Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why 2011 didn't totally suck.

Perhaps I am being overly optimistic, but yesterday I purchased about 8 rolls of discounted Christmas wrapping paper, that is now safely stowed away in the basement. There I was, declaring to the checkout girl that I was, officially, "my fucking grandmother" all the while wondering if I was indeed jinxing myself, by assuming I'll be around to spill egg nog on the freshly wrapped gifts next year.

But let's go with that, shall we.

This morning, as I recover from my cheesies and Dexter Season Six marathon, and before I kick oh tannenbaum to the curb – I look back on a year that celebrated the end of sickos Bin Laden and Gadhafi, and made us stop and appreciate the beauty that was Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse, and everyone's favourite cocktail shaker, Betty Ford.

The mere fact that I can eat cheesies again without sobbing, makes me hopeful and blissfully aware that 2011 didn't totally suck. I haven't enjoyed a good bowl of cheesies since my friend Sheelagh died in 2006. She would want me to pick up and move on.

With that spirited lassie in mind, I look back to see more than a few happy highlights from 2011.

In January, I fell head over heels in love with Hank Moody.

In May, The Little Bastard and I made the trek to Machu Picchu, Peru. Together with a delightful band of merry travellers, I dragged my ass up and down soul-sucking steps that I never, ever, hope to see again. It was fantastic.

In June, The Little Bastard was drafted in the QMJHL draft. And while this likely means nothing to a majority of people – this was huge in our little world – and made the last decade of sitting in a rink parking lot in a hideous, coffee-stained parka – all worthwhile.

In July, I was diagnosed with a thyroid problem that explained a whack of weird shit that I had been chalking up to menopause – although it doesn't explain the beard.

In November, my mother had a heart attack. This was good on several levels. She survived. And I can now speak to her without gritting my teeth.

In December, my little bundle of joy got his driver's license, and I got a designated driver. I knew there just had to be a reason for having children.

And just yesterday, I managed not to kick Liam in the nuts. Liam is a new-to-the-park, hyperactive, overbred duck tolling retriever with an annoying owner. I think this means I am showing signs of mellowing, or that he can simply run faster than I can.

There were low moments of course. I spoke out about the serious nature of bulimia, and lost a friend. I watched, helpless, as friends and loved ones dealt with breast cancer. Our beloved White Point Lodge burned down. I didn't golf, or play nearly the amount of tennis required to keep me happy. I didn't lose my baby weight. I didn't write, or read enough. I saw only one movie. I pulled a lot of pork (thanks to Cousin Sarah) but didn't kiss anyone except my dog. And I had to work twice as hard to make the same amount of money.

But I ate a bowl of cheesies.

Happy next year everybody.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Customer cervix.

The Christmas spirit hit me at precisely 6:28pm on Friday, December 9th, in Berwick, the inbreeding mecca of the world. I was killing time in the camouflage department of Bargain Harley's Emporium of Shit No One Wants or Needs, when I felt the familiar warmth of the holiday season descend like warm gingerbread.

Down the chimney came a fever, accompanied by sore throat, quickly followed by a head full of snot, and a cough that triggers a twinkling of festive incontinence with every hack and sputter from deep within my bowl full of jelly.

Nothing says Christmas like the annual plague that appears without fail, just when I start thinking I have to get my holiday shit together.

So here I am, nine days away from the blessed event and there's no tree, no stockings hung by the chimney with care, no parcels en route, and although I did manage to cough all over the annual burnt offering of homemade bits 'n' bites, the thought of curling up with an egg nog by the fire, seems galaxies away.

Adding to my workload and misery, the bloody phone's been ringing off the hook. Of course, I seldom answer it – because in this day and age why would you? But when the flashing yellow button was only serving to remind me that I needed to haul out the decorations, I finally checked my messages: Cousin Sarah had surfaced and was lying on the beach in Sarasota. No one makes goalie skates to fit a size 16.5. My mother was happy and alive and back home after heart surgery. My de-humidifier was fucked beyond repair. And, "Please call the doctor's office for an appointment as soon as possible, your test results are in."

