Monday, 30 June 2008

The WalMart Culture Shock!!

I wish that I could tell you that I was one of those wonderfully creative consumers. You know the type! They are the coupon clippers, the bulk store shoppers, and the bargain hunters. They are the shoppers with a separate wallet for coupons and they are the shoppers that instinctively know the price of blueberries at every store in the area. (When it gets to 2 for 5 dollars--BUY!!!) They are the consumers that store "tub-o-mayo" in the cold storage and only buy cereal when it is on sale, and then purchase it in quantities of 12! In fairness, I do descend from this stock. My dad is notorious for going to the store to buy aspirin and coming home with 12 boxes of blueberries and 24 rolls of toilet paper. The husband's maternal grandparents (lovely people whose memory should be forever a blessing!) used to drag me around from store to store while they purchased their groceries. In their later years, I was their designated driver. Of course, the sale items would never be located at one store, so I was forcefully told where to point the car for eggs at Loblaws, bananas at the Price Chopper and day-old bagels (God forbid they should be fresh, because day-old is cheaper!!) at Dominion. I was happy to provide the mitzvah, but it used to enrage the husband. He would complain that I was spending more in gasoline driving around the city, then they were actually saving in bargains. He would beg his grandparents to simply give me their list and I would happily shop for them. His idea was that I would spin a small white lie and tell them that I actually store-hopped, when in fact I would simply do the entire errand at one stop and shop. Of course, they never bought into it because the bargain hunting was more than a simple money-saving exercise. It was in fact, time well spent with their granddaughter-in-law and a way to get out. The frugality that they exhibited was a fabulous bonus. As for my own frugality, I really suck at this creative approach to shopping. I have always felt that my time is worth as much savings as a few pennies here and there. Until now!

You see, WalMart has opened in my neighbourhood. I am no stranger to WalMart. There has been a store at the corner of my block in the sunny south for many years now. It is a true convenience. It is, for the most part, a one-stop shopping experience with extraordinarily reasonable prices. Just by walking through the door, you the consumer can buy everything from a bra to pool chemicals to video games to candy!! I am also not naive when it comes to WalMart. I know that their labour practices can best be described as questionable and that in areas where they invade, they have a tendency to cannibalize small Mom and Pop stores. They also have a self-censoring policy that I personally find reprehensible, but I suppose that if the Walton family has an issue with the "seven dirty words", who am I to argue. But, WalMart is kind of like a train wreck! You simply cannot drive by without at least a passing curiousity and a gawk or two.

WalMart opened up here in the northern nether region back in March. It took me a few months to succumb to the spell, but succumb I eventually did. First off, it is without a doubt the cleanest and most neatly kept WalMart that I have ever visited. Typically, WalMart has a reputation for clothes strewn all over the shelves and floor in no discernible order and it's food stuff is rarely re-stocked. The Thornhill WalMart has thrown those stereotypes out the window. It is not scummy. It is well-kept and well-stocked. It has a very extensive grocery area in which you can purchase almost everything, with the marked exception of produce and meat stuff. It is quite a massive store, and in typical WalMart fashion, it is attracting a full cross-section of this economically affluent area. But, it is still WalMart!!!

The husband and I made a quick pit-stop at Sam's favourite haunt today. He was in need of razor blades and I wanted to pick up a few odds and ends for the upcoming Canada Day holiday. WalMart is close by and seemed like a logical destination. Given the fact that the kids are now out of school and that it is a pseudo long weekend, the place was packed. Everybody was in search of bargains and they were sending their shopping carts careening in every direction. The husband, while happy to buy his razors and bottled water at tremendously discounted prices, made the very astute observation that no matter nicely it is dressed up, it is still WalMart and the shoppers had that WalMart shopper appearance. He wondered aloud if we now looked like the masses in the store. "Absolutely", I responded. Isn't that the point of WalMart? To give us all the mass illusion of conspicuous consumption? Way to go Mr. Walton!! You have succeeded in making me look at and participating in your train wreck. I am soooo screwed!!!!

Very Cool!


Sunday, 29 June 2008

How Hard Can it Be?

I don't often spend my weekends trying to come up with blog ideas, but sometimes situations just present themselves and need to be shared.

We are imperfect creatures, we human beings. We all have strengths and weaknesses. There are situations in which some of us excel, while others truly suck. For example; I am not a Ms. Fix-it. If something were to break in this house, (save a burned out lightbulb or a clogged toilet) I would require assistance in repairs. I recognize this as a vulnerability in myself and should something require repair, I immediately call for help, either professional or in-house! (As I have previous reported, the husband is a remarkable creature in that he is one of a dying breed--the Jewish handyman!!) I admire people who know their limitations and know when to cry UNCLE!! I respect the individual who recognizes that they don't know everything about anything. I like the person who asks for help. And then there are those who think that they are smart enough and gifted enough to handle any and every situation. They suffer from the "How hard can it be?" syndrome. "Sure I will install the new lighting in the bedroom. How hard can it be?" "My car needs new spark plugs. I can do it, how hard can it be?" "The bathroom shower is leaking and needs to be re-caulked. How hard can it be?" My family has one such individual! The husband's father has been a chronic sufferer of the "How hard can it be?' syndrome. His attempts to install, repair and improve are legendary in family folklore. Allow for some historical examples.

Years ago, the family purchased a brand-spanking new dishwasher. The father-in-law, being a chronic suffer of the "How hard can it be?" syndrome, decided that he could install the machine on his own. Rather than connect the appliance to the required 120 voltage, he mistakenly connected it at 240. He didn't realize his error until while testing the new outlet, he plugged in the vacuum cleaner. Well, the vacuum raced across the floor faster then NASCAR!!

When the in-laws moved into their current residence, the mother-in-law wanted to buy new horizontal blinds to cover some unsightly windows. Being a chronic sufferer, he decided "How hard can it be?" He went to the store, bought the blinds and asked for the husband's help in the installation. One small detail, he didn't measure the windows! For years the blinds hung over the sides of the windows and onto the walls.

My in-laws have an antique glass cabinet. Last week, the old key that was in the ancient lock broke off and half-lodged itself inside. The cabinet apparently could not be opened. The father-in-law, in classic "How hard can it be?" mode, took a pair of pliers to the lock, seemingly jamming it further. The mother-in-law, clearly infuriated, asked the husband to take a look at the lock. The husband walk over, pressed on the glass door and it magically opened. Not only that, he then just pulled the broken piece of the key out with his fingers. It took all of 10 seconds. We don't think that the father-in-law even tried to open the door. He automatically went for the tools.

And then there was yesterday!! The father-in-law, fed up with his old PC, invested in a new iMac. Now this is truly the purvey of the husband. The father-in-law called the husband to ask for his help in it's installation. Given that we were already engaged yesterday, the husband told his dad that he would happily help him with the computer on Sunday, but that the beauty of the Mac is that it is truly plug and go. The father-in-law figured this really was a case of "How hard can it be?" and proceeded to hook up his brand-spanking new computer. He should have waited. The last time he tried to hook up a computer, he unplugged the modem and couldn't figure out why his internet wasn't working. Yesterday, made that seem like amateur hour. After more than 5 phone calls, came the piece de resistance!! The mother-in-law called in a panic. Her beloved laptop was not working, because the father-in-law had messed with it. What had he done? He took the OSX install disc and put it in her computer. Why? Because he claims that his computer told him to do it. The husband is still laughing about this as I write. He wants to know from his father, what else did the new computer tell him to do? Did it tell him to jump off of the Bloor Viaduct? It is like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The mother-in-law was livid. They couldn't eject the disc because it was installing the operating system on her previously problem-free machine. The irony in all of this is that OSX was already installed on his new computer as well!!!! The husband is headed toward mid-town later today to try and repair the damage.

I would like to offer some advice to my father-in-law. Don't touch things that you don't understand. Throw away your tools and retire! Really, how hard can it be?

