Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Island Envy

As many of you know, I underwent a huge move lately. I had been living in a city in the prairies and now I'm living on an island in the forest. When people asked me about where I was moving before I moved, I told them and I told them all the good parts. I left out all the parts where I was scared, nervous, on the verge of a panic attack, having a panic attack and all the heart-wrenching devastating uncertainty of moving to a place I had never been. Everyone I spoke to said they were so envious. And when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. It was like I was marrying the King of Mars and going to live in a palace in the stars.

Toward the end, I started trying to beat off their envy by saying things like, “I'm just telling you all the good parts. I left out all the bad stuff.” No one listened. They just accepted all the nice bits without accepting any of the tough stuff. Moving is tough, no matter where you are going. You could be moving to the house next door and it would still give you cramps for days.

So many people (sometimes four or five new people a day) told me how awesome and happy my life was going to be living on an island. The whole thing made me quite unhappy. I was saying all the good things about my situation to try to hide my fear. Well hidden. Everyone is cheering for me while I'm shaking in my boots. I wasn't bored or unhappy with my life in my prairie city. I had dozens of little projects, things to do, people to see, a family to love, and a strong purpose to live by.

And now I'm out here. I don't know anyone except those I brought with me. There are about a thousand adjustments that need to be made -and quickly- and flexibility has never been my forte. I feel panic bubbling up at the most unexpected times. I saw a deer walking past my back deck and I nearly dived under my dining room table. It was as big as a cow... with a slightly smaller butt. The day before I saw a deer in the front yard and it also, nearly made me dive behind the sofa. And then I realized it wasn't alive. It had never been alive and it was just about the freakiest looking statue I've ever seen. So, obviously the people we bought the house from left it for us. And I'm scared of deer. DEER! Think about it. When I first started this adventure I bought a little package of three books to write about my experience in. The first book had a deer on it, the second a fox, and the last one had a bear. And I'm scared of the one who is a jumpy herbivore.  Get a grip, woman!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hair's Breadth

“If you keep curling my hair in such small sections, it's going to take a really long time to curl my whole head.” That was what I said to the hairdresser I hired to curl my hair before I had my anniversary pictures taken.

I know most people wouldn't get a hairdresser for their anniversary pictures, but I had a couple of reasons for getting one. Bearing in mind, she was a human being I had never seen before in my life, I thought (by virtue of her profession), she should be able to do it faster than me, but when I saw the segments she was individually curling with an iron, I thought I would live and die in that hairdresser chair without experiencing any more life had to offer.

I have a ton of hair.

I spent most of my twenties with a layer cut that made my ton of hair seem less. Actually, with a layer cut, my hair would grow until it hit one spot on my back and then stop. I thought that was as long as my hair grew. Then one day, I learned the secret. My hair is both coarse and fine. Fine around my hairline and coarse on the crown. This means that if I blunt my hair instead of layer it, it can get a whole lot longer. Some of my hair is over two feet long.

I advised the hairdresser to take bigger chunks.

She reminded me she was a professional and I could just relax and sit quietly.

She took down the next row of hair to be done and the next. She was moving very quickly. Not too quickly, but quickly enough to remind me of the next reason why I wanted to hire a hairdresser rather than do it myself. It was a clipless curling iron and she wasn't wearing a glove. “You're going to burn yourself if you don't take it easy.”

She again reminded me she was a professional.

After awhile, I realized I had been sitting in the chair for over 45 minutes. It still felt pretty normal for a hair appointment, though I could see she wasn't making much progress. So, I took the opportunity to explain to her why she should fall in love with opera and explained in detail the exquisite finale of Lucia di Lammermoor with the falling snow, the black umbrellas, and the ultimate stabbing. After all, neither she nor I were going anywhere.

After an hour and 15 minutes, I was doomed to be late for my photographer and it suddenly seemed to me that all divas deserve their tantrums, when their stylists won't listen to their instructions and the divas themselves are doomed to lateness or a half curled head.

Then, some man... some man who worked at the salon slammed right into my girl and something bad happened. The curling iron burned her arm in a straight line. She sprayed her hurt with the bottle she had nearby, but I knew she couldn't be okay. But it didn't matter what I said about how she needed help, she just kept spraying it and letting the residual water slip down her arm and onto the floor. She sprayed it again and again, but just kept on doing my hair as usual.

I went to the salon so I wouldn't get burned, so one of my dumb kids wandering into the bathroom wouldn't get burned, so no one would get burned.

I paid her and tipped her and felt sick.

The story ends on my living room wall. There hangs a 20x30 poster of me printed on mildly metallic paper. The picture isn't even of my face. It's my cascade of perfectly curled hair that falls almost to my waist. She did know what she was doing.         

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It Happens

I had hardly ever heard the phrase 'it happens' spoken to me, until this past month, where I heard it over and over. A few weeks ago, I had my first-ever car accident. Well, the first accident where I had to hang my head and accept blame. Then came the words, 'it happens.'

