Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Only 364 To Go!

When the kids were younger, we would tell them that they were allowed to stay up all night on New Year's Eve. The very thought was wildly exotic, and terribly audacious....playing fast and loose with bedtimes might alter the space/time continuum beyond all recognition! "Who knew what could happen?" they would squeal in horrified delight. In reality, they very rarely managed to keep their eyes open past 10:45, despite their most gritty determination.

When Thing 1 was about 8 or 9 or so, she came to me at around 10 o'clock on New Year's and said that she was tired and wanted to go to bed, and would I come and tuck her in. (This behaviour wasn't unusual for Thing 1; she was the only 3-year-old I knew who would voluntarily go to bed, by herself, at 7:30. Thing 2 would fight to the death any idea of bedtime, no matter what the time, or the fact that she was so tired she would drift off to sleep in mid-sentance.)Without thinking too hard about it, I said 'of course' and put her to bed.

The next morning, when Thing 1 bounced out of bed, she happily asked if tonight was the night that she got to stay up all night. Oh, dear. I felt so bad for her...she had gotten the whole "Eve/Day" thing completely mixed up, and had gone to bed early the night before so that she would be rested for the coming night. She was so disappointed.....a year away is a long time when you are 9.

She never made that mistake again.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and here at the Loudshoes house, we are preparing for festivities. Around here, "festivities" means lolling about on couches while eating snacks and watching movies, preferably in pajamas or pant that have an elastic waist.

I'm not a big fan of New Year's; I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of rip-roaring, laugh-a-minute-fun-riot New Years I've ever had, and in 46 years, that's not much of a record. Mostly my memories of New Years involve standing in a snowbank wearing open-toed shoes, trying to hail a cab at one in the morning, all the while trying not to yawn so hard that it makes my head fall right off. Or I've found myself at 11 o'clock giving myself a pep talk ("Only another hour! You can do it!"), longing for my bed and my book and a cup of tea. (And before you judge, that was when I was in my 20s. It's not just because I'm old.)

Now, we tend to stay in an make a night of it with the kids. A few years ago, rather than have a big, fancy dinner, we decided that we would just have nibbles and appetizers all evening long. The kids were ecstatic; they thought this was the most sophisticated thing they had ever heard of! Combined with the idea that they could stay up all night if they wanted, they were over the moon with delight. (Just for the record, the longest they lasted was about 1 a.m., last year. Before that they struggled to stay awake until midnight. Just like their mother. But the very idea of it was dazzling, nonetheless.)

The hair salon is not very busy on New Years. Everyone tends to think that we are overrun on New Year's, but I find most people think that everyone else is doing something more exciting than themselves on New Years. The days of the elaborate, elegant dinner dances is long over...most people go to house parties or stay in, in my experience. And people don't tend to get their hair done for that.

I wish you all very well for New Year's Eve and the New Year itself. Nothing can be all bad when it starts off in my jammies with a big bowl of popcorn.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter Walk

After five full days of non-stop eating and lolling about like Roman Emporers, this afternoon we thought it might be a good idea to A) go outside and B) move around a little. I was beginning to worry that my body might rebel and throw a tantrum like a 3-year old and refuse to do anything but eat if I didn't show it that other activities are possible.

It was a cold, bright, windy day out, much colder than it looked. The copious amounts of snow we've been dealing with have melted at an astonishing rate, which meant that the creeks and rivers hereabout are way, way higher than usual. After the thaw, everything froze right up again, so everything is encased in ice, too. So, in an effort to get the two kids out, we decided to go and investigate.

Man, there really is no greater magnet for children than water, is there? (Maybe fire, but that would be it.) Thing 2 and her friend poked at the very thin ice with sticks, risked life and limb by going way too close to the swollen creek, and fell down a lot. (Like, I mean, a LOT. Like, constantly. I began to think they had inner ear problems. The Mister got so frustrated with the two of them that he threatened to not take them to the Emergency Room if they broke their wrists. Like the idea of a home bone-setting would make them think twice about where they stepped.)
We saw deer tracks:
And poked around in the water. Here are the two girls clearly ankle deep in water they had been warned within an inch of their lives that they were not to go anywhere near.

This is the pathway, still covered in water. We usually head for that bridge in the background, but today we were thwarted. The two girls were all keen to forge ahead and get to that bridge, but the Mister and I declined. Forcefully. Besides, there was that little matter of coming back through the flood that they hadn't thought of.

All in all, we wandered around for an hour or so, and we were very cold and pleasantly tired by the time we got back. (Some of us had very wet feet, too.) I retired to the couch with a book and something to eat. Some habits are very hard to break.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Happy December 27th! My favorite day of the year, because the Christmas foo-for-all is over and done with, and my life can go back to normal after having been terrorized for the past 6 weeks.

I love the week after Christmas, because the kids are entirely entertained, there is nothing that has to be done, and the house is full of spectacular leftovers, so I barely have to lift a finger to survive. I plan on spending the next few days lounging in my pajamas, reading all the good new books at hand and working my way through an entire box of Lindors all by myself.

Don't get me wrong, I do like Christmas itself, but the lead-up to it is exhausting and tiresome. My mother used to say that if the woman of the house doesn't make Christmas happen, it doesn't happen and she's right...I figure that the day I see a men's magazine covered in articles about "how to avoid stress over the holidays", then we will have acheived total equality.

We did have a lovely Christmas this year, though, despite my whining and complaining in the 6 weeks leading up to it. Our children are old enough now that they slept in on Christmas morning, and we opened our presents in the day light for the first time since they were born. Christmas Day saw us only changing out of our pajamas so that we could go over to my mother's for dinner, which was very nice. (A few years ago, my mother declared that she was never making turkey ever again...she and my father don't particularly like turkey or the leftovers, and she hated the way the turkey hijacked so much of her fridge space for 4 days beforehand. Usually we have prime rib, but this year we had roast chicken, which was dandy.)

My mother also made a trifle, which, as a dessert, I can take or leave, but as a breakfast, trifle is superb...the leftovers are highly prized. She gave me a great big portion, all for myself, which I enjoyed very much in the wee hours of the 26th. (When I lived with my parents, my father also held trifle for breakfast in high regard. There was a quiet but ruthless tussle for the remains of the trifle every year, which resulted in each of us trying to get up earlier than the other to have at it. We'd end up getting up at 6 then 5:30, then 5 to beat each other to it. I tell you, Christmas spirit and good will towards man went straight out the window when it came to polishing off the trifle before the other one knew what was up.)

We spent yesterday with the Mister's family, and got fed until we burst there, too.

I'm looking forward to a couple of days off work next week, too. As the kids have gotten older, I find their Christmas vacation time too short, and by taking a couple of days off I can manage some time with them. Usually, when they go back in January, I indulge in a little down time; I've made a habit of renting a movie on the Monday they go back and watching it in the middle of the afternoon. It feels like I'm totally playing hookey.

We are off to my mother's for dinner again this evening, but after that I hope to spend until Wednesday indoors, in my pajamas and on the couch with the cat. We have plenty of trifle and chicken and chocolate, we should do just fine.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's All Over But the Wrapping

Thank frigging God, the Christmas shopping is done! I plan on not going anywhere near any retail establishment for the next 10 days at the very least. (I wish I could include my place of employment in that moratorium, but that's probably not going to be doable.) I've even done the grocery shopping to get us through until the 30th, maybe the 31st. I could probably get through the entire rest of the winter if not for my family's penchant for milk, bread and fresh fruit. ("Come on kids! It will be like pioneer times! I'm sure scurvy isn't as bad as you'd think! You could stand to lose a couple of teeth!")

The weather here has been terrible the past week or so, with a few snow squalls and storm systems wreaking havoc on people's shopping plans. The result is that every single person who celebrates Christmas went out today to get stuff done. Including me. Stupid me.

The roads were still very slushy and snowy, with the result that people just ignored the possibility of lanes, and just drove wherever they damn well pleased. The snowbanks in parking lots meant that there were fewer spots than usual, and somewhere along the line, people got the idea that if there isn't a parking spot available, you could just invent one and park there. Also, when it is snowy and people are desperate to get their shopping done, they stop driving with any degree of civility or really does go against the spirit of the season to steal someone's parking spot. I was ready to have an aneurysm by the time we got home.

I'm not sure why Christmas is such a surprise to everyone every year; it's clearly marked on the calendar, and God knows the retail industry starts reminding us of December 25th somewhere around November the 1st. But every year, it's the same crush just before the day. I remember working in retail, many moons ago, and we were open until 3 o'clock on Christmas Eve. Inevitably, the store would be full of frantic, desperate men who would, quite literally, buy anything you put into their hands. ("Here, take this $4oo Complete Works of Beethoven set that we've had hanging around since May! Your wife will love it!")

Now the only thing I have to do is get something for myself, from the Mister. (We decided a long time ago to buy our own Christmas presents for ourselves. It saves me from getting Vegas-showgirl earrings, and him from getting a game he already has.) But at least I don't have to go out to get it for another 10 days or so.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Does That Ever Work?