Friday, 27 June 2008

Friday's Here, So Stop the Stupid!!

Welcome back to our weekly installment of Stop the Stupid. It is amazing how very ridiculous the world seems when you are actually looking at it with jaded eyes. This is how I am beginning to feel with Stop the Stupid. So without any further delay, here we go!

1. Our American cousins were full of stupidity this week. They seem to thrive on it. The leader of the stupids was in typically fine form, when on Tuesday while meeting with the president of the Philippines, he remarked: "I am reminded of the great talent of our Philippine-Americans every time I eat dinner at the White House." The man just makes it way too easy. Oh my God!! Stupid hopefully ends in the White House on January 21, 2009!!!

2. In the latest installment of "Hypocrisy: Thy name is Republican", comes word from the race for an open congressional seat in Oregon. It seems that the GOP nominee, an avowed Right to Lifer who has accepted the endorsement and backing of the Pro-Life movement in Oregon, is facing allegations that he knowingly pressures and paid for a former girlfriend's abortion in 2000-2001! The Oregonian has published a detailed accounting of the women's story including medical records and receipts. For his part, the congressional candidate says that he gave her the $300.00 for some unknown medical procedure and that he had no knowledge of the termination. Needless to say, his congressional aspirations have taken a serious blow due to his hypocritical stupidity!!

3. The pro-gun factions in both countries had a mixed week of stupidity. In the States, the Supreme Court ruled on the legitimacy of the Second Amendment for the first time in US history. In a narrow ruling, the court affirmed the rights of American citizens to own handguns and rifles for the purposes of self-defense and hunting, striking down a law banning said weapons in the District of Columbia. It seems rather implausible to me that the framers of the Constitution could have foreseen American society in 2008 with it's proliferation of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and that this is what they had in mind when they spoke of an armed militia. 80 million Americans own guns. That is one in five!!! The stupidity defies logic. On this side of the border, the geniuses at Toronto City Hall voted overwhelmingly to remove 2 target shooting clubs from city property, thinking that this measure might curb gun violence on the streets. While I have no use for gun clubs and even less use for city council, this seems like a stupid waste of the city's time and resources. How about fixing the infrastructure problems STUPID!!!

4. The city of Bracebridge decided to show their patriotic verve this week, by hoisting Canadian and Ontario flags in preparation for it's Canada celebrations next week. The flags failed to follow proper flag-flying protocol. (Who knew?) Rather than flying free in the wind, the flags are affixed to frames so that they are permanently stretched their full length. Oy! The flap heard across the province! Who really cares? Shouldn't the fact that the city of Bracebridge cares enough to fly the flags in the first place, be the real story? Stop the Stupid!!

5. This one from my friend LN who is noticing the increased stupidity of signs around the city. Two that caught her eye really illustrate her point. "Road closed--Sorry for the inconvenience", as if it might actually be inconvenient. Or her favourite, usually seen at pay booths for parking garages - "Use two lanes" - a little selfish and dangerous, wouldn't you say? There must be more! Send us more stupid signs seen around the city and I will post them.

6. Vaughn City Council!! I am at a loss for words. I live in the "City Above Toronto" and have been witness to the stench of their politics for almost 20 years. Since the death of the beloved mayor almost 10 years ago, the rate payers of Vaughn have had to live through one smarmy politician after another. The city council is truly dysfunctional in that they all loathe each other and as such haven't been able to do any constructive city work in years. Now comes word that the mayor who was elected on a platform of integrity and cleaning up the mess will be charged with election fraud. Not only that, but the deputy mayor, who hates the mayor with a passion, is also being investigated for election fraud. The stupidity is too rampant to really believe.

Have a wonderfully stupid-free Shabbat and an equally easy long weekend. Summer is finally here so let's enjoy!!!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Sometimes Nature Gets it Right!!

Chocolate is perfection!! There is absolutely nothing like the sensation of a really good piece of chocolate slowly melting in the mouth. It is a rush! The synergy of taste and touch is magical. An endorphin rush like no other!! (Hey-I don't careen down the side of a mountain or jump out of airplanes, so accept my little "jones"!) Ok, I know that is probably caused by the caffeine, but who the hell cares. I am not ashamed to yell "I LOVE CHOCOLATE!!!" I have been known to dig into the bag of chocolate chips, stashed away for baking, when I get really desperate. The darker and richer the taste the better. Milk chocolate is for wimps and white chocolate tastes like cardboard. I won't waste my time on a mediocre bar. It has to be good. I am a true chocolate snob. Bittersweet at 72% is where it really is at. When M&M's finally came out with a dark version of my favourite candy, I thought that the sun, the moon and stars had all arrived in perfect alignment. When Hershey's started to experiment with Kisses in new flavours, I started shlepping duffle bags full home from Florida. (They look great in the candy dish--all those colours!!

I savour chocolate. There is a now infamous story of me keeping a luxurious bar of organic chocolate going for weeks in Florida. The husband, a true chocoholic if ever there was one, (he has a chocolate drawer all to himself in the new kitchen!) determined that I was nuts and I should just finish the damn thing. I was happy to enjoy a piece a day and prolong the joy. After 6 weeks the bar was still there and the husband was beside himself. We polled our good friends to decide if I truly was crazy and it was amazing to analyze the results. It divided pretty much along sex lines. The men came down on the husband's side. Men seem to like immediate gratification, while the women seemed to enjoy the prolonged anguish that goes along with slowly savouring. (We women seem to like self-flagellation!!) Yup! Chocolate is nature's perfect food. So it was with some excitement that I read this little tidbit this morning. Anything that the movers and shakers can do to protect my little vice would be greatly appreciated. I am not entirely naive. I know that there are issues around the world with the way that cacao is harvested and the unfair labour practices that are often employed to keep me happy, but it would be nice if just this once, I could enjoy something without always pondering the political ramifications. So, all you chocolate lovers out there, send me your personal stories. To hell with the calories and to hell with the decadence. Sometimes, you just need to enjoy!!!

Watch for another Stop the Stupid tomorrow. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Are You High or Low?

In the classic comedy "When Harry Met Sally", Meg Ryan's character Sally asks Billy Crystal's character Harry what kind of girl does he think that she is, high or low maintenance? He replies that she is the worst kind of girl, high maintenance who thinks that she is low maintenance. This description probably fits many, if not most women. The husband would certainly concur that this is me to a tee!! If you set aside the obvious emotional shit that I most certainly possess, and only concentrated on the exterior facing, then I would have to be categorized as extremely low maintenance. I do not spend excessive amounts of time or money on myself in a futile attempt to keep age or nature at bay. I get my hair cut about once every two months. I cover my own grey and then spend the savings on sushi. It took me 15 years to decide to grow my hair out because I wasn't interested in all the stuff necessary to maintain it at a longer length. I do not indulge in expensive or painful hair removal techniques, even though many might say I should. (We Jews of Eastern Europe are a hairy lot!!) I had my legs waxed once and I honestly believe that if George W Idiot is looking for a new torture technique, he should simply wax all of Guantanamo. That will get them to talking. Nope, instead I use my $10.00 Intuition razor. I do not have regular manicures or pedicures, mostly because I am far too lazy to take the time to do so. As a guitar player, long fingernails are abusive to the instrument. Polish is impossible because it chips at the first strum. I love the feeling of a pedicure, but I never seem to be able to get around to booking it. I have been telling my friend the aesthetician that I will be booking my appointment for now on to 2 months!! (I promise I will book before the end of the summer, just in time to put on socks and real shoes again!!) My makeup consists of a small bag that has simply one of everything. One blush, one mascara etc. My friend who lives at Sephora is probably reading this in abject horror. I shop for clothes for the men in my life far more regularly than I shop for myself. Part of that is because clothes for women my age, height and breast size are simply not available in mass production, and part of that is because shopping is often a chore not a fun outing. I mean, really! How many CFM (if you need this deciphered, e-mail me!) tops do I have to try on before I realize that they were designed for a 15 year old!!! I wear a size 4 1/2 shoe. Tell me where I can find a size 4 1/2 shoe without paying through the nose. It is much more fun to shop for others.

