Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The candles are blown out and the lights are off and I'm just about ready to sit down to a big bowl of Caramilks and Mars Bars and "America's Next Top Model". (Shut up. I'm not proud of myself.) Halloween is all over for another year.
This was another beautiful, mild night; a pleasure to be out walking around in. When I was a kid, I remember Halloweens where we had to wear snowsuits and boots and trudge through slush. I guess global warming has some benefits.
I'm amazed that kids that are too exhausted to pick up their shoes or bring their dishes over to the sink can tear from house to house to house at Mach 1 for up to two hours. I suppose that if I handed them candy at the end of it, they'd manage to find the energy to do chores, too.
On the bus this morning, there was a woman wearing what appeared to be blue satin harem pants and sparkling gold high heels. sitting across from me. I really hope that was part of a Halloween costume. She got off at the hospital, and if it wasn't a Halloween costume, I think they employ hookers there now.
I also saw a pirate walking down Richmond Street (at least I think it was a pirate. Maybe it was just a really campy gay guy. Hard to tell sometimes.), a Tickle-Me-Elmo and a woman that was either the Queen or a bag-lady.
When I was out taking the kids on their rounds, one of the neighbours asked me what I was dressed up as, and I replied "the scariest thing on earth: a cranky suburban housewife. Beware."
And on that note, I'll retire with my chocolate and a cup of tea. And tomorrow, all will be right with the world.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

La Belle Provence

Back to reality.
We arrived home last night from 3 day trip to Montreal. (Two days of which were spent getting there and coming home. It wasn't Via Rail's fault or anything, it' just that damn far away.)
But I'm not going to argue with three days of purely adult conversation and an absence of was very nice to get away and have a break.
I love Montreal. I heard a comedian say, once, that if the two cities were siblings, then Toronto would be the older, responsible, accountant brother, and Montreal the younger, womanizing, alchoholic brother. And he would be right. There's just such an air of.....good natured, elegant slovenliness about Montreal. Plus, the food is amazing everywhere you go, and you can buy beer at the corner store.
After meeting our dear friends Pierre and Michel for brunch at Beauty's, we hit Ste-Catherine Street for some heavy-duty shopping. You might think that I would be the one to be keen on this activity, but it's the Mister who approaches it with a steely determination. (It's the only time he ever goes shopping for clothes, so he addresses the task at hand with grim resolve and admirable tenacity. I think for him it's sort of like going into battle; you don't really want to wade in there, but you know it has to be done, and the best way to do it is to just do it.) He bought loads of very nice, funky clothes for both work and casual, and is happy he does not have to go shopping for another 18 months.
I bought a few things, including the perfect black tote bag that I have been looking for all my life.

Downtown Montreal on a sunny, crisp October afternoon is like a very well-dressed prison riot. There are tons of people, they're bumping into you and jostling for position at every corner and cash register, and they are all doing it in black leather jackets and high heels.
On Sunday night we went to the L'Oreal Colour Trophy awards, which was the finale of a competition that I neither understand or want to enter. (Hairdressing competitions baffle me; the stuff that makes me recoil in horror always seems to win.) The show itself is always fun, but it's the huddled masses that provides the real entertainment.
I cannot impress upon you what the crowd looks like at these big, hairdressing events. The telling just does not do it justice. The people watching is magnificent..... It's like they told 1000 people to dress up as hookers and freak show attractions, but with less decorum. The cocktail hour before the event is the best part of the whole night.

I tried to take some pictures of the most egregious offenders, but I was afraid someone would figure out what I was up to and take umbrage and kick my ass. (I mean, someone who has no problem going out in public looking like Tinkerbell on a 3-day bender is not going to think twice about clocking a perfect stranger.) Suffice it to say, there was one guy in a purple, velvet suit that looked just like Captain Kangaroo on acid, a woman who looked like she'd wrapped the tablecloth right off the dinette set around herself and headed on out the door and another woman with some truly horrific hair extensions that looked perhaps like she had lost a bet with a drag-queen for possession of them.

There we lots of misguided folks there that clearly took coke-addled, pantiless 18-year-old starlets as their fashion muses, and spent the evening tugging their tiny little dresses up at the front and down at the back. On the other end of the spectrum, there were lots of people that confused the daylights out of us: are they dressed as witches from "Macbeth", or Stevie Nicks, with all the layers of black nightgowns and flappy sleeves? And can we finally declare a moratorium on formal shorts? Because if they are one, they are not the other. (And while we are at it, there is nothing sexy about ass flaps. Put 'em away.)
And, lest you think that I'm just shallow and bitchy, let me say that there were lots and lots of people who were dressed elegantly and appropriately and beautifully. Here's proof:

It's the Mister on the left, our L'Oreal Sales Rep, Pat, Barb the Receptionist, myself and Matula, my co-worker of 25 years, who always looks that good, even first thing in the morning.

And then we hauled ourselves and our now very full suitcases back to the Via Rail station on Monday morning, climbed on the train and enjoyed a very well deserved 6 hour nap.
It was the best weekend.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Do You Fear What I Fear.

I popped into the grocery store after work today, to get some salmon for dinner. (I'm not sure if the salmon has just come into the grocery store, or is fresh today or anything, but by buying it today, I think it's fresh for me.)
As usual, there is never just one thing to get at the grocery store, so I zipped further into the abyss. I shouldn't have, because as I rounded one of the aisles, BAM! I was assaulted by a Christmas display. Gahhh!! In October. It's not even Halloween! We haven't even had frost on the ground yet! What is wrong with the world when we have to deal with Christmas eight and a half weeks before the event???? Isn't it bad enough that my entire November and December is overwhelmed by the retail world's obsession with Christmas, but now it's bled into October as well?? Oh, the horror. Next year I'm sure to be reminded of Christmas while I'm buying Easter crap. I could lie on the floor and weep.

When I am Supreme Commander of All The Known World, I will banish all talk of Christmas until December the 1st. (Also on my list: rap music will be banned, underwear is mandatory by all and sundry and chocolate becomes the fifth food group.)

