Thursday, April 28, 2011

The power of the blog

When I walked into the cafeteria at work today, my friend and co-worker, Peter asked me how my colonoscopy went. I looked at him quizzically. "How did  you know?" I asked. 
"You frickin' posted a blog about it on Facebook!" "Is nothing sacred, nothing off limits to you? Is your life truly an open book?" Peter is like that with me - very direct.

And, he had a point.

Later, as I spoke to my co-worker, Carol, she  asked me about Dr. Bartolone. OK, I may have mentioned his name to her. Then she wanted to know just how available he was ."How did you know he was available?"  I asked. "I read your blog this morning" she replied.


I forget that I'm not just sending this blog out into the air. I guess there are consequences.
But, I'm not unhappy about this. Facebook especially has been so much fun. I've reconnected with old friends and can keep up with their news. Just today, an old friend tracked me down and wrote to me (very eloquently, by the way) of some distant memories (thanks, John). An incredibly sweet and generous woman in Greece, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago, now converses with me on a regular basis. That's a friendship that probably would've just faded  prior to Facebook, but with the Internet, we can continue to connect.  And a couple of weeks ago, an old high school friend and I reconnected and...  she's coming to visit me in May!

People are so afraid of the cyber world - especially when it comes to publishing personal information. I get that. Especially when it comes to identity theft. And, I guess I'm taking a chance. But, so far I've had nothing but enjoyment from this medium.

I've even connected with some of Bill's pals because he re-posts my blog on his Facebook site. That's really cool, too. It makes me happy that I'm giving them a glimpse of a Bill that they probably don't know...even though they may have known him since childhood.

And, the unintended consequence is that by publishing things about Bill and what he means to me, has made me love him even more. That's powerful stuff.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This is the end of the story

I promise not to talk about Colonoscopies any more.

Except, just this once.

It's over. I got the "all clear" sign from Dr. Bartolone (note to unmarried's: he's cute and, according to Bill, available).  Apparently, the 3 of us had a lovely conversation after I woke up from the anesthetic. I have no recollection. Clearly, I enjoyed the combination of drugs that they used to put me under....unlike my friend, Howard G., who is proud to tell you that he had the procedure sans anesthetic - he's much tougher than I.

I spent from 2 a.m- 7 a.m. this morning drinking the potion and watching bad TV.  Apparently, the majority of TV after 3 a.m. consists of paid advertising. Who knew? One ad that got constant rotation, on multiple channels, was some kind of bra that  you ordered in small, medium or large that changes your life. Also, I'm really curious about Cindy Crawford's beauty cream from France. It's made from melons with a super-anti-oxidant and a very happy French doctor invented it. "She's 43! And she looks great!" Since when is 43 the age when you fall apart? All I can say about the melon cream is bulls*%$. Maybe it's the anesthetic still talking, but I don't think so.

Anyway, if you are over 50 and haven't scheduled a colonoscopy, I urge you to do it. If you're lucky enough to find a center like the one in Amherst -  my time at the Endoscopy Center was pleasant  - yes, I said pleasant. EVERYONE that worked there was extremely helpful and sweet with just the right amount of chattiness. And, they even covered me with a warm blanket! Ahhhhh.

But, the best??? The best was when I woke up in the recovery area and looked over to my left to see Bill sitting there patiently. OK, he was working on some papers, but he was there waiting for me. I know, I know - of course it's expected of a husband of over 20 years. But, still. It's a good feeling. Second only to getting to the all clear sign.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night

When I started this blog, I was determined to write something everyday. One of the reasons I decided to write the blog was because I feared I was becoming lazy. Then, I missed a day in January and I created a new rule: I will allow myself one day off a month. That was reasonable... right?

Then April hit - and I went on holiday and got a bit cavalier with the days off. As of today,  I should have at least 25 posts for the month of April (if I'd taken my one day off a month). However, I only have 19. Eek! The sloth has begun.

During the month of April, a couple of my friends from Canada told me they were going into blog withdrawal because they weren't getting their daily 'fix' (right Sue? right Yvonne?) 

My problem is that I write at night, after work, when I'm spent. It's a fine line between being (a) relaxed enough to write and (b) too relaxed to write.

Tonight, I came home early because I had to prepare for my colonoscopy tomorrow.  So, I figured I'd have more time to get the blog written. However, the drinking of the fluids has begun and it's time consuming. I had to get a start on it by 4:00 and I wasn't certain how soon the concoction would kick in. It's now after 7:00 p.m. and I'm still waiting and drinking.

But, I promise that before the hockey game and in between drinking the potion I will fix my friends withdrawal.

