Sunday, January 30, 2011

Never Too Old For Happy

One of 'my' pages from Weddings 2011.
It's a working copy, so there are some things that are blatantly wrong, including the folios!
Click for a bigger view.

It's hard to believe I'm still talking about my wedding.
It was four whole months ago!
I have a reason, though. This past week the papers I work for put out our annual Wedding Guide. It's 48 pages of love and dove, pretty pictures and prettier fonts. I lay out a lot of projects for the newspapers but the Wedding Guide is my favourite. Especially this year because I'm in it!
I've posted part of my story from the guide but you can see the whole story, and more photos, at the Huntsville Forester/Bracebridge Examiner/Gravenhurst Banner site here.
If I'm not enough to get you to check out the guide there are some other really great stories inside – like the heartbreaking true story of one bride, Tanya Swan, who had to rush her wedding day because her father was dying from cancer. Or the gorgeous story of my cousin Carly who married the dashing Jason Chow one week after Dave and I tied the knot. For sure don't miss Vic Burton's funny story about being a wedding officiant for the first time.
If you're getting married in Muskoka, you'll want to attend the Wedding Show being held Sunday, February 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Muskoka Riverside Inn, Bracebridge. Fashion show starts at 2 p.m. I dragged poor Dave to the show last year and, despite his complaining, we both had a good time. I brought home tons of free stuff and loads of ideas.
Without further adieu, my rather self-deprecating little bride story.

Being old takes a lot of pressure off a bride on her wedding day.
Like, you don’t have to worry about losing that last 10 pounds because 10 pounds is the least of your problems. Maybe 80 pounds would help but when you get to be 50, fat is your face’s best friend. It’s like natural Botox. Skinny old women resemble prunes. Fat old women are like ripe plums. So there’s no need to crash diet to fit into a dress. If you’re like me, you order a dress that is extra big so after a month of nervous binge eating it will fit you perfectly on the big day.
May I also recommend fat-squeezing underwear. (In case the month of binge eating turns into two.)
Speaking of dress, finding a dress that looks appropriate on an old broad like me is a bit of a chore. Most wedding dresses are designed for thin 25-year-olds with big bosoms. And almost all of those dresses are strapless! Strapless isn’t good when you’re old.
First of all, there’s no place for bra straps. You can’t go braless when you’re 50, unless you plan to tuck your breasts into your pantyhose.
Second, you’ve got those upside down arms that keep on shaking hours after you’ve waved good-bye. (My youngest son once said to me, “Mom, how come the muscles on your arms hang upside down?”) You want something to contain the wobbles; otherwise when you toss the bouquet you might thwack a bystander with flailing arm flab.
And unless you are blessed with good legs, legs that aren’t blue-mapped with varicose veins and bumpy with misplaced cellulite, you really should cover up those puppies, too. What I really wanted to wear on my wedding day was a burka, one of those tents that cover every part of a Muslim woman except her eyes.
My mother was no help. She was afraid I’d show up at the wedding wearing something resembling marshmallow fluff. She wanted me to wear a suit. I pictured war brides from the 1940s with shoulder pads and wings on their lapels.
“You really don’t want to wear a big white wedding dress, do you?” she’d say. “At your age?”
Funny the difference between a first wedding and a second (or third) wedding later in life.
At a first wedding everyone comes out to celebrate with you. The wedding is packed with friends and relatives; the showers are many; the stag memorable (if the guys can remember it).
At a second wedding, many people expect you to do it quietly. Is it because your first marriage failed? Are some people embarrassed? Well sure, there is some of that. I mean, you swore in front of everyone that you would be with Spouse #1 until death did you part. And yet neither one of you are dead. So here you are up in front of the same people, asking for their support (and hand blenders, towels and crock pots) while you do it again.
I see people’s awkwardness.
But you know what? When you find the Perfect Guy, when you never expected to, you want to shout it from the rooftops.
I was married for 19 years before my former husband decided he’d be happier with someone else. I believed, like so many others, that I would be married to the same guy forever. When he dumped me my whole world changed. You can’t realize how much it changes until you go through it.
Not all of it was bad, though. Like, I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until the relationship ended. As time passed I grew stronger, happier. When I met Dave, I had no intention of marrying him. He was just a date – a date that never ended. After nearly five years, he popped the question on Valentine’s Day last year. And on September 25th I married the nicest, strongest, most sensitive, honest, sweetest, handiest, hard workingest guy on the planet. I kid you not, ladies. He even cooks and cleans. Best of all, he loves me. Why, I know not. He just does.
So, you see, it doesn’t matter about the dress or the extra pounds or what people think. If you’re marrying someone who loves you, really loves you, the wedding itself doesn’t matter.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hinterland Who's Who - Our Neighbour

Meet our neighbour. 
He lives at #1506 – yup, that's his driveway right there and that's him up on the snowbank.
Funny, seeing him in the snowbank. We'd always thought he was one of those Snowbirds. 
What? You never heard of a Snowbird? No, it's not the Anne Murray song, although that sure is pretty. 
Here, play this... yes, yes you HAVE to.

