There are interruptions to "let the dogs out," check their too vigourous play, and rescue tissues from the shredder pup.The grandkids take me on in UNO and no quarter is shown their sweet, kindly grandmother. These kids are cut-throat.
Pictionary provides hilarity as the best guesses identify the worst drawings. Then comes Password. The six of us make three teams and the guessing begins. Grampa and Auntie are way too delighted to beat everyone. At one point, the youngest player says, "Support Elderlies" by which she means, "Take it easy on the elderlies."
They are, as described by her older sibling, the old folks "who all like one another," "always talk to one another" and "are pretty much all friends." Elderlies are wrinkled (guess who) and wrinkles are a topic of enduring interest.
Lots of laughs, a movie night and this elderly is pooped. Off to bed and ready for another Family Day. Best time ever.
Here she is, our 5 month old Jack Russell. Tazzie is what you expect when you hear her breed. Energetic, daring, naughty, and so lovable. She even rocks the cone which she's wearing because she developed a nasty, black-crusted "thing" on her haunch. It kept growing. Alarmed, we took her to the vet who looked at it and recommended a biopsy. In very rare cases, the rabies vaccine causes a sarcoma that grows from the muscle or bone near the injection site. Even more alarmed, we scheduled a biopsy and waited for the results. If the mass was cancer, she'd have to have her leg amputated. The day of the biopsy, she was as excited as ever to meet new people, running all over the examination room, wiggling during her examination and "kissing" the staff. When we picked her up after the procedure, she was one sorry puppy. All after noon she cried and groaned on my lap, while drooling from the anaesthetic. By nine o'clock that evening, she was well enough to race around and jump on our other dog and me. From that point, it was gung-ho. Gary and I are more distressed by the cone than she is. Business as usual; running, jumping, kamakaze down the basement stairs to see "the master." Then the phone call from the vet came. The biopsy results were in. Taz did not have a malignant growth. Instead she has a rare skin lesion, a histiocytoma, that dogs under three sometimes develop. It will shrink in time and might even disappear. Hurray. Now our only challenge is to keep her from pulling out her two stitches and prevent her from performing further removal of the mass. It is shrinking and she's helping it along by biting it off. (It's half gone.) But she's wearing a cone, right? She is and we keep it on but she's discovered how to "bunch" it up so she can get at her haunch. Thank goodness the stitches come out Tuesday.
Our old fella, Scruff, is a gentle shih tzu-dachshund cross and he's small. He had all his teeth out due to gum disease, yet he still tries to play with her and they do snuggle when Taz finally calms down.
The sun is shining and it looks like a beautiful day out. It is, just colder than I'm used to. The snow squeaks and crunches underfoot, bringing back memories of winters when I didn't worry about the temperature. There was no cold cut off for recess at school. You dressed and you went out, except in the event of a blizzard. Add the jingle of harness, the squeal of snow under the sleigh runners, and the steamy smell of horses and I'm back with my brother and Dad, out to feed the cattle. It turns cold, livestock needs more food. You can't forget them, just because it's uncomfortable out.
Snow? In the day it was a building material. Snow forts and igloos, tunnels and caves. Dig out the sled and stamp out a path. Spend the afternoon sliding until the sun disappears.
So- for my friends in the warm, south...see what you're missing. For those of you in the crisp and sunny north, enjoy. (Ha! I'm kidding.)
No, this will not a message of make-up tips, hints to please the husband (blech), or nostalgia for days past. It's a confession, a hangover if you will from the days when expectations of women (and men) were vastly different. Roles were clearly defined and women were limited to responsibility for the home and all things domestic. Men were breadwinners and could expect a lovely meal, a clean house, and a playful mate. Again, blech.
I will also confess to loathing cleaning. It could be my innate laziness, the endless boredom of it, or the fact that the man of the house doesn't notice anyway.
I'm not even sure anyone else does but the culture of guilt remains. Yesterday we had company for supper, but before I got to the actual cooking, I had to clean the kitchen "a little." One thing led to another. There was dust glued by grease to the top of the microwave, the fridge and the range hood. The counter tops needed scrubbing, etc. How did the kitchen get into such a state? Simple, neglect. And when I saw how neglected the guilt kicked in.
