Monday, December 31, 2007

Amazing Race 12, Ep. 8

Did you hear that howl of disappointment which resonated from Chez Loudshoes last night at 8:55? Thing 1 and I were keening like Turkish earthquake victims. We loved those kooky goth kittens. Kynt and Vyxyn were clearly disappointed, but seemed to be more than mollified by the consolation prize of being named the most fashionable racers ever.

I cannot tell you how much I wish they had U-turned Jenn and Nate, not only because they'd still be in the race, but because I would have loved to have seen Jennifer have the mother of all nuclear meltdowns and ended up in a puddle of herself right in the streets of Mumbai like the Wicked Witch of the West. I think the mighty Killer Fatigue had a hand in this, as everyone was working on a minimum of sleep for the third or fourth day running; I'm sure if Kynt and Vyxyn had been tracking, they'd have played that much differently.

Also, India has proved to be absolutely lethal to racers in the past. Remember Emily and her mother in the first race, who just gave up and lay down on the street and cried?

I fear that Nate and Jennifer are going to end up in the final three, if not win this thing. There, I said it. It would be too much to ask that they get to the final three, only to come in second at the mat, wouldn't it?

Jennifer trying to give that garland to the elephant was downright hilarious. I hope for her sake that was Killer Fatigue also, because what wedding has she been to that the groom was an elephant? (Babar's, maybe.) I liked the dog that kept messing with her, too. You know, it occurs to me that she's been unpleasant to ever animal she's encountered in this show. That tells me a lot about a person.

I liked that TK and Rachel seem to have just found out that they are racing for a million dollars. It was like that was brand new information for them.

I have never heard of an airport being closed before. Like, closed for the night, not closed because of a bomb threat or bad weather. Just closed because everyone went home for the night and will be back in the morning. Crazy Italians.

Seriously, Ron has got to SHUT THE HELL UP!! I'd have pasted that poster right over his mouth if I had been there. Honestly, they guy has the social skills of a drunken three-year-old.
How on earth did he ever hold down a job or stay married is anybody's guess. He started the poster up too high, he broke the box he was standing on, he messed up the poster, and then he argued with the judge, but it's all her fault. Ass. And why does the guy keep choosing to do physical tasks when he has a freaking hernia???? I wanted him to crash into an open flame with that bike full of propane.

I think Don has become one of my favorite racers ever, and he is definitely my all time favorite senior citizen. Remember the Groaning Grannies? He's nothing like either of them. Is there anything he hasn't done? I dearly hope there is some really weird final challenge, like doing your own dental work or tanning the hide of a buffalo or calculating the square root of time that he will be able to do and will make Jennifer's head burst into flames.

Nate has some interesting ideas in regards to sociology and gender roles, does he not? I had no idea that hand/eye co-ordination was directly related to one's possession of a uterus, but apparently, it is!
"Why can't you do this? You're a girl!""Why couldn't you row the boat? You're a boy!" ranks as one of the funniest exchanges ever.

Jennifer is really very tiresome, isn't she? She was pissed off that Kynt didn't close the elevator door, but really she was mad that she didn't' get a chance to do it to him, first. And all that whining and moaning in the taxi on the way to the's like if she doesn't have Nate's full attention at every single moment, she's afraid he will cheat on her or something.

And next week, "Where the hell are TK and Rachel?" will be the theme song.

Until then!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Just When You Think It's Safe To Go Shopping Again.....

I was browsing around on the internet the other day and came across this clothing catalogue. (Really, I must go out and find myself another hobby, because it is becoming tragically apparent that I spend far too much time on the internet.) I am shopping impaired at the best of times, and would dearly love to be able to buy my clothes on line, but I'm afraid I would find myself in stuff like this.

These, I think, were left in the clubhouse by a 90-year-old golfer who forgot that he wore pants that day. In 1975.

Does anyone else hear the "I Dream Of Jeannie" theme song? "Yes, Master!"

I swear I saw Elton John wearing these once. Didn't they have a goldfish in the heel, though?

The next time I have to attend a "Sexy Medieval Monk" party, I know just what to wear.

These are exceptionally practical, don't you think? Perfect for running errands, shovelling the driveway and working the 8:30 show at Caesar's Palace. Which is totally my life.

You know, some days my bum just doesn't look big enough. These would be perfect for those days. And, in a pinch, we could have me bend over and show movies on my bum if the need arose.

These are spandex leggings with pretend stitching to make them look like jeans, for when I want my hips to look positively bovine.
See, my theory that clothing manufacturers are laughing at us is borne out. I am vindicated. And now, I will wear my pajamas until the madness ends.

Friday, December 28, 2007

We Are Gathered Here Together....

Thing 1 and I went to a very lovely wedding today. (The bride has been Thing 1's Girl Guide leader for lo these many years, and also comes to me to get her hair done.)
It's nice to go to a wedding that's not all about colour of the bridesmaids shoes or the size of the ice sculpture or the bride using the day as an excuse to become a demanding, petulant shrew. There were no "signature cocktails", no personalized water bottle labels or stupid "themes". (Once I saw a tv show about weddings where the bride and groom idea for a theme was "The Civil War". I kid you not. They had the big hoop skirts for all the women, guests included, and the men all wore grey or blue uniforms and they got married at some big antebellum mansion in the south. How on earth a war seemed to be a suitable theme for a wedding, I have no idea. I wonder if there were any black guests, hmm? And how did they feel about that? While we're on the subject, why do you need a "theme" for a wedding, anyway? Doesn't a wedding come with a built-in theme already? Like, a wedding?)
Anyway, the wedding was very nice, with the bride and groom being two very nice, very grown up adults who appeared to be absolutely delighted with themselves and each other. It was nice to see.
During the ceremony, which was brief and to the point (gotta hand it to those economical Presbyterians!) we sang one hymn, which was Christmassy, "Angels We Have Heard On High", the one with all the "glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oo-o-oria" bits. Well doesn't this guy in the row ahead and a bit to our left bust out with the most amazing, rich tenor voice! You could see people all over the church getting a bit of a start and raising their eyebrows and turning to see who it was. He was fabulous. (I was hoping people would think it was me.)
I love to sing, and am terrible at it. But what I lack in talent I can make up for in enthusiasm. One of the reasons I kind of like going to church is because it's the one place where I can sing as loud as I like and nobody can stop me. ("I can still hate it, though", said Thing 1.)
After the ceremony, we went home and resumed our normal routine, and I thought of those two, nice people who were lucky enough to find each other and start a life together, and who realize that a marriage lasts far longer than a wedding. I wish them the best.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Best Week of the Year


It's not that I'm particularly glad that Christmas is over, but I am glad that Christmas is over. I like the day, I like the sentiment, I like the feeling of "specialness" that comes with the holidays, but I don't much like the way it hijacks my life for 6 weeks. Have you ever heard of that Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times"? That's kind of how I feel about Christmas. And this is my favorite week of the year; everyone is full, entertained, occupied, happy to stay home and, most importantly, expecting nothing of me.

We had a very nice Christmas here at Chez Loudshoes; I think I can speak for the Mister when I say we both like each other's families very much, and there are no hardships in spending a couple of days with them. (When I hear clients talk about the emotional minefields that have to be circumnavigated over Christmas I thank my lucky stars that I landed up in a Norman Rockwell painting, by comparison.) My mother and mother-in-law fed us magnificently for 3 days running, and the leftovers are spectacular. (We have prime rib, ham, turkey, 2 kinds of apple pie and trifle. Trifle, in case you are wondering, makes a splendid breakfast. Particularly if you get up before your father and have at it before he does.)

The girls made out like bandits, although Santa did not come through with a Wii, as Thing 2 had requested. (Truth be known? Santa blew that one off a long time ago. Santa is of the opinion that Wiis are like hot tubs, the best one is the one at somebody else's house.) But they are good kids who are happy with whatever, even if they don't get something in particular. For the next few days they will happily snort around the house amusing themselves, and there will occasionally be a delighted cry of "oh, I forgot about this!"

Yesterday we had an interesting phenomenon, weather-wise: there was a freezing fog on Christmas night, with no wind, which resulted in spikes of ice crystals forming on almost everything outside.
Here is the clothesline in the back yard:
Today it is snowing softly and is a very good day to stay in, which is what I will happily do. My book, a cup of tea and a nap with a semi-liquified cat are my rewards for getting everything done. I deserve it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Amazing Race 12, Ep. 7

Wow, good on ya, Gramps! I didn't think he'd go through with the tattoo, but he did. Can you just imagine if Jenn and Nate had gone for that Fast-Forward? I doubt very much she'd have gotten the tattoo, and it would have been all his fault, too. On the other hand, I can see Kynt and Vyxyn saying "cool, have at it". (Did anyone else notice that the font of the tattoo was almost identical to the font of the "Fallen" t-shirt that Kynt was wearing?) Man, the producers are getting more and more harsh with the Fast Forwards..... I mean, Joyce had to shave her head, the tattoos; Flo and her partner had to wave at the surfer in the river, for goodness sake, for their Fast Forward. It wasn't even tiring, let alone nail-bitingly stressful. It also seems a bit harsh to have people get a permanent tattoo, not of their choosing, on a non-elimination leg, when they wouldn't have been out any way. (I had heard that there would be no non-eliminations this time around, so I was glad there was when it saved the Goths.)

