Monday, December 20, 2010

December who?

Do you remember when things took so long to happen? When school vacations were eons away but in reality the three months until "no more pencils, no more books" could be shouted at the top of our young lungs? It's no longer the case.

Maybe it's because I turned a milestone birthday this past week. Yes, Scribe can no longer claim to be in her 30s. It's a new decade baby, and with it comes an acceleration in time. One month seems like yesterday. So imagine my dismay when I realized I had neglected you again. For a whole month. To make up for it, I will do a synopsis of the last month and everything that has gone into it.

Balloons for the Gusafus
There are a surprising number of birthdays to be had this past month (mine included). We know what certain parents were doing nine months before... and yes, that includes mine but they did it only twice. Once with my brother and once with me. Tell me any different and I will stick my fingers in my ears and start singing at the top of my lungs.

You may have noticed an influx of green balloons on December 7th. Hulk Green to be exact, to recognize a certain young man's birthday. He may have passed, but I sure hope the balloons reached my buddy Christopher and reminded him that he still has big fans in all of us. Friends, family, teachers... we were all there in the cold to send our message across Ontario and hopefully beyond. Boyo the Boxer, however, was happy they were out of his house and not taunting him any longer.

'Tis the season, mothafuckas
I hate malls, the crowds, the recycled air, the attempt to spend less and appreciate more, so Christmas is a hard time for me and I try to spend as little time as possible in the mall. This year, I managed to never set foot in the mall, opting for online purchases of hockey tickets to the local OHA team, books and spa gift certificates. The Man and I have opted out of gifts this year, instead putting our money away to collect dust and hopefully interest as we save for our first vacation together. I did put a stocking together for him and I'm hoping he took the hint when my stocking continues to lay empty (I sure do hope he's reading this. HINT.)

I even purchased my Christmas cards online and I will send them out IF the kind people at Zazzle get them to me soon. I'm quite excited about these cards, you see, because it features one James Garfield courtesy of the Bloggess, who, I learned, will be donating the funds generated from the Xmas cards to presents for those in need. So even though I may receive the cards in February it's okay since it's going to such a good cause. Besides James Garfield would have wanted it that way.

The greatest moment in history
Mark this on your calendars people! December 17th. It may not be the epiphany but it should have been. Scribe was born, and this year, she turned 40. Why is she talking in third person all of a sudden? Damned if know. It's annoying so I'm compelling her to stop.

I think it was the vat of wine I consumed on Saturday, the day after the big day when the world could start turning again. In all, the day was good, owing to the fact that I had the day away from Cell Block C (and I needed it). I was also saying goodbye to our house guest: one slightly untrained, definitely sweet 10-month-old boxer pup who, in three days managed to eat a pair of my pants and mascara, rearrange all of my shoes from my shoe cupboard to various locations throughout the house (I'm still searching for a flip-flop) and give Kao a taste of his own medicine by constantly following, jumping on and kissing him every minute of the time he was in our care. A jaunt to the fave sushi restaurant and Yuk Yuk's followed, where I laughed until I almost wet my pants with the deadpan delivery. A wedding and a day of recovery followed by finishing up Christmas shopping and that is my weekend and month to-date.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season. May the malls be open, may your pocketbooks be limitless and may you spend as much time with your family and friends.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tits up, Mother!

You might often be tempted to ask the question: when is it okay, kosher if you will, to talk about tits with your mother – or more specifically for her to push her tits up.

Picture a 74-year-old woman who never leaves the house without her lipstick on and a general rub of colour on her cheeks, whose hair has been many colours but not yet blue.

The answer might surprise or shock you. It certainly shocked me since I was the one asking the question and I didn’t get the expected shot upside the head. Well, she was too far away and her knee has been acting up lately so there’s that. That, and she was too busy laughing.

My family is an anomaly, with generations upon generations either having babies later in life or having an “oops” baby 16 years after the first. My brother and I were the later in life babies, though I continually call my bro the “mailman’s child” since he’s got blond hair, blue eyes and longest goddamn eyelashes I’ve ever seen on a guy.

What does that mean besides a lot of tired mothers and kids frustrated with the number of walkers and wheelchairs in the living room? It means having a 40-year difference between sets of cousins. And it means that your Uncle Jimmy (he’s actually a cousin but so old we call him Uncle) will talk about his morning routine of putting his teeth in and straightening out his back before kissing your aunt or how life was during World War II. It also means that your less-than-colourful mother (save the lipstick she insists should never be missed) will be a little more easy-going with the off-colour humour than if she was shushing you after you ask if she fancies a little spotted dick. But that’s only IF Uncle Jimmy is around. I swear he’s an elixir. Either that or he bathes in the stuff.

And so it went this past weekend where the cousins got together to remember Uncle Billy and his positive outlook, his perfectly sliced turkey and stuffing and the times he tried on his wife’s bathing suit, complete with grapefruits for the bits he couldn’t fill. There’s proof in pictures and we saw them too.

After delivering eulogies and tributes, remembering all of the good times we shared together, it was time for a few pictures of the cousins. The younger generation first – thankfully I was included in that (a debate since I’m in between an intergenerational member) – and then the oldies.

I don’t know what possessed me – perhaps after being regaled with stories of how vulgar and amazing my family can be – but as my aunt, uncle, father and mother were standing, posing with prim and proper smiles on their face, I opted for the less traditional call… “Okay, everyone! Make this count! Tits up, ass out.” Jesus Christ Margaret choked on her wine. My uncle was buckled over laughing and with tears in his eyes, and my dad and aunt bravely lifted their chest, pushed out their ass and grinned.

I think this may be the only time I will get away with saying “tits” to my mother. I can’t even fathom how she’d react if I called her “Hootie McBoob” or my moniker “Chesty LaRue.” Even better: her new name… Tits McGrath. I can’t wait until her memorial service. Really. There's going to be spotted dick for everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Espresso love/hate

Espresso is my enemy. It lulls me into a deliciously fragrant and strong psuedo-reality that this time I won't be affected by its grasp on my now wide-awake brain. So many thoughts in my head, so many ideas fluttering about and I can't seem to keep still for one minute so one will alight on me and I can savour it for a minute or five.

Espresso is my drug; sleep its victim, and it's my morning-after sanity that pays. In spades. My fingers fly across the keyboard, clicking and clacking, making big words come to life and melding thought streams into other streams and it takes a map to unravel my travels.

Tomorrow is a work day. Tomorrow, I have to venture into the office and order vests, clocks, awards and holiday chocolate - wares to promote, to announce a message, a mantra - and I hope I don't leave keyboard creases on my cheeks as my head hits the desk.

Espresso, you are my frenemy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Uncle Billy

Looking up at my Uncle Bill always reminded me of looking way up at a very tall tree, the tallest in the forest, and you could imagine climbing limbs to reach the sun.

Always quick with a hug, a laugh, a smile or a kind word, he gave selflessly. His smile could brighten any day and I always looked forward to every family gathering to see him and my Aunt Kay. This past Saturday, the sunshine dimmed, the clouds drew and the earth stopped turning for a time as we held our breath and bid farewell to a favourite person in so many of our lives.

I hadn't seen him for a few years, but my most treasured memory of him was what I always associated with him - a warm embrace - as I stepped off of an airplane to spend the weekend at his Calgary home. He and my Aunt Kay had opened up their home to me when I managed to land an interview at one of the city's thriving magazines. They had great plans for me. I was to move there and offered up their basement as my temporary home base for as long as it took to find my permanent place in Calgary. It was all set and they were excited for me and looking forward to having me in their home. That's how both my aunt and uncle were - unassuming people quick to lend a hand to anyone in need.

We spoke about my Aunt Ann, his mother, who he doted on, ever a loving son. We spoke about how my life might change with this new opportunity. We spoke about the past and the times we got together at our house and theirs for Boxing Day and summer pool parties, or the ever-popular euchre nights in which all of the cousins tried to trump the others. We spoke about his golf games and his quest to one-up his cousin and favourite duffer, my Uncle Jimmy. He helped me map my way to my potential office building, teaching me about the landmarks in the city, and I spent a wonderful day with him, my aunt and cousins Carol, David, Meaghan and Leigh to celebrate Mother's Day. It made for great memories and I'm upset to know it will be my last of him.

In two weeks, the cousins will get together to celebrate his life, share stories and open a bottle of three of wine to toast him - one Celebration of Life in Calgary and another in Toronto - with pictures and memories shared between the two to celebrate him and the impact he's had on us all.

I can't remember a time when Uncle Bill wasn't planted firmly in our lives, the roots stretching across the miles and tethered to our heart strings. Toronto, Calgary and abroad, the strength of his love will be firmly entrenched and his smile engraved in our lives.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Inspired by the CBC? Hell yeah!

