Saturday, 24 May 2008

The Parade that Nobody Knew About

If a parade goes down the middle of the street and there's nobody there to watch it, are the clowns still scary?

Saturday I needed to do an errand that involved popping downtown to Bridge Street in our sleepy little downtown area.

I usually take the highway to High Street, and cruise through my favourite neighbourhood in town. This one houses the oldest mansions, the three-fireplace-houses-with-upstairs-screened-in-porches. I have a fantasy that one day I will be able to see (or live) inside one house in particular. Until I do, I will just drive by and daydream.

Anyway, Bridge street was closed off at High Street. There were volunteers that let no passers through, that looked determined and a little too enthusiastic to have a reason to turn on vehicles that didn’t want to heed the big blue barriers that blocked the road. There was no traffic either way, so I decided to park at the barrier and walk downtown, it being such a nice day and all.

I stopped at the barrier and looked left, looked right. I saw no reason for barriers. There were no crowds, nothing. I asked a volunteer, "What's up?"

She looked at me as if I should know already, and said in a tone that chastised me just a bit for not knowing "It's the Shriner's Parade."

I looked left again. Oh, there were some police officers on bikes, and a fire truck, and if I listened carefully, I could hear the parade band tuning up.

I looked right again. But where were all the people? Had I stepped into some weird anti-parade dimension?

I walked on, struck again that I could only see about 30 people sitting up and down the street, most of them local vendors coming out to see what's going on, or people like me, who just happened to stumble on a ghost-town parade.

It was eerie, embarrassing for the Shriners, shameful for our town and frighteningly hilarious to me.

My one errand on Bridge Street netted me a 'closed' sign, so I turned back, and finally saw the parade approaching.

The Shriners in their various forms - on too-tiny-motorcycles, too-tiny-ground-planes, sitting and waving in fancy cars and honking weird sounding horns. There were many of them, some younger than one might expect, and all of them wearing their nifty hats.

They smiled and waved for the few people that watched them go by to the accompaniment of the community band, who actually sounded pretty good.

I laughed at the absurdity of it, and believe the Shriners mistook that for enthusiasm. I received wave after wave from the merry men, which made me laugh harder.

When the clowns came toward me my fun ended.

Clowns are evil and must be stopped. I was afraid for my very soul and couldn't get back to the car fast enough.

The feeling that I had somehow been robbed of something hit me.

I had been gone less than ten minutes and the parade was over.

As I made it to my car (only checking over my shoulder once to make sure evil clowns weren't stalking me) I heard a mother say into her cell phone in a dismayed tone "It's over. The parade is already over."

And it’s just a shame that nobody saw it.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Washington DC Scares Me. . . But Only a Little


Oh, my adventures in D.C. Okay, that’s too much of a build-up. But I did have fun, saw many things, had my picture taken with Barrack Obama, and managed to get away from the DEA, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon virtually unscathed.

I say virtually because my feet will never be the same after walking approximately 42 miles in just under three days. In flip-flops.

Our view outside the hotel room was of the Pentagon. I’ve never been so up-close-and-personal to the behemoth, and could have walked to their front door in less than 20 minutes.

Our view was also of the side of the Pentagon that was hit on September 11th, 2001. The wall has long since been rebuilt, with white markers where windows would be. It made me wonder if it the white rectangles are markers or memorials for those that perished there. It was a stark reminder, and one of the few serious moments of our trip.

To the left of our hotel was a group of high-rise, mirrored buildings. Imposing for their sheer size alone, the cameras at the top of every corner, as well as the posted guard houses at every entrance had my spidey-senses tingling. These had to be important buildings.

Peter and I noticed a flag flapping in the wind. We waited for it to unfurl before we read the following words on its cotton: Department of Homeland Security. Gulp.

If I was a terrorist, I might’ve been a little nervous. Peter found out that the building right next door to DHS housed the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Cool.

Big Brother much?

Again, if I was a bad girl, I might’ve decided to just go back to my room, sit quietly and wait for our flight home.

But I'm only kind of naughty, so that didn't work.

Peter and I were wandering through the super-mall that was just on the other side of the scary-agency-offices when we “met” Senator Barrack Obama and Senator Hilary Clinton. They were both so approachable and easy to talk to. They were accommodating but strangely silent. I never realized how short Clinton is. I’m not sure she could see over the desk in the oval office should she get elected. And seriously, I don't get that frightened look in her eyes.

The last time I was in DC, I was way too intimidated to take the subway. Okay, maybe I was scared. But this time Peter was with me, and descending down those gaping black holes into the dark tunnels of noisy trains below wasn’t as scary as going alone. Of course, my overactive imagination was waiting for any number of aliens, monsters, scary homeless tunnel zombies or serial killers to come lurching out at me from the vast blackness. As we sped along one of those black tunnels, an ad for Speed Racer appeared on the wall outside the train. I almost screamed. Who was showing movies in the subway tunnels? I was sure it was the scary zombie dudes, and was glad the train raced on by.

