Monday, August 31, 2009

One Last Beach Day

Even though summery weather can last well into September and October, it still feels like summer is at an end once Labour Day comes and the kids go back to school. The kids still have another week to go, and there's not much time to cram in those last few activities of summer.

The Mother Sharks and 14 of their offspring managed to organize ourselves into one last day at the beach today. And what a glorious day it was...the weather didn't look promising when we started out, but we got a windy, sunny, perfect,idyllic beach day. (Lake Huron and I have had our differences lately, I had had it with that lake when we were at the cottage in July, and declared the lake and I had broken up for good. It was too cold and messy and moody, and the lake thought I was too sensitive and princessy, and needed to man up and deal with it. But today we had a nice time together, and have decided to remain friends after all.)

The younger kids played in the lake, and the older ones sat and talked, and quite happily occasionaly went for a walk. The mothers all got a chance to catch up and talk and eat and tell each other what we read recently and what we were having for dinner this evening. I've come to realize what a comfortable bunch these women are; there's no hidden agendas or touchy personalities or rivals looking to score points off each other. They never fail to make me laugh or give me perspective or remind me to not take myself too seriously. I just love them.

It's nice to have one last kick at the summery can.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Children Amuse Me.

The other day, Thing 1 was walking by while I was reading the obituary section of the paper. (I always check the obits. You don't want to call a client to remind them of their appointment if they no longer need their hair done.) Sometimes people put pictures of the deceased in the paper, along with the text. (Very handy, sometimes you don't know someone's name at all, just "Overly Friendly Guy Who Works Around the Corner", or "Lady On the Bus Who Only Ever Reads Danielle Steele". It's nice to know why you don't see them any more.) Anyway, I was reading the obits, and there was a picture of a roundish old guy with white hair and glasses, and Thing 1 points to him and says, "That guy's in there all the time".

Thing 2 and I were in the car this afternoon, discussing the possibility of a trip to Florida for the Loudshoes family this autumn. The last time we went to Disney World, we went right after American Thanksgiving, which, apparently, is the least busy week all year. I mentioned that maybe we would go that week again, since it was so nice to have it so quiet. Thing 2 mused that she hoped there would be an outbreak of "some sort of disease" so that everyone else would be too scared to travel, and we would have the place to ourselves. I laughed, and she was sort of surprised; I think she was serious.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Life Is Average.

My friend Carolyn's children, and my brother, all told me about this website, My Life Is Average, which is hilarious and ridiculous....I wasted hours on it.
Example? "Today, during the first assembly of the year, my principal was going over the rules. At the same moment she said "no cells phones allowed" my cell phone beeped. I still have no idea why it beeped, but I'm glad it knows how stand up for itself. MLIA ".
I love this site.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Self-Serve Checkouts

I have a confesson to make: I love the self-serve checkouts at the grocery store. From talking to other people, I think I supposed to loathe them; everyone else seems to. But I use them quite happily, and without incident, and they satisfy my super-secret desire to use the scanner all by myself.

Some people object to the self-serve checkouts because they are confusing and hard to use. Really? Because last time I looked, the gum-chewing, monosyllabic teenager who passes my stuff over the scanner does not have a PhD in geophysics. Now, I will allow that those scanners take a little bit of getting used to; the first few times I took a crack at them it was like something out of an episode of "I Love Lucy", but I figured them quickly enough, and use them all the time now.

I know some people also object to the self-serve checkouts because they take a job away from a person, and diminish the human interaction in the transaction. Now, I'm not thrilled to be doing someone out of a job, but, seriously? my shopping expedition has rarely been improved by the bored silence or surly grunts of the person checking out my groceries. Cashiers who have entire conversations with their co-workers (usually complaining about their breaks, or bosses or how little that cow over at the service desk does at closing time every night) while they are getting my order through piss me right off. If that cashier doesn't bother to even tell me what the total of my bill is, and just stands there waiting for me to look at the screen with her hand out, I am enraged beyond all reason.
Worse, is the cashier who feels the need to comment on my purchases....."oooh, someone's having a party!" (No, not really. But thanks for the reference to our less than ideal eating habits.)
"Wow, you sure must like a lot of salad!" (Actually, the idea that buying three heads of romaine for 4 people for one week is not really that crazy. And judging by the size of you, salads, and vegetables in general, is a concept you might want to investigate in the near future.) "What do you do with this?" (in reference to an avocado) (I slather it all over my naked body and dance around a campfire singing "Copacabana".)

