Friday, October 30, 2009

To Your Health

I'm exhausted, and I'm not even sick.
When did it get to be so much work to be healthy?

I run because exercise is supposed to be enormously beneficial for me; it's good for my heart, it prevents osteoporosis and seems to help stave off breast cancer. I keep my weight under control for my blood pressure and so I don't become diabetic. I eat lots of dark leafy greens and stay away from burgers made with cheese and bacon served on a Krispy Kreme. (For so many reasons.) I drink green tea. I get plenty of sleep. I live a relatively stress-free life. I quit smoking years ago. Really, you'd think I would live to be a hundred and eleventy-two years of age. I never seems to be enough, though; there's always another danger lurking around the corner, and it's going to play havoc with your health.

I really can't imagine any of my ancestors in rural Ireland a hundred years ago worrying about staying fit, or avoiding dairy products or flushing their bodies of toxins. I'm sure they would be bewildered beyond belief at the thought of going ot a gym or counting carbs.
They were probably way more concerned with getting enough to eat and not dying from infection or childbirth or drowning in the rain and mud.

So, now it is the flu I have to think about. I know flus can be dangerous, they can kill an enormous number of people in short order. Also? I hate being sick. It's my number one thing I hate doing in the whole world. (The only thing that getting sick makes acceptable is the wallowing in bed for a day and eating copious amounts of chocolate with impunity.)

I do plan on getting a flu shot, two of them in fact, one for the regular flu and one for the H1N1. But the lines will be long and the wait will be excruciating and I will whine incessantly. (It baffles me that so many people are against getting a flu shot. There's been thousands of years of human existence that would have given anything to avoid illness, and here we have it, and most of us couldn't be bothered. I'm not sure when our society got to the point where they were more afraid of a shot than a particularly deadly strain of flu. )

But get it I will, even if it does mean more work for me. You know what would really make the flu shot appealling??? If I could get one while lolling in bed, eating chocolate!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lotsa Busy

I used to work in a restaurant when I was a teenager, and there was a guy who washed the dishes named Stavro who was straight off the boat from Greece. Stavro was all kinds of fun, and was learning English as quickly as he could. (We were unfailingly helpful in teaching him all sorts of swear words.) In the middle of the Saturday night mayhem, when we were booked to the rafters and ran out of forks, Stavro would gleefully throw his hands in the air and exclaim "LOTSA BUSY, LOTSA BUSY!!" to anyone in the kitchen.
It's been "lotsa busy" here this past week.

Among other things I did last week, was attend an "Amazing Race" type event here in town. My friend Anne was invited me along, knowing I would be game for any and all Amazing Race themed events anytime, anywhere. (Thing 1 and I would sign up for the real Amazing Race in a heartbeat if they would accept Canadians. Which they DO NOT. We've got it all planned out, Thing 1 will do all the bungee jumping and I will eat all the gross stuff.)

We had a riot, just as expected.

Unlike the regular Amazing Race, there was no million dollars at the end for the winner. In fact, I'm not sure the winner got anything at all, except for the bragging rights. And further fact, WE paid THEM to participate. (The proceeds went to a local charity, I don't think the organizers just absconded with the money.)

There were about 116 people participating, in teams of 4 to 12, and it was quite a sight around the city, let me tell you. All the teams were in costumes, of a sort, doing ridiculous things in public and not at all shy about it. Here is our team, having interrupted a street hockey game to get a picture of us playing with the pumpkin we had to haul around all night:
That's me in the middle with the sunflower hat, the orange feather boa and the rainbow argyle socks on. (Our team was the "Tacky Tootsies", and I have no trouble doing tacky. )
At one point we met some very confused German exchange students, who stopped us to ask us what the hell was going on and why were there so many strangely dressed adults who should know better running around on the streets demanding 1972 pennies and hay. (For the scavenger hunt.) I expect that was an interesting phone call back to Berlin that evening....."and zey run around wearing strange clothes for ze poor people!"
On Sunday, I highlighted Thing 1's hair, which takes all day. I wanted to use her and Thing 2 for part of a photo shoot we were doing for the shop on Monday, so I needed to colour her hair for the photos. Photo shoots sound glamorous and exciting, but they are hard work. Luckily, when your children are your models, and you are only taking pictures of their hair, it's a lot easier. (I remember doing the hair and makeup for a magazine layout that involved 8 children under 10 years of age. They all sat around like wax figures until one of the mothers suggested we give them some Coca Cola, and a few minutes later we had to scrape them all off the ceiling. That was a challenging shoot.)
I went to a cocktail party, did a few haircuts in my kitchen, got the groceries and cleaned the house, went to a book club meeting and managed to have a beer with Big Liver Girl.
A busy week, but a good one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amazing Race 15 Ep. 6

