Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Running On Empty

You will have to forgive me, I'm running on fumes right about now.

I was out until way past my bedtime last night, working at a fundraising event for retina research, called Comic Vision. (My mother has age related macular degeneration, so I figure that by helping at this event the past few years, I am hedging my bets, karma-wise.) The comedy night was great, and the Mister and Thing 1 came along to help, so we made plenty of deposits in the Bank Of Good Karma.) My main purpose at the event is to help run the Silent Auction, but mostly to cash out people at the end of the evening, because I, apparently, am the only person in the room who can operate a debit machine. I guess all my friends haven't had retail jobs since the 80's.

We got home at about 11:30, and I went straight to bed, knowing I had a busy day at work today. (Thing 1 asked if she had to get up to go to school this morning, to which I said, if I have to go to work, you have to go to school.) But I still didn't get my full 8 hours, and am ridiculous as a result. (The last time this happened, Big Liver Girl and I went to a Dave Matthews concert in Toronto and didn't get home until two in the morning, and I had to go to a toy store and wrap Christmas presents as a fundraiser for my kids' school. Those presents looked like chimpanzees with ADD had wrapped them. I actually got a complaint from an unhappy customer, and I was sorely tempted to remind her that it was a free service, I had way more fun than her the night before, and she probably had very ugly children. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.)

I would make a deplorable policitcal prisoner....I'd collapse into a weeping heap of misery at the mere suggestion of sleep deprivation. Do not count on Mrs. Loudshoes to keep your dream of democracy alive; I would happily vote for fascist dictators if it meant I was assured a decent night's sleep.

I managed to keep it together at work, meaning I gave everyone what they asked for, and didn't make anyone cry, including me.

I am looking forward to propping myself up for the next hour in front of the new television and watching "America's Next Top Model" (because I have no shame) and then going to bed at 9:00, where I will enjoy a good refuelling.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Baby, You've Got It

The Mister and I have Mondays off, which is very nice for a couple of reasons. The kids are in school all day, and even though we are just running errands and administering our lives, it's nice to be able to do it when nobody else is, and we get to spend a bit of time together. Even though we work on Saturdays (so we get Sunday and Mondays off), it still feels very much like we are getting away with some monumental scam and playing hookey. I know loads of people who think working Saturdays is a drag, and it can be, but having Mondays off? Who wouldn't want that?

This morning we went to our accountant's office to pick up our tax return, and were greeted with a very pleasant surprise; Himself got back way more than we thought we would, and I got back $75 bucks, when I usually end up owing around a hundred dollars or so. We were thrilled. (The receptionist said she'd never seen anyone so happy to get a rebate of 75 bucks.) Then we were only slightly deflated when we remembered that we were only getting back our own money that we had overpaid in the first place. But then we remembered we were getting money back at all, and were delighted all over again.

The first thing we did with our unexpected windfall was go out for breakfast. I adore going out for to eat at almost any time at all, but particularly giddy at the thought of going out for breakfast. (I love bacon and eggs, but the resulting derangement of the kitchen when we do a fry-up at home shrivels all pleasure in it.) I am especially thrilled at the prospect of eating breakfast out because the Mister never eats breakfast, and generally cannot see what the attraction is, out or otherwise. (I am a slave to my stomach, and cannot fathom not eating breakfast, or any other meal for that matter. When we were on our honeymoon, on a cruise ship, the Mister suggested on our first morning that we skip the huge breakfast buffet and check out the boat. I was flabbergasted....skip a breakfast buffet??? Was he out of his mind? What had I married?? What would become of us??? One look at my face and he quickly amended his plans to Get Up, Feed The Missus, Go About Your Day. ) Anyway, there was a place near the accountants which advertised "The City's Best and Fastest Breakfast", and we went in.
They weren't kidding; the 2 eggs, bacon, toast and hash browns were very good, and very fast, and our minature, old Greek waitress was very efficient. We were in and out in 25 minutes for 10 bucks.

While we were eating, we decided what to do with this unexpected windfall. We had a bit of money to pay off on the line of credit, and I still had to finish paying for my teeth from January, and we thought we'd get rid of those debts first. Then the Mister asked, very hesitantly, if maybe we could buy a big screen tv with the rest. Now, let me assure you that the Loudshoes house is nothing if not wired for sound. We've got four tvs, each with it's own DVD player, plus a DVR on one of them. We are not short of television sets. But he so wanted it, and even if I could have come up with a sensible use for the rest of the money, I'm not sure I'd have had the heart to say no. I didn't know The Mister when he was a little kid, but I sure got to see his six year old self today.

