Saturday, July 30, 2011

Camp Journal Day #1

I wish I had something good to report.
That's not true, I do. A fair bit of the day was fantastic. It's this end bit that has me pounding at the keyboard, mad as a hatter, my son sent to bed for the night and my husband going to our friends' to apologize that we won't be dropping by their place for a campfire.
For a while there, it was magic. We bicycled down to the beach and, oh, what a beach. To me, Inverhuron Provincial Park has the best beach in Ontario. As good or better than the surf I frolicked in at Puerto Plata, way too many years ago to count. I do know that I was embarrassed about showing off my fat self in a bathing suit but back then I was positively Twiggy compared to now and now I don't care what people say about how I look. My friend Tammy and I were coming out of the water and she held a flutterboard in front of her because, "I hate coming out of the water and have people staring at me so I do this." I wanted to make some crack about how no one was looking at her because they were all staring at me saying to their wives, "Look, hon, there's a whale coming up the beach." I think everyone should hang out with someone who is larger than them; that way it doesn't matter what you look like.
I'm digressing, aren't I? That happens when I rant. What I'm trying to say is we were having a great time. We were all in swimming; gawd, the water was like pea soup. Sam said it was like swimming in lemon lime Kool-Aid because of the amazing colour; and the sand, that rippled sand that felt so soft on the toes. It was late afternoon before we finally got to the park and got settled in; then we hopped on our bikes, towels slung around our necks, and headed down for that glorious swim. The setting sun was still hot; other people who had been at the beach all day were leaving – the fathers' backs loaded down with coolers and beach umbrellas, chairs and floatey toys, their faces stolid, sunburned and grim. We had the water almost to ourselves and we played for a few glorious hours.
Then we came back and I made supper: brown rice, sauteed baby carrots and a strange-sounding but absolutely fabulous concoction combining a can of diet cola, a cup of ketchup and chopped raw chicken breasts. While I made dinner I let Sam play games on my laptop because, as he told me yesterday, the only thing that excites him in life is video games and computers. Apparently a day at the beach isn't even close to the levels necessary for excitement.
I put dinner on his plate and I knew right off that my picky kid was turning his nose up. When Dave and I made him eat, he got cranky and tearful and said, "If you guys hate me so much, why do you even make me visit?" See, for those who don't know, Sam and his big brother live full-time with his father because I was fucked over big time. Husband cheated, I hit husband with Dr. Seuss book in flaming fight, I call cops to get husband kicked out, cops take me to jail instead because I hit husband, I spend night in jail, judge gives me an order to stay away from my own house, I go live with my parents, kids come to visit me, husband wants full custody and is willing to fight for them, I have no money to fight it plus lawyer says I will never win because Dr. Seuss incident gives me a criminal record, so I don't bother. Ex husband and I arrange an amicable separation agreement because there is no other bloody way. I sit by and watch ex husband spoil children senseless with material things to assauge his guilt. He never makes them eat their dinner and usually feeds them french fries and chicken fingers. He never gives them chores. He spends money he doesn't have to win their love. I try to teach them better, but they don't appreciate rules or weird food. My oldest is 14 now and is at a point where he almost never comes to visit us because he world is the computer and his bedroom and his friends. Sam still wants to come, for the most part, and we almost always have a great time. Only he hates being told to eat his dinner so suppertime often becomes a battleground.
Like tonight.
When he says we must hate him, we try to talk sense to him. Dave sits him down earnestly and pours his heart out about how much he loves him and asks for a hug. Sam barely puts his arms around him and doesn't say anything in return. Dave's heart breaks. Sam heads for his bunk. I call him over to me, determined to talk and cuddle and work things out. But things don't work out and I get angry. Instead of cuddling, I send him to bed.
Now we're all depressed. Day one of our vacation isn't turning out like we planned.
Some days I could just stick my head in a toilet and flush it.
My children are growing up without me and I can't stand it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Legend of Catfish Hunter


Hell's bells, can't a person even loaf around on the internet for five minutes without some kerfuffle?

Dave's face is positively fuchsia. His eyes are as round as tennis balls and he's got this shit-eating grin on his mug.

"I got the fish!" he says as we run to the dock.

"THEE fish?" I ask.

"Oh YEAH," says Dave, without any regard to his daily limit on all-caps.

THEE fish is the fish of local legend. It is the Catfish Hunter to Dave's Grumpy Old Man. He has been trying to land this elusive pike since we moved here, almost three years ago. So many times he has been so, so, so close: a spit hook; a line severed by the pike's sharp teeth; divine intervention, oh, who knows?

Dave isn't the only one who has tried and failed.

