Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sticks and rather oddly shaped, often cool to the touch stones.

Impaired by wordiness.

Apparently that's me. Verbose. I have been accused by a total stranger of being verbose, and what's worse is, I read it on Facebook which makes it even worser (and yes, I know that's not a word, but go ahead call me illiterate too).

Being called verbose on Facebook is worse than saying it to my face, because I hate fucking Facebook for so many reasons I won't go into for fear of being verbose, and because in real life you can just turn the other cheek and say, "Ya, well, you can kiss my lily white, with flecks of pink, oversized ass" and walk away. So, from this moment forward, I am going to get straight to the point and call a spade a spade, instead of a pretty Corsican spade I bought while escaping heartache by guzzling Fiano d'Avellino off the coast of Amalfi when I was much thinner and hadn't built up this resentment against fucking cats and French people and corks that break off half way, especially on Tuesdays because there is nothing, absolutely fucking nothing on television on Tuesdays except the Biggest Loser, which apparently has already been decided and it's verbose ol' me.

Actually, maybe, possibly, if I cut out all the adverbs and all the times I say fuck, or dickwad, or asshole, I could really shorten up my word count, but what fun would that be? What would life be without such fabulous words that describe most drivers, and figure skaters, and people who give their kids hyphenated last names who eventually get all fucked up after the divorce, and delinquent dads, and Shania Twain, and Conservatives and NDP's too, for that matter. Maybe if I removed all adjectives or comments about how useless light mayonnaise is, and who the hell voted for Stephen Harper, and how I love Barack Obama and melted cheese and anchovies, then I could shorten things up a bit.

How be I just stop this nonsense all together and take my energy into the basement where I can build a bomb and make homemade wine in one of those big glass thingies from Wine Kitz in Clayton Park which would save money but would likely end up exploding anyway and turn into a Cabernet Sauvignon bomb because I'd add more sugar to try and get the alcohol content up and BOOM! there would be a bomb-type wine explosion and I would lose my eyesight from shards of glass then I'd have to type blindly and that, for sure would cut back on my verbosity because my typing sucks or maybe it wouldn't because I'd just type LOUDER. But I'd at least gain fame and possibly fortune if I sold my story to some bad tabloid or the Herald or something and I could go down in history as the Wineabomber or something cool like that and way better than dying in a pool of my own filth wearing sweatpants, known only as the bitter, verbose, hockey mom who lived in the house with the awesome geraniums.

She was verbose, but she grew lovely geraniums, it would say in the paper.

I know, I'll just change my style. I'll be nice and write about women's issues and quote Rumithe fucking ridiculous poet my friend who is going through a mid-life, emotional, subsequent weight-loss program crisis keeps quoting who writes shit like:

The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.”

There. That's my nice Rumi quote of the day. That's Rumi pictured above. How happy does that poor depressed, cross dressing bastard look? Huh? How about that concise bullshit he writes? I say, if my lover is already inside me, then that explains this extra 60 pounds I've been carrying around since, well, puberty so get the hell out loverboy and take me for a romantic dinner.

631 words so far. 634.

Maybe I'll switch to haiku. Here it goes:

I met this guy once
He said he'd call but he didn't
Maybe he lost his fucking fingers.

I know, that's one too many words in that last line but I just couldn't help myself.

Wine Kitz is located at 287 Lacewood Drive in Clayton Park by Home Depot.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The fertile valley of the shadow of death. Or, catching a buzz at harvest time.

The security cameras captured it all: A frumpy, suspicious-looking woman, glancing around before violently rubbing her crotch against the arm of an EKTORP sofa. Another angle caught the woman sliding up and down repeatedly against a PRONOMEN countertop, like a drugged bear on a circus tent pole. She was using the spiky end of a GRUNKA spaghetti server to scratch her armpits while simultaneously rubbing her ass with a set of dishwasher-safe GNARP salad tongs. At this point, the woman's child was encouraged – with wild gesturing and what appeared to be foul language – to get his Swedish KÖTTBULAR meatballs to go, whereupon the pair ran out of the store.

That was an account of the last time I was stung by a bee and had my subsequent, first-ever allergic reaction. Thinking nothing after the little bastard bit me, my son Jack and I went about our day, proceeding to IKEA to grab a few things for our new apartment in Toronto. Mere minutes after entering the store, every gland in my body was on fire and well, let's just say, I am likely on IKEA's 10 Most Wanted list for bizarre and erratic shopping behaviour.

Never having experienced an allergic reaction to anything other than commitment, or organized religion, my biggest fear on that particular day was losing control of my bowels and having to scoop the mess into in a yet-to-be-paid-for FLÄCKIG mixing bowl with matching colander.

I survived, but I've put together my last set of BILLY bookcases.

To a randy, desperate, middle-aged bee, my thighs must look like sweet, giant honeycombs because this weekend it happened again. Violated. Shortly after I was stung, I pulled up my shorts and said to Jack, "Look at the back of my leg... how swollen it is."

Which one?

"What do you mean which one?"

Which leg?, he answered.

"The really fucking puffy, swollen, blotchy one!"

They both look puffy and swollen to me, he replied.

Kids are such assholes. My leg was inflamed and on fire, but as long as I had life insurance and we weren't in a public place, he really didn't care. Nor did I, because having gone down this road once before, I knew a stiff Benadryl cocktail on the rocks would make it all go away.