I got taken to task today by a homeless guy. I don't think I've ever had that experience before.

I was walking to Starbucks this afternoon, when a youngish guy who looked like he really needed a shower asked me if I had any spare change. He wasn't particularly polite about his request (he never said "excuse me" or "please", which are the bare minimums, I think.) , so I ignored him and kept going. On my way back from Starbucks, he actually said "oh, I see you have enough money for coffee, but not enough for me", in a very wounded tone.

Not wanting to get into a verbal tussle with a guy who's not even smart enough to figure out how to put a roof over his head, I kept going. But, seriously, what the hell is that? He seemed so indignant that I selfishly spent my own money on myself instead of him. Entitlement in a homeless guy seems a little misplaced, if you ask me.

As a panhandler, his technique needs a bit of work, I think.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh Tannenbaum

We finally got our Christmas tree up this past weekend. I know people who can't wait to get their tree up, barely heaving the Jack O' Lantern on the compost heap before hauling out the foliage. But here at Chez Loudshoes, two weeks before Christmas is the bare minimum, and even at that, I'm sick of the thing by New Year's Day.

When the Mister and I were first married, we lived in a house that was the size of a shopping cart. (Seriously, it was about 900 square feet, and only had two closets in the whole house. It was a real education in creative storage, let me tell you.) The Mister wanted a Christmas tree very much, but I was against the idea; partly because we didn't have the room, partly because we weren't home hardly at all at Christmas, but mostly because I couldn't be botherered. I suggested that if he really wanted one we put it up on his side of the bed, because that was about the only place I could think of for it to go.

Since we've been in this house, though, we've had a Christmas tree, sometimes a real one, and sometimes a fake one. I'm all keen on the fake one, because no matter how well we water a real one, it seems to hemmorhage needles all over the place, and I'm terrified that the whole think will burst into flames spontaneously. Once I was sitting in the living room reading a book, and all I could hear was the gentle but relentless sound of needles plopping onto the presents below. By the time Christmas finally got here we had a naked, brown tree with jaunty, shiny decorations all over it. Very festive; it looked like some sort of macabre art installation.

Here is our tree this year, right after Thing 2 put the angel on the top

That angel is not moving, by the way. That's the way she sits. We did eventually put it to rights, but I rather enjoyed the whole "angel in a hurricane" effect.

We are lucky that Toby pays almost no attention to the Christmas tree whatsoever. Although he thinks that a tree in the house is an excellent idea (possibly the best idea we've ever had, in fact, other than tuna.) it has not occurred to him to climb it, gnaw on it or assault it in any way. Mostly, he just arranges himself in his meatloaf pose underneath it:

Trees in the house. What a concept.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Making A Scene.

A number of years ago I worked with two very nice, very young women, who were delightful people, but a (One of them once asked me if Venezuela was in Europe. And she had been there.)
One of them had recently been married, and this was to be her first Christmas in her own home. She bounced into the staff room one day, having been out shopping. She was very excited to show us her purchase of her first Christmas decoration, a creche: "Look! Look what I got! A "maternity scene"! Isn't it cute?"
The second young woman, in a voice dripping with scorn, replied "It's not called a "maternity scene", it's an "activity scene". Jeesh."
At that point I interjected "you're both idiots. It's a NATIVITY scene."
But it was very cute.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Like It's 1999

Man, it's been a whirlwind week here at Chez well as working flat out, I was out of the house for 5 out of 7 nights. Now, I'm as social a creature as God ever made, but I'm also an extreme homebody, and I have the same relationship with sleep that an addict has to crack. I don't do too well without my down time. It's a shame, really, that all my social interactions are confined to two or three weeks out of the year. If someone would start having their Christmas parties in September, I'd enjoy them so much more.

We had our staff party last Saturday night, and we had a blast. We have a wonderful staff and they are all a ton of fun to hang out with, even if the Mister and I are old enough to be their parents.
Big Liver Girl and I went to see our high school young-'uns perform at their music night, and, believe me, any event is enhanced when one is sitting beside Big Liver Girl. We had a good laugh at her oldest daughter, who is a gem of a girl and I'm very fond of her, but cannot snap her fingers on the beat to save her life. (The kid is damn near perfect, so it's heartening to see one tiny flaw.)
The Mother Shark had our annual Christmas get-together, where we eat a lot and and have possibly the most cut-throat ornament exchange I've ever witnessed. It's one of those games/fight to the death where one person chooses a present out of a pile and then the next person gets to pick one off the pile or viciously snatch a present from a person in the group against whom they hold an enormous grudge, and then that person gets to perpetrate the crime amoung the other members of the group and so on. Apart from the tears and the bloodshed and the lifelong vendettas, it's a lot of fun.

There were a couple of other events this week that I didn't even get to go to.
Next week will be busy enough again, and then I think I will hang up my partying hat for another year....or until Big Liver Girl calls again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sock That Rocks.

My knitting moratorium has been lifted. The thumb is much better, and I have been able to resume my tussle with the needles.

I finished the sock I was making, and I am inordinately proud of it:

It's my first sock, and it really looks like a sock, doesn't it?! I managed to "turn the heel" and everything, without having a major aneurism or anything.

I can't lie, though, that thing is huge. I don't know how it happened, but I made a sock big enough to fit both my feet in at once, and maybe a couple of other people's, too. If I had a Yeti on my Christmas list, I'd be all set.

I'm making the other one as we speak, and I seem to have been able to make it a more reasonable size. (They are both for me, so I don't really care if they look ridiculous. Besides, the First Rule Of Knitting is: I made it, I'm wearing it.)

Eventually I hope to be able to make socks that actually match.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Christmas Shopping

The Mister and I continued our Marathon of Aquisition yesterday, and almost finished the Christmas shopping. We are still speaking to each other, so things went well.

I had a few more epiphanies while shopping this time:

* The purpose of the self-serve check-out is somewhat diminished when it doesn't work without help. I usually love the self-serve check outs; not having to deal with a pimply teenager who is clearly unhappy with my spending money in their place of employment enhances my shopping experience tenfold. But yesterday, at Wal-Mart, the self-serve check-outs were inclined to be a bit tempermental, and it was clear the the breakdown of civilization was at hand. Luckily, we got out of there before that happened.

* Along with issuing Driver's Licences, there is a clear need for some sort of Parking Licence to go along with it. I realize that in this part of the world the lines on the ground are somewhat obscured by snow, but come on, did you really think that leaving your car on a 35° angle was exactly were it was supposed to be? And since one bad parking job gets magnified all along the row, it's probably a good idea to park in a reasonable spot if you're the first one there.

*Also, I've come to think that some sort of licencing system for operating a shopping cart is not out of line, either. The way some people drive those things is nothing short of criminally insane.

*At Michaels' Craft Store, not only were they NOT playing Christmas music which improved my mood no end, they were playing Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, which you have to agree is a bold departure from the usual auditory onslaught this time of year. Made my day.

By the time the Mister and I found ourselves wandering around the mall going "I don't know, do you think she's like that?", we figured it was probably time to go home. And we did, with "Ziggy Stardust" floating around in our heads.

And One More Thing....

Thing 2 submitted her Christmas list some time ago, and it was lengthy and detailed, as I had requested. (She's a little less imaginative than in years past, probably because she got none of those things.)
The other day she mentioned to her father that she would like to add something to the list: a mat for the bathtub so that she "wouldn't sand off her butt when [she] slides around".
He had to explain to her that, generally, people liked having some sort of traction in the tub precisely so that they did not slide around easily, and that since she was the only one who treated the bathtub like an amusement park, she may have to put up with a little butt-sanding.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Amazing Race 13 Ep. 10

Why do I watch this show? Even when I'm not particularly chuffed about who wins, I still find myself hyperventelating at the final ten minutes.

I was happy enough that Nick and Starr won; they ran a great race and didn't particularly bug along the way. I would have been happy enough if Tina and Ken had won, too; they did a good job even if she did harp her way around the world. As Thing 1 said "I don't care who wins, I just care who doesn't win". Andrew and Dan were out of this thing in the first 10 minutes, and I'm delighted that they didn't do any better than dead last.

Dan's remark that this was "like the Superbowl, the Stanley Cup and the World Series all rolled into one" got a big snort at my house. Because, actually, it was none of those things, it was like a racearoundtheworld.

I got all teary when Ken pulled out those rings at the finish line. I know, I know, I'm a sucker. But I have to say, out of all the couples who have come on this race to "figure things out", (which is an idiotic form of relationship therapy) these two seem to have actually sorted through a few things here. (My marriage would not only be in tatters at the end of this race, one of us would likely be in jail as well.)
I liked that their prayer in the taxi wasn't about winning, but about accepting the outcome, no matter what. Because God does not care who wins this thing, and I'm glad someone finally noticed that.

