Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fall On Your Knees.

You know, sometimes I'm pretty sure the universe is sitting around, langorously blowing smoke rings, and looking down on me saying "really, that girl is getting too full of herself. Let's remind her of exactly who is in charge".

Last Friday was an incredibly beautiful spring day here; warm without being too hot, sunny and bright, a silky cool breeze to keep everything in motion. With the Mister's aunt in the hospital, my evenings have been taken up the past week, and I had found no time for a run for ages. I was bound and determined that I was going running Friday morning, a good run too; no shortcuts, no slacking, no excuses. And lo and behold, I found myself actually enjoying that run! I couldn't believe it: I wasn't gasping for breath! My feet weighed their regular amount, no added lead! My hip joints were not threatening to go into business for themselves!! This wasn't so bad after all!!

Just as I came to the last few hundred yards before home, and I marvelled at my incredible self, my toe hit a bit of sidewalk that was sticking up, and I found myself body surfing the pavement. I went down like a runaway elevator. My knees took the brunt of it, breaking my fall with skin and bone, and then my hands and elbows wanted in on the party, and finally, my generous belly.

Picture it: a chubby, sweaty middle-aged woman rolling around on the sidewalk in the middle of the morning, wearing running shoes and bellowing obscenities at top volume. There didn't seem to be anyone around to witness my performance, but I'm pretty sure that even if there had been, they'd have kept out of sight.

I picked myself up, examined the damage with as much dignity as I could muster, and limped home with blood dripping down my legs. Luckily it wasn't far. The injuries were confined mostly to my knees, which were shredded, and a bit of wear on my hands and elbows. Bandaids were administered, and I walked with care for the rest of the day, but mostly, I was okay.

The next afternoon, the Mister and I had to go to a cocktail party. I went home after work and got changed to go, and put on a skirt, as the friction of pants on my knees was unpleasant. When we were in the car on the way to the party, the Mister asked if I was considering standing for the duration of the party. When I asked why, he glanced at my skirt, which had ridden up enough when I sat down to reveal my grubby, bloody bandaged knees. Very elegant. So I did stand up for the entire party, thank you.

Apparently, pride really DOES go before a fall.
Thanks, universe, for so eloquently and graphically teaching me that lesson.
I got it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Amazing Race 16, Episode 9

Remember back in the first episode where the Cowboys got Brazillian money to spend in Chile? And I thought they were so out of their element that they didn't stand a chance and that they'd go home soon? Turns out I was all kinds of wrong.
Seriously, is there anything they can't do? I loved when some one said that Jet finished the noodle task quickly because "he's got magical hands" or some such thing....that's the second time the Cowboys have been referred to as "magical".

I kept yelling "more flour!!" at the tv during the noodle task. If you've ever made your own pasta (and really, you shouldn't, it's a pain in the ass) you know to keep tossing it in flour, or else you will get a giant, wodgy mass of goo that will make you cry unattractively. Like Jordan.

Note to self: if you ever manage to be on this race or any other endeavor that involves tv cameras on you recording your every syllable, DO NOT gloat triumphantly about your evil cunning. It looks extremely toolish.

The brothers had the exact right idea about how to use a U-Turn. Yes, it is definitely part of the game, and it is not morally or ethically reprehensible to use it, but it is best used to thwart the team you think has the best chance of beating you, not to score childish points off the team you don't like.

Hello, Brent? Sicily is a lovely part of Italy, and has many, many fine attractions. However, if you HAD A MAP, which, according to your girlfriend, are in seriously short supply in the US, you would notice that Sicily is way down on an island near the toe of the boot of Italy, and Venice, which has canals and such as, is all the way on the opposite end of the country.
When Caite said "this all looks fake", that's probably because she thinks everywhere in the world is supposed to look like Epcot. Oh, the irony.

So many good lines last night! From the Cowboys "will you marry me? Now, hold that thought, I'll be right back." And "Tranquil.....write that down." And also "if he'd have jumped outta your trash can, he'd scare the daylights out of you". (So wrong, but so funny.) Also, "shopping wears me smooth out."
I liked the Detectives, after missing the entrance to the fashion house "what kind of detectives are we?" and "give me a shooting task or a crack head to run down."