That's Anne, Canada's Sweetheart, when she was, like, 12 or something singing her heart out. (Love you Annie!) 
But that Snowbird isn't the kind I'm talking about now. Snowbirds are actually rich, Canadian old farts who escape places like snowbanks and spend their winters in Florida. (You can usually recognize them by their black socks and sandals.)
See, we've lived next door to our neighbour for more than a year now and are accustomed to seeing him in the summer. But we never saw him last winter at all. This winter? Whole different story. 
It all started one dark and stormy night a week or so ago. Dave was snowblowing the driveway (just another day in paradise) when something fairly big and dark caught his eye.
He came running in the house with his boots on bawling at me to get the camera because our neighbour was crossing the road - carrying a small tree in his mouth!

Click on the pictures for a better view.
That brown blob in the middle is our neighbour.
He carried the tree over a snowbank, trudged through his snowy yard and disappeared into the darkness near the frozen river.
A while later, he came back. Dave took another picture - sorry, it's not the greatest, but you can see him sliding over the snowbank and onto the road.

He's got snow all over his chin.
We tried to carry on a conversation, asking how he's been and where he got his new fur coat, but he wasn't feeling very neighbourly and basically ignored us (I knew I should have put on more deodorant that day). We watched him waddle into the bush and then lost sight of him.
Well, we thought that was the coolest thing! We chalked it up to one of life's memorable moments and forgot about it.
Then, yesterday, I came home from work 'cause I was feeling poorly and I caught our neighbour in broad daylight, walking across the road with another bit of brush. I didn't even have time to grab the camera but I did yell hi as he was cresting the snowbank.
No, he still didn't reply. I think he's getting snooty in his old age.
Today Dave and I went outside for a bit of fresh air and who do we see?
Yup! The neighbour!
This time we got nice and close.

That's his face closest to the camera... if you look really close you can see his eye, almost closed in the sunshine.
See his long claws on the tree he's chomping? Those are some fingernails!
Dave says they need to be long and strong for digging in the mud.

He must be lacking some fibre in his diet because he lay down on top of the snowbank, chewing at the base of a maple sapling. When he finished chewing, he dragged it back across the road.
This time we didn't let him disappear - we followed him. His trail led to a hole in the ground, right next to the river.
See the river up in the top right corner of the photo?
Dave says the hole leads to the river, under the ice. He says the neighbour probably has a couple of holes like this along the river where he can come up to feed.
Maybe those big all-you-can-eat buffets that Florida is famous for didn't quite cut it with the neighbour this year. After all, us Canadians are known for our love of all things maple. And while most of us Canucks like to pour our maple syrup on pancakes, there are some folks, like our neighbour, who prefer their food raw.
I just pray he doesn't come whining to us when he gets slivers in his butt.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Headline: New program teaches how to cook on a budget - #fridayflash

start a course
to teach me
how to cook
on the cheap.
Their pictures
in the Post
are grainy:
‘Church ladies
help the poor
in tough times.’
my country,
licks its lips,
lusts for more.
I know how to cook a goddamned chicken.
I just want my job back.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear Mr. Eastwood