Off we went to Costco, where we got the television, and tonight, the Mister is a very, very happy man. I'm glad I could make it happen.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Head Is Like A Toilet

It's been an extremely busy week here at Chez Loudshoes, and I would like it to be over very much. I don't like complaining about being busy; who do you know that isn't busy? It's not like I constantly hear people say things like "you know what I have way too much of? Free time!" But I have, for years, had about as much free time as one can have and not be accused of being criminally lazy, and I am finding the adjustment a little rough.

We've had a few changes at work, resulting in me working full-time for the first time in 14 years. Now, that? takes a bit of getting used to. I understand that most of the free world works full time, and that everyone else just gets on with it, but we are talking about me here, and that is a much bigger deal than anyone else can fully appreciate.

My children have been troopers about me being out of the house so much, and have helped enormously, which I have appreciated utterly. But I have no illusions that this will last. The co-operation and willingness to pitch in will undoubtedly lose its lustre very soon, and I will be back to dire threats and menacing stares in no time flat. They are as fickle as cats, those two.

One of the ways I can tell that I am approaching maximum capacity is that I start to forget important things. Today I went to blow dry my hair only to discover that I had neglected to rinse out the conditioner in the shower. Yesterday, I went out with the express purpose of depositing my paycheque, only to find myself walking into the grocery store. (At least I was able to get the Mister a bag of BBQ potato chips, which he was craving.) I hope I remember to wear all my clothes out of the house tomorrow.

I have told my children for years that my head is like a toilet, if you put too much shit in it at once, it will back up and overflow and you will have an almighty mess on your hands.

By the middle of next week, I am hoping that things will have settled down somewhat, and that I will be feeling a little more in control of things. Until then, I will be flushing as quickly as possible.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Good Times

I found this video on YouTube and I must have watched it about 4 times, right in a row, and laughed out loud every time. Dog Slide.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

N Minus 1

More from my guest blogger, who really deserves her own blog, because she is so good, but who saves my butt regularly, and to whom I am most grateful she does not. Thanks, Wendy!!!

This "not so bad now is it?" principle is also extremely useful when applied to child behaviour management - known in these parts as the "n-1" phenomenon. That means having one less of anything makes a world of difference. It doesn't matter if its one child of two sleeping over at grandmas making life is a breeze. Or one kid missing from a swimming lesson of eight... the counting of heads and supporting of backfloats seems a hundred times easier.

If my four children ever seemed like a handful and I was ready to sell a few off to scientific experiments... I simply hosted a family party or a mother's coffee group which brought an onslaught of rugrats into my space. Strong medicine for sure when endured for 2- 4 hours. But the collective sigh of relief when the house is left once more to my tiny little nuclear family of six is absolutely profound. The quiet is palpable, the requirements of my charges seem a pleasure in contrast to the high maintenance crap you go through for other people's kids. oh - you don't drink milk? only juice? you need your grapes aerosolized so you won't choke? no nuts for you? no texture at all for you? no sauce for you? extra icing and all the smarties for you? you want the piece with the letter of your first name in icing on it - from the middle of the cake? GO HOME!

Sleepovers simply extend the experiment and the dreamy quiet of returning to a normal family size is also consequently as I enjoy the first Saturday morning without extra people here, and then the first lunch etc. etc. Ever spoken to a grandparent fresh off babysitting duty? Once they've had a nap and a strong scotch - all those aches and pains no longer exist. They can jump and click their heels for the freedom of getting into the car lithely on their own without any searching for a soother, or negotiating with the tether straps of the new world of safety devices. Give them their normal life back and its a piece of cake!

Husbands know all about the n-1. Just watch them after a newborn enters the family. SURE I'll take the toddler. (the same toddler who required two parents to manage her in a Walmart the week prior to the baby being born) I'll take her to the moon for a week - as long as I don't have to touch that screaming tiny thing. PLEASE don't leave me with the baby! Or when the fourth is born. "No Problem, honey! I'll bike to the market with two toddlers and a reckless preschooler and pick up all the groceries... just don't leave me with the baby!

The principle is well documented. If you want four kids to seem easy? Have five!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Plotting Against The Cat.

Now that it is officially spring, and there is little danger of freezing to death for the time being, we can have the windows open at night. The Mister would happily keep all the windows closed all year round, and never, ever open a blind or a curtain, but I open the windows at the first opportunity, and don't close them again until I have to.

Toby is a BIG fan of open windows. It means that he can sit comfortably in the sill and survey the estate much more effectively, and spends most of the night doing just that. Of course, that also means that he is on "Security Patrol" all night, too, and feels the need to alert us to every possible breach in our perimeter that occurs, no matter what the threat. Toby sees no difference between the menace that is a raccoon or the paper boy or an axe-murderer. In fact, I'm pretty sure he sees the raccon as the most dangerous of all. He wakes us up a couple of times a night with the news that there is something nearby that will either slaughter us all in our beds, or will get into the garbage. And then, while the rest of us have to get up and deal with the day, Toby has a nice, long, eight-hour nap.

