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.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Make It Stop.

I was walked to and from the mall today, and noticed that the decorations are up and the Christmas music was on. While I walked home, I had ample opportunity to think about which Christmas song I hate the most. It was a very pleasant diversion, I must say, eating up the miles while getting my heartrate up into an almost cardio workout. So here it is, my Top Five Most Hated Christmas Songs...

#5 And So This Is Christmas by John Lennon. John and Yoko and their dirty hair, self-righteously drone that war is only continuing to exist because I, the listener, don't want it to end badly enough. "And what have you done?" I'll tell you pal, I've done 5 loads of laundry, made yet another batch of Christmas cookies this morning, made up the present list and figured out how we're going to pay for all this. What have YOU done???

#4 Bruce Springsteen's version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Okay, so it's not bad enough that this song aggressively threatens children with a most heinous emotional blackmail, but then we have to listen to SAAAAAAANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN!! like a million times.

#3 Wonderful Christmas by Paul McCartney The herpes of Christmas songs. Stays with you forever. It gives me brain damage just to listen to it.

#2 Do You Hear What I Hear Unfortunately, yes, yes, I do. A dirge-like melody, a nonsensical lyric and an unpleasant affinity with the likes of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. I like to sing it with a panicky inflection at the "do you hear what I hear?" part.

#1 The Little Drummer Boy The depth and breadth of my loathing for this song is admittedly out of all proportion, but dear God I hate this one. If I was Mary, I tell you, there would be blood on the floor. She's all exhausted from the donkey ride and the labour and whatnot, she's probably going to have one hell of an infection from giving birth in a freaking stable, and this kid shows up and gives her and her newborn a few riffs from the rhythm section? Oh, the humanity.

And don't get me started on "Jingle Bell Rock".

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense.

Usually, when I come home from work, I am greeted by both my children as if I have just returned from battle carrying Oreos, pudding and marshmallows; they run to the door with open arms and big hugs and delighted squeals and it is all very wonderful. (We've never had a dog, but I'm sure it is the human equivelent of a Golden Retreiver's welcome. )

This evening, I was greeted by Thing 1, but not Thing 2. Thing 2 was nowhere in sight. When I asked the Mister where she was, he told me that she had been removed from human company because she had soundly kicked her sister in a minor domestic dispute.

Her banishment was threefold: the physical assault itself, her stalwart defense that she had been justified and it was all her sister's fault, and her tenatious refusal to issue an apology. She had been in her room for about an hour when I came on the scene, and so I went in to talk to her, to see if perhaps a new perspective could jolly her along. I nearly burst out laughing when I saw the following note taped to her door:

Looks like it's going to be a long night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Just What I Always Wanted!

Because the Canadian dollar is worth the same as the US dollar for the first time in living memory, I thought I might do a bit of my shopping online this year. Anything that lets me sit in front of the computer, instead of testing my meagre patience in the malls this time of year is a bonus to everyone, believe me.

Through one of my favourite blogs ( I found this gem of a catalogue. SkyMallShopping, which, I believe, is a magazine distributed on airplanes. For those of you who cannot bear to wait until you are once again on terra firma to buy a pair of Gollum-Smeagol bookends, this is the catalogue for you.

"You know what, kids? I've been thinking, and it seems to me that you don't get nearly enough refined white sugar and artificial colourings in your diet. How be we get a Cotton Candy maker and set it up in a corner of the family room? That way, it should be easy to keep your pancreas and liver revving at a full-gallop all the live long day! And don't worry about flossing, you shouldn't have to worry about having teeth at all soon."

I'm really not much into decorating. (We live in the All Beige House.), Almost all of our furniture started out being owned by somebody else, and I'm fine with that; we're really not picky about our decor. But I draw the line at this. I don't care how much bamboo in tasteful, Zen-inspired holders you put on this, or how you surround it with leather and Oriental rugs, this is still going to be the only thing in the room that anyone is ever going to talk about. I wonder what it looks like from the back.

Sadly, this is what happens to supermodels after they run out of cocaine and their careers wither and die. Believe it or not, this is a clock. The catalogue assures me that it says 12:39. Can you imagine trying to do the mental gymnastics necessary to navigate this baby every morning? I already live in a house full of people who have a cavalier attitude towards time management; I can't begin to imagine what kind of mayhem would ensue with this on the kitchen wall.