A friend of mine and I tried to figure out how much she and I might spend in a calendar year on self grooming. The numbers for many women can be staggering. When you factor in hair, nails, hair removal, make-up, clothes, skin care and now, not surprisingly, botox, we could probably fill our cars with gas more than a few times over. I do not begrudge anybody ANYTHING that might make them feel better about themselves. I am all for it, on the understanding that there is a cost to all of this, both tangible and emotional.

A couple of reasons have me thinking about my lack of personal grooming attentiveness. Firstly, the new iphone. It seems that women's groups are profoundly upset by the touch screen because women with long nails cannot operate it. Their nails seem to get in the way and the iphone's screen is activated by the firm touch of a bare finger. Some women have even taken to calling Apple misogynistic because they refuse to provide a stylus with the phone. PLEASE!! The same argument has been used for years about push buttons and other touch screens. My mother has been a wearer of acrylic nails for as long as I can remember, and she seems to get along just fine with her knuckles and a stylus. Most styli will work with the iphone. This is incredibly high maintenance!!

Secondly, there is this story about my two moms. The two of them are headed down to Florida next week without the dads. Why you may ask? Well, it seems that they both need haircuts and neither of them has been able to find a stylist in town to their liking. They figure that the cost of the colour, cut and plane fare was actually worth going south for the grooming. While they are there, they will also have their nails done! What could be more high maintenance than flying to a different country to visit the salon? They would have us all believe that they are just going for some together time. Moms, thy name is HIGH MAINTENANCE!!!!

Monday, 23 June 2008

George Carlin Talks About

Way to go George!!

George Carlin: "Genius"!!

You know that I am really starting to work at these posts, when I actually have to do some research in order to make it credible. But, I would feel I was doing a tremendous disservice to a true genius if I were to misquote him. George Carlin turned a mirror onto ourselves and the way we viewed the everyday and the everyman. With his plain speech and sardonic wit, he didn't just make us laugh, he made us think, yet he never lost the silliness of a child. He will be truly missed. So in his honour and his memory, I give you George Carlin in his own words.

1. "Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid that someone might break in and clean them?"

2. "When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day?

3. "What if there were no hypothetical questions?"

4. "If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still #2?"

5. "Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it"

6. "Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It's just stale bread to begin with"

7. "Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday."

8. "Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong"

9. "Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy."

10. "Why is the man (or woman) who invests all your money called a broker?"

11. "I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death."

12. "There's no present. There's only the immediate future and the recent past."

13. "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that."

14. "As a matter of principle, I never attend the first annual anything."

15. "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately."

And this doesn't even begin to cover his books, routines, CDs etc that are true classics. We all know about the "seven words" but did you also know that his case went to the Supreme Court in the seventies and was a footnote in the description of airwave obscenity laws? He will be missed!!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Old Folkie - Harry Chapin's tribute to Pete Seeger

You Just Gotta love This!!!

I am and always will be an enormous Pete Seeger fan! Pete is the ultimate musician. (he can actually play Bach on his 5-string banjo!) He is teacher, activist, poet, environmentalist and founder of the modern folk music movement. He just celebrated his 89th birthday and this past weekend made an appearance at the Clearwater Folk Festival in New York State that he founded. He is as Harry Chapin described "The Old Folkie". I have had the extreme pleasure and profound honour of seeing Pete live twice and each occasion was magical. I thought I was finished being awed by the man and then this article appeared in today's New York Times.
The man is a legend in the truest sense of the word.

Friday, 20 June 2008

It's Friday so it Must be-Stop the Stupid!!!

This post is proving way too easy to construct. There is a great deal of stupid in the world and the length, depth and breadth of stupidity is positively staggering. I realize that what I might find stupid and what you all might find stupid may clash on a political, economic or social scale, but in my mind stupid is stupid--so her we go.

1. My favourite George W. of the week came on Tuesday when, on commenting on the state of the unfortunate floods in Iowa and Illinois, the idiot in the Oval office remarked: "I, unfortunately have been to too many disasters as president." Can somebody please Stop this Stupid!!

2. A growing number of pharmacies in the United States are identifying themselves as pro-life pharmacies, meaning that they will refuse to stock and sell any form of birth control including condoms, the pill, Plan B contraceptives and the like. The pharmacists say that they are pitting their moral consciences against a patients' rights to legal and safe forms of contraceptives. Critics claim that women's health care is being threatened. The scary part is that the toll-free number is available in Canada as well, and the attempt to recruit willing pharmacists north of the border is just revving up. An ironic twist to this story, came from this article about a number of high school girls in a "pregnancy pact" in Gloucester Mass. Of course there is no link to inhibiting the sale of contraceptives to teen pregnancy rates!! So sad and so stupid!!!

3. Yesterday, the husband made his biannual visit to the dentist for his cleaning. The husband is meticulous about oral hygiene and never misses an appointment. He usually schedules medical appointments for the early morning so that they do not conflict with his work schedule, but on this day he found himself at the dentist in the later part of the afternoon, and as such with a different hygienist. She was very interested in learning about her new patient and proceeded to quiz him, all the while with her fingers jammed in his mouth. When she asked what he bottled, she thought he said "risky" instead of "whisky". She then told him that her job is also kind of risky and that is why she wears a mask and gloves. Maybe dentists and hygienists should learn that talking to patients in the middle of procedures is kind of stupid. Please stop!!

4. A woman in Los Angeles is suing Victoria's Secret for mega bucks. Why? Well, it seems that the thong that she had purchased, had a small metallic heart sewn onto it's front. Said heart was affixed with two very small metal staples. After several washings, (yes, this wasn't even a new thong!!!) the heart loosened and one of the small staples popped off while the woman was dressing and hit her in the eye, scratching her cornea. Woman now sees her opportunity to rape big business. Stop the Stupid!!!

5. Barack Obama's wife Michelle has been the target of a consolidated right-wing smear campaign. It seems that since they don't have Hillary Clinton to kick around, the right-wing bloggers and radio hosts have turned their collective venom on Mrs. Obama. (The last time I looked, Mrs. Obama wasn't running for anything!!) The role of first lady is not decided by the voters, and to suggest so is completely disingenuous. One of the more heinous attacks, (began by the lout Rush Limbaugh!!) has been this purported video tape that supposedly shows Mrs. Obama preaching in her church from the pulpit spouting hateful words like "whitey". The problem is that this situation never happened, Mrs. Obama has never preached in church and the tape doesn't exist. In order to combat the flurry of internet lies that have been circulating, the Obama campaign has started a new website called It is sort of Snopes sight for all things Obama. Sad and stupid that something like this is needed.

6. Anyone who lives in Hogtown, has followed the strange and sad case of little Angelica Leslie. She is the baby girl that was found dumped in a stairwell during the frigid month of January. If it wasn't for a quick-thinking good samaritan, the tiny girl would have probably frozen to death. After an intensive search for her family, including broadcasting her photos on every media outlet known to modern man, the local CAS began the process of allowing her to be adopted. Well, lo and behold, the police uncovered her truly unfit parents and the adoption proceedings have been put on hold until the case is resolved. None of that is stupid. What is stupid, is that after 6 months of seeing this girl's cherubic face plastered on every TV and in every newspaper in Toronto, we the public are no longer allowed to view her image due to shield laws protecting minors. Does anybody out there really forget what she looks like? Who are we really trying to protect? Doesn't there come a point when the process should be deemed STUPID!!!!

Shabbat Shalom to all who observe.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

From the Halcyon Haze of Insomnia!

My name is Dawn and I have a chronic sleeping problem! (A chorus of voices yell compassionately: "Hello Dawn!!")