Why, if you are scared of heights, would you choose a Detour named "High and Dry"? Because you would think you might be a bit sensitive to such nomenclature if you were.

Nick DID look just like Peter Pan! He was the only one to arrange his legs in that delicate little diamond shape with his ankles crossed just so! Had I been doing that task (which looked amazing!) I'd have been very thankful to avoid any "Dumbo" references.

Favorite Line of the Night: from Starr- "Thank God that guy likes donuts!"

That memory task looked brutal. Trying to calm yourself into thinking rationally when you're working on minimal sleep and you have adrenaline shooting out of your ears would be tough. Also, the running, the running! Thing 1 and I were all sweaty just watching them.

I noticed Toni and Dallas were not at the Finish Line in the "Gauntlet of the Philiminated". They were probably still trying to get out of Russia, and having to stay at the Bakery Ladies house for the duration. (Actually, I hear that they got new passports the next day, but that they were already out of the race by then.)

Until next season!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Not Even If It's Not Flavored.

My favorite grocery store is Loblaws, mostly because they have nice, wide aisles, President's Choice products, Joe Fresh, and self-serve check-outs. (They also have a cashier, Gay Cory, who is about the funnest cashier I ever had. Seriously, he sounds just like Richard Simmons and is hilarious.)

Recently they have changed all sorts of stuff about our local Loblaws, and instead of it being a "Market" it is now a "Loblaw World Market", because, apparently, that "s" was just too cumbersome and unwieldy. Part of what they are trying to do with this store is increase the international foods, and make it so much more cosmopolitan. I'm all for it; any store that stocks lemongrass and enchilada sauce is A-Okay in my books.

However, in an attempt to be all things to all people, I think some egregious mistakes are going to be made. Exhibit A:

I'm trying very hard to imagine any scenario in which "Fruit Flavored Beef Jerky" is going to be the answer.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Deck the Malls

The annual Christmas shopping ordeal has to be gotten overwith, I've come to accept that. No matter how I think my way around it, that particular mountain has to be scaled, except that there's no downward slope on the other side, it's just a sheer cliff face that I fall off of on December 24th.

The Mister and I began our shopping last Monday, because A) we both have the day off and B) if I have to suffer, then so does he. (I've never understood the whole "the woman does the shopping for the entire family" thing....just because I won the X Chromosome lottery does not mean I like slogging through the bargain DVD bin at Best Buy any more than he does.)

A few things that caught my attention this time around:

  • There is a lot of shit for sale out there. Seriously, who really thinks to themselves "The only real impediment to my happiness is an interactive tyrannosaurus rex "? or "God, there's no point in living if I don't have a Richard the Lionheart toilet seat cover."
  • The combination of big winter coats and overstuffed stores is a recipe for disaster. Claire's was so jammed with crap that when I turned around to see what was behind me, I took out an entire display of "Hello Kitty" backpacks. (Just to tell you, if you've never been in "Claire's", and believe me, you should thank your lucky stars if that's the case, it is a store for girls that looks as though each and every Disney princess threw up in it. It is stocked to the rafters with hairbands, earrings, key fobs, jewelry cases, necklaces, purses, makeup and diaries, all of them in pink and purple and covered in glitter. It's craptastic.)
  • There should be a special place in hell for people who walk through the mall and just stop. Especially if they are talking on a cell phone while doing it. Seriously, if you can't carry on a converstion while remaining in motion then maybe you should walk over to the side, where there isn't anyone else trying to get by you while plotting your imminent and violent death.
  • When there is a line behind you a mile long, it's probably not a good idea to pull out that expired coupon for 10% off and insist on it's redemption to the pimply, minimum wage earning clerk who has the IQ of a carrot. The people in that line are going to snap.
  • Caffeine, and plenty of it, is the drug that makes Christmas shopping at all bearable. I asked the Mister to go into the drive-through at Tim Hortons on our way to the mall, and he, the non-coffee drinker that he is, asked if I really needed to. I replied that I was deadly serious, and did he honestly want to go shopping me me unmedicated? He silently and wisely pulled into the drive-through. Regular and copious administrations of carbohydrates help too.
  • Gift certificates are the greatest invention of modern man. Forget computers and indoor plumbing and internal combustion engines, the fact that I can just go in, get one of those little plastic cards and be done with my shopping makes me want to weep with gratitude.
  • Wal-Mart is hell. The narrow aisles, the surly help (when you can find it), the unending Christmas music and the ever-present screaming toddlers makes Wal-Mart my Number One Place To Avoid In December. This is followed closely by Costco, Zellers and (shudder) Toys R Us. Truly, if they played rap music, served blue cheese and required me to wear high heels, it would be a perfect hell.

The only thing worse than Christmas shopping, I think, is Boxing Day shopping, and luckily, I don't have to do that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Favorite Books of 2008

I didn't get to read quite as much this year as usual....this working full-time business cuts into my leisure time something awful. But I still managed to read almost as much as I'd like. Now, these are by no means the best books of 2008, they're just the ones I liked the most.

It looks like I read a lot of non-fiction this year, which I don't think is accurate; it's just that it turns out I liked the non-fiction better than the fiction this year. Go figure.
(Books with the star are fiction.)

  • McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy. I re-read this one right after Christmas, and loved it all over again. The author took a tour of Western Ireland with the one rule that "you should never pass a pub with your name on it". Sadly, McCarthy passed away a few years ago, and only has one or two other books out.
  • *The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. Thing 2 and I read this for our "Mother/Daughter Book Club", and we both liked it very much. It's the story of a young girl in present day Afghanistan who can pass herself off as a boy in order to make a living for the family. A great reminder of what other people have to do to survive.
  • The Worst Hard Time by Tim Egan. An account of the Dust Bowl of the Dirty Thirties, this book was really great. From telling you how it happened, to the way people coped to the aftermath and today, this book enthralled me.
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. How did a nice, educated, middle-class kid with every advantage end up dying alone in the Alaska wilderness? Even when you know how it ends, it was still compelling and interesting.
  • *Nineteen Minutes by Jodie Picoult. I don't know that I would have picked this one up except that I had to read it for book club, mostly because I have a kid in high school and school shootings are something I shouldn't think about too much. But this was about much more than the actual event; what led up to it, what happened afterwards and there was a twist at the end that I really didn't see coming.
  • *This Charming Man by Marian Keyes. My very favorite author. She makes me laugh out loud, and well up, all on the same page. I'd read her grocery list, if she'd let me.
  • The Know It All, and The Year Of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. In the first book, the guy takes on the task of reading the entire Encycopedia Brittanca, and in the second, he decides to live for one year according to the rules in the Bible. Both were hilariously funny and thoroughly enjoyable.
  • Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose. Lewis and Clarke undertook an amazing journey in 1814 to cross the continental US to the Pacific on the behest of Thomas Jefferson. A wonderful account of that trip and the men involved.
  • *Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. One of the reasons I like being in a book club is that it makes me read things I don't think I would otherwise read. This was one of those books. The subject matter didn't really interest me, and I thought I'd be slogging through it, but once I gave it a shot, I couldn't put this one down. The story is set in a travelling circus in the 30's, and I was thinking about this one long after I had finished.
  • *Twilight by Stephenie Meyers. Teenage vampires and forbidden love. The 14 year old girl in me was totally hooked, and the 46 year old in me was happy to let it happen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I've Been Nominated! Woo-Hooo!

Many thanks to Jane and Emma who nominated me for "Best Personal Blog" on The Canadian Blog Awards...who knew, it truly is an honor just to be nominated!

Amazing Race 13 Ep. 10

Seriously, I think that was the most heartbreaking Philimination I've ever seen. Even Phil was welling up at that one. Once you've lost your passports and your money, you're pretty much toast, I suspect. I didn't realize how much I was rooting for Toni and Dallas until all that happened; I barely cared about the rest of the episode.

Man, can you imagine if it had been Ken who lost that bag??? We'd still hear the shreiking.

It was once again the Curse of the Fourth Place....every team I've truly loved was eliminated in the fourth to last place: The Clowns, The Original Frat Boys and The Cha-Chas (twice!).

Thing 1 and I were wondering why Phil came up to Toni and Dallas on the street to tell them they'd were out, and from reading on the net, I gather that it was largely because begging in the streets is illegal in Russia, not to mention that foreigners wandering around without passports is strictly forbidden. (If you lose your passport you are supposed to head to your embassy right smart and stay there until you're sorted out. Apparently, you can take Communism out of Russia.....) On the upside, Moscovites are incredibly generous.

Dan is such a smarmy little weasel, I just want to smack him. His glee at Toni and Dallas's predicament pushed me over from not liking him to outright hating him. I don't feel at all guilty about laughing at that puddle splash at the beginning now. I'll bet that ASU is getting all sorts of people retracting their college applications in response to these two.

That Roadblock was hellish; there were so many elements to get just right. I'd have rocked that statue thing though, because my university degree specialized in Soviet history and politics, about the only thing I got out of it is the ability to identify Lenin and Stalin at 100 paces. And that Detour was detailed....the explanation went on longer than the actual task.

