Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thankful For Cheezies And All Things Good and Cheesy

Happy New Year to all of you, my dear friends, family, readers, stalkers, perusers, and ne'er-do-wells!

I would like to end this year on a positive note, and hence begin 2009 in the same fashion. I thought I could do this easily enough by telling you what I am truly thankful for, and my wishes for 2009. Some of them may seem cheesy, but they're real and honest, and I like Cheezies a lot, so do with them what you will. Just don't put down the Cheezies. Or the Cheetos. They are all that is true, honest, and good in this world, and closest to heaven.

Thankful For...

  • supersize bags of Cheetos

  • supersize bags of Cheezies

  • my family's health

  • my friends' health

  • my son's continuing health

  • my husband and children

  • my family's and friends' existence

  • memories of my dad

  • Cheetos

  • PhotoShop CS4 Extended (we're going on our honeymoon soon!)

  • the little peace on earth we actually have at any given time

  • smiles and innocence of little children
  • Starbucks coffee that my friends buy me because I think they're WAAY too expensive, although I do love them a lot and never say no to an offer
  • going out with my friends

  • green grass & spring flowers

  • getting up every morning

  • plain Ruffles ripple chips (supersized, of course)

  • shortbread cookies

  • a warm house

  • a safe country in which to live

  • socks without those annoying holes in the toes

  • onion rings

  • books

  • Earl Grey tea

  • rainy days

  • Tylenol Extra Strength in mega bottles at Costco (generic brand, much cheaper, don'tcha know)

  • nachos

  • stick shifts and empty country roads

  • my friends (yes, I know I've already mentioned them, but they're really really important to me)

  • my family (ditto on the ditto)

  • Canadian health insurance

  • anti-depressants (everyone around me is thankful for them as well)

  • a new day

  • my memories

  • my dreams

For 2009, I would like...

  • less war, more peace

  • a cure for cancer

  • to see my dad again

  • continuing health for everyone

  • happiness

  • less turmoil and upheaval in my life

  • the ability to relax

  • the ability to relax without feeling guilty

  • less migraines that last a week

  • enough money so the worries will be less

  • an anti-depressant that actually works and doesn't make me sleep all day long

  • my mother and brother to speak to me again

  • and extra big supersized, mega bag of Cheetos

Happy New Year! See you next year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Psychedelic Mushroom


On a less cheery note than yesterday's post (sorry, everyone...can you tell I'm in the depths of a depression?), I was surfing my fave blogs, and came upon Dawn's blog, titled "Because I Said So", a great site if you have the chance to check it out.

Her latest post was about a little boy named Dante, aka Trooper. This little boy is fighting for his life, going through his lifelong battle with a cancer called Neuroblastoma (see here for the full story). He's losing the fight, which is something I cannot imagine going through as a parent, although we ourselves came close more than once with our son, and we know many other parents who have had to deal with losing their child in exactly this manner.

Please take a look at Dante's story, and send him a little of your love.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Joys of Christmas

I look forward to the Christmas season every year. And every year I am disappointed.

It seems that I aim too high, focusing on all the good things that happen at this time of year, but what seems to happen most often is that all the negative aspects of family life come to the forefront this time of year, rearing their ugly heads and reminding us all of how complex the family is, how duplicitous it can be.

I don't exactly know why I love Christmas so much, since it seems to be so full of stress. But I do. I seem to forget about the extremes in emotion through the season, the buried emotions coming to the forefront, the angry outbursts that always happen between siblings, or mother and daughter, the past coming back to haunt us all, whether we realize it or not. What I remember about Christmas and look forward to is the family gathering together, the warmth, the love for my husband and my kids, the laziness, the wood fires we have in the fireplace, the look on my children's faces when they open their gifts, Christmas morning when my children are beyond excited and cannot wait to show us what Santa put in their stockings, all the beautiful music. The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, what we are actually faced with during this holy season is something very different. I don't know how this happens, but it does. Every year. People look forward to getting together, to seeing one another, and then when they actually do get together, the old arguments and grudges slink back up, ready to pounce unexpectedly. Adults turn into children again, and siblings end up arguing over the most inane things, reverting back to the years when they all lived together under roof and drove each other crazy on a daily basis.

Deeper frustrations come to the forefront, despite everyone's vow to keep everything calm and pleasant. Not-so-pleasant memories come flooding back, and inundate what could be quiet and enjoyable evenings around the table. Nasty comments go back and forth, beastly names are called, and unpleasant looks of annoyance and outrage are doled out. All things we dislike about one another seem to be the main topic of distraction, and no matter how we try, there they are, like a splinter.

Is it just our family, or does this happen everywhere? I can't see how it could only be us. After all, we are never alone.

And yet, we still look forward to these annual get-togethers. It's all about the joy, the togetherness, the love. Until, that is, we're actually there in the moment, and gradually the annoyance, the hatred, and the desire to be apart are very apparent, at times overwhelming.

Unfortunately, the holidays often seem to end on that note, this definite undertone of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, of old wounds ripped open again. And by mid-January, they begin to heal once again, and are buried deep within, only to rise again to remind us that love and family are anything but simple and easy. We do this all our lives, almost in a strange attempt to revisit, to try and resolve the unresolvable. Little reminders of all the complexities of our little lives. What we hold closest to our hearts is that which hurts the most.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Watercolour Spring

Christmas Lights

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Want To Marry PhotoShop

All I can say is Holy Crap! Do I ever love PhotoShop! Even more than I thought I ever could! I got it for Christmas from Mr. Handsome. What a guy, eh? He shouldn't have. He really shouldn't have, because now I have to choose between him and my new love, and PS is winning, I'm afraid. Sorry, Mr. Handsome. It was great while it lasted.

I don't know how to use my new PhotoShop yet, but I still love it. I'm like a kid in a candy store, except I'm just sitting on the couch on my ever-growing ass playing with photos on my laptop, and oohing and aahhing when I push a button and cool things happen. Not only did Mr. Handsome get me PS, he got me the newest extended version, PhotoShop CS4 Extended, which apparently allows me to create a new world and control it with the click of a finger. I am omnipotent. Hear me roar.

For instance, take a gander at the photo below. Isn't that the most amazing thing you've ever seen? And I did that. Not sure how, but I did. And I know, for all those out there who have had the chance to learn PhotoShop for even a day longer than me, that this is really nothing big in the grand scheme of the PhotoShop universe,but it's pretty freakin' amazing to me! This photo below is a photo of a tulip I took at last spring's tulip festival in town. The original shot is underneath this one.

