Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hitting the Road

Even bloggers need a vacation. Heading out for a week of golf and R & R my dear readers. Staying at such a remote location, I will have no internet access, so no travel journal this time. With any luck it will give me a week's worth of blog topics to write about when I get back. Talk to you in August sometime. Ciao for now. Decomama

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Customer is always Invisible at Bill's

Sometimes it seems you go through a period where everything around you seems to break down around the same time. This is the kind of summer we have had at our house. First it was the kitchen appliances which we replaced and the new dishwasher is still not working. The repair guy who was supposed to show up today, got into an accident or some such B.S. and so now my new dishwasher that was meant to replace the old poorly working one is yet to perform for me the way it should. Then, two days ago the motor on our pool pump went kaput and my husband had to take it off and bring it to a place called Bill's Electric - Motors and Pumps. The good news is that Bill's is close by and could turn around the repair within 2 days. The not so good news is that since Bill's closes at 5 pm daily, I was elected to go pick up the "good as new" motor as my husband could not get there in time as his work day ends a little later. "No problem, I'll pick it up," I said. No stranger to running these types of errands, it never occurred to me that my trip to Bill's would elicit such an emotional response that I felt compelled to share my experience in my blog with you dear readers. Allow me to preface the story with the fact that I had just finished a 90 minute power-walk before heading over to see Bill - so I may have been a little sweaty, but not offensive in any way (I had used deodorant earlier in the day). So, I walk into the strange land that is Bill's Electric, not the kind of place any woman in her right mind would ever CHOOSE to pop into, but I had a mission and it was a simple one. Walk in the door, ask if the motor is ready, pay the bill, take the motor and leave. Anybody could do this - am I right? First thing I notice is the absence of anyone at what looks sort of like a reception counter. I disregard that fact and look over toward the workshop where I see two men, both mid-40's sitting behind counters working on motors. As I stand there, well within view of both of them, I wait until I figure one of them will eventually look up and make eye contact with me. Both are immersed in their work, but I'm thinking at some point they have just got to look at me or speak to me. Nada. I wait. To my right, there are two Asian men, seemingly customers, speaking Chinese, huddled face to face, heads bent in unison studying a little metal fan that looks like it came from the interior of some sort of air conditioning unit or something - what do I know? They won't be any help I can tell, so I ignore them. Five minutes pass and no one has yet to greet me, ask what I want, nothing. So now, I'm getting impatient. I start to wander about the front of the shop and find a door partially open, leading into an office. Aahh, this must be where "Bill" lives. I peak my head in the door and sure enough, a man at a computer (Bill? - maybe) sits working. "Excuse me, can you help me?" I ask. He looks over at me and says, "Is there no one out there?" "Well, yes there is, but I've been standing here for a while now looking like an idiot and no one has even said hello, let alone help me." Reluctantly he gets up and comes out of the office and as he does this, I explain why I am here hoping he will serve me. But no, that would be too simple. It becomes obvious that this is not his job, as he beckons to the two mute guys over working on their very important projects to retrieve the motor I have come for and prepare my bill. Finally, I think - we're getting somewhere. As I did not drop the motor off, I have no idea what to expect in terms of which one of the many motors lining the shelves adorned with customer name tags is mine. Mr. Mute pulls one off the shelf without a name tag and I say, "Are you sure that's mine?" He sort of grunts something I cannot discern and heads to the reception counter to prepare my bill. Maybe, I start to think, Bill has actually hired a bunch of mute repairmen and any minute now, someone is going to jump up and say I am on Candid Camera or I have just been punked or some bloody thing - cause this whole scenario is getting more and more bizarre by the minute. Just as I am quite convinced this is the case, Mr. Mute asks me in a very monotone voice, "How do you want to pay?" Not, "That will be $295 plus GST ma'am." No, I had to ask him how much it was. Apparently, Bill's guys are not only socially handicapped, but they have zero customer service skills to boot. I started to wonder if they were on some sort of day outing from a local prison or something. I have never seen or sensed such a void of emotion or simple courtesy as I have here at Bill's Electric and by now I am very certain it is not just me and my sweaty armpits. The next customer who walks in is already sighing and looking at me like I could possibly be of some help and all I want to do is go running out of there with my motor under my arm, never to return. I walk over to the table where my motor sits and realize I may need something to carry it with. Mr. Mute then notices I am a woman and says, "Ya need something to carry it in?" Suddenly overwhelmed by his sudden burst of generosity, I agree, I might indeed need something - a box perhaps. He goes to fetch a box, places the motor inside and to my surprise starts to head to the door to put it in my car. This is of course done wordlessly, yet efficiently and I thank Mr. Mute as he silently walks back into the shop. Had he just done me a favour? I'll never know for sure. It begs the question - does Bill have a monopoly in the area? He must - otherwise he could never get away with such poor customer service. Aahh well, as long as the damn thing works, all will be forgiven. But it better damn well work!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Never underestimate a Goddess

I've been playing a bit of mixed doubles at my tennis club this season for a change from the ladies doubles and I'm surprised how much I am enjoying it. For starters, I like the challenge of the harder serves from the men, the pace of the game seems a bit quicker and for whatever reason, the rallies longer and more exciting. As it is not a mixed doubles league and just a casual weekly match, the pressure is off and you're playing against members of your own club who just love to play for the sake of playing. Don't get me wrong - there is still a sense of competitiveness on the court, but since you're not playing for points or standings, no one takes themselves too seriously. It's just fun. However, the routine has been switch partners after the first set, then for the third, we play gods vs goddesses if there is time for a third. Today we had time and for the first time this season, the goddesses won! The gods were up 5-3 and they were acting a bit cocky thinking they were about to claim victory, but I had a sudden overwhelming desire to put an end to their overly confident attitude. Not sure what came over me, just tired of losing maybe. Whatever it was, even my partner noticed I kind of starting killing the ball. Hard passing shots down the alley, a couple of overhead smashes they were helpless to retrieve and before you know it, it's 5 all. Now I know I said it's just a friendly match, but now I could smell victory and I was really pumped and the guys were getting that worried look on their faces - more like bewildered, as in, what just happened there? Before they had a chance to gather themselves, we pounced and they never stood a chance. High fives on our side, and a bit of humility on the opposing side of the net. Apparently I was smiling a bit too much after the handshakes. More like gloating really. But what the hell - how often does it happen? Next week - maybe they won't get so complacent. They will know I have come to win. And now that I know I can - they best bring their "A" game. Just because I'm wearing a skirt - don't be fooled.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Be Careful what you wish for....

