Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I feel like I've abandoned my blog, and in a way I guess I have. Time spent getting ready for Christmas meant very little "me" time. Since Christmas, I have been feeling more than a little down and decided not to blog.

I just wanted to post something though about the horrific Tsunami in South Asia. My heart goes out to all those who have suffered from this terrible event and I hope that the needed assistance is received as quickly as possible.

In the aftermath, our celebration of Christmas seems quite trite and anything that I was going to possibly blog about seems so insignificant.

Anyway, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I look forward to returning to a regular blogging routine soon.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Christmas Blues

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, it's been crazy. That is if anyone noticed that I have been negligent. The following is a repost of a piece I wrote the year after I lost my father.

Sunday, December 05, 1999

The morning greeted me bright and early that day, it seemed funny to be up and on the computer at 5:30am on a Saturday, a day I usually sleep late. This will be good though I told myself, I will have more time to do all the things that I want to accomplish today.

A productive day was just a notion, never realized on that Saturday. By 11:00 am I was back in bed trying to rid myself of a terrible tension headache. One that had grabbed the back of my head with a vice like hold growing stronger and stronger with no hint of stopping. Sleep dulled the pain but when I awoke four hours later it returned regenerated and more powerful than before.

I walked down the hall and looked at the transformed living room. Mom and Melissa had worked hard all afternoon, while I slept and our living room was now full of Christmas. Melissa was sitting in front of the computer, downloading some music and when I asked where Nana was, she pulled herself out of her concentration just long enough to tell me that they had gone for a walk.

Suddenly I felt a strong desire to catch up to Mom and Sammy and get some fresh air. I quickly changed into some comfortable clothes before I could change my mind and told Melissa that I would be back shortly.

I stepped through the front door and stopped amazed at the display of lights from all the houses across the street. It seemed as if everyone agreed that they would turn their lights on tonight. I walked a few steps down the sidewalk so I could see the whole street and stood for quite awhile taking it all in.

Turning back to look at our house I realized that it looked just as beautiful as the others. My Mom had worked very hard the past the past week or so on decorating the outside. While looking at the front window I drifted back to my youth. Excitement and awe of wonderful, magical things pulsing through me as I pushed through the crowd standing in front of Simpson's and Eaton's. I would work my way through the crowd, to the front so that I could stand and stare at the wonderful displays that they did each year in celebration of Christmas.

Continuing on, to the end of the driveway, I stopped once again to search the road for two figures. One of adult size and one with a leash clicked on his neck.


‘I need a walk.’ I spoke to myself harshly before I turned and walked back inside. Fresh air WAS needed in the worst way, either in the company of Mom and Sammy or alone. I decided to turn to my left and walk around the block, past my grandparent's house, knowing that this is the way Mom and Sammy had gone. This is the way they always go. ‘They walk slowly. I should be able to catch up to them. I need to tell Mom how I am feeling right now, so that she understands that I am not trying to be miserable because it’s Christmas.’

Walking slowly around the corner, drinking in the beauty of the lovely decorating of my neighbours, I almost forgot that I was feeling sad and lonely. A smile had pulled my lips up at the corners without me noticing.
At least not right away! Slowly I floated along the street; unaware of anyone or anything. The Christmas lights mesmerizing me, casting their spell to dull my brain and stop almost all thoughts. Almost!

Someone was approaching me from the far end of the block. They were walking a large dog and it appeared from the outline of the shape that it was a man. He crossed to the other side of the street as we grew closer and the black dog pulled eagerly towards me, mouth open, tongue lagging out the side in a silly little grin. I could feel that he was a friendly dog. Before I knew what I was doing, I was calling a greeting across the road to them.

"Beautiful, isn’t it? Gorgeous night, beautiful lights, aren’t we lucky?"
He was about 65 years old, maybe a year or two younger but I was pretty sure that this gentleman was around retirement age.

"It sure is, now if we could just get a little bit of snow it would look even more beautiful!" His voice was full of warmth and laughter and it was very comforting.

I giggled in agreement with him as we passed; our solitary walks interrupted for a brief moment with neighbourly pleasantries, now to continue alone and quiet once again.

The moment he and his dog passed, I was hit with a terrible longing for my father. This time I couldn’t push it away. My mind filled with the vision of his smiling face and my heart suddenly felt very empty. I miss him very, very much and I cannot understand why he is not with us anymore.

As I walked alone, the Christmas lights became a colourful blur as I finally surrendered to my sadness and let the tears fall freely from my eyes. It was a relief to let it go. I wondered if anyone was watching me, if they could see me walking down the middle of the road, alone and crying at Christmas time. What was my Dad thinking as he looked down on me? I know that he would be very frustrated with me, not wanting me to miss him so much, only wanting me to be happy. I could almost hear his exasperated voice telling me to smarten up! Be strong! What’s wrong with you, Shelly? Why do you do this to yourself?

Shrugging I said ‘I don’t know’, not out loud but to myself, where I knew he could hear me. The sound of his voice, frustrated as all hell made me smile just like it always did. Dad and I could banter back and forth with the best of them. To outsiders we were arguing, to us we were having some fun. A battle of stubbornness; who could be stronger; who would be the one to ultimately wear the other one down, but it was full of love. We knew it and it always ended up with the two of us killing ourselves laughing at each other as we would both give in at the same time. Both winners and losers in our battle!

My tears started to slow and the street-scape was becoming clearer as I rounded the last corner and found myself on my own block. The prettiest one in the whole subdivision, I told myself. Just like I do every night when I drive home from work and turn the corner to see Brouwer Crescent, lit from one end to the other with Christmas lights.

I concentrated on the efforts that my neighbours went to while decorating for the season, instead of sad thoughts and it was working. My spirit was lifting again and then at that moment I finally saw the outline of Mom and Sammy down the street, walking slowly. My Mother’s laughter floated down to where I was and I realized that she was not alone, she was talking to someone else, a neighbour perhaps. I quickened my pace so that I could catch up to them before they went inside. I wanted to stand with my Mother out on the street, talk with the neighbours and feel alive.

It is Christmas after all, a time for us to be happy and thankful for the sacrifices that the Lord Jesus made for us. Instead of feeling sad for the people I miss, I should be happy for the love I have shared and felt. That is the greatest gift of all and no one can ever take that away.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Brown Betty

Have you ever wanted something in particular so bad that you couldn't stop thinking about it and ended up looking for it in every store you entered? I think we all get obsessive about some things during our lives.

My obsession lately was for a Brown Betty Teapot. Not just a brown teapot that I decided to call Betty, but a REAL Brown Betty Teapot from Britain.

I became acquainted with Betty as a young bride when my mother-in-law introduced me and explained all of Betty's virtues. I must admit that when she first went on and on, I probably half listened and rolled my eyes, but I did go out and buy one from our local china shop.

This china shop was an old family run business in town and it had everything that you could ever want. If you needed to buy someone a gift, you would be sure to find it there and the prices were always more than reasonable.

After buying my own Betty, I had to admit that perhaps my mother-in-law was not exaggerating about her ability to make the best cup of tea. Betty was amazing. I fell in love with her and as usual in most love relationships, I soon started to take her for granted. Clunking her quickly into the cupboard with hardly a care. It was total disregard for the precious commodity that I had.

My lapse of appreciation changed when I inadvertently broke my Betty. After years of service I had to say goodbye as I threw her pieces into the garbage pail.

No worries, I thought. I have several other, prettier teapots. In fact, I've hardly used some of them. It will be nice to see something in pink flowers for a change rather than my old brown faithful.

The tea was crap in those flighty models though. They couldn't make a cup of tea if their lives, or rather non-lives depended on it. Not only was the tea crap, but they all dribbled half of it down their spouts onto the counter, or worse on the floor.

Again the old saying "no worries" ran through my head. I will just go buy a replacement. I went to the mall the next day Christmas shopping with my mother. I kept reminding myself to pick up a Brown Betty while we were out.

Store number one - What's a Brown Betty?

Store number two - There's some brown teapots over there. (They may be brown but they were not Betty.)

Store number three - No sorry, never heard of them.

Store number four - Yes we have them. Walk over to aisle with sales clerk only to find Betty's spot empty. "Oh we usually have them. We must be sold out. Sorry."

When I returned home I decided to search for Brown Betty Teapots in Canada. To see who handles them and then I could just go to that store and pick one up. No problem, I still thought.

After an hour of searching and not coming up with anything, I found this website A Bit of Britain. They had my Brown Betty Teapot that I wanted and in three different sizes. I debated on buying them over the internet because of the exchange rate (American) and the shipping etc, but I decided to do it when I realized she wasn't as easy to get in Canada.

I made my order on Dec 2nd and received a confirmation email the next day. I received a further email on the 6th advising that they were shipped by UPS and that I should have them (I ordered two, one for me and one for a gift) in approx 10 days. They arrived today, all packaged in bubble wrap and styrofoam pieces and they were in perfect condition. I love them! I'm so happy, I can hardly wait to give it to my friend.

Tonight my new Betty made me the perfect cup of tea after work. She will not be taken for granted. I promise.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bad Hair Day

Originally written on March 20, 2003

The end of a perfect day. This is my story. Read at your own risk. You may feel sympathetic or angry at the end…not sure which!

My day starts out optimistically. I jump out of bed at the first wail of the radio. That hasn’t happened in awhile, so I’m pretty impressed with this going to bed early thing. I have my shower and notice how much time I have to spare as I’m drying off. That lead time lengthens when I remember that I am buying my lunch out today so there will be no time needed to prepare it.

The bed looks so inviting as I continue to towel dry my hair. Another glance at the clock convinces me that I do have time for one more snuggle in the warm blankets while I listen to the news. Ahhhhhh, I love my bed.

