Tuesday, December 31, 2013

But I'm a university graduate!

Now I doubt my intelligence and smell like cat shit.  Yes it's kitty litter day.

And every single time I forget  that I should be doing this job in a HAZMAT suit so that I don't reek of cat.  I should have kitty litter clothes.  I have painting clothes - the ones that I wear every time I paint - I should have kitty litter clothes so that the fallout from this particular chore doesn't cling to me like fecal remoras.

So much to scoop that I required two garbage bags - one for the crap and one 'just in case' bag because the other one was so full of clumping crap.

Bag No. 1 - not a problem.  Bag No. 2 - a cheap-ass No Frills kitchen garbage bag that tests one's patience, will to survive and mental intellect - had me ready to commit harakiri.  This video was made after I'd already been trying for 5 minutes to open it in the basement.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Hemorrhage in Aisle Three...

WARNING: There is an abundance of female information in this post

There I sit in Canadian Tire, my ass on the lowest rack in the Home Decor Aisle.

Fists in the air...  "THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING!!!"  



"Ma'am?"

For a moment, I morph into a Mesopotamian Demon.   Laser beams from my eyes - poor kid backs up, hands in front of him in placation...

"Do NOT call me Ma'am..."

From The IT Crowd

Sharp stabbing knives in my ovaries.  I growl.

"Are you alright?"

"I. AM. FINE.  I just need a second to... SWEET MOTHER OF... I'm fine.  It's okay.  I'm sorry.  No need to be alarmed."  I pry myself off the rack, just finding my footing before another cramp hits me.  I grab onto a Debbie Travis basket, willing myself not to pass out.  "Breathing.  I'm breathing through it.  
I. AM. BREATHING
."

"Is there anything that I can do to help?"

"Can you perform a hysterectomy?"

Blank stare.

"Never mind.  I'm good... really... I just have to... FOR THE LOVE OF...!  Give me a freakin' break here!" 

And that's when my uterus tries to fall out.  Cramping one moment and the next my lower body is doing its impersonation of the monkey from The Fly.  You know how it feels when you walk in muddy gravel in bare feet?  That's how I feel inside.  Wet.  Squishy.  Pointy.  Things between other things.  I catch a glimpse of my face in a mirror.  I am fish belly white - my blue eyes the bluest they've ever been.

I start for the door.  I will Kegel my way out of the building.  100 feet.  I just have to get 100 feet.  Every muscle in my body supports those Kegels for the entire 100 steps.


I'm pretty sure that when I sit my ass in the car I lose consciousness for a split second.  Thank God when I'd noticed a bit of spotting that morning, I'd taken precautions and thrown in the Diva Cup.  I drive home, Wagnerian arias filling the car, every time a cramp hits me. 

Amoeba-like, I ooze my way up the steps to my house. I collapse on the front hall bench.

"Hello, love," David calls from the kitchen.  "Did you have a good..." He walks out to greet me.  "Holy crap!  Are you okay?"

"DRUGS.  I NEED DRUGS!!!" 

"Again?  You're having your period again?" 

"YES."  

"Didn't it just stop 2 days ago?"

"YES."

"That's messed up."

"YOU THINK?!?"

He leads me to the kitchen.  Sits me down at the table.   He then goes to the bathroom, grabs me drugs and pours me about a litre of water.  "Here.  Take these.  Drink this.  All of it. You're dehydrated."

"Can you feel the ounces of blood that are now leaving my body, through my defective cervix too?"

"No, but I do appreciate the graphic reminder."

"I could be more descriptive."

"Not while you're drinking a litre of water you can't."





Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I'm dreaming of an anorexic Christmas...

How did she do it?  Vera Ellen, I mean.  How could she even stand, let alone DANCE, in White Christmas?  We watched it the other night, the girls and I.

Yeah, we sang along.  Yeah, we rolled our eyes at some of the nostalgic schtick.  Yeah, we got teary-eyed when  General Waverly came into the dining hall.   And yes, watching the horses pull that frickin' sleigh around the road as the set flew out leaving the open barn door to show everyone that there was a true Christmas miracle of fluffy falling snow, made us all go "Awwwwwwwwwwww..."

And yet every time Vera Ellen danced, all we could focus on was how she was doing it, given that she had the Body Mass Index of a cadaver.  I'm remiss - the first real dance, (not in the Sisters floor show) the one with Danny Kaye out on the pier, when she was in a longer skirt, didn't freak us out.  But from the time she appeared in that yellow outfit in the train scene - with her seemingly CGI'd waist - we winced.  I swear to God, that I, with my large peasant hands, could have spanned her middle.






At one point you see her ribs through that top. From then on - the movie became bitter-sweet for me. This beautiful, graceful, accomplished dancer, wearing high-necked costumes in every single shot - her legs so thin that you could see the tendons...  it was like seeing a car crash on the highway, I couldn't look away.

She hadn't always been this emaciated.  If you look at her just a few years earlier - her face was rounder, the waist not quite so wasp thin.  She looked fit.  She looked strong.  She had muscle.

From On The Town

From Wonder Man

circa 1950

Once you've been up close and personal with someone suffering from anorexia, you recognize the signs.  For me it was seeing a girlfriend from high school about 6 months after graduation.  There'd been rumors of her having an eating disorder in school, but until I saw her, with her shoulders bare, I hadn't believed it.  We were at a movie theatre, she was sitting behind me.  I turned around to say "Hi" and could see immediately that something wasn't right.  Her shoulders and collar bones stuck out, seemingly misplaced on her torso.  I stuttered, desperate not to blurt out something inappropriate.  In my head, all I thought was, "Why?!?"  Why did she do this to herself?  Why?  She didn't have extra weight.  Not that I could see.  She'd been sporty - been on teams.  She always looked healthy and fit.  But there, in that movie theatre, she looked frail.  She looked brittle.  I was afraid that I'd break her.

I saw that girl in 1987 - almost 30 years gone now, and the image of her, with her bones protruding, has kept with me.  I kick myself for keeping quiet.

