Tuesday, 29 April 2008

It’s Official; I’m A.D.O.S.

After much Internet research, I have come up with a diagnosis for a very serious condition that I suffer from: ADOS. The scientific name for this sickness is Attention Deficit. . . Oooo, Sparkly!

Peter says I’m like a crow that way. But I noticed my ADOS was progressing when my wedding ring caught the sunlight in the car’s interior and threw sparkly reflections all over the ceiling. I was so enthralled I forgot I was driving until Peter covered his eyes and screamed.

ADOS isn’t like other girlie afflictions. My affliction only hits when something really pretty and shiny catches my eye. Sometimes, people get hurt in my quest for shiny things, although it’s yet to be life-threatening.

Last summer, I was in a party store in town when something so shiny caught my eye I forgot to breathe. It was pink, and had such a sparkle, the light catching it and throwing a rainbow of colours back at me, beckoning me. . . .ooooooo. . . sparkly.

I was entranced. It was behind the counter where the cashier was seemingly holding it for someone. I felt a sense of desperation and walked away from the counter, hoping that I could find one more pink sparkly thing before I passed out.

I found a clear one, just like the pink one. It was smaller, and not quite as sparkly, but it would do if I couldn’t have the coveted pink one.

I approached the counter, cradling my clear sparkly thing, my eyes glued to the pink sparkly thing.

I raised my finger and pointed. “Is that pink pretty thing for sale?”

Maureen, the ever patient and kind cashier at the time informed me of the worst news I could hear “I’m sorry, that’s the last one in the store and I’ve reserved it for myself.”

Gulp. It. Won’t. Be. Mine. I let it sink in. Or at least I tried to. “No more?” I squeaked.

“Wait. There might be one left in the display window.” She came around the counter and moved to climb in the window. I tried my best not to do a little happy dance. Sparkly pink thing, sparkly pink thing!

As Maureen came back to the floor, two boys happened to open the door to come in. Maureen’s fingers slipped into the crack of the door jamb where the hinges are. The boys didn’t see her, and the door closed.

On her fingers. Maureen hollered. I dove from the counter, knocking over a rack of something, practically impaling my thigh on some party stick or another, but I had Maureen’s fingers free in two seconds flat.

Her face was pale and her fingers were cradled in her hand. I knew that had to hurt like nobody’s business, and I started to apologize for making her look in the window for a stupid, shiny, glass, pink paperweight.

Yes that’s right. A paperweight that weighs about two pounds and is cut like a giant pink diamond.

And Maureen, in her pain-hazed cloud, said I could have the one she was going to take.

And you know what? I felt bad for her fingers (even checked in on her a couple of days later), but I wanted that pink sparkly paperweight more. So I bought it.

See what I mean? People get hurt when I am in the throes of ADOS. Hide your sparklies when I’m around – it could get ugly.

I have to go polish my giant pink diamond now.

Friday, 25 April 2008

My Renovation Dreams

This column was a special request from my editor for a home improvement supplement that was published 4/18/08.

If, in my perfect fantasy world, a renovation expert walked into my house and said I had no choice but to make any and all changes I’d want to my home, and start making them immediately, and budget was no object, I wouldn’t know where to start.

Do I pull out every magazine picture of my so-called perfect home that I’ve been saving since I was 10 years old and start as far back as 1970? Maybe I’m over avocado shag carpet. I was only five, after all. I remember thinking that green shag carpet was as cool as living on a big field of grass. Maybe I should throw that picture out and start with something more recent.

I would like to think that I can do the renovations myself because I can be crafty. IKEA and Allen wrenches taught me that, as did all the fabulous DIY shows that grace our television channels. But even I know there’s only so much I can do with an Allen wrench, glue gun, can of spray paint and roll of duct tape. And I can only imagine how difficult it is to build a hearth for the fireplace with nothing but said tools and weirdly diagrammed instructions.

It’s good to know one’s limitations.

So, let’s pretend that I can do my own home renovations. Knowing my luck, I’d end up with too many extra parts and a bitter complex about my less-than-stellar-renovation-efforts as Peter laughed and pointed at everything coming apart at the glue-gunned seams.

I’d realize that experts are needed when Peter dials 911 because I’ve fallen off the ladder, broken my thumb with the hammer or inadvertently chopped off an ear with the saw. My ear, Peter’s ear, the dog, the cat – it doesn’t matter. I could probably cut off all ears with one swipe of my clumsiness.

It could be a new record.