The even, steady breathing, in and out, in and out, is what brought my little dream time to an abrupt end. Or was it snoring (although I don’t admit to doing that). Regardless, my eyes flew open and I realized that a couple of minutes listening to the news had quickly turned into 45 minutes of sleep.

I jumped out of bed again and looked at myself in the mirror. Hmmm, those bed wrinkles should disappear before I get to work. But my hair. What in the hell…my naturally wavy hair that holds a really good curl had formed a really huge wave right on top of my forehead. One half of my bangs was heading up and the other half was heading straight down. No problem, my hair drying expertise would take care of that. After drying, and brushing, and pulling and brushing and drying some more, my hair was one huge, frizzy, fuzzy mop.

Next the hair spray and gel. First the gel to slick it all down, then the spray to mold and hold where you want it. Usually works. Today was different. In the end, when I looked at the clock and realized my body should be in a seat behind my wheel driving to work rather than still in my bedroom in front of my mirror, I surrendered. I stormed out of the apartment with half my bangs doing a straight angle thing to the left and the other half nicely swooping to the right. I was sure I would have to fight people from trying to straighten my bangs as someone would try to straighten a picture that they see askew.

I felt like pigpen running down the hall with a cloud of dust swirling in my wake. Yes I ran to the elevator so that I could shuffle and shift from one foot to the other and stare at the lit button, willing the damn elevator to arrive on my floor, this year. I couldn’t look at my watch. That would only aggravate my already sensitive mood.

I had to look though, as I turned the key in the ignition of my car and the clock turned on. Damn…how was I going to turn this half hour trip into a fifteen minute one in morning rush hour? Maybe I’ll be lucky and the traffic will be light. That was as stupid as thinking I bet when I get to work I’ll find out that we won the lottery and I’m rich now.

Traffic was light on my little back street, but big friggin deal, it’s two blocks long and the light turned red just as I got to the corner. Next one will be green I thought. Nope. Red. I’ll make it through the next one. Nope, caught again. My exhilaration started to rise when I saw a light turning green in the distance, now surely I’ll get that one I thought as I sped up. Nope, some fucking asshole made sure of that by changing lanes and poking so slow I wanted to drive all over him.

I quickly got into the other lane to get away from him. Now I was driving behind Brakey. You know those drivers that hit the brake every other second. Gives you a bit of a shock when you are apparently too close on the slippery, wet roads. What is it with these fucking Sunday drivers on a Thursday morning? I stare at them intently as I whiz by them, after weaving in and out between the two lanes, trying to see if there was a commonality that would explain this nightmare. Just to make my point, I rev my Toyota to the max as I shift from first to second, third to fourth, wheels squealing ever so slightly in the damp, gray morn. They don’t care. Not even a look my way as they continue to saunter along, singing a cowboy song….’just a strollin, under the big gray clouds, howdy doody, I’m an asshole today…just taking my time, going soooooo slow, I love to piss Shelly off cause it makes my day, I’m a BIG asshole, with NOWHERE to go, I’m a slooooooow driving, idiot in Canadaland… ‘

Well, maybe they weren’t singing that song but they should have been. It didn’t matter what I told myself, I could not stop the adrenaline rush and the urge to drive over everything that got in my way. It’s because I haven’t had my coffee yet. Yeah that’s it. Soon I’ll be at Tim Horton’s and the sun will shine, the birds will sing and Shelly will smile once again.

After sitting at that red light, I finally did arrive at Tim Horton’s. Ready to kill, I walked into the coffee shop, watching the expressions on everyone’s face that looked my way, just to make sure that they weren’t looking at my hair and laughing to themselves. That would be the final straw. They were lucky…I didn’t see any smirks. Hmmm, I don’t think anyone smiled at me either, hey that’s not the way it normally is.

After grabbing my coffee, I managed to make it to work without incident. As I was walking to my cell (cubicle) I stole a look at the clock and I was impressed! Only 5 minutes late!

I pretty much stuck to myself for the balance of the morning. Not trusting my foul mood to interact with anyone, but by lunch time I was laughing and enjoying myself as per usual and that was because I made an appointment to get my hair done tomorrow night! Yippppeeee!!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Update on Yesterday's Snowstorm

This article appeared in today's star about yesterday's snowstorm. It's quite humourous so I thought I would post.

Dec. 7, 2004. 06:43 AM

This just in: It's December, and it's snowing


Quick, somebody call the army: It's snowing!

In a city that loves to complain about the weather, there was plenty to whine about yesterday morning as the steel-grey skies hurled tiny snowflakes at frightened citizens.

The Weather Network was on the case, offering round-the-clock updates and helpful suggestions. Driving is treacherous. Don't go outside unless you have to. Be patient. Be careful. For God's sakes, people, be careful out there!

Just before 9 a.m., snapshots of messy road conditions were relayed to viewers from highway cameras. Traffic was snarled. Accident reports flooded hotlines.

About an hour later, the Weather Network's Nadine Blayney ventured into The Storm for a live report.

"It's pretty windy, pretty cold, pretty snowy," she said, smiling with reassuring perkiness. "We'll head it back into the studio where, Helena, I think that you're much warmer than I am,"

"I think so, too," agreed colleague Helena DeVries. "I've got to tell you, though, you certainly look gorgeous with all those snowflakes surrounding you."

And so the first snowfall was met with the sort of jangled, breaking-news excitement usually reserved for pre-emptive wars, political assassinations and J.Lo sightings.

Setting up the national forecasts, DeVries threw it back to Blayney who — in 1 minute and 11 seconds — magically reappeared inside the station's Mississauga studio.

"Let's send it over to Nadine now, who made her way very quickly indoors," said DeVries, as conspiracy-minded viewers wondered if the Weather Network had cloned Nadine.

"I know Helena," Blayney replied, her breathing suspiciously normal. "I don't know if the cameras are picking this up, but my face is soaking wet."

Blayney pivoted toward a national map that offered some perspective. It was minus 18C in Calgary, minus 21C in Edmonton. No matter. This is Toronto, Centre of the Universe.

After some confusing talk about jet streams and Arctic moisture, viewers learned about conditions at Pearson airport.

The circa 1983 graphic detailed wind chill (minus 13C), dewpoint (minus 7C), ceiling (1,300 feet) and visibility (3.2 kilometres), as a gratingly upbeat elevator-track — think Gheorghe Zamfir on crystal meth — accompanied the data.

Then it was time for more breaking news.

"If you live in the Toronto area and you booked the day off work, congratulations," said DeVries. "You missed a traffic nightmare."

Cut to the nightmare footage, as hundreds of blurry headlights peered into the frigid haze like grounded owls.

Yesterday also marked the start of "Severe Winter Weather Awareness Week in Atlantic Canada." The designation set up a special report on the importance of wearing hats.

"Approximately, 30 per cent of the heat can be lost on your head," said Louis Dupuis, who works for the Moncton Fire Department. "So you should cover yourself properly when it's cold outside."

Thanks, Mr. Dupuis. Also, remember not to touch hot stoves or provoke sleeping grizzly bears.

Blayney must have caught the special report while throwing on her stylish overcoat. Minutes later, she was back outside wearing a black toque with spaghetti chin straps.

"I must say that being outside in the snow in sub-zero temperatures is much more fun when you have your hat and your mitts on," she enthused, before crouching down to test snowball-making conditions.

I suppose you could blame the Commonwealth. Like the British and Australians, Canadians are obsessed with their weather. In Toronto, the weather has become a cultural shorthand, a great unifier providing fodder for impromptu conversations as strangers politely interact and go about their business.

Talking about the weather means not having to talk about anything else.

The sweet woman who runs my neighbourhood convenience store uses meteorological observations, in broken English, to start every conversation. I could run in wearing a ski mask and brandishing a sawed-off shotgun and she would still say, "Today nice weather we have!"

The irony, of course, is that here in Toronto, where most of us work indoors in climate-controlled environments, the weather is almost entirely inconsequential.

Can you imagine if we lived in a region prone to hurricanes, tornadoes or floods? Forget the national army, which former mayor Mel Lastman famously summoned during a 1999 snowstorm, we'd need help from an international coalition of the (inclemently) willing.

Yesterday, the Weather Network issued a "Winter Outlook" news release. So what can Canadians expect in 2005?

"A pretty average winter for the most part, but a few areas of the country will deviate from normal, experiencing warmer, colder, drier or wetter than normal conditions."

Well, that narrows it down. But I guess the specifics don't matter when we're heading toward another winter of discontent.


Happy in Bed

I was very happy that I was in bed this morning (Monday), while hundreds of people were attempting to drive on snowy, ice covered roads. The storm descended on the city during morning rush hour and it took some people hours to get to work.

It was a much nicer view from where I was lying.

The Toronto Star had this to say:

Afternoon commute threatened by weather
Warmer air to turn snow to rain tonight as temperatures rise


After this morning’s horrendous drive in the season’s first blustery snowfall, motorists won’t have it any easier on the way home.
Blame the ice pellets.

Just after 3 p.m. today, a serious collision on the eastbound ramp at Highway 401 and Dixie Rd. forced the closing of all southbound and northbound lanes on Dixie Rd. A transport truck was involved.

There have been so many accidents that insurance companies, police and tow-truck drivers have been going at a break-neck pace taking in all the calls. As of noon today, the OPP reported there were more than 260 accidents in and around the GTA on the major highways.

The weather in the southwestern part of the province also created traffic chaos throughout the region.

Most Toronto motorists, however, appeared to be taking their time this afternoon and the number of accidents appeared to be slowing.

Most of the major routes are slow-going, according to police.

A line of snow ploughs made the driving slow on the eastbound collector and express lanes on Highway 401 from Port Union Rd. to Brock Rd.

