Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monday With Mona, Then Marilyn...

After completing my volunteer shift at ye olde hospital shoppe on Monday, I picked up my friend Mona and we took the train in to the big city (oooh, ahhhh, scary).  Prior to our journey, we carefully pored over the hotel reviews, looked at bedbug alerts (there were none) and then selected the finest downtown boutique hotel money could buy for under $140. Perhaps I should say the only hotel we could find for that price. Upon arrival at Union Station, we schlepped our small carry-ons up and down many staircases. We then released the handles and wheels and dragged our bags several blocks across the bumpy sidewalks, past a Canadian landmark, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and one block up the longest street in the world, until we arrived at the Hotel Victoria.            
We checked in, assaulted a poor young man in the elevator with our jokes and laughed our way to the penthouse suite on the 8th floor. Wow, it's not every day you get to live atop a skyscraper! We marvelled at the fabulousness of our hotel find.... huge room, wooden floors, poofy pillowed beds, flat screen tv, fridge and no mirrors, perfect! 

Of course, girls will be girls, so we started playing with the toys provided by the hotel. We were acting silly and taking photos before we realized that it was already 8:30 p.m. and we had not yet had dinner or the all essential drink. We were of course quite dehydrated after our long journey.

After walking the streets for almost an hour, we finally found a suitable place to

Bright and early the next morning, we checked out, stored our luggage and headed for the Marilyn Denis Show. We didn't want to miss the entry time on our ticket, 8:45 a.m. sharp. Although there was some confusion as to the subway stop name and the appropriate exit, we did eventually find several clues that suggested we were headed in the right direction.

Had someone told us that we had to go to the old CityTV, crashed car building, it would have made life simpler. We arrived early enough to go to the coffee shop across the street and chat with other excited Marilyn fans. It was amazing that people had travelled to the show from every part of the world, Brampton, Port Perry and even Grimsby. During the next hour there was a lot of standing and waiting in lines, but the whole process was pretty efficient considering the newness of the show. The audience co-ordinator Leanne was amazing, very knowledgeable and professional. By the time the programme started, everyone was more than happy to sit down.

We were fortunate enough to remain in the front row after the live show. They were taping two extra segments. One involved drooling by the women as Chef Ricardo of the Food Network showed us how to cook fish tacos. Just to clarify, the drooling was not over the fish. The second feature was exercising with trainer to the stars, Jackie Warner. She was well spoken, tiny, cute, muscular and more than half naked. Hopefully, they didn't take too many shots of my fluffy "before" body in the background. I'll be unwrapping the cello cover on my free gift "Jackie" exercise dvd one of these days. As the show ended, those who brought cameras were promised one, just one photo with Marilyn. No retakes, so sadly, here's our shot.By the way, we were wearing walking shoes. She had on 3 inch spikes. All in all, it was a fun adventure.
Mona, Marilyn and Me after the show. We all look much better in person.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Let's Play a Guessing Game

As I was cleaning out my email today, I noticed that my inbox contained the Spring copy of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue.  On the cover was this nifty small, medium or large mystery object which had me very curious.
When I found out what it was, I laughed harder than when I saw Ellen Degeneres demonstrating the "As Seen on T.V." shake weight.

Look carefully and take a minute to guess....go on, don't be afraid, give it a shot and keep it clean. Be honest and remember that Hammacher Schlemmer sells unique gift items not inventions for the deviant. Feel free to comment on here or send me an email as to what you thought it was. After all, your ideas might be good for another blog.

 I will now confess that I thought it was some kind of exercise device. Hubby said it was clearly a branding iron to be used on a ranch. I think that if it had been to scale, I might have made a more informed guess.

The problem is that I am once again feeling my age. I am definitely "out of the loop" and thinking in terms of the wrong generation which is why I laughed so hard. I felt a bit of discomfort combined with embarassment at not knowing something so obvious in this current age of rapid moving technology.

