Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm Mrs Loudshoes.

I'm not graceful. There is a reason I call myself "Mrs. Loudshoes".....I'm heavy on my feet, I make a LOT of noise, and I fall down a lot.
I've been known to drop apples I'm actually in the process of eating, and watch them bounce across the floor of the salon.
I once burned my hip with a curling iron. (I was a teenager, doing my hair in the bathroom and wearing only my underwear. I dropped the hot iron and it bounced off my hip before falling into the toilet. Luckily the momentum of the drop pulled the plug out of the outlet, or I'd have never figured out how to grab the sizzling iron out of the water. I looked like I'd been branded by a very unimaginative cowboy.)
One winter's night, I was crossing the street down near the salon, and there were huge snowbanks on the sides of the road. I had to scramble up the side of one snowbank, to reach the sidewalk, and managed to loose my footing so that I slid back onto the road and underneath a parked car.

Within the past few weeks, I have managed to surpass even my own, lowest expectations of clumsiness.

  • While walking through the hospital parking building, I was leaving the car and tossed my purse onto my shoulder, so that it hung crossed over my body. Somehow, I managed to fling it entirely over my head and it landed on the ground in front of me. And then I tripped over it.
  • While also leaving the same hospital, I thought the doors closest to the parking lot were automatic. Turns out they weren't and I walked solidly and loudly right into the doors. The guy behind me was trying to be polite, and he asked if I was ok, but I knew he was desperately trying to hold in his laughter.
  • Today at work, I licked an envelope and got a paper cut on my tongue.
  • While opening a can of tuna for Toby the other morning, I carefully dumped the contents into a tupperware container, only to drop it on my slippers. Now they smell like "Eau du Thon", and Toby LOVES them with an unseemly passion.
I dont' think I'll ever dance for the Bolshoi.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Putting the "Hospital" in "Hospitality"

I've been hanging out around hospitals a LOT lately. It really is a whole new world to me; I've never been sick enough to have to spend much time in one, and thankfully, no one else I know has, either. And thank goodness, because hospitals are not places you want to spend much time in.

Luckily, we have health care in Canada, and we don't have to worry about the cost of my father's six-week hospital stay. At least once a week, one of us exclaims "Thank GOD for Tommy Douglas!" (Tommy Douglas is the father of universal health care in Canada, and in case you didn't know, Kiefer Sutherland's grandfather, either one of which would qualify him as a bad-ass.) And believe me, I'm sincerely grateful to enjoy state-supplied health insurance, but I wish I had been able to take out some sort of "parking insurance", because the parking fees at the hospital are going to be the death of me. We live sort of close to the hospital, so I can walk there, or take the bus. Otherwise, I'd be having to have a chat with my bank manager about our Line of Credit and the hospital parking.

Hospitals are no place for sick people. They are noisy and smelly and bright and generally not a good place to try to get some rest. Not to mention the fact that they are, ironically, full of sick people, so it's a good place to get even more crap to make you feel worse.

Whatever they pay nurses, it's not nearly enough. They work incredibly hard, and with a lot of good humor and upbeat attitudes. Everyone of them has been phenomenal; I can't credit them enough.

There is one doctor there who's dealing with my dad that is, very possibly, the most good looking man I've ever had the pleasure to lay eyes on. He's Iranian, and he has awesome hair, and it's very difficult to focus on what he's actually saying, because he is so delicious. Even my father, in the ICU, said as he left, "that is one handsome man". If they guy in the bed fighting to stay alive notices how attractive you are, I'd say you're in the top 1%, easily.

I'm not sure how hospitals in the US or any other country, functions without Tim Horton's. There are two in dad's hospital alone. And there are line ups at both of them, all the time. You can tell if the one in the lobby is closed, even before you come around the corner from the parking lot, because of all the people staggering around the main floor, holding their heads and sobbing. They weep with gratitude when you tell them there's another one on the third floor in the cafeteria.

The cafeteria is the strangest place....it's hidden away, first of all; you practially need a GPS and a Sherpa guide to find the place. And it's oddly empty and unpopulated, except for the line up of thirty people trying to pay. There never seems to be any but just the one cashier, and she either started today, without any training whatsoever, or she has brain damage and cannot give you change from a 10 without a calculator and consulting  most of her fingers. It takes a glacial age to get out of there, and then you find out your coffee is actually tea.

The elevators at the hospital are very slow...there are four of them, but only two work.  This means that you wait quite a while in the lobby for one to come down, and there's a crowd by then. I've smartened up and get on when it's going down to the basement, and then I ride back up and people look at me in astonishment when they realize I'd been waiting with them just a minute ago or so, and I'm already on the elevator. It freaks them out every time. You can fit a lot of people on an elevator, especially when no one's in a wheel chair. I had no idea elevators can double as clown cars.