Best Shot of the Night: Ken and Tina bickering while Starr and Nick get into their cab in the backdground.
And I liked that "Cyrillic" is now "Acrylic".

Was I the only one who thought that the Park of Fallen Monuments was a kind of Russian Island of Misfit Toys?

That Pony Lady needs some Prozac, I think. I suppose she's a little bit bummed at having completed Basic Training in the Russian Army, and has been assigned pony-sitting duty.

I'd be happy if either Nick and Starr or Ken and Tina win, but my money's on Nick and Starr. Just as long as it's anyone but those two Fun-Suckers.

Until next week!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Book Lust

I'm fully willing to admit that I am in the midst of a major literary crush at the moment. I'm in the middle of the "Twilight" series, which you might not have heard of if you don't have a teenage girl in your realm. It's four books about a girl who falls in love with a vampire, but it's really not about vampires per se, it's more about having someone special decide that you are someone special, and dating a boy that you shouldn't. (I mean, come on, dating a boy who is one of the undead is not only going to get you killed at some point, you are going to encounter some major parental disapproval as well.) I'm about to start book three, and Edward Cullen has me enthralled. (And yes, before you ask, I have seen the movie. Excellent....everyone looked just as they should. Fabulous casting. And the guy that played Edward is delicious. Seriously, if I was a teenage girl I'd be all over that.)

I'm annoyed at myself for taking on a major reading commitment at this time of year. It's Christmas, and I'm busy at work and busy at home and there is no way I'm going to be able to hunker down and immerse myself in a book the way I would like. I should know better than to start something that I will only be able to periodically dip into, rather than hurl full steam ahead, as I would prefer. It makes me cranky.

The last time this happened, I swore I wouldn't do it again; the "Outlander" Christmas of 97 was a disaster. I had to constantly tear myself away from those books, to go shopping and decorate and bake and such, and it was torture. My kids very nearly got dental floss and WD-40 under the tree that year. Since then, I have managed to read only magazines, mail-order catalogues and the occasional slim novel that I didn't really care about before Christmas, and save the 800 page tomes for December 27th.

But I'm stupid enough to have started the series, and cannot begin to make myself stop now. Perhaps no one will notice if the laundry doesn't get done or there's no groceries in the house. Of course, I could call in sick to work, and stay at home and read...if I got a couple of uninterrupted days, I'm sure I'd be done and back to normal. Or I could just stock up on dental floss and WD-40.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Good News!

You will be very happy to hear the The Brick called today to tell us that our new coffee table is in, and we can pick it up anytime! Yay!

That would be the coffee table that we picked up yesterday, I imagine.

So, I guess that means we can go across town again, and get a coffee table to which we are not entitled, and sell it on Ebay or something. Perhaps there is a plague of delinquent furniture absconders roaming the land after all. I don't think we will do it; it's way on the other side of town, and I'd hate to have "Possession of Illegal Coffee Table" added to my digressions.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Periodic Table.

The Mister and I went out to the other side of town to pick up our new coffee table today. We had found it, picked it out and paid for it before they casually mentioned that it wouldn't be delivered for two more months, but since we had lived without one for a couple of of months already, we figured we could live coffee-tableless for another while.
The Mister called about 3 weeks ago to inquire as to the coffee table's whereabouts, and they said that it would be another while and that they would call when it came it. (This is after having been paid for it 8 weeks earlier.) Finally last week we got the call that it had come in and we could pick it up.
As we drove out to get it today, the Mister remarked that he couldn't find the receipt, but since they clearly had a record of us having it, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Of course, (and you know where this is going) we got all the way out there, and it was a problem. It seems that their computer system was down, and they were unable to find our invoice and that they wouldn't be able to let us have the table. (Because of the huge social problem of random people coming into the store and absconding with coffee tables to which they are not entitled, I suppose. A rampant bane on civilized society.)
So the Mister and I promptly asked for our money back. I believe our words were something to the effect of "you've got both our money and our table. We're not leaving here without at least one.".
And lo and behold, it suddenly became entirely possible to pick up a coffee table without a receipt! A Christmas miracle, it was! We drove around back and packed the coffee table into the van and came home and put it together, and we now have a place to put our coffee.
The end.

Oh, and the store? The Brick.
We're not going back.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All Thumbs

I've recently been diagnosed with a case of "Gamekeeper's Thumb"(Thanks, Big Liver Girl!), which is ridiuclous, really, since I keep no game whatsoever. There is a distinct lack of pheasant or venison or duck around here, (although we did have some rabbits earlier this season, but the Mister was far more interested in annihilating them than keeping them). But I gather that Gamekeepers Thumb is a result of repetitive strain than anything else, and repetitive I got a lot of.

The doctor and Big Liver Girl (who is a registered physiotherapist, and not just an opinionated friend) both said to wear a brace and try to rest it for a while. Rest, as in not using it....I've heard of this so called "rest", but haven't had much of a chance to explore it's meaning. I have tried mightily to cut down on the foiling, the shampooing, the cooking, the cleaning and the general use of my left hand, but without much success.

The one thing I have had to cut out completely from my life for the time being is knitting and crocheting, and that is the one thing I am missing terribly. Who knew?
I'm not a dedicated knitter, and I'm certainly not very good at it. my mother knits so fast that the needles get warm. Also, she can knit those Aran sweaters without even looking. (The story goes that when the Mister and I were dating, he asked how he could get my mother to knit him one of those sweaters, and I replied that the going price was a ring on my finger, buster. My mom and I laughed about that, and when we got engaged in mid-November, she said that if he really wanted one, she could make it for him for Christmas. And she did.) I'm nowhere in her league. But I do like the idea of making something out of nothing, and it is entirely satisfying to be able to create what you need.

Mostly I tend to do small projects....I hate doing sweaters and such. Scarves and baby blankets are my favorites; no shaping or putting together, just straight lines and you're all done when your done. Hats, mittens and socks are all good too, because they are small, portable and finished before I am sick of them. I once made a sweater that took me so long to knit that I hated the look of it by the time I was finished, and it was out of style, too.

Before the Moratorium on Needlework,
I finished a hat for a friend's baby boy:

and a blanket for my cousin James and his wife Lisa, who's baby is due this spring.

I was in the middle of making a pair of socks, for me. Big, warm, sloppy socks for schlepping around the house in:
But they are going to have to wait for a while....

Worst of all, I had just bought this beautiful lilac mohair for a scarf for myself, and it is just sitting there, bereft, until I can get at it. It's killing me.

I've tried knitting with this brace on, and I can do it, but it's awfully slow, and the yarn keeps sticking to the velcro. And I have to hold the yarn completely differently, and it's all very clumsy. Until the thumb is better, I'm going to have to be patient and just stay away from the needles. Maybe I can look into keeping game.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Amazing Race 13 Ep. 9

We were pretty sure it was going to be another Non-Elimination Leg, because Dan and Andrew were so damn cheerful during their talking heads interviews, and also, we knew there were going to be two on the race. Phil told us so.

At least Dan and Andrew are more or less aware that they are pathetic slobs, but they seem doggedly resigned to do nothing to fix it. One of them said that a highlight reel of their mistakes would go on for hours, and he'd be right.
If I had forgotten my shoes back at the theater, I'd have probably tried to go back and get them. But not those two! Or maybe I'd have tried to buy shoes during the 12 hour pit stop. Or buy them off one of the hotel staff. But they'd rather shlep around in slippers and then complain about it. They are wearisome. (Besides, buying anything at an airport is going to cost you a morgage payment or an internal organ. Man, I spent about 14 bucks on a muffin and coffee in Calgary, and it wasn't even at Starbucks.)

Okay, I can't ignore the elephant in the room any longer....the marching, the marching!! What the hell was that???? It's walking, for God's sake!! Anyone that knows me at all can tell you that I am probably the most unco-ordinated, unathletic person on God's green earth, but Dan makes me look like Barishnikov. Why would you pick that Detour when you were so wholely unfit for it??? I don't think I've ever seen anyone who was as incapable as anyone as Dan. I especially liked that he was such a spazz at the marching when he was giving Andrew such grief about the foot swaddling. (And to Andrew's credit, he did not berate Dan one bit when he was lurching around like a drunken two-year-old.) The trombone player herniating himself laughing definitely made the whole thing worth it.

And just to say? Tina was right, those uniforms were mighty unflattering, but Dallas managed to look very attractive.

I certainly have to give Nick props for not slapping his sister. She was having a major meltdown in that cab (which was entirely justified, if you ask me, I'd have been bursting into flames myself.) and he was able to stay calm and focused without making her worse. And Note to Self: Do not run the race on your birthday...the gods don't like that, and will punish you accordingly.

Dallas all covered in flour looked like a vampire.

Sassy Bakery Lady should get together with Comical Indian Sewing Machine Guy and get their own sit-com.