This is called "The Litter Robot". I will automatically clean up the cat turds and replenish the litter, seconds after your cat has exited the passenger area. Now, as much as our Toby loves a
good box, I can't see me persuading him to get anywhere near this thing. Toby regards the vacuum cleaner as a "Thinly Disguised Cat Dismembering Toy of Satan", and treats it with the unholy revulsion it richly deserves. I really don't think he is going to be fooled by this New Insidous Weapon of Feline Slaughter.

Okay, this thing I could actually see myself buying, if only to see the looks of "WTF" on my friends and family as they catch it coyly peeking out from behind the lilac bushes. No charming, little gnomes or delicate fairies for the Loudshoes family, we're way too hardcore for that. Our garden can only be improved by the addition of a Big Foot statue.
Happy shopping! Oh, and to my friends and family who I do buy presents for, you didn't see this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Amazing Race 12, Ep. 2

This season rocks.
First we get passive-aggressive donkeys last week, and then we get game-show style pole-vaulting? And next week we get uncooperative camels? I love this show!

Good God, Ronald has proved himself to be an unmitigated douchebag in an astonishingly short time. He must have set some sort of record.
Why on earth did he take on Nicholas at the airport and berate him for being rude? Who made him the Etiquette Police?
His daughter is a saint. After the waffling and the blaming and the “constructive criticism” and the “you’ve disappointed me” and then the crack about her weight?? If he’d have pulled any of that shit on me I’d have been sorely tempted to take that pole and beat him to death with it, and then dump him in the muddy ditch and say “there, is that decisive enough for you?”.
Remember when she said last week that she wanted to get to know him “in the time he has left”? That’s because she’s going to kill him.
Perhaps in the 12 hours they have to “rest, sleep, mingle” in Amsterdam Rachel and TK can take him out to a nice hash bar and mellow him out a bit.

Kynt and Vyxin are the perkiest Goths I think I’ve ever seen. I’m impressed with the way they handle themselves and each other. And a guy that claims that he’s a “bit prissy” and a girl that admits to macramé? I’m starting to like them very much. Oh, and I was totally thinking of cartoon hi-jinks when they were hauling that furniture up in the air. Too bad they didn’t have a safe or a piano.

If I never see Grampa in his banana hammock all covered in mud, it will be just fine with me. Kudos to him for taking it on and doing it and keeping at it without any whining. Why on earth didn’t the grandson volunteer? It’s not like the clue was ambiguious or anything….the word “acrobat” might have alerted you to the fact that your grandfather might not be the best choice here.

The Bleachmongers are proving to be surprising adept, even if they do keep harping on about how tiny and skinny and girly they are. I loved when Twig #1 had her first attempt at the pole vault and promptly catapulted herself up to her eyebrows in mud and the judge calmly declared “No good!”, like it might have been unclear as to whether she made it or not.
One of my Favorite Lines of the Night came from one of the Twigs (which I cannot tell apart): Driver Twig says something about not being able to keep the brights on in the car without holding down the lever and says “is there a way to do this, or am I being and idiot?”, and Passenger Twig calmly remarks “She asks that question a lot”.

Okay, Jennifer, you can stop calling every other woman who is competing just as hard as you are, bitches. And? You are rather bitchy yourself. She strikes me as the kind of woman that dislikes other women, because they ALL might do something better than her, and then tempt her boyfriend to cheat on her.

Favourite Line of the Night: When Kynt is eyeing up the Roadblock and seeing poles and ditches and such and murmurs “I think it has something to do with the sheep”. Whaaaat?

Favourite Shot of the Night: TK and Rachel pedaling past the bike drop off past a clearly bemused Phil.

Oh, Pat and Kate, I’m so sorry to see you gone. I loved the Married Lesbian Ministers, if only because that moniker never gets old. Plus, they are the first non-annoying self-proclaimed Christians, who also vocalized a sentiment that I have, for so long, bellowed at my television throughout many a reality show: God does not care a fig who wins this or any other contest. And, I really loved that you did not use this experience to “test” your relationship. I think you know you’re doing just fine.
By the way, can anyone tell me why the producers/Phil/ the cameramen decided to frame the shot of everyone on the Amazing Bathmat with a bra and panty set flapping away on the clothesline behind them?