So, what is it?  It's described on page 69 of the catalogue as a "Bluetooth Headset Camcorder". In other words, it hooks over your ear and the white part is a camera which records items wherever it is pointed. It then sends them to your iphone or smartphone where they can be instantly broadcast over facebook or youtube. So much for the camcorders, video cameras and movie cameras of the last century.

Sadly, privacy is rapidly becoming as extinct as the dinosaurs.

I have been cleaning up my email by unsubscribing to a lot of mailings. I was about to include Hammacher Schlemmer, but have now changed my mind. Their products are far too interesting not to mention "educational". Perhaps they'll help me to at least lurk at the outer edge of "the loop".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Moon Was So Bright That....

On March 19, 2011 we were treated to a relatively rare and extremely bright "supermoon". By definition, a supermoon is a full moon, close to the earth. Yesterday, the sky was clear and we had a good view of such a moon. After driving down to the lake we saw many people gathered with their telescopic lenses and monstrous cameras. My small Canon is neither monstrous nor does it have any spectacular features. I did not get fabulous moon shots, but I did get some interesting photos with and without a flash which I shall now share.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's A Dog's Life

I am not now, nor have I ever been a "dog person". Perhaps it's because I'm allergic to all things furry and feathery. Maybe it's because my mom was deathly afraid of dogs. In my opinion, dogs require too much care and attention, are a huge responsibility and a big expense. Having said all that, and before the world's dog owners pounce on me and call me an evil dog hater, know that I am not. I will say that I understand. I really do. I get it. It's that whole issue of unconditional love when you're feeling unloved, unlovable and unworthy. It's the sense of being needed and depended upon. And of course, dogs, unlike some human offspring are responsive, appreciative and you can teach them things. Should you accidentally kick a dog, the dog apologizes by whining and allowing you to pet it. It then transfers your guilt onto itself for having been in your way. Nonetheless, I would never deliberately own a dog.

dog in, Amber
Currently, I'm a stepmom to a dog. I like this dog. She's cute, she's clever and she's funny. I enjoy having her around. I brush her and trim her. I cook meals for her and I talk to her. I take her for walks and on squirrel hunts. I scoop her poop and I play with her. I've even considered writing a children's book about her. I can see it now, "Amber's Antics" or "Dachsie's Dilemma". Perhaps I could create a whole series. 

I have recently researched dog idioms. Apparently many of the expressions about dogs originated during a time long ago when dogs were not treated as they are nowadays. Dogs were used for work and usually had to live outdoors in harsh conditions, fighting for food and survival. The term "it's a dog's life" and many others were once used to refer to a difficult and challenging existence. Just think about any phrases that you've heard from "hair of the dog" to "see a man about a dog" and "tail wagging the dog". There are dozens.

"Let's let sleeping dogs lie."
I believe that lots of  our well known canine quotes have quite a different meaning in today's culture. I'll let you be the judge. Here are my photo illustrations and observations of the true meaning of, "It's a dog's life".
"It's a dog's breakfast"
Veggies, potatoes and steak? 

"Love me, love my dog" or
   in this case my lapdog.
 "Fighting like dogs and cats."
Yeah, right.
"It's raining cats and dogs."
(with coats)


"She's a bird dog."
"It's a dog eat dog world."

"Every dog has her day."


"Like a dog with a bone."

Yes indeed, "It's A Dog's Life."




Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Woman on a mission...

There it was! The familiar sound of the whirring rotor. It was getting closer! As usual, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why did I have to be standing on my deck? I should have be sitting in my parked car in a lot near the water tower. There, my vision would have unfolded just as I've imagined it so often. Perhaps there was still time. I darted out the door, grabbing my keys, coat and camera. Breathlessly, I prepared to hop into the car. Then I saw it. My neighbour was mowing his lawn. No helicopter, just a lawnmower. Drat!

