Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Want A Brand New Pair of Roller Skates...

When I was seven, I frequently skated down Clinton Street in Toronto in my clip-on metal ball bearing Dominion Skate Co. roller skates. My parents purchased them at a local bargain store and they were a source of great joy for me. For once, my Buster Brown thick soled lace shoes were almost invisible. In fact, they were an advantage. I used my key to adjust the skates only once, then I didn't have to tighten them again for the duration of my skate. I felt free. I felt happy. I felt the wind in my face and long flowing hair as I zoomed down the street at a speed of 5 km/hr. I loved my roller skates so much that I skipped school one afternoon just so I could skate. And skate I did...around and around the block I went. Nobody seemed to notice or care that there was a seven year old on the loose. Not until my parents came home and discovered my truancy that is. The fabulous skates were seized and my flying days were temporarily over. Grounded ! I remember eventually wearing the skates so much that the bearings became visible inside the wheels.        
In university, an inexpensive date activity was to go to Bingeman Park arena  to skate. By this time, roller skates had become more sophisticated. They were the boot type similar to ice skates and they had a stopper on the front. Skating around the arena to music was not only fun, but great exercise. Occasionally, a newbie inadvertently leaned forward onto their skate stopper causing a pileup. There was never a great disaster, just a lot of laughing and untangling of bodies.

At some point, in adulthood, I tested my children's inline skates. I'm guessing they have the name "inline" because the wheels are in a row rather than having four of them equally spaced on the bottom. Balancing was a bit more of a challenge. Speed was the goal. I didn't like them and decided I didn't need to participate in this activity again.

After retirement, at the ripe old age of...well, at a ripe old age, I reconsidered. This time, it was on a ship in the company of my daughter. I looked ridiculous outfitted in knee pads, elbow pads and helmet while carrying a purse. Nevertheless, with a lot of help from the Caribbean wind, we went round and round the track. We laughed and giggled as we circled the upper sports deck. I felt free. I felt happy. I felt the wind in my tied up hair. Sometimes I was pushed by the wind and other times I tried with great difficulty to push against it. Occasionally, I felt wabbly and unstable, and at other times, confident and controlled. I survived relatively unscathed except for minor dehydration and a really strange sunburn.

I recently googled "roller skates" and much to my surprise, found some amazing pictures. Not only that, there are stores where these stylish and modern skates are available.

Today, on a whim I went to a local sporting goods store. I asked a young woman whether they sell roller skates. She looked at me and asked "You mean the old fashioned kind with four wheels?"

I responded. "Not that old fashioned. They have really colourful new ones on the internet. Besides, they wear real roller skates in roller derbys."  

"Oh, really? No, we don't have those."

I left the store.

Now here's my dilemma. I seem to want roller skates. Roller skates would be good exercise. Roller skates would be a great addition to my newly planned eccentric persona and summer attire. Besides, I want to feel free. I want to feel happy. I want to feel the wind blowng in my thinning hair as I zoom down our street at 2 km/hr.

On the other hand, perhaps I should get the ones I found listed on Kijiji today.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Street Pianos - Cobourg

This is an amazingly cool idea.

Some time ago, I had read about it, but had forgotten until I was downtown recently. There I saw a piano on the street. It was the first one I'd noticed. The back was covered in pink tulle and the front, well, the front was just too cute for words. As I went near to take a photo, some giggling girls scurried away, having played their rendition of chopsticks.
Location King St. near Division on north side
Of course, as soon as I'd seen one, I wanted to find the other four. I looked up details about locations, donations and artists on the Cobourg tourism website and hoped that it would be relatively easy to add more to my blog and photo collection.

Today, I packed up the pup and went downtown. I checked the streets claiming to have the pianos in question. Perhaps they aren't all out yet. I found one more, just one, but it was spectacular...absolutely phenomenal. Here it is complete with a tree stump bench at the edge of Victoria Park.

On King St. south side across from the Park Theatre

Once I discover where there other three pianos are located, I will add the pictures. In the meantime, here is some further interesting information -

Found another one this past May 25th weekend while walking on the pathway near the water. That makes three. This particular one is covered with faces of musicians. The Beatles are on the top and I have as yet to figure out some of the rest.

Near the condos and road to the lighthouse

And then there were four. Today, June 10th, I removed the tarp from a piano on King St. outside Victoria Hall and I took these photos. I immediately replaced the cover after taking my pictures in order to protect the instrument from the ominous looking skies. The piano was colourful and had an appropriate opening curtain theatre theme painted on the front. The top and sides had posters depicting various live shows which have been performed at Victoria Hall.
King St. at the west side of Victoria Hall

I then went to Northumberland Mall in search of the final piano. I was told at the administrative offices that although it was supposed to arrive last week, nobody has seen it as yet. I await  number five in eager anticipation.
June 20 - Still waiting although I have recently heard a rumour that the mall piano had to be repainted because of a spelling error.
July 20 - One month later - I wanted to entitle this "Yes, We Have No Piano", but alas, that heading would be more entertaining for seniors, familiar with an old song. I was at the mall today. There's still no piano. I have no idea what happened to numero cinco, but I shall go to the administrative office on a weekday to check. I feel the need. I remember a time when my mother pulled up to a police officer directing traffic and asked him what the problem was. She wanted to know. I was embarrassed then. I understand it now. I think the understanding came along with my 60th birthday.