I hope Gramps enjoys the spa vacation he won! He totally looks like a sea-mud wrap and aromatherapy facial kind of guy.

I want the guy at the flag detour to be on every one...."Nnnnnno!"

Seeing Jenn and Nate come in #2 yet again, was deeply satisfying. I was worried that the tattoo team was going to wimp out and go back to the Roadblock and the Bicker Twins would finally get their heart's desire.

I really felt sorry for Vyxyn on that drive; that Killer Fatigue had set in and she was in a free fall of despair after that. I've been there, baby. (I think the whole year after Thing 2 was born was like that, actually.) In my experience, sleep deprivation will mess with your head like nobody's business. But their worst day is like Jenn and Nate's best one; that "fight" they had in the car, with Kynt squeaking "stop the car! stop the car right now!" like a panicky, asthmatic hamster was barely even a change in blood pressure around here. I get more riled up when the Mister forgets to empty the dishwasher.

Whatever drug TK and Rachel are on, I know a couple of people who could use a massive dose of it. They stayed incredibly calm throughout what looked like the worst of days. If I had been Rachel waiting down on the ground for an hour and a half I think I would have burst into flames.

Ron is still such a tool.

As much as I like Kynt, could we please just get him out of the closet and get it overwith? Seriously, the guy is putting on sparkly pink lipgloss and preening in front of a mirror....this in no way shouts "hetero" to anyone.

I wonder what the Speed Bump aspect is? If it involved being a speed bump, I would think that would be awesome.

Until next week!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tis the Season.

You can stick a fork in me, I'm done. All the Christmas preparations are finished, as far as I'm concerned, and I have no intention of organizing, planning, arranging or otherwise masterminding anything in the forseeable future. It's not Christmas itself that I dislike, it's all the work leading up to Christmas that I dislike. My mother claims that if the woman of the house doesn't make Christmas happen, it won't happen, and she's dead right. (She is a very, very wise woman. She also says that "nothing good happens after 2:00 in the morning", and let me tell you, that lesson has bonked me hard in the head more than once.)

This Christmas the preparations seemed to be a little easier than other Christmases, probably because I didn't get it into my idiot head to make a whole bunch of stuff this year. For a couple of years, in an effort to make Christmas a bit more meaningful and extra-special (and, who are we kidding here, cheaper.) I decided to make a heap of presents, and each and every year it resulted in me weeping and cursing and heaping abuse on myself, and vowing to never do it again. The worst was when I got it into my fool head that I would make pajamas for all the children on my list. All eleven of them. I don't know what I was smoking when I got that idea, but honestly, it was one of the single worst ones I ever had. (Believe me, that is saying something, because I have had some spectacularly bad ideas. For example, paying good money to see any of the Batman movies and convincing myself that the cheap shoes that were a size too small would be just fine). Now, pajamas aren't terribly difficult to make; it's not like you have to be worried about the fit, for example, and if they are 6 inches too short, well, so be it. But making eleven of anything is not for the faint of heart, and I very nearly burst into flames in the process. The bloom was off the rose by about pair three, and I had seven more to go, and I think I made up a couple of new swear words by the end of it, and Himself was looking through the phone book for divorce lawyers. It was not pretty. But everyone loved the pajamas, and when they asked me to make more of them the next year, I had no problem not even pretending to be polite about saying "no".

I also gave into the dark side this year, and bought gift cards for almost every adult on the list. In fact, I went into some stores and just bought about 10 gift cards and was done. I know loads of people think gift cards are souless and thoughtless, but I LOVE getting them, and figure those same people would rather get a soulless, thoughtless gift than, say, one of the following:

The first is a "Be Nice or Leave" sign for your home, which, frankly, is a little harsh, if you ask me. I assume the people in my house are going to be nice, the family in it notwithstanding. Otherwise, I wouldn't have invited them. The second is an animatronic robot Elvis "in all his heartbreaking glory", whatever that means. It sings and talks and you can even do karoke with it. Just don't mistake it for the real thing. Lastly, we have at Ten Commandments lawn ornament, which has "the scripture is written in English on one side and ancient Hebrew dialect on the other", for all you purist Talmud scholars out there. Now, doesn't soulless seem nice now?

I've got a couple of things to make tomorrow; some butter tarts, some guacamole and a lemon meringue pie. (No, not all for the same meal.) I think I've got everyone covered in terms of gifts, and I have a couple of "emergency" presents I can give away if I'm caught out. (Like my friend Kelly says, you know you're in big trouble when you find yourself buying peanuts at 7-11 after Midnight Mass because you need to bulk up someone's haul. )
I'll be away from the computer for a couple of days, so there won't be any blog entries for the duration. I'll take this opportunity to wish you all the greatest thing I can think of during Christmas or any other time: peace. Peace of mind, peace and quiet, peace of heart, peace and contentment. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

This Is Why We Never Let the Cat Decorate.

This site amused me terribly. I don't know what's wrong with me.
A Cat's Christmas is a site depicting two cats and a Christmas tree. I especially appreciated the "before" and "after" shots of the tree, about 2/3 of the way down the page.
Thankfully, Toby has far more dignity than these two. He acknowledges the wisdom of having a tree in the house.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Little Ray of Sunshine.

I can't quite recall what the following was in response to, but my 13-year old flatly informed me this morning that "Yes, wishes do come true, but I seriously doubt yours will."

She's going to make some man very happy some day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ummm, No Thanks

Do you think this someone, anyone, might have said this title out loud before it was published?

The PR team on this must have been slitting their wrists.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No Such Thing As An Ordinary Day

The day started as usual: an insistent cat with a determined agenda. I got up and started what I thought would be an ordinary day. But, I have come to realize, that there is really no such thing. Every day, at some point in it, brings be to the corner of " Well, Would You Look At That Street" and "Holy Shit Boulevard".

The van is in the shop at the moment, because it was making some truly ghastly noises that we couldn't ignore, no matter how loud we turned up the radio, and a warning light of some sort kept coming on and going off at random intervals, which made it hard to take it seriously. (Whenever it would come on saying "BRAKE!" in the most gently alarming tones possible, the Mister would turn to me and say "it came on again", like I A) didn't know it and B) could do something about it.) The upshot is, I had to walk to get my errands done today. Which isn't a big deal, but because of the snow we got the other day, the walk was a tad more adventuresome than usual. It was like the guy driving the little sidewalk snowplow decided to redesign the entire sidewalk experience, by ignoring the existing sidewalk and going up onto people's lawns, or reckoning that some of the sidewalk didn't deserve to be plowed and shunned it altogether for large stretches. I got quite a workout, let me tell you.

Then I went over to the bank, where I saw a dog poo right in the bank. Not something you see every day. A woman had brought her yappy little dog into the bank, and while she was talking to the teller, the pooch took umbrage at the amount of time it was taking, and expedited the proceedings. I think I can speak for most of us in the line when I say most of us have felt that way about the bank at one time or another.

Then, I went to the mall to do a bit of shopping, when I visited the bathroom and heard someone crying. Since it was just me in there and I knew I wasn't crying, I figured I should see if she was okay. She was young and distraught, but assured me that she would be fine. It turned out she had just seen her boyfriend with another girl, when he said he was too busy to see her that day. (I at least got her to laugh when I suggested that maybe this was like a sitcom, where the other girl was his cousin/sister/a nun that had come with him to buy her a Christmas gift. She said it was someone from school, but thanks for trying.) Anyway, I told her boyfriends were like buses, there'll be another one along in a few minutes, but that she was entitled to a good cry and ripping him a new one, when she was ready. No matter what was happening in my day, it couldn't get nearly as bad as hers, I figure.

Then, I met The Tattooed One for a coffee. She's not working at the shop anymore, and I really miss her; no one can spot a crazy like the Tattooed One. She really made my Wednesdays. Anyway, she gave me the most rockingest Christmas present ever, which will make way more sense to you if you watch this video, (you only need to see up to the 53-55 second mark.)
I love this shirt. I really love it. My Christmas is perfect, and it's only December 18th.
I got home, eventually, after getting a few more things for the kids, and I think, I think, I am done shopping. (Who am I kidding? I'll be done shopping when there's no more time to go shopping.)
So, what started out as an ordinary day, turned out to be a, well, less than ordinary day. As they all are, I guess.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Concert.

