Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Oh, I forgot about another fly.

Not a good week for customer service this week really. Incompetency story number 2:

September I posted a registered letter to claim lots of money back from medical insurnace company.

5th december I check online with my registered post number and it says that it's still as the post office where I left it and someone from tracking would contact me in 5-10 working days.

I call on 11th working day after and am told 'We've lost your package. We'll refund your postage.'
'What?' WHAT!!!
'We've lost your package, we'll refund your $10 postage.'
'So why, in fact do I register my post?' 
Apparently, it's so I know when and where it gets lost.

I was less than happy and promised newspaper articles and my lifelong disgust. 

They said they'd get back to me in 5-10 working days. 

Almost Christmas.....

...... and amazingly I am still sane and almost ready for Christmas. Eldest is in England with her family and friends there, and Youngest is on her annual excited countdown towards Christmas Eve. Her unexplained grins are an explanation in themselves, and her desire to watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music is only dwarfed by my own.  Considering recent circumstances I am incredibly organized - for me. 

The only real fly in my ointment happened yesterday when we went to collect our car, ordered some ten weeks ago.  The ordering negotiations were painful enough with the 12 year old with a drawn on goatee struggling to make his way through the forms and the price debate - after some considerable time we signed a contract and escaped.  Yesterday I knew with absolute certainty that the pick-up wouldn't be straight forward.  I was, as usual, right.

For some absurd reason he thought he'd given us the car too cheaply and said he'd made a mistake and we'd need to pay more. Er, no. I reminded him about our conversation and that his manager had agreed final figures. 
' But my note here said it would be this figure.'
'Your note is incorrect. And we have signed a contract.'
Exasperated looks between Husband and I.
'Can you remember which manager agreed it?'
More exasperated looks.
'Yes, the guy who just walked past.'
I reminded said boss about our conversation to be told 'You can't expect me to remember ever discussion I have with customers.'
'Yes, OK, but I'm telling you we agreed this figure AND SIGNED A CONTRACT.'
'Contracts can sometimes be wrong,' he unbelievably replied.
More exasperated looks and a large pinch of disbelief.
After some deliberation in another room with 12 year old he returns and says....I kid you not......
'I'll have to take your word because I don't want to call you a liar.'

Can you bloody well believe it?

Icing on top was 12 year old goatee asking if we would give him top scores in an after sales survey as it would go towards his pay rise.

Honda Vaudreuil  - no, I will not recommend you to anyone. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011


At the risk of being maudlin, I want to talk about my dog, Rolf, who died this morning.  

As an introduction he was a beautiful, loyal, incredibly loving dog. Sounds like something every dog owner would say - but we have (had) 3 dogs and he was far and away the dog most in love with his family.  He was almost human is a dog-like way - he preferred human company; he listened and looked like he understood every word we said; his preferred position was between me and my husband; he was clever and protective. Essentially, he was the perfect dog. A bit neurotic, but otherwise perfect.

His death has left us bereft. Worse than I could have imagined.  His incredibly strong presence has disappeared. Just gone, like removing a slice of our home.  All of the love we had for him is swimming around somewhere with nowhere to go - it was his love, so can't rightfully go to someone else. 

I can write this now because I'm in the 'denial' part of grief - i.e. I am denying thinking about him until the tsunami of memory stops me in my tracks.  A dog? How can I feel like this about a dog? Because I do. And he would say the same about me.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Don't even want to tell you.....

Other than the obvious very sick dog, just about everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. I have decided that I am hexed - just like you see on Supernatural, my Youngest's current favourite.  I am searching for a small bag of creepy herbs secreted in my house left by a witch or other such non-real person.  If I find them and burn them under a yew tree all bad vibes will leave my life. Apparently.

My near delirious status brought on by sleepless nights filled with piss and stress obviously leads to ridiculous blogs and zzzzzzzz..........


Monday, 28 November 2011

Still sick as a dog......

My dog is still sick. Still peeing. He goes to see his neurologist tomorrow and we have decided to cancel Christmas due to the outrageous cost of vet bills. I told Youngest today that we couldn't afford a tree - she wasn't amused. We have reverted to poorer days - turning off lights, eating aged crap from our freezer....and crime of all crimes....cutting back on wine. I voted for making the kids take cereal to school for lunch but wine rationing won out.

So here I 1.20am....smelling of pee...watching I'm A Celebrity on YouTube......

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sick as a dog.

I am writing this blog today looking pretty much like I did when I got locked out - with the added attraction of smelling like dog.  Rolf, my dog is sick and needs 24 hour attention - mostly so he doesn't pee everywhere. He's been in a terrible state but is now stable and doped up on steroids. All at the bargain price of $1500 and counting. 

For the last few days I have been sleeping on the sofa with him - of course I use 'sleeping' in the loosest sense of the word. More accurately I should say dozing between pees.  And he is peeing every hour or so because of his medication.  The latest suspect is masticatory muscle myositis - which is an improvement on his first 'diagnosis' of cancer. The $300 blood test will tell us by the end of the week. If it's not that we start all over again. 

So, I'm smelly, tired and worried.  Don't mess with me.

Friday, 18 November 2011

At Least I Wasn't Naked

I got locked out of the house yesterday. Not usually a huge problem but a) I have a sick dog and b) I was bra-less, make-up-less, shoeless and had hair so greasy I didn't want to touch it.
And it was on the day I had to go into the bank for cash and the garage for my car. I suppose if I had to find a silver lining, and I'm stretching here, I did have slippers on so no need to go barefoot. The slippers are brown and furry with pom poms. 

With a sigh I checked my blotchy face, tried to rearrange my hair with my sleeves and drove to the bank. I was half an hour early so decided to go into the chemist next door for some shopping. I ignored the perfectly made up perfume counter girls and shuffled up each aisle wasting time and dodging mirrors. 