When exactly do the awareness lights come on in the mind of a teenager? When do they become aware of their surroundings? Emma has been home for about 24 hours and the signs of her lack of awareness are everywhere. Figuring she would appreciate some time to herself on her first day home from camp to catch up after a month of Facebook and U-Tube drought, her dad and I decided to book a game of golf and get out of her way. We must know her well, because when we asked if she minded, she practically started jumping up and down with glee at the thought of having the house to herself. I peeked my head in her bedroom before we left to let her know we were off and all I got was a wee grumble as she rolled over and covered her head with her blankets. "Call if you need anything," I reminded her. She did call me once on the course to ask if she could have a friend over and if she could walk up to Starbucks. "Yes and yes," I told her. So it seemed she was content with her plan for the day and then she called again several hours later as we were stuck in traffic on the way home. "Hi honey, did your friend come over?" "No, she wasn't home." "Did you go out?" "No, I didn't feel like it." "Well, we're going to be late, so fix yourself some dinner." "There's nothing to eat." (I guess the $125 I spent on groceries on Friday didn't count.) "Did you have breakfast and lunch?" "Yeah, but now I just want a smoothie and I don't know how to work the blender." "Can you wait until I get home in about 30 minutes?" "Yeah, I can wait." So, we get home and Doug says, "I can tell Emma's home." "Because the house is a mess already?" I asked. "No, because the place is all sealed up, all the windows are closed." This is the kind of lack of awareness I am talking about. How does one not notice the house is all stuffy? It is summer. Windows need to be open to let the breeze blow through. Teenagers do not get this - at least not mine. I then walk into the kitchen and can see she had Kraft Dinner for lunch (one of the few things she can cook for herself) as the empty box, empty cheese packet, measuring cup and a trail of powdered orange cheese are scattered about the room. In addition to this, there is a large pot with the remaining congealed orange blob of leftovers sitting on the stove. It looks like she only ate about 1/4 of the box judging by the size of the blob in the pot. Does she even really like the stuff? Man, my brother and I could eat a whole box each of this crap when we were kids. My mom of course only ever made one box and we had to share - it was never quite enough. Then again, we were outside playing all morning, burning off thousands of calories playing tag and generally just running everywhere, so no wonder we were hungry enough to eat anything when the time came. I was about to insist she come down to the kitchen to clean up her mess when I detected something wasn't quite right. So, I whipped up a fruit and protein smoothie and took it up to her room to follow my hunch. Sure enough, she is in bed, computer on her lap, with that look on her face. The look all mothers recognize almost instantly. "What's wrong?" I ask. "Sorry I'm not all chipper and everything mom. " It can only be one of two things. She's upset because somebody has hurt her feelings or she is sick. "I'm not feeling that great." I reach over and sure enough, she has a fever and it doesn't surprise me since she told me there were several girls in her dorm at camp that were sick. So, I tell her to stay in bed, she drinks her smoothie and I take the glass to the kitchen along with the glass and plate from her breakfast that are still sitting on her desk. While she was away for the month, I never had to clear a dirty dish from her room, stare down a pot of K.D., spend half my life doing laundry, close her door in disgust or listen to her complaints about the lack of "anything good to eat" in the fridge. (The assortment of fresh fruit on hand at all times does not count.) And now, in addition to that list of thankless tasks, I can look forward to playing nurse for a few days until she gets better just in time for our family holiday next weekend. With any luck, vomit may be involved. Lucky me. I'm really glad she's home though. Really I am.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Humbled yet Again

So, I'm at the driving range last night practicing (god knows I need all I can get) and I step up to mat with my 5 iron and knock about 10 perfect shots straight out, land them around the 150 yard marker and think, "Well, that club is working for me," and then I grab my 9 iron and again, they go where I'm aiming and I'm getting them up nice and high, landing them about 100 yards out, and I think to myself, "Wow, this club is working too." Figuring by now, I don't really need to practice afterall, I pull out my driver. I go from confident and cocky to frustrated and embarrassed in about a nano-second. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I've got the yips with my driver and no matter what I change up, nothing seems to make a difference. I adjust my stance. I change my grip. I become aware of my shoulder drop and stop it. I slow down my back swing. I tee it up a bit higher. It still hooks left. Then, miraculously, I hit a straight one. Once. The next one heads left again. What did I do with the last one? I try to image it. The image is gone. In the spring, I was hitting my driver great. I was so sure I had mastered the damn thing finally. On the course the other day, I hit 14 out of 18 fairways and hit one drive 280 yards. What was I doing different that day? Why can't I be consistent? These are the questions that plague me now. And don't even get me started on my 3 Wood - that club never comes out of my bag - I hate that club. I have hit it well on occasion, but I can never count on a good result, so I use my 4 iron or a rescue club instead and let the cobwebs grow on that thing. What is it about this game that keeps me coming back for more abuse? Oh- right, now I remember. It's for those days that all the planets are aligned and all your shots go where you want them to and you watch the flight of your ball with awe and for a few fleeting moments, you are a real golfer. You think to yourself, "Gee, if only my parents had got me started in this sport earlier, I could be doing this for a living." But it's never long before you get a reality check and you shank one off the toe, or take 2 or 3 out of the bunker and once again.... I am humbled.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Next?

