Thursday, December 30, 2010

Size Matters

OK ladies - time for a reality check. I know I won't be popular with this blog, but sometimes the truth hurts. I popped into a high end women's clothing shop the other day to check out the after Christmas sales and I spotted THE most fabulous coat. There was only one left and even at half price it was still a small fortune. It was by "Save the Queen" designs and it was sooooo me! It had everything. Originality, varied textures, the perfect cut for my body, some bling attached on the lapel, a cool charm on the zip - the chances of me seeing something similar on someone else would be slim to none. It was black and grey and pink. It was love at first sight. It was attached to a mannequin so I had to ask the clerk to take it off it so I could try it on. It was a medium, and the last one, and I figured it might be a little big on me, but I could alter it if necessary. Besides, you don't want a winter coat to be too snug, in case you need to wear a bulky sweater underneath it. I was sure it would be fine. We stripped the headless plastic body and we made our way to the back of the shop so I could stand before the full length mirror and slip it on. "Hmmm," I thought as she helped from behind, it didn't slide on like I thought it would. I was wearing a zipped yoga jacket over my t-shirt - maybe that was creating a little bulk. I was about to tell her to wait a second while I unzipped and took off the extra layer I was wearing, but then I thought "Wait a sec," it does not matter. "Horrors!", it would not make a difference - the coat would clearly not fit me even if I did strip off. I could go right down to my bare skin and that coat would not wrap all the way around me. And then she informed me it was an Italian label - you need to go up a size or two with these she said. On one hand I was relieved it did not fit and look as fabulous as I thought it was going to, as I was not really in the mood to spend the money, but it was one of those things, that had it looked the way it did in my imagination from the moment I saw it, I would have slapped my credit card down in a nano-second and spent the next 30 minutes of my walk home justifying my extravagant purchase. The point of this story is we live in denial here in North America when it comes to sizing. I know a woman who is clearly a size 18 or 20 and goes around saying she is a size 10 or 12. "Yeah," I think to myself, "on what planet?" In Europe I am a large. In Canada I am a small. In some Asian countries, I am at least a medium and in some American chains, where they have really perfected the art of self-denial, I am an extra-small. Ladies! Let's be real here. I am not "extra-small". Even small is a stretch. Not that I don't love seeing an "S" on my clothing labels. I do. I just know that 25 or 30 years ago, that same "S" would have been a more realistic "M". I know this is true. But I don't mind the lie. None of us do. How else do you explain the existence of Size "0". Or better still "double bloody zero?" Clothing manufacturers figured this psychology out some time ago on this continent, but in Europe and Asia, where obesity is not rampant, sizing is still true. Sorry to burst the bubbles of all you 2's and 4's out there, but the truth is, you are merely a small or a 6. Yes, a 6! Ever since that infamous line in The Devil Wears Prada, "2 is the new 6", American clothing manufacturers saw the opportunity to sell more clothing. They started making their sizing more generous so women everywhere would feel better about themselves and spend more. And several Canadian designers are at it too. Last winter I tried on a Pink Tartan coat in a size 4 thinking there was no way it would fit and lo and behold - it was too damn big! Nice of Kimberly to try to make us all feel so tiny, but COME ON! We may be able to suspend reality somewhat, but sometimes it is just ridiculous. Same thing with Joe Fresh. That wonderful inexpensive grocery store wear that really takes it to a whole new level of bullshit. Remind me to show you my extra small T-shirts I bought there last summer. Of course there will always be women who try to squeeze into clothing that is way too small for them - that's not what I'm talking about. I am talking about getting your head out of the sand and accepting your true size. Unless you are anorexic, you are NOT a size zero. If you have any curves at all, you are at least a small or medium, or between a 4 and an 8. If your curves are starting to spill over into muffin top or your breasts are bursting out of your bra, you are a 10 or 12. If you have been noticing a double chin or none of your rings fit you any more, you are likely heading into the 14-16 zone. After that, you have to start shopping at plus size clothing stores and at that point, it's time to do some serious thinking about joining a gym and checking out the latest Weight Watchers program. I would love to think that one day I could fit into that Italian size small, but the truth is, if I lost that much weight, I would be grumpy all the time from starving myself and my breasts would practically disappear. Neither of those appeal to me. And besides, those European imports are expensive and wearing them in the correct size would make me feel fat - perhaps this denial thing is really the way to go. You're as young as you feel and you're as thin as your clothing label says you are! Tadah!

Monday, December 27, 2010

How old am I again???

Birthdays! These days I prefer to ignore them, but when I think of the alternative, I suppose I should be grateful to have stuck around for yet another year. I am at an age where I actually have to strain my brain sometimes to actually remember exactly how old I am - unless it is a big milestone year, I forget. I never feel my age, well rarely anyway - maybe if I am nursing a bit of tennis elbow or some other muscle strain from a poorly executed golf swing or the morning after if I have more than two glasses of wine the night before, but that's about it. Generally speaking, I actually feel physically better now than I have in years. About 2 years ago I decided to really start putting me first and that included making time for regular exercise, not just the regular tennis I was playing. It made a big difference to my energy level and my overall fitness and that goes a long way in making me feel younger. I especially like free weights. I like the increased metabolism I get as a result of working those puppies and I also like the muscle definition they give me. I used to hide my arms, now I don't think twice about baring them. At one stage, I tried pushing it beyond my capabilities and realized I just could not devote that kind of time to it, so I have settled for a level of fitness that suits me, makes me feel strong and energetic, but does not keep me from doing other things I love as well. Everyone asks me if I go to a gym. No. I do not. I have a treadmill at home. I have a mat and a big ball, a set of 5 and 10 lb dumbbells, a 15 lb weight, a 20 lb one and my Ipod. I work out in my family room to music that motivates me and I do it consistently - no magic there at all. I don't have to get in my car and drive to a gym, pay money to do it, and I don't have to wipe off some stranger's perspiration from the equipment. I find it saves me time. I dress as though I am heading to the gym and I change the music as it suits me - my current motivational tunes are by Katy Perry and Rhianna and I slow it down for the stretching with whatever brings the tempo down a few notches. I honestly don't think I could do it without music. It turns it into something more akin to dance for me and that is what spurs me on. I do some Pilate's, some yoga poses and some other exercises that I used to do back in the day of 'aerobics" classes that make me feel good. I do some ab work, some core strengthening things and 30 minutes on the treadmill - mostly fast walking uphill, interspersed with some light jogging. It takes an hour, a bit more if I have the time and feel like pushing it and I do it 4-5 times a week. I was doing it 6 days for a while, but that was hard to schedule, so now I am happy with a bit less. I play tennis less than I used to - once a week now - 2 hours of doubles, and in the summer I golf about once a week. I figure this is all doable well into my old age. In the spring, summer and fall I abandon the treadmill for the great outdoors and my walks are longer - at least an hour- sometimes 90 minutes with variable terrain. The treadmill is really just for inclement weather - which is most of the winter - I hate the cold. With the New Year only days away, I plan to step up my work-out a bit to rid myself of the 5 lbs that crept on over the month of December. That, and ridding my diet of that "white death" known as sugar. I allowed it back into my body over the holidays, but it has over-stayed it's welcome now and it's time to say adios to my worst enemy - good riddance too. Whoever decided to call it a "treat" needs to have their head examined. The only thing it ever "treated" me to was a wide ass, cavities as a kid, and hypoglycemia. Some treat. Frankly, working out this morning - THAT was my birthday treat to myself. And one that will pay off in dividends and a smaller waistline! Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Listen! I just heard reindeer hooves on the Roof!