At the fashion house, Thing 1 and I would have been in some serious trouble, because she would have gotten so distracted and wanted to shop that I'd have had a meltdown.

I felt a little bit bad for Brent when his puzzle pieces flew away. But then Cord said "whoa, wind", like he could just calm it down a bit if he handled it right.

I'm not sure how I feel about the inclusion of seemed a bit like he was plunked down there like a Travelocity Gnome just for decoration. On the other hand, from what I can see on the net, that's the way he made a living, showing up for stuff and being seen. I don't suppose he had many other ways to make a living, frankly, and therefore, maybe my sensitivity is misplaced. It did not help when Caite reacted to him like he was a poodle in a tutu.

Phil enjoyed that Non-elimination just a little too much, if you ask me.

It's anonymous around here, we'd like the Cowboys to win.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birds and Turds.

It is truly a glorious spring out there. After months of cold and dead and grey, it is exceptionally wonderful to go out and have it be warm and sunny and welcoming out there. There is, however, one fly in my ointment, and that is the frigging birds.

Normally, I love the sound of birds singing. Sometimes when I'm running or out for a walk, I'll turn off my I-pod just to be able to hear all the chirping and twittering and cheeping, it's so lovely. And there are plenty of birds around here to add to the chorus; you can hear birdsong almost any time you stick your head out the door. I do like it.

But not at 4 in the freaking morning. Seriously.

Even with earplugs in, I can sometimes be woken up by that one stupid bird who insists on perching right outside my window and "to-WHOO"ing up a storm for all he is worth. If I had a gun I would shoot him. I wouldn't even get up out of bed to do it, either. It's a big backyard, I don't know why he has to sit right there and bellow out those two notes incessently. He's probably the one who shits on my car every day, too. Really, it's just as well that handguns are not allowed in Canada.

When Big Liver Girl and I spent a spectacular weekend at her place in Quebec a few years ago, I was awakened every. single. morning. at around 5 a.m. by a bird who was not only unspeakably loud, but spectacularly unimaginative, too. He sang the same 10 notes over and over and over again. No variation in pitch or cadence or timing or tune for hours at a time. We called him "Louis-Needs-A-New-Tune". (Our friend Moe had also been to the condo in Quebec and become aquainted with "Louis-Needs-A-New-Tune", and said later that summer that he had followed her up to her cottage, because he was there, too. )

Also, there is a woodpecker in the vicinity who makes an unholy racket pretty much all the time, but he is particularly vigorous at about 7:15 in the morning. And, you guessed it, his venue of choice is the locust tree closest to our bedroom window. Imagine lying in bed, drowsy and half-asleep, gently getting used to your altered state of "awake" from "asleep", and then hearing the avian equivelent of a jack-hammer revving up 20 feet from your bed. And he's fierce, too...he gives it everything he has, that tree is getting it's ass kicked, I tell you. Most of the time it barely registers, but early in the morning there's no escaping it.

I wish the birdies would come with a volume button. (As a matter of fact, I wish almost everything and everyone did.) I'd enjoy them ever so much more if I could listen to them when I want to, rather than when they want me to. (Interferring with Mrs. Loudshoe's sleep will NOT endear you to her.) When Thing 2 was about 2 years old, and in a VERY bad mood, she heard a bird singing outside at my parents house, and she sternly pointed a finger out the window and said " 'Top it, bird!". Many's the morning I feel the same way.

And I'd love to have them stop shitting on my car, too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One Thousand and One....One Thousand and Two....

I have had ample opportunities this week to count my many, many blessings. And to count my lucky stars, of which there are many. And to breathe a sigh of relief at the multiple bullets I have dodged. Hanging around hospitals will do that to you.

The Mister's 83-year-old aunt had a stroke last Saturday, and we've been up and down to the hospitals every day since. (It wasn't a severe stroke, and she's going to make a full recovery.) Aunt Fran (as everyone calls her, not just her neices and nephews) has been incredibly good to us and our children over the years. Never was there a woman who would babysit on shorter notice, and then clean the bathrooms while we were out. Often doing a vastly better job than I would have done myself.
It's hard to see someone you love in a hospital bed, looking scared and vulnerable. And we are so very, very lucky that the stroke was not worse, and she's still here and will be fine.

