Top Ten Irritating News Items of The Week

“No American newspaper will print anything contrary to its own interests”
~George Bernard Shaw~

1) The butter sculpture of Toronto mayor Rob Ford at the Canadian National Exhibition. We go to the ex for the crappy rides and the once a year fair-food indulgence. Spare me the nauseating image of this-little-piggy-a-la-dairy.

2) Lance Armstrong. I work with cancer patients every day. Let’s get a big fat scoop of no-one-lives-forever and suck it up. Instead, how about we live well everyday and learn to practice gratitude and kindness? In the process we might even stop wondering why our polluted earth is making our cells mutate instead of dying a slow, painful death thanks to the vested interest our government has in big pharma.

3) My f-ing horoscope. Honestly, I was supposed to have met the man of my dreams by the 8th of this month and be wealthier than I was on the 1st. What gives?

4)David Letterman ogling Serena Williams. Old men drooling over young, beautiful women is not news.

5)Prince Harry’s naked-I-look-like-a-skinny-bald-dog-humped-over-a-naked-chick photos. Please. Just keep those for your nightstand TMZ. I’d rather see the prince clothed and use my dirty imagination. Thanks to you I now KNOW he looks like any other man naked. Thanks for ruining my fantasies. Thanks a lot.

6)New Blackberries and iPhones. We’ve all been there, done it, and gotten screwed on the stocks. Please report on something truly groundbreaking.

7)The details of the TomKat divorce. Really? Are we that fortunate to have this headline remain in the news like the lingering mucous from a chest infection? I thank God every day that I live in a country where this is news and not some woman being stoned to death. Come to think of it, why aren’t our newspapers full of real news? Oh yah, TomKat.

8)The Blue Jays losing. Losing is not news in this city. Oh what painful, painful, painful hell it must be to live as a Toronto sports fan. The Jays just pave the way for the real rape and plunder, as the Leafs get ready to publicly humiliate their fans once again. Like winter isn’t depressing enough. I’ve moved to the dark side – go Habs.

9)Any talk of referendum in Quebec. “PQ backs away from referendum proposal”. No shit.

10)All day weather forecasts. This has become our news in the GTA /Canada because journalism has sold out and prostituted itself. “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” ~ Oscar Wilde~ Yes Mr. Wilde, I do agree.

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Top Ten Reasons Why Real Men Watch Coronation Street

Oh, you be quiet out there all you doubters, grumblers, and whiners of, “how-can-you-even-understand-what-they’re -saying?!”.  Coronation street is the last bastion of civilized soap-opera drama on television. What? You question my judgement? Why, you ask? Well, because I said so of course!

Never mind all that. Just go put the kettle on, and make a nice brew so you can settle in for the ANDSHELAUGHS Top Ten List of Why Real Men Watch Coronation Street.

1) A lesson in grovelling from Steve MacDonald. Women love it when men are generally man-goofy, but head over heels in love with them. Steve goes after it with his whole heart.

2)Norris. The anti-thesis of sexy. He is everything that men need to know about what women do not look for in a man.

3)Dev’s flower stand. A reminder to all of you wonderful man-steak, lovey-dovey, ding-bats who screw up every now and then, or who don’t screw up and just want to be romantic. Buy flowers.

4)The men who watch Corrie get to spend time snuggling with their women who watch Corrie. It’s the same reason chicks watch hockey and football. Wait. Correction. We watch football for the muscular thighs and tight buns but we like to snuggle into our own cushy men while we watch.

5)While we’re busy comparing our bodies to the lithe youth of Eva and Tina, you remind us that even Maria has a moustache to wax.

6)Men on Coronation Street stick up for their women, even the slimy little David Platt. Men who watch Coronation Street have a keen sense of chivalry.

7)Like Rob Foster, Gary Windass and Tommy Duckworth, men who watch Corrie are all a little bad-ass turned snuggler on the couch. Bad-ass = bad-boy. Everyone knows women like bad-boys.

8)Men on Coronation street take their wives on dates at the bistro. Men who watch Coronation street learn this by osmosis.

9)Men who watch Coronation Street know how to make a hot cup of tea and talk to a woman like a friend, not a piece of meat.

10)They have a simple, masculine sense of style and understand that making too much of an effort (aka Steve’s pink shirt) is effeminate.

She Who Casts the First KFC Stone

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
~Carl Jung~

I was standing in line loathing myself at a fast food joint yesterday, when one of the women in front of me was going on and on about what kind of meat she wanted with her giant-my-family-is-so-fat-it-could-eat-yours-for-brunch meal deal.