Last week the girls had their school Christmas concert. At least one girl did....Thing 2 dropped out of choir early on in the proceedings, because she "couldn't see the point". Fine by me; I've seen enough Christmas concerts in the past 10 years to last me a life time. Thing 1 was in the Grade 8 band, which performed the most dirge-like "Good King Wenceslas" I ever heard. Honestly, it would make you want to lay down and weep, it was so depressing. I do like the concert, though, because I get to see so many parents I don't see anymore, now that our kids are too old to hang out on the playground after school. Oh, and the kids work hard and deserve some recognition, and it's not simply a social opportunity for me.

One of the mothers there was deeply embarrassed that her child did not wear the requisite white top and dark bottoms, and kept repeating "I didn't know! I didn't know!" over and over again. I told her not to worry; at Thing 2's kindergarten concert, one little girl, sitting front and center in the first row, kept herself amused for the entire concert by playing with the hole in the crotch of her black leotards. I thought the kid was going to get her knees completely behind her head at one point. The child's mother was a puddle of mortification by the end of it, and, in fact, the child does not go to that school anymore. (I'll bet it's not a coincidence.)

We sold some fair trade coffee as a fundraiser for the school before and after the concert, which was why I was there. We had some samples for people to taste, so that they could choose the roast they wanted to buy, and a bunch of Grade 8 kids came up and asked if they could have some. Sure, says I, and then watched at they each put about 6 tablespoons of sugar in their little styrofoam cups of coffee. I told them not to tell their parents who gave them the coffee. I'd be surprised if they have gone to sleep yet.

At the end of it all, it's a kind of nice way to see people and feel Christmassy and get a requisite dose of "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth".

Sunday, December 16, 2007

And Since We've No Place to Go....

The other day on Facebook, I put my status as "wanting a snow day", so I feel like I'm kind of responsible for today's weather. (I had no idea I had that kind of power....I resolve to use it only for good. Good for me, I mean.) We've had about 8 inches of snow, enough to make driving difficult if the roads haven't been plowed. It was coming down pretty hard and blowing around quite a bit, and that made the decision to stay home today a very easy one. The idea of enforced relaxation appeals to me very much.
Thing 2 stayed over at my parents house for the night, because we had our staff Christmas party last night. I went to drive over and get her this morning, but after nearly getting stuck a couple of times, I took the van back home and walked over instead. (After pushing a neighbour's car out of the Himylaya of snow at the stoplights at the top of the street, I was glad I wasn't in the van.) Thing 2 was happy enough to walk home, feeling like a pioneer girl and singing Christmas songs along the way to entertain me. We discussed the stories she will tell her grandchildren about her adventure of walking 12 miles in the snow, uphill all the way, with only cardboard shoes for her feet and carrying a cord of wood. I think her grandchildren will be more interested in the fact that there was snow, because with global warming, they probably won't ever see any.
The girls played outside in the snow for most of the day, the Mister shovelled the driveway and messed around on the computer, and I? I drank coffee, ate chocolate and did the Sunday crossword. I baked cupcakes and read my book and had a nap. Toby took one look at the drift outside the front door that was bigger than him, looked at me with a wounded look of deep disappointment, and went to go look out the window. Really, we should schedule a snow day for about once a month, they are fabulous.

Friday, December 14, 2007

There Are No Words.

I thought I'd seen it all, really I had. (Twenty-five years in the beauty biz will do that for you.)

But then, wandering around the internet I found this site: Kitty Wigs, and I tell you, I was gobsmacked. Well, wouldn't you be?

Apparently they really are wigs for your cat. Isn't this just about the creepiest thing you've ever seen? I mean, that's going to haunt you for days, isn't it? But wait, there's more.....

Apart from the fact that I cannot conceive of parting with fifty buck for one of these horrors, I shiver at the very idea of the unadulterated loathing with which Toby would greet his new adornment. He'd eviserate me in my sleep.
No, there will be no be-wigged cats at Chez Loudshoes, not until Toby comes up with the fifty bucks himself, anyway.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Please, Mr. Postman.

We may not be getting any more mail from now on, because I think the postman is afraid of me.

A few weeks ago, the Mister and I went Christmas shopping, and started in on the presents for the kids. We start the lengthy process in November, because A) we do all of Christmas on a strictly cash basis, and spreading it out over a couple of paycheques means we don't have to eat popcorn for dinner in December, and B) the stuff we want to buy is still in the stores in November; by December you know all you will be able to get is toothpaste and potatoes for the little darlings. Anyway, we bought a bunch of stuff, which I know will thrill them, and we put it away where they are unlikely to stumble upon it.
I got Thing 2 a very nifty craft book, from (Which is a terrific company that makes the most wonderful activity books, and I highly recommend them if you have someone to buy for who is between the ages of 8 and 14, or a middle-aged, suburban housewife.) For whatever reason, perhaps I was having a stroke at the time or something, I put the book away somewhere safe, not with the other presents, and have not been able to find it since. And the thing that makes me really mad is that I distinctly remember saying to myself "you really shouldn't do this, you know, you should put it with the other stuff".
So, after everyone was gone out of the house this morning, and before I did anything else, I took a real tear around the place and still could not find the stupid thing. As I stood in the middle of the living room, pulling at my hair and yelling at myself, I saw that the postman was crossing the front lawn with a look of alarmed panic on his face. And then I realized he was watching an angry, crazy woman in her pajamas going all "Wicked Witch of the West" on the cat's ass about finding the Christmas presents.
I guess we don't have to worry about shoveling the walk anymore.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

.....And The Staff Isn't Much Better.

Yesterday's blog was all about some of our more amusing clients, who's decidedly original rationale make our jobs so much more fun. Lest you think I am being punitive and judgemental about our clientele, let me assure you that, no matter how nutty the clients are, we've had plenty of staff to compete. In the 25 years that the Mister and I have worked together, we figure we've seen about a hundred staff go through our place, that we can remember. Lots of them were nice, normal people who just wanted to make a living. Aaaaaand lots of them were certifiable.

The "juniors" or "assistants" are the people who shampoo the clients, sweep the floor, do the cleaning and the laundry. (For some reason, they are vastly overrepresented in this particular litany.) We had one guy who used to bring in his own laundry and do that during his shift.

There was one girl who had put her wedding dress on layaway, and way paying for it over time. She was only 18 and didn't have a boyfriend. In fact, she had never had a boyfriend, but thought she may as well get the dress now, since it was perfect. We told her she should probably not mention this on her first date.

After bugging one of the colour technicians for weeks to highlight his hair, one guy called in the next morning to say that he wouldn't be in because now his hair was too blond and he couldn't go out. We nicknamed him "The Frosted Flake".

When I was a junior, I worked with a girl who I swear couldn't tell time. She never wore a watch, and couldn't time colors off the clock. (For example, if you told her to rinse a colour in 10 minutes, she'd always set a timer.) She'd ask me if it was time for lunch or time to go home etc. I wonder how she got through life.

We've had several receptionists who had terrible trouble with the till. One of them never did manage to balance the till, not once in the 6 months she worked there. Another one couldn't make change without a calculator. Another one told several clients that I didn't work there any more, while I was standing right beside her.

There was one guy who went off to Toronto to complete his apprenticeship, for six weeks. We thought he was coming back, but when we went to a hairshow, we noticed he was working for someone else now.

One young woman sat through an entire staff meeting, and after it was done, said good bye and see you tomorrow. A little while later we found her resignation letter sitting on the front desk. Why did she sit through that meeting if she wasn't going to work there anymore?

My favorite was the junior who figured, on his first day, that he was never going to remember our manager's rather unusual Greek name, and decided to call her "Miss Thing" from now on.
On his first day.

I tell you, between the clients and the staff, I don't know what's normal anymore.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Customer is Always.....Crazy.

Like any business that has to deal with the public, we have our fair share of nutjobs. Now, let me first say that the vast majority of our clients are delightful, charming and reasonable people, with whom it is a distinct pleasure to do business. In fact, I have a couple of clients that I feel badly about charging, because I have such a good time while they are in my chair that I am more than compensated for my labours.) Then there are the tiny percentage of clients that make my head burst into flames.

One woman insisted she had to get her hair done on a particular day, because it would be a new moon that day, and “everyone knew” that your hair grew slower on a new moon than on a full one. (If I hadn't been the one to take the phone call, I'd have been sure someone was making that one up.)