There was a time many years ago when I slept very poorly. I was solely responsible for the care and rearing of a pair of young children and this caused me to be a light sleeper. During my snoozes, my imagination went wild with ideas. I would wake up in the middle of the night and lie in bed with a head full of crazy thoughts. I  I finally kept a notebook and pen on the nightstand to write down my dreams. Once, I woke up with an entire elementary school musical writing itself in my head. It contained rabbits, singing watering cans and dancing carrots. I was thrilled when it came to fruition on the school stage a few months later. Another time, I woke up to discover that my scribblings contained an idea for a dating service for frogs. Ok, so that one wasn't one of my more brilliant visions. I suspect that it either came shortly after I read "The Frog Prince" to a class of kindergarteners, or following a particularly dull date. That's how it goes in dreams though isn't it?  I used to have these nutty ideas in my sleep. Now that I actually sleep much of the night, I seem to have them in broad daylight.

So what is my latest crazy idea?  I am on a mission. I am determined to photograph the hospital helicopter shortly before it lands. The sky must be blue and the helicopter must be of the ORNG variety.

I first saw the most amazing picture on a cool but sunny day about a year ago! Magnificent. The orange helicopter was low against the blue sky with the backdrop of the water tower, it's rotors slowing as it lowered itself toward the hospital. A perfect photo opportunity! Unfortunately, I was shopping at the time and couldn't get my camera out fast enough. I figured what comes down must certainly go back up, right? I immediately abandoned my errands and wheeled the van into a perfect parking location with both the water tower and the helipad in my sites. There, I waited, and waited, and waited but there was no sign of movement. It wasn't going anyplace but after waiting for almost an hour with no activity, I finally needed to leave.

I had several more sightings...once when leaving for work and several times when the sky was too overcast to create the picture which is now etched in my mind.

Today, I heard the famous helicopter. The sky was blue. I drove to the road near the hospital. I parked. I managed to snap two photos as ORNG left the hospital, went up in the air, and was gone in a flash. It's not the photo I imagined but it's the photo I got.

I am persistent and will not rest until I get my award winning helicopter coming down for a landing as it passes not behind, but in front of the water tower.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nope, I Didn't Write It

 On February 12th, hubby handed me a page from the Saturday newspaper and said, "This looks like something you wrote."  The article in The TorontoStar: "Women with children are not handicapped" by Lorraine Sommerfeld covers many but not quite all of my sentiments.                              
 For some time, I have been bending hubby's ear about these particular signs ("Parking For Customer With Child" and "Expectant Mothers") which are sprouting in public parking areas everywhere. I have been reluctant to express my opinion in writing. At the risk of sounding like a bitter, older person, envious of opportunities which were not afforded my generation, I shall share my thoughts now.

Sommerfeld's article makes many good points. Pregnancy is neither an illness, nor a handicap and should not be treated as either when it comes to parking lots. Courtesy seating on buses and subways is another matter entirely. I too would expect people on public transit to give up seats not only to expectant women but also to the elderly. That's how I was raised.  Sommerfeld suggests that parking in specialized "customer with child" prime locations not only deprives parents and children of exercise, but also of a learning opportunity. As it is, children are chauffeured everywhere and fitness levels are steadily declining. I couldn't agree more.

Believe me, I've heard all the arguments. "What about the winter time, when they have strollers and there's snow?"

What about it?  If the weather is too inclement, is it really necessary to bundle up the kids, go out and risk your children's lives by driving to stores and shopping malls? Do parents bring strollers into every locale with them? Are retail store parking lots not cleared of snow even sooner than our own roads and driveways?   

I would like to ask those who feel the need for these signs, where are the parking spots for the elderly? Let's just say, those over 65 or 70 or 75 who wake up in the morning with aching, arthritic joints. With our aging population, the numbers who fall into this category are rapildy increasing. They don't necessarily qualify as handicapped and with all the megastores around nowadays, it's challenging enough for older people to comfortably negotiate these huge areas to make their purchases. Why should they also have to park further away and walk because of these spots which are reserved for the young and healthy? At least give them an equal opportunity to get one of the closer spots by removing these ridiculous signs.

