Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Relax, Go With The Flow, Part 4, In Which We Get Serenaded By A Puppet

Due to overwhelming demand for more of my weekend getaway (which happened like a month ago, and it's more than about time that I finished this damn thing already), I am FINALLY posting Part 4 of this exciting, yet longer-than-it-really-should-be, encyclopedic analytical saga of Mr. Handsome's surprise to me for our recent 18th anniversary of marital semi-bliss. Believe it or not, Mr. Handsome himself has been begging -- yes, BEGGING -- me for the next instalment. I KNOW! Who knew that this would turn into such a monumental event?!

If you have not yet read Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this blockbuster event, I'd really strongly suggest you do that first, otherwise you might get hopelessly lost, which would be pretty unacceptable, if you ask me, which you haven't, but I'm not one to wait around for permission (just ask Mr. Handsome). Just do it. Now. Thanks.

Did you know that even at a 4 1/2-star bed and breakfast, the beds creak? And to that, I say, "What the heck?! Did we not just spend hundreds of dollars here?!" And for what? A noisy bed, which makes it sound like we have a full-blown orgy going on in our room (which, by the way, sat right above the VERY QUIET library), when in fact all we were really doing was reading our books and occasionally shifting our body weight so that we didn't get leg cramps or sore joints. God. You people have dirty dirty little minds.

So, after our night at the casino, and a breakfast of freshly baked croissants, homemade jams, quiche, and really really good coffee, we decided to do the tourist thing in Kingston and amble about, which I do quite well, apparently. Mr. Handsome and I wandered through the downtown core, taking in the many sites.

I had to take a picture of this because it was so funny. Yes, that is my sense of humour. I'm sorry.

A gorgeous limestone house, which you will find everywhere in Kingston.

Then we got lazy, Mr. Handsome started whining, so we decided to take a cute little trolley ride that would take us past all the city sights, without us having to do any work, which is right up our alley. After all, we were on vacation, right? The trolley was fun, but we didn't have an open window seat, which made me sad. But the worst part was the mother sitting behind us with her bratty five-year-old who kept screaming every time she saw a tree or rock or piece of garbage, and her mother thought she was god's gift to intelligence, because she kept trying to teach this bratty five-year-old all about the history of Kingston, which, of course, the five-year-old couldn't care less about, and she did it in this VERY LOUD VOICE, so that everything SOUNDED LIKE THIS in my ears for THE WHOLE FREAKING HOUR we were on the godforsaken trolley car. And I asked myself why was this woman even on this trolley car tourist ride thing if she and her child already knew everything there was to know about Kingston?!

And then I had this urge to maim her, just a little, so that I could have just a little peace and quiet on my vacation with my husband, but then I remembered that Kingston has 11 prisons, so I kept looking over at Mr. Handsome, who would acknowledge my obvious pain with a small nod of the head, and we carried on until the tour was over and we could get off the trolley and as far away as possible from that irritating woman and her extreme knowledge of Kingston and everything else that was oh-so-annoying by this point.

The remainder of the day was spent wandering about, taking in the sites, such as this:

St. Mary's Cathedral, the tallest building in Kingston.

City Hall.

and sitting in Starbucks, sipping special cold drinks, and reading books, enjoying the sunshine and quiet, and just being. I then started to fall asleep in one of the big, comfy chairs we had snagged by the windows, and I didn't want to start snoring and drooling in public, so we made our way back to the B&B to get ready for dinner.

Once again, Mr. Handsome had secret plans up his sleeve. I know! Who IS this man I married?

As we made our way to dinner, Mr. Handsome led me by the arm, all romantic-like, and he kept guiding me from one restaurant to another, winding through this street and that, all the while keeping me totally oblivious (more so than usual) to where we were actually going to end up dining.

And then, suddenly, we were on a boat! Yes, a boat. Mr. Handsome had made plans to take me on a -- GET THIS! -- a sunset dinner cruise! This is yet again something I have wanted to do for a very long time, and here we were, doing it! I was bowled over by Mr. Handsome's impressive ability to know exactly what to do to totally blow me away. Not that he doesn't do this on a semi-regular basis, but this was serious stuff.

We actually even got window seats, which just made it that much more special for us, because it meant we'd actually be able to see the sunset without lots of people's heads in our way.

The cruise boat looked like this:

I don't know who this woman is, and she wouldn't move for me. I don't think she understood my extreme arm flailing and foaming at the mouth.

and as you can see, it is basically made of glass, so that you have a full, unencumbered view of Lake Ontario and the sun setting as we travelled through The Thousand Islands.

The cruise took about three-and-a-half hours, during which I took about 547 photos of -- you guessed it -- the sunset.

The cruise also offered a dinner and entertainment, which excited me to no end. That is, until dinner arrived, and the entertainment began. Because we all know that, if you're going on a sunset dinner cruise, and you're paying through the nose, you expect certain things; namely, a sunset (which we obviously had), a nice dinner, and good entertainment. NOT a dinner that might be acceptable at, say, you neighbourhood family restaurant, where you expect that the meat is going to be overcooked, the sauce from a can, and the veggies cooked to the point that they no longer resembled anything even remotely of this world. Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but it was. We expected more.

But, can I tell you about the entertainment? Oh, the entertainment was out of this world. And I mean that, and not in a good way. It was alarming and dreadful, is what it was. Because, you see, we had this guy

who thought he was HILARIOUS with all caps, and he really wasn't. At all. He kept telling jokes that were shopworn and very unamusing, and I would even hazard to say inappropriate at times. Because here we all were, celebrating anniversaries and special birthdays and things, and here's this guy, dressed in a penguin suit with bowtie, telling us the worst jokes ever. Oh, people were laughing, but I'm pretty sure they felt sorry for him. I know I did. Although it did seem like some people actually thought he was all that, and if they really did, god help them all.

And then he started singing, and he would put on different costumes, depending on the song being sung, and he'd pretend to be Elvis, or Bob Marley, and sometimes he'd pull out a puppet, and walk around the boat singing like Barbra Streisand. No joke.