"I had something on my line and there was this huge swirl, something BIG right at the surface, and then it got off," says Vic.

"I had the !$#@$%#^#%& on, too," says Dick, the sultan of swear.

(Just a coincidence that our friends' names rhyme? I think not.)

Perhaps destiny was simply waiting for Saturday to arrive, when all the seaweed was aligned and Dave's Green Hornet was perfectly attuned to the cosmic tides of the river.

"Where is it?" I ask.

"In the canoe!" Dave says, like I'm stupid because where else would a fish be than in the canoe? Next time he asks where his keys are, or where the clicker is, I'm gonna say, "in the canoe."

Sure enough, there's ol' Catfish Hunter floundering in a few inches of water in the bottom of our boat.

"I had to put him somewhere. I yelled and yelled for you guys to come and you didn't hear me so I had to put him somewhere and run up to the house. Quick! Take a picture!"

Dave picks him up and hoists him proudly in the air. It's definitely not the biggest fish I've ever seen – pike can grow to be enormous. But he's bigger than most of the small bass we catch in the river and he was certainly a scrapper.

"Hurry up," Dave says. "I need to put him back. He's been out of the water too long."

I snap a couple of pictures and Dave places him in the water. We wait for Catfish Hunter to swish his mighty tail and disappear but he rolls belly-up instead. His gills are moving and his fins are waving slowly but this is not a good sign.

Sam and I say "oh no" in unison.

We all wanted Dave to snag the big fish but nobody wanted the big fellah to die.

Dave jumps in the canoe and paddles to Catfish Hunter, who is floating downstream belly up and whose fins are no longer moving. Things do not look good. Dave pulls up alongside him and grabs his tail and turns him upright. Then he swishes the fish back and forth in the water for a minute or so, to push water through his gills and oxygenate his bloodstream. Sam and I hold our breath.

"Is he...." I ask.

"I don't know," says Dave, and swishes the fish through the water some more.

It's like he is doing CPR on the fish; such is his determination. He is applying the same will to saving Catfish Hunter as he used to catching him.

He lets him go, waiting to see what happens. Waiting to see if he floats belly up again.

The fish swishes his mighty tail and disappears down into the black water.

"Woo HOO!" We all say.

Sam and I give Dave a standing ovation.

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of that which is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope
– Anonymous

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Muskoka Drive-In

Maybe 10 minutes away, that's all, but for some reason we'd never been to the Muskoka Drive-In until last Saturday.

To clarify, I had been there, once, to take photos for Summer Scene magazine, but I'd never been there for the experience. It's definitely photo-worthy, this place. Carved out of the bush, the drive-in is nestled between a couple of prisons (!), a family campground and a swamp. Trust me, you do not want to go there without screens for your car (and possibly a gun for escaped prisoners). Dave custom-fit some screens for the Jeep using an old dining tent and duct tape, and he put them up before we got to the drive-in. Smart thinking because there were plenty of folks doing the Muskoka wave trying to set up their screens on arrival.

I love this place, I do. It's so retro and the folks who work there are friendly. When we pull in to the admission gate, the gentleman gives us our tickets and a lollipop for Sam. The entrance looks just like I imagine a drive-in entrance should look, with a big marquee and a bunch of tacky signs advertising things like Shopsy's hot dogs. For me, hot dogs are an integral part of the drive-in experience.

I was talking to my mom the other day about going to the drive-in years ago.

"We went two or three times a week," Mom said. "There were three drive-ins close to where we lived, we could pack you kids in the backseat without worrying about a babysitter and it was cheap entertainment. At intermission we'd go and get those foot-long hot dogs."

"In the foil?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, smiling. "They were delicious."

Those hot dogs play a starring role at the Muskoka Drive-In, up on the big screen during the previews and intermission, asking patrons to make a visit to the refreshment stand for tasty treats and refreshing beverages. I don't know how old those intermission clips are but they're probably as old or older than me. Seeing them makes me feel young.

Like everything in Muskoka, the screen is built into the Canadian Shield (just like my favourite coffee place, where the order box comes out of a rock). When you're done hanging out here, you must go to the drive-in's website to see their Flintstone rendition of the screen. So cute!

The movies playing Saturday night were Transformers 3 and The Green Lantern. We'd already seen Lantern but were willing to see it again, especially since the second flick was free. Trouble is, only Dave could stay awake for flim #2. I fell asleep three-quarters of the way through Transformers (all those gears and fight scenes bore me senseless) and wanted to get out of the cramped Jeep to go home to bed but
Sam was adamant we should stay.

"You're sure you want to stay?" asked Dave.

"YES!" hollered Sam, who has two volumes: holler and whisper. "I WANT TO STAY!"