I must say, the instructions from the Colonoscopy center are very clear and very helpful. I like that. And the Administrator used the yellow highlighter liberally. (Note to office workers : It is Administrative Assistant's Day tomorrow - don't arrive empty handed).   I've been carrying the instructions around in  my purse for the last 3 weeks so I wouldn't forget to pick up the prescription and the Gatorade. What I DID forget was that on the day before the procedure, I wasn't to EAT ANYTHING. Just liquids - and nothing red. I went to work empty handed - no delicious care packages by Bill -  just a bottle of water and a can of ginger ale.

Oops. They warned against carbonated beverages.

So, I ran out to the nearby Walgreen's to purchase some juices and look for Popsicles.  No Popsicles other than strawberry. They are RED.

I then left Walgreen's and hoofed it over to the Elmwood Deli. Now, the Elmwood Deli occupies a part of the block that I used to frequent at lunch. A lot. The Sandwich Nazi made the best sandwiches for years at X-cel. I loved going there for his crazy hand-written signs and off beat sense of humor. His eggplant sandwiches were to die for! And, coincidentally we hired his daughter to work at my place of business just as he made the decision to pull out of Elmwood. Weird, eh?

Wednesdays were eggplant day - and I rarely missed lining up for that.

OK, now I'm hungry!

Anyway, the Elmwood Deli didn't have any Popsicles either, so I bought a 1/2 gallon of Lemon ice. Which I shared with the half Italian/half Irish maintenance guy at work who is also a published author.  He has a fine palate. We didn't finish the whole thing - we put it away in the freezer - to be eaten another day.

If you can read the instructions I've posted - you will see that I am going to be ingesting 32 ounces of this gag-liquid at 2 a.m. That'll take a couple of hours. What a pleasant night I have to look forward to.

What was really hilarious was that as I was driving home, I got bored with 88.7 (NPR) and 99.1 (JazzFM) and turned to CHUMFM. They were playing the Black Eyed Peas "I gotta feeling" (Tonight's gonna be a good night). I listened to the whole thing as I imagined myself making a small bed for myself in the bath tub tonight.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Hockey

Going to the hockey game at 3:00 in the afternoon on Easter Sunday was bizarre in a number of ways.

First, as we walked to the game, we passed Pilot Field  (currently known as Coca-Cola Field and formerly known as  Dunn Tire Park, North AmeriCare Park and the Downtown Ballpark.) There was a freaking baseball gamed going on. Baseball and hockey should not be played simultaneously, at least not in a town as small as Buffalo. That was poor planning.

Second, people were shouting obscenities, drinking beer and being obnoxious on Easter Sunday. People walking to the game, hunkered down outside the arena, and inside the arena all behaved as if it were a battleground...on one of the holiest days in the Christian Calendar.  For those who attended the game, Easter was put away and packed up by 3:00 p.m. I thought the little kids who were at the game were especially crazed. Hopped up on Easter candy, then plunked down in front of a playoff game with popcorn, pizza and Pepsi. I hope for the sake of their teachers that they're not going to school tomorrow.

Third, and perhaps most unreal, it was still light out as we left the game at around 7:00 p.m.  Hockey games are generally played at night and in the winter. It's supposed to be dark and cold. I had a light coat and didn't even need it. However, coming out into the light, after the heartbreaking overtime loss, lifted my spirits.  We parked about 6 blocks from the game and it felt so good to walk to the car. It almost felt like we are cheating or something.

From what I could tell from the crowd, the majority thought we could win this home game. You could feel the anticipation in the air as we waited for the puck to drop. I have to say that even though we lost, it was a great game to watch:  we got to see 9 goals, a bunch of broken sticks, tempers flaring, testosterone rushes, fights that weren't too stupid, and some sweet plays. And the arena was HUMMING. It was packed. And, there were 6,000 people OUTSIDE the arena - in the light and balmy air.

Buffalo lives on hope - and we still have hope in this series. Don't. Give. Up. Especially since we have Ryan Miller. My fellow blogger has Lindy Ruff's strategy completely figured out "You guys skate around and try to score. Ryan, you're going to have to be on fire and stop everything."

Not a particularly pious way to spend one of the holiest Christian days. But, in a city that wins games with a hope and a prayer, it didn't feel that strange after all.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Hockey Night in Canada

Sally was right. I played squash a bit too long last night. I was so excited to be playing hard again, that I think I played one or two games too many. Sally, who has come back from injuries before, warned me about my zeal. "One more game...I'm fine" I said. Well, I wasn't fine. The lower half of my leg throbbed most of the day today. Argh!

So, tonight after dinner I turned on the Sabres game and elevated my leg. It still hurt. After the first period (3-0 Sabres!) I thought I was safe to have a bath and soak. That always makes me feel better. So, I turned on the wee TV in the bathroom, drew a deep, hot bath and immersed myself. Flyers scored twice in the second period. But, my leg felt marvelous.