For years after I knew Santa was not really Santa, I recall still wanting to believe. The image of Santa in my heart and in my mind was so intense and I loved him so much that denial was present for some time even though the rational part of my brain told me to grow up, I really did not want to. At some point, I got on with it as we all do, but every year, I still get a little warm and fuzzy when I see certain visual images of the fat old guy. I especially like those sort of retro images of him with the fat rosy cheeks and when my daughter was little, I always tried to wrap the "Santa" presents in Santa paper just to emphasize where they came from. Not Toys Are Us or The Bay or Mastermind - no my dear - those packages came all the way from the North Pole and that's how you could tell - Santa only uses paper with his face on it - his stamp so to speak. I am quite sure she never noticed this little attempt of mine to convince her he was real, but it was something I just had to do, likely to re-visit my own lost innocence as much as preserve the magic for her in some small way. Now that she is 16, she is long past believing in jolly old St. Nick, but part of me wishes she still did. So, last night, Christmas Eve, as the smell of dinner was wafting through the house, the fire was burning, the candles were lit, and we were listening to Charlie Brown's Christmas (a tradition on Christmas eve in this house) I decided to try to re-create some magic. My jaded teen was partaking in the evening somewhat (she was in the room at least) even though she was sitting with her laptop surfing god knows what non-Christmassy sites, while I was busy lighting enough candles to illuminate the entire neighbourhood, I slipped past her unseen to the front door and opened it, left it open for a few seconds, then closed it. Our alarm system makes an annoying chime every time the door opens, so she would have heard it. I then slipped back past her - ignored and unseen again and went into the kitchen. In a loud voice, I said to my husband, "Did you hear the front door just now?" He turns to me and says - "yes, I did". I then said "Were you out in the front porch?", loud enough for her to hear of course and he says, "no, I have been in here the whole time." "Well who came in the door then," I said to him, then to her - "Emma, were you out in the front porch? - did you hear the front door?" She was somewhat intrigued now, and looked up from her lifeline, I mean, computer, and said "NO - I wasn't." So now my acting skills really took over - I got all "well then what's going on? Who came in the door - this is creepy - Emma! come with me - lets go see - I don't want to go alone - so she actually gets off her ass, and we walk together over to the door, creeping sort of to see if someone is there - and all she sees is a Christmas stocking hanging on the closet door knob. It was not there before. "What's that?" I ask. She looks at it, rolls her eyes and says - "God, you guys are such jerks." I try to continue the facade and say "What are you talking about - I didn't put that there - it must have been Santa who came in." Another roll of the eyes, but this time a bit of a softer look on her face, a little smile and for just a nano-second, some of that old magic came back and she was 4 again. Now, it was Christmas, even if halfway through dinner she asked if she could put Elvis's greatest hits on the stereo instead of Charlie Brown - I had had my moment and it didn't matter what transpired after that. Merry Christmas everyone. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear Santa.....all I want is more Time!

Merry Christmas to all my readers. I hope I find the time to write more in 2011. I miss it and I miss your comments. Cheers! Decomama xo

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Travel Inspiration - Coming Soon!

Some decent blog fodder coming soon - just back from Jamaica - will post something soon - tis the season! TIME!!! NEED MORE of IT!

Friday, November 26, 2010

UNCLE! UNCLE! I GIVE! I GIVE!

Try as I may, it is now impossible to avoid the cold harsh truth. The Christmas season is upon us. For days now, I have been changing the radio station in the car, trying to avoid the "sounds of the season". I have averted my eyes in shops away from the Christmas displays. I have purposely left up an autumn wreath on my door (I mean - let's face it - it's still American Thanksgiving for goodness sake!). But today, as I ventured out to run a few errands, I finally succumbed. I left the station tuned to CHFI in the car and even welled up with tears when they played that damn "Christmas Shoes" song. GOD! Why didn't I change the station? That song kills me every time. Then I turned my cart down the Christmas aisle in Costco and was actually considering buying a couple of things, but managed to gather my will and keep walking. I thought I was out of the woods after that, until I took a cruise down that aisle I like that sometimes has some interesting colourful thing I just ABSOLUTELY NEED for my kitchen. You know what I'm talking about - a set of new coffee mugs for $11.99 - EIGHT of them - such a deal! I get tired of drinking out of the same mugs all the time - I need something new to brew my David's chai tea latte in some mornings - it gives me a lift. (Pathetic - I know, I know) Anyway, I managed to get down that row unscathed and as I rounded the bend, there they were. The biggest, most lush beautiful poinsettias I have ever seen - I swear! HUGE! Twenty bucks! "NO WAY", I thought - how is that possible? Not only were the flowers great, they came in a big red pot with a faux gold leaf trim around the top edge - I wouldn't even have to find a container. Done. Then I got to thinking, "hmmmm, maybe I could actually do a giant red poinsettia in place of a Christmas tree this year". I had already thought I might forgo the tree since I will be away in Jamaica for a week leading up to Christmas - this might be the perfect replacement. Still festive, but waaaay easier - I can shine a spotlight on it instead of strings of lights and I could still put presents around the base - mount it in the bay window and the outside world can enjoy it too. Now, "THIS is the Christmas spirit I thought". Not quite into it as I have been in past years, but still giving it a nod. I just had to check with my daughter and see if she was OK with it. No way was I going to create some sort of lingering memory of "mom as Scrooge" in her young mind. I could hear it now. "Remember that year you never put up a tree mom?, I do - and I found it soooooo depressing." No, I could not deal with that. So, when she got home from school, I said, "look in the dining room window and tell me what you think". "Are you talking about the flowers, mom?" she said. "Yes, the gigantic poinsettia - how do you feel about that being our Christmas tree this year?" She shrugged her shoulders and said "sure, whatever - that's fine with me." WHAT?! She wasn't going to be traumatized? This was such good news. She totally let me off the hook. Thinking this was going to really relieve me of the effort and work involved in putting up a tree, I figured I had gotten really lucky. But wait - I got luckier. Listen to this. She said she wanted to talk to me about something. She wanted to know if I would be OK with taking all the money we would normally spend on her gifts and buy a bunch of presents for a needy child instead. She told me the Outreach Program she works with at school was appointing a child to each of them - she knew her name - Julia - her age - 5 and she was completely pumped about shopping for her. Apparently this child had provided a wish list which they were to choose an item from. My daughter said she wanted to get everything on the list. She was so excited by the idea, I couldn't help but jump on the bandwagon with her, even though not only had she just brightened Julia's Christmas morning, she had just saved me hours of shopping for her. All I could think was how proud I was of her, how great it was that she wanted to do this and how she was so unlike me at her age. One Christmas morning when she was about 6, she crept down the stairs and leaned over the banister and looked to see what Santa had brought. She could see the huge pile of gifts under the tree, and she stopped dead in her tracks and said, "WOW, I must have been REALLY good!" I have it on video tape and I will never forget those words coming from her mouth, so spontaneous and so sweet. Somehow, this year I feel I want to say those same words. Maybe Santa was keeping tabs on me in 2010. I sure feel lucky.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Miracle of Lipstick!

Surely you have all seen these "women without make-up" things on the net. It gives all of us mere mortals an opportunity to say "SEE, with out their make-up these celebrities are all dogs." Of course, the "before" photos are always the most brutal shots available of them - not only without make-up but with some sort of scowl on their faces as well. Still, it is true - make-up is a girl's best friend. It starts when we are teens and as we progress through life it is more and more necessary. We really only get to have "make-up" free years in the beginning and the end of our lives. At some point, make-up will start to make us look worse instead of better. You have no doubt seen the 87-year-old women with the bad make-up job - the lipstick not quite drawn in the lines, like a toddler's colouring book, the mascara a little too thick and dark and the rosy circles of creamy blush painted on all clownish and heavy handed. Makes you want to hand her a tissue and tell her to look in the mirror and make some edits. I don't want to be her. I like to think I will evolve gracefully into my old age, knowing when it is time to back off a little. On the other hand, I know I won't ever give up entirely. I will always want to try and look my best. I had a little taste of "make-up" gone bad issues today when I left my dentist's office. I had a filling replaced and I was so frozen after the procedure, I found it next to impossible to apply my lipstick on my bottom lip. I was so frozen, my lip would not co-operate at all and I had to actually hold it taught with my fingers, and carefully paint it, but even that didn't work out so well, so I sort of dabbed at it and applied a hint of colour and called it a day. Hands down, the most dramatic change make-up has ever made in the history of the world is on the face of Oprah Winfrey. Hats off to her for the many times she has unveiled her bare face to the world. That is one brave lady. If she ever finds herself short of cash (which is doubtful) she could be the spokesperson for any cosmetic company in the world - if make-up can do "that" to anyone - who would not buy it? Ask any woman - what is the one product you could not live without? The answer is usually mascara or lipstick. It depends on your age. I used to say mascara when I was younger, now it is definitely lipstick. I find at my age, the lips need some enhancement. It adds a shot of much needed colour to my otherwise pale face. When I was younger, I was not afraid of the sun and my face was not so pale, so the mascara was more important. My daughter is opposite - natch - she is only 16. So tomorrow night, when she is preparing to step out to her high school's semi-formal dance, you can be sure, the mascara will take the lead over the lipstick. A bit of gloss will do her and I will have to remind her to tuck it into her party purse so she can re- apply later in the evening. She doesn't even get that. You have to re- apply. She heads out the door in the morning thinking (I swear) that the gloss she puts on at 7:30 am will last the day. NOT! It doesn't bother her at all though. I, on the other hand, am constantly touching up my lips. I am in the public eye all day, so it matters to me. I never touch up my mascara throughout the day. Just the lips. And speaking of lips, one of Hollywood's best set of lips has to go to Scarlett Johansson - who just happens to be married to Ryan Reynolds, People mag's sexiest man alive for their 25th anniversary edition. A Canadian I might add. My daughter and I agreed with the choice wholeheartedly - we have been fans of his for years and he totally gets our vote. As much as Brad, George and Patrick fit as finalists, it was time for someone new to take the title and Ryan is fresh and deserving. So, before this blog disintegrates any further, I think I will sign off. Is there a point here? Not sure really. A bit of a ramble about make-up, it's ability to enhance our appearance and how when applied to Scarlett Johansson's lips it attracted the likes of Ryan Reynolds. Nuff said.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The One-Handed Work-out - instant results!