"You're not going to fall asleep, are you?"


"Okay," said Dave. I groaned and tried to find a comfortable spot to go back to sleep.

Ten minutes of tossing and turning later, Dave poked me and whispered, "Cath, are you asleep?"

"No," I said.

"Sam is."

I turned around and looked in the back seat. Sam was sawing logs.

"Home, James," I said.

Falling asleep in front of a flickering screen is an oft-repeated event in our house. Just the night before I took this picture of Dave, Sam and Misty, our dog, all sleeping in front of the TV. Just looking at it makes my eyelids heavy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Keep Fighting Jack

A FIGHTER: Jack Layton and his wife, Olivia Chow, at a press conference yesterday. Photo, Toronto Star

I was shocked and saddened by the news that Jack Layton has cancer, again, and is temporarily stepping down as leader of the federal New Democratic Party. This close on the heels of Layton leading his party to the biggest federal victory it had ever enjoyed.

What shocked me the most was how quickly Mr. Layton has deteriorated. On the news this morning he looked gaunt and pale - the make-up he was wearing to try and make him look healthy only made him worse. Honestly, he looked just like my father before he died.

I am unspeakably sad. I voted for Mr. Layton. I believed in him. He truly was the best candidate in the last election and he should have been named prime minister. He was the only leader who spoke for the common man, who spoke common sense, who exuded strength and honesty and a moral backbone. I hope this strength serves him well in this fight for his life.

My very best to you and your family, Mr. Layton.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Splitting Hairs - #fridayflash

"I have broken my hair," said Ravina.

You can't break hair.

"Well, I did. It busticated. Right at ear level."


"Look at how puffy my hair is here," she said, pointing to the pouffy sections at the side of her head, "and look how thin my hair is here." She held up the limp and somewhat dispirited lank of brittled blondness.

That is odd, I have to say. You look rather like a yellow version of Bozo the Clown. What happened?

"My ponytail ate it."


"It was too tight. Broke the hair right off at the elastic band. Then it disappeared. The hair, not the band. Wasn't in the band. Wasn't in the bed. Wasn't in the shower or my hair brush. Just gone. Like the wind. Only Scarlett O'Hara didn't have a bald spot, did she."

I couldn't argue that point, although Scarlett did have an inordinate number of hair bows. Maybe she was hiding something.

"Doubt it. She wasn't hiding her cleavage. And her lack of acting talent was certainly on display."

Cleavage? Did someone say something about cleavage?

"Anyway. I look like a freak. I can't believe I broke my hair."

Krazy Glue? It works on broken china.

"I have actually Krazy Glued broken fingernails together," Ravina said thoughtfully. "I might actually consider trying that... you know, if the ponytail hadn't eaten the hair." D'oh, she added, under her breath.

Yes, well, I have my moments. I also have teeny-tiny razor sharp teeth. And bad gas. Heh-heh. Sorry.

"What was that?" Ravina asked, disgusted.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Feel Pretty

I feel pretty! I do, I do, as long as I don't look in the mirror I am Natalie Wood, goddess of dark hair and liquid eyes.

I feel witty, I make you laugh, oh yes, you may not want to, but look at you smiling, you cannot help but laugh. Look at me spill coffee on my white-shirted self, hear me make spitfire humour, with spit, even. Oh so witty!

And gay, no, not so much, but happy, yes, especially with my gay friends. All happy are we! All gay, almost, like mauve bonnets at an orange juice convention. Anita, is that youuuuuu? Honey, you've aged!

I adore I Feel Pretty, could listen to it all day, like today, when I did, in fact, and finally posted Natalie Wood as my chat icon because we look so much alike. When she was alive, I mean. And when I was young, like 12. Like that. Who's that pretty girl in that mirror there? Who can that attractive girl be? Is it me? Is it Natalie? Is it Memorex?

Such a pretty face, such a pretty smile, such a pretty I forget, such a pretty MEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I feel charming, also.

It's actually alarming how charming I feel. (And so pretty... did I mention pretty? Cause I feel pretty and witty and GAY! Anita! You again? Piss off.)

Work is so quiet. So boring. I hear Dave over in his office snoring. Lynda is saying, "What? What?" because she thinks Dave is saying something to her. Karen is stretching and yawning, one of those loud yawns that scare the shit out of me. Jesus, Karen, how many pairs of clean underwear do I need to bring in for a day?