I remember one day when we had a woman call, very upset, to tell us that we were, under no circumstances, to cut her daughter's hair. (You can imagine our confusion....usually if people don't want us to cut their hair, they don't come in. It's generally a very reliable system.) It turns out that here estranged husband had their 3-year-old daughter for the weekend, and intended to bring the daughter in for a haircut. (Clearly, this was just one of many, many barroom brawls in this couple's lives, and we wanted no part of it. Usually, if someone who isn't visibly drunk or in need of psychiatric help comes in, wants a haircut and demonstrated an ability to pay for it, we'll do it.) She threatened us with all manner of legal action, character assassination and karmic retribution, but we trimmed the kid's hair anyway, and everyone lived to tell the tale.

We had a woman walk in one Saturday who had just had her hair coloured and cut at another shop on the street and although the job they had done wasn't too bad, she was unhappy with it and wanted us to fix it. (Now, changing a new colour job isn't for the faint of heart; it can be tricky, especially going from darker to lighter, lest one end up with khaki coloured straw on their head.) The colour tech spent about an hour and a half on it, and the client was very happy with the result. She was, however, very unhappy with the fact that we were going to charge her for it; she felt that she had already spent enough money on the original procedure, and thought we were being unnecessarily harsh in wanting money for the job we had done.

Clients that ask me to cut a millimeter or a quarter of an inch off their hair baffle me. A quarter of an inch is the size of the "capital I" on your keyboard; a negligible amount. I offer to just wave the scissors over their head and they can pay me $40. It will look exactly the same as if I actually touch their head.

A client called to complain that she had had her hair coloured a month before, and now she could see grey at the roots. She felt that with the amount of money she had spent, the colour job should have lasted longer. No amount of explaining that her hair had grown in the month and that's why she was seeing grey at the roots would convince her....the last place she had gone, the colour job lasted three months. We suggested she go back there.

I understand that our prices are at the higher end of things, and that not everyone would choose to spend what we charge. However, much like the restaurant industry, standards and expectations differ wildly in our business, and your experience will be very different depending on the establishment you choose to patronize. I did a woman who complained bitterly about how much we charge for our services, and couldn't understand "how we lived with ourselves, charging those prices". When I suggested that she might be happier going somewhere else, she replied "but they don't do as good a job as you do."

Invariably the response to "I'm sorry, the person you would like to make an appointment with is all booked up" is "But I really need to get in with her!" Just once, I'd like to be able to reply: "Oh, wait a second! I had forgotten about my powers over time and space! Let me conjure up a two hour appointment for you out of thin air! There you go!"

Wedding parties and brides are a whole nother's usually their movie and we are all just bit players, but sometimes it's more than you could ever imagine.
We had a wedding party show up two hours late for their hair and makeup appointments. Not only had they missed their allotted time altogether, but we were already working on our next clients....they wouldn't have even been finished at our place by the time the wedding was to start! They thought we were being particularly unreasonable in not fitting them in.
One bride wanted to book her party on a day where we were already booked, and couldn't fit them in. She wanted us to give her the other bride's phone number, so that she could call her and "see if they could work something out”. (We said no.)
Another woman called wanting her money back. It seems she had come in for her son's wedding, six months earlier, to have her hair blow-dried. She had liked it on the day of the wedding, but now that the pictures had come back from the photographer, she wasn't so happy with it, and wanted her $18.00 back. I think that's the only time I've seen the Mister actually hang up on someone.

So, when I was at the mall today and heard a young woman ask the clerk at the frozen yogurt stand if their product had any dairy in it, I nodded my head and said to myself "I'll bet you only want a quarter inch of it, too.".

Monday, December 10, 2007

Amazing Race 12, Ep. 6

Too bad for Hendekea and Azzaria; that simple mistake cost them dearly. I checked my tape over, and when Azzaria was saying "economy" to the ticket agent, she was saying "as fast as possible". The agent might have only heard her, and found her the best seats at the time, which were business class.

Wow, Azzaria, you are totally wrong-o on the role of an older brother. An older brother's job is not to "challenge" or "guide" a younger sister, an older brother's job is to A) infuriate her B)embarrass her, C) be condescending to her and D) give her noogies at every available opportunity.

Man, that Jennifer and Nate are both prizes, aren't they? Their dynamics alternately baffle me and sicken me. Can someone exlplain the thought processes that go on with relationships like that, because I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why people continue to stay with someone they so clearly dislike. I kind of remember being about 14 and having a "boyfriend" that I didn't like very much, but he liked me, and I enjoyed the status of dating someone, so I put up with him for about a week or so. They kind of remind me of that.
When we were watching, Thing 2, who is 10, asked about Jen "what is wrong with her?". Just about sums it up, doesn't it? I'm surprised neither of them shoved the other one off that cliff.

Personally, if I felt strongly enough about anyone to tell them "I hate you with a passion" and mean it, I sincerely think that would be the last thing I ever said to them. We'd be done.

And Jen? Do not give Phil the stinkeye at the mat. No good will come of that.

It would be fun to keep these two in the race, if only to see the look of bitter acceptance on her face when they come in second at the finale. Also, I want to see him get on a flight to "Brovniak" or some other place which sounds like where he wants to go.

I practiallly stood up and cheered when Phil told them they had to go back down to the bottom of the hill and get a taxi and come right back up. That was a great, big, steaming pile of awesome. And the best part? The taxi driver that wouldn't take them the first time, who did take Ron and Christina? He's the guy that brought them back down. Thank you Anonymous Croatian Taxi Driver!

I also want to thank the guy at the top of the hill with the gun. That? was great. Especially since you startled those two twice. In fact, I loved just about everyone's reaction to the gun. Guns and goats would be a nice combination on this race, no?

Don and Nick have got to stop with the close finishes, they're killing me.

When they were on the Amazing Bathmat, I noticed that the "little pink kitten" has got quite a rack on her, and said so to the Mister. He replied that those two have so much going on he hadn't had time to notice. He was too distracted by Kynt's makeup.

I loved when Ron and Christina were told they won catamarans, and Ron cheered "I know what that is!". Remember when Charla and Mirna won the exact same thing and went "Yay!...wait....what's that?".

Favorite Line of the Night: from Vyxyn- "It's okay. I have a dad, too."

Where was everyone's backpacks?

Until next week!

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm Ready for My Cape Now

Everyone should be so lucky as to feel like a superhero now and've shown up, solved some one's problem and made the world a better place and safe for democracy. It's a very nice feeling, and today was such a day.

It started yesterday, when I overheard a woman at the mall lamenting that she hadn't been able to find a particular store, which she had driven in from out of town to go to. It used to be at the mall but had now moved out to it's own site, and I was able to tell her where it was. She beamed at me, and thanked me profusely.
Then, as I was going downtown to pick up Himself from work, I noticed that my Good Friend Wendy was in the van right in front of me. Like any good friend in the 21st century, I picked up my cell phone (stopped at a red light, naturally) and called her and said "Look behind you!". As we laughed and squealed and generally carried on, she said she was bringing her Thing 2 (who happens to be one of my very favorite children of all time.) down to a squash lesson, and was almost out of time and hellishly low on gas, and it dawned on both of us that I could bring him down to the lesson (a few blocks from where I was getting the Mister!) and save her a lot of angst and grief and gnashing of teeth. We pulled in at the next available opportunity, made Thing 2 change vehicles and off we went, me with Wendy's heartfelt "you are my village!" ringing in my ears.
The kids teachers were staying late at school last night conducting parent/teacher interviews, and my Thing 2 has her Girl Guide meetings at the same place on Thursday evenings. Last night they girls were having a Christmas party and everyone was supposed to bring something sweet to share and, as per several requests, we brought fudge. On our way in, Thing 2 thought that maybe we could bring a piece of fudge to her teacher, since she had been there since school ended, and no doubt was in need of some carbohydrate reinforcements. Man, was she ever....that woman couldn't have been more thrilled if we had brought her a Mai Tai and her own cabana boy.
Later in the evening, I got a phone call from another delightful friend, who wanted to know if she had reached "I-800-I-Messed-Up-My-Daughter's-Hair-Colour". I was able to fit in the daughter, (another teenager I would willingly spend all day with) today at work, and after a couple of hours, managed to fix her hair and make her suitable for public consumption once again. She was delighted, as only a teenage girl who has narrowly escaped a life of social ruination can be.

So, tomorrow, I will work in learning to fly.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

University or Therapy?

I know that the ritual of the picture of one's happy, smiling offspring on Santa's knee is a cherished one for many parents, particularly the newish parents for whom the whole "kids at Christmas" thing is fairly new and still novel. But small children have a way of blasting your best laid plans to smithereens with split-second mood change, and that new parent had better get familiar with that idea right smart. One of the things I learned really quickly as a parent is that a two-year old will turn on you like a rabid dog, given the slimmest of excuses, and you, the parent, must be ready to abandon any scenario, at any time, at a moments notice, and with equanimity. Such is your lot in life until the little darlings are old enough to understand "I gave you life, you're giving me this."