What amazed me maybe the most was that, at the end, he was shucking his wares (he had CDs of his stuff out), and PEOPLE ACTUALLY LOOKED interested, and went up to the front and SOME PEOPLE EVEN BOUGHT THEM! I'm still shaking my head over this one, because guys, HE WASN'T THAT GOOD. He wasn't even sort of good. He had an okay voice, but his act left a lot to be desired.

But you know what, folks? Mr. Handsome and I didn't let any of that ruin our evening, because we made it into a positive thing, because that's how we roll, and instead, we laughed at him as we picked overcooked chicken out of our teeth, and took more pictures of the amazing sunset, and went back to our B&B for our last night in Kingston, where we made more noise on our very creaky and expensive bed as we read our books and tried to digest our mediocre dinner, all the while smiling because it was one of the best nights ever, and we had each other.

Next (and last, I promise) instalment, comin' right up! Honest.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Never Leave Home Without A Migraine

So, the other day, I did something that is, even for me, amazingly stupid with a capital "S".

I was driving Em to a shopping mall parking lot, which was a pick-up point for a camp she was going to for the weekend. I looked all disheveled, not having washed my hair, and having thrown on a dirty pair of sweats. I also was experiencing Day Three of a migraine, which often makes me look like this:

Not only that (if you can imagine things getting any worse) but I was driving my dad's old car, with a rusting license plate and a heater that doesn't work. It also had a plastic dog poop in the back window before Mr. Handsome demanded it be taken down. Now, it's in the glove compartment, a much better location.

So, I was driving along a busy road, worrying that we were going to be late dropping Em off for the bus to camp because she demanded I go through the Tim Horton's drive-thru for an iced cappuccino, which I did because she was buying. I managed to time things perfectly, ending up stopping at every single traffic light in our path, which just made matters worse.

Finally, I'd had enough of this crap. I don't like being late for things, and I'd be damned if I was going to have Em miss her bus and NOT go away for an entire weekend of pure bliss (for me). The traffic was atrocious (it being rush hour and all), people were impatient (it was Friday), and my head was throbbing. Also, I had caught a glimpse of myself in the rear-view mirror, and I almost lost control of the car. Yeah, it was THAT bad.

As I'm stopped at YET ANOTHER RED LIGHT, this dingwad from the local KFC parking lot starts edging his way in front of me, all nonchalantly, as if it was no big deal. I look at him, and he's ignoring me. He couldn't have been older than 18, and he thought he was pretty much god's gift to mankind. The passenger in his black sporty number could have been his twin. I stared at them, in total disbelief, as he kept pushing his way in front of me, thinking nothing of it. "No, I don't mind," I said out loud, to Em's astonishment. "Go right ahead and butt in front of me. I don't mind you taking my spot at all, the spot I've been sitting in for the past five minutes."

For a moment, I thought of playing games with him, but decided I'd put enough dents and scratches in the car for the time being, so I let the douchebag in.

Suddenly, the traffic is moving again, and we're off. And then, we're not. And then we are again.

Oh?! What do I see ahead? A green light that's about to turn yellow? Oh no you don't, I say to myself as I bang my head against the steering wheel, forgetting that my head was already pounding.

Dingleberry in front of me was obviously thinking the same thing, because he scoots through the now-red light and stops up ahead, behind all the traffic. And I decide to do the same thing. Because, what the hell? Traffic lights were meant to be broken, or something like that. And anystupidfollowerthatIam, the huge black, tainted windowed SUV beside me WAS ALSO GOING THROUGH THE RED LIGHT, which to me was the same as saying, 'God has blessed you to be safe in this act, my child. Go forth.' And so I did, muttering something under my breath like, "Awesome." I'm cool like that.

And then, I heard the siren go off. Just a bit, but it was enough for my heart to stop beating, and for the bile to rise in my throat. And I'm looking in the mirrors, saying, "What tha hell?" as I look around for the po po.

Well, guess what? The po po was in the big black SUV, and he had just rolled down his passenger window, and he was staring at me and pointing his huge po po finger at me, and saying, "You just went through a red light, eh?"

And I said, "Oh? I did?"

At which point I was pretty sure I was toast, because WHO THE HELL DOESN'T KNOW THEY JUST WENT THROUGH A RED LIGHT?! Unless, of course, you look like me.

And the po po said, "Yes, you did, and you're the SECOND person to go through that red light, and I've been trying to catch the guy ahead of you because HE just went through the red light."

And I sit there, and I look at the po po, and I wait for him to tell me to pull over in that parking lot up ahead so that he can give me a huge ticket, take off a few demerit points, and laugh at me as he signs his name, and signs my life away.

But you know what, guys? He waved me on! Yes, he did! He waved me on, and he pulled away ahead of me, and HE PULLED OVER THE ASSCLOWNS WHO CUT ME OFF! Can you believe it?

I am still in awe of the whole experience. The only explanation for the whole thing is that my face scared the crap out of poor Mr. Po Po, and he was sure that if he had to get any closer to me, he might not live to go home to his box of doughnuts.

So, folks, today's lesson is: Never leave home looking good. Not only will it save you time, it will save you TONS of money and embarrassment. You're welcome, Mr. Handsome.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Unemployment Has Its Perks, And Our Neighbour Has No Life

I am so thankful that I am unemployed at the moment.

Otherwise, I would never know who it is that keeps coming on to our property to pick up little pieces of garbage, or the odd dog poop we haven't yet scooped up because HELLO! the dog only barely made it back into the house!!!

Yes, that deserved THREE exclamation marks.

I was sitting in the living room yesterday, enjoying my morning coffee and MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS, when I happened to look up from my MAD magazine and what to my wondering eyes should appear but Mrs. Arsehole from next door (aka our neighbours to the right), and she's ON OUR LAWN picking up the remnants of a bag of garbage that the garbage men had left behind because that's how they roll.

Why does this peeve me, you ask? I'll tell you why this peeves me. It peeves me because it's got to be one of the most passive-aggressive things a person could do to another person, and also a really great way to make a not-always-the-most-secure-person-on-the-block (that would be me) feel like a total douchebag with a capital D.