Dear Mr. Eastwood:
I wanted to write you a letter but don't know where to send it. And I know you don't read my blog but I wanted to put this out there anyway because there is something I need to tell you.
I just watched Gran Torino. Again. I can't count how many times – maybe five or six by now. Doesn't matter, though. You make me cry every time. Not just cry, either, but big sloppy, messy tears.
At least I'm improving. The first time I saw it I lost my breath, cried all night and cried the next day.
It is probably one of the best movies ever made.
No, not probably. It is.
It's not just your superb acting, directing and, yes, singing that grabs me. It's the message you send. A message that even the most bad-assed Archie Bunkers can come around. It's Walt Kowalski's relationship with Thao and Sue that turns this movie from good to excellent.
I put it on for my two young boys to watch, thinking it was a good lesson for them about racism. (I told them to ignore the swearing and warned them, just because Walt says it doesn't mean you can.) 
They watched the whole movie, rooted to the spot. No squiggling like you expect from an eight-year-old and an 11-year-old. When it was over, they bawled ... like babies. Like the babies they still are, really.
A few years later they still say it's the best movie they've ever seen.
I'd have to agree.
I'm home sick with a cold and so I watched Gran Torino on the movie channel this morning. 
When it was over, and the tears were still wet on my cheeks, I googled it to find out how many Academy Awards your movie had won. (I can't remember what I had for supper last night, never mind an awards show a couple years back.)
I was shocked when I found out it was totally ignored.
I just want to say that you were robbed. Gran Torino should have won Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress and, if there was such a category, Best Dog. (I love Daisy.) Plus whatever else Oscar was handing out that year. This movie should have won everything.
What did win that year? Oh yeah, Slumdog Millionaire. Yup, I saw it. It was good. But I didn't cry. And I've only seen it once. It didn't have that much of an impact on me.
Your movie, though, man ... I talked about it at work for weeks. I'm still talking about it.
Anyway, Mr. Eastwood, I just wanted to lodge a complaint that your movie wasn't honoured like it should have been. And I'm so, so sorry.
You're probably one of Hollywood's greatest actors and directors. You're an icon. 
And I'll never stop admiring your work. You're not Unforgiven. You're Unforgettable.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Going to the doctor's with a cold is like looking out the driver's window into the sunglassed-eyes of a cop.
I just hate it.
I know from the get-go that he's (yes, I know there are female doctors, he's just easier, otherwise you're into that whole awkward he's/she's her/him crap that gave me the heebie jeebies in high school) going to listen to my chest and tell me, "It's a virus. I'm not giving you antibiotics. So go away."
It always happens to me.
Whenever I get sick my mom says, "Get to the doctor," and I'm, like, I'd rather drink a quart of cleaning fluid. When I was really sick after Christmas I needed more time in bed but my boss sorta asked me for a doctor's note for HR and the thought of going to a doctor drove me to work faster than flying phlegm.
I've been sick since Christmas Eve. This is seriously the worst cold I've ever had. But I toughed it out and was starting to feel better – until yesterday when I started feeling worse again.
Today I have a fever and everything aches and I'm coughing up a lung and it feels like a fat troll is sitting on my Vick's-coated chest.
Which makes me mad.
I'm like, furious at myself. "I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GETTING SICKER!" ARRGGGGHHHHH!
I was so mad that I decided enough was enough and went to the walk-in clinic.
Right away, I'm on the defensive.
I'm talking to the receptionist behind the desk and I picture her in a cop cruiser putting on its lights in my rear-view mirror.
"Breaker 1-0. Warning to Dr. Daabak: there's a suspicious-looking 50-year-old white female with a shiny red purse headed your way. She may be seeking antibiotics. I repeat, she's a drug mule."
After wasting an hour of my life reading old magazines, I am ushered into the inner sanctum of the doctor's office.
Strangely, I hardly cough.
It's like when your car is making a strange noise and when you take it to the mechanic it shuts up.
I try to hork up a bit of phlegm just to make it sound good.
The doctor rushes in, wearing a nice watch and nicer cologne.
"So?" he says.
I imagine him in those reflective sunglasses, a motorcycle cop helmet on his head. I give him my spiel, tell him how sick I've been. He listens to my chest and I know it's clear. Yes, it was wheezing this morning but now it's christly clear. He looks in one ear, but not the other. And he doesn't even look down my throat.
I want to tell him, "Geez, I brushed my teeth for you and everything."
It's all in his hands now.
He sits down on his chair and looks torn.
He's like the cop trying to decide if I'm gonna get a ticket.
"Well," he says, "you don't have pnemonia  pmenomia pneumonia."
"That's good," I say.
"Have you considered that this might be a new virus on top of the old one?" he looks at me like I'm a drug addict trying to get antibiotics so I can snort them as soon as I get back in my Neon.
Or maybe use them like a suppository.
I look at him blankly.
"I don't know," I sigh. "All I know is I feel like crap and it's getting worse. I. Am. So. Tired. Sometimes when I cough I almost pass out."
He says, "Well, if it's a new virus, antibiotics won't help."
He looks at me. "Do you smoke?" he says accusingly.
"Did you get a flu shot?"
"Yes," I said. Wanting to add, "a fat lot of good that did, eh?"
He stares at me again, deciding, deciding.
It's all in his hands.
The power.
His pen hovers over the script pad.
He stares at me some more.
Am I going to get a ticket? Am I going to lose points? Am I going to be able to snort penicillin in a few minutes?
He sighs and scribbles something down on the paper, then hands it to me like it's something dirty.
"I don't know," he says, still sighing.
But I don't care about his angst.
"Thanks, doc!" I say and launch out of that room waving the script in my hand like I just won a lottery.
When I cross through reception and head towards the exit I feel like yelling, "START THE CAR! START THE CAR! START THE CAR!"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Guilt, Love, Pain, The Whole Dang Thing

Every day I wrestle with guilt.
No matter how many times people say, "It's not your fault, you didn't choose this," it doesn't matter. I don't have my children 24/7. I only see them every other weekend. You can't imagine what this does to a person's heart, not unless you've been there/done that.
Yes, there are a few pluses. Like, the house is quiet and stress-free most of the time. I don't have to yell at anyone to pick up their socks or brush their teeth.
Still, there are moments when I am inconsolable.
We had the boys on the weekend and it was fabulous. I love seeing them. Sometimes I can't believe they're my children – I touch them constantly, their soft faces, to reassure myself they're real. Such good boys, too. I'm so lucky.
When it was hometime and we had loaded them up into their father's car, I told my ex how much I missed them.
He told me this, and my broken heart shattered: "The boys were camped out with me one night and Sam was talking in his sleep. This is what he said - 'I love you, mommy.'"
That a small boy dreams of his absent mother ... too much to bear.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jude Law Can Repo Me Any Time

