Monday, 30 April 2007

The Power of a Convertible

Hasn’t this been a great week so far? The sun, the Vitamin D, it’s all so glorious! My friend Fluffy and I had a chance to take a trip to Kingston this past weekend for business, but let me tell you how we enjoyed the convertible and the vitamin D that both came in great, big doses.
Now, the convertible I speak of is not a big one. In fact, it’s Mini, in every way including the little silver logo that says Cooper Mini. Insofar that the car is tiny, we women had to pack accordingly.

Generally speaking (because there are some of us that can-really- pack- light), when you tell a woman she has to pack, her mind will begin a whirling dervish dance that begins with what to wear, where are we going, what is the weather forecast, and last, but probably the most important thought – will other women be there? Because face it, we women like to dress for one another – but that’s another column.

Once the tornado of thoughts has calmed, we will find our biggest-small bag, and begin the stuffing process. The bag will be stuffed and re-stuffed until all of the necessities are in. Of course, by packing light, a shopping trip in Kingston will be in order, because the perfect sweater won’t fit in your bag. In fact, it doesn’t even exist in your closet. So really, packing light comes down to one thing, or two: Visa or MasterCard.

Fluffy wanted to hit the road at noon. The sun was shining and sending crazy antsy rays at Fluffy, so she showed up at 11. I wasn’t ready, which led to some toe-tapping. But she learned about the lurking dangers of alligators while she waited.
We did a congratulatory dance when all of our things fit perfectly in the Mini. We applied SPF 15 to our faces and hit the highway.

The power of the sun beating down on you when the lid is off the car is a heady delight. Music blasting (Fluffy is great at educating me on fantastic Canadian artists), toes tapping, bugs sliding off our teeth and sunglasses, the power of the convertible is suddenly apparent.
The whipping wind, the warm rays, my hair flying (very UN-movie- star- like, by the way) in every direction made me want to stand up and dance in the seat of that car.

A convertible welcomes spring, summer – it welcomes SUN. A convertible slaps winter in the face and says ‘Neener neener I can outrun the cold! And if it doesn’t quite outrun the cold, well . . . we can just turn on the heater and keep our toes warm.

Fluffy and I had a nice weekend. Business went well. But I think all we really wanted to do was jump back in the car, let the lid down and tour away. No matter how bad the hair looks, no matter how chilly it really is outside, you can’t help but feel just a tiny bit like a movie star whenever you’re in a convertible.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

No Swimming: Alligators

There’s a sign posted in a small swamp at the corner of McNeely and Lake. It’s clearly posted on a tattered piece of wood in brightly painted red letters: No swimming: alligators.

Thanks for the warning, my mysterious friend. I have one question, though. How did you, protector of pedestrians, discover alligators in our own Carleton Place?

I really don’t care how he found out, I’m just glad someone had the good sense to warn us. In order to be fully prepared in case of alligator attack, I did some investigation:

Common names of our alligator friends: Mississippi alligator,(alligator mississippiensis) Pike-headed alligator, "gator": Alligator is derived from the Spanish el lagarto which means "the lizard" mississippiensis means "of the Mississippi (River)", derived from mississippi + ensis (Latin for "belonging to") the Mississippi River”

So that's how the alligators got here! It’s obvious, don’t you see? Mississippi. That’s all it is. The poor, confused creatures just got the wrong region, that’s all. They are from the Mississippi River region, and we've got our own Mississippi here. Those poor water lizards just managed to land in the region of the lesser known, not-so-mighty Mississippi River, a la Lanark County.

Maybe they’re on vacation. It's so obviously a simple error of 'wrong turn' at the Florida Keyes or something. They are also obviously male gators, since they didn't stop for directions.

No wonder they hide in holes in the swamp. It must be dang cold for those gators. Bet they wouldn’t have come if someone had told them the truth about Lanark County winters.

Of course, this means, when it warms up, they will venture to the surface of the swamp and they’ll be hungry. So I did the only responsible thing I could do. I looked up how to protect myself from these predatory creatures.

Rule number one to survive an alligator attack: Stay away from areas that they are known to live. Great – so now I can no longer get my vitamins from Shopper’s Drug Mart. Too close to the alligator watering hole.