Oh, thank goodness that torture is finally over...I don't think I could stand one more minute of Mika whining and pouting and panicking over whatever she had to do next. Or Canaan trying to force her.
Canaan, I think trying to throw your hysterical girlfriend down a waterslide makes you a piece of crap, actually.
The Globetrotters were doing their best to win that race, and if a bit of trash talking does the trick, then so be it. Besides, if I had KNOWN I was in last place all day, and come up to the top of that water slide to find a grown woman wearing WATER WINGS for God's sake, and splashing around in the water, then I would have been hard pressed NOT to give her the gears.
(By the way, I read that Mika and Canaan were up there for 45 minutes before the Globetrotters showed up. You can't tell me that she would have gone, trash talk or no trash talk.) Man, did you see Flight Time go when she got out of the way? I doubt he even touched the slide.

I lost all sympathy for her with the "I hate my life" comment. Really? You've got a all-expense paid trip around the world, WITH a chance to win a million dollars at the end of it, and you hate your life??? I'm sure there are plenty of women in Afghanistan and Darfur who share your pain.

I think everyone was suffering from Terminal Frustration Due To Killer Fatigue and Stupefying Heatstroke. Even Phil looked a bit weary on that Amazing Bathmat, although I liked his little hat.

One thing I thought was interesting in this episode was how each pair dealt with their partner's frustration. Megan complained and started to freak out, but Cheynne talked her down really quickly and effectively and she was able to keep her focus. When Erica didn't want to do the water slide, Brian calmly and persuasively convinced her she could, and she did, and when Pinky almost fainted from the heat, his dad told him to take a break and continued on without a fuss. Makes me think that being able to deal with your partner at their worst is the most valuable skill you can bring to the race.

Both Thing 1 and I looked at each other in absolute horror when faced with the possibility of doing math. Neither one of us has the slightest ability to do even the simplest math question, even with a calculator and Einstein whispering in our ears. Trying to do that one would leave both of us in a steaming puddle on the floor.

Favorite Lines of the Night: "I'm gonna keep saying the word 'hot', 'cause it's hot".
"Hookah? We used to call it something different when I was a kid".
"Does a Muslim clock work differently than a regular clock?"
"You win the award for the biggest person to fit in a boat meant for a 5 year old!"

I would be happy if the Globetrotters did the rest of the race in only those bathing suits.

Is Maria ever going to do a Roadblock? Because Tiffany must be almost done her share, and that means that Maria might actually have to do something physical on this race.

Until next week!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Things That Piss Me Off.

It's been a long week, and Mrs. Loudshoes is kind of cranky today. I've been hellishly busy, it's rainy and cold out and I know Christmas is looming. So, don't say I didn't warn you: This post is going to be whiny and negative and stabby.