Symbols of immortality and resurrection, honey bees have been around long before the first IKEA open its doors. In fact, primeval humans gathered and ate the honey and honeycombs of wild bees (no Splenda) as far back as 7000 B.C. No wonder Napoleon emblazoned everything from his flags to his boxers with the brazen honey bee. Maybe walking around liberating France didn't make him feel manly enough, and he was hoping a sting in the right place would make him, albeit temporarily, a bigger man for his beloved Josephine – rotten teeth and all. Who knows, and who really cares.

Next week, my step mother is rolling into town for the 'golf and white wine consumption tour of the Maritimes'. Little does she know she'll spend most of her time freezing her ass off in a rink, but in between ice times, I plan on taking her to some of my favourite places.

Being harvest time and all, we'll pass on the scent-free masses at the Halifax Farmer's Market and head straight to the dealer – the Annapolis Valley – where the obligatory first stop will be refreshments at Grand Pré Vineyards. The tasting bar at Grand Pré is as close to Napa as you're going to find in this godforsaken corner of the world, and besides, it's on the way.

The way, is straight into Wolfville for a celebratory lunch at Tempest before heading up to look at the mud, er, the world's freakiest tides. I will need to stop at Cosman and Whidden's Honey Farm. This busy couple have been have been cranking out organic honey in Wolfville since 1979, and despite my recent encounters with errant bees, I want to stock up.

Oh, there is so much to do in the Valley. Hell, there's even a new pub in downtown Port Williams. The Port hail themselves as a "Gastropub", and we'll likely be thirsty after all that honey shopping. Actually, maybe an overnight at the new Beech Hill Bed & Breakfast in Port Williams is a wise idea, what with drinking and driving still being a crime and all.

I'll be sure to pack a little Benadryl, just in case an inbred (it is the Valley) worker bee spots my sweet, honeycomb thighs and moves in for a little Barry White lovin'. Maybe I'll get a sting on the lips so I can see what I'd look like with Hollywood-style collagen injections.

The pub will have straws if I have difficulty operating my new kisser. If I'm lucky, SODA bendy straws from the IKEA up in Montreal.

So much to see and do in the valley. For more information:

Friday, September 25, 2009

So, I'm guessing a nightcap and a foot massage are out of the question.

Christ, you'd think I asked for her kidney with the kind of reaction I got. All I wanted was a decent pillow – one that didn't make those annoying crinkling noises like it was full of styrofoam packing chips – and maybe to dim the lights just a wee bit.

It was late, and I was trying to get comfy for the first time since Labour Day. Fucking nurses. You'd think in a children's emergency ward they'd at least have a little bedside manner.

Between Machiavellian hockey tryouts and back to school, I've had just about enough of September. Bring on October with its miniature chocolate bars and dime-size bags of chips I'll have to replenish twenty-five times before the annoying little bastards arrive at my doorstep begging for treats and forgetting to say thank you.

And what is September without a trip to my favourite late night establishment – the emergency room. God love Obama for being so sexy and smokey sultry that even the words "universal health care" make your hips start gyrating like pre-death Patrick Swayze. Ours may not be the most perfect country in the world but at least when my kid is sick I know he'll get good care, even if it means a crappy pillow and a 6-hour wait.

While I was lying there waiting for Jack's x-ray, all I could think about was an email I had received earlier in the day. My friend said she was at the Algonquin Hotel, to which I replied, "which one?" (you lucky bitch). Either the St. Andrews-by-the-Sea or New York City Algonquin would have suited me just fine. Sipping a $12 dollar glass of bubbly in the room where Dorothy Parker used to cavort was lost on Jack, but I was in heaven way back then, and it was certainly a far cry from where I was at that very moment, trying to get comfy on a plastic sheet while my kid nursed his broken knuckle in the nearby chair.

Which also reminded me that I have an invitation to go get horizontal in a Jacuzzi at the elegant little Inn on the Lake in Fall River. I have been passing by the Inn for decades, always assuming it was a hateful bed & breakfast type place, which I avoid because farting in someones doily covered guest room while the proprietor listens with their ear to the door isn't my idea of accommodation. Boy, was I wrong. The Inn on the Lake is a class-act mini-heaven, perfect for an affair with Barack Obama or just about anyone with a pulse. The Inn's rooms are newly refurbished and elegantly appointed which is flowery marketing lingo for fucking awesome. Imagine fireplaces, and in-room Jacuzzis, and of course, my all time favourite pleasure – room service.

If I will be able to drag myself out my room, the Inn on the Lake dining room has the comfort quotient and lighting that just begs for a night of indulgence before toddling back upstairs. But wait. There's a cozy English style pub that could possibly lure me in for a nightcap before pouring myself into the Egyptian cotton. If only I could ditch the kid and the dogs for a night.

Thankfully, the hand is healing, and the teams have been chosen. Some children are happy, some crying themselves to sleep at night. But such is life. Hockey tryouts only prepare the little darlings for a cruel world that is dictated by men and will crush you at every turn. Weeks of heartache and bullshit to accomplish what a few hockey Moms could have done over a box of wine in a matter of hours.

Hey, maybe if I leave late and get home early, I can grab cousin Sarah for a night of decadence and debauchery before anyone even notices we are gone. I could fall into a Courvoisier-induced coma, on feathery, goose down – dreaming of the man who makes universal health care sound like post-coital pillow talk.

The Inn on the Lake is a short drive from Halifax. Perfect for a romantic encounter or escape from the rink with some gal pals. Check it out online at or call 1.800. 463.6465.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trust me Ma'am, I'm alot taller when I'm standin' on my wallet.