The Mister and I have devised a plan to keep Toby so tired that he will sleep all night. Every time one of us passes him when he's sleeping, we give him a poke or a shake, to make sure he never really gets down to a deep sleep. Also, we keep him outside, because he can't help but start at every little noise. We did this yesterday, and it worked pretty well; Toby didn't wake us up until about 5, when the Squawky Bird Variety Hour started. The Mister got way too much satisfaction out of waking up the cat all day, in my opinion, it seemed amuse him more than it should have. As you can imagine, Toby is not a fan of this new strategy, and if he could talk, would surely mutter some choice words in our direction. Here are pictures of me in action. Doesn't Toby look amused?

As much as I appreciate Toby's diligence and dedication, I really couldn't care less who's in the backyard at 3 a.m. If it is an axe-murderer, then years of watching horror movies has shown me that he won't be interested in me unless I am wearing a prom dress. And if it's a raccon, I also know that it is much more devoted to getting into that garbage than I am in keeping it out. And if it's a skunk, I'm rolling over and leaving it the hell alone, advice that Toby should take to heart.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Storm Warning

Thing 2 is giving me the business end of a serious hissy fit at the moment. I have committed the egregious sin of staying out later than she expected, and then refusing to drop what I am doing right this minute and drive her to the mall to buy some clip-on earrings. Apparently, it is my only role in this life to service her every whim at a moments notice, and I suck at it. (Why anyone would choose to buy clip-on earrings at all is anybody's guess, let alone right now.)

I am well accustomed to having Thing 2 pissed off at me; it has been an ongoing phenomenom since the day she was born. I swear she looked at me at the first available opportunity and said "oh yeah, you? are going to give me nothing but trouble". And she's pretty much held that opinion since; Thing 2 has generally regarded her family as "support staff" all her life, None of us are terribly co-operative about that, which only sends her further into a snit. (Which, I will admit, is a bit like coming in close contact with a tornado: scary and thrillling, all at the same time.)

I can understand that children have very little control over their lives, and the frustration must be overwhelming at times, but jeeze-louise, I have very little control over my life either, and it serves me not at all to piss off the people on who's co-operation my very existance depends. (I guess at least I get to dive into the gin when the going gets rough.)

In the past few weeks she has been miffed that:

  • nobody told her we were on daylight savings time
  • her sister was watching television
  • she had to have a shower
  • she was expected to take out the recycling
  • it was colder than expected in the morning
  • we were out of popcorn

Now, don't get me wrong, Thing 2 can be, and frequently is, a charming, delightful, good-natured child who is a pleasure to have around. But at the moment she is being buffeted by some of life's ups and downs, and she's having a bit of a tough time with that. I'll cut her a bit of slack, but if I'm going to be her staff, I think I deserve a raise.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lessons I Learned The Hard Way

My father used to talk about students for whom he had to treat the lesson like a nail, and their heads like a wall, and just keep hammering away at it until they got it.
Throughout my life, I have had to learn certain things, some I got right away (i.e. It's just easier to get the stuff you don't like done first, and, pay your bills on time) and some I had to have beat into me. Several times.
The following is a list of things that I (eventually) learned the hard way:

  • Cheap shoes will cost you in every single step you take. And, if your feet hurt, everything hurts. Buy good shoes that fit.
  • No matter how good a potential mate "looks on paper", the reality is far more important. You can't conjure up chemistry, no matter hard you try.
  • If food tastes "kinda off", don't keep eating it anyway.
  • Take the pain-killer way before you really need it.
  • Long distance relationships are awful. They will remain awful, as long as they are long distance. Sometimes even after.
  • If you are at a party or a bar, stop drinking when that little voice in your head says "you should stop drinking now". In fact, pour the rest of the drink in your hand down the drain, and go home.
  • Take care of your teeth. Not flossing is very expensive later.
  • If everyone else in your life doesn't like your new boyfriend, pay attention. They can't all misunderstand him.
  • Just say "no" to KFC.
  • My mother says that "nothing good happens after two o'clock in the morning". She is right.
  • Living debt-free is way better than having more stuff.
  • Plastic and stoves do not mix.
  • If someone says they are not good enough for you, you should first listen, and then run.
  • Babies and cats do not care anything at all about what you want.
  • This one is from my dad, called "O'Sullivan's Rule of Travelling: Eat when there's food and use the bathroom when there's one available, whether you need either one or not."
  • When your much more athletic, active friend Wendy suggests a bike ride, ask how far it will be before you leave.
  • Don't climb on the rocking chair to hang drapes.
  • Put on the white shirt last thing before heading out the door.
  • Do not attempt to cook all new recipes for a dinner party.
  • Carry kleenex.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Be My Guest....