To replay this message, hit 4.

And there it was. The life changer. I stared at the phone is disbelief. Sure enough, it said OB & GYN right there in the digital display, and as most women know, once you're past the child wanting years – anything that says OB & GYN is neither fun, nor festive.

Commercial break: I have a dozen or so, one-of-a-kind Christmas stockings for sale. They are not stolen, in fact, they are handmade by Lynne Belden out of Hudson Bay blankets and each has a whimsical adornment (also handmade): I have owls, wooden skis, snowmen, gingerbread men, a red bird etc. They are $65 (plus shipping, although I will deliver locally) and I have to sell them before I die. Photos are to the right.

Now where was I? Was I talking about the condescending prick of a camera salesman who nearly ruined my "shop locally" mantra for life? Or, was I going on about being caught wearing filthy velour pants, two days in row, by the hot guy from the park, who may or may not be gay?

Oh, right, the phone message. I am obviously dying of some gynecological trauma brought on by lack of visitation by wise men, and because I haven't bothered getting a bikini wax since, well, before Christ. You can die from a unruly beaver, so that must be it. But it was now after the doctor's office hours, and unless there was an emergency, I'd have to wait to hear my fate. My chart was lying in a pile of charts, marked: "call the hairy bitch and break the bad news".

Funny thing is, I don't remember having any tests done. I do recall having my legs in the air as a total stranger looked past Santa's beard and reached into my South Pole, but I don't remember any tests per se, other than the one where she asked me, "How much do you weigh?" followed by, "No, really."

Turns out – after a sleepless night of coughing and sweating and worrying about what would happen to the Little Bastard if I were to die, and finding out you should never apply nasal spray while lying down, and that microwaving red wine and adding Neo Citran isn't bad after the first few sips – there was good news. Unless I succumb to this holiday plague, it wouldn't be my final Christmas after all. It seems the OBGYN nurses got my chart mixed up, and I got "the call" from the Grim Reaper Who Stole Christmas, purely by accident.

More time. The most precious gift of all.

So... there are presents to buy, and a tree to adorn, parcels to ship, and loved ones to forgive, holiday baking to purchase, good thoughts to send out to those receiving bad news, and soon, hopefully, an egg nog to curdle with a celebratory dousing of dark rum.

Yes, vagina, there is a Santa Claus.

To purchase a Lynne Belden original stocking, email me at or call me at 902.422.0712. I just may pick up.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hostile makeover.

"The usual." I felt like saying.

Ten-piece nugget meal, no sauce, two double cheeseburgers, a Jr. chicken, and a chocolate milkshake.

"Plato, honey, what you you having?" I thought, looking in the rear-view mirror.

The Little Bastard and I were in the McDonald's drive thru, having a discussion about moral virtues. In a nutshell: how he had them and I didn't.

"You suffered an injustice." I said. "Why aren't you angry?"

I wanted to rip someone's face off. I was pissed. I was menopausal Carrie.

He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "What's the point? There's nothing I can do."

"Yes.... Yes there is something you can do!" I bleated. "You can get mad. You can spew bile-laced fire. You can do donuts in their rose garden. You can slam your fists against the wall of gross unfairness. You can phone and hang up a million times." I roared. "You're like Pa on Little House on the fucking Prairie! How can you be so accepting and kind, when you just got the shit end of the stick?" I continued, spittle landing on the steering wheel. "I'm so bloody mad I ate a block of cheese and an entire row of Candy Cane Oreos, before shoving the other row down the garburator." I would have lost my hand going in after them, had reason not stepped in.

Then out it came.

"That's because you're a hostile person." the Little Bastard said, calmly, under the glow of the golden arches.

The elephant in the room jumped into the backseat with Plato.

"You're goddamned right I'm a hostile person." I said, only I pronounced it hosTILE. "I come from a long line of hosTILE women."