I'm off to Montreal for the weekend, to attend a hair show. (Which, if I am honest, is really a "freak show".) So, unless I score a laptop and some air time, I'll be off the blog until I get back. See you all on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Let That Be A Lesson To You

Thing 2 will be camping with her Girl Guide troop in a couple of weeks, and while I was filling out the extensive forms for her, I noticed that the parents are warned that drawstrings in sweatshirts or jackets will not be tolerated. Apparently, possession of illegal fastening devices is enough to get you thrown out of Girl Guide camp.
I understand that they are concerned for the safety of the children and all, but I think we may be overstating the danger here, I mean, it's a piece of string.
I got to thinking of all the things we did as kids that seemed perfectly okay then, and would have us put in foster care now:

I didn't wear a seat belt until I was a teenager. In fact, I can remember at least 3 of my father's cars that didn't even have seat belts in the back, AT ALL.
Bicycle helmets? What's that?
When we went to Timmins to visit my aunt and uncle and cousins, (a 10 hour drive.) my parents would take the mattress off of one of the twin beds and put it in the back of the station wagon. Then they would deposit my sleeping brother and I onto the car and take off at around 5 in the morning. That way they could count on us sleeping for about 4 hours or so. No seat belts, no car seats. Then, when we woke up, we would play on the floor of the car between the front and back seats. Sometimes we'd climb up on the luggage at the back and squish ourselves between it and the ceiling of the car. In the event of an accident, I imagine we would have been projected right through the windshield of the car. Luckily, that never happened.

There used to be a playground on the outskirts of the city, which had an ice cream parlor attached to it, called "The Dairy Dell". We would beg to be taken to on summer evenings. From what I can remember, it was a glorious place, filled with the most violent and potentially lethal play equipment you could ever think of . They had one of those carousel-type things where several children got on each of the pie-shaped sections, and then someone else (preferably a dad, for his sheer brute strength) would spin that thing around at increasingly higher speeds until the centrifugal force shot the kids off of it like watermelons from a cannon. Honestly, it was like being on a Japanese bullet train, except you ended up in a heap in the dirt at the end of it. (One was wise to finish one's ice cream cone before enjoying that particular activity.)
They also had the highest teeter-totters I'd ever seen, which meant that the kid on the high end had to be at least 8 feet off the ground at full tilt. You can only imagine the teeth-jarring crash that would end that ride, when the other kid would get off.
I also remember a swing set that was really high and had really, really long chains. This meant that if you put some effort into it, you could get going mighty fast, and the g-forces would make you black out.
That place is gone now.

There's a park in the north end of town that we used to call "The Pit", because it used to be, well, a big, old gravel pit. It's basically a huge, grassy hole in the ground, almost the size of a whole city block. It makes for excellent tobogganing in the winter, as the sides are not only at a pretty steep angle, but about 100 feet long. We also used to ride our bikes down it. (When I told my mother about this 30 years after the fact, I found out that the statute of limitations never runs out on when your mother can yell at you.) Luckily, that park is right beside the hospital.

When I was a fair bit older, (i.e. should have known better.) we used to steal the cafeteria trays from the University and use them as toboggans down the hill of the local convent. In the dark. (That was back in the day when my bum was small enough to actually fit on a cafeteria tray.) Those things would smoke down that hill, the bottom of which was a wrought iron fence. (I remember some kids asking us if we had waxed the bottom of the trays, that's how fast those suckers moved.) I don't recall ever even thinking of wearing a helmet. I drive past that place every day now and marvel that I don't have a steel plate in my head.

Climbing the pine trees on the grounds of the seminary was a particularly attractive activity when we were kids, because the trees were huge and they provided a very easy climb. I remember one of my brother's friends getting up so high that the top of the tree was so thin it couldn't support him and started to bend over and he had trouble holding on. He must have been 5o feet off the ground. When he fell out of the tree, there were plenty of branches to break his fall on the way down, and he only sprained his ankle. I don't think we even mentioned it to his mother.

We also liked to play in the unfinished houses that were being constructed in our neighbourhood. I can recall having some trouble getting the ladder hoisted up so that we could get out of a basement, but we did it.

I'm sure there were plenty of children getting lead poison from the paint in their toys, and getting head injuries for lack of helmets, and I'm not dismissing the dangers therein. But for all the activities that now makes me gasp in horror, we did live to tell the tale. I'm happy enough that the safety of children is such a priority, but I also wonder if we're not protecting our kids to the point where they don't know how to protect themselves. I mean, if they aren't allowed to experiment with a drawstring, how will they ever know how to use one wisely?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's As Easy As....

I do all the cooking here at Chez Loudshoes, and I'm happy to do it. I get to cook what I like and,for the most part, people here eat it. I also like to peruse cookbooks for new stuff to make, and think I should get just as much credit for what I don't try as for what I do. (I once saw a recipe for "Curried Wieners On Toast". That perhaps qualifies for the most disgusting thing I could ever think of. I did not make it.)

I saw this "recipe" on the Epicurious website, for "Salted Water for Boiling" and had a bit of trouble actually wrapping my head around it. Honest to God, I'm not making this up. And then I saw that it has 776 reviews. Hilarious.

Among my favorites: "I work at a hospital. I am going to pass this recipe on to their kitchen. It will be a definite improvement on their current menu. Thank you."
"This is a great recipe, but a couple of simple substitutions make it REALLY stand out! Instead of water I used scotch whiskey, and substituted soda for the salt. You can skip the pesky boiling part... just pour it over ice and you're good to go!!"
"If you like this, you'd love my mother's recipe for Wind Pudding with Air Sauce ..."
And, my personal favorite: "Wonderful, very moist!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Aftermath.

Like Uncle Joe, I'm a-movin' kinda slow today. I had that tooth out yesterday, and today is passing by in a painkiller-induced haze. Like going to your staff Christmas party, I'm enjoying the aftermath much, much more than the event itself.

My dentist is a very nice man, who's not all that big but,boy, he can really pack a wallop. And he's kind of shy and gentle.Honestly, you would never know he is freakishly strong from the looks of him. But at one point I thought he was actually trying to pry my bottom jaw right out of my head. Note to self: Do NOT get in a bar-brawl with Dr. Luzzi; he will kick. your. ass.

As I said, I'm enjoying the painkillers very much, and the all-pudding diet is going down a treat too. This is my one chance to legitimately eat chocolate ice-cream for breakfast, and I am sincerely making the most of it.

There is a hole the size of a Buick in my mouth, and that will take some getting used to. The bridge does not go in for a couple of months. This could be the weight-loss programme of a lifetime!

I'm going back up to bed now to watch tv and eat pudding. It's like a dream come true.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Horror

I found this site today: The Worst Album Covers Ever. ,and was simultaneously horrified and transfixed. It is fabulous.

Here are some of the highlights:

Would you just look at them? Honestly, they give you the shivers, don't they? From the creepy dad with the self-satisfied smirk, who doesn't have to wear the male uniform that the rest of them do, to the hideous mother/daughter mirror image, this family has dysfunctional written all over it. I can just see the oldest one there on the left wondering when he can depart from this fake-brick hell and become a fashion designer like he's always wanted. The kid in the back
is working on how to pick the lock on the gun-rack, and the littlest one? He already has the crystal-meth lab set up in the basement.

