Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kibbles and Bits

Praise be! Summer is finally here! I was beginning to think it might never happen. We've had the most miserable, relentless winter in recent memory, followed by the wettest, coldest, most tortured spring on record. It never. stopped raining.
When they were predicting the end of the world a few weeks ago, I was beginning to think it wasn't the worst idea I'd ever heard....anything to put us out of our misery.
But on the weekend, it got warm. And yesterday, it got HOT. And today it got torrid.
It was 31°C with a Humidex of 41°C. (Translation: 88°F that feels like 106°F. That's not a typo.) The cat thermometer is registering a record 10 feet of cat. It's a bit of getting used to, this "summer in an instant", but even though I sleep in front of a roaring fan and haven't the energy to boil water, I'm not complaining. It's all I've been wanting for the past 6 months.
Toby is the happiest cat ever.....there's furniture to sleep on! Outside! The people are out; I have company!! There are bushes to hide in to surprise the birds!! (The birds are not so happy.)
Long may it last.

Thing 2 and her school band went on a feild trip to Canada's Wonderland, a big amusement park, north of Toronto, full of roller coasters and hellishly expensive junk food.
I volunteered to go along, mostly because I thought they didn't need me, and also, because if they did, I would get to go on the roller coasters.
I absolutely LOVE roller coasters. I would go on just about any roller coaster, ever, except, maybe one that actually might kill me.
(There is one at Canada's Wonderland called the Behemoth that seriously nearly made me cry. It was awesome.)
I've been on school trips before, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that in comparison to the bus trip there and back, the amusement park is an oasis of calm and serenity. Seriously, those kids get on a bus and they lose their shit entirely. For hours and hours on end; they scream and shout and carry on at the top of their lungs, and love every minute of it.
I've come to realize that for the kids, the bus ride is every bit as exciting as the actual destination. In fact, they would be just as happy to drive around on the bus for an entire day as actually go anywhere. I see the bus ride as a means to an ends; for the 14 year olds, the transportation is part of the ends.
I brought ear plugs, the same ones I use to go to sleep, and I was a much, MUCH happier Mrs. Loudshoes at the end of it all.

Thing 2 is an appalling speller; truly, she cannot write a complete sentance without misspelling something. She comes by it honestly, my mother and myself cannot spell to save our lives. My mother writes letters with a dictionary beside her, and I stumble over the words "licence" and "probably" almost every time I have to write them. Thank God for spell-check.
I don't know how her terrible spelling, (which is usually hilarious) came up, but she declared, somewhat indignantly, that there are "LOTS of words that arent' spelled anything like how they sound".
"Give me and example", I said, and she promptly replied "psychology". (She came up with it pretty fast, like she'd been just waiting to complain about it.) "And 'colonel', and 'rhythm'....a whole BUNCH of animals....like 'penguin'! And 'giraffe'!"
Clearly, I had hit a nerve.
"So, what words ARE spelled like they sound?" I asked.
" 'Zoom', 'melt' and 'tomato' ", she said. "And 'ketchup'. 'Ketchup' is spelled exactly what it sounds like. You can count on 'ketchup'." she said, firmly.
Apparently, this was something she had been thinking about for a long time.

Teenagers and cats....who knows what goes on in their heads?

Monday, May 23, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Summer is here. Sort of. It's the Victoria Day weekend here, the unofficial start to summer. Sometimes the weather co-operates and sometimes it does not. This year, it's a bit shifty and prone to sudden mood swings, but mostly a good Victoria Day weekend. (Considering we've had the yuckiest winter and spring in recent memory, AND the world was supposed to end on Saturday, I'd say we're doing fine with a windy, cool day with the odd shower.)

In southwestern Ontario, May 24th is the weekend when you're pretty much guaranteed that the danger of frost is past, and you can put in your bedding plants and vegetable gardens. This means that the garden centres are heaving, mosh pits of sweaty, middle-aged gardeners willing to fight to the death over the last basil plant or a particularly fetching varitey of Martha Washington geranium. Usually, the Mister and I go either the week before or the week after Victoria Day, but somehow found ourselves going yesterday morning, feeling like we were heading into the Battle of the Somme.

