Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for The End! Woo HOO!

I felt happy this morning. Energetic even. I felt good from the get-go, having coffee on the back deck with my hubby, morning sunshine covering us with a happiness blanket.

I think it's the weather. We've finally got some spring going on here in northern Alberta and it's been driving me crazy, listening to everyone else in the world talking about putting in their tomato plants and complaining about the heat. There's still ice on Cold Lake. Our grass isn't green. It snowed on the weekend. Bah... can you blame me for being grumpy?

But this morning ... this glorious morning ... I've already made the bed, hung laundry on the clothesline, cleaned out the kitty truffles, emptied the dishwasher and talked to my friend on the phone. I'm even writing a blog post, as we speak, and it's barely eleven o'clock.

Is there anything better than the smell of laundry hung on the line? Mmmmm ... I took a picture of it, but I wish this was a scratch 'n sniff smell-a-blog, so you could appreciate it.

Oh! I also took a picture of our new patio set. We bought it last week, in a snowstorm (no kidding) and Dave finally got around to putting it together last night. Coincidentally, for the first time since we moved to Cold Lake (which is famous for its aurora borealis), we finally saw the northern lights. We put on our snuggliest jackets and sat out on our new patio furniture and watched the sky catch brilliant fire. It was pure magic. It's one thing to see a photo, but it's quite another to watch the lights flicker and shine, grow, stretch and shimmer against a backdrop of stars and black.

There's another reason I'm showing you our chairs. See how they don't have four legs? It's what gives them bounce; it's what makes them comfortable – but quite honestly I'm scared shiteless that my immense girth is going to break them some day. What's worse is our stupid little dog likes to sit UNDER my chair. I dunno, I think she has a death wish. One of these days she's gonna be a pancake and I'll be all up in her squished face saying, "I told you so, you dumb squished dog!" She can't help it. She's got a brain the size of a pea. One of these days it's gonna be a mushy pea if she doesn't watch out.

So glad this is the last post in the A to Z Challenge. I've had days where I just didn't care – it's what happens when you have depression. There are days when you don't care about anything. I've been taking anti-depressants for some time, and probably will for the rest of my life. It's OK – and I'm OK. They work. I'm good, so don't worry. Just lately, though, in the last few months, I have noticed that they're not working as well as they used to, and that's normal. I need to talk to the doctor about upping the dose.

I hate going to see the doctor about depression. It's like you have to put on a show, y'know? They want to talk about what's going on and if you're too matter-of-fact you won't get the help you need, so you have to be a little theatrical. Tears help. Personally I like to pretend I'm Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment and I manage to squeeze out a few. But meh, what a hassle it is. I'd almost rather go get a Pap smear than talk about my depression with a doctor. Ultimately the best thing to do is talk about it while I'm getting a Pap smear. That way you're distracting yourself from the fact there's a stranger with a speculum up your woo-hoo.

Yesterday I finally summed up my courage and popped into the doctor's office to get an appointment.

"The first date we have available is June Whatever," said the receptionist. (I forget the date but it was mid-June.)

"OK," I said, because I don't have a choice.

"Can I ask what it's regarding?" she asked.

"It's for depression," I replied, then realized this was my opportunity to kick things up a notch. "I've been feeling pretty down lately. Really down." I swallowed, like I was about to cry, and lowered my eyes in what I hoped was a sad velvet clown painting face. "I need a stronger anti-depressant."

The receptionist suddenly got all panicked and started rifling though her computer, mumbling something about cancellations.

I interrupted. "It might be a good idea if you mention this to the doctor," I said. "You know. In case."

I let "in case" hang in the air. She looked up from the computer and her eyes were the size of birthday balloons.

"Don't worry," I said hastily. "I'm not gonna jump off a bridge or anything."

She laughed, sort of, and looked slightly relieved.

Until I said, "I'm going to have to find some other way to do myself in because there just aren't any bridges in Cold Lake."

I know. I'm baaaaaad.

Hey, I hope you had a good time with A to Z. Thanks to everyone who organized it, and thanks to everyone who dropped by to say hello. I didn't get around to as many people as I wanted, but I'm hoping to continue to use the list and visit as many blogs as I can. You know. If I'm not scouting out local bridges ...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Y the Hell Not! (Also for Yummy)

The Scooby Snack as it's supposed to look - note the size of the glass...

Five days ago I shared a link on Facebook for a bowl-me-over completely deliciousified drink called a Scooby Snack. Since then I've been hunting down the ingredients, obsessed with tasting its pastel limey frothiness.