Okay, one more post before my head hits the pillow. I had to get this out. It was too good not to share, and you'll never guess where I got it from... CBC.

I have a guilty pleasure. Yes, just one of them. I try to watch CBC's Being Erica every week. It's a novel concept - time traveling to fix or learn from your mistakes - a bucket list of regrets and potential do-overs. And in tonight's episode, I heard this gem:

"Your past mistakes and bad decisions are in the past... your future is spotless."

Gotta love it!

Amber in the bramble bush

I'm searching for a title for my latest artistic creation. Again, my abstract landscape took a turn and this time it ran into a forest of texture, vines and undergrowth. Not to mention, the whole process inspired me to dip both hands into a can of white paint and take some gauze and cobwebs along for the ride.

So, without further ado, here it is.

It was really an experimentation in texture and colour, with many layers of paint and gloss... sort of like me. Many layers and a lover of gloss. Just look in my makeup bag.

Happy Thursday, bloggers. It's a mini-Friday and that's all right by me.

Remembering to remember... where Scribe goes silent

I'm amazed at how much I continue to learn about my parents over the years. Just a few months ago, my dad and I were talking about his somewhat nomadic life, moving from the family homestead in Markdale, Ontario out to Ajax, Mildmay and Toronto. It was during the Depression so my grandfather went where there was work and that meant renting out the family home and renting digs in some remote city.

Remote is relative when you come from a small Ontario town, population 999, where everyone knows what you've done or not done even before you reach your back porch. My grandmother was a telephone switchboard operator; my grandfather worked in many jobs - co-owner of a hardware store and civil servant among them. He also worked at the artillery plant in Ajax, Ontario during World War II where he, my grandfather and my then-young father worked in a munitions factory.

He spoke about doing odd jobs in the munitions factory and making sure he wasn't caught bringing in any matches or lighters as he snuck a smoke with his buddies. One spark, he said, and we were all goners, forget about our Axis enemies. He spoke about living in rented digs where the only heat would come from a grate in the floor - war-time houses that probably still stand to this day. I'm not sure if they've upgraded to central heat or even central air, but I sure hope so.

I never knew about this direct relation to the war effort, and now as we sit on the evening prior to Remembrance Day, I'm remiss if I don't think of the people, men and women who fought and continue to fight in wars around the world, but also of the people left behind to pick up the slack - my father included.

I didn't think I had an immediate connection to any veterans save my uncle who was in the RAF stationed in Egypt. The only proof is a picture that used to sit on the bookshelf in my aunt and uncle's house in Gorebridge, Scotland. My aunt did her part too, but because my family was so far removed from them, thousands of miles across the ocean, it didn't occur to me that I should remember their sacrifice too.

This year, I am. I'm offering up two full minutes of silence, which for me, is a feat. I will remember the sacrifices of the soldiers of the past and save a smile and a salute for the men and women serving today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tests to prove I'm not a numpty

It’s obviously been a while since I’ve been in the market for a new job – four years to be exact – and my how things have changed!

It’s still who you know and not what you know. Networking is still god and thanks to Facebook, Twitter and blogs like this (!), it’s reached a new height of social networking. But what I didn’t expect was to revert back to my pre-pubescent, sweating over a test with a time limit days.

I got my foot in the door for this job at The Man’s company (thankfully not the same location). It’s not in writing, marketing or public relations – well, sort of. It’s in customer service, which I’m sooo used to doing even though I sometimes want to throw ninja stars at them through the phone. Being a biatch? Here’s a burst eardrum from the ninja star coming point blank through the phone and into your ear canal. Kiss your teeth at me? Even though I can’t see it, I can hear it, and for that my frenemy, you will get the ultimate kiss-off – a personal visit and coffee date with my friend Uzi.

I don’t do well with stupid and I also don’t do well with looking stupid, so imagine my surprise when, in the first interview, I was told there would be a timed aptitude test. It was 12 minutes of sheer panic since The Man hadn’t warned me I would be tested on my smarts. Thank goodness, I have them!

Most of the questions weren’t bad – it tested recollection, discerning between numbers if you’re apt to have numeric dyslexia on a regular basis. But, it also had Sesame Street-like questions:

“One of these is not like the other…” Fork, spoon, knife, blood splatter…

You could see my confusion. I chose spoon.

It also had math questions – the kind that has the train leaving the station at a certain time going at a speed of 216 mph and it meets another train about 12 minutes after leaving the station…my eyes glazed over and I almost wrote “who the hell cares” as my answer.

I must have done something right since I had the second interview yesterday, but this interviewer was harder to read than the other. And, you guessed it, I had another test, this time about my computer knowledge.

“What is a port? Do you know if hardware and software are the same thing? Do you know they have the internet on computers now?” They had me describe the way I would search out files on the C drive. Sophmoric really, but I guess it's a way to weed out the inexperienced.

And the ultimate test? The criminal record check that came at the end of the interview. I guess it's a positive that I was given that test, and because I have yet to be arrested, I think this is one test I will pass with flying colours.

That, and the fact that I am not a numpty, I hope the whole interview will go in my favour. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spell check would have come in handy

I'm the type who reads newspapers, magazines and books and laughs hysterically when I come across a blatant spelling mistake, so imagine my reaction when I saw this sign in Brampton.

Do you think the "Y" is silent? Yeah, me too. Or at least I hope so!

Chesty LaRue on canvas

Do you see the forest for the breasts?

Time flows quickly, distracted intermittently with ringing telephones, the click of the keyboard keys as my fingers fly across them, and I realize that I’ve written only three posts to-date for October.

I’d like to apologize but I have a feeling that a lot of you understand. Time is fleeting and before you blink, it’s three weeks later and you’ve written all of 10 words and most of that is on the grocery list you’ve tucked into your purse only to forget that too.

I understand. October has been crazy and boring in the very same breath. I can say I’ve been busy with my job but it’s actually boring, monotonous and soul-sucking. I can say my artwork has exploded but I have only one-and-a-half pieces to lay claim. And I can say that I’ve done nothing to rectify the situation but sit on my ass.

One of those art pieces (the only complete one) went to Jesus Christ Margaret to commemorate my parents’ golden wedding anniversary. In hindsight, it went to the wrong person and for the wrong occasion as even as we speak it’s sitting on the floor because Margaret doesn’t quite get it. She finds the colours wrong, the landscape too non-conformist, so unlike her. She doesn’t realize that it’s her daughter giving her a gift – a little piece of herself.

I’ve been rebelling a bit, checking my call display and walking away when I see it’s her. I don’t want to hear her “Dear” me that and “But honey” this. I don’t want her to forget the niceties that come with receiving a gift, that a thank-you is enough of a comment especially when 8 hours of work has been invested. Art is personal and emotional, and I believe a little more couth could have been used in this circumstance.

Regardless of the reaction, I am furiously proud of my painting no matter if or where it hangs. The fact that my tree line looks like a tree line in all its fall glory and that the sky has a beautiful hue to it – I’m proud. I’m even proud of my fire trees, conical trees that look like flames with its vibrant red/orange fall foliage. It’s my best work and the one I felt most free, like I knew it would turn out well.

At least Jesus Christ Margaret did not hint at the fact that the fields on either side of the river looked like lopsided breasts and the fire trees like tassels, as two friends did. I told them they were perverted. They are, so I’m telling the truth. And, the truth is, after looking at it for a few minutes, I saw Chesty LaRue in a striptease, spinning the tassels and taking the eyes out of the patrons in the front row.

At least she didn’t say that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Through the woods to Grandma's house...

For the past two weeks I've been staring at my computer background, halfway between smiling and tearing up.

It's not your traditional computer backdrop. It's a photo from the Thanksgiving Monday and a sojourn to the north, two hours to be exact, to my grandmother's home town of Markdale. It's the home of Chapman's Ice Cream, Steven's BBQ and the quaintest town you've ever seen.

The main street hosts a few choice shops, my favourite "Peek Thru My Window," in existence for over 20 years and that is the last time I spent any time in the place. There's the old firehall, now an information centre, a Food Town where Gramma did all of her shopping and two churches just steps from each other, like there's hope that religious entities can co-exist in a small space.

It's also where my grandmother lived, my father's mother, and where my brother and I spent many happy a summer picking raspberries in the back garden and yelling down the heat grates from the bedroom upstairs to see what was on the breakfast menu. I know that tonka trucks and cars were also dropped down the grates, often narrowily missing the porridge pot on the stove.

I still have the memories but it's also the house that I miss, the insatiable need to slide down the bannister, complete with large wooden ball at the end. There's the country kitchen that seems so much smaller than I remember, the back bedroom where the daddy long legs always seemed to be in abundance.