This cleaning meant I was more tired than I should have been, the meal wasn't as organized as I would have liked, and it took me a while to engage in the scintillating conversation. Things did settle down.
The man of the house provided some perspective this morning when I mentioned how I got a little carried away cleaning yesterday even though friends were coming over.
"I wasn't going to mention it," he said. "But I did see Lori up on a chair by the fridge running her finger along the top, checking for dust. You were getting something from the front room."
How ridiculous is that? Of course, my friend wasn't checking my housekeeping. It isn't 1957 and we both have a lot of other interests. Cleaning hints and critiques are never exchanged. Never.
I would like to say that I've learned my lesson. It would be a lie. I have angst when my kids (adults with their own homes) come to visit. My friends do, too. What the hell? They used to live with us. They know our flaws, our weaknesses and they don't care.
However, that 1950s culture has strong roots and I'll likely be trying to catch up and have a sparkling house when my real tolerance for disorder is quite high. Until a certain point, then I engage in a cleaning marathon. I time travel backwards, expecting my company has, too.
is tempered each year by making the wrong gift choice. Who doesn't enjoy a challenge? Not me. After a few years of false starts and thoughtful presents developing cobwebs in the box they came in, I have a sure-fire way of pleasing the man of the house, who just happens to be the most difficult to buy for. That is, unless you have the serial number or at least model number of his particular "desire" for this Christmas.
The ghost of Christmas Past, recently reminded me of past failures, the Mitchell fishing reel that wasn't the right model. The sweaters that itched or were too tight or the wrong colour. The sports equipment usually meant a special trip to Edmonton to return it for the coveted item. Sweaters just gathered moths and dust. I have a memory of sneaking an ice fishing auger out of W. W. Arcade in downtown Edmonton. Apparently the three other vehicles I passed idling in the alley weren't anxious wives smuggling the perfect Christmas gift past the spying eye of their husbands. No, they were the drug dealers waiting to make a connection.
After all these years, you'd think I'd learnt. Nope. Last Christmas, I ordered Gary a radio, old-fashioned, a radio from Amazon. The reason being, the radio he's had for the last millennium and before, which was grease coated from years of living in the kitchen and never being wiped and had crap sound needs replacing. No and no. I now have a radio that I listen to the odd time. And in case you're wondering if I went totally off-list I had also purchased the proper gift and the radio was an attempt to surprise the man.
The Ghost of Christmas Present, hello. Yesterday I was at Canadian Tire to get the gut knife the husband ordered for his gift. You guessed, there is more than one kind of this implement...thank goodness for technology. I called and confirmed the knife to buy. Will there be stocking stuffers or anything not specifically requested? No. There will not.
And in the future, yes, there is ghost of Christmas Future. He is looking a lot like the Grinch and he is waving a list with a familiar scrawling hand writing. I'll take it as a warning. No more purchases that haven't made "the list."
Merry Christmas and happy shopping.
For men of a certain vintage (my husband), this is the question that pops into his mind Christmas eve about 3:00 in the afternoon as we wait for the kids to arrive, and he notices the gifts wrapped and waiting under the tree. It's likely been a fairly exhausting run up to the holidays for him this year, having had to choose a gift for me. Thankfully, if he does it early enough (like before 8:00 PM) on the eve, he can get the helpful clerk to wrap for him.
One recent Christmas, he bought himself a "man cave" clock. Clutching it in his glove-covered hands and with his homeless person toque still on, he stepped into the house and asked, "Could you wrap this and put it under the tree for me?"
I said, "NO."
Now, I know, if I had been in more of a holiday spirit, I could have
humoured him. But I wasn't in the mood for craziness. You can't make these things up.
Now that my daughter is an adult, sometimes, he tries to get her to wrap my gift BUT she usually resists the temptation to indulge her father's childish whims. He has to make the sacrifice and I have to help him find wrapping paper, scissors, tape and maybe a stick-on bow if he's feeling really festive. The ploy to make me feel sorry for him, having to use these unfamiliar tools for an unmanly task, has never worked. The Grinch makes him wrap one gift.