Having said that, I do have some very favorite cashiers, who I will make a point of going to every time I see them working at my local Loblaws. There is Val, who I went to high school with, who aways welcomes me warmly and is good for a laugh. There is Speedy Meg, who can whip through those codes for the produce like nobody's business. (She might actually be working towards a PhD in geophysics.) And Cory, who is about as much fun as one can handle while standing in line at the checkout...he's outgoing, and cheerful and clearly loves talking to people
and is unfailingly good company. I will happily skip the self-checkout if any one of them are working, even if I'm only buying a pack of gum.

If you are at the grocery store with a couple of children, fewer bribes are more effective than "if you do that again you won't be able to scan stuff at the checkout". Honestly, the self-checkout is the best, most immediate reward for good behavior ever invented. My kids are 12 and 15 and they still beg to be able to do the work at the checkout. I heard a woman with a couple of preschoolers at the grocery store threaten to use the cashier if they didn't behave, and man, did that do the job. It was like they were little self-serve checkout addicts, and she said she'd withhold their hit.

Now, if I could just get a self-serve checkout at the passport office, or the American border, or doctor's office, that would be very sweet.

Friday, August 21, 2009

That's Why "A" is First

The kids and Himself and my nephew were in the car on the way home from dinner last night, and somehow the conversation turned to what the kids thought they might do when they grew up. (The Mister and I were not allowed to join in on this one, because, as Thing 2 flat out told us "you've had your chance". Harsh.)

My nephew, who is almost 13, said he thought he'd like to be an engineer. (The kind that figures out how much the house weighs, not the kind that runs a train.) He's good at math, and his mother's brother is an engineer. (I did not tell him the joke Q."What do engineers use for birth control?" A."Their personalities".)

Thing 2 (she's 12) had thought long ago that she wanted to run a bank, until we informed her that being in charge of the bank does not mean you get to use all the money for yourself. Then she kind of went off that idea. But last night she said she thought she'd maybe be an astronomer or a flight attendant. I guess they both have to do with the sky, anyway.

And Thing 1 (15) said that her Plan B is to be a hairdresser, but that she hadn't really worked out her Plan A yet. I said that maybe she should concentrate on that first, since, you know, Plan A might turn out to be important.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Awesome Things

Inspired by this site, 1000 Awesome Things, I offer the following:

Mrs. Loudshoes' Awesome Things:

  • the smell of a baby when they first wake up
  • taking off your ski boots at the end of the day.
  • when you were a kid, falling asleep in the car on the way home at night and being carried into bed
  • walking out the door of work when you are starting holidays
  • Finding something you've been looking for forever
  • waking up on a stormy winter's morning remembering that you don't have to work that day
  • the smell of rain on hot concrete
  • the house full of really good stuff to eat
  • when you walk outside and it's the exactly perfect temperature
  • putting clothes on right out of the dryer
  • having someone else wash your hair.
  • coming in from the cold
  • realizing that your headache is gone
  • that first fall on a rollercoaster
  • realizing that the show you want to watch is starting just as you sit down for the evening
  • getting all the green lights
  • the shower you have after a day at the beach
  • going back to admire your job after you clean a room or a closet
  • getting your credit card bill and the balance says "$0"
  • a long hill down on your bike
  • starting a big fat new book by your favorite author
  • bacon

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mrs. Loudshoes' Rules To Live By

1. Say "please" and "thank you". It costs nothing to be polite.

2. Happiness is a choice.

3. Carry a pen.

4. Check in a full length mirror before you leave the house. Rear view, too. And go to the bathroom, while you are at it.

5. Attend funerals, if at all possible. Nobody ever said "well, that funeral was a complete waste of time, I should never have bothered".

6. Don't be too hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. What did you learn from it? (This includes boyfriends, speeding tickets and egregios fashion choices.)