Emma has officially been gone now for 25 days at camp and the strangest thing has happened. As much as I have missed her...and I did, I have actually had some real quality time for myself. This is the longest I have ever been away from her and I am thinking it is probably a good thing - for both of us. She is busy growing up and becoming more independent and I have had time to read, write, exercise, look at myself in the mirror, dream, drift, reflect and generally focus exclusively on myself for a change. So now I need to figure out how to sustain this level of introspection when she gets home on Saturday. When we become mothers we have no idea how much of ourselves we are about to put on hold. Initially, we don't notice it much since we're so busy just keeping them clean, fed, safe and alive. The months and years pass by (too quickly) and before you know it, you have become this person you don't recognize as you anymore. I think this is particularly true for stay-at-home moms. I had this very conversation a few weeks back with two of my favorite stay-at-home moms. We talked about life before children (LBC) and how we thought we were going to set the world on fire. We were smart, educated, talented women in a big city and the world was our oyster. For a few years, we did the career thing and I remember how I felt like I owned this town. I buzzed around town in my little VW Rabbit convertible,top down, looking and feeling invincible. I knew every back alley, short cut, one way street, every happening new restaurant, bar and club, small theatre company, you name it - I was in touch with the pulse of Toronto. Life was one giant social engagement. It was fun and exciting. But nothing stays the same forever and one minute I was a one-woman show and the next I was someone's wife, then 5 yrs later, someone else's wife and in the blink of an eye I was Emma's "mom". That's how fast it all seems to have happened now. So for the longest time, I have filled those shoes (almost 15 years) and suddenly, my role is slowly being written out of the script. With my character's role becoming less necessary to the plot-line, I feel like one of those middle-aged soap stars who know their number is almost up. Oh sure, I have 3 years left before she heads off to university, but the light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel and it got a lot brighter over these past 25 days and nights. (more like a bloody huge spotlight) So, now what? Time to start thinking about the kind of role I want to play next I guess. Sure, I'll always have a bit part as "mom", but I'm looking for a meatier part now. Something I can really sink my teeth into - just not sure what that is yet. The possibilities are endless. And since I have three more years to consider my options, I don't have to jump into anything too hastily. I do know though, in my gut, with the utmost of certainty, I will eventually have to jump. Maybe I better get a good parachute.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good Out! Nice up and down! Great chip!

As I am always quick to fire off a blog when I have had a negative experience on the links with either the course or the people I end up golfing with, I figured it was only fair that I write one about the really positive experience I had yesterday. As I have mentioned in the past, when you are booked as a twosome, it's a real crapshoot as to who you will get sent off with. Sometimes, if you're lucky you get to go off on your own, but with the way things are here near Toronto, that doesn't happen too often. I have written about some of the more obnoxious types we have had to endure, but yesterday we got paired up with a lovely father/daughter duo who couldn't have been more pleasant. Not only were they good golfers, they were polite, funny, charming and a pleasure to spend five hours with. See- I can say nice things about some people. Seriously though, it really adds to the day of golf when you can have a few laughs, not get annoyed or frustrated with the antics of your foursome. I gotta believe, it even helped my game. As they were fairly decent golfers, the competition aspect was alive and well, and I will admit I enjoy a little competitive spirit, it definitely upped my effort. It also helped that they seemed to be paying attention to most of my shots and were quick to cheer the good ones. They really did all the right things. They were considerate, helping find lost balls, picking up wedges at the edge of greens, pointing out unforeseen hazards on the course (they had golfed there before - we hadn't), were fun and funny, just the right mix of light-heartedness and serious when necessary. Turns out we even had some things in common, knew someone in common and she had attended the same summer camp as our daughter for several years. Made for interesting small talk and that was good too. So - if any of the boys from Nice Ballz are reading this - perhaps a new index is in order - instead of the D.B.I. - maybe we need another one for the good guys. Maybe the G.P.P. index. Great Pairing Partners. Perfect 10 to Mark and Cailey from Oakville. Thanks for a great day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Milestones shoud be Funny!

I can't help but mention the special birthday being celebrated today. Milestone birthdays are always special. My parents both celebrated milestone birthdays this year - 70. I noted with frustration that the card companies stop making the cards funny at 70. I couldn't find a one that made a joke or snide remark about turning 70 and it pissed me off. If you can't find some humour in aging, then you may as well be dead. Those folks at Hallmark need to lighten up. So, when I started looking for a 60th card for my husband, the selection was a bit better, but it would seem the cut-off for really humorous cards ends at 50. Since I misplaced the card I had purchased for him a few months ago, (I really need to be more organized) I went to find another one and the ones that were trying to be funny were just lame attempts at humour. I ended up with a funny card - but it wasn't specifically geared toward turning 60. I needed to find one that said - "Glad it's you and not me." Or - "Lucky you - now you can take advantage of the senior's discounts in some stores." You know, take a jab at the old guy. But I had no success at all. One of the gals in the administrative staff where he works noticed his birthday was coming up and mentioned it to him and she guessed him to be 51 or 52. I'll admit, he does look young for 60, but boy was she trying to get a raise or what??? Anyway, it made him feel good and that's what counts. Comparing him to Tom Watson at the British Open yesterday, he actually does look 51 or 52. That guy has spent waaaay toooo much time in the sun. Tom turns 60 in September and looks 70. Doug definitely wins the "youthful look" competition there. So for what it's worth, Happy Milestone Birthday Doug, and glad it's you and not me! Your MUCH younger wife, Decomama, xo

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I haven't been fishing - really I haven't!

