Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don't Horn in on My Shoes

Recently, when my dad was visiting, I helped him put on his shoes. I like slip ons. Shoe horn goes in, slide foot forward and voila, good to go. Simple. No need for him to bend or balance. I was quite proud of my efforts and the rapidity with which we cooperatively accomplished this task. I hadn't lost my touch. All those years of inserting kindergarten feet into shoes certainly prepared me for this. It was then that my hubby asked "Why's your father wearing my shoes?"

It was that singular question and my stuttering attempt to explain, that brought back a flood of memories.

Every spring, the kindergarten teachers at my school held a student parent information night. While the eager new parents looked on, I would remind them of two things. Firstly, when there are 25 four and five year olds in a group, they can't always locate or identify their own shoes. Please write their name on each shoe. Secondly, shoes should be easy for the child to put on himself/herself; velcro closures, slip ons and elasticized pre-tied laces are best. It got to the point where I even brought and demonstrated samples of suggested types of shoes. It sounded obvious. Then in September when the children arrived at school, there would be only a handful of moms and dads who had considered my requests. The rest had to learn the hard way.

Children's running shoe styles are somewhat limited. Imagine a dozen pairs of girls' shoes sporting Dora the Explorer or Barbie and another dozen pairs of Spiderman or Transformers boys' shoes. Now add to this the fact that many four and five year old children wear size 11 or 12. Double the number of shoes because children had both indoor and outdoor footwear. On days when boots were added to the equation, the chaos that ensued was something akin to a riot at the G20 summit.

Each day, I managed to insert curly toed feet, tie, snap or velcro children into footwear. If they were lucky, they even ended up wearing their own shoes. Not once did I send a boy home in Barbie shoes or put a girl in lace up army boots, quite an accomplishment under the circumstances. That's not to say that there weren't instances of children heading home with two left shoes, while others sported two rights of the same style and colour. This occurred if they managed to dress themselves and leave without my careful inspection and it was not always a good thing, particularly if one of the children in question was absent on the following day. Once in awhile we even lost a boot or shoe. I would search and search while a child sat patiently on the coat room bench wearing one boot. Odd. It usually showed up as if by magic a day or two later.

I wish I had thought of the response that is clear to me now. The obvious answer to hubby after he asked the question "Why's your father wearing my shoes," should have been, "I didn't see your name on them."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Streetwalking Update...Bugs, Beanies and Bellydancing!

Today was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. I took advantage of a shopping trip downtown, left the car parked and continued with my very behind schedule streetwalking. There are many areas adjacent to the lake and to this downtown area which I have not yet explored. The streets which I am now trekking are somewhat out of the way, not too close to home and definitely require a vehicle.

As I walked, I enjoyed the scenery, particularly the older houses in this part of town. Oh sure, there was the occasional falling leaf which annoyingly stuck to various parts of my hair and face and even a few clusters of flying gnats that attempted entry into my nostrils. Nonetheless, I had a lovely walk and lots of fresh air. As I marched along, I happened to notice a small green item on the pavement in front of me. It was the little guy pictured above...a beanie baby sporting the words "Baby Rocks!" on his t-shirt. I immediately recognized it as a favourite toy which was probably hurled from a baby stroller by a youngster practising his or her pitching skills. I have retrieved and lost many similar items when my own children were young. I looked around. There was a pair of elderly people sitting on a bench to my right. I saw a lady walking a dog slightly to the left. Then I spotted a young couple with a little girl and a baby in a stroller ahead. Picking up my pace, I got close enough to yell "Excuse me" and garner their attention. I was pleased with myself as I showed them the toy and asked if they had lost it. All the while I assumed the answer would be "Yes, thank you so much for finding it, but instead I heard the unexpected response, "No, it's not ours."

I wandered on disappointedly, trying to decide what to do with my new found froggy friend. I didn't want to toss him unceremoniously back to the ground. Besides, I had embarassing visions of someone coming up behind me and saying "M'aam, you dropped your toy". I glanced at a pillar in front of the local funeral home, but decided that putting a frog atop one of those would appear somewhat disrespectful. There was a coffee shop with an outdoor table and chairs. "Hmmm...." I thought. Cute, but no. Finally, I decided to bring the beanie frog home with me.
As I walked past one older style building I viewed a woman in an open doorway. She was wearing veils, a bikini top and bare feet with coins jingling from her shaking hips. Curiosity got the best of me and I hesitated, slowed down and briefly stared. She looked back at me at which point I said, "That looks like fun."

"It is. Come on in," she shouted. I did. After all, who was I to miss out on an opportunity to learn something new about this town? As it happens, I learned a lot. I was assured by the owner of the "Moksha Belly Dance Studio" that I too could participate in this activity. Much of her clientele is "mature" and the oldest person taking her class is in fact 89. Wow! After receiving many details about times and dates of classes for people of my...er...ability level, I thought I might give this a try in the new year. I will participate in a class called "Wise Women Introduction to Belly Dancing Foundations". I think the "foundation" part might be referring to clothing some of us have to wear in order to look respectable while attempting this activity.

So my walk today was quite eventful. From bugs to beanies to belly dancing. It really was as Mr. Rogers would say, a "b"eautiful day in the neighbourhood.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You say tomato and I say bleeachhhhhhhhhhh.....

I'm not certain where to start with this one except to say that most of the time, I hate tomatoes. Whether this is a genetic or learned dislike, is debatable. My children don't care for them and my mother did not ever eat tomatoes. Since this always seemed to be so shocking to her friends mom finally decided that it would be easier to say that she had an allergy rather than dare admit that she just didn't like them. Ironically, a year after her death, I visited the cemetery to find a tomato plant growing somewhat victoriously atop mom. There was something about that sight that made me grin before I unceremoniously yanked out the offensive intruder. The tomato was not going to win.

For me, I think it's the consistency, the slime, the ick factor of a raw tomato not to mention the lack of any great flavour that causes me to cringe. I will occasionally cut up a tomato into tiny specks, omit the seedy gooey part, then put the remainder on a salad. Sometimes, I even have a craving for a toasted BLT in which case, I will make my sandwich, adding thin slices, then whatever tomato gut droppings fall back onto the plate when I take bites, get left there.

I felt so affirmed the first time I met another person who disliked tomatoes. She was a co-worker who would refer to the offensive fruit as "poison". When we went for lunch together, she would order a sub sandwich "without the poison" pointing all the while toward the container of sliced Romas. We chuckled when I would order mine "same as hers...no poison." There was no exception when we had takeout Wendy's salads either. Luckily, there were lots of takers for free food in our staff room. The nasty cherry tomatoes which contaminated our luscious green leaves were usually in great demand.

I never made a fuss in front of my children. In fact, I don't remember ever disliking tomatoes in my early life. I didn't pick them off my food nor did I order anything without tomatoes so I have no idea where their aversion originated. Having said that, we all eat and enjoy ketchup and tomato sauces and since cooked tomatoes are the best source of lycopene, I don't feel a huge sense of loss.

In the last three years, I have discovered two things. One is that my new hubby is the tomato growing king. We have tomatoes in various shapes, sizes and forms of ripeness everywhere...on vines, in the fridge, on countertops, in the freezer and on the patio. He cooks, freezes, eats and gives tomatoes away. I am ready to gag if I have to look at another tomato. I must first admit though that I recently I tasted a bit of one of the Beefsteaks. It had a pleasant scent and actually contained some flavour. I remembered a similar sampling at the Kitchener Mennonite Market many years ago. This is not enough to convert me however. Secondly, I have learned that at least two of my newly inherited grandchildren detest tomatoes. Hurrayyyyyy...there are more of us out there...and part of my new family too!

Last week, I went to visit the cemetery. There I saw a giant green beanstalk growing. Odd. I like green beans. I have no memory of my mom and green beans, however, not being one to discriminate, I pulled the plant, beans and all and contributed it to the compost pile.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Is It Better In the Bahamas?...the final chapter.

Alas, the time had come. Curiosity got the best of them and the lovely not so young couple and mom headed back to town to take the famed "Water Ferry" to Paradise Island. They wanted to look at the Atlantis hotel complex. After all, that most famous and sought after Canadian, Justin Bieber had performed there. Once on the dock, they were immediately accosted by a gentleman who said "Ferry to Paradise Island"? "Woohoo", said Ingrid's strange mom, "Yes, please". She went to the ticket wicket and purchased 3 return tickets. After being directed to a rather rickety boat, they sat.....and sat.....and sat. "I see fish," said Phil, while briefly enjoying the view into the water.
"It's getting hot," said Ingrid while wondering how long they'd have to wait.

"Boohoo," said Ingrid's strange mom, noting that there were only 8 people on the boat. "I have a feeling we have to wait until he recruits a boatload before we can leave." After only half an hour, they were on their way. They saw many lovely things...a cruise ship, a bridge, a nudist yoga camp and lots more fish. "I want to eat them," said Phil. "I love fish."

As they got near Paradise Island, they saw it! Atlantis. "Woohoo, I love it," said Ingrid's strange mom.
After a pole vault out of the ferry and a tour of the Atlantis hotel, it was determined by all that this structure was too huge, too ostentatious, too expensive and too crowded for their liking and they headed back to the familiarity of their own modest resort. (There's a long story involving a taxi and further water ferry adventures here but author is getting tired of continuing this blog).

The very next day, the mom, who had a fear of flying had several more of her favourite kamikaze drinks, left the lovely not so young couple on the beach for another day of vacation and headed for the exciting Nassau airport and home. (Note the wealth of activities below in aforementioned airport.)

Finally......THE END!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is It Better in the Bahamas...with mom? Part Four

When Phil returned from taking pictures of the ships, the shore and the shells, and found Ingrid and mom severely dehydrated, "super nurse" rushed into action. A quick trip into the "Drinks and Cigars R Us" store did the trick. He gave Ingrid water and mom a Kalik (beer of the Bahamas), cap removed, brown paper wrapper concealed, ready for consumption. "Woohoo", said Ingrid's strange mother, "I love it." The threesome finished their drinks then took the bus back to the hotel where they attempted to cross the street. It was the oddest thing. The traffic, such as it was, always appeared to be on the wrong side of the road. Soon, everyone learned to look the wrong way before crossing. Phil found this so entertaining, that he photographed it.
Once back at the resort, everyone sat on the lovely beach enoying the sun, the activities, the drinks and the scenery. Some sceneries were enjoyed more than others, especially by mom, who excitedly took photos of her legs (which were now returned to human form), the not so young couple, and a variety of other interesting sights. "Woohoo, I love it!" said Ingrid's strange mom.
Later that same day, the not so young couple and mom dressed up and went out for dinner at Martino's. Ingrid's strange mother took some artistic photos. "Whoohoo," she said."I love it." Then after an adventurous day everyone made plans for the next day's adventure. They were going to Paradise...or were they? Watch for the finale..."Is It Better In the Bahamas...when mom leaves?"

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Is It Better In The Bahamas...with mom? Part Three

After dinner, there was a show with a fire dancer and a limber limbo man. "Woohoo", said Ingrid's strange mother when the man tore off his shirt and pants, lit his pole on fire and edged underneath the bar toward the audience. Then, as if that wasn't exciting enough, at the end of the show there was a Junkanoo parade. It was very loud and boisterous much like Caribana. Mom and Phil enjoyed the show while Ingrid caught up on her beauty sleep. Meanwhile, Ingrid's strange mom located a costume of her own. "Woohoo," said Ingrid's strange mother "I love it! I love it!"

Bright and early the next day, with the temperature hovering at 107 F, the lovely, not so young couple asked the mom if she wanted to go into town shopping. "Woohoo," said Ingrid's strange mother. "I love shopping."

So they all hopped onto a mini bus, got stuck to the plastic seat covers which seemed to be the Bahamian version of seat belts and rocked to the reggae music...."yah mon". Once in town, there were many things to see and do. There were watch stores and diamond stores and watch stores and more diamond stores. The straw market was of most interest. Ingrid's strange mother tried on a dress over her clothing in the not so private, non air conditioned outdoor stall. She didn't need a mirror to reject this little little number. "Boohoo," said Ingrid's strange mother. "I don't love it."

Meanwhile, Phil had wandered off to photograph the cruise ships, Ingrid acquired a new boyfriend named Senor Frog and the mom finally found a look that she enjoyed. "Woohoo," said Ingrid's strange mother, "I love it."

Is this the end? Will they all live happily ever after? Has the heat adversely affected all three? Will they soon return to normal and go back to the beach? Could it be that Phil has had enough and tries to dispose of Ingrid's strange mother using this unique, antique and yet high powered weapon? Watch for "Is It Better In The Bahamas...with mom?" Part Four....your burning questions answered. Coming soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is It Better In the Bahamas...with mom? Part Two

Soon, the mother felt thirsty. She accepted the suggestion of a duo of Russian women who recommended a drink called a ***Kamikaze. "Woohoo", said Ingrid's strange mother. "I like this drink, I think I'll have another". For some reason, she got very tired and decided to relax on the not so crowded beach with her Nora Roberts novel and her ancient listening device (see blogs entitled "Who You Calling An Antique?" and "Yes, I'm Old Now"). It was so peaceful. Suddenly, she was rudely awakened by the sounds of the "Black Eyed Peas" and "Flo Rida". This was to become a nightly event as the "Booze Cruise" passed by the resort in an attempt to recruit unsuspecting types for their glass bottom boat rides.