Holy schnikes, this is bad. Where do I start? Her "Little House on the Prairie" get up certainly suits the bleak, dust bowl farm image in the background, but the guys outfits are jarringly out of sync. (Everyone knows polyester wasn't around in the '30's, let alone the early 1900's! Jeesh!) The pattern on the pants is bad enough, but paired with the prison garb turtlenecks and the crocheted vests, is positively immoral. The hairdos of the two guys on the right are mighty groovy and the 'staches are "turn of the century" jaunty, but what any of this has to do with a Country Church is any body's guess.

Buenos Dios, I am Tino, your sexy Latin heart throb. Are you not enjoying my smoldering gaze and my suggestive pose? Come closer, mia carina, and I will sing to you of hot passion and my manly thighs. Also, I will do the laundry, because these shoes are not so clean. But you, mia caiente tortuga, you will melt under my blazing manliness, and buy my albums forever.

Oh, Joyce. I'm sorry the gender-reassignment surgery didn't work out so well, and I'm sure those fluctuating hormones must be hellish, but really, was that the best you could do with what you've got? The Side-Show Bob hair was a disastrous choice, you must know that, and that tiny little rose is not going to detract from that tragedy of a dress. The Tweety Bird glasses are not "cute" or "winsome" , although they do pull their weight heroically in hiding those Sasquatch eyebrows. Maybe a new surgeon will take pity on you, but in the meantime, get a makeover.

Jesus Christ in a wheelbarrow, this guy scares the crap outta me! Is it the Andy Warhol hair? The steady, flat, reptilian gaze? The horrible, groovy glasses? I can't look long enough to figure it out. The blue circle in the bottom right loosely translated means "A present you will like the whole year round". A year full of nightmares and unspeakable horrors, methinks. All I know is that those roses are there to lure me to a place where he can kill me and drink my blood. No thanks.

There are plenty more where those came from, sadly. Check it out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Turning Day into Night

Are there any lovelier words in the English language than "afternoon nap"? (I guess "snow day" and "we won't be auditing you after all" are right on up there, too.) There is nothing nicer than discovering that one has the opportunity and the means, all at the same time.
The Things were both at friend's houses today, and the Mister had taken it into his head to launch an offensive against the wreckage that had taken over the garage, and I? I had very little that was pressing, and decided that a couple of hours on the couch with a book was just the thing to make my life complete. I understood that a nap was the most likely outcome of this scenario, since I find it very difficult to stay awake in a horizontal position. (I've been know to get drowsy in the dentist's chair, if you can believe it.)
Either you are a nap taker or you are not, there's very little give and take on this one, I've come to realize. Those that take naps see them as delicious diversions which are the compound interest in the bank of one's sanity. Those that don't see them as an appalling waste of time, with a the added component of being slightly insulted by it. (I once saw a comedian, Dave Hemstad, who said "did you ever notice that when one person in the house is napping, someone else in the house is mad about it?" Man, is that ever true. )
Himself is not a napper, unless very tired or very sick, but he's not terribly put out by my napping, so we get along pretty well. (This is mitigated by the fact that he sleeps in later than me almost every single day, and would sleep around the clock, I think, if he were let. He understands the importance of sleep.)
There were times when the girls were very small and I was getting sleep in 10 minute increments and was feeling a bit like a tortured political prisoner that the mere idea of a nap would make me weep with longing. Perhaps those years of chasing sleep wherever I could find it is the reason that I delight in taking a nap so much now.
Now, you can't nap too long, or you'll be up to all hours at night watching television that you're really better off not watching, like promotional advertising or "Love Boat" re-runs. Both will make you despair for the human condition. Also, if you nap too long, you just know someone in your family will be fermenting a passionate resentment to you're being unavailable to their ceaseless demands.
Also, I've found that falling asleep too late in the afternoon is a recipe for disaster. If you take a nap in the daylight and wake up after it's dark, particularly on a winter afternoon, you'll feel like you've transcended the space/time continuum and woke up in another dimension. Most discombobulating.
Napping outside is particularly delightful, especially in a hammock, but be careful not to fall asleep in a strange position, or you will find that your neck doesn't work any more, and your right ear resembles origami.
The cat, who highly approves of an afternoon nap, often comes and joins me on the couch. He thinks I don't spend quite enough time napping, and is a bit disgruntled when I rouse, but otherwise, he's a fine companion. I'd prefer if he didn't need to sleep right on top of me, and sometimes the purring is a bit loud, but I can live with that.
The only thing is, I really didn't get much of my book read. Maybe tomorrow. I'll be sure to stay upright.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Don't Count On Me.

While The Mister and Thing 2 and I were watching television last night, and on came a commercial for "Are You Smarter Than A Canadian Fifth Grader". I figured I'd wipe the floor with anybody silly enough to try and best me, and I should apply. My family nearly herniated themselves laughing, and remarked that all it would take to knock me out of contention would be one third-grade math question. And sadly, they would be right.

My inability to do even the simplest of math questions, mentally or on paper, is legendary. I used to work at a record store many moons ago, (which you could probably deduce from the fact that it was a "record" store.) and my boss and the other (male) employee would have me balance the till purely for their own amusement....."How far off is she this time?" "Only $13, 000.00 today!" and then they would fall all over themselves laughing. I've been known to stumble over counting Monopoly money, a feat which neither of my daughters will ever let me live down. When I've had to figure out how long to roast a chicken, my husband has kindly asked if I needed a calculator. My mother used to look at me with puzzled horror when I'd have to stop everything and work out what 33% off meant, usually with my fingers and toes.

And I'm certainly not the only one who is numerically-challenged; one of my oldest and dearest, Kelly, is as hopeless as myself. Once, when Kelly and I went out for dinner, we had to call the Mister so that he could tell us what to ;eave for a tip. (And she doesn't drink.) And before you get all "just add the taxes and you'll get the tip", it was before GST, and you think we can add the taxes together just like that? Himself sighed, and remarked that we were both a sad commentary on the public school system.

Math just.....puzzles me. It's like a whole other language, and a particularly boring one, at that. When I was instructed to "find the slope", I wondered what on earth they were talking about: "what slope? where? how does an incline have a value? who cares?" My math teachers despaired of me, and we parted company as soon as was possible, and we were all the happier for it.

I've lived a full and happy and productive life without ever knowing a smidgen of calculus or an iota of algebra. That isn't to say that I don't see any value in math, quite the contrary; there have been more than one occasion in my life where my inability to add numbers together has resulted in people asking if I should be allowed out by myself, but for the most part I have come to accept my failings and move on. I'd like to think that the part of my brain has never been able to do long division has been take up with other things, like remember the names of B-List movie stars, or flawlessly apply eyeliner while in a moving car.

If I need to find the value of x, I'm sure I can find someone to do it for me. Besides, it gives everyone in my family something to feel superior about.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Well, Who'd Have Thought....?