Next week: If the previews are any indication, I think Lorena may be the new Flo.

Until next week!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Crochet for Crack Heads.

You know, whenever one is creating something, anything, part of the process involves a little bit of self-doubt: Is it good? Does my work have merit? Will anyone like it? It's not altogether bad to have a few moments where you examine your creation with a cold, clear eye and attempt to judge it without prejudice.
This woman has no such misgivings. She cranks out this incredibly, ungodly stuff and does so with an exuberance and gusto that I can only stand back and admire. These are some seriously bat-shit crazy knitting designs.

I know what you’re thinking: “Thank God! I’ve been waiting for years for someone to come upt witha pattern so I can knit my own pantaloons! Saints be praised!”

I’ll bet all the other Whos down in Whoville will be some jealous.

Every woman I know would love this outfit….”I need an outfit that makes my bum look really big. No, bigger than that. No! Bigger and wider. Oh, look! Here it is! And what a bonus! Extraneous half-sleeves/gloves that only cover the bottom half of my arms, which would get really, really cold otherwise! All in stretchy, spinach coloured yarn which will get really baggy and make my bottom look like I’m smuggling a couple of cauliflowers? SOLD!”

Not only have I found the perfect outfit for the staff Christmas party this year, I now have a new “funeral suit”, too.

Wow. I….I….just……um…’s so……… gaaaah!
Just looking at this thing is giving me a severe neurological episode. Honestly, I’m afraid if I look at it too long I might blow out the part of my brain that can parallel park. Or remembers birthdays.
I can knit, and I can crochet. Let's hope I never, ever come to this.

Friday, November 9, 2007

On My Own.

The rarest of all occurances has happened! I am home, by myself, for the evening. I cannot remember the last time that happened. Maybe in 1993. Anyway, I am making the most of it.
Thing 1 is at a school dance with her friends, and won't be home until sometime after 10:00. Thing 2 is at a Girl Guide camp for the whole weekend, and will be driven home by a woman who has my eternal gratitude on Sunday morning.
The Mister scored some hockey tickets by way of one of my clients this afternoon, and is cheerfully drinking beer and whoo-hooing and grunting in the manner of sports attendees everywhere as we speak.
Me? I am making use of my free time with the following:
1. Enjoying a bowl of popcorn for dinner.
2. Wandering around the internet and playing Free Cell with wild abandon.
3. Reading my book entire pages at a time without interruption.
4. Admiring the week's cleaning efforts. Also, after tidying the kitchen after my "dinner" I keep going back into it to groove on the fact that it is still clean, hours later.
5. Not refereeing any fights.
6. Watching "Pride and Prejudice" for the 23rd time without A) anyone informing me that I've already seen it, or B) constantly asking me what is going on and why are they talking so funny.
7. Being the sole recipient of extensive, jubilant Toby-lovin'.
8. Not sharing my Diet Pepsi with anyone.
9. Wearing my most derelict but comfiest sweatpants without any slander to my character or my morals.
10. I am the Omnipotent Grand Fromage in Charge of The Remote Control.

I will enjoy it while it lasts!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

And So It Begins....