All I did was click on "Glowing Edges" in PhotoShop, and voila! It's as if you were transported to a whole new world of glowing neon and beautiful quiet, harmonious, velvet colours. I feel rested already, like a new woman, ready to play with some more photos in PhotoShop!
I have so much to learn, and no time, so I will probably be learning PhotoShop for the rest of my life, which is fine by me. I have no other life. Do you feel sorry for me? Didn't think so.
PS makes me drool with glee because it opens up a whole new world of creativity for me, something I've been craving for a very long time. I used to be a photographer, back in the days when digital was not even a word, let alone a concept or reality. I did it as a creative outlet, but also put my abilities to use when I worked for various newspapers. Not only would I take the photos, I would also develop them in darkrooms, and get creative with them in there. Digital photography gives photography a whole new meaning, one I am just starting to discover. I already know it is a world I desperately want and need in my life, one I have been lacking for many years.
When I became a journalist, I ended my so-called creative life to a great degree because I was so sick of constantly writingwritingwriting and taking photos that when I had time off, writing and taking creative photos of anything was the last thing I wanted to do. That feeling was detrimental, however, because I stopped doing what I loved doing most in the world. I lost a big chunk of myself. Then I got married, had children, dealt with one child having cancer, and god knows where most of "me" is.
I'm now in my 40s, my kids are not that old, but old enough to be allowed some independence, and are relatively healthy and happy, and so I feel it's time to get back a little more of myself, and I feel it will be in the form of photography and writing. I started this blog because of that, thanks to Pick, my bestest friend, who wouldn't stop bothering me about starting a blog. Are you happy now, Pick? And now I can add photography to the list, and who knows where that will lead me? Maybe I'll put up a photo of Pick, glowing. Wouldn't that be a hoot?
Next on my "to do" list is to learn PhotoShop, and earn some money to buy myself a really nice digital SLR camera. And then groceries.
So, bear with me while I learn the ins and outs of this amazing program. I feel like there's a newborn in the house again, and all my attention is being spent nursing its needs (or, I guess, my needs in this case). I almost feel like I'm having an affair right in front of my husband, and not only that, but he condones it! Because, after all, he gave it to me as a gift!

Doggone It

Ho. Ho. Ho.
Are we having fun yet?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas! And Don't Shoot Your Mother!

I want to wish each and every one of you the best Christmas ever, with lots of food, happiness, music, laughter and even more love. This photo does not do our lovely tree justice. My camera sucks, which is why I hope I win the one Ree Drummond is giving away at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. I have a wonderful Canon, but it's not digital. So I end up using this other Canon Powershot DX-1 that my mother-in-law actually won and then so generously gave to me. I like it, but it really doesn't work so well a lot of the time. Do you feel sorry for me?

On Christmas Eve, the empty space you see under the tree will be chock-full of prezzies, goodies, and wonderful packages of joy. Not that I appreciate the commercialism of our Christmases nowadays, but that doesn't mean I don't like the odd diamond bracelet, or digital camera, or new laptop, or the latest version of PhotoShop, or...ok, I'll stop.

This is Gryphon, our standard poodle, trying to figure out what the Christmas lights are, and wondering whether they taste good.

This is what our tree will look like after all the "joy" of Christmas is over (read: copious amounts of alcohol)...

...and this is what our tree will look like to me after drinking all the "joy" that is Christmas. Just kidding. I only need one glass of Bailey's to make me start seeing upside down Christmas trees. I'm a cheap date.
Merry Christmas, everyone! And remember, be good to your neighbours, hug your friends, and don't yell too many obscenities at your relatives!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Horror

The kids are home from school for the next two weeks. Two. Weeks. They should be outlawed, school holidays. And kids.

When I complain about holidays and kids, one of my best friends reminds me, with a smirk on his face, "You know, children are self-inflicted." And he takes pride is reminding me of this because he has no children of his own.

Milly and Dennis are great kids, don't get me wrong. I love them more than life itself. It's just that, sometimes, they are more than any mortal can handle. And this time, they have me at a weak moment. And they know it. I know they do. I can see them give each other "the look" before they start pushing every button on the Mommy keyboard, ending with the "Make Mommy Scream At The Top Of Her Lungs" button. Which, if pushed again, turns into "Make Mommy Tear Her Hair Out And Ask Herself What On Earth Made Her Want To Ever Procreate" button. I am their captive for the next two weeks, and they are going to milk it for all it's worth.

They do innocent, childlike things like throw things at each other, scream minor obscenities, call each other names, chase each other, and argue a lot about just about anything. And I mean anything. Such as whether the sky is blue, cerulean or indigo (which I always thought was a bookstore myself, nothing more, nothing less). Such as who turned the television on, who last took the dog out, and whether or not Mommy actually just said "shit" again or not.

Normally, I can handle these moments of distress without losing my cool to a great extent. However, lately I've been feeling rather stressed, depressed, hormonal and overwhelmed, and it's all I can do to not open the door and walk out. Their arguing, shouting and disagreeing is so constant, it rings in my ears for hours after they've gone to bed. I can usually tune out their barrage of noise pollution, but not when my nerves are already overwrought and frayed.

Of course, you can't explain this to a 13- and 10-year-old, although you'd think you could. As I write this, I'm thinking, 'You're damn right they should understand what you're feeling, and be compassionate.' But I know better. I know because I did exactly as they are doing to my mother many years ago, and I blamed her entirely for her lack of enthusiasm, her withdrawal, her anger, and her depression. I blamed her for years upon years, and that gradually turned to blaming myself, which in turn became what it is now: occasional depression and mood swings that get worse and more uncontrollable with stressful incidents.

I now see what my mother probably went through in trying to raise the three of us in a home where her husband worked a lot, and she was expected to keep a tidy house, make meals, deal with the children, and smile. When she was down, which was quite often (and she was never actually professionally diagnosed), I would be so angry with her and would ostensibly make life more difficult for her in an attempt to perhaps get her attention, to make her see me, react to me, do something, even if it was negative. At least it was something. And her anger thrown back at me would just make me angrier, and the cycle would continue.

I see now that what my mother probably went through all those years was totally out of her control, and had nothing to do with us except for the fact that we probably drove her crazy with our fighting, our disagreements, our perpetual state of anger with one another, and our constant neediness for food, love, attention, things that were just beyond her reach at that time in her life because of her own neediness and lack of attention and love. She did not love herself, or care about herself, so she could not, in turn, care for her children. And we, being children, didn't understand that at all.

I can't say I'm anywhere near that point of desperation. I have some control over my emotions, and I don't end up in bed for three weeks straight like my mother did, not speaking, not eating, just existing. But I can understand how she would get to "that place". I truly do, because I've frightened myself a few times lately feeling the same way: that I could just curl up in a ball and stay in bed with my eyes closed, and that would be much better than actually being part of the world. Cocooning is an art form I am willing and anxious to perfect.

And especially when my lovely, amazingly brilliant and rather cute kids are home for the holidays for two weeks straight, and they argue with me and with each other and knock down my defenses like a badly built rock wall, it's really really difficult to get up and keep going. But I do, I have to. What choice is there? My children need their mom, their rock, their heart. And, by golly, it's Christmas time! So get off my ass I must, and with a smile on my face, dammit.