Because really? I knew the garbage was out there, and I fully intended on going out there and picking it up. I don't need the neighbour-who-just-gave-birth-less-than-a-week-ago coming over and cleaning up after me. Thanks. And by the way, don't walk on my lawn. Yeah, you.

Oh, would you like an apology? Okay. OH, I'M SO SORRY I didn't run right out and pick up all that CRAP lying on a very small portion of MY lawn this morning, Precious. I would have, because I know how much it bothers you to peek out any one of your many windows and see anything out of place ON MY PROPERTY, and I normally would be out there on my hands and knees before dawn JUST FOR YOU, but I was too busy making sure my children had some breakfast, brushed their teeth, and got off to school. And oh yeah, I was also busy PICKING MY NOSE and wiping it on the couch JUST FOR YOU.

Her cleaning up our little mess (which wasn't really even much of anything, if you compare it to some of our neighbours) is tantamount to screaming "YOU'RE A PIG AND I HATE YOU!" to my face. And that is so totally unnecessary, given that we keep our house pretty clean. We don't leave garbage lying around all over the place (much), we pick up our dog poop, and we mow our lawn. Granted, we don't do it when Mrs. Arsehole believes it should be done (aka NOW!), but I'm pretty sure that's no one's business but our own. Last time I looked at our property tax bill, Ms. Arsehole's name was nowhere on there. We are apparently a little more laidback than Precious is. And I also don't like feeling like our every move is being watched, which it obviously is.

This all started a year or so ago, when Gryphon laid a nice plump poop in the middle of our laneway, and she came over all haughty-like and supercilious and told us in no uncertain terms that the poop made her feel really sick whenever she looked out her kitchen window and saw it. Well, we hadn't even had the chance to run out there and clean it up before she had marched herself over. Who the hell voted her Po Po of the Neighbourhood? Not me. And here she was accusing us of causing her physical harm, for god's sake.

So, to be a good neighbour (excuse me while I puke), we became much more vigilant about scooping Gryphon's poops as soon as he had heartily pushed one out. But really, you guys, a little meadow muffin never killed anyone, right? I mean, really. So it sits there for a few minutes. Spare me the pain.

The Hate began back then, but now, she's gone too far. I don't want her coming over and making it look like we don't care. Because we do. We're just not hyper-vigilant like she is. And we have what's called A LIFE. A busy life, and one that does not always begin with the question, 'Is there anything at all out of order in or around the vicinity of our house, because god forbid if there's one freaking leaf on our lawn, which we also have to mow to make sure it's short enough for Mrs. Arsehole?', or 'Honey, I think we should re-landscape our yard annually to keep up with the neighbours. What do you think?' or how about 'Jeez, I'd better sweep the street just one more time before I head over to the hospital for my son's cardiac appointment.'

So, to Mrs. Arsehole, if you're reading this, we'll pick up our own garbage, thanks very much. But, thank you for the help. If you'd like, I'll leave the door unlocked next time, and a mop and pail, and you are more than welcome to come in and mop our floors while I eat Cheetos and watch Dog The Bounty Hunter. Have a good day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Part of the challenge of having a child who has had cancer is the after effects. Of course, when you're in the midst of the major challenge of trying to save your child's life, the poisonous drugs the doctors pump into him are welcome. Anything to make that ugly beast go away.

Life after cancer is not something most people really think about. Get rid of the cancer, that's the goal. Although we were warned numerous times about how the doctors weren't really sure what the effects of the chemo would be on Dee, we knew we had no choice but to use the drugs in an effort to kill the tumour. This, along with everything else done to Dee, was in an effort to save his life.

The nature of Dee's cancer (Stage 3 Neuroblastoma) required heavy artillery. In addition to numerous surgeries, there was a medley of chemos injected into his tiny body on a regular basis. One of the numerous and varied chemo cocktails injected into Dee was Doxorubicin, a drug the colour of blood.

Doxo is a nasty drug, and although it often does the job it's meant to do, it's also known to irrevocably damage healthy organs. Which is the point of this post. Doxo can do a real number on the heart, and oftentimes, the damage done doesn't show up for years. Often, these kids experience heart failure when they hit puberty, or a huge growth spurt, because the heart can no longer function well enough to support a growing body.

Dee is now 11 years out from his cancer diagnosis, which we are thankful for every single day. I watch him play hockey, do handstands, finish his homework, and I am in awe of him. Lately, though, he's been really tired, oddly so. And if there's one thing parents of cancer survivors do, it's watch their children with the eyes of a hawk. Any and all symptoms are under extreme scrutiny, and we all go through "The List", ticking things off one by one, in an attempt to convince ourselves that this is nothing but a cold, or a muscle strain.

So, when Dee would come home after school and collapse on the couch, complaining that he was so tired he couldn't move, I took note. Then, he began conditioning for a season of hockey, and his fatigue was even more obvious. He could barely make it through the hour on the ice. He would come off the ice, bent over in two, trying to catch his breath. He could barely walk to the car and, once home, would just go to bed.

In our family, I am the emotional one, the one to fly off the handle at the slightest thing. Mr. Handsome, on the other hand, is like Dr. Spock: logical to a fault. So, when I get worried about something, or notice something out of the ordinary, I oftentimes check in with 'Spock' to ensure I'm not yet again jumping off the deep end unnecessarily.

This time, when Mr. Handsome agreed that Dee's behaviour was strange and worrisome, I knew something could very well be wrong.

So, yesterday, Dee and I headed to the hospital for a cardiac check-up. He was due for one in January (children who have had chemo/radiation are monitored for life for late effect issues such as heart failure), but because of his recent symptoms, the doctors pushed things up to NOW. And let me just take a moment to say, thank god for our health system. It leaves a lot to be desired, yes, but when it comes to our children, they are very well taken care of.

After an echocardiogram and an EKG, we were sent on our way. I was told that if there was anything worrisome, we would be contacted soon. Fortunately, I know the system, and I try to circumvent it whenever possible. So, when the technician said the test was over, I asked her for some numbers, hoping she would actually give them to me instead of tell me I had to wait until I could make an appointment to speak with a doctor. I don't do well waiting when it comes to my kids' health.