If Bill were home, I would have stayed out of the bathroom and watched with him on a decent sized TV. But, tonight he chose to hear guitar god, Jeff Beck play at the University of Buffalo. Some people make those kinds of decision during the playoffs. But, I keep forgetting that he's not Canadian.
During the commercials, I let my mind wander back to the first NHL game I ever attended.  My dad took me when I was about 8 years old. We went into Toronto to see the Leafs play - it was a really big deal. And, it was just the two of us. Back then, the Leafs played at Maple Leaf Gardens on Carlton. My mother dressed me and did my hair. I was so dressed up that my dress matched my coat. Dad told me we would have dinner first, near the Gardens, and then walk to the game. I was so excited. A Saturday night with my Dad, dinner  in Toronto and I was in an official "outfit". Back then, people did dress up for the game. My dad was wearing a jacket and tie.

I was envisioning a fancy dinner in the city. Apparently, my dad had other ideas. I have no clue where we ate, but it was touted as being Italian and the "waiter" took the order through a sliding window! It wasn't a drive- through, more like an old speakeasy. Not exactly a four star restaurant - but it didn't matter. I was on a date with my dad.

I can't remember who the Leafs were playing or even if they won, but I do remember two traumatic events that occurred that night:

1. Our seats were in the front row of a section. There was a railing that separated us from the section below.  The guy sitting beside my dad had a habit of leaning forward onto the railing during the particularly exiting plays- thereby obliterating my view. I wasn't very tall. I didn't say anything, but my dad was livid. He pulled the guy back and used some choice phrases using words like "ignoramus" and  "selfish asshole" and ending with "For CRISSAKES if you lean forward one more time..." Anyway, the guy didn't move the rest of the game - as I slowly died of embarrassment.

2. In the section to our left, a spectator got hit by the puck IN THE EYE!  The blood actually spurted and the unwary hockey neophyte was taken out on a stretcher. I had a good view of THAT, unfortunately.  My dad used this as an opportunity to teach an important hockey lesson : NEVER take your eye off the puck. 

Anyway, watching tonight's hockey game from the tub was very enjoyable. I had a clear view, my leg felt good, my brain conjured up a wonderful memory of my dad and the Sabres looked like they had some hope on the road.  I did have to wear my glasses (it's a wee TV, like I said) because, when watching the game - I never take my eye off the puck.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Now that Bill and I eat dinner alone together, we have become a bit more lax with what I would consider proper dinner behavior. For instance, if we are talking about something and we begin to argue about the veracity of a  statement that the other has made, one of us will step away from the table and google the issue. Our computer is literally one step away from the kitchen table. When the kids are home, we don't allow this. We ban texts, phone calls and use of the computer during dinner. Dinner time has, and always will be, a sacred time when the four of us encircle the table.

However, put 2 type As in a dining room with no parental authority and, you get the "I told you so" mentality. So, the googling of statements has become de rigeur.

Prior to children and prior to the readily availability of the computer, we kept a dictionary, a thesaurus, the National Geographic Atlas (thanks Annie and Mr. and Mrs. Roberts), the New York Public Library desk reference, Maltin's movie guide as well as the Film Encyclopedia by Katz within reach. It seemed natural to me since our dinner conversations were like Gatling gun sprays: Short statements, diverse subjects and most of them missing the mark. We allowed each other to have a mediator, and those books were the final say-so.

Bill has always insisted on 'family dinner' even if the family is just the two of us. Conversation is always keen and animated.  And none of us ever gives on a point. Googling has changed the dynamic - for the good. We finally have a definitive arbiter and we can settle a matter immediately.

Today, my friend Candy (hi Candy! Hi Tommy!) sent me an urban dictionary definition for the term  "googleheimer":  The condition where you think of something you want to Google, but by the time you get to your computer, you have forgotten what it was. Very prevalent in the 420 community.

I've got Googleheimer's so bad that between the garage and the office, I forgot what I was going to look up.

This example sentence above, is a subject that is has been on my mind a lot. I forget what I'm looking for ALL THE TIME. That's why Bill and I allow each other to look up something IMMEDIATELY, before we forget what we are arguing about. Today, for instance, a co-worker and I were talking about something, were interrupted by someone else and when that other person left the conversation, neither of us could remember what we had been talking about. Yes, yes! We are both over 50 ... but COME ON! The lapse of time was less than 5 minutes. Googleheimer at work.

Eventually, I believe we will all have small computer's attached to our hands/arms/ ears/eyes/ other appendage. And, we won't have to worry about this malady. But, until then, I'll continue to excuse myself from the dinner table to prove my point.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


My doppelganger wrote a book called "Bossypants".  I heard Terry Gross, on NPR, interview Tina Fey last week. I know Terry has Buffalo ties and she's loved by all - but she always sounds smug and a little too clever and her tone just PISSES ME OFF. Plus, she says "ummm" all the time.  Anyway, I suffered through Terry talking so I could listen to Tina Fey. I love Tina Fey. I think if we knew each other we would be friends. I got that same feeling when I heard Ann Patchett, my favorite writer, address an audience at Canisius College...she and I should be best friends, too.