I paid my respects to the house on this Monday, taking The Man and Boyo the Boxer to meet it. And, I was a little nervous to mount the front steps and introduce myself to the now-owners. The house was sold in the mid-80s, out of the family that had been its caretakers since the late 1800s. It had proven too much to maintain. The pipes always froze in the winter, the roof was needing replaced and it was too big for my diminutive grandmother who was starting to forget to eat, forget to throw out spoiled food and even how to cook her famous meals of salmon sandwiches, chili and roast beef. Porridge was almost never on the menu anymore.

The owners were really gracious, recognizing the last name that had been permanently etched a hundred times over in the brick wall of the side porch. My great uncle, grandfather, brother and a slew of other family members too long gone from memory. They're all still there, watching over the homestead.

I was very upset way back when my grandmother was considering selling the house. It was my home away from home, my place to yell down the heating grates that once had pipes running through from the wood burning stove in the kitchen.

My grandmother died in 1989 from emphysema, from years of smoking and bouts of asthma. She was 78. And it was back in 1989 that I had even stepped foot in the town where my grandmother lived. It was comforting to see that it hadn't changed that much - a few changes in businesses, new lines painted on the road but the same small town feel was intact. I felt instantly comforted. The fact that the new owners offered me a beer helped too.

What touched me the most as I walked up to the door with a whole bunch of Nervous Nellies floating around in my belly was that my grandmother's door knocker, full of brass and very lion-like was still there - a testament of who came before. The door had been given a new paint job, red with passion, and the old green indoor-outdoor carpet had given way to a concrete landing, but the door knocker remained.

I knocked on the door with that door knocker, a lion's share of memories still intact and I was instantly transported to my five-year-old self playing Nicky Nine Doors with my grandma. I only wish she would have answered the door.

** Photos finally posted. Procrastination strikes again!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I got nothing...

Nada, Zilch, Zero. But I have sore legs and a somewhat tidy house.

Over the last two weeks I've hosted and helped with two garage sales or yard sales without a garage. I collected, organized, carried and eventually sold other people their new treasures. Would I do it again? Maybe not for another eight years or so 'cause people are cheap and rude.

It was a 7 a.m. start last week, with the hours running from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., plenty enough time to hock my wares. I had the makings of a whole kitchen, complete with pots and pans, rice cookers, veggie steamers and enough coffee makers to make coffee for the whole city. Really, what did I need with three coffee makers when there is a Tim Horton's steps away from my house? Don't get me wrong... I love a good coffee and I'm known to grind my own coffee beans but when I'm in a hurry, it's the drive-thru I go. Anyways, back to the cheapskates.... but first a question.

If you're at a garage sale and you see a great set of pots and pans, do you assume that they've never been used? Remember you're at a garage sale and the said pots and pans are priced ridiculously cheap at $4 for the set of three. A woman came up to the table all interested and itching to get her hands on these pots and then she asked the price. $4 for all three, I said, knowing I wanted to sell them but knew a good deal when I made saw one. And her counter offer? $.50 each. Yes, 50 cents. I bargained down to $3.50 since there's always some haggling involved. Her answer: "But lady, it's used." And mine: "You're at a feckin' garage sale. Yes, it's used. Get off of my my friend's lawn."

Despite the haggling and the attempts at walking away without paying, I did end up making $80 that day and that was in the rain. Today's efforts were much better weather-wise, but I was still unable to unload a computer. For $50 all in - hard drive, 17 in. monitor, keyboard and mouse. And did I mention the CD burner? No? Well it had that too. It was an older model, but still.

And I still got the cheapskates. One man, after working me down from $3 to $2 to a never-been-used fondue pot and burner tried to hand me $1.50. You're cheaping me down for $.50? Get off of my my friend's driveway. I got the toonie in the end.

Will I do it again? Perhaps not. But I did like the feeling of accomplishment that came from clearing out the clutter and ridding myself of what I didn't need or want. It's a paring down and what will remain will be truly wanted, used and cherished.

One item I was a little sad to see go: a corkscrew and wine top made from a grapevine. Until I was told that it indeed looked like a turd. I could not disagree but it became a topic of conversation for the lovely couple who bought it, and they laughed as I shouted out my goodbye: "Enjoy your wine turd." They raised the turds in the air and did a mock salute and it was a good day after all.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Paranoia raises its head

I am slowly going crazy... I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Switch. Crazy going slowly am I, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Switch...

I used to sing this repetitively since I thought it was funny to speak backwards or jumbled up. I was good at it. But now I truly believe I am going crazy and I blame the characters in Cell Block C.

I've worked there for the past four years and when I started I was confident, funny, loyal and meticulous. I wore my rep and my skin with pride. Now, I am more paranoia than perky, proof in point a conversation I had with myself today.

A co-worker has invited me to join her for lunch, not an uncommon thing in the workforce. We work with people day in, day out for 8 or 9 hours a day. You're bound to make friendships. Except on Cell Block C. Everyone seems to be out for themselves and will throw you under the bus on a moment's notice. No, I'm not being paranoid, though you may be apt to think so. I've seen it happen and I've had it happen to me. So, when the newest charge asked me what I was doing for lunch this Wednesday, I stopped and thought: "I wonder what she has to tell me. I wonder what her motives are."

Yes, those were my initial thoughts and how sad is that state of affairs that people can't bond over lunch, over coffee in the cafeteria or a stopover at a desk to say hello and discuss the weekend's happenings? After much debate, I've come to the conclusion that she doesn't seem to have any ulterior motives, save grabbing a coffee and sandwich outside of work hours. It will be a nice break to the day, and for someone who takes only 15 minutes to feed my Tim Horton's addiction, it will be different, nice and strangely comforting to see perhaps the atmosphere is changing for the better.

That's not to say that I will push any warning signs to the back of my mind. I'm not that naive. But until then, I will enjoy the change of scenery away from the Negative Nellies in Cell Block C - and yes, my boss is the leader. I will also enjoy a bit of the camaraderie no matter how short the lunch.

Perhaps I will dazzle my new co-worker with my ability to put the po-po under my spell with my "Occifer, Occifer, I am not under the alkafluence of inkahol as some thinkel peep I know."

It was cuter when I was five and my dad was coaching me. Now it may lead to a night in the slammer. Oh well. At least it will be a day (or five) off.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't phone Hoarders just yet...

I may have been a little too quick to jump on the hoarders' bandwagon. Tonight, I actually sat down and watched a full episode. Between cringing about a cockroach infestation and gasping in awe of how much stuff can actually "fit" into a home, I've decided that while I may keep things a little too long, at least you can walk through my house without having to call in a search party to get out.

What disturbed me the most was that the parents featured on the program thought nothing of placing the spillover from the rest of the house into their children's rooms, so much that there was no available space to sleep.

Oh, and don't forget the cockroaches. Yes, cockroaches. Everywhere. My skin is still crawling and I thank my lucky stars that I have the odd spider or two and a rogue moth to contend with and not the scurrying of cockroaches of all sizes and ages as soon as the lights go on.

Not too many things make me queasy. I can handle spiders, earwigs and even mice, but I draw the line at cockroaches. I've been traumatized more than once by those disgusting creatures. The first time had me running down an aisle trying to make an escape from a flying cockroach that, I swear, followed me throughout the store as I tried to leave. A second time, it was a cockroach falling onto my hand as I tried to make a purchase at the checkout counter. And, it was not even the same store. I made even more acquaitances on vacation, and while I was expecting them since it was the tropics, I was still all heeby-jeeby about them.

So, in short: you can see my floors, I'm working on clearing the clutter and making money in the process and I am cockroach-free. All in all, I think I'm winning.

Hello, my name is Scribe and I am a hoarder

Can you say procrastination? Do you call it procrastination when, instead of finishing an editing job, I'm listening to the Gary Gnu Show from the Great Space Coaster show of the 80s? Or checking out recipes for Red Velvet Cake? Or how about reading about hairless cats and their oil secretions? Yeah, I thought so too.

It's not that I don't have a lot of stuff to do tonight. Finishing the editing of my friend's book is top on the list, or so it should be. The same goes for prepping for this weekend's garage sale, sifting through my shite treasures and choosing which ones would be a great addition to someone else's home. 

There is some good crap here, like two or three televisions that now take up residence in my home. I told The Man before he brought in the latest entertainment device (high-def television) that he we would have to re-gift at least two of the televisions that are in storage. I guess I wasn't as "Terminator" as I should have been since we now have a television for every room, including the small main floor powder room.

I've also got a Houdini-like dog crate and a futon frame minus the mattress. Boyo the Boxer (my high-IQ canine who is now staring at the china cabinet willing it to move) discovered he could escape from his crate by pulling the back into the body of the crate and stepping over what I thought was a locked metal panel. He then proceeded to have his run through the house unattended, shredded tissue boxes and their contents strewn throughout the house and a make-shift potty on the futon mattress.