Well, the verdict is in. I have been keeping track of the yea's and nay's. I wasn't entirely sure myself, but now I think I have definitely leaned toward the yea's. After a few weeks of informal polling (I wouldn't call it fishing), I have decided the last several months of frustration and patience have paid off. It took me years of failed attempts to stay the course, but I finally pushed myself to the limit. I grew out my hair. My super short spiky coif has been replaced by an almost chin-length do that I wear slightly asymmetrically, tucking the left side behind my ear while the right ear remains covered. So what's the big deal about that you may be asking? Well, the journey from short to long is plagued with self-doubt and waaaay too many bad hair days for most women, myself included up until now. Especially in the summer months when the freedom and ease of a short haircut usually will outweigh the labour intensive longer style. But, since this has been an unusually cool summer, the weather has helped me keep the destination clear in my mind and hot humid weather hasn't pushed me to run screaming into my hairdresser demanding she sheer the damn thing off completely (I came close to going the full-on Sinead O'Conner look once). So, I've been quietly tallying compliments versus silence (usually means they liked the old cut better) and lately, now that it actually looks like a style someone chose (rather than arrived at), the kudos are flowing in. Yesterday, after months of silence, my own husband was queried. "So, do you like my longer hair?" I asked, "and be honest, I can take it." I was so certain he was going to adamantly say yes, but he didn't. He said, "Well, it's more traditional than your old hairdo, I liked the short hair, especially in your (blog) photo." "Hmmfff," I thought, what does he know? So, now I was thinking, "Gee, maybe I should just get it cut again and make my life easier." No more blow drying with the big round brush, shaping with the fat curling iron, two products to make it stay that way for a few hours - all in all a fair investment of time to make it look the way I like. I started thinking, "All this time and pain for nothing." But then, last night arrived. We were having a little party for above-mentioned husband's birthday and so I thought, this will be a chance for another fishing (I mean polling) expedition. First the ladies. The gals all gave a resounding thumbs up. Gotta love women. They zoom in on things like hair and clothes and purses and shoes. Always with the eye for detail and always willing to fling a compliment your way - kind of like a mutual admiration society. I was half way there. Now I knew I couldn't come right out and actually ask any of the guys if they liked my new look, so I bided my time to see what would happen as the night progressed. After dinner, as we sat around drinking a few more glasses of wine in the candlelight, (always a woman's best friend), it happened. One of my husband's friends looked down the length of the table and said, "Deb, I know men aren't supposed to do this, but I noticed your hair looks different from the last time I saw you. I really like it - it looks good on you. Is it just your hair or did you change your glasses too? (I could have added here that I had also lost a bit of weight - but I was focused on the hair here). As he had just tipped the poll in favour of the new do sticking around for awhile, another man, sitting next to me, now alerted to the fact that perhaps he should add a comment, said, "Yeah, Deb, I thought something was different", but unwilling to commit fully to a solid opinion, added "but it seems to me you are always changing your hair." He was right, always changing the colour of my hair but that is a piece of cake compared to growing your hair out. The truth is, I am as fickle about my hair as a woman can be. And no matter what hair you have, you always long for something else. There are always good hair days and bad hair days. So, now I ask myself, all informal polling aside. "Deb, do you like your new hair? When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see?" The answer is different depending on the state of my hair, but for the most part, I like the look (I think it is softer and sexier) but I loathe the effort to get it that way. What's a girl to do? In the grand scheme of things, what I do with my hair is completely meaningless, I know that much. But as they say, it is our crowning glory and from that perspective, lands fairly high on a woman's list of priorities. At the very least, I now think I have to let this length have it's moment in the sun and give it a chance to (pardon the pun-here it comes) grow on me and those around me. I'll continue my secret polling and see. "Hairs to change." Cheers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The "Stuff" of Life

Just finished removing millions of little pieces of tape from the shelves and bins of my new fridge. OK, so maybe not millions, but it took me about half an hour to get them all off, some easier than others and so now you have the answer - the new fridge finally arrived in one piece this morning.(third time was the charm) I have to wait 24 hours for the temperature to stabilize before I can transport the shed fridge contents back to the kitchen, but at least I will have a functioning kitchen for the weekend. I thought for years that I was deprived because I didn't own a stainless steel fridge with a water and ice dispenser - seemed like everyone else in my world had one and I was still sticking my fridge magnets onto a classic white beauty. So now that it's finally here, standing proudly in my kitchen, how does it feel? A bit anti-climactic actually. Just another "thing". Have to admit, I look forward to the instant ice and water, a little luxury I have never had. Other than that, I'm pretty over it. I'm more concerned with getting some order back in the house than anything. I am at a point in my life where "things" aren't exciting me as much as they used to. I'm pretty sure this is a good thing, but I might be in the wrong line of work. My work is all about "things". I still appreciate good design and admire it where ever I go, but I don't have the longing to own it for myself that I once did. As long as I don't turn into my grandmother, who lived with the same living room furniture her entire life and never seemed bothered by it. I do still get bored with some of my "things" and need to shake things up now and again. I think it's all part of the mid-life crisis I am going through now. It's a great way to save a little cash, that's one good out-come of my attitude appreciated by my husband in particular. But that's not my motivation. Just a side-effect. Mostly, I don't want to waste any more time looking for new "things". I'd rather spend it being creative here or in my garden or in my work. I sense a new and improved Deb on the horizon and I'm starting to like her more and more. Hope you do to.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A good design perv - any day of the week!

BIG SALE! That's what all the signs say at one of my very favorite places to shop for clients, myself or with friends - hell I'll find any excuse to go there just to have a perv at all the stuff I can't afford. As a decorator, I am on their mailing list and get word of sales before the general public which is nice but still doesn' t address the fact that the stuff I really like and/or want never seems to be on sale even when there is a BIG SALE! Was there this week with a client and after I was finished helping her make some decisions, I went back in to have a look for myself and another client who was not in tow. The dining room chandelier I have been swooning over for like forever is still regular price. The wall sconces - ditto. Even with my "designer discount", they are still out of reach for me. There is a small occasional table that is more like a work of art that gets me all revved up every time I see it and it is on sale but it is a floor model and there is a scratch on the top - a pretty big one - so it won't be gracing my living room anytime soon. Of course I am talking about Elte. The place is dripping with every thing a design-minded gal could want. Carpets, furniture, lighting, bedding, accessories. I've even thought about working there just so I could be surrounded with the stuff all day. I never go there without being filled to the brink with longing for at least one item. People used to say - "Oh, if you like Elte, you should go to ABC Carpet and Home in NYC." But I did go there once and it was a huge disappointment next to Elte. Big letdown. So when I go to NYC next month for my friend Peg's 50th, I won't be visiting that place again. I have managed to buy myself a few things from them over the years - some of my most beloved things really. If "things" can be beloved. I am in conflict constantly over my attachment to "things." The older I get, the less attached I have become, but because I am so visual, it is hard to be completely detached. My own house is at a point where it needs a complete overhaul and I am overwhelmed by the mere thought of it, so I just continue to ignore it and get my jollies from my clients outcomes. What was my point here? Oh yes - the BIG SALE! Why do retailers insist on this kind of false marketing? If Elte was really having a BIG SALE, the things I want would be a part of it. So stop trying to suck me through you doors with promises you can't keep! Just stop it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's your calling?