They are moving my dad to another hospital soon, a re-hab place where he can get up and on his feet a bit better. I hope the parking lot is good.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Amazing Race 19, Episode 11 (Finale)

That was, possibly, the most boring finale we've ever had. Once Jeremy and Sandy got to the wrong "Dump", it was all over. Not that I mind Cindy and Ernie winning it, particularly, but it was far from interesting, no matter how suspenseful they edited the taxi rides.

Having said all that, I'm perfectly happy with Ernie winning, but I'm not too crazy about Cindy. I hope her "Foundation to Help A Students Continue to Beat the Snot Out of C Students" is wildly successful, and they erect a statue in her honor of her standing on Ernie's broken and battered body.

Amani is still my favorite racer ever ever. How she stayed calm and patient through twelve freaking attempts at landing that fake plane, I'll never know. I'd have lost my shit altogether by try #7.
Speaking of which, Thing 1 and I would have lost the whole race right there, too. We'd still be there, trying to land that plane. I can't even play "Candy Train" on my phone for 5 minutes without crashing it....the pressure of killing all those thousands of fake people would be too much for me.
We both remarked, however, that The Mister would have have rocked it; he's spent a million hours flying fake planes in video games....finally that would have paid off.

Can you imagine Lawrence doing that challenge? He'd have made Zac do it, and then tell him how he would have been so much better at it.

I can understand Jeremy and Sandy running around that store for a while, I mean, it's called "The Dump" and it would be hard to leave without investigating it thoroughly. However,it's hard to beleive that that place was a former residence.....do people ususally live in industrial spaces the size of airplane hangars?

I thought for sure there'd be some sort of final task involving all the weird clue-boxes. Maybe they thought that map would be more difficult. It didn't even look like old Ernie even got in a word edgewise.

Too bad Cathi and Bill didn't get a crack at that typewriter task; they'd have nailed it! I knew from typing papers on an ancient typewriter that the lower case "l" can be used as a "1", and that an exclamation point can be manufactured by using an apostrophe and a period. They should have made them re-thread the ribbon in that thing, without getting ink all over the carpet and walls, for a real challenge.

I'm disappointed that the "Gone With the Wind" challenge didnt' have to do with making a hoop skirt out of of the draperies.

I think that was mean to make them run up-hill towards the Amazing Bathmat. July in  Atlanta is pretty hot and muggy, I imagine. Everyone at the finish line looked pretty sweaty, even the ones that didn't run as decoys at the end.

The new race is being filmed right now, and will air in February.
Until next season!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

In Sickness and In Health

I've been neglecting my blog lately; I've been neglecting almost everything, lately. My father has been seriously ill, and I have come to realize that having a sick family member is a full-time job.

My 76 year old dad has been having some heart trouble over the past few years, which eventually meant that he required by-pass surgery, or risk having a heart attack. He had the surgery, which went well, but the ensuing complications, including two more surgeries and four stints in the ICU has meant that he's been in the hospital just over a month. The initial surgery, the triple by-pass, seems to have been successful, and he's getting better....slowly.

It's been a roller coaster, for all of us. (For example, when the ICU calls at 1 in the morning and says "you should probably come down here", you don't just roll over and go back to sleep.) And whatever it's taken out of me to be dealing with the time and the emotions and the stress of it all,or my brother travelling down here on the weekends,  it's been way harder on my mother. And whatever we are going through, my father has to deal with it ten times more and then some.

And over the past month, the phrase "in sickness and in health" has flitted through my mind more than once. Every step of the way, my mother has been in that hospital, at my dad's bedside, holding his hand. Every day. For hours at a time. Without complaint. And it's not because she "has" to be there, it's because she wants to. Because she couldn't let him go through any of this alone, and because she knows he would do the same for her. She's had her good days, and her bad, and my mother is no martyr, she's perfectly capable of saying "these are my limitations and I'm at them". But after 53 years of marriage, she and my dad know that there is nothing they have to deal that isn't made better with the other one there.

We hope he can come home shortly, and that his recovery is steady and smooth. And whatever we've gone through in the past month has been worth it; because he's still here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Amazing Race 19, Episode 10

Holy Elimination, Batman! I thought Andy and Tommy were a shoe-in for the Final Three. What do you know. I didn't love them or hate them, but they've been so dominant, I thought for sure they'd win the whole thing. It was bad luck for the Snowboarders that this leg was all about the mental tasks; that is their Kriptonite. (Did they really not know who Charlie Chaplin is?)

The good thing is, now the Final Leg is up for grabs; any one of these three teams could win, and I'd be happy if any one of them did.