Sadly, some parents learn this particular lesson way too late. By then, the money set aside for higher education will have to be spent on some pretty intensive therapy to counter-balance their lack of parental resourcefulness.
I found the following pictures on The Sun-Sentinel website, which is a paper out of southern Florida. Now, not all of the pictures come from southern Florida, so I'm not going to hold that against them, but the glee with which the hundreds of pictures in the "Scared of Santa" feature are published does give me pause.

Santa's looking pretty chipper for a guy who's got two absolutely traumatised toddlers on his lap. No doubt the two are wailing the place down with some pretty bone-chilling shrieks, and Santa looks like he's just had a beer at the Sunday School picnic. That's cold, man.

This poor child looks like she is afraid, truly afraid, that Santa is going to eat her. And she may be right. I mean, look at him...does he look like he's ever said "no thanks, I'm full" in his life?

Holy shit, this Santa scares the bejesus out of me, and I know I could deck him if I had to. That kid doesn't stand a chance...... Run, little girl, RUN! Man, where did they find this guy? I'll bet his sister has a house in the woods made of gingerbread.

Check out this Santa.... "God, I'd kill myself if I wasn't so damn tired." That little guy shouldn't be afraid of Santa, Santa's just going to topple over and have a nap real soon. Then he should be able to escape without any problem.
This guy is enjoying his job way too much. I wonder if he strangles kittens for fun in the off season.
I love this kid; she's giving Santa a full-out, direct-frontal assault, while still having the presence of mind to keep a steely grip on that candy cane. I would not want to mess with her, girl has her priorities.
Wow. Psycho Santa. From the unnatural blue-grey of his beard, to his expressionless reptilian gaze to the apparent ease with which he is breaking that child's arm, he is ten kinds of unnerving. It just appears to be dawning on the kid on the right that perhaps this Santa is, in fact, an alien.

I love this one best of all.....a mere facsimile of Santa can make you relive the horror all over again. It's a clear case of PSSD: "Post Santa Stress Disorder".

Just for the record, I wouldn't have put my kids through this sort of trauma just for a picture of them with Santa. I will happily save the trauma for more important things, like bathing suit shopping, or haircuts. Luckily, we've been saving for years.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Serves Him Right.

Like almost everyone else in the Western hemisphere, I've been out and about Christmas shopping lately. I'm pretty lucky, I'm able to be at the stores when everyone else is not, which suits me perfectly.
The other day I was out at Chapters, buying for other people and browsing for me, when I overheard the following exchange between a customer, who was carrying a large book which he was holding open, and a staff member:
Customer: "Hi, I was wondering if you guys had a photocopier around here that I could use?"
Staff Member: (pause, clearly wondering if she had heard correctly.) "Um, no. We sell books here. I believe what you are looking for is a library."

She? is awesome.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mother Nature is Cruel.

Thing 2 is trying mightily to earn some money to buy Christmas presents. It's not like we make the poor kid buy for all and sundry, or that she's got to spend much on anyone, but we do encourage the kids to put a bit of money away all year, so that they have it when they need know, "savings". (Thing 1 has cottoned onto this idea in spades, but Thing 2 is still struggling with the concept. ) So, now, in the first week of December, she has figured out that she's going to need about 20 bucks real soon.
Yesterday we had our first snowstorm of the season, and we got about 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground. Since the temperature is supposed to rise in another couple of days or so, the Mister and I would normally let nature take it's course and not bother with clearing the driveway. But Thing 2 took it into her head that if she shovelled the driveway, perhaps she could make a bit of cash. Not one to stand in the way of hard work or initiative, especially if it's someone else's, I heartily endorsed her idea, and we agreed on a wage of 5 bucks for the job.
Off she went, into the wild and woolly late afternoon, and by God, she cleared that driveway. I was amazed; I didn't think that child had it in her. (Note to self: Is Thing 2 comes at you with a snow shovel, get out of the way. She's better with one of those things than you think.) She was delighted with herself and her 5 dollars.
This morning we woke up to another 3 or 4 inches of snow, and as we looked out the front window I casually remarked to her that the driveway was all filled in, and that you could hardly tell that she'd done any shovelling at all.
There was a bit of a pause, and then a worried Thing 2 beside me blurted out "Does that mean I have to give back the 5 dollars?".

Monday, December 3, 2007

Amazing Race 12, Ep. 5

It’s hard to determine which team was more unlikeable last night, Team Nosejob or Team Infidelity. They both bickered and whined and shouted at each other so much that I’m not sure they even registered that they were on another continent.

I’m not so sure that the Twigs needed to use the U-Turn at all, given that the last team last week was at least an hour behind them, but on the other hand, they at least used it in the right way; if you think you are decidedly in danger of being eliminated, why not make sure there’s a team well behind you? Seriously, Tall Twig needed to let it go.
I wonder what kind of awkward arrival they had at Sequesterville? (The resort they have to spend the duration of the race at.) Do you think Lorena and Jason bought them a drink? Sadly, it appears that their feminine wiles did them no good on this race at all.

I really thought that bus was going to mow down the Twigs. ("Wow, this will be the first actual death on a reality show.")Man, that was close. I wonder if the camera guy gets to go home now.

I’m puzzled as to why Jen was so obviously hurt and outraged when Nate called her a bitch, as she herself has used that very term in reference to every other female on the race, especially for the egregious task of doing better than her.

I’m liking Grandpa a lot. That remark as they came out of the travel agent’s in Ouagadougou, “C’est la vie! That’s French, in case you wanted to know.” Is exactly the kind of thing I would say in the same circumstances, and then who ever is with me would justifiably want to kill me.

God, Ron is a tool sometimes, isn’t he? That “fossilization” thing was annoying the first time around, but he just kept saying it. The fact that the woman spoke almost no English didn’t seem to faze him one little bit.
And, did you hear he has a hernia? Because that was brand new information for me until he volunteered to go up on the stilts and toppled over like Wile. E Coyote. But on the other hand, could you imagine him during the counting task? She’d be patiently counting away, and he’d be counting, sort of, while telling her how to do it, what she’s doing wrong and how she could be doing it better, and then she’d put one of those pickets straight through his chest.

Was it Ron who said that all he knew about Lithuania is that they make great pastries? Because,….God.

Am I a horrible person for wanting to slap Christina every time she chirps “I love you, Daddy!”? Because I had a boyfriend that did that used to do that to me, and I got out of that relationship before I completely lost it and ripped his head off.

I loved all the racers who gleefully announced “I can count!”, like that was the entire task. In reality, it was concentrating which was the crux of the matter. (“87, 88, 89, 100!” Okay, so maybe counted mattered, too.) Why didn’t Jen and Nate do it in opposite directions if they were having such a problem being in the same hemisphere as each other?

That festival, by the way, was amazing! I will definitely put that village on my “List of Places To Go Once I Win The Lottery and My Children Finish Medical School”. Those people who’s sole purpose was to mess up the counters? They are my new best friends. The only thing that would have made that better is if they had had goats, too.

Is Azzaria secretly Hendekea’s father? Because he seems to be determined to treat her like a child, despite the fact that she seems astoundingly competent.

Whatever TK and Rachel are smoking, they should give some of that to Jen and Nate. I loved her response to the Detour choices, “Ooooh, stilts!”. Sometimes you just have to go with the task that looks like fun.

Another new band name, courtesy of Phil: “Land of the Gnomes”.

Until next week!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Just Learn To Bake, Already.

While wandering around the web the other day, I came across this offering in the Williams Sonoma catalogue.
(For those of you unfamiliar with the Williams Sonoma catalogue, it is a food and cookware company that appears to be making an ungodly profit, from the looks of things.)
The picture on the left is pretty much what it looks like: 9 cupcakes. There are 3 cupcakes of 3 flavors each, and htey weigh about 3 ounces each. That would make them pretty much a standard size cupcake. We are assured that they are made with "fresh eggs, real butter and other premium ingredients". (As opposed to bleach and gasoline, I imagine.) The founder of the company, Perfect Endings, from which these delicacies originate "learned to bake from his Southern grandmother", which I guess is important because everybody knows that female bakers from north of the Mason-Dixon line are imcompetent losers.) They can be delivered right to your door for your holiday celebration.
All of this is relevant because I cannot imagine what could possibly justify the price tag of $59.00!! These suckers are $6.50 EACH, if you can believe it! What if someone had two? You'd kill them, you really would. What if there were 10 people at your table? What would you do? I know several families for which this would be a reason to call in lawyers. Not exactly bringing on the warm and fuzzies, now are they?
Okay, I just read down a little further in the ad, and it tells me that these are "One of Oprah's Favorite Things", which sheds a little light on the subject. Except, I'm not Oprah.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Hate the Whos, Too.