Seeing Vera Ellen dance took my breath away, but not for the reasons it should have, not because she could do things with her feet that I couldn't fathom, not because she made her movement seem effortless, not because she was a spectacular dancer.  And she was.  God, she was talented!

I wish that I could have been there to tell her that.  I wish that someone had told her that.  That someone had let her know that she was perfect, just as she was.  I wish she could have seen herself through someone else's eyes - could see her talent and ability and beauty and believed in it.  I wish that her disease hadn't skewed her perception to the point that she looked like this:


White Christmas has become a cautionary tale for me.  I know, not very Christmassy, right?  It just got me thinking is all. Hold your girls tight - let them know they're perfect as they are. If they can't see it, if their mind is playing tricks on them, set them straight - get them help.  You want to have them around for always, not just at Christmas time. 



Monday, December 23, 2013

You know you're old when...


So this is how it goes is it?  I now injure myself sitting.  I came home the other night, and I ached, oh how I ached.  I could barely walk.  My hips, my knees, even my ankles refused give me support.  Apparently they were going out dancing, maybe speed skating or snowboarding while I was.... what?  Blacked out?  Had my nightcaps begun to excise actual time from my life?

What had I done?  NOTHING!!!  I went over my day.  I hadn't been running, I'd walked to work.  How was it different??  HOW?  The only thing different was that I'd worn heels.  Small wedged heeled boots. And then, later that evening, I wore a part of emerald green heels for an event at which I was performing. Am I reduced to that?  Wearing a pair of 3 inch heels prompts a bout of ... what?   Bursitis?  How is that even possible?  I shouldn't even know about bursitis!  I am 45 freaking years old!  But there were the joints of my legs - causing me such pain that silent tears rolled down my cheeks as I crawled up the stairs to find anti-inflammatories.  What had I done?  It couldn't just be the heels... could it?

Didn't hit me until yesterday when I was sitting in the family room, in front of the ottoman, gearing up to wrap more Christmas presents.  My hips and knees complained as I descended.  It didn't feel right - put stress on my already sore joints.

My lightbulb moment happened when I reached for the ribbon.  Oh, sweet merciful Jesus!  I had injured myself wrapping presents. That is what I've come to.  Sitting on the floor causes too much strain on my body.  I look like this hardy, stalwart girl - broad of shoulder - with now matronly hips, strong thighs...  but in actuality I am Camille - one sit away from rheumatism and one breath away from consumption.

So, here's what I'll be required to do from now on.  Calisthenics in the morning.  You know, to limber up so that I can... SIT.  I'd better start doing something.  Women in my family are long lived.  It'll be a painful next 50 years if I don't get my shit together.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

And here I'd thought I'd just been horny...

Period.  Last week.  Mon - Friday.  Growling, irritable, drugged up, clutching the heated blanket.  Then the weekend arrived, and I felt GREAT!  Fantastic even.  Randy.  Giving David those looks - waggling of the eyebrows - half-smiles and suggestive telepathy.  Couldn't get enough of him.  We'd finish one bout of naked wrestling before, barely giving him time to breathe, I wanted more.

Should have recognized the signs.  I always get horny... right before my period.  So I shouldn't have been surprised Monday morning when I discovered that Aunt Flo was back.

WHAT THE?!?  OH COME ON!!!

Two days people.  Two frickin' days.  After months of relative regularity, the roller coaster seems to be back.  Not quite the Leviathan, but definitely Behemoth-like in annoyance level.  Irritated by everything.  The cats meowing, the kettle taking too long to boil, David asking me, "What's wrong love?"

"NOTHING!  NOTHING IS WRONG!  I have NO reason to want to weep inconsolably NONE!!!  Other than the fact that my hormones have apparently decided to go on freaking WALKABOUT! and I can't do ANYTHING about it!!!"  I then face planted onto the keyboard.

David made a move as if to come an hug me - though better of it and stayed where he was.

"I need to watch something stupid with animals in it."

Feeling like WRATH personified?  Try this instead:


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Heather, the pug-faced girl.

Last winter, to ward off cold air chest pain, David purchased me my very own Cold Avenger / Darth Vader mask.

 

Well, it's winter once again, and though Ontario's November was pretty damned temperate, December has been colder than a witch's tit the last little while.  Not generally a problem for most stalwart Canadians, but cold air for Heather?  Cold air, in my lungs, precipitates chest pain.  I was a bit late on my way to work one morning, so I decided to run.  BAD IDEA.  When a person runs, they breathe air faster into their lungs.  Which, come winter time, is cold air.  And my lungs?  Are cold air pussies. I arrived for our staff meeting tinged a little green.  My boss took one look at me and said,

"You're not having a heart attack are you?'

"No, no heart attack.  Just chest pain.  We're good."  I gave a weak thumbs up.

"Chest pain...?"  The rest of the table then turned to look at me.

"No, no, it's okay.  It's not cardiac related.  All good.  See?"  I pummelled my chest like a silverback gorilla to show my strength.   Then I had to stop because I really wanted to lie down and die.

So the Cold Avenger / Darth Vader mask came out again.  It actually does help warm up one's breathing air... you know, the face-accessory equivalent of sand-bagging for an impending flood.  The only problem is,  I'm pretty sure I have the wrong size.  I didn't think that I had a ginormous face, but  if I wear my Cold Avenger mask so that the nose part is in the right place, it only goes down to right below my bottom lip and I get chin chafage, and if I wear the cup thingie below my jaw for comfort, the nose part smooshes my nose down and I become a pug with all their attending breathing issues.  Which, if you're already having chest pain, makes it kind of hard to do anything physical on account of the fact that you already want to pass out from not being able to breathe through your nose.

The plus side for all this, is that I can't help but laugh at myself when I'm walking.  Chortling, snorting, at times braying, laughter.  And laughing?  Even with the attending chest pain, always makes me feel better.  I'll willingly cop to being a little Sally Sunshine, 'cause there are worse ways to start my day.  Besides, if you can't laugh at yourself, you're pretty much fucked.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Put the garland down!