7. Never wake a sleeping baby. You will regret it.

8. Don't worry about what other people are thinking about you. They aren't. They are starring in their own movie, and you are merely playing a bit part in it.

9. Double the vanilla and triple the chocolate in every recipe.

10. If you are old enough to have worn it the first time it was in style, you are too old to wear it the next time around. Yes, really.

Monday, August 17, 2009

And The Living Is Easy

Summer has finally arrived in southwestern Ontario, and by that I mean, it's what we expect when we say "summer" around here. Up until now it's been cooler and wetter than usual, and I think we thought we might never get that real heat and humidity at all this year. But the past few days have been sticky and hot, and since I complained bitterly about the cold last winter, I'm happy enough to deal.

Today was 30°C (which is 86°F) with a humidex of 40°C ( which is over 100°F) I love that Canadians give you the humidex, as well as the temperature..."if you thought the actual temperature was wicked, wait until we tell you how hot it really feels!". Like, somehow it being 30° isn't quite incentive enough to forgo decent clothing or basic hygiene, now you can cheerfully disregard common decency altogether! What good is deodorant and modesty with temperatures like these?!? (The opposite is the "wind chill factor" that we get in the winter time, "no matter how cold you thought it was outside? Its even colder than that. Why don't you call in sick to work and crawl under the table with a bottle of gin until the spring comes along?")

Last night Thing 1 and I went running, late enough for the temperature to have dropped enough to make it bearable, or so I thought. We took off at about 8:30 in the evening, and by 8:35, I had had just about enough. It felt like I was running with a warm, wet blanket over my face. You could almost get a hold of the air, it was so thick. Thing 1, always her mother's daughter, was more than willing to take it easy and cut things short.

Toby approves of this weather very much. He's never happier than when the people hang out outside with him, and the air is heavy and his lifestyle is completely appropriate.

He's way too drained to even lift his head off the pillow, poor thing. Occasionally, he will hoik his leg to give his nether regions a seeing-to, but that usually exhausts him, and he has to have another nap for about 6 hours or so. In my next life, I want to come back as a cat.

I know it's summer when the bathroom door won't open, when the glass of iced tea you put down leaves a pond of condensation on the table, and the kids smell of sunscreen when I kiss them. When we have corn for dinner almost every night, when the cat sleeps on the bare concrete of the breezeway, when there are no socks to be matched in the laundry. It's summer when I forgo perfume for bugspray, and I have to drive home quickly from the grocery store so that things don't thaw, making the bed every morning means pulling up the comforter from the foot of the bed. When we have fans on in every room, when my dinner menu is decided by what does NOT need to go in the oven, and I watch almost no television or movies, because it's too nice to be inside.

May it last.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Empty Nest

The Mister and I have been without children for five full days now; almost a week, really. Thing 2 is at an overnight camp since Sunday (her first time!) and I pick her up tomorrow. Thing 1 decided to spend the week with her grandmother, rather than hang around the house by herself. (Although she and her sister dedicate enormous amounts of time to an undending game of "Piss Off That Sister!", Thing 1 quickly realized that her parents are crashingly boring, and a week spent in our company might prematurely age her.) It is the longest I have been without either one of them in 15 years.

As you can imagine, it's pretty quiet around here. The Mister isn't very chatty (one of the reasons I married him; why would I hook up with my competition??) but he does make an effort occasionally to engage my attention with such gems as "who is Goldie Hawn's boyfriend" and "is peppermint and spearmint really two different things". Luckily, I get to talk a lot at work.

Toby does not approve of the new order. For one thing, there's nobody around during the day. Even though Toby can easily stay sound asleep in exactly the same position for 12 hours at a stretch, he likes to know that it is possible to be able to get through any given door at a moment's notice. (Toby hates a closed door. No matter what side of it he's on, he really, really wants to be on the other side of it.) Also, with only two of us here, the likelihood of him getting extra tuna because everyone thought nobody else had given him any is considerably slimmer.

I notice that we are not going through nearly the same amount of food that we do with the girls here. Believe me, my kids are anything but robust; neither of them is what you would call "hearty eaters". But apparently they go through milk like nobody's business, and eat way more fruit and bread than I ever realized.