After the visit to the dentist last week, wherein I was told that my tooth has to come out and I will be getting a bridge, I was a little freaked out. (My very nice friend, Susan the Librarian, talked me down off the ledge and told me about her own bridge, and assured me that it's not a big deal and basically to get over myself, and I am very grateful.) My health has always been something I've taken mostly for granted, and it occurs to me that things can go pretty wrong pretty fast. Although I've been pretty good about looking after myself, I'm also a bit of a slob, so it has been hit or miss, at best.
Rather than take on a whole new regime, (not necessary, and frankly, not going to happen anyway.), I decided to just make sure I did three things every single day that I have only been doing with a bit of prodding. (or at gunpoint, truth be known.) I said I would walk whenever possible, drink more water, and choose a fruit or vegetable before anything else to eat.
The walking part hasn't been too bad. I tend to walk to do my errands anyway, and I'm always happy to walk around the neighbourhood and see what people have done to their houses. (When Thing 1 had her flute lesson in Old North last year, I used to go for a walk around there, and it was spectacular. Especially after dark, when I could actually see inside the houses. I was so sad when she gave up the lessons, I was enjoying them very much.)
The water is a bit problematic, because I have a bladder the size of a peanut. I am drinking more, but I have to time it very carefully so that I'm not out somewhere, crossing my legs and cursing. (And no, I do not have Irritable Bladder Syndrome, it has always been thus. I can tell you where every bathroom is within 50 miles of my house.)
The fruits and vegetables is a little tougher; an apple has a lot of PR to do to make it as appealing as a hot fudge sundae. And I don't think deep-fried apples would be as good for me, either. But I've had more salad and less fries, and more bananas and fewer cookies.
I'm amazed that the scale is telling me there's a few pounds less than there was last week. (Partly because I do not trust my scale, which has it out for me, I know it.) Who knew....all this time eating right and drinking water and exercise would actually have an effect?
I should write a diet book... I'd make gajillions of dollars!
I'll get right on it, right after I get out of the bathroom.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tim Horton's Hi-Jinks

On Wednesdays I usually take the bus to work, which conveniently drops me off right at the door of our local Tim Horton’s to get my fix of "The Black Heroin". The women there are kind of nice, as Tim Horton employees go, as they actually smile at me from time to time. ( I have wondered, in the past, if “surly and uncooperative” are listed as job requirements on their applications.) The Tim Hortons near where I work must be the hub station of the Crazy Person’s Network, since every one in the city appears to visit it at least once a day.
Today, I got there and the line up wasn’t too long, only about 6 people, and none of the people at the counter appeared to be getting more coffee than they can carry. (There are several office buildings nearby who apparently cannot afford a coffee maker and send out one of the more hapless, more junior members of the staff to go out and fetch coffee for every single person in the company, all at one go. It takes forever.)
The guy immediately ahead of me in line looked to be about 35, wore a nice suit and looked like he held down a job, and then I noticed a pervasive, distinct and mighty pungent smell of pot wafting off of him! Dude, it's 8:45 in the morning! If you're going to smoke a spliff on your way to work in the morning, I suggest you roll down the windows. And maybe, also, don't smoke a spliff on your way to work in the morning. (Seriously, what kind of job does this guy do? Because I don't think I'd want him as my lawyer or account manager or, heaven forbid, psychologist.) I checked behind me to see if that person was responsible for the redolence, but that lady was about a hundred, so I don't think it was her.
Anyway, he got his large, double sugar and toasted 12 grain bagel, and went on his way. I almost followed him to see where he worked, but since I had a caffeine-starved co-worker waiting for me, I had to skedaddle.
I got to thinking that maybe this guy has a job he hates and his life sucks and smoking a joint first thing in the morning is the only way to get through his day. And I'm glad I don't have a job like that. And then I got to thinking that maybe it's the only way he gets through Tim Horton's.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Loudshoes Bakery

I found myself with a free afternoon and a clear conscience, so I baked today.
Thing 2 was ecstatic that her all-time favorite treat would be on the menu for after-school snack today (and probably dinner, truth be known.) Oatmeal cookies are her vice of choice, and she prefers home-made, bless her.
Part of the reason I know she likes home-made cookies is that she has inherited her mother's hatred of raisins, and loathes their presence in any baked good, especially oatmeal cookies. Some people, who shall remain nameless, but to whom I am married, actually think that oatmeal cookies might, perhaps, be improved by the addition of raisins. But he would be wrong, they would not; they would be ruined by the repulsive little morsels, and I'm sorry I didn't know his take on the subject before I agreed to marry him. (And do NOT get me started on raisins in butter tarts. Or rice pudding.)
I ended up eating around a dozen of the cookies myself, and now my pancreas is seriously pissed with me, and the carbohydrate overload is making me feel like I have a neurological disorder.
Thing 1 likes oatmeal cookies in a general sort of way, but has no real affinity for them, so for her I made a chocolate cream pie. I've made them from scratch, and I've made them from a package, and honestly, I can't tell the difference. Certainly she can't what with the fist-sized whallop of whipped cream on top.
The Mister's favorite baked thing is apple pie, which I think is the most boring dessert ever. Apple pie is what I make when there's nothing else in the house to make. His mother makes a very nice apple pie, which is his favorite, and I'm very happy to let her do it. I can make pastry and such, but since I'm not crazy about pie, the payoff simply isn't there for me.
Baking is a bit of a treat for me, not only does the house smell very nice and there's something good to eat at the end of it, but I rather like the process itself; the creaming and the mixing and the kneading is all very therapeutic. I hope my pancreas will forgive me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Messy House

