Friday, May 30, 2008

But What About the Important Stuff?

My parents are moving out of their home of 35 years, into a condominium nearby. The house they are in is lovely and unusual and has been a wonderful place to call home, but the yard and the pool and the house are all getting to be too much for them to maintain, and so they've decided to pack up and move to slightly smaller quarters with a yard service.
Thing 1 has been entirely sanguine about the idea of them moving, but Thing 2 has been having a bit of a hard time with it. She's definitely the one who uses the pool the most, and she will miss that keenly, but also, this is the biggest change she's ever had in her 11 years, and the adjustment has taken some time. (I was fretting a little bit about her to one of my friends, who had enough of my whining and said "look, it's not like either of her parents has just discovered they are gay, or are getting a divorce or moving her from her house or anything else that blows a kid's world to smithereens in a couple of words. She'll get over it." My friends are awesome.)

Today my mom and dad got the key to the new place, and we all trooped over to take a look. I had seen it before, but it was all new to the kids, and they had a proper look at the place. Both of them were enchanted by the novelty of the whole enterprise, and spent a good deal of time inspecting every nook and cranny, and reporting on their findings. ("Look! They left a medical dictionary!", "A jacuzzi tub!", " ) My mother sent them off to count the phone jacks and they marvelled at the plasma tv that was left as part of the deal.
After about a half an hour or so, Thing 2 bounced into the kitchen and happily looked around while asking "So, where will we keep the treats?".

I think she's completed the mental gymnastics necessary to accept the new place.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Family Fun Night

Each year at our kids school, the PTA puts on a big fundraiser we call "Family Fun Night". We have games and face-painting and a bouncy castle and karaoke and hot dogs and cotton candy. For the kids, it's sort of like their version of a cocktail party....they get a little something to eat, mingle and see their friends, play a few games and have a good time. Plus, no hangovers.

This year, I was in charge of selling tickets for the basket raffle. (We assign each grade a theme, and people donate items to go into the baskets. There's usually stuff like "Movie Night" and "Spa Treats" and "Chocolate Lovers". I think we should have "PMS Frenzy", with chocolate covered potato chips and a pair of sweatpants, and "Mid-Life Crisis", with a gold chain and a gift certificate for hair transplants.) I thought the concept of a raffle was pretty simple, but I guess I was wrong. I had to explain it to dozens of people, lots of them old enough to know better: "you put your ticket into the bag in front of the item you want to win, and then we choose one ticket and that person wins. No, there is no guarantee you will win it, and no, you cannot buy it, and yes, it is totally random, and you are correct, it is entirely unfair."
Thing 1 won a "Chocolate Lovers" basket, which her father generously put a ticket in on, and I won two tickets to a Blue Jays game for when we are on holidays this summer. (The only problem is that there are four of us. Hopefully we will be able to get two more tickets, otherwise, one of us will go with our favorite child.)

Thing 2 came home with a whole shitload of crappy toys that she won, which she is thrilled beyone belief with. When I asked her how she won so many prizes, she replied that she "didn't waste her tickets on something to eat, so she played games with all of them. Not when we have food at home."
This year, one of the toys the kids could win was water pistols. I wonder who thought that would be a good idea? Of course, last year, we gave out whistles, which was a mistake we did not make again. The year before we managed to find the only temporary tattoos that did not come off for weeks and weeks. I think they eventually had to be sandblasted off.

It's been a busy week, so I think I'll strong-arm Thing 1 into parting with some of that chocolate, and settle down for the evening. Maybe I'll rustle up some sweatpants.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

PD Day

I spent the past two days at an advanced training class for hairdressers, put on by L'Oreal Professional. (I love L'Oreal. They put on the big hairdressing thing in Montreal every year, and for that reason alone they have my relentless support. If they put dog poo in a bottle, I would buy it.) It was a cutting and colour class, where a bunch of people, all dressed in black, learned some new haircutting and colouring techniques, and tried not to look too spazzy doing it. Classes are always fun; you learn new stuff and you realize you usually know more than you thought you did, or at least more than one other person in the room.

Lest you get antsy, we work on mannequin heads, not real people, since it would be difficult to find eleven people with exactly the same hair who would be willing to let a bunch of scissor-wielding enthusiasts loose on their heads.

There were about 11 hairdressers in the class, all very nice, but very quiet. You'd be surprised at how reticent a bunch of normally outgoing and talkative people are when they are off their turf and on their own. (Until you bring out the liquor, and then you can't shut them up for anything. Hairdressers are like sailors on shore leave when the booze comes out.) The experience of the group ranged from less than a year to "longer than some of you have been alive". (That would be me and two other ones.) There were two men in the class, other than the instructor. One guy seemed unfazed by the amount of estrogen in the room, but the other poor young fella was clearly alarmed. When he mentioned that he had never heard of Tom Jones or George Michael, gormlessly mentioning that he never listened to "old kind of music", I was slightly afraid for his personal safety.