I've also got lots and lots of coffee mugs, a rice cooker/veggie steamer, a stand-up, life-size poster of Mel Gibson pre-crazy in Braveheart, a almost-complete family tree poster of the Royal Family (minus Camilla) and a few donations left behind by old tenants. No forwarding address? Then say goodbye to your picture of two well-trained German Shepherds, plug-in Jesus and Mary "paintings" and array of Glade Plug-ins.  There's a limit to re-gifts, my friends.

Ahhh, the re-gifts... thankfully my mother took back the pukey purple sweatshirt with the big, honking, yellow sunflower. The sunflower didn't actually honk, but you could see me coming a mile away if I ever put it on. I didn't. She did, and that's one re-gift I didn't have to worry about. I've got candles, candle holders and picture frames coming out of my... closets... and those too will make a move to a front lawn near you!

I know that one man's trash is another's treasure, or at least that's what I'm hoping comes my way this weekend. While the cash I'd get for these treasures is tempting, what is more welcome is a cleaning up and a move away from my approaching hoarder status.

I don't even know how have of this stuff ended up in my house. Oh wait. As The Man has pointed out on too many occasions: "I am my mother's daughter," and that explains it all.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Words that should not be in my vocabulary

As most of you already know, I cringe at non-words - those words that have made their way into the modern-day dictionary that have no business being in the word business. Last night during a quick jaunt to Port Credit to drop off Happy MacGyver at a shiatsu appointment, The Girl and I were lamenting the downfall of the English language, especially when grown adults use the word "irregardless" in a sentence.

Her son, having been present for many a discussion, decided to pull one over on The Girl. With a grin on his face, he said "Irregardless, Mom..." He didn't even finish the sentence before he broke out laughing for having pulled a funny and for the look on The Girl's face. It was a cringe really, followed by a look of shock. Last night, after practising our dance moves in a store window and laughing the whole drive home, she reminded me of another word that did not get its beginning in the dictionary: Can't.

It's not a word and it should not be in anyone's repertoire, she said, not to mention the damaging ramifications it has when uttered. The Girl is right. "I can't" is damaging, it's defeatist and it sets you up for failure as soon as it forms in your head. You don't even have to say it. It's there and it automatically deflates any idea or possible situation you can imagine.

If you want to go back to school and take a course not in your usual realm, a little off your present path, and you say "I can't" a list instantly starts to form. "I can't" because of a) finances; b) I'm too old to go back to school; c) it doesn't fit in with the idea I already have of myself; d) the homework would be too much.

Wanting to change your present relationship status? You may say "I can't" because of the financial ramifications, because you would be alone, because even though the relationship is not working and you're not as invested you stay because it's comfortable or status quo. Say "I can" and the world of possibilities opens up.

When I ended my first marriage and moved back with the parental units to regroup, my mother Margaret (the same Jesus Christ Margaret) uttered a phrase that has stuck with me to this day and makes me revolt and work to prove the exact opposite. "You can't survive on your own without us," she said. And I cried because at that time, I believed it. I'd just taken a step back and moved into my childhood home. True, I had walked from a bad relationship and was starting anew (and that had a host of new possibilities and opportunities), but I was in a place where I blamed myself. I had screwed up. I had disappointed people and that didn't jive well.

This is something I've carried around for a long time, until recently. I've forgiven myself for a lot of things and am slowly making steps to eradicate the "I can't" from my vocabulary. It's all about the positive and the silver lining I can spin. A day of closed doors and veiled whispers at the office may cause a little upset ('cause I think they're whispering about me) will now garner a look back at my work performance and the personalities of the people doing the whispering. It's not me, it's you," I would whisper back. "I did nothing wrong. I'm doing my work and to the very best of my ability." This was not always the thought process.

Sure, I still get overwhelmed but I think I've learned to relax with certain things out of my control. I can control only myself and by sweeping away the words "I can't," I'm living a more positive life. Two positive steps forward and one step back still puts me one step ahead of where I've been.

Last night, as I was learning the step, shuffle, step in the store window, I never thought "I can't." Instead I thought: "I'll get that eventually, with consistency and practice." And, that is my new philosophy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where Scribe is oblivious

My right driver's side taillight is out. Broken. Not lit up. I've known about it for a bit but haven't gone into the garage to get it fixed. The plan is to do just that next week once I get another pay cheque, money that hasn't been allocated to the bills. I've had two people point out that the taillight is out. They're good samaritans really, since I can easily be pulled over by the po-po. But, most are not that aware or just haven't been bothered to let me know. That changed, or so I thought, last night and this morning while I was driving in to work.

The first time was last night not far from the gas station. I had stopped to fill the tank, hoping that the $25 gas card I had was still valid. I figured it was free gas, so why not. A car had pulled up behind me at the intersection. The light was red and I was waiting for it to change when I noticed the girl in the car behind me was trying to tell me something. "I know, my taillight is out. I'm getting it fixed. Thanks," I motioned to her. This morning, it was the same thing, only this time the guy beside me was yelling something from the other lane. I mouthed thanks and was on my way.

It wasn't until the next red light and the guy behind me, again motioning, got out of his car and walked up to my car. WTF, I wondered. With a twist and a tap, my gas tank was closed and he was walking back to his car just in time for the light to turn green. It wasn't my taillight at all.

I have never forgotten to close a gas tank before on any of my cars. I'm meticulous, really. I turn the cap until I hear three clicks. It's the same every time. Except for last night.

I think it was because I was so intent with paying for the gas with the gas card. I'd never used one before and had a bit of a difficult time at the pump. After realizing I had to pay inside and the card was indeed valid, I was counting myself as lucky. I'm not broke, but with the mortgage coming out today (Thursday) and a few bills scheduled for payment, I wanted to leave enough disposable income to get by until next week. And besides, free gas is free gas and I will take it when I can. Besides, I had a broken taillight to fix before the po-po realize I'm in violation of traffic laws.

I do count myself as lucky. I'm lucky to have a good sense of humour and was able to shake my head at myself and laugh. I laughed all the way to work at how oblivious I was and the fact that while people do not notice a burnt out taillight, they most certainly notice an open gas tank.

Monday, September 20, 2010

When three channels are better than one

I'm not a channel surfer by nature. If there is a show on I usually leave it until the entire show plays out, including the credits. After all, the crew deserves recognition too. But, lately I've become really frustrated. A 30-hour show is in actuality only about 15 minutes. Half of our time is wasted on commercials, and most of them are shite. So, I flip.

I don't like flipping channels, especially since my father used to watch an average of four shows at a time. Golf, The History Channel, Law and Order... you get the picture. I'm sure he still does flip between shows but I don't know anymore since I refuse to watch TV with him anymore. So imagine my surprise when I found myself flipping between three channels. That's my limit. Three. But, it seems the networks have it in for me. It's my own personal conspiracy theory since all channels seem to play their commercials at the same bloody time.

Don't they know about us flippers? Channel surfers who don't want to watch their commercials, their pleas for our disposable incomes? My disposable income is anything but and I don't want to know about the latest no-pulp juice, paper towels with sponge pockets and those inane people who look like a gigantic snowball and fight for position to clean up our spills. 

I've taken to watching Rogers On Demand because, guess what, most of them don't have commercials. Praise be. And, you can usually fastforward those 2 to 5 minutes to get back to the show at hand. Except. Except for the networks who have figured us out again and have taken the control away again by disabling the fastforward feature.

Right now, I'm watching live TV - Little People, Big World since it's in its final season. So far I've learned about probiotic whatchamacallits, Glade plug-ins with Febreeze, those damn sponge pockets and pizza pockets - all things I don't use. Well, except for that probiotic crap. I dig that 'cause it's good for you and it tastes good and I eat it for both. Damn! Those commercials are good!

Now it's back to channel surfing as the next batch of commercials are on and I don't want to hear about the spin brush, the magic eraser or the germs that are left on my teeth after brushing, flossing and using Listerine. I have had enough of the dentist or any conversations about teeth.

Happy Monday, bloggers, and happy flipping. I'm off to surf again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finger painting is not just for little kids

I wish I still had the carefree abandon I had as a child. You know the kind: twirling until your feet get caught up and you can't stand because the world is still spinning and you admit you like the feeling. Or, when you fancied yourself a chef, or as good a cook as your mother, and you made concoctions of all the ingredients in the cupboards and fridge because you were creating. I had that feeling for about two hours today, and it was delicious.

My inspiration piece from the fabulous Tina Palmer. Click here to view her other amazing works.

Today, Sunday, was the second class in my month-long artistic experiment. I'm working on perspective and today's lesson was colour, in particular the choosing and the blending of the colours to create a certain mood. Despite other art classes and finished paintings, I was still in the primary colour stage, choosing colours but not mucking around with the hue. If it was a colour it was in its primal form. A red was a red. A green was a green and there was no mixing of the two to create that two-dimensional feel. But not today. Today, I blended, I finessed and I manipulated a static outline of a horizon, river and river banks with hues of teal, white, umber and ocre. I recreated a two-dimensional scene and it looked legit.