This whole thing is folly. Studies have shown that the next generation is less healthy and will not live as long as ours. This coddling is part of the reason. What will happen to the youngsters produced by the current generation?  Are they already being taught inactivity before they're born and having that message reinforced during their formative years?

That's just my commentary on Lorraine Sommerfeld's article which in my opinion is receiving far too much criticism.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Updates - Diet, Samples & Streetwalking

Here are updates on some of my former blogs "Why Weight...Confessions", "But...But...But It Was Free", and "Streetwalking...the oldest."


One week of my new lifestyle is over. The first few days were a bit of a struggle, in part because of a rather large slab of apple streusel cake that I had previously baked. Then I decided, there's nothing wrong with having one piece. I am keeping a calorie tally each day and trying to stay below 1200. It doesn't work to have a slice of cake, eat healthfully and stay below that level of consumption for the day. No more cake for me.

A lucky find
While I was driving through town last week, I was fortunate to observe this sign. What a great find. This could be the best free sample of all time. I immediately entered "Curves" and learned that this was in fact a free month and that I did not need to sign up for ten years in order to take advantage of this promotion.

I have now completed their half hour circuit seven
times, worked out at my old gym twice and gone to Zumba with a friend in a nearby town. I've even managed a few trips around the block with the dog and a half hour of Wii Fit.

I am 3 pounds lighter than I was one week ago. It's hard work and  I have found that keeping a "downward" progress graph helps with my motivation. Since a pound of muscle burns twelve times more calories than a pound of fat, I have determined that I will have to increase my exercise levels.

creams, laundry stuff & propaganda

My treasure trove of samples continues to arrive. I am so excited by the loot each day that I am actually combining dog walking exercise with going to check the mailbox myself. Now that I'm into the "free sample" swing of things, I have reached the conclusion that maybe I don't need to order everything there is. For example, today I resisted acquiring a pair of "Underjams" for kids. I can only assume they are some kind of diaper/training pant type of item. On the other hand, perhaps I should have ordered it just to keep myself informed about the latest greatest in diaper technology.                                          
cutest little teeny kleenex box ever
meat for dinner tonight

Today, I learned that I have acquired free tickets to a t.v. programme. On March 29th, I will be going to see the "Marilyn Denis Show" on CTV where I will hopefully receive a fabulous audience prize.
I have not yet finished exploring this town and walking on all streets. I completed about 2/3 of the streets when life, a few vacations, illness and a nasty cold, snowy, winter got in the way. I plan to finish what I started and I still have my old map marked with roads that I've completed. The many new streets and housing developments that have popped up in the last year will add to my adventures.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why Weight? Confessions of a Career Dieter

I know this might come as a huge shock to all three of my loyal readers, but I am overweight. I have a fat problem. I'm probably not described as morbidly obese, but then I'm afraid to check a medical dictionary for a specific definition of that term. I don't have hundreds of pounds to lose, however, I am considerably beyond an acceptable weight for my ever shrinking height. I am also well over an acceptable weight for my ever shrinking wardrobe.  
With age, my shape has become unusual if not unbalanced. I now look much more like SpongeBob Square Pants with the skinny legs eminating from a rectangular upper body. On the bright side, I have been noting that this physique is common to about a third of women my age.                                                  
I always tell myself that I'm in good company when it comes to my weight. After all, Oprah is hefty, and has been for most of her tv life.  Despite her private pain and public struggles with weight, despite having money, having chefs and trainers, she's still not a small woman.

 I don't blame anyone for my "fluffiness". There were no magazines with skinny models or tv shows with anorexic actors that caused me to have body image problems. I think arguments to that effect are excuses at best. In fact, too many people use excuses for their shortcomings...."I don't have time, my kids... my husband, I'm too tired... too stressed...." and so on and so on.