I've heard this week of cancer diagnoses of young parents, of mental illness and of car accidents. And I realize, I have no problems at all. None.

Between work and trips to the hospital and such, there hasn't been time for much else. Except counting my blessings and thanking my lucky stars.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mrs. Loudshoes By the Numbers

My age: 48

Time I got up this morning: 9:30 a.m.

Time Toby thought I should have gotten up this morning: 6:45 a.m. And 7:15. And 8:40. And 9:25.

My shoe size: 8 1/2. It used to be 7, but 27 years of hairdresssing and two pregnancies had upped that.

Number of times I have tried to get through "The Hobbit" and failed: about 8

Ratio of days to afternoon naps I could take: 1:1

Number of cats I have owned: 5

Number of toes one of those cats had: 27. A male, orange tabby named Luther. Dimmest cat I ever saw; had the IQ of a carrot. Had 7 toes on one front paw, 8 on another, and 6 on each back paw. He had paws like baseball mitts, and was the only cat you could hear coming. Because of the thudding.

Classes I completed in university in Economics: 0. Started one, but after two weeks I still had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Dropped it and took a history class on "Ancient and Medieval Warfare". Best deal I ever got.

Number of shirts I ruined before I started wearing an apron when I cook: 1,000

Number of speeding tickets I have received: 1. And on my birthday, too.

Times I have eaten haggis: 1

Socks I have knit by hand: 8 pairs

Socks I have knit by hand that are wearable by humans: 1 pair

Age I will be when fart jokes cease to be funny: 109

Cups of coffee that I drink in a day: 2

Cups of coffee that I would like to drink in a day: 9

Number of clients that I wanted to slap last week: 3

Books I read last year: 52

Books I read in one week at the cottage: 4

Bags of chips I ate last year, in relation to my weight: 1:1

Number of those bags that I ate in one week at the cottage: 2/3

Number of blessings I've counted in the past few days: innumberable.

Lucky stars I've thanked that this is so: too many to count

Troubles I've seen: few.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cleaning Agents

I'd like to think we are very welcoming here at Chez Loudshoes. We have been known to open our doors to small children unceremoniously dropped off at our door in the morning, and fed them breakfast. We have welcomed (s0metimes the same) children into our home seeking dry socks at lunchtime. Our door is always open to those in need of computer repair or a beer. We have offered refuge and kleenex to two 9-year olds who's bicycle accident in front of our house resulted in a spectacularly lurid bloody nose. But we do NOT welcome people who come to our door uninvited asking for money. Nuh-unh.

I have helpfully attached a sign to our front door that reads, "NO Agents, Peddlers or Solicitors", which I think makes my position pretty clear. I didn't even get the sign that said "please" on it.
I don't think you could assign any ambiguity to that sign, and yet, several people have done just that over the past few days. That sign does not say to them "you might as well turn around right now, the people who live here are not interested". Apparently, that sign says "Ring the doorbell! Disturb the dwellers within! There's no reason whatsoever to suspect that they will not be enthralled by your charms!! They'll LOVE you!"

One guy was trying to get me to change electric companies, which interested me not at all. I interrupted his speil, pointed to the sign and said "See that? That means you." To which he replied "But, this is a really good deal". I just shook my knife at him and shut the door. (I was peeling potatoes at the time, but I didn't see any reason for him to not think I was crazy.)

Another young woman came to the door to ask for money for a charity. Again, I pointed to the sign and said "See this? That means you." To which she replied, "But I'm not soliciting, I'm asking for donations." To which I, the daughter of an English professor, said "Soliciting means asking", and she replied, hotly, "No! It isn't!" Seriously, did she think that engaging me in an arguement about word definitions and meanings was going to get me to open my wallet?

Then I got some Mormons at the door. Sigh. Believe me, I can totally respect another person's faith, even when I disagree with it myself, and have no desire to change their opinons or beliefs. So why can't they afford me the same? Especially in my own home? I would never knock on someone's door and start to tell them "you know, you've got this whole religion thing down wrong, it's a crock and you are a fool". But they seem to have no problem doing this to me. I politely showed them the sign, said "see this? This means you". To their credit, they didn't argue, but I could tell they thought that the sign was definintely meant for someone else.