Next, the bank. As it was a large withdrawal I couldn't hunch by an ATM; I had to actually go in and deal with a teller who, as it happens, was also perfectly made up. Surprisingly she gave me the money and then I went to the garage - men's world.  I went to the main desk but was then guided through  the workshop full of men doing mechanical things, then through a paint shop full of men painting bits of cars. I could hear my slipper shuffle echoing around the rooms but the only alternative was to lift my knees high and walk puppet-like and, on balance, I thought that might draw more attention. After paying, I then had to do the return journey and just hoped that the sight of my greasy hair distracted them from my too-big, fluffy, pom-pommed slippers.

Not sure what else can happen this week but it can't be good.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

What an effing week.

Reading back over the Cleanse entries they seem like halcyon days indeed, compared to this week. 

1. I drove our big, gorgeous, expensive car into an industrial bin and scratched and dented it. Horror of horrors. It is now at the garage being fixed ($650).

2. Rolf my dog is sick. So far he has racked up $400 dollars but I fear the real expense will hit when he has x-rays and scans.

3. Car number 2 died this morning. $unknown.

All 3 coming together nicely at the same time. That's my three - no more please.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Final Day

The last day ended in a complete breakdown of my healthy approach attitude. I can only blame myself. I tried to blame others but it didn't wash. The culprit? Wine.

The payback was a day of headaches. 

Final tally - lost 7lbs. Now the trick is to keep it off and get more off. 

Perhaps another cleanse next week............

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Cleanse - Day 8

Day 8 began with the re-loss of the offending pound then a crushingly hard spin class - whether this was because I'm eating less or the instructor was feeling particularly malicious, I don't know, but it was an hour of pain.  Then, to be honest, it wasn't bad. I am getting used to it all. I quite like the discipline of knowing what I eat and I really enjoy my meal of the day - more than I used to. 

How long can I keep this going? Well, probably until I have my next glass of wine later this week. As for the shakes - I could survive on them for a while but inevitably they'd get a bit samey after a while. It's a great kick start (I'll let you know how much weight I lost on day 11) and it's actually been really good for my skin too - less dry, although the wrinkles are still there.

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Cleanse - Day 7

Day 7, a.k.a. Sunday was a looonnnng day. I perpetuated the purgatory feeling by sweeping leaves and cleaning gutter so that the lack of food paled a little.  The pound-gaining experience still smarts all day but I remain strong. No wine in the hot tub. No wine sitting round the garden fire. No wine at all. BUT I did have a yummy Sunday lunch. A bit of an anemic lunch, but lunch nonetheless. 

The end is nigh.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Cleanse day 5 & 6

Days 5 & 6 are coming together in this blog as I went out last night - for dinner.

Firstly, Day 5 - not too bad for the most part; hungry spells but nothing horrendous.
However, if you are keeping track, Day 5 is also Friday. End of the week. Traditional time for a few glasses of wine with dinner. Husband naturally imbibed - his 'support' ends at listening to me complain about being starving and eating the meagre meals I make him. Not drinking would be close to angelic and he's not quite that.

Day 6 began with a bike ride, spin class and a game of squash. Great start, eh? You'd think. It was followed by an invitation to dinner and a play. The dinner was at a locally famous steak and ribs restaurant. So, surrounded by non-cleanse people eating and drinking delicious things....I had a chicken salad and water.  Later, at the theatre, I went crazy and had a coffee whilst watching a laboriously long play that would drive a Mormon to drink.

And here I am on Day 7. And here is the most important part of this blog - I weighed myself this morning and I'D PUT A POUND ON! I checked my non-existent pockets for lead weights. I stepped off the scales then on again. And again. How the bloody hell could this happen? I haven't cheated one single time for the whole 6 days. 

Perhaps this is a test from God. If so, he's a meanie.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Cleanse - Day 4

Day 4 was the best so far......busy all day then real food for tea. Never has chicken and sweet potato tasted so good. In fact, I couldn't finish it all, mostly because in my enthusiasm I had given myself a Close Encounters size portion, and perhaps partially as I my stomach has become a little smaller. I picture my stomach as a shrunken head sitting and waiting for food to drop down after days of starvation. I think I heard it squeal with glee when it saw that first mouthful of chicken. Am I talking nonsense? Perhaps I'm delirious.

Anyway - I survived and slept like the dead for the first time since Monday.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Cleanse - Day 3

Hurrah and get in! Day 3 means I can eat real food - for one meal at least. I had a nice flank steak ready with some bean salad for dinner. I could hardly wait. But. Then. Husband decided to work at home. The rule (which admittedly I created) is that I go out for lunch with Husband if he works from home or he'll work 14 hours solid. Goodbye Mr Delicious Steak.

Plan B: have lunch at a really nice restaurant and eat something healthily yummy.

We find a nice restaurant, which is no mean feat around here, and get ready to order. Disaster. The ONLY thing vaguely healthy is Spinach salad. Spinach. Leaves that don't even pretend to be lettuce. There was garnish. Mushroom and apple slices. Yum. My taste buds were putting.

Thirty seconds later I was finished. I had coffee for dessert.

Tea was a shake and it was mouthwateringly, yummily fantasmic. Never thought I'd say that.

Can't wait for breakfast.

p.s. don't feel any thinner.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Cleanse - Day 2

I am writing this at 12.20pm as I fear I may fade away by later today.

Day 2 brings proper, grumbly, hunger pangs. Not the pathetic little ones that you get when you drive past McDonalds, but the big everyonecanhear hunger pangs. I am staring at an apple thinking it would be the tastiest thing I had ever had - even nicer than that orgasmic lasagne at The Witchery. But if I eat it now, then I can't have it later. It's actually a ration. Not much of a ration but one I will fight for if necessary. 

I'll mention the gunk I must have 4 times a day (I managed it twice yesterday) - it's vaguely slimy and vaguely fruity and you have a scoop of it mixed with water. I can stomach it, but that's it. Interestingly, and rather grossly, someone I know who finished this last week said it made her crap bile.  Even the thought of that doesn't put me off thinking about food.