Can anyone tell me why television doesn't just fade to black during the summer months?  A gazillion stations to scan through and all my husband can find to stop on is a nature program about how scientists deal with the remains of dead whales that wash up on shore.  Is it me, or is this necessary TV viewing? Watching some female marine biologist hoist herself along the back of the hulking dead carcass with what looked similar to the pitons used by mountain climbers.  Stab. Slide. Stab. Slide.  After a little dead whale climbing, she descended to the ground only to begin slicing the thing open with what looked like a giant machete and then we got to watch gallons of blood and other bodily fluids come gushing out like an uncapped fire hydrant.  And all this activity made her happy.
Wow - I had to wonder what actually depressed her...months without anything washing up on shore would be my guess.  Makes you question your career choices.  Gee, I thought, I could have been a marine biologist and spent my days dissecting dead sea creatures.  It never occurred to me back in the day that a job like that would actually be something someone would WANT to do.  But, that's just me I guess.  If I couldn't write a feature story about it or use it to decorate my living room, it was of little interest to me.  I suppose I could write about anything as this blog proves day after day, but I'm not sure I would have much of an audience for a piece on dead whales and the people who love them.
Some guy from the Natural History Museum in Santa Barbara, California who was one of the experts on the show might have wanted to read my story, but aside from him (the guy was giddy about the research possibilities resulting from the found carcass) can't think of anyone I know off hand that would be chomping at the bit to dive into the material. (pardon the pun).
I have never been much into science - I used to have to run to the bathroom in high school biology when the bags of formaldehyde soaked dead cats came out for dissection.  I just couldn't handle the smell or the sight of those poor skinned critters.  Poking away at them with scalpels and morbid curiosity just wasn't my cup of kitty litter.  Why cats, I thought?  Wouldn't a frog or a mouse do?  I liked cats.  It was too much like slicing up my pet for the sake of scientific research - not something a 16 year old girl is much interested in unless she wears glasses with lenses the thickness of coke bottle bottoms and dreams of the project she is entering in next years science fair.  You know the one - dateless for the school dance, but straight A's on her report cards.  Sadly, that was not me.
I came across one of my high school report cards not too long ago when I was rooting through a box of old keepsakes.  It was from grade nine and the only A on the card was in Communication Arts.  Go figure! I pulled it out to show Emma how brilliant she was next to her mother and it made her feel better about her few B's on her own card when she saw what a slacker her mother was back in high school. It kind of put things in perspective for her and I was glad to be able to make her feel better by showing her I was less than the ideal academic back then.  Mind you, she now feels compelled to bring it up whenever she feels the need to remind me of my shortcomings so I may rethink that sort of honest confession next time.  Especially if she starts asking if I did drugs in the seventies.  That's a loaded one.
For the most part, I am pretty truthful with her - perhaps understating things a bit from time to time lest she think her mom was a real bad ass, but she knows me as I am now and finds it amusing that I even have a colourful past.  Some of you reading this blog were even accomplices to some of my more "adventurous" escapades - You know who you are - don't go getting all virtuous on me here!  
Hey, we had fun and we survived to tell the tales - though god only knows how we did.  Not sure I would have had as much fun as a geek.  
But who knows?  Emma has a T-shirt that says "Talk nerdy to me!" 
Maybe I missed out on a whole other way of life but at least I don't have to chop up whale blubber for a pay cheque.  
Think I'll keep my day job and leave the slicing and dicing of dead things to those who care.  And give me that damn clicker - there must be something better on HGTV.  An old episode of House & Home TV, anything but the whale lovers.
Please!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Will the third time be the Charm?

Growing up in the 60's and 70's provided me with a work ethic that serves me well even today. I always worked hard, volunteered to work longer hours, knew from an early age that the customer was king and that being knowledgeable about whatever product or service I was selling was the key to being a valuable employee. Running my own business for the last 10 years has further ingrained these same qualities as I know that in order to compete, clients need to trust you to give them the results they expect and a little extra. So, it always infuriates me when I don't receive the same kind of service when I am the client. Case in point: (I sense a wee rant coming) Allow me to fill you in on the continuing appliance saga. In an earlier blog, I told you I was getting new appliances for my kitchen. Seems like a simple thing. Or so one would think. I bought the new fridge, stove and dishwasher on June 27. Today is July 13. More than two weeks have passed since I spent the money, but I still do not have a fridge in my kitchen. Noooo - what would lead me to believe that paying for the damn thing would mean I actually have it in my possession? As we had to tear the kitchen apart in order to accommodate the new larger units, not only do I still not have a fridge, I still have complete disorder in the kitchen. Let me make it clear - I have not renovated my kitchen - had I done this, I would have been mentally prepared for the upheaval. No, the cabinets just had to be moved slightly to make way for the new fridge, meaning the emptying of cupboards to the dining room (I love the sight of canned tomatoes on my china cabinet) and then the counter tops needed to be shaved off slightly as well. The first fridge arrived with a large dent in the freezer door. "Not to worry, ma'am, you'll have a new one within 5-7 working days." I lived with that, begrudgingly. So, last Friday I was looking forward to the second new fridge to arrive and getting the place back in order. The truck pulled up and I was ready. I walked to the end of the driveway to greet the delivery guys. Gave them the quick tour of the moving route and explained how the first one had arrived damaged. One look at the guy's face and I knew something was up. "I'm a bit worried about the fridge we loaded on at the warehouse," he told me. "The box is all banged up at the bottom and I made a note of it on the paperwork and told them I didn't think it was a good one." " You have got to be bloody kidding me," I said. "Well, let's have a look, maybe it's nothing." At first it looked OK, but upon closer inspection a crease and pretty severe indentation on the back of the fridge indicated there might be some damage to the motor and inner workings. When we opened the door, the plastic bits that covered the ice maker and water dispenser were ill-fitting and could not be pushed back into place. In addition to that, the seals around the door were all chewed up like someone had taken a knife along the edge. "Don't bother bringing it in boys, I paid for a perfect fridge and that is what I expect." Two down, the third is to arrive on Wednesday. What are the f__king chances that it will be a charm? All I know is that whoever hauls these things around in the warehouse never grew up with my work ethic because if they did, they would not load a damaged box onto a truck, they would be more careful and they would care about the job they did. For the record for anyone who cares to know - it doesn't surprise me that GE stocks are in the tank and this may be the one buying decision Warren Buffet made that may come back and kick him in the ass. If every GE fridge sitting in the warehouse is treated like a piece of luggage at the airport, he may want his people to address the issues the company has at this level. For some reason, these guys don't give a rat's ass about customer satisfaction and that always works against any business. I sincerely hope this is the last time I need to blog about this. But I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah - Two more weeks at Camp Granada? Please?!

