited to be going.  What were the chances that I was really going to be in their office chomping at the bit (cheap pun intended) to have them drill and fill a couple of my remaining teeth.  Some might say I was setting myself up for failure, taking that appointment time.

The receptionist however, was quite gullible and took me at my word and apparently passed on my verbal contract to the dentist.  I know this because when I showed up at 8:15, he was visibly PISSED.  In my defense though, I was only going to be 5 minutes late, but then I panicked and forgot what street to turn at so I drove around for another 10 minutes feeling like I was in the Twilight Zone and somebody had moved the office.  (Okay, not the greatest defense since I have been going to this dental office for about 10 years — but it was only my second time having an appointment with this guy, and it was eight o’clock in the morning for Pete’s sake, so I was just generally and completely out of sorts.)

So now I’m there, late, and he’s annoyed.  He’s fairly young – which to me now means early 40’s.  He pointedly tells me that he can’t do everything that he had planned today (okay, I get it – I wasted 15 minutes) and that I have to make a new appt. for part of the work.  Then the hygienist comes in and hands me the TV remote and says, “Do you want to watch anything?” They have a firm policy in place that the patient gets to select what’s on TV while the dental work is underway. I say okay, and I start clicking around looking for Canada AM (which I’m usually watching from the comfort of my home in pjs), but then Dr. No-Nonsense comes back in and wants to get right down to business so I stop channel surfing.

As he begins to work, I notice that the station it landed on was the Comedy Network, and that it’s on the John Stewart Daily Show rerun from the previous night.  Well, that was fine with me.  Maybe my choice in programming will loosen things up – demonstrate my cool factor, as well as my contemporary grasp on the U.S. political scene.  I’m thinking this will definitely thaw the icy elephant that is in the room.

But then, things take a terrible turn for the worse.  My mouth is frozen, and he’s in it up to both elbows.  Dental hygienist girl is on the other side, madly sucking up all kinds of spit and debris, and mopping his brow.  (I may have made that part up.)  Suddenly it’s silent, except for the quiet hum of the spit sucker.  Both dental professionals are holding something in my mouth waiting for it to harden.  We’re all avoiding eye contact with each other.  Then – it’s not Daily Show anymore, but it’s the Colbert Report.  On any other night, that would have been fine, and would have only gone further to illustrate just how hip I am.  But on this unfortunate program during sweeps week, Mr. Colbert punked me real bad.

He opted to do a lengthy rant, berating NBC for having a “Boob Week”.  At the mere mention of boobs, I made a futile attempt to find the remote on my lap in a desperate effort to find the comfort of Seamus O’Regan, but the dental tray was in the way. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. We all had no choice but to listen as Stephen ranted, saying things like:

 “What about butts?  I’m a butt man – there are millions of us.  So tell me where’s butt week?” He talked about butts that are “So tight you could bounce a quarter off and get back two dimes and a nickel”.  He talked about “I hereby call on the Colbert nation to demand equal time for the bootie.  Boob week is a huge ratings grope – like Shark Week. What about Shark Boob Week?”

My thoughts were running wild.  Would it be offside to cover the dentist’s ears and yell LALALALA until the segment was over?  But that still leaves the poor hygienist.  Also by now I’ve convinced myself that he’s probably also a part-time minister, and he’s even more disgusted than I can possibly know.  They are probably going to have to have a meeting after my appointment to set a new policy for what to do when patients choose off-colour comedy or maybe even porn as their dental appointment program of choice. They are probably going to name this policy after me.

Finally the segment ended and they went to commercial.  Now the work in my mouth has ended.  I mutter something sheepishly like, “Oh, what the heck was that?”  They now have pasted on fake smiles, and exchange the kind of eyebrow glances that mean they are going to talk about me when I leave.

Feel free to re-enact.  Pretend you’re in my exact situation with the po’ed dentist and his assistant 6 inches away from your face, and you got to choose the programming, and you subjected everyone to this tirade, blaring loudly throughout the office:

Stephen Colbert's Butt Rant

 

 

 

From now on I think I have to adopt the Rodney Dangerfield approach to dental care:

“I told my dentist my teeth were going yellow.  He told me to wear  a brown tie.”