The westbound Gardiner Expressway seems to be in better shape this afternoon because the temperature was up to zero. But the westbound lanes were filling in west of the SkyDome area.

Ice pellets were falling north of the city on Highway 401 and conditions there caused havoc with motorists in both the eastbound and westbound lanes.

The sanders and snow ploughs are trying to keep the roads as clear as possible but they’re also slowing traffic around them.

Earlier today, the only people who woke up smiling were tow-truck drivers. As the first taste of winter descended on the GTA, the Ontario Provincial Police reported 130 accidents on major area highways by 10 a.m. Virtually all were fender benders.

"We're getting about a crash every two minutes," OPP Sergeant Cam Woolley said during the morning rush hour. "Virtually on any highway, we have had crashes — not life-threatening crashes. It was quiet from midnight to 6 a.m., but then it was like in the cartoons when the factory whistle blows, they just started crashing. We had sort of a flash freeze and it's been crash after crash ever since."

Driving on city roads was just as wild.
Icy conditions forced Traffic Services to close the southbound lanes of Avenue Rd. from St. Clair Ave. to MacPherson Ave.

As the morning went on, the driving became even more nasty. In a serious collision at Yonge St. just south of Highway 404, several vehicles were involved in a host of collisions, including a York Region bus, GO Transit bus and several cars.

Buses were having trouble getting up the hill on that stretch of road, York Region police say.

None of the injuries were reported as serious.

Woolley said winter still seems to take motorists by surprise, adding that people are still in summer driving mode. Despite the conditions, Woolley said he saw cars, trucks and tractor-trailers, driving at more than 30 km/h above the speed limit.

The snowfall shouldn't add up to more than 3 cm downtown. Later, swirling winds will make it rather unpleasant, especially near the lake where the winds often gust higher.

The TTC also reported that Wheel Trans service was running about 45 minutes late this morning. Riders are asked to phone and cancel your ride if it is non-essential, the TTC spokesperson Marilyn Bolton said.
The weather pattern gets marginally much better tomorrow with no snow in the forecast. But it will be damp. Tuesday will see a 60 per cent chance of showers, but it will be milder. The temperature will climb to a high of 6C as a warm air mass moves into the area.

That's little solace to the hundreds of people who were caught in fender benders this morning.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Just Another Trip to Work

I was on my way to work Friday afternoon. Traffic was busier than the other days this week. Unbelievably so, but then it's Friday. It's to be expected I guess. People going away for the weekend, and other's arriving to spend the weekend in our city.

My trip to work is my time to myself. A little bit of space in my day where I have only myself to worry about. Nobody else in the car to distract my thoughts. I enjoy this time. Often I think of people that I haven't spoken to for some time and will make a call or two while I'm driving. I know, it's inadvisable to talk on your cell phone while driving, but I can multi-task, after all I'm a woman.

I glance down at the display to make sure that I am selecting the right party from my phone book and start to press the send button. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a silver BMW in the lane beside me with his signal light on, starting to move into my lane. He's not in front of me, but beside me. He was travelling behind me when I decided to make my call. All the lanes were full of cars and I was travelling at the same speed as the rest of traffic, following the pickup truck in front of me as close as safely possible. Let's just say that there was not enough room for this silver car in between me and the truck. So either one of two things had to happen. I would have to slam on my brakes at 120 km, and risk being rear ended by the vehicle on my ass, or hold my territory, lay on my horn and pray that the insane maniac would back off.

I chose the latter. He did back off. Backed off right in behind me, driving so close that I could not see his headlights. I was a little nervous. We are still driving at a high speed. As fast as possible with the heavy concentration of cars. I kept an eye on him in my rear-view mirror. For some reason, I half suspected that he was going to ram right into me.

Soon enough, I spotted an escape. There was just enough of a gap to zip into the lane beside me and get back in front of the truck ahead. That would at least put one vehicle in between us. Right after I got in front of the truck, there was another gap to allow me to move in front of the car ahead of me. Now there were two vehicles in between.

I let out a sigh of relief and just as the breath was passing my lips, I saw him zooming in the lane next to me and jump right in behind my vehicle again.

I couldn't believe it. This guy was really pissed at me. But what was he going to do. Not only that, but why was he so angry at me. He was in the wrong for trying to push me out of the way to begin with.

I decided to just get out of his way. Let him have that fucking lane. What do I care. So when it was safe to do so, I changed lanes. He was right behind me. I changed lanes again. So did he. I drove faster. He drove faster. Vehicles moved out of my way as if on cue and I increased my speed up to 150 km per hour and he was right on me like a cop in hot pursuit.

Bear in mind, that I'm driving a Toyota Corolla 5 speed, he's driving a BMW or some other expensive type car and was capable of out running me without problem. But I might be smarter. That was what I thought anyway.

I was in the slow lane of the express lanes and my exit into the collector lanes was coming up. In this lane you can exit or drive straight. I held a straight line until the last possible second and without signalling I took the exit. So did he.

I sped up to 130 on the ramp, which is 80 km, attempting to pass a truck and another car before my lane ran out. If I just push it a little more, I should be able to zip in front of them, but he will have to fall in behind. I'll lose him for sure.

I made it. Just in the nic of time, I was able to slide in front of the truck as my lane ended. I watched in my mirror and was shocked to see him continue to drive on the shoulder to get past the truck as well, and he was right back behind me.

Now I was really nervous. This guy had been chasing me for about 20 km. Not only that but all three lanes were a solid line of brake lights as the traffic ground to a halt. I shifted down to third, then second gear, wondering what would happen if I had to stop. Will he get out of his car and come up and shoot me? Hit me? Ram my car? Yell? What? What did he want from me? What does he want to prove? That he's a fucking moron? He's already proven that.

Thank god the traffic started to move faster, and I shifted into third, then fourth. The whole time I was watching. Watching him, watching for a gap where I could slip out of his way. I looked at my phone laying on the seat and decided I should try and scare him by pretending to call the police. I exagerated my movements so that he would be sure to see it and held it to my ear while I continued looking for an escape. There it was. A space just big enough for me, in between two trucks and I took it. He stayed in his lane and passed by without looking at me. I tried to calm my heart as I headed for my exit and safety.

Once at work in the parking lot, I took a minute to be thankful that I was sitting in my parking lot and not in an ambulance somewhere either because of a traffic accident or for some other reason.

Next time, I'll risk slamming on my brakes to let the bastard in. It just isn't worth it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I have started...

my Christmas Shopping! Woo hooo! The first gift was actually purchased in November, a feat not seen since my baby was little. It's just not the same for me now that she is 20 and I'm trying very hard not to be a scrooge, but I really do miss going to the toy store and fighting for the latest and greatest whatever-in-the-hell-it-happened-to-be-that-year.

Any suggestions on how to get excited when you don't have small children in the house at Christmas?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Upside Down or Right Side Up?

I reach for my new, cool, toothpaste, Crest Whitening Expressions Liquid Gel in Extreme Herbal Mint flavour and stop to admire the cute, compact packaging. It's small enough for a purse or pocket for those moments when you really, really want to brush but aren't at home.

Who thinks of this stuff? Not only is it small, but it's clear. I can see exactly how much toothpaste is left without getting a surprise when I am clearly not in the mood for such surprises, like when I first get up in the morning.

The piece de resistance however, is the fact that it's an upside down container. It's not a tube of toothpaste anymore. It's a small, clear, plastic bottle with green sparkly goo inside and it stands on it's head, so that the toothpaste runs happily out onto your toothbrush. No more squeezing and squeezing to force the stuff out. This toothpaste is anxious to get to work so it wants easy exit from it's holder.

Toothpaste isn't the only product that has turned from "lazy ass", to "keener". Check out your Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonaise, hell even the plum sauce is now standing upside down to make the transition from container to food quicker and easier.

It's catching on. Soon all of our liquid type, gooey products will be sporting new upside down containers. Say goodbye to the old, outdated, upright, keep-some-in-the-bottom-never-to-release bottles.

Surely we have just passed into a new era of packaging history.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

What is wrong with People?

Why is it ok to end an argument that you probably started, by shooting someone repeatedly as well as shooting an innocent young girl? What kind of person(s)does this? What kind of person does this on a bus in our city?

I'm afraid our fair city isn't so fair anymore.

Full Story Here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Future Shop?

"I don't understand why you can't demonstrate all the speakers when you are trying to sell a surround sound home theatre system."

"We just don't have space to set everything up, that's all."

"You have all the speakers here on the shelf with the receiver and DVD player. All you have to do is make sure all the speakers are connected. You don't need any more space. You don't understand, I don't want to take this one home only to find out that it's not working either. If it's defective too, I'll have to package it up and bring it all the way back."

"Only thing is, you can exchange. Sorry."

"That's no good. I would pass this tip along to your manager; if you are trying to sell home theatre systems, you should make sure that you are able to demonstrate the product to your customers. You may sell more that way."

Exasperated my daughter placed the box with the Home theatre system in the cart and started back to the customer service counter. This was after similar conversations with at least 4 other sales associates, all as helpful as the one above. We were not very happy when we gave up on trying to get a demonstration to make sure all speakers worked properly.

My daughter had bought the system for her bf's birthday and when it was hooked up on the weekend they found that the rear speakers hissed when it was in surround sound. After calling the store and assuring the person that she did indeed know how to match the coloured wire to the same coloured connection on the system, they instructed her to return it for an exchange. She was assured that the speakers should not be hissing in surround sound.

This was supposed to be a quick visit to the Future Shop. Mom drives daughter to store, daughter jumps out, exchanges item and both drive home happy. Daughter just wanted to make sure that the system wasn't a piece of shit before she brought another one home.

That was too hard for the sales associates who are supposed to be only too happy to serve.

One shown above, could not for the life of her understand how to get all speakers to play. Didn't know where the remote control was and did not offer to find one.

