Tag Archives: women

Hair today …. Don tomorrow

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

Image via Wikipedia

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

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

Don King

Image via Wikipedia

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

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

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

“What are we going to do today?” 

Then I muttered a bunch of incoherent things about

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Aging, Fashion, Humor

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

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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Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Memories

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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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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Wedded Bliss aka Hell on Wheels – Part 2

Where was I? Oh yes, discussing our uber-romantic anniversary memories, the stuff mushy greeting cards are made of.

Fast forward 11 years. It’s Dec. 1, 2010. We’re now celebrating our 31st anniversary. Hubby looks the same as he did on our 20th – whereas the only thing unchanged on me is that I’m probably wearing the same outfit. The two of us were going to have dinner at a pub, and then coming home to exchange cards and gifts. Still, logistics must be organized to accommodate our kids. Kate needs picked up at a friend’s on the way home.

Before we headed out to dinner he announced “I’m not taking my phone – you’ve got yours.” (Important information later.) We dined, picked Kate up and when the three of us got home it was pouring rain, so I reached my hand out and he handed me the keys. He had been complaining that the lights in the car were too dim on the way home, so I muttered something about, was he going to check the headlights, and Kate and I made a dash for the house. I struggled a bit with unlocking the door to the house, but we got in and went about our business.

I went upstairs, and logged onto our computer. Kate was watching tv, and playing with the cats. About 1/2 hr passed. I was surprised that he was taking so long outside because he had his nice clothes on, and we were planning to exchange our anniversary cards and have cake. Then I heard pounding – like I hear when he’s locked out of the house. I walked downstairs and asked Kate if Dad was locked out, but I checked the porch door and it wasn’t locked – and I saw that he was sitting in the car with the interior lights on reading something (which I expected was probably the car manual or something to do with the dim headlight problem) so decided I must be hearing things, and headed back inside.

So about 20 minutes later (50 minutes had now elapsed since we got home) he comes STORMING into the kitchen like a madman and flings his leather coat across the floor like a lunatic. I say, “What were you doing out there?” He answers, “TRYING TO GET OUT OF THE #*#(%((%## CAR”!!! It seems he had been LOCKED in the car ever since we got home. Evidently, if you lock the car and leave it (remember the part where I struggled with opening the house door? Apparently I clicked the car lock) it becomes a virtual prison. Plus without the keys the horn doesn’t work – he didn’t have his phone – he was flashing the lights off and on but of course we didn’t notice because we were staring at our respective electronic devices. And did I mention he’s somewhat claustrophobic?? And also that he had to PEE???? It seems that the pounding noise I thought I heard was him, trying to kick out a window. And the precise moment when I looked out at and saw him calmly reading – that just happened to be when he had decided as a last resort to read the manual to see if there was any way to open the doors from inside.

Apparently there was something in the manual … because he got the passenger door open – but he won’t tell us what he had to do. He says we’ll have to figure it out ourselves when it happens to us. Of course, Kate and I were understandably concerned and sympathetic on the floor laughing till we cried. And, unbelievably, he no longer wanted to exchange anniversary cards or have cake, and said we should wait until tomorrow. Who knew men in their 50s could be so moody?

My car was quite a sight. It looked like I had been harbouring a pack of angry cheetahs. He trashed it. He remembered some emergency escape thing he saw in the trunk, and attempted to get to it by ripping out the not- normally-removable back seat. Even one of my CDs was smashed – which I later learned was in an attempt to fashion a MacGyver style tool to pick the lock. Also, I used to have Sirius Satellite radio, but it seems the antenna was not designed to survive a sustained 200lb man thrashing.
I drove to work the next day in a back-seat less, radioless, car that had a string dangling from the rear view mirror where my air freshener used to be. Good times.

Ahh, anniversary memories. They still bring a tear to my eye.

Legal Notice – the “He’s not an idiot” clause : In order that I be allowed to write about this, I had to agree to a include this link illustrating that there is an ongoing issue with people getting locked in BMWs. http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1391032

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Wedded Bliss – aka Hell on Wheels Part#1

Recently there have been a number of acquaintances of ours celebrating milestone anniversaries, and it makes me look back fondly(?) on some of our own. We know couples who have renewed vows in elaborate ceremonies, re-enacted proposals in romantic locations, further validating their bonds with substantial pieces of jewellery. What our anniversaries lacked in romance and gemstones, they have tended to make up for in memorability.