"Jackson Hole".

"What about it?" was my response.

"We're going." she said.

My beautiful, single girlfriend called to say she'd been watching Patty Stanger, aka, The Millionaire Matchmaker. According to Patty – rich, single men are like maggots in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – which is funny, because I was there once and all I got was a speeding ticket and a wicked case of the shits from a chimichanga and a pitcher of margaritas.

Wyoming seemed a little far for a Sunday adventure and besides, Jack had a broken finger and hockey tryouts, and I had no money. Plus, my cousin Stephen once told me I'd have better luck with men if I kept my mouth shut, so until I have a debilitating stroke with subsequent speech loss, I may as well give up.

My friend hasn't totally given up, and out of sheer boredom has been cruising the cyber bars, using dial-up internet. I figure if she were truly desperate she'd at least upgrade to high speed. On Sunday, she told me to log on to one of those online dating websites so I could take a look at someone who – in her opinion – didn't look like a total loser. Not looking like a total loser is a positive step in the right direction these days. The only problem was, I too had to register in order to window shop on Lonely Street.

The good news is, registering is easy. First, I had to think of an alluring handle. I chose "Hockeyhag" because "Hockeymom" was taken and "Puffy, Desperate ol' Slut" seemed a little over the top. Next, I had to fill out a rather lengthy questionnaire, which was kind of fun because I was brutally honest knowing it was just for a lark on a Sunday morning before Coronation Street, and I had my girlfriend on the end of the line. I certainly wasn't venturing into a cyber cougar bar without a wing man.

After I strongly agreed, or strongly disagreed (I rarely answered "somewhat") to a zillion questions, I came to the final, most important question. My answer would be displayed on my Hockeyhag profile for all to see. Since I had no intention of uploading a photo – even a good photo that looked nothing like me – I paid special attention to this crucial final question: Describe what you would like to do on your perfect first date. Without hesitation, I typed in "get rip roarin' drunk", and hit the register button.

I was officially "out there".

Within seconds, I got feedback from the questionnaire summarizing my dating personality. This was the information they use to hone in on my potential perfect matches. I hate to say it, but their profiling was kind of bang on. Granted, it was bang on in the "you are so fucked up" way, but bang on is bang on. It went like this:

As someone who exerts little control over your actions, you may find that you commit social blunders that might offend other people and get yourself in trouble. Nonetheless, you may still experience many short-lived pleasures and never be thought of as boring.

Little control over my actions!? Social blunders!? These guys were good... and at least I wasn't boring.

How does your personality affect your love life?
When it comes to romantic relationships, your openness might make it difficult for you to tolerate people that cannot appreciate diversity as much as you. Therefore, you may be happiest in serious relationships with people that share your open-mindedness.

Okay, so what the results were saying was basically what I already knew: I am a crazy, unlovable pain-in-the-ass with a foul mouth, who will only be happy when I find another crazy, unlovable pain-in-the-ass with a foul mouth.

What I wasn't expecting was – no shit – in a little over a minute, I had a hit. I was as honest and as disgusting as possible and someone out there thought I was a potential mate. Someone out there thought Hockeyhag was actually desirable! In fact, my Mr. Right said I was "his kind of girl". I panicked and immediately started deleting my profile, wiping Hockehag off the face of the Earth. My brief flirtation with online dating was over before I even had my cyber sports bra ripped off in a moment of pure, cyber passion.

My friend, who had stayed on the phone through all this, then asked me the million dollar matchmaker question. "But Schultz, don't you ever wish you had someone to, you know, hang out with once Jack is off on his own?"

"No." was my answer. "I have you".

It's true. As much as it would be nice to have someone pay my bills, and it would be nice to get slammed against the headboard once more before I croak, I have some pretty fun girlfriends. And, since most women outlive men, I figure unless I can find some wealthy octogenarian with a foul mouth, a wicked forehand, and a terminal cough, then I am going it alone. Happily.

Plus, if I were truly desperate, er, interested in finding my soul mate, I could also fork over $997 for a six-month membership at Executive Nova Scotia Dating. They have a two-year option for the really hopeless, and these guys claim to offer professional matchmaking, or "life-changing journeys for busy, successful, wonderful people who do not want to waste time searching for people who are not right." (Or, humourless, self-absorbed weenies with small dicks and big wallets).

As for life-altering journeys to Jackson Hole, Ultimate Ski Vacations offer packaged ski holidays to Marlboro Man country. It may take us a few changeovers, but airports are thick with businessmen in nice suits, and I am apparently desirable, so let's call Maritime Travel and go.

As for Hockeyhag, last I heard she was sitting in a cold rink, crying into her Tim's cup wishing she could make eye contact with the fucking adorable, but oh, so unattainable Zamboni guy.

For local matchmaking call check out or call 1.800.655.0361

Check out Ultimate Ski Vacations Jackson Hole packages online at and get Maritime Travel to book it by calling 1.800.593.3334. And take me, please.

Monday, September 14, 2009

On weekends, she gets into the Paarl sherry and calls that cheating bastard, Babar.

Nothing ruins a wild night with your legs in the air like a nurse. A weary, labour and delivery nurse asking if you'd like to sift through the warm afterbirth – like it was a big bowl of Bits 'n' Bites or something.

There was no mention of this absurd hazing ritual in those first two chapters of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" – those two chapters I read just before I freaked out and went on a nine month folic acid trip of denial. Was I supposed to pick out the good stuff, like the cheese nips and peanuts before passing it back, all full of stale Shreddies and placenta.