Associate number two was a trainee and didn't know anything about anything. Couldn't understand that we wanted to have a dvd for a demonstration. So he grabbed associate number three.

We decided that since we couldn't get a demonstration of our unit perhaps they could demonstrate the more expensive model. Associate number one had already told us they didn't have one set up. We found one within seconds and it was turned on. Associate number 3 happily offered to find a remote so that we could listen to our unit and left us in standing in front of the more expensive one for a very long time.

In the meantime Associate number 4 comes up and wonders if she can help. Daughter asks for a demonstration of more expensive model, which by the way is all set up and turned on and she says, "No, it doesn't work."

"Why do you have something on display if it doesn't work?"

"Well things break down over time you know. It's turned on all day long, seven days a week. Electronics do wear out."

"But why would it still be on display if it doesn't work?"

Associate four shrugs her shoulders and offers no answer.

Associate three reappears, "It will just be a few more minutes. I have a sore finger so I need to get someone else to open a box for me. I'm not opening any boxes today with my sore finger."

We leave more expensive, broken system and return to cheaper, unable to demonstrate system. Daughter is fuming and wants to throttle someone badly. She suggests that perhaps I may want to go wait in the car. I say no, because I can't believe this and am too curious of the outcome to miss anything.

Several minutes later.

Trainee arrives with remote for more expensive, broken unit and isn't sure it will work on our system in question. It does but unable to get all speakers functioning. Not sure why. No one knows, and no one seems to want to figure it out. No suggestions are offered, we are just stared at by associate and trainee until we give up.

At this point we decide to do the exchange anyway and head back to the customer service counter.

Customer service clerk gives daughter hard time for not having the packing slip that was taped on the outside of the box. This slip contained no prices, just the product number. We did have the receipt which contained product numbers and prices. The original item was purchased online. At no time did anyone ever mention the need for the packing slip when daughter spoke to them on the phone and they suggested that the item be returned.

Daughter and I had both had enough at this point and asked for the manager.

Customer service clerk demanded to know why we wanted a manager.

Daughter started to explain the whole long story again, for the umpteenth time when I interrupted and told customer service clerk, that we wanted the manager because we had a COMPLAINT.

Manager was very polite, patient and apologised that we were unable to get any customer service in spite of speaking to several of his audio sales associates. He quickly took us back to the department, grabbed associate number four, and instructed her to do whatever it required to demonstrate all speakers to us. He then asked what kind of dvd was in the system and I told him it was a 30 sec commercial. He shook his head and instructed sales associate to get a proper movie otherwise the surround sound would not come on as the dvd that was in the player was not in surround sound.

Amazingly, all speakers did work when the proper dvd was in the player. Seems like they are able to demonstrate systems when a manager tells them to.

Back to customer service desk for the third time, only to find long, winding lineup around the front of the store. I marched up to where we had left our product on the counter and glared at customer service clerk until finally someone else came out of back office and looked after us.

All I can say is, if this is any indication or a glimpse of what the "Shops of the Future" will be like, then stop this train and let me off. I'd rather not go. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Online Dating

I know this topic is becoming boring but I'm going to venture into a wee bit of a rant anyway, so bear with me.

Two weeks ago, I was surprised to receive contacts from two strangers from an internet dating site that still had my profile from about two years ago. I thought that I had removed it when I became disillusioned by the whole process. Enough time has passed since then, that I was curious to see if perhaps this experience would be different from the last.

The first contact is always exciting. Getting a indicator or "ice breaker" to say someone is interested and then the subsequent emails back and forth as we start to share snippets of our personal lives to see if there is interest to proceed.

My personal theory is that you can get to know someone as much as you want online, but that does not guarantee that there will be any chemistry when you finally meet face to face. For this reason, I prefer to make the "face to face" meeting as soon as possible. Long before the hugs and kisses are sent via email.

I don't think the majority of men would agree with me. It seems that they are anxious to know if you are sexually savvy or not before they invest in a cup of coffee. I've made up my mind on this matter though, after a previous experience where too much was divulged prior to that first meeting and the person that I fell in love with was a figment of my imagination, not the person that I was stumbling to try and converse with over dinner.

There is nothing like the real thing and to get the real thing, that means you have to get up from behind your monitor and venture out into the real world and tackle it. That could mean that you will have endless "first dates", and endure endless cups of coffee while you look for Mr. or Mrs. Right, but if you are serious, then it shouldn't matter how long it takes or how many dates you go on, because the alternative is; you sitting behind your monitor on a Friday or Saturday night alone.

So with this theory as my mandate, I respond to the emails showing genuine interest in learning about the other person by asking questions and sharing little bits of myself with every question I ask. I don't just ask a barrage of questions and then share nothing. I think it's fair that for the type of question I ask that I be willing to divulge the same to the other party.

It always starts out very promising. Interest in meeting face to face is always expressed early on and then the unthinkable happens. While I'm waiting to actually be asked for a date or for my phone number, the emails stop. Stop completely. No indication that the interest has diminished or that I said something wrong, just no further contact.

If you believe all the "relationship/dating" books out there, then you know that you have to let the man pursue you, otherwise, you will scare the skittish creatures to run quickly into the forest to escape a possible committment. With this in mind, I resist sending an email to find out if the other person is still alive or if perhaps even worse, I've inadvertently said something that turned/scared them off. It could be that I didn't say something to hold their interest; refusing to respond with similar romantic nonsense promising to be the one that they will cling to for all eternity after they've been smitten with my incredible personality and sexual prowess.

No, that would be too easy, to give all kinds of graphic emails explaining explicitly how I would perform wonderful feats never experienced before. I'm sure the request for a date would be forthcoming quickly, but then the expectation would be there to fulfill those promises. The reality is that once you are standing face to face, no matter how much chemistry you think you have online, there might not be one little shred of it when you actually see one another. So then what? Talk about an awkward moment. That is the kind of moment I would like to avoid.

So I prefer to take the riskier (no date), conserative approach. I tell you about me, you tell me about you, and if we are both intrigued then perhaps it will move to the next level; the in person meeting, where both parties can see if there is any chemistry. If you don't click then no harm has been done, but if you do, then by all means, proceed at your own pace.

I think I am being resonable and mature about the whole process. So what is the problem? Is it that the available males out there are too immature to realize the bullshit that is being shovelled their way? Or is it that all they are trolling for is another roll in the hay anyway?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Walking, Talking, Dead

I felt fine when I agreed to take my mother to see her parents. We hadn't been there in almost a month, so it was time for a visit. I must admit, that the past three weeks I've been fighting a sore throat that keeps coming back and a cold/flu thingy in between. Friday night I went to bed kind of early and woke up unable to swallow at 2:00am. My neck was sore from swollen glands, but after taking a couple of cold tablets it seemed to disappear.

We had discussed the visit earlier in the week so after the Friday night episode I debated all day Saturday if I really should risk going to see them or not. I wouldn't want them to get ill.

In the end, we decided that it should be ok. My throat seems to be on the mend, so we left aroud noon.

It takes about an hour and a half to get there. I have to take the less travelled toll highway, the 407, because my mom is nervous on the busier 401, so the distance is a little further.

The sun was shining today and the sky was filled with big fluffy clouds. A perfect day for a drive.

Grandma and Grandpa were very happy to see us and I took a seat in my favourite recliner. It actually was my mom's but she let my grandpa have it when she moved back with me.

It is one of the most comfortable chairs I've ever met. It seems to really like me. I actually think that I'm it's favourite. Whenever I sit in it, it feels like it wraps itself around me, urging me to relax.

My grandfather was talking to me. Something about when he worked at the box factory, heavy work, very heav..y....

I could hear dishes clattering faintly in the distance. The noise started to get closer and closer, then suddenly my eyes flashed opened and I could see that an hour had disappeared. I looked around the living room and noticed that it was empty. I could hear my grandfather and grandmother talking in the kitchen.

"Where's mom?"

"She's next door visiting Kay."

"Oh, ok."

The recliner hugged me closer to it and the chatter of my grandparent's started to drift away until it was a soft drone in the background.

I don't know where I was, but it was a warm, comfortable place and the next thing I remember was hearing my mother's voice mixed in with my grandparent's. I have no idea what they were talking about and it seemed to take me a long time to come back to consciousness.

Another hour was lost by the time I forced my eyes open. Mom and grandpa were talking about having a piece of lemon merangue pie and my grandmother was sitting there listening to them.

I felt terrible. We don't visit often and the last time I was there, the same thing happened. That chair seduced me to sleep.

We left shortly after that and the drive home was uneventful. My guilty thoughts kept nagging at me for sleeping through our visit and I hope that they will understand. I'm sure they don't, but what can I do? It's the chair's fault.


Minnie, lounging around. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta be the cute one!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I'm weird

Or so my daughter thinks. Well, let me see if I can remember her exact words over breakfast.

"You are different."

"I am? You think I'm weird?"

"You're not the same as you were when I was little."

"No, but that's because I was too busy looking after you and your father, that I couldn't be me. I don't think I'm weird."

"Well, let's face it you are different. You don't like shopping, and all that meditation stuff was really creepy."

"Creepy!?! Meditation is good for you. Besides I haven't spent time meditating in a long, long time."

"I used to pray that you wouldn't turn into one of those people that won't eat meat and only wears natural fibres. You won't will you?"

"No, I promise. I'll always be a synthetic wearing, meat loving kind of woman."


Whew, glad I was able to allay her fears that her mommy wasn't turning into some kind of kook. Besides, what she doesn't know won't hurt her. ;o)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


What is bad luck? I’m not sure I really know the true definition of luck, good or bad.

After listening to coworkers bemoan their bad luck one day, I pondered the concept with respect to my own life experiences and I had a hard time blaming any of them on luck. It seems apparent to me now, that I always make choices some good, some bad, but they always affect the eventual outcome.