Aren't you glad that Terrance and Sarah weren't there to do the flour task? The constant "babe"-ing would have been painful, not to mention that he would have made her do it, told her how she could do it better and then said "I need you to be faster, babe." And then I'd have had to stop watching my favorite show.

Until next week!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Count Yourselves Lucky

I get asked all the time (well, at least once or twice) "how do you come up with ideas to write about every day?" and the answer is: I don't. Sometimes the blog topic walks right up to my frontal cortex and says "howdy!", and sometimes I spend all frigging day trying to come up with something, anything that I can write about that will be even the remotest bit interesting.

Blog topics that I have rejected include (and I believe you will thank me for this)
  • what I had to eat today
  • what I wanted to eat today
  • a dream I had
  • Toby's breath, which stinks
  • Thing 1's use of her "manly voice"
  • Thing 2's somewhat alarming flatulence problem
  • how, when I was driving home today, I saw 4 cars all skid through the same intersection
  • what I hate about Christmas, pantyhose and the Future Shop
  • my husband's increasing habit of driving like an old lady
  • how I can't believe that nobody has demanded that car racing be banned on environmental grounds
  • Lentils: Nature's Most Boring Food
  • how I think Cameron Diaz looks like "The Joker"
  • why cooking rice smells like popcorn
  • how people who recline their seats on airplanes should be put to death
  • how my bra straps keep falling down

You are most welcome.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, The Weather Outside IS Frightful

It is well and truly winter here already. It seems both cruel and tiresome that the winter has begun before it's even December.

Ways I can tell that it's winter (other than the punitive temperatures and the inescapable snow) is the following:
  • Toby begs to go outside. Then he comes in almost immediately. Then he begs to go outside again through another door, like somehow it's Florida out that one.
  • My feet are cold. My feet will be permanently cold now until May, no matter how many socks I put on.
  • People perform the "Cold Car Dance", wherein they get in the car, turn the ignition on and wrap their arms around themselves and rock back and forth muttering a word that starts with "f" and is not "fallopian".
  • I walk gingerly. Usually, I walk in a full on stride, and sometimes have to tell myself that I should slow down because I probably look ridiculous. But these days, I walk with trepidation, and carefully scan the sidewalk for where I can put down my foot, lest I take a spectacular tumble and look even more ridiculous.
  • I don't have to put the garbage outside in the big garbage can, because it will freeze before the raccoons can smell it.
  • We put the van in the garage. One year we didn't manage to clean out the garage before the bad weather came, and we got a freezing rain storm that basically incarcerated the van, and it took us hours to chip away at the ice so that we could even open the doors. Now we would rather bring the van into the house than do that again.
  • I get lazy. All I want to do is hibernate. The thought of going out of the house after dinner makes me crankier than a nap-deprived three-year old.
  • The Clementines are out. They smell like Christmas to me. Also, the grapefruit are excellent right now.
  • We go through kleenex like wildfire. Everyone is sniffling, and I'm pretty sure the Loudshoes family is singlehandedly responsible for the destruction of a couple of acres of rain forest.
  • It takes everyone ten times as long to get out the door as it does the rest of the year. My family has a blase attitude towards leaving the house on time as it is, but this time of year they absolutely kill me. Not only does "we're leaving now" clearly mean "please, take as much time as you like before leaving the house, in fact, maybe you should start a completely new activity immediately", but in the winter it also means, "and start looking for that coat/other boot/exactly perfect mitten/non-scratchy hat about 10 minutes after your mother had left the building entirely".

Spring is only 4 months away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Roasted Potatoes

Lest you think the only thing I cook is potatoes, I can assure you, I do cook other things. But I got such an enthusiastic response to my mashed potato entry, that I thought I would perform a public service and tell you all about roasted potatoes.

Not to toot my own horn, but I do make kick-ass roasted potatoes, and in fact, I'm pretty sure that the Mister has changed his mind about leaving me on more than one occasion because of them. The go well with almost any roasted meat or fish, but they make an excellent dinner all by themselves, too.

First, peel up a couple of Yukon Gold potatoes. (In my house, I count on about two good sized potatoes per person, but your mileage may vary.) Cut them up into cubes, and put them in a saucepan and just cover them with water.
Now, heat your oven to 400°F.
Put a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil and cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes or so. Poke a chunk of potato and bring it out of the water. Now get a knife and run it over one of the edges of the potato; you want it to be soft on the edges, but not all the way through. When the potatoes are starting to soften up, take them off the heat and drain the pot. Now drain it again. Now one more time. Put the pot on the hot element (with the heat off) and let any water evaporate for a minute or two.
While that is happening, take the pan you are going to roast the potatoes in and put in about equal amounts of oil and butter so that when it melts it will cover the bottom of the pan. Now put the pan in the oven until the fat gets good and hot.
Are the potatoes good and dry? Good, now you are going to put the lid on the pot and shake the daylights out of the potatoes. Rattle them around in the pot to really rough up the edges.(This is the secret to good roasted potatoes.)
Now take the spitting hot pan out of the oven and dump the potatoes in it. Flip the potatoes around until they are good and coated with the fat and add some seasonings. I usually just use salt and pepper (because I live with people who take their roast potatoes very seriously), but you can add thyme or rosemary or Italian seasoning or seasoned salt or anything else you desire. (I don't recommend fresh minced garlic, however, because it will burn before the potatoes are done. If you want them garlicky, you could roast whole cloves of garlic with the potatoes, or toss them with garlic salt at the end.)
Fling the whole mess in the 400° oven and let it sit for about a half an hour or so. Then you can stir them, but not before, you want to get a good, brown crust on the bottom. Cook them for about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how crunchy you want them, and remember, don't burn your mouth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Note To Self: Next Time Bring Ear Plugs

I went on another field trip with Thing 2's Grade 6 class today, and realized why I don't usually go on field trips: Her class makes me mental. I swear not one of those kids, (including my own) ever shuts up. NO thought goes unexpressed; each and every speculation, musing and whim is entirely worth voicing, no matter how inane or negligible. It's not so much of a stream of consciousness as a tsunami of consciousness. And they all do it at top volume, too.

The trip was to go see a samba drum band at a high school on the other end of town, so not only was it a half hour bus ride of bellowing children, we got to sit through an hour of non-stop drumming, as well. (On the way there, most of the boys entertained themselves by delivering "Nut Crunches" to each other, which involved using their elbows to whallop the genetalia of the boy sitting next to them. You can imagine how quiet that game is. Being the mother of girls, I was unaware of this particular past time, but the other mother on the trip airily assured me that it happens all the time.)

Anyway, the kids had a ball, as the band had them all up jumping and dancing and clapping and stomping. At one point, the band called for everyone to come up and dance in the 4 square feet of floor in front of the stage, and they 200 of them poured down there and had the elementary school equivalent of a mosh pit. I seriously thought the whole event was going to end up on the news. Especially after the conga lines broke out. It was like a frat party, but without the beer and togas. Honestly, you could feel that the whole thing was just inches away from a prison riot.

Finally, the concert ended, and we had to get the kids on the bus and the shreiked and squawked and yelled all during that too. At least they were tired on the way home, and the bus driver put a quick and deadly stop to the attempt by some of the kids to start up a round of "99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall", so it wasn't quite the bedlam as on the way there.

When I got home, it was blissfully, beautifully quiet. Until Toby realized that the Tuna Dispenser was here, and Thing 1 walked in the door and started to tell me about her day, and the phone rang. At least nobody tried to give me a Nut Crunch.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Amazing Race 13 Ep. 8

How is it possible that I was hoping it would be Terrance and Sarah running up to that mat next-to-last? It is telling that Dan and Andrew have pissed me off to the point that I like Terrance better than either of them.

Thing 1 and I were pondering the idea of doing a food challenge when you have restrictions to your diet that may make that challenge impossible, and then we thought that they probably didn't know it was a food challenge before they started out. However, I would have thought that the Fast Forward challenge being held at a restaurant might have tipped them off. Why wouldn't they have bailed immediately when they found out Terrance had to eat meat? It looked like he tried for a while (Starr was finished before they decided to go); they may have been able to catch up some time if they had left earlier. Also, if I had been Sarah? I'd have been pissed if I had eaten all of that nasty stuff and didn't have to.

I thought for sure Tina was going to have green hair for the rest of the race.

I gotta hand it to Tina and Ken, they sucked up their mistakes and handled things much more calmly and rationally than I would have given them credit for way back in Episode 1. (Remember shreiky Tina? "I got us a bigger plane!" Yikes.)

I don't remember a team that is quite as dull and as tedious and all together the opposite of fun as Dan and Andrew. I thought Frat Boys were supposed to be all hip and energetic and boyishly charming. I know 70 year olds who get through the day with more fire than these two.

Drew of the Original Frat Boys (who were a blast!, by the way) from Season 1, said in one of the first episodes that it was important to remember that you were a guest in someone else's country, and that you had to get out of the vehicle and ask nicely for directions, instead of bellowing from the window, like Dan did. "You have to treat people in a friendly, affable manner. You can't treat them like we're in New York!"