Pants, Where Art Thou?

This post title is not referring to Madonna's lack of lower body attire at the Billboard Music Awards.  Looking at her, however, I was wondering whether she is beginning to develop problems similar to mine.

Yesterday began like any other typical day in the life of...well, me. I got up, had breakfast, walked the dog along the lake, went to the bank machine, watered the outdoor plants and headed for Curves. Since I planned to do more errands after the gym, I took my clothing along. Shirt...check, jacket...check, shoes...check, belt...check, makeup...check, jewellery...check, pants...check. My purple bag was packed and ready.

After the usual thirty minute workout, I went to get dressed. The change area was a tiny, dimly lit space with a bench for peoples' belongings and a modesty curtain. As I removed each item from my bag, my mind wandered. I remembered and longed for my favourite silver earrings. These, along with so many of my possessions have disappeared in recent years. I often envision a huge crevasse...someplace in my house wherein my treasures have taken up residence thus enjoying their own retirement. After all, how else could we explain the odd socks, the missing keys and documents, the jewellery and more?

I began to change my clothing. Shirt...check, jacket...check, shoes...check, belt...check, makeup...check, jewellery...check, Panic attack. The bag was empty and there were no pants. I searched through each item again. No pants. I turned the bag upside pants.

"Where are my pants?" I heard myself saying all too loudly. "Drat, I must have left them on the bed."

I received a few odd stares as I strode out of the change cubicle wearing my shirt, belt, blazer, jewellry, makeup and spandex shorts.

Home I went, back into the bedroom only to find...nothing. There were no pants on the bed. I rechecked my purple pants. Another mystery. I tossed on an alternate, less stlylish pair and went about my business.

Today, I picked up my empty purple bag. Inside, I saw them...pants! There, were the black pants as obvious as could be. There they were as if to say, "I've been waiting for you." I was baffled. I was stumped. Apparently, they returned from the abyss after having changed their mind about joining my other missing belongings in their retirement.

On the other hand, perhaps it was as simple as being unable to see black items in dim light and in a bag with a black lining.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cat Claw Blog

Today, I decided to give equal time to cats. After all, I completed a "Dog Blog" on Nov. 8, 2012 and I like cats. Sadly, I'm allergic to them, but still, I like them. They're calming. They create positive chi energy in a house. Unlike dogs, they are quiet. They don't charge around aimlessly like the other species unless provoked by catnip, an insect or fear. They amble. They purr soothingly. They use litter boxes. They can be left alone and are low maintenance.

I recently learned that it's no longer considered humane to declaw cats. As we all know, this creates a problem. Cats like to scratch. Buy them the most elaborate scratching trees, posts and castles and where do they opt to sharpen and shorten their claws? Not on the desired and designed items, but rather on carpet, curtains, leather furniture and high def t.v. sets. I know this for a fact. I've owned cats. Friends have had cats. Cats are still everywhere in my life.

My daughter has two cats. One is declawed. The second is not. Today I helped her attach an amazing discovery, nail caps, to the toenails of the clawed cat. I shall now describe the sequence of events. There are ten steps.

Warning -  It is important to proceed sequentially. Do not attempt to begin at Step #5. Skipping any prior steps could result in disaster.

Step #1

Go to ebay or to and purchase some nail caps. Wait for them to arrive.

Step #2

Once ready to proceed, create a small kibble reward pile on an elevated surface. This will help keep cat calm and amuse him/her later while caps dry.
Step #3

Empty packaging, admire the vivid colours, smooth surface, and sheen. Then count out desired number of nail caps. Remove lid from glue and assemble dropper attachment. Put caps near but do not mix with the kibble pile.
Step #4

Get help. An assistant is essential.
Step #5

Acquire a cat with claws, preferrably before it wreaks havoc (unlike this one). For the sake of everyone's health, some cats might require swaddling in a towel or blankie.

Step #6

Person not holding cat squeezes some of the non toxic glue into a nail cap. Person holding cat attempts to display one toenail (cat's not theirs). Slide cap onto toenail in same direction and angle of growth.

Step #7

Continue with each nail until one paw is complete. Reward cat with kibble while still holding him/her.

Step #8

Repeat process until all front claws are done. Then continue to hold cat for some minutes to ensure that caps are dry.