Anyway, Terry asked Tina to start off the interview by reading an excerpt from her book called "A Mother's prayer for it's daughter". But, of course, Terry interrupted her before she finished.

I wouldn't know that Terry didn't let her finish unless my friend, Kathleen hadn't  posted the entire prayer on Facebook tonight.  The ending! She interrupted before the ending. Terry Gross is such a pain. Anyway, the ending conjured up images from the time when I was a young mother. Or, at least when my children were young:

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.  Amen.

That whole exploding poop up the back seemed to happen at the most inopportune times: dining at restaurants with white table cloths, at 4 a.m. when you are sharing the bed with your baby at your best friend's house, in the car-seat so that the seat had to be trashed, 35,000 feet above the earth. Washing it off the neck is easy -  maneuvering the baby between 2 young girls on a flight to Florida and into the closet of a airline toilet is difficult to say the least. Baby wipes, even if you have a full pack, just don't do the trick.

I remember Bill calling me during a dinner I was having with some girlfriends from out of town. He frantically told me that baby Will had exploding poop up the back. Bill was looking for advice (truthfully, he was looking for me to come home and take care of it). I could handle poop - I don't know why I never threw up, but I just dealt with it. The whole gag reflex thing never happened when I changed Will or Emma.  My advice for Bill was pretty simple and, luckily they were both at home: Strip (both the baby and yourself), turn on the shower, get in with baby held away from you. Then shove the baby's bum and back into the spray. Follow by some soap and rinse again. If it were summer, I may have told him to use the hose in the garden.

Maybe Terry Gross left off the last piece of the prayer because of the poop reference. Maybe Terry Gross found it gross. HA!  But, everybody poops and some of us have to clean it up. And, depending on whose poop it is, some of us just don't mind.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Crosby House

We live in a fairly old house. Not old like Ancient Rome, but old for USA standards. When I dragged out the title from our "important papers" file, I noticed that the first warranty deed was issued in 1811. More than a hundred years later,  in 1927,  it appears that William and Emma Crosby had some searches done with the WNY water company and NY telephone and General Electric. So, I'm guessing that's about when the house was built.

Here's the crazy thing: we live on Crosby Blvd - obviously named for the owners William and Emma.  And that's the name of our kids!! Kind of creepy, don't you think? We moved in here 2 weeks before Will was born. And, we didn't name him after William Crosby - we named him after my husband. Of course. And this was done over my protests. I thought it was a bad, bad idea to have 2 people in a four person family with the same damn name. Kind of confusing, don't you think? But, Bill prevailed and it appears, so did Mr. Crosby. Anyway, that means that this May it will be 19 years we lived in this house. I can't believe it. When I was a kid,  we never stayed in a place longer that 7 years. And, no we weren't on the lam. We raised them (HA!)

I used to run in the Forest Lawn Cemetery (for exercise -  not to evade the law)  and one day ran into the headstones of William and Emma Crosby - side by side for eternity. When I found those headstones I felt a strange sense of peace. I still get the feeling that they are looking out for us.

Anyway, old houses suit me. I like the way they feel. I like the history and comfort they exude. The last 19 years in this house have been very, very happy. I feel lucky to live here and to have been able to bring up the kids in this house. But, this house, like all old houses has drawbacks. And, if you are an unskilled laborer like me, it's important to have a cadre of skilled workers in your contacts lists to help you.  If I think I can fix it myself, I call Bruce. He's my go-to, know-it-all friend (who thinks of me as a 25 year old). If I know it's beyond me, I call Adam. Adam is a professional. He lives nearby and his company renovated our kitchen one summer. He is, in a word, a gem. I trust him so much that, even though the kitchen has been done for 5 years, he still has a key to our house. On a key chain that Emma made.

I called Adam last night because our boiler was hot but, it wasn't pushing any heat into the house.  I kept thinking it would miraculously cure itself...but no. I should know better. It is currently 32 degrees outside - and about 60 degrees in the house. Luckily, the bulk of our day is spent at work. And I have a lot of fleece. But my fingers are pretty cold typing this blog.

Adam came by this morning while I was at work, figured out the problem, ordered the part and will be back tomorrow to install it. Like I said... a gem.

I have included a picture of our boiler just so you know the complexity of the thing. I believe there are 6 zones. This thing has it's own room that is shares with the hot water tank. Some day that boiler will crash - or Adam won't be able to coax it back to life. In the meantime, I will continue to oil it 3 times a year and check the pressure gauge. I figure, with Adam's earthly assistance and Emma and Will Crosby's heavenly intervention, I can figure out a way to get this boiler to last a few more years.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fred and Nina - the myth continues

I'm not sure that Fred and Nina ("Nine - ah"...that pronunciation is  kind of important) really exist. Bill supposedly met these two seniors about 10 years ago. Maybe twelve. He met them quite by accident, on the golf course in Venice, Florida. And ever since, they have been held up as the standard for a perfect marriage.

