Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for The Dreaded Z

Long before the invention and acquisition of iPods, laptops and pounding your brother, we played car games on long trips.
You likely know these games. 
Punchbuggy is a favourite amongst my sons – at least until the bruising and bleeding begins. 
I Spy was OK until car manufacturers painted the interior of automobiles uniformly grey and that kinda took some of the spark out of it.
Another of our favourites is the Alphabet Road Sign Game
Here's how it works: Someone, usually the loudest and most obnoxious enthusiastic child, starts with the letter A. He has to find a road sign with the letter A in it and read the word out loud. So there's a sign up ahead for Anne St. He says, "Anne St.," usually at an ear-piercing volume and usually directly in my ear.
The next child looks for a letter B, I look for a C, Dave looks for a D, and then it comes back to the starter for E and winds its way through the alphabet until the final letter is found.
Simple, huh?
It is for some letters. A, for example, is dead easy. So is R and S and T. X is one of the easiest letters because speed limit signs all say maximum.
B isn't as common as you might think and the letters J and Q are as scarce as hen's teeth. Your only hope for Q is an antique shop and you wanna hope there's one of those JESUS SAVES signs along the way if you want a J.
They're so hard to find, in fact, that we call them "The Dreaded J" or "The Dreaded Q."
There is one other letter that is "dreaded" and that is "The Dreaded Z."
If you're going through town, it's no sweat – just find yourself a pizza shop and you're good to go.
If not, you can drive a long, long way to find a Z. There have been times when someone in the car has woot-wooted in excitement just because we entered a Construction Zone.
Today, though, I am not dreading the letter Z. 
This post brings to an end an entire month of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.
I did it, I did it! I posted every day in the month of April, except Sunday, with a different letter of the alphabet featured in each post.
Was it hard? Nah... not really. Then again, I didn't have a format to worry about. I just blathered about anything and then fit the letter with the blathering.
Was it fun? Yes! It was! The best thing about the challenge was visiting so many of the other participants, finding new blogs to love and follow, and discovering more followers for my blog. There's no way I could visit every participant – at last count there were 1,282 bloggers. 
Isn't that crazy? I know!
If you'd like to check out the Linky list, press the green A-Z badge on the right side of my blog. There's some good reading to be found and some really cool people.
Hey, I really do recommend the Alphabet Road Sign Game. It encourages young readers, it makes the car ride seem shorter and it requires no batteries.
Happy trails.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Yellow Jellied Salad

Don't you be turning up your nose at jellied salad until you try it.
I know lots of people who would eat dog turds on a bun before they'd eat my Yellow Jellied Salad but they're just silly. This is the best jellied salad in town, any town, and it's the perfect accompaniment to a turkey dinner. Its sweet, tart and crunchy yumminess makes even the driest bird easy to swallow.
This enhanced cole slaw recipe comes from my mom, who probably got it from her mom, but she forgets. Regardless, I have adopted it as my own and now am the official purveyor of Yellow Jellied Salad at all family functions.
As promised, here's the recipe:

Yellow Jellied Salad
Finely chop and mix in a medium-sized glass bowl:
2 cups cabbage
1 stalk celery
5 green onions
5 radishes
Add 1 tbsp. white vinegar and toss.
Pour one cup of boiling water into a small bowl.
Add one package Jello lemon jello powder. Yes, it has to be lemon. No, it can't be diet. 
Stir until jello powder is dissolved.
Add 3/4 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing and stir with a wire whisk until smooth.
Pour jelly mixture over vegetables, give a quick stir and stick bowl in the fridge.

