Friday, April 19, 2013

M is for Grandpa Munster

I came out of the bath tub just now and briskly rubbed my newly grey hair with a towel and realized I was a doppelgänger for a famous celebrity.

It could be worse, I suppose. I could look like ... hmmm... wait a minute while I think... Uh, nope, it couldn't be worse.

I wonder if Grandpa Munster looks at himself in the mirror and says, "FECK. I look like that Webster chick."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

L is for Lake, a dish best served Cold

I'm back at the Tim Horton's in Cold Lake, sucking up their free Wi-Fi and handling real estate running-around while Dave is at work. It was snowing this morning. Snowing. On April 18. I'm beginning to think spring is never going to get here, although yesterday was nice and I saw a teenaged girl carrying her shoes and walking barefoot beside the highway near the high school.

I have a lot of time on my hands, waiting for Dave to get through his work day. I don't feel like hiding away in the basement room he rents – as nice as the people are who own the house (and they are super nice, the best kind of people actually), I feel I don't want to interfere with their day. So I find coffee shops with wi-fi and sunny spots to read my Kindle. The other day I fell asleep in the car at the Cold Lake Marina, the sun making me warm and drowsy, the view of a vast frozen expanse of white oddly pretty and comforting. I slept for a couple of hours, rousing every once in a while as a plane roared overhead.

There are a few things you have to appreciate if you're going to live in Cold Lake. One of them is the planes. Cold Lake is home to Canada's largest air force base and all manner of military jets come and go at all hours. I could sit outside for hours and just watch the planes go by. You know, if it wasn't snowing... The military has a big presence in Cold Lake. There's a young woman in fatigues, waiting in line for a prescription at the drug store. She is bubbly and pretty, and she's talking to a friend on the phone about girly things while she stands tall in army boots, her blonde hair in a tight bun. There's a military policeman ordering breakfast at McDonald's. He wears a red beret and a dashing jaw and he is sharing early morning conversation with the smiling Filipino woman who fetches his coffee and Egg McMuffin. There are a lot of people here from the Philippines. Almost every restaurant, retail store and hotel has Filipino men and women on their payrolls. There are too many jobs in Cold Lake and not enough people to do them, so workers come from all over the world. For some reason the Philippines has become a primary source of workers willing to take the lower paying jobs. In Ontario those jobs are held by folks from India.

So there are military people from the base and Filipino workers behind the tills, and there are also the oil field workers. Men. Tons of men, all of them with greasy hands and muddy boots, all of them a zillion miles from home. They are the tradesmen and the labourers who have left their homes behind to make ridiculous amounts of money working for the big oil companies. Many are in the oil field camps for five weeks at a time, cut off from the rest of the world; others rent rooms in Cold Lake and are bussed out to the fields for long, cold, dirty days. Every motel, every apartment or spare room, is filled with the men of the fields. When Dave and I move here early this summer we will rent out two rooms in our house to these men. Their rent will pay our mortgage. This is how it is done in Cold Lake.  The houses are expensive but the well-moneyed men are lined up for a place to rest their heads at night.

There is money everywhere. Money, and pick-up trucks. Almost everyone drives 4X4 trucks and even though there are at least three car washes in Cold Lake, these trucks are covered in mud. Part of it is from being in the oil fields. Part of it is the crappy roads. Seriously, the roads are terrible here. Pot holes the size of ponds. Nobody complains about it, though. Nobody worries. They just ride their big expensive pick-em-ups over the bumps and mud puddles, and carry on.

People are friendly here. This is a good place, I can feel it.

And if spring never arrives in Cold Lake, so be it. I shall buy a new coat and learn to curl.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

K is for "OK-OK-OK"

If I put "K-K-K" in the title I'd probably be deluged with stupid KKK searches but I'm not talking about any white supremacist idiot clubs, I'm talking about Joe Pesci's much-loved Leo Getz character in the Lethal Weapon movie series.

I don't think I quote anyone as much as him. His uproarious repetition of the word OK cracks me up. I found this compilation of all his KKK's for your giggling pleasure. Enjoy it, OK? K? K...

J is for Jocular

I just snarfed down the most exquisite toasted coconut doughnut, I've got a large coffee half gone at my elbow and I'm sucking back the free wi-fi at Timmy's in Cold Lake, Alberta.