I took my first class two years ago. The outcome is perched high up on a bookshelf. It's visible but you have to look up, way up to see it. Three other attempts have spots on my walls because with each class, I'm improving and it shows on my walls. Two paintings have spots in friends' homes as gifts, and both of them have been hung proving a) that they love me and support me; and b) that my progress isn't in my head. It's hanging on their walls.

Next week, it's more blending, the adding of more ocre and umber (the sky and river are done). It's also more finger painting as I move to other subtle tones for the trees on the horizon before tackling my arch-nemesis in this whole art world: trees. It means more control and less finger play. It can also mean more apprehension and nerves. But, with a paint brush in my hand and my trusty art instructor at my shoulder, I'm sure I'll rise to the challenge.

I just wish the finger painting aspect would stick around for a little longer.

A pick-up or a spit-up? You decide.

What has two thumbs and gets hit on at a speed metal CD release party? This bitch right here, that's who!

First, I really don't have any business being in a speed metal bar or any bar with metal of any kind. I'm more of the house/grunge/jazz bar type where snazzy drinks with sparkly straws are ordered up by the dozen. I don't have long, frizzy, never seen a pair of scissors grunge hair. I don't own a leather jacket with fringes, and I don't even own a black concert t-shirt of any genre or any decade. I do, however, have an appreciation for all types of music and friends who just released their second CD, and that's what I was doing in a metal bar on a Friday night pretending to head-bang to Knuckle Sandwich. Well, I wasn't pretending. I was banging and screaming the lyrics since I wanted to pay homage to the Spewer, Shredder and Pounders of the Gore.

And that, my friends, is when he made his move. I was caught unawares. I came up from one of the more powerful head bangs, singing with my friend The Girl and I met his gaze. He smiled, adjusting his glasses and pulling on the sleeves of his corduroy jacket (I didn't notice if they had the elbow patches but it would fit the whole image. He certainly stood out in the line of leather wallpapering the walls). I smiled back 'cause I'm friendly like that, and he went in for the kill.

I was flattered. Don't get me wrong. I've been off the market for over three years, co-habitating with The Man and leaving the perfume and make-up for special occasions - like taking out the trash and trimming the bramble bush. We chatted for a bit. He complimented my outfit and headbanger hair and asked what I did for a living and did I do it in Toronto. I answered him politely, inching my way over to The Girl and the Spewgore fans (they are a swarthy but friendly bunch). He asked me if I'd like to get together this week. I said no thank you and that I was in a relationship. He asked why that mattered and did I like to have fun. "Not that kind of fun," I countered. You don't like fun? he asked. I shot him a look and said that I was committed to The Man and would appreciate that he back down before I had to deliver the beat down. Actually, I said thank you but no and left it at that. It also didn't help that I had the entire conversation logged in spit running down my neck.

I went back to singing along with the speed metal version of The Rodeo Song and started to search for a tissue, a rogue napkin or anything to wipe away the remanents. And while he was a more than little distasteful in insisting that a weekly meet-up was in order and acceptable to all parties, I decided it was also a little flattering. If only for the spittle.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Common thievery comes in fives...

The Bandit is at it again, stealing ideas from other people's blogs 'cause they rock and he/she/it (yes, me) wants to share TMI. This post comes courtesy of Fickle Feline - you should really check out her blog, not only because she's got shit that's worth thieving, but because she's an inspiration.

So, without further ado, here's my FIVE. It's not Roger's Five (the five people who wish you'd delete their number from their favourites...) or the Fab Five... wait, that's the Fab Four... oh never mind. Here's a list of five things you wish I had kept to myself. But, since I like to share and I don't have an internal sensor... you're welcome.

Things I Don't Do Anymore:

1. Fancy myself an expert at the dreaded Lemon Twister or that new-fandangled Skip-It. Scribe's an old bitch now. Well, I've always been a bitch but now I'm just old, apparently accident-prone and with weak ankles and a chipped bone.

2. Drink milk straight from the milk bag. Yes, I said milk "bag" and no, I'm not referring to the breasteses. My brother taught me that glasses are just a suggestion and it's more direct to put mouth to the bag and guzzle. And I wonder why I don't drink milk at other people's houses. I know where their milk bag has been.

3. Burn ants and rip the legs off of grasshoppers, but I still reserve the right to cut worms in two and sell them for double. I am an entrepreneur, after all.

4. Clean knives with my tongue. Now if there's any peanut butter left it usually ends up on my toast. I learned my lessbon, yesh I did!

5. Show everyone my double jointed fingers and wrists... Wait, scratch that. I still do that. And, I've discovered that people get freaked out over my rubber finger. Oh, how fun.

The Most Disgusting Things I Ever Ate:

1. Liver. Since I don't live with my Mommy anymore, I don't have to eat what's on my plate and liver will never be on it (ask me about the first time meeting The Man's brother and the special "dinner they said I would enjoy).

2. Tomato juice. My gag reflex kicks in every time.

3. Lima beans. 'Nuff said.

4. Powdered skim milk. I can afford the real shit now.

5. Bourbon and sparkling wine. Bad memories. Very bad memories, and not just for me.

Favourite Words With Double Vowels In Them Such As AA, OO, or UU:



varoom. you get the picture.


Things Which Are Clear Indications That Your Boss Is a Freak and You Should Seek New Employment:

1. Your boss argues with you whether you did or did not tell her about an ice cream joint (Marble Slab Creamery) that may or may not have opened in a mall that you've never been to.

2. Your boss asks you if you used to do a lot of puzzles when you were little and maybe you should get back to them to nurture your problem-solving skills.

3. Your boss tells you that bathroom breaks are from 8:45 and 8:50 a.m. and that you should use your vacation time to book any doctor or dentist appointments regardless if you need an emergency root canal.

4. Your boss informs you that even though you're still with the company after 3 years you should have been fired in the first week because you breathe too loudly.

5. Your boss decides to dock you a day's pay because you were a little too upset to come into work after a close family member has died that day. He/she then decides to donate $10 to a charity of your choice because they are employers that "care."

People of the Internet Who Never Fail to Make Me Feel Good:

Ange of Signed by Ange
Aunt Juicebox for her love of all things bacon
The Bloggess
The Earwig's delightful Lulu
Wow that was Awkward

Oh, and Fickle Feline... but that makes six. Oh well, I don't usually abide by the rules anyways, so...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Zombie dentists like tongue electrocutions

I've never had a fear of the dentist until now. I'm headed out tomorrow for another dentist appointment, my third in matter of a month. After over five years of "look Ma, no cavities," I have two and a repair to a chipped filling circa 1999. And even though I asked why the guarantee was no longer valid and I made the only dentist I've ever known to laugh until he almost passed out, I'm back for another, my final to fill cavity number two.

To say I'm nervous is an understatement, especially considering the last time my dentist electrocuted my tongue. Twice. I don't know what happened but I think Dr. Dentisto's body, mind and soul was taken over by zombies. Zombies with drills and gargantuan needles, not to mention the largest sausage fingers known to don a white jacket.

He also loves dams. You know, that green rubber torture device that zombie dentists use to stifle screams and keep you wide-mouthed and tied to the chair while he drills and drills and drills until you have hollow stumps where there were molars? Where the phlegm sucker gets attached the hangy-ball thing at the back of your throat rendering you useless, unable to swallow, to scream or to call your lawyer? It's happened. Trust me.

Tomorrow it's drill time. And needle time. And while I have a pretty good tolerance for pain (ever wax your mustache!?!?), I'm now having flashbacks to the tongue electrocution and the fact that I couldn't feel my face for about 10 hours, causing me not to notice when my Diet Pepsi was running down my chin and onto my keyboard in Cell Block C cubicle, while the boss was standing by my desk and asked if I was an epileptic or if I was suffering a stroke.

"Stop mocking me," I said, channeling Peter Griffin in that one Family Guy episode when his face melted. He didn't get the reference. He sucks. And so does that phlegm sucker. And my dentist 'cause he's obviously now a zombie who charges $150 for a teeth cleaning and $300 to murder me. What a rip-off. He can't guarantee a filling but he can guarantee pain, and a large bill. 

I wonder if dental floss makes a good weapon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Four months

It's 2 a.m. on Monday, September 13th. Four months ago today, Christopher William Brockbank would have only five hours left with us. He died at about 7:15 a.m. on a sunny Thursday morning with his family by his side, as he would have wanted it.

It's not that he wanted to die. He really didn't know he was. But we did and each day was a blessing. Having lived for over two years with a brain tumour, Christopher's was a life on loan, to him, to us.

Four months ago seems like yesterday. The tears, still fresh, are shed less each day. It's not that it's getting easier but we're working hard on keeping his memory alive and living the life we would want for him.