Clearly she was a regular customer and had this whole thing down pat,  in the same way I can make my first cup of morning coffee with my eyes closed.

Anyway, standing there feeling guilty for my little fast food indulgence, I had decided I was better than her.  Somewhere, inside my wee little brain I had judged her for her intimate knowledge of the fast food menu. She was a lazy slob.

Then she started gabbing (unsolicited) to me about how she figured all of this fast-food-special-ordering out….AND that she had to get home to watch my favourite show.

What? This woman, (let’s call her Gabby) who  clearly didn’t take pride in cooking for her family had something in common with me. Me,  the mad home preserving, full-time-working, work-out 4-5 times a week, buddhist, writer, mom-extraordinaire? No way.

Another woman and her husband chimed in when they heard Gabby and I chatting about ‘our’ soap – who did what when and with whom. They were fans too. Go figure. Within a couple of minutes we had formed a little bit of camaraderie in that dank, grease-soaked line-up.  Something that I think happens less and less over time. Not the dank, grease-soaked line up, but the camaraderie.

In general we have become more insular, more protective of the little bit of comfort that we have to ourselves. We are cogs in the final development phase of a decades long silent war to make us worker drones. We wake to alarms, commute, work, commute, eat, sleep, wake to alarms…you get the drill.

Unless we go out of our way to actually engage another human being that we don’t know (gasp! talking to strangers!), while in the line-up for groceries, or fast food, or filling a prescription, we disengage from the world. We forget what it’s like to look into the eyes of another human being whom we don’t have a genetic interest in, and remember that we all have the same needs.

So, I can get up on my soapbox and preach that I watch baseball and Coronation Street and Nicholas Sparks’s movies in order to establish common ground for the purpose of the greater good. Or, I can admit that every once in a while I just want to shut the world off and not think about all of the demands that pull at me every day. My point is, there is still value in these basest of pursuits if we use them to engage in well-intended interaction with another person.

These seemingly insignificant bits about our lives – hobbies, favourite shows, sharing recipes – they all have the potential to turn a grey, silent space between two people into something vibrant and alive.

So, to the woman who only likes legs and wings, from the woman who pays extra for a breast, I salute you for putting yourself out there and confessing your soap opera sins. The world may need less fast food, but it needs more people like you.

The End

 

Grape-Shot: 1915 English magazine illustration...

Grape-Shot: 1915 English magazine illustration of a lady riding a champagne cork From The Lordprice Collection This picture is the copyright of the Lordprice Collection and is reproduced on Wikipedia with their permission Source URL http://www.lordprice.co.uk/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=Champagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How carefully to you plan your endings?   What are the endings we face in life? Are they really endings, or merely commas separating one related series of events from the next?

Do you subscribe to the notion that without a plan, you plan to fail? Or, are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-fabulous-pants like me?

 You’re likely asking, “Where did these questions come from?”. An article in the Globe and Mail about endings got me to thinking. I know, I know, a dangerous thing for a delicate flower like myself.

You see, another countdown to holiday time is upon me. I feel my body and mind ache to sit down and write. To edit. To re-write and contemplate.   I know the ending, I know the dots I have to connect in between, but there are still surprises waiting for me that haven’t hit the page yet.  I just know it! 

The article that I read in the Globe and Mail was about Hemmingway’s writing and how he wrote and rewrote the ending to a Farewell to Arms. It explained Hemminway’s  claim that he really didn’t have  structure in mind while writing. The article aslo waxed whiney about how the teacher struggled with student’s who didn’t plot their novels.  Having some experience with this writing thingy, I have my own opinion about it all.  Sitting down to write a novel is not an easy thing. Just sitting down takes discipline, and the voices in my head whisper things like, “Who are you kidding – you’re not a real writer? No one cares about what you have to say. You know, good mothers would be sewing or cleaning or sacraficing themselves in some martyr-like way at this hour for their children. I think that Carlie’s character would do this, but will the reader be ok with that or is it too harsh?”

As a writer, a lover, a friend, a mother, and all of the other titles I own, I’ve concluded that endings are really just middles. After all, what happens next is the karmic residue of seeds we’ve already planted. Whether in real life, or in the stories we write.

The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. But, it is a long, winding, multi-forked road with doors that slide in and out, and force us to detour and re-route.  People with carefully plotted out lives generally have wide margins. In other words, they have more cushion in place (socially, emotionally, economically) if something goes wrong.

People with narrow margins on the other hand have either not had a rich environment for development, or have twiddled away their opportunities. People with wide margins feel more in control, and likely will say that they plan their endings well. But do they? Do any of us?