There was a time in my youth when I enjoyed the luxurious pleasure of sleeping late on mornings off. It used to drive my mother to distraction, that I could sleep half the day away, while she had basically done the work of several women. I recall her telling one of my synagogue bosses to hold the line while she woke me from one such beautiful sleep, and that she should not feel responsible for waking me because I had "slept for long enough!!" Those days are a distant memory.

As career, marriage and motherhood changed all of my priorities, sleeping was a luxury that I could no longer afford. Every parent will attest to the fact that they sleep with one eye and ear open, waiting for the inevitability of a child tumbling off of the top bunk. As they aged, I began to marvel at the depth and length of my sons' sleeping patterns, so much so that it became readily apparent to me that I needed to be awake almost 24/7 because if, God forbid, the house would catch on fire, I would be the only person to hear the smoke detectors and save the entire family from certain destruction. By the time they were old enough to rouse themselves, my sleeping days were a thing of the past.

It is a truly unique night when I sleep for more than four hours, and it is getting worse. Age and hormonal changes have made any sort of REM sleep almost impossible. If I do manage to fall asleep at a decent hour, I wake several times a night. I have tried every possible sleep recipe imaginable, short of chemical intervention. (I truly fear chemical intervention for obvious reasons.) Warm milk really sucks when you are lactose intolerant. Counting sheep or other forms of animal husbandry gets old when you are into 6 digits. I have tried soft music and meditative recordings. (I am not the "ohm" type"!) A massage works sometimes, but I need someone who doesn't complain about sore hands. Hot baths and showers just mean that I end up in bed with wet hair. I don't drink, smoke or other forms of entertainment that might keep me awake. I like white noise and the TV often helps. Because, the husband and I are incompatible about light and noise, he purchased a funky gizmo that allows me to watch TV through a set of Star Trek-like set of goggles, while allowing him to sleep. The goggles let me view the TV through the satellite receiver and see the picture as though I were watching on a 50 inch screen. Cool? Sure, but only mildly effective. Even though it sometimes induces sleep, it doesn't keep me asleep. I have been known to prattle around the house at odd hours looking for diversions. There is nothing worse than lying in bed and watching the clock change hour by miserable hour. I have cleaned at 2 in the morning and baked at 4. I am often on the computer playing word games at 3 am and I have no trouble finding willing partners. (All of you night owls--I see you!!) I have rehearsed Kol Nidre at strange times and I have made travel lists. I am strangely productive when I haven't slept. I can do all of this and still rise at 7:30 am to get everybody ready and off for their days. The trouble comes later.

You see, most people in my world are dayworkers. Too many days like this consecutively restricts my daytime productivity. I can't work out, because my body yells, "What are you nuts? We haven't slept!!!" Sleep deprivation leads to poor eating habits. Personally I crave carbs and chocolate when I am tired, but that can't be all bad. I can't concentrate on normal conversations and I often forget with whom I am talking. Today, I called my workplace to ask a co-worker to repeat a conversation that we had had no more than an hour before. She thought I was nuts! Not nuts, just sleep-deprived. I start seeing things in slow motion, like a bad rerun of the Bionic Woman. Voices start sounding like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons. By the middle of the afternoon, I am passed out somewhere in the house. I curse the telephone and the doorbell. People who just require simple answers, often get a hideous growl. The worst part of all of this is that I know it will not get any better any time soon. I haven't even entered the joyful world of peri-menopause, yet I can't sleep!!! I want to be a daytime person again. Please help me!!! It should be easier than this!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

My Time at the Kid's Table is Not Done!!

No matter how old or grizzled I become, I will always be the young one in the eyes of certain family members. I'm not that old, mind you, but to the generation ahead, I am still a kid.

The husband and I got married and started our family at a fairly tender age, (since we were broke and stupid it seemed like the thing to do) and as such we are embarking on "EENS" (Early Empty Nest Syndrome) at an equally young age. As young parents, we had much more energy to handle things like midnight vomiting, candy tantrums, and showdowns with arrogant and inept teachers who decided that older son's method of math was incorrect because they couldn't understand it. As "EENS" submissives, we are allowed to sit back and observe all of these older parents struggling with the same stuff that we have already put in the rearview mirror, but they are doing it at an age when energy levels drop exponentially with every birthday. As we all know, parenting never really ends, it just becomes more complicated. At least I know that I can go out into the public forum and not have to worry about whether my kids are going to demand to be the centre of attention. (I have the husband for that duty now!!) So it was with some genuine excitement that the husband and I prepared for a fancy evening out at a family wedding.

The husband's youngest cousin has been with her young doctor for almost ten years now, so the wedding was a bold punctuation to their relationship. Given that she is the youngest of three daughters and that he is the only son in a traditional Moroccan-Israeli family, we knew that the party would be big, grand and full of family and food!! It was an old-style Jewish wedding with all of the trimmings, including many bridesmaids and ushers, (the dresses are a subject that need to be handled in a separate posting!!) a carving station in the hors d'oeuvres area slicing thick pieces of corned beef, an intensely rude videographer, a "Mazinka" (the traditional dance around the parents of the bride in celebration of finally dispatching the final tax exemption!) and speeches from the head table. I was looking forward to the entire "balagan". I couldn't remember the last time that the husband and I got all dressed up to attend a wedding. Not only that, I couldn't recall the last wedding that I was at that I didn't have to work!! This was strictly pleasure and given that I really like this family, I was ready to dance the night away, even if my feet were killing me. ( An aside--one of the funniest moments of the evening was when the husband's aunt came over to me and told me how her brand new and extremely expensive shoes were destroying her feet. She could barely stand up and was seriously thinking of doing the evening barefoot. Oy, what we women suffer for beauty!!) I never once anticipated what was to follow, given that I am a sufferer of "EENS"!! You see, given the closeness of the family, all of our children were extended invitations. I never gave it much thought because older and younger son are away at their summer employments and could not attend. But, my nephews and nieces are still in town and as such were very excited to attend their very first wedding. My oldest nephew is almost 8, his younger brother is 4 1/2 and the two girls are 5 and 2 1/2!! I love them all to death and in most circumstances, I have absolutely no issues with being with them. They are all lovely and fun-loving, smart and engaging. Kids are kids and these guys were so excited to be at this wedding, dressed to the hilt, and eagerly awaiting the sweet table. (It was all my nephew could think about and why not? It was all most people could think about!) They were really cute, until the husband realized that WE would be sitting with them!! Yup! We were at the kiddie table. It was like a really bad Passover seder! By the time that we were finally seated in the hall, it was well after the kids normal feeding time. Younger nephew wanted bread and butter. There was no butter. Kosher meat meal!! He whimpered for about ten minutes until his mom gave him pita and ketchup. He decided that he had had enough and proceeded to crawl under the table. Older brother followed suit as did older niece. Sisters-in law? Not happy. They took older children to the dance floor. That kept them happy for a while. Younger nephew? Fell asleep under the table on my feet, whilst sucking on my big toe!! That will teach me to wear sandals. Older kids returned to the table for their meal. Wisely, they were served a child's meal consisting of plain pasta, caesar salad (no cheese) and chicken fingers and fries. Of course they wanted our salmon and chicken!! The husband was dying for the chicken fingers and fries. After sampling a bite or two, older children returned to the dance floor. Their mothers had provided each of them with a camera, so they were kept busy for a while, until older niece was jostled by someone and fell flat on her butt. While all of this was occurring, her mother and father were in the bathroom changing younger sister's diaper. Older niece was sad and pouted, but when mom and dad returned, out came the tears. She was bundled up and stretched out onto two chairs and was sound asleep in 5 minutes. Older nephew, seeing that his playmate had crashed, followed suit with strict instructions to his parents to wake him for the sweet table. (He never did see it as they left before it made it's appearance!!) By now, my foot was cramping and the husband and I had only danced half of one song. Gently, I freed my toe, and we made our way to the dance floor. We made it through one chorus, and...... his phone rings!!! It was our boys calling to wish him a Happy Father's Day. He was so happy to be their father at that moment, he eagerly took the call. So there I was, dressed to the nines, and alone on the dance floor. I made my way back to the table to spend time with the life of the party, my 2 1/2 year old niece who talks a blue streak and was loving every minute of the occasion. She was wide awake, excited and felt like a princess. (I know this because she told me so!!) I suppose no matter how old I get, I will never outgrow the kiddie table!!!