On thing I love about this Race is that your performance on every leg matters more than how well you've done all the way along. Other than mess with your head, not coming in first every time doesn't have an impact on your chances of winning the million bucks.

If I have one phobia, it involves being in the water in the dark. That boat ride in the pitch dark on the river would have freaked me out, and if I'd have had to get out of the boat into the water? There would have been a Mrs. Loudshoes-sized hole in the universe, as I tried to escape this dimension altogether. Sandy was remarkaby calm when their boat went aground.

Those mosquito nets looked more like they were the gauzy decoration in a Madonna video than actual protection against mosquitos. I hope they were packing some major DEET with them.

Favorite Line of the Night: Marcus said "that music makes me think we are getting a crash course in head-shrinking!
And also, from Cindy, later: "HOLY BALLS!" That is my new band name.

Sandy said that it didn't matter if they came in first, just that they avoid being last. She needs to sit down and have that talk with Cindy.

Oh my, that tightrope challenge looked scary. Thing 1 and I both said we'd hate it, but we could do it. We'd be crying all the way, but we'd do it.
Sandy looked really scared, but man, did she buck up and do it. I was very impressed! Even with Andy yelling at her, which was a dick move because he was already done and there was no advantage to him.

I want a pair of those sandals! They looked very nice. (Well, not the ones the racers made, those looke like ass. But the ones the locals made were really nice.)

So, Marcus's Magic Bad Luck Rocks that he threw out the window really did work on the Snowboarders? He should maybe go back and find those; he might be on to something there.

Next week: Atlanta! I hope they have some "Gone With the Wind" themed task, and someone has to burn down the city, or wear a hoop skirt. Marcus, in particular, would look fetching in a hoop skirt.

Until next week!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Best Books of 2011

These were some of the books that kept me in very good company this past year. Some of them were funny and some of them were sad, some of them made me think and some of them entertained me entirely. They may not be "the best" books of 2011, but they were the best books I read this year.

The Boy In the Moon by Ian Brown
Toronto writier Ian Brown's memoir about being a father to his severely disabled son, Walker. Sweet and poignant and honest, this is book is beautifully written and well worth reading.

2. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese The story of twin brothers who grow up in Ethiopia during the '70s and become doctors. This is a story about family and siblings and love, and even though I had a hard time getting into it, I'm glad I persisted.

3. The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis  Who in their right mind said "I know, a novel about Canadian politics and Parlaimentary procedures! Why hasnt' anyone done that before?" But it works, and really well. This novel was funny and dry and really quite entertaining. Really, who knew?

4. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley This is the third book in the "Flavia de Luce" series, a series which I am enjoying very much. A murder mystery set in England shortly after the war, which kept me highly entertained. The fourth one just came out, so expect to see it on next year's list.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey This sort-of-memoir was sharp and funny and very good. I laughed out loud a number of times, and it also made me think. A winning combination, always.

6. At Home by Bill Bryson I'd read almost anything by Bill Bryson, and this history of the home did not disappoint. From telling me about how people treated their servants to how wallpaper was invented to why we call big houses a "Hall" to the important ratio of rise to stair, this book was fascinating and delightful. My mother was reading it at the same time when we were in Florida on vacation, and we'd both say things like "did you get to the part about the bathrooms yet? OOOO, wait 'til he talks about indoor plumbing!", like we were reading a juicy novel.

7. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein The narrator is a Golden Lab who tells the story of his owner and their life together. I really enjoyed this book, and I've never looked at any dog the same way again.

8 One Day by David Nicholl  This story visits two friends on the same day, every year, for twenty years, and explores the ups and downs of two people who grow up, grow apart and grow together. And you would not believe the day I started this book! Friday July 15th, the day the book starts! It was meant to be!!

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell One of my clients gave me this book for Christmas, and I felt duty-bound to give it a try. And I was glad I did; it was good. Dutch merchants and Japanese citzens try to co-exist in 18th Century Nagasaki, and the societies of both are never quite the same because of that contact. This time and place really came to life.

10. Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle Switching back and forth between Italy during the war and the present day, this historical mystery was very compelling.

11 A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg My father has been quite sick in hospital for the past few weeks, and I've been too preoccupied to read much. Big Liver Girl gave me this memoir/cookbook to read, and I fell head over heels into it. Sitting in the ICU waiting room, drooling over the recipes, I also enjoyed the stories and memories that went with each one. I wanted to eat this book, she made everything sound so, so good. It was exactly the right book that I needed, and I enjoyed it very, very much. The only problem I had with it is that I have to wait until the summer to make the Cherry, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad that I will crave every day until cherry season.