Things That Piss Me Off: The October Edition.
  1. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I KNOW about breast cancer, for God's sake!! The pink here, the pink there! Stop already!! Does anyone anywhere on the planet NOT know about breast cancer? (And this is coming from someone who's mother has survived breast cancer.) And what, exactly, is all this attention grabbing supposed to do??? It scares the snot out of people, I know that, and it's NOT the leading cause of death among women, (heart disease is), so WHY with the pink everything??? God! There are other kinds of cancer, too, how come they don't get this sort of over the top flogging??
  2. People who talk in the movie theatre during the movie. You're NOT AT HOME you know. The rest of us can hear you. I don't care what you think of that actress's personal life, or the wardrobe or the inaccuracies of the dialogue. And please, for the love of all that is holy, do not narrate the movie for me...I can see that she's going into that door the same as you, I'm in the same room. And by God, if you spoil the movie for me by telling me what is about to happen, I will not be responsible for my actions.
  3. Stopping in front of the grocery store or the mall, putting on the four-way flashers and then "just running in for a few things" There's a whole freaking parking lot RIGHT THERE beside you...why can't you use that instead of making everyone else drive around you, you selfish twit???
  4. When a stranger tell me to smile. Oh, Lord, this one makes me lose my shit altogether. Seriously my face? is my business. You do not get a vote. Why do I have to put on a performance for you?? Shut. It.
  5. People who take two steps into a store or public venue and then stop dead to take a good look around. We went to a hockey game last week and about 5 people did this right in front of me. Other people want to keep going, you? can move over out of the way to figure out where to go, see how that works? It's all I can do not to slam into them from behind really hard. This is particularly egregious when escalators are involved becausethey keep moving, regardless of how much room is available where they empty out.
  6. The company I use for my cell phone has THE WORST customer service imaginable. Their web site is impossible (I end up going around and around in circles, clicking on things that take me right back to the page I was on, and hiding the one feature I want wa-a-a-ay down in the least obvious place ever) their phone "help" is entirely the opposite, and the storefront operation makes you wait in line for 20 minutes or so and the tells you to call the 1-800 number or go on the internet.
  7. The sound of motorcycles revving. I hate this so much. It is the most obnoxious noise in the universe.

There. I feel better already.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Amazing Race 15 Ep. 5

As awful and heartbreaking as last week's elimination of Justin and Zev was, this week's elimination of Lance and Keri was immensely satisfying. Thank you, Universe, for putting things back to rights.

Those two were out of it from the minute they stepped off that plane in Dubai. Why, exactly, did they head in one direction while everyone else went in the other? Then they seemed to tour the entire United Arab Emirates because of their inability to read a map or make decisions or listen to each other even kind of. They must have had a huge pile of Bad Decision Pancakes for breakfast, or something.

At least Lance went out with more class than I would have thought....he didn't whine or blame her or anything. But sweet baby Jesus, he's a tool. Did he not think that maybe some hapless local Arab might want to USE that water urn at some point? Anonymous Desert Dwelling Arab isn't going anywhere, he might need that. I loved the whole "can I kick the snowman?" "do you want your clue or not" exchange. Even that lady could see he was a tool, and she only spent 10 minutes with him.

I thought Phil was being very cautious at the Amazing Bathmat with Lance and Keri..." tell have...... been eliminated". Like he was afraid Lance might tackle him or something.
Any idea why "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" was playing when the 'Trotters came up to the mat?

Camels are always good. I liked their little crocheted tea cozy muzzles.

Funniest lines of the night: "I'm from New Orleans - I'm used to running from water, not looking for it" and "I have an excuse, I'm an Asian female driver"
And when Keri said she loved Lance "with all (her) haaaaahhhht", I was reminded very much of the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz.
Also: "I don't think there's a recession here."

That sledding looked like fun. Although, I can tell you from bitter, first hand experience, that scooting down a snow covered hill wearing inadequate clothing? Not so much fun. (Snow can be surprisingly, um, abrasive.) Maybe its more fun when you've come in from the surface of the sun. I'd never do a "needle in the haystack" challenge; way too dependant on luck, but I'd have sled down the hill and then done the snowman thing without hesitation.

How many teams asked the ticket agent to go to "the Persian Gulf"? That's sort of like asking for a ticket to Europe. Geography teachers all over the world and lying down and weeping this morning.