Monday, 16 June 2008

The Morning Report

Here in the bosom of suburbia, (credit to Dean Friedman for that particular phrase!!) we receive so much junk arriving at our door, it is often difficult to keep track of it all. Flyers of all sorts, advertising everything from laser hair removal (I realize that my Ashkenazi heritage predisposes me to a hirsute appearance, but I didn't realize it was so bad that I needed to be pitched by every aesthetician hanging out a shingle!!) to the latest in Mandarin take-out, litter our front porch and mailbox on a daily basis. We are also the recipients of several free local weeklies and one or two free monthlies. I actually don't mind most of these local papers. They provide a service that the major dailies cannot attain in that they impart local news. These are the newspapers that I turn to when I need to ascertain the latest scandal in local politics or why the storm drain at the corner of my street is not being repaired in a timely fashion. (Yesterday's wicked storms once again turned our street into the Thornhill version of the Mississippi River!!) These papers give young students a forum and they give local businesses a chance to hawk their services to the neighbourhoods. I want to read them and given half a chance, I would read them on a regular basis. Unfortunately, most of these papers never make it close enough to my front door. Allow me to explain.

The local paper in this area (I won't name it, but it's name rhymes with The FIberal!!!) comes on average of 3 times a week. It is usually delivered by a host of pre-pubescents trying to earn video game money. In the not so distant past, these kids would diligently wrap up the papers in elastics so that the myriad of flyers that are included, would not be blown all over the lawns and streets. They were also smart enough (at least their managers were smart enough) to place the papers in plastic bags to protect them from the Canadian elements. Lately, the delivery of The Fiberal has become a tremendous bone of contention in this area. The pimply-faced kids have been replaced by out of work adults looking to make ends meet and believe me, they couldn't give two shits about how the paper is delivered. It has not made it to our door in 6 months, but we have found it in the flower beds, the driveway, at the side of the house, under the bench on the walk, in the bushes, under the oak trees and, for the first time this past weekend, it was on the road in front of the house. Yup! It didn't actually make it onto the property. The husband, always the tolerant rate-payer, is pulling out whatever hair he has left. He has called the circulation department for The Fiberal and spoken with some very lovely and understanding individuals. They were actually horrified to discover the fate of their newspaper. Remember, this is a free local paper. Their costs are covered wholly by advertisers. The idea that the advertisers are getting tossed into the bushes is not the ideal business plan. On several occasions, the circulation managers swore up and down to the husband that the situation would be dealt with. They even called back to inquire as to the state of the delivery. For a while it improved. We didn't receive The Fiberal at all for several months!! It was much better than getting it wet, dirty and unreadable. Last month, the deliveries resumed. I suppose that they found new delivery people and we were back on The Fiberal's paper route. Saturday was the final straw. After retrieving the paper from the middle of the street, the husband remained outside to see if he could stalk the deliverers. He saw them in a white cube van, tossing untied Fiberals from the driver's and passenger's windows. The van made it's way up one side of the street and down the other. If he could have caught them on foot, I believe that he would have chased them down much like a junkyard dog after a thief!! Instead, he has a new plan. He has looked up local bylaws and discovered that The Fiberal's lack of diligence to their delivery constitutes littering, and the husband is now bound and determined to report them and see them charged. I am not certain that this strategy has teeth, but believe it or not, I am fully supportive of his mad methods. I want this paper. I like this paper, but I obviously cannot have this paper. Constant complaints to the office don't help, maybe this will. If anyone has a better idea, we are all ears.

An update on the uber-robin that was determined to build his family home on the lighting on our front porch. The husband, on advice from twin son's better half, placed an old cottage cheese carton on top of the light and watch in bemusement as papa robin circled sadly looking for his nesting spot. He hasn't returned in two days, so hopefully he has pulled up stakes and relocated.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Truths of my Father

So, here we are again. A month or so after the observance of Mother's for Disarmament Day, we are now ready to celebrate the virtues of fatherhood. Father's Day has it's roots in much the same place as Mother's Day. Sonora Dodd had this truly unoriginal brainstorm while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in Washington in 1909. Sonora wanted to honour her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran who raised six children as a single father following the death of his wife in childbirth. She chose the June date which was close to her father's birthday and the first Father's Day celebration was held in Spokane in 1910. While many presidents supported the idea, it wasn't until Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation in 1966 and Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972, that Father's Day became an official part of the holiday fabric.

I want to reiterate, that I have tremendously mixed emotions about these fabricated celebrations that force us to honour people we should honour and respect every single day. After almost twenty-one years of parenthood myself, I understand all too well the challenges, difficulties, emotional extremes and homicidal thoughts that come with the territory. I have tremendous respect for anyone venturing into the realm of child-rearing as I truly believe that there is no task more difficult and no end more rewarding. Believe me! If any of us parents really understood what we were getting into, we would have signed commitment papers until we were grandparents and could laugh at the cool retribution of it all!

Much like I did on Mother's Day, I want to offer my own father a small gift. (mostly because I didn't buy him a tie!) Anne Geddes said: "Any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a dad." I am one of the fortunate ones who has a DAD! Here are some truths that I have gleaned from him over the years.

1. You can't suck and blow at the same time. Now, my dad used to play the harmonica. (I know that this isn't what you thought it was, but this is a PG show!) Basically, he is saying that you need to make a decision and stick to it. Playing both ends against the middle doesn't serve anyone well. Or, maybe he really meant, you can't suck and blow and the same time! I prefer the metaphor over the filth.

2. That is why they make chocolate and vanilla! (Dad has a tendency to speak in catchphrases!) We all have different likes and dislikes and nobody should be judged by them. We need to be tolerant of each other and the choices that we make. While I am certain that Dad truly does believe this, I sometimes think that he would be happier if we all just chose chocolate. It would make life a whole lot easier if everyone just agreed with him!!

3. Never stop talking! My father possesses the most gregarious and outgoing personality of anybody I have ever known. He can literally make conversation with a doorknob. (As a matter of fact, I am certain that he has had many a conversation with people that he might consider doorknobs!) While he owns a wicked temper (Oh yeah-thanks for that specific inheritance, Dad!) he has never ever cut anybody out of his life. Even when he has been wronged, he has found a way of keeping the lines of communication open. This is especially true for family. He has also been known to bring others back together after years of estrangement. Keep talking and nothing can be left unsaid.

4. Always take a map, a phone and a survival kit. My father's internal GPS is chronically busted. This is a man who still cannot get into my area without directions and I have lived here for twenty years. This is a man who has gotten on the off-ramp of the 401! This is a man who has lived in Toronto for almost 70 years and still cannot figure out how to get around without written directions. This is a man who has been lost in some of the best cities in the world. This is a man who has driven back and forth from Miami countless times, and still can't figure out where he picks up the Florida Turnpike!! When he visits clients, he has a map affixed to the outside of his files. He always carries a Perly's guide, a blanket, candles and Eatmore candy bars in his car, a holdover from his traveling days to the armpit of Ontario, just in case he gets stuck somewhere. Thank God for cellphones, digital GPS devices and my mother for without them he might be permanently stuck on the interstates.

