Friday, January 21, 2011


Compared to other parts of Canada, we actually don't the worst winter weather. (It's -30°C in Winnipeg today. -22° in Farenheit.) Here? the wind is whipping out of the northwest, so even though it's only -12°C, it feels more like -21°. But you don't have to see a thermometer to know it's stinking cold out there....
How do you know it's cold?

  • The snow squeaks when you walk
  • The car doesn't warm up until you're almost at work
  • There's no point in taking off your outerwear if you are going out again within the half hour
  • The sky is the same colour as the snow
  • The snow sparkles at night
  • Toby only goes out for a few minutes, once a day. (He WANTS to go out all the time, but when the door is opened and that cold air hits his nose, he changes his mind.)
  • Toby runs around like a lunatic for about 40 minutes a day, because he's inside too much.
  • All I want to do is read in bed and eat my weight in carbohydrates.
  • Your eyelashes stick together when you go outside, and it hurts to breathe deeply.
  • The garbage doesn't need to go into the cans, because it freezes before any wildlife can smell it and get into it.
  • You put on gloves to toss out the recycling from the back door.
  • You can't wash the car, because the doors will freeze shut
  • You wear long underwear, even if you're just going out to a movie or dinner
  • You look for a grocery cart that's been inside for a while, because a cold cart hurts your hands.
  • You walk funny, so the cold fabric of your pants doesn't touch your legs too much
  • You can make all kinds of stops on the way home from the grocery store, because the milk won't go bad.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Driving Miss Crazy.

Thing 1 had her first driving lesson this evening! Woo hoo! No one is more excited than me for her to get her driver's licence.....Thing 1 will be Thing 2's unofficial chauffeur when that happens, and I'm dying to give up the title myself.

Thing 1 is taking Driver's Ed, since the insurance savings is significant, and it's probably better that she learn to drive from someone who actually knows how to teach it, not just from your opinionated parents. She had the in-class stuff over the Christmas holidays, which she said was pretty boring. ("Oh, drinking and driving is bad?? You don't say! Please tell me more for another 5 hours!") Now she's doing the in-car stuff with her instructor.

I don't remember much about learning to drive. I didn't take driver's ed, so I just had some willing adults teach me how to drive. My parents were pretty good teachers, as well they should be, since they were both professional teachers at the time. (But teaching someone how to read and teaching someone how to drive are two different things.) My older brother was actually a pretty good teacher, when he was paying attention. (He tended to amuse himself when we were stopped at red lights by yelling pick-up lines at the most unattractive losers standing at bus stops, and then ducking out of sight so they thought it came from me. Good times.) I can't recall under what circumstances this happened, but a good friend of the family's, Paddy, took me out driving one day. Paddy's idea of essential driving wisdom was to point at some other, deficient driver and tell me "you want that whore in front of you, not behind you". (Note: "whore" is pronounced to rhyme with "sewer".) It must have all been good, because I've never had an accident or an infraction. (Except for one speeding ticket. I got it on my birthday when I was 26. The cop even had the balls to wish me "happy birthday" as he handed me my ticket.)

When I was 28 I bought my first car, a Toyota Tercel, which came with a manual transmission. My dad had to take it for the test run, because I'd only driven automatics. It was my brother's instruction that taught me how to drive a standard, and despite my deep misgivings, I did manage to drive that thing eventually. (It would take me ages to get home from work, usually a 15 minute drive, because I went miles out of my way to avoid a hill start. One of the women I worked with lived not too far from me, and when I'd offer her a ride home she'd sigh and give me a weary "sure", and then would call her husband to tell him she'd be late.) The only "payment" my brother wanted for teaching me how to drive a manual transmission was that I had to promise to teach someone else later; I have and extract the same promise from them.

Thing 1 is already a pretty good driver; she's cautious and responsible. She just needs a bit of practice. And I think that if you can learn to drive a minivan in a Canadian winter, you should be able to drive just about anywhere. Thing 2 in the car is a hurdle for another day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hear Today

One of the things that is hard to accept when you get older is that your body will simply stop working the way you expect it to, without any warning, and no do-overs. My right hip has decide it does NOT like getting up off the couch quickly. My stomach, in a pique, has renounced potato chips, lest I want heartburn so bad I could breathe fire. And last April, I woke up one morning to discover my left ear had just....stopped working.
I couldn't hear anything, like I the left side of my head was under water. I thought it might go away through the day, but no. A few weeks later, I still couldn't hear a thing out of that ear, and I was wandering around like a typical 90 year-old, cupping my ear and squinting and saying "eh??" Occasionally, when I tipped my head to be parallel to the floor, or when I yawned, I would hear a very loud crackle and then it would clear up for a few minutes and then go back to all muddled and fuzzy. Sometimes the crackle would be so loud it would startle me....I'm sure I looked ridiculous, yawning and then jumping like I'd been electrocuted, right in the middle.

The doctor sent me for a hearing test in the summer. (The guy who tested me must not be used to dealing with people who are under 80 or not completely deaf, because he came into the waiting room, stood straight in front of me and looked me in the eye before declaring "HELLO. MY. NAME. IS. LARRY. LARRY. I. WILL BE. TESTING. YOUR HEARING. TODAY." I had to tell Larry I could hear him just fine, as long as he stood on my right side.) Conclusion? I'd lost some hearing in my left ear. Thanks for that.