Possibly one of my worst days at work....ever. Rather than dwell on all the bullshit I encountered today, what I would prefer to talk about is how much better I feel now that I have had a couple of glasses of red wine to erase the pain of the day. Yes, I sometimes resort to this sort of stress reduction even though I know that a good workout can create similar relief. What I like about the wine though is how it takes far less effort and the end result is far more mellowing. Is that a word? Mellowing? If it isn't, it should be. I am also curious as to how it also makes everything look better. As I glanced around my living room, swirling my red elixir around in my long-stemmed crystal vessel, I assessed the room. Over the years, I have carefully selected various pieces - new, antique, old, not so old, an assortment of cheap and expensive elements that have all come together to create a whole. The unifying component is colour. Warm muted golds, blues and reds and varying wood stains, even different periods and styles have all meshed to form a pleasing (to me anyway) palette. It is a room that has been built over time and travel and personal taste that when I sit and consider it in my slightly inebriated state, it gives me pleasure. Funny how the wine brings out the best in the room and sometimes I think, the best in me. I am lucky I am able to know when I have had enough wine and do not find it necessary to drink to get through each day. Perhaps that is why I really notice the difference. Sober versus tipsy. I hesitate to say drunk, because if I were truly "drunk" I don't think I would be capable of writing this blog at all. I would be stumbling into bed into a comatose state. I have done that once or twice in my life, so I know what that feels like. I learned a long time ago, it is not my best self. However, my present state feels pretty good. I certainly feel more relaxed than I did a few short hours ago and all the anxiety I felt then is completely gone. Good riddance I say. Nothing like a nice Australian Shiraz to put things in perspective. I'll hit the gym tomorrow! That's what I call balance. Cheers!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Exercise, Check, Soul Fed, Check.

I had the good fortune to be able to spend a couple of hours today on one of my favourite walking trails down along the Humber River. It was the perfect sunny crisp fall day. There were still a few leaves valiantly hanging on to the trees while the fallen ones crunched beneath my feet. I generally walk with a friend but today I walked alone, no ipod, just the sound of the running water and the birds and the odd squirrel rustling amongst the leaves searching for the remaining tree nuts to stow away for the winter. It felt like Mother Nature's last hurrah before the snow starts to fly. I could feel the nip in the air when I started out and was glad I had layered. I stopped about halfway to watch the water in its endless journey downstream, hoping maybe a late spawning salmon might still be trying to head upstream, but that was just wishful thinking. I had to content myself with a couple of perfectly executed duck landings. Not exactly a great wonder of nature, but still a simple moment watching wildlife in it's natural habitat. It's all good. Getting out to do this sort of simple thing on a day off is what I think of as soul soothing. A complete break from people, noise, traffic and work. Without these breaks, I am quite sure I would go mad. We are lucky here in Toronto - we have plenty of places where we can go and experience this sort of peace. Whenever I am in New York, I always spend some time in Central Park - what would New Yorker's do without that oasis? In fact, no matter where I travel, I always want to go to that particular city's parkland. There is only so much concrete and so many crowded streets I am interested in taking in. My mind was like a camera today, recording frame after frame of changing vistas. The forested parts with their nearly bare trees, opened up before me with their carpets of leaves - so different from how it looked just a few weeks ago. Now you can actually see the forest for the trees if you know what I mean. You get to see better river views now too - the tall grasses and bushes along the banks less dense, allowing me a clearer look. As I stood near the bank gazing down into the rushing water looking for fish, it occurred to me that I really loved the feeling I get watching clear river water rolling over rocks in the shallows. Is everyone attracted to this, or is it just me? It always makes me want to take off my shoes and put my feet in, or take a drink even though I know it's too cold now and probably too polluted to drink. I am somewhat fascinated by it - not sure why really. Just am. As you can do doubt figure out - my walk did my soul some good today. No ranting. No raving. Just a mellow blog today - a sharing of what I saw, what I did and how it made me feel. Now if I can just figure out how to stay in this place......... And, by the way, as I was looking for an image to post on this blog, I came across a young artist named Chantal-Andree Samson. The painting you see here was done by her recently along this trail. Enjoy. Better still, check out her work - she is very talented.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Caffeine or Crack - it's all the Same to Me!

I keep missing last call and it's starting to really piss me off. Thirty years ago that might have been a good thing since by that time of night, I surely did NOT need another drink. But now I miss last call on a regular basis at Starbucks and Second Cup. I'm talking about last call for decaf. How can they call themselves a coffee shop when you cannot get a normal cup of decaf coffee after noon? It makes no sense. That is when it SHOULD be available. Most people have had their fill of caffeine by then and decaf should be the order of the day from lunch time onward. But NOOOOOO! They cut it off after twelve. I DON'T DRINK CAFFEINE!!!!!!! EVER!!!!! NO! I don't want decaf Americano. I don't like decaf Americano. Fuck your decaf Americano Starbucks. Bad enough Starbucks started offering up this option to me when they ran out of regular decaf, now Second Cup has jumped on the bandwagon too. Hello!!! Starbucks!!!! Hello!!! Second Cup!!! You are a COFFEE shop - you should have all types of coffee all day long. I don't want to wait while you make me a separate cup of decaf in a paper cone filter - I can bloody do that at home. It does not taste the same. I do appreciate that ONCE someone in a Starbucks offered to do this for me - ONCE I say - ONCE! It was better than decaf Americano, but only slightly. Some of you may be saying, go to Tim Horton's for your damn decaf. Well, if I wanted to drink a cup of hot water with a slight coffee flavour, I would. Tim Horton's is where I go for coffee when there is no other choice available. It's as bad as some no name coffee shop in an airport or gas station. Desperation java. Yuck. I have figured out their strategy. It forces decaf drinkers to order one of their more expensive concoctions like a decaf latte or other such specialty coffees in order to get something that tastes half decent. It's a money grab that I do not appreciate. I don't want a skinny soy decaf half foam whatever. I want a simple cup of decaf coffee, preferably Sumatra or even basic Colombian. Am I asking too much? Is it a volume thing? Make less more often. Gee, I don't know - figure it out. I just want it to be available all day, every day. Not everyone wants to go around shaking and buzzing all day long. I cannot handle caffeine and just to prove it - this blog was just written under the influence of regular Paradiso which I was forced to quaff because Second Cup was out of decaf at 10:50 this morning. I am still feeling the effects more than three hours later. Hence, this rant. A deadly combo - a peri-menopausal woman and a large cup of caffeinated joe. I'll need a glass of wine to calm me down. Expect a different kind of rant after that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cottage, Cabin, Tomato, tomatto