Take our 20th anniversary, Dec 1st 1999. The kids were 13, 11 and 9. We were rabid hockey parents of our 13-year-old son, and a big game happened to fall on our special day, in the distant town of Goderich. Since we at this point still clung to the faint hope that we had spawned the next Gretzky, missing the game was out of the question, so we had decided to make the best of it and have a fun pizza dinner before the game. But, it was all very convoluted. Hubby was commuting with someone else, so had to get dropped off after work to join me and the 3 kids at the Pizza Hut in Kitchener, en route to the game.

We all arrived, and we waited 40 minutes until the lone waitress made her way back to us and admitted that it was their staff Christmas Party night, and that they hadn’t even begun to prepare the food we ordered over half an hour ago. We had to leave right away to be on time for the game, but promised the kids we would go out afterwards. We paid for our pitcher of pop (stupidly – I was far too nice during the 90s) and left.

After the game, we went to the Goderich Pizza Hut. Now weak from hunger, in their haste to get inside the restaurant, the kids tumbled out of the back of our clown car-esque Mazda Protege, and slammed the door hard, before ensuring that all limbs including digits had safely exited the vehicle. Little Laura, our youngest, had her thumb slammed in the door. I herded her, wailing like a banshee, through the crowded restaurant to the bathroom, while the rest of the family went to a table. I ran the cold water over her hand, trying to convince her (and myself) that it was fine. What didn’t help my case, was a bystander customer, (who was a bit ghoulish, frankly) who hovered around us saying helpful things over and over like: “Oh yah, that’s broke for sure.”

Laura could not be silenced long enough for me to even get a breadstick into my growling stomach, and my repeated reassurance that going to the hospital wasn’t necessary wasn’t working, mostly due to:
a) ghoul lady
b) the pulsing and rapidly increasing size and awkward angle of the digit in question.

So again I herded her still-wailing self out through the restaurant to deliver the news to the family that for the second time today, we would be leaving a Pizza Hut hungry.I arrived at the table to see sister Kate maniacally laughing. One of the selling points of Pizza Hut to my kids, was their hard and fast “10 crayon guarantee”, for serious table colourers. She was giddy from low blood sugar, and when the waitress brought her a colouring place mat and 10 crayons, she found the fact that 7 of the crayons were red, and 3 were yellow, hysterically funny. The wait staff were looking at her as if they were on the verge of fashioning a strait-jacket out of the table-cloth.  Hubby had already placed our order, and the sympathetic staff (surprisingly eager to see the back of us) gave us a bag of ice and offered to make it a take-out order. They kindly told us where the local hospital was, and then offered to deliver our pizza to the hospital parking lot. We paid and all loaded up back into the Mazda and sped off.

Dad and I took Laura into the Emergency room, which involved an x-ray and a splinting. The two older kids waited in excited anticipation for the pizza delivery in the car. We live in the country, and don’t have the benefit of fast food delivery, so this was a momentous occasion for them indeed, a stranger showing up at the door (albeit in this case, the car door), and not only were they allowed to talk to him, he was going to provide them with food. It was a happy day.

When we were finished in the ER about an hour later, we made our way across the parking lot toward the Mazda with the completely steamed up windows, a telltale sign that our romantic dinner entrée had arrived. To add insult AND injury, when little Laura got into the back of the car with her hand all bandaged up, she whacked her head on the door frame, once again setting off the familiar wailing that had by now become the soundtrack to this 20th anniversary, and causing her sympathetic sister to once again, laugh hysterically, to the point of pop coming out of her nose.

The older two had made their way through most of the pizza, but had thoughtfully left a couple of pieces for the patient, and for us two lovebirds. It’s hard to stare soulfully into each other’s eyes and drink your cans of pops with romantically entwined arms, when you’re both facing forward and wearing seatbelts, but we did our best.

Until last year, I thought our 20th would stand as our most memorable anniversary. It seems I was wrong  … which explains why this post is a two-parter.

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The Powers of Austin

Driving to work these days, I keep seeing a lot of newborn baby animals in the field.  It always gets me thinking of a certain little calf that had a pretty rocky start at our place.

