Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Things I Learned Today

  • Coming home from work and finding dinner already on the go, AND freshly baked cupcakes waiting on the counter is about the most wonderful thing in the entire world.
  • I can eat three cupcakes at a go, without pausing, and without shame.
  • Eating three cupcakes in a row will give you heartburn.
  • I really like running in cold weather. It's so much easier than running when it's hot out.
  • Running when it's kind of dark is nice can see inside people's houses. Makes it much more interesting.
  • Two kleenex is not enough when you are running in cold weather. Normally, the entire contents of my sinus cavities is grimly determined to escape through my nose, but I found out when I run in the cold, there's an alarmingly hasty evacuation.
  • I need to buy socks.
  • When there is nothing to talk about, people will talk about the weather.
  • Our new neighbours are very nice, and Chinese.
  • Toby thinks he should not only get a treat when HE comes inside, he thinks he should when I do too.
  • Full fat yogurt is, far and away, vastly superior to fat-free yogurt.
  • I will get exactly the same number of compliments on my hair, regardless of the time or effort put into styling it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Falling Again

Good God, it is freaking cold here!! It's like autumn showed up with a big attitude and said "deal with this, losers!"
Seriously, last week I wore a skirt with flip flops and bare legs to work and this week I'm wearing jeans, a sweater vest and a leather jacket. If I didn't know better, I'd think I was abducted by aliens, and lost a month.
But, I try to put a good spin on things, so I've been thinking of things that I like about fall:
  • No mosquitos. Evenings spent outside are no longer a protracted war of attrition towards the mosquitos. And there are no more nights where one is drifting off to sleep only to be jolted awake by the zzzzzzzzz one of those bastards strafing your ears.
  • Thing 2's allergies have stopped, and she no longer sniffles constantly. God, she is a pity during hayfever season. From the middle of August to the middle of September, that child has a permanently runny nose, watery swollen eyes and the temperment of a rabid dog.
  • No sunscreen. Thing 1 has that translucent, Nicole Kidman skin that burns if she stands to close to a strong lightbulb. Years of sun exposure have toughened up my skin, but I still burn very easily. Neither of us can go out to bring in the recycling bins without slathering on a SPF of 50.
  • Running is easier, now that I don't have to factor in the time to collapse of heat stroke.
  • New jeans. I always buy new jeans in September; a holdover from when I went back to school each year. The smell of new denim always makes me think of fall.
  • Oven dinners. My dinner menu is now not limited to whatever does not heat up the kitchen. Shepherd's pie, cheeseburger calzones, meatloaf, lasagne, and roast chicken top the list. And I can bake now, too.
  • Good stuff on tv. All my favorite shows are back on the air, and I am amused in all sorts of ways.
  • Staying inside without guilt. In the summer, I feel like I should be outside as much as possible, because the nice weather is so short-lived. But sometimes I want to curl up in bed and read, or do stuff that can't be done outside, and it feels like I am shamefully squandering the summer. Cold and rain cure that entirely.
  • Cool nights for sleeping. One of the most delicious feelings ever is to burrow down into your nice, warm, cozy bed while a cool breeze wafts through the bedroom.
  • Apples, pears and squash are in season. We get apples, pears and squash all year round here, but they are particularly nice when they are fresh and local. In fact, apple, pear and squash soup with curry is epic.

If I just keep thinking positively, then I am bound to forget warm sun, beaches, fresh strawberries and days reading in the breezeway. Maybe.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Amazing Race 15 Ep. 1 and 2

SOOOOO much to love!! God, I missed this show!!

Man, that first elimination was harsh. Can you imagine getting on this show, and organizing yur life to be away for a month, and not sleeping for weeks beforehand, only to be out before you left the city??? I would have laid down and wept.Particularly since the next pitstop was non-elimination. Of course, when you say things like "we took the beating for everyone", you've made everyone very happy that they don't have to listen to you for the rest of the race. I have to say, the “yoga in the ‘hood" thing sealed the deal for me...I thought he was an ass.