The only person I willingly have bought something from when they came to to door was when the kid that Thing 2 babysits was selling popcorn to raise money for his Cub troup to go to the Boy Scout Jamboree. For one thing, I'm never turning down a kid, and secondly, who could thwart a Jamboree?
(The only time I did turn down a kid was when one stopped me in the halls at my children's school and asked if I'd like to give two dollars for autism. I couldn't help myself, I said "no thanks, I don't want any autism". But after I had a good chortle to myself, I gave the kid two bucks anyway. It was momentary.)

If it is waffles and dry socks you are after, this is your place. But if you want my money, you should probably read the sign. Or at least, come to the back door.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Amazing Race 16, Episode 8

Right about now, we are at the point where I spend the opening credits going "who's that?", and "oh, right, they were in this season." Some of these teams were a LONG time ago.

Caite and Brent just get more and more pleasant, don't they? Not that I think they shouldn't have used the U-Turn; it's part of the game, and more power to those who use it. However, I think they U-Turned the wrong team....using it against a team who is stronger than you seems to me to be the better strategy, though, rather than use it against a team for whom you have a rather personal vendetta. (But the U-Turn and the Yeild tend to be the weapon of choice for those with an axe to grind. Just ask the Weavers, from the Family Edition, who were Yeilded twice, mostly because they were obnoxious and other teams were fighting to get the chance to stick it to them.)
It does occur to me, and it was demonstrated by Dan and Jordan, that being pleasant and getting along with your fellow racers might not be a huge advantage in the race, but it does mean that you have less of a chance of being Yeilded or U-turned.

If the Detectives manoevered Caite and Brent to u-Turn Carol and Brandy as a strategy to A) knock out a good team without dirtying their own hands, and B) getting the models to not see that they, the detectives, are their major competition at the finish line, then that is one amazing bit of strategy, and good on them. If they groomed Caite and Brent to U-Turn Carol and Brandy because they just plain don't like them, then they are douchebags.

I get that Carol and Brandy were frustrated and disappointed and mad, but, man, some of that was hard to watch. Note to self: if you are ever on national television, no matter how pissed off you are, remember that you are on national televison. And then shut. up. I'm not sorry to see them go; they didn't seem to be enjoying themselves very much. I did like the bit about Caite looking like Cruella DeVille. That made me laugh.

Asian Phil! How cute was he!

The brothers are growing on me very much. I LOVED that Boy Jordan put on his big boy underpants and powered through that Fast Forward, even though he was shaking like a kitten up there. And Dan was very supportive without being pushy or fake....he never once called his brother "baby" for instance. And I loved their reaction when they were told they won motorbikes: "No way! Our mom would never let us ride those things!". By the way, I wonder what their mother thinks about the bungee jumping, the high-wire climbing, the crawling through a battlefield and the clamboring along the top of a ferris wheel at 500 feet. Maybe a motorbike doesn't seem like such a bad thing now.

Did you see some of the kinds of ice cream they had to sell? Corn?? Red Bean Paste?? MANGO MEAT??? And I don't think I will be eating my ice cream enveloped in Wonder Bread any time soon, either.

One more thing to put on the List Of Things To Bring With Me on The Race: a counter. And disinfecting wipes. (Thank you Dan and Jordan!) Along with duct tape, WD-40, a calculator and sunscreen.

The only thing that would have made me mad about winning the Fast Forward would be missing that zip line thing...that looked sweet.

During the counting task, I don't think the guy hammering away on the steel plate was actually doing anything other than hammering away on the steel plate. From what I could tell, he just had a big old clanging hunk of steel and he was whaling away on that for no discerable purpose, other than to beat the tar out of it and make as much noise as possible in the process. I want that job.

When Brent said "Ladies get what they want, bitches don't get anything", I thought he should spend a bit of time in high school. In my experience, bitches do just fine.

Two weeks!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

No Worms For Me, Thanks.

Thing 1 had a bus trip to Toronto for her art class today, and that meant a 6:45 a.m. drop off at school by her mother. (They went to see the King Tut exhibit....I'm not quite sure what that had to do with her art class, especially as she had art last semester, but who am I kidding, I'd jump at the chance to skip school and go to Toronto on the flimsiest of excuses too.)