Fred and Nina are from Wisconsin. Bill describes them as Garrison Keillor describes the Lake Wobegon characters : where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

Bill will wax eloquent when he speaks of Fred and Nina.  He was paired with them for 9 holes and was enraptured by them. They were decent golfers and kind hearted.They gave him encouragement and praise and they kept the game moving. Fred wore traditional golf pants - not the understated elegance of Tiger Woods,  but more along the lines of the Three Stooges. Nina was rail thin and was a solid player.

Miraculously, he was paired with them again the following year. He learned that they ran a marina together and that they golfed together EVERY DAY.  Not the full eighteen, but  just nine holes - just like Fred's wife's name.  Then, they would return home for cocktails.

When Bill gets to this part - returning home for cocktails - he gives me that 'puppy dog' look.

"That could be us, IF YOU'D ONLY PLAY GOLF WITH ME!"

It's not like I don't love sports (I'm writing this during the commercials of the Sabres v. Flyers 3rd playoff game). I just am not keen about playing a sport against Bill. Because, even though we would be playing together, we would be competing. We are both highly competitive, and I'm not sure that pitting against each other on the golf course is a great idea. Plus, I just don't have the time to devote to nine or 18 holes. That's a big time chewer  and there are other things that I would rather be doing.

However, Bill brings up Fred and Nina so often and with such ardor that I feel I must make a concession.

Today, he very innocently showed me an ad for beginner golfers. " Do you not have enough time, energy or patience for 9 or 18 holes of golf? (notice the Canadian phrasing of "do you not"). Join us monthly for a fun evening of golf - just three or four holes  followed by some cocktails (notice the use of the word "SOME") and a little help from some experienced golfers.

Hmmm. Three or four holes. Some cocktails. With a little practice and some work on my absolute need to win, I just might be able to recreate the myth of Fred and Nina.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hot and cold

OK... WHAT???

It SNOWED today! It's April 17th for crying out loud.

Yesterday, my pal Nancy and I had a pedicure. I wore FLIP FLOPS to the salon. After all, it's the middle of April. I had just returned from Florida so the flip flops were readily available, and I thought they might be handy in the rain.
When we got to the salon, Nancy chose vibrant pink for her toes - a sure sign that she was ready for the season.  I chose a brownish red ( maybe I jinxed us by choosing a winter color?)

And, last night I wore short, sleeveless cocktail dress to a function we attended  - the better to suffer hot flashes in.

What a difference a day makes.

I started off this day with purpose. I woke up early knowing that Bill was going to the grocery store. The fridge was pretty empty - so it was a good time to clean it out. It hasn't seen a good cleaning since January 1, when I was inspired to begin this blog. That's probably a confession that shouldn't be published. But, not knowing the proper amount of time that should elapse between fridge cleanings, I'll chance it.

As Bill left for the grocery store this morning he asked me to come outside. He said he had seen a snow flake. I didn't see any and thought he was a bit loopy. It didn't seem cold enough for snow.

But, then it started in earnest.

This afternoon I pulled on boots ( don't worry - my pedicure had sufficiently dried)  to go outside so I could clean up the recyclable materials that had blown out of the blue boxes. I think the wind speed got up to 55 mph today, too. And, a winter coat! I had on a winter coat. OMIGOD --and gloves. I used my brother's fishing net to retrieve a plastic milk bottle out of the fish pond. But, I didn't see any fish. I hope that this constant flux in temperature hasn't killed the lone survivor. While I was in the garden I had to avert my eyes from the 'about to bloom' tulips and emerging hyacinths.

I know I should be thankful that houses on our street didn't blow away as they did in Bertie County, NC.... but COME ON!

To top it off, I think our thousand year old boiler may have given up the ghost. Despite my oiling the motor three times a year, I think it may be past its prime. The temperature upstairs hasn't moved from 63 degrees. I was in fleece and slippers all day .

Luckily it's laundry day. On Sundays I devote myself to laundry. That means a lot of running up and down stairs. The washer and dryer is in the basement. Our basement is a bit of a labyrinth, too - so there is a significant amount of walking, climbing and stooping involved in doing the laundry. I think of Sundays as my work out day so the lack of heat didn't really bother me.

Bill's cooking also warmed the house. I won't tantalize you with the meal - suffice it to say that I vacuumed my plate - it was superb! And the wine has flushed my face sufficiently so my core temperature is perfect.

I also still have 2 comforters on the bed. I think tonight we may turn in early. And try to forget that it's spring.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Perfume samples

I come from a  family of professional smellers - not that WE smell, but that our noses are very sensitive. My grandfather Martin and my dad both made their living (at least at some points in their lives) in the spice/essential oil/perfumery business. I'm actually not sure if their noses were genetically sophisticated, or that they merely trained this sense with constant practice, but they were able to discern the 'notes' and 'complexity' of a smell and then describe them. It was important  because their business was based on this talent.