The mother was glad when the rest of the day and the night were over and Ingrid and Phil arrived. Except for a few strange facial ticks, they seemed to have survived their flight relatively unscathed.

That evening, they went to dinner and invited mom. "Woohoo, I'd love to", said Ingrid's strange mother. So they all got dressed and headed for the "Garden of Eden" for their first night's meal.

....to be continued

***Kamikaze is a drink made with equal parts vodka, triple sec and lime juice. Drink appearance on this page is not exactly to scale as our all-inclusive club made them slightly (cough, cough) larger and stronger.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is It Better In The Bahamas...with mom? Part One

Once, there was a cute, not so young couple named Ingrid and Phil. Despite many warnings about facebook, they did not heed them and were not too selective about who was included on their "friends" list. They added Ingrid's strange mother. When they posted a planned trip to the Bahamas, Ingrid's strange mother said, "Woohoo, I like the Bahamas."

Ingrid innocently replied, "Why don't you come along?"

"Woohoo", said Ingrid's strange mother. "I'd love to."

Mom did not let the lack of tickets for the date in question deter her. When the travel agent suggested a flight a day earlier, the strange mother said, "Woohoo, I'd love to."

So off she flew to the beautiful city of Nassau on the Island of New Providence, the tiny one between the two long ones on the top left of the map.
Except for the airline having placed her in the midst of an infant evacuation flight, with the odour of fresh poop permeating the plane, the flight was uneventful. After 3 hours, they landed. While waiting for her luggage, the strange mother was asked if she wanted to sample some of the island's delicacies, specifically Bacardi. "Woohoo, I'd love to,"she said.

At the resort, the mother was enthralled with the sun, sand, air and water. It was lovely. She immediately went exploring and found many things of interest. There were unusual birds....

....of all kinds. And there was odd native attire.

Not the end. Watch for Part 2

Friday, September 3, 2010

What you talking about?

I talk to myself. This is a skill which I have perfected in my later life. I noticed that I have been participating in this activity more in recent years. Perhaps it's not a skill at all. Maybe it's just a lack of caring what people think anymore. It works well for me. What used to be thoughts in my head are now thoughts for all the world to hear. Not all of my thoughts get out there, but I usually don't regret the ones that do. Sometimes, I mutter and sometimes I just give voice to an idea. I don't think I'm the only offender but then that might be wishful thinking. After all, I wouldn't want to imagine that I'm the only strange person around.

I'm not certain what brings on this sudden need to share my thoughts with the produce in the vegetable aisle of a supermarket, or sing along loudly to the store's Musak, I just do.

Sure there are those jokesters who say that when we talk to ourselves at least someone is listening. Or, you're not crazy as long as you don't answer yourself. I've noted that there are even articles, albeit on the internet that's say it's healthy, another form of mental stimulation. I wonder whether those words of wisdom were written by other self talkers.

This morning, I was wandering outdoors. Since I am currently in Nassau, I went onto the resort grounds to enjoy the scenery, the stillness and the air. It was lovely. Palm trees were wafting, waves were rolling in, the sand was undisturbed except for the footprints of a sandpiper that scurried toward the sea and the water was turquoise. Peaceful. "Exquisite", I heard myself think, then say as I extolled the wonders of this paradise.

Seagulls squawked and hovered, despite the resort's efforts to keep them away with numerous plastic owls. I found myself wondering. "Hey you stupid seagulls, don't you know that you're supposed to be fearful of owls? Hmmm....Caribbean seagulls and owls? Must have been some terrific salesman that conned them into buying those plastic monstrosities." Ooops....I realized I wasn't wondering I was once again speaking aloud.

Perhaps there are just things that we appreciate more as we age. Perhaps we're more observant. Perhaps our life's experiences have taught us to see more, do more, feel more and say more. At any rate, I like it. By using another sense, hearing, we affirm what our thought was. Probably a good way to stick things into our elderly heads that might otherwise disappear. Or maybe, it's just fun.