I love going to Toronto; it's about 2 hours away from here. Close enough to make it easy to get to, and far enough that it's a big treat to go. There is always loads of things to see and do, including the art gallery and Royal Ontario Museum and the Bata Shoe Museum, which is way, WAY more interesting than you are probably thinking right now. (When I asked if Thing 1 went there, Thing 2 thought it was called the "Bad-Ass Shoe Museum", which I think it should be called from now on.)

Thing 1 said that the teacher introduced the bus driver to them all by saying "this is our driver, and he is sterile", or at least that's what Thing 1 thought she heard. Turns out his name was "Darryl". The teacher was not making any statements whatsoever as to his fertility.

Bringing Thing 1 to the school so early meant that I was up and starting on my day about an hour earlier than usual. I LOVE getting up early, especially on a day off work. I wonder why I hardly ever do it. (I guess I like sleeping in more.) Seriously, I felt like Wonder Woman when I had dropped off Thing 1, gone for a run, had a shower, woken up Thing 2 AND had a cup of coffee, all by the time I normally would get up. It felt like I had accomplished all kinds of things and I still had a whole day ahead of me. It helped mightily that I don't work on Fridays, and had nothing pressing to do, and knew that a nap was in the plan for the day. I think getting up early and then having a nap later in the day may very well be the secret plan to a full and happy life. It is certainly seems to work for Toby.

When my dad was working on his PhD, he regularly got up at 5 a.m. and went down to his study to write. He said he could get more done between 5 and 7 than almost the whole rest of the day. I'd love to do that, except it meant that he went to bed at 8:30 some nights, often before sundown. That part I'm not so sure I'd like.

Big Liver Girl gets up and runs at 5:30 every morning, which I admire and completely reject as sane in equal parts. Her running partner, Erin, has fourteen children, all under the age of 7, which she home-schools, so I get that if that woman wants to have any time to herself whatsoever, her only hope is to get up before anyone else and hope they never catch on.

I might try making a point of getting up earlier than usual on my days off, just to feel like a superhero once a week. I know Toby will approve of the nap thing.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


As if there is not enough sugar around here to seriously endanger one's pancreatic functions, Big Liver Girl has given the Loudshoes household a motherlode of her Buttercream Eggs.
I had never heard of Buttercream Eggs until I met Big Liver Girl, who makes them annually with her children over at her mother's house. Her mother, who is as pragmatic and down-to-earth a woman as you will ever meet, has no problem conjuring up these fanciful and otherworldly little tidbits, and distributing them to the unsuspecting. But be warned, they are more addicting than small bite and you are in their thrall.
I've been given the recipe for Buttercream Eggs, but I have conveniently misplaced it, all in an attempt at self-preservation. Because, believe me, Thing 1 and I are pitifully helpless when it comes to self-discipline and Buttercream Eggs. The recipe reads something like "take a pound of butter, add enough icing sugar until it can be formed into small, dense balls of hedonism, cover with dark chocolate. Eat until you topple off your chair due to diabetic coma. When you wake up, it will be a brand new day. Repeat." Can you imagine if I made a batch here? Thing 1 and I would get nothing at all done.
I love that Buttercream Eggs come, handmade, from Big Liver Girl, and her children and her mother. I love that they come all wrapped up in waxed paper. I love that their family tradition has trickled down to me. I love that those eggs rattle my teeth and make my eyes roll back in my head and re-arrange my neurons; that once a year sugar-rush is sublime. I took a picture of the Buttercream Eggs, just to illustrate their deliciousness, and Toby was enchanted by them too, he had to get a look:Here are the real Buttercream Eggs.

And now I'm going to eat that, in small increments, over the evening. I still want to be able to get up for work tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Amazing Race 16, Episode 8

For all that they tried to make that ending suspenseful, it was pretty obvious from about 8:30 on that Steve and Allie were going to be eliminated. They just made too many small errors to be able to make up time. I really liked them and am sorry to see them was nice to see such a good dynamic between a parent and a child on this race....remember scrrrreeeechy Ron and his long-suffering daughter Christina from Race 12? At least they don't have to run the rest of the race in borrowed underwear and no socks.

Oh, my gravy, those Cowboys are fierce, no? That was quite a performance from those two.

