Friday, August 20, 2010

Away and Back.

Thing 2 has been at camp the past week, and Thing 1 and I went and picked her up this afternoon.

The camp is an hour away, on Lake Huron. Thing 2 went there last year, and loved it, and couldn't wait to go again this year. I'm happy she likes it so much; I was never a kid who could contemplate even the idea of going away to camp for a week....terminal homesickness would have finished me off for sure. It thrills me that she does not suffer similarly. Thing 1 never went away to camp, not so much because of the homesickness, she's savvy enough to be able to deal with that. It was more because, in her words, "there's too much nature at camp." That particular apple has not fallen far from the tree.

It's a bit disconcerting to be away from your child for a few days and not recognize them when you are reunited. I walked up to Thing 2's cabin, where all the girls were hanging out outside waiting for their parents, and I nearly kept going because I was looking for much younger kids. When a young woman almost as tall as me launched herself at me and hugged me for all she was worth, I was momentarily offended. Then I realized it was my own offspring. I'm glad I hugged her back, and didn't flip her over my shoulder in a Jackie Chan moment.

As we drove home, in a gold-dipped afternoon through the rolling green of southwestern Ontario, we chatted about her week, and our week, and Toby's week. (Toby caught a chipmunk....Thing 1 managed to free it from it's peril by gently hitting Toby in the head with a broom. Toby was so surprised he let go of the chipmunk and gave Thing 1 a perfec "what the hell???" look. Chipmunk wisely hightailed it out of there, and now Toby goes back to the spot every time he goes outside, like it might be there again. ) She did some archery and ate French toast for the first time and told her friends about the songs I sing to the cat. We got a new tv for the kitchen, and worked and noticed how quiet it was without her around.

She's had a shower, and dinner (with all the milk she could drink, because, apparently, they don't serve milk at camp) and after going on Facebook and watching tv, will climb into her own bed with clean sheets and can sleep as long as she likes.
I don't think it gets any better than that.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

All Worked Up

Thing 1 started her first job this summer...she's bussing tables at a roadhouse/diner sort of place nearby. She's finding her way through a whole new kind of world, and finding out that it's awfully nice to be making your own money, and that there are a whole lot of different grown-ups out there.

My first job was working at a catering company, around the late 70's when I was 15. I worked for the princely sum of $2.85 an hour, when minimum wage was only $2.15. We packed up a large van with potato salads, macaroni salads, fried chicken and bread and headed on out to a retirement party or an annual sportmans' dinner or a wedding, somewhere in a Legion hall in southwestern Ontario and unpacked the whole lot onto a buffet table. After smoking about 40 cigarettes while they ate, we served the coffee, THEN we were allowed to eat the leftovers. The food was pretty lousy; only the fried chicken and bread were in any demand. We often slipped fried chicken into our pockets while we were unpacking, so that we could be sure to get some at the end of the night. (So, if your 25th anniversary party was woefully short of drumsticks, I apologize.) We were not terribly good caterers..... many was the time where lukewarm food was served by indifferent staff to surly guests. I can't imagine how awful your wedding would have to have been to have us there.

But I learned a lot about dealing with other people, that even though this was a part-time gig for me for some pocket money, this was a real job to most of the people I worked with, and it was the first time I ever saw, close up and personal, how hard most single mothers had to bust their asses to keep their kids fed and clothed. I saw that lots of people didn't have the choices or opportunities that had, and took for granted. I learned that every job, no matter how piddly, was important to someone, and that I had a responsibility to do the best I could at that job. I found out the people you work with can make all the difference in how much you enjoy the work, and that a teenage girl can fit about 20 pieces of fried chicken in and around her person without showing any outward signs of having done so.

My next jobs were: working at cafeteria style restaurant with my friend Carolyn (where I learned that if your boss is an asshole, the job is never going to be worth it.), a kitchen at a fancy-schmancy French restaurant (where I learned how to make 10 pounds of pork liver pate at a go, which looks and smells just like baby poo.), working the counter at a dry cleaners (where I learned that the smell of skunk will NEVER be eradicated) a sales clerk at a classical record store (where I learned the difference between Bach and Beethoven) and a receptionist at a hair salon (where I learned that people will do just about anything to get their hair done, including show up for an appointement when they are in full-out labour.)

I've always liked my jobs, and I've always rather liked working. And I got something out of every job I've ever had, good and bad. But I've never eaten fried chicken again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bee Still

My good friend, Big Liver Girl, had a WAY more interesting week than me. Like, so much interesting that there will be memorial plaques in front of her house and children will sings songs aroung campfires about it.

There has been a distinct buzz around the southeast corner of Big Liver Girl's house lately. Quite literally....she noticed more bees around her back patio recently, and noticed that the bee activity centered around an area where a vine had worked it's way under the siding.

Upon closer examination, she was able to see that the bees had not only gotten INTO the house, they had set up a colony and were secretly plotting a full-scale invasion. Rather than screaming and fainting and selling her house, which would have been my first response, she called her bee guy to come and take a look. (It is telling that she even HAS a bee guy. I wouldn't have the faintest notion who to call if my house had been taken over by a herd of bees, but Big Liver Girl has a bee guy on speed dial. Last year she had a ball of bees in a tree in her backyard, and found a bee guy to take care of it. That is one seriously resourceful woman, if you ask me.)

When the bee guy came, he determined fairly quickly that they had a shitload of bees in between the ceiling of the dining room and the floor of the upstairs bedroom. (By the way, a "shitload" is a very scientific term, meaning "more than a metric tonne", but smaller than "a biblical plague".) Here is the floor of the bedroom, complete with carpet ripped up and floorboards explosed, ready to be torn asunder. Big Liver Girl said that the wood was actually hot right above where the bees were nesting. Her two daughters are admirably unflappable and stoic, but I'm sure even they would have skedaddled right smart if they had known they were sleeping inches from a mass of bees the size of a Buick.