I tried to blame my only car accident on bad luck, but it could also be plain stupidity. From my recollection of the incident, it started when I decided to tailgate a very large cadillac, filled to the limit with Italian gentlemen. These gentlemen were so busy looking for a well-known strip joint on The Queensway, that the driver found it difficult to concentrate on driving. As a result, the brake lights and turn signals kept turning on and off so quickly, I thought that I was possibly following a new type of emergency vehicle.

After several confusing minutes, I decided to change lanes and pass them. Remembering the words from my driving instructor, I quickly checked my blind spot to make sure the lane beside me was clear and proceeded to change lanes. I had no way of knowing that while I was changing lanes the driver in front of me would suddenly decide to park his car in the middle of a busy street. Well, the outcome was my front end kissing his ass end quite aggressively. I can still see all their heads bobbing forward and backward as our cars connected.

I couldn’t believe that this had happened. What bad luck, I thought. How can I explain this little incident to my husband? The man who could laugh at his own mistakes, but turned into raging bull whenever I made one. Oh well, the only consolation was that he was in Collingwood and I was in Toronto. It comforted me to know that I would be at the other end of the phone line during his tirade instead of facing him in person.

My first instinct was to check my baby daughter and make sure she was OK. Once I was satisfied by her laughter, that there was nothing wrong with her, I cautiously stepped out of my vehicle and moved slowly to the large caddy stopped ahead of me. I was nervous about facing the driver and wondered if he would prepare me for the onslaught I would get later from my husband.

To my surprise, he was very charming and pleasant. He was quick to exchange insurance information, along with drivers' licenses and telephone numbers. He insisted that we not bother the Police for this minor accident, as there was no damage to his vehicle at all. I was only too happy to comply with his wishes. I wasn’t too anxious to be charged with following too close or an improper lane change or whatever other charge they could think up. I really couldn't afford the fine or the hefty increase to my insurance premium.

I checked his bumper out carefully and was quite elated when I couldn’t find a single mark. On the other hand, I almost had a heart attack, when I turned around and saw the front passenger corner of my rental vehicle, broken and smashed with little pieces of plastic all over the road. The new materials they use to make a vehicle are truly marvelous. The proof was right before my eyes. In the front we have a huge replica of how they used to make cars, without a scratch on it and in the rear, we have a brand new model that will self-destruct with a mere pat on the hood.

While staring at my vehicle, with a stunned look on my face I became aware of a voice, that seemed to be very far away, pleading with me not to call the Police. Other voices could be heard complaining of whiplash, sore backs and any other injury that came to their minds.

My mind snapped back to consciousness quickly and I started to make my get away when the Police, who were driving in the opposite direction were hailed down by one of the other cars' passengers.

Figures, I thought, I knew it was too good to be true. Now, I’m really going to get it. Christ, I hate the City. Ironic that approximately one half hour before I was marveling at the beauty of it.

The Police officers were very friendly also, and were not too anxious to do any extra paperwork before their shift ended, which was OK to me. They suggested that we exchange our own information and look after it ourselves because they only get involved with accidents over $500.00. They were quite sure it was only probably $200.00 damage to my car.

Meanwhile, the other drivers’ passengers were still complaining about their stiff necks, which surprised me, after seeing how agile they were when they were looking for the strip joint.

The Police suggested we move our vehicles into the strip joint parking lot and let the traffic clear. We both complied and I followed the other vehicle into the parking lot. I was a little confused when the other vehicle continued driving around the parking lot and didn’t seem to want to stop. I parked and jumped out as the other driver continued back out the parking lot and down The Queensway, leaving all of his passengers sitting on the curb. I was tongue tied at first, and my mind was racing. What’s in that trunk? What is he trying to hide? Maybe it’s a body or drugs or stolen money! I grew excited because now I knew this would take the spot light off of my bad driving skills and turn it on to someone else, who obviously, had something more criminal to hide.

I rushed up to the Police Officer and asked him if they were going to chase him and would they like the particulars on the vehicle so they could run a check on it. They were really starting to tick me off with their nonchalant attitude. "Oh, he probably had somewhere he had to be. I’m sure it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it, anyway, like I said before, we don’t get involved in small traffic accidents and if we did, you would probably get charged anyway, as it was clearly your fault." They told me to get in my car and continue on my journey. They were not going to report the incident and they hadn't seen anything.

I decided it was better to leave and I quickly continued on my way to my sister’s house.

I realized by remembering this incident that I not only experienced some bad luck that day but, I also was blessed with good luck. But ultimately, was it luck at all? I made choices that day that had a bad or a good result and luckily other people made choices that affected the outcome for me, but I don’t really think that luck had anything to do with it.

In case you’re wondering, the other lucky thing that happened that day was the damage to my car ended up being $1,500.00, but lucky for me, my cheap husband found a shop to do it for $700.00.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Blogger and Vacuums

I don't know why Blogger tries to keep me out sometimes, but it drives me crazy. It took 4 attempts with a mini break visiting other blogs for the past half hour before it would finally let me create a post. Are they trying to tell me something?

Oh well, I finally got in so that's all that matters.

It's been a very quiet weekend. I turned down five opportunities to do fun things this weekend in order to nurse my cold. What an idiot. I still have the cold the same as I would had I gone out and tried to enjoy myself, so what did I gain by staying in and behaving myself? Nothing.

I did get the opportunity to finally watch Monsters Inc. I LOVED that movie. I'm not really worried that I became deeply engrossed in a childs cartoon movie to the point of yelling "oh ohhhh" when the monster grabbed the little girl, but my mom is.

I'm sure I caught a glimpse of Psychiatrist's listings on the monitor when she thought I wasn't looking.

Speaking of dear old mother, she has managed to curse my new vacuum cleaner. For years when I lived alone, I was able to vacuum happily as often as I liked without it ever falling apart. Whenever I've lived with my mother, vacuums frequently break down requiring new belts. I don't know what she does to them. I'm bordering on being pissed and amused.

Just after she moved back in with me, I went out and bought a brand new vacuum cleaner. She managed to turn the old one into a piece of shit when she lived with me before and I couldn't stand it anymore, so I sprung for a new Hoover Upright, Bagless model.

It was working like a charm. So bloody powerful, I swear it could eat my whole livingroom carpet if I let it. I told her to be careful with it. Instructed her on how to empty the canister and how to watch that it didn't overflow. I left the instructions on the coffee table so that she could read them at her leisure and only put them away after several weeks.

I told her how we never had any problems with our vacuum cleaner for the entire year that she didn't live with us. She just glared at me and made a comment about the vacuum certainly would never break if you never use it. I ignored that comment. I did use it, but I'm careful with my toys, I mean my appliances.

Anyway, my attention had been drawn to the paleness of our normally lush green carpet the other day and I realized, the fading was actually a layer of white cat hair and possibly dust. I mentally noted to myself that the vacuuming was long overdue and decided I would take care of it after breakfast.

My mother can read minds and so before I actually finished my breakfast, she broached the subject by asking me where the instructions to the vacuum were. I told her I didn't know. We then got into an argument about me supposedly telling her they were in the bottom drawer in the kitchen with other manuals, in the other apartment, but when she went to pack that drawer it was empty. First of all, if it was empty, that meant that I had already packed the drawer. Secondly, we moved in here on October 1st. We've been vacuuming happily since then, so why are we arguing about where I put the manual when we were living in the other apartment?

It's her diversionary tactic. She was trying to put me on the defensive about losing the manual, so that I could be blamed for her sucking up my sock and breaking the bloody belt. Apparently, it was my sock that broke the belt, so in other words it was my fault.

She had not told me about this when it happened because she knew that I would be friggin angry at my new vacuum breaking down because of her misuse or her cloud of negativity or whatever else it is that follows her around breaking vacuums needlessly whenever she is in their vicinity.

She was right. I was angry. I was angry for about 2 minutes and then decided I have more important things to do then to waste energy whining about a fucking vacuum cleaner belt.

I went to the store and bought a new one. If you want a hot tip, here's one. Buy some stock in Hoover vacuum cleaner belts. You won't go wrong. Sure to be on the rise now that I own a Hoover.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Friday Night Blues

I love and hate Fridays. I love them because it's the start of the weekend and I hate them because I'm usually too tired from the week to really do anything fun and exciting.

At the beginning of the week I was invited to do something with my friend in Barrie. I told her that I would let her know but something was niggling in the back of my mind that perhaps I had already committed to another invite. I wasn't sure, but I would find out.

I had tentatively agreed to an outing with my friend that lives in Cambridge. I would hear from her at some point during the week to firm up. I decided that since I had already said yes to Cambridge that I should say no to Barrie. Barrie friend and I decided that we could have a get together on Sat instead.

Cambridge called me around noon and it appeared to be an all systems go. I threw my nightie in a bag and yelled out that I wouldn't be home when I left for work. She was going to stay in town and I would give her a ride to Cambridge when I got off work. At least that's what I thought was happening.

A call came while I was working from another friend I haven't seen in awhile and an offer was made for us to get together later. I said it was a possibility if something happened to my plans for Cambridge and would let him know.

I was feeling pretty happy. Pretty popular. So many things to do and so very little time to do them.

Within one hour though it all changed. First came the call from Cambridge. She didn't realize that I was working today and would not be done until 10:30pm. She called at 8:30 and was already at home, feeling lazy and snuggled up in a blanket on the sofa. I decided that perhaps I should just go home rather than drive the hour to her place just so that I could be there when she decided to retire for the night. She invited me to come out on Sat instead. I politely declined since I already have plans for Sat night.