5. Be a real presence in your children's lives. My dad never missed a parent-teacher conference, a music night, a school play, a synagogue service, or even a play day! At a time when fathers were not the norm at such daytime events, he was always there, even at the expense of his work. He walked the walk and talked the talk of fatherhood. This involvement has carried on into his life as zaidie! Dad is not simply zaidie, he is ZAIDIE!!!!! (Mom often laments that she is the woman that comes with Zaidie!) He takes a true interest in his grandchildren's lives and he instinctively recognizes that he needs to make the effort, because the kids (being the self-involved creatures that they are) won't always! He calls them and simply chats. He stays involved, even now as they are moving into adulthood. His grandchildren genuinely like him, not just love and respect him.

6. A good laugh is alway important-even if it induces an asthma attack. (Thanks again for that little inheritance, Dad!) My father can laugh at the same jokes over and over and over again. He can't tell a joke for shit, but he sure is a great audience. Put on a Mel Brooks or Peter Sellers movie (especially the Pink Panther series!) and watch him collapse into a coughing fit for the ages. We keep a supply of Ventolin on hand just in case. The late great Buddy Hackett had him begging for mercy! His laugh is truly infectious and I often find myself laughing at his pure enjoyment of the material!

7. Harry Belafonte is a genius! As is Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, and Pete Seeger. My dad instilled in me a passion for music that was neither parochial nor limited. He is always open to discovering new sounds, even today. I cannot remember a day during my childhood when Dad wasn't singing. His smooth baritone would fill the house while he was shaving, showering, setting the table and even vacuuming. (And he vacuums a lot!!!!!) He always said that he stopped singing publicly when I started, but I hope that is not the case, and I have often told him he still has the voice! Some of my best memories were road trips in the car singing Belafonte and show tunes. I realize that it sounds hokey, but it was fantastic. "Why don't we put man and women together to find out which one is smarter....." Dad knows that Harry has the answers for every problem.

8. There is way too much good food in this world to always be worrying about a diet!! Sometimes, calories be damned, you just gotta enjoy it! We only go around once and nobody meets God thinking that they ate too much chocolate and carbs!! Food is a gateway to social behaviour and my father is very, very social!!!

9. Celebrate whenever you can. We attend way too many sad events to not revel in the happy ones. Dad has been known to drive hours for birthday parties, Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. He is also there for funerals and shivas to offer comfort and hugs. Stay connected and enjoy every day that is given to us, especially if the band plays a polka!!

10. Above all-Be a Mensch! Many years ago, a woman who lived in our building down south described my father to me as "A Git Neshema", a good soul. Dad is the type of guy where if you might say to him in passing, that your refrigerator is on the fritz, he will tell you that he has a guy that can help. Not only will he give you the name and number of the guy, but he will call the guy for you, negotiate the price, come with you to meet the guy and make sure that he throws in the added warranties. Years ago, when he was first starting out in his current line of work, Dad made a call on a young doctor to discuss his disability insurance. After spending several hours with the young doctor, Dad made it clear to him that he wasn't going to sell him anything, because he was adequately covered and didn't require more at the time. The young doctor was so stunned that he declared that this was a man with whom he wanted a relationship. 35 years later and they are still friends!!! That is my Dad. A real Mensch.

Just to set the record straight, Dad is a techno-idiot who can't turn on the TV or the computer without help. He has left his wallet, purse, jacket, glasses, PDA and keys in more locations around the world than anyone would have thought possible. He often has 4 separate phone conversations going on at the same time, but he can't remember my other parent's phone number! He is a true contradiction. He is equally endearing and infuriating. He fights with passion, loves with passion and lives with passion. He hears music in all parts of his life. He is my father, but more importantly, my Dad! Maybe next year, I will buy him the tie!!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Stop the Stupid!

A little something to take us into Shabbat.

A friend of mine was explaining to me the other day how her husband is totally burned out from the pressures of his job and his volunteer work. He has become so emotionally off, that living with him has become a bit of a challenge because he is starting to do and say really dumb things. The other day, she screamed at him to "Stop the Stupid"!!!! I loved this phrase so much that I told her that I was going to use it, but give credit where it was due. (She is taking him away next week so that he can recover from his stupid!!) It got me to thinking about some of the other things in my everyday life where I would love to scream "Stop the Stupid!!" So here we go.

1. The Barack and Michelle Obama "Terrorist Fist Jab". Give me a f@#$ing break. On the night that Senator Obama secured the Democratic party's nomination, he and his wife engaged in a playful fist bump to celebrate the victory, much like ballplayers celebrating a home run. The a-holes at Fox News picked this up and described it in the manner above. Huh? What is worse, other media outlets decided that this was an actual story for upwards of a week. It got worse. White middle aged mid-westerners had to prove how cool and in touch they were, by fist bumping instead of shaking hands. Disturbing doesn't even describe the entire fiasco. When will we learn that all of these things distract from the real story. (an aside to this entire mess is that the anchor at Fox who fabricated this entire non-story was mercifully fired this week!) Please, Stop the Stupid!!

2. Nicknames. I think that we can all do without any more ridiculous nicknames that take the first letter of the celebrity's first name and a piece of their last, a la J-Lo, LiLo, A-Rod, K-Fed. Maybe if these idiots were saddled with a moniker like P-Dawn like I am, they would think better of it!! Stop the Stupid!!

3. The Toronto Maple Leafs. I am a Leaf fan. As such I suffer. I have lived through the Punch Imlach era twice. I survived Harold Ballard and Stafford Smythe. I have watched good and great players and coaches get run out of town. I can't even see my hometown team unless they are out of town, because tickets are so impossible to come by. I don't even remember the last Cup win because I was 3!! Yet, through it all, I have continued my fandom. I think I am almost done. Richard Peddie? I mean who the f@#$ told Richard Peddie that he was a hockey guy? Please, put me out of my misery and Stop the Stupid!!

4. The movie industry is falling all over itself trying to figure out why the Sex and the City movie is such a hit. Duh!!! Maybe it is because of the fact that over half of the population is female and we have been waiting for decades to be properly represented in the movies and not just seen as sex kittens, victims, appendages, wives and mothers. Sex and the City may not be the best movie ever made, but it certainly is proving that women will go to the movies if they feel they are treated as real people. No shit!!!! Stop the Stupid!!

5. Price discrepancies between here and the U.S. The Canadian dollar has been at or near par with the U.S greenback for almost a year now and yet, we have not witnessed significant price reductions on consumer products here in the Great White North. As published yesterday, we Canucks are still paying on average between 10% and 40% higher prices on everything from electronics to diapers to books. There is no explanation for this other than gouging. Believe it or not, it is actually cheaper to buy books from (not .ca) and pay the shipping costs, then it is to shop at our local Heather emporium. Stop the Stupid!!!

In the words of Forrest Gump--"Stupid is as Stupid Does!" There is a lot of stupid in the world and there is new stupid every week. This might become a weekly blog. Send me your Stop the Stupid and I will publish them.

Shabbat Shalom for all the observe and may it be a stupid-free weekend!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Urban Menace on Several Fronts!

I am trying, I really am! I am trying to be environmentally conscientious and friendly. I use my blue and green boxes with increasing regularity. I have replaced all the lighting in the house with low wattage bulbs. I drive a smaller and more gas friendly car. I take the public transit more often than I used to. I am trying. But, it seems that the more steps forward I take, the more steps backward I am pushed. Here in the suburban jungle, we have been face with a couple of problems over the last few weeks that I do not know how to handle. Maybe you all can help.

