Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I think we've all been here a time or two

This arrived in my inbox today. I think I've just about finished cleaning the tea out of my keyboard. And my nose.

I don't know if this was actually sent to Procter & Gamble, but it should have been. Read on and relate, my sisters:

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core(tm) or Dri-Weave(tm) absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favourite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from "the curse"? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my "time of the month" is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call "an inbred hillbilly with knife skills." Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from "Aunt Flo". Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behaviour. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women.

In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy! The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants... which brings me to the reason for my letter.

Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: "Have a Happy Period." Are you fucking kidding me?

What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything "happy" about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like "Put Down the Hammer" or "Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong", or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullshit. And that's a promise I will keep... Always.


Wendi Aarons
Austin, TX

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New York? Really?

I've been working on a more serious posting, one that was triggered by a question a friend asked me at book club last week. It's still percolating and isn't quite finished yet. So, in the meantime, check me out! I've borrowed a meme.

I saw this yesterday on Postcards from the Mothership, and was intrigued by the idea that you could have your linguistics assessed without anyone having to actually listen to you speak. That's kind of like having someone paint a picture of your kids by asking you random questions about hair colour and height but not letting you see what they're doing so you can correct their inaccuracies.

So here's my result:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

North Jersey? New York City? Seriously??

I figured I'd end up with 'North Central' -- the Fargo-like accent that has speakers 'often mistaken for Canadians'. I have a friend from upstate New York named Paula. Once, on the phone I mistook her for another Paula, this one from Newfoundland. Both have accents. Neither one sounds like the other, and I don't sound like either. I just sound...normal.

Except in French class. Then I have a really bad English accent. Sérieusement.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

You'd think it would be obvious, wouldn't you?

It's not a good idea to take two small children to the Kanata Dollarama on a Friday evening to spend the $20 that their Grandma sent them, when you have PMS and a sinus headache.

It's. A. Very. Bad. Idea.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Karma update and cow penises

Turns out the car problem was the battery, which, although not cheap to replace, was definitely cheaper than a new alternator. Maybe the universe is cutting me a break.

And to those of you wondering after reading yesterday's blog post, Rae is confused about cow penises due to seeing the DVD "Barnyard", in which all the cattle, males and females, have udders and are called cows, even though some are clearly meant to be female (make-up, bows on head) and others are male. She knows that boy cows are called bulls. She also knows that boys (and by extrapolation, boy animals) have penises, and that girls have vaginas. (Confirming this led to quite the attack on Elvis' dignity one time when Rae had him pinned to the floor, belly up, and she was looking for his penis. But cats have those stealth penises that retract into their bodies when not in use, and.... but I digress.) The udder thing just threw her. And rightly so.

The main character is called Otis, is ostensibly male, is voiced by the guy from The King of Queens, but has an udder. His father, named Ben, is voiced by Sam Elliot, and [spoiler alert] when he dies, the farmer buries him with a grave marker saying "Ben -- a good cow". And he has an udder too (Ben, not the farmer). I can only surmise that it's because a) the animators need a refresher course on the primary sexual characteristics of male and female mammals; b) the animals in the movie spend most of their time walking around on their hind legs, and having a bunch of bovine penises waving around might be thought objectionable to a younger audience; or c) these particular animators have never seen a real cow, not even on television.

I'm still tiptoeing around waiting for the sixth bad thing to happen. The universe may be toying with me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Waving a white flag

Alison to Universe: OK, I get it. I fucked up karmically somewhere along the line recently.

Not in a huge, wipe-out-your-whole-family-in-response kind of way, but more in a small, just-when-you-think-the-long-
list-of-irritations-and-small-tragedies-are-over-well-they're-not kind of way. Because it's been a weird couple of weeks around here for things going wrong. Not huge things, but enough of a run that I have to take notice.

Here's a list of things that have happened to me. I know that it looks like I'm copping out with yet another list as a blog posting; but wait, I figure if I list the things, and count them, maybe the total will be some kind of multiple of three and that I can say "Whew, bad things come in threes, so now I should be in the clear", 'cause to tell the truth, I kind of feel like Meredith Grey in that one episode where she and Cristina were sitting at Joe's bar and Mer says to Cristina, "Let's play a game of whose life sucks more. I'll win."*

Here we go:

1. My vacuum dies in a Hollywood-worthy cascade of sparks and bad burned-rubber smells while I'm cleaning up in order to host a girls' night and I have to borrow my neighbour's vacuum and then go out and buy a new one for myself, which was not budgeted for.