I was a little disappointed but in another way happy because I could still manage to see my other friend. Before I had a chance to call him back and tell him the good news, he called and cancelled with me. Apparently something else had come up and since he thought I was busy anyway, didn't think it would be a problem.

So there you have it. From 3 offers of a night out to sitting at home typing on the computer. Where did I go wrong? How can your popularity go down the drain without warning?

I think that my Mother cast a spell to disperse of my social activity for this evening because she thinks that I should be resting to get rid of my cold. That has to be it. She's probably right but I never like her to know that.

Just in case you wondered, I decided not to blog yesterday. I was too busy remembering to think of anything that I felt would be suitable for yesterday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Home On Their Own

One of the benefits of being home during part of the daytime is the ability to watch quality television programming. One such show that is broadcast on our House and Garden Channel is a British Kid's Show called Home On Their Own.

The most startling thing about this television program is how much the children despise their parents. The second is how stupid the parents are.

I know for a fact that if I had left my daughter in charge of a makeover for "our" home, she would never have told the television producers to toss my brand new bed, knowing that it was something that I was particularly fond of.

But this is the type of crap that happens on this television program. Parents are whisked away to a nice hotel for a few days while the children dictate to the television program, what will be done to demolish everything that is sacred for their parents.

The parents then return to see what their darlings have done. The saddest display of disrespect bordering on hatred that I have ever witnessed. The worst being on national television so that not only do the parents have to endure this display, but they know that Joe Public will now know how little their children think of them.

I've watched a few of these programs because it's so unbelievable and it's like driving by a really bad car crash, you know you shouldn't look, but you can't help it. In this respect, the television program has done what it set out to do. It's obtaining viewers through the shock factor.

It just leaves me shaking my head wondering why we are raising a generation of little pukes that will ultimately be deciding our fate when they take their places as our future leaders of the world.

I believe the clue is in the reaction of the parents when the makeover is unveiled. They are so complacent and generally good hearted by the disgusting makeovers, laughing and promising to try to live with it rather than taking a baseball bat and smashing the smirks off of the devil's spawn that they call their children. (Of course I would never commit such an act of violence, but it's always good to dream.)

It's just plain scary. Scary that this is how children actually feel about the people that are providing food, shelter, clothing and every other fucking thing they want. I blame the parents for this. They are too lazy to teach their children manners, respect and basic social skills.

I'll just pray that I do not live as long as my Grandfather. I do not want to be around for another 50 years.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Molly got her splint off this morning and doesn't have to return to see the Doctor for two weeks. When I take her back, they will xray her leg to make sure that it is healing ok.

She seems to be quite happy that she is free of that damn splint. Last night she spent most of the evening trying to bite it off her leg.

I hope she is going to be ok. One thing I am sure of is that she has better health care than I do.

We can't get a Doctor, but are forced to rely on medical walk-in clinics but my pets have the best Doctor around.

That makes me sleep well at night, knowing that they are at least looked after.

Monday, November 08, 2004


I’m feeling really greedy. Not just about one thing, but about several different things and I’m not sure how to stop it.

I was looking through the sales flyers that come in the Saturday newspaper and while they are supposed to give you ideas for Christmas presents to buy for others, I sat imagining how happy I would be if only I could afford that $1400.00 digital camera. I imagine myself walking through the city streets with my camera slung over my shoulder, taking snaps when my eye catches something unique or interesting.

In reality, I can’t justify spending that kind of money on a camera when I’m not a professional photographer. I know nothing about photography and would most likely take a few pictures in the beginning and then my camera would be given a chosen spot in a closet somewhere and be forgotten except for special events.

I put the flyer aside and pick up the next one. I really do need an MP3 player. It would be so convenient to have a little music box tucked in my pocket. My music wherever I go. It would be perfect on the bus and subway. Oh right, I don’t use public transit to go to work, I drive my car. I could use it at work. That wouldn’t work too good, you’re always on the phone or talking to people. What would they think if you had to yell for them to speak up because you had your music blasting into your ears?

I guess I don’t really need an MP3 player, but I really want one.

I put the flyers down and decided to read the paper instead. My greed was irritating me. Taunting me to find ways to buy things that I don’t really need, but I truly want. I never even considered any gift ideas.

The first section I picked up was the Shopping section and on the front page was an article devoted to mukluks. I LOVE mukluks. A fond memory of an old pair of boots from my early teens suddenly filled my head. The warmth of those furry legs. I didn’t care that it was fake fur because I imagined that it was real as I tromped through the snow on my way to school. They made me cool even though in reality, they made me warm.

I should get a pair this winter. My feet would enjoy the warmth and protection, but this time, I want a real fur pair. I know, it’s not politically correct, but I want an authentic pair of mukluks and the natives did not make mukluks out of fake fur. I imagine myself putting on my mukluks and going down to the underground garage to my car. Driving to work, and walking the 15 feet in the blustery, winter weather to the office door. After work, they can protect my feet once more in my trek of 15 feet back to my car.

I think back to last winter and the winter before, trying to remember what I wore. My sneakers. I didn’t even buy boots when I moved to the city, because in reality, I’m rarely outside. I guess I don’t need a pair of mukluks, but I sure would like a pair.

I decided to stop reading the newspaper and get out to enjoy the beautiful afternoon yesterday. My mother and I went for a lovely walk through the ravine and the cold autumn air seemed to clear my senses.

When I got home, I started to get ready for a dinner date. The second in as many nights. I was taken out for dinner on Saturday night and had an invite for a home cooked meal on Sunday night.

Is it greedy to go to both? Probably. No, I didn’t need to go out on two dates, but I sure wanted to. So I did.

I started to review the people in my life and the roles that they play. It would seem that right now, I have the luxury of having several friends without the complications of relationship.

There’s the guy in my building that I can play a game of pool with or enjoy a meal out. Then there’s Casual Guy, the one that I met over two years ago. I know that it’s going nowhere but I continue to see him occasionally because I really enjoy his company. My parking neighbour that made a point of telling me that he is now single and available. He’s organising a social club in our building and wanted to know if I would be interested. I have a movie partner that loves to see the newest films. Now there is the fellow that I bumped into from High School. He was Sat night guy and we had a great time reminiscing about old times. Sunday night was someone I met at the end of the summer and three days ago, I had a email from a fellow off an Internet dating site that still has my profile (which I thought I had removed over a year ago). He seems very interesting and we may meet up after we go through the initial "get to know you phase".

As I drove home thinking of all this I decided that yes I am greedy. There are people out there that would love to have one person in their life and will sit at home waiting for them to arrive, and then there is me. I would also love to have someone special in my life but if I did, what would I do with all my other friends? Would they have to disappear? Could I have them all? I probably don’t need more than one man in my life, but I want to.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Smoking War

The weather has turned cold and nasty and my mother is wanting me to ease up on my no smoking policy. Her argument is that she can close her bedroom door, open her window and use her air purifier. My argument is that the fumes can still be smelt, it makes me sick and I do not enjoy coming home and being greeted by the disgusting smell of "eau de ashtray".

It's so appropriate that while browsing through some files on my computer that I happened across this piece I wrote on February 20, 2000 on this very issue. After reading it through, I think I have the answer to my dilemma.

Pre-Meditated Murder
Feb 20, 2000

One week without Mother at home has me convinced that anyone that smokes in a house with other non smoking people and animals is a murderer. It's 4:30 am the first night of her return and her early morning trip to the washroom along with her first stogie of the day has left me choking and wide awake at the other end of the house in the basement.

I do not need to listen to the breakthrough medical news on the radio or television, even though there is an abundance of the information around, about the startling statistics of how second hand smoke can be more deadly than if you smoked the cigarette yourself, my fine tuned body tells me that, in not so subtle ways.

I grew up in a house with two smoking parents. The norm for most anyone that was born in the 60's. My sister and I would spend hours playing house and my biggest thrill was when we actually had some candy cigarettes around so that I could be just like Mom. Oddly enough, my sister never used the candy cigarettes the way they were intended, she ate her's. Such a waste when you could probably get ten minutes of pure smoking enjoyment out of them before they became one long white sticky mess stuck from your lips all over your face and fingers.

That was one indication that my sister would never smoke. That and the fact that she always suffered from car sickness on any trip in the car whether it was around the corner to the store or on a longer trip to Toronto to visit relatives. I used to look at her with such an annoying, pathetic, aggravated look as we pulled over and Debbie would fall out of the car in a cloud of smoke, from my parents, who were puffing away in the front seat, to vomit on the side of the highway. That would mean that we would be another ½ hour or more to get there.

Debbie used to want to open the window but my parents would yell at her to wait until they had finished their cigarette. The only open windows in the car were the two small nose drafts that were located at the front corner of the front windows. You could crank them out about 25% and although they did not provide any fresh air what they did do was suck the smoke outside. Well that was what they were supposed to do, but I have noticed that even if you are in a car with the windows all the way down, and someone is smoking that you still are breathing in some of the crap.

That was my first and earliest sign that smoking kills. Only problem is that I was too young to even appreciate the significance of my poor sister having to be sick to her stomach on each and every trip in the car with my parents. I had a stronger constitution. I did not get ill in the car. The smell of gasoline, markers and any other noxious poison was a treat to my young nostrils.

We grew older and Debbie moved out of the house. She remained a non smoker but I started to smoke at the age of 12. So proud to be able to show all my friends how to inhale. Of course I had been studying the art intently from an early age and just by observation I was able to master the art after only a few tries. Those first drags were a killer in itself.

The lightheadedness was an extreme danger while sitting up in the apple tree; almost fell to the ground. I could have killed myself. Once you get over the puking stage it'll be ok, I would tell my friends as they kneeled over in the school yard heaving from the cigarette that they had just inhaled from start to finish. It only took me about three or four cigarettes to become accustomed to the chemicals and not get sick to my stomach. A small price to pay for the pure enjoyment that comes wrapped in the lovely white paper.