The music in my ear swells - oh wait, it's ear wax - and I feel pretty, OH SO PRETTY, and there's Jason, grabbing Lisa's wedding tiara and plunking it on his own gell-haired head and he's SINGING in a tremulous falsetto, swirling around the production floor in his peach jumper, and suddenly Leah jumps up and tries to grab the tiara because she's an actress and needs to be in the spotlight. "I WANNA BE MARIA," she squeals, but Jason dips and evades her, all in time with the music. The rest of us are overcome with the need to dance so Karen and Lynda pull on their leg warmers and try to be Jennifer Beal (s?) but then Terri smacks them and says, "WRONG MOVIE, MORONS." And she says, "Jennifer Lopez is a fake," only because it pisses me off. But I Feel Pretty, so who gives a shit? Then Cathy B. staggers to her feet and we think she's doing the Funky Chicken but it's only her bad back. Angie, Gail and Marg join in, swanking things up like the background girls in the bridal shop, singing "Miss America, speak! Speak!" while Marianne shrieks, "GILLIGAN!" and we sweep around the room while the music swells and we all develop Puerto Rican-Canadian accents. (Think of Spanish Rice slathered in maple syrup.) The ad reps come in, their mouths like trout, and they sing, "See those pretty girls in the production room!" and Sarah comes and takes our photos and puts them on the front page of the newspaper and they sell more papers than ever, in the history of newspapers, and it's all because I feel pretty.

Hey, I said I FELT pretty. Didn't say I was... way to rain on the parade, buster. Who let this guy in, anyway? HEY! Gimme back that tiara! HEY! DON'T I KNOW YOU????

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Killarney by Canoe

It comes back, like riding a bicycle. The instinctual rhythm, the matching strokes, the soundless, splashless dip of the paddles.
At first there is talk, there is laughing, there is goofing around. The canoe wobbles as one of us makes adjustments but, at some point, as the adventure progresses, without any words, without any notice, it all smooths into a quiet fearsome strength. The canoe pushes fast across the impossibly clear, jewel-toned water of George Lake. Breeze cools the sun beating down on our shoulders, muscles clock roundly in an effortless circle; up, down, thrust, push, all in one motion, one beat. There is ancient beauty in the fluidity of the movements – spare, simple, exquisite.
It is the perfect summer day. The kind of day we will look back on and say, yes, that was summer; summer as it was meant to be; summer as we think of it, with longing, on the coldest days of the year. There is no better summer than that remembered in the snow of January.
Killarney Provincial Park is new to Dave and I. We'd heard it described as the "jewel" in the crown of Ontario's many fabulous parks and yet it took us this long to finally get there. It's a solid four hours northwest of Bracebridge, at the very top of Georgian Bay. I always think of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes, as a native woman, hunched over with the weight of Georgian Bay, her papoose. Killarney Park, while only a few minutes drive from "the bay" and the village of Killarney (population 500), has little to do with the big lake. Its claim to fame is the backcountry canoe routes and hiking trails that deliver people from the civilization of their daily lives into a true wilderness experience.
We met up with a garrulous guide who was leading a family on their first backcountry camping trip. He had been travelling Killarney's backcountry since 1974 and loved it fierce. I asked him what he thought of Algonquin, a park also famous for its backcountry canoeing, and he sniff-snorted his reply. Killarney's crystal clear lakes far outshine Algonquin's dark beaver water, he pointed out, and he doesn't like how busy Algonquin has become. "Too many amateurs," he said. Yes, he really said that. "I'd far rather be here."
Dave and I are experienced canoeists and campers but we've never done the backcountry without fishing motors. And we'd never been to Killarney so we were the kind of amateurs this man haughtily tried to avoid. We were just there for the weekend, camping in the relatively comfortable George Lake campground, and venturing out into the park by canoe for only the one day.
Oh, but what a day it was.
We packed our lunch, the dog and some fishing tackle and headed out early in the morning. We passed all kinds of other friendly canoeists and kayakers as we made our way around George Lake. Everyone greeted us with wide smiles and "good mornings" and "wonderful weather" and we felt as warmed by their presence as by the morning sun and the scenery.
The scenery. I've never seen anything quite like it. The rugged, glacier-carved hills are made almost entirely of quartzite. The whiteness of it is dazzling, like snow-topped mountains scattered with only the scrubbiest and hardiest jack pine. Imagine white mountains dropping down to the turquoise lake. Imagine a blue sky and a gentle wind carrying the lonely screech of a hawk. Imagine looking down through 20 feet of clear water and still seeing the bottom.
We canoed close to shore, investigating every nook and cranny of the cliffs before we settled on a lonely granite outcrop, polished smooth by millions of years, and pulled up. We swam, just the two of us, like we were alone in the world, in water warmer than a swimming pool. There was no "getting used to it," we just swam in. We ate ham and cheese sandwiches on the shore, then tried some fishing. The bass couldn't wait to jump on our hooks and we had two double-headers, where we each had a fish on at the same time. They weren't huge fish, and we threw them all back, but we had so much fun watching the bobbers go down and shrieking as the feisty bass gave us a fight. Then we swam. Then we paddled. Then we came back to our campsite at dinner time and we napped.
There are only so many days like this in life. If we're lucky, we can recognize them as we live them. And if we're really lucky, we'll never forget.