Our cats, who usually maintain relative order in our home, lose their minds when the Christmas decorations come out.  They dance on counters, bask on top of tables...  We routinely find the dining room table cloth all askew, salt and pepper shakers asses up, chairs knocked over.  All three cats looking up and saying "It wasn't me."  Apparently, I need to cut a piece of carpet pad - you know the non-slip kind - for our dining room table.


We have three cats.  Minuit, the crotchety, Steve the mellow and Lola the sneaky. The Christmas trees went up last weekend.  (If I could afford to have a tree in every single room of our house, I would.  Why?  Because Christmas makes me crazy. CRAZY with HOLIDAY JOY!!)   Every waking minute since the erection of said trees has been spent policing the impending destruction of them. The Dining Room tree barely up, Lola was 5 feet up its trunk, golden eyes peering at us from its faux greenery depths.  This is a cat who likes to sleep on top of the pointy edged Victorian radiator in the bathroom, so I guess that balancing on wire spoky branches poses her no challenge.

"Ha-ha!" she meowed.  "I am here!  IN THE TREE!!"



David and I shared a glance.  "We're going to need heavy-gauge fishing line."

Remarkably - I came back from Canadian Tire having only purchased the fishing line.  Do you know how hard that is for me to do?  Especially when they have colour-coordinated aisles of Christmas decorations?!?  It took everything within me, not to grab the white 7-footer under my arm, scan it in the self-checkout and run wildly about in the parking lot shouting "TREE NUMBER THREE!  TREE NUMBER THREE!!!"

Instead, I came home sans extra tree (cue sad Charlie Brown music) and David secured screws to the tops of door frames and underneath the fireplace mantle so that we could tether the trees, you know, just in case...

"LOLA!  Get down!  DOWN!!!"

"You are no fun."

"STEVE!! DROP IT!!"

"But it feels so good in my mouth."

And Minuit there, sitting in the POÄNG sniggering at me and them, licking her paw and running it along her ears.  Lying in wait.

Rustle... rustle... rustle...

"MINUIT!  Put the garland down!"






Thursday, December 12, 2013

Best Christmas Present Ever...

I have been taken in by British department store John Lewis.  I didn't even know that  John Lewis existed before today, and now here I am tearing up - TEARING UP - at an animated commercial.  Albeit an animated commercial that celebrates Christmas with woodland animals all to a lovely soundtrack by Lily Allen, but it's still a commercial for Cripe's sake!


What is it about the holidays that gets us all so sentimental?  Are those early Christmas memories imprinted on our DNA?  Does wonder, joy and excitement become part of our cellular structure, providing that we've had wonder, joy and excitement in our lives during the holiday season?

Getting nearly apoplectic with excitement when you see the first snow?  Opening the gift that you thought only Santa knew of?  Watching a parent/friend/partner/spouse/child open the perfect present.  And by perfect present I don't mean expensive - I don't mean put yourself into hock to get your honey a diamond encrusted watch.

The best Christmas present that I ever received was a calendar.  We had just moved to a smaller town from Toronto.  Rissa was only about 2 1/2 years old.  David handed me this thin, poorly wrapped gift - I could tell from its dimensions that it was a calendar.

"Open it up," he said.

He had booked babysitters once a week for three months.  Friends, relatives, local teenagers - all booked from January to the end of March  - 12 dates.  He'd arranged babysitting for 12 dates.  He didn't just know what I wanted, he knew what I needed.  I needed to get out.  I needed not to be the one to plan things.  I needed to remember what it was like to be a person and not just a parent before I lost my mind.

He knew.  He still does. 

Best present ever.

ps. if you're not quite in the holidays spirit - YouTube the rest of John Lewis's Christmas commercials - if they don't bring tears to your eyes you don't have a soul.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I am THIS kind of geek...


The smallest of things can make me happy.  Watching a dog cavort in the snow, smelling gingersnap body lotion, hearing Grantaire sing those four notes in his part from Red and Black, "I have never heard him 'ooh' and 'aah.'  If you were to have those notes, plus the character Annas from Jesus Christ Superstar singing "carpenter king" from This Jesus Must Die on loop you could just leave me in an orgasmic puddle on the floor.




 Listen from 1:25 to 1:37 - Clive Carter's last four notes in the phrase - KILLER

 Play from 2:45 - 2:50 and listen to the genius of Brian Keith

Okay, that pretty much lets the cat out of the bag right there.  I am a geek of the musical persuasion.  A sing-along kind of gal, a waiting for the high-note harlot, who gets wet when a tenor hits a B flat.

The Sing Off is back.  In case you're not the same breed of musical geek such as I, The Sing Off is a talent show not unlike The Voice or Canadian Idol but instead of solo artists, it features groups who sing... A CAPPELLA!!!!   For those who aren't versed in Italian, that means singing with no freaking instruments.  If one wanted to be accurate, it would be "in the manner of the chapel," but in music when you sing a cappella, you sing without instruments, because I guess that they never used to let you bring your bassoon into the chapel.

The opening group number came on and I almost started crying I was so happy.  Over 100 wireless mics onstage with what must have been a deity for a sound technician, creating the most full, balanced and perfect mix of music.  I actually did salivate because the sound was so delectable.  I made 'nom, nom, nom' noises. Singers listening to one another, finding their place, giving and taking... It's the Olympics of singing.

Music can get me to my happy place faster than any other thing.  It's quicker than liquor AND foreplay.  Why wait, when you can hear Pavarotti sing Caruso or hear those incredible 'grab you by the ovaries' basses in Muse's Super Massive Black Hole?  The Violent Femmes' Blister in the Sun starts me dancing instantaneously, Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel can bring tears to my eyes from its very first notes.