I guess my bone to pick is with the school board system, not with my kids. Why oh why do students and teachers "need" this time off? Why? And especially when Mr. Handsome is working his rather shapely buns off to get his damn project done before Christmas, and it's up to me to make everything fall into place. My god, the expectations.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Hair Is Emo & My Husband Is Blind

So, I got my hair done Saturday. It was time. Beyond time. I was once again beginning to look like the Yeti. That's how I know it was time for a trim. I was wearing a perpetual haystack on top of my head. And plus, Christmas is coming (in case you didn't know). I know it's time for a haircut when my nerves are all a-jangled because my hair keeps going in my eyes, and is very unruly, and its fingers are digging into my face, my scalp, begging me to take it out of its misery. Cut me! Cut me! it pleads. My hair is emo.

I got my hair highlighted with foils, and cut and blowdried. For those of you (read: mostly men) who don't know what foils entail, read on. Foils is basically just that: foil. Yes, Alcan foil cut into wide strips and then wrapped around chunks of your hair with some dye brushed on. I end up looking like a candidate for a 1960s exhibition freak show, or an airplane with a very wide wingspan. Foils is, in my opinion, a much better option than, say, the highlighting cap, which could also be called The Cap From Hell, or even The Suicide Cap. I used to get my hair highlighted with a cap because it was cheaper, and because they hadn't yet come out with the foil method. However, I would cringe for days before my hair appointment, preparing myself for the pain, the torture, the suffering. I felt like Christ on the cross when I went to the hairstylist. This is why: the cap is made of rubber, and it has these tiny holes poked throughout it. This cap gets pulled tightly onto your head (did I mention tightly?), much like a very tight pair of pantyhose that don't quite fit. Except they're on your head. This rubber cap with tiny holes basically is there covering your scalp, and then the torturer/hairdresser comes at you with something that looks like a crochet hook, but feels like an axe, and he starts picking through these little holes in the rubber cap and pulling strands of your plastered-down hair out through the tiny, miniscule holes. Now, not only does that hurt just reading that last sentence, but it really hurts when it's being done. Imagine someone taking small strands of your hair, and continually pulling them really really hard, without mercy, for about two hours straight. Let me just say that my scalp has bled, and I cried a lot. And that is why I now get foils.
My hairdresser, Lynne, does a great job, for a good price. I like her, and it's always fun to sit there and listen to the stylist next to her, Luigi, go on and on with his customers in his heavy Italian accent. I feel like I'm in a scene from The Godfather, and I keep checking the mirror to make sure there isn't anyone behind me with a rope, or a horse.

There is this test I do with Mr. Handsome whenever I get my hair done. I don't mention my plans to him, and then when he sees me, I wait silently and patiently to see if he notices any difference. Usually, he doesn't. Then I get angry with him and treat him badly for days. Just kidding. Mostly.

And sometimes, he hates it. Or wishes I hadn't gotten it cut and styled, because he likes the way I do it, which is really no way at all. I usually wake up in the morning too late to do anything with myself but run a brush quickly through it to smooth out the various lumps and moguls any skier would love to go down. Sometimes I even wash my face and brush my teeth. Usually not until after I've had at least one cup of coffee, preferably two, and have had a chance to pick my nose and watch Ellen DeGeneres. I love her, by the way. I wish I could be her BFF, because I know we would be. I'd be a lot better than Paris Hilton, that's for damn sure.

Anyway, I digress yet again.

So, I got my hair done on Saturday, and this time, Mr. Handsome knew I was getting my hair done because I told him so. We've been extremely busy around here the past couple of months, mostly because of Mr. Handsome. I haven't been busy at all on my own, unless you call sitting on the couch, drinking coffee, eating bonbons, picking my nose and watching Ellen busy. Well, it sounds busy, doesn't it? If that ain't multi-tasking, I don't know what is.

Mr. Handsome has been very very busy with work, and he hasn't been home much, which is unusual for the little feller. He's a busy little bee, darting in and out of the house to eat, then back to work. Don't ask me what he's doing. You'd fall asleep if I began trying to explain it, which I can't, so I won't. It's much too complicated for this little brain of mine. And besides, Ellen is coming on soon.

Let's just say that because Mr. Handsome hasn't been home much, it's all been on me -- can you believe it?! -- to get things done, and that includes Christmas shopping, doctor appointments, stocking stuff, cleaning the house (oh god), decorating (double oh god), and making sure Nanaimo is drinking. We know she's eating, because she's gaining 30 grams a day in weight. The pig.

One of my friends said to me the other day, "Maybe your husband is having an affair?", to which I scoffed, sprayed coffee out my nose, and then said, "Yeah, whatever," because I know that scenario is just too ridiculous, and plus, I haven't given him permission.

So, like I said, I got my hair done, and then I came home, and came into The House of Shambles, whereby my daughter lay on the couch in tears because she was sick and on the verge of throwing up, and she says she has a vomit phobia. Just a minute, I have to see if there is actually a scientific name for that...yup, there is. It's emetophobia. Can you believe it?! So, she's writhing on our couch, moaning, calling out my name in a trembling, weak voice, her hand outstretched, grasping blindly for mine. Dennis is doing pseudo-Karate moves in the living room at the Christmas tree and the dog, both of whom are ignoring him.

So, I come in and get very busy, sitting on the couch holding my daughter's hand and shouting at my son to stop screaming so loudly in a foreign language. That's all I did until Mr. Handsome finally came home from the office. Oh yeah, I forgot. I also got some groceries, and Mr. Handsome asked me to please pick up a take-out chicken dinner because he would be getting home late and it was his turn to make dinner (yes, he makes dinner occasionally).

So, we have our dinner, except for Milly, who is still splayed on the couch, and then, as Mr. Handsome and I pass each other in the hallway and he gropes my left butt cheek, he looks at me and stops. And he says, "Wow, you've got major flat head today." And he proceeds to take his hands and muss up my hair in a rather feeble attempt to add body to my just-styled hair. You see, Lynne had added some product before blowdrying it with a roller brush, hence straightening my usually less-than-straight hair and creating a flattening, yet flattering, effect. I liked it. I don't normally wear it this way, but I liked it. Not that it would ever look that way again, not until I visited Lynne again.

So, Mr. Handsome musses up my hair and then proclaims, "There, that's better."

And I tell him, "I just got my hair done today."

To which he sheepishly replies, "Oh..." And after another length pause, he says, "It looks good!"

We are still on speaking terms. Just.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yeah. Whatever.

Mr. Handsome, groping me around the waist: Oops, sorry. I didn't know your breast was that low.

Me: It's not my breast. It's my stomach...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Secrets About Me

I hate being home alone at night.

I wish I looked like Heidi Klum, Charlize Theron or Katherine Heigl. Honestly, any one would do.

I want to be 24 years old again, but knowing what I know now, and being who I am now.

Sometimes I hate myself.

I feel like a failure a lot of the time.