In a word, I am jocular.

Oh, J is also for Joke. A most hilarious and awesome waitress at Denny's in Edmonton said, "Wanna hear a joke?"

We nodded.

"Whaddya get when you cross a turtle with Viagra?"

Before we could guess she leaned forward on our table and whispered, "A slow poke."

Yes, there's still snow here. They don't call it Cold Lake for nuttin.

I is for Ice

I was almost there.

The seat belt sign was on, my ears were popping, the plane was descending ... and then, without warning, the plane swooped back up into the atmosphere. I watched the shadows changing on the wing out my window and realized the airplane was turning.  Then the pilot came on the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, you may have noticed we are turning around. The winter storm isn't getting any better and the runways at Edmonton Airport are too icy to attempt at landing. We're going back to Saskatoon to wait for better weather."

Passengers all around me grumbled in disappointment. No one more than me. I hadn't seen my husband, Dave, for six weeks and couldn't wait to wrap my arms around him and plant a sound kiss on his soft lips. We were so close ... so close... and then we weren't.

Saskatoon was only a 40 minute flight from Edmonton and we got lucky. No sooner than we landed and unloaded for a much needed break, than the pilot announced a break in the weather and we were back on the plane headed west again. This time the descent was not interrupted. The jet landed safely (although it did wobble on an icy patch) and before I knew it I was sobbing like a baby in Dave's arms.

It was so good to see him. He was even handsomer than I remembered. It was a whole day before we started acting like old married people again.

All this flying back to Saskatoon stuff reminded me of one of my favourite Guess Who songs, "Running Back to Saskatoon." If you've never heard this classic Canadian song, give it a listen. If you haven't heard it lately, give it a click. It'll remind you of why you love Canada.

For me, it'll now and forever be about seeing Dave waiting for me at the airport gate in Edmonton. Finally.

Running Back To Saskatoon

There's a province up in Canada that's right next door to ours.
It's called Saskatchewan.
And, in that province there's a small town, 
uh, where nothing much ever happens, 
called Saskatoon.
This is a tune about that town.
Called "Runnin' Back To Saskatoon".

I been hangin' around gas stations
I been learnin' 'bout tires
I been talkin' to grease monkeys
I been workin' on cars

Moose Jaw saw a few, Moosomin too
Runnin' back to Saskatoon
Red Deer, Terrace and a Medicine Hat
Sing another prairie tune
Sing another prairie tune

I been hangin' around libraries
I been learnin' 'bout books
I been talkin' to play writers
I been workin' on words, phrases

Moose Jaw saw a few, Moosomin too
Runnin' back to Saskatoon
Red Deer, Terrace and a Medicine Hat
Sing another prairie tune
Sing another prairie tune

I been hangin' around hospitals
I been learnin' 'bout dyin'
I been talkin' to heart doctors
I been workin' on disease

Moose Jaw saw a few, Moosomin too
Runnin' back to Saskatoon
Red Deer, Terrace and a Medicine Hat
Sing another prairie tune
Sing another prairie tune

This tune is home grown
Don't come from Hong Kong
This tune is home grown
Don't come from Hong Kong

I been hangin' around grain elevators
I been learnin' 'bout food
I been talkin' to soil farmers
I been workin' on land

Moose Jaw saw a few, Moosomin too
Runnin' back to Saskatoon
Red Deer, Terrace and a Medicine Hat
Sing another prairie tune
Sing another prairie tune

I been hangin' around camera stores
I been learnin' 'bout sight
I been talkin' to film makers
I been workin' on eyes

Moose Jaw saw a few, Moosomin too
Runnin' back to Saskatoon
Red Deer, Terrace and a Medicine Hat
Sing another prairie tune
Sing another prairie tune

This tune is home grown
Don't come from Hong Kong
This tune is home grown
Don't come from Hong Kong

H is for House

House. I'm currently obsessed with that word. Selling the one we have. Picking out a new one. Watching HGTV with the zealot-ism usually reserved for the Facebook Jellies.

I do have news. And, for once, it's not evil.