Last night as I watched Husband eat his pizza and beans (I had to make something quick and painless - for me) I was OK......had it been pasta or a nice big bowl of chilli I may have struggled more. And if it is pasta or chilli tonight I'll probably kill for it. Actually kill for it. So my dilemma is: 
- do I keep Husband on crap food for the whole period of my cleanse?
- do I push my already crumbling willpower to further extremes which may lead me to implode (itself a good weight-loss method)?
- do I get him to make his own meals after his 12 hour work day?

You can see this is a real dilemma, but I'm too weak to think about it.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Day 1 update.

I. Am. Clamming.

The Cleanse - Day 1

Having sort of done this cleanse before I have some idea about what to expect. When I say 'sort of done' I mean that I caved before the end. This time I am determined to complete the full 9 days of torture and I am going to catalogue it here for two reasons; so that you may witness the pain, and so that I may feel obliged to complete it for all four of my readers.

So here we go....Day 1. Or more precisely 9.15 am of Day 1 and I am already obsessing about the whole thing. I never eat before 10.30 but now I'm ravenous. Starving. Empty. All I have to look forward to is 4 small drinks of an odious concoction (the cleanse) and again tomorrow. How can a human survive this? Fairly easily actually - loads of people I know do it all the time. They moan about it, mainly because you can't drink alcohol, but they do it 2 or 3 times a year.

I'm on my 3rd cup of tea (which is also banned but I need the tea to survive the lack of everything else).  I can't wait for 'breakfast' which I have to drink whilst holding my nose. It sounds like a crap way to lose weight and it is - but it works. Saying that, if I get half way through this and haven't lost weight I shall, of course, give up and return to my usual happy fat self. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Leaf Me Alone

Autumn is here again with its wind, rain and bloody leaves. This year we have a new house and therefore a new garden -  a huge garden by many standards and, of course, it's full of trees. Deciduous trees. I know I moan about this every year but this year is different. Gone has the first year's novelty factor, or the second year's resignation; this year I'm actually scared. I literally have too many trees to count, which equals too many leaves to bear. Too many leaves for a bear to bear.

So my choices for leaf pick up are minimal (do it, or not) but the disposal leaves me, pun intended, with more choices:

- put in bags and have the town hall take them (they do this only twice in Autumn)
- burn them - this is a slow business because they create big, big flames and we have lots of big, big flammable trees around
- mulch them. Mulch basically means leave them. Hurrah.

Unfortunately you have to leave them in the right place which means MOVING them. Back to square one.

The task ahead feels like child birth. You know it's going to hurt but it's inevitable. On the up side I won't lose sleep for the next 10 years.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Visitors

Like the Abba album these vistors were Two For the Price of One and I was Head Over Heels when they arrived. During the visit I definitely wondered Should I Laugh Or Should I Cry....but by the time they left I really thought they were Slipping Through My Fingers.

There is nothing in this world better than great, great friends. Except perhaps Abba at 11pm, drunk, at a wedding. I digress...friends are fab.  

My latest visitation was delightful involving a house party, a road-trip to Niagara (which she kept calling Viagra - Freudian methinks), and a series of jaunts to local shops and eateries. 

Times I laughed at her:
- daily
- at the house party and she knows why

Times she laughed at me:
- when I wore the cocktail sunglasses and balloon palmtree hat at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville
- when I sent THAT email
- when I posted a letter for some old fat bloke through a door that was open, then picked it up on the other side
- probably when I fell asleep on her lap after the house party

So in one short week I have laughed more than I have for a long, long time. 

Funniest of all - she can't make comments on this blog so I can say whatever I want. 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

There's a big wind coming

I've been avidly watching the weather channel (yes, 24 hours a day weather channel. In England we just talk about it 24 hours a day) listening to what's happening with Hurricane Irene. I find it hard to worry about a weather front with a name of one of my dinner nannies but it's hot news here and quite exciting for someone who comes from a place where it veers from quite windy to mild. I found a really useful article called '7 Steps to Protect Yourself from a Natural Disaster' on abc and I thought I'd share my version of these seven steps.

Step 1 - Prepare for Phone Interruptions
Yes indeed. There's nothing worse than getting caught mid flow so in case of disaster invite all of your friends round to your house for a party so you don't need to call them.

Ste 2 - Create a Disaster Plan
A plan is always good but make sure you know where you put it. I often write shopping or To Do lists then spend more time looking for them than actually shopping or doing. Perhaps get one tattooed on you in glow-in-the-dark ink in case of a power outage. 

Step 3 - Check Insurance Policies
Make sure it has an 'Accidental Damage by God' clause. 

Step 4 - Assess Your House for Vulnerabilities
I assume this doesn't mean my own vulnerabilities because a fear of spiders and heights can't be relevant? In terms of the house I would probably suggest you close all of your curtains so you can't see the storm approaching which will surely result in panic, and make sure the fridge is full of wine.

Step 5 - Take Video or Photos for a Home Inventory
Google Earth has kindly taken pictures of the exterior of all of our houses for insurance purposes. If your possessions inside are a bit ropey I suggest taking pictures of nice stuff from the Future Shop or Sears for insurance purposes. 

Step 6 - Consider Important Supplies
Refer to Step 4.

Step 7 - Shelter Considerations: Pets
Well for those of us with 3 big dogs I reckon that they'll form a pretty good shelter. For those of you with cats, you're stuffed.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

French Word of the Day. The update.

Some months have passed since I last wrote about my French Word of the Day, and things have not improved. Either in terms of my ability to speak it, or the usefulness of the words. Latest offerings include:

'to give away cheaply'
'forklift operator'
'to polish up'
'hard of hearing'

Not really likely to help me unless I get a new circle of friends.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Is It OK If I Swear?