What, exactly, were the big cranes for? Surely they could have found more efficient taxis.

Man, every time I see a Fast Forward challenge that includes eating stuff or jumping into a pool or climbing a tower or waving at a surfer, I think that Joyce, who had to shave her head, must be really, really pissed.

I liked when Dan was trying to find some scientific reason for Andrew to be the back of the cow. Like there was some valid, physics-based reason for Andrew to hold the less glamourous position in the cartoon-cow costume.

Dallas having fun with that cow costume was the highlight of the night. His bellowing "MOO!" at everyone along the way made me laugh, although I'd have probably wanted to kill him if I had actually been there.

Until next week!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Winter Is Here

It started raining sometime through the night last night, and was pelting down pretty hard when the Mister and I went to work this morning. The bad weather continued for the rest of the day, grey and cold and dark and miserable. (If I'd have been at home, I'm pretty sure I'd have snuggled up on the couch with a book, a blanket and a semi-liquified cat.) Then it got worse...the rain turned into wet snow, and then, if it's possible, turned into even wetter snow.

The Mister and I left work at 4:30 and it was almost full on dark at that point. I hadn't worn boots to work and when I left, I found out that my shoes sucked. Literally, they sucked...I swear they hoovered up water right off the ground. My feet were soaked and icy within about 5 steps from the salon.

I knew I would be in no mood to do the grocery shopping after dinner, so I headed out to do it before dinner, and the two girls came with me. Neither one wore boots, and complained bitterly about their feet getting wet, to which, as you can imagine, I was all sympathy and caring. ("Come on, ya big babies, move it!")

By the time we got out of the grocery store the weather had deteriorated was like Mother Nature decided that "by God, I am going to remind everyone of just who is in charge here". There were great chunks of slush falling from the sky by this point, every one of them an assault on one's flesh. I swear they made a resounding "thwak" when they hit your head and then slid down your neck below your coat collar. As I tried, vainly, to maneover the overloaded grocery cart through the six inches of slop in the parking lot, I had to endure the screeching and moaning of my two offspring, who were surprised at the poor conditions all over again. Thing 1 bitterly remarked that "this weather sucks poo", which was not a bad summary of the situation, actually.

Tomorrow I will find all the mittens and scarves and hats and paraphenalia of the season, and plan on how I can spend the next few months on the couch with the cat.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Maybe Some Of It Will Rub Off...

My brother used to be a professional photographer and has posted some of his best photographs on his blog:
Click on the Flickr link beside the photos to get the gallery...totally worth a look; he is an extrordinary talent.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

17 Things You Didn't Know About Mrs. Loudshoes.

1. I almost always order the seafood.
2. I wake up every morning at 6:30 without an alarm clock.
3. Not only are my feet cold from October until May, the back of my arms are, too.
4. I stop and read every historical plaque I come across.
5. I have about 30 lipsticks, and I'm not kidding.
6. If I hadn't gone to hairdressing school, I would have gone to chef school.
7. I once shook Pierre Trudeau's hand.
8. I was on the Reach for the Top team in high school.
9. I hate chocolate and fruit together, but I loathe chocolate and peppermint.
10. I have no middle name, and I was born in Ireland.
11. I cry really easily. Rememberance Day ceremonies, children's Christmas concerts and funeral homes kill me.
12. If I had to choose between superpowers, I would be torn between mind-reading and time-travelling.
13. Since I wore a uniform in high school, I cannot bring myself to wear navy blue pants, especially with a white blouse.
14. Most hated sensation: putting my hands into wet rubber gloves.
15. Snakes, mice and other creepy crawlies don't bother me, but I HATE earwigs and maggots.
16. I'm very punctual. It comes with being a Capricorn.

Monday, November 10, 2008

And I Guess Next Weekend Taken Care Of, Too!

When Thing 1 and I were at the grocery store last weekend, we bought a whole boatload of chocolate-covered sponge toffee, and were hurrying through the rest of our shopping so we could get home and start in on it, when we found THESE:

Dark chocolate covered caramels with sea salt sprinkled on top. I'll admit it, we squealed with delight. I'm a sucker for chocolate and caramel anyway, but I'm even more of a sucker for salty and sweet together. And this is all three.

We've worked out way through most of a box, (The Mister and Thing 2 are not interested in these things at all. In fact, they are slightly horrified at Thing 1's and my devotion.)

And I think we will have to get another box right now.

Amazing Race 13 Ep. 7

Very satisfying, that was. I'd like to think that karma was filing it's nails and glancing down on earth and saying "okay, now.)

Thing 1 and I were gleefully anticipating the Divorcees participation in that Roadblock, because we were pretty sure they'd be exasperated and screw things up royally. And we were right!

Did those two ever end up reading a clue correctly?? Honestly, how many times did they have to make that mistake before they stopped doing it? And I wonder if those ex-husbands of theirs paid the dye-flingers in advance to nail Kelly and Christy but good.

Who knew I'd end up rooting for Tina and Ken? Believe me, I'm as surprised as anyone. They were calm and determined and focused and got through that Speed Bump with considerably more aplomb than I would have expected. Plus I got the added bonus of seeing Tina looking like the Wicked Witch of the West through most of the episode. (Just to tell you? Cotton candy blond hair like that, (or as we say in the industry "extremely sensitized hair", will pick up colour and dyes like crrrraaazzzy, and stain something awful. We ususally recommend clients with that kind of hair even be sure to use shampoos that are white or clear, as even that can leave behind a residue. Tina may be green for some time, and not in the 'environmentally friendly way', either.)
I did find myself shouting at Ken when they were handing out the holy water that you might want to remember that this was a temple, a holy place of worship, and you were not selling hot dogs and 5th and Broadway. Have some respect.

Favorite Exchange of the Night: "Who’s my best girl?", "You are!'....."No, I mean, I AM!"
I also liked the chatty, tour-guide pedi-cab driver: "And here is the bank, founded in 1857, and American McDonalds!"

What, exactly, did Terrance want Sarah to do about his coloured spit? God, he's a big, whiney baby.

Dallas's mom is just a gem. I just loved her talking about her son and being so proud of him, not because he's accomplished so much, but because he's turned into a fine human being. Good on yer, mom, you did an excellent job.

Sewing-machine-guy was a hoot. Maybe he has his own sit-com in India.

Does Dan ever say "please" or "thank you" or "maybe I'm wrong"? Because he comes off as the crankiest, most disagreeable racer ever. He seems to think that they should be doing better than coming in eternally second-to-last, and that it's not entirely fair, but that he can't figure out why it's not fair, but he's working on a complaint of some sort.

Crap on a cracker, what the hell was Terrance and Sarah doing at that bird sanctuary??? "I feel like it's in the bird seed", and then she just goes ahead and believes him. These two were made for each other, I swear.

Did the designated greeter not show up, and Phil have to use the maintenance guy in a pinch? I don't think I've ever seen a greeter who had another job too. I loved that Phil made Starr and Nick wait until the lawn watering guy skittered over to the Amazing Bathmat.

Until next week!

Friday, November 7, 2008

And This Is What I Will Be Doing This Weekend.

The President's Choice Insider's Report came out recently, and that means that they introduce a whole whack of new products for me to experiment with in the next few weeks, (or until my family gets tired of me experimenting.)
This year they came up with Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate covered sponge toffee, and I am already a slave to the monkey on my back. This stuff is seriously addictive. It's like those Crunchie bars we used to get as kids, only much, much better. (For one thing, the chocolate is superior to the waxy, flavourless stuff on a Crunchie bar, and there's not quite as much sponge toffee to weld your teeth together, either.)
I had a couple at lunch time today, and by "a couple", I mean eight.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now You Know Why Mommy Is So Cranky When She Comes Home From Work.

Today it was "Take Your Kid to Work Day", and Thing 1 came to the salon with me. Not that she had much choice; her parents work together, and so there was only one workplace to go to.

I was very gratified to find out that Thing 1 was very excited about the whole thing, until I realized that that was very much about getting to sleep in for an extra hour this morning.
Anyway, she came to the salon, and helped Matt The Junior, and cleaned the floors and got her hair done. She went out on coffee runs, folded towels and ripped foil.

I also made her do a shampoo on our friend Jack, who was a very good sport about it, since he ended up getting his eyebrows and the insides of his ears shampooed as well. (Just to tell you, The First Rule of Shampooing? "Always hold onto the hose". Second Rule? "If you do let go of the hose, turn off the water, rather than chasing the spewing nozzle while it drenches everything within twenty feet".)

Then I made her do a haircut (on a mannequin head, I couldn't find anyone willing to take one for that particular team.) She did an admirable job on the haircut, really. It's not easy to figure out what to do with your hands and how to hold all the equipment and think about the deluge of information you have to remember. ("Hold the scissors in your right hand, ring finger and thumb, but at the end of the thumb, not near the knuckle. And then switch the comb to your left hand when you're cutting. And don't cut past the first knuckle. And hold your elbows straight. And pull the hair straight down. And don't lose the guide. And pretend you are not about to topple over from the stress of it all.")

