Thursday, August 25, 2016

Numbers Are Hard.

Our receptionist at work is married to a very nice man, who is usually pretty-on-the-ball, and generally can be counted on to be sane and reasonable. (He writes letters to editor of our local paper, and not only does he get published regularly, he generally make some sense, which is more than can be said for most of the other people who get their letters to the editor published.)

This kind and sane man was looking at the paper today, to determine the weather forecast for an upcoming trip he has to the States for work. After checking out his destination's likely weather, he wondered what he'd be missing here at home while he was away. He mused to his wife: "its going up to 29 on Monday, 30 on Tuesday and 31 on Wednesday! Wow, that's hot! Except, wait a minute??? It's only going to be 1 on Thursday? What gives?"

And that's when he realized he was looking at the date, and not at the temperature.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Travelling Loudshoes

It's summer, and that means that we feel compelled to get in the car and GO somewhere. Anywhere. Maybe it's because a Canadian winter means that driving is a hazardous and high-strung undertaking that we feel obligated to take to the road when we are able. Something about the possibility of dying of hypothermia makes you think twice about leaving the city in January, you know?

I love a good road trip. And living in Canada means I get lots of opportunity, since this is a big place and our  motto should be "The Country Where Everything is Far From Everywhere!" We think very little of driving two hours to go to a concert or a ball game, and I know loads of people who spend a half a day in a car getting to a cottage for a weekend. People in Europe think this is crazy, because they could spend a half a day in a car and see four countries. Once, when two of my cousins and I were driving to Montreal from here, they asked me if I needed someone to read the map and navigate, and I told them it was actually pretty easy: you just got on the highway here, and stayed on it for 8 hours, and then got off in Montreal. They were boggled that it was just one road.

The Loudshoes went to Toronto this weekend, which is only a couple of hours on the road, but judging by the amount of food we brought to sustain us, you'd think we were crossing the Great Plains to claim a homestead. I'm not sure what we thought we might encounter on our trip, but we were armed with ALL kinds of snacks, just in case our blood sugar dipped dangerously low in the 60 minutes between leaving the house and making our first bathroom stop.
 AND, as required by law in Canada, we stopped at Tim Hortons before leaving town. Everyone knows that it is impossible to drive anywhere in Canada without a large double-double in hand. (Especially to a hockey arena.) The Mister does not drink coffee, so it's up to me to ingest all the caffeine necessary to maintain our citizenship.

The People In Charge Of Rest Stops Along The Highway have improved their game immeasurably in the past few years. When I was a kid, the food available along the 401 was incredibly awful; soggy french fries, flimsy hamburgers and a lot of greasy, beige stuff that looked like it used to be edible. Then, they sold all the franchises to McDonalds, and if it still wasn't all that great, at least it was predictable. Now they've got a couple of restaurants at each location, which give you a bit of variety, at least, and a fighting chance at getting a salad or a sandwich with ingredients that you can identify. And every one has a Tim Hortons. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

The People In Charge of Rest Stops Along The Highway should be commended for their Department of Bathroom Enrichment, because they have done a bang-up job. I'm pretty sure that department is staffed entirely by women, because they clearly knew what they were doing. The bathrooms are big, and clean and there are 157 toilets at every one. So many toilets. Nary a line up.With bales of toilet paper at each one.  And the sinks! There's dozens of them, with loads of dry counter space to put your purse while you wash your hands in the adequately sized basin that does not splash water all over your shirt. My one, small, tiny little grievance is that they have these industrial hand driers that blow air so hard that you have to work to maintain your balance and they are LOUD. Like, you should probably be wearing ear protection, loud. And when two or three women are drying their hands at the same time, it's like being in a gymnasium with a jet engine. I'm not sure why they felt the need to install hand driers that could wake the dead, but I'm so happy with the rest of the Department of Bathroom Enrichment's work that I will give them a pass.

We drove to Toronto, went to a ball game, and the next day, did a bit of shopping, and then came home. We were gone for a little over 24 hours, and only 4 or 5 of those were actually spent in the car, but we managed to generate a small mountain of garbage. The van was a slovenly toxic waste dump on wheels by the time we pulled into our driveway.  I guess all that snacking means that there's going to be some litter, but I'm not sure how we managed to create that metric shit-ton in such a short time. The Bottled Water Graveyard in the very back is going to take some time to excavate.