It was an "at home" day today. The Mister had the car today, as he had some business-related errands to run, and a home visit to make. (We often make house calls for clients who can't get into the salon, usually for health reasons. I figure that if a haircut at your house is the only perk to having a broken hip/cancer/at-risk pregnancy, then so be it; we are happy to provide that singular dividend.) This meant that I was provided with the perfect opportunity to stay at home and Get Things Done.
Last week, Thing 2 wasn't feeling well enough to go to school, and so I spent all day at home then, too. However, last week, I felt like it was a perfect opportunity to malinger and laze about and read and play on the computer, and generally while away the day in a most indulgent manner.
The difference is, that was only the day after Halloween, and today is the 47th day before Christmas. This compels my mindset to switch over from "Normal Sloth Mode" to "Holiday Terrorist Mode" in about 2.3 nanoseconds.
"Holiday Terrorist Mode" means that, for the next 47 days, my life will be dedicated to dealing with Christmas. I'll be preoccupied with getting stuff, remembering stuff, decorating stuff, organizing stuff and dealing with....stuff. Now, believe me, I run a pretty minimalist Christmas ship here at Chez Loudshoes, but as my mother once noted, if the woman of the house doesn't make Christmas happen, it doesn't happen. I don't do much, but even "not that much" adds up to plenty of time and energy when it comes to Christmas.
So, the first level of Holiday Defcon One is to clear out all the extraneous shit that this family has accumulated over the past year, to make room for the tsunami of shit that will engulf us come December. (DO NOT get me started on the ridiculousness of hurling out 2 metric tonnes of stuff we don't want, so that I can make room for another 2 metric tonnes of new stuff I'll be throwing out this time next year.)
I spent most of the day in the family room, which appeared to have been the scene of a particularly raucous Mardi Gras parade. I cleaned out cupboards and under the couch (eww.) and got rid of a whole lot of random game pieces and playing cards and craft kits that were clealy abandoned and never going to be rescued again. (I live with three committed pack rats, so my work is cut out for me, trust me.)I moved a bit of furniture around, and it looks fabulous. I keep going in there just to admire my work.
Next week, I hope to tackle the freezer room, which tends to be the place where things get put when we don't know were else to put them, the same function the dining room table serves, only larger. I figure that, eventually, I will have cleaned the house thoroughly, and maybe, for a few precious minutes on the evening of December 24th, all will be right with my world.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dodged That Bullet

The other day Himself and I were running some errands; one of our stops was the dollar store. (This one truly is a "dollar" store, where things cost a dollar. There used to be a so-called dollar store in the little mall near our first house they had things listed at 5 and 10 dollars. I'm no math genius, but I know five dollars is not one dollar. They should have called it "The Five Dollar Store", and then they wouldn't have pissed off everyone who expected an actual "dollar" store, and they might still be in business.)
We were walking back towards our vehicle, (a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan in silver. I think the Chrysler corporation only made them in silver, and sold all 50 million of them within a 20 mile radius of our house, because they are everywhere.) when I noticed a huge, big, lurid scrape just above the rear wheel on the passenger side. It was about a foot long and eight inches high, and tore at the very fabric of my soul. It was hideous.
I stopped about 10 feet from the back of the van and let out a screech and said to anyone within 20 feet who was willing to listen "what the hell is that??? That wasn't there this morning!!!! Somebody must have hit it and run right here in this parking lot!!!"
At the same time as I am howling like a banshee, I'm kind of wondering why the Mister isn't exhibiting a similar roar of outrage. (As affable and as good-tempered as he is, he can really work up a good head of steam over damage to the car. You should have seen him the time when Thing 1 was 2 1/2 and she "helped" him wash the then 3-week-old van.....with a rake. It was the first vehicle he had ever owned that had been bought brand-new, and I thought his head might actually burst into flames. Thing 1 was airily oblivious to his ire, and happily wandered off to desecrate something else while Himself made up a few new swear words, and narrowly escaped jail time.)
Just as I get up to the van, I shriek "When in God's name did that happen????". Himself continues to walk past me to the next van, unlocks it with the remote and calmly replies "I don't know, why don't we ask the people who own it?".

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Lessons My Children Have Taught Me

It's not exactly news that having children in your life will change it utterly; any greeting card at Hallmark will make that fact abundantly clear. And it is also well-established that the parent learns as well as teaches, and that raising a child can be a fundamentally enriching experience. The Chinese have a saying, that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I had no idea I needed to learn these things, but the universe deems otherwise. Such has been my harsh education.

1. You are not above bribery. You may have thought you would negotiate and discuss and listen in a calm, concillatory fashion when your three-year-old wants to wear her bathing suit out in January, but actually, you will get her to dress in a weather-appropriate fashion with the aid of gummy bears and Oreos.

2. You thought you would never say "I told you so", but you do and with a disturbing amount of satisfaction, too.

3. The first time you channel your mother will not be the last. Now all that "do you think I'm made of money?" and "are you going out wearing that?" makes perfect sense.