This kids and I were watching “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” a few days ago. It wasn’t on tv or anything, we just watched the video tape we’ve had banging around for the past few years. (I don’t think children today really get the wonder of watching a show or a movie any time you want to. We had to wait until it showed up on network tv, and if you happened to miss it that particular night, tough luck, sucker, you had to wait a whole year to catch it again. Now we can watch “The Wizard of Oz” or “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown” all summer if we want. And we have.)
Watching the Grinch this time brought up a few questions in my mind that hadn’t occurred to me before. Like, if the Grinch is, in fact, THE Grinch and there are no others, where did he come from? Is he a separate species from the Whos or is he just a genetic mutation? He looks like the unholy love child of Yoda and Bea Arthur.

How does he get groceries up on Mount Crumpet, anyway?

I always felt so sorry for Max the Dog when I was a little kid. It seems to me that he didn’t like living with a Grinch, why didn’t he just up and leave? Was he suffering from a canine equivalent of Battered Woman Syndrome? Or was he worried that the Whos would kill him and eat him? After all, the exact origins of the Roast Beast was never determined. (In that vein, how do we know the Roast Beast isn’t one of the last surviving Grinches? Maybe the Grinch has a very legitimate reason to hate the Whos after all.)

I’m with the Grinch on the noise thing, by the way. If I had to listen to all that banging and shrieking and rattling and thumping for 53 years, I’d be in a roaring good snit, too. And the singing. Plus, having your shoes too small is a definite mood-killer.

Cindy Lou Who is a remarkably composed child to find Santa in her house and not even bat an eyelash. Man, I don’t know a single child that wouldn’t have screamed the house down. I mean, finding any stranger, let alone Santa, in your living room would give one quite a turn, I’d imagine. Also, I know the Grinch came down the chimney, but there seems to be some serious security issues in Who-ville, they may want to address that.

So, after they welcomed the Grinch into Who-ville and let him carve the Roast Beast, did he have to go back up to Mount Crumpet and live out his days in squalor and loneliness? And now that he’s nice, does he have to change his name and adopt an entirely new identity? Because he’s still green and furry, where the Whos are decidedly not; it’s not like he’s going to blend in.

See, maybe I was better off just watching it once a year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Things That Make Me Irrationally Furious.

I like to think I'm fairly easy to get along with, my family's opinion notwithstanding. I'm not all that particular about my food, I don't take offense easily and I'm quite happy to go along with whatever's happening around me. I have very few black and whites in my life, and I'm pretty willing to listen to almost anyone's point of view. Having said that, I do find myself getting quite peevish about any number of things, most of which, I will admit, have no basis in reason whatsoever. I don't want to be someone who is defined by what they hate, but I have to admit, the following make my head explode.:
  • Sudden loud noises. When someone drops the lid to a saucepan or the wind catches the screen door and it slams really hard, I am first startled and then infuriated. I think I'm infuriated because I hate being startled. Irrational, but true.
  • Mispronouncing words. There was a woman I worked with who pronounced the word "sandwich" as "sangwich" and I wanted to throttle her long and hard. Also, "athlete" is two syllables, there is no "a" between the "h" and the "l", and the word "probably" has 2 "b"s in it, so should never, ever be said as "prolly".
  • The theme song to "Three's Company". Also, most Christmas music.
  • Bumping my knee or arm on the screen door. It doesn't help that the screen door doesn't care that it has hurt me.
  • Opening a crinkly package, like potato chips, particularly when it takes longer than necessary. It is rational that this should bother me when I'm trying to hear a television or the radio, but it is completely irrational that I take umbrage at a ball game or at the park.
  • Loud sneezes. You don't have to put that much effort into a sneeze; there is no need to involve your vocal chords whatsoever.
  • Spelling the words "all right" and "a lot" as "alright" and "alot". They are separate words entirely.
  • The wearing of baseball caps backwards. God, I hate that! It looks ridiculous and stupid altogether, and it irritates the living daylights out of me.
  • The use of "impact" as a verb. This makes me shout at the television on a daily basis. No, you were not "impacted negatively", something "had a negative impact" on you. In the same vein, the use of the word "utilize" instead of "use" sends me into a murderous rage.
  • When the Mister and Thing 2 have allergies, they sniffle. Constantly. I understand that they feel rotten and the sniffling is automatic, but when they are both in the same room with me, it's all I can do to squelch my indignation and not go all bat-shit crazy on them.

There are several things that do work me up something fierce that are completely rational, and should be outlawed immediately:

  • People stopping in the fire lane at the mall to let someone out and then sitting there, waiting, until the person comes back out. There's an entire parking lot right beside them, and because they are still in the car and have the motor running, they don't consider themselves parked, and therefore not bound by the rules of parking. I disagree vehemently, and when I am made Queen of the Universe, this is going to be the first thing to be made punishable by death.
  • Talking at the movie theatre. (During the movies, of course, I mean, I'm not that crazy that I'd outlaw it before or after. Okay, maybe I'd put some restricitions on it, but that's all.) The last time I went to the movie theatre, the two people behind us chatted throughout the movie as if they were sitting in their living rooms watching a DVD. Apparently, they did not notice the hundred or so people sitting in close proximity who had paid 10 bucks to watch the film with them. One of them even made a phone call. . The woman beside us asked (quite politely, I thought) if they could please be a bit quieter, and they were offended. Virtual privacy does not have a sound-proof barrier, people.
  • Putting condiments bottles back in the fridge when they have approximately 1 tablespoon's worth of stuff in the bottom, and then going and opening a new bottle, and putting that in the fridge right beside it. I swear, there's not a jury in the land that would convict me if I murdered my whole family for this particular transgression. Especially if it was made up of married mothers who have to deal with this on a regular basis.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Laws of Hairdressing.

I've been a hairstylist for over 20 years, and in the business for just over 25. (That means, I was a receptionist for 5 years before I actually took the plunge to hairdressing school.) and in the ensuing quarter century, I've discovered that the realm is ruled by the following rules....

The Laws of Hairdressing.

1. The woman that has curly hair wants it to be straight hair. The woman who has straight hair wants it to be curly hair. It is up to you to make it happen.

2. The later your first client of the day is, the earlier the rest of your clients will be for the rest of the day.

3. The bigger the breakfast you eat, the more time you will have for lunch later on. Conversely, the day you skimp on breakfast, thinking you will have time to go out and grab something, is the day you will book up entirely.

4. The client you think hates you and your work will be the first one in your chair when you come back from vacation or maternity leave. The clients you think are happy with you, you will never see again.

5. How people describe themselves will likely prove the opposite. The one who claims to be “low maintenance” or like a “natural look” will take up all the oxygen and the hairspray in the salon.

6. The sweet, lovely, clients for whom you will do anything will never ask you to do anything extra. They are precisely the ones you will want to do it for.

7. The client who complains bitterly and at length about the price you charge, will tell you all about their new kitchen renovations, the details about their recent Carribbean cruise, and the custom stools they had commissioned for the wet bar around their hot tub.

8. The last client of the day will be late.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Said, Good MORNING!

This morning, as I was dozing on and off and waiting for the alarm to go off, Toby came running into the bedroom, as is his wont, as if he had been detained in some cold, foreign windowless jail for the past few months and had just been released and was meeting us at the airport. He bounded up on the bed, chirping and meowing and purring and kneading, all lovey-dovey and delighted to be in the same room as me. I was lying on my stomach and the Tobester got up on my back and proceeded to give me a reasonably effective back massage, when his attention was caught by my ear-plugs (which isn’t difficult, since they are neon orange and yellow and stick out of my head in a very Shrek-like fashion.) He stops the massage and then prods my ear a bit and then snatches the little earplug right out of my head! He then proceeded to play with it on the already overcrowded bed-side table, knocking everything onto the ground and thoroughly waking me up in a very stormy fashion. He was completely unmindful of my objections.
I think that’s about the rudest thing any cat has ever done to me, including eating out off my dinner plate and belching in my face.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Amazing Race, Ep. 4

“No Chicken, No Check In” is my new imaginary band name. Along with “Potentially Uncooperative Goat”

You know who Jen is? She’s that girl you hated in high school, that one who thinks that because she’s blond and a cheerleader that everything belongs to her. I’m surprised she didn’t get all up in the judges of African Idol's faces because she knows how to dance, and they clearly did not see her superiour skills. And, it is IN NO WAY up to the team ahead of you to “let you come in first” because they’ve already had their first place finish and now it’s your turn. That’s not “super competitive”, that’s whiney and cry-babyish. If I dated her, I’d cheat on her too.

Lorener and Jason were more than an hour behind the first teams to leave the pitstop, I’m not sure that that U-Turn was going to make too much of a difference anyway. I’m at least glad that their undoing was her performance last week, rather than the U-Turn this week. And honey, he’s not marrying you, do you get that, don't you? And even if he does? He's still going to be on his way when he finds something better, because he's not finished shopping yet.