My husband always says, “If you’ve got live stock, you’ve got dead stock.”  That particular spring we had a tragic incident of a cow that died while giving birth.  The thing was,  on top of having to deal with the trauma of the scary dead stock truck coming, there was  still a little matter of a newborn calf to contend with.  In a previous life I had worked a vet office for almost a decade, and I knew that there was virtually no chance of us hand raising the little guy.  I tried to break it to the kids, who at that time were about 6, 8 and 10.  The little calf, while cute as heck, had very little chance of survival, unless we found him a surrogate mother, which seemed unlikely within our usual social circles.

My 10 year old son was totally accepting and matter of fact about the calf’s impending demise.  In true male form, if it wasn’t going to affect him in a negative way, he was fine with it.  (This is the same boy who, when he thought his little friend Zach who was over for a playdate had been completely swallowed up and met his end in the “quicksand” near our pond, stated simply “Well, guess I’ve got no more friend to play with.”)  His sisters however, are caring nurturers (just like their mom), and they were staunch in their determination to save the little orphan.   My husband humoured them by going to the Co-op and buying a big bottle with a nipple on it, (which for some reason my son found hilarious)  and something called “calf starter”, which sounded appropriate.

I came home from work the next night and here was this calf (now named “Austin” – as in Powers) casually lounging, tied to the tree in our front yard.  The girls were taking turns mixing up his formula, and feeding it to him in his big giant bottle.  I was very surprised to see that he was looking quite perky, and certainly seemed to be loving all the fussing and petting he was getting.   He really gave that bottle a workout over the next few days – the nipple got longer (and funnier) every day.

The girls continued their TLC, and Austin never looked back.  He grew stronger every day.  The only issue that he developed was an identity crisis.  He had no idea he was a cow.  He hung around the house and the yard, like the dog and the cats.  In fact, if you threw the Frisbee for the dog, he would run alongside the dog to get it.  If he arrived at the Frisbee first, he had no idea what to do with it  — but I think he may have derived satisfaction from humiliating Riley by making him come in second to a cow in a footrace .  It was a classic case of  bullying. (Sorry ... couldn’t resist)

Once it became evident that Austin may in fact survive, we attempted to initiate him into the herd of cows.  He trailed along behind us wherever we went, so we would walk out to the field where the cows and their calves were, and we would stand there quietly and wait until he became interested in grazing alongside them.  Then we would sneakily tiptoe away and then run toward the house.  Without fail, he would race past us on his way back to the house with a terrified look on his face that seemed to say “HOLY CRAP – WAIT UP YOU GUYS –  you almost left me out there with those COWS!!”

Sometimes my husband would be out barbequing steaks, and the dog always hung around the BBQ, but now Austin joined too and  it was super awkward. We always felt the need to apologize, and assure him that these delectable cuts on our plate were no relation to him …or  that they “had it coming”, or that this one “ was quite sick anyway and we just had to put it out of its misery .” He seemed unconvinced.

I knew things were completely out of hand one day though, when I was out on the lawn talking to the kids, with the dog and calf sprawled nearby.  The phone rang, and I ran into the house to get it.  Austin liked to chase anything that ran…. and I made the mistake of leaving the door open behind me.  I grabbed the phone, and then I heard the distinctive sound of the pitter patter of hooves on my kitchen floor. Who knew that cows could run up steps?  I’m sure that the insurance lady on the phone thought I’d lost it.  I screamed, and then muttered something incoherent about having to call her back because I had to get the “stupid cow” out of my house . (Probably thought I was just having a Coronation Street style brawl with a crazy female acquaintance.)

But happily, one day out of the blue, Austin became a petty thief, and our days of having to bottle feed him ended.  For no apparent reason, he simply one day decided to join the rest of the bovines out in the field.  He strolled out, ducked underneath the electric fence, like he’d been doing it his whole life.  He waited in the shadows until one of the calves was nursing beside its mother, and then he casually walked up behind her and without so much as a “how do you do” he proceeded to start nursing on her other teat from behind, sticking his head between her back legs.  She couldn’t really kick him away because if she did she would kick away her own baby too.