Our campsite at breakfast time, Saturday morning.
There were bagels and cream cheese and fruit cups.
Oh, and a chelsea bun from the Gravenhurst bakery. Yum.

Talk about your bad hair days... me and my  Life on the Muskoka River mug, 
savouring my morning joe.

 Dave always has a smile on his face. 
Here, he toasts some bagels over the camp stove. They were delish.

Doesn't Misty look like a little bear cub with her new haircut? 
There were bear warnings at the park when we were there but
we didn't see one. Thank goodness. Still, the park staff claim
Killarney "is famous for our bears." Luckily she says they are nothing to worry 
about because "they're all wimpy." Misty is a very good
canoe buddy; she gets underneath my seat in the shade and snoozes.

The pink granite cliffs around Parry Sound are common.
These  rocks are what inspired some of Canada's greatest painters,
including Tom Thomson and The Group of Seven.
As you can see in this photo, right behind the pink granite are the incredible white
quartzite hills. Breathtaking, literally.

See how the cliffs come right down to the lake?
And how, despite their age, Mother Nature continues
to break up the rock, sending gravel down into George Lake.

More scenery, slightly hazy in the summer heat.

This is where we spent a couple of very happy hours,
swimming, fishing and stuffing ourselves with lunch.
Even Misty joined us in the water. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Bed

Rose curled like a semi-colon in the saggy middle of the bed. She clutched the snuggle pillow to her stomach and closed her eyes. Comfort seeped through her fear, relief slowed her beating heart. She opened her eyes with a start when she realized she was lying in the bed again.
When she was nine months pregnant, when her belly crowded her out of her husband's bed, she came to this bed and found sleep.
After every fight with her husband, when he was finished screaming at her and slapping her around, she came to this bed and found peace.
On the day she fled his house she took the children, the money she had stashed in a coffee tin, a bag of clothes and this bed. In their first night in the new apartment, they all slept in this bed, rolled together by the old mattress as if in a hammock.
This was originally her grandmother's bed. Made in 1891 by the T. Eaton's Co. of Toronto, the date and logo were still visible on one of the steel rails. The head and footboards were made of iron, painted white, with brass fittings. The iron bars were delicate, filigreed and feminine. The single mattress was held up by a sheet of chain mail, strung between two rails. Opal Charrington delivered all nine of her children on this bed, including Rose's own mother, and then shared it with her husband, Ren, until he died in his sleep, in the bed, on one muggy night in June. After his funeral, Opal dismantled the bed by herself and dragged it up into the attic. She bought herself a new pressboard bed from the furniture store in town and new sheets from Woolworth's and she thought she might miss the saggy embrace of the old bed but she never did. If someone were to peek into her room on any moonlit night, they would have seen a child's smile on that lovely old woman's face.
Opal had willed something to every one of her 32 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. The bed, she gave to Rose.
The bed stayed with Rose through all her single mother years. She bought beds for the children as soon as she could afford them but the iron bed was hers through nights of chicken pox and stomach aches, first dances and parties at the gravel pit, lonely nights far away from the university, sleepless nights planning details for weddings and baby showers.
She met Henry at the furniture store, of all places. He was the salesman who tried to sell her an expensive Beautyrest mattress and oak headboard. She didn't buy the bed but she did agree to have dinner with him. A few years later they got married in a simple civil ceremony and Rose moved into Henry's house and into his fancy Beautyrest bed. Rose's bed was placed in the guest room.
Henry was gentle and agreeable and never raised a hand against her. On the rare occasions they disagreed, Henry was quick to apologize. One night, however, Henry got mad because the cats had peed outside the litter box and began hollering about the damned cats and how stinky they were and how much they shed and how he didn't even like cats, just put up with them for Rose's sake.
She was suddenly overcome by fear. Without saying a word, she went to the guest bedroom, footsteps electric, fingertips numb, body shaking, and she laid down in the bed.
She thought, "I can't believe I'm in this bed again. I can't believe I'm in this position again." And she began to formulate a plan to escape.
Henry interrupted her thoughts when he knocked on the bedroom door.
"Can I come in?" he asked.
"Yes," she said.
He apologized for yelling about the cats. He said he wasn't anything like her first husband; would she please believe him. He wiped her tears with his calloused fingers and he laid down beside her on the bed, his arm draped around her thick waist and the snuggle pillow, and he kissed the back of her neck.
The bed creaked slightly as she warmed to his embrace.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Black and White