Step #9

Admire your handiwork then release cat from captivity.

 Step #10

Forget it. Just get a dog.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Working at Not Working...a Day in the Life of a Retiree

It has occurred to me that retirement is not quite what it's cracked up to be. There's a reason the word "tire" is in there and it's not as it suggests. The difference between being a working stiff`and being a near-life's-end stiff is that you still work, only you don't get paid for it. You're allowed to get caught up on that all-important and ever-looming housework. You get to exercise in an attempt to make up for years of bodily neglect because instead you once dared to raise children and get an occasional bit of sleep. You are also allowed to offer your services and share your talents with local organizations and charities, free of charge. I suppose it at least gives you something to do between doctor's appointments.

Hubby, a more recent (one month only) retiree commented on this as well. "I work harder now than before I retired." He just painted the deck, escorted a mountain of trash to the curb, greened up the lawns and is in the process of writing a sermon for next Sunday. He has thought out his volunteer projects already.

So how does a day in the life of a retiree play out? Here's an example.

Yesterday, I was up bright and early to meet my newspaper column deadline. Did I mention that I get no renumeration for this? At least, there's been none that I've noticed as yet. I've created several months of memorable submissions about about clutter, technology, adult children and dog poop. I suppose seeing my drivel in print with a photo of my huge head atop should be payment enough. After all, it allowed me to cross something off my bucket list.

***Note to self...all other readers ignore - There's definitely some kind of connection between my themes. I've just noticed for the first time and should further investigate my subliminal motivation.

After finally completing yet another pointless piece of writing, I went hour daily with my friend. We usually walk at a pace of about five to six km per hour. Yesterday, we walked mostly uphill (how does that happen?), through ever hovering construction dirt, towering weeds and a soggy parkette. When we were finished, I took my wet feet and headed to Curves to meet yet another friend. Half an hour of workout there, followed by a trip to the track to complete some laps and I went home to make lunch. Of course, this meal had to be nutritious, unlike the rushed pre-retirement offerings. It also needed to be fast. The fabulous festive special occasion feasts I used to create for family and friends are now a rarity. Fish, spinach and wild rice donned our plates...yum.

The real fun began in the afternoon. I arrived at Petticoat Lane, our hospital thrift shop, where I get to enjoy the company of some of the nicest people...volunteers and appreciative customers alike. After a quick look around the shop to make sure I didn't miss out on any bargains, I began working. Four hours flew by. Since I'm one of the younger volunteers, I got to make the fifteen trips up and down a ladder, adorning bald styrofoam heads with stylish hats, measuring art pieces for customers and shelving stuffed toys out of reach of chocolate covered fingers. I even had time to parade around the store, test driving as it were, two strands of pink pearls, long feathered earrings and a straw hat. I purchased only the hat, determining that it was most suited to my new "style" (see blog "Old Woman, New Look" April 25, 2013). Two dollars well spent. My one attempt at a practical joke on our team leader went awry as my Scottish co-worker and I couldn't contain our laughter. Oh well, there'll always be another Monday.

After a productive day, I went home, had a sandwich, washed the kitchen floor, did some laundry, cleaned the sinks and countertops, hemmed some pants and watched the Blue Jays. They actually won the game although I was asleep by the time they caught up from their 7-0 deficit.

So today is another day. What's on the agenda? So far not too much...the usual walking and gym. More housework and meal planning since my daughter will be here for the rest of the week. Flower planting, changing linens, ironing, dusting, grocery shopping, cooking, gift wrapping, dog walking and  bathing (see Dog Blog Nov. 8, 2012) . All in all, a pretty easy day in the life of this retiree.

Perhaps I'll even have time for a nap...or a blog. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Some Things Never Change

 At 5:55 this morning, I got out of bed and sat at the computer. Today was my deadline. I actually felt as though I had an additional week this month since the first was on a Wednesday, nonetheless, I procrastinated. Today is the first Monday of the month and my monthly column is due. I had been puttering around and puttering around, adjusting and re-adjusting sentences, reworking phrases and more. I still wasn't satisfied. I wanted my submission to reach the newspaper office before they opened their doors. I wanted it to write something mild and uncontroversial enough that no mean people would write letters to the editor in response. After all, I'm sensitive.

You'd think that when a person has a whole month to complete such a minor task, that it would be easy. Not only have I been struggling with the column, but I've avoided completing a lot of blogs. I used to enjoy writing blogs. When I wrote blogs, I just wrote. Often my blogs became nothing more than a stream of consciousness and that was fine. I didn't care.

I guess I'm not good with deadlines or time constraints. I don't like them especially now that I'm retired. I'm not using retirement as an excuse. I suppose I've always been that way. Give me a deadline and I'll wait until the pressure is so great, that I'll get whatever it is done....the last minute. It's not that I don't start early enough. It's not that I don't know what I'm going to do, say or write. It's just that if I have the time, I'll use it....all of it.