Lawdy, lawdy, ain't Jude Law just the hunkiest darn thing since the invention of meat loaf?
Saw RepoMen tonight with the family. Let the boys watch as Jude sliced and diced his way through armies of flesh, but made them close their eyes at the nudie parts. So, yes, it's OK to let a 10 year old get a close look at an impromptu heart operation but don't let 'em see any reproductive organs.
Good movie – held me from start to finish but the ending, while brilliant, was morally bankrupt and reprehensible. Plus, it made us all go, "NO WAY!"
I've had a little thing for Mr. Law since he played the sexy single dad in The Holiday. You can see why. Self-deprecating. Charming. Dimples. Lovely accent.

I wish I had an accent. Oh, people say Canadians have accents and those who live in exotic locales like Newfoundland or Quebec do. But us pasty white bread Ontarians sound like we've all gone to the same TV journalism school.
I got my hair done today. My hair looks flat, coincidentally a lot like Cameron Diaz's in the movie poster up there. The similarity pretty much ends there because she lacks a lot of my fine features: crooked yellow teeth, shit brown eyes, Pratt cheeks and strange hairs growing out of my chin. Oh, and the remnants of tacos in my hair. Tonight was Taco Night with the boys. I wore most of mine. Angus said to me, "That's attractive," so I grinned at him with a mouthful of sour cream and lettucey bits.
I got all the work done on the Wedding Guide that I could possibly do. Still missing a couple of stories and a couple of ads and there'll be a last minute rush to change everything around on Monday. I'll have a mini-breakdown and piss somebody off that I'll regret later and probably cry in the washroom but the guide will make it to press and it will be lovely and all will be right with the world.
Oh, I wish I could show it to you. It's especially lovely this year because I'm in it. It's a wee bit of comedy in an otherwise sordid publication full of ripe rosebuds and virgins about to be defrocked. The headline I wrote is Never Too Old For Happy but I should have called it Here Comes The Bride, All Fat and Wide.
A friend at work was working on her own Wedding Guide a while back and started singing that song under her breath then she realized what she was doing, looked at me, blushed red to her roots and abruptly stopped. I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard over that one.
Speaking of that friend, my dear Karen sent me a message today. Dave took the boys cross-country skiing at one of Karen's favourite haunts and when they came back to the Jeep somebody had written "Hi Kathy" in the snow on the window.
The boys were all excited – there they were in the middle of nowhere and someone was saying hi to me.
Nah, I wasn't there, I was at home working on the Wedding Guide but I wish I had of been. They said it was just beautiful, slicing through the forest on well-groom tracks, up hills dotted with evergreens, down hills that wound through hardwoods.
Maybe tomorrow. But maybe not. They're calling for wicked cold temperatures tomorrow: a high of only -26 C.
That's like, really frigging cold in Fahrenheit.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Litter Box Woes

Yes, yes, YES, I am going to talk about more bodily functions!
It's been a long week, LONG, and I'm tired. You can tell how tired I am by how crappy my flash was yesterday. It was the worst flash I ever wrote. No, no, don't humour me. I'm just stating a fact. I usually like my flash. Usually am prouder of it than a new momma, but facts is facts, and that flash stunk just like the cat crap all over the house.
I come home tonight, late because of insane work, hoping to get a shoulder rub because everything there is squeezed up tighter than new shoes, and Dave is on the floor.
"What," I say, "are you doing on the floor?"
"Cleaning up cat shit!" says Dave, who doesn't really like cats at the best of times.
Feck, I say to myself. What now.
The cat has diarrhea and has puking all over the house. WTF?? Last night we came home and there was one small incident - tonight it's just disgusting. Dave has cleaned up the house but the cat is still covered. He's waiting for me for that little job. I sigh. I put down my purse and grab the cat. Dave's right. He stinks.
Ever tried bathing a cat?
You might as well bath the Tasmanian Devil. I can barely hold onto him. He bites me. Dave roars because I'm seemingly unable to hold onto the cat. So he holds the cat, harshly, I think, and I am left cleaning the cat's butt. Feck-ity-feck, feck.
"Are you getting it all off?" Dave roars.
"I'm trying!" I roar back.
The cat squeals like a girl.
When the job's done, Dave is all back to normal and I'm pissed off. I don't get over being mad as fast as he does. I just got home, fer crissakes. I just got mad. Gimme a second to not be mad anymore.
I'm mad at someone at work, too. (No, not you L! You always think it's you!) It's someone I don't work with directly, someone I used to really admire, someone I used to get along with really well, and now he's an arrogant arsehole (yes, Mr. Stink Eye) and I'm, like, "what did I EVER see in you???"
Grrrrrr....  Yes, I'm pissy because of the cat.
So, what's wrong with the cat? Anybody got any ideas?
I think he's afraid of his new litter box. Dave brought home one of those covered jobbies and instead of introducing it gradually to our skittish kitty, I grabbed him and stuck him in it head-first. The cat ran away and hid. We also took away both of the older litter boxes.
When I realized I had probably scared the cat, I took the lid off, thinking he would use it like the old ones and get used to it... then we'd put the lid on later. That was a few days ago. I suspect what is going on is the cat has been "holding it" because he's afraid of the new box. Tonight we brought back an old faithful – hopefully he'll see it and everything will return to normal.
Do you think that's it? I mean, I haven't changed his food or anything. He's an indoor cat so it's unlikely he's caught a disease.
I dunno. What do you think?