Why the black and white look?
It's clean, it's simple. It reminds me of the newspapers I have worked with over the years.
Mostly, though, it's my personality.
I see the world as black or white with only a few shades of grey.
This isn't something I'm necessarily proud of but after 50 years on the planet I'm pretty sure I know myself and know how I think.
To me, the answer to everything is clear - it's either right or it's wrong; it's good or it's bad; it's fair or it's unfair. Full stop.
I am far from perfect. Far, far from it. This black and white thinking is hard for a lot of people to take. My blood boils fast.
I'm also judgemental. Over the years I have made many mistakes, but I have learned from all of them. This crystallization, this boiling down of the bad things in my character has made me who I am now. Some may disagree, and they are entitled to their opinion, of course, but I am a good person. I see myself as a white knight, defender of the common man, upholder of good in the battle against evil. (Doesn't THAT sound crazy?) I admire Sally Fields' character in Norma Rae – imperfect strength in the face of adversity; grubbiness with a shining heart.
I will always take the side of the underdog. I will always have sympathy for the downtrodden.
There is fair and there is unfair and there is nothing in between.
I got angry with a friend yesterday because she didn't see the unfairness in this situation: another friend had worked a long time with a company and had accrued a third week of vacation time. The company went bankrupt and the friend was rehired by a temp agency. He immediately lost that third week. All of the plant employees, some who had been with the company all their working lives and had accrued up to five weeks of vacation, went back to two weeks. I said, this wasn't fair. That they had earned it and then lost it. My friend said it was perfectly fair - they were lucky to have their jobs.
Yes, they're lucky to still have their jobs.
But that doesn't mean what happened to them is fair.
To me, fairness is like karma. If you have done your share, if you've been a good person, if you've worked hard to earn things like vacation time, the universe ought to repay you in kind. When that doesn't happen; when you lose your vacation, when you get cancer, when your husband leaves you, when you get downsized, whatever – it just isn't fair.
I know. Life sucks that way. The universe doesn't mete out fairness. The real world just "is."
Still, a lot of these sucky things are delivered at the hands of human beings, not the universe. It was people who decided to cut our friend's vacation time. People who downsize companies and ruin people's lives. People cheat on their spouses and destroy families.
People are the reason I believe in fairness.
If everyone decided to treat their fellow human beings fairly, the world would be a fairer place.
Fairness is what I strive for.
Fairness is what we all should strive for.
Screw real world thinking – this is the excuse we use to hurt one another.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Did I tell you Dave's ex is also named Cathy?
Funny, huh.
Like my cousin, Karen – I used to tease her because her husband's ex was named Karen. I thought, what kind of same-name-seeking weirdo would marry two women with the same name? It's handy, I suppose. You never call the wrong name out at the wrong moment. Trust me, that's a good thing. My ex is named Doug and, after 19 years of saying Doug, it was hard at first for the tongue to stop at the Duh sound and not continue on to the Ug sound.
Once it started the tongue didn't know enough to say Duh then Aave. The brain knew but the tongue was a screw-up and the brain was constantly apologizing for the stupid tongue.
Nearly six years later, I now call my ex "Dave." So, that's better, I think. At least the results are better, even though the tongue is still stupid.
Where was I? Oh, Cathy. Yes, when the "old Cathy" dealt him him a "get out of marriage free card," he found me. He wasn't seeking another Cathy. There is no website, although that's a good idea. People get matched up for pretty stupid reasons, why not choose your soul mate based on his/her name?
I, for one, would never go to a site because I find people named Jason are bullheaded. I work with a guy named Jason and he's one of my favourite people at the office and while he's not even half as stubborn as some guys named Jason I've met, he still has Jason traits.
I would never go to a site because they all have red-rimmed eyeballs and pasty white skin. At least the Phils I know. No, I don't know Mr. Donahue but have you noticed the pinkness around his eyes? I think Phils must be part-rabbits.
I'd avoid (self-absorbed and possibly gay), (momma's boys) and (can't trust 'em).
These are gross exaggerations, of course and, while there very well may be exceptions, this is my blog. So there.
Gawd, what was I saying?
Oh, the ex.
Yes, she popped into Dave's work today so he could fix her pick-up truck.
He told me right off and was all open and honest because, generally speaking, Daves are that way. Especially mine.
And while I always tell Dave not to be jealous of my ex, I got this weird burning sensation in my chest when I heard the ex paid a call.
Jealousy, I think they call it. Jealousy, or maybe heartburn.
Now, I have nothing to be jealous of. Sure she's skinny and I'm not, but skinny ain't every darn thing. I know I got her beat in about a zillion other departments and I know Dave isn't heading back her way. So I have nothing to be jealous of.
Pass the Rolaids, please.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hot Lips