When the nurse kindly suggested that some mothers take the afterbirth home and plant it in the garden, I realized I was not only totally out of my league, I was screwed for life. I hated kids, and gardening, and having just delivered a child with the biggest head I've seen since Charlie Brown, I wasn't in the mood for much, other than maybe a chilly glass of champagne, a bubble bath, a decent pillow and some shut eye.

Thirteen years later, I haven't slept through the night since my 10-pound money pit hit the delivery table clutching my heart strings in his chubby little fist. 'Serves me right. I had passed on babysitting, prenatal classes and delivery room tours. Grossly ill-prepared for impending motherhood, I did however manage to step over what I now know was my mucus plug, long enough to grab a bottle of champagne on my way out the door. I was already multi-tasking and my water hadn't even broken yet.

In hindsight, I maybe should have probed through the afterbirth a wee bit. Wiser now, I am convinced, in addition to a portion of my brain and my free spirit, the afterbirth actually contains the keys to your cage. By not poking through the sloppy mess, you are essentially fucked for life.

I thought about all of this, while gridlocked in traffic last week. How my wings are clipped, and how breastfeeding – while painful as hell – meant fewer trips to the grocery store for food you wouldn't normally eat in a million years. Like Pogos. And maybe there's a pre-election buzz in the air, but every street in this city has some underpaid moron waving a construction stop sign, back and forth, preventing anyone from going anywhere but insane. Add hungover freshmen and an influx of geriatric cruise ship passengers – and you've got a constipated traffic flow, the likes of which I haven't seen my post-partum speed bump of a hemorrhoid.

Stuck ironically at the corner of Young Ave., I was frothing at the mouth, turning the steering wheel left, then right, trying to get a better look at whatever it was standing in the way of my destination, when much to my surprise I heard the radio newscaster talking about me. Me, on the CBC! I caught the words, "emotionally distraught.... often banging her head against walls... terrible psychological problems when unable to roam freely... stands stationary much of the time, or rocks back and forth in distress." Holy shit, I was on the radio! How did they know? They went on to say that even William Shatner had sent in a letter demanding I be released into the wild, so I could live out my days in peace. I was overjoyed and started honking my horn and flipping boxes of Kraft dinner out the window like it was a post-war ticker tape parade.

Midway between my freedom cry of a woo followed by a hoo, I realized they weren't talking about me. They were talking about Lucy, the resident elephant at the Edmonton Zoo. Like me, Lucy is not coping well in captivity, some arguing Lucy's isolated existence is tantamount to torture.

Apparently, aside from banging her head against the arena wall, Lucy's been drinking, and has packed on a few hundred pounds. She hasn't been for a pedicure in so long, her toenails look like Howard Hughes' did, just before he pulled the rip cord. And, she hasn't had sex since Curious George became bi-curious George. Even her closest friends say she's not the witty, vivacious elephant she used to be. She's just another elephant in the room.

Well, move over Captain Kirk, I know exactly what Lucy needs and it's not a booty call from Babar. Lucy needs a plane ticket. Something to look forward to. Those of us who were born to be wild need a travel itinerary at all times just to survive the day-to-day dreariness of captivity. My freedom flight of the month would be Maritime Travel's Botswana Untouched Mobile Safari. 14 days of 4x4-ing through Botswana's National Parks and hangin' with the wild ones: giraffes, zebras, elephants, and my personal favourite, the wildebeest. The price isn't bad considering the ground you cover – from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls – and it's way cheaper than therapy.

Sure, Lucy's having a tough time right now, but she'll be okay. It's hard carrying a baby for 22-months only to watch him grow up and pull away from the herd. Someone ought to write a book called "What to Expect When the Little Bastards Reach Puberty".

Besides, I hear the watering holes in Botswana are wild. Even a middle-aged warthog with baggage can get laid.

Book your ticket out of captivity by calling Maritime Travel at 1.800.593.3334 or find an agent online at

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Waving the white flag after Labour Day. And hey, where did you get that cute wooly bugger.

If by Labour Day they mean spending the entire day working your way through the snack cupboard watching stunningly beautiful Russians (or butt ugly Russians, as it appears there are no middle-of-the-road Russians) playing tennis – then I laboured. I laboured hard.

By the time Monday night rolled around, I was fighting the dog for the last bite of kibble, the US Open was half over, and I still hadn't rotated my wardrobe. My crisp, pastel linen blouses, flirty sundresses and slim, white capris were still in the summer section of my lavender-scented closet. Lazy ol' me hadn't taken the day to transition my cashmeres and tweeds out of the cedar-lined closet and into my fall/winter walk-in closet.

Fuckin, as if.

My fall wardrobe transition consists of a few deep knee bends and some kegel exercisies trying to see how badly my one pair of Levi's had shrunk while lying in the bottom drawer all summer. I blame the humidity. Spending the summer in elastic waist shorts and stretchy tennis skirts makes for a rude awakening the morning after Labour Day.

So, I have decided to surrender the sweatpants and spruce up my fall wardrobe, by first doing a little research into what's hip and trendy for the fall of '09. Naturally, I bought Vogue. It's so reassuring to know that the September issue of Vogue magazine weighs more than some of their models.

The good news is: saddle bags are finally in. I was so excited to read this I almost peed my pants, but then I realized they were talking about giant leather purses and not thighs, so my excitement was short lived.