Can you explain the point of lying about your profession to the rest of the racers? Because I did not get why the Poker Chippies did's not like "Survivor", where people vote you off or not; your income has nothing to do with your arrival at the mat. Also, I'm sure those Harlem Globetrotters don't make minimum wage, and they seemed to be getting along with everyone just fine. Also, maybe if you are going to lie about being semi-famous, you shouldn't cheerfully own up the first second someone recognizes you...when that guy at the airport said "aren't you that poker player", she could have just said "no" and then no one would have known. Except Zev, the Aspberger's guy, who very shrewdly sniffed them out without too much effort.

As much as I'm not crazy about those Poker Chippies, I did like when the one said "I don't mean this in a bad way, but he's kind of a meathead." about Lance the Boston Lawyer. Like there is a good way to mean that.

Duck-herding! I loved the duck-herding! I loved that Zev and Pinky rocked at that task!

Did anyone else feel sorry for the Japanese game show spectators? "I thought I was getting a few yen for watching some lame fake game show, and I ended up being herded all over Tokyo by two screechy Americans'. I wonder if they every found those two who were missing.

I wonder how it's unthinkable to have sex before marriage with someone you care about, but it's okay to threaten to murder her by ripping off her head when she cannot control barnyard animals to your liking.

Favorite Lines of the Night: "Tastes like money!" (I plan on using this whenever I am asked "what's that like?")
"You can throw up later."
And the whole “Andale!” “Different language” exchange was good. (Why do Racers insist on using Spanish whenever they are in a foreign country?)
"They thought Godzilla was walking down the street"

Those wasabi bombs would be brutal. I like wasabi enough, in small doses, but it's the kind of "heat" that cleans my sinuses right out, and starts to burn a hole into my brain. When I do eat wasabi, I have to make sure it does not directly hit the back of my throat, or I end up crying and rocking back and forth in my chair making whimpering noises. That amount of wasabi might blind me.

Until next week!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Five years sure does fly by....our passports have expired, and it's time to renew them.
If you are a Canadian citizen, it used to be that you could cross the border with only a birth certificate and a smile. (Unless you are my father, in which case you enter the United States with a library card and the incredible luck of having the border guard's grandfather born in the same county in Ireland where you grew up.) Now we are required to have an actual passport.

Filing for passports is not child's have to jump through some considerable hoops to get one, and all for the priviledge of having an official document that you are ashamed to show anyone. Everyone's passport photo looks terrible, that's a given, but my passport photo is unspeakable....I look as though I've been made over by hyperactive toddlers, and shot out of a cannon. My mother says that if you look like your passport photo, then you are too sick to travel.
Even the kids' photos are horrendous...Thing 1 only looks like she's been drugged, but Thing 2 appears to have just been arrested and she's none too happy about it. My father's passport picture is so awful we pull it out every now and again when we need a good laugh.

I went down to the passport office, which has big signs all over it saying they will NOT give you any indication WHATSOEVER as to how long the wait will be, so DON'T EVEN BOTHER asking, and other signs telling you that foul language, profanity and abuse of the staff will not be tolerated, which makes me wonder just how long people have to wait anyway.

The first line is to tell you whether or not you have everything tickety-boo, and whether or not you should even bother waiting in the second line. A very nice woman looked over my document for myself and the Mister, and said all was as it should be, and then she looked over the girls' stuff and asked where their birth certificates were. Ohhhh. Birth certs. I didn't know I needed them. Damn. Then, because I didn't use foul language or abuse her, she said I could get our stuff done and come back another time for the girls stuff when I had the right docs.

After waiting in the most soul-destroying, joyless room imaginable for 20 minutes, I got my turn and got everything sorted out. I explained to the next very nice woman that I had to come back and she gave me a super-secret, extra-special little bit of paper that would allow me to jump the line when I came back!! See??? It pays not to swear at people who are in charge of your destiny!! I went back later that afternoon and got in and out in about 10 minutes.

So now we will get our passports mailed to us in a couple of weeks, and I can cross the border any time I want, as long as I don't scare anyone who looks at my picture.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Should Know Better

The Mister went out for a drink after work last Saturday with one of the staff, for his birthday. They went to bar just down the street from the shop, that has a popular outdoor patio, perfect for enjoying one of the last days of late summer. The university students are back in town now, and the combination of the nice weather and them not having too much responsibilities yet meant that the place was very busy.