Cutting hair isn't difficult. Cutting hair well is. Most haircuts are based on the variations of two or three basic cuts, but this class was a bit more advanced. Here is my "headsheet" on the cut we did on the second day:

Note the blob of colour up in the left hand corner. I'm a bit of a slob.

I can kind of read it, but am having considerable trouble reading some of my handwriting, and also, I used some shorthand in places that I'm sure made sense at the time, but is completely undecipherable now. (What do you think I meant by "2A @ 45° but X to"?) You probably can't tell from the squiggles on the right, but the cut was lovely, and totally going into my repertoire.

I also learned some new colouring techniques. ("you can put one colour on the roots, and a different colour on the ends!""Put more peroxide in so it's not so dark!", "try using pie shaped sections!") All very exciting.

The photo on the left is the final results. (The middle one is the cut from the headsheet.) All the clients were very happy, and tipped lavishly, I might add.

And the best part is, you get to keep the mannequin heads! These mannequins make stunningly excellent Halloween decorations, by the way, and now I have three more of them, which thrills me. The last two years we have dangled them from the tree in our front yard, and scared the snot out of adults and children alike.

Well worth it, I'd say.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wascally Wabbits

The weekend weather was perfection itself: warm, sunny, breezy and entirely designed to make us forget that winter ever happened. The Mister worked long and hard over the past two days to get the flowers into the ground and the vegetable garden up and running. I? supervised.

The Mister loves that vegetable garden. He's always had one, ever since he's had a house of his own and was able to putter around in it without having to ask for permission first.

When we were first married, we got the brilliant idea to plant only "novelty" vegetables, like purple peppers, blue potatoes, yellow tomatoes and white pumpkins. The only real problem was that most of those things are bred for looks, not flavor, and the salsa made with the purple peppers and yellow tomatoes was entirely without flavor, and looked just like barf. The shepherd's pie I made with the blue potatoes looked so revolting we couldn't bring ourselves to eat it. (Seriously, blue mashed potatoes are just a big, steaming pile of yuck.) We've stuck to more conventional efforts since.

Some things have been more successful than others. Even though the Mister tried to grow strawberries for 12 years, our biggest bumper crop was only about 7 berries. On the flip side, we've grown raspberries for a couple of years now, and they have been stellar. The rhubarb is always bountiful, even if the broccoli yeild has been niggling.

One of our biggest impediments to a plenteous harvest is the rabbits. Damn those rodents, they decimate that friggin garden, and it makes the Mister crazy. It's like he morphs into Elmer Fudd every year at this time. The Mister hates the rabbits with a fervor that, honestly, I find a little frightening in someone who is usually so temperate. I understand that the rabbits are a nuisance, but he reacts so violently to their presence in the garden that I am really, really glad that handguns are not legal in Canada. (My mother has the same's like a reflex for both of them: see a rabbit, burst into flames.)

To that end, the Mister has engaged in a consumate, full-metal-jacket, unmitigated assault on the rabbits. He's not out to hurt them, he's out to thwart them utterly, in the hopes that they will move onto, literally, greener pastures, and leave the Loudshoes garden the hell alone.
He has constructed a very thorough and comprehensive fence around the garden, complete with a little gate. He did look into electric fencing, but decided it was too expensive. I'm not making that up, either.) The chicken wire and staples will be his WMD. It may deter the rabbits, but I'm sure the raccoons will laugh themselves silly, and then vault over the chicken wire (or just use the gate) and gorge themselves on our watermelon and spinach.
I do hope, for Himself and Thing 2's sake, that this works. Because if he starts up with a speech impediment and wearing a goofy hat, I'm out of here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Feild Trip Follies

All year long, I've been unable to go on any field trips with Thing 2's class. They've all been on days I work, or they haven't needed volunteers when I could go. Thing 2 has been feeling the lack of me lately, so I took the morning off to go on a "bridge tour". The class had been studying bridges recently; different kinds of bridges, what each design is good for and how they are made. We took a walk from one park in the north end, along the river to downtown, checking out about 9 bridges along the way. It was pretty interesting, as field trips go. (Thank GOD I didn't have to go to the sugar bush yet again. I could give the tour myself by now.)

The ride there on the school bus was ear-splitting. What is it about a school bus ride that makes children only able to converse at a clamourous shriek? Is it the lack of meaningful entertainment for a full 15 minutes that whips them to such a fever pitch? Is it the tight confines of the vehicle that render them incapable of speaking normally? Most likely it is the fact that every other child on the bus is screeching shrilly at top volume for the duration of the ride. Honestly, I feel like I've just had a grand mal seizure by the end of a school bus ride. (I certainly don't remember that when I took a bus every day to school. Maybe it's the curious sensitivity to noise that befalls everyone over the age of 40.)