People said it when I had to explain what happened and what I had done. Personally, I never thought of a car accident as something that happens to everybody at one time or another. I think of slipping on an icy sidewalk that way. I think of getting your vehicle stuck in a snowdrift that way. I think of getting bucked off the chairlift and getting a face full of snow that way. Notice how all those accidents have to do with ice and slippery business? That's because that is the only justifiable reason I can think up as to why you should get into an accident. I feel like otherwise you should be fine.
Thus my accident makes me feel like the village idiot.

As part of my punishment, I was given a rental vehicle 14 years newer than my current ride. Can we say 'culture shock?' The guy renting it to me gave me a tour of all its features like a salesman. And I had to drive it all over town! PITY ME! I fretted to my hubby and he stroked my hair and told me in soothing tones that everything would be fine. He reminded me that I have been driving for many years and everything has always gone smoothly before. I felt all warm and comforted. Then my hubby was going to run an errand and I told him to take the rental so he could have the fun of driving a vehicle 15 years news than his. For a crooked man with a bad back and a stick... he can really move. And by move, I mean, back away from me as fast as he could and get into his little silver bullet that is, yes, quite a healthy teenager.

Now I feel this weird mixture of internal incompetence and external pampering. Anyone ever felt that? I feel like someone who just ate a tower of cheese fries knowing full well they were going out to dinner and then ate that too, only to vomit in the parking lot and ruin everything. I should have been given a rental car by some guy who snapped his gum too hard and just kinda pointed to the 1999 (insert least desirable car brand) with the peanut butter stain on the seat. Maybe if I had to ride around in a clunker (worse than my clunker), ruin at least one pair of my pants, and have to hold my nose while I drove, I'd remember 'it happens' and I wouldn't get into a car accident ever again.

Unless there was ice. I'd forgive myself for that.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Taylor Swift and Me

So Taylor Swift invited me to her mansion in Rhode Island this past weekend. She thought that I would be the perfect person to interview her about her scandals and blossoming romance with Tom Hiddleston. I asked her the perfect questions. She was gracious, ladylike in 50s fashion, while still obviously a fiery feminist full of spunk. Though I admit to being a bit bias. After all, she thought I would be the perfect person to capture her feelings during this tumultuous time in her career and love life. Why did she think this? Obviously because she's never heard of me.

Okay, none of that happened. What really happened was I read a news piece on how the new song by Calvin Harris This is What You Came For was actually written by Taylor Swift. So, I am not a Taylor Swift fan in that I mostly listen to music with no lyrics and can only recognize maybe half a dozen of her songs. But I was curious about that song, so I listened to it deliberately. As an author, I gotta say, it's not even a little bit confusing why she gave that one away and did not perform it herself. It's only half a song. Taylor's few songs that I know of are extraordinarily rich in lyrics. Though I will not admit to liking or disliking them. All I'm saying is that they paint a bigger picture than This is What You Came For which is quite empty in what it makes the mind conjure.

As a consequence of my reading this one article, my news feed exploded in news items about Taylor. Taylor and Calvin, Taylor and Kanye, Taylor and Kim, Taylor and Tom, Taylor and each member of her squad (unfortunately, that is not what you call a group of squid). Holy bananas on toast! I also read a piece I found very interesting on elder abuse, but my news feed didn't give me any other stories on that—just Taylor.

It's exhausting to have Google try to figure out my perfect newspaper by what I clicked on. Sometimes what I click on isn't what I find interesting in a good way. Sometimes I click on things I'm not excited about, but instead morbidly fascinated by. Even though I read it once does not mean I want my newspaper to be all about Donald Trump, or the new Ghostbusters movie, or Taylor Swift. It's like when you go somewhere you really didn't want to go and Google keeps on showing you the place on the map asking you if you're interested in commute times. Google has become your annoying kid who follows you around and tells everyone the worst cuss word they ever heard you say.

Anyway, I haven't decided if I'm going to pay money to see the new Ghostbuster movie. I guess it all depends on whether or not Taylor Swift can babysit for me.    

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Scent of Clean

I hate cleaning my house, but I do it because doing anything else means living in a house where the best tool for cleaning becomes a shovel and I cannot become that person. Since I feel so strongly about not living in a rat's nest, I read a lot of articles, blogs, and books about keeping your house tidy when you're only about a hair's breadth off of preferring to saw off your own arm. Most of these articles focus on the same things: legacy cleaning, and dashing to pretty up your house when company comes to call.

Personally, I prefer legacy cleaning and then just letting the chips fall when people come over. I do X amount of cleaning each day and if that's not good enough then <insert raspberry>. However, one aspect of speed cleaning for company really astonishes me. Each of these authors, bloggers, big fat know-it-all-ers, talk about how you have to do something after you clean to disguise the smell of your cleaners. I'm like, “Why would your house smelling clean be shameful?” They explain you don't want your visitors to smell the cleaners. I'm still confused.

Then I start thinking about the human body. What is not pleasing about the way a person smells when they get out of the shower? They have the mild smell of shampoo, maybe one or two other products. Personally, I never think the following thought about someone who just got out of the bath: “Ew! You smell like body wash. Get it off! Get it off! Go stand over a Scentsy until you smell like melted wax.”