I have led myself to believe that I, too, carry on this trait. I am very sensitive to smells and form associations with certain odors. I've actually averted tragedy when I've discerned smoke that no one else could detect.
I can sit still and recreate the smell of the skin of everyone of my family. I don't have the education to properly describe the smells - but I can smell it in my mind. That sounds crazy - but it is something that I do that actually brings me comfort.

I recently made the mistake of buying perfume on line - without trying it out first at the beauty counter. It was a Jimmy Choo perfume  that was being advertised in a fashion magazine. It was one of those 3 x 5 inserts with a folded part that you can rip open and smell. It was being sold exclusively at Saks. I love Buffalo but we do not have a Saks.  I ADORED this smell. I must have smelled the insert a hundred times. I coveted the perfume - I even loved the picture of the bottle. I  broke down and ordered it from Saks online. 

When I saw the brown paper package at the door, I barely made it into the kitchen to find a knife. I was ripping at the tape as I fumbled with the package. Finally, I unwrapped the cellophane, opened the wee box  and gave my wrist a spray. I waited a few seconds then inhaled.


It was like fly spray.  What on earth had gone wrong? I sprayed it into the air and walked through it.  GROSS. This was worse. 

Even though I hated it  initially - I was willing to give it another try and I wore it to work the next day. It was like being followed by the pest control guy. Luckily, I had scheduled a squash game at lunch so I was able to shower half way through the day. Thank Goodness. I don't think I could've made it through the day.
The really horrible thing? It was nonreturnable and I had paid $80 for it. 

But, then something wonderful happened. Emma came home for the weekend. That was wonderful enough but, she also tried on the Jimmy Choo perfume.  Miraculously, when it mixed with her skin, she smelled absolutely enchanting. The way I had hoped it would smell on me. 

I told Bill I had given the perfume to Emma.: "'Thank God. That stuff was vile". I guess he may have a touch of the Martin nose, too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gods of the Florida Bayou

I tried hard not to let on in this blog that I wasn't home this past week - for my home security sake. I was, in fact, in Florida with my mum and Bill. Bill and I got home last night. Well, I got home and went to bed. Bill jumped in the car and drove to Albany for a case he's working on. I have no idea where he gets the energy.

Anyway, while we were in Florida I did as little as possible. Except, one day, we drove to visit our friends Arthur and Anya. They live near St. Petersburg and invited us to go kayaking with them in their bayou.

Let me preface this story by telling you that Arthur and Anya are the least stressed people I know  - the exact opposite of Bill and me. They are very good for us.  We visited them at the end of our holiday - the timing was excellent- we had hit our peak of relaxation so the transition to their way of life was not so jarring.

After examining the fruit trees in their garden and catching up with news of our respective children, we readied the kayaks. Anya may appear relaxed, but while we were sitting on our bums, she had prepared food and drink for the long paddle ahead. Arthur showed me an aerial map of our route, and I was a little tentative. It looked like we were going to be travelling miles. I hoped I was up to the task. Arthur and Anya kayak a lot so they are in good shape. I didn't want to let them down.
Turns out it wasn't a problem.

Bill and I set off together at a brisk and steady pace. We had a rhythm going when I heard Arthur exclaim "Liz, you're working too hard. Relax". And then Anya tossed me a cold Labatt's. We drifted for a bit. Ahhh. 

We meandered through a beautiful mangrove forest and tried to analyse the smells. We floated a while and had another beer. We chatted with other wandering kayakers, watched the mullets jumping out of the water and into the air (Arthur explained that the low oxygen in the water causes them to leap to gather the richer 02 in the air), and listened to stories of manatees on our hosts' last cruise. Anya took us to a place she knew where Roseate Spoonbills sometimes roosted, and we were delighted to find five of them.

 Then we had another beer.

The sun was warm, the water was beautiful and calm and we had two of the loveliest companions who were so happy to share their bayou with us. As we headed home, 3 dolphins crossed our paths as if to say "Hey! You lucky beggars! Enjoy this idyll".

We ended the day with a hot tub (another "ahhhh") and a perfectly cooked salmon dinner. Arthur and Anya may as well be named Zeus and Hera  - they are Gods to me... the day they planned for us was perfect.

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


For a bunch of years, I lived on a sheep farm. It start off rather small - we had 15 ewes and my mother had the bright idea that we would we breed champion Suffolks. We lived on a small farm and bred those 15 sheep with a champion, registered ram named Brit-Can-Am. This ram was ENORMOUS. I was only 8 when I met him and he scared the crap out of me. I distinctly remember being cornered by him in the barnyard - he had me right up against the fence. The only thing between him and me (he and I?) was the oat can. He was, in a word, virile. He impregnated all our ewes. In two days. And, then he promptly dropped dead. We had only rented the dude for the 'process' and let me tell you, there was hell to pay when we told the owner that his prize winning stud needed to be picked up by the dead-wagon.