By the time I was in high school all of my closest friends had joined the ranks of the smokers. We had our own special clique. We huddled together in the freezing winter climes to enjoy a couple of drags between classes while the non smokers casually hung around indoors chatting to one another in the comfort of the school. We were cool and we knew it. Cocky enough to stand out on the corner of the main street and smoke without worry that our parents would find out. I was the cockiest of them all, because I didn't have to worry about my mom finding out. She already knew.

At age 14, I was smoking freely in the house. I had an ashtray by my bed for convenience, but mom taught me a very important life saving tip; never smoke in bed lying down. If you want a cigarette, make sure you sit up first. Many a cigarette was enjoyed laying down, blowing smoke rings up towards the ceiling while I talked for hours on end to my friends on the telephone.

While I was downstairs smoking my brains out, my sister was up in the attic trying to keep warm in the un-insulated rooms on the top floor of our Victorian flat. When we moved in she was emphatic that she wanted the top floor to herself. It was old and run down, but the heat and cold were not a deterrent to her. She wanted her privacy. That's what she told us anyway, but now that I think back maybe she just wanted to breathe.

It wasn't unusual either, when she moved out of the house at an early age. We had heard from the time we were babes how my mom was out on her own at the age of sixteen so I figured Debbie was just doing the natural thing when she walked out at the same age. She was always the cranky one out of both of us, constantly arguing and bickering with my mother where I could just let water slide off my back as I casually lounged on the love seat watching tv, smoking and drinking pop. My sedate nature could possibly have been contributed by the cigarettes that I was now completely addicted to.

Then I fell in love. It was the real thing and I knew right away that this was the man I was going to marry. The only problem was that he was a non smoker. He never complained during the courting stage but when he knew I was hooked he gave me the ultimatum. Him or the cigarettes. My choice was Bill. It horrified my mother that I would choose a human over the joy of narcotics.

My sister fell in love a couple of years later and married a smoker. She suffered her annual asthma attacks quietly, swearing that cigarette smoke didn't bother her at all. She still had not figured out that her car sickness was not really car sickness. I enjoyed living in a smoke free environment. Unable to tolerate a visit at her house with my brother in law unless I, myself, snuck a few drags just to get over the nausea that would undoubtedly overcome me the moment I was in contact with cigarette smoke.

Smoking was still allowed in public places and employers usually supplied ashtrays to employees that smoked. I would look upon my non-smoking coworkers with disdain as they coughed, choked and complained now and then about the cigarette smoke in the office. Secretly I felt sorry for them. Outsiders that they were. Not part of the in-crowd.

As long as I was smoking the killers myself, I was never bothered by cigarette smoke, but the moment I would quit smoking, I could not tolerate the smell of them. I would feel ill and cough uncontrollably. I was a closet smoker for years because of this dilemma. As long as smoking was allowed in the workplace and I worked with people that smoked one after the other, there was no way that I could quit. It made me too sick.

I quit and started smoking several times over the years and the longest time that I was off of cigarettes was five years. This most recent time, I have enjoyed living as a non smoker for the past 1 ½ years.

My Mother came to live with my daughter and I, four years ago, after my marriage ended. It was gradual at first but within a year she was with us on a full time basis. She smoked in the house despite the complaints from myself and my daughter about headaches nausea etc. and soon I was lighting up with her just so that I would not feel sick. My poor baby had to endure living in a house with two smokers for three years.

The air quality in the house improved slightly when I quit smoking in November 1998. My mother had joined me in the attempt. We swore to support each other and stop this nonsense. I was successful my mother wasn't. But for six weeks, our house was smoke free. Then it continued to be somewhat smoke free as she snuck cigarettes outside or in the garage. I didn't want to let on that I knew, because it was wonderful to be able to walk around the house without smelling dirty old smoke hanging in the upholstery and air. With the colder weather she moved indoors and blatantly smoked in front of us. The battle has been neverending since.

This past week has been a wonderful holiday for us while she visited with my Sister in Etobicoke. My daughter and I could sleep all night without coughing, even with the furnace turned up, which is what my mother tries to tell me is causing my choking. But this morning I knew, when she lit that cigarette and I was drawn out of a sound, deep, sleep by a choking spasm, that she is trying to kill me. The coughing woke me from my dream but I knew that something was choking the breath out of me. What was it? Then I remembered that she was back. I quietly walked up the stairs to get a glass of water. Looking down the hall I could see the light was on in her en suite bathroom so I continued down the hall to confirm my suspicion. The closer I got to her room, the stronger I could smell the noxious fumes. I did not need to walk right in and see her enjoying that stick of death. I informed her that thanks to her cigarette I was now fully awake and of course not wanting to listen to it, because she knows it's true, she responded "ALRIGHT."

So what do you do?

It will be murder when the smoke related illness finally takes hold of me, but will she feel responsible? Probably not, because the drugs have poisoned her brain to think that we are all complaining for no reason at all.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Tangled Webs We Weave...

You know that my life must be extremely uneventful or my mind is mush when I pull out the old stuff, but here you go, another thing I had written about before that will likely be new to most.

January 30th, 2003

I was forced to take the bus back and forth to work this week because I had failed to pay for a speeding ticket. The Ministry of Transportation suspended my license and I was extremely embarrassed and humiliated. While travelling on the buses,I encountered a very talkative bus driver.

Day number two (Tuesday Jan 28, 2003): I flagged down a different bus because I thought it might be the one that would drop me off in front of my apartment. I didn’t think that I could catch the bus that goes by my place…and the day before had taken one that left me walking miles to my destination (uphill both ways in a blizzard with holes in my boots). When the driver stopped, I asked before I got on the bus, if he was going West. He smiled and looked at me quizzically because of course he was going that way...what other way could he be going, given the direction the bus was facing. To explain my stupidity I muttered something about being a newbie to the Mississauga buses and quickly sat down in the first seat so that I would not further embarrass myself by falling when he took off. He was smiling at me and I noticed how good looking he was...what a treat, a good looking, friendly, talkative bus driver. Hmmm, taking the bus isn’t so bad after all.

"Do you normally drive to work?"

"Yes." In my mind I was thinking the conversation would end here, but he was curious.

"Why aren’t you driving now?"

"Uhmmm, my car is getting fixed. I should have it by the end of the week."

"Wow, it must be something major, what’s wrong with it?"

"Well, uh let’s just say I didn’t take care of it."

My mind is racing trying to think of what his next question would be so that I could be prepared. The whole time I was hoping that I would answer him enough so that the interrogation would stop. He laughed at my last response and kept prodding.

"What do you mean you didn’t take care of it?"

I giggled and responded, " know, doesn’t the oil fill itself up automatically?"

Wrong answer. With an incredulous look on his face he blurts out loudly, "You burned the engine out?!?"

"Uhmm, well...not really sure that it’s that serious, they are doing the preliminary checking right now, it might not be too bad."

"What was happening to your car?"

"It was making a loud clicking noise."

"What do you drive?"

"A Toyota Corolla."

"What year?"


"You burned a motor out of a new car?!?"

"Well, like I said they don’t know what the damage is yet, it might not be that bad."

"Is it a standard?"


"You might as well phone them up and tell them to throw a new clutch in too, cause women do not know how to drive a standard."

"Pardon?!? I beg to disagree, but I KNOW how to drive a standard."

"No you don’t."

"Yes I do."

"No you don’t."

Now we are both laughing.

"I bet when you are driving and in between shifting gears you probably have your foot resting on the clutch pedal."


"You aren’t supposed to do that you know. And most people do that and don’t know that it’s very bad on the clutch."

Turns out that prior to driving the bus, he drove transport trucks for years and is quite mechanically inclined when it comes to automobiles.

Ok, so here is my synopsis of what just happened. I get on a bus with a really cute, friendly driver. Within a matter of minutes, I portray myself as a dumb, ignorant, ditsy broad because I was too embarrassed to admit to a stranger that my license had been suspended. First of all, he probably would have sympathized with me if I had explained it was a speeding ticket…instead there is a man that I don’t even know, probably sharing my story with his buddies and laughing at ‘women’ drivers. I do apologize to all the women out there…I did a huge disservice to our gender!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

New Crane

New crane being put up at the condo site.

Close up of the guys doing the work.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Now Playing - Who Will The Next Fool Be - Bobby Bland

I woke to raised voices, the most predominant was my mother’s. She was yelling something along the lines of "I knew this was going to happen. I told her to make sure a light was on in the morning, I just knew that you would end up stepping on her." This was followed by some "awww’s", and soft cooing noises.

That was all my brain needed to catapult me out of bed. I rushed from my room, down to living room in time to catch my mom yelling at my daughter’s bf one more time. He turned and sheepishly told me that he had accidentally stepped on Molly, the injured cat, on his way out the door to work.

Since she has broken her foot she has taken to laying in the middle of the hall or in the middle of the room on the floor. It seems that whenever she gets a little tired of hopping with her peg leg, she will flop wherever she happens to be. This is a dangerous habit considering that she is mostly black and in the darkened hallway of early morning, it is easy to miss her.

My mother is over the top with the animals. I’m sure that she places them on a higher place in her mind than most humans. That’s ok, if you are a person living alone surrounded by your pets, but not when you cohabit with humans. You need to be able to treat both with respect and dignity. I know without a doubt that if provoked my mother would/could become a homicidal maniac in defence of her animals.

Don’t get me wrong here, I do not want to see my poor Molly stepped on either, but at least I recognise an honest accident for what it is, and persecuting the poor guy isn’t going to make him feel very good either.

That was the start of my morning. I never mentioned anything earlier, but I’ve been sick all weekend with some sort of flu bug. At least that’s what I think it was. It started Friday night with a sore throat and basically I’ve been laying around recuperating ever since. I was even unable to go into work yesterday, which is something that rarely happens to me.