The parking lot was full, which we expected, and there was hardly any tussle over getting a little cart in which to trot around our purchases. Luckily, they brought a whole bunch over to the entrance just as we got there; I'd have hated to have to body check anyone so foolish as to get in my way.

First stop was the vegetable/herb section of the nursery. The Mister tried mightily every year to grow such things as broccoli, brussel sprouts, watermelons and strawberries, and every year he is pitifully disappointed. Whatever the reason, we usually only get a broccoli the size of your fist, or a watermelon resembling a baseball.
We do very well, though, with tomatoes, corn and cucumbers. And zucchini; the easiest thing in the entire world to grow is zucchini....all you have to do is show the seeds some soil and they sprout, and with an entire summer of willful neglect and cool disgregard for watering or care of any kind, those plants will each give off approximately one hundred zucchini, each the size of your leg. We bought 4. (I have noticed a disturbing correlation between the ease of prodution and the popularity of the harvest.....the less we like a vegetable, the easier it is to produce copious amounts of it. We once grew enough Swiss Chard to fill a van, and we ate about 3 leaves each of it. None of us like Swiss Chard all that much, and practially had to used a machete to find the back door to the house.)

We got some basil, rosemary and dill, which all make me happy, and the sage, thyme, chives and mint all come up every year without any prodding on our part. We have some catnip for Toby, which can only be adminstered in small doses at sporadic intervals. Last year he was found lying on top of the plant, completely stoned out of his head and utterly useless for days aftewards.

The Mister and I wrote up a list of things we wanted to get for the flower beds, and we had to firmly and absolutley swear to each other that we would stray NOT AT ALL from it, because the two of us are not to be trusted when it comes to buying for the flower beds and the hanging pots. We are like recovering gambling addicts in a casino.....we think we can handle our impulses, and we fail, every time. More than once we have come home from the garden center and unloaded the van, while saying "what IS this?" and "where is this going, exactly?" and "did YOU buy this?". It's like we are in a bedding plant-induced haze and we only come to when we get home.

This year we were VERY good and only bought what we came for, and had to give each other a stern talking to only once or twice. (There was a bit of an incident at the trailing lobelia section, and some strong words amongst the impatiens. Who knew he could have such inflexible opinions on "rose" vs. "pink"?)

Everything got put into the ground yesterday, and our garden looks like it might actually produce some produce. And we are still speaking to each other.
It's a good start to the summer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Open Letters

Dear Raccoons,
My garbage cans are not a night club. Please stop partying in there. I'm tired of the cigarette butts and raccoon puke in the breezeway every morning.
Mrs. Loudshoes

Dear Mother Nature,
Enough with the rain. I get it, global warming has pissed you right off and you are giving us a good ass-kicking, but seriously, stop it. It hasn't stopped raining since, what?, the beginning of March and I am starting on my plans for an ark. (You can find anything on the internet.) I promise, if you stop wit the rain, I will stop using paper towels and plastic forks.
Yours Hopefully,
Mrs. Loudshoes.

Dear Crazy Client I Have Booked for Tomorrow.
I am a hairdresser, not a psychologist. Psychologists get paid WAY more than I do to listen to you. I will do your hair for free if you just. Shut. Up. This is not a joke.
Mrs. Loudshoes.

Dear City Department of Cat Licencing,
Your website sucks. It goes around and around in circles and then rejects my credit card. Thus, I have not been able to buy a cat licence for Toby for 2011. (Who needs a licence for a cat, anyway?Are your afraid I might not operate him safely? ) You can come and re-possess him, if you want, preferably at 5 a.m.
Mrs. Loudshoes

Dear Mister,
You make me laugh. All the time. Thanks for that.
Mrs. Loudshoes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Drive, She Said

Congratulations are in order; Thing 1 got her driver's licence last week!

Lots of people have asked me how I feel about it, and I reply, in a word, "thrilled". Not only am I no longer the "Driver of Choice" for Thing 2's frantic social life, I have one more person to drive me around when I want to have that second glass of wine. (The Mister is tired of being the "Driver of Choice" for that particular scenario.)