The next question is, how do we get rid of these carnivorous creatures? How do we make it safe to walk on that corner? How do we browse for a new car without fear of being an ankle appetizer for the hungry gators?

Stilts won’t help. I imagine their teeth and jaws, with a reported bone-crunching pressure of
something like 3,000 pounds per square inch – well, stilts are just toothpicks or chopsticks to the to the gator kin.

Here’s one thing I know. If it weren’t for the kindness of the stranger who posted that danger sign, maybe a bunch of people would be lost by now, their tombstones reading ‘gator bait’.
I wonder how many of us would be walking down that street, checking out the wonder of the swamp, batting at mosquitoes, maybe wondering if leeches live in there too, when suddenly what should have been a nice handbag or groovy shoes jumps from the water to ask you if you’d rather give up your white meat or your dark meat first?

Thank you, kind stranger. Thank you for braving the swamp to post the sign. Thank you for taking your life in your hands to warn us of the amphibious dangers that lurk on the corners of our Lanark county streets.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Mistress, I’m Not Ready for You Yet!

Yup, she’s back, and I’m tossed aside. Stoopid soccer.

Just when I was getting used to having dinner and evenings with Peter, he has to go and tell me that soccer try-outs are upon us. Not only that, but there’s even a couple of brand new joint-teams – some Mississippi United something or other, linking Carleton Place and Almonte in soccer harmony. Whatever, the brat still has my husband and won’t give him back! If you see him, he’s the one with the infectious laugh, the great big dimples and kind brown eyes. He’ll also be the one with the clipboard, stop watch, lots of balls and kids running everywhere around him.
Wait, that last part describes most of the male population as well as a good portion of the female constituency at this time of year.

You all know I tried. I tried to get involved with soccer. I tried to build an unhealthy obsession with David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo. Pictures presented for your consideration:

Seriously, if a girl can’t get excited over these two kicking at a ball, then it’s safe to say that there is not a love of soccer in her blood. But if you want to keep thrusting full action shots of Renaldo and Beckham my way, I’ll keep trying to love them, er, I mean – soccer… really.
This soccer mistress is a demanding wench. There’s not much she can ask for that Peter, and many others in our Lanark County, won’t jump up to answer. We’re back to the constant phone calls, the endless e-mails and the meetings that happen every Saturday morning. Sigh. I can’t tell you the last time I rolled over on a Saturday morning and didn’t hug a pillow instead of a warm body.
Nobody should get the wrong idea that I don’t have my own interests to delve into. That’s far from the case. I will be busy selling Gold Canyon candles, hanging out with the girl cult and wondering when I can tag along with my friends as they go up to their cottages. I know my summer will be full, and I will occasionally be able to hang out with that guy I married.

Maybe those of us who are not soccer people should start a support group. We can all get together and trade pictures of our husbands, wives and children, you know; those that we love and never get to spend a full season with.
Maybe we can start our own sport that takes up the other seasons when soccer isn’t….oh…wait. Soccer now runs four seasons a year, because apparently there is no time that is not acceptable to play soccer.
Well, I guess that settles it then. I’ll start a missing persons call centre for sightings of soccer playing loved ones. People will be able to call in and give details of a last sighting. I can put some bloodhounds on the trail; maybe find one or two soccer fiends to return them to their families for a meal or something.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Sending Out the Call for Spring; Are you Here Yet?

The snow is really almost gone this time, isn’t it? I choose to look on the bright, sunny, warm side of spring and believe that we are finally on our way to a couple of snow-less seasons. As I write this, Peter is hollering from the other room that Edmonton just got four centimetres dumped on them. So if it snows again, then dang it, I’m sorry.

But when I go outside, I can’t help but really feel it this time. Not just the promise, but the absolute quiveration that goes with knowing something exciting is just around the corner. The dog feels it. The cat feels it so much she rarely spends time in the house. Smart cat.

Come on, you know you feel it too.

It shows on the hydrangea bushes outside our front door, in the timid little green buds that are starting to poke their brave little heads through their winter hats. Don’t worry for the darling little buds. I promise I won’t touch them, for fear of ending their tiny hopeful lives.
So where is spring starting to show in your yard? Did you shout in excitement at the first red-breasted robin you saw poking its head into your lawn while it looked for a morsel? I did, but it was only to warn the robin as our cat, Wick, showed her own brand of spring excitement.