I am also overjoyed to announce that candlestick, or matchstick jeans, are the latest in denim. Candlestick. Matchstick. I cannot wait to try a pair on. I can picture myself sweating on the floor of the Gap change room, trying to wedge my ass into a pair of pants designed to fit a six-foot putting iron with bulimia nervosa, while some size 0 wearing a headset stands outside asking if I, like, need anything. "Yes, Tiffany, I need a fucking life and a smaller ass. Could you run and fetch me some!".

If looking like a stick isn't your thing, the "boyfriend" jean is very hot. I don't know about you, but I am going out to find the biggest, fattest boyfriend I can get my hands on just so I can borrow his jeans, then dump his fat ass.

Next there's the short sleeved cardigan. So practical for a Canadian winter spent huddled over the exhaust fan out behind the rink built in 1967, hoping to Christ I can catch a buzz from the Zamboni fumes leaking out into the arctic air. I will be so thankful to be wearing a white cotton blouse with cuffs under my short sleeved cardigan.

Red is also in. Not good, unless you are Mrs. Claus or weigh 96 pounds soaking wet in a pair of dipstick jeans.

Leopard print is very in. Oh goody. Ever since someone made a mooing sound when I walked by – Jeff Taylor I think it was – I have avoided wearing anything that made me look like livestock or an endangered species. That reminds me. Leather pants are in.

Oh, I could go on forever, but I have some shopping to do. I am looking for chain bedazzled booties. Sequins for day. One shoulder dresses (also great for the rink). Oversized earrings. Anything with shoulder pads. Oh, and thigh-high boots. I know exactly where I am going for those: Fishing Fever on Agricola. I was there last week replacing Jack's fly fishing vest and I spotted the yummiest pair of hip waders. Why go thigh high when I can make my own trend and go all the way to the top. Soon everyone will want a pair, and unlike fucking broomstick jeans, hip waders are one-size-fits-all. Hip waders are also available in two trendy colour ways: camouflage and khaki. Hip waders fit perfectly over your jammies and come in especially handy if you are mildy, or even wildly, incontinent. Plus, hip waders are great for shoplifting, or if you forgot your hippie dippie recyclable canvas grocery bags – just think of the shit you can cram down the front, and back, of those things.

And, listen up. I can barley hang a shower curtain, let alone hold my arm above my head whipping it back and forth in an attempt at fly fishing, but have you ever been to Fishing Fever? This cute, little boutique is not only jammed with all sorts of stuff you could potentially pass off as trendy feathered earrings, they also have animal print, or is it camo, never mind, coats and vests. And I read in Vogue that neon pink is in, so neon orange can't be far behind. Plus, when I was there last week I saw several hot looking real men, including the owner. Men who fish, and kill things. Let me tell ya, there's something extremely sexy about a man who can not only catch and clean fish, but can also kill something meaty for dinner. In fact, when I returned home the phone rang and I saw Fishing Fever on call display and for a second I got all hopeful and sweaty, thinking, hey, maybe they liked me and they're calling to see if I wanted to hang on to their rods, or catch some trout down by a cabin in the woods. But, alas, my debit card transaction didn't go through, because I was distracted or had a sudden case of fishing fever, or something.

Oh well. I'll just have to go back and maybe shop for a little vest to go with my new hip waders, because after all, I am the trendsetter to watch this fall of '09.

Fishing Fever is at 2858 Agricola Street in Halifax. They have a basic website but it's really worth your while to go check out all the rods and poles and guy stuff. Wear something flirty, like a nice, neon one-shoulder dress with oversized earrings or something.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Anaphylactic my ass.

I nearly spat my nutritious breakfast pastry across the Toyota showroom reading the Globe and Mail this week. I was long overdue for an oil, lube and filter, and taking full advantage of O'Regan's hospitality suite, when I happened across something in the Globe's Life section.

What nearly sent my stale Danish flying was a ridiculous feature on children's back-to-school lunches. According to the Globe, the latest craze for the medicated and unfulfilled are Bento boxes – the Japanese compartmentalized trays designed to keep your wasabi from creeping up on your sashimi. And visa versa.

All I could think was, Jesus, what next? Kids throw most of their lunch in the garbage anyway, so why kill yourself trying to cover all the food groups in an artful display. Isn't that what Flintstone's vitamins are for? Jack's lucky to get a package of dry Ramen noodles and a can of tonic water most days. Bento boxes? Whoever has enough time to be crafting Super Mario or Hello fucking Kitty! out of sticky rice and organic ham should seek help immediately.

Things are just out of control, what with allergies and everything. A kid in grade two could bring in Daddy's hunting rifle for Show and Tell but, god forbid he should whip out a peanut butter sandwich and point it at somebody. How come nobody was allergic to peanut butter when I was a kid? Huh? We all scarfed back PB&J sandwiches sprinkled with the occasional cigarette ash from our mother's Virginia Slims, and no one fell to the floor gasping for their last breath. My mother whipped our nut-infested lunches together in two seconds flat, so she could head to bridge club and that first Gimlet of the day. By the time we got to school we smelled like chain smokers from riding in the back of the station wagon with the windows rolled up. No asthma in our family.

I recall Jack's first foray into no-nut land. It was Junior Kindergarten. We were living in Toronto, and I won't mention his name, but Spencer was apparently allergic to everything. And by everything, I mean everything. This pale little freak used to run around with his syringes in a little holster, armed and ready, just waiting for a bee or Snickers bar to emerge from the darkness and penetrate his weakened immune system. All year, the 40 other kids in the class had to make allowances for this one little peckerhead's sensitivities. What made matters worse, was the little medical marvel wasn't even nice. He'd hoard the best toys, and cut in line, then start wheezing if someone dared confront him. I sat through the entire, non-denominational, nut-free Christmas pageant hoping the little asshole would fall off the stage.