Three eagles, an otter family of five, several Rainbow Trouts, countless dead Sockeye Salmon and one squaw fish. That was the tally of wildlife I saw over the past 4 days. Oh yes, and one unfortunate dead deer by the roadside. Apparently it was unusual that I did not see any live ones. However, hunting season opened recently and they may be smarter than we think. Hope they are hiding well and that they escape the bullets aimed toward them.
I spent the last four days and three nights in Mabel Lake about an hour and a half north of Kelowna in B.C. Four days without television, cell phone signal, no gadgets of any kind and not even a radio or newspaper to keep me abreast of the news of the world. It was heaven.
At first it was a bit strange. I repeatedly turned my phone on and off to see if it was really true, but after a few attempts, I could see it was futile and I left it off for the duration. No texts, no calls, no nothing. Once I accepted this was going to be the drill, I started to relax into it. Days and nights consisted of nature walks, fishing, listening to music and a crackling fire, card games and great meals. We even cooked and ate a trout within an hour or two of catching it - our cocktail hour snack. I think my brother has got it right.
He bought this cabin ("cottage" in Ontario) in this beautiful B.C. lake resort two summers ago and this was my first visit. The reason the salmon were dead is because it has been one of the biggest runs up the Shuswap River in a century and after they spawn, they die. The riverbanks are covered with the carcasses and the smell although a bit unpleasant will only last as long as it takes the birds and bears and other carnivores to get rid of them.
Whenever I am in this sort of wilderness setting, it makes me hate the city. Makes me want to turn all Jeremiah Johnson and live in the bush. However, the reality is, after a few months of having to catch my meals and chop wood for the fire, the novelty might wear off a bit.....or maybe not. Hard to say. In this case, the cabin is perfectly comfortable and has all the amenities 0ne would need to survive - indoor plumbing, all the necessary appliances, good beds, an entire film library and stereo equipment. It also helped that the main fridge was stocked with food and the bar fridge was stocked with wine and beer. Let's face it - not exactly roughing it.
As I was a guest, I also did not have to chop the wood, carry it in, or even start the fire (although I do know how!). My brother is the lumberjack in the family and chivalry reigns, so I was well taken care of too. Getting into the forest, boating around in a fresh water lake, observing wildlife in natural habitats - these are the things that remind us we are Canadian. Life in the city does not do this for me.
And, four days was barely enough. Next time, a week at least.
You hearing that bro? Minimum. Thanks, and See ya soon!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Making Memories........her way.

Last night she was cruising on the Seine following a visit to the Louvre and a little shopping on the Champs Elysees. Tonight she is home eating a bowl of faux chicken noodle soup and watching a recorded episode of Glee in her pajamas. Night and day, apples and oranges? No, just Paris and Toronto. It always strikes me as such an enormous contrast. The complete reversal of scenarios when one returns from a travel adventure. My kid just got home from Europe about an hour ago. She is fortunate. At 16 she has been over the pond twice and traveled around North America and the Caribbean more than I ever had by that age. I am so glad she loves to travel. Of all the things I have done in my life, I would have to say that travel has given me more than anything. It has enriched my life, introduced me to other cultures, opened my eyes, blessed me with life long friends and now I have planted that same seed in my daughter - the travel bug, the joy of discovery. The stories of her European adventure will seep out gradually over the next days and weeks. She never gives me everything right away. So far I was told about three incidents - her mascara being confiscated by security at Heathrow, the order taker at a German take-out giving my little vegetarian some unasked for ham on her pizza, and dropping her tooth brush on the filthy floor in the train bathroom on the overnight rail ride from Munich to Paris. For the next 24 hours until she bought a new tooth brush, she had to clean her teeth with her finger and some toothpaste. As she relayed these little anecdotes to me, I had to say I was thrilled these were the worst things that happened. I'm quite certain my "incidents" were far worse. The supervision on high school trips these days is seemingly a far cry from what it was in my day. Thank goodness. Looking back, I am amazed we all came back in one piece. The strongest thing she drank on her trip was Red Bull, smoking was not allowed and there was zero tolerance for any mixing of sexes in their rooms. Suffice to say the same rules did not apply on my own youthful adventures. If there were rules, we surely broke them. That is my recollection. It makes me wonder. How will her travel memories differ from mine? It doesn't matter really. What really matters is that she has them. And they are all hers. Welcome home baby.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nothing Fishy - Just the Truth.

There are days and weeks and months that can pass in my life when nothing particularly magical happens. This, from someone that sees messages in the the most uninspired things. I am a firm believer that the universe delivers messages to us on a regular basis if only we are open to hearing, seeing or noticing them. I try to stay tuned in to my intuition as it has never failed me. I, on the other hand have failed it - countless times. Whenever I don't listen to that inner voice of mine, I always regret it. It can be as simple as not listening to the voice that says, "Deb, you should turn off this route now or you will get stuck a few blocks up the road." I actually have a voice that says things like that to me. When I ignore it, I end up in gridlock. Every bloody time. Or, it can be something far more serious. Like the voice that told me I should not trust that used car salesman in 1986 that ripped me off for a thousand bucks at a time in my life when a thousand may as well have been 10 thousand. I won't go into all the boring details, but suffice to say - he got my grand and I got nothing. Nothing at all, not even a cab chit to get me home. I still hope that bastard got the bad karma that he deserved but I'll never know. It was all I could do to not visit his pathetic little car lot one dark night and torch the place, but I don't have any desire to spend time in prison, so I didn't. So, I was going somewhere with all of this - really I was, but my glass of wine is almost empty now and I tend to ramble when under the influence of a nice glass of red. Oh yes, I was going to tell you about the little bit of magic I experienced today. It was the perfect autumn day here in Toronto. Warm, breezy, sunny, the colourful leaves beginning to flutter to the ground, crunchy beneath my feet. The smell of the decaying leaves not yet offensive, just a little heady and earthy. Like I said, perfect. I decided it was a good day to take a long walk along the Humber River. I walk this trail pretty regularly and it is always a joy. But at this time of year, it really takes on a whole new face. The bits through the forested areas are my favourite. The leaves, the last blush of summer still alive, all the birds and squirrels feasting on the nuts and seeds that are plentiful now - it is truly nature at it's best. As if that was not enough, the recent rains have left the river high and flowing fast and the salmon are heading up river. I stood and watched these incredible fish struggling to climb the various levels of the river. How determined. How fascinating. Watching them battle the fast-moving waterfalls and failing time after time was almost painful. I found myself cheering for them, egging them on, wishing for them to succeed. Apparently many of them do not. I decided I would stand until at least one of them made it up and over. I did not know how long it might take, but I did not care. I knew eventually one of them would make it and then I could go on my merry way. It only took about 10 minutes before I saw one of about 75 fish make the jump. I did a fist pump in the air for that fish. I shouted "Yes!" I was so happy for the success of this one salmon. Imagine - all these salmon, so determined to return to their home to spawn. It is the only thing they need to do. And then they die. It is their sole purpose in life. It is their "truth". We humans seem to complicate things way too much. We have countless distractions and life choices that prevent us from reaching our "truths", unlike the simplicity of the salmon. They heed the call and move toward it. As I waited for one lone salmon to make the jump to the next level in the river, I told myself that if just one salmon could make it, there was still hope for me. Still hope that my life will count for something. That my "truth" is still attainable. Good news. One did.

Monday, September 20, 2010

John Hughes Would Approve.....surely.

It happened again. OK, I'll admit it. My daughter dragged me kicking and screaming to yet another "teen flick". This happens quite regularly. I have been subjected to some real trash.....but every once in awhile, a real gem appears. I have to give her credit - for a 16 year old, she has fairly good taste in movies and even considers herself a bit of a film aficionado (thanks to 2 summers now at "film camp"). Note I did not say "movie buff", but "film aficionado". There's a diff - don't ya know! The most recent "film" she introduced me to was Easy A. That's right - Easy A. I had sat through a trailer for this movie a few weeks back (not really paying attention) and recalled her saying she wanted to see it and I paid her some sort of lip service at the time saying it might be one she would like to see with kids her own age as opposed to moi. I guess she was paying me lip service when she agreed and then last Saturday night insisted I see it with her. So off we went. I went without any pre-conceived notions other than I thought it was quite likely I might catch a few zzz's at about the half way mark. How bad could it be? For starters, I think I started laughing within the first two minutes. I sat upright and paid attention as soon as I saw that the lead character's father was played by one of my very favourite actors - Stanley Tucci. What is it about this guy that is so damn appealing? He just keeps getting better. Most recently I loved him as Julia Child's husband in Julia and Julia. His wife in this movie is played by another great actress - Patrica Clarkson and the two of them together were just brilliant. Not only were they the kind of parents everyone wishes they had, they are the kind of parents every parent wishes they could be. I found myself excited every time they were included in a scene. My only criticism of the movie in fact would be that I would have liked more scenes featuring their witty banter. And is it my imagination, or is he getting sexier every time I see him? So, enough about the secondary characters, on to Emma Stone in the role of Olive Penderghast. Move over Lindsay Lohan - this actress is about to kick your butt. If only poor Lindsay could have kept herself together, but alas, now that she is so messed up, it was only a matter of time before she was replaced. Not only replaced, completely outdone in my opinion. Olive is too clever for her own good in this movie, but of course she comes out on top in the end and even scores Penn Badgley. And by the way, speaking of Penn, great to see him outside of his brooding Gossip Girl character for a change. He may have a future on the big screen if this is any indication of his abilities. Go Penn! Another little side-plot involving Lisa Kudrow and Thomas Haden Church as the married guidance counselor and popular teacher adds some interest as well. Let's just say one of them throws us a little unexpected curve ball that I did not see coming at all. The moral of my little story here is never under-estimate your teenage child's ability to judge a decent movie or the sex-appeal of a bald man. Decomama declares Easy A...... worth the admission price.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Let's get Philosophical!