I wish I could swim well.

I still want to be a "successful" author before I die.

I was extremely insecure in my 20s.

I've pretended to be sick in the past.

I think I'm a pretty good person overall.

I have hair growing on my face. Thanks, perimenopause.

Oftentimes, I wish I could just be.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Meet Nanaimo

This is Nanaimo, who also likes to be called Mo. She is the newest member of our family, coming to our home a little over a week ago as Furry's newest companion.

Nanaimo has settled in quite nicely, after being quarantined for a week, just in case she was carrying scurvy or tuberculosis or something just as awful. She was not happy being by herself, and would hide under her hay pile, not eating or drinking. We were a bit concerned, so we were hand-feeding and offering her lots of drinks, to make sure she didn't die.

We then decided we might as well introduce her to Furry, our five-year-old guinea pig, who's been alone since Cuddles' demise Nov. 30. We were a bit concerned, since Furry is a more assertive piggy, and has been around for five years, hence as far as she's concerned, she's the boss and ain't no one gonna tell her otherwise. We had read that guinea pigs are often very territorial and can be quite vicious, so we were a tad hesitant to leave the two together for any length of time. We decided to introduce them to one another in the living room, aka neutral territory, and see what happened.

By the time they noticed the other's existence, they were literally nose-to-nose. I know these little guys apparently have bad eyesight, but come on! NOSE TO NOSE?! No wonder these animals are prey.

Anyway, as soon as Nanaimo realized there was actually another guinea being in her environment, she went crazy, as in, "Oh my god, I can't believe I'm not alone in this cruel world! My saviour has arrived!" and she nuzzled right into Furry's neck of cuddly furriness. It was very sweet. I almost cried. Instead, I just whimpered a bit. Furry was not as affectionate. She sniffed baby Mo, gave her the once-over, and then started searching for food since as everyone well knows, guinea pigs are always starving.

After a while on the living room floor, we put the piggies back, Mo in her temporary quarantined quarters, and Furry in the cage that is more like an acreage. Mo immediately began planning her escape, screeching as only a guinea pig can screech, trying to climb up the walls of the box that held her bedding and water and food. She even tried to squeeze through a handle hole in the box in an attempt to get out and be reunited with her newfound friend, Furry. So, we decided we'd try and leave them together in the permanent cage and see how Furry reacted.

I'm happy to report that all seems well. Furry ignores Mo for the most part, but puts her in her place whenever needed, which seems to be quite often. Mo seems to think it's quite all right to climb over Furry's head in order to get to the other side, or to stick her nose halfway up Furry's butt. Quite undignified, but very piglike. Mo obviously has not yet learned Pig Protocol. There is no violence, which is the main thing. Just little reminders here and there that Furry is the boss, the mature pig, and please don't climb over my head or run circles around me just because you are five years younger than I am. And do NOT climb on my HEAD.

Yes, Furry speaks like this. I'm not making it up. You know those cartoons with the cows that are in a field, and when no one's around, they discuss profound topics? And then, when humans appear, they starting mooing? Well, that is what our guinea pigs do. No, I'm not crazy, or trying to be funny even. Fine. Don't believe me.

Furry seems to understand that Mo is but a baby, just learning, and so she is being gentle and patient with her, much more so than any of us thought she would be. We're not sure she's so happy to have this new companion, seeing as she is obviously going to be given a run for her money. We've apologized profusely to Furry already for this. And Mo is just so extremely happy to have a companion, to be in the company of a much larger, but gentle, guinea pig. She gets agitated if she's removed from the cage without her Furry friend. Music to my ears.
I never really thought I could become so attached to guinea pigs. I never thought they would have little personalities, little mannerisms that would be so appealing to me. I never thought I'd find their tiny little lips and bucked teeth so amusing. I thought that I'd maybe get as attached to them as I would to a tank of goldfish. Not that there's anything wrong with goldfish. They're great. I wouldn't even flush one down the toilet if it passed away. I'd give it a proper burial. That's how much I respect goldfish. But guinea pigs...well, you know...they're just plain adorable, and that's all I'm going to say on the topic.

And yes, in case you're wondering, the pigs get their own stockings for Christmas. Obviously Santa Claus loves them too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Milking My Face For All Its Worth

Once I hit my 40s, which was really only nanoseconds ago (honest!), I began to notice a definite change in my appearance. See here and here for examples, if you dare.

What has really hit me hard, however, is the change in my skin, especially on my face. I never had wrinkles to speak of until the 40s era reared its ugly head. First, it was around the eyes. Very noticeable, very awful wrinkles that not only appeared overnight in the corners of my once-beautiful green eyes, but also bagged wrinkles that accumulated underneath my once-beautiful green eyes. These wrinkly bags are so noticeable and so large that I look part-elephant. No, they're not laugh lines, and no, I should not be proud of them as I am of my stretch marks. No. These are just plain old elephant-skin bags of wrinkled skin, hanging from tethers under my eyes, like a deflated hot air balloon that's begging to land.

Soon after, the jowls began their downward dance. Now, most of my friends and family poo poo me whenever I speak of my jowls, telling me I'm crazy. But I know. I know they're just trying to make me feel better. I know what they're really saying is, "We really feel for you, Mary. You must get a bad road rash dragging those cheeks around."

Those endearing pictures of basset hounds you see? That's me, except not so endearing.

So, one day a few years ago, in an effort to combat the progressive and literal descent of my aging carapace, my sloughing parchment, I decided to actually try and do something about it instead of what I usually do, which is nothing. So I went to my favourite cross-stitch store in town, Cross-Stitch Cupboard, which is now known as Knit One, Stitch Two!. Why, you ask? Because that's where I go when I need to de-stress, to forget about life's many foibles, and to drown myself in the waves and oceans of cross-stitch patterns. They make me happy. If you don't understand this, you never will, and that's perfectly okay. Just don't judge me for having this love affair with all things cross-stitch, okay? I can't help it. It just happened.

So, I was at Knit One, Stitch Two!, having multiple orgasms while in the holiday pattern aisle, when I happened to glance over to my right, and there, inconspicuously sitting on a shelf, was a jar of udder cream. You are probably asking yourself right now, "What in heaven's name is udder cream doing in a stitching shop?!" Well, if you aren't, you should be, don't you think? I know I did. Being the curious person that I am, I picked up this jar, after recovering from my 10th consecutive orgasm, and tried to understand why it was there.

The cream, called Udderly Smooth, is just that: udder cream. That is, for cows, who possess udders. And, I'm just guessing here, dry udders. Maybe even chapped udders. I'm not a country girl, but I'm assuming cows' udders can get chapped. Can't they? I'm sure they can. Otherwise, why would udder cream even exist?