2. I have to have my cat Elvis put to sleep. Much sadness and vet bills.

3. I catch some kind of cold/flu/ebola/scurvy that keeps me couchbound and shivering for 3 days while trying to take care of Leah and Rachel. (Karma relents somewhat at this point and the girls don't catch it.)

4. I back into my garage door and knock it off its runners and dent it, resulting in a panic call to Pynacker Doors and a $75 bill. I know, I know, you're thinking what kind of idiot backs out of the garage without checking that the door was freaking open. But it was open when I put the car in reverse, foot on the brake. Then I picked up the remote and put it back into the holder thingie in the ceiling of the car and must have accidentally pushed the button while doing it, and, distracted by Rachel asking whether cows have penises, took my foot off the brake and reversed, not noticing that the door was most of the way down until the rear end of my car was pushing it out of shape.

5. I come home yesterday after picking up the girls from daycare and we all troop into the house from the garage, none of us noticing that Rachel has forgotten to close her car door. Two hours later, we discover this as we try to start the car to go and visit some friends. The battery is dead. The girls are loudly heartbroken at not getting to visit Shell and her daughters. I call CAA and put the girls to bed while I wait for the tow truck guy to come and jump me. (Stop that. You know I meant my car. Man, do you ever have a dirty mind.) The car starts, and he tells me that I have to go and drive around for 15 to 20 minutes in order for the alternator to charge up the battery.

Um, OK, but who's going to watch the girls while I do this? I don't want to drag them out of their warm beds to drive around in the car. I end up calling my neighbour across the street and explaining and she comes right over to sit with the girls (I am blessed with the best neighbours in the whole world. Seriously.) Off I go, headed down Carp Road. I figure I'll drive to Stittsville, hit the Timmie's drive-through, pick up a couple of cups of tea for me and Arlene and head home, and Bob's your uncle.

Well, no. Just after I go over the 417 the car dies. I manage to coast into the MacEwan gas station. I call my house to let Arlene know that the estimated 15-20 minute return time is, oh, just a bit blown out of the water. Then I call CAA again. They promise me that they will get a truck to me in less than an hour, which I'm skeptical of, since I don't think they actually know where I am -- I called the 'local' number on the back of the CAA card, but I'm on the phone with someone who's sitting in a call centre in Orlando Florida. God! (<- irritable flight attendant impression.)

As I'm aimlessly waiting for the CAA to show up, I see a familiar face coming into the station. It's Arlene's husband Jim. She's sent in the cavalry! Jim gets the car going while I call back the guy in the Magic Kingdom to cancel the call for the tow truck/jumper guy. Jim follows me home and the car breaks down again about 3 km away. Fortunately one more jump gives me enough juice to make it as far as a small garage on Carp Road, where wonder of wonders, someone is still working, seeing as it's now quarter to eleven. We leave my car there and he drives me home. He also picks us all up this morning and takes the girls to daycare and me to work. (Best. Neighbours. EVER.) So it's either the battery or something really scary (read expensive) with the electrical system. I'm waiting to hear. Sigh.

Crap, that's only five. It feels like more. Five is not a multiple of three.

Alison to Universe: Whatever I did, I'm really sorry.

*Please note that I am fully aware that in the big scheme of things, my life is not sucking at all. I am truly lucky. My children are healthy, I have a job, and am blessed with lots of friends. I just wanna vent a bit. So sue me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

10 things I learned on the weekend

1. If, on the weekend that I have a room-painting project planned, and the other plans for a drink or two on the Friday night with some other Ottawa-area bloggers fall through, I will take this as a sign that I should stay home on Friday and start preparing the room for painting. I will not call up another friend and whine about cabin fever until she invites me out to spend the evening playing pool and drinking beer at another friend's house. And even if I do that again, I will come home that night instead of staying over at her house, having a few more beers, and driving home in the morning.

2. It is kind of amusing, in a Beavis and Butt-Head kind of way, to remark to your friend over a beer, "Guess what I bought at Home Depot today? Caulk. [pause] And a caulking gun." Don't do this while your friend actually has a mouthful of beer. (Heh, heh, heh, I said 'caulk'.)

3. You can't get much furniture dismantling/painting prep work done Saturday morning if you're lying on the couch under an afghan with a headache.

4. If you're having trouble smoothing the Polyfilla over some holes in the wall that used to hold mirror-mounting hardware, don't just over-fill them and figure you'll just sand the excess off in the morning. The sanding takes forever.