The following entry is from my good friend Wendy, also known as "Big Liver Girl".
I've been working A LOT lately, and consequently haven't been on the computer much the past few days, and was feeling more than a little self-imposed pressure to produce something for the blog right smart. Wendy, who unknowingly saves my ass on a regular basis, said she had a rant and no blog to post it on, and could she use my forum. I happily complied.....Thank you, Big Liver Girl!!

Reality Home Ec
Yesterday I did the grossest thing. I did it for my husband. I did it for myself. I am fully aware that I will have to do it again as it falls into the category of household jobs "that don't stay done!".

I positioned myself with most of my upper body inside my bathroom vanity atop thousands of tiny shampoos, smelly soaps, half full bottles of medicine long expired, several jars of cream, old makeup (of which I routinely sport none) and the odd stethoscope. I then reached around with my other arm and strained to (ooh ick) feel around for the drain thingy. I then jiggled, swore and cranked on some other weird part of the underneath the sink part of the tap to finally free the drain so that I could lift out the ickiest core of grossness you've ever seen. Fortunately then, I heard the doorbell ring and had the pleasure of making my friend nearly vomit wielding the "fruits" of my labour, answering the door on the way to the next closest operational sink to clean (blech!) the drainy thing back to its original white. (Thank heavens for the plastic clips off bread bags which are perfect for scraping such filth off soiled hard surfaces.) When restoring it I discovered the equally sickening blob of hairy grime that encased the aforementioned drainly thing. I cleaned it too... reassembled the sink and voila we have free running water again and a sink that doesn't fill to capacity each time one brushes ones teeth.

You see, there had been a lengthy battle a few nights prior as to where exactly the fault lies in a sink that doesn't drain (so as to determine who must fix it). ( Young lovers take heed! Yes YOU too WILL fight tooth and nail about these horrifically mundane causes for discord among those who choose to co-habitate). MY point is, that I have short hair and only brush my teeth there, often taking time to ensure my toothpasty expectorant actually disappears down the drain - and not haunt one's cohabitant in big wine-coloured globs in the morning. I also dislike being subjected to a thin but homogeneous film of hair all over the sink each time I use the bathroom, post-hubby's daily shave. My beloved's point is well taken though, that honestly - if not to let the shorn whiskers float down the (normally operational) drain, WHAT in heavens name is he to do with it? I suggested perhaps straining it through a paper towel and then tossing the hairy bit into the garbage. Or shave at Tim Hortons... just don't subject me to that ick again.

And why, do I hear no one else complain of these sorts of travesties? When pressed for solutions, most homeowners agree that pulling the drain apart is not considered standard maintenance of a sink. And yet, when confronted with this problem in the past, I have carefully watched and taken note of the procedure while nodding obediently about NEVER pouring the standard cleaning agents that are intended for just this problem, DOWN YOUR SINK. IT RUINS YOUR PIPES! And so in order to avoid excessive cost and guilt associated with plumbers, I now try solve my problems on my own. Does anyone else ever wonder why things have to be so difficult to maintain? Why, if a single grain of rice (or heaven forbid, HAIR) gets into the agitator of the dishwasher, you are stuck with baked on filthy dishes or a nasty guilt trip from the dishwasher guy about serving rice to the shedding orangutans with whom you reside? I mean, if I'm honestly SUPPOSED to clean the sprayer arm of my "self clean Maytag" dishwasher, why did I have to buy a special star shaped allen key and unscrew six very awkwardly placed screws,to begin the process of yanking the thing apart before I was to soak it in my bathtub and then liberally run loads of tang (I kid you not "TANG" - the powdered drink of astronauts) to sanitize my filter system? Sadly, if I was the studious homeowner I am supposed to be, there'd be no room in the bathtub because the clothes washer guy tells me that THAT machine is "very dirty" and I should be disassembling my washer and soaking my agitator in the bathtub to get the fabric softener out of it. For the love of Pete (the reason behind my every move), how did I pass Home Ec?

My mother is my number one resource in appliance repair as she can dismantle most major brands of dishwashers in the time it takes me to finish my first coffee of the day. However she was taught under the Jedi master of Maytag repairmen in the 60's in BC, who came to negotiate our baby gate system and toddler and pet obstacles better than my travelling father could. Frankly, the dryer is the only appliance ever manufactured with maintenance built right in. How easy is it to clear the lint trap? VERY! How often does it get done? ALL THE TIME!

I'm telling you its a plot by the trades to gross out homeowners so they make that double time and a half phone call on Boxing Day. Because I don't want to clean the drain again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I'm Gonna Have It Someday.

Everyone I know has some thing that they were denied as kids that they savour as adults. It's not usually something terribly exotic or expensive, just usually something that they, at some point in their childhood, vowed that they would never be without when they had the choice.