I am happy to say Dee's numbers are well within normal range for a healthy heart. We will know more when we see his doctor in a couple of months, but I feel pretty safe to say we can breathe again. And although the echo and EKG are not the only tests conducted to rule out heart failure, I think they're a pretty good indication.

So, although we still don't know why Dee is so tired (we still have to get blood levels done), we are now more certain that maybe he's just out of shape, which would be a blessing, believe it or not.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Who Does That?! We Do, That's Who!

Our upstairs bathroom needs a
makeover. It's the only room in our entire 60-year-old house that's actually even been redone since we moved in back in 1998, and yet, it needs one again.

Our house is a four-bedroom house, the largest model in the neighbourhood. We love it here. But the bathrooms? They suck BIG time. You see, back in the 50s, apparently they didn't need more than one full bathroom for a family. Somehow, they all got along, they all fit into the space of a closet, and somehow they were all able to function well without the use of cupboard space.

I'm here to tell you that either the families of the 50s were half our size, both in height and width, or they needed only half the number of showers and towels and extraneous appliances and lotions and things, because god help me, there is not an inch to spare in that room.

Not that we'll ever be able to do anything more with our bathroom than we've already done, except maybe update it someday when we actually have some money. We already knocked out a wall and took over part of the closet in the fourth bedroom (sorry, Dee) so that we could put in a tub. Yeah, the room is THAT small.

I have to say, however, that our upstairs bathroom is definitely in better shape than our main floor bathroom, which is actually only a powder room. It still has hideous brown wallpaper with ducks, that's how ugly it is. I have BIG plans for this room that is no bigger than the washrooms on airplanes. BIG plans need BIG money, which we don't have. So, the BIG plans are on hold. This room is so small, a normal door can't even fit. They had to put in a pocket door that slides directly into the wall (which is actually pretty cool, and is worth hours of fun when small children are visiting, or adults who don't know about pocket doors, in which case we have a little fun with them, telling them we never put a door in for that room).

Anyway, I actually didn't write this post with the intention of complaining about our bathrooms. I kind of went off on a wee tangent, I guess, before even getting into the main topic of discussion here. Too much medication, I guess. Again.

So, the whole topic of bathroom discussion actually began the other evening over the family's bathroom usage -- specifically, the bathtub. Someone on television must have said something (I think it was part of the Emmy's extravaganza), and I turned to Mr. Handsome and said, "Who the hell pees in the tub when they're showering?!" all aghast and disgusted.

And I hear this wee, "I do," from the far corner of the couch.

I look, and it was Em. WHAT?!?! You PEE in the TUB??!!! Yup, she does.

She softened it by adding, "Well, only sometimes."

Why would be the first question I wanted to ask, but I was so disgusted by the thought of someone peeing in our tub that I almost passed out because I had forgotten to breathe. It was as if my internal mechanisms had just shut down, in an effort to protect me from even thinking about such an abomination.

As my colour came back, I hear, "So do I," from the kitchen.

WHAT?!? Dee too??!

I was on the verge of pulling my hair out, but decided against it because I know I don't look great without hair. Just believe me. My face is too fat, my jowls too jowly, and I don't want to talk about it.

Dee starts giggling, and Em joins him.

And then Mr. Handsome, the children's male role model, the man I married, states, "I do too."


He then quickly added, "Only once in a while," as if that would make it all better.

Does everyone do this? Am I the odd one out here? I DON'T THINK SO. Please, you guys, tell me the truth. Do you pee in the shower?

I don't need a bigger bathroom. I need a new tub.

Friday, September 18, 2009

This Is Nuts

Did you know that when a man rides a bicycle, his testicular members hang off on either side of the bike seat?

I'm supposing this won't be news to any of my male readers, unless they've never been on a bike.

It certainly was news to me.

Mr. Handsome and I had this discussion the other morning, over coffee, as he was getting ready to bike to work, while I got ready to open up another box of bonbons to down during yet another day of unemployment.

Yes, Mr. Handsome bikes to work, most every day, in fact. He only stops when the mornings are so cold that his testicles freeze to the side of his bicycle seat. Hence, the topic of discussion.

So, after we went over the day's schedule (Mr. Handsome: work, Me: eat bonbons), I wondered where in fact do a man's plums go when he alights upon his bike seat. You see how I'm trying to keep my mind engaged and operating while I continue to look for work? I'm a deep and extremely profound person, I am.

And Mr. Handsome told me.

They hang there. They move around, here and there, and everywhere. Sometimes up, sometimes down.

And I'm like, WHAT?! What do you MEAN, they move AROUND?!?!

Because I thought you guys sat on them, albeit gently. I really did. The thought of actual body parts flailing about with pure abandon is a bit much for me. I don't know how guys do it, to tell you the truth. We women have our breasts, to be sure, but seriously, we have bras to contain them so that they don't flap in the breeze. And, honestly, mine wouldn't anyway, so that's never been a worry for me. I know, too much information.

But Mr. Handsome confirmed that the lads in the bag do indeed fly free in the wind, because sitting on them would ... well, HURT, for lack of a better word. A lot. So, like, when you turn a corner? Yup, he says, they move, swing about, do the hokey pokey.

Which then led me to this question: do they actually freeze when the weather gets colder? Because here in Canada's capital, we have what's called Summer, and then we have Winter. And winter by far edges out summer as our longest season. It's definitely getting colder these days.

But people here refuse to allow the cold to deter them from their activities, and they try to continue until they really can't any longer because (1) the snow is up to the hoo ha, (2) the temperature is so cold that breathing is hazardous to your health, and (3) it's just impossible and insane to even think of trying.

But seriously, there are people here who actually bike ALL YEAR ROUND. Yes. I know. Crazy.

Mr. Handsome is not one of these people. He doesn't like the bitter cold, and when the temperature hovers around 8 degrees Celsius in the mornings (as it did yesterday), he gets really angry because then he can't wear his shorts any longer, and has to put on his long sweatpants, which chafe his inner thighs.

And when I asked him if his boys feel the sting of the cold on cold mornings, he didn't hesitate when he said, "Sometimes, yes they do."