Did anyone else think that the Silicone Twigs were mistaken, and thought that the team right behind them was Lorener and Jason? Because I was definitely getting that vibe. I’m sorry if that was the case, and they didn’t show the two of them when they found out they were wrong. Shorter Twig was right, though, in that it is a viable strategy for the race, and using it does not encompass any moral deficiencies. And she was right to use it in a situation where she thought they were in second-to-last place to hold up the team right behind them. But it did seem to take a toll on the team dynamics, so we will see how that turns out next week.

I was SO hoping the Goths would do “Booty”, and they did! Clearly Kynt has had some experience with cheerleading or colour guard or something, because nobody handles a stick like that without some prior training. I love Vyxyn’s reaction to the culture shock (are you listening, Twigs???) and the poverty around her. I also loved the way she rocked that chicken-in-a-bag back and forth, like it was a baby. These two are my favorites this season, I think.

Did you see the way Grandpa just walked right up to that chicken and snagged it with one hand? And then plopped it in the bag while he was walking back? Impressive…no muss, no fuss. And then he had a passing knowledge of gold mining! Gramps went up a few notches in my estimation, let me tell you. (He reminds me a bit of Creed, from “The Office”, who frequently busts out with some improbable bit of experience from his past: “It’s much more lucrative to be the leader of a cult” and “I was in an Iron Lung”.)

Anyone else feel sorry for the goats and the chickens? I’m just glad the Roadblock didn’t involve wringing the chickens necks, and then plucking and eating them. I think the producers thought the chickens would provide more entertainment than they did....this season's teams are just too normal and calm. Can you imagine the spazztastic hi-jinks that would have ensued if Charla and Mirna had been obliged to snag a chicken?

Best Line of the Night: "Let's name our chicken "Phil"."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Hard-Ass Cookie Exchange.

Just back from the cookie exchange my sister-in-law hosts every year. (For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, a cookie exchange is where a bunch of people bring 8 or 10 dozen cookies of one type, and then divvy them up so that everyone gets one dozen from everyone else. The idea is that you end up with a whole shebang of different cookies, and you didn't have to start baking in August. ) This year I made some chocolate cookies with white chocolate and toasted almonds on top, which turned out very well. The problem is, you have to find a recipe that makes a couple of dozen, so you aren't making 12 batches, and one that doesn't cost too much. One year I started making a white chocolate and cranberry bark, but after a bit of examination, I realized I was going to have to take out a second morgage to make enough. (White chocolate can get really expensive when you are buying it by the kilo.)
This is the most hard-ass cookie exchange I've ever been involved in. First of all, you have to be a good baker to get in on this one; no Voortmans or Pillsbury for this crowd. Secondly, no margarine; you have to use butter or no cookies for you. And thirdly, they have to be fancy; decorations are required.
It's a bit of work, (and not a little pressure.) but we get some kick-ass cookies. Ideally, you are supposed to freeze them and then have them for Christmas, but the McGregor household has no restraint and we manage to go through all 8 dozen before December 1st.
So far, our favorites are Nana's Shortbread, which she made last year and was ordered to make again this year. (They have icing and sprinkles.)
My sister-in-law's sister-in-law has moved prohibitively far away and couldn't make it this year, which was too bad because, damn, that woman can bake.
Then we had a gift exchange and drank some wine and ate some appetizers. And I came home with 8 dozen cookies.
Not a bad day.

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Favorite Books of 2007

It seems a little early to be doing a list of the best of anything for the year, but I won't be reading too much for the next couple of weeks. (I've learned not to pick up any book I really, really want to read in December, because then nothing gets done or I can't read as much as I would like, and neither scenario is good. The "Outlander" Christmas of 97? A disaster.)

In no particular order:

"The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid", and "The Lost Continent; Travels in Small Town America" by Bill Bryson.
I swear I could read Bill Bryson's grocery list and laugh myself sick. I love this guy. The first book is an autobiography of growing up in Des Moines Iowa, and the second is an older book about finding small towns all across the US. Both were wonderful.

"The Memory Keepers Daughter" by Kim Edwards A book about a family and decisions and consequences. This had me thinking about it long after I read it.

"The Golden Spruce" John Vailliant If I had to pick an absolute favorite book this year, I think this might be it. A non-fiction book about a rare spruce growing in the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the guy who disappeared right before his trial for cutting it down. This absolutely captivated me. If you had told me that I'd be up late reading about logging practices in B.C, the Haida Indians and the fluid dynamics of waves in the Pacific, I'd have never believed it.

"Love is a Mix Tape" by Rob Sheffield A sweet, sad, funny and very touching book about love and loss. This guy tells the story of his love for music, how it brought him and his wife together, and how it helped him cope when she died suddenly at a young age. I was so tickled when I could say "I know that song!", and made me run out and find the other music he talked about.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by JK Rowling How many summers have been defined by my reading a Harry Potter book? A satisfying end to a wonderful series.

"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls I swore I wasn't reading any more books about mistreated children, and I started this one with a great deal of trepidation. But I found myself caught up in it much more than I thought I would, and the children weren't so much mistreated as brought up by two loving, if terribly, dysfunctional people. It at least gave me hope that if these kids could turn out more or less okay, then my children should be just fine.

"The Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis A book about time travel to medieval England. A page-turner that kept me up very late one night.

"How To Talk To A Widower"by Jonathan Tropper Another story about loss and coping and how even the messiest of families can be a soft place to land. And I laughed out loud a couple of times, too.

"Missing In Action" by John D. Harvie A terrific book memoir about one man's experiences during World War II. I had to keep telling myself "it's going to be okay; he made it out to write the book!" And the bonus is, I got to talk to the author himself!

"Cabin Pressure"by Josh Wolk I never went to summer camp, but this book makes me wish I had. This guy went back to be a counsellor at the camp that made such an impact on his life, and then wrote about his summer. Youth has a totally different feel when you aren't one any more. Funny and sweet.

"The Kitchen Boy"by Robert Alexander Terrific historical fiction about the only witness to the execution of the last Tsar of Russia and his family. Great twist at the end.

"Look Me In the Eye- My Life With Asperger’s" by John Robison Another memoir, but this one was written by a man who just thought he was a misfit his whole life. Turns out he has Asperger's Syndrome, a type of autism. It made me look at all the nutbars I have to deal with a little bit differently. This was a good follow up to "The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nighttime", by Mark Haddon, who's protagonist is autistic. Both books gave me a real insight into how some people's brains are wired.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'll Write The Songs!

Forget Dalton McGuinty's newest stat, "Family Day", I'm way more interested in Live Like A Cat Day.

Just think of it, you could spend all day sleeping, eating and looking out the window plotting to maim beings smaller than yourself.
Then, when that got tiring, you could eat some more and have a nap. Of course, the constant grooming might get a bit tedious, but that would be off-set by the stretching and the yowling whenever you felt like it and, of course, the yawning so big that your head is in danger of falling right off backwards onto the floor.
You could take over every comfortable surface in the house. And, if someone else was already occupying that place, you could just go and sit right on top of them.
If someone in your family is doing something interesting, you can feel free to go lay down right smack dab in the middle of it. I'm sure they would enjoy your presence, as well as your valuable input, especially if they are doing some sort of needlework or scrapbooking.
You must, however, occasionally remember to only eat half of something, and then leave the rest of it laying around for someone to step on in their bare feet. (Barfing in the corner is optional.)
Also, in order to show your family how mucy you love them, you should spend a bit of your day walking back and forth in front of the computer screen when somebody is typing.
If the phone rings, you can completely ignore it!
We could have songs and cards and presents! It would be awesome.

Glad I've Got That Done!

I was cleaning the bathrooms this morning, before the girls went to school. (Unusually efficient of me. I'm typically drinking coffee and checking my e-mail at that time of the day.)
As I was wiping down the mirror, a Magic Eraser got caught in my cleaning rag, and made an unspeakable loud, squeaky, moany noise. I kind of liked it, so I kept going.
Thing 2 came running into the bathroom, quite alarmed, "what's going on in here?? Are you torturing a puppy?" she asked.
Yes, because inflicting pain on small animals at 8:30 on a Thursday morning was totally on my "to do" list for the day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

All I Want For Christmas...