Once the bleeding stopped, I’d be able to reassess the situation and call in reinforcements that know how to hammer a nail. I’d realize my shortcomings (for about 2 minutes) and relent.

What would you do if your home renovations were limited only by your imagination?

Too bad imagination won’t build a solid stone castle with a fierce, shark-infested moat on our acre and a half. If it could, solicitors beware. Who knows where the trap door to the other dimension has been built into our driveway? Yes, my renovation experts are that good.

In reality, a fancy castle with a moat and an other-dimension trap door would take plenty of planning. Experts can draw a plan and tell you down to the nail how realistic, expensive and how much time it will take to add value to your home.

Whether it’s your dream bathroom with the ever-full-and-ever-hot bubble bath, or the walk-in closet that resembles your own Nordstrom’s, a plan is needed before anything can happen.

Do your homework and make a few calls before you decide on a contractor. Any estimates you get should be free. Your contractor should have a Website with a picture portfolio that you can look at to see some examples. It wouldn’t hurt to ask for some references as well. Make sure you know their warranty and guarantee policies. Make sure they will clean up their mess when the job is finished, no matter what.

Most importantly, please remember that the best price doesn’t always mean the best work. Do your homework so you end up with a fabulous renovation that adds value to your home and keeps you injury free.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Sunshine is scrambling my brain!

We all know where I come from and what the weather is like in my motherland. I have been charmed to the gills with the magic of the snow and the total awesomeness that winter brings here in Lanark County. I’ve even survived a blinding snowstorm in my car (remember when I was an idiot?).

And now, finally, it seems that the season is changing. There is enough of our yard showing to make my rake bang against the shed door at least once a day now, dying for some attention. Don’t worry, I’m ignoring it. There is even a hint of my ever faithful tulips poking through the thawed earth. The birds are singing, the cat is sleeping in the bird feeder now, and the dog wants nothing more than to lay in the sunshine and beg for cookies outside my office window.

All signs of spring. Right? RIGHT?

Does anyone else feel that? The absolute certainty that any minute now, the trees will burst into bloom, and the green will sprout forth and wipe out all traces of that ridiculous winter we just experienced.

Any minute now, right? Sigh.

It’s taking too long. One day of sunshine and blue skies with nary a snow cloud in sight is confusing me. It’s the middle of April. The sunshine should have been kicking winter’s bum right the heck to the other side of the hemisphere with a stiff warning that it’s not welcome back.

I had a moment earlier this week when I strongly considered hanging up on my mother. She told me it was 81 in Clovis, California, and the poppies were out in magnificent coloured blooms.

I reminded her that when and if it reached 81 in our beautiful Lanark County, Clovis would be an overcooked expanse of earth wilting in the 110 degree heat. That made me feel much better, but I think I’m out of the will.

And then I looked at the blue sky again. The flip-flops in my closet started to do a tap-dance. My toes told them to stop immediately. My toes know that a warm sun after a cold winter completely scrambles my brain. I guess my brain reacts like the animals when coming out of hibernation.

I wonder if the bears and squirrels were as confused as I was when that sun came out and told them to wake up. I wonder how many of them could even dig their way out of the piles of snow that are still melting? Are the critter brains as scrambled as mine with this half-season stuff?

I think we’re all ready for real spring. When the snow is a distant memory and not even close to a looming threat. When we can shove all the winter clothing to the back of the closet and tell the snow shovels and blowers to sit still and shut up for a few months.

It’s time, isn’t it? I’m not sure, because the goose bumps on my skin tell me it’s still winter, and Peter yelling at me to close the windows tells me it’s not quite spring yet.

Like I said, my brain is scrambled, and I blame the sunshine.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Car is so shiny, I Gotta Wear Shades

And now my arms are positively shaking from overuse.

How is it that I can go to the gym a few times a week, work my arms pretty well, and yet not get this same, crazy, I'm-coming-down-with-Parkinson's-and-epilepsy all at the same time. I'm truly afraid of what my arms will feel like in the morning, all from 'wash-the-car' Mr. Miagi would be so proud.

Can't type anymore, spasms abound. Need ibuprofnmnm,. argh.....NOW.

LOVE This Weather!

Okay - so I am having a really hard time concentrating on anything because I just want to be outside. I want to plant flowers and grow the perfect lawn and make sure my car is shiny clean.

It's too early to plant anything so the car was what I did. And it's so pretty.

Now I must clean the winter from inside the car. Where does all that dust and dirt come from, anyway?

Sun is calling me.....must.go.


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

My Adventures With Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

Last weekend, Peter and I headed to Hartford, Connecticut. Peter had a soccer course he was taking (of course) and I had some reading, shopping and wandering to do (this is my favourite thing to do when Peter has a business trip).
But what does a person do in Hartford, Connecticut? Enter kind Yankees (wives of other soccer aficionados), who happily informed me that there is much to see and do in their fair city. The one thing that caught my attention and held it (okay, after that amazing mall with a Tiffany’s!l), was the possibility that I could, and would. . . walk through Mark Twain’s house.
The very house where he wrote those captivating stories about the adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County as well as that Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Yup, my day was decided. I was going to visit the home of one of the world’s most beloved writers, as well as one of the best humourists in history.
Seriously, who wouldn’t go?
Walking up to the front door with the tour guide, I could feel the writer in me wanting to push through the rest of the crowd and rush into the house to soak up some of Mr. Twain’s genius. Where was his desk? His writing instruments? Where did he brainstorm? Get out of my way!
Then that nasty tour guide rained on my parade when he said we must all stay together and not even think of touching any of the Twain belongings.
Fine. Patience is totally one of my virtues.
The house itself was dramatic and impressive. We learned that the Twain family was big on impressing their guests, and that the best room in the house was the guest bedroom suite. I could have been one of his guests, sitting in any number of cozy chairs (why were people so much shorter in the 19th century, anyway?), listening to anything Mark Twain wanted to say.
We’d been on the tour for 45 minutes and we still hadn’t seen his study, where he did his writing. I think I was starting to break out in a sweat, wanting so badly to be in the room where such great creation took place.
Then, on the second floor, as we stood in what was the playroom and classroom for his three daughters, the tour guide told us what I’d been dying to hear. “Since Mark could get no peace from the noise of his daughters, he moved his office and study upstairs to the third floor where he wrote some of his most famous works.”
I was at the back of the crowd. I turned and looked up the stairs. I could make a dash, maybe take one of those back servant’s passages that the tour guide mentioned. I could find and sit at Mark Twain’s desk. I could touch something that he touched, maybe soak up some creative greatness, some of his spirit somehow.
Hey, I’m a writer, can you blame me?
But there was no chance to touch, to soak. The ropes were defiant and the tour guide ever watchful.
But I stood in that room. Mere inches from where Mark Twain sat and wrote some of the most amazing stories of his career.Those stories still live on, and I can’t wait to read about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn all over again, while I picture Mark Twain sitting at his wooden desk with a cigar in his mouth and a pen poised over paper, wondering how Tom Sawyer will get his friends to help him whitewash that fence.

Monday, 7 April 2008

We're BACK!

And I have stories, of course.
Went to a fabulous mall. . . it has a TIFFANY's! Sigh. Nordstroms, Lord and Taylor, so many fancy stores I was actually intimidated. Spent most of my time in the Sephora store - my girlie dream with all the cool and pretty makeup!

Better still, Mark Twain has a house in Hartford Connecticut, where he spent 17 years of his life with his wife and daughters, and I took the tour. It's the very house where he wrote his most amazing works - Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and The Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court, as well as some Mississippi River Tales and the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

To stand in his study and know that he smoked his cigars and wrote there. . . .wow. It was really cool.

Also received my very first fan mail today - and at the bottom was a job offer for more food pushing! LOL!

More later.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Off to Connecticut . . .

Okay - Peter and I are off to Connecticut - West Hartford for the weekend, so I won't be posting until I get back. Remind me to take the camera - rumour has it there is NO snow in Connecticut!

Be sure to scroll down for more posts - a great prank video and two columns from The Mississippi Weekender.

Love to you all, and thanks for continuing to visit my blog, even if you don't ever send me comments. . . sigh.


Have a MAY-ja weekend my friends!


Stopping time at Grand Central Station -A Prank Collaborative

From You Tube and www.Gadling.com

I Love My Pets Most When They Aren’t Trying to Kill Me

Last night I was giving our chocolate lab, Chip, a good rub-down after his jaunt in the rain. Chip has the type of personality that the more attention you give him, the more excitable he is.

Add a towel and lots of words of “who’s a wet doggie? Oh, you like this, don’t you? Oh, good boy, good boy!” and see what you come up with. Me? I came up with a head butt from the dog and a bloody lip for my trouble.

And that’s when it hit me. How many times have I stumbled, tripped, been bruised or actually bled because of our furry family members?