In high school and university, all nighters became the norm. Studying and assignments were often left until the last minute because of the sheer enormity of the workload. Besides that, I soon came to realize that I was somewhat of a perfectionist. Nothing was ever up to my own stringent standards.

As a working adult, when report card season rolled around, my house was immaculate. After I cleaned every inch,  I always had additional things to do which were urgent and essential at that moment...scrubbing window tracks with a toothbrush, refilling salt and pepper containers, ironing doilies, using Q-tips to clean dust from corners and the like. Eventually, what I was avoiding could be avoided no longer. Four times a year, I struggled through the agony that was report cards. They were the biggest sources of stress throughout my career.

So now, here I sit. I haven't submitted my column. I've finished it. It's edited. It's not submitted. I suppose I could leave it until the end of the day, but it won't make a difference. I am going walking. I'm going to the gym. I'm going to work at my volunteer job today. It's not as though I'll have more time to improve on it later.

All I can say to myself at this point is, "Hiss boo. Stop procrastinating and send it already."  By the way, my May column will be all about the frequent and annoying need for people to "boo". Perhaps there are justifiable reasons to "boo" someone. Hmmm...should I click "publish" on this blog? Maybe I should reread it a few times. There are probably errors. I can probably improve on it...later.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Jokers I Wish I Knew

I'm a fairly frequent contributer to TripAdvisor. I write a review when I'm surprised, impressed or annoyed by a place. In other words, when the mood strikes, or something about a restaurant or hotel motivates me. I try to be honest. After all, I too use TripAdvisor for helpful hints. I've been told that sometimes my reviews are humorous. ("It's Time...Implode!" was the title of my review of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas)

There was a news item recently about a location in Scotland which received rave reviews on TripAdvisor. The more I learned about the review, the funnier I found it. I suppose I wouldn't have been as amused had I actually attempted to book and stay at this location. It boasted marble floors, crystal chandeliers, a fabulous staff, a wonderful spa and many amenities. It even made it into the top 100 recommended hotels for Glasgow.

An employee of the "hotel" apparently noticed and contacted TripAdvisor to remove their location from the site. It was not as it appeared. In fact, the Bellgrove Hotel was a men's shelter.

The following is one of the many newspaper articles about this hoax.

All I can say is that I wish I knew the people who were the participants in this joke.  I think they'd be a lot of fun at a party.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

If anyone would like a business opportunity, I have one. Our town desperately and by desperately, I mean                  D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-E-L-Y needs a nursery. I am talking about the kind with the greenhouse and all the plant paraphernalia that goes along with it. There are a couple of towns in close proximity and with all the new housing popping up, I'm certain this could be a thriving business.

I searched the GPS and found that the closest listed one is 18 km away...not that far, but also not too convenient.

Today, I attempted to purchase some flora for my planters and urns. Our local Metro store does not seem to be sporting any evidence that there'll be plant sales this year. The parking lot is still a parking lot and Zeller's, another of my former floral haunts is of course...gone!

I found a limited selection at Canadian Tire, spent half an hour carefully perusing and picking my items, only to discover there was no place to check out. I had to shove a massive dolly with my potential purchases across the entire store to the opposite end of where I had parked my car. The checkout line was lengthy, the register broken and the self checkouts were non functional. I gave up and trod back, leaving the flower, greenery and leaf laden cart where I found it.

Next I headed to a large chain department store which I was sure would suit my needs. Besides that, I was almost certain that I'd save money. Here's what I found on not one, but most shelves. Again, no checkout and the need to take any purchases which one might actually have, back into the store.
I looked at my calendar wondering whether it really was the month of May. Was I being too eager? I didn't think so, remembering previous years' plantings late in April. I thought back to the saying,  "April showers bring May flowers."  I also looked to see what type of clothing people were wearing in the warm 22C degree sun. I was satisfied that there ought to be some signs of plant life for sale...somewhere.

I felt uninspired to trek on, but I did. Next came a popular home improvement store, and another, and finally a grocery chain in the next town. There was limited evidence of anything either attractive or affordable. Hopeless!

At this point, I regretted abandoning my original cart of plants. The weekend weather would be lovely. I wanted to get started on my outdoor efforts. Dejected, I headed back to Canadian Tire and sheepishly wandered into the gardening section. Perhaps I could recreate my selections.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed the dolly, the exact same abandoned cart which I had left there several hours earlier. Not only were my choices still atop it, but there was now a cashier close by. I checked out and loaded my blooms into the car.

I just finished looking at the local newspaper. Hurrayyyyyyyyyy....I shall investigate further. I now know something our GPS and much of the local population doesn't. Hopefully,  "Mark's Greenhouse" does well.