They came back just as I was finishing work for the day, and I asked how was it. Himself said that the place was really busy. But he said there was one girl there that everyone was watching, because she was staggering around the whole patio, bumping into people and bonking her head. He said she never sat down once, and at one point, she had to get down on her hands and knees to negotiate the one step from one level to another.
As he's telling me this, I was horrified at the idea that someone would get themselves into such a state in such a public place.

Then he mentioned that he girl in question was 14 months old, and that her parents and grandparents were with her her the whole time.

The Mister is good.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I was lucky enough to be invited to a reunion of sorts on Friday night; a bunch of people that I went to elementary school with got together for a party, 42 years after we all first met.
There were 8 of us 1962 babies there; we all met in kindergarten when Canada was celebrating a hundred years of Confederation. I moved away from that school in Grade 6, so I didn't graduate with the rest of them, but they kindly invite me to all the reunions. I met up with most of them again when we all went to the only Catholic high school in the city.

God, it was fun. What a lively, entertaining, enjoyable crowd they were, full of stories and "remember when"s and everyone had some contribution to the collective memory. Most of us still live in the same city, and keep in touch with at least one person from that class. My friend Kelly (she of the inventive Christmas gifts) is the one I see the most of, and occasionally run into someone else at the grocery store or the mall. Of the group, most have lost at least one parent, there have been a few marriages, divorces and remarriages. Children have been born and woman is even a grandmother already. A few of our class have already passed away, and several people's parents still live in the house they lived in when we went to that school.

One of the things that struck me is that people don't really change as they get older, they just get more like themselves. I think the personality you get at the age of 7 is pretty much the personality you've got for good; happy people stay happy, funny people get funnier, discontented people don't come to reunions. It was a bit disconcerting to see those 7 year-old faces looking out from 47 year-old bodies, however.

My sister-in-law grew up all over the place, moving frequently and never really making any lasting friendships. She once said that she thought I was very lucky to have friends that had known me my whole life, and that she wondered what it was like to have people who knew your whole history. I think I'm pretty lucky, too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

That Man o' Mine

The Mister's birthday is tomorrow, not that he likes to make much of a fuss about it. But I am not passing up the opportunity to have cake, so it shall be celebrated regardless of the birthday boy's feelings on the matter.
It is also our wedding anniversary tomorrow; we got married on his birthday so he'd never forget our anniversary. Not the worst idea I've ever had.

Things You Should Know About The Mister:
  • He can fix anything. He's been able to rehabilitate broken down bar-b-ques, install showers, fit eleventy-two pieces of luggage in the trunk of a sports car and sort out banjaxed computers. He's invaluable.
  • He can do math in his head. A skill that impresses me every time he does it. I am absolutely hopeless at math, even with a pencil and paper and calculator, and he can just figure out a percentage or add up more than two things together or calculate foreign exchange just. like. that. Amazing.
  • He's a really, really good hairdresser. He's cut my hair for years, and did such a good job of it that I married him. He cuts my mother's hair, too.
  • He won't eat rice pudding, olives, coffee or clams.
  • He can make ten dollars last for a week. Seriously, I have never met anyone who can live on so little.
  • He's really polite. He always says "please" and "thank you" to everyone, and even says "sorry" to the panhandlers out on the street when he doesn't have change.
  • He is NOT a morning person. Poor man, he really struggles to get out of bed, no matter what time of the day he does it. I AM a morning person, so I have to really reign myself in from bombarding him with cheerful chatter at 8 a.m. He's learned to not have any sort of meaningful conversation with me after 9 pm., because I will not remember it.
  • He's 100% Canadian. When Himself and I went to Ireland shortly after we were married (The "Trot Out The New Husband" Trip) my Irish cousins were fascinated to meet someone who could paddle a canoe, had played hockey and drank his beer right out of the bottle.
  • He would pick Sandra Bullock over Angelina Jolie as the Celebrity Of Choice To Run Away With, because he "wants someone (he) can talk to". Even if he's lying, it's a good answer.
  • He has a brother that's only 11 months older than him, and their mother dressed them in specific colours so that she could tell who's clothes were who's. To this day, the Mister can barely make himself wear grey, blue or purple.
  • He always saves the best food on the plate for last.
  • He's put up with me for 17 years.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Morning!