Thing 1 is a very good driver; she's responsible and cautious and entirely trustworthy. In fact, on her driver's test, the one thing she got marked down on was that she drove under the speed limit and she approached every intersection like she expected to be electrocuted at any minute.

I can appreciate her enthusiasm for getting behind the wheel of the car...I remember the feeling myself. The first few weeks of being able to go wherever you want, whenever you want, is heady. Taking the bus is a pain, especially when you don't really know how the bus system works. (A few weeks ago, Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 2's friend took the bus downtown to a frozen yogurt place they like near the salon. All went well until they realized, on the bus home, that they were headed the wrong way. It didn't occur to them that in order to go the way you came you have to cross the street and catch the bus there. It would have taken them days to get home, but the Mister took pity on them and told them to get off the bus and he'd pick them up.)

My father has been diagnosed with cataracts recently, and has been told not to drive. He offered us his car while he's waiting for surgery, and so Thing 1 has another car at her disposal. I think she might actually die of joy.

Of course, the downside is that I don't know where my children are at times. I'm used to them being where I left them, for the most part. It's a bit disconcerting to realize that they could have driven over the border, or be gone to Montreal without telling me. I try not to think of that stuff.

Thing 1 even figured out how to fill the car with gas, and pay for it herself. I can totally get behind this.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Amazing Race, Unfinished Business Episode 10 and 11

I think this is the first finale ever where it didn't matter to me who won; they were all likeable teams and they all were in the last leg on their own merit. Having said that, when Justin and Zev were out, I really wanted Mallory and Gary to win...but I'm happy Jen and Keish won, too. It was nice to see a low-drama team win it. And how nice was that on Mother's Day?
I'm pretty sure if Mallory had won, though, her head would have actually burst into flames, so I'm glad we didn't have to see that.

It does bother me a bit when the final leg comes down to either dumb luck ("Cabbie Roulette!"or sheer physical strength. I'd rather they had some tasks that required memory or problem solving, like they've had in the past. It seemed like there was very little possibility of anyone actually changing position once they left Miami airport.

Poor Zev, it was a very bad day to be a hairy white boy. (And when does that ever happen?)

That waxing looked incredibly painful.....was there any reason that task was there other than to torture and humiliate the racers? It seemed like it was timed, which meant that there wasn't anyway for anyone to finish faster than anyone else, plus, if you've never had anything waxed before, let me tell you that spreading hot wax on your tender bits and pieces and ripping the hair out by the roots is very close to entering the 10th circle of hell.
Also, having learned to wax people in beauty school, I can tell you those women were Satan's minions.....they didn't trim the hair, they spread it on way too big an area and you're supposed to pull the skin taut and then press down on the area really hard right after the wax is ripped off. Justin is going to have some pretty funky regrowth on that chest of his. Not to mention, itchy.

I did like Justin's use of "Spanish As A Default Foreign Language" in Brazil. And the lady who replied "I don't understand you". I really hope they got to drown their sorrows in those caipirinhas, they looked yummy.

I'm thinking there was no real danger of those boats falling, because that? would have been one expensive episode if they had. Besides, they had the guy beside them guiding them the whole time....do you think he was going to say "let 'er rip" and see what happened? And did I hear Mallory say she and her siblings used to "play on fork lifts all the time?" Because that would have been the Mister's fondest childhood dream come true.

I so want to go to the Underwater Lodge! Those little personalized submarine motorcycles looked insanely delightful! And dont' get me started on the Dali-esque, Looney Toons orchestra down there...a couple of caipirinhas and that place would blow. your. mind.

As a professional hairdresser, I live in fear that Miss Rose's hairdo will actually come into style, because I don't have the first freaking idea of where to start to get that. Defying gravity with hair is a tough gig. And did you see that it barely moved through those gale force winds? I want to know what hairspray Miss Rose is using, that stuff must be bullet-proof.

Kudos to the production team....that overhead shot of the Globetrotters wading up one side of Horseshow Island while Keisha and Jen were heading back on the other side, but neither team could see the other, was a great shot.