It wasn't easy. Even in a wild west town like mine where there's more liquor stores than gas stations. I'm from Ontario, see, a place that perennially has a pickle up its ass when it comes to liquor laws. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (commonly known as the LCBO or the In And Out Store), which is run by the provincial government, dictates where booze can be sold, when it can be sold, and what kind of booziness the protestant-manifestoed, rule-infested people of that great province can imbibe. I came out to Alberta and was bowled over by booze stores on every block. Even Sobey's, a grocery store, has its own liquor store – and it even has its own FLYER. I mean, can you imagine a sale flyer for the LCBO arriving in your mailbox in Ontario??? It just wouldn't happen.

Not that I care, not really. I'm not much of a drinker and can't remember the last time I bought booze. Still, there was something about that Scooby Snack photo that sent me running. Here's the recipe:

1/2 oz. (15ml) Midori Melon Liqueur
1/2 oz. (15ml) Malibu Coconut Rum
Splash of Pineapple Juice
Shot of Whipped Cream, the stuff in a can, of course
You put all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, pour into a glass and garnish with more whipped cream.

I had a heck of a time finding all that stuff. Had to search for a cocktail shaker to start off with – found one in Canadian Tire. $9.95. Bargoon! 

The Malibu rum was in the first liquor barn I went to (suddenly I was no longer an Alberta liquor store virgin), but I couldn't find any Midori. I phoned around the other day to other liquor barns and was unsuccessful, but on a lark I popped into the crappiest looking store in town and, voila, there it was! I must say, the store was crappy on the outside – the fact that a pick-up truck drove through the front window a few weeks ago and it's all boarded up with plywood doesn't help – but the inside was funky and cool and kinda friendly. 

I was going to wait until Dave got home before I tried the drink, because you're not supposed to drink alone, right? A sure sign that I'm a raving alcoholic, right?

Pfffft.... I couldn't wait. And besides, my Y letter was Y the Hell Not!

So I made it ... except I didn't have a shot glass to measure the booze so I actually think my drink was three times a normal size – making it more of a Scooby Buffet than a Snack. But it was DEEEE-LIICOUS!!!! I slurped it down like nobody's business, felt giddy for about 10 minutes, than went upstairs and fell asleep.

My Scooby Snack - in an old-fashioned glass ... *hiccup*

X is for X-Nay on the Ost-Nay

Oh feck it. After three entire minutes of deliberation, I am calling uncle. I can not think of a single bloody interesting thing that starts with the letter x. I mean, I could come up with some completely boring shite that starts with x, but it would only be so I could say I completed the entire A to Z Challenge. So I might as well just say I have no x, which still qualifies as an x post. Right? See how that works? Are you following me? Is there more coffee required?

Since this is a space filler, you are under no obligation to comment. I am hoping the Y post is more interesting, but no promises.

Monday, April 28, 2014

W is for Weezie

Well, Saturday was my BIG DAY! It was my very first public reading of Green Eggs & Weezie! I have read it out loud before but this was the first "official" one – a huge step for anybody who has ever dreamed of writing a book.

There's a whole pile of work between thinking about writing a novel and doing a reading. There's the writing, which is excruciating, the editing, which is endless, the publishing, which is complicated and not for the faint of heart, and there's the promotion – which is a whole 'nother ball game. I thought I'd be good at promotion – I was a reporter for a hundred years, for crying out loud. I organized contests. I ran all kinds of promotions. I thought it would be easy. But you know, I'm kind of at a loss in the promotional department. I don't know what else I can do. Well, actually I do know, but to be honest I've lost all my enthusiasm. I should have been organizing readings all over the place but I just haven't had the gumption. I've been kinda living like a hermit.

Anyway, thanks to a pep talk from my friend Shauna, I finally talked myself into going to the library and asking if they would host a reading for me. Tanya, the absolute charmer who works at the north branch, seemed thrilled to do just that, so we set a date. Tanya promoted it on the library website and the Facebook page; I promoted it on FB, and the newspaper ran a couple of promotional blurbs. I didn't know how many people to expect, and I didn't want to run out of books, so I ordered 50 – 25 of Green Eggs & Weezie and 25 of my short story collection, Friday Girls. I hoped that would be enough, but I secretly imagined the library overflowing with people eager to buy my books. I imagined 100, at least, and got nervous about speaking in front of all those people ... and my hand getting sore from signing so many books.