Re-cap: We had an offer on our house, with the condition of a home inspection. It wasn't a stellar offer, meaning we would have a shortfall of up to $16,000 on closing day. We were convinced it would be the only offer we got, so we took it. The ensuing inspection revealed we had vermiculite in our attic. Only 10 per cent of attics with vermiculite insulation also contain asbestos. A test was done. Asbestos was found. I called an abatement company and was told it might cost us $10,000 to clean the attic. The people who wanted to buy our house wanted us to pay the bill. Dave and I were devastated at the thought of handing over our beloved property AND paying $25,000.

We decided I would fly out to Alberta and spend some time together. We told our realtors we would discuss our options. We did not want to shell out that kind of money, money we didn't even have. We thought maybe we could rent out our house until the market improved, and rent a place in Cold Lake, Alberta (where Dave is working and where we are moving) for the interim.

Dave picked me up at the airport in Edmonton and we started the three-hour drive to Cold Lake. We hadn't gotten very far when the phone rang. It was our real estate agent.

"You're not going to believe this," she said, "but I have another offer on your house."

Dave and I pulled over and did a happy dance at the side of the road.

Turned out this second out-of-the-blue offer came from a guy who saw the place three weeks ago. He called to see if the house was still available and was told there was a conditional offer on it. He was also told all about the asbestos in the attic.

The guy didn't care. He had experience with vermiculite/asbestos clean-out and he was willing to do the work himself. His offer had no conditions, no strings, and came with a faster closing date. Dave and I couldn't believe our good luck.

What that means is the people with the first offer have until this Friday to decide if they want to buy the house, asbestos and all, or walk away from the offer. If they decide to buy it, our house is sold. If they walk away, our house is sold to the guy with the second offer. Either way, our house is sold.

It's all kinda hard to believe.

I just want to say how much your words of support have meant to me. This has been a trying time and I've been depressed and anxious – so much so I have abandoned my blog and many of the things I love.

Well, it's now catch-up time. Yes, H is for House, and the fecking thing has now sold.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

G is for Geez, what next?

My life lately has been one problem after another. Wham! Deal with it. Wham! Crap, deal with it, too. Wham-whacka-whacka-feckitty-feck, what else? What fecking else?

One of the conditions of our house sale was an inspection. The guy showed up on Saturday and spent nearly two hours doing the equivalent of a pap smear to our property. Things were going surprisingly well, which should have been a clue that the other crap-covered shoe was about to drop. As he was leaving the inspector came to our door and announced he had found vermiculite in our attic.


He was holding a baggie full of some kind of gray pebbly stuff. "Vermiculite itself isn't a problem," he said. "The problem is, it could contain asbestos."

Asbestos. I knew what asbestos was. Asbestos is a nasty, cancer-causing, house-deal-killing toxic nightmare that requires haz-mat suits, masks and tons of money to clean up.

I can't even tell you how discouraging this is. The building inspection that was done in 2004 made no mention of vermiculite. "Fibreglass" was the only insulation type listed by the lazy, lying, no-good inspector at the time. We can't sue, of course, because the inspection was paid for by the people we bought the house from. Screwed, blued and tattooed, that's us.

So here's the deal. The vermiculite has to tested. If it is asbestos-free, the people who want our house will firm up their offer. If it has asbestos, Dave and I will have to pay to have it professionally removed and new insulation put in, at a ballpark cost of $10,000.

If we were making money off the sale of our house, that $10,000 might not be such a big deal. But we are already losing money – $16,000, to be exact. That's how much cash we will have to shell out to get out of our mortgage, pay the realtor, the lawyer and whoever else has their hands out. Apparently we paid too much for the property four years ago – that, combined with a flaccid economy, has meant we will not be making enough money from the deal to pay our bills.

If asbestos is found, we might have to pay $26,000 or more on the day the deal closes.

In case you're thinking we have $26,000 hanging around, we don't. We will have to cash in our investments, sell a lot of our belongings and maybe borrow money in order to get this done. And if we have to pay to have the asbestos removed, there's no way we can afford to buy a house when we move to Alberta. We'll have to rent for a while, and that's fine, but that sucks because we're old and we had dreams, and now they're probably going to be crushed.

If my luck wasn't so shitty right now I'd say there's a good chance there won't be asbestos in the vermiculite. But it's me we're talking about and, dollars to doughnuts our attic is full of it.