I read somewhere recently that you could tell right away if someone was a baby boomer if they were nostalgic. Apparently more recent generations are less nostalgic than those of us born in this era. When I read that, I was a bit insulted that "being nostalgic" was a flaw, a fault of some type, a negative thing. It felt like someone had been unfairly critical of my generation. What was so wrong with nostalgia? I wondered. I pondered. I forgot about it. Until today. I was reminded just how bloody nostalgic we are when an old friend of mine from California tagged me in a photo on Facebook last week. The shot had been taken at a party in the late 70's and there I was, for all to see, fresh-faced moi. This started a series of comments and more photos being scanned and posted and more of us boomers looking back on our (skinnier) selves and having a few laughs. It was more than 30 years ago, but looking back, it could have been a week ago. The memories came back in waves. At first, I forgot the names of some of the people in the shots, but as the conversations unfolded, the names got mentioned and the moments frozen in time took on life again. This friend of mine who lives in California - San Diego at the time, hosted these annual parties. I flew in twice for them - they tended to last 3 days or so and they were considered by all who attended as "don't miss" events. I won't go into "all" the details, but let's just say there was no shortage of mind altering substances to be had and there was a hot tub. Not just any hot tub, mind you, this hot tub was a "magic" place. If you dared to soak in this particular hot tub, particularly under a starry sky, there was no limit to the brilliance of the philosophizing that would take place. I had forgotten that. Over the last few days, it was comforting to remember some of it. I have always loved nothing more than to share a conversation about "the meaning of life" with friend, an acquaintance, hell - total strangers for that matter. You never know what gem may come out of it. I miss doing that - I don't do enough of it anymore. Remember dinner parties that would go on and on into the wee hours, wine-soaked brains solving the problems of the world? Now, we go to a dinner party and talk about our kids, the real estate market, local politics, federal politics, current events - that stuff bores me. I want to talk about what makes us tick. I did then and I still do now. What gives you joy? I want to turn to someone at a dinner party and ask that question. I want to see their face light up when they start to describe it. But I want it to be the truth. Not some made up bullshit thing. Dig deep. Don't tell me your new BMW or your new Jimmy Choo's. And if you don't have something to tell me, tell me what you "think" would give you joy. There was something about that hot tub that levelled everyone. If there were any pretenses, they remained outside the tub. That's what I want. I want all my social engagements to contain that kind of honesty. So, in an effort to make that happen, I will summon up my nostalgic "hot tub magic" each and every time I attend a function and maybe my life will be richer for it. One can only hope.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Not a Typical Chip off the old Block!

Dare I admit - for risk of sounding "old' that I have only just recently become "text savvy". I know, I know, it makes me sound sooooo "out of it"! I just never really seemed to have a need but now that my daughter is texting all the time, I had to get with the program. I am always a bit reluctant to adopt any "new" technology for some reason in an attempt to avoid having to read any sort of manual (I hate that!) or admit that it is necessary ( a bit of a stubborn streak in me) but eventually by desire to "keep up" with the rest of the world wins out and I succumb. I just finished a short but sweet conversation with my daughter via text that made me laugh. She is away at a friend's "movie marathon weekend" where I had some concerns about the possibility of under age drinking..... or worse and it was comforting to text her and get a near immediate response that reassured me that the weekend was legit and not what it would have been when I was her age - an excuse to get shit-faced. This generation, from what I am experiencing and learning is far more responsible and dare I say more intelligent than mine was at her age. She will turn 16 in a few short weeks and to date has not to my knowledge (and I believe it to be true) ever been drunk, stoned or.....well, I'll leave that one to your imagination. She is a great kid with a good head on her shoulders and I am so proud of her and the choices she makes. She is genuinely thoughtful in her choices and is sooooooo much smarter than I was at her age, it almost seems it can't be possible she came from the same gene pool. I'm lucky. Not all parents are so fortunate. I would like to think I had something to do with it, but I can't take all the credit. She is her own person. She has opinions. She is not a follower. If she sticks to her current path, she may just turn out OK. Perhaps better than OK. She is not perfect. She is working through teenage angst like most kids her age and the good news is she is working through it without the crutch of drugs or alcohol. And even better news, she actually talks to me. She is more open with me than I ever was with my parents and I am so grateful she feels she can share some of her innermost feelings and thoughts with me. She constantly surprises me with her honesty. If I had to pinpoint any one thing that has led her to feel able to do this with me, I would have to say it is because I have never tried to bullshit her. I have always been honest with her about my past, my successes, as well as my failures and have always let her know I was human. I have made mistakes. I have not always been perfect - far from it. She loves nothing more than to hear some of my wilder stories of my misspent youth - in fact, she seems to love that more than anything - knowing her mom was not always a "good girl". If that is all it takes to make her more of a "good girl" , well I'm glad I was honest with her. Maybe it is the best policy after all.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meeting on the Magnificant Mile

So - breezed in last night after a weekend in the 'windy city" - or so it is often referred to - Chicago, chi - town, home of Oprah Winfrey, The "Chicago School" of architecture, and oh yes, Vince Vaughn. Had to throw in Vince's name since we actually bumped into that famous wedding crasher down on the lakefront on Saturday morning, sweating off a few calories like the rest of us. You're looking good Vince - keep up the good work. It was my annual getaway with my BFF and since we were trying to find somewhere to meet in the middle between Toronto and Austin - sort of, we chose Chicago this year. We did New York last year and have concluded (this being our second trip to this mid-west mecca) that it has as much to offer as the big apple without the offensive smell and the possibility of a breeze in the middle of a hot August heatwave. It did not stink and we finally did feel a breeze by day three, so we counted ourselves lucky. We had both just finished reading Loving Frank and so Chicago seemed a rather apropos destination considering Mr. Lloyd Wright's humble beginnings in the city's Oak Park neighbourhood. I highly recommend the river cruise with the guided tour of Chicago architecture. I spent the weekend in the newly re-furbished Ritz Carlton where art deco reigned supreme and with the many buildings done in the same style throughout the city, it lifted the design world's current love affair with the "modern glamour" look of the moment to a whole new level. But this blog is not intended to be a travelogue, so I won't bore you any further with the details of my trip, other than to say, if you get there any time soon, check out Million Dollar Quartet for a fun night of musical theatre. And.....beware of a geriatric, bleached blonde female cabbie wearing a cocktail dress, five-inch stilettos and a thick German accent who is completely unfamiliar with the word "sisterhood". Thaaat beeeech is von scarey frauline. While you're at it, avoid the needy "new to town" driver from Louisiana who never shut up and forgot his GPS at home. We don't care - we really don't. We just want you to know where the friggin hotel is and we want you take us there NOW. If you don't know the downtown very well, head back to the burbs bub - do I look like a bloody native? Anyway, New York does have a leg up in that department - cabbies who actually have personalities and know where they are going.....most of the time. Where was I? Oh yeah. The whole point of this blog was supposed to be about my weekend and what it meant to me. I know I have spoken of this before in past blogs but it is worth repeating. I look forward to these "girlfriend" weekends more and more all the time. For a few days, in some far away city, I can just be "me". I am not someone's wife or mother, or employee. I only need to be a friend. Surely, it is a form of escapism. A departure from the daily grind, the roles we need to play and a maid to make my bed everyday. What more could a girl ask for? In fact, on the one drizzly morning, as we laid in bed watching a movie and eating room service breakfast in our thick white bath robes, we stopped to ponder our good fortune and I knew (we both knew) how fortunate we were and how grateful we both were to be there surrounded in a sea of comfort and luxury yet again, another year of friendship under our belts. We always, always, always have fun - as Oprah would say - I can count on it as "one thing I know for sure".