At last, the dirty greyness of the spring thaw is almost behind us. And by the way our county is coming out of hibernation, it’s not one minute too soon.

It’s so nice to go out for a walk again, without fear of icy incidents. Sure, we’re headed towards walks fraught with possible West Nile incidents, but we can enjoy the relative safety of the season for now.

Last weekend, the streets were crowded with people ready for the season’s change. A roller blading family pushing a stroller to the butcher shop. You can almost see the barbecue hunger in their eyes. Lots of bicycles have made it out of storage to hit the snow-free streets. So many people were out walking in the sunshine; young and old alike, smiling in the face of a blue sky, few rain clouds and no snow clouds. This alone should make everyone smile, because it means we’re all ready.

We’re ready for spring. We’re ready for massive doses of vitamin D provided by our lovely, warming sunshine. We’re ready to open the cottages, thatch the lawns and re-plant our gardens. We’re ready to be rid of this mono-chromatic season and ready to throw the sunglasses on to protect us from the blinding colours of the spring flowers.
It’s time to sweep out the cobwebs from the garden shed to ready ourselves for the season of mowing, growing and sun.

Of course, that means it’s time to prepare for battles of a different kind; weeds, mosquitoes, flower-eating deer and noisy birds.

But I’ll take the spring work madness over winter snow any day.

And for all of you who are already in the heart of your spring, enjoying the blooms, laughing at us poor people in Ontario - know this: When you're baking in California in June, we'll be enjoying our blooms and having lovely barbecue parties with the assistance of Deep Woods Off.

And our autumns are way better too. So quit laughing that we're still wearing Uggs and cursing the flurries of snow as they fly about - yes, April 5th.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Six Degrees of ‘Hey, I Know You!’

I don’t know how many of you have heard that phrase, ‘Six degrees of Kevin Bacon’. Nobody? Okay, so I will explain:- The game is based on a variation of the concept of the ‘small world’ phenomenon and states that any actor can be linked, through their film roles, to Kevin Bacon.
I’ve figured out that you can connect yourself to almost anyone this way, and not through Kevin Bacon, although he can be used as a handy link if you need him.

Here’s an example on how to play. Let’s start with a really fantastical example – but know that these connections really exist.

A girl I’ve known for most of my life once dated a guy that was Jodie Foster’s best friend. Yes the Jodie Foster. So, by the rules of the game, I know Jodie Foster through my connection to my pal Wendy. Even better? Jodie Foster starred with Matthew McConnaughey in Contact. Happily married though I am, I am so close to Yummy McConnaughey that I might actually start packing my bags. I’m sure Peter will understand.

How about another one on the Canadian side? In Vancouver a couple of years ago the former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was at the Pan Pacific where Peter was covering an environmental conference. I was sitting in the bar when Mr. Chretien walked in with his lone bodyguard. I jumped up and introduced myself. He quizzed me (assuming I was a dumb American who would have no clue who he was) and once I passed his interrogation he took a picture with me.

That’s ONE degree. I know Jean.

Mr. Chretien, although he has his own brand of colourful history I can probably connect to, is not quite as interesting for me as connecting myself to the infamous George Dubbya Jr., and all the wolrd leaders he's connected to. So, by two or three degrees at the most, I am connected to Hussein, Blair, the oil sheiks, Schwarzenegger – you name it. And by connecting ol’ Governor Arnie, well, I know just about everyone in Holly wood now. Does that mean I get to share the Oscars? Or better yet, the swag form the Oscars? Whose turn is it to buy lunch?

Get it? I‘ve just realized that Peter will be happy with this arrangement. I’ve just managed to connect him to Renee Russo, through Arnie and that lovely movie ‘Junior’, circa 1994. Of course, Peter won’t be happy until he can figure out how to connect himself to a few great soccer players or something, and I’m absolutely no help.

I think I’m finding that somehow, all of us are connected through degrees of who we know and who they know. It’s freaky, but it’s real. This really is a small world. And seriously, whose turn is it to buy lunch?

Go ahead. Play. You know you want to. Start name dropping with your kids. They will be secretly impressed although they’ll never admit it to you.