The day was lovely, and I enjoyed the bit of talk about the bridges. I was able to contribute somewhat, as I was the only person on the tour that could remember when the pedestrian bridge at Gibbons park was a tenuous structure made of oil barrels and planks and rope. It was positively medieval. (Everyone, even the other adults, looked at me like I was reminiscing fondly about "gentleman callers" and seeing electric lights for the first time.)

We finally made our way to the final bridge, which was nearby to a playground where everyone ate their lunch and the kids played on the equipment until the bus came to pick them up. I was only a couple of blocks from work, and so I left them and walked to the salon.

When Thing 2 came home later, she told me that I missed "the best part of the day", the "barf festival". It seems that some of the kids played a bit too enthusiastically on one of the spinny contraptions, and one boy threw up just before they got on the bus. And then he threw up on the bus. And one more time just as they got to the school. This was just too much for another boy, and he threw up on the school's front lawn. Another kid witnessed it, and, in sympathy, lost his lunch. The first kid threw up again, and yet another kid tossed his cookies, too. She said the kids who barfed weren't too upset about it, it was so comical by that point, and she also said that the teacher nearly hurt himself laughing. (This teacher is a riot; he's replaced the teacher they've had all year, who went on medical leave. He's only been here for 3 weeks, and this is his first teaching job. The fact that his reaction to all the vomit was to double over and laugh makes me love him all the more.) I'm so sorry I missed it.

The class is going on an end of the year trip to a provincial park about an hour away. I don't know if I can handle the bus ride, but I'm sure going to try to be there for the rest of the day. I'll see if I can make anyone barf.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Morning at Tim Hortons.

Okay, I've mentioned before how the Tim Hortons near the salon is some sort of clearing house for every nutbar in the city. I think they convene there every day, just to organize themselves. ("You, Crazy Talking Man, you take the west end, You, Parrot Woman, you get yourself to the courthouse and you with the Giant Mutant Head, you wander around here shouting 'the monkeys are listening!' ")

Today there was a guy parked beside the door in one of those huge motorized scooters with the Canadian flag sticking up off the back of it, and he was wearing shorts and a tank top, despite the fact that it was offensively cold out. He did look as though he was playing with only half a deck, and this was borne out by the fact that he bellowed "are you a boy or a girl?" to every single person who left. Some of them answered, but most people ignored him. The guy right ahead of me, clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing, but too Canadian to be outright rude, muttered "a boy" as he passed. And Scooter Man yelled "you're not good to me, son!" after him.
I was highly amused, and couldn't pass by without a hearty "I'm a girl!", and I was richly rewarded with an enthusiastic thumbs up as I went. "I like girls", he yelled after me, like maybe I doubted it, and he was reassuring me.

Made. My. Day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Routine and Mundane.

I'm not sure one could have a more mundane day than I did today.

I haven't been home much recently, what with the changes at work (read: I now work 36 hours, up from, what? 20.) and just a lot of social stuff. The house has descended to a toxic waste dump, and I was happy enough to have a day here to deal with all the flotsom and jetsom that has accumulated since the last time I did this. I cleaned the kitchen thoroughly, having one cleaning epiphany after another: "good God that is dirty!", "Holy shit, would you look at that!", "Gaaahh! What the hell died in here?"
I was watching one of those shows on the telly while I was cleaning, you know the ones where the two scolding British women humiliate filthy people on the state of their hovels? Anyway, one of them suggested that the detergent you use in the dishwasher is very good for cleaning the range hood over the oven, and any other greasy sort of dirt, like on the back splash, and lo and behold, I tried it and it was magical! Of course, my house wasn't nearly as vile as the ones on tv, which is why I was watching that show....anything to give me a feeling of superiority.

I went to the mall, I went to the library and I went to Wal-Mart. I made dinner (pork souvlaki with Greek salad and grilled pita bread. It got an A+ and will be put into regular rotation from hereon in.) I checked my e-mail, loaded up my MP3 player for the bus ride into work tomorrow, (Dave Matthews and Paolo Nutini mostly, in anticipation of Big Liver Girl's and my road trip next month to see them both in Toronto.) and I let the cat in and out about a hundred times.

It wasn't an exciting day, but I've had plenty of excitement in the past few weeks, and mundane looks pretty good from here. Past experience has told me that June is a very hectic month, where you have not a whiff of spare time, and you hemmorhage money. I will enjoy mundane whiel it lasts.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Victoria Day

Today is the "May 2th" holiday around these parts, also known as the "May 2-4", because the name coincides nicely with the slang term for a case of beer. (Such sophisticated wit cannot be contained, I tell you.) We celebrate a holiday on the 24th of May, because that was Queen Victoria's birthday, and nothing says "party time!" like the birthday of a monarch who has been dead for over one hundred years. For everyone else, it is a long weekend, but for the Mister and I it is a regular weekend, since we have Sunday and Monday off all the time. But it was very nice to be able to sleep in this morning, and not have to get anyone off to school. We've have a hellishly busy couple of weeks here at Chez Loudshoes, and to have two days in a row at home was very, very welcome. (When did sleeping in get to be the Holy Grail of activities?)

Unofficially, it is the start of the summer season. (I'm not sure if there even is an official start to the season. I guess that would be the solstice, on June 21st, but that's a whole month away, and we'd like to extend the summer by as much as possible.) People tend to go camping for the first time, open their cottages, get boats into the water and plant their gardens, get the summer off to a rollicking good start, despite the reality of the weather. The fact of the matter is, this is very often a cold, wet, unpleasant weekend, much more akin to November than May. I've seen Remembrance Day ceremonies where the weather was nicer than Victoria Day.

This year, the temperature flirted tantalizingly with double digits, but remained below 10°C, and the rain alternated between drizzly and pelting. The wind remained at a steady clip out of the north, and the sun sullenly stayed behind the clouds. I cannot imagine how deeply unpleasant it must have been to have woken up in a tent this morning. There is not enough beer in the world to make that experience palatable for me. (Camping and I do not mix at the best of times. I liken it to snorting cocaine: people who've done it tell me it's fun, but I'm really not interested.) At least in a cottage, you'd have a roof over your head and a you could pee without risking your bits and pieces to the elements. You'd be cold, but you'd be dry and you could still make s'mores in the microwave, if you were so inclined.

We did no gardening this weekend because of the weather. Even though the Mister and I have a very Darwinian attitude towards our garden (we put the plants in the ground and wish them a hearty "good luck!" and ignore them completely after that.) it just seemed too cruel to put those tender little roots into the cold, hard ground today. (Also, I had no intention of spending one nanosecond longer than necessary outside today. I was afraid parts of me would freeze right off.)
Thing 2 and Himself went off to the garden store anyway this afternoon, and bought some herbs and some tomatoes. We have tried mightily to curb our enthusiasm at the garden store the past few years, as we have been known to buy up the place and then wonder what the hell we were thinking once we got home. ("Why do we have kale? What the hell is kale, anyway?" "It's those cabbagey-looking yokes that go all purple in the fall." "Isn't that ornamental kale? I think this is just normal kale", "Okay, then we have to go back!")

No doubt next weekend will be beautiful and summery and everything this weekend was not. It will not tempt me to go camping, however.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lock and Load

Thing 2 has taken to playing a game recently, which inexplicably delights her. It involves her diving into the van before me and locking me out. When I use the remote to unlock the door, she locks it with the automatic locks just as quickly from inside the car, and thus her dastardly plan to keep me from entering the car is set in motion. She is paralyzed with delight, and screeches with maniacal laughter, which radically interferes with her reflexes, and I usually manage to unlock the car and open the door without any problem. There are howls of despair from Thing 2, and then we go on our way. I don't quite see the fun in it, but I'm 46 and she's 11 and that might go a long way to explaining it.

She played it again last night, as we went to the grocery store to get stuff for the chocolate fondue, and as I didn't particularly care whether we went or not, I just went right back into the house. You should have seen her face; she was dumbfounded at how easily I was able to thwart her strategy.

Once, when we were at the same grocery store, I managed to befuddle her utterly, when I opened the back door of the van and got in that way. Of course, I discovered pretty quickly that it is really hard to close the door of a van from the inside; my muscles just don't function in that manner. Then I had to get over the back seat and the middle one, and wrangle myself into the driver's seat. Not easy and definitely not pretty, I can tell you. I looked like I had just survived a fight to the death involving spray starch and lots of empty Tim Hortons cups. Thing 2 was both enchanted and horrified, and more than a little impressed that I did it. ("None of my friend's moms would do that, I bet.")