Well ... things didn't turn out quite as I had hoped. Thank goodness for my Cold Lake friends – if it wasn't for them coming, there would have been three people at the reading: Theresa, the local reporter, who was assigned the story and had to be there; Tanya, the librarian who organized it, and had to be there; and one lady I'd never had the pleasure of meeting before ... I think her name was Louise, but maybe I'm just channeling some Weezie ...

My lovely friends, all of whom have already read my book, bought pity copies. Five in total. Dave helped me pack the rest back in the box and drag them home again.

It wasn't a complete disappointment. I did enjoy myself. I had fun talking with the ginormous crowd and I had fun reading out loud ... I've always enjoyed reading out loud and the thing with a reading is, there's no teacher to say, "That's enough, it's Jimmy's turn," when you're just getting to the good part.

Thanks to Shauna, Cassie, Michelle, Phyllis, Jenny and Dave for being my friends, buying my books and cheering me on. And thanks to all the people from far and wide who wished me well. Y'all mean the world to me. oxox

P.S. If you feel sorry for me and want to order your own pity book, here's the links:

Green Eggs & Weezie paperback

Friday Girls paperback

If you're in Cold Lake, I've got two boxes of the suckers! And you can read it for free at Cold Lake Library!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

V is for Viper - and Vitality - and Stuff

Have you seen that picture/video thing going around, of the viper that ate a millipede and the millipede ate the viper inside out? Isn't that just the grossest thing since sliced bread? The viper apparently ate the bug alive, and then the bug ate the snake's innards until he got his head free about halfway. The millipede almost made it out alive ... can you imagine? Getting almost out and then succumbing to snake digestive juices?

Speaking of vipers, Dave's work got a brand new Dodge Viper. It's sitting in the dealership's showroom, looking just as shiny as a $150,000 car should look.

Dave says I'm too fat for the Viper. Actually, he says most people are too fat for the Viper. The cockpit is built for people who have asses like 12-year-old boys. Thin boys. I think it must be a drag for rich people who have double-wides attached to their hips. All that money and even a shoe horn and an economy sized jar of Vaseline won't put them behind the wheel.

I saw the most wonderful movie tonight: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Sigh. What a wonderful movie. Exhilarating. Exquisite. Beautifully filmed. And it has such vitality that it made me laugh and cry at the same time. It wasn't anything like I expected, in a good way, and I know it's one of those movies I'll want to watch again and again.

It makes me want to go outside and embrace the sky.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Under the Weather

No, not me. Gawd. I am so sick about writing about being under the weather but not as sick, I am sure, as you are hearing about it.

Nope, Under the Weather is another gem I unearthed in the National Film Board archives. (You seriously need to check them out.) When I think of the NFB, I inevitably think about the zany animated shorts the board is famous for, films like: The Cat Came Back, the hilarious Oscar-nominated cartoon based on the folk song of the same name; Log Driver's Waltz, the addictively silly song by Wade Hemsworth about loggers and their gals dancing on logs in whirling swirling waters; My Financial Career, a drily hilarious cartoon based on a classic Stephen Leacock story; and one of my favourites, another Wade Hemsworth song called Black Fly. Oh, and I can't go away without mentioning The Big Snit. Fecking FUNNY and weird in equal measures.

Speaking of weird, Under the Weather is one of the weirdest cartoons I've ever laid eyes on. It's NFB-weird the way I expect NFB films to be weird. You just don't see stuff like this anywhere else in the world. It's as uniquely Canadian as that Ti-Jean movie I wrote about under the A to Z T-category.

You might not have had time for Tie-Jean, but take a few minutes to enjoy Under the Weather. It's worth it for two reasons: the bizarre sound of the people talking, and the man-boobs.

Fabulous man-boobs with fabulous man-nipples.

You just don't see stuff like that anywhere else ...

T is for Ti-Jean Goes West

I was thinking about the National Film Board of Canada for the letter T, knowing of course, that it starts with an N, but still, the NFB is a treasure trove of Canadian film and I was sure to find something interesting that started with a T.

Sure enough, I found a little ditty called Ti-Jean Goes West, made in 1957 by a fellow named Raymond Garceau. I'd never heard of Ti-Jean before but apparently there was a whole series of Ti-Jean films and they were amongst the NFB's most popular titles back in the late '50s and early '60s. Ti-Jean (rhymes with dijon, like the mustard) was a 10-year-old French-Canadian kid who had magic powers, including the ability to run faster than a train, and this particular film was part comic adventure and part travelogue. In it, the cherubic faced youngster decides to hop on a train in Quebec and go out west. I thought, that's perfect! I live out west! Ti-Jean travelled out west!