Four months, Gus. Four months and I love you more each and every day.

Hello, my name is Simon

Well you know my name is Simon,
and the things I draw come true
Take me
take me
take me
Climb the ladder with you

At least I think that's how the song goes for Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.

I think I stopped drawing in Grade 8 where my pictures still included big, fluffy clouds, rainbows and hills. I was also good at drawing eyes - one eye only - cause the other eye always came out a little lopsided and certainly not the mirror image of the other. Today was my first day in the next set of art classes given by my friend Sir Robert of Norval. I was nervous because a) I didn't know the theme of the class and b) it may mean that my secret of being able to draw only rainbows and fluffy clouds badly may be revealed.

This is one of Robbie's latest pieces and incorporates the texture and "run" techniques I've learned in his class.
Isn't he great?

I can't draw a straight line, and even with a ruler I'm a bit off-centre. I think that's just a reflection of me really - off-centre, a little skewd from the norm. But today it was all about perspective, learning the two-point perspective of why things in the foreground appear larger, more substantial, foreboding and things in the background appear smaller. They're still there but just a little out of reach and smaller. Today I learned that I can draw, if only I give myself a little perspective.

So here it is: my perspective. I get weighed down in the little details, sometimes too focused on the whole picture to see what's right in front of my face, the first steps I have to make to instil change. Change in me, change to my present situation, no matter what it is, it's all about looking at the perspective and the flow of the walk, of the road, of the river I have to navigate to end up on the horizon and just a little closer to my goal.

I'm being cryptic but that's just because I'm not certain about my whole goal, the reality of where I want to end up. A new job? Definitely. A career in writing or communications? Probably. Living a life closer to my real self? Most certainly. So, I will deal with the things in the foreground first, the painting in of the trees before taking on the river at the widest point.

I've mapped out my travels and put pencil to canvas to sketch out the outline. Next it's onto colour, the painting in of the sky, river and rolling hills before I carve out the trees, the larger ones first and then smudging in of the details.

All I know is I'm excited about getting into the paints, feeling the softness on my fingertips and the texture of the canvas. I'm excited about the journey and getting my hands full of paint in the process.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some things are better left in the vault

Just last year, I upgraded my cable for the Rogers special HD package since The Man and I were lucky enough to inherit a gently used high-def television. It didn't fall off a truck but it came in one - a pick-up truck from The Man's brother. Since it's introduction into the house and the joining of the five televisions we now have in residence, I have developed a bad habit... addiction to chick TV.

Our channel changer (yes, I've called the remote a channel changer since my early teens since that's exactly what they do) rotates between sports, sports and more sports and... get this... Cosmo TV. I get my daily fix of SATC (I think I've successfully seen all of the episodes now three times over). I also watch the ultimate chick show - Oh So Cosmo - where I learn all about the perfect date, the perfect orgasm and the outfits we should wear while experiencing them. I was scratching my chick itch this evening before I took Boyo to the dog park and I almost choked on my early evening coffee. An "expert" on the It show for fashion was sporting a throw-back to the 80's.

It wasn't a scrunchie. It was worse. Two words, people. Banana Clip. In. vibrant. green. Don't the researchers at Cosmo TV and Oh So Cosmo screen their "experts" before putting them in front of the camera? If it's not to find out what they are going to say or recommend and how they're going to say it, they should at least have the last word on accessories.

It's confession time, bloggers. Scribe has sported a scrunchie, but in my defense, I was 15 or 16. And while I may have had the Facts of Life big, poofy hair, I have never considered bringing a banana clip into the equation. Maybe it's coming back into style, as it seems most of the 80s fashions have experienced a resurrection of sorts. But, I think banana clips should be put in the same vault as leg warmers, shoulder pads and headbands. I had all three and I will never repeat that particular piece of history. It's in the vault, man. It's in the vault.

Doesn't it look like Headband Bruce is passing a kidney stone?

I thought headbands were in the vault but I learned they had made an escape during my little tryst with one Billie Joe Armstrong about a month ago. He couldn't have been more than 19. Sitting just a drunken step away from our little circle of awesomeness was a man and his son. The parent was respectful enough, dressed in the uniform of dadness. The son, however, thought he was the reincarnation of Bruce Springsteen a la Dancing in the Dark. Poofy hair, military-style shirt, ripped jeans and a navy blue and white bandana rolled ever so carefully and tied around his forehead. He wasn't working out, he wasn't in a sweat shop and he wasn't on a construction crew. He was at a damn amazing concert, watching my secret boyfriend gyrate on stage. In a bandana. Oh, the horror. Perhaps his first girlfriend will rock the banana clip and they can both be lost in the 80s. I'm sure they can rock out to Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper and Dexy's Midnight Runners. Better yet, they can make their little love nest in the vault so the world will be a safer, happier place.

* Please note that I do not wish to offend any Bruce Springsteen fans. While he's not my fave, he has had a long-spanning career. His headwear, however, should not.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Did you ever know that you're my hero...

Cheesy, I know, but when I was 18 or 19 I had a hero, a true-to-life, in-the-flesh hero. There were no capes or tingly spidey senses but I swear, my hero could jump tall buildings in a single bound.

Heidi was six years older than me and a traffic engineer, having graduated top of her class at U of T. She worked for a downtown firm, had a great apartment in the city and could make THE best fettucine alfredo. Oh, and did I mention she drove a BMW and drove stick? She was originally my brother's friend from summer lifeguarding but she soon saw my potential and took me under her wing. She's since moved to Australia, got married, had three kids and has climbed in her career down under. In short, she's still my hero.

She left a few days ago to go back to Australia, having visited family and friends, including moi. I hadn't seen her in 14 years. We kept in contact through Facebook, the occasional email and word-of-mouth from other friends. But, as we agreed to meet up at the corner of Bay and Bloor for a Friday night of cocktails and catch-up, I was nervous. What if we, now 14 years later, had nothing in common. We hadn't really communicated that much in the 14 years she'd been in Australia. We'd gone from a friendship of hanging out every weekend to almost no or little contact.

I worried for nothing. I'd taken the subway, leaving the car at Yorkdale (I didn't fancy maneuvering through congested and construction-strewn streets). She had taken the streetcar. I was 10 minutes late and worried that she'd been waiting on the corner outside of The Gap forever. She was 30 minutes late and totally apologetic in between hugs. My hero was here and in the flesh. And, it was like we had never been apart.

That's what true friendships are like, she replied, as I noted that our conversation, our friendship had picked up right where we had left it so many years previous. We may not see each other but that doesn't mean our friendship has ended. Our in-person conversations were just on hiatus. She had put into words exactly what I had been thinking and it was truly amazing.

So, we explored the city she had left behind, stopping to pick up clothes for her Miranda, Toby and Jeremy at Kids' Gap, window-shopping in Yorkville and relaxing over glasses of wine, an amazing gorganzola gnochi and a range of appetizers, both healthy and hearty. We looked at all the buildings and commented on which buildings were still there and which ones had cropped up over the years. We even stopped in at a downtown hotel and had our picture taken on its rooftop patio bar, the CN Tower standing in the distance and the whole city lit up and on display just for us. A sweet man (I use the term man, but he was 15 years younger and yes, I would be a cougar) offered to take our picture and stay for a martini. It was tempting but I had to catch the last subway and she had to catch a cab.

This re-meeting also reminded me of other long friendships I've maintained over the years - the ones that just pick up where you leave them, like a good dog-eared book that you've read over and over again, always discovering something new when you pick it up again. Isn't that what friendship is all about?

Heidi is still my hero, now back in Australia but I know I will always have her heart here in Toronto. My god, I'm a sap!

No prolific post here

I meant to start this blog about an hour ago but I got distractumacated. Distractulated. I was whisked away to other worlds as I visited other blogs, learning about patience, creating a home studio while undertaking home schooling and the much-needed packing for a wonderful trip.

Tonight, I was the procrastinator as I set out to write a prolific blog on.. what, I do not yet know. I've got a million of ideas and when I sit down to hammer them out (I'm trying to work ahead) the ideas, the words flow away from the computer and into thin air. What to write? Let's visit others for inspiration. And now it's time to take the Boyo out for a walk. He's getting antsy and so am I. I've got a blog to write, a book to edit and a bathroom to clean but all I want to do is go and visit a good friend. I think I may take the boy and turn two activities into one. It's just too bad I can't type, walk, talk, wax poetic and drink coffee at the same time. Did I ever mention that I need a clone?

I will be back. It's a threat and a promise. I promise a blog by the end of the evening or at least by the early hours of tomorrow. I know... tomorrow never comes but in this instance it may just have to work.

A bientot, bloggers.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Because llamas are cool

... especially when they wear hats and go on cruise vacations... I couldn't resist. Here's Carl and Paul back with another wonderful episode.

