Sunday, 25 March 2007

Someone Send Help, I Can’t Stop It!

rry for the tardiness, is the time of year when I completely lose my time managemet skills.)

It doesn’t matter how much I try to deny it. The season is changing, as is my need to come out of hibernation. I look forward to coming back to life after a cold winter. I relish the warmth of the sun on bare limbs as much as anyone does after four or five months of a serious vitamin D deficiency.

It started last week, with the melting of most of our snow. The sun had promise, and hey, spring officially started on Wednesday the 21st, so I guess my transformation should be expected. Spring is here at last!

In a way, spring’s arrival is unfortunate. With spring comes my unquenchable desire for spring cleaning, and it seems there is nothing I can do to stop it. And trust me, I wouldn’t mind being able to stop this cleaning freak I am about to become.
Ugh. This means I will battle dust rabbits, cobwebs and mysterious smudges on the walls. And I will battle them all with the seeming superpower of a woman possessed.
I’ve already updated my MP3 player with my latest musical acquisitions. I’ve even stocked up on Mountain Dew Energy – twice the caffeine, none of the sugar. Tasmanian cleaning devil, here I come!

Of course, I will fight it. There is still snow on the ground, so that means I can’t open the windows yet. And I wouldn’t dare start my mad get-the-winter-out cleaning until I can let the winter air out of the house as well. Otherwise, I’m just cleaning winter, and I am so done with winter.
I’m sure most of us go through the spring cleaning thing. But do any of you go as crazy as I do?

Spring cleaning means re-organizing all of the closets and drawers. It means wiping down every baseboard, cleaning every window, inside and out. I will stock the sun-room with spring and summer appropriate items, and will no longer use the room as a deep freeze, or a place to keep the trash from smelling.

The floors will be scrubbed and mopped, the hardwood will shine! When I am finished, any cob webs that I missed will pack up and move themselves, for fear of my broom. Dog and cat hair will flee the animals before they come in the house! Oh, sorry, a little carried away there. I guess that won’t happen, will it?

In the cleaning frenzy, I will undoubtedly find many items that we no longer need or want. And so the yard sale pile will grow, driving me crazy until the weather is nice enough to chuck all the stuff out onto the laneway and pray someone else sees it as treasure. We need room for all the garage sales we’re going to hit, too.

Uh oh. The Mountain Dew is starting to kick in and Beyonce wants me to get all Crazy-in-Love-with-cleaning so I’d best not waste this artificial energy I’ve got. Winter is daring me to kick it out of my house, and I’m more than ready to do it.

And if you miss the sparkling perfection that will be our home,don't worry - I'll clean it again next year....

Friday, 16 March 2007

Ice and Joyce Just Don’t Mix

I’m here to tell you that because of every tumble, bruise, pulled muscle and fractured knee cap I’ve received since my first lovely Canadian winter, I can confidently say that ice and Joyce just don’t mix. Well, unless the ice is mixing nicely in my cocktail.

Being not-of-Canada-and-ridiculously-cold-icy-weather, I have grown happily into adulthood thinking that ice is good for a few purposes: keeping drinks cold, shaving into frosty snow cones, or skating on. Like, on a rink. A man made rink, with a cool Zamboni and a nice, sturdy floor underneath. When I think of all of you seasoned winter people, well, you just downright scare me sometimes, but I'll get to that.

During my first winter in Canada, Peter and I took a drive over to the Quebec side of the Ottawa River to explore. On the way home, he mentioned an ice-bridge that was somewhere close by that we could use instead of the ferry.

“Ice what?” I couldn’t have heard him correctly. He was speaking in oxymoron, and I try not to speak that language, unless it's to make a point.

“Ice bridge. It’s really cool. We can drive across it to the other side, it’s a shortcut.”

“Ice what?” All I could picture when I heard the words ‘ice’ and ‘bridge’ was us in our car: sliding, slipping, praying and screaming. “The only shortcut an ice bridge is going to give us is an expressway to a cold, watery grave, Mister. No way. Uh-uh.”

"What if it were the only way to get across?" Ever practical Peter - seasoned winter guy. Not gonna work.

"Well, if an ice bridge were the only way to get back home, I guess I'd have to be a Quebec resident until springtime." I could picture myself moving into the
Chateau Montebello for a few months. Trust me, worse things could happen.

Luckily enough for me, he didn’t find that bridge. But, every now and again, when I relay the story to other not-of-Canada-and-ridiculously-cold-icy-weather people, they agree with me with absolute conviction. Ice belongs in your drink or on a rink. Can I get an amen?

Last weekend, Muffin and I were taking in the hot-tub and pool facilities at McCreary’s. The day was gorgeous. The sun was making efficient work of melting the frozen tundra surrounding us. The busy dripping noise from all places, all angles brought about a kind of hope and a real hunger for spring.

Then a snowmobile engine fired to life, interrupting my daydream of spring as it powered out on to the slushy surface of the lake. Eeeek! Insert suspense-thriller music here.

I gasped and pointed, words escaping me (for a change). Muffin laughed at me when she realized what I was pointing at.

The rider throttled high, quickly gliding over the puddles and layers of snow ice and slush. I don’t care how many times I’ve heard there’s still a full week of snowmobiling on the Lanark County waterways. When I look out on the ‘frozen’ lake and see puddles, it’s time to pack it in. Not that you’d get me out there in the first place.

Muffin is always gentle, and told me that I shouldn't worry, they were riding close to the shore line, so they should be just fine.