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lyrics that should fall on deaf Ears

It's been awhile since I felt like ranting but this morning's drive into work has left me with a bad taste in my mouth all day. Admittedly, I tend to either listen to my own mix CD's in the car or 680 news for the traffic reports or the ultimate MOR station - CHFI, but today, I felt like listening to Marilyn Dennis who I miss terribly since she left CITY TV, so I switched the station to CHUM FM. For years I was a faithful CHUM FM listener, but CHFI seems to have suited me more in recent years. CHUM FM plays more current music and I figured it might also be a good idea to listen to some new music, step outside my aging box, so to speak. The first song that came on was a rap tune that I actually found myself digging a bit, could even imagine dancing a bit and then I started focusing on the lyrics. Had I just heard what I heard? Wow! A giant step back for women - that was how it struck me.
"If she ever tries to fucking leave again I'mma tie her to the bed And set the house on fire Just gonna stand there And watch me burn But that's alright Because I like The way it hurts Just gonna stand there And hear me cry But that's alright Because I love The way you lie I love the way you lie I love the way you lie"
The first stanza is sung by Eminem and the second by Rihanna. I have not felt so deflated by what I heard in a long long time. Is this what my 15 year old daughter and her friends are listening to? Do they think it's OK? So I hauled my daughter out on the patio tonight and talked to her about this. Thankfully she thinks Eminem is an asshole and does not think these lyrics are alright - but what about other girls her age? Do they? I think it's time for some real uproar here. I would like to see young women everywhere banding together to protest such demeaning, anti-feminist, unempowering thoughts on the airwaves. When I looked at a few websites with comments about this song, I was even further horrified at how many listeners thought this song was "awesome." Was I missing something? Do young women find these lyrics acceptable? Did Rihanna not just escape an abusive relationship? What would possess her to sing this song? Help me out here folks. I don't get it. I started to think maybe the whole idea of "freedom of speech" was at the core of this. Maybe it has something to do with that - admitting sado-masochistic leanings as some sort of freeing anthem. The same sort of attitude that goes along with the idea of oral sex not being "real sex". The things I hear about today's teens equating fellatio with nothing more than a good night kiss. I hear this stuff and think - maybe it's not that prevalent and it's more urban legend than reality. But the more I hear, the more I wonder if I am naive now. I find it depressing and sad and if that makes me seem old than so be it. I feel sorry for any young person that views intimacy between two people to be so void of emotion or connection that they place little or no value on it. Is there an entire segment of this generation that have separated love and sex so completely that their hearts have become frozen to the potential of genuine love? I question. I ponder. I wonder. Maybe they need to consider doing this too. Question. Ponder. Wonder. The answers might come.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The August of my Life?

How is it that it is August already? Summer is waning and I feel as though I have barely gotten into it. My legs are finally a shade darker than neon white (thanks to gradual self-tanning creams), my daughter has gone and come home from summer camp, the garden shops are starting to stock fall mums and I have eaten the first corn and tomatoes of the season.
All signs of endings, not beginnings.
Kind of like mid-life. My own personal August for all intents and purposes started a couple of years ago I figure. Suddenly it started requiring far more "maintenance" to remain looking like January to June and not July to December. I have to work out harder, eat less, drink less, sleep more ( as difficult as that seems to be), fuss longer with my hair and make-up and spend more at the salon than I did in the first half of the game.
I notice that when some women reach November and December in their lives, they actually start spending less as it must seem hopeless at that point. Why bother? I don't think I will be one of them. Every now and again I bump into a November or December gal who still works hard at pulling herself together and I admire her - "that will be me," I think to myself. "I won't let myself look like the women in my hair salon with that "old lady" hair.
You know - the ones who get their white hair permed and then go for a weekly "set". It looks like a tightly curled helmet. Just shoot me if I ever look like that. There is one woman in her late seventies that still looks hip and every time I see her, I congratulate her for not giving in. She still sports a spiky cropped do that requires a bit of "product" to make it stand up and she easily shaves ten years off with that style. She also still wears jeans and has not given in to the polyester, elasticized waist pants that so many others her age seem to have done.
I am forever inspired by that paparazzi photo that was taken of Helen Mirren a few years back in her red two-piece bathing suit at 63. She looked fabulous and if she can do it, so can I! It is a fact of life that it is easier for men. Case in point - the photos in the news today of Bill Clinton at his daughter's wedding. We look at his white hair and his sagging jowls and think - "hmmm, not bad for an old guy." However, we look at Hilary and all we see are her flaws. Kind of like we do to ourselves. Some days, I can look at myself in the mirror and see the same face I have seen my whole life and skip out of the bathroom full of vim and vigour, but some days I pause too long and start to examine the fine lines and start pushing and pulling my face this way and that to see what I might look like with a little nip here or a tuck there. Never a good plan.
I am finding it difficult to face the fact that I am in the August of my life. I don't even believe it some days. It's as though it has come as a shock to me suddenly, like some unexpected surprise I was not at all prepared for. I see old friends faces on Facebook - women from high school or university and for the most part, they shock me. Not all, but some. Do I shock them? Do they look at my face and do a double take? One thing I do notice though is their eyes - that is how they are still recognizable even if the rest of their face has become distorted by time.
And that about sums it up, does it not? The window to their souls. That's always still there. That part of them that is forever young, timeless and beautiful.
Amen to that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rake this meat over the Coals.....Please!

I recently had new neighbours move in next door. I have not met them yet and based on past experience, may never. The house is rented and the tenants seem to last a year at best. The last ones seemed to be the type that would stay forever considering the amount of crap they hauled into the place and deposited all over the back garden, but alas, they are gone, along with their white plastic planters and lone plastic pink flamingo and I never even got the chance to say "hey". The latest residents appear to be a bit more tasteful in terms of lawn furniture ( I can see their back yard from the second floor of my house), and they also seem to have twigged to the latest trend in outdoor cooking. A return to the charcoal BBQ. According to a recent issue of Toronto Life magazine, this is "hot" (pardon the pun). As I sat poolside with my glass of wine tonight, the smell of their dinner wafted over the fence into my nostrils and evoked memories of childhood BBQ's where my father would drown a steak in Heinz BBQ sauce and as it would drip onto the hot coals, the aroma was wonderful. It reminded me of the kind of hamburgers I ate as a kid - juicy, medium rare, fatty, dripping, greasy and bloody delicious burgers - the exact kind you can no longer order in restaurants for fear of the dreaded E-coli that may lurk within. A few years ago, we bought a big bag of charcoal to take to a rental cottage that only had an old fashioned BBQ, but when we got there, turns out there was a gas BBQ, so we never used the bag. We stowed it in the garage and it has sat there on a shelf for about 6 years. My husband said maybe we should give it to the neighbours since they seem to use it. That's when I thought - NO - let's keep it and go and buy an old fashioned BBQ and just once, maybe, I can experience a REAL hamburger - the one I remember from 1967. I'll go and buy some decent ground beef from a reputable butcher and hopefully eliminate the threat of e-coli and I will cook it so that it is still pink in the middle and I don't want low-fat, lean, extra lean or anything associated with lean - I want the real deal - the high fat - regular ground beef that will cause the flames to fly up and when I bite into the finished patty, the grease will drip out and it will be soooooo moist and I will put some of that bottled BBQ sauce on it and I will be transported back in time. So, sorry new neighbours - you'll have to keep yourself supplied with your own charcoal. I am going to use this bag - maybe even more than once and I may even break down and grill a hot dog too (poison as far as my daughter is concerned) and I will top it with chopped onions and gobs of mustard and relish and if I want to really go back in time, I'll buy a jar of Kraft Cheez Whiz for good measure and slop some of that "cheese product" on it. The whole thing could be like a giant flashback to the sixties for me. I just need to find my old "I Love the Monkees" pop top that I wore to Expo 67 in Montreal at a used clothing store and I'll be tripping down memory lane on a hot August night in style. Care to join me? Call me - we'll set a date.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Same gene pool, different as apples and oranges!

