Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Bucket List

The other day, I looked up the Queen Elizabeth's very rigorous itinerary. It was then that I decided to go and see her when she's in Toronto next week. No real reason to do so except that I can. After all she's 84. I have not made the effort during any of her previous 22 visits to Canada. Life got in the way. Now, there aren't likely to be that many more opportunities. My husband (the American), refrained from making an anti monarchist statement, but asked whether this was on my bucket list. "Hmmm", I said. "No, but I could add it."

This got me thinking about "Bucket Lists". What is the appropriate protocol for creating this? Are you allowed to keep adding things to your bucket list? What if you run out of stuff, have done it all and aren't dead? Is that a problem? So here is the beginning of my list. It is by no means complete and not in order of preference. Some items are fun, some a little more serious.

I haven't included on my list such activities as rock climbing, ocean kayaking, hot air ballooning, white water rafting, helicopter flight, roller blading/ ice skating on a ship, scuba diving, sharpshooting, archery, driving on the Mosport race track, raising poultry or picking dew worms. I've done that. It also doesn't contain bungee jumping or eating maggots. I won't do that.

Here's what I have so far, in no particular order.

Write my own eulogy (I want it to be good)
Walk around wearing a boa (over my clothes) but not in Oshawa because it's normal there
Go out with a man who is wearing a tuxedo (hmmm....any offers?)
Line up and get one of the free Honest Ed holiday turkey giveaways (too late boohoo)
Go from Florida to the Bahamas in a hovercraft
Go look at the Queen or go see Queen (whichever opportunity arises)
See the Mona Lisa (the one in the Louvre, not my friend Mona Lisa in Courtice) and go to other assorted European galleries   (been to Paris and saw the Louvre...just as good)
See something Gaudi
Go to the Quebec Winter Carnival and see Bonhomme
Go to the Rose Bowl Parade or get someone to give me a bowl of roses during a parade
Take a river cruise (preferrably on one that's not overflowing or dried up)
Write something that gets published (blogs and church newsletters don't count)  A year and a half of newspaper columns did it.
Ride on the Trans Siberian Railway
Walk on every street in Cobourg ( I'm getting there)
See the final episode of "As The World Turns" (this may come sooner than anticipated...see previous blog)
See a live World Series game (preferrably with Blue Jays in it)
See at least 5 things on the list of "World's Largest" (I think I've seen the world's largest goose so far if it's in Wawa)
Organize a photo album for each of my kids (so they remember the great things I did for them)
Paint some pictures (I've done walls, now on to smaller things)
Take a university course
Learn cake decorating (I have a burning desire to find out what fondant is)
Be a mystery shopper
Take a flower arranging course
See my kids successful, married etc. (perhaps I should settle for finished school and employed)
Go to the WLU 50th alumni reunion in 2020
Attend the hot air balloon festival in New Mexico
Go to the Kentucky Derby, wear a hat and drink a mint julep
Enter a contest - writing or photo/Win a contest (lotteries count)
Go to "The Gun Store" in Las Vegas and fire an unusual weapon
Live in a houseboat
Go to misc. festivals -Toronto film, authors
Attend a Canadian (or other) figure skating competition
Ride a segway
Go see a groundhog on Feb. 2....Wiarton or know
See some live local and non local t.v. shows - Battle of the Blades, Cityline too late for Oprah but maybe Letterman or Ellen
Visit these places: Galapagos, Dubai, Antarctica (not on foot, maybe a cruise), NZ/Australia, Africa (pyramids and wildlife), Mediterranean, Newfoundland (Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton's Harbour) done, summer 2015 , Quebec Winter Carnival (J'aime Bonhomme), Iceland, South Seas, Thailand, Japan.

I believe that the point of a bucket list is to write down your intentions in order to organize ideas, plan and visualize what you are going to do. It may be similar to the "mental rehearsal" done by athletes, the agendas kept by students, business people and others, and the "to do" lists of many homemakers. The act of creating this, helps to clarify desires in one's mind. On the other hand, it might only be a list of dreams. I think I might have enough dreams on my very substantial list to keep me busy for a few years. I am excited to whittle away at it. I certainly hope to get through a lot of items before I take "the great dirt nap" but just in case, perhaps I'd better get started on the first component of the list in the not too distant future.