5. If you bring your upright vacuum (your new upright vacuum) to suck up the voluminous amounts of Polyfilla dust from sanding (see 4. above) remember that even if you have the hose and wand pulled out of the vacuum, the beater bar will still be running. You must be careful that the vacuum is not sitting on the edge of one of your drop cloths, or it will be sucked into the beater bar of the vacuum, thus jamming it and breaking the belt that drives the beater bar. Did I mention it was a new vacuum?

6. When using the caulking gun, just because you stop pulling the trigger, it doesn't mean that the caulk stops coming out.

7. Silicon caulk is hard to get off your hands once it hardens, it's like peeling skin.

8. Painting the ceiling makes your neck sore.

9. If, after you're done painting, you can't get all the paint out from under your fingernails, don't worry. If the paint is light enough, it just looks like you have a French manicure.

10. It was totally worth it. The dismantling of the bed (by myself), the moving of the mattresses, the bedframe, the bureau, the wall washing, prepping, cutting in and rollering the ceiling and walls, and most of that while nursing a hangover. My bedroom is now the exact colour of strawberry ice cream. It's cool and delicious.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Almost seven

Leah's birthday isn't til this coming Friday, but that's her weekend with her dad, so we celebrated this past Saturday. She had 4 friends for a sleepover party. We went tobogganing, made pizza, had a glow-in-the-dark necklace and bracelet dance party, watched movies, ate popcorn and junk food and giggled a whole lot.

They stayed up most of the night and we had a big pancake breakfast on Sunday, followed by crafts til the moms picked them all up. It was really fun, although the house was a total mess by the end of it.

Think Beirut after a heavy night of shelling with stuffed animals and Doritos.

On the hill

Back at the house red-cheeked from the cold


Dancing in the dark with the glow necklaces.

Happy Birthday, Leah!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunglasses of justice

Horatio Caine cracks me up. The intensity, the staginess, the melodrama of the putting on and taking off and polishing of the sunglasses. And those black suits? In Miami? Can you say sweaty? Ewww.

Anyway, at least one other person finds H as funny as I do:

csi miami - the boy racer (miami style) - horatio from YouTube

Friday, February 09, 2007

Saying goodbye to an old friend

Bogey (1995-2003) and Elvis (1987(?)-2007)

Wednesday I had to play God, and I didn't like it one little bit. I had to decide to let go of one of my oldest friends. His name was Elvis, and he brought me more joy and comfort and love than I could ever have hoped to return. I hope he loved me the way that I loved him. I think he did.

I'm lucky -- I had him for 18 and a half years, and he wasn't a kitten when we got him, so that means that he was 20 or 21 when he died. He outlasted my marriage. Pretty good innings for a cat, I think. He was a long-haired domestic tabby (vet speak for non-purebred) with probably some Maine Coon somewhere in his ancestry, judging by the way he'd talk almost non-stop, and his yowly voice. He was very healthy his whole life, but at the end, his body just gave out. His kidneys atrophied and his thyroid enlarged, his body weight dropped and he got weak. As hard as it was to make the decision to euthanize him, it was time. And I think he forgave me.

Let me tell you about him, it helps to talk.

My boyfriend D (later my husband, and now my ex) got me Elvis in 1988. I had just moved to Toronto to be with him, and I was horribly homesick. Thinking it would make me feel better, D brought Elvis home for me. He had neglected to discuss this with our room-mate Sue, a girl I'd gone to high school and university with, and she had no idea we had a cat. The day D brought him home, he was scared because of the new surroundings. He immediately hid behind the couch in the living room. The couch was against the wall shared between the living room and Sue's bedroom. Along the baseboard behind the couch, was a small hole drilled through the wall, I think it was where a phone jack had been taken out. Sue was lying on the floor her room trying to reach a dropped earring under her bed, and happened to look through the hole. And saw a green eye looking back at her. And she screamed so loud, I think they heard her across the street, lol. D and I were in the kitchen, and ran in to see what was the matter. And that's how Elvis met Sue.

Elvis used to sing opera. No, really, he did. I would whistle one of the arias from Carmen, and he would join in at the end of each 'line' of notes with a yowl. Of course I bribed him with treats to do it, but it was the best party trick.