Good. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. And twat. 
I have had a blessed life filled with love and life, laughter...... and fucking bitches. Just two of them. That's two more than anyone deserves.
Bitch No.1  - lying, gossiping, manipulative, extraordinarily ugly cowbag. 
Bitch No. 2 - lying, gossiping, manipulative, extraordinarily dwarfish cowbag.
Almost twins, although on different continents. Each with the ability to boil my blood and make me swear Tourette-like. All the fucking time. 
Anyone who knows me knows at least one of these bitches. Feel free to kick them in the shins the next time you see them - shame they don't have balls. In any sense of the word.
Vent now over. 

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Promp and Circumstance

It's all over. Without much trauma to boot. We survived Prom.

Needless to say I left my part of getting ready to the last minute whilst lecturing Eldest about not doing the exact same thing. This lead to rather unattractive sweating, frizzy hair and needing assistance getting my underwear on due to wet nail varnish. And let me tell you - getting into a pair of holdy-in knickers straight after a shower is akin to squeezing into a too-small sausage skin. Having someone else do it for you is a little traumatic. For both of us.

I finally tamed my hair, swabbed the sweat off and got dressed. A few photos (hurrah) and off we went to go to another parent's house for cocktails before the limousine arrived to whisk them off to Prom. Problem number 1: limousine double booked. How can this possibly happen? Oh, I know. Seventeen year olds arranged it. Problem number 2: and in my view a much bigger problem - no cocktails. No drinks at all. Just a vegetable dip. As far from a cocktail as I think is possible. I'm sure the other pre-Prom parties would have cocktails. In fact the only reason I agreed to go was for the cocktails. Problem number 3(4 and 5): eldest had forgotten her ticket, her perfume AND the bloody limousine guy was saying they'd have to leave in 10 minutes or he was buggering off. This is a full hour before they were due to leave. Eldest calls Husband - 'we need to leave in 10 minutes, can you bring my ticket and perfume? He's said he's leaving straight away.' Leaving straight away? He's suited up already? Half an hour before he was due to leave? Most unusual.

He arrives 8 seconds after the limousine has left with them all in it, in shorts. 
'Why aren't you dressed?'
'I didn't know I had to be,' he says looking confused.
'But we're going now.'
'I didn't know.' Eldest had not mentioned that everything had been brought forward.

An hour later we arrive at the hotel where the prom is being held. Or should I say, a car park not really close to the hotel. I tottered in my heels, whilst my once un-frizzed hair got swept into a beehive, to the venue to be faced with hundreds of teenagers in dresses and suits of every style and colour. It would be mean and harsh to say that some of the dresses were grotesque. Wouldn't it. But predominantly it was a sea of smiley faces, shiny clothes and noise. Fortunately we were only there for an hour before being evicted so the kids could enjoy themselves. 

A glass of $10 wine later we were outside (in the beehive-inducing wind) for the Father/daughter dance. Husband was not looking forward to doing one of his least favourite things. What am I saying - his MOST loathed thing - dancing. I had assured him he just had to shuffle around and he took me at my word.  Two minutes of shuffling later which I gleefully recorded for later amusement and it was all over for us.

Of course Eldest came up with a last minute hair-brained scheme for post Prom frolics which we promptly quashed. She had a great night. Danced all night in her bare feet with just about everyone. She's her mother's daughter.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Graduating to graduation

I am blessed with children. One of them is 17 years old. And has been for the last four years.

The lead up to graduation for her has been frantic. Frantic in the Ineedtuitionadressandshoes way. The biggest issue was, of course, Prom. The hunt for the dress almost led me to violence; time after time trawling shops, discussing styles, arguing about the merit of the whole bloody thing in the first place. Did I get a party when I finished my 'O' levels? Did I badger my mother to watch me try on 357 shiny, shitey dresses? I think I did not. 

Victory (in the dress sense) eventually struck last week - barely two weeks before Prom. Unheard of here it seems. Most of her peers were horrified that she hadn't found a dress by some time last summer so the pressure was on. No more would I hear 'you're going to ruin my prom' or ' it's going to be a disaster', I thought as I queued up to pay. Alas, I forgot.  A dress needs all that other stuff like shoes, bag, hair stuff, make-up, etc. 'Borrow', I said. Her look of horror was akin to me asking her to eat the dead insects on our window cills. 

Oh, then its Convocation. 'What's that?', I ask. 'It's where we get our certificate.'
Yes, the whole cap and gown thing; i.e. the important thing wasn't discussed until two days before it was due to happen.
'I need an outfit.' Her middle name.

And fast forward to the (newly dressed) daughter's Convocation. Lovely weather. New outfit.  Boring ceremony except for Eldest's 8 seconds of fame. Follow them all off afterwards for refreshments and photos. But where is she? I text 'Photos!' Alas - she cares more about going to the pub with her mates and has handed in her gown. Utter. Disappointment. 

Prom is next week. Let's hope she keeps her dress on. For many reasons.

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Book Club

I joined a book club recently and I have to share a few things with you. Firstly, the books are not the primary focus of these meetings so 'Book Club' is a misnomer - by miles. Don't get me wrong - we talk about books but it is a 20 minute sandwich of time between the hours of 6pm to midnight. We whisk around the table with people being encouraged to give a short summary of their book (author, title, liked it or not) before moving on. Thank god someone actually takes note of the books we have read because this 20 minute slot never happens before 10pm. Or before much has been imbibed. Or before we are stuffed full of food. 

This blog is twofold really.....I didn't write this after the first meeting I went to because I had little memory of it. Last night, however, I was the designated driver. Or rather I volunteered to drive in a fit of either madness or improbable kindness. So I remember everything. Not a good Thursday night.

As usual the gang of women there were full of life, funny, loud. The food was fantastic and the company even better. I did, however, have an unusual focus on the various conversations going on around the table. Usually I just join in with whoever is nearest to me at any point - pouring myself some wine, coming back from the loo, etc. Last night I sat in the mid point of the long table. There were, I think, 11 of us. At about half way through the night the table was suddenly divided between two distinct conversations; on my right they were talking about the school system, and on my left they were talking about sex. Each were animated about their subject. A dilemma....which conversation should I join? Do I want to hear about problem primary schools? Or do I want to hear about misguided salty missiles? (Don't ask). I erred on the side of caution and leaned to my left. 