How come this Fast Forward only involves ONE person driving around a track really fast, when Joyce and Uchenna BOTH had to shave their heads? (Well, it was a much bigger deal for Joyce than Uchenna, but girl had to freaking shave her head!!) If I was Joyce, I'd still be mad about that. And why was Megan tearing up at the race track? I don't get it...the only way I'd be crying was because I was madder than hell that my partner got to drive that car at 120 miles an hour instead of me.

Why did Mika apply to be on this thing if she's scared of daylight and walking and her own spit? Thing 1 and I are both aware that if we ever get on this show, we have to be prepared to fight lions, jump to our deaths, be buried alive and run from tornadoes. And drive a stick shift.
Mika certainly does not seem to be having any fun.

Next week: water wings!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Buck Up

I've been fighting off a cold for the past few days, and I feel as though it's now a war of attrition, and it's just a matter of time until I give up and let it colonize me.

On Thursday, I started feeling a sort of raw achiness in my chest, and at the first opportunity, I ran out and got some Cold FX, which is supposed to head off the cold at the pass, but I think it merely delayed the virus, and possibly added a few prisoners of war to it's arsenal.

I took the opportunity to spend the rest of the weekend lounging and resting, and drinking so many cups of tea that I sloshed when I walked. I lounged and rested to the point that my kids were going to buy me some moss for my north side for my next birthday. If lounging and resting had been an Olympic sport, I'd be on the Wheeties box. I barely moved for two days, except to get dressed so that I could go over to someone else's house for dinner. I was beginning to feel a bit ashamed of myself.

But still the cold has lingered on, not really blossoming into anything significant, but hovering around my chest and throat and making me cough and spew and be very unattractive.

So, today, I braced myself, and brought out the big guns...I took some Buckley's Cough Syrup. I'm not sure, but I think Buckley's is a purely Canadian product, so there may be some of you who have never heard of it, but believe me, it's famous in this country; mostly because of it's insanely vile taste. It tastes so incredibly bad that there should be songs and fables written about it, but this is Canada, so, not so much.

Buckleys tastes like pine needles marinated in tar and then boiled in kerosene. It is Sadaam Husseins' aftershave. It is like kissing Satan. It is what pure evil tastes like.
The stuff proudly proclaims on the label that it is "sucrose-free and alchohol-free". Good God, why? If ever a substance would be improved by copious amounts of sugar and alchohol, then believe me, this is it. It is truly loathesome.
But, and here's the kicker, it seems to work. One dose of this stuff, and your cough is soothed and your throat feels better and you can forget you are sick for a little while. (That is, when you have picked yourself up off the floor from the little fainting spell you had when you swallowed the stuff. )

I'm hoping that if I take enough Buckley's, I will black out long enough to be rid of my cold. But that amount of Buckleys would definitely not be worth it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Amazing Race 15 Ep. 4

My heart is breaking into little tiny pieces. I feel so badly for Zev and Justin; what a sad way to go. I loved that team. (Apparently his passport was found and turned in to the American embassy that day, so they are not still stuck in Cambodia.)

I have to say though, that I'm getting a little tired of the producers shoving the "people with disabilities can do anything" mantra in my face, because, seriously, I GET IT. (Just for the record, I never really doubted that different people can do anything they ever wanted to, so I'd be very pleased if they got laid up off of my back about that and just got on with it. I draw the line at the blind pilot and the surgeon with Parkinson's, however.)

Is Jackie Kennedy so far back in the public conciousness that nobody recognised her but the Dad? Or that someone thought she was the Queen??? Or Cambodian??? Jeesh.

As much as I find Lance tiresome and irritating, I have to at least admire that he spends no time trying to cover up his assholery. He's right up front with that. I'm hoping he tries to drop-kick the wrong person and ends up in some Third World jail cell.
I wish he had had to put on the monkey tail and dance.

If I had been in that Russian market (and what that market had to do with that particular ethnic group I have no idea) I'd have spent way too much time shopping and not enough time looking for a tiny little Cambodian woman to abduct. I love scarves.
I had to laugh at the one Globetrotter when he found his tiny, little Cambodian woman..."you tried to run away from me...that's cold, man."