Cleaning the house rates right up there with attending funerals or getting my teeth cleaned, in my books: unpleasant but necessary. It has to be done; I know it has to be done, but that does not mean I have to like it.
I'm not a fanatic about cleaning the house, far from it; I've no doubt that my ever-descending standards would make plenty of people blanche in horror. (And I don't see any of them on the doorstep willing to help, either.) But I do insist on a thin veneer of respectibility that at least gives the illusion that we do not inhabit a toxic-waste dump.
This is somewhat difficult to maintain, given that I live with three of the most determined pack-rats God ever created. That, coupled with the fact that NONE of them have ever put away an item in their entire lives means that I am fighting a not just uphill battle, but a completely vertical one.
Thing 1, who is 13, inhabits a room which appears to have been the scene of an enraged cattle drive. I wouldn't care so much except for the fact that she cannot find anything at all, and the ensuing panic every morning when she cannot locate her backpack/homework/cat is wearing a little thin. I am working on her to realize that the floor is not a storage area.
Thing 2 just seems to need about 75% more space than anyone else. Her belongings are flung far and wide throughout the house, and cannot possibly be stored in her room because it's already full. She has approximately 114 pairs of shoes, and feels no need whatsoever to keep their mates anywhere near each other. Therefore, it is entirely possible to come across any one of the 228 shoes at anytime, anywhere. If a white, patent leather sandal in the bathroom basin is what you need, then I know just the house for you.
The Mister comes by his pack-rat tendencies honestly, because both of his parents are very, very good at it themselves. (Mind you, it's all extremely tidy and neat, and you couldn't fault my mother-in-law's housekeeping even after a concerted effort. She knows exactly where everything is, and if you are ever looking for 12 matching pewter beer steins or 8 clock-radios with the little flipping numbers, she can tell you precisely where to find them: "just look in the top right of the spare basement bedroom closet and they'll be behind all the ball-washers and coffee-makers.") It is a very good thing that he is good and kind and wonderful, because otherwise his tendency to keep every single piece of paper he's ever touched would make me want to strangle him in his sleep.
I'll admit that I'm no angel in this regard myself; I've had to curb my own hoarding instincts myself, but curb them I have. I've realized that you cannot use anything that you don't know you possess, and my life is infinitely easier when I'm not wading through detritus.
A messy house is visual noise to me, and it makes serious inroads on my sanity when the place is a tip. Occasionally, I have to clean it to maintain my equilibrium, and I generally work myself up into a murderous rage when I do it. (I count it as a cardio workout, since I get my heart rate up so high.) Luckily, no one is ever around when I do it, and I've generally calmed down by the time anyone comes home. They are just advised to never, ever look in the garbage bags after I've cleaned. No good will come of that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Japanese Game Shows

God, I just love Japanese game shows.
They certainly have a very different mindset when it comes to testing contestants' prowess. None of this namby-pamby "question and answer" stuff for these guys, no sirrree. The Japanese contestant has to be way more physical and way more willing to be humiliated.
Also, the producers have tons more imagination than here in the west....just try and find this sort of thing on "Family Feud". (The penchent for costumes intrigues me.) If anyone can explain the reason why they have to jump into an inflatable swimming pool full of baby powder, I'd love to know.)
This one, in particular, is wonderful. What I wouldn't give to be in on those production meetings! (If only I had learned Japanese.)
How these people lost the War, I'll never know.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Great Fruit Fly War of '07

I'm not sure where fruit flies come from, but I'm pretty sure I know where most of them end up: in my kitchen. I can go days, nay, weeks without spotting one of the little bastards, and then someone leaves out one dodgy apple and they descend in clouds within minutes. Do they spontaneously generate out of the air, or are they just lurking in the cupboards ready to descend at the first whiff of rotting fruit?

And at the moment, we have an infestation of biblical proportions. After days of battling my way through the thunderheads of fruit-flies to get to the sink, I decided to take a decidedly non-Zen approach to the problem and eradicate them. The internet is a wealth of information when it comes to obliterating just about anything. Judging by the number of sites which come up when one Googles "fruit fly infestation", I'm not the only one bend on a pitiless offensive to annihilate the tiny, little terrorists.

I quickly found out how to make a fruit-fly trap, which involved nothing more than a mason jar, a rubber band and some Saran wrap. I put an abused raspberry at the bottom of the jar, covered it with the wrap and secured it with a rubber band. After a couple of pokes through the wrap with a bamboo skewer and , voila, my evil plan was underway. And it worked! Those little suckers jumped right in! (Cue accompanying maniacal laughter: "HA-ha-ha-haaaa!")

After a couple of days, I cleaned out the jar (because fruit flies + disintegrated raspberry + larva = ewwww.) and started all over again. But I still had way too many fruit flies for my liking. Annihilation was not complete.

So, remembering that "time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana", I gave that a shot. Man, they couldn't wait to dive into that trap; that banana chunk was like fruit-fly crack! Within a couple of hours there were line-ups to get in there. I couldn't believe it. Here is a picture of the fruit fly trap, complete with disgusting banana and mob of fruit flies. I'll warn you, it isn't pretty.

The trap seems to be working, but I am a mite concerned that fruit flies from other houses have heard about the amazing buffet at Chez Loudshoes and are coming from all over just to get a shot at it. As many flies as are in the trap, there seems to be just as many in the kitchen, still. But the trapping of a kajillion fruit flies is abundantly satisfying, and although I am a wee bit distrurbed at how much I am enjoying it, I'll take any kind of satisfaction wherever I can find it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Al Dente

We are generally a fairly healthy bunch around here; the Mister has had a few bouts with kidney stones, and the kids hardly even had any ear infections when they were little. Knock wood, I've had no ongoing problems, and I certainly hope that continues. But the whole premise goes out the window when it comes to our teeth, which apparently are made out of eggshells and Plaster of Paris. Himself and I, in particular, have the most delicate, fragile teeth imaginable. They are the dental equivalent of the Italian Parliament: despite the most careful of measures and heroic interventions, they fall apart at the slightest provocation.

Both girls have has some orthodontic intervention in recent years, and it seems to have gone well. At least, they don't look like little Austin Powers clones. They've each had one cavity, both in baby teeth, and I'm an absolute Nazi about brushing and flossing to avoid any more. Perhaps if I had looked after my own teeth a bit better then, I wouldn't be having so much trouble now.

I found out today that, despite spending $1300.00 (root canal and crown) on one tooth in the past year, it will have to come out anyway. What kind of cosmic joke is that? And I have to get a bridge put in. So, not only are my teeth falling out of my head, I get to have a false tooth too? A denture? When did I get to be 75 years old? I mean, I knew I was getting long in the tooth (hee!), but come on. This is just more than my dignity will bear; I thought I might have a few years between getting bifocals and getting false teeth. I'll be buying Depends and eating dinner at 4 in the afternoon soon. I'll call everyone "dear" and wear elastic waisted pants. I'll start carrying my purse in the crook of my elbow and totter. I'll get a hearing aid and turn it off when people bore me. (Actually, that last one seems like the only up-side in all of this.)

Did I mention we have no dental insurance? (One of the many hazards of owning your own business. Also, there's one more place where the supply of toilet paper is your responsibility, and when the alarm goes off at 3 a.m, they call you. ) The dentist, bless his magnanimous heart, has offered to put the money already spent on the tooth towards the new procedure, which I think is awfully nice of him.
The last time I had a tooth out it was a wisdom tooth, and as I recall, it was kind of painful. (Sort of like 'Britney Spears is a bit unstable'.) But then, childbirth is kind of painful, and I got over that. Sort of.

I suppose my dental woes are really small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. I mean, ask any hockey player; losing a tooth isn't a big deal. But it's my tooth, so it's a big deal to me. I suppose it still beats a kidney stone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's October, Damn It.

What a difference 48 hours was 30°C here on Monday, and 12°C today. For those of you who do not speak metric, that "majorly hot" to "holy shit, it's cold" in no time flat.