1. We live on an old tree line. It was one of the beauties that attracted us to the area in the first place. When the development was built, the integrity of the tree line was maintained. As a result, we have a host of beautiful and mature trees all throughout the neighbourhood. We enjoy old maples, oaks, various pines, and a variety of fruit laden trees including a pear tree that bears fruit every fall. With the arboretum comes their inhabitants. We have two very large oaks on the front of the property and as such we have a bevy of squirrels. They attack the acorns as soon as they are ready and leave a trail of destroyed limbs in their wake. When the old mutt was still with us, he kept the squirrels from getting too comfortable. Since his demise, however, the bushy-tailed have had free run of the property. Not only do they seem to love the acorns, they have developed a tasted for pears. They sit on the back fence, watch us with an almost gleeful smirk, pull a not-quite ripe piece off of the tree and begin lunch. After one or two bites, they toss the remainder--into the pool!! Yup-the squirrel "fruit and nut buffet" is open for business at our place! Bring your friends. We have learned to cope with the squirrels and their chipmunk cousins. Really! What other option do we have? (Legal options of course. Please do not inundate me with Angel of Death suggestions.)

2. The tree line also invites several species of birds to the area. Along with the ducks that you have witnessed, we are home to blue jays, cardinals, robins and so many more that I could never hope to name given my lack of bird-watching skills. (Those of you who are knowledgeable in this area, help me out!) We actually like the birds. They give tremendous character to the area. Unless of course one is attempting to build a nest for his family on the lighting of your front porch. Every morning we find new nest material. Every morning we rid ourselves of the mess. Every evening, he returns from the birdie Home Depot with more shit. We were hoping that our eviction notice would be enough, but he is a determined little bugger. Honestly, it would be a hugely dangerous place for a nest for both his family and ours. How do we permanently discourage our little friend and help him relocate?

3. We also have a menace of an urban nature. We are subscribers to one daily newspaper in town. The others are not welcome for various reasons. While I really do not want to delve into politics today, one of the papers is particularly heinous to me. For some unknown reason, that daily has been delivered to our home for the last two weeks. We didn't ask for it. We don't want it and we don't read it. Not only that, it is never delivered to the door, but rather scattered over the driveway. I have attempted to ascertain as to why we have been selected to receive such an honour, but to no avail so far. There was no mention of a free trial and believe me when I tell you, I will not be paying for this crap. I keep thinking that some poor fool is not receiving his daily dose of conservative bullshit while we are being flooded. Not bad maybe, but this shit is overflowing my blue box and I want it to stop. HELP ME!!!

All I want is to be a good environmental citizen. I want to stop pollution of the area and the mind. I want our feathered friends to find a new and safer place to live. For crying out loud-I am not poisoning or shooting the squirrels. Give me a break!!!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Sexism Sells -- But We're Not Buying It

In case anyone still questions whether or not there is a sexist bias within the mainstream media, the Women's Media Center produced this video.

Help Me Find It!!!

I know that this will come as a shock to many of you, but it is the unadulterated truth. The husband is follicly challenged! Yup! It's true. He claims that he began losing his hair after he got married and had children, and that those facts are inextricably linked. While I would never doubt his word, I would like to point out that I got married and had children at the exact same moments in time that he did, and I never lost my hair. But, if he wants to believe this fallacy, then I am more than happy to play along. I should declare, that his lack of scalp covering has never concerned me. I come from a long line of male patterned baldness, and as long as he doesn't do the comb-over thing, I will find him handsome and sexy. (Yes, that was me sucking up!!) The exposed scalp skin has long posed an an additional problem, however. It burns in the summer sun! The husband does not possess my Mediterranean olive complexion, and his pasty white skin has been known to burn in about 5 minutes. The scalp area, being that it has not known an entire lifetime of sun exposure, is particularly sensitive. So, hats are an obvious staple in the husband's summer wardrobe. He owns a wide array of peaked baseball caps that he can interchange at will. But, like anything else, there are favourites in the hat drawer. Two years ago, the husband purchased a non-logoed, wine coloured baseball cap, that he claims fit his head perfectly. He was able to bend the bill to the optimum desired curvature, and the back was an exact fit. Unfortunately, like many other items in this house, it went mysteriously missing last year. Now the husband, for all of his wonderful qualities, is not the most organized of men when it comes to his personal belongings. He lacks a certain genetic characteristic known in our family as the "find-it gene"!

Let me explain about the find-it gene. According to my other mother, the find-it gene is that little helper that exists in all people that allows them to find missing objects. Unfortunately, among the male of the species it lies dormant until such time as it is activated out of necessity. For XY's that have never lived on their own, i.e with their own parents, wives or roommates, the find-it gene will not activate as there is no reason for it to do so. The find-it gene will only activate in a man, when he spends some extended period living on his own. Thus we have incidents like this.

"Honey, where did you hide the mustard?"

"In the refrigerator, where it always is."

"I can't find it."

"Top shelf, left side, beside the mayo!"


Of course when I come, I pull it off of the shelf from the exact location that was described. Living with 3 XYs the problem is compounded by a factor of 3. But, the hat is a different problem. I never saw where he last put it, so I could not be effective in it's retrieval. Last summer, we tore the house apart looking for it, to no avail. "Someone must have taken it, or you threw it out", he wailed. The husband finally gave up the fight and gave his allegiance to another cap. As we were cleaning out the closets for fall, lo and behold he found the cap. Excitement reigned and all was right with the world again. I carefully instructed him to put the beloved in a place where he was certain to find it come summer 2008. Well, guess what? The cap has mysteriously gone missing again. I surrender!! He never even got a chance to wear it this year. So, I will throw it open to the masses. Where would a smart, sexy bald man hide a beloved baseball cap so that he could find it without issue? I think that I need to go south for a more extended period of time and leave him alone to develop his find-it gene!!!


The husband was none too happy about the post today, so he made it his business to find said hat. He was determined to find it and find it he did!!! In my secondary closet. He doesn't have one single item of clothing in that closet, so it stands to his reason, that I must have put it there! Why? I have learned not to question idiocy!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Wedding Anniversary-Commemoration of Love or Badge of Honour?

Many years ago, a dear friend of the husband's announced that he was to be married. Now, the interesting thing about this announcement was that he had only known his intended for a little more than a month, she had a ten year old daughter (when we were in our twenties this was a huge deal) and his planned nuptials would take place two weeks hence. We figured that we would be joining the happy couple in a small, but intimate ceremony in the judge's chambers at city hall. So when the wedding invitation arrived complete with return card, we were a bit stunned. We proceeded to attend a wedding with all of the trimmings, from gown to cake and everything in between. There were even printed matchbooks and kippot bearing the bridal couple's names and wedding date. The groom's mother would not be denied the wedding that she had always envisioned for her son, and thus managed to throw together the affair in short order. She ought not to have bothered. The wedding and honeymoon lasted longer than the actual marriage! Within two weeks (I kid you not!!) they were seeking annulment.

Now, I share this story because on June 9th, the husband and I will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary. No applause please! Standing ovations will suffice nicely!! I have been married for more than half of my life. I have been with this one man longer than I was without him! In an era when more than half of all marriages don't go the distance, let alone two weeks, I suppose we can look upon our longevity with a certain amount of smug satisfaction and battle fatigue. We certainly have the scars to prove it. We have learned a great deal throughout our wedded blisters. We have learned how to compromise, (ok, he has learned how to compromise--I still need help!!) we have learned how to argue with purpose and fairness, (ok, he has learned how to fight fair--I still need help!!) and above all, we have learned the art of mutual respect. People will often ask if there is a secret to a long and happy marriage. Common pain? Common aggravation? Common experience? All of the above and so much more. The idea that we are always better together than apart. The idea that there is very little that we cannot face up to as long as we face it together. The idea that no matter how alone we might feel, we never feel lonely. I am not naive. I know that this doesn't work for everybody, but it works for us. That said, I would like to acknowledge that 23 years is a long time and that I feel that we both deserve something for hanging in this long. Unlike the first anniversary which is paper or the 25th which is silver, there doesn't seem to be any special observance for 23. I would like to offer some suggestions.

1. Brick and mortar. Along with the obvious, hit you over the head with the image and metaphor, I think that we should exchange brick and mortar this year. We are currently missing at least 200 bricks at the front of the house. The gaping holes bring to mind poor dental work. Not to mention the crumbling chimney and the newly constructed kitchen wall. We have become experts at masonry.