I don't know if she got a realistic idea of what a hairdresser does all day, after all, she did spend the morning getting her own hair done, but I do think she got an idea that cutting hair is not for sissies.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm Just Like Bono, I Am.

Every year I have a policy that I will boycott the company who's Christmas commercial I see first on tv. This punative measure comes as a result of the fact that retailers insist on relentlessly forcing Christmas into my conciousness way too early in the year. I should not have to be thinking about Christmas when I haven't even put the jack-o'-lantern in the compost yet. (To be fair, dealing with the jack-o'-lantern could take weeks, but still.)

I know when Christmas is, it's the same date on the calendar every year. There is no need to remind me.

So this year, I will be boycotting Canadian Tire, since they had a Christmas commercial on television on Halloween night, and that should not be allowed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Amazing Race 13 Ep. 6

Oh, India! I love India! India has proven to be Kriptonite to racers in seasons past. Nobody had a nuclear meltdown this episode, but we're not out of India yet!

I'm sorry, did I miss something? Is Ken going to die if he doesn't win this thing? Or did he mean that if they didn't win he and Tina are required to split up? Because I was under the impression, during his crying jag, that something dire was going to happen.
When he was carrying both backpacks, I wondered what she had in there to make it so heavy she couldn't carry it herself, and then I realized it was Ken's balls.

Favorite Line of the Night; "My mom's the worst wing man ever.". I think that could be said about most moms, and if not? Ew.

Also, I liked when Dallas said to the greeter: "You have fire on your head. [Like she might be unaware of that fact]. That is insane." Awesome delivery.

Another Favorite Line of the Night came from someone who didn't even show up on camera, to Sarah: "Kiss?" (I think maybe it was directed at Terrance) and then her matter-of-fact "no kiss".
Also, adding "babe" at the end of every sentence does not make either one of you more likable or endearing.

Those two frat boys are big, whiny babies. They're all spewing rainbows and kittens when they're in first place, but they descend into snivelling snotbags when things don't go their way. And all because of ironing, too.
I liked when Bespecled Frat Boy groused that he was "a terrible folder", too, like it was the most grueling of talents and that he could never hope to achieve the level of competence required of him. Do these two ever hope to attract any female attention in their whole lives? Because them on this race on national television is making sure that never, ever happens. It did not escape notice that Dallas could iron the ass off those two.

And did you see the look of utter loathing that Raggedy-Andy Frat Boy gave the Anonymous Indian Laundry Lady when she said they didn't do a good enough job? That look is going to get him in big trouble some day....Anonymous Indian Laundry Lady is just doing her job and you have no right to give her the stink-eye like that. I like to think that those Laughing Locals were aimed right at him.

I'm sure that I heard Tina speaking Spanish to that taxi driver, which I know is the "International Language of I-Am-Somewhere-Foreign", but that may explain why they kept getting taxi drivers who didn't know where they were going. ("They must mean Barcelona! I will drive there immediately!") Sarah, who seems to be able to learn "fast" in every language necessary, was reduced to "vroom-vroom" in India

Man, Ken is a better man than I, because I'd have smacked Tina really hard during that Roadblock. For the love of God, SHUT. UP. WOMAN.

What has Phil been smoking? "It's hot .... and ... the wind's blowing ... and ... we're in India"? I'll cut him some slack, boy has probably got major jetlag. Even hosts suffer from Killer Fatigue.

Until next week!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dressing Up Is Hard To Do.

I'm not much for horror movies or decorating the house for any holidays whatsoever, but I do get a kick out of making the kids Halloween costumes. This year, Thing 1 went dressed as an 80s Aerobic Instructor (complete with leg warmers and a headband) and Thing 2 went out as a rapper. Even though they have a pretty good idea of what they want to look like, I still like to help put the things together.

Over the years they have been: a bumblebee, a spider, an 80s prom queen, Barbie, a skunk, a mad scientist, an angel, Batman, a witch, a gypsy and a dead cheerleader. Most of the costumes have been put together with a glue gun and some felt, but occasionally I've actually pulled out the sewing machine and put some work into it. Thank God for Value Village, though, I buy most of my costumes there.

Way back a million years ago, I used to go out to pubs and such on Halloween and saw some truly amazing costumes. A bunch of us went out as the cast of "Gilligans Island", and since there were way more girls than boys in the group, I had to go as Gilligan. (I'm just happy I didn't have to be Mr. Howell. Or the Skipper.) I saw a guy dressed as a helicopter (he cleared the dance floor; he kept clocking everyone within 6 feet with his propellers), a carrot, a Twinkie and Princess Diana, complete with wedding dress. (The guy dressed as Princess Diana was huge.)

Once, at a pub, there were a bunch of guys dressed as a box of crayons, another group dressed as the Golden Gate Bridge (they were all hooked together by their hats...they took up a lot of room on the dance floor, too.) and another group as "Elvis Through the Years" (Rockabilly Elvis, Blue Hawaii Elvis, Fat Junkie Elvis and Dead Elvis.)

I went to a party where a guy came as a Christmas tree; it was quite the costume. He was confined to a corner all night, because he had to stay plugged in. At the same party, a guy came in jeans and a t-shirt. He said he was a serial killer, and that they just looked like everybody else.

My niece once went out dressed all in blue with puffy white cotton attached all over her, and she carried a spray bottle....she was "Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Showers".

I usually just went out as The Angel of Death or a witch or something. I didn't want to work too hard. I've got all the imagination, but none of the ambition.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

But I DO Have Places To Go.

It is not even Halloween, but this morning, we woke up to this:
I can tell that my children are getting older, because it used to be that the first snow of the year was a cause for joyous celebration and wild excitement. This morning, the scene outside the living room window was met with groans and abject disappointment. (Thing 1 was groaning because she has to walk 20 minutes to school, and snow means that she can't wear her bitchin' shoes, and Thing 2 was disappointed because snow means that her Trick or Treating plans to cover 18 square miles will be thwarted, because she knows her mother will not stay out in the cold.)

The drive to work was an adventure, to say the least. Since it usually takes me about 15 minutes to get to work, I leave at 20 to 9 in the mornings. And since I also know that the first snowfall means that most drivers have to learn how to operate a motor vehicle all over again, and the drive in will be slow, I gave myself double the time to get downtown. Still not enough. I called work after being on the road for a half an hour to say that I could still see my street in the rear view mirror.
There are plenty of trees that have not lost their leaves yet, and that, combined with the heavy, wet snow, meant that there were branches down all over the place. It was sort of like being in a video game, driving on some streets. Here is the tree carnage in our backyard:
We lost the weathervane on top of the shed, but you will notice that the fence to keep the rabbits out of the garden is intact, thank goodness. (That last bit, it should be noted, was deeply sarcastic.)
Here is our front porch this morning. You would be forgiven for thinking that we keep giant clams as decoration on our front porch, but those are actually chrysanthemums.
Tomorrow, the forecast is for a high of 8°C, and 14°C for Friday, Halloween. I don't care how much snow has fallen or melted, or what the temperature is, we are not covering 18 square miles.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rise And Shine

I'm usually a morning person; I wake up without an alarm clock most mornings and get up easily enough. When I get up, I can function pretty much from the get go, and can make breakfast for myself, get dressed, carry on conversations and even plan my day.

I'm not bragging about this, it is pure DNA....I come from a father who would go to bed at 8:00 every night if he was let, and get up at 4 in the morning. (Pride and my mother will not let him go to bed before sundown.) My mother, on the other hand, would have cheerfully slept around the clock, I think, had she had the opportunity, and would have easily won gold medals for Canada if sleeping was an Olympic sport. I just managed to get the early-rising genes.

My brother had a notoriously difficult time getting up in the mornings, and one time I had the delicious opportunity to fool him into thinking he had gotten up, laid down on the couch for "just a minute", and then slept until 4 in the afternoon. (He had actually laid down for just a minute or two, but had drifted off briefly.) I still smile when I think of the look on his face when he thought he has slept all day. He probably still has heart failure.

Other people in my house, namely, the Mister, are made of different stuff. He operates on a purely molecular level for about an hour or so after rising, and even then, cannot be counted on to answer questions, interact with others in a remotely coherent manner or co-ordinate any of his limbs into any semblance of order. It is a lesson in human development to watch him climb the evolutionary ladder every morning.

Thing 1 is pretty good about getting herself up and out the door by 7:30 or so. And Thing 2 needs to be roused, but can get going without too much of a fuss every day. But all of them complain bitterly about the actual waking and rising, like I am making ferociously unreasonable demands on all of them to start their days.

Toby is a very effective alarm clock, as he tends to greet the day by balancing all of his body weight on my bladder at 7 a.m. I can assure you I have gently tried to dissuade him from this policy, by forcibly ejecting him from the bed, but so far, have had very little luck in convincing him to cease.