However, his offspring were sensational.

My mother decided that this first bunch of lambs were all going to be named properly. They were, after all, championship material and were going to be the foundation of our stock. She also decided that they would have respectable and memorable names. So, she pulled out "The Complete works of William Shakespeare" and named the first lamb Ophelia. Next was Desdemona. Then Portia. Sweet Rosalind was my favorite - she had the softest face and gentlest dispositon. We were surprised with twins and named them Isabella and Imogene. You may wonder why all girls? Well... we kept the females to breed and sacrificed the males to the Easter lamb market.  My mother had big ideas- she was going to breed winners.

Eventually, we moved to a much bigger farm and my mother's plans got larger, too. It really was my mother who was the brains and brawn behind this venture. My dad had a full time job ( so did she for that matter) but my mother was the force behind the flock.

As I look back now on those days on the farm, it seems like it was someone else's life. We all worked really hard - particularly my brother. He seemed to get the rawest deal of all the chores. And he very rarely complained. There are so many memories of our family time together on the sheep farm: trudging down to the barn in below zero weather, breaking the ice on the water buckets so the sheep could drink, checking the pregnant ewes for progress and adjusting the heat lambs over top of the newborns. It was difficult and wonderful all at the same time. And, we have my mum to thank.

Trying to explain this time of my life to Bill is challenging. He really has nothing with which to compare it. I know that those of you who had the privilege of growing up on a farm will understand that push and pull of emotion - of resenting  the responsibility but loving the results and feeling that connection with nature. It is a feeling that I miss. It's probably all tied up with being with my family and having that time together.

Today, the big sheep breeder, mum,  lives a life of relative leisure. But, she manages to keep a few sheep around. One such example was unearthed today. She asked me to take a picture of her garden before I left Florida today. I think she must still yearn for those days, too.

Monday, April 11, 2011

How old would you be, if you did not know how old you was?*

A funny thing happened to me when I turned 50 and it was completely the opposite of what I thought would occur.

Initially, I ran away on my birthday because I didn't want to have a big party. I figured, if I had a party, people who came would always be able to figure out how old I was...

"Hmmm, remember that party that we went to when Liz turned 50 - that's was 2010,  right? Well,  that means she must be almost 68 now - she looks like hell for her age." That's what I was avoiding.

Except, now I'm happy to announce to all and sundry that I'm 50. I don't know what's taken over my brain. But, I'm telling everyone I run into. Even people who don't care: the checkout lady at Stein Mart; the Tim Horton's coffee guy at the window; everyone at work knows, for heaven sakes - I've been doing the Sally O'Malley kick, and stretch and kick routine for months in the office halls.

My mother was talking about me and Bill to one of her pals the other day and she referred to us as "the kids". I love it when she does that. However, I was quick to point out to my mother's friend that I was FIFTY! The woman didn't even blink.

I think I continue to do this announcement because I'm STILL waiting for someone to say, my GOD! You don't LOOK fifty. That hasn't happened yet.  I thought that my mother's 80 year old friend might say SOMETHING! Not even close.  She just commented that I could hardly be referred to as a kid!


I think part of the problem is that I'm still in a state of shock. I really can't believe that I made it to 50 - when my brain keeps telling me that I'm still a kid. My friend, Bruce always tells me that he still thinks of me as a 25 year old - the age I was when he met me. He's very kind and I like the fact that he has allowed time to stand still for me. He looks past the gray hair, the few extra pounds (OK, more than a few) and the wrinkles. He's what I call a GOOD friend. I'm lucky, too that Bill is older and will always think of me as his younger wife. Maybe that's why I don't mind telling others how old I am... because the only one who matters, thinks of me as his 'young bride'.

*quotation from Satchel Paige

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A bittersweet view of life

I have a few really bad habits. OK, more than a few - but tonight I'm focusing on one for which I should probably seek counselling. 

If I'm feeling particularly blessed, if something is going especially well, I start to feel guilty that others cannot enjoy it, too.

This one I don't know how to fix. Tonight, I was having the most marvelous dinner with my mum. Bill is away so we were left to our own devices. We grilled a couple of burgers, steamed some corn, opened up a bottle of Chianti and sat outside to watch the sun set. The air was soft and warm, the sunset was glorious, the temperature was perfect and I was with the sweetest woman in the world - my mum. I knew that I would remember this brief but lovely moment in time. However, rather than bask in the splendor that was before me,  I (a) missed my kids and (b) thought about the Japanese whose lives were turned upside down, focused on the Libyans, and the Syrians, and the Egyptians... you get the picture. All this, while simultaneously trying to turn my attention back to the "moment". Unfortunately, I kept wrestling with my anxieties regarding the present state of the world.