I always know that I am sick when I have no appetite. The only thing that I felt like eating all weekend was the occasional dish of vanilla ice cream or applesauce. Easy stuff on the sensitive stomach.

It seems that all systems are a go today and I will be heading out to work, thankfully. I have been once again reminded of how much I love going to work. I swear if I had to stay home every day that I would go stark raving mad.

Monday, November 01, 2004

One For The Boys...

This is a new condo being built across the street from my apartment. It looks like just a hole now, but soon will be four towers, a rec centre, townhomes and retail stores. I plan on taking pictures in the future to track the progress. This one was taken from my kitchen window.

Another couple of shots of the final colours of fall.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Sometimes memories remind me of a burning cinder in my brain. Slowly smouldering, getting stronger everyday until you can’t stand it anymore and just have to write about it. This is one of those smouldering little cinders. I’m not so sure why I have been thinking about this for so long, but it keeps popping up at the strangest times without provocation; when I’m driving, in the shower, falling asleep, waking up, working, shopping, so I’m giving it it’s due, here and now so that my brain can move on to other more important things.

We’re going back in time to the mid 60’s. Probably around 1967 to 1969. For three or four summers from the age of 6 to 8 maybe even when I was nine and ten, my sister and I would spend a week or two with my Dad’s parents. Grandma and Grandpa Hudson. When I think of summer, I am immediately taken to their house (or garage, will explain more later). These are the memories of summer to me.

My grandparent’s lived in Toronto in the heart of the city on a narrow city street with lots of small brick bungalows that all looked the same. The garages were at the rear of the yard and a shared driveway ran between the two houses and led directly to them. If you stood in their backyard and looked in either direction all you could see was line after line of fresh, clean clothes billowing in the wind.

To get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, my grandparent’s used to go to their property in the country. This small piece of land, approx 3 acres was located in Pickering, which is just east of Toronto. It was north of Finch Ave on the east side of Liverpool Road North. There were very few houses on Liverpool Road North of Hwy 2 and fewer still north of Finch.

A dirt road sprayed with tar in the summer led to the driveway of the property. There was no house, just a cement block garage that my grandfather had built after the original house had burned down some years before. Inside the garage, there were four single beds along the one side, a table and chairs close to the side entrance door and a pot belly stove for cooking and some heat. It was rustic and sparse but it was an exciting place to be.

There was no electricity and life was simple. My grandparents had big water barrels situated at all corners of the garage to catch the rainwater and my sister and I were bathed in a tall field of grass in a large steel basin. The water was soft and warm. There was no need to heat it during those hot July days. I remember being a little shy about bathing outside naked but then my inhibitions would disappear at the sheer joy of feeling that soft warm water on my hot skin.

During the day my sister and I would play in the tall grasses, or watch grandpa building something in his woodshed. The smell of the wood, tools, and oil is still fresh in my mind. I had no idea what he was doing, but was always happy to just sit on the edge of a large can of something in the corner and watch his hands working with the wood. Creating either a wagon, or swing, or something wonderful for my sister and I to play with.

When the sun went down we would sit on chairs to enjoy the cool summer evening looking up at the blanket of stars. There were no street lights. Just pitch black with bright white lights in the sky for miles and miles. Crickets chirped loudly in the fields and other nocturnal animals would make their presence known.

Just before turning in for the night, we would head inside where my grandpa would play guitar or his harmonica and my sister and I would dance to his music, our shadows dancing along with us in the lamplight.

Once we were sufficiently tired from all the dancing, my grandma would tuck us into bed and give us a kiss goodnight. We would fall asleep listening to my grandparents sitting at the table playing cards or cribbage.

I remember trying to fall asleep to the quiet sounds of the countryside rather than the loud noises of the city. It was difficult at first, but before long the crickets would lull me to sleep and in the morning a distant rooster would wake us at dawn.

Life was easy. My sister and I amused ourselves with make believe games outside. We didn’t have a television to watch and there were no shopping malls to go and spend money. Our big treat was to make the long trek (or so it seemed to us) to Stella’s Country Store on the corner of Liverpool and Finch. It was an old stucco house that had a small store in the front. I can still smell the old wood floors and sweet candies that sat on the counter.

Stella always knew who we were and would ask after my grandparents even though we were only there in the summertime for a couple of weeks. We would shyly answer her questions and rush outside with our vanilla ice cream cones licking furiously before they would melt all over us.

To this day, the smell of a tar covered road in the summer takes me back to that time, 6 or 7 years old, walking with my sister, licking my ice cream cone without a care in the world, thinking of how lucky I was.

Now Playing - Hoochie Coochie Man, Allman Brothers Band

Friday, October 29, 2004

Repost Alberta Hunter Cooking at the Cookery and Shelly, Stumbling Down The Stairs

This was posted on another blog last December, but I'm posting it again because my good friend Debbie brought this up on the weekend and we had a good laugh. Hope you enjoy.

December 15, 2003

The title says it all. Well maybe not all, but certainly does highlight the events of my Saturday night.

It was another weekend with my good friends Debbie and Dennis. They finally made it to the big city to my apartment. I’ve been here for over two years now and we managed to nail down a weekend where they could stay at my place and we could partake in a culturally stimulating event as well.

What a better venue then the Bluma Appel Theatre to see the fabulous show Alberta Hunter, Cooking at the Cookery. I had noticed an ad for this show in the Toronto Life magazine back in September or October. Seems a long time ago now. I had mentioned it to Debbie because Alberta Hunter was a singer that I stumbled across when looking for some old blues tunes. I researched a little bit of her history on the internet and downloaded a song "Handy Man" that I was convinced, Debbie should add to her repertoire. Debbie is a jazz vocalist who loves to sing slow, moody tunes. We are always saying that she needs to add something a little different and when I heard this particular number I felt it was her.

Debbie said she would talk to Dennis about it and get back to me. I kind of forgot all about it when Debbie brought it up again in a phone call. She had heard the show was extended and we decided that I would see if I could get tickets. We were very lucky. They had some fabulous seats left for Sat December 13th and I grabbed them. They were right on the aisle where Dennis likes to sit! I suggested that they stay at my place and we could drive into the city from here.

It would be our visit for the Christmas season and a little something special for Debbie’s birthday which was on the 8th of December.

We ended up having quite an enjoyable visit before we left for the show, sampling some stinky cheeses, enjoying a glass of wine and listening to some music. Then we headed out. In spite of traffic bogged down on the QE/Gardiner I managed to bypass it with some quick detours to the Lakeshore and we arrived with 20 minutes to spare.

I had never been to this theatre so I had no expectations. It turned out to be a great spot! I had requested they mail the tickets to me rather than picking them up at the box office, which meant we were not stuck standing in a long lineup waiting to get in. We waltzed right past, the freezing people in line, checked our coats, pre-ordered some wine for intermission (to be picked up at the coat check rather than having to wait in another line at the bar) and had time to drink some of the lovely, cold, ice water from the jugs left out for the thirsty crowd. You could also grab a drink from the bar if something with a higher octane value was your preference.

I couldn’t believe our luck when we went to get our seats and the usher pointed them out. They were located very, very close to the stage. It was actually the perfect distance away. We didn’t have to sit with our heads bent up and yet it was like you could almost reach out and touch the cast.

The cast ended up being two people. A young, Alberta Hunter played by Montego Glover and the older Alberta Hunter depicted by Jackie Richardson, who also played her mother in a few of the scenes. The stage is very simply done with a metal stairway arch that stands over the band. On either side of the arch about 4 steps up is a landing that allows the actors to perform some of Alberta Hunter’s numbers.

I was so impressed by this play that I would love to see it again. The two actors tell Alberta’s life story by flashing back to when she was ten and then recounting different events of her life. The music was interspersed throughout to make the whole evening totally enjoyable.

At intermission we scrambled upstairs to get our wine, and laughed about a practical joke I had played on Debbie and Dennis when they first arrived. Not going to go into details of the joke, because you had to be there to think it was funny, and it was…because we were still laughing about it at intermission.

The bell rang to advise people to return to their seats and we finished our glasses of wine, allowing the bulk of people to go ahead. Still giggling we arrive at the top of the stairs and instead of walking down the right hand side (which is usual for me), I moved over to the left so that I could continue the conversation that I was having with Debbie and Dennis who were just ahead.

Somewhere around the midway point, my clog (yes a clog) slipped off and I tried to grab it by flexing my foot. This quick movement led to some other spontaneous, intricate footwork and I found myself starting to leap headfirst down the stairs. I don’t know how I managed to stop myself from hurtling into the air, but I did a quick roll, landed on my back and started to slide headfirst down the carpeted stairway towards the bottom.

Dennis grabbed my arm and stopped me before the momentum took Debbie out of the picture. When I stopped moving I quickly rolled over to get up before too many people saw what happened. I’m still trying not to turn red just thinking about it. There was a lady behind us who rescued my shoe and was showing great concern while Debbie, Dennis and I howled ourselves silly. Debbie and Dennis were concerned for about two or three seconds, but as soon as they assessed that I was still breathing, nothing broken, the three of us went into hysterics.

Dennis, pretending he was an announcer of a new Olympic sport, Stair Stumbling, kept recanting the scene over and over again throughout the evening, describing my descent in the most unflattering details. We were amazed about how clean a fall it was, no dust on my clothes, hair perfectly in place, nothing lost from my pockets and not even a nail broken. We were still laughing when we got home.

The next morning I could hear Debbie and Dennis giggling in the bedroom about the great show they had seen the night before, Alberta Hunter, Cooking at the Cookery and Shelly, Stumbling Down the Stairs. I always knew, deep down in my heart, that ONE day I would be famous!!