Next time I drink and talk utter shite. Just as it is meant to be.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Sidelined by castles.

My Husband and I ( sounds familiar) were talking recently about how lovely it is to live in Canada. We are able to do this now because we have finally emerged from the ice age and are now limping towards summer. Limping through inches of rain and tonnes of mosquitoes. Sun is on the horizon and evenings and weekends spent in our garden are only a nano week away. Maybe. 
I digress....we love living here for so many reasons. But then I get an email from my friend. She's Canadian and doesn't really know what a bomb she's put under my arse. Innocently enough she mentions a cousin who is a photographer who has a website. I look at it and there they all are. Bloody castles. Irish and Scottish. Ancient and beautiful. Worst of all, beautifully photographed. 
Memories of my youth mostly, but all of my life in England is suddenly brought into sharp relief. Roll back to 1985. Me and 3 friends staying in a caravan near Bamburgh Castle. Any of the following brings that summer to mind:
- 'Simply the Best' by Tina Turner (especially when played during a pool game)
- The miners strike - oh how we argued ( I won)
- Learning how to play poker with matchsticks as wagers ( I lost )
- Bamburgh Castle  - to this day I remember my mate driving us home on country roads and turning the lights off in the dark 'for fun'.

I still love Canada, but I miss castles. And Charles Worthington Shampoo. And my Mam. And no mosquitoes.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Oh it softball night again?

My first 'game' was last Tuesday night. The constant rain gave up for enough time for us to play. We met in the bar in advance to talk through the rules. I listened very, very carefully but it was like listening to a foreign language peppered with a few English words.  I was sure people would tell me what to do when I got out there.....and it's only a game, after all.  

Talk then turned to a team name. At this point, drinking a glass of beer from a big pitcher, I began to feel decidedly Canadian. Twelve women sitting round talking about league dates, team names.........and team cries!!! What? Team cries? What the hell are they? I kept quiet. I'd already asked some decidedly stupid questions and felt my Englishness could begin to grate very soon.  Back to team names.......favourites were wine-related because of our shirt colour. The Clarets, Bourdeaux Babes, Sangria Lars........then Master Batters makes an appearance. My favourite but the general feel was that it may cause some tricky moments. I was just worried about the ridicule I could receive from other teams when they saw how unmasterful I am at batting. Then comes the next 'job'. We have to give each other nicknames. I'm paired with a complete stranger to make the job even more ridiculous. What have I got myself into? Lured by fun and drinks afterwards I now find myself drawn into some North American ritual.

To the field. I catch nothing. I throw without accuracy. I hit intermittently. I avoid joining in a suggested chant. I high five. Then back to the bar. Not as bad as it could have been I suppose. And tonight I do it all again. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Post drills

So I arrive at the pitch. Is it called a pitch? No, field. I arrive and go towards a group of women who all appear to look more confident than me. We are quickly paired up and told to throw balls at each other. My partner is 20 something and obviously a direct descendant of Babe Ruth.  She threw with precision and strength. I managed to catch most of them, surprisingly. Then she suggested we move further apart. Bloody hell. My arm was coming out of its socket as it was. I managed to throw a few close to her, sweat now breaking out all over with the effort. This was just the warm up. The drills were to follow.

Drill 1 : In turn run from fourth base, catch a ball and throw to first base. First base? From fourth base? I could barely see first base. 
Drill 2 : Stand out in the field at some distance (again) and catch a ball. Those balls are hard, not soft.
Drill 3 :  Hit the ball a few times then run to first base. 

I can sum up the whole experience as painfully embarrassing. I wasn't absolutely terrible, but I was quite clearly the most useless player there. It wasn't until near the end of the drills that I found out that 8 of the other 9 girls all played together on another league. It made me feel both marginally better and intimidated at the same time. 

'You need some cleats,' my friend said at one point.
'Are they like shin pads?'
Her laughter was my answer. I truly know nothing about this game. Even the rules they emailed out are gobbledegook. 
'If a runner passes the commit line and retreats back to third base the defensive team only needs to touch home plate with possession of the ball to retire the runner. No tag is necessary.' Really?

So I returned home aching, filthy and thinking that I may have made a big mistake. Why didn't I take up golf?

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Softball - the Preview

My good friend and neighbour convinced me that joining the local softball league would be a good idea.  She lured me in with tales of fun nights followed by drinks and giggles. I was an easy sell.

Roll on 2 months.

I am now ON the softball league by virtue of the fact that I was the first reserve and someone got pregnant.  You don't actually need to try out to get on a team - you just need to be the next in line. Hurrah. 

Then I find out there are 'drills'. An email arrives from the organiser giving me a date I must attend for drills 'and don't forget to bring your glove.' Glove? Drills? A panic email to my mate results in 'don't worry - I have a glove, and drills are just pitching, catching and hitting. Just. 
I'd like to record here that I can't throw, catch or hit.  Or at least I couldn't that last time I tried - 20+years ago. I reckon that with no practice in between I will not have improved.

Next step. Practice my throwing and catching in the garden with said mate after we shared a bottle of wine. And let me tell you....I'm not bad. Not good.... but I didn't break any windows or wrists. So far. We congratulate me on catching a bit and throwing a bit and retire to more wine.

Drills have, to date, been cancelled twice due to endless rain. Rescheduled for next Tuesday. Last night I dreamt I was playing and hit a great shot but my false arm flew off after the ball and put me off my stride.  I don't have a false arm.

Next update after Tuesday.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

New York.....a brief encounter.