My parents didn't grow up in Canada, so there were lots of things that us kids lusted after that they couldn't care less about. Pop, chips, ketchup, television, to name a few.

We always had plenty of treats and such around, but for some reason, Coca-Cola and other sodas were strictly controlled substances which were doled out only on holidays under the strictest supervision imaginable. Plutonium would be easier to get. As a result, I tend to keep pop around all the time, even though I've cut my consumption drastically. I don't drink it much any more, but I like having it around.
The Mister wasn't allowed pop or chips in the house, either. Lots of popcorn, but no chips. He still drinks copious amounts of pop, just because he can.

For my parents, it's fresh fruit. When they were growing up in Ireland during the War, fruit other than what was grown locally, was simply not available. (And the reason you've never heard about the roaring Irish pineapple crop is that there isn't one.) The first Christmas after the war, when they were about 10, my mother got an orange, and my dad got some seedless green grapes, and neither of them has ever gotten tired of the idea that they can just go out and get fresh fruit whenever they want, even 60 years later. They still eat their weight in fresh fruit every week.

For my friend Kelly, it's Cap'n Crunch cereal. Her mother would never buy it, saying it was horrible stuff, but her grandmother would obtain the forbidden stuff, and Kelly and her cousin would consume the whole box before anyone in authority found out about it. I don't know if she buys Cap'n Crunch now, but I'll bet she has.

I know another woman for whom bacon and orange juice were considered hideously expensive when she was a kid, and so was saved for Christmas and birthdays. It's not like she grew up in Ireland during the war, she grew up here in Ontario in the 70's, in a perfectly ordinary middle-class house. I don't recall either bacon or orange juice ever being in short supply, (was there a bacon imbargo that I wasn't aware of?) but maybe her mother knew something I didn't. Anyway, she splurges on bacon and orange juice on a regular basis.

My husband's aunt thinks that the telephone is terribly expensive, and even though she has a phone, (several, in fact,) she still would never make a long-distance phone call if her life depended on it. She's a child of the Depression, and telephones were expensive then, and she delights in having about 6 phones all over her fridge-sized apartment. (Seriously, you can sit anywhere in the place and be able to reach at least two phones without getting up.) But, long-distance phone calls, which I think are ridiculously cheap, is still something she can't get her head around. I'll have to ask her son if he makes long-distance calls with a thrill of satisfaction or not.

I asked the kids what they are denied now, that they will have when they grow up. Thing 2 says she plans on filling her house with nothing but Dunkaroos. (Dunkaroos are these little snack thingys where you dip styrofoam-like, little cookies into a tiny tub of the most horrible, nasty fake-tasting frosting. Thing 2 loves them, but I won't buy them. They're "Grandma Food".) Thing 1 says she will have a hot-tub, and also, that she will turn up the radio as loud as she likes. (Which, I had no idea was a big deal at all, just to tell you.)

I also delight in having more than one pair of scissors in the house, two pillows on my bed, and vanilla extract. Just because I can.

Monday, April 14, 2008

At Your Service.

I've worked with Matula for 25 years now, and there's not much you don't talk about in 25 years. We even have a pact, that whichever one of us dies first, the other one will do her hair and makeup for her.

Her brother works at a bank here in town, and last week his branch was doing some training for a new computer system they are installing. The staff was seated in a conference room, and the brother, The Boss Man, was waiting in the branch for the computer company's rep to show up. He could clearly see the parking lot and front steps, and sure enough, right on time, a middle-aged woman in a business suit, carrying a clipboard with the bank's logo got out of a car and purposefully up the stairs. The Boss Man greeted her warmly, introduced himself and asked her name. He lead her down the hall to the conference room and said to the assembled staff "Everyone, this is Mary", whereby everyone gave her an enthusiastic "Hi Mary!" "Mary", he said, "is from Confusing Computer Systems, and will be leading today's training session!".
At this point Mary, who had been very quiet and a smiley up to this point, turned to the Boss Man and said "Actually, I'm just here to make a deposit".

After everyone had recovered from the half hour of laughing, he said to her, "what on earth did you think was going on??", and she said, "I thought this was the best customer service I ever had."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Easy To Please

Unlike the Mister, I clearly give off sort of "I'll talk to anyone" vibe, because every crazy person within a hundred miles is drawn to me like a magnet. And they all seem to just know that I am a soft touch, and can't refuse a request for change, because they can barely wait for me to be withing shouting distance before they start asking. (All I can think of is "this is somebody's child. What would their mother think of me if I walked away???") But Himself emits no such aura, and so street-people generally ignore him.

So, imagine my surprise when I turned the corner to pick him up this evening, and saw him not only talking to an obvious pan-handler, but laughing and handing the guy something.
When he got in the car, (my husband, not the homeless guy), I asked him what that was all about.