Some visuals will get me too - you know, the clichéd sunsets or spotting a fox when you're walking on the beach - but music's pull is immediate.  You want something that alters your mood?  You don't have to take drugs, you just have to find the mood you want and listen to it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Boob Cage

Luman L. Chapman's design, 1863

When the words left her mouth - it was epiphanic!  "Boob Cage."  That's what Rissa called it. "Boob Cage." What a revelation!  'Cause that's exactly what a bra is.  A cage for your boobs.  It is the perfect description.  It completely brings to mind the sensation at the end of the day when the underwire is digging into that place between ribcage and armpit and the strap's dermatographia is indenting your skin with patterns that will take hours to disappear.  In my mind's eye I can hear the nearly-orgasmic sounds that fall from my mouth when my cage comes off.  "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...."  And for those who don't worry about giving themselves a black eye, the shaking of the girls when they are finally free range, the way a shampoo model shakes out her hair.

It got me to thinking about women's undergarments and wondering when the shift from corset to brassiere actually happened.  From the 16th century up until the late 19th, the corset reigned supreme.  That was the go-to for support - at least for the upper classes.  Working class women knew better than to invalidate themselves with something that would stop full breaths, possibly damage ribs and/or internal organs and gave you bowel disorders.  Yes, they might be poor, but they didn't swoon and could poop properly.

Just imagine the noises that you'd be making if you were taking one of these babies off at the end of the day:

In case you can't tell from Mr. Lesher's 1959 patent -
this is basically like wearing armour.
The bits that look like metal... ARE.

Feminine garments such as the above are the reason why Elizabeth Stuart Phelps cried for women to "Burn your corsets" - in 1874!  Although there wasn't much to burn in these early support garments - melt down might be more appropriate.

Olivia Flynt - a Massachusetts seamstress of 25 years, and also a proponent of the Clothing Reform Movement,  created the Flynt Waist in 1876.  In the patent for her Improvement for Bust Supporters she writes:  

"This garment fits the person closely; there are no objectionable seams; it does not need whalebones or steels to keep it in place; the body is allowed to move with perfect freedom; the garment is a most comfortable and pleasant one, and by reason of its cut, as described, the shape of the garment is always preserved, and is not liable to be distorted or strained."


In 1882's The Manual of Hygienic Modes of Underdressing for Women and Children Flynt states:


"While the Waist permits natural circulation, perfect respiration,and freedom for every muscle, it imparts an artistic contour and elegance of motion, that all corsets utterly destroy."

  


In 1889, Herminie Cadolle, a famed Parisian corsetière, designed the first "bien-être," a "well-being" for your boobs.  A garment in two parts, the lower, a corset for the waist and the upper, a support for the breasts.  The top soon was called the "soutiene gorge" - which is what your modern woman in France still dubs the "bra."   (Though the direct translation is throat support - which begs the question, how high up are French women's boobs?)   But even Cadolle's first kick at uplift still bore closer resemblance to corset than of the modern day brassiere, so full of stays and ribs was its construction.


Marie Tucek turned the world on its caboose when she patented this breast supporter in 1893:


This is NOT porn, it's a patent.
It took everything in me NOT to colour her nipples pink.

Tucek's patent involved a metal supporting plate, not unlike the underwire support from the "up and outers" that every lingerie company in the world now shills.  Just think of the posture that you'd have to have to maintain to ensure that the metal supporting plate didn't literally cut you in half, thereby offering you the starring role as the unsuspecting victim in a magic trick gone wrong. No slouching at a keyboard for women wearing this breast supporter. When I showed David this illustration, he was terrified - he thought that the cup support was also metal and had serrated teeth.

And then Mary Phelps Jacobs changed everything.  In 1910, Mary purchased a daring evening gown, under which, her regular corset was visible.  What to do?? She and her maid fashioned an undergarment from two silk handkerchiefs and some ribbon.  Et Voilà!  The brassiere was truly born.


She patented it in 1914 and sold the patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company soon thereafter.  A lot can be inferred about Mary Jacobs and her silk handkerchief brassiere - of this you can pretty much be certain - she was a B cup or less - there is no way that anything C or above could be adequately supported by two silk handkerchiefs and some ribbon.

Tomorrow's research shall be on the athletic supporter.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Stop me before I adopt again!

I've started trolling the Humane Societies.  The Rescues.  The Dog Associations.  I've got the bug.  And once I've got the bug - I can't be stopped.  We may as well just say that we'll have a dog for Christmas.

Butch - possibly my undoing...

On a recent walk, David and I both agreed that we'd be willing to bring another dog into our lives.  (I might have put the idea in his head, but he didn't fight too hard.)  Provided that it was the 'right' dog.  Provided that said dog was a senior canine, calm, good with cats, good with kids and no bigger than medium-sized.  Those were the same criteria we had the last time we did this.

That's when we adopted Sheta, a shepherd/husky cross, who was at least 10 years old - she'd been surrendered when her owner went into palliative care.  She met all the criteria except she was HUGE, but I knew the moment I saw her that she was right for us.  We'd looked at a few other dogs and they didn't fit, they weren't right.  It's funny that...  I'm a lover of all animals - could sweep them all up in my arms and cuddle them.  Show me a litter of kittens and I could pick almost any of them at random, blindfolded even - I wouldn't need to bond.  Maybe because I know that cats generally don't give a rat's ass about their owners.  Dogs though... dogs bond.  And finding a dog is akin to falling in love.  Sheta was a great dog for our family, having her for the last 2.5 years of her life was a privilege.  

Last night I was looking at head shots - a lab here, a bloodhound there... a bearded collie...  I have this thing for hairy dogs.  I have this thing for ugly dogs.  Ugly hairy dogs?  My undoing.  I grew up a cat person.  We did have a dog, Paws, from the time I was 11, but our family sucked at being dog owners.  We never walked her enough.  We never played with her enough.  As a grown-up, I know what to do with dogs now. Sheta had some pretty sweet golden years.

I don't exactly know why I have the bug now.  I did babysit a sweet little dog a couple of months back, but I didn't immediately feel the need for one.  I would have been cool with just babysitting.   Now, though, my gut's saying it's time.  And as a person who generally goes by her gut, that pretty much means it's game over.