What are the chances of a family of four on a motorcycle out for the day deciding to suddenly realize that their noggins need protection and just happen to run into two loud, pushy Americans desperate to sell them some helmets?

Who knew so many people had balance issues? Or, the same as Zev, the body of an 80 year old man? My knees would have given out WAY before I'd have fallen off that log. I think I'd have made Thing 1 do it.

I laughed out loud at "Sean Penn Cambodia!"

Until next week!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada this weekend. We have our Thanksgiving about 6 weeks before the Americans, and our is on a Monday rather than a Thursday. Canadians don't have Pilgrims, or a big shopping event the day after, either. In typical Canadian fashion, we just eat dinner and that's it.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is supposed to be a sort of "end of the harvest" event, mostly started by the pioneers to celebrate the fact that the crops are all in and it looks like they might avoid starving to death for one more Canadian winter. Even though I live in a time and place where starving is not a danger, (in fact, quite the opposite.) I'm still very thankful to have plenty.

Things I Am Grateful For and Never Take For Granted:
  • Central heating and central airconditioning. Having control over the temperature of the air I inhabit is an incredible luxury that is fairly recent in human history. Whenever I read about people not having enough coal for a fire, or sweltering in the tropics, or trying to keep a fire from going out because of rain or wind, I am again grateful for modern comforts.
  • Salt has no calories.
  • An afternoon nap.
  • I have the money, the means and the freedom to go out and buy pretty much anything I really want. Conversely, I am free from wanting all that much.
  • The health of myself and my family. We are all ridiculously healthy, with nothing more than the occasionaly cold or achy back to plague us. And if we are sick, we live in a place where health care is available, excellent and affordable.
  • Stability, security and peace. I live in a time and a place where I don't worry about my children being snatched off the street, where my husband isn't out fighting a war and I can walk out my door without being shot at, kidnapped or robbed. I don't have to worry about what I say or what I've said in the past, I can read whatever newspaper I like and go about my day without censure. Those are things that lots of people can only dream of, and I get to live it every day.
  • Laughter. My friends, my family, my co-workers, my clients, they all make me laugh, and there are very few things in life finer than an gut-busting, all-encompassing, bent-over, tears in your eyes, deep from the belly laugh.
  • New sheets on the bed.
  • A hot shower. Especially when you've had to go without for a few days.
  • Reading a good book that is SO good you think about it when you are not reading it, and can't wait to get back to it, and think about it long after you've finished it. The only bad thing about that good a book is that you wish you could read it for the first time all over again.
  • Electricity. Driving away the darkness with a flick of a switch. Cooking a meal with a turn of a knob. Boiling a kettle without starting a fire. Washing a weeks worth of clothes in a few hours instead of a few days. I appreciate electricity all the time.
  • I have choices. I'm lucky enough to live where women can do pretty much as they please. I can marry or divorce, be in charge of my own money, own my own property, vote and choose to pursue whatever line of employment I fancy. I can conduct my life as I wish, and believe me, that? is something I never take for granted. And I especially appreciate that on behalf of my daughters, who will never have to limit their choices in life because they happen to be women.
  • I spend my day at a job where people appreciate my efforts, where I am happy and comfortable and I am lucky enough to get paid well to do it.
  • My friends, who I am lucky enough to have a bounty of. They make me laugh, they give me perspective, they love me and they give me enormous joy. And, in the case of Big Liver Girl, they bring me an apple pie, right out of the blue.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Apple of My Pretty Eye

It's apple season around here, which means it is mandatory to go out to a local orchard and get some apples, whether you want any or not. It's just what you do.
We took the Mister's 83-year-old aunt out to the usual place last Sunday, and although the enthusiasm for picking your own apples was high, we weren't able to do so. We just bought apples out of the bins. Just as well, the weather was horrible, and I did not fancy seeing the Mister's 83-year-old aunt climbing a ladder.