The Mister says he was standing there, waiting for me, when this guy barrelled on over, clearly intent on talking to Himself, who was giving off his best "I've had a lousy week, do not mess with me" waves. The guy approaches the Mister and says, very politely, "excuse me, do you have any spare change to go towards buying a six-pack of beer?", which made Himself laugh out loud. Not only did he not expect such good manners, the guy's bare-faced honestly as to his intent with the money was very welcome, and he gave the guy a looney. ("If he comes up to me the next time and asks for money for a sandwich, I'll give it to him because I know he's going to actually buy a sandwich.") Also, he liked that the guy wasn't greedy; he'd be happy with just the six beers, no need to go all the way for a case.

It was the most I've seen the Mister smile this week, so it was totally worth a dollar.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Leaf 'Em Laughing

We have two big, honey locust trees in our backyard that give off 90 kabillion tiny little leaves about an inch long. Normally, I like them; they're too small to rake up, and they get mulched up nicely when the Mister cuts the grass. I swear, last fall, when they finally fell, they did so in about two hours, so that we got around 6 inches of the suckers all over our yard. The snow came early last fall, and we didn't have time to clean up them up, and unless we want that to be our garden's "theme" this year, it had better happen soon. The city picks up yard waste on a designated week in the spring, and for some reason, this year they have decided that our week would be barely a couple of days after the snow melted.

I was out raking and bagging this afternoon, and Thing 2 decided to help me. That lasted about 5 minutes, after which she abandoned the pretense and played with the cat. After another while, she thought that I needed some entertainment, and got out her recorder and played me a few tunes. Thing 2 has many talents, but I'm afraid she will never make a meaningful living off of playing the recorder.

I had to keep asking her what the name of the tunes were, and after a while that degenerated into her playing a song and me having to figure out what it was. She was getting more and more disgusted with me, as I was having a devil of a time recognizing anything coming out of that instrument, including "Happy Birthday To You", "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Hey Jude", which all came out in the same squawky, dirge-like arrangements as everything else. Finally, I fell all over myself laughing when it was revealed that what I thought was The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald turned out to be Peter Cottontail. (Warning: that "Peter Cottontail" video on YouTube is hella creepy.)

At least it made the raking go faster.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Not So Bad, NOW, Is It?

I'm sure the stores that sell them get lots of returns on bathroom scales because they "must be broken, I can't possibly weigh that much". But I think I really do have a case here.

I went to weigh myself this morning, like I do every morning. Yesterday I was 146.6 pounds, where the scale has been stuck for the past four days, despite my zealous efforts to get past the 146 mark.

This morning, it registered 237.4 pounds.

I am reasonably sure I didn't gain, like, 90 pounds overnight, even if I did polish off a whole bag of Baked Lays potato chips instead of dinner.

I got off the scale, tried it again, and it said 146.2. I think I'll take it; 146 doesn't seem so bad, now.

From now on, I think I'm going to do this with my age, too. "I'm 97. Oh, sorry, I mean, I'm 46."

Like the weight, the real number doesn't seem so bad compared to the horrible possibility.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dead Man Walking.

We have a man down.

The Mister has had the legs cut right out from under him by a sinus infection. I thought yesterday that he just had the mother of all colds, but when he (finally) took his temperature after dinner last night, it was around 102°, and he was wafting off enough heat to be a factor in global warming all by himself.

We got him off to the doctor's after-hours clinic, where he was diagnosed, and then off to the late-night pharmacy, where we got lots and lots of drugs.

Because he has a rotten cough, I decided to sleep down in the spare room in the basement, so that he could bark like a seal all night long and not worry about keeping me up. Turns out the best part of sleeping in the basement is that Toby didn't know I was down there, and I was free of the 12 pound, furry, orange alarm clock that cannot tell time. You should have seen the look on his face when I came up in the morning! If he could have talked, he would have said "hey! I didn't know you were here! This is great! I will get tuna after all!!"

As we were driving home last night, his medication clutched in his steely grip, as if he would never let it go, I mentioned that he probably shouldn't go to work tomorrow, and he said "well, I'll think about it." I pointed out that he probably wouldn't be doing his clients any favours by showing up, because, exactly what quality of haircuts did he think he'd be pulling off in this state? He conceded that he might not go. As it turns out, he hasn't gone, which is about the second time he's called in sick in about 5 years. (The last time was for a kidney stone.)

So I've stocked up on chicken soup, crackers, ginger ale and pudding. I don't know if he wants any of that, but it will keep me happy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Manic Monday

Most people aren't too fond of Mondays; after all, they signal the beginning of a too-long work week, and the end of a too-short weekend. But for hairdressers, Mondays are like our Sundays, and the bonus is that everyone else is working while we are off. It is about the only compensation for having to work on Saturdays.