So, when I was at work today, gazing out the window at life's rich pagent, I noticed that lots and lots of people did not get the memo that it is now autumn and not summer anymore. We saw a couple of people wearing capri pants paired with fur-trimmed parkas. And a number of flip-flop/wooly scarf combos. And all sorts of young women wearing short skirts, bare legs and the hood of their sweatshirt pulled up snugly around their heads. ("Muslim or just cold?" I wondered.) I understand that everyone's thermostat is set differently, but how is it okay to wear boots with shorts? If it's hot enough to wear one, then it's too hot for the other, in my books. (Which brings me to this: if anyone can explain the appeal of a sleeveless turtleneck sweater, I'd love to hear it. And I don't mean the thin kind you're supposed to wear under a jacket, I mean the bulky kind that makes your breasts look water balloons and your head like a bowling ball. For example:)
Completely off topic, but there was also one sartorially challenged young man that kept the Tattooed One and I amused for about 10 whole minutes. He was wearing a pair of pants that were so big and fashionally baggy that he had trouble keeping them up, and his locomotion was seriously compromised.. The waistband of the jeans was about 4 inches above his knees, and the crotch was hovering just above his ankles. He was also was hampered by the fact that he was eating his lunch while trying to walk down the street, and man, his hands were full. I've heard of somebody being unable to walk and chew gum at the same time, but this was just ridiculous. He had to stop every couple of steps and hitch up the pants. Lucky for us, and everyone, that his t-shirt was equally long and baggy, or we'd have been able to see plenty we didn't want to.
The weather does present a conundrum this time of year; I barely know what to put on myself in the mornings. But I'm pretty sure the answer is not "one season on the top, different season on the bottom". So, if tomorrow you are tempted to pair a bikini top with leather boots, resist. You will thank me when you walk past the shop and you notice two women NOT laughing at you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Kind of Sport

As possibly the least competitive person alive, I have a lot of trouble drumming up any sort of interest in watching sports. People throw balls, people catch balls, it will all happen again next weekend; what's the point? (I do rather like going to baseball games, though, because they tend to be outside, in nice weather and the available food ROCKS.)
But I think I have found a sport that has caught my fancy, only as a spectator, though, there's no WAY you'd find me participating. Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling is a wonderful event, whereby someone throws a 7-pound cheese down a very steep hill and then crazy people run after it. It is brilliant. Click on the link to get a smidgeon of this year's event, held last May. I like the fact that you can pause the video in almost any place and it is hilarious.

What's not to love about an event for which CNN noted:"Some 4,000 spectators turned out to watch, but they didn't escape the mayhem, either. One man who tried to dodge a bouncing cheese lost his balance and tumbled 100 feet down the hillside. He was being hospitalized with a head injury." (My italics.) Just imagine: A spectator had to be hospitalized for a head injury!

I would love to go and see it myself, despite the fact that I bet the food is awful and I might get a head injury. This? this is a sport I can totally get behind.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Letter From the Cat.

Dear Large Human Female,

I’ve been living in this house for about 5 years now, and I’ve tried mighty hard to train you to my way of living, but you just don’t seem to be catching on. You seem really nice and all, but you’re a little slow on the up-take, and it seems I’m going to have to put the dots real close together for you, and tell you what I need.

The smaller females in the household are pleasant enough, but they are so far beneath me that it is all I can do to acknowledge their presence. You are clearly the one in charge of that big, white cold thingy in the kitchen where The Most Wonderous Treasures of All are kept. When they start doling out that glorious, spectacular, greatest substance ever known you call “tuna”, then I’ll give them a glance. But for now, baby, you’re it.

You seem to be fond of that large, male human in the house, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. I’ve never seen him kill anything small and defenseless and then bring it straight to you. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t lick your face, or drool on you and butt his head into yours. When you are at the kitchen table staring at a large pieces of paper with black squiggles on it, he never sees it as the golden opportunity that it is to declare his love by coming over and laying down on it. (I figure you’re just sitting and staring at one spot, why not give you something lovely to look at?) Sure, he does give off the BTUs at an incredible rate, and I can see that he’s kind of nice to curl up beside, but he never purrs, so how do you know he likes you?

Nobody appreciates a good sleep like I do, and you seem to value it as well, but for some reason you do most of yours at night. Why do you do that? The middle of the day is the optimum time to sleep, night-time is party time; that’s when all of the really interesting stuff happens. A ping-pong ball rolling around in the bathtub makes a considerably more satisfying noise at 3:00 a.m. than it does during the day. Judging by your reaction to my little discovery, you do not agree.
And plus, I have to stay up all night to protect the rest of you, who are sleeping, against all sorts of dangerous intruders. Imagine what would happen if that friggin’ raccoon, who comes into the yard every night, did so and I didn’t tell you??? You seem to be wholly uncaring about this menacing terror to your security, but that does not stop me from alerting you night after night. It’s for your own good, you know. I do not appreciate being shaolin-soccer kicked off the bed for my efforts. And that one time, that another cat walked right under your bedroom window??? Thank God you had me there to protect you, or who knows what might have happened. You’re welcome.

I’ve tried mightily to tell you about the fabulous shredding qualities of claws, because you really should get some, but you appear to not appreciate my efforts. Those large, soft things you sit on seem very nice, but couldn’t they also be put to a good use as a scratching post? Why not both? I think the end of those things look much better after a good scratching.

That box you get into every day where the water comes pouring down on you? What’s up with that? That is my idea of a torture chamber. Every day, as you walk towards it, I try to stop you by gently tapping the last part of you to go by me, to alert you to the dangers that lie within. (Okay, so occasionally my claws get the better of me and I cannot help but sink one or two into that soft flesh, but really, what’s it going to take?) You are really going to have to stop going in there, you look just awful when you come out.

Look, I appreciate the whole “roof over my head, food in the dish” deal, and other than that trip once a year to the place where they stick things up my bum and poke me with very sharp objects, I like it here a lot. In fact, you’ve done a pretty good job of setting me up very nicely, and I’m grateful. So, if we could just clear up these few things, it would be kitty paradise here, and I’d be really, really happy. If I could just figure out how to get at that tuna all by myself.


Sunday, October 7, 2007


My life is about as stress-free, mundane and run-of-the-mill as it gets, and believe me, I like it like that. And I have plenty to be thankful for, and not just the usual health, and beautiful children and wonderful husband. (I wish for once, I could hear someone say, "I have two perfectly ordinary children and a husband who really pisses me off now and then.") So here is a list of things for which I am truly grateful.

1. Hot showers. I remember reading a book about a pioneer woman who had a bath once a month in the summer, and not at all in the winter. I could barely finish the book after that. How disgusting would that be? I'm very glad to live in a time where hot showers are considered an inalienable right. The shower that I have after coming home from a week at the cottage is the best one all year. And we HAVE a shower at the cottage, (which, yes, I do use.)