Ever perfecter (shut up, spelling Nazis), the train in question was a Canadian Pacific, the company my engineer father worked for almost his entire life. Even perfecter than that, the engineer in the film is dressed exactly like my dad used to dress, right down to the striped jacket and cap! You can imagine my joy!

As the film progresses, Ti-Jean (who gets to drive the train, lucky bastard) (did I just say that? oops!) travels through my neck of the woods, beautiful northern Ontario with all its forests and lakes, before hitting the great, wide-open plains of Canada's bread basket.

He gets a job with Farmer Fetterman by showing off his amazing strength. How many kids can lift a one-ton farm implement, with his bare hands, without even farting? Ti-Jean can! So he gets a job harvesting wheat.

Mrs. Fetterman is so impressed her pancakes quiver.

The narrator says, "Ti-Jean can hardly wait to see Mr. Fetterman's combine at work." (Is that weird or is it just me?)

Now I'm reminded of life at my grandparents' farm, the harvest, the McCormick combine, the broken equipment, the oncoming rain – oh, the drama! But it's Ti-Jean and his little black beret to the rescue!

"Bring me a scythe," says Ti-Jean, looking at a field of oats as big as the eye can see. Ti-Jean's arms work 1,000 times faster than the farm equipment. The farmers can't believe their eyes as the camera moves in fast motion, then the bereted superhero jumps on top of the combine and drives it like a born harvester. He's determined to outwit the storm! Oh, the excitement! What will happen? Look! Ti-Jean even has the beginning of a moustache on his prepubescent lip! What a stud-muffin!

This movie is the kind of film we watched on those old projectors in public school, when the teacher was off sick and a substitute dug out NFB classics to occupy us kids until the bell rang. It's tacky. It's cheesy, it's corny – it's all the food groups! And yet, it has a remarkably Canadian charm that puts a ridiculous smile on my face.

Is there a happy ending to the Ti-Jean story? You'll just have to watch it to find out!

P.S. There are some fabulous short films on the NFB site. The animated ones, in particular, are wonderful. If you have time, check 'em out!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

S is for Sam's Funny Faces

My son Sam, who is 13 and a half, is handsome. He has big brown eyes surrounded by long black lashes. He has thick, wavy hair. He also has a fabulous smile but you wouldn't know it because every time there's a camera around, Sam makes funny faces. Take these photos, for example, which were taken last summer, mostly on our moving trip from Ontario to Alberta. We took our sweet time, and camped along the way. Dave and I had a great time but Sam swears he's never gonna drive across the country ever. ever. again. This is Sam and Dave having a pop. Note Sam's face.

OK, so he's not always making faces. If you distract him with a panting, squirming dog, you may catch an actual smile. You know, by accident.

Swimming ... floating ... a long ways from shore, Sam can relax ....

... that is until his Spidey senses make him aware of Mom's telephoto lens, then he manages an adorably sweet smile.

I have no explanation for his. Dave was relaxing, Sam was playing in the sand, my camera came out and suddenly Sam thrust his arm in the air ... Dave has no inkling what Sam is doing, which cracks me up even more.

The fake thumb's up pancake smile. A smile common to 13 year old boys, right parents?

The mesmerized by pancake syrup face. Perhaps he is imagining himself in an Aunt Jemima commercial. Perhaps he is imagining Mom losing her camera ...

HA! The dreaded Dave-is-touching-me face! I have a zillion photos exactly like this, Dave grabbing Sam for a photo, Sam trying to fight it, Dave wrestling him like a greased pig, Sam finally giving up and posing under protest. Yup, a million photos just like this one ... only they don't all have the Wawa Goose in the background.

This is Sam's patented holding-the-cat face.

This is Sam's in-front-of-the-house-of-a-Canadian-icon face. Margaret Laurence is one of Canada's most famous, bestest writers and I am SUCH a fan. Sam? Not so much... "I don't wanna get my picture taken. I don't even know who she is. I don't wanna. You can't make me. You'll buy me an ice cream at Dairy Queen? OK, hurry up, HURRY UP, PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT ME, omigawd shoot me now..."

This is Sam's I've-been-in-a-car-for-five-days face, which could easily be confused with Canadian-prairie-scenery-is-the-most-boring-in-the-entire-WORLD face. Don't take it personally, Saskatchewan. It takes a lot to impress Sam. If you were a video game, he'd think you were gorgeous.

This is a genuine Sam smile. Notice he is distracted by a small dog. Notice small dog looks tortured. This pic was taken at the 4 Wing Air Force Base in Cold Lake. We were watching fighter planes take off and land, which mildly amused Sam for a few minutes. Then he decided to make the small dog act like a plane, which amused him greatly. *No small dogs, boys or planes were injured in the making of this photograph.