Last night as David and I were in the office, I kept sending him links to dogs.  I didn't say a word.  Didn't want to distract him too much from his work.

He just sighed.  "You're hopeless."

"No I'm not, I'm hopeful."

I have a sneaky suspicion that we'll be visiting the local shelter and Humane Society this week.  You know... just to see.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Billion Dollar Advent Calendar.

It was supposed to save us money in the long run.  This tiered, wooden grouping of minature stacked presents Advent Calendar that we found at Canadian Tire.  24 wee little gift boxes with adorable hinged doors and one larger gift box for Christmas morning.  It was PERFECT!


No more throwing the old cardboard chocolate receptacles in the recycling box, no more starting Rissa's day with a sugar high that would then plummet her into a crash as her glycemic index hit bottom.  David's Mom had found us a wall hanging version when Rissa was very little, with plush  pieces that you could then Velcro onto the scene - creating a beautiful Christmas setting by the 24th. Our three cats LOVE that Advent Calendar.  Over the years, they have absconded with a majority of the plush pieces.  Can't really blame them, they do resemble cat toys.  So we needed something new.  Something cat proof.  We would reuse this table top Advent calendar every year, fill it with treasures and create joy every single day in this December and the Decembers to come.

I think we were in a dissociative state when we bought it.  'Cause let's do the math:  $34.99 for the calendar itself, add to that HST - your grand total is $39.54.  Which, given that your average non-crap chocolate Advent calendar runs you about $10.99,  it will take us a little under 3.59 years just to get the calendar to pay for itself and that's not including the stuff we put in it.  That will take Rissa almost to her 16th Christmas.  That's okay though.  Heartfelt gifts in each of the wee boxes will make it so much more personal and we can tailor it specifically to fit Rissa.  And maybe when she's in university we can use the Advent Calendar as bait to get her to stay with us over the holidays.

Problem is, the wee little boxes into which you're supposed to stuff these heartfelt gifts are VERY wee.  The internal dimensions of the boxes are 1.5 " in height, but only about 1" in width due to the adorably hinged doors.  Unless you have something incredibly malleable, like say the Day 1 gift this year: a finger catapult rubber chicken,


it's hard to find things small enough to fit into the wee boxes.  We bought a whole lot of gifties only to find out that about half of them wouldn't fit into the wee boxes.  So then we had to go out again to find things that were small enough but not total crap, because that was kind of the point of this endeavour in the first place, NOT to have a crappy chocolate Advent Calendar.

We went out again, seeking malleable, or at least teenier gifts for the wee boxes.  You know why most of these Advent Calendar are stocked with chocolates?  Because you can get chocolates that are wee enough to fit into the wee boxes.  So what did we end up doing?  Buying small chocolates to fill some of the dud boxes.  We tried, we really tried to be frugal and heart-felt - which, if you're doing the math, would generally mean that you'd end up spending at least $25 a year to fill the sucker if you're going to the good Dollar Store - say the larger of Dollaramas.

It's totally different buying gifties for a 13 year old girl than a 6 year old girl.  The 6 year old version of Rissa would have been thrilled with cut up pages of stickers in each of the boxes.  I could have filled the entire calendar for $1 - maybe $2.  Exept that I really couldn't, because my OCD would come to the fore and I'd want to ensure that the sticker sheets were cut in straight lines or perfect circles or ovals or folded into some... origami... (Note to self: next year, do miniature origami - like the dude from Blade Runner.)  Yes, there were rows and rows of crappy barrettes and hair elastics in colours that Rissa would never touch.  Pouffy things and princess things - pretty much the antithesis of who Rissa is.  (Hence the afore-mentioned catapult rubber chicken.)  And none of those things belong in her Advent Calendar.

I'd love to have enough disposable wealth that I could go to the local artisan shop and purchase beautiful ornaments or charms or earrings or bracelets for my daughter that would fit beautifully within the calendar.  We don't have disposable wealth.   And you know what?  I am still missing one box.  Two really, because I haven't filled the 25th day - although, come to think of it, the 25th day can just be crammed with all the originally too-large presents for the wee gift boxes.  It can be a cornucopia of Christmas on the 25th!!  Rissa will open the door and things will come tumbing out at her!

Running total for the calendar: $39.54 + $25.99 (initial gift purchases) + $14.69 (Secondary purchases to fit in the boxes that the first gift didn't fit into) + $10.93 (Tertiary purchases of useful gifties in colours that Rissa would actually use and not just throw away or give to younger cousins.) 

This year's Advent Calendar cost us (drum roll puh-leeeeeze)  a whopping

   $91.15!!

Yeah Baby!  Can we budget for Advent or what?  Okay, NEW GOAL: Next Christmas try to spend less than $91.15.  Also, I have to fight against my urge to build a completely new Advent Calendar that would be big enough to put things into, 'cause that could quickly evolve into a yearly one-upping of the last Advent Calendar and I'm not ready to get a second mortgage on the house yet.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Help! He's too hot to touch me!

* The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but that only works if you haven't personally been to this particular clinic.  If you HAVE been to this clinic, you know EXACTLY who I'm typing about.

"Which physiotherapist would you prefer?  Justin is available..."

"NO!  NOT JUSTIN!!! ... Uh, I mean... how about Walter or Jamie...?"

"Sure we can set you up with Jamie..."

And it's not that Walter or Jamie aren't attractive young men in their own right.  Fit, muscular, nice guys - the pair of them.  It's just that Justin, the owner of the sports medicine clinic and head physiotherapist, is drop dead gorgeous.  Like movie star gorgeous.  Seriously. 

People palpitate when in close proximity to his beauty.  I can't have a guy that good looking, who I'm NOT married to, manipulating my shoulder and massaging into my arm pit for my torn rotator cuff.  One well-timed twitch on my part and the guy's got his hand on my breast.  And then after he's accidentally been touching my br.easts.. See?  Do you SEE how it could quickly escalate?!?