This cream, I discovered, is amazing. I'm sure the cows think so. But I'm talking about we humans now. Udderly Smooth is greaseless and stainless, hence its presence at the cross-stitch shop. In order to cross-stitch, quilt or knit, you really need your hands to be in good shape, not dry and chapped, sore and rough. So, we cross-stitchers slather some of this lotion on our workaholic hands, and voila! they are reborn!
And so, being the gifted person I am, I had another thought. If this cream is so holy for the hands, not to mention the udders, than it should be more than adequate for the face. And not just any face. My face. My corrugated, corrupt, creased, folded and withered face. If it can repair the most furrowed and chapped udders, it can definitely help me, I reasoned.
The instructions on the jar state, "Wash udder and teat parts thoroughly with clean water and soap before each milking. Apply to the udder after each milking, massaging into the skin. For teat cracks, apply in sufficient quantity to fill crack and cover surrounding area. Apply uniformly to chafed area and bruises to maintain skin suppleness. For aid in softening swollen udders following calving, apply liberally twice daily with gentle massage."
So that's what I did. On my face, not my udders, although I'm sure they could use some cream too. I threw on some Udderly Smooth and massaged it into my face, just like the directions said. At first, I put it on at night before I went to bed. The next morning, my skin felt smooooth and soft, like silky chiffon. I was amazed. Truly. So, I started using the lotion every morning as well. It does the job without the greasy feeling many lotions have, which is what I like about it, apart from the fact that it feels sooo good and makes my skin feel like a baby's squeaky clean butt.
I use this stuff religiously now. I don't know if it's made a huge difference in the appearance of my elephant skin, or the further downward sinking of my jowls, but I do know that my skin is no longer rough, dull, and dry. And really, that's all I can ask for at this stage in my life. But wouldn't it be really cool if my cheeks started producing milk? I wouldn't mind hanging jowls so much if I could get a sip of warm milk from them when the urge strikes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Want To Look Like Jennifer Aniston -- No, Really I Do

If I were turning 40 and looked like Jennifer Aniston, I'd be pretty damn proud of it too. Apparently, she's on the cover of January's GQ magazine, and she's naked, but for a striped tie, AND she's surrounded by almost-naked men. If I were lesbian, I would be buying up every GQ there is. I still may. Become lesbian, that is, and then buy up all the GQs.

Sorry, Mr. Handsome. It was great while it lasted.

Apparently the article is about Aniston turning 40 and being hotter than she's ever been. And I can't say I disagree. She has a certain je ne sais quoi about her now that she didn't have 10 or 15 years ago. It's not just about how amazing her body is. I can't be sure, but I'm pretty sure some PhotoShop and airbrushing is involved. What "normal" woman can look like that without daily work-outs that last hours and involve five different personal trainers and assistants?

What has changed, and what's more important, I think, is her confidence in herself as a person, as a woman. She's gone through a lot, and it took its toll on her. But I think she's finally coming out of her shell and becoming a full, rounded person with great self-esteem and a lot more knowledge about herself and those around her. She finally seems comfortable in her own skin.

So, okay, good for her. I really am happy for her. She's 40, looks like she's 20, feels great about herself, and has every man in North America wanting to bonk her. But why all this brouhaha over a celebrity who we all know does not live the life most of humanity lives? Why place so much importance on someone who we all see as a character, not really knowing who she is at all. Not only that, what do her days actually consist of? Getting up early, getting kids to school, eating on the run as she hurries to her office job, where she sits on her ass for 8 hours, then rush back home to make a hearty frozen dinner for her family, then clean up, do homework with the little angels, bathe the kiddies, give them lots of love, and put them safely to bed. And then have your husband grope you, in the hopes of more. Yeah, right. NOT.

Jennifer Aniston's day is probably chock full of lots of work and stress, what with all the paparazzi hounding her day and night, climbing over the hedges that surround her property. She probably has to put in some early mornings, but more likely than not, she gets to sleep in as late as she pleases most days, in her mansion, on her 4,000-count sheets and her princess bed. She then goes for a lazy lunch by the pool, or out with her friend Courtney, or John, and then to the spa to recover. Oh, and I forgot that she works out. A lot. And goes to Cabo San Lucas whenever she pleases. And probably has some lipo, Botox, breast implants and other cool procedures done that most of the rest of us could never afford. I'm pretty sure (although again, I don't really know) she's had her boobs "improved", if you know what I mean.

I'm not making fun of her, or trying to belittle her. In fact, I think she's a pretty great woman who's been very successful. Go for it, Jen! It just riles me when people talk about her as some amazing woman who has made it to 40 looking so freaking fabulous. What goes unsaid is, "Why doesn't MY wife/girlfriend look like that?" or "Why can't I look that wonderful, and I'm only 30?!" This is what I find so unfair, so threatening to women. It's the old argument of the media playing a joke on the female race, making us feel inadequate by promoting models and celebrities as this is how women "should" look. And it's frightening because we all unconsciously get sucked into this belief. I caught myself looking at Aniston's well-chiseled body and feeling bad about mine. And I do have reason to feel bad about my body, believe me, but I certainly don't need photos and stories about a celebrity to help me along in that area, thanks very much. My question is, do we not have brains in our heads able to stop this subconscious droning from occurring? What is it about seeing a photo of Jennifer Aniston that turns us into drooling fools, ready to believe that she "just" looks that way, and why don't we all?

This trend, this ploy to make we women feel inadequate (because that is how we're going to feel when we gaze at a photo of Jennifer Aniston BUCK NAKED) is truly unfair, is overwhelming, and is nowhere near ready to disappear. No matter how much is said about how wrong it all is, how awful it is that these portrayals of perfection are thrown in our faces day in and day out, it continues, and it's happening more frequently. I don't see it disappearing anytime soon.

So, what we have to do is perhaps stop blaming the media for our sheeplike activity, and look at ourselves for a moment. Why do we tend to feel negatively about ourselves upon looking at a photo we know damn well isn't "real" in any sense of the word? Why, oh why, do we think that we should, at the age of 40, have biceps and deltoids like Jen's without working out 10 hours a week and not having family or any other real responsibilities to interfere. Why do we think our hair should always look as amazing as Aniston's does, regardless of what she's doing. Why does her butt have such an amazingly perfect shape to it? And what about wrinkles?

Dammit. Oops, there I go again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Toxic Waste

Milly is a careful, cautious and conservative child, always on the watch for anything out of the ordinary. She's always questioning, searching, wondering, skeptical, investigative. Have I given you enough adjectives to get the drift? Good. I had no more to give. Honestly.

Milly has been like this almost from Day One. Of course, when she was first born, all we knew about her was that she had an awesome scowl, could poop out really weird black stuff (yeah, I know, it's meconium, but I DIDN'T know that back THEN), she had these amazing, baggy knees, and she looked just like Yoda. Soon enough, however, we realized who we were dealing with. This bald child with a black soft silk tuft on top of her head was inquisitive, always wanting to know more. By the age of 2 months, she was already listening intently while Mr. Handsome read to her from his macro-economics text (he was in the first year of his lifelong PhD program). If she could speak at that age, I just know she would have been asking him questions like, "Why do you keep mispronouncing words, Daddy?" or "Daddy, what are difference equations and linear dynamic models really about?"