It got so bad, midway through the year, I was tempted to stick an Oh! Henry in Jack's lunch so he could whip it out and test that kid's level of tolerance once and for all. What's the worse thing that could happen – he pees his Osh Kosh B'Gosh? The kid was packin' his life-saving syringe and the teachers were already so petrified they had their fingers on the phone, dialing 911 every time Spencer picked his nose and ate the booger. Imagine the excitement in story time circle if he suddenly puffed up and went all purple, morphing into Barney before he could reach for the Epi pen. How cool would that be?

I say, if your kid is so allergic to nuts, then you should home school the little bastard so the rest of the world can slap some peanut butter on Wonder bread, throw it in a paper sack, and get on with it.

But hey, if you are really so unsatisfied and lying awake at night worrying about your kid's healthy, nutritious and colorful midday meal, I suggest a few Margarita's before you start packing the lunch. It's amazing how creative you can get on tequila. Your little darling will be the most popular kid in class when he whips out the Red Bull, the NSLC wine bag full of cheesies, the stale Halloween candy, and the Tic Tacs, for dessert.

Or, head to Sweet Jane's and pick up a retro tin lunch box. They've got great designs, like Curious George and Star Trek – and you can just scrape last night's leftovers straight in and close it up. Plus, if your kid is being bullied by the dieting fat kid with the Bento box full of star- shaped zucchini slices, you can always teach your child to wind up and flatten anyone within an arm's radius with his new, Muhammad Ali lunch box loaded down with cans of microwaveable Alphagetti.

As for the trendy and over-priced Bento boxes, here's a little recession tip: Head to the grocery store and pick up a couple of TV dinners. Feed the kids, then rinse and save the TV dinner trays. Then, if you really feel the need to separate the baby carrots from the tofu smiley faces from the sticky rice you fashioned into a likeness of yourself just in case your kids missed you during the day, you can – and at a fraction of the price. Plus, if you splurge and get the Hungryman dinners, you can even use that spot where the apple cobbler goes, as an ashtray.

Stay tuned for more handy, back-to-school tips, like faking the need for the Heimlich manoeuvre, so you can get felt up before gym class.

Sweet Jane's is on Doyle Street, conveniently located near the Rare Wine store.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Smashing the hell out of the sow's ear/silk purse erroneousness.

I give you, Sarah's house. Before and after.

Not the chirpy Sarah Richardson from HGTV. Not the one with the backup team of blondes, the gay sidekick Tommy, and the rich husband floating her robin's egg blue-boat.

I'm talking about Jack's cousin Sarah. Sarah Burns. The person I call on when I need a date. The gal who can take down the entire food and wine menu from Cut in one fell swoop is also the person I call on when I need design advice, the name of a good plumber, tiler, finish carpenter, lighting supplier, or sometimes, just a hug. Sarah Burns is a fucking genius deserving of her own show and a big ass bank account.

Not one to blow her own horn, there are in fact, few streets in Halifax (and North Toronto) that haven't been touched by Sarah's magic renovation wand. There's the Henry Street tear down. The Larch Street miracle. The 'no fucking way' on Preston Street. And now Roger's Drive.

A sane person would have taken a bulldozer to the Brady Bunch crackhouse of horror – but not Sarah. She saw beyond the ugliness, rotten carpet and fake ferns, to spacious rooms and the potential of a split-level living space. Sarah saw 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, an open-aired loft, polished concrete, hardwood and two fireplaces. No one – not even her normally 'go for it' realtor, Meghan Laing – could talk her out of it. Good thing.

What makes Sarah's renovations so mind blowing, isn't so much the quality finishings and truly, unique ideas in every inch of available space. Sure, she searches far and wide for the perfect lighting fixtures. She designs crown moldings, handrails and custom mud rooms. And she doesn't just walk into Home Depot and point. What really separates Sarah from the pack is she actually lives in the chaos from beginning to end with 3 small kids, dogs, cats, a nasty foster cat I would have put to sleep immediately, reptiles, hamsters, 2 horses for a night, bunnies, visiting relatives – and on this project – a husband who took a recession kick in the nuts.

And she thinks I am the crazy one.

No cameras rolling. No glory. No screaming at contractors on cue (because there is no contractor). Sarah survived a summer of torrential rain without a roof. She survived empty bank accounts and despondent carpenters. And, she survived her own meticulous blueprint changes. How she survived, I'll never know. Sarah is the poster child for grace under pressure. I have honestly never seen a crack in the woman's armour, even after a post-disaster bottle of Prosecco. While the sky was falling repeatedly, Sarah's kids always had smiles on their faces and ribbons in their hair.

And now it's time for her next project. A neglected farmhouse outside Caledon, Ontario? An industrial space in the north end? Who the hell knows. Sarah will drive by some forlorn piece of architectural shit and see roses blooming. Like she did on Rogers Drive.

Pictures don't do this home justice – you have to see it. And while tire kickers are discouraged (unless of course you're packin' fresh flowers and/or a nice bottle of Veuve Clicquot, in which case drop by) if you're in the market for an envelope-pushing design priestess on any level, this is her living resume. Listed with Meghan Laing at Domus, it hasn't been on the market long – and if history repeats itself – the discerning buyer with an eye for perfection will snap it up. They always do. This time, they'll be wowed by the luxurious, marble master bath with the Star Trek shower and soaker tub complete with wall-mounted TV. Or, the sparkling custom kitchen, open to the sunken den with fireplace. Or the entire silk purse.