My daughter just called from camp. She sounded so full of joy, it nearly blew me away. She loves it there. It's an arts camp and the kids who go to this particular camp are kids like her - a bit different, not the type of kids she came up against during her 4 summers at your typical Muskoka-type camp. She much prefers the quirky, creative personalities she has met there and it is wonderful knowing she feels so comfortable with this crowd.
She was OK at the other camp, but as the summers ticked by, she became less and less enthused about going. Not the outdoorsy, athletic type that revels in overnight canoe trips and sports field activities, she never really got into the groove up there. A good swimmer, she never even bothered to go for the requisite "badges" as she couldn't be bothered. The water was "too cold" and she was not motivated by the "prize." "Who cares about some stupid badge?" she said to me one summer when I asked her why she had not shown them what a great swimmer she was. She is nothing like me. I loved badges. As a kid, I went to brownies and the more badges I got - the better I figured. I am competitive. She is not. ( accept when we play Scrabble - that is another story!)
She is not one for sports. I love golf, tennis and any activity that requires a ball and a target. Bring it on! How did I manage to produce a kid that would rather get a root canal than swing a tennis racket? Her father is also sporty. I can't even blame his genes. Sometimes it's hard to reconcile that I won't likely ever get the opportunity to show her some of my moves on the links or the courts. She hates riding a bicycle too. I recall when she was very young, getting one of those kid carts attached to the bike to get her interested. She didn't even really want to be hauled along back. We sent her to bike camp one summer - she could barely master it by the end of a two week session.
We have enrolled her over the years in soccer, baseball, tennis and gymnastics in an effort to see if there was even one sport she would like. Nothing. She did enjoy ballet for many years, but dropped that a couple of years ago, once she discovered she did not really have any talent or the body for Swan Lake. At least she learned something.
I think it is important for kids to have at least one physical activity they really enjoy. For her, it is swimming, but now that she is a teenager, she is all shy about her body and shies away from public displays of her curvy figure. My hope is she will get over that one day and just ignore her feelings of insecurity and go for it. As a parent, I have felt it was my responsibility to encourage and support her efforts at anything she attempted and I have, but now it is up to her as she gets older to take on some of that responsibility herself.
My job may not be done, but the time has come for my little fish to swim on her own. I hope she can.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our National Obsession

Yes, readers, (if I have any left), I am still alive and I do still want to write this blog occasionally! What can I say? Life just seems to have gotten in the way of late. So, I finally have a moment to devote to this and I am a bit stuck about what to talk about.
When in doubt, perhaps I should do what most Canadians do when they have little else to say - talk about the weather. I don't even think we realize it, but as a nation, we are positively, absolutely, nearly maniacally obsessed with our weather. Since we are in the midst of a "heat wave" here in Toronto, now seems as good a time as any to focus on this obsession. So here goes.....
Let's start with last night's power transformer explosion that left half the city without power for several hours last evening. The weather finally heats up and the grid just can't take it. KABOOM! The Kipling power station has an explosion that knocks power out covering almost the entire west end of the city from Bathurst to Kipling and a bit beyond. I work a little further west and all I experienced was a flicker of the lights but no full blown outage that might have resulted in an opportunity to leave work early - just my luck!
However, getting home was another story. Correct me if I am wrong, but if you go back to your basic driving training, however many years ago, we all learned that during a power outage, all traffic lights become "all way" stops. Do ya think many drivers retained this knowledge? It would appear NOT. The bullies just pushed on through without considering the cross traffic and the timid sat there afraid to go anywhere. Chaos ensued. What would normally take me 5 minutes, took 35 minutes and if everyone had remembered their training, might have taken 10.
Major intersections were manned by police, but the rest were essentially "every man for himself". Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am a fairly aggressive driver, so I applied the "he who hesitates is lost" approach and if some timid soul was off the mark in the "all way stop" department, well, I admit, I took advantage of their fear and moved on through. By the time they realized it should have been their turn, I was long gone. Patience is not one of my strong suits.
However, I am off topic, I was supposed to be talking about the weather, but this does all relate - sort of. I think many of those timid souls may have been affected by the heat. Canadians only experience this kind of temperature serge once or twice a summer or if they travel outside the country, so it takes it's toll on the aged and the youngest of our population. It's just too much for many. I will admit, last night, I was a bit knocked out by it too. I sat in my backyard in the shade and after coming out of my air-conditioned car, it was such an extreme contrast, I felt a bit light-headed. It was time for a swim. I am lucky. I have a pool in my backyard, so with no power and no A/C, it was a godsend.
I couldn't help but wonder how old Queen Liz fared as she carried on her Canadian tour, her pale yellow dress and matching jacket covering the full length of her arms and her stockings stuck to her legs - not a bare patch of skin showing anywhere. She probably couldn't wait to get back inside to the A/C and back to England for that matter. Wonder if she had a little sweat on her brow and wished she was anywhere but Waterloo and the exciting tour of the RIM plant. Surely, she would have preferred to be poolside with an icy cold Pimms or something English like that.
So today begins day two of the wave and "cooling centres" are available throughout the city for those poor souls who have no where to go to cool off. I sit here in air-conditioned comfort writing this blog wondering what it would be like to be stuck in the heat with no where to go, melting, withering, miserable. It's hard to imagine.
Do note however, I am not complaining. We pay millions of dollars a year to travel to hot countries to be in this kind of heat. For once, it's free, so we should just suck it up, slow down, remain calm and allow our minds to travel to mid-January - that's enough to make you put a sock in it.
No pool? Run through your sprinkler. No A/C? Find a nice shade tree, pour yourself a glass of iced tea, and chill. Just try to appreciate it.
And do the un-Canadian thing - don't talk about it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Am I Carrie or Samantha?

"NO! Not tonight Emma". That was my first response when she asked if I wanted to go to the opening night of the new Sex and the City movie. I hate standing in line-ups for one thing, and I am past the point in my life where it matters if I see a movie the day it opens or a few days or even weeks later. I know I will get to it eventually and my ego is not wrapped up in being "first"! Don't get me wrong, I definitely wanted to see the movie - just not last night, I had put in a 10 hour day at work, had closed a big deal by the end of it and all I wanted to do was come home and have a glass of wine and congratulate myself, shoes off, feet up and early to bed after that. However, not good at saying no to her, and the consequent guilt I would feel disappointing her, I gave myself a shake, freshened up my make-up, threw on some comfy shoes (gold Juicy Couture flats in keeping with the occasion - sorry - just couldn't muster up the energy for stilettos) and a little navy blue summer frock and headed out to dinner and a movie with my kid. So glad I did. It turned what had already been a good day into a great day. Dinner was surprisingly good - a piece of grilled black cod that was incredibly moist and delicious washed down with a perfectly chilled glass of Beringer Chardonnay, and a short stroll over to the theatre to settle in to watch my favourite group of gals and their various men for 2 and a half hours. Staying awake was going to be my challenge and Emma only had to nudge me once or twice about a third of the way through but I managed to hang in there for the eye candy festival. The clothes were awesome as always. The bodies were taught and tanned. The locations shots were appealing. Kim Cattrall looked awesome at 52 - the same age as me - so it gave me hope that I still have a little something too. Maybe not her bank account, but at least some of her shall we call it "enthusiasm" for life. You go girl! I know these movies are mostly fluff and fun, and I would never profess to describe them as anything but, however, once in a while it does a girl good to sit in a theatre surrounded by other like-minded women, (there were only about 4 men in the entire place) and share some laughs, some tears (although - this time I did not shed any like I did in the last one) and catch up with that fab foursome - Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Talk about a gold mine. They could probably pump out one a year and we would all keep going - just to spend some time with them. It is a bit of a cultural phenomenon when you really look at it. If you are not a fan, then you won't understand, but if you are, you know what I am talking about. We just can't get enough of these women. We want their wardrobes, we want their careers, we want their men (well, some of them) and we want more than anything - friendships such as theirs. The good news is, I have been inspired by their wardrobes over the years, had some career success, a few good men and some really awesome friendships. Hey, wait a minute. I don't need to envy them. I am them. I really am. PS. A combo of the two - call me Ms. Bradshaw-Jones.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Victoria - she may have a weekend named after her, but she was no beauty!