This salad sets up quickly and is best enjoyed the same day it is made. After a day the red from the radishes gets runny and the salad turns pink. You really don't want that.
No Miracle Whip in your neck of the woods? I guess you could substitute mayonnaise. If you have to.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for X-Rated

So there's this little kids' TV station in Canada (let's call it Treefort) and it plays shows for preschoolers (let's call them the Pull-Ups crowd).
One morning this week when mothers across this great nation were just slurping back their first cup of coffee, sleep crusts hanging off their eyelids from last night's parent-child debacle (let's call it barfing, scary dream, poopy pants, fight with drunk husband, lost pacifier, or empty valium bottle), small child with fresh diaper and filled sippy cup firmly ensconced in front of the TV watching Dora the Explorer (or Caillou, or something involving a bunny, a bear, a turtle or a bearded man in short pants), the unthinkable happened.
Treefort TV showed a clip from an x-rated horror movie. 
Let's call it The Ring (because that is what it is called).
Moms dropped their coffee and made like NFL quarterbacks on their way to grab the clickerbox and save their spawn from having their eyes burnt out by images of blood, guts and nekkid people.
The Twitter world came alive with outraged tweets.
Parents called the station to lodge their complaints.
Treefort was apologizing and apoplectic on Facebook.
Kids were sitting around in the sandbox talking to their play group buddies, saying, "FINALLY, something good on TV."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for WOO HOO

The WOO HOO refers to how I feel about Sam-I-Am: my boy is a disc jockey!
We have a superb community radio station in the area, Canoe FM, and recently one of the volunteer DJs visited Sam's class and asked for the kids' favourite songs. Then he recorded them talking about the songs and why they like them so much.
Not suprisingly, a lot of the other kids picked artists like Taylor Swift as their faves, but not Sam. I just about fell over when I heard his choice.
And, WOO HOO, does he ever sound like a natural!
(Note: the entire radio show is on this link but Sam is first up. Please, do not feel obligated to listen to the whole thing - I haven't even done that - yet. But if you want an hour of nice music from some nice kids, well, have at er.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Valerie

A Portrait of a Woman (Ivan Kramskoi, 1883)

Valerie lied and cheated and talked behind my back.
She conned me out of a great deal of money. She talked me into leaving a good job.
Her backbone was ramrod straight, her lips were pursed in a perennial "oh" and the giant dill shoved up her high-falutin' ass was lubricated with extra ass-juice and garlic.
I can't think of the letter V without thinking about her.
She appeared so normal but she was odd in so many ways.
This was the oddest: Valerie wore pantyhose under her shorts. Even in the hottest days of summer. Even in the backyard tooling around with the petunias.
Who does that?

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Under the Turkey

Dave took this photo of a wild turkey family in our backyard last year. 
Sorry about the focus. And no, we didn't eat any of these turkeys yesterday.

When it comes to turkey, I'm a breast man, but my mom and my husband both say the best part of a turkey is underneath.
Along the backbone are two strips of dark meat that are the tastiest and most succulent part of the bird. Dave calls it the tenderloin, because it's so tender, but online I found out those parts are called the scallops.
Did you cook a turkey yesterday? I did. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, maple squash, turnip, peas, carrots and yellow jellied salad, pumpkin pie, key lime pie and cherry pie. Lordy. We have enough leftovers in the fridge that we need a bigger fridge.
We had a terrific day, though. The weather was the best I've seen yet this spring. Actual t-shirt weather and I got a little bit of a sunburn on my chest... no, not that part of my chest... just the part under my neck.
I mean, I may be a breast man, but nudity is not the best part of this old bird.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Tammy

Berthe Morisot

A world of worry on her slim shoulders, her grandmother's hand-sewn apron tied around her slender waist, her weary smile resting on her hand, Tammy is all that and a bag of chips.
Today she has cleaned the house, stuffed a turkey, baked a pie and boiled the kettle for tea. She has made sparkling dinner conversation and she has done the dishes.
She is a manager of an important social service agency; she is the manager of her daughter's hockey team; she manages to get her kids to piano lessons, guitar lessons, ball hockey games and school. On time, with scrubbed faces, tidy hair and nice clothes.
She loves her husband, is best friends with her parents and, if you are fortunate enough to be her pal, you are one of the luckiest people on earth.
I never thought I was a lucky person.
Not until Tammy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Sandwiches Are Beautiful

Never heard this song, have you?
Ever heard of Fred Penner? Famous children's performer?
Well, let me tell you this: once you hear "Sandwiches are Beautiful" a few times it will stick in your head forever. You will get old and forgetful and not recognize your own offspring but you will die with "Sandwiches are Beautiful" rolling around in your wasting noodle.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

Sandwiches are beautiful,
Sandwiches are fine.
I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time;
I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch;
If I had a hundred sandwiches, I'd eat them all at once.