The phone has hardly rung since they've been away, too. I guess the Mister and I don't get phone calls anymore, but we never noticed.

It's been an interesting couple of days, and I've enjoyed the change in routine mightily...mostly I've liked that I can come and go as I please, and I haven't once felt guilty about being in one place when I should be some where else. But I will be glad to have them home soon, even if I do have to buy groceries again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Stay Home.

We have finally had real, honest-to-God summer weather here for the past few days. It has been a cool, wet summer up until now, but since Sunday we've had a run of the hot, humid weather we usually expect. I can't say I mind it; I spend so much of the year complaining bitterly about the cold that I welcome the heat, and I'll put up with a lot of it before it starts to bother me.

There is one distinct downside to the hot weather, however, and that is how other people choose to dress themselves and then go out in public. I understand that when it is 30°C outside, the priortity is function over style, and far be it from me to criticize other people's fashion choices, what with me inhabiting a glass house in the vicinity of many, many stones, but really, there should be a few guidelines. Think of the children.

  • There is no need whatsoever for me to see the crack of your bum. None. I don't care if the sun is blistering the pavement, your pants should fit well enough that NO PART of your bottom is out in public, even accidentally.
  • I don't know you well enough to see any part of your underwear whatsoever. Its bad enough that I am forced into a premature and false intimacy by having to deal with a waistband or a bra strap, but when I see the entire bra or 6 inches of boxer shorts or clothes so sheer that I can see the pattern on your underpants, we've crossed a line. And don't get me started on whale tales.... It's one thing to be able to see where your legs go into your underwear, but it's another when I can see where they come out, too.
  • And while we are on the subject of underwear, it's not optional. You need to wear it. Yes, all the time.
  • Men should wear shirts. Period. I know it's culturally acceptable for men to not wear shirts in public, but really, I don't want to see man-nipples walking down the street. And the only people who should have to put up with hairy, sweaty armpits are the people you are related to, or the ones who chose you. The rest of us can do without it.

I remember being as hot as I have ever been in my entire life, 9 months and two-weeks overdue pregnant with Thing 1. It was about a gazillion degrees out, we had no air conditioning, and my bursting-at-the-seams body had given up any ablility to regulate its temperature about 8 months previously, and I still managed to present myself in public with a bit of decorum. I was as cranky as all get out, but I still managed not to show my butt crack to anyone. If I could do that, so should everyone else.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Love The Internet

Well, this took up most of my evening: What Was New York Like Before It Was A City?
Good luck with your night.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Moan Ranger

I was reading in my bedroom a little while ago, enjoying my book and the slight breeze that was wafting in through the open window. It's around 10:30, on a warm, humid night, and all is quiet.

Except for the ungodly noises coming from the back door. Apparently, the tormented souls of all the undead are howling for the merest smidgen of consolation from their unending anguish. Either that, or Toby has realized that there is another cat in the entire universe, and it is right in our breezeway.

Seems it is the latter.

When I came out of my room to investigate, I discoverd Toby at the screen door, all puffed up and spikey and large, moaning and yowling in the most gut-busting manner imaginable. He would let out a long, emotional, apocolyptic grievance, and then the other cat would answer with the same deep-from-the-gut, disturbing carry-on, and then Toby would start up again. It sounded as though the two of them had some bitter, mulit-generational feud going on that would never, ever be resolved without the spilling of blood and the forced marriage of teenagers.

I let it go on for a little while, mostly because the two of them were so wholly absorbed in the discourse, but also because it sounded so hilarious that I was getting quite a kick out of it. The two of them sounded like the most demented Gregorian chant ever performed. I was laughing so hard.

Finally, I got Toby's attention (and he was all "God, I didn't see you there....did you hear that? Because I really didn't think anyone was around. I'm going to leave now.") and closed the door.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How Does Your Garbage Grow?