It was a most successful venture.  So began his life of crime as a milk stealer.  He wasn’t particular about which cow-mom he stole milk from, whoever was handy.  He became part of the “cool calf” gang in the field, and forgot about his brief stint as a Golden Retriever wannabe.  He was lucky he had little calf friends with MILMs – or “Mom’s I’d like to Milk”, and he grew fat and strong,  and like most adolescents, forgot all the civilized manners we taught him and began acting like he’d been born in a barn.

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Filed under Animal Stories, Family, Farm Life, Humor

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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Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Thats Life

Flower Power

What is the opposite of a green thumb?  I have that.  I’m one of the few people  who are actually kind of sad when the snow disappears, because that means you can see my flower beds again.  And by flower beds I mean weed filled dirt piles.  I wish that I liked gardening but I really don’t, because frankly I don’t know my Aster from a hole in the ground.

There are people who actually start growing little seeds or whatever in their house, so they can be out there ASAP in the spring, trowel thing in hand. I, however, procrastinate until the dandelions have come and gone.  Then when it can no longer be ignored and I’m at risk of a visit from the weed inspector municipality guy, I go out there and try to weed.  It’s especially hard, because I’m never really sure about what is a weed and what is something that came up from last year.  I always get confused about the stuff that lasts only this year and the stuff that should come back every year.  Also I don’t remember which thing is called an annual and which thing is called a perennial.  The year we were trying to sell our house in the fall I bought about eight lovely Mums and planted them. They looked spectacular!  In the spring I promptly ripped them all out.  Who knew?

Anyway, by the time I eventually give in and go to the garden centre it’s late June or early July, so there’s nothing left.  I’m there with a couple of little old ladies who have to fill up a gap in their container or window box.  I on the other hand, am filling up my truck with all the half dead leftovers that for some reason are still full price. Then, I bring them home and I’m usually exhausted from all that too-ing and fro-ing, so they typically get to bake in the sun for a few more days until I get around to planting them.  PLUS you’re supposed to pick stuff according to how much sun and wind it can tolerate?  Come ON!  I draw the line at that.  I plant stuff where I want.  Oh, you don’t like the shade and gale force winds my pretty little Fuchsia?  Suck it.  I’m not walking all the way around to the other side of the house.

My flower beds are striking in their absence of any sense of originality.  Sometimes I half-heartedly undertake some floral beautification. In a particularly ambitious moment last fall I planted some daffodil bulbs, and this spring I had a semi-straight row of ten single daffodils, evenly spaced about a foot apart.  It was breathtaking.   It also matched the semi-straight row of tulips from a couple years back.

It’s just SUCH an ordeal.  I hear people say they like working with the “earth”.  I don’t.  Our brand of dirt could have anything in it.  Our soil is heavily loaded with rotted maple leaves (I don’t like raking either), twigs, and the occasional cat turd.  I don’t want to touch it.  These hands have to make hamburgers, and more importantly, put ice in drinks.  I have tried to find my inner Martha Stewart, and have even gone as far as buying gardening gloves.  But I always seem to lose one, so now I just have a few  single left handed gloves, which I wear on both hands.  So while my gardens may be lacking, I should score some points for tending them with one of my hands practically on backwards.

Sometimes people take pity on me and give me a chunk of something that they have in their garden because it’s “super-easy and impossible to kill”, and then I bring it home and dig a hole and stick it in and forget about it.  I think you’re supposed to “prune” or “thin” stuff or something, but I’ve never remained interested long enough to do that. My sister gave me some hunk of green thing a few years ago that had white on the edge of the leaves and sometimes for no reason purple flowers come out.  I don’t know what it is, but it’s taken over about three quarters of one of the flowerbeds, and it appears to be moving out into the lawn.   SWEET!  It may be ugly, but it sure filled up a lot of space.

AND my GOD why does gardening hurt so much?  A few hours of squatting and bending, and I feel like I’ve been hit by a train! And who hasn’t knocked themselves semi-conscious at least once, by stepping on a ho?  (And yes I mean the gardening kind).  And how about the dizzying head rushes when you’ve been kneeling and then stand up suddenly? I’ve watched enough Dr. Oz to know how important it is to listen to my body, and it tells me that gardening is dangerous and bad.  What if worse comes to worst, and I expire and begin my dirt nap prematurely and literally, right out there in the middle of the portulacas?

If that happens, do me a favour.  Send me no flowers.

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Filed under Home and Garden, Humor