The Mister and I did not live together before we got married, which meant that our honeymoon was probably the longest continous time we had ever spent in each other's company up to that point. Even though we had known each other for years, even before we dated, there were still things that came as a complete surprise, like, the Mister does not eat breakfast. I LIVE for breakfast, it's one of my favorite meals of the day. On that honeymoon cruise ship, where they had a big, beautiful breakfast buffet, where you could eat all the eggs, bacon, waffles, fresh fruit and hash browns you could possibly want, the man I had recenty pledged to spend my life with, suggested that we skip the buffet and go straight onto shore. I was speechless with horror, and wondered how I would return all the wedding presents before I got home.
The Mister was able to calm me down with some pancakes and Eggs Benedict, and we've gotten along very well ever since. (The Mister's motto is "1. Get Up, 2. Feed Mrs. Loudshoes, 3. Go About Your Business")

I take my breakfast very seriously.

My favorite breakfast these days is Steel Cut Oats. I adore oatmeal of almost any stripe, but the steel-cut stuff is chewy and nutty and filling and feels like I am eating the most righteous food ever. Seriously, I can eat that at 7:30 and not be ready for lunch for at least 4 hours. (With Rice Krispies, I could eat a second breakfast about an hour later, like a hobbit.) Just to tell you, you can cover the steel cut oats with water the night before, and then they microwave up in about 3 minutes. Almost instant.

When I was a kid, my brother and I would demand fluffy, sugary cereals, which, surprisingly, my mother would actually buy for us. I say surprisingly, because it was totally unlike her to give us such nutritionally-dubious, expensive food, but my mother is decidedly NOT a morning person, so maybe it was just so that we would be quiet and leave her alone.

We liked Alpha-Bits and Frosted Flakes and Corn Pops, which were all designed to make your blood sugar levels take off like a Japanese bullet train for about 20 minutes, and then leave you to crash and burn right before you left for school. We didn't like Cap'n_Crunch(it shreds the insides of your mouth so that you can't eat anything else for days.) or Cheerios (too boring) or Corn_flakes (ditto). Occasionally we would get Raisin_Bran, which I can't believe, because of my hatred of all things raisin. Mostly I remember flicking the raisins at the cat.

Probably we got the Raisin Bran because of the prize that came in the box. My children look at me with awe and wonder when I tell them that cereal used to include prizes in the box, like little whistles and glow-in-the-dark spoons and a submarine that you added baking soda and vinegar to and it swam around in the bathtub. I know, it's kind of hard to believe even when you lived it. They could be totally worth eating a whole box of Raisin Bran for.

I love eating breakfast out, and luckily, Thing 1 concurs. We usually go out for breakfast every couple of months or so. The Mister and Thing 2 do not share our enthusiasm. I'm glad I have a breakfast buddy, otherwise I might not be married.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fair Fallout

It was the annual Loudshoes family trip to the Fair last night, and we're all paying for our folly today.