I'm a roaming and a rambling
A nd a wandering all along,
And if you care to listen,
I will sing a happy song.
I will not ask a favor
And I will not ask a fee,
But if you have a sandwich

Won't you give a bite to me?

Sandwiches are beautiful,
Sandwiches are fine.
I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time;
I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch;
If I had a hundred sandwiches, I'd eat them all at once.

Once I went to England,
I visited the Queen,
I swear she was the grandest lady
That I've ever seen.
I told her she was beautiful
And could not ask for more,
She handed me a sandwich
And she threw me out the door.

Sandwiches are beautiful,
Sandwiches are fine.
I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time;
I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch;
If I had a hundred sandwiches, I'd eat them all at once.

A sandwich may be egg or cheese
Or even peanut butter
But they all taste so good to me,
It doesn't even matter
Jam or ham or cucumber,
Any kind will do.
I like sandwiches,
How about you?

Sandwiches are beautiful,
Sandwiches are fine.
I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time;
I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch;
If I had a hundred sandwiches, I'd eat them all at once.

Sandwiches are beautiful,
Sandwiches are fine.
I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time;
I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch;
If I had a hundred sandwiches, I'd eat them all at once.

R is for Ralph Fournier - #fridayflash

The French Baker by Vicki Housel

Ralph (pronounced Rafe) Fournier worked at the rue Trafalgar Patisserie, home of the giant sugared doughnut, for 21 years.
Lacquered with enamel the shade of clotted cream, the doughnut was made of hand-forged metal and weighed more than a Renault. It hung on heavy chains, the kind of tethers used to berth ocean freighters, welded to an iron bar the breadth of a man's chest.  
Tourists came to pose under the giant doughnut. They wore Kodachrome grins with cherries jubilee filling on their chins, smudges of cocoa fudge on their noses and strawberry pink crème anglaise on their lapels.
The enormous doughnut was half of the reason for the bakery's success. 
The other half was the ethereal pastries that flew out the front door as fast as they were made by bakers like Ralph, who came in the back door at 3:30 a.m. every day except Sunday and the time he had his appendix taken out. 
He came to work when the prostitutes on rue Ste. Anne were just calling it a night, when every respectable businessman was at home beside his snoring wife. He walked along quiet avenues, his footsteps hollow under the streetlights, his breath white in the damp winter months, the key to the back door of the bakery in his big soft hands. When he  arrived, Ralph hung his overcoat on a peg by the door, put his salami and havarti sandwich in the refrigerator beside bowls of lemon curd and buckets of butter, then tied a white apron around his white pants. He made a pot of strong coffee for the other bakers who would be arriving at 4, he lit the gas ovens and he began to work. Paté brioche, florentines, madeleines, eclairs. Croissants, meringues and mousse and petit fours. Tiny sugared doughnuts that melted on the tongue. He mixed flour, he rolled dough, he burned his fingers, his ankles swelled, he sweated and toiled. When his work was done, he took off his apron and he put on his coat and he took dessert home to his family, who waited dinner for him when he worked late.
This was the life of Ralph Fournier, who smelled like yeast and cookie crumbs. 
He bought lottery tickets because he dreamed of a day when he wasn't on his sore feet all day; when he could afford to take his family on a vacation, maybe to Greece to see a veined marble temple or to drink sparkling pink wine by a cerulean Italian sea.
On the day he won the lottery, Ralph was a happy man. He danced around the bakery in his apron and bought all the pastries in the shop and gave them to the customers. Then he hugged all the other bakers, who hugged him back because they were full of joy for this man.
"Ralph," they said as he was leaving, "you must go out the front door today. Have your picture taken with the doughnut on this, your last day as a working man."
They embraced him and patted him on the back and rushed him out to pose under the doughnut, where he smiled his Kodachrome smile with flour on his eyebrows and butter under his fingernails.
If this was a different kind of a story, the doughnut would have fallen from its chains the very moment Ralph posed for his photograph, crushing the baker with irony and a twist ending. Lucky for Ralph, this is not that kind of story.
The happy baker walked through the busy streets in broad daylight, squinting a bit in the sunshine, thinking about his wife's reaction when he told her the good news, and what he would need to pack for his trip to Greece. 
Behind him were floured footprints and sainted Madagascar vanilla, redolent in the changing air.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Questions