The bee guy pulled up the floor boards to reveal the shitload of bees and.....about five, big honeycombs!

He quickly did what bee guys do, capturing the queen and re-locating her outside (so that all her loyal minions would follow her out of the house and to a bee box with a much more desirable address.) And then he harvested the honey. It was like Winnie-the-Pooh's house on the best day ever.

Big Liver Girl set up a honey-processing plant in the kitchen, which resulted in an impressive lot of beautiful, golden sticky stuff.

Also, it was her 20th wedding anniversary the next day.

My life is infinitely less interesting. Which is okay by me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Beginning of an Era

Thing 1 turned 16 a month ago, and has been dying to get her driver's licence ever since. And today she did!

She got her G1 licence, which used to be called a "beginner's" licence in my day, back when the earth was cool and Oprah was poor. She can only drive with a licenced driver who is over 18 in the front seat, not between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m, not on major highways, and without playing "Nickleback" at any time. (Okay, that last one is my rule.)

Like all government-sanctioned activities in Canada, there is a determined and unwavering effort to make sure you do not enjoy yourself one bit while held captive in their offices. There is no where near enough seating, the air conditioner, like the staff, is testy, and the decorator clearly worked in a Soviet-era prison before emigrating to Canada.

After waiting about 40 minutes, it was finally Thing 1's turn. We went up to the counter and Thing 1 answered a couple of questions and did a vision test, and then she had to get her picture taken and sign her licence. Who knew that this would be the toughest part of the day?? She signed her name, but it had to match her passport's exactly. First of all, she signed that thing a year ago, and secondly, a 16 year old doesn't sign her name very often. (She also said she literally hadn't put pen to paper since school let out a month and a half ago!) The very nice man behind the counter let her give it a couple of goes, but honestly, it was very tense by the time she got it right. Then she had to have her picture taken, and she blinked. Twice. By the time we were on the third picture we were both laughing so hard, and I could detect that my darling girl was on the verge of really losing it and sinking into hysteria and possible seizures. Finally, she got a picture that did not make her look like she was sound asleep, a terrorist or under pharmaceutical influence.

After all that, she wrote the test and passed easily. Big smiles all around. (Just for the record, we saw three people who did not pass, one girl by just one wrong answer. I'll bet it was quiet around the dinner table at those houses tonight.)

I can't wait until Thing 1 has her full licence and can take over some of the ferrying and chauffering of her younger sister. And guess who will teach Thing 2 to drive? This is an era I'm going to like.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We Need To Talk....

Dear Formerly Fabulous Client,

You know, this has been great, it really has, but I think it's become clear to us both that this just isn't working any more.

We used to have such a great time together; I'd do your hair and you'd really like it and then you'd over tip me and and we'd have a blast the whole time. I used to really look forward to seeing your name in the appointment book, and you couldn't wait to come in and have your hair done.

Maybe I've been taking you for granted, giving you the same highlights over and over again. Maybe I should have pushed you to try something different. Maybe I'm just not adventurous for you.....(I really do think that a whole head bleach application is a bad idea.) And it's been getting longer and longer between appointments.....I'll confess, once or twice I thought you might be seeing someone else behind my back.

But lately, you've been booking appointments and not showing up. Or cancelling at the last minute. And let's be honest here, you have been a big fat drag when you do show up; hung over and cranky with very greasy hair. And your boyfriend is a jackass and I'm tired of hearing about it. And it's becoming more and more obvious that we are just not good for each other any more.

So, Client, I think we should see other people. Really, it's for the best. I'm sure another hairdresser will be much less concerned that you sleep in past every. single. freaking. Saturday appointment, and leave a hole in her day the size of a Buick. Some hairdresser's don't mind that. Unfortunately, I do.

Good luck to you, and I'm hoping we can still be friends. Take care, and stay away from the 40 volume peroxide.

Mrs. Loudshoes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How I Know It's Hot

It's hot. Not that I'm complaining, believe me...this is what I dream of when I'm cranky and whiney in February. But, it is hot, I'm just saying.

We've had the air conditioner on far more this summer than any other summer, I think. And I hate having the air conditioner on; I'd far rather have the windows open and let the breeze in. (When there is a breeze, mind you.)

How I Know It's Hot:

  • Toby has spend the day asleep on the glass coffe table in the living room. He has reached a state of, as my friend Barb says, "cat butter".
  • When I went for a run with my friend Tracey this morning, I felt as though I was running with a wet sleeping bag over my head.
  • The bathroom door will only open with some strong persuasion and a good talking to. Guests are held hostage until we can wrestle the door open and let them out.
  • I base my week's menus on what does not heat up the kitchen. We are likely to have cereal and cold beans for dinner. Toast is too much work.
  • There is very little point in ironing anything. All my clothes look like I've been wrestling pigs in a sauna by the time I get to work, no matter what I do.
  • Every drinking glass that gets put down leaves a small lake on the table.
  • When you get in the car, you end up trying to steer by ESP, since holding the steering wheel is impossible until the air conditioner ramps up.
  • Ice cream is an acceptable choice for breakfast.
  • I see way, WAY more of other people's bountiful flesh than I ever want to. Yesterday, at McDonald's on the highway, there was a woman wearing a bathing suit and a bra, and little else. I get that it's hot, but come on.
  • The cicadas are buzzing like jet engines all day and well into the night.
  • Our neighbours went away for a week and they came back to find their pool water is the same colour as their lawn.
  • All I want to do is lay in the backyard and let my mind wander. Oh, wait...that happens all year round.