"It's /ˈhästl/ not /ˈhäs-tīl/." He corrected, dipping his nugget in the milkshake.

"Oh my god how can you EAT THAT?" I screamed, ignoring his Grammar School wisdom as he plopped the chocolate covered grease ball into his mouth.

And with that, the subject was changed.

Had I not been mortally hungover in Philosophy 101, I would have argued Plato's "He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it" as complete and utter bullshit. Plato was never a mother. Mothering bears account for the majority of injuries and fatalities in North America.

I just sent my cub on the road to Cape Breton. I need a break from hockey, and he needs a break from me. I have the weekend papers and and a filthy house. Both will get dealt with over the next 32 hours, but in the meantime, I have plans. It's I HEART HFX Local's Small Biz Saturday, so I'm going to throw my money around an independent business or two, with hopes of winning a shopping spree. I also have an appointment at Flaunt. I'm tired of my Movember moustache, and they have a new Registered Massage Therapist. Lord knows I could use some therapy.

One day, my grandmother's neighbour was out waxing his car, and in the course of a brief conversation, he called my grandmother a wing nut. I let it go. I was young, and decidedly less hosTILE – choosing instead to take the high road. I chalked up his comment to small town ignorance – and, truth be told – my grandmother was a bit of a wing nut.

Later that night, after walking her dog (and nipping at the Courvoisier she kept in her nightstand) I took a sharp turn off the high road and scratched my wretched morals into the left rear quadrant of his shiny car.

Justice had been served. On a sesame seed bun.

Make an appointment with Lindsay at Flaunt by calling 425.0020.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The dysfunctional network.

The Facebook message said: "I'm really sorry to hear about your mom".

The message was from my cousin Janis, who had been sending me messages through Facebook for quite some time before I even realized she was "that Janis". My mother's sister Carley's daughter Janis. I haven't seen her in several decades, and didn't recognize her last name.

Never mind.

I am in a hotel room in Moncton. My mother had a massive heart attack, Wednesday, up on Georgian Bay. This is now Friday. I found out this morning, through Facebook.

I called my brother in Toronto this morning, about 2 seconds after reading the message. And it went something like this:

Brother: Hello. (sleepily)

Me: Why am I getting Facebook messages that say, "sorry about your mom"?

Brother: Didn't you get my message?

Me: Apparently not. I am in Moncton. What happened to Mom?

Brother: Oh, I left you a message Thursday afternoon, saying mom had a massive heart attack Wednesday and was shipped down to the intensive care in Kitchener.

Me: So, Mom has a heart attack Wednesday and you leave me a message Thursday afternoon? How fucked up is that!?

Brother: You go to bed early. I didn't want to wake you. You're an hour ahead.

Me: You weren't calling to chat about the Leaf's game! I think under these circumstances it's ok to wake someone up... on a Wednesday afternoon.

Brother: I didn't find out until Wednesday night.

Me: Oh. So when I didn't respond, did you not think to maybe to call my cell, or send me a text, or maybe an email? I'm in Moncton. Mom's been lying there since Wednesday with the phone not ringing.

Brother: There are no phones in the ICU.

Me: Is she going to be okay?

Brother: She needs a quadruple bypass.

Me: I doubt they'll do a quadruple bypass on a serial chain smoker.

Brother: I gave her nicotine patches for Mother's Day. She's not smoking any more.

Me: You gave her nicotine patches for Mother's Day?

Brother: Ya. She sounds surprisingly good.

Me: What do you mean, she sounds good? You haven't gone to see her yet?

Brother: No.

I am in a shitty hotel room in Moncton. Overnight, it went from a balmy autumn, to a winter wonderland. I am here without a warm coat or gloves.

I am totally unprepared.

For decades, I have been waiting for my mother to apologize for "dropping the maternal ball". Opening a dialogue with two words.

We are the Royal Tenenbaums, minus the childhood success, a fur coat, and a character or two. I am Margot –although not adopted – even though it has always felt that way.