How big’s the universe?
Is it huge like the park?
Is it endless and dark?
Will it fit in my purse?
So why is the sky blue?
Has it always been sad?
Do you think it was bad?
Has it just got the flu?
What’s the meaning of life?
Is there really a God?
Does He care for my bod?
Can She find me a wife?
Is there life after death?
Is it just a long sleep?
Are there worms six feet deep?
Would I have stinky breath?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Prizes

P is also for pooped.
Man, I'm pooped.
It always happens when old farts like myself go out on a weeknight. We don't get to bed until midnight and the next day we're drooling on our desks.
P is also for pee, puddle and pants. I went to the can to decaffeinate (no, I did not say defecate - please refer to the L is for Lavatory post), shut my eyes for a second and woke up with a puddle of drool on my shirt and my pants on the floor. Suddenly I had flashbacks of myself as Ned Beatty in Deliverance.
P is also for party animal because, as you can tell, that's what I am.
Yup I was out drinking coffee at Deb from My Great White North's house and she plum wore me out. (Oh, another p word - plum - and here I thought I wouldn't be able to come up with one.)
WAIT - did you get the significance of what I just said? I went to Deb's house! Deb, a fellow blogger, one of my favourite bloggers who just happens to live down the road from me  – well, 40 minutes down the road and around a lake from me, but who's counting?
Compared to the journey it would take to visit my blogger friends in Florida or Newfoundland, New England or old England, Minnesota or Maxisoda, Italy or Little Italy, what's a 40 minute drive?
I love meeting other bloggers. Last fall, of course, Dave and I met Laurita Miller and Alan W. Davidson in Newfoundland and it was the BEST experience, best, best bestest because, even though they're complete strangers and they live a bazillion miles away, they're still JUST THE SAME AS ME. Really, they are.
Meeting blogging buddies is like hooking up with perfect guys on the dating sites where they match your personalities. Of course, that's not the kind of dating site where Dave found me. That was one of those ribald "kiss me you fool" kind of sites and me being such a flaming goddess of love, that seemed the best place to meet a stud-muffin like Dave.
I'm digressing again, aren't I?
Sigh. And here I thought I was too tired to write anything tonight.
OK, so last night I went to Deb's house!
Deb, you see, won second prize in my doors contest and she suggested I bring the prize booty over to her place so we could pose in front of her pretty paddled (more p-words) boathouse door. I was so excited about this. I had met Deb, briefly, at my work one day but really didn't have much time to do more than hug her and admire her famous golden lab, Lucy, and say hello to her husband whose name, coincidentally is also Dave. Actually it's just Dave. Not also Dave. Not even just Dave. Dave. That's it.
So Dave and I went over to Deb and Dave's and we spent, like, three hours chatting. Three hours, and it wasn't enough. There was so much to say – it's like we were running out of oxygen and had to spill everything out before we turned blue.
They are fabulous, Deb and Dave. Fabulous people. And they live in the most fabulous house.
Deb should be an interior decorator, she really should. Her rustic, cottage- themed home on one of the most gorgeous lakes in Muskoka, looks like a spread from Cottage Life. That's the first thing that came out of my gawping mouth when we walked in: "Your house looks like something from a magazine!" Oh yeah, I was cool as a cucumber... sigh.
They bought it when it was a sad, ramshackle cottage, unloved and musty, and they turned it into a living museum of what it means to be a cottager in Ontario. Everywhere you look is a moose or a paddle or an antique boat motor; an antler chandelier, a birchbark canoe planter, a pike wall hanging or an ancient Thermos. In the bathroom decrepit skis have been transformed into a towel holder. As I describe it, you might think it is crowded or messy, but it's not. Clean as a whistle, neat as a pin, warm and welcoming, glowing and fun.
Sorry for going on but if I won the lottery tonight I'd hire Deb tomorrow to make my house look like hers. I told her, "You should really go into business offering decorating advice." And she was like, nah, she'd have to be attached to a store. But I think there would be a call for someone with her taste to offer advice for people like me who want the look, but don't want to remortgage the house for real designers.
And she laughed and said something like, "Well can you imagine the look on their faces when I show up wearing my jeans and my plaid coat?"
If you'll notice, both Deb and I have plaid coats. It's what we call the Muskoka Dinner Jacket. I wear it whenever I want to put my best foot forward: splitting wood, going for walks along the river, or meeting kindred blogging spirits 40 minutes down the road.