2. The internet Man, do I love the internet. I don't quite know what I did with myself before it was available, but I'm sure it was productive. I had a university student I know say that she didn't know how people studied before the internet, and although I did it, I had to admit I don't know either.

3. Frozen fruit. Not that I believe I was ever in danger of scurvy, but being able to eat raspberries in the middle of winter is still an enormous deal to me.

4. Cordless phones. There was a time when the hapless phone user was stuck in a 3 foot radius for the duration of the call, and couldn't do anything but talk on the phone. Then, cordless phones came in (around the time I had my first baby) and a whole world of multi-tasking was opened up to me: I could fold laundry, do the dishes, or even play Scrabble on the computer while talking on the phone. (The last one is reserved for long conversations with my husbands aunt, whereby I have to hear the details of the life of everyone in her apartment building. I don't think that requires my undivided attention.)

5. Microwave popcorn. Really fast and no clean up. What's not to love.

6. My husband does not spit. I often see men walking down the street who suddenly hork up a big loogy and spit right out on the sidewalk. They don't even seem the slightest bit embarrassed about it either. Why do they do this? You don't see women spitting all over the place; I don't even feel the need to spit ever. Himself does not spit, for which I am eternally grateful.

7. My children are now old enough that I do not have to attend the Santa Clause Parade. I hate that parade. The weather is frequently miserable, cold and rainy, since they insist on having it in the middle of freaking November, it's crowded with people who are just as unhappy as I am, and the kids are always disappointed because they never seem to get any of the candy thrown into the crowd. And all of this with clowns, too! Thankfully, I'm done.

8. I really do have two beautiful children and a wonderful husband.

Of course, there are many, many other things to be grateful for, and I could go on and on for ages. (Like, Madonna seems to have given up acting altogether, and stirrup pants are out of style.) The big stuff it's easy to be thankful for, but I try not to ignore the little stuff; it matters too.

Friday, October 5, 2007

How I Know I Am Getting Older

My husband's almost 80-year old aunt tells me that "growing old is not for sissies", and I believe her. It appears that the indignities and ravages of aging take a hit on the ego as well as the body, and it's a tough gig. Although I am hardly on my way to the retirement home, there are certainly distinct signs that I am not in the first blush of youth any longer. These things creep up on you; you thought of yourself as a young person (even a "girl" once or twice) before the concrete wall of reality slams itself into your forehead. And I'm not talking about the obvious wrinkles and flab of middle age, it's the sinister external signs of aging that jump up and say "howdy". So, here are a few of the ways I realized that I am no longer young.

1. "OOoooff". That is the noise I make when I get up out of a sitting position. The first time I made it, I looked around to see exactly where in the room my father was. He wasn't. It was me. My hips and knees and back object to sudden movement, and that did not happen in my 20's.

2. "Does it have to be so loud in here?" To my utter horror, these words came out of my mouth in a store at the mall that my niece dragged me into. The musice was deafening, and it seemed to consist of an angry, young man with a serious speech impediment shouting and bellowing and mooing. I left.

3. "When did they put that there?" Buildings seem to spring up overnight now. When I was younger, perhaps I noticed this sort of thing more, probably because my head wasn't filled to overflowing with all the details of the three other lives I steer.

4. "You know, I could really use one of those." "Those" being one of the little metal carts that old ladies use to drag their groceries back from the store. I think they would be very useful because I do a fair bit of walking, and a bag of milk is like 50 very cold bolwing balls by the time you're half way home. On the other hand, that is the top of a very slippery slope and I'm not starting down it. If I got one of those carts, it's just a matter of time until I have a rain bonnet in my purse and nylon anklets.

5. "Oh, I can't eat that any more". There was a time when I had a cast iron stomach, and could eat whatever I wanted without consequence. Now, not only do I gain weight when I stand beside a cheesecake and inhale deeply, I find certain foods have an effect on my body that has diminished my enjoyment of them utterly. Croissants give me heartburn, and chocolate after a certain hour will make it difficult for me to sleep. I avoid things like nuts and hard crusts because I'm afraid I'll crack a tooth. And I don't miss them. That is the part that frightens me more than anything.

6. "You guys go ahead, I'll stay home". Believe me, I like to socialize; talking is my number one favorite thing to do. But as I get older, I must say that there are fewer and fewer events that are more attractive than my bed and a book, particularly in the evenings. I've been to more than one party where I was mad that I hadn't brought my book to it.

Like it or not, one has to face the fact that one is not 18 any more, or else one will end up looking lke Cher. There is such a thing as growing old gracefully, but I'm not at all sure it involves a little metal grocery cart.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wood You, Could You...

Because of my cold, I have spent the morning wallowing in self-pity and watching DVDs. Except for the lack of chocolate, and the fact that I feel like a toxic-waste dump, it's been an okay day, even if I am spectacuarly unattractive.
The phone rang at around 10 a.m., and I didn't recognize the number. Usually this would call for a hurled invective and a pointed ignoring, but since I have very little to divert my attention from myself today, I answered the phone.
"Hello, it's Bob's Tree Service calling!" chirped the happy voice on the other end. (Rarely is anyone not brain damaged so happy to inform me that they are calling me.) "Oh?" came my pithy reply.
"I just wanted to tell you that your wood delivery will be arriving within the hour. We're sorry we're late, we were having some trouble with the truck yesterday, but I promise the wood will be there today."
This took a few beats to process through my cold-addled brain. You see, we don't have a fireplace, so we rarely need wood. In fact, we have a couple of tree branches that overhang the house that need to come down, preferrably in an organized fashion, so actually, it is LESS wood that I am requiring, not more. And, the Mister being what he is, I had to chew on the idea that he might have ordered wood without my knowledge or consent, perhaps as a late anniversary present or such. (Sadly, it is possible that he could somehow construe such a thing as an appropriate present. Then he would knock a hole in the wall and begin to install a fireplace and then let it sit in a half-finished state for the next year or so, until my head exploded.)
I had to conclude that we had not, in fact, ordered any wood. At least I hoped not.
She asked if this was Mrs. Loudshoes at Sounds Like A Much Nicer Address Than Ours That Probably Has A Fireplace , and I had to admit to the first, but sadly, not to the second. We live at The Messiest House On God's Green Earth.
"Oh." , came the reply, considerably less chipper than before. "That's not good", and she hung up.
So, I hope those other people got their wood, since they've been waiting a full 24 hours for it. I just hope tomorrow I don't find a hole in the living room wall.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I'll Feel Better After Some Whine