I promise I'll give you a Scribe original tomorrow.

mmmm... boat nectar -- click here!

I like llamas, especially if they wear hats

I just discovered there is a third video in my favourite series, Llamas with Hats, and I would be remiss if I didn't share, so I've included a link. You may be offended, you may laugh but rest assured, you will never hear the name "Carl" without remembering this psychotic llama. Yes, llamas can be psychotic. Just Carl.

Click here, you'll never be the same again!

Shhhh... it's the sound of forgiveness

Every work day I have an insatiable need to vacate my office, even for 20 minutes, to get outside, hop in my car and either go to the bank, run some errands or grab my one-a-day Tim Horton's coffee. I may have brought lunch that day and have no need to go out and grab sandwich but I find that small break away from the computer, my desk and the ever-watchful eyes of the Cell Block C warden reinvigorates me for the next half of the day. And it is never at the same time every day but no matter the time I always have a companion.

Now I should qualify this: I hardly ever go out with a co-worker. A long established rule of only have one to two of the account coordinators out of the office at any given time dissuades this. The companion to whom I refer is the owner of the small panel van I park beside every single day. Some days he's taking a power nap inside the van. But today, he was sprawled out siesta-style on the small expanse of grass bordering the parking lot.

It's an ideal place really. There's a slow moving creek metres away, a few well-placed trees and more often than not, a really nice cross breeze blowing in between the strip mall-like buildings. It's the perfect place for a siesta. And that is why I almost joined him this afternoon.

After a weekend of unseasonally cold weather, the sun was out, the heat was up and the birds were chirping - even the seagulls seemed idyllic. Instead, I opted for the coffee, which was probably the more evil of the two choices.

This past Sunday, I headed out to the movies with my friend The Girl. I coerced her into seeing Eat, Pray, Love with me. My treat, popcorn and all. I know I didn't really have to bribe her but with The Man quite vocal that he wouldn't see this chick flick (oh sorry, the term he used was a movie geared to the female demographic, in his generic female voice), I felt that I owed her something for stepping up to the challenge to meet me for a movie that was not her first choice.

I had read the book so I knew the premise and communicated the basis of the movie to her. A woman who, just after her divorce, put everything into storage and traveled for a year to Italy, India and Bali to eat, pray and love. While it was an adventure of sorts, what came across to me was our avoidance in our busy lives to stop, listen, pray and rest. In Italy, Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts' character) learned to slow down and appreciate the sights, smell and taste of Italy. In India, she learned to slow herself down to still the voices in her head to let divinity in, and in Bali, she realized that balance between work, prayer and love.

Today, the siesta guy brought all of that out of the theatre and into my real life: taking a break away from work to stop, listen and lay in nature while unaware of the traffic around him. I realized that taking a break is not laziness but sometimes a necessity. I used to work a full-time and part-time job and did freelance jobs on the side. My whole life was a motion, moving from one place to another, one mode to another, often with no breaks in between. These duties would often meld into each other. I was the best multi-tasker but I often left one task out: to breathe.

Tonight, I am putting myself to bed early. The rest of my editing work can wait until tomorrow. What can't wait is my latest book that I've been putting off because there was always something else that needed doing. There are some things that can be put off, broken down into smaller tasks so they don't seem insurmountable or all-consuming. What I can't put off is investing time in myself.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kemptville Population plus 2.5

Kemptville's population numbers may be climbing, especially since I just got approved for Phase 1 from one Captain Dan of Westerra Way.

It was a four-hour drive with a farting dog in the back seat and the windows open  hoping to air us out before visiting our friends for a surprise birthday party for Old Git aka Gay-vin aka Vagin aka Gavin. We arrived just in time for the first beer and the first whiff of the barbecue. Kao got along well with Capone and Charlie, and we got along with all the neighbours. So well that we were given the unofficial approval from one of the street residents to build on the lakefront property just across the street.

I use the term "lakefront" though the only water source seemed to be the large hole dug in the center of our potentially new property in which the day's rain had seemed to congregate. A few coolers, beers and Jager-Bombs later and we were planning the details of the home - floor-to-ceiling windows, a large porch and of course, a fire pit for those late night parties. 

My friend's daughter (and my honourary niece) Bina had an instant frown on her face and told me in no uncertain terms that she would kill me if I moved four hours away. She wants me to move to Burlington - just a 10-minute walk from her. The girl loves me, what can I say.

Captain Dan loves me too, especially because we sealed the deal with a hug and a high-five, and his promise to cover the down payment. Thanks Captain Dan! Do you think he'll remember since it was post-many beers and a Jager-Bomb or 5... I sure hope so. I am planning the hardwood floors and kitchen island already.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Godamn It Ina and other pet names

You know you're in the presence of true love, the everlasting 50 years married kind when you can finish each others' sentences. Or better yet, when your pet name for your spouse includes curse words.

I was reminded of this the other day when my aunt and uncle paid an impromptu visit with my parents to my office. Yes, Cell Block C was the location for this epiphany. As we stood out in the parking lot with Mags and Joe and my beloved Aunt Ina and Uncle John, I was reminded how the occasional godamn it Ina could come from a place of love. I learned my first swear words at a small back-split on Aberdeen Cres. where I would hear my uncle, also my next door neighbour, yell from the kitchen "Godamn it Ina, you did it again." For years, I thought that was her name. For some reason, I knew enough not to call her that. She was Aunt Ina, my mum's best friend and our excitable neighbour and later one of my swimming teachers as she watched and coached me as my dad threw me in her pool. "Godamn it Ina, you shouldn't condone that," my uncle would yell.

Both Aunt Ina and Uncle John and my parents have been married for over 50 years. My parents will celebrate their golden anniversary this October. It's been longer for my aunt and uncle, and to this day, he still calls her Godamn It Ina, and she laughs.

"I bet you thought that was my name," she said to me. And I agreed. And she laughed and hugged my uncle.

My mother's name is Jesus Christ Margaret. My mother is a damn sight better than my father. Maybe it's from her upbringing in a rather rigid home, but I've heard my mother swear about five times, and never the big words that would bring fire and brimstone. Bitch. Asshole. Damn it. And that is it. But she has been known to smack my father upside the head and he always deserved it. Not full-out of course, but just with enough impact to appear like teasing but with a bit of a sting so he gets the point. He usually gets a "Joe-seph!" before impact.

I don't condone hitting, especially between spouses but sometimes it's the only thing that gets the point across - a well-timed pinch, a light spank - never set out to hurt or maim.

The Man doesn't understand the importance of choosing a pet name and always insists on creating these sappy, over the top gestures. "My Angel of Devotion" is not my favourite but he giggles as he says it. I call him Bumfluff and Honey Bunches of Creamed Corn. I don't know where they came from but they formed instantly and I can't seem to break myself of them. I also can't seem to break away from the gentle love-tap upside of the head.

He thinks I'm weird and violent. I tell him it's from years of Godamn It Ina and Jesus Christ Margaret. I think I've come a long way. Baby. And don't get me started on the spanking... I know... some of you just threw up in your mouth. Me too.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Welcome to the Phoque (Fuck) Show

I promised you a story, a story about Phoques and the great show they put on in Quebec City.

When I first got to the aquarium situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence River I had no idea what a phoque was. All I knew was it sounded dirty and more than a little like an English word that got my mouth washed out with soap the first time I said it. That's right. Fuck. Phoque and Fuck. They couldn't be any different but in the seats of the aquarium during Marjorie and Sandy's cocktail hour it was fuck this and fuck that and I thought it was totally inappropriate for the occasion.

You'd think that I knew what a phoque was given our seats at the upcoming show. A phoque is a seal and while it sounded a lot like a curse word, it was the cutest curse word I had ever seen in the flesh. There was Cleo and Nikki, Dalia and another two that I can't remember their names. Five seals were part of the hour's entertainment before dinner. Wine glass in hand, the guests sat in the stands and watched as the phoques danced and clapped, swam and jumped, and it was amazing. They were the cutest fucks I had ever seen.

They also smelled like mackerel. They were smelly fucks. Marjorie and Sandy and a dozen of the wedding guests got so up close and personal that they would know what the phoques had for dinner. Mackerel. A lot of mackerel.

All of the phoques had been born into captivity. That is to say that they had never seen an actual ocean, let alone swam in one. While they were incredibly cute and I imagined swimming with them, I was saddened to realize that they would never leave the aquarium. The trainer and host of the show, who spoke only a smattering of English, told us that while they were captive, they were happy as this was the only life they had known or would ever know. I guess ignorance is bliss and they did seem happy to give kisses for mackerel and swimming in a safe environment with no known enemies.