Poor guys. I feel for you. Because you have these strange probosces hanging from betwixt your legs, and we know that can't be easy. You're always having to think about them, make sure they're safely tucked in, out of the way of danger, hidden.

What was Mother Nature thinking when she made men? I have to wonder. Because she sure didn't make the same mistake with women. No. All our important bits are neatly secured, out of harm's way. The only time we remember them is EVERY MONTH, when we writhe in utter pain, or when we have to go to the gyno for our "annual", or, get this! when we have to go through almost 10 months of much discomfort and swelling of every imaginable body part, only to have our insides explode while we stay awake and attempt to push a LIVE HUMAN BEING out of them.

Yeah, we lucked out in the gender department.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Relax, Go With The Flow, Part 3, In Which The Monkey Jungle Banana Machine Turns Princess On

Here we are, Part 3 of my amazing, romantic, tantalizing getaway weekend. If you missed parts 1 and 2 (and if you have, you need a spanking), go here and here to bring yourself up to date before reading on. Okay?

So, after our marvelous dinner at Le Chien Noir Bistro, Mr. Handsome says to me, all nonchalant-like, "So, like, do you want to maybe go to a casino?" and I'm like, "Well, I don't know," and he's like, "Well, you said you'd always wanted to go to a casino, and there's one not too far from here," and I was like, "How far is it?", and Mr. Handsome rolled his beautiful brown eyes and told me to shut up and walk. He's romantic like that.

So, we walked back to our B&B, got in our car, and drove for 20 minutes to this place, which is actually quite a sight in an amusement-park-like, Christmas-tree-like sort of way when you first lay eyes on it. Then, it's just an eyesore, but that's just my opinion. You're welcome.
Let me just preface this whole paragraph by saying that my overall reaction to the whole casino scene was not what I thought it would be. Nay, it was worse. Initially, my eyes were buggy from all the lights and perpetual sound of bells ringing. Well, I don't know if they were bells, but that's what all the slot machines sounded like.

On entering this place, I felt somewhat like what I imagine a movie star would feel. The place had this magical aura about it, with spotlights, and red carpet, a lush, gargantuan vestibule, and promises of the riches that were at your fingertips just beyond the doors.
Within minutes of entering the place, however, my awe turned more to dismay and curiosity, as I tried to figure out what pulled all these people to sit at these machines and tables, alone, throwing in their coins and bills, staring at the numbers in front of them, for hours at a time. It started to bother me. A lot. Which surprised me, because I'm usually not one to judge others very quickly, and usually try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to figure out what makes a person tick.

But I could not understand what would make someone want to come here and sit for hours at a time, in the hopes of winning some money. It actually made me a little sad. Not that these people were here in desperation or anything. It actually seemed like the majority of them were having a great time. But really, when you think about it, what are they all there for if not in the hopes of winning a ton of money so that all their worries will magically go away?

Mr. Handsome wanted to play some poker, and he's a pretty good poker player, but there were only four tables open in the whole place, which made Mr. Handsome furrow his brow, because he is not one to wait patiently for anything. So, he put his name on the long list of names to play once someone left a table, and he suggested I go play the slot machines while he wait, and he tossed me some money, like a bone to a dog, in the hopes I would run off.

But I didn't want to. Mr. Handsome furrowed his brow some more and said he wanted me to have fun, and I told him I WAS having fun (and I was, watching people and still trying to figure out what the pull was to this place, a social examination of sorts, if you will). I think my NOT wanting to sit in front of a machine and push a button over and over again and watch as my money went to NeverNeverLand wasn't what Mr. Handsome had in mind when he planned on taking me here. He thought I would gasp in delight at all the fun lights, the shiny metal pieces, and the men in suits, and that I would quickly sit down at a table or machine and spend all the money we had. Give me a shopping mall and I'm there. But a casino? For some reason, no.

Anyway, Mr. Handsome quickly grew tired of waiting for a spot at a poker table because, as I said, he's not one to wait around, and his beloved (that would be me) was kind of just standing around, looking a little lost and maybe even concerned, so being the romantic and thoughtful guy that he is, he took me by the hand, and we went off to play a slot machine together to try and win thousands of dollars so that we could go live in the Turks and Caicos and swill mojitos all day long.

We ended up at a machine that had monkeys and bananas on it, and that looked like fun, so why not play it? we said to ourselves. Mr. Handsome threw in a $20, because we're chancy like that, and we started taking turns pushing the button that said "PUSH" on it. The numbers and symbols would flash before us, and although we had no idea what we were doing, sometimes we'd win some points, and other times we wouldn't. We never did really figure out how to play this game, which is how the casino works, I'm gathering. Or else, we're nowhere near as smart as we think we are.

We did this for only about five minutes before the machine went BOING! BOO! RING! RING! SPROING!! and these numbers flashed and apparently somehow we had just made about 1,543 points, which meant nothing to either one of us, but we were pretty sure it was a Good Thing (thank YOU Martha Stewart), so Mr. Handsome and I looked at each other, and as if we were psychically united, we simultaneously uttered, "I think it's time to go," and Mr. Handsome pushed the button that said "Cash Out" because it sounded like that's what we wanted to do, and apparently we made $10! In like five minutes, guys!

That monkey jungle banana machine is right awesome, yo.

And then we went back to our B&B, all the while enthusing about how unbelievably fortunate we had been at the slots, and how maybe we should make that our life's ambition: to play the monkey jungle banana machine until we are on breathing machines and fumbling for our walkers. And all the while, Mr. Handsome was most probably thinking about all the Sexy Time he was now going to get because we had won all this money, and now his beloved would be all happy and stuff.


Come back for Part 4 of our marvelous getaway, if you dare ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Very Exciting Life

I thought today, instead of posting Part 3 of my amazingly romantic getaway trip with Mr. Handsome, I would bring everyone up-to-date on my amazingly exciting and out-of-this-world weekend. I thought you might also need a break from the excitement of my getaway weekend, because it was just so amazingly exciting that I can hardly contain myself still, and it's been a week now since we've returned. Are you also now sick and tired of my usage of the word "amazingly"? I am. And, by the way, I did that on purpose.