He wasn't named for Elvis Presley (although D took a Sharpie and wrote "Elvis on Tour" all over his carry case) or Elvis Costello. He was named for the hapless father gorilla on that old Bugs Bunny cartoon where a drunken stork loses a baby gorilla, and , finding Bugs bathing in a stream, conks him over the head and delivers him to the expectant gorilla parents. The father gorilla wants nothing to do with the 'baby', and the mother gorilla, brandishing a rolling pin, keeps yelling, "Elllvisss, play nice with the baby."

He liked to drink from the toilet, eat potato chips, and hunt and mutilate (but not eat) green stuffed olives. Catnip made him drunk. He could look innocent as a newborn even though evidence of his misdeeds was staring us in the face -- the scene of the crime: a stove (elements off), the lid of a pot of chili pushed to one side, reddish orange kitty paw-prints on the stove and counter, and Elvis sitting on the kitchen floor, licking his white front paws stained bright orange, looking at us all "What?".

He used to carry pompoms around in his mouth, you know, the kind that used to be on ankle sockettes? He'd carry them around and make these odd mournful howls. We called them his babies. He always wanted to be on your lap. Even when you were sitting on the toilet. He slept with us, and later, with just me, every night. He always knew when I was sad or upset, and would curl up with me and soothe me with his purring. And his unfortunate habit of love bites on my chin. Ouch.

He had forgiven me for bringing the girls home from the hospital and subjecting him to stroller rides and dress-up. (The look of disgust that he gave me when Leah came home for the first time, and he jumped up on the couch to sniff the wiggling, pink, squalling baby in my arms, was truly hilarious). He grew to love the girls too, and would go to them for affection and play.

He was a great cat and I miss him. Last night I kept waking up waiting to feel him jump up on the bed with me. I miss him and so do the girls. And so does D, strangely enough. I phoned him to let him know what was happening with Elvis, and we had a long reminiscing conversation about the things Elvis used to do.

It was hard to let go, but it was time. Goodbye, Elvis.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Which is better, a mojito or a pina colada?

There's a question we attempted to answer on Saturday night. The answer eluded us (both are really yummy and summery), but a good time was had by all.

Other questions answered at Saturday's Girls' Night and Grey's Anatomy-palooza:

1. How many episodes of Grey's can you watch in a row before the watching degenerates into gossip and helpless laughter.
Answer: 5.

2. How often do characters on Grey's Anatomy say "Seriously"?
Answer: enough times that it makes an interesting drinking game to have a drink every time a character says "seriously". Seriously.

3. Is food an important part of girls' night?
Answer: you bet! We made a five-cheese pizza from scratch, spinach-kiwi-curried pecan salad, seven-layer dip, artichoke-parmesan dip, hummus and tabouleh. Girls' nights should be experienced in pants with elastic waistbands.

4. Is it possible to play cards at 4 a.m.?
Answer: Yes. But not well. And the games take forever and no one can remember who's winning.

5. Are friends an important part of life?
Answer: Of course!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

5 bad things about living on my own*

1. Not having anyone to share the bed with except for occasional visits from the four-year-old with the sharp, pointy toenails, and the elderly, incontinent cat.

2. Having to kill spiders myself.

3. Not having someone to share those moments with when the girls do something funny or touching -- you know, when I used to look over at my husband and we'd both smile.

4. Not having anyone to help me in the middle of the night when both girls are sick and throwing up all over the place.

5. Not having someone to hug me when I need a hug. The girls hug me, of course, and it helps some, but you know what I mean.

*Well of course my daughters live with me, what I really meant was 5 bad things about not having a man in the house. Or, more specifically, not living with my ex any more.

10 good things about living on my own*

1. I don't have to share the walk-in closet with anyone. And since I don't have that many clothes, I don't have to switch out my summer and winter clothes, they all live in there quite happily with plenty of room.

2. I get to spend the Canadian Tire money on whatever I want -- toaster ovens, skates, Corningware -- not stupid auto parts.

3. I can eat Kraft Dinner with the kids if I feel like it instead of feeling obligated to cook a full meal.

4. I can listen to the play-by-play while watching the hockey game on Saturday night instead of having the sound turned off and listening to Grand Funk Railroad. (I hate Grand Funk Railroad.)

5. If I get an invitation to go somewhere, I don't have to run it by anyone. I just have to think to myself, "Self, do we want to go? Can we afford to go?" and if the answer's yes to both, we go...I mean *I* go. Or me plus the girls.

6. I painted my living room burnt orange. I like orange. I'm going to paint my bedroom pink. Girly, girly pink. I'm going to match the colour of a Victoria's Secret bra that I bought. (That ought to be a fun trip to the paint store.)