Come payday, I'll be putting on my plaid jacket and heading out to the post office (another p-word) to mail all the door contest winners their prizes.
I hope you see them and will feel ... Pleased.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

O is for "Only in Canada, You Say? Pity."

How is everything down south?
Enjoying your cherry blossoms and your golf courses?
Your gardens and your beaches?
This is how I spent my Sunday - outside with the family splitting wood, in a freakin' SNOWSTORM.
Yup, we Canadians are always trying to convince the rest of the world we don't live in igloos but then a snowstorm blows through town on the 17th of April and, well, all we can do is slit our wrists.
The funny thing is, winter's not done with us yet. It's been known to snow on Canada's first long weekend of summer, lovingly known around here as "May Two-Four" because it happens annually around the 24th of May, and because it's the Canadian way of saying "case of beer."
"Only in Canada, you say? Pity."
That expression, by the way, is as Canadian as a case of beer thanks to Red Rose Tea's marketing department. For years Red Rose ran TV commercials in which stodgy British upper class types tasted the tea and loved it, only to discover Red Rose was only available in Canada.
"Pity," they would say.
Yeah, yeah, it doesn't mean anything to you if you're from the land of cherry blossoms and sunshine. Here in the great white north, a cuppa tea is just the ticket when April showers are more like April blizzards.
By the way, this particular snowstorm is Dave's fault because he took the snow tires off on Friday.
That's how things work in the land of Red Rose and wood splitters. Pity, eh?
Angus is thrilled to help pile wood.
Thrilled. You can see it in his face.

Sam doesn't normally have white hair.
Look how happy he is to be involved in our family activities.

This is how much wood I've split in the last week.
Tin sign from the 1950s.
And the TV commercial: If you don't remember this, you're definitely not from Canada.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for New Feet

So there's this scene, right at the beginning, where a whole bunch of folks doff their clothes and run stark-nekkid by an angry mob and scads of camera-rolling reporters.

And I was like, that's pretty cool. Show me some naked joggers and you've got my attention.

Ever since I discovered her extreme flash fiction talent, Florida author Shannon Esposito has held my attention, so it's no surprise that her latest novel, Strange New Feet, grabbed me from the get-go and never let up. Shannon's book was released last year and, I'm ashamed to say, I hadn't gotten around to reading it until just now. So this review is a little late in the coming but let me say this: it was so worth the wait.

If you're a fan of Patricia Cornwell's writing you'll love Strange New Feet. The main character, Safia Raine, reminds me a little of Kay Scarpetta, Cornwell's forensic pathologist. Both characters are smart, feisty, strong-minded professional women with open, bleeding hearts. Safia isn't a doctor but she does work at a hospital. She has a unique gift that allows her to find health problems in patients without invasive surgery. In one of these examinations she discovers the unthinkable – a teenager named Olivia isn't just any  girl – she's part chimpanzee. A chimera.

At this, Shannon dives into an explosive examination of what it means to be human. As well as being intellectually stimulating, the book never lacks for excitement. Olivia's life is threatened as the world freaks out about her DNA and Safia takes Olivia on the run to save her life.