Yes, guys, it's time I admit to all of you that I lead a very exciting life. Sucks to be you.

So, Saturday morning, I get up, pry my eyes open and stick in my contact lenses, without which I would be blind, and stumble down the stairs. I'm greeted by groups of white and reddish-pink balloons hanging off the ceiling. Hey! It's my birthday!! I actually said that in my head, because I had been trying really really hard NOT to remember my birthday, but there it was, staring me smack dab in the face. I had no choice but to remember.

And then I got extremely depressed and stuck my head in the can of coffee grounds on the kitchen counter because I remembered how old I now am...and it's old, guys. Like, so old that I can no longer even try to pretend that I'm just tired-looking, that those bags under my eyes are only due to lack of sleep, that my flabby ass is anything but that: a flabby ass.

So, I'm 47. Not old, I know. But certainly not 25. At least, at 25 I could get away with not wearing a bra. Now, I'd be arrested for public nuisance, or disorderly conduct.

I spent most of Saturday lolling about the house, doing nothing, because I was the Birthday Girl, and that's what Birthday Girls do. Loll. And then, Mr. Handsome had the gall to ask me to go to the grocery store to pick up a can of soup. Being the good wife that I obviously am, I did, but I didn't let him forget it.

We have a little ritual here in our home, whereby the birthday person gets to choose what to have for their Birthday Dinner. After many days of humming and hawing over one food group or another, I finally decided, give or take a cob of corn. Dinner ended up being scalloped potatoes, baked ham with pineapple, glazed carrots and a disgusting green bean casserole that I specifically asked for that was a total and utter FAIL and that I will never ever ever ask for again. Sorry everyone, for the rest of my sad little life.

Dessert was another story. We have a budding baker in our household. Em has always been a bit of a cooking afficionado, watching cooking shows with me from the time she was a wee baby. She wanted to make my birthday cake (or pie, in this case), and we gave her full reign. She ended up making a Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie with graham and chocolate crust, right from Martha Stewart! Yes! I KNOW!! Tres impressive, n'est-ce pas? Not that I even really like Martha, but that woman sure knows how to bake! And steal. But whatever. Who am I to judge?

Gifts included my Canon EOS that I've had since March (let's just say I'm really good at convincing Mr. Handsome), a UV filter for my main lens, chocolate, expensive and lush bath things, and two wonderful books from two of my favourite authors: The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood, and Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro. Oh, and a bottle of Bailey's. And no, it's not empty yet.

And then, Sunday morning came along, and I stepped in a lump of dog crap that had apparently fallen off Gryphon's tiny ass and landed right in the middle of the BROWN kitchen floor, unbeknownst to me. Yes, we are STILL having dog poop issues with our high-maintenance dog who now also needs his paws washed weekly with special shampoo AND THEN blow-dried. And yes, I would be the one to blindly find the fallen poop and step in it with my BARE FOOT.

Did I use enough caps in that paragraph? I think so.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Relax, Go With The Flow, Part 2, In Which Mr. Handsome Begins To Really Impress His Princess

For the love of god, if you haven't read the first part of this amazing, out-of-this-world adventure, you need to go here first, read it, then come back here.

After driving for two hours, with me nattering on and on AND ON in Mr. Handsome's ear and continually trying to guess where we were going for our weekend anniversary getaway trip, we finally arrived at our destination. At first, I thought we might be heading to Quebec City, because that is one of my favourite places in the world, with its Old World charm, its buildings that are older than old itself, its amazing history, and its food (of course).It is also the first time I experienced one of Mr. Handsome's ... shall we say ... gaseous exuberances. So, as you can see, it holds many special memories for me.

A photo of Quebec City. I actually had a dream of this actual street once. Thought you'd want to know.

But, of course, we didn't go there, because Quebec City is a good five to six hours away from Ottawa, and Mr. Handsome didn't want to spend all goddammed weekend driving his beloved (that would be me) around in a Honda, because his beloved would get all cranky and glare at him, and Sexy Time would definitely have gotten diminished tenfold.

Then, I thought we might be going to Maine, because I've mentioned it more than once that I've never been there, that I hear it's beautiful, and that I'd like to go there someday before I die (which, based on how I've been feeling lately, could be any day now). I don't know how long a drive it is, and Mr. Handsome didn't take me there either.

Then, I thought for sure we were heading to New York City, because I've always always always wanted to go there, because if I'm anything, I'm a Big City Girl, and also because my friend Slut went there last year, and brought me back these beautiful silver earrings, which she claimed were actually from Tiffany's, but I don't believe her, so if we went there, I could actually do some detective work and find out if my best friend is a big liar, because we already know she's a slut.

But, no, guys, we didn't go there either.

Where did we go? you ask.

We went to Kingston, that's where we went. Kingston is very much one of my favourite places to go, as it is Mr. Handsome's. We could live there, we could. It's a smaller version of Ottawa, and for that reason, we like it muchly. Its beauty is so obvious, with its many limestone homes, and its location on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence. Mr. Handsome almost went to school here, to Queen's University, but he ended up not going there, and I don't remember why. That was about three lifetimes ago. I can't remember what I had for breakfast, let alone 20 years ago. Wait a minute. I didn't have breakfast today. Or did I?

So, we went to Kingston, and I was beyond excited. Kingston has such beauty, and it also has some great restaurants, and that's what I'm about: Eating good food.

But, not only did we go to Kingston, which is pure awesomeness in itself. Oh no. That's not good enough for Mr. Handsome's princess. We went to Kingston, and we stayed here:

which, if you're wondering, is Heaven On Earth, and I'm not even religious. This place is called The Secret Garden, and it's an historic mansion that has been turned into an elite bed and breakfast. And that is where we stayed for two glorious nights of Sexy Time. This B&B is filled with antiques from the Victorian period, with 15-foot high ceilings, original stained glass windows, and ghosts. That's right, people. Ghosts. It's part of the Haunted Walk of Kingston tour, which we didn't do. And, try as I might, I didn't hear or see any ghosts, but I wanted to. I guess, however, seeing myself in the mirror every morning was scary enough.