Milly is forever aware of her surroundings, of what her brother Dennis is up to at any given nanosecond, and of where I hide my numerous bags of candy, chocolate, and potato chips (I need constant sustenance for a dire health issue).

So, it was no surprise to me the other day when she came into the living room where I was sitting, and said, in all seriousness, "Mommy, I think there's carbon monoxide coming from the pipes in the bathroom."

Now, I'm not one to get all dramatic and berserk over a possible gas leak in the house. I do think about the possibility of a gas leak the odd time, usually when I am sitting on the couch, staring off into space, and drooling into the palm of my upturned hand. I do understand safety issues in the home, and I am aware of them. But I don't spend my days ruminating about the possibilities of the furnace leaking gas into the house, or of water coming in under the doors from a flooding toilet. No, I'm usually too busy worrying about things like, 'Will anyone notice that Dennis didn't wear underwear again today?' or 'How do I get rid of those nasty nostril hairs once and for all?' or 'How many more weeks can the sheet on our bed last before I really need to start thinking about washing it?'

However, when Milly mentions something, is concerned or perturbed, you'd better listen because more often than not, she's on to something. She's a very smart girl, very detail-oriented, and did I mention she's smart? As well, she's MUCH more aware than anyone else in this godforsaken household. She notices things like the lack of any food in the refrigerator, the rotting odour coming from the potato cupboard (oh! it's the potatoes! they're rotting!), and when Dennis has put the spatula somewhere other than where its home is (like, in the corner, under the microwave, or in the dog bowl).

So, Milly mentions the noxious smell, a worried look on her cute teenaged, angst-ridden face.

"I don't know what it is, Mommy, but I've looked everywhere. I think it may be coming from the pipes in the bathroom. Should we call the fire department? The gas department? Isn't it dangerous? I think it might be toxic!"

First, I look to see if she is actually serious, since Milly is known to have a very mature and great sense of humour. Then, when I realize she is serious, I take a deep breath, trying hard not to die from embarrassment and laughter. I know what she's talking about, and it's not dangerous. Well, it won't kill you, at any rate. It might cause you to lose consciousness for several minutes, and your appetite for longer, but it won't kill you.

I decide to tell her.

"Oh, it's toxic all right," I say. "Toxic waste."

The Colour of the Grinch

A family was watching "How The Grinch Stole Christmas", the original cartoon version we all know and love:

Girl 1: What colour is the Grinch, Daddy?

Dad: Well, he looks green.

Girl 2: He's not green, Daddy!

Girl 1: Yeah, he's not green, Daddy!

Dad: Sure he is. What colour would you say he is if he isn't green? He's green. He's always been green.

Girls 1 & 2: He's chartreuse, Daddy!

Dad, to his wife: What's chartreuse?

Monday, December 15, 2008

One Person

Unfortunately, I had an experience yesterday that reminded me of how angry and impatient people in our society have become, how quickly they are to lash out at strangers, and for no good reason, often for no reason at all.

An older man yesterday decided it was my day to get shit on. I happened to drive into a laneway so that I could drop off something. This man had just pulled into this same laneway ahead of me, and then had pulled back out and parked on the street. I got out of my car, and this man, who looked like a cross between Eddie Albert (god rest his acreage) and, strangely enough, Mr. Ed. This man had pure white hair like Santa Claus, and a face as red as Satan. And what came out of his mouth was stuff I hope my son never hears again. There were also tiny balls of saliva that flew out of his open, angry maw as he shouted at me, and steam I swear coming out of his sizeable, flap-worthy ears.

Anyway, this older man, who should have definitely known better, was screaming at me because -- get this -- I parked in the laneway where he was planning on shovelling. Yes. That's what I did so woefully wrong, obviously intentionally to harm this man, to make life that much harder for him. Apparently, parking in the driveway to drop something off created a huge -- and I mean HUGE -- problem for him. Not only was I now in his way, but I had also seemingly packed down the snow in the driveway with my behemoth of a Honda Accord, and now it was going to be pretty much impossible to clear the drive of all the snow, according to Mr. Satan's Spawn.

Not only did he shout this at me once, not even twice...he bellowed and barked and yammered and yawped about it probably well over twenty times, all the while trying to stab me with his dartlike eyes of ice.

What was so satisfying was my reaction to this barrage of verbal abuse. I was calm, cool, and quiet. I asked him why he was so angry, whether he was actually yelling at me, and then I suggested he calm down lest he have a heart attack. And as I left the driveway, I called out, "Have a great day, sir!"

Now, what I was so extremely proud of was the fact that my normal reaction to such a person's wigged out screaming would be to flail at him with my abnormally long arms, and to scream unmentionable swear words that I can't stand to even think about in my usual, calmer moments. I become a maniac when anyone insults me or someone I care for. I go berserk, distraught with emotion, uncontrollable rage seething through every pore of my sad little body. I am not proud of this fact, but it is indeed the truth, and that's what I'm all about here, so there you go. Now you know. I have even let loose in front of my father and in front of my children, and I still cringe when I think about those times, those moments when I was so insensed, so unzipped that it didn't matter if the Pope had been standing in front of me, ready to baptize me (does he even do that?).

And what I thought of after leaving that driveway and the devil spawn that stood there with his beloved shovel and gleaming snowblower, snearing at me, was thank god these unhappy, nasty people are few and far between in this great world of ours. I thought of the man I met a couple of months ago, who had backed into my car when we were at a stop light. This man made the experience almost enjoyable, if an accident can be described like that at all. He backed into me accidentally (hence, the aforementioned ACCIDENT), and was so gracious and kind and gentle about the whole thing, I still can hardly believe it. You can read more about it here, if you really and truly want to and need to.

All this to say that it only takes one person to remind you that the world is a good place and that everything is not an uphill battle. And those few-and-far-between people who have broom handles stuck up their proverbial asses and think the world revolves around them and their snowblowing issues could learn a very good lesson from my friend Mike.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Living in Ottawa

You know you're in Ottawa in the winter when you place your snow brush on the trunk of the car, and then forget about it, and it freezes to your car, and you end up driving all over the city with it, and then you find it at the end of the day in the grocery store parking lot, still sitting on the trunk of your car.

Is it spring yet?

Life In The Fast Lane Surely Make You Lose Your Mind (Thank You, Eagles)

This life we live is lived too quickly. I'm sure there are more people out there than just me who believe this.