We could hardly believe two weeks had gone by as it was time to retrieve Emma from camp yesterday. In years past, I have started to really miss her and get that achey longing feeling in the pit of my stomach, but this year (her 6th) I managed to get through her absence fairly unscathed. I figured I was finally used to it and since I was so busy, the time had flown by as quickly for me as it surely had for her. We headed out the door and into the car, giving ourselves plenty of time to arrive at the requested time. As this is an Art Camp, pick up day is more than just grabbing your grubby kid and loading her into the car with a bag full of filthy clothes and heading back to the city. This is an event. The kids spend the entire time producing their particular "art", and a major presentation is staged and rehearsed for all the families to see what their kids have been up to for two weeks. Parents are guided in groups to the various exhibits of paintings, collage, theatre, dance, music, poetry readings and short films. Like any parent, we are really only interested in what our own progeny has created, but to be fair, you are asked to attend all of the presentations with your child and then a grand finale with all the kids gathered together in song wraps up the day. It is a looooonnnngg day! This year struck me as being even longer when the first words out of our darling daughter's lips were "Mom, Dad, there are two spots left for the next session - can I please, please stay for another two weeks?" My initial reaction was "what? - no, you're coming home with us today." Then I started to see how serious she was and then she started her sales pitch. "I'm just not ready to leave yet. It went too fast. I know some other kids that are staying. Think of the grocery money you will save if I'm not home." (oh - that will make all the difference, Emma) And on it went. As I mentioned in a previous blog, she has found her niche at Camp Centauri, unlike the wilderness camp she attended for 4 yrs up near Huntsville. She just loves this place and her face was so lit up with enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of staying for another session, we really had no option but to say yes. Besides, I thought, she will get way more out of this experience than she will hanging around at home, sleeping in and playing on her computer. It would also mean another "presentation day" for us in two weeks. Admittedly, we enjoyed the effort made by her film group - their leader being a surprisingly talented young filmmaker. She will do theatre this go round - a stretch for our shy young lass - but maybe that's what is needed. So we took her off site to do a little supply shopping and fed her dinner and returned her to the place she loves.(and paid the fees!) In the car on the way back to the camp, I reached my hand behind my head over the top of my seat and wiggled my fingers to get her attention in the back seat. She reached up and grabbed my hand like she always has done since she was a little girl and we gave each other a little wordless squeeze. It will have to do until she gets home in another two weeks.

Friday, July 10, 2009

You Gotta Have Friends

Girlfriends! What would we do without them? Since I do not have any sisters, I think my girlfriends are that much more important to me. Growing up, I always envied my friends who had sisters. A built-in confidante so to speak. Even if they spent most of their time bickering and criticizing one another, they always knew they would be there for them....forever. But, we all play the hands we're dealt and I have been lucky enough to have some of the most amazing women anywhere as my dearest friends. Just last week, my closest friend Peggy was here in Ontario visiting her folks. She lives in Austin, Texas now but the distance doesn't change the fact that she is and always will be the first person I call or email with good news, bad news, funny news, non-news and just about any news at all for that matter. We only had one day together while she was here last week. We spent it on the golf course, something we have been doing with our time together for the last few years now. I tend to have a lousy golf game when I am with her because we're too focused on yapping and not focused enough on golf. We're "not committed" to the shots my husband would say. But we are committed to each other's well being and that's more important than landing a perfect wedge to the green. Although she is my BFF, my other girlfriends are important too. There are the friends I see regularly - the one's I call for lunch, for a walk, for shopping, or just to catch up. I divvy some friends up into definable groups, like my tennis friends, my book club friends, the friend's of my daughter's mothers,old friends, neighbourhood friends and work friends. It helps to keep them all straight in my mind and when I'm talking about them to someone. "Oh, she is a great friend of mine - we play tennis together." That sort of thing. I got a nice note this morning from one of my "old friends" though I don't know if I like that handle. Although Linda is an "old friend", she is not that old and she is still my friend. Calling her an "old friend" almost sounds like she used to be my friend but isn't anymore. Maybe a "friend from another decade of my life" would be more appropriate. In any case we got together for lunch a few weeks back and had so much fun recalling our adventures together in Banff and Hawaii and Fiji and Australia and New Zealand, we literally laughed till we cried and it was as though no time had passed since we last saw each other. Now she reads my blog regularly and says it keeps her in touch with my life, which although we live in different cities, is more similar than not. Must be the age. She is facing an empty nest this fall (as I will in 3 short years) as both of her girls head off to university and I think now would be a good time for me to make the effort to see her more, lest things get too quiet down there in her neck of the woods. We'd have no trouble stirring up a little noise. Still. I could tell a different story about each one of my friends, but that would take me more time than I have here today. You all know who you are and in case I have never told you, I appreciate all of you and thank you for your friendships. Everyone should be so lucky. Who needs a sister when I've got all of you?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Want it! I Want it! .....but not that badly

I know there have been plenty of signs lately that the recession here in Canada may be beginning to be showing signs of bottoming out and even more signs of recovery. Case in point - when I was out shopping for one of my client's today (yes, they are spending again) I actually got distracted from the task at hand by a couple of items I myself might enjoy owning. (one of the hazards of working in the design field - "one for them, one for me") This has not happened to me in quite some time and it was almost refreshing to feel like I actually wanted something again. I have a bit of a thing currently for birds.(not ducks or eagles - small song birds) Birds on fabric, birds for real at my backyard feeders, birds in paintings and the thing I saw today which was a small bird sculpture, bronzed on a nice little black ceramic plinth. I couldn't help but reach out and stroke his lovely smooth back right down to his tail feathers and comment to the sales person how much I admired it. He was on sale and everything! However, the original price was high and the sale price was still too high, so I implanted him in my memory bank and bid farewell thinking he was worth about four rounds of golf (at decent courses) and I could live without him. So, although I did not succumb to my desire for the bird, it was a step in the direction of my own personal "recession recovery" I thought. Then, I looked at the headlines on today's Globe & Mail and was glad I had held off on owning the bird. "Second wave of financial crisis coming" warned British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. I have personally been thinking this all along - that we were headed for another hit round about August/September and as much as I hope I am wrong, my gut is telling me I'm right. So I will re-visit the birds I already own, real and otherwise and wait and see what the fall brings. I have also been particularly frugal about any unnecessary purchases since last fall and am thinking I will continue on this path. The truth is I haven't really missed shopping much at all. I kind of prefer spending my time on other pursuits like golf, tennis, gardening and hanging out with my daughter. She hates shopping, so it's just as well. I know - you're thinking, well golf costs money. Yes, that is true, but I used to do that....and shop, so now I have eliminated one big expense at least. So my advice, dear readers, hold off for a bit yet - we may still be in for a rocky road ahead. Don't let this little upturn turn you back to your old habits. Not yet anyway.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Enough Already!!!!!