My friend Kelly and I used to have a similar, brutal game involving the car, which we have tried vainly to give up, but just can't. This was before central locks were standard in cars, you understand. The game was that the driver would have to unlock the passenger door with the key first, and then it was a fierce race to see which of us could unlock the driver's door first. It doesn't seem too bad on the surface, but it was wildly raucous in real life. The driver was at a distinct disadvantage, what with having to run all the way around the car to get the tiny little key into the tiny little lock, while the passenger only had make a furious dive across the seat to pull up the lock. The driver would tear around the car, losing her footing and grabbing at antennas and squawking loudly and making everyone in the vicinity take notice, and the passenger had to avoid chipping teeth on the steering wheel or breaking a rib on the gear shift or bursting every vein in her head in her haste to get to. that. lock. It was incredibly unseemly. Try as we might, we could NOT seem to stop the game. We'd start to behave ourselves, and next thing we knew we were tearing around the car and flinging ourselves over seats and dislocating shoulders and mad at ourselves once again. Finally had to agree to just open the driver's side first. This game started somewhere around the late 70's and I'm not kidding when I say we still have to think twice when getting in a car with each other. (Kelly is the undisputed winner, when I once forgot myself and in the car.)

Thing 2 is so delightful at the moment; she's still very much a kid and still so thrilled at this sort of carry-on, and more importantly, thrilled to carry-on with me. I've no doubt that playing stupid games with her mother won't be on the top ten list of "things to do" in a couple more years. So I'll enjoy it while it lasts, even if it does mean I'm stuck out in the rain for a couple of minutes.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Loudshoes and the Chocolate Factory.

It's hard to come across anything that makes my children happier than chocolate, and a chocolate fondue positively puts them into spasms of delight. Last night I went to a meeting at Big Liver Girls house for the retina research fundraiser I was involved in, and she had a chocolate fountain there. (Note to self: the next time I want to rope people into doing something for me, bewitch them with the promise of a chocolate fountain. They will be enchanted utterly, and will do your bidding without question.)
We are the happy beneficiaries of the leftovers.We did not get the entire fountain, we just got the pound and a half of very good chocolate, which we will no doubt consume until it is finished or we are in a diabetic coma, which ever comes first.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 spent a good ten minutes discussing the possible dipping items, including the usual bananas, strawberries and pound cake. They also considered (and rejected) peanuts (too small), raspberries (too squishy) and potato chips (too disgusting). They are upstairs at the moment happily submerging marshmallows, pretzels and digestive cookies, and also encasing themselves in chocolate. I will be sandblasting the kitchen later.
But they are so happy, and quiet, and that is all I really ask for. And my own bowl of liquified chocolate and dippers. Maybe I'll try the potato chips.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Universal Truths

I found the following list of Universal Truths here, and although they are all true, some are truer than others. I've edited and added my own.

Universal truths
1) Triangular sandwiches taste better than square ones.
2) At the end of every party there is always a girl crying.
3) One of the most awkward things that can happen in a pub is when your pint-to-toilet cycle gets synchronised with a complete stranger.
4) You've never quite sure whether it's ok to eat green crisps.
6) Reading when you're drunk is horrible.
8) You're never quite sure whether it's against the law or not to have a fire in your back garden.
12) Its impossible to describe the smell of a wet cat.
14) Rummaging in an overgrown garden will always turn up a bouncy ball.
16) Everyone always remembers the day a dog ran into your school.
17) The most embarrassing thing you can do as schoolchild is to call your teacher mum or dad.
18) The smaller the monkey the more it looks like it would kill you at thefirst given opportunity.
21) Old women with mobile phones look wrong!
25) Old ladies can eat more than you think.
26) You can't respect a man who carries a dog.
27) There's no panic like the panic you momentarily feel when you've got your hand or head stuck in something.
28) No one knows the origins of their metal coat hangers. They are never bought, they just....appear.
29) Despite constant warning, you have never met anybody who has had their arm broken by a swan.
30) The most painful household incident is wearing socks and stepping on an upturned plug. (I would say this one is wrong, stepping on Lego or a Lite-Brite peg will make you cry.)
31) People who don't drive slam car doors too hard
32) You've turned into your dad the day you put aside a thin piece of woodspecifically to stir paint with.
33) Everyone had an uncle who tried to steal their nose.
34) Bricks are horrible to carry.
35) In every plate of chips there is a bad chip.

I would add:
*It's hard to study in the sunshine.
*Cats never feel guilty.
*You will always make almost enough money.
*All bars smell the same.
*The worst feeling in the world is wet jeans.
*Sarcasm is lost on your average three-year-old.
*Everyone feels a little dizzy when they look up at the stars.
*You never see anyone sitting in an elevator.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Thrilling Life

It's been a whirlwind weekend here at Chez Loudshoes; a roller coaster of excitement and mayhem. Sort of.

Saturday saw "Customer Appreciation Day" at the salon, complete with a tiki-bar set up in the front room. It was a busy day anyway, and the addition of strawberry and rum smoothies did nothing to calm the place down. I did not partake, because bitter experience has taught me that alcohol and hair dye are two chemicals that should never, ever mix. Then I went and did the grocery shopping, and Thing 2 and Himself went to get a birthday gift for his nephew and some flowers for Mother's Day. We got home at 9:00 and watched a movie. Rather, they watched the movie and I fell asleep. (Actually, I created a piece of performance art called "Middle Aged Suburbanite on a Saturday Evening". It was riveting.)