I've been told there are other women who bring their husbands with them as chaperones if they have appointments with Justin.  Seriously.  He's that good looking.  Tall, dark and handsome.  I'd be spending all the time when he was ultrasounding my injury having lewd and lascivious thoughts.

Lee Pace is CLOSE to as good-looking as "Justin."
I was going to try to surreptitiously get a photo of  him, to prove
how I'm not crazy and that he does in fact live up to my near worshipful
reports of him, but felt that might push me well into stalker territory.




There are few real life guys who will make a gal's heart stutter with nothing other than an introduction.  Sure, after you've gotten to know someone, they might become drop-dead gorgeous to you, but that instantaneous response?  It's only happened a handful of times in my life.  In university, a guy from the French side of the Theatre Dept had pheromones that nearly drove me out of my mind; Cosmo the clown, from California, whom I met when I did a Fringe tour in Saskatoon with my Shakespeare company in the mid 90s, who was diabolically piratical; meeting my husband in the loading dock of the theatre where we eventually married and... Justin the physiotherapist...

I become stuttery around Justin.  I purposely schedule my visits with other physiotherapists on days when I won't have to see Justin on account of my urge to giggle girlishly when he is peripherally within my vision.  One time, I had to switch from a Tuesday to a Wednesday and I forgot that Justin would be there.  He walked past me and my mouth literally turned dry - the complete opposite of what my other body parts were doing.  He says hello to me and I can't respond verbally.  I lower my eyelashes like some twitty Southern Belle and offer a nervous smile. He probably thinks I'm mute.  I'm waiting for him to start up a conversation in ASL with me.  I had to get up, go in to the bathroom and slap myself across the face to get it together.  "No more Wednesdays!  No more Wednesdays!"  Glaring at my torn rotator cuff,  "Mend, damn you!  MEND!!!"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's not just about getting pregnant...

"So if Rissa were a lesbian and she had a girlfriend, would you let the girlfriend sleep over?  You know, seeing as there'd be no threat of pregnancy?" asked David.

"NO!!"  The word came out even before I had time to reflect.  I think I was a shocked as David.  Heather, the liberal minded, had come up against the brick wall of motherhood.

"Really??" 

"Really.  It'd still be someone wanting to get in my daughter's pants.  It doesn't matter if that someone is a girl.   If that someone were a cuddly koala bear who wanted to get in my daughter's pants, that someone is NOT sleeping over.  Or if they are sleeping over,  it's in a completely different room down the hall.  With all the squeaky floorboards around it and maybe a bear trap."

"Really...  so you'd want them to have to be sneaky so that they could fool around?"

"Yeah, like every other teenager in the history of the world.  It was good enough for me."

"I was just thinking it through, is all.  We say that if there comes a time that she's drinking underage...

"IF there comes a time...?"

" ...That we'd rather she do it at home where it's safe than..."

"You cannot tell me that you're cool with anyone trying to get in your daughter's pants."

"Well, no, but you're thinking about this as if someone wants to get into her pants now, when she's only 13..."

"Have you seen our daughter?!?  And it's not just the getting pregnant part of sex that worries me.  I was an under-aged girl having sex.  At 16, I wasn't ready for the ramifications of it.  The emotional intensity.  No one gets to sleep over, male or female, until she's at least 18 and in a committed relationship."

"So public places all the time?  No one up in her room?"

"Only if the bedroom door remains open 100% of the time."

"What if they're watching a movie in the basement under a blanket...?"

"No blankets!!!"  I could hear myself starting to panic.

"It's cold in the basement."

"I don't care!  NO BLANKETS!  And we get to randomly run down the stairs and say things like 'Would you kids like popcorn?' and sit on the arm of the sofa or maybe even in between them."

"This is a whole new side to you.  You're so... GRRRRRRRRR..."

"Damn straight.  I'm not going to make it easy for ANYONE to get into my daughter's pants."






Monday, December 2, 2013

Maybe next time I should just braid it...

WARNING: This post is about girly bits

David was away all last week.  So on Friday, I wanted to spiff up for his return.  You know, wash and style the hair, shave the legs, groom the girly bits.  I wanted to be all smooth and nice smelling - although frankly after a week of sleeping on his own, a female orangutan in bed with him may well have been enough to get his motor running.

The shower went off without a hitch.  I emerged squeaky clean with nicely shaved legs. Gingersnap body lotion liberally spread over my limbs had me wanting to take me to bed.  Then I got down to the real business - the talcum powder and female weed whacker (Epilady) came out.  I always feel like the Epilady needs to be started with a pull start, like a chain saw.  Ring-duh-ding-ding-ding...

Anyone else notice that half these designs are unsymmetrical?!?

There was a time when 'bikini line' actually meant 'bikini line.'  That time has passed. Due to peri-menopause's mad grip on my hormones, the 'must be groomed' area now really stretches from c-section scar to... knee.  In fact, I AM the female orangutan.  After a week apart from your loved one, you want to look good... everywhere.  I'm never completely bare down there, but I do like to keep the shop tidy.  The talcum powder came out to smooth the skin and I went to work.

Upper thigh, actual bikini line, always goes first.  It's never problematic, you don't have to bend yourself in half to get a good view of the area.  Then it's the back of the legs, which, yes, I could just shave, but I'm prone to razor burn and then I'd be all bumpy and I'd have to do it way more often than the once a month it tends to get done now.   After the easy bits, it's time for the most challenging of female grooming.  Inner, inner thigh and upper, upper, back of the thigh.  Both areas come very close to being mistaken for delicate tissue without actually being internal organs. One has to use a cautious hand with the weed whacker in these areas.

Friday night, my hand slipped.  One second I was blithely denuding my inner, inner thigh, and the next I was desperately trying to pry the teeth of the Epilady off my turkey bum.

"Mother-f*!#ing Satan tool!"