This Monday isn't so good for the Mister, however. He's had a rotten cold, that seemed to be better on Friday, but rebounded with a vengeance by Saturday night. For Sunday he was a pity, and today he's even worse. If he was a dog, we'd have shot him by now. He's a pretty good patient, for a man. There is the odd, pathetic moan from the bedroom now and again, but for the most part, he's happy to remove himself from the civilized world and just be sick, without any audience. (Which is just as well, because I am a terrible nurse. I simply cannot remember how awful it feels to be ill, and therefore barely tolerate those who are. I can sympathise with some one's suffering, but I really don't want to be a part of it.)

I had to do some work over at the Things' school first thing. I run a plant sale fundraiser every year, and it's time to get that up and running. The stupid photocopier cut off the left hand side of every copy, and I didn't notice until I was well into it. It meant that all 500 copies had to be corrected, by hand, because it looked like you could only by 11 flats of plants, or a half a flat. (It should have said "full", but the "fu" didn't come out. I didn't mind writing "fu" on 500 copies, because that's what I was thinking the whole time.) Then I noticed that it looked like we were selling miniature pots of plants for $16.00 each, because the "1" got cut off, and it looked like we were selling pots of ".6 inches", ".2 inches" and ".0 inches", instead of 16, 12 and 10. Thing 1 was happy to miss a science lesson to help.

I went over to my parents' house to give them a hand after that. My parents are selling their house (after 35 years) and are downsizing to a condo. They keep their place in immaculate shape (a pity I did not inherit that gene), and they don't accumulate junk, so the preparations to sell will be minimal. But their realtor recommended that they paint the inside of the garage, because it might influence the overall impression of the house. Do you know how you live with something for years and don't notice it? Well, the inside of my parents garage was one of those things. The colour could only be described as "Dog Spew". How on earth none of us noticed how horrible it was for the past 35 years is beyond me.
My father has bad knees, and my mother is terrified of heights, so it falls to me to perform the daring "Feats of Strength"around their house, such as climbing the ladder and once going up on the roof to inspect the chimney when it had a raccoon in it. My dad took a tumble earlier in the day when he slipped off a step and fell into the garbage pails. I guess the racket was fearsome. My mother nearly had a heart attack. Anyway, later on, I managed to drop the roller tray (full of paint) off the top shelf, which also made a commotion, and my mother thought it was me falling off the ladder, and nearly had a heart attack. I'm glad that job is over, because my mother's nerves won't take much more.

And now I have a bit of time before the kids come home from school, I take Thing 1 to a doctor's appointment, make dinner and get some leaf bags so I can get cracking on cleaning up the backyard tomorrow.

It's only a day off from one job.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Another Album Cover

I met the Tattooed One for coffee the other day, and even though it was her birthday, she had a present for me!

She said she was in a record store recently, ("a real record store. Like, with records, not CDs.") and they had a section filled with stuff that they couldn't categorize. And she found this and thought of me: (and who wouldn't?)

First of all, love the title. Do you think they had a bad spell-checker, and meant to say "Lose" instead of "Loose"? Unless, of course, they were talking about their collective weight, in which case, losing it would be a problem, too.

I like that the fours sisters apparently got a volume discount at the hairdresser's that morning, because they all have the same hairdo. Very thrifty.

You'll notice the tiny, little son cowering in the back there. I think there was another one, but the daugher at the back left ate him. Lay low, little buddy.

It's kind of hard to tell from this photo, but the mother, the battleaxe on the left, looks very bitter that she did not get the memo about the jaunty, red, hootenanney-inspired garb that everyone else is wearing. She's going to make someone pay, I just know it.

On the back of the album, there is this photo, with the haunting caption of: "Rev. & Mrs. Walters in Barbados, Island 1970". First of all, don't the two of them look like they are enjoying the tropical paradise of Barbados to the fullest? And secondly, why was the picture taken in the stairwell of a prison? It makes the Reverend look like he's nine feet tall, and she still looks like she'd slit your throat for fun.

The liner notes look like they were written by someone in a beginner ESL class, who translated some other text word for word: "The Murphy Walters, a minister of the gospel by faith, seeking God first in all things and watching God complete the job, with signs following."

I think God would be happy if one of the signs was "stop".

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Colour Me

At our salon, we've always had the arrangement that stylists cut and style without doing any chemical work, and colourists do their thing without cutting and styling. We've done this for a couple of reasons; it helps with the overall level of skill if people specialize, and clients are less likely to leave the salon altogether when a staff member leaves if they still see another staff member for services. Also, it's geographic; the colour room (which has a special ventilation system, so that the bleach doesn't make anyone pass out.) can only hold about three people and their clients at once.