Sunday brought Mother's Day, complete with Thing 2's gift, which she was thrilled to be able to give me. (I had admired a plant at the grocery store the night before, and she and Himself snuck back to get it while I was shopping.) I love that she is still young enough to be beside-herself-giddy with the idea of surprising me.
Then, it was off to the Navy Legion Mother's Day Fishing Derby! (I know, you can barely contain yourself, can you?) The idea is that the Navy Legion puts on a fishing derby on Mother's Day so that dad and the kids can get out of the house for the morning, and presumably, mom gets to eat cake for breakfast and use the bathroom all by herself and generally enjoy having the house emptied. But, because we are 50minutes away and will be there for the day and all, I have to go too. I don't mind it; I get great pictures and I usually can score an Egg McMuffin on the way, because it's Mother's Day, and even though we have to get up early, I can skip having breakfast in bed made for me. (I hate breakfast in bed. I know it's supposed to be a luxuriously decadent thing to do, but I can never get comfortable, I'm always almost spilling the coffee, and it's easier just to get up and eat the damn thing at the table.)
Thing 1 had gone to my in-laws for the weekend, and was already there when we arrived. And she had already caught five fish, (three of which she had to toss back). And, as it turns out, that was the only fish any of the five kids caught all day. (And I wasn't there to take pictures, so that she would have photographic evidence of her prowess.) Fishing with kids isn't easy, let me tell you. They keep reeling in the line and casting it back out constantly; only a fish with ADD would be able to see that damn worm. It's hard to explain the Zen of fishing to an eleven-year-old; they want action. Then we went back to my sister-in-laws and had a birthday dinner, (with cake!) and then home.

Today was the plant sale fundraiser I organize for the kids school. Usually we make buckets of money on this, but for some reason this year, we barely made any. As my mother says, maybe this has run it's course. My stress levels are not helped at all by the fact that I added things up wrong and had too many of some things and not enough of others; I should never, ever be in charge of numbers, I am positively dyslexic when it comes to counting things. ("Okay, so altogether I should order 6 flats of red geraniums. So I shall write down "four".") But I have some lovely impatiens and wave petunias for my garden this year.

Tomorrow is my day off, but it's booked up as well, and I have come to realize that May and June are just very busy months where things are very hectic and we hemorrhage money, and this, too, shall pass. At least it's not all funerals and root canals.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mother's Say

This weekend is Mother's Day, and I feel the same way as I do about Valentine's Day; you can't make up on one day for pissing me off the other 364. But if you get me an Egg McMuffin on Sunday, we can call it even.
My friend, Big Liver Girl, once noted that a mother will appreciate a gift of effort more than a gift of money, and she is dead right. I once made my mother into a puddle of tears over a CD slide show of her and the grandbabies, and you know if you can make your mother cry you have won the lottery in terms of gift-giving.

My mother is a very smart woman, with a good deal of common sense, and I'm sure I rolled my eyes and sighed at most of the stuff she told me over the years. But really, I was paying attention all along. So, here is my Mother's Day present to my mother: You were right.

Things My Mother Told Me That Stuck:
  • It costs nothing to be polite. Being rude will gain you nothing.
  • Never wear brown shoes with a black skirt
  • Once you put your clothes on, you should be able to forget about them. If you are uncomfortable, you won't be able to enjoy yourself.
  • Consider the source. If someone tells you something bad that someone else said about you, it says more about the first person than the second.
  • Always send a thank you note. No one ever hated getting a thank you note.
  • Keep your cool. When you lose your temper, you've lost control of the situation, and now the focus shifts from the actual problem to you.
  • Learning to cook is one of the most valuable skills you will ever have. You'll always want to eat, right?
  • Just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.
  • Live within your means.
  • There always has to be one adult in the room.
  • There aren't too many people in jail with Mensa cards in their back pockets.
  • The cemetery is full of "indispensable" people. A job is a job, no matter how important. If you stopped coming in tomorrow, the place would still function without you. The same cannot be said for home.
  • Always remember to put the sugar into the rhubarb pie.
  • Sometimes your best won't be good enough, and that's okay. Knowing you did do your best is sometimes all you get.
  • Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect.
  • Tight pink satin is never, ever the right choice.
Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

So Long, Bridezilla!

Because of my new job at work, I won't be doing brides in the future, and that made me a little wistful. One of the things I love about being a hairdresser is that transformation of an ordinary woman into a beauty on her wedding day. A happy bride just glows, and it's really rewarding to be a part of that day, especially for a client I've known for a long time. And then there are some brides that give all brides a bad name, and it is these Bridezillas that I will be very, very happy to not have to deal with any more.