Obviously I can never go back there.  And as part of my ongoing job hunt, I’m now seriously considering UPS.

 

 
     

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Filed under Humor

Memories of Mischief and Mayhem

Took a little trip in a time machine this week. I found a journal that I used to keep when the kids were little. Below are a few of excerpts, from the early nineties. This is very timely, because sometimes I get melancholy about missing my little ones. A quick trip down memory lane takes a bit of the sting out of empty nest syndrome.

May 1993 (kid’s ages 2, 4, 6)

When we were going to town this afternoon, I put on nice clean white pants and a nice top, and felt not too hideous. I get out of the car at the school and the whole pocket of my pants at the front is covered in chocolate. Nobody even had chocolate. When I asked where the chocolate came from, Laura  does this very exaggerated shrug and says, “I don’t know. Katie bad.” So that explains that. Also just for a treat, somebody left about 12 crayons in the back seat and they melted all over the upholstery of the new Mazda.  I had to clean it up as best I could, using a blow dryer to melt it and a spoon to scrape it up.  Tonight I was making muffins and I turned my back for a minute. The next thing I knew Laura was carefully spooning dishwater into my batter. 

And then another one from about a year later …

The girls are going through a stage now where they love to listen to Alanis Morisette. I had a nephew tape songs for Richard, and he was supposed to edit out the suggestive songs, but guess he forgot. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen 3 year old Laura lustily belting out, “I don’t want to be your mother, I didn’t carry you in my room for 9 months”. (18 years later SHE makes fun of ME for getting song lyrics wrong)

There will be blood …

Took girls into town to Foodland and Best Buy, thought about picking up Richard but didn’t know when school got out. (What kind of mother doesn’t know what time school gets out???) Took girls to park and came home. Richard got off bus, tried to ride his bike to house, fell and put a big hole in his face. Was bleeding all over, and screaming that he didn’t want to go to the hospital. Away we went to Emerg, with Kate and a very cranky Laura in tow. For an encore Laura wiped out on the floor of the waiting room and put her bottom teeth through her lip. More blood. I’m thinking I’m in hell. Richard was very brave getting his face stitched up – even though the whole time he was getting stitched up Laura was kicking the gurney he was laying on, so basically the Dr. had to stitch up a moving target.

And more blood

We had a classic drive home from Milton tonight, where the kids fought the entire trip in the back of Mazda, and then it rained from Rockwood on. About Arthur it turned to hail, and shortly after Richard got an incredible nosebleed and the next thing Laura was bawling her head off because Richard got blood on her blanket.

Oct 2, 1995 – And even more blood …

For Richard’s birthday we gave him a Sega game and dad gave him some homemade arrows that he could use with his homemade bow. He was pretty good with it for days, but the other night when I was preparing for a small dinner party we were hosting, he made one shot straight up in the air that was quite spectacular I guess, because Kate watched it all the way up and then all the way down, until it hit her right between the eyes. We heard the most horrific screams coming from both of them outside and Kate came running in with blood streaming down her face and all over her sweater.  Took her to the hospital and they taped it so it wouldn’t scar. By the time I got home our guests were here, and I had to say “Let me get out of this bloody shirt and then we’ll get dinner on the table.”  Nice. On the upside though,  I think they’re considering giving me my own parking space at Emerg at the hospital, and the doctors call me by my first name. (And in our defense,  how could we have possibly known that arming a seven-year old walking sibling rivalry complex with a bow and arrow might end badly?)

And the barfing

Yesterday morning I was awakened at 6:00am to the sound of someone puking. It was Kate, hanging over the top bunk. Laura was oblivious, asleep in the bottom bunk. When she woke up she told me that she was dreaming that it was raining lasagna.

Oh, good times. I guess I do have revisionist recall, because in my memories everyone is very cute and adorable and well-behaved.  I guess I just have a fairly high tolerance for all the  people  I carried in my room.

P.S. – I wasn’t the only one having fun in the nineties.  In my journal I also reported on my sister’s life…  My nephew (6 at the time) “… was playing with his mom’s new speed dial phone the other day and phoned her work and left a message saying things like “Arsehole” and “I hate you”.  It was on the machine when her partners came into work. She was so proud.”

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Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Memories