I had to rip the cord out of the wall to stop the motor, but before I managed that Herculean feat, the machine had torn through the remains of my perineum, bounced off my labia and grabbed onto my upper thigh. I'm pretty sure that I then went into shock. When I finally looked down, I saw that I had road rash on my hooha and as an added plus, a bald patch.

I had just wanted to look good and now I needed Polysporin and an ice pack.  And some Band-Aids. And folks?  No matter how sexy you try to say it, "Hey there handsome, want to remove my Band-Aids??"  does not really set the romantic mood.  Thank God I'm good at misdirection, is all I'm saying.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Condoms +

"He may only touch your boobs if he is doing it with two separate Swiffers held from the length of their poles."

My daughter is now of an age where there's a real possibility that dudes will be touching her boobs.  She has a boyfriend (whom I adore), but he's still a teenaged boy with all the attending testosterone.  He's going to want to touch her boobs.   Hell, I'm her Mom and I want to touch her boobs.  That sounded wrong didn't it?  Oh God, I'm going to turn into that Grandma from Sixteen Candles!  I'm going to be feeling up my granddaughters.  It's just that new boobs are the antithesis of 45 year old, having nursed one's young, boobs.  There's a level of visual fascination there.  Mine haven't been like that in SOOOOO long.

Is it wrong of me to want my daughter to wear a mask that makes her look like Quasimodo?  Convince her to walk with a limp, talk in a terrifying accent?  Just until university. Knowing that she's holding hands?  Totally cool with that.  It's adorable.  I hear that she's being kissed goodbye on the doorstep and I have a moment of commiserative joy, of me going "Awwwwwwww."  Then I remember what it was like to be having those first kisses.  And then I remember what happens when you start to feel tingly.  When there's pressure to let him to second base and then to third and then he wants to slide home...

"You need to tell me when you start getting tingly.  Seriously. 'Cause then you need to be on the pill. Along with the condoms.  You cannot use condoms alone as birth control.  You can't!!!  It has to be Condoms +.  Condoms + spermicidal foam.  Condoms + the patch.  Condoms + an IUD!!!  And if he gets an orgasm, you get one too!!"

I'm facing the battleground folks.  I have a teenaged daughter.  From now until she leaves home, we're standing guard against teen pregnancy. There are those parents who will just forbid sex, or ignore the possibility that their kids will be having it, but I remember what it was like being 16 and feeling tingly.  I remember.  Sex is a biological imperative for boys, and though some parents don't want to admit it, girls too.  It's what we want to do - as a species.  To turn a blind eye to that fact is insane.  You might as well deny climate change.  12-15 years from now I will be ready to be a grandmother.  Until then, I will stand armed with a fireplace poker, ready to disable any sperm provider that wants to knock up my daughter.


I'm not being euphemistic.  It's a promise.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A sucker for snow

I woke up this morning and saw this in my backyard:



Then out the kitchen window, looking east:


And from our front window:


I know that there are naysayers out there, who hate the snow, who grumble and pout at the first sight of it, but I'm not one of them.  I love the first real snowfall.  Second and third snowfalls too.  The sixth and seventh ain't bad either.  I LOVE them.  Waking up to new fallen snow makes me happy. 

You know why?  Because it immediately brings out the 5 year old in me, filled with wonder and awe and the possibility of a snow day. That fresh snow, topping the pines, decorating the junipers... it's a moment of natural perfection.   White and clean - looking like a real-life Christmas card just from frozen precipitation. It makes me want to grab a toboggan and rush to the Catholic high school's track and giggle and shriek my way down to the bottom of the hills that surround it.  Let me have that.  Let me enjoy the moment before the +1 this afternoon turns the beautiful white into slushy grey and brown and has me yelling at family members to make sure to clean their feet off outside.

Carpe freaking nix folks - it's Canada, we're Canadians and winter is here!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bankrupted by the Bulk Barn


They all seem so innocent.  Those plexi-glassed bins, with their silver scoops.  The aisle with its spices and herbs - the colourful cake sprinkles.  The plastic bags with their attending labelling closures.   The cute little golf pencils, to label the afore-mentioned closures.  A little of this, a little of that...

"Ooooooh.... plantain chips!  I LOVE plantain chips.  Aztec hot chocolate?  That's a must-have!"

Then you get to the cash and you find out that the 18 small items in your shopping basket, which don't even fill half the basket, total (attending ominous music) ...

$89.21  

"I'm sorry?  The total is WHAT?!?  Is the coloured sugar actually coloured cocaine??  This is less than ONE bag of food!!  $89.21?!?"

When you finally have that receipt in your hands, you are a crazy person.  You are the wife of a suspected philandering husband.  Your eyes flash over the totals.  Is this really stevia sweetener or is it diamond dust? What's that charge??  I just spent $6.78 for a scant cup and a half of white chocolate chips?!?

You've got to know your shit at the Bulk Barn.  The gluten free section??  HAH!  Gluten-free all purpose flour, pre-mixed, is 83¢  per 100 grams.  If you buy the individual ingredients separately and just mix it together at home?  32¢  per 100 grams.  And yet, it's still a billion times more expensive than regular flour.

And then add to that, the emergency mid-afternoon sugar-crash snacks that you buy, which, if you could just eat a chocolate bar instead, you could grab at the freaking Dollarama, and you'd spend less than 5 dollars on a week's worth of mid-day sustenance to stabilize your wayward blood sugar.  But no, you're at the Bulk Barn with their chrome impulse-buy shelves at the front cash. Those chrome shelves filled with Lara Bars and Luna bars and everything else that's so healthful and fucking pretentious... gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, non GMO, vegan, kosher... and they cost between $1.79 and a gazillion dollars per bar, but sweet glucose index, you're eating healthy.

I come back from the Bulk Barn and I have to shift funds from one bank account to another to cover the impending shortage.  No seriously.  Sunday after I was at Bulk Barn - I had to move money around.  On the plus side?  I do have miniature muffin wrappers with adorable gingerbread men on them sure to elicit "Aren't they adorable?" murmurs at our holiday tea this year.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Chihuahua in my pants

Friday night.  Bedtime.  Rissa wriggles spasmodically under her blankets.