Monday, June 28, 2010

True Confession

I watch a soap. Yes, there you have it. I won't try to make excuses, although I have one. I have two in fact and their names are Ingrid and Warren.

I started watching "As The World Turns" in 1984 while home on maternity leave with my second born "the boy". It took three months of determination and a battle of wills. When I finally got both children fed, two sets of diapers changed at the same time and a couple of nap schedules coinciding, I collapsed on the sofa. At first, I enjoyed the quiet and attempted to read. I soon discovered that this required too much brain power for the energy level which remained in my body.

Instead, I turned on the t.v. and flicked channels. Thankfully, the remote had been invented. I remember distinctly when I became hooked. First, I stopped briefly on the CBS channel to watch the teaser. Next thing I saw was an image of a turning globe. Then, thunk. The remote dropped onto the floor and the zzzzzz's began. I awoke in time to see a young Meg Ryan (aka Betsy Montgomery) pledging her undying love for Steve Andropoulos and telling him she can't leave Craig while he still needs her. Cut to another scene where her husband, Craig, suffering a recent spinal injury, was cruising around in a wheelchair. Then, he stood up sporting an evil grin and the episode was over. Wow! I couldn't believe what I just saw.

Next day, same scenario, kids napping, I managed to stay awake a little longer enjoying my coup over the youngsters with a cup of tea and "As The World Turns". Yes, I was definitely hooked. After all, the evil James was replacing Ariel's birth control pills with placebos. Once my maternity leave ended, the vcr became my best friend. I could watch the soap on fast forward, running through commercials, sappy dialogue and characters that annoyed me. This was a good thing since time was now at more of a premium.

Over the years, I saw Julianne Moore, Marissa Tomei and Carol Burnett among the many talented stars on the show. I saw characters appear, get killed off and reappear. Some returned from the dead as many as six times. Long lost children were added and paternity tests were switched. People were drugged, locked in asylums, genetically or surgically altered, shot and married eight or nine times apiece. Plane crashes always allowed for some tense moments between whichever male and female survivors washed ashore. Children grew up before my very eyes and several generations of characters looked oddly similar in age. I didn't care. It was a fabulous fantasy where except for a few doctors, nobody appeared to work at real jobs and characters dressed elegantly and were coiffed beautifully, day after day.

Now, twenty five years after my first exposure to the show, the world will stop turning. The network announced that in its fifty third year on t.v., "As The World Turns" has been cancelled. Will I be sad? Will I feel a sense of loss? Perhaps. Or maybe it's time I moved on from viewing the trials and tribulations of the folks in Oakdale, Illinois. After all, with a couple of young adult children of my own and several teenaged step grandchildren, isn't the drama likely to continue?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Streetwalking For Profit and Pulchritude (an update)

Today was a beautiful day for strolling along the lakefront with my town map and highlighter pen. Imagine my excitement when I found a folded piece of purple currency with a likeness of the Queen on it. I picked it up and gingerly unravelled it barely believing what I had in my hand. I can now finally report that I have made $10 streetwalking.

I also learned something today. When I was young, I remember singing a song at school and not having much of a clue what it meant. It contained strange words, a few of which I recognized as flowers. The word "garden" was about my only clue. It went something like this.

"How many kinds of sweet flowers grow in an English country garden?
I'll tell you know of some that I know and those I miss you'll surely pardon.
Daffodils, hearts ease and phlox, meadowsweet and lady smocks,
Gentian, lupin and tall hollyhocks, roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget me nots,
In an English country garden."

By definition, an English country garden is "a style of garden (made popular in the 18th century) involving statues, water features, lush greenery and a mixture of colourful flowers".

I believe that during my walk today, I spotted a real English country garden. It was in the front of a house near the beach and could only be described as a mansion. The entire front yard was heavily planted in contained, controlled segments. Hidden amongst the greenery were low ornamental statues. There were some mature trees and a gazebo. Just gorgeous.

