Category Archives: Thats Life

Summertime, and the living is …

Let me say right now I LOVE summer and am not in reality, a Debbie Downer. I am however a critical thinker, and I’m just not going to sugarcoat it anymore. As we officially embark into summer and I proudly display my chalky bare legs resplendent with spider veins and bug bites, I find myself pondering some of the “great” things about summer that if I’m honest – are not that great.  I’m talking about things that people pretend are awesome, but they’re just NOT.  Hear me out –  my top ten.

# 1 CONVERTIBLES.  If the day is hot enough to have the top down, that also means the seat is the temperature of the sun, and you will lose at least one layer of skin from the back of your legs.  Things will cool off somewhat when you get up to speed, at about the same time your head tries to fully blow off.  If you have hair, you arrive looking like you did that time you went to the science centre and put your hand on that thing (Note, not a science geek)  If you don’t have hair  – and many sporty muscle car owners don’t (these are mostly owned by senior men who are trying to recapture youth by way of finally owning a car that the actual cool guys in the ‘70s had) – then sadly the whole cool effect is lost with the Tilley hat with built in SPF and chinstrap.

#2 SUNROOFS – see# 1, with the added bonus of all your receipts and loose paper car contents swirling around you as you drive, like you’re in a vacuum canister.

# 3 What offers endless bending over, huge amounts of dirt, constant neediness and ultimate disappointment?  If you said parenting, you’re wrong (are you though?).   The answer was VEGETABLE GARDENING.  UGH.  Planting a bunch of stuff, then trying to figure out if whatever comes up is what you want or if it’s a weed, then WATERING it a whole bunch of times in a row, then trying to decipher what disease it has (ALWAYS has a disease)  or what exactly is the bug that’s eating it and then going to the Farmer’s Market to buy your produce anyway.

#4 FARMER’s MARKETS – Yes, please “Organic Sarah”  I’ll pay you $8.00 for 2 tomatoes and a sunflower, because I came up too close to your booth and so now I’ve entered into some sort of unspoken contract to buy something because we spoke and you’re obviously gifted because your tomatoes aren’t diseased or riddled with holes from pests unknown. And I want to look all Harrowsmith/whimsical-like in my sundress and take the visual focus off my aforementioned legs – therefore I’ll carry the sunflower out in plain view, preferably in a wicker basket #blessed.

#5 CAMPING. Enough said.

#6CAMPFIRES.  Can’t even concentrate on the singing of Kumbaya when it’s equivalent to having 6  chainsmokers sit 2 inches away and aggressively blow smoke in your face.  The burning eyes and air quality issues are only forgotten when nursing wounds of small children who have eaten charred marshmallows that are the approximate temperature of molten lava.  The smell of the campfire in your clothes and hair is a gift that keeps on giving, well into the fall.

#7 POND SWIMS   No thank you.  It’s always FREEZING.  Either your feet touch gross mud or slippery rocks.  SO many other creatures are in there too.  Creepy little spiders that shoot along the top of the water like aliens. Turtles.  Fish.  Crayfish. There COULD be leeches.   Once a watersnake almost touched me.  There was a bit of a scene.  Let’s just say I’m glad ponds don’t have that chemical in the water that turns purple if you know what I mean.

#8FISHING.  The ACTUAL worst.  You have to carry a lot of gear.  You have to be QUIET.  You have to touch the grossest stuff to bait your hook, then via trickery, you try to get an unsuspecting fish,  minding his or her own fish business, to lunge for it out of hunger, only to have it rewarded by getting unceremoniously dragged kicking (with no legs) and screaming (with no voice) into your boat or up on shore, where you then decide to toss it back in with the worst lip piercing story ever, or the other fate of it gets to become your probably mercury laden dinner. Thumbs down.  Two words – Captain Highliner.

#9USING MY CLOTHSLINE  This one I’m torn about.  I like hanging the clothes up.  I love watching them flap in the breeze.  But I then lose interest and I definitely don’t want to go get them off the line.  Sometimes they stay out there for days, and come back in the house with the addition of bird poop. When I do eventually bring them inside, I don’t like that the towels are stiff and can stand up by themselves and can also do double duty as dermabrasion device.  Plus, EVERYTHING needs ironed which, let’s be honest, was never even a possibility.