4. Projectile vomiting has aerodynamic properties you have never even dreamed of. And it is you who will clean it up.

5. No one is going to thank you. Not for the braces, not for the piano lessons, and especially not for the example you set.

6. No matter what your education, you will be outwitted by a toddler. Save the $14.95 + S&H, there's no parenting book in the world that's going to save you from the humiliation of having that person who behaves like a drunken midget get the better of you.

7. It is entirely possible to love someone with all your heart and plot their violent death at the same time. This precious little angel that you have brought into the world is now bugging the shit out of you, and you have begun to weigh your chances in a court of law. ("If I can just get a jury full of parents, they'd never convict me.")

8. Apples are a vegetable. It's just easier to arbitrarily assign certain foods to a much higher nutritious status, than to constantly negotiate over dinner. And by the way? This capricious logic works for salsa, the tomato sauce on pizza, pickles and corn dogs.

9. You are a parent. Nothing else.You may have thought your function on this earth was to bring happiness to others, contribute to society and take your place in life's rich pagent. You are wrong. You may have hopes and dreams and ambitions. Too bad. Your function here on earth is to drive, pay and run interference. That is all.

10. Ten children at a sleepover is about eight too many. Maybe nine. In fact, sleepovers are a terrible idea. Unless, of course, your child is going over to sleep at someone else's house.

No doubt I'm in for some more education; my children are entering their teen years, after all. I hope I get an "A".

Monday, November 5, 2007

Amazing Race 12, Ep. 1

Ahhh, my race, she is back. Airport tension, bickering couples, lesbians and donkeys. Could they start out any better than this? I think not.

That was clearly the most satisfying first round elimination ever. Ever.
Anyone who uses "I tell it like it is" to justify their obnoxious, adolescent behaviour is just being an insufferable asshole, in my books. Plus, Ari seemed to be trying to hard to fit the "sassy, gay sidekick" role, and A)I'm tired of that guy, and B)he wasn't very good at it. There's a difference between being snarky and just being mean. (Just for the record, I am snarky.)
Let that be a lesson to you, Taxi-Karma is vengeful and swift. Do not mess with Taxi-Karma.

I'm a little mystified on the Goth couple for a number of reasons. They seem pretty affable, and fairly competent racers, but they seem a little....chipper for Goths. Instead of pretending to be angry, they seem to be pretending to be sad.
And, I'll be the one to say it, Kynt is Vyxsin's boyfriend? Really? Because, the dude has boobs. And likes to do makeup. And wears makeup. and, well, just look at him. I know I'm not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but damn. When the book says "I'm a freak", I'm going to believe it. And don't get me started on the "kree-8-ive" name spelling, because that? is one of my all time pet-peeves.

Oh, for the love of all that is holy, can we stop with the couples who come on this show to "find out if they are meant for each other"? Here's a clue: you're on a reality show, who's purpose is to entertain people. It is not going to provide the couple therapy that you so badly need.
Nathan and Jennifer; he cheated and she's never going to let him forget it. That's pretty much all you guys need to know about each other.
The other one (Shrill, Whiny Dark Haired One, and Colin Farrell-look-a-like) You've been living together for three years, and he's not sure he wants to marry you? News flash, he's not going to. Not now, not ever. Any guy that claims to have "one foot out the door" is, well, Colin Farrell. Time to get off the pot. (And maybe an HIV test.)

I kind of like the brother/sister team, until he mentioned that they were smarter than all the other teams. Unless there's a roadblock involving calculus, I'm not sure that's going to be much of a plus for you. Besides, did you notice who's won this thing in the past? I'm betting that Jeremy and Danielle, from the All-Star Edition, are not members of Mensa.

Can we please declare a moratorium on female teams who plan to use flirting and feminine wiles to gain an edge in this game? Because, holy crap, I HATE THAT!! This is a game of luck and skill: eyelash-batting and hair-tossing have never proven to be advantageous. Besides, those two Bleachmongers are the skankiest, most botoxed, tightly clenched specimens I've ever seen. Did you see the Donkey Wrangler flinch when Booby #1 leaned in to kiss him? I think he actually shuddered.
The other two, the Firecracker Sisters from Miami are much, much prettier, but I hope they can drive a stick-shift and read a map, too.