I have also seen many attempts at something similar in front of smaller houses around town. Amazing how many people here seem to enjoy this type of yard. I don't recall seeing these anywhere that I've lived in the past...tall weeds and tacky lawn ornaments yes, a front yard covered in plantings, no. Most yards of this "country garden" ilk have a random assortment of perennials where many of their neighbours prefer to see grass. I'm not certain that these qualify in terms of the official definition, but it sure saves on mowing.

"There is joy in the spring when the birds begin to sing,
In an English country garden".

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Shirt Off My Back or the Shorts off My Backside?

I have a friend who works in the small city where I once lived. She has always maintained, "the people are weird but they're so kind they'd give you the shirts off their backs." It was not a statement that I ever felt compelled to test, and yet it always hovered in the back of my mind.

Today, I was in a dollar store in this particular locale. I was perusing items in one of the aisles when suddenly, I heard a raspy female voice, "Hey, hey, you lady". I looked around and seeing no lady I wondered whether the woman at the other end of the plasticware area could possibly be speaking to me. Her appearance was a bit daunting. She was hunched over, had a loosely dangling navy blue shirt and pants and unruly, matted hair. She carried some kind of sack purse that almost dragged along the ground as she sidled toward me. I backed up nervously wondering what she might want. My mind raced. Did she want to sell me something? Was she going to ask for cash? Was she looking to buy drugs? Perhaps she just needed me to reach a shelf higher than my waist and above her eye level.

"Yessss", I answered weakly all the while trying to figure out the quickest escape route.

"Where'd you get those pants? You're a big size. What size are you about a 12 or 14? What size are those pants?"

Feeling as though I were conversing with *Don Vito Corleone, but trying to be the ever polite Canuk, I choked out "Er...I believe they're a 12 petite."

"Do they stretch?" she inquired.

"I'm pretty sure they're made of an expandable fabric," I responded without thinking.

"I usually wear a size 18," she stated.

"I would never have guessed that," I said. Could I get myself in any deeper?

She stared, nodded and smiled approvingly. Was I about to be a victim of one of those muggings where you lose your shoes, ipod, jacket or in my case some other piece of essential apparel? Would I be leaving this store without my, gulp, pants? I started to perspire profusely. I could see her thinking as I started to edge away.

"I like them. I want them," she announced.

As I turned pale and once again tried to make my getaway, I heard her ask, "where did you say you got them?"

"Reitman's," I responded.

"I wear an 18. Do you think they have them in 18?"

"I'm fairly certain they do," I answered as the blood flowed back into my face. At this point I was feeling a bit foolish about my paranoia and more than a little relieved. We discussed the most convenient store locations for her since she would have to travel by bus, in order to get "the pants".

When she asked if I had a car, I made my hasty retreat.

*Don Vito Corleone - The Godfather

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dust Bunnies Are Perfect For Making Whimsical Table Centrepieces...

I am neither a slob nor a fanatic. Mr. Clean commercials do not cause me to rush to the nearest sink and start scrubbing. I do not need to wash the dishes three seconds after I've eaten off them. I don't walk around with a spray bottle and rag chasing down fingerprints, or in our case, dog nose prints. I use bleach when extra germ killing is required and own at least a half dozen tee shirts with lines on the midriff as proof. A few piled up newspapers or magazines do not offend me. I dust when I see a thin light layer on furniture and I clean the bathrooms and wash floors as necessary. There's the necessary!

I do not understand people, usually women, who are obsessed with cleaning. Life is far too short for me to understand a preference for any type of housework, given other alternatives.

I have often imagined one of these people responding as follows, while placing the back of her hand dramatically on her forehead and sighing. "Thanks so much for your offer of an all expense paid Caribbean cruise, but I just have far too much to do. Can you believe that today alone, I have to shop for toothpicks to clean out my window tracks and fridge crevices? And as if that isn't enough, I have to organize my underwear drawer by hue, make certain that the hangers in my closet are facing the same direction and let's not forget that this is my sock ironing week."