#10   SANDALS  I do like that they are cool and comfy.  But it’s hard enough keeping my hair/face/hands presentable to the rest of the world, but then there is the added burden of FEET. All winter they get to be hidden away in the deep dark recesses of my boots. Now add to the growing checklist of grooming tasks (eg – did I fill in the bare spots of both of my eyebrows or just the one?  Are there any new rogue whiskers that people are too scared/shy/mean to tell me about? Did I convincingly cover up that age spot that aspires to be a third eye?) … I now also have to worry about if my toenail polish is chipping and do my heels look like an ancient creek bed in the Sahara dessert.

That’s my 10 – and perfect timing – I couldn’t even make this up if I tried.  Hubby just stuck his head in and told me to water the vegetable garden.  So, here goes 30 minutes  and several gallons of water I’ll never get back.  I guess it could be worse.  We could be heading up north in a convertible for a combo camping/fishing trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Superstition

….

Anywayyyy … I feel the itch to write something, but of course 2 years has flown by and I couldn’t decide what to write about, so I went to the WordPress blogging site “prompts” and this is the prompt for today.

Superstition

That’s it.  Am I for it?  Against it?

Let’s explore…

  1. I will walk under a ladder if it’s the shortest route.  I’ve  got any number of foot (feet?) issues, (some more unsightly than others – to the great dismay of the girl who does my pedicures) so every step matters.
  2. Broken mirror.  I’m not a fan of mirrors anymore, and haven’t walked around holding one since my 20’s, so I’m really okay with breaking them and not concerned about the consequence of a mere 7 years.  My lip gloss is older than that.
  3. Find a penny pick it up … get serious. I’m not doing that.
  4. Black cat in your path is bad luck.  I only find cats to be bad news if they are mine and I have to pay their vet bills. Plus this superstition discriminates so I’m against it.
  5. Lucky rabbits foot.  I don’t believe that carrying one will bring me luck, as it definitely didn’t work for the amputee rabbit.  For me, if I’m going to carry around a limb of something, I’d prefer it be a chicken wing, because that’s just good eatin’.
  6. Knock on wood for luck.  This superstition has changed over the years, and become quite sexualized.  Both knockers and wood now have a different meaning, and I refuse to comment because I’m a lady and certainly don’t want to discuss all the ways people go about getting lucky.
  7. Cross your fingers for luck.  That’s a bit harder than it sounds now that my skin looks like pleather and I’m semi-arthritic. Might freeze that way, don’t see the value, not doing it.
  8. Rain on your wedding day is good luck.  That’s just a lie, to make soggy brides with huge hair and runny mascara feel better.
  9. Friday the 13th.  For me, now that I get to work from home on Fridays, I couldn’t give a flying @#$K what the date is.  As long as I’m not doing the commute.  It’s lucky for everyone else on the road, because I’m safely at home  lounging working in my sweatpants business attire.
  10. Umbrella in the house.  How can that be unlucky?  How else can I act out my Mary Poppins /Singing in the Rain song and dance numbers in the privacy of my basement? Sidenote – empty nests aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

The only thing I’m on board with about Superstition is the song by Stevie Wonder.  My dance moves to this one are on point, and now that I blogged I believe I officially qualify for Dancing with the Stars – so my future may be very bright indeed.  Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Aging, Humor, Thats Life

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

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

Regrets … I’ve had a few this year

an old post card

I don’t understand those people who say “I don’t regret anything because everything I ever did got me here.”

 What if “here” could be better, were it not for some of the stuff you did or didn’t do? For example:

Top 10 Things I regret from 2011

  1. Not using all those coupons that I’ve been carrying around that expired Dec. 31st.
  2. Kim Yong Il, I hardly knew ye. But now that you’re gone, looks like you were hilarious and I wish I had learned more about you or at least followed you on Twitter.
  3. The Groupon haircut at an obviously way-too-trendy-for-me salon that had/has me looking like an aging elf.
  4. Signing papers that mean my house is sold, because now apparently I have to get all my stuff out of here and find somewhere else to put it.
  5. Accumulating so much stuff. On a related note, using “Hoarders” as a compass as to how much stuff is normal.
  6. Worrying the whole time my daughter was travelling.  She’s home safely, but there is no coming back for my perma-furrowed brow and irritated bowel.
  7. Every second spent spying on my children just looking at pictures on Facebook. I vow to stop doing that this year.
  8. Turning down the offer to join Seal Team 6 early last year, because the practices conflicted with my Zumba schedule.
  9. That time I forgot my sports bra and went to Zumba anyway. Again –  no coming back from that.
  10. Most of the time I spent online…. yes, I’m looking at you Perez Hilton.