Coming home is always nice; one's own bed is delightful, and the cat was very happy to see us. Even if I do have to make my own coffee there.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Party Animals

The Mister and I threw a party yesterday, and the both of us are really feeling it today. Not because either one of us is hung-over or anything, but because we don't entertain very often, and we aren't very good at it. I hear people all the time saying "we love to entertain", and I'm delighted, because that means I can be a guest at their house. (I am an excellent guest, just to tell you. I bring a small but tasteful gift, I am a charming conversationalist, I eat whatever is put in front of me, and if you keep pouring the wine, I will probably drink it and go home before I throw up.)

I will take a  moment to comment on the phrase "throwing a party", because that's exactly as violent and as haphazard as that when I do it. Like "throwing up" and "throwing under a bus".

Maybe it's because we both work on Saturdays, and everyone else's weekend is half-way done when ours is getting started, but giving dinner parties and bar-b-ques and the like just isn't something we do very often. And because we don't do it often, it's never a slam-dunk. I always feel like I'm just getting away with it.

I'm in a frenzy of activity before a party, trying to figure out where the food will go and how I will serve it and how many plates do I need and what kind of platter will that go on and I know I bought napkins and the towels in the bathroom need to be changed and I'm going to need a corkscrew out there and someone has to go buy ice because I forgot and now the fridge is full and I can't put any more in there and by the time my guests come, I have a strong urge to tell them where the booze is and I'll see them later as I now need a nap. It never seems to be as effortless as Martha Stewart seems to keep telling me it should be.

I love my friends and family, and none of them would ever give a rat's ass about how clean my house is, or how we get everything together, and if they did, they're not my real friends anyway. But, you can live with all sorts of ridiculous things until you invite people over and then start looking around as if you were a guest. That dusty old lampshade? Hideous. The overflowing bookshelf? In need of a good cull. The clumps of cat hair on the carpet? Yuck. The bathrooom you've been meaning to paint for months? DO IT BY SATURDAY!
The Mister and I agree that we really should entertain about every 4 months or so, because we get so much done around the house that we'd never do otherwise. The prospect of visitors galvanizes us like nothing else.
I make up for the surroundings by feeding people really good food until they burst. And I ply them with liquor until they don't notice the dust bunnies under the dining room table.

I have my Book Club Ladies over a few times a year, and they are completely amicable and gracious, and are far too well brought up to bat an eyelash at the unmatched tea cups and squeaky dining room chairs. They appear, at least, to be far too enamoured of my bread pudding with whiskey sauce to notice. I would be lying if I didn't say that I am deeply jealous of the rest of them; they seem to entertain with aplomb, with centerpieces that co-ordinate with the theme of the book and napkins that match the tablecloths, and furniture they did not get at a garage sale. AND they make desserts that would make you swoon. Clearly, I am just not as adept as they are at this.

Yesterday's party was for our staff, and again, they all know me, are well acquainted with my slovenly habits, and seem to be eager to come here anyway. Again, I think its the food that's the draw. I had several requests for my foccacia (always a fave.) and for the Mister's freshly made samosas and onion bhaji. I made creme brulee cheesecake and the Mister cooked chicken wings over a firepit, and then everyone else brought salads and devilled eggs and a cheesy crab and lobster dip that was insanely delicious. Just after we started to eat, the heavens opened and we got a serious amount of rain for the next few hours, but we all crammed into the breezeway and nobody seemed to  mind that we had 12 people packed into a space meant for 6.
I think the fact that everyone was woozy from the food comas helped.

After a lovely few hours of eating and drinking and talking, eventually our guests drifted away, all seeming to have had a good time. The Mister took care of cleaning up outside, and I poured myself a glass of wine and put on some music and found myself enjoying the best part of the day for me; the cleaning up. Not because I like cleaning, far from it, but there's something very satisfying about creating order out of chaos, and humming along to the music and just enjoying the solitude and quiet after a few hours of talking and cooking and being in charge. Then, my very favorite part of the day, when the Mister and I sit down with a drink and chat. (Every couple knows that the best part of any party is the post-party note-comparing.) Not only do I love sitting down after a busy day, and talking to the Mister, but I know the house is clean, there's plenty of leftovers in the fridge and best of all? It will be another few months until we do it all again.