Around here, we even have a name for that delightful feeling of waking up and realizing that you don't have to get up yet. (Even better when you realize you don't have to get up at all)'s called "coverlicous". When it is dark and cold out and you can turn over and go back to sleep? Coverlicious.

I think I'm the only one in my house that actually likes going to sleep though. Everyone else puts it off until all hours, and winds up going to bed ridiculously late. (I see a correlation, but apparently, I'm the only one.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Amazing Race 13 Ep. 5

Man, I hate it when a team finds themselves in an impossible situation like that....Aja and Ty had absolutely no way to catch up. I wonder, given the times we were told for the flights, if they weren't 24 hours behind everyone else. Too bad, too...I was getting to really like them, if only for the "hotter than Satan's toenails" remark.

At the beginning, I could have sworn that Phil said that the last pit stop was at a "recreation park and sheep farm". How do those two functions work together? What kind of recreation goes on at a sheep farm? Do I want to know?

Whiney Frat Boys can get off my screen right now. Curly-headed Bumbler isn't so bad, but Cranky-Pants Bespeckled One is very annoying.
And, apparently, geography is only taught in "fancy private schools".

Was anyone else hoping that Ken and Tina would fall off the side of that truck? I would have cheerfully paid that driver to do some sort of swervey manoever to make that happen.

Terrance seemed peeved and exasperated when he said on the boat, "everyone is following us". Dude, you are all going to the same place. Was everyone else supposed to take a different route?
When he was desperately trying to pole that boat into moving somewhere, Thing 1 remarked that she hoped that stick would break.
And what's with him complaining that Sarah keeps outrunning him...isn't he a running coach? This must be very bad for business.

I liked when the Divorcees stopped and randomly played basketball because they saw some other team playing basketball. And then thought that maybe they should have a clue first.

Favorite Line of the Night: (if only because of the delivery and the accompanying facial expressions) "Do you have any teeth for us.....hers???".

That did look like a tough Roadblock. I've never been to Angor Wat, but people I know who have say it is ginormous, and very confusing. I'd have had all kinds of trouble, simply keeping my trap shut, as I think it's probably not a good thing to swear your fool head off in a religious place.

Best Use of a Sound Effect goes to the guy who decided to use the gong when Tina conked her noggin leaving the boat/tailors.

And Dallas's mom officially rocks. From the "it's just mud, get on with it" to the "and then we dumped our fish", she is my favorite racer this time around. No muss, no fuss. Love her.

I was somewhat confused at The Divorcee's reaction to hearing hat they they were team #5....I thought they'd be happy they weren't farther down on the list. It turns out, I read, that they thought they were going to be first! How they were under that impression, I have no idea. Didn't they see Ken and Tina leaving the temple before them? So much for "a force to be reckoned with".
I'm sorry, did Starr and Nick win a trip for two to St. John, New Brunswick? Because I bet the snorkelling there sucks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fried Corn

Canned vegetables are about as far down on the "Oh, I Guess We Could Eat That" Meter as one can get. Not 'white trash' enough to qualify as food so bad for you you would actually boast about eating it, like it was a badge of honour, and not good enough to actually consider eating unless there is some sort of nuclear winter on the threshold, most of us ignore canned vegetables in favor of fresh or frozen.
And although canned vegetables have mostly deserved their bad rap (canned peas, in particular, smell like death.) there are some which transcend their miserable reputation, and are actually on my "Hmmm-That's-Not-A-Bad-Idea" list. (Not to be confused with my "I'd-Give-My-Left-Kidney-To-Get-Me-Some-Of-That-List", which contains no vegetables on it whatsoever, and pizza is vastly overrepresented.)

This recipe (if you can call it that) is one I make mostly in the winter. I can always keep a can of corn on hand, and it is quick and tasty. Much, much better than plain, frozen corn. (Plain, frozen corn is, as my brother would say, only slightly better than a kick in the head.) And it has the advantage of being ridiculously easy and fast, and kids will eat a metric tonne of this stuff in one sitting.

Fried Corn~ serves 2 or 3
Open a can of Peaches and Cream Corn. (Forget the generic, no-name brand! Splash out on the Green Giant $1.09 stuff! Live a little!!) You may need two cans.
Drain in a sieve for a while, at least 10 to 15 minutes. The longer the better; you want the corn to be not dripping.
Put a frying pan over medium heat and melt a couple of tablespoons of butter, about 2 for an average sized can of corn. Now dump the corn into the pan, and let it sizzle for a minute or two. Start scraping up the corn off the bottom of the pan, and turn it over, letting the browned, caramelized bits come to the top. You can turn the corn down to low if it's cooking too fast, but otherwise just let it do it's thing, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan every now and again. This should take a minumum of about 10 minutes, but if you want to let it sit, turn down the heat to low and let it take a little longer to cook.
The corn should get very sweet and nutty. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and serve. That's it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The Mister and I took a much needed vacation from our lives this past weekend; we flew to Quebec to stay at our friend's place in St-Sauveur for a couple of days. It was heavenly. We've both been a bit under the gun lately, it seems, and we're not used to that at all.
For me, the holiday starts the minute I step foot in the airport, which means that calories take a holiday too, and I bought a bag of Ruffles and a big bar of chocolate right away. The flights were uneventful; flying between Toronto and Montreal means that you start your final approach to your landing about 10 minutes after you get up into the air.

I love airports; the people watching there is wonderful. Most of the time, I am fascinated by what people wear on their feet (did you not know you were going to have to walk the length of several football fields?) and what people take for their carry-on luggage. On our way home, there was a woman on our flight who was carrying a pie. If I had been lucky enough to sit anywhere near here, you know I'd have been asking what the hell that was all about. (The Mister was terrified that I would be lucky enough to sit anywhere near her.)

Anyway, the Mister and I had a wonderful time. Mostly we slept, because that is what passes for a wonderful time when you are middle aged. On the first morning, we slept in until 11:30, which hasn't happened since 1993.
At one point, I had to send the Mister off to get me a coffee. (I wasn't insured on the rental car, and besides, I was busy making scrambled eggs and toasting the Montreal bagels.) The Mister doesn't drink coffee, so he is rather hopeless at fetching it....he hasn't got the finely honed instincts of the truly addicted. I sent him off to Tim Hortons, and he had a little trouble, even though there are two within sight of each other in the tiny little town of St.-Sauveur. I could find a Tim Hortons by smell alone within 10 miles of one. (Which is a bit of a doddle, really, since there are not ten miles square in Canada without a Tim Horton's.) He finally came back after a ridiculous interval, bearing a coffee, for which I was most grateful.
We hiked and read and ate and slept and it was seriously the best holiday ever.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Amazing Race 13 Ep. 4

Oh, Blondes, you were very nice to have around, but really? you were cannon fodder from the start. But so cheerful, I rather liked them. ("It's like a puzzle." Gee, ya think?)

PHIL'S DAD!! Best. Greeter. Ever!! (I was reading on the web that, apparently, they had originally tried to get Phil's dad's house as the Pit Stop for this leg of the race, but that it didn't work out. A million kinds of awesome, that is.) I loved Phil's eye roll when his dad wanted to give the girls a hug, like, even when you are a hot, Kiwi, reality show big-wig, your dad can still embarrass you.
I also heard that Phil and his dad spent about 10 hours in that field, between the first and last teams to arrive.

I will never look at a glass of kiwi juice quite the same way again....who knew it was so hard to get? Also, I will not be able to get the image of stinky, smelly, dirty feet producing that juice. None for me, thanks!

Terence is a big whiny baby, no? Telling Sarah she shouldn't open the envelope "because [she] doesn't do it right"? Shouldn't he be getting his blanky and a nap right about now? What do you think will happen if he gets arrested and ends up in a Turkish prison? He will probably blame that on her too. And "touch my hair or something"??? I loathe him.

Favorite Line of the Night: from Dallas..."and all I could think of was 'please don't eat my mom'."
Also, from one of the frat boys: "Why did I have to wear pants today!?!" (If I had a nickle for every time I thought that to myself.....)

I also loved the part where the Maori tribesman was scaring the pants off the Belle.

That was one of the most horrific Fast Forwards ever. I don't like heights, and I think I would have just burst into flames when that tower swayed in the winds. That Tina is one tough bird. (Although she didn't seem to have much of a problem with the helicopter ride, which, as you might have noticed, is high.)

Jerome the Gnome!

Until next week!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


It has been a ridiculous week here at Chez Loudshoes. I seem to have spent the last 10 days saying to myself "and after this, I have to....". I'm afraid the blog has just not been gotten to.
The Mister and I are off to Saint-Sauveur Quebec for some much needed R&R for a few days. (It's been so long since we've spent any time together, I walked passed him on my way through the kitchen the other day, and felt the need to introduce myself.)
I hope to be a little more organized when I come back.