This is not an accidental blink. This is an on purpose blink. There's a difference.

Saskatchewan may not impress Sam but he was like, "LOOK! LOOK! A FIRE PIT!" That's what happens when he's denied video games.

Look familiar? This is the Mother version of the Dave-is-touching-me face ...

... only I can't hang onto him like Dave can. 

Dave's got big pipes. Sam better eat his Wheaties if he wants free of those big guns.

Happy birthday, Sam! This is Sam's I'd-rather-be-looking-at-a-firepit-than-posing-with-this-stupid-cat-cake face.

This is the BIGGEST MUSHROOM IN THE WORLD and it's just down the road from Cold Lake, in a blink-of-an-eye town called Vilna, Alberta. I found this online about the giant mushroom: 

The World's Largest Mushrooms are indeed something to behold, but the best part is the free tour you get from the elderly gentleman who lives across the street. He watched (with his own eyes!) its development from conception to maturation, and his knowledge on this sculpture is encyclopaedic.
When he sees you getting ready to take a picture, he'll saunter over from his perch across the street and start spilling astounding statistics ("... it cost $35,000 to build...Hurricane Andrew could blow through here and the mushrooms would still stand...").
I asked him if the mushrooms get a lot of visitors, and he said, "Oh, yeah, about once every half hour in season!" and, "There's a lot of stuff like this in these parts, but these mushrooms are the best. That pyrogy's nothing more than a half-moon." To which I replied: "But the pyrogy has a giant fork in it, and the mushrooms don't!"

We had taken that photo of the mushroom on the way to Edmonton Airport. Sam had spent the summer with us, but he was headed back to Ontario to be with his father and go back to school. I flew back with him, and did some visiting while I was "back home," so this photo wasn't the last time I saw Sam ... but it is the last photo I took. Interestingly enough, it's an actual Sam smile... I haven't seen my darling boy since last August. I can't even tell you how this breaks my heart ... but summer is coming on fast and it won't be long before I'll hold him in my arms, and he'll squirm and make faces and he'll probably be a foot taller since I saw him last... Sam may be the king of funny faces, but to me it's the sweetest, most endearing face in this whole world.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

R is for Reading

Omigawd, there's an original R-word. (Watching hordes of friends fleeing from boredom.) Ah feck it. At least it's a word and since I'm behind a day, it'll have to do.

I have a READING this Saturday! 2 p.m., to be exact, at the Grand Centre Branch of Cold Lake Library.

I have never DONE a reading before. Should I be worried? I am, sort of, but how hard can it be? I get up in front of the six people who will attend (that's everyone I know in Cold Lake, including the librarian, and my husband, who I made take a day off work so he can hold my hand and the puke bucket) and I read a chapter or two from my book. I'll probably also talk about how I came to write Green Eggs & Weezie, how people can avoid turning a marital separation into a big ta-doo, you know, stuff like that. Stuff I talk about every day here in blogland. It really shouldn't be an issue. The biggest thing I'm worried about is what to wear and if the blades in my winter-rusted razor will be sharp enough to take down the forest growing on my calves.

I'm bringing 23 copies of each of my books to sell. I fear I am overly optimistic on this front, as the six people I know in Cold Lake already own copies (they were foisted upon).

I know a lot of you are writers – any tips on getting through the reading without barfing?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quiet

It has taken no lullaby to rock me to sleep this past week.

I sleep all night long. I sleep three to four hours every afternoon. When I'm not actually sleeping, I'm on the verge of falling asleep. This is apparently normal when one is fighting strep throat but I apologize profusely to my husband, day after day, for the amount of time I spend in bed. He's been cooking for me, and cleaning, as well as doing all the jobs he usually does around the house, like renovating the bathroom. Not to mention his full time job at the garage.

I am feeling better. The pain in my throat is almost gone. I'm hoping soon the accompanying lethargy disappears as well. In the meantime, I am as quiet as a tomb.

A tomb that snores.

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Poo-Pourri

Far be it from me to ever talk about bodily functions, but I've been dying to tell you about Poo-Pourri for ages.

I bought some last summer, with the specific intention of trying it out and blogging about it. (You can see how well blogging-in-advance works for me, since it's now April.) I had to try it because the company had the funniest marketing campaign video I'd ever seen.

I ordered the large bottle from – at $20.99 plus tax and delivery, it was probably the most expensive bathroom spray I'd ever purchased, but considering I've had it for nearly a year, it's a pretty good buy. What's more, it WORKS.