How long do you think they made that guy stand in the ocean at the Roadblock? Because he was only up to his knees when Jet came by, but by the time Caite and Jordan and Allie did it, he was practically afloat. Do you think they let him out between racers, or did he have to stand in the water the whole day? These are the kind of questions I ask myself when I'm watching this sort of thing.

So many good lines last night, but my Favorite Exchange of the Night was Steve with the cabbie:
Steve: "Do you know where this is?", Cabbie: "I don't know", Steve: "What?", Cabbie: "No problem".
Also: "It takes a big man to fill his pants, but I'll try."

I'm really hoping that the cops don't really like Caite and Brent, they're just flattering them into a false sense of security to ally with them, then they'll throw those two under a bus right at the end.

Every time Princess Sparkle-Headband spat out "the lesbians", Thing 1 and I shouted "they have names, you know" at our tv. Seriously, how do you think it would go over if she refered to Dan and Jordan as "the Jews"? At least she is providing a Very Valuable Lesson in Public Relations for my children.
When they came to the Amazing Bathmat and Phil told them they were "team number 4" and they said "we'll take that"....Gaaaahh.....Did they have a choice? These two get on my last nerve.

I can only imagine the language in those cameramans' heads when Steve and Allie, and Dan and Jordan unloaded from those cabs...."are you freaking kidding me?? I've got to run up that stupid hill in this heat, with 40 pounds of camera on my shoulder?? Get back in the cab!!"

Was anyone else a little concerned for Louis's pulmonary health during that protracted coughing fit? Because I'm no medical man, but I'm pretty sure that has nothing to do with cardio fitness, and everything to do with your lungs saying "you know what? we quit".

I want a big giant swing, and someone to bring me tea. That would be the best day ever.
Did you see Cord shake the guru's hand? Such a nice boy.

I expect a U-Turn of Carol and Brandy next week.

Until then!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fabulous Friday

I love Good Friday; it's one of my very favorite holidays of the year, and you know why?? Because I have to do NOTHING to celebrate it.....nothing at all. No presents, no songs, no big meals, no cards, no costumes, no rituals, no nothing. What's not to like. Good Friday is an absolutely found day, with no expectations whatsoever. I love it.

And to top it off, the weather was spectacular today....warm, sunny, almost summer-like weather. We were wearing shorts on the second of April, for goodness sake. Many's the year where early April brings ice storms or blizzards or merely weather that makes you want to cry. But not this year! We actually slept with the windows open last night, and we did not die of hypothermia!

It's not terribly unusual for us to have summery weather for Easter, it's certainly happened before. One year, when I was about 17 or 18, my mom and dad had a willow tree chopped down in the backyard, and my brother and I were helping to chop it into firewood. It was a really hot weekend, probably about 30°C or so, and my dad had only recently opened the was about 56°F (that's about 13 in Celcius...don't ask me why, but we never did get around to using centigrade for the pool, it was always in Farenheit.) We spent the weekend nearly fainting from the heat of chopping wood and then risking cardiac arrest by jumping into the was so cold all you could do was shallow dive for the other end and get out right away before your body parts froze and fell off.

Another Easter I remember being just beautiful, and my mother had an Easter egg hunt for the grandchildren in the backyard. She had the brilliant idea of colour-coding the eggs, so that each child was only allowed to pick up his or her assigned colour. (Otherwise my niece, who was the oldest by a few years, would have made out like a bandit, snagging all the eggs in about 3 minutes, without a qualm. ) It turns out the weather was good enough for the squirrels to be out, too, because we discovered that they liked the gold-covered eggs, because they made off with about half of them. (Luckily, grandma had a few leftovers in the house. We hid those inside the house.)

I went for a run today, which was hot work because, hello! no shade in April! The leaves haven't come out yet...the whole run was in full sunlight. Last week I was wearing gloves and a hat. It's a bit abrupt.

All of us went on a bike ride this afternoon, which was lovely. There were so many people out, enjoying the day. Then the Mister took the girls to the driving range. (I didn't go because of my gammy shoulder; it still hurts occasionally when I brush my teeth, I'm pretty sure swinging a golf club would not have improved matters.
After an hour or so of reading my book, we went to my mother's for dinner. What could be better?
I think "Good" Friday isn't good enough...I think we should re-name it Fabulous Friday.