Planning the end of relationships is rarely by design. Usually it comes through unexpected changes in circumstance. Perhaps a lie, a death, or a failure to relate. Planning the end of a job is a bit more within our grasp, but who really ever knows when a great opporunity will pop up, fade away or the  path take an unexpected sharp a turn?

This unexpected journey has been my experience writing as well. I have a sense of where my plot is going, but sometimes the twists and turns are the most interesting and rewarding parts.  What my creative mind cooks up is the yummy broth that holds the meaty bits of writing stew together.

During a romantic getaway in a past relationship, I asked my true love to pull off the road and stop at a winery that was not marked on the regional marketing ‘wine route’. He grumbled and jerked the car to the side of the road pouting because it was not part of the plan. As it turns out, it was a unique “bubbles” only winery, the only one in our province.

I fell in love with the bubbly, and out of love with my spoil sport companion.  Who would have guessed that road held so much adventure and change?  That an unplanned ending ( stopping at somewhere we hadn’t planned) would free me up to enjoy the people and things that make me so happy?

I do wish every one of you wide margins, the security to take chances and to be well. I also wish you grand adventures, so that  the road to your endings is winding, wonder-full and a gateway to something new.

Beach shoes

 

 

 

She Loves You ….yah, yah, um, maybe…Ok, Yah, She does…

“Friendship is far more tragic than love. It lasts longer.”
~Oscar Wilde~

There are many famous quotes about friendship. Many clichés, and many pieces of advice.

The saying that wraps up the essence of friendship is this one by Elbert Hubbard; ” A friend is someone who knows you, and loves you just the same.”…or this one by Norman Douglas..”To find a friend one must close one eye; to keep him, two.”…or perhaps this one by Oscar Wilde, “It’s a very dangerous thing to know one’s friend.”

Real friendships are hard to find and are one of life’s truly precious treasures. Throughout the years, it has been my friendships, not obligatory relations that have sustained me.

In my life I have friends I’ve known since I was born. I treasure each one as they have been added to the fold because at one point in time, or many, they have been my life-preservers.  They have seen me at my ugliest, both physically and emotionally and they have maintained steadfast in their commitment to our relationship. They are the women who I call and ‘talk it out with’. They  are the kindred fools that giggle and cry with me.

But what about when a friendship sputters and trips? What happens when one friend feels slighted, perhaps repeatedly by their friend? Is it time for a friend break-up, or just time for a little undeclared space?  I tend to go with the undeclared space. This is something that I’ve never been able to do in  a romantic relationship, but offer the courtesy of to my friends. After all, I can be a rather intense prima donna when I climb up onto my soapbox.  I know my tongue is sharp, and my words can slice to the quick.

Judgement is something that we all do well. Perhaps its a defense mechanism against absolute insanity, organizational chaos and anarchy. We tend to judge someone as being right or wrong, good or bad, divided by the thin line between black and white. But wouldn’t you know it? Life, as it happens, is a large slice of grey most of the time. It is our friends whom we rely upon, when we’re lost in that dank, grey, forest to bring us out on the other side. They are our oars in rough water.

Every single one of my closest friends has made me think twice about our friendship. I’m sure that each of them has spent time considering my value as a friend as well. We have all done things that we don’t respect. We’ve seen one another’s ethical underbelly and had to turn away from it’s ugliness. But we come back. We take our time, we have our talks, we listen to one another, and we mend our friendships.

We have kept secrets from one another fearing the truth would hurt our friendship; that if we were brutally honest about our bad choices, our friendship would wither in the stagnant air of disgust, only to reveal the truth years later because we felt that our friendship was strong enough to handle it.  The passing years had lessened the sharpness of the blade. And we were right. Years later, five years, ten years, twenty years….it doesn’t matter so much, and life goes on.

I think about my friendships, both old and new, and I am grateful for everyone. More forgiving than romantic relationships, there is an enduring quality, a commitment to friendship which  transcends the trials of living every day. Friendship is the stick we measure our experience by, the safe confessional of all of our doubts and despair.

Regardless of what they do, where they go, and the decisions they make, I hold my friends in the highest esteem. Most of them are as crazy, whimsical and hard to figure out as me.  What’s not to love?

So to my friends – I love you all. Each one of you….no matter what kind of crazy you brew up today.

Love & Life on the Farm

“Man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.”
~Standing Bear~

My weekends on the farm are a lot like going ‘home’.  Home to an extended family, home to the people and places that are a touchstone for everything; your hopes, dreams, disappointments, expectations, morals and values.