I could handle the fact that my white t-shirt was splattered with coffee, honey garlic chicken wings, soap and pen. 
Cause I'm used to that.
Every day I spill something on me. Dave doesn't have to say, "Whadja have for lunch, honey-bucket?" because he just looks at my shirt. Sometimes my hair, because lunch hides there, too. It's handy having chicken salad where you can nosh when the mood strikes.
"WHY do you wear WHITE?" my friends say, scoffing at me.
White is my favourite summer colour, I say.
I like white.
I feel FRESH.  
I feel DEWY.
And I continue to look like that right up until the moment my first cup of joe slops down my front.
I also like white because I can bleach white. Right? You know what I'm saying... if you spill something greasy on a black top, it's just a bitch to get out.
The other day I met my soul mate. He was the guy who attached the heart monitor. He must have been feeling all personal, you know, gluing wires to my boobs, because he announced, "I'm so embarrassed. I spilled coffee on myself." 
I'm half-naked and HE'S embarrassed. Typical man.
I looked at the big brown stain on his otherwise pristine white golf shirt.
"Did that this morning, I bet." sez I.
"Yes!" he says. "How did you know?"
"BROTHER!" I exclaimed.
"SISTER!" he shrieked, grabbing me and hugging me close. The wires tangled up in his stethoscope and it got all weird after that.
Here I am today, having just pigged out at a company pot luck for a bride-to-be, covered in honey garlic chicken wings, chocolate icing, pen marks and tomato pasta (because only the coloured things land on my shirt - club soda and water never get on me. They are repelled, like I'm a polar magnet pushing away, or the wrong line at IKEA:  "this is the coloured messy things line only, clear things get the express line over there." And people are laughing at my white shirt. And I'm laughing along.
Until, suddenly, my dear friend Leah sidles up to me and says, "Are they lips?"
I look at her like she has two heads.
"Lips?" I say.
"Yeah," she says, looking down at my crotch. "Lips."
I'm thinking to myself, is she talking about what I THINK she's talking about? Out loud? In front of everyone?
"Er," I say. Because I can't think of anything else. "Er... lips?"
"Yeah," she says. Like I'm stupid.
Suddenly it dawns on me.
"On my underwear? YES! They're LIPS."
I have pink kisses all over my gotchies. Obviously you can see through my white pants.
So there I was.
Filthy white shirt.
See through white pants.
Everybody in the office lookin' at my underpants.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Boob Stickies

This is like my chest, only this guys' boobs are bigger than mine and a little hairier.
Imagine this, only with Band-Aids holding on the stickies. That's me.