Oh man, I wrote some of this in the car. Not while driving.. sheesh.. I'm not THAT talented. Now I'm all car sick and pukified.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday Night at Home in Front of the TV - #fridayflash

“If that guy’s lifeguard duties were as good as his singing, a lot of people would be drowning,” Simon said.
He stuck a mitt full of popcorn into his gob, smacked it noisily then wiped his greasy fingers on his V-necked sweater. Paula grabbed the clicker from the coffee table and turned up the volume on the TV so she wouldn’t hear the noises he was making. She wondered what fans’ reaction would be to his appalling eating habits and she thought about all the times she was asked about him. “There is love there,” she would say. “And then there’s times when I can’t even stomach him.”
This was one of those times.
“All you can do is the best you can do,” she said aloud.
“It’s like Randy went deaf this year,” he said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Paula shrugged her bony shoulders and plucked one small kernel of popcorn from the bowl. She ate half and held her abdomen like she was full.
“Constructive criticism is about finding something good and positive to soften the blow to the real critique of what really went on,” she said.
He looked at her like she was daft. “I find you patronizing. It’s as simple as that. You were more damaging than I was to these contestants because a lot of people just shouldn’t be singing for a living.”
She made a face at him. “Can you imagine yourself as a kid? Your imaginary friends probably never wanted to play with you.”
He leered, just loving it whenever she got her dander up. “You are a saucy little thing aren’t you?”
She nodded and smiled at him, a tiny piece of kernel stuck between her impossibly white teeth. “I just hope that J-Lo and Steve have as much fun as I did being able to be in the presence of budding and raw talent. They’re seasoned veterans. They know what they’re doing.”
He was about to say something when a well-proportioned young woman on the TV took off her jacket, revealing a bikini top decorated with two large silver stars.
That’s when Steven Tyler exclaimed “What’s with the jujubees on your oohoohbees?”
“Seasoned veterans, eh?” Simon said.
Paula changed the channel to PBS.

*Based on actual quotes, stuck together all weird. Just because. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time Doesn't Freeze But The River Does

When snow falls in a forest, can anybody hear?

The river has finally frozen over.
Lakes in Muskoka have been frozen for ages and most have a foot or more of good ice. The river, as sluggish as it may seem in July, moves along at a fancy enough clip to keep the ice at bay until winter has its hooks well into January.
It starts freezing at the edges, in the corners, furtively, where the current isn't as strong. Then it sneaks into the main stream, one crystal at a time, until the river succumbs to bitter temperatures and the ice seals it like a tomb.
Last weekend I thought about fishing off the dock, just for something to do. People around here spend at lot of time and energy dragging fish shacks onto the lake, when we could just cast a line into open water. I mentioned the idea to Dave and he was game but we couldn't at the time because we were going somewhere and we were busy and life just got in the way.
The other day I realized the river had frozen over.
Another missed opportunity.
Another moment gone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Good Old Hockey Game

We be needing some mood music for this one. Maybe it's not as slick as Sinatra but when it comes to 7:30 a.m. in a cold arena in a small town in northern Ontario, when the rink coffee tastes as good as dishwater but you drink it by the bucket anyway, you need yourself some Stompin' Tom:

Saturday morning in January, christly cold, the alarm goes off at six and we're headed 35 minutes north to Baysville to see eight-year-old Megan Raney play in a hockey tournament. It's a big tournament, lauded as the biggest tourney to ever hit the Huntsville area, and teams have come from all over Ontario.
The Raneys are luckier than most. They only live up the road a piece. Other parents are holed up in cheap hotels with hyper hockey playing girls and sick siblings, wiping runny noses and stocking up on Goldfish crackers, eating at McDonald's and probably willing to sell their souls if the mini-van heater would just start working better.
There's a chubby, sleepy little cutie-pie curled up on the bench in the arena lobby. He's got cupid lips and long eyelashes that won't leave his cheeks. "He's not feeling very well," says his mom. "He's usually one of those kids who's tearing around the arena all the time." She has come three hours from Oshawa for the tournament. Her daughter is on the ice, has been since the game started at 7 a.m. "I had to be up at 5:15," she says, grimacing. "My poor daughter, she wants to do all these cool things in between games but he's sick and all he wants to do is sleep. Maybe one of the other moms will take her out."
More than likely they will. Hockey moms tend to stick together - especially when their kids are out on the ice. I'm sitting with a crowd of Almaguin Gazelles' parents who are giving new meaning to the term sticking together. There's a whole arena full of empty seats but all the Gazelle fans are lumped close in the middle, yelling for all they're worth.
Dave and I sit with the Raneys, even though Richard warns us in advance that Tammy's cheering is a little on the loud side.
"You sure you want to sit with her?" he asks, laughing.
I wouldn't be anywhere else! Sure, she's loud, but so are all the other Gazelle fans and at least they're yelling positive encouragement. I'm a little nervous about cheering at first (I haven't been to a hockey game since my son Angus played 10 years ago), and for good reason. The opposing team scores first and, confused, I cheer. Dave elbows me in the ribs and hisses, "what are you DOING?"
I make up for my faux pas with extra enthusiasm and soon find myself hollering just as loudly as everybody else. How can you not cheer for kids who are just learning the game, who are giving it everything they've got? They're just little girls. The oldest are ten. The youngest are six. The small ones barely make it up to the armpit of the older players but that doesn't mean they're not go-getters. Some of the littlest players are the biggest firecrackers, chasing that puck up and down the ice like greyhounds after a rabbit.

They haven't got stick handling or passing down pat yet so they tend to chase the puck around in herds. Think of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the old cartoon, when all the kids decorate Charlie Brown's tree in a big ball. That's what these hockey players are like. It's pretty adorable watching them. When they're tired, they fall down more, and it's hard for them to remember where they're supposed to stand at face-off.
The girls on the other teams are older and bigger. They come from towns with bigger populations and have more money for training. Almaguin isn't expected win any games at all but, what they lack in age, size and experience, they make up for with enthusiasm.
They lose the first game to York, but they're not skunked. The score is 2-1
Second game, they tie against another team. (Guelph, I think.)
Third game, against Oshawa, they win.

Hysteria reigns. Everyone is hoarse from yelling. The girls are wide-eyed with excitement. Their total points have earned them a berth in the finals, the next day. Another game against York. These girls are machines. In fact, Almaguin was the only team in the whole tournament that managed to score against them. In their last game before the finals, York wins 9-0.

Nobody expects Almaguin to win, but nobody expects Almaguin to give York the fight of their lives, either.
The final game is better than any Stanley Cup final. York scores first, then scores again. It starts to feel like they'll be steamrolling through our Gazelles. But our girls never give up and their feistiness starts putting scores up on the board. The final score is 5-3 but no one cares! The momentum belongs to Almaguin. The game belongs to Almaguin!
Parents and kids go wild, cheering the girls on as they accept their second place trophies.
And then everyone goes really beserk when it's announced that the Almaguin Gazelles have been awarded the Most Sportsmanlike Trophy, one of the highest honours in the entire tournament.
It was a Cinderella story with hockey skates instead of glass slippers and it was a weekend I won't soon forget.
Megan - her hockey bag is bigger than she is!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Meat Bag - What's It Mean?

Never mind imagining life before the internet; can you imagine life without the Urban Dictionary?
Tonight I had a reason to look up 'meat bag' and the Urb has several helpful definitions:

Meat Bag:

A derogatory name for humans, or other biological beings used by non-biological beings (i.e. robots)
"would you stifle it meat bag?"

Meat Bag:
A slow moving, corpse-like human ('zombie'), often to be found in malls and shopping centres. Example comment: 'Are you serving?'; 'What it is is, like, y'know'
The doors are open for trade, here comes a meat bag.

Meat Bag:
a condom
Before I jumped into the sack with my hooker, I made sure I put on a meat bag.

Meat Bag:
a scrotum
I dropped my knife and almost cut off my meat bag.

Meat Bag:
boyfriend or girlfriend
I went out with my meat bag last night and saw a movie.

Unfortunately I didn't find the definition I was looking for so I had to make one up.
Meat Bag:
a grocery bag full of meat worth approximately $32 that I bought yesterday then left on the kitchen table for approximately 18 hours
My strep throat-suffering husband phoned me at work right before bowel-crunching, heart-crapping deadline as I was having a fecking meltdown because everyone's a complete feck-up except me (of course), to tell me the meat was left on the table all fecking night and all fecking day. 
"Do you think," he asked, "it'll still be any good?"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mucous Colours - What Do They Mean?