I don't know about you, but loads of my different cleaners actually smell like a green apple or what someone imagines a mountain stream smells like. That aside, loads of these cleaning gurus clean everything with baking soda and vinegar, so again, what are they trying to hide from their guests? The smell of things they probably eat regularly?

There is also something curious I see on Pinterest regularly. It is the practice of putting vanilla in the oven on low heat to make your house smell heavenly. If I ever took to doing this, I can picture the outcome in my mind so clearly it's a bona fide prophecy of the future. My husband would come in the back door. He would breathe (because most men do that). His face would light up like it was Christmas morning and the biggest present was for him. He'd come up the stairs and enfold me in an embrace that let me know I was treasured beyond price. He'd say, “Whatcha making?” I'd open the oven to show him a bowl of hot vanilla. You would be able to freeze frame the exact moment his heart broke.

Long story short. When you are done cleaning, don't spray your house down with something that makes it smell like you were baking. Maybe don't make it smell like anything. Clean = Good.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Picture Perfect

Every time I go to a portrait studio to get a school picture redone because the first ones were wretched and the retakes, remarkably, were even worse, I see a ‘help wanted’ sign in the window.  It’s not that I consider myself to be a great photographer, but I know that if I had a camera set up with a stool and a backdrop, I could do better than some of the pictures my kids come home with after school pictures.  I thought with the advent of digital cameras, they could at least look at the picture and determine whether or not they should put that picture on every single one of a child’s student ID cards. 

Okay … the truth is; you would not believe what my kid came home with on every single one of his school IDs.  It was like my Dad’s Costco picture before they dropped the resolution so low on those photos that one of my brothers could rip off my card and no one would be the wiser.  “Your name is Stephanie?”  My brother then answers snottily, “I go by Steve.”  Trust me.  No one would question him further.

Anyway, I’m seriously confused about these photo studio people.  They give you options for packages that cost $300 but they won’t take 10 seconds to make sure the picture isn’t crap.  And they act like everyone in the world is so freakishly lazy that they won’t seek another option.

I’m also confused by the collages of kids’ pictures that consist of four pictures and there are only two different poses.  Or they zero in on the baby’s elbow or ear and put that in a little box by itself under the big picture of the baby.  I find that inexplicably weird.  If you want a picture of the baby’s toes, that’s fine and cute, but when it’s just an enlarged portion of the exact same picture, I’m torn to shreds.  It’s like a scientific picture book showing you all about lobsters or jellyfish.  Like there should be a caption underneath that reads, “This is a human baby’s toes.  At this point in human development, the baby cannot use the feet for walking, but they use them as a form of entertainment when squeaky toys are unavailable.”

So, I see the ‘help wanted’ sign and I know I’m missing a possible calling.  I would make a great photographer.  I just don’t have time to do everything I could be good at.  I’m gifted in so many different ways.  Alas, even though I can take adorable pictures of my kid on my own time, the picture the school would use to find him if he were missing is so grotesque and misshapen, they might not think he was the same kid if they grabbed him off the street.  “Is this you?” Glance. “Nope.  That’s somebody else.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sewing a Hole

I hate sewing machines.  Some of my lowest recorded grades were because I tried to use a sewing machine.  These days I have a sewing room, except I call it a craft room because I keep a lot more stuff in there than just a sewing machine.  I like sewing by hand.  It evolved naturally.

I like mending.  I think that if the piece of clothing is fine except for a missing button – then I sew a new button on and get on with it.  I also like to use obnoxious buttons.  Sometime when you’re around me notice the button holding up my husband’s pants.  It might not be your average button.  The ones I’m using these days are neon.  I know.  He’s such a trooper.

Actually, I mostly started mending socks because I hate it when a perfectly adorable pair of cute socks gets a hole in the toe.  I started sewing them up and I started hanging onto my funny socks much better.  My personal favourite pair of socks I’ve had for ages.  They have suns on the feet that look exactly like the ones I used to draw on my notebooks when I was 13.  I didn’t get the socks until I was in my twenties.  Yeah, I keep those socks.

Yesterday, I had a stroke of genius with sewing.  You must remember that I do not sew clothing from scratch unless I can make up the pattern myself.  Yesterday I bought my daughter a new dress.  It was sleeveless.  Beats me what those monsters are thinking.  We’re Canadian.  We need sleeves.  Anyway, the dress came with a shrug (oddly enough I had an identical one her size in my mending basket).  So, I took the identical shrug and ripped the sleeves off it and sewed them onto her new dress.  It looks fantastic.  The dress now has black velvet sleeves and a black velvet belt. 

I also sewed Halloween costumes for my kids by hand this summer.  Everyone at the fabric store thought I was crazy when I went in and bought the goods.  Who’s crazy now?  This has been the most stress-free October ever.  I also sew stuffed animals and Christmas ornaments.  Today I was sewing a Halloween costume I got a humongous discount on because there were three big rips in it.  Ha!  Those rips were a snap to sew up.

The nice thing about sewing by hand is that I can sit all cozy in my living room with the TV on.  It’s also nice because then I don’t eat when I watch TV.  It’s bad because most TV filmed in English sucks.  You have to watch subtitled TV to watch anything and I’m not too good at crafting while watching something with subtitles. 

Anyone know a good English TV show to watch?