Mrs. Tenenbaum: Well, I don't think it's very intelligent to keep an electrical gadget on the edge of the tub.

Margot: [in bath] I tie it to the radiator.

I haven't laid eyes on my mother in over ten years. I called the hospital in Kitchener to see how she was doing, and a nurse handed her the phone. My brother was right – she sounded good. I told her about my Facebook message, and how funny and screwed up it was that I had to find out that way – and she laughed. She said she always thought a heart attack sent a shooting pain down your arm, but this was right in the middle of her chest. And how after calling 911 she didn't have time to grab her makeup, but she had lipstick and mascara delivered to the ICU. And the food was bland, so she asked for salt, but they gave her something called Mrs. Dash. She even laughed when I asked if the ambulance had maybe, with any luck, run over her dog. I hate her dog. I also have spent most of my adult life being angry at her.

She dropped the ball. My parents both dropped the ball.

I am alone, in a shitty motel in Moncton.

Maybe it's time for me to kick it out of the way and move on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ephemera ever after.

"I hope you're not looking for your bank card." The Little Bastard said, smiling, as he watched me rifle through my wallet.

"No." I thought. "I'm looking for a condom, so I can go back in time about 16 years."

"Because it's in my sofa." he continued.

With that, the me inside my head lunged across the table and grabbed the asshole by the throat, wrestling him to the ground.

The other me, let out a resigning sigh, and said, "Please tell me you're kidding."

It had been a particularly hellish week, and we'd wheeled into the Lion's Head for a little sustenance and a vodka cooler. As it turns out, the Little Bastard had borrowed my bank card earlier in the day, and like most things that go missing, it somehow managed its way into the teenage abyss that is his sofa. I say his sofa, because it's as close to a man cave as he's going to get – and as soon as he moves out – I'm dragging it to the curb, and setting it on fire, using his collection of broken goalie sticks as kindling.

Suddenly, faced with the dilemma of having no money to pay the bill, I had little choice but to drive home to fetch the card.

"Do you know exactly where my bank card is?" I asked, stupidly, wondering where in proximity to the dent his boney ass has carved out in the corduroy sectional that was nice for about 2.5 hours, about 7 years ago.

Just as the Little Bastard was about to speak, the waiter arrived. I told him, the waiter, that I was leaving, but the Little Bastard was staying, and I may, or may not be back. In the meantime, get him, pointing at the Little Bastard, to wash dishes or scrub toilets or whatever, because I did not care. And I stormed out.

The Little Bastard's sofa was covered with shit from one end to the other. Ice cream sandwich wrappers, skates, headphones, corn pad, Subway napkins, socks, xBox controllers, a plate, mid-term report card, 2 hideous-yet-identical hockey jackets, boogers, chemistry notes, the Lindbergh baby, dog hair, baseball mitt, a pair of boxers, what may or may not be the end of a turkey bacon ranch sub, and a Bandaid.

But no bank card.

I bent down and felt an excruciating pain where my jeans were cutting me in half. I unbuttoned my pants – already regretting my decision to go with the suicide wings instead of just plain suicide – and got down on all fours.

There was nothing resembling a bank card under the sofa, but if anyone is missing a furry bathing suit let me know.

With that, I got up, and lifted the cushion. The cushion on which the Little Bastard spends most of his waking hours.

That cushion.

I won't describe what was under that cushion, but I managed to scrape up $11.57 worth of sticky coins coated with fluff.

But no bank card.

By this time, the vodka had worn off and I was sweating like a pig. I fired up the computer and transferred money from my account to the Little Bastard's account. I knew exactly where his bank card was, because it seldom leaves the wallet on his bedside table.

Then I drove back to the Lion's Head. Slowly. With my pants undone.

He was waiting for me outside, and quickly ran in to settle our tab. After the deafening silence that was our ride home, I instructed my offspring to clean his TV room, including the sofa.