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was clearly showing his blonde, Nazi roots when he said, "God is in the details". If this is true, then Sarah's is a house of worship complete with a soulful choir and funeral sandwiches following the service.

I can't wait for someone to buy it so I can watch the next episode of the real Sarah's House.

You can catch Meghan Laing at 830.1377 or email her at: To hire Sarah as a contractor, design consultant, guru or dining companion, email her at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Heaven holds a place for those who prey.

They're gone. Off to school. Never looked back. Little bastards barely stood still for the obligatory photo. I have to work, but it makes me wonder what my mother did in these moments of eerie calm.

My guess is, she'd fire up a smoke, make a few beds, and whip up a curried shrimp quiche for her bridge club. I'd ask her, but she'd likely take a puff of her smoke and start to cry. "What do you mean what did I do?! (exhale) I was the perfect mother". End of conversation.

My childhood memories have, for the most part been suppressed, thank God. It's like a huge chunk of my life was spent swimming underwater with my eyes open, unable to hear, or see clearly, everything that was happening above the surface. While difficult to breathe, it's safe and quiet under water.

So, I'm a fucked up product of my environment. No need to call in Dr. Phil.

I do recall my mother telling me I needed stitches every bridge night. I have alot of stitches from head to heel, so she must have played a great deal of bridge. I often wonder who drove me to the hospital, because I have no memory of that.

Growing up during a time when Moms stayed at home, while Dads went off to work in the city seems so 'other worldly' now. We lived comfortably, in northern New Jersey and my Mom drove my Dad to the train station every morning, where he caught the Erie Lackawanna into Manhattan, and his job on Wall Street.

Manhattan, in the late sixties, was different than it is today. Business lunches were Mad Men-esque boozy affairs, and no one headed to the gym for a workout. Men smoked and flirted with secretaries and never worried about rushing home for Billy's soccer tryouts, or because they were coaching the hockey team. Dads were distant, and smelled like after shave and cigarette smoke, and power. Or, at least my dad did.

One memory I have not suppressed was jumping in our baby yellow Mustang convertible and meeting my dad's train. My brother and I would get watermelon Zotz candy somewhere near the station, and my Mom would sit in the car and smoke, looking all dark-eyed and glamourous. Looking back at photographs, she was a babe. I look like my dad.

Before my mother left to dutifully fetch my father, she always whipped up a blender full of whiskey sours, placing the glass container into the freezer, so they'd be perfect when he got home. I remember sugary packets of whiskey sour mix and the blender noise signaling the approaching father figure.

Let's just say we didn't exactly rush for the baseball mitts when my dad came home. He retreated to the sanctuary of my parent's bedroom where he would place his loose change on the dresser, remove his suit, smoke, drink whiskey sours, and prepare himself for a role he was never really cut out for. Banker he could handle – being a dad was like a suit that never quite fit.

Once, and I remember this vividly, we went to meet my dad's train. The Erie Lackawanna arrived, then pulled away. My Dad never emerged as he normally did. This seemed odd, and in pre-cell phone days I'm sure my mom sat and waited for the next train, and possibly the one after that. Who knows. As it turns out, that evening my dad stayed on the train, whooping it up in the bar car 'til the end of the line. Those of you who find that sad, and take pity – pity not. I am my father's child. I likely would have done the same thing.

I remember working all day, and before heading into the house I'd drive around the block a few times. I was so fucking tired but I knew the minute I walked in the door I'd have to slip into Mommy skin and be happy, and bursting with love and energy. Of course, there were no whiskey sours waiting in the blender, because I was a single mom. In fact, Jack was strapped in his car seat as I cruised around the block peacefully. That heavenly purgatory between who I was all day, and who I had to morph into at home, was like swimming under water.

Yesterday, I drove an extra lap around the block unnecessarily, but only because my neighbour's boy was loading up his car heading off to a second year of university. I wasn't wheeling around to say "good luck" or anything. Feeling very much like Mrs. Robinson, I went around the block to catch another glimpse of Ben. No shit. Ben. I drove around the block to take another look at Ben. No longer the curly headed teenager, Ben was a man. Benjamin was a gorgeous man with no shirt on and abs that looked like a grilling pan from a shiny, new oven.

I almost hit the tree in front of his house.

Now, imagine if this were the late sixties and I was 3 whiskey sours into the afternoon and beautiful and confident and horny. Imagine, if I knew my kids were in school and my husband was likely grabbing the secretary's ass in NYC, and I had the moxie to sidle up to young Benjamin and seduce him. Hey, I'm no Anne Bancroft but whiskey does strange things to a middle-aged woman.

Of course, I didn't seduce Ben. I just waved – twice – and kept driving. Jack had hockey and I had to work. Besides, who am I kidding, I couldn't seduce the last olive out of a jar.

I just can't help but think parenting in the late sixties must have been way more fun. Every house had a Contiki bar in the basement. Moms stayed at home and drank and smoked all day. And I don't recall ever looking up at a baseball game and seeing my parents cheering positively in the stands.

Dads today, well, they are scent-free and drive unsexy mini vans. They leave work early to coach teams, and drink wine occasionally at dinner parties, and maybe a beer watching the game. Moms work full time and raise kids full time and rush around all fucked up and loaded with guilt about having to work – and worse – wanting to work. Hey, going to work is a hell of a lot easier, and often more rewarding than staying at home, raising a pack of ungrateful little kids who grow up and write shit like this. No wonder my Dad stayed on the train. I get it.