Lets hope 2012 has way fewer regrets.  According to the Mayan calendar I got in my stocking, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be racking up my top 2012 regrets on Jan. 1st 2013. 

To steal a line from numerous Facebook friends of my children this morning – “Happy New Year, Bitches”.

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Filed under Humor, Memories, Thats Life

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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Filed under Aging, Fashion, Friends, Humor, Memories, Thats Life

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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Summer Sick

What a week. Went away with my golf girls for part of last weekend to a cottage up at the beach, and had fun times. We shopped on Friday, after golfing in the worst heat ever. The shopkeepers are always happy to see us, a group of sweaty women “golfers”, wanting to try on all their nice dresses and silky tops. Lots of fun highlights over the couple of days up north, like when my elegant friend was ejected from an upscale furniture shop for eating black jujubes.

Hubby, our daughter and her bf had planned to rendezvous with me and spend Saturday at the beach. But after the golf girls left for home, as I walked down the beach to meet up with the fam, I realized that my feet felt like they were made of lead, and I was walking like I was in the Bataan Death March. I was sick, and not the good kind of day-after sick that clears up about 4:00 p.m., when you then move on to eating every carb that can’t run away. Sick-sick.

Family arrived and I felt heartened when I saw them carrying the cooler. Maybe a nice home-made picnic lunch would perk me up. Usually I’m in charge of packing the lunch and cooler for the beach, and I always make an elaborate spread of sandwiches and fruits and veggies, sweet delicacies and cold drinks. I opened the cooler in eager anticipation to see what they prepared for us, in my absence. It contained 2 freezer packs, one diet pepsi, and a tall boy can of beer.

I was starting to feel worse, so thought that I would just nap on the beach mat in the shade of the umbrella. But that would have required both the beach mat and the beach umbrella, neither of which evidently made the trip. Nor did the beach floaties, frisbee, or my beach hat, which I specially requested by text. On the upside, there was one towel. For four of us. Hubby always tells me that he’s “task oriented”, and I guess in this case the task at hand was getting to the beach. He was pretty proud that they arrived within an hour of when he said they would, and rolled his eyes incredulously at the mere suggestion that I should expect him to remember to bring the stuff that we own solely for the purpose of exactly this type of outing.

But I’m a forgiving type, so I lay shivering on the cold sand with the sun beating down on me, in a fevered state, while the rest of them frolicked in the water tossing a newly purchased football ($10, probably worth $2) which will go nicely with the other three that we have at home. The turkey vultures circled overhead above my pale, sweltering/shivering body (okay, maybe they were seagulls, but I was a little delirious from the fever). I did manage to make a picnic happen, but it turned out to be not the whimsical, idyllic wicker basket checkered tablecloth kind, but consisted instead of storebought sandwiches eaten out of charming white Styrofoam containers, whilst splitting a tall boy can of beer.

Finally we left for home, and I slept in the car, drifting in and out of consciousness, dreaming of the spectacular picnic spread I could have put together with the $40 we spent on 4 sandwiches. When we got home I went straight to bed, and remained there for a couple of days, nursing my cold/fever.

Now, whenever anyone in my family is sick I leap into action and start preparing jello, taking temperatures, pouring ginger-ale and feeling foreheads. However the rest of my household doesn’t share my passion for caregiving. It’s like they all attended the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” School of Nursing. Sometimes from my sickbed I can hear them downstairs, and I call out weakly, but their laughter and loud music drown out my feeble cries for help.

I went so far as to call my husband’s cellphone, even though he was just downstairs in the kitchen, to get some attention. I gambled that he would pick up in spite of call display, because he wouldn’t be able to see without his glasses that the call was “coming from inside the house”. When he answered, I asked if that was coffee I smelled, or if I was hallucinating, and he acknowledged that it was coffee, and then went to hang up. I said, (weakly, obvi) “Could you bring me up a cup?”

I was dozing laying flat on my back when he came up. “Here”, he said as he lifted my limp hand from the side of the bed and put the steaming mug into it. Then he was on his way back downstairs. Now I’m lying completely prone, with a coffee in my hand. (They don’t teach pillow fluffing at that school of nursing.) I went to sit up, and just then sneezed, spilling hot coffee all over my duvet and on my partially exposed belly (ala Phil Collins in Trailer Park boys). I screamed loudly and listened for running footsteps up the stairs. None came. I tried dialing his number again, but now got the “unavailable” message. The next scene opens with me washing my duvet, whilst hacking up a lung.