"Get the vacuum out of the basement and suck up all that crap, because anything that doesn't get sucked up, or put away, is going in the garbage."

I continued.

"When you're done, you are officially banned from sitting on anything upholstered in this house until further notice." And I went to bed.

The next day, the Lodge at White Point burned down. In a heartbeat, I no longer cared that he was slowly slinking from the hard kitchen chair, back on to his sofa. I started working for White Point back in 1995, when I couldn't get my pants done up because there was a 10-pound baby brewing inside. That was 16 years ago, this month – and they have been the fixed mark on my turbulent horizon ever since.

Throughout his lifetime, the Little Bastard and I have not only been guests at White Point – they have been our family. Waiters have watched him grow, marvelling at how he got to be so tall eating nothing but beige food. We've napped on the beach. Learned to golf. I pretended to LOVE burnt marshmallows. We played endless games of chess by the fire in Founders Lounge. We even squabbled like family on occasion – but we never went to bed mad, and we always raised a glass, or two, before tucking in under the old White Point wool blankets I'd pull out of the bureau.

So, I dream of the day when I can set the Little Bastard's sofa ablaze – but when that time comes – will I be able to torch life's lost and found?

Because memories, and love, are all that really matters.

And there isn't a bank card in the world that can compete with that.

For updates on the Lodge rebuild, frequent

Thursday, October 20, 2011

SWF seeks welder with sweet tooth to make sparks fly.

The chances of meeting a man who owns a suit in Havenot just decreased by about 25 billion per cent. On the other hand, if pipe fitters and welders rock your world – sister, are you in luck.

While the recent business news for Nova Scotia is optimistic for a change, I tend to agree with Jordi Morgan of News Radio 95.7 when it comes to the cabbage wasted on the Ships Start Here campaign. If this lengthy tendering process was indeed completely unbiased – why waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer's dollars on an advertising "awareness" campaign? Who was the campaign aimed at? I don't get it, and I'm not just bitter because I didn't create it. But I did help pay for it – so I can bitch all I want.

The irony is, the Dexter government spent a small fortune on a useless spin campaign – but they couldn't throw a bone to the Yarmouth/Maine ferry – subsequently placing a choke hold on the tourism industry with their "Let 'em eat cake" mentality. Ships carrying Yankee dollars don't start, or stop in Yarmouth anymore.

Fuck. It boggles the mind.

But, if you have to eat cake, you're in luck. Sweet Hereafter Cheesecakery opened in September in the old Key Lime Pie hairdresser location on Quinpool Road. The interior is a whimsical cross between the inside of an expensive coffin and a funky whore house, and the cheesecake is truly heavenly. Owner Colin MacDougall caters to the after-dinner, or afternoon screw-the-diet crowd – dishing out creamy cheesecakes in flavours like Chocolate Amaretto, Cherry Sundae and Banana Split. Wash it all down with organic, locally-roasted Laughing Whale coffee, and your pants will be too tight to bend over and pick up the tab.

For the dietary challenged, MacDougall graciously bakes up fresh vegan options, and claims his gluten-free coconut lime cheesecake is to die for. A fresh supply of Sweetiecakes Cupcakes guarantees this is going to be another one of those winters where my ass exceeds my expectations.

My chances of meeting a well-tailored man are all but shot to shit, and I may not get my share of the shipbuilding pie, but good for you Havenot.

I really like cake.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feeling rather up.

One would have to be otherwise occupied not to notice this is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Pink is everywhere from the rink to the football field, and the annual Run for the Cure alone raised over $30 million nationally.

I show my support by giving when asked, and by feeling myself up regularly, all month long. In the car. At the rink. In the grocery store. Groping and prodding like a teenage boy, I fumble around in fear of finding a dreaded lump. A game changer.