I answered the phone at work today, and a young woman on the other line asked if this was the place where Mrs. Loudshoes worked. I said yes, it was, and in fact, it was me to whom she was speaking.

She went on to say that I had done a friend of her's hair and makeup for her wedding two years ago, and that she loved the job I had done and she wanted me to do her and her party for her wedding this summer. I replied that I no longer did styling and makeup, but that I would be happy to recommend someone else at the salon for her. This was met with a brief silence and then a frosty "you're kidding me, right?". I assured her that I was not trifling with her sanity on any level, that I perform a different job at the salon now, which does not include styling or make up. The young lady turned up the charm a notch or two, by saying "so, you do still work there, you just won't do my wedding". I was tempted to argue with her on the semantics of the idea of free will and choice, but settled for "as I said, I have a different job now, and don't do any weddings any more." "But you could, you just won't", came the reply. Seriously, it was all I had not to ask "does this sort of thing ever work for you? Because, trust me, you do not want me working on you now. I'll make you look like the hooker bride of Ronald McDonald."

(She didn't say, but I kind of got the vibe that she was "from Toronto". When someone calls up and says "hi, I'm from Toronto, and I need to make an appointment", we start hating them right then. Because when a client feels the need to tell us they are "from Toronto" right off the bat, it really translates into "I'm used to a better class of service and style, which I seriously doubt you will be able to provide in this provincial backwater I have had the great misfortune to find myself in. Please be assured that I will expect great things from you, but I'm sure you will be unable to deliver. Proceed." It's very tiresome. That isn't to say we dislike clients that originate from Toronto, far from it; everybody's money is good at our salon, and we have lots of clients who come back from Toronto just to get their hair done with us. But we reserve a special kind of dislike from the pretentious, snotty clients that prepare us for their superiority and refinement with the preface "I'm from Toronto". The ones from Montreal are even worse. )

Anyway, the young woman, who, I might add, has never been to the salon before, told me she was very disappointed (like that was going to change my job) and that she had never heard of a salon that refused business before. I repeated that I would be happy to recommend someone else, but she wanted none of that; "But I want you!" she barked, and hung up. By this point I was pretty much against having her in the salon ever.

I have to admit, it gave me a small but very satisfying thrill to be able to say "no" to that young woman, and her not be able to do anything about it. I feel like I was able to strike one small victory against a Bridezilla, for hairdressers everywhere. Even the ones from Toronto.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Grown Up Table.

Last Saturday evening, the Mister and I had an unexpected, but entirely welcome, evening to ourselves. (We have been waiting almost fourteen years for this.) Thing 1 was babysitting, and Thing 2 was at an sleepover/birthday party. At the end of a long, busy day at work, the last thing either of us wanted to do was go home and cook, so we decided to go out. And lo and behold, the fickle Gods Of Dining Out were smiling on us: we had a gift certificate for a nifty, new place in town, and we were able to get a reservation right away. (I called at around 5, and the young woman who answered the phone delicately advised me that the table was reserved again for 8:00, and we would have to be gone by then. I gently enlightened her to the fact that in two and a half hours, I could eat several meals, and have been known to have done so in the past.)

When we got there, I was reminded once again, how nice it is to eat dinner with one other adult, not have any crayons on the table or any server squatting down to take my order after having introduced himself as "The Caveman, and I'll be enhancing your experience tonight", or being asked if I'd like fries with that. There was no one loudly announcing another diner's birthday, nobody spinning a wheel, and no anthropomorphic cartoon characters bounding up to my table making balloon animals. It was just the Mister and myself and the staff, who kept a respectful and much-appreciated distance throughout.

The gift certificate was for $100, and we wanted to use up the whole thing in one swoop, so after deciding on our meals, we discovered that we were only up to about 60 bucks. The Mister had decided not to have any alcohol, so it was up to me to take one for the team and have another glass of Riesling, to pad the bill. We also had to add a salad for us to share, and I, yet again, had to step up and order dessert. (It was exhausting. The things I do to make my family happy.)

All the while, we talked about work, and the kids, and the house and the yard and the summer and the clients and other people in the restaurant (always a favorite topic for the two of us...."do you think they're on their first date?", "No, she ordered a Caesar salad, it's certainly not a date at all, let alone a first one".) And all the while I was reminded of what a nice man I married, and how, as much as you adore your children, it's important to remember why you became a couple in the first place, and how nice it is to be a person, and not a parent, for a few hours. (But not for two and a half of them. Let's not go crazy, here.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

The World's Happiest Cat.