2. Electronics. The husband loves toys. He believes that he who collects the most toys in one's lifetime, WINS!! As a result everything in this house is hooked up in such a way that I cannot figure out how to even turn it on. We are the proud owners of at least 9 different remote control units and none of them operate everything or anything. I cannot even reset the internet without performing acts of contortion. I would like to suggest a universal remote with one switch and a mute button that controls everything without having to consult the manuals.

3. Pepcid AC. Since we both suffer from various stomach ailments and we often have issues agreeing on restaurants, I figure that if we exchange a year's supply of Pepcid and Gasex we should be ok. I can tolerate anything as long as I have my Pepcid and Gasex!! (Oh-Don't forget the Lactaid and the Tums!)

4. New Passport pictures. As both of our passports come due this January, I feel that it is finally time to have new pictures taken. Mine is a living disaster. I have actually had customs agents and airlines clerks (people that I normally would pay very little attention to!) laugh at my passport picture. Understandable. It looks like a cross between Quasi Moto and Molly Picon! (Look her up. She played Yenta in Fiddler!!) I think that the sooner we throw my passport into the sea, the sooner I can travel without night sweats.

5. New linens. Actually, I just want these, but I figured that anything that might help both of us sleep a full 8 hours without waking in the middle of the night, is a good idea.

6. Massage chair. I am dying for a back rub without someone (?) complaining that his hands hurt or that his arms are tired, or something else. (I will leave that to the imagination!) Poor baby. Farm it out to technology and we are all set.

7. Our own closets and bathrooms. I am tired of sharing. I need space! With the boys venturing out on there own, I am seriously considering farming the husband out to the other bathroom and one of the alternate closets. Trust me! If we do this we will make 50 years in a snap!!

These are just a few ideas. I am sure that you all may have more. For now I will simply say, Happy Anniversary to me and the husband. May we see many more good days than bad. May there be more pain-free times than painful and may we continue to know the love and caring of family and good friends. Trust me on this, though. If we get to 25, there will be a party for sure!!

Friday, 6 June 2008

Summer May (I said May!!) Finally be Here!!

Is it possible? Could it be? Summer at last!! Temperature right now 30 degrees with a humidex of 38. I love this. I live all year for this. I am actually wearing short sleeves without a sweater! I am so happy that I am not even stressing that the masons haven't returned and have left us in a huge mess. I am so excited that I could just plotz!!! I am so motivated, I created this. Excuse the slightly poor pictures.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

My Son the Dillweed is in Fact a Genius!!

I realize that it is almost impossible to believe given how young and vital I appear, but I am now the mother of two high school graduates. Younger son complete his matriculation yesterday and is, as I type, winging his way to his summer home in the heart of the midwest. Younger son has always been the more easy going of the two XY progeny. He has sort of gone through life with a carefree "don't worry Mom it will get done" kind of attitude. As a result, we have often (fairly or not) labeled him the "most likely to get lost in a foreign country!" Worldly and street smart he is not! His grades have always been exceptional however, which has, on numerous occasions led the husband to remark "How could a smart kid like that, be such a dillweed?" Well he has officially graduated from dillweed! Look at what the boy did. He finished in the top rankings of his senior class and won the senior english award and the senior math and science award. I actually wept. Since he is denying us the pleasure of actually watching him walk across the dais and accept his diploma, (camp) I figured that this bragging from a uber-proud mom would have to do!! Look at what we created, husband!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Well, It's June!!

I have never been so happy to see a month end. May is usually one of my favourites, but not in '08. The weather was hyperkinetic, to say the least, bouncing from one extreme to another. While the calendar said May, Mother Nature determined it was actually November. We would get one decent day (and when I say decent, I actually mean above 10 degrees celsius!) and then 4 or 5 cold, windy and rainy ones. We look forward to spring all year up here in the north and when it doesn't come, it is kind of like getting socks for your birthday! Of course, so much of what we do is predicated on the weather. I have already fully voiced what it was like to sit under the stars at an outdoor concert when the temperature is hovering around zero. But, how about the stuff that we take for granted in the spring? The garden centres have been operational for almost 6 weeks now, but who the hell has felt like planting? Only in the last few days, have we been able to see the colour that usually accompanies May!! Who wants to spend crazy money only to have it frost away at night? And honestly, who (other than my next-door neighbour who is a gardening fanatic) wants to spend the time shlepping the flowers in and out every morning and evening in order to protect their fragile little petals? On the upside, the lawn looks great given all of the rain!

About a month ago, the husband diligently cleaned the furnace filters and prepared all of the vents in the house for the onset of air conditioning. What air conditioning? We didn't turn the heat off until yesterday!! June 2!!! On the upside, we have saved money on the pool because we haven't yet had an opportunity to turn it's heat on. (which made it much more attractive for Daffy and Daisy!)

The miserable winter and the ridiculous amounts of snow that we endured left us with an added bonus. It destroyed the brick facing on the front of our house. I would not be exaggerating when I tell you that several pieces of brick and mortar have crumbled as I typed this. After enduring several painfully high quotes from masons, we settled on a young company that seemed hungry for the business. (yes they came with references!) The work was originally contracted as a one day project to begin in the middle of May. Well, here we are in June and my house is beginning to look like a demolition site. I will spare you the excuses and the threats. They said Thursday, rain or shine!!! I have become quite skilled at deciphering contractorese! Thursday usually means "Thanks for calling, now f@#$ off!" On the upside, the crumbling brick chimney looks like it might last one more year and save us a few grand!

I still don't have chairs in my kitchen. They were ordered at the end of March with a delivery date set for six weeks later. Well, it is ten weeks and counting and we still cannot sit down in the kitchen. My dear friend the designer has been keeping on top of this for me, but she blew me away with an e-mail last week. She said that in her conversations with the company, they said that they would be ready on May 30th. (that was Friday for all of you keeping score!) But, she also told me that since May 30th was a Friday, this company's truck had a habit of "breaking down" on Fridays, so I shouldn't expect delivery until the following week!! On the upside, the company called yesterday and arranged delivery for this Thursday. Remember what I said about what Thursday usually means!!

Throughout the month of May, we were witness to ridiculously rising gas prices. it now costs me $70.00 to fill my tank with regular unleaded, and I drive a midsize. In the middle of all of this gas chaos, the airlines decided that they too needed to start feeding at the trough. They have imposed surcharges on gas, food, first baggage etc. I am waiting for the pay toilets! (I am not kidding about this one. I believe that it is absolutely possible given the nonsense that travelers have had to endure.) In the middle of all of this, older son was dithering about returning for one last summer to work at his idea of Mecca-summer camp! When he finally made his decision, the same airline flight as the one I had booked a month earlier for younger son, had risen in price by over 100 bucks. All of that increase could be found in airline surcharges. I am just loathing dropping younger son off tomorrow and have them tell us that they are going to charge us extra for the guitar. On the upside, they are both returning to a wonderful place that makes them feel productive, Jewish and exhausted, and we get the house to ourselves for 10 weeks.

But, this past week was the kicker. I had to shlep around the city from west to east and north to south, burning gasoline like it was, well, gasoline. I got a ticket that I still feel was wholly slimy. Younger son was suffering with a miserable cold and I was constantly yelling at him to wash his hands. I broke my shoe right before a Bar Mitzvah service and had to hobble around like Cinderella. Younger son's umbilical cord (i.e. his brand spanking new cell phone) just stopped dead and Bell Mobility refused to replace it without sending it out to be checked by Motorola. 4-6 weeks!! Not only that, they wanted to charge us for a rental! He is using an old one of mine. Way to stand up for your customers Bell!!! On the upside, I got to see ducks in the pool, learned how to use i-movie, saw older son safely off at the airport and got to read the entire Sunday New York Times without interruption!! Not only that, I figure June can only get better!

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