Yes, yes, yes, it's got naked people and chase scenes and murder and mayhem, but it's the science that fascinates me the most. I asked Shannon how the heck she came up with the idea.
"The inspiration for this novel came from a meeting transcript I found online from the President's Council of Bioethics held in 2003 called something like "Chimeras and the Boundaries of Being Human." I am a huge science geek at heart so being able to read this transcipt and how these scientists were trying to figure out the future for a human-chimpanzee chimera was like Christmas. They weren't saying "if" they were saying "when" we go this far. They were asking things like, "Would they be exploited by being forced to do menial & dangerous labor? Would they have a right to a public school education if they had the capacity to learn? Would the public think of this new creation as an ehnanced chimp or a degraded human?" Basically for me, the immediate question that needs answered is what exactly does it mean to be human? And then how human would this chimera need to be to be afforded human rights? After about a year of fascinating and terrifying research, I was armed and ready to tackle the question for myself. So, I created Olivia, a 14 year old human-chimpanzee girl, and put her out in the world of my near-future novel. Then let the games begin.  Safia Raine, the other main character, is actually the daughter of the main character of my first book, Sahara's Song. I wanted to write a sequel with Safia and she just happened to work perfectly as Olivia's ally.
"This was a labor of love, so I'm donating all proceeds of this book to Nowzad rescue. They help bring home the dogs that our soldiers get attached to while they're overseas. I know that science isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think the discussions the characters have over what makes us human would be interesting to...well, any human!"
But what about the naked people, Shannon?
"Okay, let's talk about the "nekkid" scene! Isn't it great as a writer to be able to put your characters in these situations that you would never be brave enough to do in real life? This was one of those for me. I wanted to show Safia's character, that she would do whatever was neccessary to protect the people she loved. Plus, the best way to stop a fight is to get naked, right? Stop laughing, you know you're going to try it next time!"
One of the reasons I was finally compelled to read Shannon's book was I bought a Kindle. Maybe it's just because it's a novelty but I'm really enjoying the device. I like being able to hold it comfortably in my arthritic hands. I like the fact it holds tons of books and yet fits in my purse. And I like being able to increase the font size - the older I get, the bigger the fonts get!

Mostly, I'm excited about being able to read authors I never would have gotten a chance to read. Suddenly publishing isn't an exclusive club. Anyone can write a book and have it "put out there" for the world to enjoy. That's exciting both from a reader and a writer's standpoint.

While Strange New Feet is self-published, Shannon isn't giving up on traditional publishing.
"As far as the whole self-publishing thing goes, I think this is an exciting time to be a writer. We are in more control of our own destiny now than ever. I'm not giving up on traditional publishing, though. It still has a lot to offer for a new writer, such as getting into places like Walmart, Target, Costco, etc. I actually have a paranormal mystery I'm shopping for an agent now that I hope I can find a traditional publisher for. But, I also have another mystery series idea that I'm working on that I will e-publish myself. Both formats support each other's sales, so what do we have to lose? As far as e-book sales for me, they are trickling in. But I'm not doing any marketing. Right now I'm just writing, writing and writing!"
And that's what I should be doing. Writing! Sometimes, though, it's good to put the pen down and do some reading. Especially when you're reading some Shannon Esposito.

Shannon has two other novels as well as Strange New Feet. Click on the titles for buying information.

Strange New Feet

Sahara's Song

The Monarch

You can find out more about Shannon (and read some of her wonderful flash stories) at her blog, Murder in Paradise.


Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Mammogram

Sung happily to the tune of the Sugarplum Fairies: "I'm having a mammogram today!"
This is all part of the Cathy-turned-50-self-renovation-plan. A couple weeks ago I went to the dentist, then I had a colonoscopy (not at the dentist), today it's a mammogram and in a couple weeks it's the dreaded annual physical with bonus Pap smear. 
Yesterday I went to the eye doctor and while I knew my eyes weren't as good as I thought they should be I never dreamed I'd have the beginnings of cataracts in both eyes. Cataracts! I'm officially old. Buy me a white cane, a motorized scooter, some blue hair dye and a handicapped parking spot. Book me a spot at the home, Mabel, I'm coming in!
I asked my friend Vic, who has had one of these boob-squishing appointments, what I should expect. She had this advice: 
"When you go home tonight, open the fridge and stick your boobs inside. Then slam the fridge door on them a few times and you'll have the general idea."
Whenever I hear the word mammogram I think of the Saturday Night Live land shark skit. You know, with the shark saying "telegram" and then "candygram." I'm thinking if he had of said "mammogram," there's no way Gilda Radner and Laraine Newman would have answered the door.
I had my mammogram this morning and it was FINE! Honestly, it didn't hurt at all and I absolutely don't want to discourage anybody from getting this all-important test. The women at the Ontario Breast Screening Clinic at the Bracebridge Hospital couldn't have been nicer or more gentle. Or funny! I told them my fridge story and they had a big giggle.
There's nothing to be afraid of.
Get a mammogram.
It really could save your life.