His reluctance to help in choosing Christmas gifts may spring from an unconscious instinct for self-preservation. I did most of my Christmas shopping yesterday and the credit card is a bit more worn. Had he seen the cost of the presents, cardiac failure would have been imminent. He has no idea what gift-giving costs and perhaps it's best being my little secret. Ho ho ho.
The snow would pile along the perimeter of the cleared area and then everyone would skate. The ice might be rough, conditions less than perfect but no one cared. Kids and adults strapped on the hand-me-down skates and tried their skill. Not my mum, though. An English war bride doesn't grow up trying the blades so she would watch. There was a beer or two for the men, thermoses of coffee and snacks. The air was crisp and fresh as it is now and it carried our laughter and shouts across the fields.
This is a picture of my dad, damn cigarette in his mouth, "showing off" a little.
There are the Martha Stewarts of Christmas decorating and then there is me. The tree should, of course, be the focal point and for my own rational reasons (why kill a perfectly good, living tree?), I have always put up a "fake" one. I do realize that it is made of plastics which never biodegrade, that there is no fresh pine or spruce smell, and that it just isn't authentic. I know that the trees are grown and harvested for Christmas so my justification is not rational at all. Still...
To compensate for the trip to the tree lot or the great outdoors with the chain saw, that we didn't take, setting up the tree was a family affair. I might have mentioned being a bit cheap before so it follows that our "fake" tree was small and after its first few Christmases kind of "Charlie-Brownish." Its flimsy plastic stand took some creative mouth positions (as in if you held your lips a certain way) to get standing with the centre "pole" not too far off-plumb. The wooden trunk (read recycled broomstick) featured drilled holes (colour-coded) where you matched the appropriate limb, swore some, and pushed it in. The holes splintered so that the limbs hung crooked and didn't necessarily line up. No matter, strategic placement of the strings of lights held it all together. I did say it was a family affair so everyone "helped." We all know decorating a tree is "woman's" work so more than the needed supervision was provided by the grouchy man of the house, who didn't quite trust leaving the kids and little woman to get the tree up. The kids (just two, thank goodness) helped as best they could. Once the tree was "balanced", we could do the decorating per se. Cue for the man to depart, his chore done until it was time to critique this year's effort. The kids were excited to help. When they were young, the idea of the tree worked, the magic of Christmas was just a couple of weeks away, and once covered by ornaments, we could stand back to admire our work. Even the resident critic might offer a gruff compliment.
O, Christmas tree, indeed.
It's like the "get out of jail free card." After -15, the air feels downright tropical and the sun, the sun is shining. The birds have come out of hiding (wherever they hole up when it's so cold) and are enjoying the warmth and bingeing on the seeds put out for them. The hedge is alive with chittering back and forth. Below the feeder, the melting snow has revealed the spillage they missed. Sparrows especially aren't too shy to gobble from the ground and the rule is he (of she) who gets the best seeds wins.
The forecast is for this kind of halcyon weather to continue. The end of November and the first of December may be the late fall weather we skipped right by. I'll take it. (And try to quell the voice telling me climate change is here AND not good.)
As a baby boomer who at last has to admit she might be entering old age, I am attracted by articles reporting the number of centenarians in Canada. We all like to see a tv interview with an old gal or guy who has defied the odds, lived to 100, and is doing incredible things. Alert, engaged, and feisty. Those are the people we see at 100.
The lucky Centenarians are fit, bright, and relatively healthy. The biggest determiner for these attributes is genetics. Surprise! People who live a longer, healthy life are genetically fortunate. A lifestyle including exercise, good food, and an optimistic outlook plays a role but a person can't live to 100 without the right genes.
People don't like living in the shadow of the reaper but some folk are just surviving in nursing homes and extended care facilities. That is the dark side of old age. It is out of one's control and people do linger on when they would rather be done with life.
Even those who have the genes, so have the health, can have regrets about such a long life. One of my Mother's friends died recently at 101 years. She had told people that she was ready to go. She had had one group of friends and they all died on her so she made a second group. And you guessed it, they died, too. She was working on her third group.
This is not meant to be macabre. Death is a fact of life (pun intended.) In Canada, we still like to pretend it might not happen to us or those we love. There should be more discussion. The legislation to allow some people to end their lives with dignity is a step in the right direction. We need to live life to the fullest and talk about death, too. It's gonna happen.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.