My crazy but enthusiastic friend wanted to see New York. She, travelling from the UK and I, from Canada. Amazingly we managed to book flights to arrive at the same airport at approximately the same time 6 weeks before the event. I say amazingly because she a) never does anything in advance, b) is generally internet inept and c) rarely stops talking for long enough to squeeze in sensible conversation.

So - we arrive. Needless to say we haven't arranged a meeting point in JFK airport but, under her advisement, would 'sort something out when we get there'. Amazingly, and after only walking four or five miles I find her. My first thought was delight - I had missed her. This was quickly followed by 'what the hell is that?' She had a suitcase from the 1980's. I'm sure it was de rigueur then and probably one of the first suitcases with wheels but now it simply looked....well.....awkward. It was big and green and had a handle on one corner with which you dragged it along. Escalators were not going to be an option.

We managed to find our way to the shuttle train. She wanted to take a bus. She didn't know which one but said we 'should be able to find out'. I insisted on the shuttle train and then the subway - I had done my research and it looked straightforward. I hadn't taken into account, of course, the 'person on the lines' who kept us bottled up in the train for 40 minutes. Nor did I pre-plan for the suitcase. Eventually we get to the subway near the hotel and step off the train. We look around for a lift but can't see one. I ask at a kiosk. His look of bewilderment then pity are answer enough. 
'We have to take the escalator.'
'Chuffin' Hell.'
We toddle off (well I toddle with my weekend bag and she shuffles with her third limb) towards the escalator. It wasn't working. Oh shit. We look at each other and laugh - a little high pitched in her case - before taking a deep breath and start to climb. I did offer to carry her bag but, thankfully, she declined. The only positive thing I can say about the next 15 minutes is that the staircase was interrupted every 10-15 steps by a 'landing' where we cursed, caught our breath, accepted commiserations from people going down, then picked up our bags and set off again.  Sweaty, tired and in need of a drink we arrived at the top. I had to use my considerable persuasion powers to make her then walk to the hotel. For some reason she was sure that a block was a mile long - the hotel was 3 blocks away. 
'A block isn't a mile'
'It is'
'Just trust me, it's not far.'
For someone who had just had her stuck on a train and lug her big green case up 6 flights of stairs I was pushing things a little. But we started walking. Five minutes later we were there; two sweaty women staggering towards a fabulous 5th Avenue hotel where porters rushed to take our bags. I resisted saying 'keep hers' only because the concierge was fawning over me so much I became a little self conscious. Did he think I was famous? He surely didn't think my mate was famous with a suitcase like that.

It soon became apparent that my mate's good mate who 'did something' at the hotel was, in fact, the Director of Marketing - i.e. he was responsible for bringing in and managing all revenue to the hotel which, it seemed, made him pretty important there. He had already got us an incredible deal but as we went to the reception desk we were told that we had been upgraded to an executive suite. Woohoo!! 
Then followed champagne and chocolate cake waiting in the room, my mate's obviously important mate there to greet us then transport us to the rooftop bar to have cocktails and nibbles amongst the financially blessed.  He pointed out Trump Tower, Central Park, the Chrysler Building....I took a photo of them both. This was going to be the BEST trip ever.

That night we ticked off one of her things to do in New York by going to an Irish Pub up the street from the hotel. At about 10.30 pm she turned off; her eyes glazed over, she started looking for trouble to get into....time to take her back. I steered her quickly past the guy on reception before she could get into what would be a long and ridiculous conversation which would end in her inviting him up to our room to listen to his troubles and raid the mini bar. After further bemoaning that there wasn't a kettle in the room (she'd brought her own teabags) we got off to bed. She woke me at one point to ask me if she had been snoring but other than that we slept well.

The next morning we planned our route...breakfast as soon as we came across somewhere nice and head towards Grand Central Station and the Chrysler building. We set off and almost immediately stumbled across the Rockefeller Centre. Photo opportunity. I had just taken my second photo of the trip, my mate next to the Rockefeller sign when my phone rang. It turned out to be my last photo in New York. It was my daughter saying 'don't worry but.....'. My husband had been taken into hospital.

I spent the next 3 hours trying to book a flight back and the following 3 getting home and to the hospital just as my husband was being discharged. He's fine. And he was a nicer sight to see than any in New York.

I did see Rod Stewart in the hotel foyer but spoil sport wouldn't let me explain to him that I was called Maggie May. 

Monday, 21 March 2011

Keith Chegwin, Wey Hey!

Last Wednesday three things happened.

1. My car span off the road on black ice.
2. There was an earthquake here.
3. I had a video chat with Keith Chegwin.

So....which was the most stimulating? Keith, of course!!  I had a VIDEO CHAT with Keith Chegwin. Forget the heart thumping, near death experience of my car slithering and sliding across the road. Forget the 4.7 earthquake (which I didn't feel - I was doing laundry and suspect I thought it was just the dryer making its usual rattle). No - witness the random nature of life that leads you to speak directly to Keith Chegwin. Now, I don't want you to all think I'm some sad Keith Chegwin stalker - in fact, I rarely think of him except when he appears from years  of obscurity making an arse of himself. Yet again. It was a rather strange thing that happened - I went on to Twitter to follow my friend and cohort, @websitegirl, when there was a link to a 'live chat with Keith Chegwin'. Without thinking too much I clicked. I have to say at this juncture that a particularly stupid habit I have it to click before thinking, much like I speak before thinking.  And there he was!!!  In his studio (bedroom). Looking pretty much the same at he did when he was on the Multi Coloured Swap Shop (but with a more muted shirt colour). 
'Hello' I said (in a Twitter-like chat way)......seconds later he says 'Hello OpheliaButtocks.....ooh I love that name.' That's me!! Oh my god! 