Land Shark
Tags: Land Shark

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Lavatory

I couldn't stink up a public bathroom if my life depended on it.
I would rather sit at my desk all twisted up with cramps, dripping sweat, unable to say more than "Gah," than foul the bathroom at work. I would drive a hundred miles, prairie-dogging it the whole way, rather than stop at a McDonald's and give them my version of a Quarter Pounder.
My mother is like that, too. A talented musician, my mom was once honoured by being named organist for a prestigious provincial offshoot of The Eastern Star (a benevolent sister organization of the Masons). She spent a year travelling all over Ontario and, other than not being able to have a crap for an entire year, she had a nice time.
I dunno, it must be our proper upbringing or something that plugs our derrieres in public places. Or maybe we're like cats that would rather poop in a corner if the litter box is too crowded.
Other people aren't like me and my mom.
I know this because I've followed them into the bathroom, ostensibly to empty the four large coffees from my bulging bladder, only to be gob-smacked by a septic stench. 
So I go in and relieve my bladder (because that doesn't bother me at all, thank gawd), breathing through my mouth, when, bam, the door opens to the two-cubicle room and somebody else comes in.
"I didn't do that," I want to say.
But I don't, because I'm not 12. Still, I want to. I sit there, getting more red-faced by the moment, stressing about that person thinking I'm the one who stunk up the bathroom.
I pray they don't look down and see my shoes. I have identifiable shoes. They're boots, actually; I wear them all winter. All it would take would be one peek for them to know it was me in the next stall. So I lift my feet in the air so they can't see. Then I hold them that way for an eternity while the next person pees, gets dressed and washes. My legs tremble with the strain – where's the stirrups when you need them?
Finally they leave. I wash my hands at light-speed and rush out.
If I was at home I'd come out saying, "Who stunk up the washroom?" Or, "which one of you died in there?" Or, "Holy mother of God, don't go in there if you value your life." 
But I don't, because it's work and such phrases aren't proper office etiquette. Oh yah, it's OK to stink up the washroom but it's not OK to talk about it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Kids

Because they make my insides jiggle.
Because Angus grows a foot, I swear, a foot, every two weeks.
Because you should see Sam's blog – all the stories, all the ideas, are his.
Because this is the inside of my e-purse and these are the photos you will find crammed in my messy purse, nestled with torn tissue used to wipe tears, an empty gum pack that was shared on our last road trip and the keys to my heart.

(Click on the photos to see how handsome they are, close up.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Damned Door Contest Winners

I was trying to think of a J-word for Damned Door Contest Winners and Jackpot was the closest thing I came up with before I lost patience.

Jackpot because HARRY B. SANDERFORD WON ONE! Woot and Woo and Woo-diddy-doo! Yes folks, our beloved Friday Flash Florida Surfing Cowboy came up with six correct answers in my Damned Door Contest! Yep, he got six out of 20 correct ... and he beat out everybody else! (Suddenly another J-word springs to mind .... jack-shit ... I don't know why....)

Second prize goes to Debbie Adams of My Great White North. She got five answers pegged.

And third prize is a big fat tie between Umbrella Lady Kathy at Quilt Seams Just Right, Jon Strother of Mad Utopia, PJ Kaiser of Inspired by Real Life and Laura Eno at A Shift in Dimensions. All of these guys got four correct guesses.