After twenty years of cutting, I've decided to switch over to the colour department. (Actually, "decided" isn't quite the word. That would indicate a level of introspection that was wholly lacking. The Mister said "why don't you" and I said " 'kay". That was about it.) Colouring hair is a fairly sophisticated art, as those of you who have tried to do it at home can attest. Apart from the fact that one person's "honey" is another person's "ear wax", there's always the aspect of unpredictability; hair colour reacts to what's underneath it, and unless you know what you're doing, the outcome can be a nasty surprise. I've been training for about a year and a half to make it so that those surprises don't happen, and I haven't made anyone cry yet. Including me.

As much as I abhor change, it's kind of nice to be trying something new after two decades of "are those bangs short enough". (Just to give you an inkling as to my abhorrence, I live on the same street as my parents, I've worked at the same place for 25 years and it took me 6 years of marriage to finally switch from my maiden name.)

Most of the clients have been very supportive, even if they are a bit unhappy about the new arrangement. (I've been seeing lots of these people every six weeks for 20 years, we've become quite attached. ) One cried. (I'm not altogether sure I was entirely the cause though; she's a little squirrelley.) A couple I'll be really sorry to not see anymore; they were a hoot. (I'll confess, though? There's a couple I'm very happy to see the backend of.) I won't miss the crazy-ass bridesmaids.

For someone who thought she'd only stay in hairdressing until it wasn't fun anymore, I'm as surprised as anyone to still find myself at it. Maybe I've always found enough fun to stay. Some things shouldn't change.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Santa's Revenge.

I found this list, 10 Toys Every Parent Dreads, and died a little death while reading every entry.
Because I think we have had each and every one of them in our house, except for "Pokemon". But we made up for that by having 103 Barbies in the house, and food poisoning from the Easy Bake oven offerings.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Recycling Day

I love it when my weekly walk to the library coincides with the garbage/recycling pickup. It gives me all sorts of things to think about while walking, rather than the usual "God, I hate exercising" and "man, these are heavy; why do I take out so many books?".
Our city, in it's infinite wisdom, has an 8-day garbage/recycling pick-up, which means that the day moves from week to week, and we end up going a week every month without pick-up at all. (With the Easter holidays just recently gone by, we've ended up with twelve days between pick-ups.) We have a four container limit to the garbage, which usually isn't a problem, but we've filled to overflowing our four recycling containers. Combine that with a windy day, and you've got a street that looks like Mardi Gras.

I also listen to music or the radio while I walk, which can be good (i.e. takes my mind off the fact that I am, indeed, exercising) or bad (i.e. I tend to walk in time to the music, which probably looks ridiculous.)
But when the walk jibes with recycling day, I barely need distractions to keep me amused. The contents of my neighbour's boxes occupies me utterly.

  • I had no idea so many people ate pizza. At least half of all the recyclers had pizza boxes in them. We must be the pizza-eatingest neighbourhood ever. And, in case you were wondering, Little Caesars outnumbers Domino's by miles; at least 2 to 1.
  • Our neighbourhood can at least boast of having the cleanest clothes in all the land. Almost every house disposed of at least one large, plastic laundry soap bottle. Some of them had two or three. (I have been enlightened to the fact that the Loudshoes family is an anomaly, in that we only do three or four loads of laundry a week. Lots of people I know do three loads a day. Either we are the most slovenly family that ever lived, or very neat eaters.)
  • Lots and lots of wine bottles. One house tossed out about 12 empty wine bottles, and the same of "Pina Colada Mix". That must have been some party.
  • Clearly, there are some issues surrounding fibre intake around here. I saw tons of "All Bran" boxes, and they can't all be for muffins, now, can they?
  • Plenty of cereal boxes. Like, 8 or 10 for some houses. Now, my kids would happily exist entirely on cold, sugared cereal for their subsistance, but at 6 bucks a box, that's not going to happen. Also, little kids hopped up on 8 boxes for "Sugar Balls O' Chemicals" must be hard to live with.
  • Apple juice. Everyone drinks apple juice, it seems, except us. We rarely have juice in the house, of any stripe, mostly because I don't drink it. (I don't ban anyone else from having it, but they don't do the grocery shopping.) If there was a sudden drop in apple juice production, I think there are plenty of people who would be in scrounging around like raging meth addicts for the stuff.
  • The bulk of the recyclers was newspapers. I'm happy to see that so many of my fellow suburbanites read the newspaper, even if it is The Globe and Mail, which I dislike. ("That Right Wing Rag" is how it is most commonly referred to here. If there's ever one around, I make sure to use it to line the cat's litter box.)
  • Diet Coke and Coke Zero seem to be in no danger of going out of business. By far, they were the fillers for the blue boxes. The Loudshoes house was a major contributer in this area.
  • I saw one house that was getting rid of what looked like about 5o sardine cans. What on earth could that be all about??

And so I happily spent my morning walk, examining the contents of the blue boxes, and keeping myself mightily entertained. It should be recycling day every week.