So we survived. Homeland Security, Reagan National Airport, The Pentagon and the DEA. And as always, I can’t wait to go back. I’m an American (though I qualify for Canadian citizenship this year!), and D.C. is like Mecca for me.

Maybe next time we’ll stay in Arlington Cemetery or something, and I’ll get to see the ghost of the Unknown Soldier and John F. Kennedy playing poker.


IMG_3134 IMG_3144 IMG_3136

Friday, 16 May 2008

Pentagon City – This Column Will Self Destruct in Five Seconds. . .

The call has come. It’s time for me to go into active duty. I’m going to Pentagon City in Washington DC and that can only mean one thing; it’s time to activate my secret agent status.

Of course, in telling you this I expect you to keep my secret. If you don’t, I may have to make you disappear to protect national security.

Peter’s mother ship for work is headquartered in Virginia, a couple of subway stops from downtown Washington DC. Every couple of years we go back to the mother ship for Peter to meet with his editors and check in while they treat us like royalty.

And while my poor man works all day, I wander the streets of DC, soaking up all the history, playing the corporate wife, and this time, in Pentagon City, probably to save the country from something dire.

Why else would we go to Pentagon City? Maybe they wanted to keep us safer on this visit. The last visit to DC turned into a White House evacuation- while we were in the building.

May 11, 2005. We’d scored a tour of the White House Press Room because the White House correspondent from Peter’s work force graciously used her pull to get us a short tour.

So there we were, in the White House Press Room. The press podium was at the front of a very small room where such weighty and world-changing decisions and speeches had taken place.

Our guide told me I could go stand on the podium. What? Stand where so many presidents have stood before? Where so many White House Press Secretaries have parried and evaded questions about weapons of mass destruction?

I was behind the podium before I finished the thought. I touched the wood, eyed the room, and wondered about the history that had taken place right where I was standing. Kennedy stood there. Reagan stood there. Clinton denied stuff there, and George W. still makes a fool of himself there.

To say it was cool would not be doing it justice.

But when we left the press room and walked towards the front of the building to exit, we found ourselves confronted by men with guns, telling us to run, run RUN!

We stood there like idiots. . .wha. . .? Was this a joke?

The press room emptied and people with cameras, phones and microphones were busily dialling numbers to find out what was going on.

We were shoved out the White House gates in confusion. Men on foot and horseback, armed with guns chased us across the park to the other side of the square.

To say it was chaos defines understatement. But the presidential cavalcade rushed out of the gates with three rumoured first ladies. W was on a bike ride, and Cheney was probably hiding in one of his giant man-safes.

F-16s flew into the air three seconds after we were out the gates and running across the park. One woman screamed into her phone ‘Not again! Is everyone out?’.

Surreal much?

As the news hit that an errant plane had flown into the no-no zone, stresses calmed.

I watched the snipers on the roof and turned to Peter.

“This is the best White House tour EVER!” He rolled his eyes at me.

So this trip, I don’t need the White House. It couldn’t be nearly that good the second time around.

What kind of excitement do you think I could get up to in Pentagon City?

It's Called Dental-Phobe for a Reason. . . and I'll Introduce You To the Guy. . .


My tooth hurt. A lot. That meant I would be going to what I feel is one level up from hell itself, and that’s the dentist. Since there were no available appointments in Carleton Place, I would have to go back to my dentist in Barrhaven. He is a gentle but slow dentist, but I don't mind him much, because my emphasis is on the word gentle.

I try to take care of my teeth so I DON’T have to go to the dentist. I believe that if my teeth aren’t broke, they don’t need fixing. It may not be the wisest course of action, but it's what I can handle.

I can tell you with great certainty that I am not alone, because let’s face it, sometimes dentists are scary.

Enter my dentist’s father, a super-happy dental guy who has been poking at teeth for probably half his life. I swear that after he x-rayed my sore tooth, there was a gleam in his eye as he said those two dreaded words to me. . . root canal.


After the lecture about if I had been getting regular check+ups he could’ve caught the cavity before it killed my tooth (blah blah blah), he told me to come back in a week and he would fix it.

I hate lectures. I travelled 1.5 hours round trip so I could be told to visit the dentist more and make another trip next week.

I should’ve known there would be a problem when I walked in, and Dr. Dentist hollered before I could sit down that I was one minute late and he had to get me in that chair and get me frozen.

I apologized for wasting his 60 seconds and popped my bum in that chair before another 5 seconds was missed. I gave the hygienist a look. She understood me immediately, but offered no peace.

Apparently I was in trouble.

I’d brought my MP3 player with me to listen to music while my mouth was torn asunder. I figured I’d be distracted and could turn up the volume when the drilling in my skull became too loud.

Dr. Dentist would have none of it until he had jabbed the needle into my gum line a few times. It was a better use of time. After all, we had 60 seconds to make up for.

Ever heard of a dental dam?. It’s a piece of balloon that they put around the tooth for a clean working environment. Dental dams are great, I guess, if you like choking on and tonguing latex.

The worst part is that I have a small mouth. Quit laughing, people. Figuratively, I have a huge mouth and I know it. Physically, not so much.

So when Dr. Dentist pulls my lips over my skull and staples them to the back of my neck so there will be no opportunity for my nasty saliva to infect his workspace, I felt my jaw click to the permanent-open status and wondered if I would ever be able to close my mouth again.

I feel like I'm getting an extreme makeover, and I'm gonna look like the Joker when I'm done, with my lips ripped wide open. God be praised for skin elasticity.

Dr. Dentist gives a John Madden play-by-play as he works on my tooth; what’s inside, how the roots grow and die.

The irony is I had my music, but he would talk louder than I could play it. He asked me if I wanted him to shut up about how easy it was to find my canals and isn 't it great that the pulp inside isn't diseased?

Lord, give me strength.

If I could talk, I would’ve told him that if I wanted to know my tooth that well, I’d go out and buy the biography.

Here’s the scary part. As he finished the job, the gleam in his eye returned. He said, as if in a bizarre Apocalypse Now scene that there’s nothing like the rush of a good root canal in the morning. He says he’ll never quit dentistry.

There were beads of sweat dangling from his chin the whole time, spilling onto his scrubs. Yikes, he was leaning over me! Can a human survive a latex-sweat-from-stranger-induced vomit session? Would I choke on my own sick?

Because the panic that set in watching that  bead of sweat hanging from his chin almost sent me screaming from the chair.

No dentist should ever take that much joy in his work, in my pain. It’s just creepy.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Adventures in Cheerleaders and Horses, Coming Soon!

Hello my friends!

Just returned from a fabulous weekend with Fluffy. We went to watch our friend Jocelyn's daughter Jillian compete with her Kingston Elite Senior Cheerleading Squad at the Canadian National Competition at the Hershey Centre in Toronto.

We also stayed at Adena Springs North, where Fluffy's brother is the farm manager. That picture in the middle? The stables.

It was a horse lover's paradise, almost like a personal heaven, located in Aurora, Ontario. Click on the picture below to check out some of the types of thoroughbred racehorses I drooled over all weekend.

Bed-time now - check back often! I'm trying to write more!


Thursday, 1 May 2008

Maple Sugar Bush is Bad For My Health

I’ve lived here in Lanark County for more than three years now, and had yet to visit a maple sugar bush.

One of Peter’s soccer teams was going to Fulton’s for a team-building, fun kind of afternoon. I was invited along because I’m cool (okay, Peter felt sorry for me because I’d never been to a sugar bush, but being cool sounds so much better).

Last Saturday afternoon was a beautiful, warm and sunny day. If nothing else, it was definitely a day for being outside. Maple syrup, here we come!

Peter and I arrived at the same time a player and her mother showed up. We didn’t have to wait much longer than 15 minutes for a bevy of beautiful young ladies and a myriad of parents to show up for some maple fun.

First, we went for breakfast in the restaurant. When I say there was maple everything, I mean it. Of course, chances are, most of you have already been to a sugar bush, and everything I’m telling you is old news. Maple muffins, cookies, candies and pies. Oy, so much maple. I started with a pancake and sausage breakfast.

It was all going fine until I tried to put maple syrup on my pancake.

Holding the tray with the plate on it and trying to get the syrup to hit my pancake as it lay on the plate was trickier than it looked. One gentle push on the syrup pump had syrup squirting across my tray and onto my foot. Dang it, missed the pancake completely. The second pump of syrup landed nicely on my tray, but nowhere near my plate. Fine. The third try squirt a strip of syrup across my hand and YES! My pancake! I glanced around to make sure nobody was watching.

Unfortunately for me, a young employee was waiting patiently for me to stop giggling and notice her.

“Um, you might want to use one of the cups there. Most people just put the syrup in the cup first.”


So that round of fun was over. I never did get a cup, but managed to land enough syrup on my plate to move my pancake around and find it.

Next, was a quick trip on the wagon down some muddy, rutted road. I know exactly what the horses were thinking as they dragged the wagon through the melted slush and snow. They’re thinking that it’s a beautiful day and why in the world do they have to drag us over-sugared humans through the forest when there are snow-less fields to be run through?

Mush, horsie. Mush.

Maybe you’ll get some nice maple carrots when you’re done. Luckily for them, we were the second to the last wagon ride of the day.

Next, maple taffy. Can I just tell you that maple taffy is a hazard to one’s health? I’m not sure I have any fillings left in my teeth, and the sugar crash that hit later in the afternoon led to an unnecessarily long nap. But then again, I do love my naps.

The sugar bush was really fun. Peter’s soccer team (holla to the TNT Extreme and all the cool parents that showed up) was great fun, but again, maybe it was all the sugar.