There was a woman on our street who regularly swept her driveway, then washed it on her hands and knees. Now please don't tell me that this is something that's on everyone's weekly "to do" list. I understand that there are some people who have mental issues like germaphobia or obsessive compulsive disorders. I'm not referring to them. In fact I had a neighbour who fell into this category. She purchased lysol spray by the gross and coated every counter top and door knob dozens of times a day. The haze wafted down the street and I personally witnessed the formation of a hole in the ozone layer above her roof.

Perhaps my attitude stems from having been a career woman rather than a "hausfrau". My personal satisfaction did not arise from coming home after work only to wash the floor and clean the toilets. I have never had an interest in eating off my floor. My preference was to relax for a short while then be refreshed enough to do something, anything. When the children were young, adventures were limited to driving kids to soccer games, scouts or music lessons. As the children grew, so did my opportunities.

I suppose there are some who would say, " Why would you go to to exhibits, shows, the library, sporting events, concerts, the gym or away for a weekend when you could spend that time creating a spotless, speckless, lintless house? "

Could it be that they actually enjoy housework more than doing any other activity? I sometimes wonder whether sublimating oneself in cleaning is similar to having any sort of habit. It's better than some, not as much fun as others. I am also curious to know if these meticulous housekeepers are the same people who always look perfect (see "So Many Questions" blog). It's not up to me to judge. It's all about what you value most in life.

As for me, I prefer to have a house cozy enough to be a home, simple enough to allow me to have fun and clean enough to keep me and my family healthy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

There are probably more than a few folically challenged men who have looked at old photos of themselves and longed for, or at least remembered the days when they had....well, hair. They are not alone. As with males, there are only some women who actually develop the lovely thick salt and pepper tresses as they age. As for the rest of us, there seem to be two choices. Option one is having gray, yellow, blue or even red permed curls cut close to the scalp. Option two is the thin, lifeless, flyaway strands in a style that appears to have been created by one of grandma's bowls and some nail scissors. I confess that have thrown in the towel and fallen into the latter category. Here's my story.

During one of my more recent decades, after my hair had passed its prime but my vanity was still hanging on for dear life, I decided to invest in some hair extensions. By definition "hair extensions" are strands of human hair placed onto a person's head in order to elongate or thicken existing hair. Seemed like a plausible solution to a distressing problem. Nobody told me that I would be spending an amount of money that could have paid off a small country's national debt. Nonetheless, I had these things melted onto my head all around the bottom and underneath my existing hair. I selected several shades of my own colour which then gave the illusion of streaks. I had hoped that the extensions would make the sides so thick, full and beautifully highlighted that they would provide a distraction from the thinning top of my head or the enviable recent sprouts on my chin.

All was well for a number of weeks. I proudly sported my new head of hair. However, hair grows and as the hair grows, so do the extensions. Eventually, pieces which had not originated from my scalp, began sticking precariously out of my head in 27 different directions. Not only that, most of the escapees were a brownish colour. This gave the illusion of antlers, although I'm fairly certain that no self respecting moose would agree to have his head mounted on a restaurant wall looking quite like this. I remembered being told by my hairdresser not to use cream rinse as it was very bad for extensions. So what did I do in my desperate attempt to remove the offending hair? I emptied several bottles of Pantene onto my head trying to free myself from this Medusa-esque appearance. At this point, I was able to tug, fold, spindle and mutilate them further, but sadly, not a single one came off.

While stressed and stuck in traffic one night, I unwittingly mauled the extensions and managed to get some of them to release their fierce grip. As an environmentally conscious adult, it occurred to me that birds' nests might be a perfect use for my newly removed locks. The traffic picked up and I disposed of at least 30 pieces of these real, yet fake clumps, allowing them to be sucked out my driver's side window. I wonder how many commuters received "surprise" windshield deposits as I happily freed dozens of extensions from my sun roof and windows during my next few days of commuting.

When I was certain that they were finally all gone, I gave a sigh of relief and a chuckle realizing the truth of the quote, " The only cure for vanity is laughter, and the only fault that is laughable is vanity." Oh, and yes, it would have been a great help if someone had only told me that hairdressers have a tool that removes extensions as easily as they were originally attached.