It wasn’t all bad over the couple of days I was sick. Sometimes my daughters would come upstairs and stare at the eyesore I’d become, and they would ask the same question, with concern in their voices …

“Do you think I’m going to get this?”

That’s okay … I’m pretty much all better now, so I’ll be ready with the kleenex and the thermometer if they do. I need to set a good example and get them better trained so their skills have improved by the time they take on eldercare, a key element of my next 30 years plan.

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To-do or not To-do

I ran across one of my old calendars from about 12 years ago when the kids were between 8 and 12 years old, and it was quite shocking.  Ignoring for a moment the possible hoarding issue, I used to be incredibly busy and super efficient.  Every single week was filled in mice-type, with work commitments, sporting events and practices, birthday parties and orthodontist appointments. I worked at least 50 hours a week and I was also taking university classes, so there were assignment due dates and exams.  Plus in those days I periodically fancied myself some sort of “hostess” so would voluntarily invite people to my house for dinner and even parties.

Things have certainly changed.  I’m now working considerably less hours a week, and the kids worry about their own appointments.  The birthday parties my two girls at home for the summer attend no longer involve getting picked up by mommy afterwards.  Even on their own birthdays, my involvement is minimal and by special request, I have ceased and desisted from preparing goodie bags from the dollar store. The birthday parties hubby and I attend now usually commemorate someone attaining some milestone age that previously we only connected with elderly people who we had to talk loudly to and  respect, but definitely not hang out with.   (You know when you’re at one of these parties because when they pass the birthday cards around, everybody either reads it by holding it out at arm’s length like it’s poisonous, or by looking down and peering scarily over glasses perched way out on their nose. Also these parties end really early, and nobody throws up, or passes out or dances.)

Once again I digress – but my conclusion is that it’s true what they say about if you want something done give it to a busy person – because now even though I have the time, I find every excuse in the world to not do the stuff on my list from day to day. I’ve been carrying over some to-do items for several months now.  In fact, I’m thinking of having my list laminated.  Tasks include:

  1. Do paperwork
  2. Put away Christmas ornaments
  3. Paint kitchen
  4. Paint every other room in the house
  5. Organize photos and videos (this one should come pre-printed on all to-do lists)

Carrying over these items from day to day and week to week is really kind of hurting my self esteem.  I’m starting to feel like an underachiever.  So I’m starting a new to do list, one that makes me feel good  because I am checking things off.  (And who among us hasn’t added something to their “to-do” list after the fact, simply for the satisfaction of checking it off?)  Yesterday my list looked like this:

  1. Get up
  2. Make Coffee
  3. Phone bank and see if they can undo the horrible mistake I made while online banking last night
  4. Pet cats
  5. Feed cats
  6. Put cats outside
  7. Check email
  8. Go upstairs to get something
  9. Come back downstairs
  10. Check Facebook
  11. Change clock alarm time back to a.m. from p.m., so next time I work we don’t wake up at the time I should have left for the meeting like yesterday
  12. Think about if there is enough beer for weekend
  13. Go get beer
  14. Walk around outside and look at yard
  15. Get dressed
  16. Have a beer when it’s 4:00 because it’s the long weekend
  17. Throw away the now rotten strawberries I bought 5 days ago to make jam

Wow – that’s a lot of checkmarks!  I got 17 things done! Notice there are no meal preparations written down.  I don’t want to set any precedents.  If I make a meal for the family, then good for me – but I don’t need the pressure of them seeing it written on the list, because then expectations are just too high.

The other alternative that might be equally satisfying would be to have a “To-Don’t” list.  On it I would list all the things that I’m not going to do that day, and then I could also still have the pleasure of checking them off.  It would have things like:

  1. Clean Windows
  2. Water Plants
  3. Get on the scales
  4. Clean out the fridge
  5. Lay mirror flat on the table and then look down into it*

(*If babies “make strange” and get hysterical when you peer into their carriage or crib, you might want to try this – the mystery may be solved)

I think the “To-Don’t” list might be equally fulfilling, because it amounts to checking stuff off, and then basking in the warm glow of accomplishment.  And what’s not to like about that?  So my calendar isn’t as filled as it once was.  Times change. To steal a quote from Jerry Seinfeld:

“I am so busy doing nothing… that the idea of doing anything – which as you know, always leads to something – cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.”

I get that.

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