It was time for dinner and as The Man and I searched for our table, I broke out laughing when I realized which table we were assigned: the Phoque Table. We were the friendly, cute seals who loved to give kisses in exchange for mackerel. We were the cute, little fucks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Dancing Queen of Suburbia

Shhhh... I have a secret boyfriend. Don't tell The Man. Though if he reads this post then the cat is out of the bag and I really should have never put a cat in a bag in the first place.

I've been lax in writing because I'm still reeling from our chance encounter, this secret boyfriend and I. It happened about two weeks ago on a grassy knoll with tiny fairy lights flickering. It was so beautiful I think I even heard music playing.

Was it in my head? The music? Nope. It was on the lawn seats of the Molson Ampitheatre with Toronto skyline in the background. Does it matter if there were 10,000+ other people in attendance? Billie Joe didn't seem to think so as his soulful eyes searched the crowd to find me. A pointed finger and a full moon later and I was reeling. It was meant for me. Out of the thousands of people bopping and weaving to 21 Guns or whatever other song on the list, he looked for me and instantly I was transformed, my hair flipping in the wind, my hips moving and my arms outstretched for the embrace I was sure was coming next. It didn't matter that he'd have to crowd surf about 50,000 feet, he'd find me.

I started to write this post a few days ago in the confines of my Cell Block C cubicle and I shivered with every word I typed. I hate to say that I think it was the dregs of my Sinus/Ear Infection but it was shivers nonetheless. The Man knows but doesn't really know how deep my love for Billie Joe Armstrong goes. The Green Day concert was just his front to find both of us in the same city, the same venue, breathing the same August wind.

This summer, my travels have been relatively close to home: Toronto, Kemptville, Quebec City. But it's nowhere near BJ and his gyrating. I don't think I'll ever be someone who would travel the world following a band. I know there are people out there (and probably in this blogosphere) who would but it's just not me. BJ has to come to me. And under a mid-August night, he did and I loved every minute of it. It's just too bad the restraining order keeps me so far away from him.

Okay, I jest. There is no restraining order and although I love my BJ (that sounds so bad but oh well...) I am pretty sure I would not know what to do or what to say if I ever had a chance to meet him in the flesh and not just from a distance. I'm kind of shy like that and I definitely holds me back.

I remember when I was wee and I would meet new people, even my parents' friends, and I would hide between my dad's legs and peek out to catch glimpses every once in a while. This shyness still rears its ugly head every once in a while with a bout of tongue-tiedness and the inability to walk into a group of people and immediately start a conversation with a group of strangers. It's worse if I find them attractive or, god forbid, actually genuinely like one of them. I go red, get flustered and all forms of communication slips from my grasp. I'm just thankful I don't resort to grunts and guffaws the like of my ancestors, the neandrathals. They may walk upright but they can't for the life of them use a full sentence of comprehensive words. Maybe I have more in common with them than I think...

I was a little tongue tied in Quebec City, where I again met up with a crowd of people I hadn't seen in almost 10 years. I was nervous at seeing them all, given how much I had changed physically. Gone was the trendy hairdo, the svelteness of my youth. But, after a few minutes of hiding behind some well-placed legs and I began to find my own voice. It didn't matter how much I had changed on the outside; I was still the same on the inside and that was what mattered.

I met up with Francis, my favourite French roommate/brother/friend and even though we were now into a new decade, I was still his "girl," in his circle. It was like no time had passed and I was still that fun-loving, water-fight instigating girl who danced the night away. And danced I did. Arms wide, head back and laughing. I danced like no one was watching and it was liberating.

So, when I ventured downtown to meet up with Billie Joe and his entourage I kept with it... dancing arms outstretched and head held back, taking in the sounds, the sights and dancing like I was the only one there. He was singing for me and I was dancing for him.

We all need more moments like that - carefree and unabashed - regardless of who is there and who is watching. The only person I judge is myself and I'm beginning to like what I see.

P.S. I was going to write about phoque shows and in meeting old friends for dinner and drinks in the city. When I put the fingers to the keyboard I had no idea where it would take me. The rest will have to wait for tomorrow's post. I have so much to catch up on.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Je ne suis pas un coc...

Is this what the mean by a double-ended coc?

Since I'm on my way to Quebec City proper in a couple of days I thought I'd bone up on my French. Above is almost the extent of it, despite my years of high school French. Je ne suis pas un coc. I am not a rooster or a penis, and praise be to Darwin for that.

I'm off to see Marjo and Sandy get married in Sainte-Foy, Quebec and I'm uber-excited, not only because I will see the two best people in the world walk down the aisle but because I will get to visit an extended family, a family who gets me when I carry around an alarm clock and wear my red pom pom winter hat proclaiming for all to hear "Je ne suis pas un coc." And they will laugh at my French and call me cute because at least I tried to speak their language.

Do you need a background on the coc thing? Really? Isn't it enough that I'm not a penis? I can sometimes be a dick and will freely admit this, especially when it's said in jest but call me a dick in all seriousness and I would be all distress and wide eyes. Me? A dick? Okay, well sometimes. But I am never a rooster.

And because I am not a rooster, I will share with you my coc story. It was more than a few years ago (more than I care to admit). I'd just bought my house when Marjo asked me if her sister's boyfriend - her now-brother-in-law - could stay with me over the summer to follow in her footsteps and immerse himself into the English world. Enter Francis, the instigator of many water fights and hands-down the best summer roommate/boarder/friend ever. He's my little French brother and while I don't see him very often, his smile, laugh and joie de vivre pops into my consciousness and I smile.

Again, more than a few years ago, Francis came for a visit and I trekked in the cold, apres-Christmas snow to Oakville to see our Francis. And I wore my hat. Sandy opened the door and started to laugh. I didn't know why until he brought out the alarm clock, set the alarm for a minute after my arrival and then started crowing... you guessed it... like a rooster. With my limited French and a reach back to my first French class and I whined, "Je ne suis pas un coc." It sounded as dirty then as it does now. Francis turned red, fell on the floor and I thought he'd pass out. "Of all the French we spoke, that is what you remember?" he exclaimed.

I was under pressure, wearing a rooster hat and laughing over an alarm clock, so yes, Francis, that is the best I could come up with. You're welcome.

I am not a rooster, nor an alarm clock and definitely not a penis. But, I can be a dick sometimes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Biting the bullet

I just posted today that I am a little trepidatious in following new blogs since so many of my recent favourites have gone on hiatus or disappeared altogether. Not one to shy away from a challenge or give into my fears I set out tonight to find some new gems in the blogosphere. Thanks to Serial Comma, I found two and discovered a new post in the process.

xl-entropy challenged me to answer some questions and perhaps put myself more out there in the process. So here goes:

1. Coke or Pepsi?

Seriously, I can make a decision on this one but bear with me as I explain. I prefer Coke over Pepsi but will sell my first born for a can of Diet Pepsi. Diet Coke - not so much.

2. Do you play a musical instrument?

Does a skin flute count? One time at band camp... yes, I was a band geek for my entire high school career and yes, I did play the flute. I also took up the french horn, the saxamaphone (for a summer) and guitar. I can still pick out a few things on the guitar but I haven't picked up any of the other instruments in years so I'm not sure if I can make the grade.

3. If you could go back in time, would you make a different decision in your life?

There are tons of things that I would do differently.  The top one extends to so many aspects of my life - not to be ruled by fear, the fear of failure and the fear of the unknown. I think all other decisions, no matter what they are, would benefit greatly from that.

4. Which sport do you consider to be "football?"

Canadian football, of course. Pigskins, downs, quarterbacks in their cute, little tight pants and huddles so I can peruse the wares. Growing up in a Scottish household, you would think my answer would be soccer. It's the one area that I don't follow the U.K. rules.

5. Do you like to travel?

Yes, I do, I have and I would like to travel more. Where have I been? Across Canada, to Canada's winter destination (Florida, but for the beaches and not for the early bird dinners and golfing), Mexico (three times), Dominican Republic, Scotland, Amsterdam, England and Wales. My next trip: I have no flippin' clue and no flippin' funds, but I am going to Quebec City for a wedding. My dream vacation: anywhere but here.

6. Do you like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain?

Pina Coladas, no. Getting caught in the rain, definitely. There's something liberating about dancing amidst the raindrops, catching the drops on your tongue and just being free. I do the same thing in a snow storm.

7. Surely you like cats, right?

I do like cats. I've had two, but right now, I must say nothing beats a dog's devotion and loyalty.

8. Beatles or Stones?

Beatles. The Stones should just give it up and retire 'cause this biatch ain't getting any satisfaction from them.

9. Which foreign languages can you speak (regardless of fluency)?

French, very badly (I read French better than I can speak it), Italian (all the swear words and all numbers) and Spanish (see Italian).

10. What special meal would you prepare for me?
Blue Cheese Hamburgers, Sweet Potato Fries, Mango Salsa and Bananas Foster. I rock at those.
Now it's your turn. Same questions. Go.