I go ‘home’ to the farm to visit two wonderful friends and kindred spirits. Two friends who dote on me like parents in their concern, and send-offs with of  food and plants and good advice.

Not only is the physical landscape a welcome change from the concrete city (which I equally adore), the change of pace and intellectual landscape lends itself to introspection and fresh starts.

I was welcomed by a rain shower and a wet, wagging-tailed dog with white boots.   Stepping out of my car, I am at the second last house on a long, dead-end dirt road.

At the end of the ‘dead-end’, is the beginning of a lush wood with trails we ski on the winter and hike through during the fall. When I am here it  reminds me of what is important, and  what kind of life commitment, hard work, and integrity can build.

For years my lack of partner is a concern for the stoic, loving, well-intentioned man who lives here.  Not because I’m a weak woman who struggles with my happiness or can’t provide for herself. He merely recognizes the benefits of being part of a couple.  He is a strong, quiet man, and hasn’t mentioned my singledom since my last break-up. He wasn’t so keen on the man, let me know, and then carried on without further interference.

Second to the jolly dog, I was greeted with this  just picked Vitamin-A-Snuggle-Bundle of carrots  from the abundant garden;

It was left on the table by the door for me to see. A hint perhaps? Perhaps quietly whispering, “Look closely. Do you see girl? Having a partner is what nature favours, what it intends, and what you need to do.”

The next morning I was greeted before breakfast with this;

 Maybe I should pay attention to these signs of  abundance. Perhaps it’s time to dust off my dreams and give one of my lovelies a serious chance. After all, you never know what delightful surprises might hatch.

The wet, windy weather was rolling out the red carpet for autumn as I pulled back onto the dirt road to make my way home. I couldn’t help but think of a special someone, and daydream a little bit about curling up next to him this winter when the wind and snow howl outside.

Ten Man-Wardrobe Yummy’s!

   You’ve been educated as to the top ‘Ten Man Wardrobe No-No’s, now it’s time for a list of the great things you likely already possess that women love to see you wear.

1) A clean crisp T-shirt. Not one obviously chosen because it clings to your pecs. If  you’ve deliberately chosen a tight shirt, we assume you’re arrogant and not gal-worthy. Just a clean, neat T.

FYI – yes, I am going to use as many images of the yummy Mr. Tatum in the post, just for inspiration. Trust me gents…if we adore you, you will always look this good in our eyes 😉

2) A great bathing suit. Not an eensy-weensie-budgie-smuggler, but a manly suit we can picture you lounging in. Nothing too fancy, just a very simple, suit.

3) A short haircut. Ok, not exactly something you can hang in your closet ( I hope!). But short, neat hair is manly hair, and, I must admit I have a thing for a neat hairline at the back of a man’s neck. Oh my!

4) Boxer shorts and T-shirt to wear while you’re making us breakfast. There’s nothing sexier than watching a man cook for you while enjoying your morning coffee. I suggest something like this;

My apologies, I couldn’t find one of Mr. Tatum cooking my breakfast, but this will do. Just imagine the boxer/t-shirt breakfast combo.

 

5) A ball cap. All men look kind of sexy-sweet in a baseball cap. It makes us want to take you home and show you the bases.

Man with baseball cap

6) A space for our stuff. You know, just to let us know we’re welcome. Kind of like the drawer we clean out, or share with you in our bathroom. If you want us to bring our sexy little night-wear, you must create a space.

 

 7) A suit. That fits. Yes, I get it, you want to be a ‘man’ and non-conformist, but trust me on this one. Women want to be taken lovely places and be escorted by a gentleman. We do not want to be taken everywhere with someone looking like they bought their suit for high school graduation and never bothered after that. Let us enjoy knowing you made an effort too. It makes taking that suit off of you so much more sumptuous!

8) A baseball, hockey or football jersey. No a tight cycling jersey does not count. They are gross. Look manly for us…take us to a game…buy us a beer and let us snuggle next to our manly man.

9) A signature scent. Not a cosmetics counter full of man-make-up, just one lovely signature scent.

 

 

10) A heavy coat, boots and gloves. Not sexy you say? Well, to us gals, that means you’re ready to save us from having to clear the snow or do any very cold work outside. This way, you get to be our manly men, and we get to keep the home fires burning, maybe even take a nice hot soak with a lovely gin and tonic so that you have something warm to snuggle up with when you come in.

M-65 US Army Parka with Hood

Ten Man-Wardrobe No-No’s

…in public or when there is any risk of being seen in public…

1) Rokusaku Fundoshi  – basically traditional Japanese underwear for men. Most men from the 70’s would refer to it as a banana hammock or budgie smuggler. Although it is recognized as a traditional garment, it is still occasionally used as swimwear. No one, not even my beloved Johnny Depp or hot young lover could get away with this.