That bike ride uphill into the wind looked like a complete bitch of a task.....it's like every nightmare I've ever had come true: I have to get to some goal, I'm absolutely frantically desperate to get there, and no matter what effort I put in, some unseen force is thwarting me in every way possible. I would have seriously considered jumping off that bridge and swimming for it.

Until next season!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wild Life.

The Mister was driving home from work a few days ago, and although this has been the dreariest, coldest, rainiest spring this millenia, on this particular day it was very sunny. And the Mister was driving into the sun. (Stay with me, this gets relevant soon.)

He was driving on a fairly busy, four-lane artery, past the University, heading towards the bridge and the river. Way up ahead, the traffic had cleared, so he could see a fair ways up the road as it curved towards the west. And near the river, he could see something crossing the road that was alarmingly large and unusually shaped.

Now, Canada does have an abundance of wildlife, but not around here. We live in a city, in a pretty populated part of the world; we've had a black bear wander into town once, and there has been a cougar spotted not too far from here on more than one occasion. (And let's be clear, it's the actual "big cat" cougar, not a 40-year old woman on the make.) But polar bears, caribou and moose don't make an appearance around here.

(Once we went to the "Canadian Section" of the Toronto zoo, which required us to walk down a mile-long, 45° angle hill, only to see a few mangy bears, a resigned moose and one seriously pissed off raccoon. The moose was looking at me with an expression that could only mean "I know, right?". The bears were asleep, looking like nothing but some large, furry sofas and the raccoon was plotting his escape. Thing 1 was in a foul mood anyway, and the disgust on her face when she saw that raccoon made the Mister and I giggle for hours. "You made me walk all the way down here to see this??? I can see one of those eating out of the garbage pail in the breezeway any night of the week! Why don't they put a cat in there! " But the Japanese tourists were enthralled.)

The Mister was puzzled...it looked like a moose: it was big and brown, had 4 legs and was all big and broad at the top and sort of sloped down towards the back. Except....it didn't have a head. (If you think it's rare to see a moose in these parts, you can only imagine how extraordinarily unique a headless moose is.)

As the Mister drove up towards the river, and the angle of the sun changed, he was able to discern that what he thought was a headless moose was actually two guys moving a couch. The lead guy had it up on his shoulder, and the back guy was carrying it in front of him at waist level.

I wish it had been a headless moose. It would have been like the southwestern Ontario equivilent of a Sasquatch.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Amazing Race, Unfinished Business Episode 10

God, but Kent is an insufferable glittery pink and black nutsack, isn't he? Glad he's gone.
I noticed that when Vyxin said that she was left with the "best partner ever" (or words to that effect), there was a honking horn of doom.....I think the producers don't like Kent any more than I do.
Thing 1 said "Vyxen seems like a sweet girl, but Kent is not a sweet girl."

Hey! The Matterhorn looks just like Mount Crumpet! And I'm pretty sure it is named after that Disneyland ride! It's right beside "Pirates of the Carribean Mountain".

How would you like to have been the guy sitting in a freezing cold, icy crevasse, just waiting for some shreiking amatuers to come and rescue you? I hope they got paid a lot.

That was one sweet ride on those helicopters. I wonder how much that cost the producers.

Thing 1 and I are from Canada: we know how to shovel snow. The trick, in case you are wondering, is to go at it in layers, instead of straight down....that snow that clumps up into big chunks is actually kind of light, if you can take it out chunk by chunk it isn't all that bad. But I don't expect two boys from California, or Gary and Mallory from Kentucky to have the extensive knowledge that we have on the subject.

I really laughed when Gary pulled up half of his avalanche victim and yelled "I think he's gonna make it!"

Kent as a "gangsta" is one of the lamest things I've ever seen. Ever. Ever.

I'm with Mallory: I want to eat that gnome.

Favorite Line of the Night: Jen to Big Easy: "Shut up!", Big Easy: "I thought you liked me!" Jen: "I liked you when you were shuttin' up!"

Loved the St. Bernard. I think every pitstop should have an appropriate animal greeter...think of the camels!

I'm off to make ice cubes in the "oven".

Until next week!