You spray some in the toilet before you have a poo. The essential oils form a pleasant herbal barrier on the top of the water. When your poop drops below the surface, the oils reseal the barrier and, voila, no smell! This seriously works – take it from someone with Crohn's Disease who is married to someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome! We've really given it a work-out!

I wish I had this when I was still working. Back then I was so embarrassed about stinking up the washroom, that I'd hold it all day. Had I been able to leave a pleasant herbal scent rather than the stench of 1,000-cows, I would have had far less stomach cramping and gnashing of teeth.

Poo-Pourri - you'll never be stinky again!

O is for Oh-Oh

Facebook Post: Wednesday, April 16
I had laid down for a nap after swallowing a couple of Tylenol 3s, and woke up to the sound of the doorbell ringing repeatedly. I staggered downstairs in a stupor and tried to focus on what this guy was telling me - something about furnace accessories and drumming up business, and could he put a sign in my window ... or maybe it was my door. I dunno ... I felt like I was drunk, swaying back in forth in the doorway, dried nap-drool with hair stuck in it on my cheek (you know how you drool, and your hair gets in it, then when it dries it sticks?), and what hair not stuck to your face resembles that flying cow from Twister? The guy handed the sign to me to look at but I couldn't see the fecking thing because I didn't have my glasses on, so I was doing deep-squinting exercises to see if it would focus, but then he abruptly took it away, I think because I was starting to scare him. I tried to reassure him that I wasn't feeling well. "I seck," I mumbled. The guy suddenly looked like a deer in the headlights. "I dunt enderstund wot ure tying 2 tall me," I said, and then reiterated, with emphasis, "I SECK." The guy looked relieved. "Is there something going around? The person in the house next door was sick." (I thought, BRILLIANT neighbour, faking it.) "How about I come back tomorrow when you're feeling better?" he asked magnaminously. I nodded and smiled, which caused the dried drool on my face to crack, and vowed never to answer the GD doorbell again as long as I live.

Thursday, April 17, approximately 2 p.m.
I let the dog out the back door and, as I was waiting for her to do her doggie bittnezz, it occurred to me that I should shut the blinds in the front window, in case the sales guy from yesterday showed up. Our house is open concept - if he's standing at the front door, he can peek through the living room window and see right through to the back door. Where I was standing. Waiting for the dog. Thinking about closing the blinds. And then DING DONG, the doorbell rang. FECK! He's EARLY! I ducked for cover into the kitchen, but realized he might still see me in the reflection from the glass cupboards, so I scootched down beside the garbage can and held my breath, not just because I was hiding, but also because the garbage stunk. DING DONG! He rang the bell again, and I just about crapped my pants. Sweat poured off me. My heart raced. I wondered if I'd have a heart attack next to the garbage can. The dog, meanwhile, was barking her fool head off outside, either wanting to be let in or warning me about the intruder on the porch. I hid, and waited. No way was I answering the door. I just hid. And hid. Minutes went by. The dog stopped barking .... the doorbell hadn't rung for a while. I was just thinking that maybe he had given up when he KNOCKED on the door. FECK! The dog started barking again. I thought I was gonna die from the smell of meatloaf from three nights ago, mouldering three inches from my schnoz. After a while the dog shut up again. Eventually I heard footsteps going down the front steps. "Maybe it's a trap," I thought, so I stayed hidden in the kitchen for another 20 minutes. Finally, only my need to go to the bathroom overpowered my fear of the dude at the door. I peeked around the corner, sniper style, didn't see him, and quickly scurried over to window and shut the blinds tight.

Thursday, April 17, approximately 9 p.m.
Dave had an appointment for a haircut, we went grocery shopping and picked up some take-out for a late dinner. We had just gotten home, and were still unpacking groceries, when DING DONG, the doorbell rang. Dave was standing in the front foyer, so he answered it. As soon as he did, I heard the sales dude's voice. NO WAY! HE CAME BACK AT 9 O'CLOCK! I assumed my position hiding in the kitchen and listened as my way-too-nice husband heard the sales pitch. Something about security systems. I still wasn't up to par, health-wise, and this guy had some kind of accent, so it took me a while to figure it out. Dave listened, and listened, as our supper grew colder, and finally he said he wasn't interested and hustled the guy back into the night.