So there's this thing. On my chest.
Seven things, actually. Seven sticky things. And there's a strap around my neck and over my shoulder holding this transistor radio-sized computer thing.
It's a heart monitor, a halter thing. I'M FINE. Not that you were worried or anything but I'M FINE. No heart attacks, or murmurs, or strokes. I get this drug called Remicade every two months. It's for my Crohn's disease and it's a bit of a miracle drug. Thanks to Remicade I went from the doc wanting to remove my colon to having no symptoms. It's good stuff.
Only thing is, on the day I get the infusion (at the Huntsville hospital's chemotherapy clinic with the world's best nurses - "Hi Jodie! Hi Yvonne!"), I get this weird feeling. Fluttery. My heart races. I feel all crawly on the inside. The weird feeling lasts all evening. When I wake up the next morning, the weird feeling is gone.
I didn't even want to mention the weird thing to my doctor because I was afraid he might take away my Remicade and then take away my colon. Hey, I can live with the idea of a heart attack... I just don't want to poop into a tube if I don't have to. (Although this could be viewed as a positive. Just think. You never have to look for a washroom in a mall again. You don't have to endure stinky outhouses while camping. Or leave the slot machines. You just poop at will. Right in the middle of a conversation. While you're blogging. No one will know unless you announce it. "Hey, I'm pooping right now.")
Where was I? Mention the word poop and I'm all distracted. Oh yes. The halter thing. So, after my Remicade infusion ("Hi Jodie! Hi Yvonne!"), I went to the hospital's cardio department and got outfitted with a heart monitor. A nice gentleman stuck seven round sticky things to my chest and wired them to a monitor.
"When you start to experience your 'weird' feelings, press the Event button," he said. Then he added, "Whatever you do, don't sweat."
It's ninety frickin' degrees outside.
The minute I got home and went to the washroom, four of the stickies fell off. En masse. It was like they all gave up at once and fell to their deaths in front of the toilet. Like Elvis.
"Crap," I said, although I was just peeing.
I stuck them back on my chest, trying to guess where they had been before. It wasn't a scientifically-based guess. I stuck one on my boob, one under my boob and two more in the middle.
But I was sweating like a pig and, two seconds later, they all fell off again.
So I stuck 'em back on. Only this time I raided the Band-Aid box and used a dozen to re-stick the stickless stickies.
I look like a mummy who ran out of white bandages and used Band-Aids instead. A beige mummy. Oh, and did I mention all the Band-Aids are stuck to the sunburn I got whilst chasing campers off my site on the long weekend?
If they don't stick, my next recourse will be duct tape.
If they do stick, I'll be pulling them off in the morning and having hubs drop the monitor off to the man in the hospital who stuck things on my chest. Don't think that fact won't be crossing hubs' mind.
Not long after I emptied the bandage box, I noticed my heart start to race. BUT WAS IT REALLY? My trigger finger hovered over the Event button. Should I wait till it really starts racing? Should I do it now? What if it's a false alarm? You should have seen me when I was pregnant. I AGONIZED over labour pains. Real? False? Real? I didn't want to go early and annoy the doctor. I didn't want to go late and have my kid at the side of the road, either.
I pressed the button. Half-expecting a 9-1-1 swat team to show up I was vaguely disappointed that nothing more exciting than a pop-up window on the monitor with a few choices: heart attack, heart murmur, heart racing, heart stopping. Really? Do you think if my heart stopped I'd be able to push the Event button? I think stoppage would be pretty clear to the coroner even if you didn't push the button. "Well, I think it was a heart attack. A little hard to tell since the cats ate her. If only she had of pressed the Event button ..."

Miss Manners Goes Camping

1. Don't cut through my campsite. 
I mean it.
Canada Day weekend, Algonquin Park, and we're packed like sardines - salty fish, who, for the most part, know their boundaries and stay in their own school site. There was a bunch of fish kitty-corner to us, a big school of fish, too many fish for one site, if truth be told, who were treating our site like a path to the washrooms. They didn't even stick to the outside of the site – they walked right beside our picnic table, almost under the awning of our trailer. WHILE WE WERE SITTING THERE.
We just stared at them because we're polite and we had come to the park to relax, not confront rude people.
They didn't even make eye contact, or apologize, or even say hello. They just trundled through our campsite like they owned it.
After that, Dave arranged our four bicycles across the driveway. They didn't blink an eye, just pushed the bikes aside a bit and squeezed through.
Finally we were forced to say something. On yet another trip by our picnic table, Dave said, politely, "Guys, this our camp site. Can you not walk through it, please?' The couple looked startled, mumbled, "sorry," and walked away. Thankfully, that was the end of that. Except that when we were walking by their campsite, on the road, we heard them snickering.
Just to clarify, there was a proper, signed path leading to the washrooms, not 10 feet from our campsite. After Dave confronted them, they had the good grace to use the path.
Ranty part: I wouldn't DREAM of walking through someone else's campsite. An empty one, sure, but never one with people's stuff on it and never, ever with someone sitting at their picnic table. And if, for some unknown reason, I had to go on someone else's site? I'd ask permission and thank them profusely, not ignore them like they weren't even there.

2. Slow down, arseholes.
There are kids running all over the place at a park. Running, biking, playing ball, being kids. I'm thinking that running over one of those kids is not a good idea. Perhaps taking your foot off the gas pedal would be.
And do you really want to raise a cloud of dust? You do? Then you're a bigger arsehole than I thought.
Ranty bit: I'd slap you upside the head if I could catch you. No one cares that your ride is pimped. No one but you likes rap music played at ear-piercing decibels. It's nice of you to share, but honestly, it's not necessary. You're in a provincial park. You're camping. You're not going to see many bears, moose and deer with the music cranked, unless you run them over first. Which you probably will, going so fast.

3. Don't bring your dog to the beach.
In fact, look over there. See that sign? It says NO DOGS ALLOWED.
Ranty bit: I left my dog in the trailer. Why is your dog on the beach? Is your dog special? Does your dog have a beach pass? Is your dog not really a dog? I swear, if I step in your dog's crap with my bare beach toes, I will stoop and scoop it right onto your doorstep.

4. Don't fart around the campfire and make your friend retch.
Um, I did this. Don't recommend it. Camping's all fun and games until someone loses their lunch. Sorry Tammy!

There was more, something about sparklers on the beach and Ranger Bob but I think I've blocked it out.