I wasn't going to say anything, but I just can't stop myself. This Michael Jackson out-pouring of fake grief is just making me crazy. It's like everyone forgot - especially the press - that the guy was a complete weirdo for the last decade (or more) and suddenly he is the biggest bloody musical genius ever born. Not to seem too cold and callous - I'm sorry the guy croaked, but can we just move on to some more interesting news items now. Today has been the worst. Every radio station doing a play-by-play of Wacko Jacko's (see - I haven't forgotten that was his latest handle) memorial service like the god damn pope died or something. Brooke Shields going on and on about how wonderful he was. Hmmmfff! I bet she never left her kids with him for a sleep over at his Neverland Ranch. He was a pop star for a few years. He turned out a few hits. He was never happy with the way he looked. He spent the last 25 years rearranging his face until he looked almost alien. (or at least more like his sister La Toya). What's up with all that? For the most part, I just thought the guy was kind of pathetic. A lost soul. So let's just let him go now - R.I.P. He's gotta be happier where he is now - that much is evident. And to all you people who sent in your invitation requests for the service like you were buying a lottery ticket - well you all just need to get a life. Really. Get a bloody life.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Strawberries and Cream anyone?

It's not often I wish for rain, but I wish it was raining right now so I wouldn't feel so guilty about being inside watching tennis instead of being out actually playing tennis. But I needn't be too harsh on myself - after all this is the most important day of the professional tennis circuit on the calender and it doesn't get much better than this. I even picked up some fresh local strawberries for the occasion and enjoyed them with a little cream in true Wimbledon style as I watched Andy Roddick win the first set over Roger Federer. Andy is the one American tennis player since Andre Agassi that I actually like and because I do, am rooting for him, but they are in the fourth set now and things aren't looking too good for Andy. He started out with his first serve percentage somewhere around 78% which is what won the first set for him, but since then it has been dropping like a rock and now Federer is totally out-serving him. Although I get a bit of a kick from John McEnroe as a commentator, I gotta say, today he needs to shut up a bit. God- the guy has been running at the mouth constantly throughout the entire match so far and once in a while I would just like to watch the play without all the useless babble. Wait - Andy just broke Roger - maybe it's not a fait accompli for Federer quite yet. Go Andy, go! Wimbledon is on my bucket list of something I want to do before I die. It doesn't even have to be a seat at the final - I would even settle for a quarter-final match just to be a part of the most celebrated tennis tournament in the world. Think of the fun sitting in the crowd watching all those pasty Brits baking and burning their exposed bits in the early July sun. The history and tradition oozing all around and sneaking a peak at who is sitting in the Royal box. Oh, there's Russell Crowe just now in the crowd. Earlier they showed Nancy and Henry Kissinger - didn't know they were still alive nevermind tennis fans. And course some of the old school players from the past are watching. Pete Sampras looking more and more like an old Greek guy with his lovely wife Brigitte looking as young as ever. Boy, all that money he won must come in handy for her plastic surgeries - either that or she has found the fountain of youth and ain't telling a soul. Borg is there with the same hair cut he had in the seventies only now its grey. The length keeps it looking sexy despite the colour. Men! Arrrgghh! Shit - Andy is up 5-2 in the 4th now - things are getting exciting. Ooops! - Andy just took a tumble - his wife looking all concerned in the crowd. He seems to have shaken it off - he's fine. Roddick serving for the set now but Roger won't let him have it easy. It's love-thirty. Relief. Thirty-all. Woo woo - set point. C'mon Andy. Serve up a big ace. And he did!!!! We're heading to a fifth set. And now a commercial break. I shouldn't feel too guilty about slacking around watching tennis. I am writing this blog while I'm watching and I did quite a few reps with the hand weights before this. Watching tennis always makes me want to get stronger so I can serve harder the next time I am on the court. There's always room to improve in this game and without a strong serve you don't have a hope in hell to really compete. My serve and return of serve are probably the strong points of my game, followed by my forehand, as least that's what people tell me. Geez Deb, shut up will ya - now you're babbling like Johnny Mac. I'll just watch for a bit. BRB. Looking good - Federer just missed a break opportunity. More commercials. Time for more strawberries and cream. I think a fifth set calls for another serving, don't you? Mmmm - they are so good...and good for me too! The cream - not so much, but I did use the light stuff, so it could be worse. Gotta report my weekly weight loss here in the am. - don't want to have to report bad news. Back to the match. Did you just see that get by Federer? The guy is a magician! They just showed the first serve percentages again - almost even again - 67 and 65 - pretty close now. It's anyone's match at this point.Tension really building now - tied at four-all. Federer's wife is looking worried in the stands. Like she doesn't own enough Rolex's already. Unbelievable! - tied six-all in the final set. Nice little net-skimmer drop shot by Andy just now. Federer wins his serve - now its 7-6. Damn commercials - get back to the match! This could go on for quite a while - the two gladiators in the coliseum battling it out to the finish now. Talk about getting your money's worth. Who wants it more? That's what I think it comes down to and you can be sure Roddick wants this soooo bad. He has lost two previous finals here to Federer. Will the third time be the charm for Andy? What a backhand down the line shot Andy! Damn - he just missed two break points! Both players holding their serves again. The battle continues. Nine-all. At this rate, I may have to go for more strawberries, or some lunch at the very least. Now it seems they have broken the "gentlemen's championship" record for most games played in a final and it's not over yet. Eleven-all. Madness. Now Federer has broken his record for number of aces in a match, by three. History is being played out on the grass courts this year. Four hours into this match now - that's half a work day for the average joe. Only the average joe won't be going home with even a small percentage of the pay cheques these two will be leaving the "All-England Club" with today. Both of them are still hitting hard and accurate at 13 - all - who will falter first? Now the shadows are playing a role on the court. One end is half in the shade and the other in full sun. Andy just missed one because of the shade. And now a lucky break - a cloud overhead evening up the sight lines. Roger just served up his 50th ace of the match. His old record was 43. Could be years before anyone ever breaks this record. Andy down love-thirty, the crowd grows restless. And now an ace. And now 30-all. Deuce. Advantage - Roddick. Back to deuce. Championship point - Federer. It's over - Federer wins again. Now the tears will flow. I so wanted Andy to win. He played the match of his life - now he has to accept defeat graciously as he always does, but he has nothing to be ashamed about - no one will forget this one. And maybe, American Express will renew his sponsorship contract. Loved those commercials. Back from commerical - trophy presentation about to begin and all the emotion that goes along with it. As usual the Duke of Kent presenting. Andy gets his third silver hors- d'oeuvre tray. Roger gets his sixth golden chalice. The guy has more kiss marks on that thing than a grandmother's imprints on a baby's cheek. He has now officially broken Pete Sampras's record winning a total of 15 grand slam tournaments. What an amazing career. Well done boys. Well done.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What Lurks Beneath?