We stayed in a room named Angels' Watch, because it overlooks a beautiful old church. We had a fireplace, Queen-sized bed, a chaise longue, and everything was colour-coordinated in butter yellows and robin egg blues. Just absolute gorgeousness.

Speaking of gorgeousness:

Did I not look good here? Now, understand me. This does not happen often, my friends. The fact that it was a good hair day was amazing in and of itself. For that to also coincide with flawless make-up application is beyond belief.

And for your information, in case you're wondering, that's not a glare. It's my Sexy, Come Hither Look. Deal with it.

After lots of Sexy Time we were both ready to go, Mr. Handsome took me to one of the best restaurants on the planet: Le Chien Noir Bistro.

This place has some of the best food going, and if you're ever anywhere near Kingston, you have to go there. I had my very first Mimosa, and Mr. Handsome had his first Cosmo. We are specialty drink virgins no more.

After a dinner of steak frites (mine) -- which is just a fancy name for steak and fries -- and a meal of lamb (Mr. Handsome's), we left, fully sated, and slowly made our way back to the B&B.

But the evening wasn't over yet. Nay, far from it.

Hold on to your panties for Part III of this amazingly tantalizing, totally stupendous adventure...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Relax, Go With The Flow, Part I, In Which Mary Learns To Pack A Bag

I'm sorry it's taken me a bit longer to blog this week. But I have a good reason. A very, very good reason. I bet you can hardly wait for my reason, which is really good, by the way.

What's my reason, you ask? Well, hold on to your panties, ladies and gentlemen!

Here it is:

and this:

and this:

and some of this:

Yes, guys, this is why I haven't managed to post anything until today. Because this, this is heaven on earth, and that, my friends, is what I lived this past weekend. A veritable heaven on earth.

As some of you may know (and you would if you read my blog regularly, and if you don't, shame on you), Mr. Handsome and I celebrated 18 years of wedded bliss on Aug. 31. Yes, I said 'wedded bliss'. Stop laughing.

And on that day of celebration, we did nothing. Nothing. As in, nothing. Mr. Handsome has been working very hard, and I've been lolling about doing nothing but whining and watching Jon and Kate Plus 8 reruns, so there was no time or energy for any kind of celebrating. Well, I did get Mr. Handsome a dozen beautiful roses, but whatever.

So, last week crawled by, as weeks do when you're not working, looking for work, praying for work, and eating bonbons while you watch the dog snore. And no celebrating did we do, because, like I said, we were busy. Very busy. So, instead, we planned on going out for a very nice dinner to a very nice restaurant here in town. And I could hardly wait. Because I don't get out often. I only get a pass once a month. Just kidding. Seriously though, Mr. Handsome and I don't manage to get out on our own that often, so this was a major treat.

Saturday came, and I made my coffee and sat on the couch reading the paper, as I often do on a Saturday morning. And then, Mr. Handsome came downstairs and, in the way only Mr. Handsome has, he nonchalantly said, "So, you'd better start getting ready."

Clueless and oblivious, I ignored him and kept reading the paper.

So, then Mr. Handsome said, "Uhhh, you'd better get ready."

And then I noticed he was speaking, and I said, "What?"

So, Mr. Handsome said, "You'd better start getting ready."

To which I replied, "For what?"

And Mr. Handsome said, "You'd better get packing, because we're going away for a couple of nights."

And I was all WHAT?!! and WHAT THE F*&K ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, DUDE?! and after wiping up the coffee that I had spurted all over the living room carpet, and changing my underwear, I asked him what in hell's name was he talking about. And he just smiled, and would not say another word.

So, apparently, Mr. Handsome had this planned, like, a year ago, but a certain nephew decided he was going to be born then, so that plan went out the window because the only way this plan of Mr. Handsome's was going to work was if Grandma babysat the children, and Grandma was going to be in Toronto with the new baby. Life as we all knew it halted for a while when Oscar came into being.

Anyway, no bitter feelings here. Nope. None at all. Just because we had to wait A WHOLE YEAR to take a little vacay?! Nah. No problem. Whatever.

So, Mr. Handsome decided this would be the year that it would happen. This would be the year that he would surprise me and take me away on a romantic weekend, totally unbeknownst to me. And let me just say that it takes A LOT to plan something without me knowing it. Around here, I'm known as The Sherriff. Why? Because nothing gets past me. Nothing. This, however, got past me.

And so, I had two hours in which to pack for our weekend away. And, of course, because this was a total surprise, I got all stressed out and started pulling out my hair, because Mr. Handsome would not give me any information about where we were going, what we were doing. Nothing. So, I had no idea what to pack, which is inconceivable. Do I pack a blowdryer? I asked him. Oh, you might want to, he would reply. How about warm clothing? Cool clothing? Runners? Dressy shoes? His answers were pretty much all the same, which is to say they were not helpful in the least. Non-committal, generalized, and not the least bit helpful. Which made my pits sweat, my brow furrow, and my throat close up.

So, I packed a little of everything, and hoped for the best, because I decided that I can rise above this stress of not knowing and just roll with it. That's right. I rolled with it, people.

And, at 1:47 p.m., we were off. Where? I had no idea. All I knew was that we were going away, and the kids and pets would be taken care of by Grandma. And after worrying for about 3.42 seconds, I sat back, closed my eyes and relaxed.

Stay tuned for the continuation of Rollin', Rollin', Rollin' ...

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Saga of Gryphon

The Gryphon Chronicles continue.

The poor dog. As if it's not bad enough that he has to be a poodle who gets shaved by unprofessional owners who want to save a buck. Now, he's on meds for The Allergies so that he stops gnawing off his paws and scratching his skin until huge welts rise.

His itchiness seems to be subsiding, thank the lord. However, what the meds seem to be doing is creating an adverse reaction on the inside of his very large body. The Dog With The Very Sensitive Stomach now has The Constipation instead of the usual problem we have with him, which would be The Diarrhea.