Our city has, what I consider to be, an idiotic 8-day garbage cycle. Instead of your garbage being collected on the same day every week, it moves every time, so that you put your garbage out on Sunday night for Monday morning collection this week, and then Monday night for Tuesday morning the next week, and so on. I'm sure the powers that be, and plenty of ordinary people think this is just fine and dandy, but they are not so organizationally impaired as me, and it means that I am in a perpetual state of anxiety, wondering when the next collection day is. Thank God my neighbours are more organized than me, because the only way I know it's garbage day is when they put theirs out.

So, one week a month, we get no collection, and end up going over the weekend, which means 10 days between collections. When there is a holiday, that can mean up to twelve days between pick-ups. And if we miss a day, and the cycle goes over a weekend or holiday, that means that Mrs. Loudshoes loses her shit altogether. As happened last week. I meant to put out the garbage after dinner, but got doing something else, (i.e. surfing Youtube for videos about cats.) and only remembered when I heard the garbage truck bellowing and screeching outside at 7 the next morning. Even I'm not so undignified as to barrell out the door in my pajamas flinging garbage bags to the curb, like some sort of post-apocalyptic rodeo clown.

When I went to put out the garbage last night, I opened the lid in the garage to discover a heaving maggot mosh-pit in the cans. Now, I'm not a very girly-girl; I can deal with mice and snakes and frogs and all sorts of little critters with aplomb. And after years of dealing with dirty diapers that required four-hands and a sand-blaster to manage, and having abundant bodily fluids deposited on my person without apology, I'm not exactly squeamish. HOWEVER, I hate maggots. I mean, I really, really freaking hate them. They are the only thing that sends me into a spasm of repugnance that makes me freeze in the middle of the room and shriek like a little girl. (Apart from the fact that I HATE the maggots, I hate that they make me behave so ridiculously even more.)

Thank GOD the Mister was home, because he calmly dealt with the maggots and the garbage and me, in that order. I don't know what I've have done. Move, I guess. (Seriously, that's one of the most compelling reasons to stay married that I can think of: takes care of maggots. Along with: good father, makes me laugh, fixes computers, doesn't spit.)

I'm going to go find the garbage calendar and make sure I don't miss the next garbage day. Or I might have to move to another city.

Monday, August 3, 2009

One Fish, Two Fish

It has been a lovely, summery life here at Chez Loudshoes the past few days. The weather has co-operated for the first time this season, and been sunny and dry and entirely delightful. (It has been rainy and cool this summer, and no amount of optimistic cheer-leading has made it more palatable.)

We ate out for the first time this year last night. Just to put that in perspective, we usually are able to dine al fresco in late May or early June. Every time we've wanted to this year, it has just rained or threatens to do so, and nothing puts a damper on mealtime like racing through a biblical-style deluge with your burger and potato salad sloshing around on your plate.

My mom and dad had to come over for dinner last night, because we took the girls fishing yesterday afternoon and caught so many trout we had to have help to eat them. We go to a trout farm just outside of town, where they stock a 100 x 30 foot cement pool with nice, edible, catchable rainbow trout. (It's not quite like shooting fish in a barrel, but almost.)

The girls were patient, but not having much luck, for the first hour or so. This guy, around 60 years old or so, shows up on a bike and asks the Mister if he can give some advice. The Mister has no pride, so he says yes, and the guy takes apart the bobber and weights, changes the hook and the bait and plops it back in the pool. Ten minutes later, Thing 1 catches a fish. It was like magic. Five minutes after Thing 2's tackle gets the same treatment, she lands one too. You should have seen us....we were agog. And the guy just shrugs and says, "I've been fishing all my life, and I love showing other people how to fish."

The girls were so excited, I felt like I couldn't tell them that we had enough fish and had to stop. So they kept fishing for another half hour or so, and caught another couple of trout one after the other, and we finally called a halt; I was afraid we weren't going to have enough money to pay for all the fish they could now catch with that guy's fishy voodoo tricks. I called my parents from the fish farm to see if they could come over for dinner, because otherwise, we were going to have to eat a ridiculous amount of fish all by ourselves. Thankfully, they said yes.

We stopped on the road on the way home and got some corn, my mother brought some rice pilaf she had in the freezer and some fresh, local peaches for dessert, and we had an awesome dinner. And we were able to eat outside.

Sometimes, perfect just happens.