I blew my nose and, I swear, the stuff that came out was yellow.
Chicken Yellow!
It looked like a yellow Rorschach test, equally Chicken Yellow on both sides of the Kleenex, tinged a little around the edges with minute bits of blood.
"LOOK AT THIS," I say to Dave, plunging the Kleenex in front of his face before he realizes what I'm doing.
He shudders and pushes my hands away. "Fer crissakes," he says. "I didn't need to see that."
"But LOOK," I say. "It's CHICKEN YELLOW."
I have a friend (but I don't want to mention her name and embarrass her - Leah) who wanted to be platinum blonde and when she rinsed out the do-it-yourself goo her hair was chicken yellow. Heh-heh.
"It does look like Leah's hair," says Dave admiringly.
"But what does it MEAN?" I ask. "Am I going to DIE?"
"From Chicken Yellow snot? I don't think so."
He was no help whatsoever so I Googled mucous colours, except Google corrected me because mucus is the American spelling - what's with that, boys and girls? Is it too time-consuming to add the u?
What I discovered is different snot colours mean different things.
Clear mucous is normal unless there is vast amounts of it – then it's a sign of post nasal drip. That's when it dribbles down your throat.
White mucous happens when someone with a runny nose (with clear mucous) drinks milk. The milk apparently flavours the snot with a nice white tinge. Also, when you throw up, mucous is white.
Brown mucous is found commonly in smokers and in people whose sinuses are engorged or inflamed. In the former, the brown is tobacco tinged. In the latter, it's dried blood.
Yellow mucous, better known as Chicken Yellow mucous, means you have a infection and your body is trying to fight it off.
Green mucous is a definite sign that you have a sinus infection and you should go to the doctor and get some good drugs to fight it off.
This has been a public service for all those who have ever questioned the colour of their snot.
For more information, drink plenty of fluids and call a Google in the morning.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh Please Stay With Me Deanna!

You're so sweet, your words are gold
This, my darling, I've been told
No one's nicer on the net
No one's better, this I bet
Your comments are always good
Everyone loves you, as they should
Oh, please read with me, Deanna

Thrills I get when you read my stuff
Even when it's mostly fluff
You're always way too nice to me
Oh, Deanna, can't you see
You give to others with all your heart
And I hope we will never part
Oh, please stay with me, Deanna

Oh, the pen must be your lover
Because you write like there is no other
We all love you with our heart
Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
Only you can take our heart
Only you would never fart
When you hold us in your loving arms
We can feel you giving all your charms
Hold us, darling, ho-ho hold us tight
Be our friend with-a all your might
Oh, please read our stuff, Deanna
Oh, please, Deanna
Oh, please, Deanna
Oh, thank you, Deanna!

For those of you who haven't heard of Deanna Schrayer (you must have been under some big-assed rock), she is probably the nicest person on the #fridayflash circuit.
No matter how bad you know your story is, Deanna manages to see some good in it. Her comments are always nice, always enthusiastic, always most welcome and encouraged. I love it when she drops by.
Not just a cheerleader, though, Deanna is also a prolific and busy writer who writes wonderful flash fiction on The Other Side of Deanna as well as inspiring non-fiction on The Life of a Working Writer Mommy. On this site she writes inspiring stories about her battles with fibromyalgia, helping people understand what this awful havoc this disease plays on people's lives. She talks about her busy sons, her husband, her cooking, her life – she makes me dizzy just thinking about it! All this, and she still manages to infuse sunshine in the darkest corners of the internet. Feeling glum? Pay Deanna a call – she will make you feel better, I swear.
On top of this, she just invented a new blog award, called The Creative Genius Award where she honoured five fellow #fridayflash writers for their creative writing abilities including 
Oh, and me! (Deanna you must have been smoking something to add me to this list but hey, I'll take it!)
Deanna has no rules, per se; she only hopes that it will be passed on and that those who receive it will post the award on their blog.
OK Deanna, you're on!

I am pleased to pass this award on to seven of my favourite creative geniuses:

There are so many other people I'd love to nominate (pretty much everyone on my Blogroll) but I'm sure they will get their due in short order.
Thanks Deanna!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Great Front Yard

Our Muskoka chairs on the riverbank.
How was my day? You are a darling for asking.
I almost didn't go to work today because I still feel like crap on a stick, especially since I'm awake half the night gacking and coughing out lungs piece by mucousy piece. I decided to go, though, because I am a responsible employee and I was needed to get the paper to press on time. 
So I went, all crappy and sleepy and crusty, and I put out deadline fires and I got the paper out the door with only a few minor heart attacks, and then decided I would go home. The hard part of the day was over. I had done my heroic duty and, if I stayed, I'd just be filling in time.
I had my coat on and was saying adios to my workmates and along comes the Big Cheese and he wants to talk about something. As luck would have it, he's the same guy who chewed me out about my attitude about a month ago. I thought, "Oh, man..." and considered staying to discuss whatever it was he needed to talk about. Then I came to my senses, told him I was sick and I was leaving .... was it something we could talk about tomorrow morning? Oh yeah, he said, no problem, but he had that look on his face. 
I hate that look.
It means, "no problem," but it's saying, "really? You're going home when I, your big boss, want to talk about something?"
He had no idea I had already made sacrifices all day in order to get the paper done, even to the point of calling a customer to make a last minute ad change, which is way above and beyond my regular call of duty.
Regardless of the look, I went home, trying not to feel like I had done something stupid.
Ah, but the drive, the beautiful, beautiful drive, made me feel a whole lot better.
The skies are brilliant blue today in my part of the world. The evergreens are piled high with fresh, powdery snow and the birds are singing. The river is finally starting to freeze: in parts it has clear sheets of advancing "glass" ice; in other parts it is open water with what looks like thick water, or jelly, forming as it goes. The sun sparkles dark blue on the open water. I cross the final bridge, the old black iron bridge on my way home and I feel the stress rolling off my bones with each turn of the wheel.
I go in the house to grab the camera, not even put off that our bored dog has gotten into the bathroom garbage and strewn embarrassing things all over the house; not even put off that the same dog has helped herself to the kitty litter buffet and dropped several choice chunks on the kitchen mat.
I ignore all that, close the door to the house behind me, and go out to the river, where I bask in the sunshine, take pictures of snow falling in the forest and chickadees as they frolic at the feeder.
These are the photos I took, along with some photos Dave and I took on the weekend. The weather on the weekend was mild, rainy and foggy so the photos aren't great, but I think you'll appreciate the wildlife we saw in our small, beautiful chunk of the world here on the Muskoka River.