On the other hand, some peoples' struggles, with weight or whatever the issues, might be traced back to childhood. I certainly remember being called "fat" by my peers. Strange though as I look at photos from my youth, I realize that I not only looked absolutely normal but I was even bordering on slim. I think that there must have been different reasons why I was sometimes called names. Not only did my classmates have their own insecurities, but also, now that I'm slightly more mature, I have come to understand that they were obviously jealous. Besides having the splendid name of a saint, I always sported the most lovely pair of laced up Buster Brown shoes to accessorize my pretty pink party dress. Envy, I see it now. That's all it was.

My leanest years were in my twenties when I lived on the 10th floor of an apartment building which, because of an unfortunate union dispute, had no elevator. I was fit, and the stairs were a breeze, even on laundry day. I owned no car, walked everywhere and played squash with my friends. After awhile, a car and an elevator arrived on the scene, parties increased, physical activities slowed down, and weight began to creep up, one draft beer, one chicken wing at a time.

I remember my first diet clearly. I wrote down my consumption each day, limited myself to 500 calories and became unbearable, obnoxious, but nonetheless thin. Oh, and those 500 calories usually included several cups of black tea which I counted at 35 calories a piece. Exaggeration couldn't hurt could it? It did. An unrealistic lifestyle and  the shock of being called "phat" while sporting a silver bikini led to regaining some of the weight. I was not yet ready to see myself as others saw me.

My next adventure was with a now defunct diet club. I don't remember much about it except that I ate a lot of cottage cheese on toast and created pancakes out of sliced and blenderized bread. Once again, my weight dropped. It was amazing. I didn't even have to cut my toenails, get a haircut or shave my legs to ensure a weekly loss. It was all so easy in my younger years.

Then I had children. One can only use them as an excuse for so long. I have surpassed the 20 year baby fat limit.

And so, over the years, I tried various diets. I never did anything drastic, expensive or fad-like. I avoided the urine injections and resisted the temptation to swallow a tapeworm. No preportioned dinners were delivered to my home and I did not consume small jars of baby food. I confess that I did try the cabbage soup diet and survived for about two days.

For awhile, I gave up dieting using the argument of balance in the universe as my defence. There's only so much fat in the world and every time one person takes it off, another puts it on. I was convinced I was sparing someone the terrible fate of weight gain through my own martyrdom. After sitting on the sofa, eating popcorn and watching a few episodes of "The Biggest Loser", I once again became realistic about how weight gain actually happens.

I've lost weight and I've gained it back. It's a vicious cycle. I dieted without concern for my health. Most of the time, I just wanted to look better...vanity. For some, that's a motivator. As I aged, it became less and less so.

Some of my best memories and most fun times were spent when a couple of my neighbours and I attended  a diet group together. We would encourage each other and go for walks in the evenings. It was relaxing, good for us and we had lots of laughs.

After moving away from my supportive neighbours, I went to a new meeting where I attempted to count points. I know this works successfully for many people. For me, it was not only costly but complex. Since I usually got up quite early in the mornings, I couldn't figure out how to get past noon without running out of points. One choice was to go to bed at 6 p.m. just to stay on track....not great for the social life.

So now, what am I to do? I have attended a non profit weight loss support group in my town for awhile. I lost some weight by monitoring my intake and exercising each day, changing my lifestyle, the only way. At least I was a healthy overweight person. Then I got ill and gained weight.

I suppose I am writing this out of my current state of fat frustration. My metabolism has never been great and now it's defunct, as is my motivation. My knees hurt and my breathing is suffering.

At my age it is necessary to reduce calories, eat thoughtfully and increase metabolism to maintain ultimate health. My "Bucket List" is too long to give up now.                                                      
My Wii Mii (before)
So like the alcoholic who confesses in front of an audience of his/her peers...I need to say that "I am Hilde and my caloric intake is higher than what I burn off ." I am hereby making a public pledge to get back to controlling my portions, eating healthfully and exercising. This is no longer for the sake of vanity, but for the sake of my health. I shall begin today and "this will be the first day of a lifestyle change that will last for the rest of my life".                                     

My Wii Mii (after)...The upper arms seem doomed forever!