A man wearing a red rokushaku fundoshi (front ...

Japanese man in a traditional swimwear Fundosh...

2) Keen, closed-toe sandals. Just ugly. I don’t care how rugged, practical or comfortable they are. They make you look either like a geriatric or an over-sized, hairy toddler.In my opinion –  just, no.

My New Keen Sandals

3) Wife beaters – also known as muscle shirts or singlets. No matter how buff you might be, any man wearing a wife beater is perceived to look like this;

4) White sweat socks. This is a particular aversion that I have, and can tell you gents out there that white sweat socks, if worn under any other circumstance than in the gym or running are extremely emasculating.

5) Skinny Jeans.  Skinny jeans do not flatter a man’s figure, no matter how tall, small or magnificent. Rock stars are the only exception. Chances are you look more like this guy than a rock star.

Street Fashion - sf - Jasper

6) White shoes. Maybe on the golf course in Florida if you’re over 75.  Perhaps running shoes worn for sport ONLY. That’s it. No other exceptions. Wearing something like this says two things; you’re trying too hard, and you could never put your gal’s needs first.  Most women hold out for a guy with less Peter-Panish, Sicilian-Mafia shoes. 

 7) Fabric/Leather/Hemp necklaces. Just plain tacky. Unless you are Channing Tatum, and all we want you to wear ever is a small twist of leather, please don’t try to be cool. Trying to be cool is not cool.

P1110330-anna-tabakhova-interchangeable-leathe...

 8) Bikini underwear. Yes, ripped guys look good in ads, but no woman wants a manly man in her bed wearing these itsy, bitsy, flitsies. Just ew.

TangaMan

 

9) Overalls. Unless you are Channing Tatum and we’re picturing you naked anyway….never, never wear overalls.  Even a young Ashton can’t make the overall, wife-beater look attractive. Sigh….

 

10) The murse. I know, I know, technically this is not an item of clothing it’s an accessory. There’s the rub. Men do not come with accessories. Real men come with raw, masculine sex appeal….not a bag full of girly kitsch.

Man Purse / European Carry-all

 

After great research  I came up with this list with the assistance of thousands (or so) of women who are experts in what makes a man attractive or not. The above ten items fall in the ‘or not’ list.

The Whoosh of Summer

WILLIAM MEDCALF Riding a Water Toy

WILLIAM MEDCALF Riding a Water Toy (Photo credit: Fred Seibert)

The older you get the faster time passes. That’s what my grand old granny used to tell me.  I would look at her like she was a thousand years old, and think, ‘What a crazy old bird.”

But it’s true. Very true. I could hear summer whoosh by last night through my open window. The sun is kissing the horizon good-bye earlier than it did a few weeks ago. The air is fresh and cool in the evenings, and there are flowers on my pumkin vines.

The cool breeze of the August evening settled around me as I lie in bed reading, skin exposed  in my light,summer nightie. My mind wandered to the fun I’ve had this summer, and what I still wanted to do; the people I want to see, and the art I want to create.

Looking  back at a post from earlier this summer  I  marvelled at how fast these two months have past.  Reading the post, I took stock of things I still need to do to fulfill all of my summer dreams this year. Being the organized woman that I am, I made a list;

1)Visit my craziest, but most hugable auntie.

2)Start the watercolour that I’ve been dreaming of.

3)Get together with my bestie just one more time with perhaps just one more bottle of bubbly.

4)Finish the last couple of chapters of my novel and pass it along for editing.

5)Finish my sports season

6)Continue running daily now that the temperatures are less punishing.

7)Make more time to meditate by the pool.

…now that I’ve made a list, I feel just a little bit of pressure to put a neat, red,tick mark beside all of those things. 

So, I ask you my delicate readers, have you had the summer that you’ve dreamed of? Are you still mired in things that you ‘must’ do? Are you trapped in a relationship that keeps you from being joyful and doing things that invigorate your spirit? Do your legs still resemble vanilla icing and glow in the dark?

If you’ve said yes, or shamefully nodded to yourself about not making the time you need to savour this summer – DO NOT DESPAIR….there is still time!

Make your summer list, tack it on your icebox.  Shed your suit, your briefcase, your uniform and your guilt.  You have four weeks before our world demands the order of school days and closed toed shoes.  Slip into your flip-flops and bathing suits! I know you can do it gals. Get out there, swim, hike, drink your wine in the sun and make love in the fresh August air.  Celebrate the summer and the fabulous women that you are!