Over the past few days, I've noticed a change in him, namely, his pooping procedure. He takes the Official Dog Pooping Stance we all know, but then, nothing happens. He just stands like that, back arched, looking extremely forlorn and confused, occasionally looking behind him as if to say, "What the hell is taking so long?"

He then starts to walk about the ground, back still arched, hoping some leg movement will get things going. Of course, it doesn't. He ends up either plopping out a tiny plippet of poop, or nothing at all. And then he comes back in the house, looking dejected and quite upset.

And then, I smell it. "It" is the unmistakable odour of the unejected poop that is now somewhat stuck to the very furry butt of our dog. A chunk of poop hanging off his behind. Very nice. Not only that, but every few minutes -- nay, seconds -- I get a very strong whiff of the dog's derriere, which leads to swift dry heaves. And the dog wouldn't leave me alone. I get up and move to the kitchen, Gryphon follows, as does the stench. I walk to the front door to check the mailbox, the dog is at my feet. Bathroom sink. Dog. Stench. Couch. Dog. Stench. Such was my day. Story of my life. The End.

And now I must agree with Mr. Handsome: my ultra sensitive sense of smell is totally useless, and will probably be the death of me.

Gryphon then proceeds to occasionally do The Stance in the middle of the living room because, of course, he's got poop partially hanging out of his butt. But he can't quite figure out what's going on, because why does he keep feeling this strange and uncomfortable feeling in his rear? So he tries to scooch down on his behind ON OUR CARPET to remove said uncomfortable feeling, at which point, I scream to Mr. Handsome, "Get the spoon! Get the spoon!" because sometimes, in cases like these, a good metal tablespoon is the only tool that will work.

And that's why I married Mr. Handsome.

So, the kids went to school this week, leaving me at home alone for the first time in a long time. Just me and the dog, and the guinea pigs. Gotta love my life.

The dog had another poop hanging out of his butt, giving him all sorts of worries. With the kids gone, and Mr. Handsome gone to work, it was up to me to do the digging this time. God help me.

I wet some paper towel, just a bit, and call the dog over. He knows right away what's going on, because he's a poodle, and poodles are smart. And if there's one thing Gryphon doesn't like, it's someone screwing around with his body parts. But he loves me and trusts me, so he comes over, reluctantly. I pull him toward me the last couple of feet so that he's on the hardwood, I hold my breath, and I pull up his tail, which is now steadfastly between his legs, protecting him.

I tuck his head between my knees, and with my free hand, I grab the tail, lifting it up. The dog now has no dignity whatsoever, but a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do. I take hold of the offending object, and grasp it.

To my horror, it's hard as rock. Guys, I am not exaggerating. The poop hanging out of the dog's ass was as hard as Mr. Handsome's head a coconut. I couldn't even grab it, let alone yank it off the dog's normally inconspicuous butthole.

After getting over the shock of it all, I sat down and cried. No, not really. I had pretty much decided that the only thing I could do was to put the dog in a bath of warm water, and let the water soften things up, so to say.

Once I wasn't feeling quite so nauseated from picturing that whole scenario in my tiny little head, I decided that sometimes, you just have to take the easy way out.

Thankfully, we had one compressed rawhide bone left in the cupboard. Gryphon loves these bones, which is nice. What is even nicer, however, is that these bones tend to give him the runs. So, being the gifted individual I am (you can stop laughing now), I put two and two together, and gave him the bone. He had that thing gnawed and swallowed in 20 minutes flat.

Chances are, he should need to relieve himself fully and happily by dinnertime, at which time both Mr. Handsome and the kids will be home.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Filling A Void

The kids are back at
school, and my heart is both heavy and happy.

I have to admit I miss them when they're not home all day, and I'm not at work. The house seems too empty, too quiet. I don't know what to do with myself, because my days are usually full of taking care of the kids, making sure they're okay, that their needs are met. After all, that's my job. Not only that, but when they're home, their voices and bodies -- their souls -- fill any void in the house. It bursts at the seams with all the life and love, noise and boisterous activity.

It never ceases to amaze me how just their footsteps coming up to the house at the end of the school day fills me up again, makes me happy, makes me smile and long to hold them, or even just to rub their arm, to let them know I missed them, that I hope they had a great day, and that I need them in my life.

I realize that, when they're home, I don't often show those emotions, because much of my time is spent telling them to stop fighting and bickering, or to pick up their mess, or walk the dog. Constant nagging, as Em would say.

But I love them deeply, and I miss them, and worry about them when they're not home. And although they roll their eyes at me, and tell me I'm being silly, I know I'm just being a mom who is watching her children slowly grow up and away from her. And although that's part of the natural progression of all things, it's still very difficult, and I don't know if I'll ever get used to it. I don't know if I want to get used to it either.

I did not feel complete as a human being until I had my children. First, Em came along, and with her a whole new world Mr. Handsome and I knew nothing about. She opened our eyes up to things we had forgotten: the utter happiness of a child who sees a butterfly for the first time, or whose bare feet touch the wet, dewy grass, or who wants nothing more than to sit in her parents' arms and read a book. We have watched her grow into a young woman, now in her first year at high school, the same high school I attended. I still cannot believe this little girl who was afraid to sleep by herself for so many years is now taking the city bus on her own, and doesn't want her mother to drop her off in front of the school, lest her friends see her.

And then, we decided we wanted a second child, and then, before we knew it, Dee was there. An entirely different person, much more laidback and willing to just watch the world unfold before his eyes as he took it all in. Soon, before we had even grown accustomed to this new little person in our lives, we were fighting for his life, discovering the cancer in him. Our lives were never the same. We were not sure how long he'd be with us, and our life became a day-to-day process, for fear of even trying to look ahead past that. We could not imagine this little boy, who was on death's door more than once, would ever attend kindergarten. We did not know, if he survived, how well he'd be, and whether he'd even be able to do the things other children did.

But now, he's starting Grade 6, and he is probably the healthiest person in our family. His body is solid, a mass of muscle under the scars. The pain he's experienced is masked by the perpetual smile on his freckled face, by the songs he makes up in his head and sings everyday.

My children will always be a big part of me: of who I am, of what makes me me. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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