  • We all have sore feet, from walking and standing for 7 hours straight. The Mister and I stand at work for HOURS every day, but somehow that doesn't seem as tortuous as hanging around waiting for our children and walking several miles in pursuit of yet more nutritionally-bankrupt food.
  • The copious amounts of nutritionally bankrupt food we consumed has left us all sluggish and nauseous and intestionally peevish. Is there anything they can't deep fry? That we won't eat? Actually, we didn't give the chocolate-covered bacon a go, not because we were too good for such fare (far from it), but because it was kind of expensive, and part of me was worried that it would be awful, but most of me was worried that it wouldn't be, and believe me, if the Loudshoes family got hooked on chocolate-covered bacon, I am sure that we would lose our life's savings in pursuit of it forever. Also, I think I could make that at home, if need be.
  • Our ears are ringing from the egregiously loud music they play at almost every ride in the midway. Seriously, I could feel the beat from the Super Himilaya right through my sternum from about 100 feet away. My heart was beating to the Black-Eyed Peas; I thought I was going to have a stroke. This morning, I still couldn't hear properly.
  • Everyone had trouble getting up this morning. We didn't get home that late, and everyone went straight to bed, but I'll tell you, that alarm was not kind at 7 a.m. Thing 2 was groaning loudly as she got ready for school, and when I pointed out that she really only went to bed an hour later than usual, she said "but it was an action-packed hour".
  • I foolishly scheduled myself to work this morning, the first Tuesday I've worked in 15 years. (When Thing 1 was born, and I dropped down to part-time, I stopped working Tuesdays. Even when I upped my hours last year to full time, I still didn't work on Tuesdays, opting for 4 longer days, with Tuesdays off. Things have changed and I have Fridays off, with today being the first Tuesday of the new schedule. Very bad planning on my part, to start it the day after the trip to the fair.)
  • It's a whole year until we get to do it again!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rules I Followed As A Kid And Still Do.

When you are growing up, there are, reasonably, certain limitations put on your behaviour. Small children generally behave like minature drunken sailors on a 24 hour shore leave, and have to be corralled in such a manner that they present no danger to themselves or anyone else. (Hence the invention of the playpen. Or "baby jail", as it was referred to in our house.)
As children get older they can be trusted to understand that there are rules that need to be followed, so that everyone is safe and order reigns and mommy's head doesn't burst into flames without warning.
And somehow, those rules continue to be obeyed, LONG after the need for such restrictions is no longer applicable. I have come to realize that it is just as well that I did not live in a Communist country as a youngster, or in the confines of a religious cult, because I would be a hopeless slave to whatever doctrine I had been programmed to.

Some of the rules I follow as an adult are:

*Don't EVER adjust the thermostat. There was no point in even ASKING to touch the thermostat or change the temperature in the house when I was growing up , because it would never, ever be given. Because the most heinous crime imaginable was touching the thermostat. Civlizations would crumble and meteors would crash into the earth and nature would mount an assault on humanity if children touched the thermostat. When the Mister and I got married, I spent an entire December weekend freezing in my own house, because it never occurred to me that I could adjust the temperature. Because that would mean touching the thermostat.

*Hands in pockets. When I was a kid, my mother always commanded "hands in pockets" whenever we were in any sort of store with delicate, breakable, forbidden-to-be-touched objects in it. And to this day I cannot be in a china department with my hands unincarcerated, even though I am perfectly capable of keeping them under control.

*Hold a knife by it's blade. When you are walking with a knife, you MUST hold the blade of the knife in your hand, otherwise it will run amok and stab someone. Or you. I can't remember which. But a knife blade unsheathed by the insurmountable armour of your palm is dangerous beyond belief, and I'm horrified whenever I see anyone else dabble in such folly.

*Don't open things with your teeth. Opening packages with your teeth was, to my mother, the most gruesome, horrifying act one human being could commit. I'm not really sure why, perhaps she was afraid that my teeth would shatter to smithereens if they came in close contact with a stubborn popsicle wrapper, I don't know. But to this day, I NEVER use my teeth to open anything, ever, and find myself screeching the same directive to my children whenever I see them do it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Made Me Think...

A couple of t-shirts I saw lately:

"I'm retired. Do it yourself"

"That which does not kill me better be able to run like hell"

and my personal favorite: "My life has a superb cast, but I can't figure out the plot"

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labour Day

Today is Labour Day, so I laboured.
For months the freezer room in the basement has been getting on my nerves; it is the catch-all for everything that doesn't have a place to go in the house. Slowly, it was filling up to the point where there was a path from the door to the freezer, and every surface was full of junk. I hated it.
Today was the day. I hate cleaning and organizing, I just hate it. I envy people who love that sort of thing, and who live in clutter-free houses every day, with people who actually throw things away. But I live in this house, and that means I have to clean it.