First, I remember when Wick was a kitten. Kittens are their own ball of energy, but when you take that little ball of fur and add stairs and a grown woman with a hot cup of coffee, it’s a recipe for disaster. Yes, the stain came out of the carpet and there is no visible scar on my knee.

And then there was the introduce-the-kitten-to-the-65-pound-dog-that’s-had-the-run-of-the-house-for-three-years. The first time wasn’t so great. It took me an hour to clean up all the dirt from the broken potted plant, but only a few bandages to cover the fresh kitten scratches I’d received as a gift for my introduction efforts. Oh, and we replaced all screens with pet-proof strength mesh. It’s really amazing how strong a dog’s paw is.

Of course, that was two years ago, and now that I think about it, I can come up with at least once a week where I’ve cursed my furry beloveds because they have dashed under my feet, between my legs, up my shoulder or tagged my knees with cat or dog scratches after some well-meant lovin’.

And what's with the solar-plexus punch that knocks the wind out of me every morning when my dog greets me?

Which brings me to my point. Are they trying to kill me?

Why does our cat insist on attacking my legs as I walk toward the stairs? Even though I can hear her coming, I never know where or when she’s going to attack. But one thing is certain. . . it’s coming, and it’s going to hurt me.

Peter just laughs. It’s because he doesn’t get to experience the total pet devotion that I have from our animals. But then again, maybe they actually like Peter better, which is why they are constantly trying to maim me.

Chip’s leash has a 30 foot lead on it. We’ve found that it’s the happy medium between the ultra short leash that lets him go nowhere, or no leash at all, which means we can’t find the dog until the neighbour calls and says he’s harassing a 70-year-old woman. 30 feet of freedom it is.

But when that dog takes his lead and runs it as fast and as hard as he can, even though I brace myself, I am sure my arm will be ripped right from my body when he hits the end of his lead. Add an icy driveway to that picture and Chip could get paid a handsome sum for my demise.

I guess I don’t really think our pets are trying to kill me. But if they aren’t, why is Chip standing behind me with a toothy grin and an evil glint in his eye? And why is he wagging his tail so slowly? Where's the cat?

Look Out, It’s a Pusher!

So I have this part-time job as a food demonstrator at one of our grocery stores. I work a few days a month, pushing food at unsuspecting shoppers. Many love me, many ignore me completely, some stay for several minutes, some grab food and run.

But there I am, serving whatever sponsors want me to serve, selling ice cream in January and nachos for Easter. It’s not a bad gig if you like people, and I do.

I am a hostess at my own party, serving refreshments and trying to get people to stop and have conversation with me. If nobody stops for my snacks, I am bored nearly senseless – which isn’t that much of a trip for me. Senseless comes easy for some of us.

Being a good pusher requires some skills. I must always be personable, friendly and inviting. It’s my job to make you innocent shoppers stop at my cart to try whatever it is I’m offering, and then buy it. It’s not as if I’m gathering great minds to re-visit the Pythagorean theorem or anything.

Shoppers, when someone says hello to you, be polite and respond. I could be your next best friend for all you know, but when you don’t even lift your head to respond to a polite greeting and a bright cheery smile (they’re paying me for that), well, you’re just plain rude. I promise, the butter will still be in the case after you say hi, and your words make me happy. And really, isn’t life all about my happiness?

When I say hello and you respond with “none for me, thanks” while you pick up your step in case I am planning a physical manoeuvre to shove a tortilla chip down your throat, the first thing I want to yell after you is “Did I ask you if you wanted anything?” Pushers have feelings too, you know. Just acknowledge my desperate plea for company and say hello. That’s all I’m asking.

Besides, my cart is on wheels. Don’t make me chase you.

To be fair, most people are very friendly, because that’s the Carleton Place way. I generally get to visit with many great shoppers every time I am working. The aisle congestion can get pretty bad, but I like to think that it’s worth it. Crowds force you to see what all the fuss is about after you roll your eyes and wonder why people stop in the middle of the aisle (it’s really just to bug you, but you didn’t hear that from me).

Kids are the easiest. I am the bribe master, weaving promises of happy grocery temperaments as long as mom or dad buys whatever I am feeding to their children. Does this work? Let’s just say popsicle day was a huge hit, and nary a scream or tantrum was heard in the store that weekend.

The next time you’re in the grocery store, look for me at the back, near the dairy. Say hello and I will tell all the frozen food employees to get away from the cart to save some for you. At the very least you can make fun of me in my kicky black and yellow uniform. That alone is worth the price of admission, and you have to buy groceries anyway, right?