Best Roadblock ever!! God, I loved those donkeys. They rank right up there with the elephants, and camels and oxes that have provided so much needed karma and comedy. The honking donkey nearly made me hurt myself laughing.
I cannot believe that nobody, NOBODY made one single "Shrek" joke during that whole thing.
(I'd have been all "in the morning, I'm making waffles", and laughing at my own joke and driving everyone around me nuts.)

Favourite Line of the Night: "If you make me lose this race I will cut you up and eat you."

Until next week!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Times, They Are A-Changin'.

Last night was the annual "set back the clocks" night, which is one of my favorite nights of the whole year. That extra hour of sleep was extraordinarily delicious, and I'm sad we don't do it a couple of more times a year.
Of course, I have to think long and hard about what that turning back means...."what was 5 is now only 4, so don't eat dinner yet", that sort of thing. It confounds me utterly, and I'm really better off not thinking about it.
Toby the Cat is of mixed feelings on the time change.... on the one hand, the humans are more likely to sleep in, thereby getting him his tuna a little later than usual. (And that would not do at all!) But, on the other hand, when they sleep in for a long time, the chances of them forgetting that they have already given him the tuna increases dramatically, and a certain cat might get two portions in one day, rendering him stupified with delight.
When the kids were small, the time change was a bit of a challenge. They would get up at their regular time (which was now 4 a.m. because the clocks had turned back.) but the upside was that they went to bed an hour earlier, too. That lasted about 2 days, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.
When I was a teenager, I remember going into the restaurant I worked at, completely oblivious to the time change. I couldn't figure out why no one else was there, and got started on the prep for Sunday brunch. I was getting seriously freaked out after a half an hour or so, because the place should have been bustling, and I was still the only one there. Had there been a nuclear war I knew nothing about? An alien abduction? A rampaging serial killer just outside the door? My mind raced at the possibilities. At around 10 to, someone else showed up, and I nearly wept with gratitude. Turns out I was an hour early for work. (The managers had a bit of a discussion about whether or not I should have been paid for that extra hour. One of them thought I should, since I had actually got stuff done for brunch, the other arguing against, since they didn't want workers just showing up early for their shifts and being paid for hours the restaurant didn't require they be there for. And I'm all "dude, do you really think that's going to be a problem? Especially around here? On a Sunday morning? Have you met your staff?")
Hairdresser's weekends are Sundays and Mondays, with Tuesday being our first working day of the week. One time I remember someone showing up for work (it must have been in the spring) an hour late. On a Tuesday. How she'd gone for two whole days not noticing the time change, I have no idea.
It will be nice to waken in the daylight, for a couple of weeks, anyway. But I'm not looking forward to it getting dark an hour earlier; it feels so late when you leave work at 5 and it's already dark. On the other hand, any excuse to go to bed an hour earlier suits me just fine.

Friday, November 2, 2007

If You Can't Stand the Heat

The Mister isn't home until late on Friday nights, and that means that we don't tend to sit down to dinner until around 8 or so. My stomach is decidedly against this schedule, and protests in the loudest, most raucous fashion imaginable. (It's sort of like having a bunch of Argentinian soccer fans in my abdomen. Who's team has lost. To England.) So I have had to placate it with a snack consisting of 2 O'Henry bars, one tiny box of Smarties, a weeny little Crispy Crunch and a cup of coffee. Surprisingly, that seems to have settled the clamor.

I do most of the cooking around here, and like to do it. (She who plans the meal gets to eat what she wants.) The Mister can knock out a mean chicken tikka, and he's a barbecuing savant, but he finds no satisfaction in the doing, only the eating, and he's happy to let me cook. And, bless him, he will eat pretty much what's put on the table in front of him. He's been known to occasionally murmur "don't make this again, okay?", as he methodically shovels down one of my less successful experiments.
And experiment I do. One of the things I love about cooking is that the possibilities are endless.
Unfortunately, the possibilities for disaster are just as numerous as for success. Some of my more regrettable efforts are as follows:

Not too long after we were married, and I was fairly new to cooking, I decided to make fried chicken from scratch. (Why I don't know...I must have been reading "To Kill A Mocking Bird" or something. Neither of us is particularly fond of fried chicken anyway.) I should have known better than attempt any dish which starts out with one melting and entire pound of lard for frying. As my husband's best friend said as he saw the lump of white goo in the frying pan: "Ah,...a British meal, I see." It took a lot longer to fry the chicken than I thought it would, and in the meantime, the mashed potatoes turned to spackle, and the peas into little green pellets, both more suitable as weaponry than dinner. I made gravy, as the recipe directed, from some of the fat the chicken was fried in. The purpose of that escapes me, as the gravy tasted exactly as you would expect hot lard and flour cooked together would discernable chicken flavour whatsoever. The chicken itself I managed to get both greasy and overcooked at the same time. It was somewhat like chewing on greasy dishcloths. But with gravy.
Any time since, when I have been looking for fried chicken, both of those times, I have gone to KFC and been done with it.

I once made a rhubarb pie and forgot to put in the sugar. One bite of that and all the moisture left your head. It was excruciating.

Another time, I made a black bean soup that looked so loathsome that the only way we could bring ourselves to eat it was to close our eyes. (It looked a bit like someone had already eaten it.) It tasted okay, but was extremely off-putting.

Once I made a scallop dish that turned out so odd my husband took a picture of it.

I am forbidden to ever contemplate, let alone make, any dish with the words "bean" and "pie" in them ever again. (Himself absolutley put his foot down on that one. Literally.)

I made a most disgusting banana bread once. I mistakenly put in a cup of salt instead of a cup of sugar. (The two containers are now labelled.) It was vile. Even the racoons, who dragged it out of the composter, wouldn't eat it.

I've learned that, although cinnamon and curry powder may look a lot alike, they are not, in fact, interchangable. (Curried Apple Pie is what they serve in hell.) Ditto for BBQ sauce and ketchup.

There have been many dishes which we have re-named, in an attempt to more accurately indicate their appearance: The Lawn Boy Special (creamed spinach), Shredded Monkey Hearts (sundried tomatoes over pasta) and Yuck on a Stick (some horrible Weight Watcher's recipe involving ground turkey, skewers and brown rice.) They didn't all taste bad, mind you, but the look of them would put you right off.

I've made my own pasta (verdict: for that kind of effort, just go out and buy it. It tastes pretty much the same, unless you're filling it with diamonds and Google shares.), my own bread (totally worth it....big bang for your buck.), my own crackers (for maximum guest intimidation, you can't beat making your own crackers.) and yogurt (easy and vastly superiour to storebought.)

And before you ask, no, my kids don't eat any of it. They are perfectly content with Hamburger Helper, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for dinner. (Considering the above litany, maybe they're on to something.)

For all the culinary disasters, there have also been some spectacular successes, and I suppose that's what keeps me trying. It's often the things that look the least promising that turn out to be major winners, and enter the regular dinner rotation for years. (For example, Greek Chicken is very barfy looking, but tastes terrific and is fast and low in fat and did I mention delicious?)
I'm very lucky that Himself will put up with sitting down to "Mock Duck" and "Clam Fiesta". Just as long as I don't make anything called "Bean Pie".

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ten-Year-Old Logic

Thing 2 announced this morning that she wasn't feeling well and wanted to stay home today. When I asked what was wrong, she said that her stomach hurt and she was tired. Hmmmm, says I, do you think that last night's late bedtime and obscene amounts of polysaccarides and Red Dye #2 had anything to do with it? "Not really", came the reply.
After a bit of hemming and hawing, I let her stay home. (Once, when Thing 1 was in Grade 2, I sent her to school, despite her complaints of a dodgy tummy, and promptly got a call at 9:20 saying she had thrown up all over that day's math lesson. I've been a little more cautious ever since.)
After a few hours of television and reading, she mentioned that she was hungry and perhaps a bit of licorice and potato chips would hit the spot. I kiboshed that idea immediately, stating that, in my experience, potato chips and any sort of gastro-intestional turbulence would result in mayhem and ruination. (Example: a combination of an oncoming flu and a bag of Ripples has rendered me incapable of being in the same room as salt-and-vinegar chips for nigh on 30 years now.)
She considered this for a moment and then replied "If I ate the chips and I threw up, would you believe that I was sick then?"