"I've got something in my pants!"

Sigh.  "What do you have in your pants?"

"A sliver or something!"

"A sliver?  How can you have a sliver?"

"I don't know, maybe from the dance studio."

Stalling.  She is stalling the bedtime process.

"Just ignore it."

"Ignore it?!?  ... IGNORE it?!?  If I had a Chihuahua in my pants would you tell me to just IGNORE it?  Would you tell me to worry about it in the morning?!?"

"WHAT?"

"Seriously, what if it was a... cannibalistic Chihuahua...?"

"WHAT?"

"If it was a cannibalistic Chihuahua...  and there was... was...  say a Golden Retriever... NO!  A GREAT DANE down there too..."


"You're telling me that there is now a Chihuahua and a Golden Retriever AND a Great Dane in your pants?"

"No, only a cannibalistic Chihuahua and a Great Dane - I needed complete opposite dogs to make an example.  Plus, after I said the word 'cannibalistic' I realized that the chihuahua couldn't be attacking me, I had to have another dog down there for it to attack."

"So you have a Chihuahua and a Great Dane in your pants?"

She then rolls her eyes at me.  "Of course not, but if I DID, you would just want me not to worry about them in my pants?"

Face palm.

Friday, November 22, 2013

In lieu of writing...

I am posting this... and so usher in the beginning of the holiday season...   Merry Christmas!


(Who knew that Kmart had it in 'em?)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My husband's so mean...

"Just rip it out!!  Please," I begged.

"Oh, love, I can't," said David.

"Yes, yes, you can!  Just take a spoon, or your thumb, or a FREAKING NAIL FILE, and pop out my eye.  Scramble it if you have to, but get it out!!!  Any of those will hurt less than the invisible railroad spike that is presently stabbing through my eye socket."

"I can't do that.  But I can get you a cold pack to put on your neck.  Did you take your drugs?"

"I took my drugs," I whimpered, pushing the heel of my hand into the cavity below my right eyebrow, desperately trying to remove the pressure.  "I took as many drugs as I can without damaging my liver.  They haven't kicked in yet.  Why haven't they kicked in yet??  Could you just knock me out please?  Just coldcock me upside the head and..."

"I'm not going to knock you out," David, holding my hand under the blankets.

"How about sawing my head off?  That'd do it..."

"Nope, not going to happen."

"WHY NOT?!?"

"Because I like your head.  And I like your eye.  Sure, you'd rock an eye patch for a while, but talking to one-eyed pirate version of you would get old pretty fast."  He gently squeezed my hand as I quietly sobbed.

Trepanation, by Herbert List 1944

"How about you drill a hole, just a small hole, in my head and we put in a wee pressure valve thingie??  You know, bring back the ancient art of trepanation," I suggested in a sultry tone, but I couldn't be too flirty with this appeal on account of the fact that I couldn't even open my eyes, because even the light from the night light was too bright, and my seduction really comes from my eyes.  And my boobs.  I arched my back a bit, hoping that the boobs might do the job on their own.

"No."

"You know how they have tornado sirens?  Maybe they could develop an early-warning system for barometric pressure shifts.  Like 20 minutes before it happens, the weather service could send out emergency emails to all those migraine sufferers who want to kill themselves when it shifts from extreme high pressure to extreme low pressure.  Then we could all dope ourselves up with our maximum drug dosage, before the pain has us suicidal.  Can we start a petition for that?"

"That, I will do for you."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

And good morning to you...


Ggggggggggrowl...  grumble... grumble... grumble...  "Stupid yoga pants!  Stupid bra! My boobs don't belong in a bra yet!"  grumble... grumble... grumble...

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.  "Stupid stairs."

Trip. Slip.  "Stupid cat toy!"

grumble... grumble... grumble... "Stupid morning."

"Still sleepy, huh?"  Rissa comes over, enveloping me in a purple terry cloth hug.

grumble... grumble... grumble...  "Not awake yet..."

"You need a warm beverage," David says.  "The kettle's already on."

sigh.  whimper.  "Stupid kettle...  Sorry.  I'm tired."

"Yes you are."  Rissa pats me on the arm.

Collapse.

"Need to be on the floor, huh?"

"Yes."

"Comfy down there?"

"No... it's cold."  grumble... grumble... grumble...

David helps me up.  "Sit."

"I don't want to."

"Fine, don't sit.  Rissa, do you want 1/2 a banana?"

whimper...  tears... 

"Do you want 1/2 a banana?"

"Yes.  But then I'd be taking food out of my own child's moooouuuuth!"  Bigger tears.

"Okay.  You sit.  Here is a banana.  You going to be good to go in five minutes?"

sniffle... sniffle... "I don't want to go outside."

"I'll drive.  You just have to drive back.  You can do that right?  You'll be awake by then?"

"I DON'T KNOOOOOOW!!!"

David and Rissa share a commiserative look.

"I'M A BABY BEAR!!!! " grumble... grumble... grumble...

"Yes you are."  Pat. Pat. Pat.

"My eyebrows don't work."

"No, they haven't woken up yet either."

"I haven't even peed yet!'

"Well, you'd better go do that then."

***

Washing my hands... sniff... sniff... sniff... "This is disproportionate emotional response."

"Yes it is.  Come on." David hands me my decaf.  "This might help.  I'll drive.  You can even lie back and sleep for the 10 minutes."

***

whinge... whinge... whinge... "I can't lie back AND drink coffee!  Now I have coffee all over my coat..."

"You weren't supposed to be drinking the coffee, you were supposed to be sleeping."

"Which is it?? Do you want me to be awake enough to drive back or do you want me COMATOSE?!?  Sorry... sorry..."  tears

This is me, when woken in the middle of a sleep cycle and then being forced to drive.  I apparently need a sign: DISTURB AT YOUR OWN PERIL.