Nowadays, we have the many conveniences at our fingertips that we could only imagine 30 years ago. And imagine we did. We tried to imagine what life would be like with computers, laptops, remote phones, the Internet, cable television. I found it very hard to imagine, almost impossible since it was so far from our reality at the time. How wonderful it would be to be able to actually have a phone in your pocket when you're at the mall, for example, and you see something that perhaps your dearest husband would love, so you think you may call him and just see if you're right. Or imagine how perfectly fabulous it would be to have a portable computer that DOESN'T need a WIRE to connect to the Internet. Imagine going to Starbucks (which didn't exist 30 years ago, I know) and bringing your laptop and being able to surf the Internet while you relax in a cozy wing chair and sip a Venti Caramel Macchiato with extra whipped cream and caramel swirls (I feel fatter already). Imagine being able to get answers to essay questions without having to put on a coat, get on the bus and go to the library, hoping a pervert won't attach himself to you and ogle you from behind the bookshelves. The possibilities are endless.

Well, that day is here. And I don't like it.

Well, okay. I can't say I don't like it with every single fibre of my being. I admit that there are times when the convenience of having a cell phone in my bag is pretty damn awesome, or when being able to just quickly go to Google to look up that gnawing question you've had about whether or not astronauts can eat beans before going up into space (FYI, they can't) is beyond orgasmic. Yes, I too greatly enjoy having these moments of immediate gratification when highspeed wifi is mentioned in casual conversation. I'll be one of the first to admit that immediacy can be a wild and wonderful thing.

Where it goes awfully wrong is here: the expectations society now has for immediate gratification, immediate responses, and immediate happiness are overwhelmingly limitless, and are creating a lot of misery for a lot of unsuspecting people. Gone are the days when Sundays were for lolling around the house, reading a book, going for a long walk, or just napping. Now, Sundays are "catch-up" days, days to get caught up on homework, shopping, cleaning, work, work and work. People look at you strangely if you stay in your pajamas all day, accusing you of laziness. Stores are open seven days a week. Banks are automatized to the extent that it feels strange to walk up to an actual human teller. Television shows are in high definition, with stereo audio, and are able to be recorded to be viewed whenever you come home. The channels now available are infinite, so if you really wanted to, you could find something interesting to watch at any time of the day or night. At the store and not sure if there's milk at home? Easy. Grab your cell and you've got the answer in seconds. Need to get hold of your Realtor? You expect a response within minutes, if not seconds. If your computer doesn't load immediately (read 'dial-up'), you get frustrated and want to pull your hair out. Everything is now now now, and five minutes feels more like five years. Stress levels go up, patience and acceptance go down, smiles decrease while forehead furrows get deeper. Do you feel the stress?

I have found, over the past 10 years or so, that my life has gotten more stressful, more nerve-racking, more busy. And it's more than I can honestly handle. My brain is on overload at all times, and it's all I can do to simply remember my name some days. I no longer handle stress well, and I find that any little blip in the day is cause for me to unravel. I start to sweat profusely, my hands tremble, and I find my breathing gets shallow and rapid. I'm a veritable mess.

It's just the way it is now. And try as I might to avoid all aspects of today's digitized and hair-trigger life, I know I too have been sucked deep into its mysterious appeal, its glamour, its seeming necessity. I truly like having information when I want it, and relatively effortlessly. I love having the ability to easily contact someone if I'm stranded in my car. I love shopping online and avoiding store line-ups and ignorant people who block aisles with their carts and enormous asses.

What I don't love so much, and what frightens me, is the impatience, anger and self-centredness that occur as a result of people being accustomed to this new world of immediate gratification. Adults and children alike expect everything NOW, not unlike Veruca Salt in 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which I adore, by the way). If traffic is slow, horns start blaring, angers flare, heart rates climb. If there's nothing on television to soothe the savage beast when it wants soothing, watch out! If the Internet breaks down momentarily, we all freak out and start waving our hands around, screaming like a Banshee and believing the world is about to come to an end.

I have often wanted, and seriously given thought, to moving to Italy or Mexico, somewhere where life is slow, meals are enjoyed, waiting is to be expected, and afternoon siestas are an integral part of the day. People take their time to enjoy the day, the meal, the sensation of the wind blowing through their hair, instead of texting while they eat their Ready-in-15-Minutes-Or-It's-Free pasta. They have wine with their meals, they laugh and talk while they work, and priorities are family, happiness, and LIVING LIFE, instead of just getting through the day doing as much as possible. Success should be measured in terms of laughter, smiles and love, not by how many tasks we got done, or how quickly we got from Point A to Point B.

Although my children are deep into all that I kind of sort of abhor in today's society, Mr. Handsome and I do try to instill in them a sense of what we feel is truly important in life: family, friends, acts of kindness, love, generosity, the Golden Rule, and being happy with what you've got instead of always wantingwantingwanting moremoremore. It's difficult when they are surrounded by children who get what they want when they want it, and always have the newest fashions, the best hairstyles, the coolest toys. All we can do is keep trying and reminding them, and hoping that they will someday pass on these beliefs and qualities to their children. And then, they can just throw all their doodads, big screen tvs, and Wii games over to us!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ahhhhh, Akhassa

I recently had the opportunity to review a wonderful product for my oh-so-ignored and worn feet, and I will be forever indebted to Akhassa and Mom Fuse for this!

Akhassa is a company that creates amazingly delicious (I swear you'll want to eat them for dessert) spa-quality products for use in the privacy of your home. They have a variety of products devoted to transforming your every moment into a personal spa experience. Only natural ingredients are used, with pure essential oils and extracts distilled from exotic Asian plants, flowers, fruits and herbs, inspiring their holistic philosophy. There are no animal-based ingredients, artificial dyes or fragrances in any of their products, and all are cruelty-free.

There are three distinct lines in the Akhassa home spa collection, each featuring a unique balance of aromas and natural ingredients. The "Nurture" line was created to fortify the body and mind. Products include Ylang Ylang Body Lotion, Jasmine Body Scrub, and Ylang Ylang Sea Salt Soak. Next in line are the "Retreat" products, which have been made with relaxation in mind. Products include Kaffir Lime Body Lotion, Lemongrass Body Lotion, and Lemongrass Shower Cream. And last, but not least, is the "Rituals" line of products, which were inspired by the rituals practised throughout Asia, from simple beauty routines to sacred ceremonies. Products in this line include Ginger Foot Compress, Jasmine Hand Cream, and Pink Tea Hand Scrub.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try out the Lemongrass Foot Cream from the "Rituals" line. I say "lucky" because I had the chance to experience a little bit of heaven, and how many people can say that? I'm not one to put a lot of thought or time into taking care of myself, so when offered the chance, I grab it with both hands and feet!

As soon as I opened the tube, I knew I was in for a luxurious and joyous experience. The lemongrass scent was heavenly, refreshing and calming. The cream is rich, and when you put it on your skin, you feel alive with a wonderful tingling, cooling sensation. The shea butter helps remoisturize your feet, and I for one know my feet certainly were lacking moisture.

I did as Akhassa suggested with the Lemongrass Foot Cream, and slathered on the cream and then slapped on some cotton socks and kept them on overnight. In the morning, I swore my feet were not my own. They were soft, the dryness gone, and they felt so refreshed. I felt like I had just been to the spa for a day of indulgence. It was truly wonderful.