It's a constant theme with me: why am I so lucky while others are so unfortunate?  And, as I found out tonight, it is an issue with my mother. Maybe it's encoded in our DNA, but it seems we can never truly enjoy something without feeling some remorse.

I'm attaching a picture of the dinner we prepared for the evening so you can get some idea of  its idyllic nature.

If anyone has any advice, I will gladly take it. I know Bill will have words of wisdom - he always does - but tonight he is not home to reassure me. Although, usually his reassurance takes the form of : "Let me make you a nice dinner - and I'll pick out a nice bottle of wine". Tonight, without him, that tactic is not working.

Friday, April 8, 2011


My grade 13 English teacher, Mr. McGarrity, was an impressive man. He was stern and insistent that we learn to love literature. I remember that he would always have us read aloud so that he could critique our diction. He had quite a task before him, because there were a number of students that were billeted hockey players. (The Peterborough Petes were a Junior A hockey team that sent their boys to my high school.) He had his work cut out for him with this lot. They were there to play hockey - and they didn't really care about the underlying social tension in Tess of the D'urbervilles. He couldn't even get them excited about Lady Chatterley's Lover.  They sat up a little when it came time for Shakespeare, however. He had us act out the plays in front of the blackboard. He didn't give a hoot if we didn't have a dramatic bone in our body. We would read, and we would read well - and it usually resulted in some funny moments.

He was disdainful of 'pulp fiction' - no, not the Quentin Tarantino film (p.s. - my 80 year old mother's favorite movie), but the kind of fiction you buy at the drugstore.

He influenced me more than he knew. I love to read and only have so much time to indulge myself with fiction. So, I try to confine myself to "Literature". If there is a book that everyone is reading, I refuse to read it. If its designed for the masses, I don't want to know about it. I'm a real McGarrity snob. I know it's a character flaw - but it's one I have not been able to really fix.

When I met Bill, he too was a snob about reading. But, his snobbery was little different. He confined himself to mostly non-fiction. He had spent his childhood reading science fiction and said that he was only interested in truth from now on. Life is short etc. etc.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I enticed him into my fiction world. And now he's hooked. He in turn, just hooked me on dime store fiction: The girl with the dragon tattoo by Steig Larsson. I could not put the sucker down. He listened to it on tape on his road trips to Albany. He told me to try it. I put my nose in the air and tuned him out. But, he LOVED it and highly recommended that I read it.  So I did. And now I'm off to the bookstore to buy the next in the series.

I will , however, hide it behind the cover of a 'real book'. I do have principles after all.

Summer jobs

It's been quite some time since I applied for a summer job. I always managed to be employed through high school and university - but it was a much different time years ago. I didn't live at home during the summers. My parents were living in Buffalo and I couldn't work in the US. I happily remained in Peterborough, Ontario in a crummy apartment.  It was heaven to me - I had no money, but I was on my own  - free to make as many stupid decisions as I could.  I remember one summer in particular. I was especially stupid.

I worked on the Trent Severn Waterway, opening and closing the locks, cutting the lawn, keeping the bathrooms clean and being a good Parks Canada federal employee. I could write reams of stuff on that job. I had it for 3 summers. Talk about material - I could write psychological evaluations of the Lock masters, the guys in charge, that would curl your hair.

Anyway, one summer, I had the lock job that consisted of 3 x 12 hours days. In the evenings, I worked in the shoe department at Eaton's. That was pleasant. NOT. I was also taking a course at Trent University - called "Biology of algae". It was really a horrible choice for a summer course. I was also working part time at the university serving food and drinks at conventions and parties. Those hours were sporadic but the job paid well.  PLUS, I was getting my diving license. Not driving - d-i-v-i-n-g. So, guess what suffered? Biology of Algae. I got a 'C' in that course. It was virtually impossible to do poorly in the course. But, I figured out a way to do it.  Because it was considered a full semester, that C cost me a lot in my GPA. I still believe that C cost me admission into medical school. There is a lesson in here somewhere. I'm just not sure what it is.

Kids today have a horrible time finding summer employment. I think back at that summer where I had 3 jobs and I feel sorry for this generation. Now, the kids have such little chance of 'getting in somewhere' that they are sometimes forced to create their own employment.

My daughter called to tell me that she had been offered an internship and she was weighing whether she should take it.  There was a lot to consider in her decision making process, not the least of which she would have to leave Toronto and ...

I tried to stay calm. I tried to remain objective. I listened to her as she rationalized her decision. In the end, she knew that the best decision was to take the job.

I can't believe how lucky we are. To have our 21 year old daughter for 10 weeks this summer. She'll be able to concentrate on her internship, live at home and make some money. She is so much smarter than I was at her age.

Bill and I toasted our luck, once again.