I have a cold.
That sentance does not encompass the misery that is my life at the moment, nor does it convey the extent to which my cold had taken over my life. It's all I can think about.
I don't even have a particularly bad cold, (not a "man-sized cold", as one of my friends' husband once described his affliction), but much like even bad pizza is pretty good pizza, even a minor cold is a mother of a cold. I HATE having a cold, and I'm making sure everyone knows it.
My head is full of a disgusting amount of yuck, and I swear that is why my bathroom scale hasn't budged in the past few days. (The Tattooed One says that when you are weighing yourself, you have to factor in that your head probably accounts for 8 pounds, so take 8 pound off the what the scale says and you have your actualy weight. That? is some logic I can seriously get behind.)
I am sneezy, and drippy and spewing. (Those are the lesser known dwarves, by the way, the ones deemed to gross to meet Snow White.) I sneeze in increments of three, so it bothers me no end when only two occur, because I know that other one is just waiting until I'm on the phone or in the middle of a traffic light or on my way to the bathroom.
What I'd really like to do is curl up on the couch with my book and a cup of tea and my weight (including my head!) in chocolate. But I have a PTA meeting to attend this evening, and I'm sure my fuzzy, warm, kittenish demeanor will brighten up the proceedings no end.
I will bring my own box of kleenex, and if the meeting goes on too long, I'll start to sneeze, loudly and in increments of three. That should speed things up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sites of Note

There is no doubt in my mind that I spend way too much time wandering around the internet. Imagine all that I would have accomplished if I didn't have a computer in my house, and big chunks of time where I am not accountable to anyone. I could have learned Spanish, or how change the oil in the car or the basics of home dental work; instead, I know just how much the neighbours are asking for their house, what everyone else thinks of last night's tv show and what do to with sweet gelationous mutant coconut.
Some of my most egregious time wasters are:

Television Without Pity: ( ("Spare the snark, spoil the networks" )is one of my favorite sites. Apart from the absolutley hilarious recaps of just about any show on tv, the forums are full of amazing, witty, intelligent contributors. And who ever thought you could type a sentance like that in connection with tv?

The Straight Dope ( The forums on this site kill me.Where else can you find a discussion about Britney Spears' child custodial problems that include a line like "Ah, the kids'll be fine once the reality show finds them new parents." There have also been lively debates on the merits of buffets vs. sit-down restaurants, lists of songs people sing to their pets and useless things people have memorized.

Go Fug Yourself ( See? Even famous people with all sorts of fashion-stylist advisors get it wrong now and again. It makes me feel much, much better about my own sartorial choices. ("Well, at least I didn't show up in public wearing that.)

Dooce ( A seriously funny blog. I think maybe this woman and I would get along beautifully.

Stumble Upon ( I can (and do) spend wa-a-a-a-ay too much time wandering around here. Where else would I find links to stuff like this and this and this ?
All very cool stuff.

And the biggest granddaddy time-waster of 'em all: YouTube ( I heartily ashamed at the considerable time I have spent on this site; none of it useful. This video makes me laugh each and every time I see it ( ("There's just so many things") and if I could explain my delight in this one, I would, but I just can't ( and this I've seen a hundred times.

I also check out the real-estate listings in my area regularly, not because I'm interested in buying a new house, but because I'm never quite finished buying the house I'm in. I visit the Library website obsessively, because I want to see what exactly I have on hold, and when it's coming in, and what's over due. And, of course, I waste hours checking my e-mail a hundred times a day, and writing this blog.

Luckily, my family wouldn't notice much if the housework got done, unless the dust bunnies under the bed actually came to life, and as long as I keep a thin, fragile coating of respectability around the place, no one would ever suspect the amount of time I spend keeping myself amused. Until now.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Before You Walk Down That Aisle.....

I went to a wedding shower yesterday for one of my husband’s 116 cousins.
(I’m not making this up, he really does have a whole whack of first cousins, so spread out in age that some are grandparents and some are still in high school. This is due to the fact that his grandparents were all married twice, and in a small town, and the combinations of progeny has resulted in the fact that all of them are now related to each other. I can’t explain it to you because I can barely keep it straight in my own head. Suffice it to say, you can’t swing a dead cat in the Mister’s hometown without hitting one of his relatives. )

Anyway, at the shower the guests were given a little piece of paper whereby we were to give the bride a bit of pithy advice on how to make for a happy marriage. (A dangerous game, this….I’d have never approved this at one of my own wedding showers. How do you know the anonymous advice isn’t going to be “run for your life” or “get a different groom”?) I wrote down something not too sappy that I read in a greeting card once.

It made me think about marriages and how they work and why some work and some don’t…it’s a tenuous business. I’m certainly no expert on the subject and I’m no psychologist, but I am a hairdresser, and spend a great deal of my day wondering "WTF?"at the Buick-sized holes in some people's logic. Some people really are just hear to serve as a warning to others.

So, after fifteen years of my own wedded bliss, not to mention 25 years dealing with brides at the salon, I think I may have a few rules to guide the new bride and groom.
1. Marry someone you like. This might seem like a ridiculous truism, but honestly, you’d be surprised at how many couples I meet that don’t seem to like each other very much. When the bride is talking about what an idiot the groom is in the chair on her wedding day, you’ve got to wonder about the long term viability here.
2. Marry someone you like as they are. He’s not going to change after the wedding. He’ll like the same friends as he does now, dress the same way and be enchanted by the same mind-numbing tv. And, news flash? You’re not going to change much, either.
3. Marry someone who gets along with his family. This is a fairly important relationship in anyone’s life, and if he (or you) has a rocky and turbulent connection to his parents and siblings, chances are he’s going to have the same dynamics with you eventually, too. He doesn’t have to adore them or even like them very much; he has to be able to be in the same room with them without flying into a blind rage.
4. Marry someone who’s past it just that. Everyone has some emotional luggage they carry around with them; hopefully they’ve learned from it and moved on. If you have someone who continually brings up that bitch he used to date or suffers from Post Traumatic High School Disorder, then you’re going to be dealing with those for a lo-o-o-o-ong time. And you can also tell a lot about a person by how they treat their ex.
5. Marry someone you actually know. Never walk down the aisle with someone who has been in your life for less than a year, whose family you have not met or who has to ask what your middle name is. You should have traveled together, decorated a Christmas tree, hung wallpaper and seen each other with a raging hangover and/or headcold.
6. Never settle. Marry someone that you think is the greatest thing on God’s green earth. You may not spend every day thinking he is the culmination of thousands of years of evolution, but you really should be able to think it once in a while. And he should think the same of you.

Marriage is the combination of two messy, complicated and usually selfish lives, no wonder so many of them go belly up. I suppose the real secret to a good marriage is compatibility, which boils down to the best advice I could have given the bride: Marry the right person.

It’s as easy and as complicated as that.