Some days I don't think I can take one more bad thing. Not. One. More.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Feck, my precious

Because my mother will wash my mouth out with soap if I say the other F word.

From Wikipedia:

Feck (or, in some senses, fek) has several vernacular meanings and variations in Hiberno-EnglishScots and Middle English.



[edit]Modern English

  • Verb meaning 'to steal' (e.g. 'They had fecked cash out of the rector's room.' [1])[2]

[edit]Scots and Late Middle English

Feck (or fek) is a form of effeck, which is in turn the Scots form of effect. However, this Scots noun has additional significance:
  1. Efficacy; force; value; return
  2. Amount; quantity (or a large amount/quantity)
  3. The greater or larger part (when used with a definite article)
From the first sense we derive feckless, meaning witless, weak or ineffective; worthless; irresponsible; indifferent; lazy. Feckless remains a part of the Modern English and Scottish English lexicons; it appears in a number of Scottishadages:
"Feckless folk are aye fain o ane anither."
"Feckless fools should keep canny tongues."
In his 1881 short story Thrawn JanetRobert Louis Stevenson invokes the second sense of feck as cited above:
"He had a feck o' books wi' him—mair than had ever been seen before in a' that presbytery..."
Robert Burns uses the third sense of feck in the final stanza of his 1792 poem "Kellyburn Braes":
I hae been a Devil the feck o' my life,
Hey, and the rue grows bonie wi' thyme;
"But ne'er was in hell till I met wi' a wife,"
And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime

[edit]Debate about the word's level of offensiveness

Magners Irish Cider have received complaints relating to an advert in which a man tells bees to "feck off": members of the public were concerned that young children could be badly influenced by seeing this advert. Magners claimed that the "feck off" mention in the advert was a "mild rebuff" to the bees, rather than an expletive. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that the poster is suitable for display.[3]
In a 1998 interview on Nickelodeon, Irish girl group B*Witched landed in hot water when a viewer made a complaint alleging that one of the teenagers had used the phrase "fuck off". Although Nickelodeon maintained that the singer had in fact said "feck off", which they described "a phrase made popular by the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted," the item was found to be in breach of the ITC Programme Code and the complaint was thus upheld.[4]

[edit]Other uses in popular culture

  • The Channel 4 situation comedy Father Ted helped to export and popularise this use of feck through its characters' liberal use of the word, especially by the drunk priest Father Jack. In an interview, Dermot Morgan explained that, inIrelandfeck is far less offensive than fuck.
  • The word "feck" also frequently appears extensively in the Nintendo 64 video game Conker's Bad Fur Day, in which the word replaces "fuck" in all instances. It should be noted, however, that this substitution is in no way trying to limit cursing; the game itself is riddled with blatant swearing and innuendo. It is not known whether this substitution is due to the nationality of the producers or simply to give the game a lighter mood.
  • Heard repeatedly in youtube videos featuring Loca, "the pug who can't run", and sung in lyrics with an Irish flair.
  • The word "feck" is also used in the movie Almost Famous by Cameron Crowe, as an alternative to the word "fuck". A teen girl (played by Zooey Deschanel) who is angry at her overbearing, strict mother (Frances McDormand) shouts, "Feck you!" Her mother is taken aback by this, stating aside to her 11-year-old son (Michael Angarano), "I can't believe she said the F-word," to which he replies, "I think she said 'feck'."
  • In the 1981 film Caveman, "feck" is used as a general term of disparagement. After Atouk's band of misfits defeats Tonda, the crowd joins in proclaiming "Tonda feck! Atouk! Atouk! ATOUK!" [3]
  • In 2004 French Connection UK, sellers of the popular "FCUK" T-shirt, won a legal injunction in Dublin that barred a local business from printing and selling a T-shirt marked "FCEK The Irish Connection".[5]
  • The word "feck" appears in Frank McCourt's memoir Angela's Ashes and also the film which was based upon the book. English subtitles on the original DVD miscaption "feck" as "fuck".
  • There is a brand of Irish whiskey called Feckin' Irish Whiskey.
  • The BBC/RTE television sitcom 'Mrs Brown's Boys' makes regular use of the word 'feck', whilst occasionally also using the more offensive 'fuck'.
  • It appears frequently in the play The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh.