Thursday, 31 July 2008

Lauren Conrad The Hills Season 4 featured in Entertainment Weekly


Lauren Conrad The Hills Season 4 featured in Entertainment Weekly . . .

Don't care how juvenile, empty or 'real' you think it is, I LOVE The Hills. Can't wait for my scripted reality dose of blonde angst in Hollywood.

Also love the cover. And will always loathe Heidi and Spencer.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Lost In Love With Soccer? Nope, Just Lost Somewhere In New York

Theoretical itinerary (as they always are):

· Friday, 1:00 p.m. sharp: Pick up Nuria from afternoon classes with car loaded, gassed and ready to hit the road for Batavia, New York to rendezvous with soccer team at hotel for weekend tournament in Brockport

· 3:30 p.m.: Stop for bite at The Cracker Barrel. If not hungry, proceed to next Cracker Barrel. Continue along Cracker Barrel path until hungry.

· 6:00 p.m. Wait in lobby of hotel until rest of team arrives and checks in.

· 7:00 p.m.: Light supper with team

· 9:00 p.m.: Lights out for. . .

· Saturday, 6:30 a.m. wakeup call.

· 7:45 a.m.: Leave hotel for first tournament game at 9:15 a.m.

Actual Itinerary:

· Friday, 1:00 p.m.: Go pick up Nuria from classes and let her buckle up her confused soul into the car sans Peter. Jet to the gas station to fuel up, jet to Timmy's to get those iced caps we can't seem to live without.

Run back into the house to finish packing while vital articles of clothing are still tumbling damply in the dryer.

Peter has gone to the hospital to check on his dad (he's 99 now, and has a fever too often to let him out of the hospital. He is in good spirits and doing well. Will update you when I know more. I am going to visit him tomorrow. Peter has been going every day.)

Peter comes home, double checks the double checking while I try to remember everything I am forgetting (ironic, ain't it?).

3:30 p.m. Hit the road.

· 5:00 p.m.: Delayed at border offices for documentation for our Spanish senorita.

· 5:45 p.m.: Finally in the U.S.A.

· 7:00 p.m.: Stop at Cracker Barrel (at last). Send text message back to Cousin Amy in California to tell her our location. Am not allowed to print what her reply was. It wouldn’t be polite (okay, she said YOU SUCK) Lovingly ate biscuit with butter and honey in her honour. Also ordered the hash-brown casserole without the casserole in her honour. Was told it was too late to order breakfast.

· 9:45 p.m.: Wait in lobby for most of the team

· 11:50 p.m.: Lights out for 6:30 wake up call. It isn’t going to be pretty.

Saturday morning was too early for all us. We all piled into vehicles, Peter and Google maps to guide the caravan through the back roads of Batavia and the surrounding area to the tournament.

If only the roads had signs. If only State University New York (SUNY) was built somewhere inside a city boundary. If only one of the five to eight vehicles had GPS, I may have nothing to write about (and if you believe that. . .).

But the fates had deigned to make our seemingly simple, 30-minute-route of lefts and rights into a surreal adventure of almost an hour of wandering through a vast landscape of unmarked roads, creepy wagons full of stuffed animals and several stops on the side of the road to conference about what direction we should really be traveling.

Without a good cup of coffee and my required 8.5 hours of sleep, I’m sure Nuria stifled more than a healthy amount of nervous giggles as Peter and I discussed what Google maps really had printed on that paper. I’d read it and he’d ask if I was sure. So I’d make him read it. Probably not the best thing to do when he’s driving.

When we ended up on the correct road quite by mistake, Kathy, her van full of orange-clad teenage girls, decided to take the lead. We’d failed in our role of follow-the-leader and it was time for us to let someone else play. Google was failing us, miserably. And Kathy had a map. A real map that somehow made unmarked roads as discernable as the yellow brick road covered in neon-high-gloss paint.

So almost an hour into our 30-minute drive we made it to the tournament.

Peter opted out of being the pace car for the return trip.

Saturday afternoon, another parent, Terry, went and purchased a GPS.

Guess he doesn’t want that to happen again. Front yards with giant wagons full of stuffed-animals would scare anyone into a GPS.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

You ARE a Redneck If (No Kidding' and This Really Happened):

Okay - so the other day I'm dropping a friend off at home after her shift at her job.

She lives in a tidy little neighbourhood of row houses that face an elementary school across a semi-busy  but slow-travellin' road.

It's all part of the charm of Lanark County.

My pal points out that her neighbours are barbecuing again. I glance over and notice the smoke. They are settin' up picnic camp in their driveway, and the 'cue smoke is comin' up on noxious.

I don't think much of it as we say goodbye and I pull out of her driveway. As I pass by the neighbour's house again, I notice a small brunette totin' a chainsaw.

And she's headed for what's left of a bed frame from a child's room.

Her behaviour doesn't have to be construed as odd, I suppose. We women are emotional creatures. There's all sorts of reasons she could be chainsaw-ing the living hell out of a children's bed. Anger, revenge, desperation for new furniture. . . one could only wonder.

But her needs were even more basic than unbalanced chemistry. . . the missus was going to town on what was left of the bed with that chainsaw a roarin' for a baser need, a primitive need, if you will.

The bed was made in to manageable pieces of kindling to follow the rest of its mates, already on the 'cue, heatin' up the grill for some meat, boy howdy.

Yup. If you start cuttin' up your children's furniture to provide fuel for your barbecue . . . YOU. ARE. A. REDNECK.

The Plants are Scaring Me. . .

Because they are still alive.

Yes, me, the blackest thumb in all the universe has been duped by the four plants in my house.

It started with one. One stupendously gorgeous orchid that was given to me last year on my birthday by my mother-in-law (thank you!).

When the florist delivered the orchid plant, huge, flowering like nobody’s business and all pretty and purple, I thought she had the wrong address.

But it was my birthday, and there was a flower delivery. I was in awe of the orchid. They really are amazing flowers. I wouldn’t accept it from the delivery person. “Is that for me?”

“Are you Joyce Men. . . Men-y. . . “ She struggled to read my last name. I saved her.

“Yes I’m Joyce. But. . . I kill plants. Why is this one here?”

“Um. It’s a gift.”

I snapped out of it. My terror for the sure black death of that gorgeous orchid had me a little stupid for a moment.

“But, what - I mean, where should I put it?”

The florist delivery person must have felt sorry for me. She kept the plant and asked me to show her any sunny windows in my house.

She eyed the corner window in the dining room where an empty ceramic table sat. “That window is perfect.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her (or the orchid) that the only reason the table was empty is because I’d recently given the last rites to an unfortunate tropical plant.

She placed the orchid on the table. She looked at me, direct in the eye, as if in warning. “Don’t move the orchid from this window. . .ever.”

I almost saluted. Then she pointed out something else that was included in the gift. A book. Easy Orchid Care. Well I’ll be. My mother-in-law did remember that I kill plants with regularity. How sweet that she believed in me enough to include instructions!

So the orchid stayed there in that corner of the dining room, soaking up the sun. I read that book.

It’s almost one year later and my orchid is STILL blooming. It’s never gone dormant. The flowers just keep coming. I follow the instructions in that fabulous little book and my orchid loves me. It’s truly amazing.

But the scary part? I’ve branched out. I found some amazing violet plants with huge, vibrant blooms. I put a bigger table in the corner to accommodate all FOUR plants.

That was three weeks ago.

They’re still alive.

Shhhhhh. Don’t gasp too loud. They might hear you.

Apparently, there is some kind of magic mojo in that dining room window. Plants love it. I’ve tried moving one outside for more sun, into the shade when it looks a little droopy. Nothing makes this plant happier than sharing the table with the orchid. It perks its little leaves up towards the orchid every time its near it, and gets droopy when it’s away from its girlfriend.

Yes, I’m convinced. The only reason my plants live is because they are all in love with the beautiful orchid. There’s some kind of plant love-fest going on and the orchid is the puppet-master.

No. I’m not moving the plants. Let the magic of the window and the orchid live on, even if the success does scare me, just a little.

It gives me too much hope, and I'll probably end up killing hordes of helpless plants because of the small success I am experiencing.

Pray for me, people.

IMG_3272 IMG_3268 IMG_3267 IMG_3266

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Sweet, Fancy Moses, I Can't Believe It!

So Peter doesn't like country music much. Even though he tolerated it while we dated, once he had me hooked the country -ick- came out.

He writes for our local paper, as I do. He gets paid, I don't. Ironically, my column is more popular than all of his stories, but it's because he has to write news and I get to write whatever I like, as long as I can possibly make people laugh and forget about the icky news stuff that is generally depressing.

Besides, pointless stories are my thing.

So Peter has to write a story about the upcoming Riverside Jam, our annual country music festival. He's writing the news part of it, details, facts, etc.

Then the editor of our paper asks if he wants to be the key media person for the whole festival. One of the organizers will send all-access passes if he will do it.

Me: "All access! SWEET!"

Him: "Yeah, but I don't know if I want to cover the whole festival. All that country music might kill me."

Me: "I'll cover it then." I wasn't really serious. I don't have journalism experience.

Him: "You would?"

Me: (A little more excited now, if that's possible) "Do you think Dianne would let me?"

Him: "Call her and ask her."

Me: OMG, OMG, OMG - nervously dialling - calling our editor.

Dianne: "Really? You want to do it? I'm having trouble finding coverage for the event. You'd really cover the whole thing, write all the stories and take pictures?"


(You can't hear me because my excitement has taken my voice to a level only dogs can hear. I said yes.)

Dianne: "You just made my day, Joyce."

Me: "Can I call the promoters and tell them I'm their girl?"

Dianne and Peter: "Sure, go ahead."

I call the promoters and tell them who I am. They know me from my column and are happy to send ALL ACCESS passes, as well as a nice 8x10 photo of one of the performers.

I asked where I would be allowed and if I could talk to any of the performers.

Get this. . . I get to INTERVIEW all of them! I get to interview Lorrie Morgan and Mark Chesutt! Can you believe it?!!!!

17 days and counting. My first feature story. But even better, I get to write it my style, and I get to have ALL ACCESS.

Did I mention who I get to interview?!

Click here for info about the Jam. Here for Lorrie Morgan. Here for Mark Chesnutt.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Male Refrigerator Blindness. . . It's a Real Thing.

It’s a real affliction. Just ask Peter. He can’t see anything in our refrigerator.

Him: “Babe, do we have any more Miracle Whip?”

Me: “It’s on the shelf in the fridge.”

Him: “Which shelf?”

Me: “One of them.”

Sounds of shelf shuffling and jars clinking ensues.

Him: “I think we’re out.”

Me: Get up from whatever I am doing to go to the refrigerator and deftly move one or two jars to reveal the Miracle Whip (what’s so miraculous about it, anyway?).

Him: “Oh, I didn’t see it.”

Me: “Ya think?”

Can someone explain male refrigerator blindness for me? Anyone? Can a MALE explain it for me?

Then there’s closet blindness, that encompasses anyplace where clothes might be. Socks, shirts, shoes. . . doesn’t matter. The phenomena continues.

Now, anyone that reads my words should know that I absolutely adore my husband. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I am convinced that I am in the middle of my happily-ever-after. I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world. I would die for this man.

Why do I tell you this? Well, Peter already told me I’m not allowed to write about this, not allowed to tease him in print. I love you honey. . . deal with it. Besides, even though it is a bizarre disease you have, it just makes you that much more adorable.

So ladies, do you think it might help if we labelled everything in the refrigerator?

Oh wait, my bad. Everything in the fridge is pretty much labelled already, isn’t it? You know, the sticker that says ‘Miracle Whip’, or ‘Heinz’ or ‘Maple Syrup’?

I’m working on a solution – you never know, I could be a millionaire from my idea, but I might need some help fleshing out the details. I am sure there are some women out there that would be happy to be on my invention committee, right?

So here’s what I’m thinking:

Get the dog that already lives in your house. He (or she) knows where the refrigerator is, in fact, your pet has probably spent more hours stalking that fridge than you’ve spent taking things out or putting things in.

The family dog knows the fridge like James Bond’s Q knows his gadgets.

If we could teach our animals to talk, the problem would be solved. But, since that won’t work (that I know of), why can’t we just give our pets (the animals, not the men) a little positive reinforcement, so when a small instance of blindness hits, maybe our pets can be trained to give a little (painless) nip or nudge in the right direction?

What do you think? It will certainly help with the having to stop what you’re doing to go show the men in your house where you keep the eggs, don’t-cha think?

Of course, if we go this route, we’ll have to start keeping the dog cookies in the fridge too.

And of course, that won’t work, because when the dog shows Peter where the Miracle Whip is, he’ll have to reward the dog.

And Lord knows, he won’t be able to find the dog cookies in the fridge either.


PS- Since the publishing of this column, I've had to point out where the peppercorns were, where the cream hides in the fridge and where a movie was that he wanted. Yes, all were in their normal spots.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Spain Has Invaded!

By the time you read t his, it will be too late. Hordes of teenagers from Spain will have landed on our quiet summer streets and unassuming Lanark County, and they’ve no plans to leave for three weeks.

The good news is, these students have earned their trip to Lanark County through their government, as a reward for their scholastic endeavours. These kids are smart and worthy, and they’re coming for some much-deserved fun.

It’s that time of year again, and our household is pretty excited. We’ve a lovely young lady coming from Galicia, Spain, and we’re happy to be her host-family.
Galicia is made up of 4 different provinces, la Coruna, Pontevedra, Ourense and Lugo. The capital of the region is the city of Santiago de Compostela. Galicia calls itself the “heart of green Spain”.

And that’s all we know. We’re hoping to learn the rest from our visitor.
It’s going to be great, practicing the small bits of Spanish we’ve learned over the years and the trips. And face it, California is rich with migrant history. Spanish is the second language there. I may have a shot at conversation with our girl!

Hmmmm. We may have to work harder than I expected. I’m not sure we should be conversing with our guest in stunted sentences that ask donde es el bano? Chances are, she’ll be asking us that.

So here’s the thing, Lanark County. I would like to issue a challenge to all of you who are kind enough to read my words: Let’s make these students feel so at home that the legend of Lanark County will be spread far and wide.

Wait. Is there a legend of Lanark County?

Well there should be. Let’s start one. Maybe it could be a legend of hospitality and friendly culture. Restaurateurs could have special paella dishes for three weeks.

Wait a minute. Chances are our Spanish lovelies will fill up on poutine and pizza. They are teenagers after all.

In any case, let’s all make our visitors feel welcome. Don’t get nervous when they’re coming at you in a flock. Toss aside that fear of teenage swarming. Stop, plant your feet, spread your arms and yell “HOLA!”

The gesture alone will stop them in their tracks, at which point you can probably use any of the phrases you learned in the Dominican Republic or Mexico, although the Spanish dialect is a bit different.

Um, and you shouldn’t use that phrase about cerveza. Probably should leave that one alone.
So now that you’ve scared the Spanish students into feeling welcome, point them towards any of your favourite parts of Lanark County. Make sure they don’t miss a corner of our little slice of paradise.

Remind them about our wide open night sky, about the critters that live among us (but leave out the bear that was near CPHS, because they’re going to be spending some time there. No need to panic them).

It might even be okay to strike random poses for the students to take pictures of people from Lanark County.

Make sure you bring your personality. A smile goes a long way, my friends.

Let’s start spreading smiles now, and by the time our students awake from their jet-lagged dreams they’ll think they’ve landed in the happiest place on earth, and I’m not talking about Disneyland.