I've been nervous about it ever since. We didn't even see him as we were unloading groceries, but suddenly he was there - where exactly did he come from? Was he watching to see us come back home? I'm telling ya, if we get broken into, he'll be the first person I suspect ... him trying to sell us a security system, and then a break-in... coincidence? I think not.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Noises

My friend is going through some bad shite right now and I've been spending a lot of time on the telephone with her, listening to her ups and downs and trying to help her get to a healthier emotional state.

I don't mind, not at all. I love talking to her and she's helping me deal with my own problems, just as much, or if not more, than I'm helping her. Plus, we're just big gabbers – there was one day we were on the phone for nearly four hours.

Crazy, right? Normally I don't even LIKE talking on the phone.

I don't know how you operate when you're having long telephone conversations, but I try to get other stuff done when I'm yakking. Not big noisy stuff, like Hoovering under the sofa, or distracting stuff, like blogging, but little stuff like emptying the dishwasher and cleaning out the kitty litter. I put the phone on speaker, because after a while the cell phone heats up and burns my ear, and I go about my business. I've made lunch while I'm talking to her, I've had a tinkle in the loo (but never number two - I have to draw the line somewhere), and today I painted my toenails and trimmed my bangs.

We were having a heavy duty conversation this morning. She was spilling her guts. It was emotional, rip-your-heart-out stuff. If I was her therapist, I would have said she was having "a moment." She was "making progress." It was deep, man. Deeeep.

Naturally I didn't want to interrupt her to say, "My throat is really sore and I need to gargle with this shit the doctor gave me," because that would be selfish and rude, and it would disrupt the emotional "moment" my friend was having. So I slipped into the bathroom and got out my medicine, while my friend continued to spill her guts.

"... I was surrounded by blood, and by trauma, at that point. It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was crisis, and I didn't know what I was going to to. It was terrible, just horrifying and ..."


I was laughing because I realized how loud the gargling was and how awful it was I was interrupting with GARGLING, and the more I understood what a complete jackass I was, the harder I laughed.

When she could finally get a word in edgewise my friend said, "What the FECK is wrong with you?"

Only she didn't say feck, she said the real thing.

"Do I need to call 9-1-1?"

Which made me laugh harder, which made her laugh, and pretty soon we completely forgot about the deeeep shit we were talking about because all we could do was gasp weakly and wheeze.

Best laugh I've had in weeks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Medical Guilt and Dr. Awesomesauce

The great thing about being Canadian is you have AWESOME health care. The not-so-great thing is, you feel guilty about using it.

OK, so maybe you don't, but I certainly do.

There's so much pressure on us (from the government, which is trying to save money, and from healthcare professionals who are run off their feet) to not go to the hospital emergency department unless we're fecking dying.

Sometimes we don't have much of a choice. Like yesterday, I tried to get an appointment with my family doctor because I had a sore throat, fever, swollen glands and earache. All I wanted was for her to take a quick peek in my ear and see if I had an infection but, no, the clinic I go to pre-books everything, so unless you know you're going to have an earache three weeks from now, you pretty much have to go to the hospital – or just ignore it and hope it goes away on its own.

It's so embarrassing, going to the hospital feeling like you're going to croak any second, only to be told, "You just have a virus. Go home. Get some rest. (And the unsaid - stop wasting our precious time.) Blah, blah, blah."

So, understandably I wasn't in a big hurry to visit the hospital but when my fever kept going up and my throat got sorer (more sore?) I put on my big girl undergotchies and went to the ER, sure as sun-up that I'd be going home with my tail between my legs.

As soon as the doctor came in the room to see me, I started apologizing. The best defence is always a good offence, right? It's like, if you point out that you're fat as a whale, nobody else has to do it ... and, goodness gracious, it's important that somebody point out your whaleness, otherwise, how would you know?

"I'm sorry, it's probably just a virus, but I couldn't get an appointment with my doctor and they said to come here, but I didn't really want to and I'm probably wasting your time and I know the healthcare system is overburdened and it's completely my fault for coming here with this stupid virus. I'm so SORRY."

The doctor grinned. "Stop apologizing," he said.

I swooned. I had a nice doctor on my hands. And he wasn't bad looking, either .... not that I noticed ...

"I just feel so guilty," I said, still apologizing.

He continued to reassure me that I had every right to be there as he checked my ears and throat, and then he said, "Well you made a good call, coming here. The back of your throat is coated with pus – you've got strep, alright."

JOY! I was sick! Really sick! If I could have done a happy dance, I would have.

Dr. Nice gave me penicillin and Tylenol 3 and a mouthwash and sent me on my way. I thanked him profusely, almost crying in the process (because that's what I do when I'm sick, I bawl like an idjit).