Yesterday, the Mister and I started in on the Christmas shopping. Our Christmas list has been winnowed down to a few friends and our children over the years, and shopping isn't nearly the Iron Man Endurance Marathon it used to be. Mostly we have to shop for our children, and as I dislike shopping for the most part, I am extremely grateful to have another brain to help with the endless agonizing over what to get.
We have the girls make out lists to give us an idea of what they would like. When they both still thought Santa was responsible for the Christmas bonanza of gifts, we got some pretty interesting requests; after all, mommy and daddy might not get you a pony, but there was no reason for Santa to hold back.
Thing 1, being the reasonable, easy-going and moderate soul that she is, always asked for the most modest and sensible of Christmas presents, to the point where we would gently encourage her to think a little bigger. One year all she asked for was some gum, some pencil crayons and "those kleenex with the lotion in them". Hardly the stuff that dreams are made of; I don't think there are any Christmas legends or stories about luxury kleenex.
Thing 2 has exactly the opposite approach to Christmas lists; she aims very high, and very low, with the idea that she will wind up with stuff somewhere in the middle. It actually works very well. Over the years she has asked for the following for Christmas:
  • Ballroom dancing lessons
  • real diamonds
  • a cottage
  • a chemistry set (yeah, right. She'd have us all in the hospital by Boxing Day.)
  • her driver's licence. (She asks for this one every year: "Some day Santa's going to come through for me!")
  • puffy dresses and "pritty" clothes
  • a jetpack ("For quick getaways.")
  • an inflatable palm tree
  • flowers from Sobeys
  • a live monkey
  • a motorcycle (presumably, that's what the driver's licence is for.)
  • good books (not bad ones?)
  • a unicorn
  • her own laptop
  • a Wii, an X-Box and a PS3
  • a trip to Disney World
  • pizza
  • a chain saw (she saw her father using one a few summers ago and thought it looked like something she could use.)
  • wings
  • "perfection" (not quite sure what she meant by that. I'm not sure she does, either.)

Sadly, she will not be getting most of this, yet again. It doesn't seem to bother her, and she is certainly happy with whatever she gets. Just once, it would be nice to be able to get her a cottage, though.

*I have been informed by Thing 1 that "Perfection" is actually a board game. But I like the idea of her asking for some metaphysical ideal instead.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazing Race 12, Ep. 3

This was a wonderful episode. If they had animals on every leg of this race, I would be one happy viewer. Cranky camels make for excellent television. On past seasons they have had donkeys, llamas, goats and monkeys that have all been hugely entertaining; keep 'em coming, I say!

I liked the sisters and would have liked to see them stay around a bit longer. The one who was milking had an excellent reply to the camel pooping, which was "This is what I get instead of milk?". That kind of attitude I am happy to deal with. On the other hand, I don't think I was ever going to tell them apart, and with them gone, I won't have to watch grandpa get his freak on again, which makes me very happy. Maybe giving the one team that was behind them a hint as to how to complete the task faster wasn't their best move.

Oh, Lorena. I hope you watched yourself tonight and had to put your fingers in your ears and sing "la-la-la-la-la" because you were so embarrassed and ashamed and mortified. Because that? was. awful. You fell on your knees and wailed like a Turkish earthquake victim who's lost her entire family. Over, get this, spilled milk. Perspective much?
Perhaps you would have finished earlier if you hadn't stopped every two minutes to shriek and screech and cry and look at Jason. (What, exactly, did you think he was going to do for you?) It might have been worth a shot, since what you were doing was clearly not working. Did you stop to consider that perhaps it was your horribly shrill squawking might actually be making the camels lactating organs shrivel up and die? No wonder dude has "one foot out the door"....I'd hesitate to make a lifetime commitment to that, too.
And, by the way, any mammal that is giving milk, is a female. I think she stopped giving you milk because she was offended that you kept calling her "he". Camels have feelings, too, you know.

And the "Ugly American Award" goes to the Botoxed Twigs, who seemed to think that the less than ideal conditions in Africa were put there because nobody cared enough about them to clean it up before they got there. Ick.
One of my favorite parts of the night was provided by their taxi driver. Even my 13-year-old, had enough sense to shout at the television "what is wrong with you two???? He's NOT going to give you the right change!!!". His chirpy "Bon voyage, merci beaucoup!" made my night.

One of the funniest things of the night was the various pronunciations of "Ouagadougou". Props to Christina who rattled it off without batting an eyelash.

Also, when Ronald was trying to explain the word "skyscraper" to the little African Fifth Grader, he started beating his chest and saying "you know, like King Kong". Dude, did you look out the window? Not too many cineplexes in the neighbourhood! I doubt the kid has had much opportunity to see ANY movies, let alone one which was made, like, seventy years before she was born. Besides, how on earth was that supposed to help her memorize "skyscraper"? Then, one of the twigs was trying to demonstrate "cowboy", by jumping up and down in her low-cut, off-the-shoulder, Flashdance hoodie and imitating a lasso. I think the kid thinks that "cowboy" is English for "silicone breasts".

Phil looked very yummy with his umbrella (every one sing! "ella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh") and unprocessed hair.

Greeter's baby at the Amazing Bathmat was awesome. I was a bit worried for both of them when the six teams rushed the mat all at once.

So, what do you think the population of Bingo, Burkina Faso, made of this? "A big, loud, smelly bunch of white people came to visit all of a sudden, they couldn't even milk a camel, for God's sake and then they shouted English words at us until we repeated them, and then they made it rain and then they left. Wonder what that was all about?"

I wondered how the Goth's makeup was going to fare on this thing, and I fear the answer is "even worse than I thought". Kynt's eyebrows were looking.....freaky. Which is ironic, really.

Best Line of the Night, from Jennifer: "Be gentle honey, you're handling nipples".

Phil mentioned the "local nomads". How does that work? Are they nomads but just in a designated area? Doesn't that just make them homeless people? Maybe that's how I will refer to the panhandlers near work.

Until next week!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Love Loblaws

The Loblaws Insider Report came out last week, so grocery shopping this week was hella fun.
There are all sorts of new products to try and try 'em we do.

But what really thrilled me were this
and this,

both of which have given me two more reasons to legitimately have chocolate for breakfast.

What a great grocery store!

Friday, November 16, 2007

On Rudolph.

When you have children you end up watching particular shows or movies over and over and over again. In fact, after you have watched a show for the bazillionth time, and you have memorized the dialogue and can repeat the entire story in your sleep, you begin to analyse and dissect the production simply to keep yourself from gnawing off your own arm in boredom.
Such is the case with “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”, which will be on again soon. The next time you watch it, keep the following in mind.

Maybe it’s just a sign of the times, but the Coach and Santa and Rudolph’s family appear to be excessively harsh and punative when it comes to the discovery of Rudolph’s particular affliction. No politically correct namby-pambying here! The message appears to be Different=Bad, and I’m shocked at their casual indifference to their blatant discrimination. AND they totally get away with it. The Head Elf is no better. I think Hermy has an excellent case for a “Constructive Dismissal” lawsuit.

Why is the Dolly on the Island of Misfit Toys even there? She cries easily, but that’s hardly a crime. Maybe she’s there because she has a mood disorder and just needs a good anti-depressant and some therapy. Those downers she hangs around with on the island can't be much help; she should maybe get some new friends.
Also, as a kid, I’d have been thrilled beyond belief to get a toy gun that shoots jelly; I really don’t see the problem with that toy at all. Hell, I’d be happy to get one now.
And the Charlie-in-the-Box? Dude, change your name! I’ve heard of an identity crisis before, but come on, this is pretty easy to fix. I think he has some serious passive-aggressive tendencies here.

For reasons I cannot fathom, Mrs. Claus appears to be Jewish. She has a distinct Yiddish accent, and shouts “Eat, EAT” at Santa all the time.

Why does Yukon Cornelius always lick that ice pick? Does gold have a taste?
(The Mister has a cousin that used to be married to a guy who looked just like him, and it livened up family reunions for us no end.)

When they are on the Island of Misfit Toys and they are all having a pity-party and singing about their various afflictions, I amuse myself by changing the words. The part where the doll sings “Or even a doll that says “How do you do?”, I like to substitute “UP YOUR WAZOO!” for the last four words. Never gets old.

There appears to be a most cold-blooded murder during the closing credits. It's hard to ignore once you see it.
Santa has stopped by the Island of Misfit Toys to pick up all the inhabitants he previously ignored, back when he was a judgemental hard-ass. (Apparently, Santa’s been through a bit of sensitivity training, and all for the good.) During the closing song, we can see all the now-acceptable toys being dropped off to waiting children all over the world, from the airborne sled.
Now, when the Misfit Toys were singing “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year”, we were clearly introduced to a bird who can swim instead of fly. (How that is different from a penguin is beyond me, but anyway….)
The elves pick up a selection of toys and hand them some sort of floatation device, a parachute, an umbrella, something to aid them in their earthbound journey, and gently send them on their way. THEN the elf picks up the bird who we have already been informed cannot fly, taunts him with an umbrella, and then callously pushes the poor thing right off the sleigh to a certain death! And all with nary a change of expression. It’s bone-chilling, I tell you. You’ll never be the same after you witness it.

The next time you watch “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, you can thank me for making the experience much more than you ever thought possible. You’re welcome.