Look at the smile on this beaver's face! The beavers did find other lodgings for the winter and seem to be doing well.
She (he?) let us take a few photos and then decided enough was enough and swam away.
The chickadees are so fearless, they'll land on the feeder while I'm standing only feet away. My friend Deb and her family calls all chickadees "Todd." For some reason I think that's hilarious.
We see beavers all the time on the Muskoka River but don't see otters as often. On the weekend Dave managed to snag a few photos of this sleek creature, but we didn't want to get too close after hearing news reports of otters attacking people!
Dave also took this photo. The otter isn't the only wildlife in this picture – check out the mallard duck! It's rare to see ducks on our part of the river this time of year. Most have moved on, but this lonely guy was hanging around for some reason.
Dave always wants to cut down the dead birch tree hanging over the riverbank but I have a particular
fondness for it and will stand between it and his chainsaw if that's what it takes!
This is my favourite photo of this bunch – maybe it's one of those ones where "you had to be there" but a gentle breeze was blowing the powdery snow off the trees with rays of sunlight backlighting the beautiful event. To me it's like sheer curtains billowing in the forest.
Being sick for a week and a half, I was dying for some fresh air so, on the weekend I dragged a camp chair out into the front yard and plunked it in front of the bird feeders for a birdie show. I filled a bowl with chocolate ice cream (medicinal purposes for my sore throat) and enjoyed every single morsel of it – didn't even share one bit with Misty, our dog.
By the way, I am loving my new hoser coat, a Christmas present from my ex-husband. It has a matching hat, too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cheerleader Runs Amok

Do you ever do this?
I do.
And I always feel sick afterwards.
Essentially I am a happy person, give or take a bout with depression. Not only am I happy, I want the world to be as happy as I am. If I'm excited about something, I want you to be excited. If I think something is wonderful, I want you to see the wonder. If there's joy to be had, I want you to share in it.
There's nothing wrong with that. I think most people would agree it's a good thing to want to share happiness.
Sometimes, though, I "get carried away." (I put that in quotes because that's what my parents used to say to me - "Don't get carried away!") 
That's when the enthusiasm takes over good sense and I usually wind up saying something embarrassing, something I immediately regret. Something that makes me feel all oogery inside.
One time (in band camp), a bunch of us work chicks were playing hooky for the afternoon, going tubing down a river. I was SO excited. I wanted all of us to go. One girl didn't want to go. The cheerleader in me took over as I kidded and cajoled and tried everything in my happy-me arsenal to convince her to come with us. A sunny summer day, a warm gentle river to float on, good friends, lots of laughs – what was the problem? She wouldn't say. She just said no. Finally, one of my other workmates said, "leave her alone. She doesn't want to go."
I nearly died of humiliation. I had to turn my head to hide my tears. I was so incredibly hurt and embarrassed.
I didn't want to embarrass her. Or hurt her. Or anything bad. I just wanted her to share in our happiness. 
I thought we were friends enough for her to say, "I don't want to go because ... blah, blah, blah," but she wouldn't say why. Just "no."
To this day, it's all very mysterious.
Of course I should have taken no for an answer. That much is very plain. 
If someone says no, you have to respect that.
It's pretty obvious in this situation: a woman says no to sexual advances; a man ignores her and a rape is committed.
I tell my boys all the time, it's ok to roughhouse and fool around but if one of you says stop, the other one has to stop.
So what's my problem? Why don't I know when enough is enough?
I'm pretty sure I have manic tendencies. Not full-blown manic depression, where the person's moods shift abruptly from remarkable highs to bottom-of-the-barrel lows, but tendencies. It's when I got caught up in a project, or anything I feel happy and strong about, that the cheerleader in me takes over and starts annoying people with her flailing pom-poms.
I feel in my heart of hearts that my pom-poms have been out of control lately.
If I have dinged you with one, I apologize.