"Thank you," I said, with utmost sincerity. I wanted him to understand how much it means to be treated well when you're sick. "You are a sweet man."

He smiled.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Laid Up

For today's A to Z Challenge, I'm calling in sick! That, ladies and gentlemen, right there, is why it's a good idea to write your posts ahead of time ... see ya tomorrow... unless I'm dead ... then I won't ...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kelly

It seems odd that I know more people with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), than people with cancer. Doesn't that seem odd to you?

I was thinking about this yesterday, wondering why, and after much ruminating I realized that my friends with PTSD feel stronger, love harder and give more than anyone else.

And then it hit me how truly lucky I am to have these people as friends. One of them is my cousin, Kelly, and even though I think I know her, the absolute depth of her compassion still blows me away.

Kelly is a humanitarian, through and through, and an internationally renowned artist (that's her piece, above). You can check out her art on her website.

Happy K-Day, Mizz Thang. And thanks to all my PTSD ladies for being such good people.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jennifer Lawrence.

I bet you thought I was going to write about someone else whose name starts with the letter J, didn't you?


Nope, for me J is all about Jennifer Lawrence. I have to admit I have a real girl crush going on for her. She is SO talented. I just watched Silver Linings Playbook again the other night, for probably the fourth time, and I was still absolutely mesmerized by her performance. I felt my face stretching into a perma-grin throughout the movie, and I'd look over at Dave, and he was wearing that same goofy smile.

I can't imagine anyone else portraying Katniss in The Hunger Games, and she stole the show in American Hustle. If you've never seen Winter's Bone, you must see it ASAP. The film is captivating for many reasons but Lawrence shines like the future superstar she is destined to be.

I know she appears as Mystique in the X-Men series but it's hard to connect with her in that one because of all the blue paint, eyeball covers and weird red hair – it almost, but not quite, hides the essence of what makes her special... that girl next door quality, that honesty, that complete and utter lack of grace at the Academy Awards ...  I can so relate!

I'm looking forward to the release of her next film, also starring her favourite male lead Bradley Cooper. It's called Serena and it's based on a book I just have to read before the movie comes out. So I better get reading, eh?

And if you've never seen any of these movies, you had better get watching ... I'm watching ya, get going ... go on ... quit stalling ... EC, quit goofing around ... Delores, get your DVDs lined up ... Joanne, put down that damned glitter gun and Alex, step awaaaaaaay from the computer ...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Indulgence

My friend had a hissy fit the other night because her better half had inadvertently thrown out her last two cookies.

"All I wanted was a COOKIE. Is that too much to ask? A #@%#^$&% COOKIE???" She then listed all the multitudinous things she does for her spouse, her selfless hardships, her complete and utter martyrdom, "AND ALL I WANT IS A FECKING COOKIE."

Through a rainforest shower-head of tears, she told me it wasn't even a "good" cookie. It was a healthy cookie. Probably made with dried bits of fava bean, seaweed and non-glutinous bonito flakes.

I was, like, duuude, I wouldn't even let that shite in my house and, if it got there by accident, I'd think Dave was a superhero for throwing its stinky ass out the door.

"Go to the store," I told her, "and buy all of your favourite things."

She was, like, "Whaaa?" because, like most of us, when she goes grocery shopping she buys carrots and meat and toilet paper – all the sensible stuff – and then maybe, just maybe – as a treat – she might buy one carton of non-fat frozen yogurt, or bonito flake non-gluten cookies.

"Haven't you ever done that?" I asked.

"No," she said. "Well, not since I was a kid."

Ah yes. Kid-dom. I remember it well. I'd get an allowance of 50 cents on Saturday morning and I'd go directly to the local smoke & gift store and spend the happiest moments of my kid-week deciding what junk food to buy. A bag of chips, a chocolate bar, maybe some pop rocks and some shoestring licorice. Oh, man, those were the days.

I used to think that, when I grew up, I'd buy all of that stuff all of the time. What kid in their right mind would spend money on carrots and toilet paper when there are peppermint patties and corn chips? Whatever happened to that wonderful kid dream?

My friend got all excited at the prospect of going to the grocery store and frittering a hundred glorious bucks on nothing but cheesecake, double-stuf Oreos, sour cream and onion potato chips, real ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream in a can.

"I'm gonna go," she said, drooling, and she hung up the phone with visions of banana splits dancing in her head.

I spent the next hour or so daydreaming about what I'd buy on an Ultimate Junk Food Shopping Trip and finally decided on:

Sooooo.... if you could go to the grocery store, right now, and fill your cart with anything your little kid heart desires, what would you buy?