I'm planning on using the foot cream on a regular basis since it's so easy to use, and feels amazing. And I deserve it! Now my 13-year-old daughter can't wait to use it. I have a feeling the tube won't last very long in this house!

I would highly recommend you take a close look at Akhassa's full line of products and try them for yourself. You'll be happy you did!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thawing The Shoulder

Having a frozen shoulder doesn't only hurt a ton, and isn't only HUGELY inconvenient, it SUCKS BIG TIME.

So, last week, I went into the hospital for a procedure they call 'capsular distention'. It's a fancy way of saying they fill your shoulder joint with lots and lots of fluid under pressure with very large needles while you writhe in absolute pain and continue trying to smile and not kick the doctor in the gonads (which, of course, means he was a he, and not a she, in which case the kick would probably result in contact with the lower vaginal area).

I had a frozen shoulder in my right shoulder over 4 years ago. They don't know why these shoulders 'freeze', but it happens with relative frequency, and apparently can be a real problem with diabetics. Of course, I'm not a diabetic.

Cortisone shots and physiotherapy helped with it that first time. Then, at the beginning of this year, I noticed similar pain in my left shoulder, but ignored it as I always do because there's too much to do and too little time. I ignored it until I started passing out from the pain whenever I would move my arm a little the wrong way (which was almost any way at all). I then thought it was time I get checked out. See here for more on my frozen shoulder

So, after a few months of physio and not a lot of progress, my doc suggested I go the next step, which is capsular distention. This is done in a hospital under local anaesthetic, and what they're basically doing is forcing the shoulder capsule open again very much against its will by filling it with lots of saline solution, cortisone, dye, and other goodies. Like I said, they do give you anaesthetic for the procedure, but man, it still really really hurts. And I mean a gut-wrenching hurt not unlike being punched really hard in the solar plexus.

I am the kind of weird person who likes to know EXACTLY what is going to happen and when, how it's going to feel, and what it will look like. I want all the details. I've even asked to stay awake during a surgical procedure because I wanted to experience it all. Yeah. I know. Weird. Anyway, so, always in tune with this all-knowing aspect of myself, before the procedure began, I asked the nurse if it would hurt. And she said it's "uncomfortable", which we all know is just another way to say it sucks big time and boy is she glad she's not me right now.

She told me they do give you anaesthetic, but that it often is still somewhat "uncomfortable". I asked for a definition of "uncomfortable" because, like I said, I need to know all. She winced visibly. Then, before she could answer, I continued, "Like, what I mean is, do people cry when this is done?" Mr. Handsome stood there, mouth open, not really believing what he was hearing escape his beautiful wife's gaping, drooling mouth.

So, then the nurse said, after swallowing hard and wiping her brow, "Well, yes. Sometimes people do cry. But not that often. We had one cry today already, so that should be it for today." And then she smiled.

I smiled back and said, "Does anyone do more than that? Like, pass out or something?" I asked this, more for the humorous aspect of it all, knowing full well that of course no one passes out from this procedure. It can't be that bad...

"Umm, well, yesss, we do have some people faint, but they're usually the men," the nurse said reassuringly.

I really thought she was joking, but she wasn't. And then I thought, this pain can't be worse than labour pain. And we women ALL know what that's like. Having some fluid infused into your shoulder joint WITH anaesthetic cannot be worse than labour without meds or an epidural.

Well, I'm here to tell you that it wasn't. It really really hurt. A lot. But it wasn't all that bad. I cried out, I kicked my legs a lot, I writhed on the surgical bed, I had sweat running down my brow, and my pits were damp, but I did not cry and I did not pass out, and I was able to get up off the table right afterward and MOVE MY ARM in a circle, which I have not been able to do for the past year! Hallelujah! The doctor, this cute little man who couldn't have weighed more than 98 lbs. wet, gently moved my arm around and around, watching my face intently for signs of impending death. They never came.

This procedure is relatively new here in Canada. It was only done in Australia for many years, and recently it was introduced to North America. Before that, they would put you under a general anaesthetic and manually (and violently, I might add) rip your shoulder joint apart, which apparently sometimes did the trick, but oftentimes really damaged the joint in the process. This capsular distention with fluid is much gentler, albeit very painful, and it still produces the same effect with a better rate of success. The fluid is under pressure, and when the doctor is injecting it into your shoulder joint, you can actually feel it expanding (that is, while you lie on the table and writhe in pain), not unlike an old balloon that has collapsed onto itself and is now being filled up and expanded with air or water. The fluid rips the adhesions apart that have occurred in the shoulder joint, which is why movement ceases in the first place. Thoughtfully, the doctor places a heavy sandbag on your hand so that you cannot move your arm while he injects it and causes extreme anguish, all the while saying, "You okay? You okay?"

I have noticed I have more mobility, for sure. Still painful, but I can now move. I start physio again this week with lovely Allen, and hopefully this will do the trick. If not, I'll have to have the distention done again. That's the bad news. The good news is, they haven't had anyone have to come in for a THIRD distention procedure yet!

Of course, there's always a first time...

Two Lips, Or Why Do We Live Here

I thought this might brighten your day, if you live anywhere in the vicinity of the huge dump of snow, freezing rain, ice pellets, and hail that has greeted us here in Ottawa. I must have heard this 10 times today: "WHY DO WE LIVE HERE?!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

PhD Stands For Pretty Harmless Dude

Mr. Handsome has his PhD and is very very smart -- I would say pretty much geniuslike -- but there are so many things he doesn't know or has a very difficult time understanding...
  • directions or streets in the city, getting from Point A to Point B

  • his way home

  • his phone number
  • his children's birthdates

  • anything besides public administration and policy, and the Moody Blues

  • that some things are just supposed to look pretty and not really do anything else

  • that the remote phone does NOT belong on the mantel

  • that the movie "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" is not about...shooting horses

  • a peck on the cheek and a tweak of the buttock is NOT considered foreplay
  • cleaning the bathroom entails moving things off the floor

  • cleaning a 4 x 4 foot bathroom does NOT take most people two days to do

  • cooking a pasta dinner doesn't have to entail using every single pot, pan and utensil in the kitchen

  • cooking a pasta dinner doesn't mean leaving half the tomato sauce on the walls

What Mr. Handsome DOES know and understand is:

  • my love for him is unconditional

  • his love for me is unconditional (at least, it sure seems that way!)

  • he's a great daddy

  • he manages finances like no other

  • he cares endlessly about his family

  • the ultimate importance of family

  • how to calm me down when I'm freakin' out, which is most days

  • how to assure me that all will be fine

  • that his logic balances my emotion

  • he has more patience than anyone I know, except maybe me

  • that he's a good person

  • that he's a wonderful husband, even though I sometimes may make him think the opposite

I like the second list. How about you?

View my page on Moms Helping Moms