Yesterday I cleaned out the freezer, which is not a job I enjoy, but has to be done every six months whether it needs it or not. I defrosted it too, I didn't just take out all the peas that had escaped and the freezer jam I made in 2006. I was astonished at how much more room there was when I took out the 4 inches of ice along the sides. Note to self: using a blow-drier to defrost the freezer is an excellent idea.
Today I cleaned out the freezer room: 4 bags for Good Will and 4 bags for the garbage man. Somehow, with all that out, the shelves still appear to be full. How does that happen?

I was on a roll of sorts, so I cleaned out the three drawers in the kitchen that didn't close any more. I guess I really don't need 3 lemon reamers and a bag of twist ties. I tossed out instruction manuals to appliances I don't have any more, and a bunch of cookie cutters that never get used because no one can figure out what they are supposed to be the shape of. (Most of them look like bags of potatoes, and at least one of them looked like Richard Nixon.) Really, I can live a full and rich life without those things.

Then I cleaned out another drawer, a bookshelf and the laundry room. Turns out cleaning and organizing isn't my problem, it's getting started that is.

By the end of my day, I was seriously considering renting a dumpster tomorrow, and starting on the garage. (Big Liver Girl got a dumpster rented for her this summer, and it came on her wedding anniversary. I think that would be the best anniversary present ever, even if she didn't even consider putting her husband in it.)

This evening I have spent wandering around and admiring my work. The Mister made appropriate noises, even though he could happily live in squalor without even noticing. The kids wondered if I threw out anything "important". (The answer? Yes, a Hannah Montana sticker album, and an origami kit that we once tried that was so complicated we thought it might be a third-year engineering exam posing as a craft. Also, a poster of American First Ladies I got from Kelly for Christmas once. All very important.)

Tomorrow the kids get back to school. Then I can really get to the purging, while they aren't here to stop me. They may come home to a perfectly empty house.
I can dream, can't I?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Why Didn't I Think Of This?

Now this??? This is a holiday I can totally get behind: International Bacon Day. It's tomorrow.
I plan on celebrating by indulging in bacon morning, noon and night, and maybe knitting a bacon scarf. (That's a scarf that looks like bacon, not a scarf made out of bacon.)
This may surpass Talk Like A Pirate Day as my favorite holiday. By the way, Talk Like A Pirate Day is held on September 19th every year, which is the Mister's birthday and our wedding anniversary. I tell you, it has enhanced our celebration dinners NO END.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mea Culpa

Yesterday was Toby's annual trip to the vet. We are both just getting over it now.
I apologized profusely all the way there, and all the way home, but Toby was having none of it. He meowed so loudly on the 2 minute car trip there, that I thought he might rupture something; it sounded a lot like "get me OOOOOUUUUUTTTTTTT!!!"
When we were at the vet, he thought that if he made himself really, really small, he might get out of this alive. He compacted his little cat body into the tiniest of packages, and sat completely still, like the vet and I might have to say "gosh, that cat was just here a minute ago, where could he have gone?", but no such luck....the vet's examination room is pretty small, and I don't care how tightly you pull in your tail, you are still pretty conspicuous on that stainless steel table in the middle of the room.

Toby got through the exam with a minium of fuss and loss of dignity. The vet decided that he didn't need a thermometer stuck up his bum, and only gave his very full bladder a cursory inspection. The needles he forebore with grim stoicism, and he only whipped his head around to glare at the vet when the second one went in. ("What the hell???? I already let you do that once!!")

Toby spent most of yesterday evening punishing me by giving me the stink-eye whenever I was foolish enough to venture into his sight, and then occasionally leaving the room whenever I entered. (We used to have a lovely, affectionate tabby cat named Puca, who felt bitterly betrayed by me whenever she had to go to the vet. Her displeasure was demonstrated by sitting about three feet away with her back pointedly towards me, with the occasional malevolent stare over her shoulder to see if I was suitably chastened. "See? See how I scorn you? Do you feel my vengeance? Let me sit a little closer to enhance your humiliation!")

To make it up to Toby, I gave him some extra tuna this morning, and then after dinner this evening, I changed the bed linen. Oh, my, but Toby loves the changing of the bed linen...he romped and cavorted and rollicked until he was quite exhausted (you can tell he's all done in by the rapid, one-eye blinking, and the snorting huffs. Very attractive.)

I think I am forgiven and we are all good now. Whew.