Occasionally, it would clear up for a few minutes, and then a few hours, and around Christmas time I noticed it seemed to be just fine all the time. But I had an appointment booked for yesterday with the specialist, so I figured I'd better go, just in case it came back. (The waiting room was full of people going "what???" It was like performance art.)

The specialist was a bandy little man, very good-humored and matter of fact. He'd clearly been doing this for a long time, and seemed happy enough to poke and prod and look inside my ears. (What a way to make a living!) Like Larry, he spoke to me in clear, measured tones until he figured out I wasn't deaf. After poking and prodding and asking me a million questions, he put a little probe up my nose to see if there was any obstructions at the back of my throat. ( Afterwards, I said I hoped that was the weirdest thing I did all day.)

After all that, he smiled and told me "you seem to have had some sort of obstruction in your middle ear that made you lose some hearing. That obstruction seems to be gone now, and your hearing has come back. I can't tell you why that happened, but I can tell you it might come back. Or not. We'll see". At least he was amused by this rather wishy-washy prognosis. I wondered how long he had to go to medical school to come up with this pithy conclusion.

He did say that middle age brings some not-so-delightful surprised, but that, since my hearing had come back and I appeared to have no outstanding medical issues, I should count my blessings and enjoy it while it lasts.

He's right..... hear, hear.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heads Up.

I knew when I went into hairdressing that my feet would hurt and I might have to deal with some strange people. I was a bit surprised at how much wear and tear my hands had to take, and how much money people think I make. (To be clear, I do not pocket the entire sum you pay for your haircut.) But one of the things that did surprise me when I started hairdressing, is how strange and varied people's head shapes are. Seriously, you'd be amazed at how many peculiarly formed some people's heads are, and, here's the kicker, they don't even know themselves! They think their heads are perfectly normal. As do you, probably.

I remember shampooing one woman's head and, as my fingers moved to the back of her head from just above her ears, my hands were moving towards each other at an entirely impossible angle; her head was absolutely triangular. Like, I didn't know if she could ever sleep on her back, triangular. That occipital bone (that lump about half way down the back of your head) is supposed to run parallel to the ground, not perpendicular. It was like shampooing a block of cheese.
Another client I saw once had an occipital bone that stuck way out from her head, way more than was usual. She could easily smuggle a couple of ounces of pot under her hair and no one would ever notice.

Sometimes I would put my hands in someone's hair to run it into the basin, and lo and behold, their head looked normal sized, but it turns out they had ridiculous amounts of hair and a teeny-weeny little head under all that! It was like finding an egg in a bearskin rug.

I have one client that I pray never needs to shave her head, because her head is round enough, but so bumpy and bony, it would look like her head was molded out of clay by monkeys.

Occasionaly, you come across divots and troughs in people's heads, weird little dips and dents that are quite alien. Sometimes they are because of surgery, but mostly, their just because nature has a sense of humor.

I also had a client who's head was perfectly cubic. Like a robot. It was really easy to cut his hair, though, because all the surfaces were entirely flat. How he bought hats I'll never know.

Some heads are pointy, some are huge and some are really long from front to back. Luckily, nobody knows they have a weirdly shaped head until someone tells them. But I'll bet their mothers know.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Normally, the Loudshoes house is a hotbed of tv watching and snoozing on New Year's Eve. But last Big Liver Girl threw a party for both New Year's and her husband's birthday, and we weren't about to miss that.
My overwhelming memories of New Year's Eves of my youth involved standing in a snow-bank in shoes inadequate for the weather, tired and cold and hungry and trying to get a taxi to get the hell home. I don't think the Mister and I have been out for New Years in about 20 years, so this was quite a departure for us.
It was a great party; Big Liver Girl and her family are terrific hosts. There was plenty of booze and wonderful company and fabulous food. (One thing she passed around, which was a big hit, was drinking glasses with bacon standing up in them, like bouquets of flowers. Brilliant. Although, the Mister said this morning that one thing he learned last night is that there is such a thing as having too much bacon. Who knew?)
I won't be making any New Year's resolutions, either, because what's the point? If I wanted to do something different in my life, I would have already done it instead of waiting until January 1st to do it.

This morning we woke up to rain, and plenty of it. Which meant that the knee-high snow that's been hanging around since the storm in early December is melting at a rollicking clip. We can actually see grass. And YAY! No water in the basement! (There is a LOT of water sitting around on the frozen ground at the moment, which means it has no where to go.) The only problem is, the forecast is calling for plummeting temperatures, so all that rain will freeze and we should be able to skate to work on Tuesday. The temperature is so mild right now there is actually steam coming off the snow banks. We have the weirdest weather ever.

This afternoon we are going out with my parents to the Mandarin for dinner, so we probably won't be hungry again until Tuesday, either. I could do much worse than to start off a new year in the company of my family and my delightful friends, with a full belly and a warm, snug house.

Happy New Year!