7. I invite my friends over whenever I feel like it. In fact I'm having some girlfriends over tonight -- food, liquor, Grey's Anatomy Season 2 on DVD, everyone's sleeping over, kind of like a grown-up slumber party.

8. I get to pick all the movies at the video store. And what CDs to play in the car. And what shows to watch on TV.

9. I can cook with garlic again. And wine. And tomatoes. I get to please myself and not the pickiest adult eater in the Western Hemisphere.

10. If the girls feel like making a fort under the dining room table, and eating peanut butter and crackers in there and colouring all day Saturday, I can do it with them instead of catching up on the laundry and cleaning the bathroom. And the dishes can pile up if we want to go tobogganing, and it doesn't bother anyone.

*Well of course my daughters live with me, what I really meant was 10 good things about not having a man in the house. Or, more specifically, not living with my ex.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Imbolc, everybody!

Hah, you all thought it was just Groundhog Day. Well, with all due respect for Bill Murray, it goes a long way further back than Punxsutawny Phil, or Wiarton Willie up on the Bruce Peninsula.

I pinched this from Wikipedia and I think it's really interesting:

"Imbolc is one of the four principal festivals of the Irish calendar, celebrated either at the beginning of February or at the first local signs of Spring. Originally dedicated to the goddess Brigid, in the Christian period it was adopted as St Brigid's Day. In Scotland the festival is also known as Latha Fhèill Brìghde, in Ireland as Lá Fhéile Bríde, and in Wales as Gwyl Ffraed. Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather prognostication, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to Groundhog Day.

Thig an nathair as an toll
La donn Bride,
Ged robh tri traighean dh’ an t-sneachd
Air leachd an lair.

"The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground."

Fire and purification is considered by many to be an important aspect of this festival. Brigid (also known as Brighid, Bríde, Brigit, Brìd) is the Goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft. As both goddess and saint she is also associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing. To some, the lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

Among agrarian peoples, the festival was traditionally associated with the onset of lactation of ewes, soon to give birth to the spring lambs. This could vary by as much as two weeks before or after the start of February.

In Irish, Imbolc (pronounced im'olk) from the Old Irish, meaning "in the belly" (i mbolg), referring to the pregnancy of ewes, and is also a Celtic term for spring. Another name is Oimelc, meaning "ewe's milk". Some Celts and Neopagans shorten the name to Brigid, referring to the Celtic goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft, to whom the day is sacred."

Now, I'm not a Wiccan, or a Druid, although being half Scottish and half Welsh, I could probably trace my ancestors back to the Celts that celebrated Imbolc in the past. I found a poem, or a prayer really, that is supposed to be recited at Imbolc, which is still celebrated by Wiccans today, and it goes like this:

Blessed be the earth, and all who dwell upon it.
We give thanks for the season now departing from us,
For the blessings it has bestowed upon us,
And upon those with whom we share this world.

Blessed be the new season.
We pray that it will be a time filled with peace,
With abundance, with prosperity,
With wisdom,
With love.

Blessed be all who share this feast.
Let us now prepare for the time ahead
By opening our hearts, and our minds, and our spirits.
Blessed be.
Kind of nice, don't you think? Regardless of who you want to pray to. Happy Imbolc, everyone.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Apparently, I need an attitude adjustment -- from a nicotine patch

Rachel and I had an argument last night at bedtime. We were both yelling a bit, sad to say. She was using every trick to stall and delay and she was overtired and petulant and Leah had been in bed for half an hour and I was tired after a long day of work and I just wanted her to get into bed and stay there. She wanted...well, I'm not sure she even knew what she wanted, but getting out of bed was right up there.

Rachel divides the world into 2 camps: those who are nice (i.e. giving in to her every whim) and those who are mean (i.e. not giving in to her every whim). She was so angry she was sobbing and telling me how mean I was being, insisting that she stay in bed at 8 p.m. -- well, actually it was 8:30 by this point (the NERVE of me, don't you think?). I tried to give her a hug to calm things down, and she recoiled from me, shrieking, "You are a bad mommy. You are the meanest mommy in the world. *You* need some Nicoderm!"

It took me a second, and then I cracked up. Have you seen the commercial for Nicoderm with the irritable flight attendant? Click here if you haven't.

In Rae's literal little mind, the commercial says that Nicoderm is something you give to mean people so that they are nice again.

And I don't even smoke.