Needless to say my parents divorced. The train ride between work and domestic life was never quite long enough. My memories of it all are fuzzy, but sometimes when I'm walking through Sweet Jane's retro candy aisle, I pick up a little canvas bag of Gold Nugget gum, or Charleston Chews and I get flashes of sweet, and sour, childhood memories. If you haven't been to Sweet Jane's it's a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy and you won't believe the emotions that can surface in a fucking candy store.

Swimming under water certainly has benefits. You can cry under water. And, while under, there's always a glimmer of hope that when you emerge from the deep end, someone will be standing at the edge of the pool waiting to hand you an ice cold, whiskey sour.

Look at the time! Jack will be home for lunch soon and I'm fresh out of mix. Where did the morning go.

Sweet Jane's is on Doyle Street and they deliver, just in case you're rushing around trying to get ready for work, or a bridge game.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Last minute back-to-school survival tips for the disengaged.

First, you must locate the filthy, sunburnt little bastards.

If this proves difficult – chalk it up to growth spurts, lack of interest, or newly-sprouted facial hair – grab last year's school photo and head to the nearest golf course, hockey rink, gym, baseball diamond, lido, tennis court, corner store, or the neighbour's basement with the man cave and Surround Sound system you will never be able to afford, despite daily reminders of how inadequate your present TV room is. Look for someone who resembles your child, only taller.

Have a shot of tequila.

Hose them down in the backyard, or if it's really nasty behind the ears, or near the parts you haven't laid eyes on since they were in Buzz Lightyear Pull-Ups, take them to the Rubber Duck Car Wash (with 8 convenient locations in HRM). You may also, at this time, feel a need to reintroduce them to a variety of once-common day-to-day basics like; soap, eating utensils, milk, and peeing indoors.

Have a shot of tequila.

Next, shop around for school supplies. I found a gold mine of stationery surplus under the sofa cushions in our inadequately-equipped TV room: 4 pens, six golf pencils, one eraser, 2 socks, half a ruler, a compass, 4 Sharpies, a pencil sharpener, 3 paper clips, a few Duotangs, and a sandwich. When that million dollar list of 'must haves' arrives home from the teacher, you'll be way ahead of the game.

Have a shot of tequila.

Cut a smallish hole near the toe of last year's sneakers – to try and get few more months out of them, and allow the fetid steam to escape.

More tequila.

Have your child memorize a few young adult book titles, just in case the teacher asks what they've been reading over the summer. "Sports Illustrated while taking a crap" is not the correct answer.

Have a shot of tequila.

Pass them the toenail clippers with the reminder: "No, it is not cool to see how far the toenails, especially the big yellow ones, can fly". Shut the bathroom door. Flying toenail clippings have been known to lodge themselves in peoples' corneas, blinding them for life.

More tequila.

Scrape a Pogo or a Pizza Pop off the wall of the freezer and pack them, with love, in a recyclable poo bag normally reserved for dog shit. Toss in a buck or two for bomb making supplies, er, nutritious snacks.

Make a tequila smoothie for lunch.

Cut off their thumbs. Or, call Rogers, Koodoo, Bell, or Telus and have their little text message machines from Hell disconnected, once and for all. You never know – if not texting while eating, shitting, sleeping, or hanging with the person they are texting – they just might, possibly, maybe, with any luck, learn something other than, how to abbreviate and write "hey".

Make tequila ice cubes for later (multi-tasking).

Pull socks, lunch bag, maggots, report card, gym clothes, unopened library books, sling shot, and suspicious furry thing out of last year's back pack, then douse with gasoline and light it all on fire. Call a cab and head to Walmart. Grab the first, cheap backpack you can get your hands on, and some Oreo Cakesters for the ride home. Go back and grab more Cakesters because you ate them all while in the line-up full of people fatter than you are, buying crap they also cannot afford.

Slice open finger cutting the last lime.

Make a reservation at the local psych unit, or preferably White Point Beach Resort or some other place with room service, where the Principal can't find you – on the off chance the first day back doesn't go so well.

Have a shot of tequila in some warm milk.

Call White Point back, and book a 2-for-1 tee time. Then call an old boyfriend and hang up. (It's the tequila.) Craft a well-written note to the teacher, apologizing in advance for anything your child may blurt out in class, due to an inherited form of acute, verbal diarrhea. Pin it to the luncheon poo bag so they won't forget.

Tuck them in, just before midnight, freshly scrubbed, in something other than a bathing suit and a sleeping bag – and in their own bed – not on the sofa, in a tent, on a boat, or on the floor of the neighbour's man cave covered in chips and root beer. Thank your lucky, fucking stars they survived another summer, and try not to cry because you love them more than life itself and they are growing up so fast – and because they fell asleep in seconds – not one bit nervous about the first day at a new school, wearing old shoes.

Sleep tight.

The fall 2-for-1 golf deal is back on at White Point so let's get the hell out of here!
For reservations call 1.800.565.5068. Or book online at

The Rubber Duck Car Wash has a great website:


Call Maritime Travel at 1.800.593.3334 and at least have something to look forward to besides mid-term report cards and the subsequent "no-TV-until-your-marks-get-better" bullshit rule that lasts about two hours and just about destroys whatever sanity remains after the clocks go back leaving you drinking in the darkness until June.

New York is the perfect place to change your identity, even for a long weekend.