Quickly I  send my sister a message to the effect - 'You won't believe it - I'm chatting to Keith Chegwin!' After what must have been a moment of confusion, and probably some revulsion, she asked me how. 
'Click this link,' I ranted.
What followed was us watching Keith in his studio (bedroom) talking about not much really. He was surrounded by monitors and computers and kept changing his camera angle, more for the sake of showing he could do it rather than any improvement in the view. What to ask him? What to say? My sister suggested I ask him to dance. Then she quickly threatened disassociation for life if I mentioned her name. 'Hey, my sister Bernie wants you to dance, Keith,' I sent. He ignored it much to my chagrine and my sister's relief.  Then, within a minute, he mentioned an idea, I failed to compute it, and then we were chatting live online, on video, for all of his 30+ viewers. When I say 30+ I don't mean their age (they are probably 40+), but the number of viewers. 
'Where are you calling from?'
'Canada,' I squealed, waving like a Telletubby.
And so ensued a 2 minute, utterly mind numbing chat. But it was with Keith Chegwin!!  I was thrilled to bits. And I even managed not to talk about his Naked Jungle fiasco which I had never actually heard of until my aforementioned sister had kindly sent me a screenshot. I tried not to think about it as we spoke for fear of involuntarily waggling my little finger at the screen. See here

Then, to top it all off, he started to follow me on Twitter. My day was complete. Much jealousy followed on my Facebook pages but I slept secure in the fact that I had been touched by fame.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

French Word of the Day

I eventually submitted to the fact that I really should learn to speak French after a year and a half in Quebec.  I had enquired in the past about evening classes at a local college but they said I had to have some sort of form which I couldn't get unless I was a resident - or something like that, they had a strong French accent and their English was a bit ropey. Anyway, I was put off by both this and my husband's laughter when I attempted to pronounce any French word whatsoever. 

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I got out my French for Dummies and signed up online for a French word of the day. The latter, I thought, would help with my vocabulary. And I can report that it has indeed helped my vocabulary - my only problem is that I am struggling to use this vocabulary on an everyday basis. I have tried to wrangle 'candlelight walk' and 'hide and seek' into a conversation but it just drew suspicious looks. I probably shouldn't have tried them out with a stranger.

Some of the other suggestions have been a little more successful:

  • stake - 'I would like to put a stake in him' (when referring to Ryan Seacrest)
  • upside down - 'That car is upside down' (it wasn't but it was on its side which is close enough)
  • smooth talker - ' He's not a smooth talker' (again, Ryan Seacrest)
  • gunsmith - 'Do gunsmiths still live in Canada?' (to a stranger who looked a little worried)
  • funeral - 'I haven't been to a funeral for ages' (to the same stranger)
  • hopscotch - 'why don't you play hopscotch' (a suggestion to my not impressed 13 year old)
....and the one I'm most proud of....... lily of the valley - ' That looks like a lily of the valley' (pointing to a flower which was in fact a tulip but the context was right).

My next challenge is to try to get two words into one sentence. I have 'queasy', 'chubby', 'hike' and 'to disguise' to play with. I reckon if I talk to the right person I could get all four in one sentence.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Option 2......

.......also led nowhere other than 'it could be this' and 'we know it's not that'. Basically I am to 'have complete rest and take painkillers when you need them.' I have to say, however, that my treatment was a) much quicker and b) existed. My father in law suggested I return to the UK and see someone on the NHS. Never thought I'd hear that advice.

Complete rest. Now there's a thought. One might assume because I don't have a job that it would be easy to get complete rest.  Not so. Shopping, floor washing, laundry, cleaning. I gave it a try.... I allowed the dust and detritus to accumulate; allowed the laundry mountain to grow; allowed the cooker to grease up. It began to feel like the old times when I had a job. Then one day the reality of my approach hit me. One day I'm going to have to clean all this crap up. The laundry alone was taller than me and would take hours on my feet. Stupid me.  What to do? Aha - how could I forget? I have children.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Bastardy gitting 'health' service

Long story short (by about 7 hours), I had a scan which shows quite clearly a broken rib. Or a hair on the picture. But my guess is a broken rib. Spoke to Doctor - he suggests I 'use my discretion' when considering going to an emergency room then drops in 'we don't want a blood clot' into the conversation. My discretion has made its mind up. Now which hospital?

1. One we went to last time (see previous entry "I'm dying", etc)
2. One in next province which has a reputation of short waiting times.
3. One in city which has reputation as good hospital. 

I choose No. 3.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Arrived at 9pm.....left at 4am after not seeing a Doctor. In fact the doctor wasn't seeing anyone in Emergency after 1am because he had '60 other chronic patients - he's the only doctor here you know.' Told (after some badgering) that we won't be seen until after 8am. The 'we' is me, some guy who arrived late at 11pm, a quiet woman who read a lot about the catacombs in Paris, and some old woman who got one of the two nice chairs.  The other guy in the room was obviously homeless as he was able to sleep almost from the minute he arrived in a hard green chair with his bag of bagels as a pillow.

Lack of sleep was my biggest enemy - If you remember I am ill in the ribs which means no position is comfortable for me except sat straight upright, standing or flat on my back. Only one of these is conducive to sleep, but sadly not conducive to hospital waiting rooms. So we left in high dudgeon. With sleepy eyes.

Option 2 today. 

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Obsessiveness and stupid TV

Someone once told me I had an obsessive personality. This person is a friend of mine but I have to tell you that she reads out loud to her cats (the unabridged version of A Christmas Carol every year) so she may not be the best judge of character. The basis for her judgement was that I foolishly mentioned a diet I was considering. Admittedly I have been on ooohhh probably 100 diets in my time, but never actually managed to follow one to its designed conclusion which, in my books, makes me fickle, not obsessive.

However, I can get quite obsessive about TV programmes.  But not just TV programmes per se; TV programmes on the Internet. Why? Because I can watch a whole series one episode after another WITHOUT WAITING. Have I mentioned that waiting is one of my least favourite things, after avocados and Jeremy Clarkson? BUT, not only can I watch the whole series, I can quickly follow that with series 2,3,4...... I admit that my taste in programmes is probably shite most of the time but you can watch them one after another! Without waiting. My latest has been Dead Zone which has, wait for it, 6 series. This is almost as good at '24' in terms of numbers but way, way worse in its quality. But who cares? I have wasted hours and hours watching the one premise of a psychic who was in a coma for 6 years (how exciting is that) finding and capturing criminals with his pal, Walt (who stole his girl while he was in the coma). I hasten to add that I am not completely obsessive - I have interspersed episodes with a series or two of The Biggest Loser and X Factor. 