Life truly couldn't get any better for Toby at the moment; the sun is shining, it's warm, the people go outside and keep him company occasionally, and there are an abundance of tiny, baby animals stumbling around, just begging to be slaughtered.

When I came home from work last Friday, I was enthusiastically greeted on the front porch by a very proud cat and a headless baby bunny. After nine hours on my feet, I sure was thinking "what I could use right about now is a very small rabbit, but without a head, that would be bothersome". (The Mister is all for it, because he has come to hate the rabbits with about as much emotion as I've ever seen him feel about anything.) He catches the occasional bird, lots of mice and every now and again he takes on a full-grown squirrel, without any luck.

Toby is as happy outside, as in. Here he is having a nap out in the garden, amongst the myrtle. ("See how my fur contrasts pleasingly with the foliage that surrounds me? I am nothing if not a creator of beauty.") And there he is enjoying the pools of sunshine that flood the living room in the morning. We have moved the coffee table that previously got in the way of his daily pleasure, and he treats it as though that is his due.

In my next life, I would like to come back as a well-fed, suburban cat. (Except I would have to eat tuna.)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Let Me Whisper In Your Ear.

I'm sure there are many things that come out of my mouth that make the Mister wonder what he ever saw in me, but mostly, he keeps that reaction pretty much to himself.
Occasionally, I will say something that makes him stop in his tracks and look at me as though he has never before seen me in his life, and he's not at all happy to be looking at me right now, either. Again, he manages to keep that look to a fleeting nanosecond or so.
But I regularly start a sentance with a phrase that makes him actually shudder with horror, and he is entirely unable to conceal his utter despair. It doesn't matter if these are directed at him nor not. In fact, some of them are worse when they are spoken in public. They include:

  • "I was watching Oprah today..."
  • "You know, we really have to do something with that bathroom/roof/garden...." (Because he knows "we" means "you".)
  • "Here, hold my beer and watch this...."
  • "I have had it! Where is the big saw?"
  • "Don't take this the wrong way, but...."
  • " I don't see why you can't..."
  • "Hey, you know what you should do?"
  • "There is a sale on Tupperware at Wal-Mart"
  • "The van sounds like it has tuberculosis"
  • "Is it important when the computer tell me it has a virus?"
  • "Seriously, are you happy?" (This last one makes him groan out loud, because I usually utter it non-stop after hearing the news that one of our friends marriages has fallen apart. I spend the next week or so ensuring that I will not be that wife who is taken by surprise that her husband was secretly miserable and plotting his slick departure for months before she knew. This goes on until I say something like "are you sure you want to stay married to me" and he eventuallly replies "I was until you started this up again". And then I'm good until another union we know goes belly-up.)

He's a rare gem.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Still Waiting.

It's finally spring here in southwestern Ontario, which means we get a half-hearted winter for a little while, and then one day it's summer; there's no in between. Spring hereabouts is the adolescence of the calendar year, sullen, unpredictable and with accompanying wild mood swings.

Two weeks ago, it was full on summer. The sun was shining, the temperatures were up in the low 20's and everyone broke out the flip-flops. That continued for about 10 days, and then this week, the thermometer plummeted, and we are back to a sulky winter once again. We even got a punitive frost this week, and all the people who foolishly put plants in the ground, in April, were made to rue their own folly. The magnolias, which had been spectacular this year, are now slimy, brown clumps of yuck, daintily clinging to their sorry branches.

The Mister and I saw a girl running to the bus stop on our way to work this morning, and she only had on a tank top and jeans, no sweater or coat. It was only 4 degrees Celsius this morning, so I'm sure she was very sorry about her sartorial decision about 10 seconds after she left her house. (I, in contrast, was wearing a blouse, a trench coat and a scarf, and was wistfully musing about mittens.)

There really is something that happens to us when the weather gets nice, it's like we completely forget that we live in Canada, and that this is, in fact, a cold country, and that the warmth is temporary. Especially in the spring. Just because it is warm on say, Monday, is no guarantee whatsoever, that it will be warm again on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or next week. Sure, it's going to get nice and stay that way for a couple of months, it's even going to get stinking hot at some point, I dare say, but not in the springtime. I wanted to go up to that girl and give her my scarf and say "I know it was warm, but that was a week or two ago, and now it is cold again. Do you see how that works? Warm, then cold, again for a while, and then warm for good. Got it now? I realize it's May today, but the jet stream has no regard whatsoever for the calendar. Now go home and put on a sweater."

I am looking forward to the advent of summer as much, maybe more than the next person. (I was mighty cranky about the snow back in March. In fact, I'm still kind of cranky about it, and it's all gone, but I can carry a grudge for ever.) But I'm nothing if not a realist, and I'm not pulling out the tank tops and shorts until the cat thermometer registers 6 feet of cat.