The Mister's favorite dessert of all time is apple pie, which absolutely baffles pie, as far as I'm concerned, is one the most boring desserts ever. (Plain yogurt at room temperature is THE most boring dessert.) I like apple pie okay, but I don't actually seek it out, like the Mister does. He's actually ordered it in a restaurant, when there were other things to choose from.

I did not make the Mister an apple pie, I made him an apple crisp for dessert that night, because apple crisp is way, way easier to make, tastes a lot like apple pie and does not make me loose my shit making pastry. (I can make pastry, only because I have a fool-proof recipe for it, and I don't have very high standards. But it's fiddly and soul-crushing and not something I take on easily.) He was very happy with the apple crisp instead of pie, and since no one else is particularly enamored of the stuff, he had plenty of leftovers all to himself. (Just to tell you, the last time I did make him an apple pie, he ate the entire thing by himself after I had gone to bed, and had such bad heartburn, he thought he might breathe fire. Really, I don't make pies for his own good.)

The apples have come in very handy for eating this week. It's been easy to grab an apple on one's way out the door, and I've been putting them in all sorts of things. A few years ago, I made the life-altering decision that apples are a vegetable, and everything has been considerably easier ever since.

Every apple season I allow myself this one indulgence: eating a big, juicy MacIntosh apple simultaneously with a Crispy Crunch bar...a bite of one, and then a bite of another. Seriously, it is about the only time in the whole year I eat an entire Crispy Crunch bar, and it makes me weak-kneed with delight. (I'm pretty sure you can't get Crispy Crunch bars outside of Canada, which is a pity. I can start an air-lift, if you like.)

Now, maybe I can figure out a way to make an apple pie with a Crispy Crunch bar baked inside! But then there'd be fights over the pie, and I'd have to make pastry, and presently, neither one of us has to share their dessert with anyone. I will leave well enough alone.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Amazing Race 15 Ep. 3.

Man, Vietnam looks hot. Everyone was so sweaty and moist. I'll bet that Pitstop was smelling like roses when everyone was in it.

Loved the water do they operate, exactly? Is there tiny little scuba divers swimming around under there? (Anything is possible in Asia.) I also liked the frantic, panicky musicians at the water puppet was like they thought they might be in danger of being forgotten, and so they got louder and more insistent as the racers came through. I'm sure they helped Lance and Keri's Zen-like demeanor no end. What was with Mika doing the Dance of the Seven Veils to the water puppets?? Did they think they had to seduce the water puppets? (And, oh, the irony.)

Speaking of Lance and Keri, can we talk about the voices? Because, MAN, they both grate. "USE THE HAMMA! USE THE HAMMA!!". I'm going to the grave with that bouncing around in my head. At one point I thought she sounded just like Janice on "Friends", (I kept expecting her to end every sentence with "Chandla Bing!") but then I decided she sounded a lot like Zev.
And he's quite a prize, isn't he? He's not a loveable meathead, he's just a meathead. I find him tiresome...offering to fight Phil? Seriously, I get it, you are a great big he-man with testosterone and a penis and everything that entails. Now cut back on the steroids and shut up.
I really hope they lose their passports next week.

Favorite Line of the Night: From a Globetrotter.."Work it, girl."

When Pinky said he’d taken VCRs apart before out of curiosity, I thought “Of course you did.”

Marci and Ron really didn't have the right mindset for this thing, did they? I think they thought they were in the Amazing Mosey Through Ho Chi Minh City. They seemed nice enough, they just appeared to be on a different show than the one everyone else was on. Also, did you see the look of resigned weariness he gave her when she chirped "See?! My whistle worked!" Like he was deciding if he wanted to spend what is rest of his life with Perky McCheerleader.

What was with Maria toting the balloons and wheeling her own luggage while Tiffany hauled that cement animal and her luggage all the way through that park by herself??? And then she had to do the Roadblock too? That just baffled me.

Poor Marci looked like she had been shot out of a cannon by the last interviews. I'm sure I would fare no better.

Until next week!