But, like a good book, it all must end.  Until the next money's on Grey's Anatomy (7 series) or Burn Notice (a sad 4 series but I like the name).

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Doctor's appointment follow-up

So....after the fiasco that was my last 'appointment' I had a call from my doctor telling me that my X-Ray seemed Ok but I could call to see him on Saturday if I hadn't improved. 
Warily, 'Do I need an appointment?'
'No. Just call in.'
How naive can one person be. I trotted in at 11am on Saturday and talked to the last hopeless git's twin colleague. 
'Did the Doctor ask you to call in?'
'Yes. No. Well he said I could call in but didn't need an appointment.'
She put her Disbelief mask on quickly.
'It's because I waited so long on Wednesday.'
Whatever mask.
He said I should just call in.
Irritation mask.
'Well this IS an appointment system,' she muttered from behind her beard.
I was so flabbergasted by this blatantly ridiculous statement I put on my Bugger Me mask.
'What's your address? What's your phone number. Do you have your medical card? You said you were here on Wednesday - we don't seem to have you in the system.'
'I was here last year!'
'That's NOT what I asked you.'
Oh my much more can I put up with? Have they never heard of the service industry? The customer is always right? Or even being pleasant
At that very moment the Doctor came out and said 'I want to see her too' - meaning me. Cat's mother sprung to mind but I was just glad beardy cow face had been shut up.

Now this is where I assumed again. I assumed that because he had invited me in without an appointment due to the horrendous 'service' I had received that week, that I might get a modicum of preferential treatment. Wrong. Unless you call waiting two and a half hours a bonus. 

Oh, and he still doesn't know what is wrong with me. Chest wall damage is his best guess, though he mentioned shingles and mammograms too. Next step - phone him (no visits for me) on Monday if there has been no improvement. Then he hustled me out of the room so the next person could have their 2 minutes of attention.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Twatting bastard doctors surgery.

I know I've mentioned the utterly shite service I get from my local doctor. Since my last blog I have, in fact, become a little more tolerant of the outrageously long waiting times (despite 'appointment times'). When I say 'tolerant' I mean that I have stopped frothing at the mouth. Just.

Background - chest pains, hard to breath, sharp pains in my chest. Obviously very serious (according to Google).

3pm appointment. Previous experience told me that this was a mythical time, but I turned up despite this, with water and a book. I forgot the cushion which might help me avoid the piles.  I scanned the room -ooohhh...only 6 people before me. A record.

I took out my book and settled in on my left cheek. 

I glanced at the clock between chapters. 3:25pm. 4:04pm.  A man I recognised from my last marathon in the green plastic-seated waiting room arrived and I overheard his '4:30 appointment'. I glanced up.  4:15pm - ha! he had a good couple of hours to wait. I shifted to my right cheek.  Time dragged on. Ribs ached. Bladder chuckled and pressed. Young and old coughed in my air intake zone. I steadfastly tried to concentrate on my book and ignore the fact that I was WAITING.

Out came my Doctor..."Mr. HooJaa". I looked up and the old guy who had the 4.30 appointment was shuffling forward. What? He just got here. Is this Old Appreciation Day? I looked at the clock...5:05pm. Enough.

'Erm, hello? Can you tell me if I will be seeing the doctor soon?'
' Your name?'
No, 'I'm sorry, could I have your name please?'
'It's Higgins. 3:00pm appointment.' I looked at the clock pointedly. She didn't notice.
She looked puzzled (stupid)....'Oh yes, I can see your appointment, but you haven't been checked in. Hmmmmm.'
Let's go back...this was the exact same woman who had checked me in. She asked my address, name and taken my medicare card (which has my full name on) when I arrived in plenty (PLENTY) of time at 2.45pm. 
She peered at her oversized computer screen and then gave me the 'don't worry, love, I'll get you in next' look. Or that's how I interpreted it. It was apparently the 'I fucked up and I'll make sure you are last for pointing that out' look.

So...having spent over 3 hours waiting, seeing people who came in hours after me going into the doctors, being in some considerable discomfort AND being pre-menstrual...well, I snapped. And I snap with volume.

'Am I going to see the doctor today at all?' I demanded at 60% volume. By this time there was only 1 person left in the waiting room except me.
Stupid words No.1 - 'What's your name?' 
'Higgins. 3:00pm appointment!' (70% volume).
At this point I saw that she saw that I was not a happy fucking bunny. Despite this she said,
Stupid words No. 2 - 'I called for you twice.'
Ka-boom. Bitch. Twat. I'm going to kill her.
At last she did something vaguely approaching professional and steered me away from the crowds ( the last guy waiting) and into a back room. 
'Come this way Eleanor.'
OK..I'm a little hard of hearing. On this occasion, due to three and a half hours of 5 year olds coughing in my ears.
'What did you call me?'
'Eleanor?' She is stupid, but even she realises that my tone might suggest she's got something else wrong.
'MY. NAME. IS. MAGGIE.' If she says 'You're not Eleanor?' I will murder.
She scuttles. Doctor arrives and, unbelievably, he asks me how I am.
'Pissed off, actually.'
He's apologetic, nice, blah, blah,blah. But I want to let him know exactly why I'm pissed off.
'I don't mind waiting (actually I do) but I do NOT like not being checked in, being taken for the wrong person, being told I had been 'called twice', and being ignored.'

And what did he do? He was nice and patient and nice and my anger ebbed away. I hate it when that happens. 

I'll get her back.  Soon.

God bless the UK National Health Service.