I pointed at the dot racing across the middle, yes m-i-d-d-l-e- of the rapidly melting ice. All I was thinking was that if they fell in,they were on their own. There was no way I'd run out there on the ice to help. I'd be wicked quick my cell phone though.

Remember that movie, The Dead Zone? They never did find that guy, pounding on the wrong side of the ice after he went through a supposedly ‘frozen’ spot. That’s enough of a lesson for me. Call me a coward. I’ll take the insults while I keep fighting the evil-ice-gravity-force on my own driveway, thankyouverymuch.

I know you snowmobilers know what you’re doing, that you’re being safe. Just know that I’ll be the one chewing my nails as I admire your courage, riding like you were born to fly over the ice while I live my life as the one apparently born to fall on the ice.

Friday, 9 March 2007

Say What You Want, I Am Not Alone!

Oh yes, my friends. It’s out there. It’s in print, and I am vindicated!

You may remember last summer when I wrote about how reality killed the video star, how there are way too many guilty pleasure shows trying to draw you in to the voyeuristic world of reality television.

Many people have no problem telling me that they would never watch the stuff I describe and laugh about. Some of them say “I don’t watch television at all.” And though I respect their choice to stay away from the idiot box, I never have relished how some say that they would never watch a show like some that I describe. Chances are they wouldn’t, but really people, there’s no need to be a snob about it.

If you don’t want to watch, don’t watch. But don’t judge those of us that wish to waste brain cells on watching other people’s lives.

Besides, according to what I just read, all you ladies are lying about what you watch on television.

Alliance Atlantis issues a press release that starts just like this. “41 per cent of women prefer ‘guilty pleasure’ TV to going out , having sex, playing with their kids or a romantic dinner.”

What!? What is this madness? I read on. “Women with vices almost unanimously (92 per cent) indulge in their vice at least one a week.”

Ah HA! Busted!

Okay, maybe television isn’t a vice for all of these women that were polled, but guess what? Even though 25 per cent of women admit that they don’t tell anyone they watch guilty pleasure television, a whopping 85 per cent of women polled grudgingly admitted that they indulge in senseless television at least once a week!

Vindicated much?

So, ladies. Give it up already. You can pretend that you still don’t have time for nonsense such as television, but I know the truth, even if you’re not ready to admit it.

And you know what? Who cares if you like silly reality shows? Don’t you work hard enough all day, every day to warrant a bit of an escape?

Is it really so bad that you want to climb into your ratty, faded, most comfortable jogging pants (not that they’ve ever seen a day of running), your stained hoodie, your fuzziest socks? Does anyone really care that you want to curl up in your favourite chair or the best corner of your couch to escape for an hour of Extreme Makeover Home Edition or America’s Next Top Model?

I don’t care if you want to do it. You deserve to do it. And you can tell anyone that cares to snob-er-ize their disdain on you not to judge before they’ve spent a couple of hours trying not to get sucked in to the happily-ever-after of those people captured on camera.

If you still get a cold shoulder after you’ve subjected your friends to the ‘you can’t judge it until you’ve tried it’ experiment, show them this column, point to the percentages and tell them to give it up- numbers don’t lie.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

I Still Play With Toys

Last summer, I introduced you to my girl cult. But to remind you, I am part of a group of friends who hang out together just about every Wednesday night. I could tell you about what happens on Girl’s Night, but then I would be giving away secrets, and I’d probably end up beheaded for my trouble.

However, I do feel safe from the cult in telling you about one night in our recent past.

Maybe a couple of cocktails had been consumed, maybe not. All I know is that I was feeling jealous that Muffin knew so much about what all the cool buttons did on her phone, and I didn’t know so much about mine, except to flash the fuchsia pink colour that it is.

Roxie had acquired a new phone as well, and we both ended up watching Muffin play the buttons of her phone like a virtuoso on concert night.

We were in awe, and almost instantly jealous.

Roxie and I looked at each other. I ran in the house to get my cell phone and returned just as quickly, in case I missed some magical beep from Muffin’s phone.

I felt the need in a moment, the need to be able to program my phone like Muffin does. I wanted to know what ‘Bluetooth’ meant, and how to do that text message thing.

I must watch the expert.

Muffin giggles when a musical chirp sounds from her phone. She looks up, her green eyes bright. “That means I did good.”

Roxie and I look at each other again. We want to do good too. We flip open our phones and start pressing buttons.

I’d like to say that cell-phone-ese came as a natural talent to both Roxie and me when the buttons started chirping. Since we all have different cell phone models, we couldn’t look to Yoda Muffin for guidance. We were on our own. Thus, my favourite training mode, ‘what does this button do?’

The words that flew through my head as I kept pressing the ‘cancel’ button (which has zero pretty sound, by the way) weren’t pretty. Soon enough I was stumbling through the buttons to send clumsy, fourth-grade-level text messages to my girlfriends as they sat in the same room with me.

And guess what? We were having a blast. We took turns taking pictures with our phones, so that now, when Muffin or Roxie calls, their smiling faces show up instead of a phone number.

We continued this way for a while, not speaking, just laughing as we sent one electronic message after another.

And that’s how Peter found us. He walked in and said, “Is everything okay? You guys are pretty quiet.” Obviously, an unusual occurrence.

When he realized what we were doing, he rolled his eyes and laughed. “You’re all playing with your cell phones instead of talking?” He turned to walk away before waiting for an answer. We’re women, we do weird things.

I gave him an answer anyway. “Peter, we’re just playing Barbies, grown up style.”