Here's how the rest of the entries fared: Optomistic Lynda had three correct answers; so did GP Ching of So Write, Deanna Schrayer of The Other Side of Deanna, Linda of Leftbrainwrite and Mark Kerstetter of The Bricoleur. Tomara Armstrong of This, That & The Other Thing, Olivia Tejeda of Away With Words, Carrie Clevenger, Author and Creator of Crooked Fang, and Alan W. Davidson of Conversations From Land's Edge got two correct guesses. And Tony Noland, dear, sweet, Landless Tony, had one correct answer - yes, it was his door!

I'll be sending first, second and all those cotton-pickin' third prize winners some prizes. If you're Harry, Debbie, Kathy, Jon, PJ or Laura, please send me an e-mail with your mailing address. To the rest of you, I send my undying love and admiration, as well as some air kisses.

And now, here's the doors with their correct answers:

Pamila Payne


Laurita Miller

Lou Freshwater

Carrie Clevenger

Michael Solender

Alan Davidson

Umbrella Lady Kathy

Mark Kerstetter

Laura Eno

Jenn Jilks

Harry B. Sanderford

GP Ching

Tony Noland

Debbie Adams


Jon Strother

Olivia Tejeda

Mari Juniper

Debi Davis
It's kind of funny that more people didn't get more correct answers. I thought some of the entries were dead giveaways, like Alan W. Davidson hanging his red fez at the front of the door. Or Laura Eno with her skeleton. Or Pamila Payne - her photo is in moody black and white just like all the photos on her blog. Tony Noland is always writing about renovating his house and there's a bucket of drywall compound (or is it paint?) beside his front door. Debbie Adams' boathouse door perfectly describes her 'great white north' theme going on at her blog. And Mark Kerstetter is an artiste who often mentions his perennial state of house renovation, so it's no surprise his one-of-a-kind door is a work in progress.

Anyway, I had a tremendous time giggling at everyone's answers. Thank you so much for sending me your doors and for guessing. Even if nobody else had fun, I certainly did! Love you guys - I really, really do.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Insensitive

When I found out my first husband was cheating on me and my marriage/life fell apart there were many people who stepped up and helped me keep it together - my parents, first and foremost, as well as friends and family.

There was also music. America by Simon and Garfunkel, as I veered down a new path in life. You Oughta Know by Alannis Morrisette, screamed at the top of my lungs, repeatedly, until it felt like my throat was bleeding.

And Jann Arden.

Beautiful, funny, middle-aged, quirky Jann Arden, the Canadian singer-songwriter who invented angst and whose songs are an anthem for anyone suffering from acute lack of self-confidence.

It's a wonder I didn't wear out her 'Greatest Hurts' CD, that's how much I played it. I knew every song by heart, every word, every note. Through one of the hardest times in my life, Jann was there for me and I loved her fierce.

Insensitive is one of her best and it's good listening on a rainy Monday morning when you're alone with your thoughts and your bitter coffee is growing cold.

How do you cool your lips
After a summer’s kiss
How do you rid the sweat
After the body bliss
How do you turn your eyes
From the romantic glare
How do you block the sound
Of a voice you’d know anywhere

Oh, I really should have known
By the time you drove me home
By the vagueness in your eyes
Your casual good-byes
By the chill in your embrace
The expression on your face
That told me
Maybe you might have some advice to give
On how to be

How do you numb your skin
After the warmest touch
How do you slow your blood
After the body rush
How do you free your soul
After you’ve found a friend
How do you teach your heart
It’s a crime to fall in love again

Oh, you probably won’t remember me
It’s probably ancient history
I’m one of the chosen few
Who went ahead and fell for you
I’m out of hope, I’m out of touch
I fell too fast, I feel too much
I thought that you might have
Some advice to give on how to be
I really should have known
By the time you drove me home
By the vagueness in your eyes
Your casual good-byes
By the chill in your embrace
The expression on your face
That told me
Maybe You might have some advice to give
On how to be

P.S. Tomorrow I'm posting the winners from my Damned Door Contest - today's your last chance to get your guesses in! Believe me, even your wildest guesses could do you in good stead. Go ahead! Guess! You could win some fine Life on the Muskoka River bling! Details here.