As many of you are aware, I have been an absentee blogger for a few weeks now. My hectic schedule has gotten in the way not only from a time perspective but from a creative perspective as well. Just too pooped these days to write. This morning is different. I have four glorious days of freedom spread out before me. There was a time when it would not have seemed a big deal. When I worked for myself it was easy to create a four day weekend - I did it all the time. Now that I am "owned" by corporate America, those four day weekends are a faint memory. I only found out about my good fortune when the schedule was reset about a week or two ago, so I didn't really have a chance to think much about what I would do with my time off. I didn't rush out and make a plan, or book a flight or even contemplate the possibilities until it was really too late to do much of anything. So now, I have this big open window of time to fill. My husband had a plan in place weeks ago for a golf holiday with the boys, so he is off tomorrow for a week, leaving me and my daughter alone together to plot and plan. So far, I see a little shopping, at least one movie, a drive to my home town to visit the folks, and the odd fitness walk along the Humber River. I'd also like to fit in some gardening (aka - weeding), some organizing chores inside the house, a couple of drinks poolside to try and diminish the ghostly white colour my legs have turned over the winter and at least this one blog. I may get ambitious and write another before the weekend is up, but I'm not putting any pressure on myself to make that happen. I have had blog ideas lately, but nothing urgent enough to make me sit down and tap out a tale. One idea was about men who dump beautiful women - or rather - screw around on them and consequently get dumped. I have a hard time with that one. I don't get it. If you are a man and you are married to Halle Berry or Sandra Bullock or Elin Woods, what pushes you into the arms of another woman? I would like to examine the role beauty plays in relationships. We live in a world where beauty certainly equates with success in love, but when it comes down to it, obviously it is not everything. Where did these marriages break down? I think that topic is almost worthy of a serious in depth study - a book perhaps. A thesis. It fascinates me. It is the talk around thousands of water-coolers around the world. I must not be the only one fascinated by it. "She was the perfect woman! How could he?" I hear it over and over. Perfect. That is just it. There is no such thing. What looks perfect initially, never lasts. Is it possible to make it last? How do you dig beneath the superficial and get to the guts of a person, to their soul? What happens if you dig and there is nothing there? Is that what happens in these marriages? Are the beautiful shells empty or are the diggers looking for something that does not exist? Is their disappointment in not finding it what drives them to look for it elsewhere? As I ponder these thoughts about relationships in my garden this weekend, maybe some answers will come to me. Or did I just answer my own questions? Not sure. Stay tuned - I may come up with some more answers or maybe just more questions as my four days unfold. Right now I need to stretch and move and see about these pale limbs of mine. Later.

Monday, April 26, 2010

If Only.........

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will have heard me mention and promote my good friend Cindy - aka - Halifax Broad and her absolutely hilarious blog. I continue to support her blog and encourage all of you to read it, if for no other reason than to be entertained and hear what it's like to be able to truly say what you feel like saying without any fear of repercussion from anyone. Cindy says what most of us want to say but are afraid to say. It pisses me off. I want to enjoy that kind of freedom on my own blog. But I can't. I can't because I have an employer that might fire me for speaking my mind, a husband who gets his feelings hurt easily, a daughter who would kill me if I embarrassed her, and family who would find it hard to take the truth if I started spewing about them. So what does that leave me to talk about? Diddly squat, most of the time. I have volumes of good material that is stored up in my brain but I can't use it. She laments the fact that she is single, estranged from her mother, self-employed and broke, but without all those labels, she could not write with the sheer and utter reckless abandon that she does. She is like the Don Rickles of bloggers. She does not care one iota who she insults, how politically incorrect she is, or who is offended by the things she says and that is what makes her soooooo worth reading. Sometimes I am envious of her freedom of speech. I was the one who encouraged her to start writing her blog in the first place. I had no idea she was going to produce the award-winning blog she does (Marketing Magazine's winner of the Creative Face-off award for 2009), nor did I expect she would become a contestant on CBC's Canada Writes, but she has and I am so happy for her success. As for me, I'll have to wait until I am unemployed, widowed, old enough that my daughter doesn't give a shit what I say anymore and all my relatives are dead, before I can really say what I want to say. Maybe by then, I won't feel like saying anything anymore. Who knows? I do know, I wish I could be more ruthless, throw caution to the wind and just fire off thoughts and expletives, willy nilly until I was blue in the face, but I won't. Not now. Maybe not ever. In the meantime - kudos to you Cindy - for having the balls to do what I wish I could. You go girl! www.halifaxbroad.blogspot.com Decomama xo

Friday, April 16, 2010

Finding the Perfect Pink with my BFF

Over the years, I have spent many an evening with my best friend Peggy drinking wine and indulging our taste buds in some very very lovely restaurants in cities all over North America. We have been friends for a long time. Over 30 years. Last night we were clinking glasses right here in Toronto near Yorkville at a lovely little restaurant called Malena. We sampled a variety of wines before the wine steward finally found one that pleased both of our palates. The wine list was extensive, but contained a unique number of wines we had never heard of or tried before. Most of the labels we might have been familiar with were absent. He managed to remain patient and cordial with us while we turned up our noses at his first 4 attempts. On his fifth try, we finally both smiled and said, yes, that's the one. That set the tone for the rest of our dining experience and by the end of the evening we were completely satisfied and happy with the recommendation of the hotel concierge who had sent us there. It helps that my long time friend works for The Four Seasons and whenever she is in town, we manage to squeeze in a little "girlfriend" time there. They rarely steer us wrong and had in fact done a similarly stellar job the night before as well. Our "girlfriend" time has meant more to me over the years than you can imagine. We may live miles and miles apart, but we are never really that far away from each other. We have met up on average about once or twice a year for these adventures for the last 25 years or so. We have walked the magnificent mile in Chicago, shopped til we dropped in NYC, cruised the California coast from LA to San Francisco, teed it up in Texas, hit the beaches in Miami, discovered New England from Vermont to Boston, ferried to Nantucket, and hiked through gardens and rain forests from Vancouver to Seattle. We have covered a lot of territory. We have indulged ourselves with spa treatments, plenty of retail therapy and many room service breakfasts. In the early days, although I have always been grateful for these getaways, I don't think I really "got" just how precious these times were until more recently. They have always represented complete breaks from my day to day life. Hers too. For a few days each time, we are catapulted into a different world. A world of luxury and decadence that some people could only dream of. For a few days, we feel different too. We shop in stores we really cannot afford. We spend too much on dining out. We rub elbows with the rich and famous and when we see them, we pretend we really don't notice them. (Kate Hudson is even prettier in person - don't ya know). Every outing creates a new memory. And every outing gives us a chance to re-hash the memories of past adventures. Our story book keeps growing and growing and we never seem to tire of the tales. There is the "underwear incident in Nantucket", the "paper thong incident" in West Palm Beach, the "miracle face cream" incident in Miami, "the Guy Fieri" incident in New York, the "Bonnie Raitt, Cadillac and smoking" incident in Santa Barbara, and a new one to add after yesterday - "the white jeans, Hermes scarf" incident in Toronto. We have always been there for each other and I see no reason for that to change.....not ever. So thanks again Peg for yet another "peak" experience. See you in Austin later this year. Love ya. Decomama xo

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Triumph over Tragedy

And so another Master's Tournament comes to a close. The Master's is like the Wimbledon of golf. It's the one to watch every year. The course at Augusta is surely the most beautiful golf course in the world and the tournament itself is never without a little drama and this year was no exception. My schedule did not permit me to actually watch as much of it as I normally would have, but I followed the leader board in the news and caught the highlights every night. Instead of sitting glued to the TV all day today watching this annual spectacle, I spent the day golfing myself. A participant in the sport versus an armchair spectator (always preferable in tennis or golf as far as I'm concerned). I still managed to catch the last few holes when I got home, so all was not lost. I didn't have a fave I was cheering on, I only knew I didn't want Tiger Woods to win. I'm not ready for him to golf his way to glory yet. I haven't forgiven him yet. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Instead, it was heart-warming watching Phil Mickelson marching up 18 toward his birdie putt, knowing the difficult year he had been through with his wife Amy. Here was a man who we felt deserved to win. As he sunk that putt on 18 and headed toward the arms of his loving wife and family, it was as though karma had played out it's magic right before our eyes...our very tear-filled eyes. These are the emotional moments in sports history that one never forgets. Forever more, the camera-shot of a lone tear trickling down the cheek of the champion as he embraced his cancer-stricken wife will be etched upon our memories. Reality television at it's very best. Nothing scripted about a moment like that. These are real people with real-life problems. The contrast of one families jubilation amidst potential gut-wrenching tragedy brings us all one step closer to our own personal struggles and victories. A reminder there are no guarantees in this life and how important it is to try to live in the moment - every day as though it could be the last. It's not easy, but it's not a bad goal. Lofty perhaps, but better than worrying and fretting about a future that may never transpire. It lifted my spirits watching Phil and Amy celebrate his moment in the sun. It far surpassed the negative and disappointing Tiger Woods saga. Given the choice, I'd rather share in someone's personal triumphs over someone's failures any day. I'd rather my soul be fed. Phil and Amy fed my soul today. Hope I'm not alone.