It should be mandatory to move your fridge and stove out of their snug little holes at least once per year to see what may be growing or lurking underneath. But because no one has ever told me I absolutely must do this under penalty of law, I don't. So last weekend when we finally bit the bullet and went out and purchased new ones, it actually did become necessary to pull the old ones out to make way for the new units being delivered tomorrow morning. My much beloved cleaning lady came to pick up the old stove which she claimed was better than her old one on Canada Day and the old fridge will replace the even older beer fridge in the shed out by the pool. The under-the-stove surprises consisted of an assortment of Barbie purses and shoes, some unidentifiable petrified food bits, black dust balls and a few bread bag clips. All in all - enough of it to fill an entire dust-pan - twice. "That's pretty disgusting," I said to my husband. "I guess I haven't cleaned under there for awhile." I did remember doing it once a few years back, but it must have been when Emma still played with Barbies and that was at least 4 years ago. I could just imagine Martha tsk- tsking and waving a shame-on-you finger at me if she knew. The fridge remained in place until yesterday. We had to move all the contents to the shed fridge first. That in itself was a useful exercise as it forced me to pitch all the expired jars and bottles with 3 tablespoons of salsa, jam or salad dressing left in the recycle bin. I had no choice. The shed fridge could only take so much (and no way the beer and wine was moving!). As the fridge was on the fritz, the unplugging of it led to a melt down, flooding the kitchen floor overnight. There was enough water on the floor when I got up to float Noah's Ark and now it looks like we'll need to replace the flooring as well. When Doug slid it out of it's slot, he tipped it a bit and the drip tray beneath emptied its contents on the floor I had just cleaned and dried revealing even more grotesque goo and unidentifiable objects along with a few more Barbie purses and shoes for colour. I wasn't in the room when this occurred, so Doug swept it up and was kind enough to place the dust pan in the sink so I could view the charming gunk with my own eyes. "You won't believe what was under there." he told me, shaking his head with disgust. "Gee, thanks for saving that for me, dear, I really wanted to see that - can I throw it out now, or should we take a photo?" It's a good thing we started this whole preparatory process a few days in advance of the arrival of the new appliances. I had no idea it was going to become such an ordeal. In addition to the science experiments underneath them, now I had to deal with the walls, baseboards and interior cabinet walls adjacent to them. None of these were actually a very pretty sight either. Between the caked on blackened dust along the tops of the baseboards and the hardened tomato sauce drips and god knows what else, I had to scrub half a dozen times to get it all off. Mucho elbow grease to remove years of baked on food grease - Yuck! And I won't even bother going into telling you that the new fridge is a bit bigger and wouldn't fit in its slot, so the cabinets had to come down and get reattached two inches higher and the floor cabinets had to move over by an inch as well, leading to the reduction of the counter top......arrrrgh! The crazy thing is, I actually think I keep my kitchen pretty clean. Now I'm not so sure. It's never too late to start anew though. So now that the nooks are all clean and shiny and ready to receive their new residents, I am going to start a new cleaning schedule. I will co-ordinate it with the changing of the smoke detector batteries at the beginning of daylight savings time each year. Really, I will. WHAT? Don't believe me? Hmmff! Think you all know me better than I know myself? OK, how about every other Thanksgiving? No? What about every third Easter whether it needs it or not? Oh, screw it, let's be honest. They're never moving again after tomorrow. Unless we do.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What makes you Canadian?

I was born in Ontario.
I grew up in Ontario.
I've lived in Alberta and British Columbia.
I have travelled to the east coast of this country.
I have taken a train through the Prairies.
I've left for extended periods of time.
Never more than six months.
I hate the winters.
I love the winters.
I've seen many beaver dams,
But only one beaver.
I bumped into a moose walking home one drunken night in Banff.
I only eat real Canadian Maple Syrup from Quebec.
I know where to find a perfect butter tart.
I've skied the Rockies, The Laurentians and Blue Mountain.
I've hiked many sections of the Bruce Trail.
As much as I try not to, I still say - eh? from time to time.
I sewed our flag to my backpack when I travelled through Europe.
I did it again when I toured the South Pacific.
I've skated and canoed on The Rideau Canal in Ottawa.
I've voted in every federal election since I turned 18.
I've planted a maple tree and can identify most varieties.
I have a trillium in my garden.
I have caught a spring salmon in the Pacific Ocean,
and many a trout in a Muskoka lake.
I love Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields and Mordecai Richler,
to name a few.
I also love Nickelback, Gordon Lightfoot and K.D. Laing
I laugh at Russell Peters, Rick Mercer and Ron James.
I once worked at a small, local, micro-brewery, whose labels,
sported a beaver and a canoe.
I still shop at Roots.
I watch and listen to the CBC.
Call me patriotic.
Call me crazy.
But mostly, call me Canadian.
And proud of it.
Happy Canada Day to all the Canuks out there - even the ones disturbing my chi right now with all the fire crackers. If that's what floats your boat - have at it! Cheers!