There's nothing erotic about feeling one's self up (or rather, down) these days. In the 1970's, I recall sitting in the backseat of an AMC Gremlin with my cousin's best friend – wishing I were in the front seat with my cousin's other best friend. My "Dici or Nothing" bra even had a front clasp for speedy access, and I imagined it wrapped around my neck like a string of pearls. The front passenger seat however, was already occupied with an older, busty young woman who was a sure bet for hitting home base. The gentleman in the backseat didn't try a thing – likely because my cousin had put the fear of God in him – or maybe because I had my arms clamped tightly against my sides for fear that he would.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida baby, this wasn't. At least in the backseat.

Little did he know, I was already an old pro at being felt up. For years, the T-bar lift operator at our ski club had violated my personal space, through multi-layers and down ski jackets, at every given opportunity. Without fail, when the country boy handed me the clanking T-bar, he would smile, then seize the day, gliding his his gloved hand across my then-perky breasts. It's hard to defend yourself when you live in fear of being struck in the head by a moving object – but I never told anyone. I also never stopped using the T-bar shortcut between the Minute Mile and Champlain ski runs.

A few weeks ago, breast cancer came waltzing into our yard. The diagnosis of someone we love, brought this shitty disease closer to home. I immediately turned to my friend Kelly Hennessey for honest answers to the questions I was afraid to ask directly. Kelly is a ballsy, faith-driven breast cancer survivor who will be speaking frankly about boobs on CBC Radio's Maritime Noon today at, well, noon. Kelly is a firm (!) supporter of BRA Day (Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day) happening across Canada on Wednesday, October 19th. If you want the "been there, bought the t-shirt" truth, tune in. Now that my awareness is all too real, I'll be listening – hoping to hear Kelly snap Norma Lee McLeod's bra strap at least once.

My grandmother "Florrie", God rest her soul, used to hang on to her purse like it contained a million dollars, instead of keys to the Monte Carlo and a package of Rothmans. Once, during some distant relative's funeral, the aforementioned cousin and I were flanking Florrie in the church pew, trying quietly, desperately, to get ahold of her purse. Suppressing giggles and shushing us, Florrie held steadfast, white-knuckled – until my cousin slowly reached around – and with the deft movement of a professional, unhooked my grandmother's bra.

I laugh when I think of how quickly that purse hit the floor, and the dirty looks all three of us got for busting a gut in the Lord's lounge.

It's October 18th. Just a tad more than halfway though Breast Cancer Awareness month – and a great time to feel someone up in the front, or backseat of the minivan. Imagine how many lumps would get detected if we hadn't abandoned backseat romance for paying the mortgage, and getting down to business.

It's also a great time to let go of the purse, and give.

Read Kelly's blog at Gingerbread Guts.

*Get your own Dartmouth Destroyers Minor Football Crucial Catch t-shirt by emailing Mine arrived yesterday and I love it! They come in two styles: a cap-sleeved feminine style and a regular t-shirt style. All funds go to support breast cancer!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rescue me.

When you have 5 or more children, I guess you can be a little lackadaisical about knowing where they all are, at all times – because you have spares.

Such was the case yesterday, when I dragged home one of the neighbour's kids because he was:
A. Crying on the porch. B. Alone. C. Five-years old. D. Made eye contact.

"Which one are you?" I asked, trying to ease his muffled sobs and subsequent flow of snot, as I took him by the hand.

I didn't really care, having shooed him and his numerous siblings out of my yard on several occasions. And making small talk with anyone under the age of 60, was never my forté – but it kept me from asking the question on the tip of my tongue: "Where the fuck are your parents?".

Having spent the entire weekend in a rink parking lot, all I really wanted was a glass of wine and some peace and quiet by the fireplace. So why the hell was I toting home a small child like a discarded old chair I'd never get around to reupholstering.

"What are you doing?" asked the Little Bastard, all tucked in on the sofa watching football.

"Trying to figure out the remote so I can switch it to Treehouse." I replied.

"No. What are you doing with him?" he asked, grabbing the remote, as I steered our little neighbour toward the sofa.

"I am giving him some chocolate milk, and some love, and some Doritos, and making him cozy until his Mommy comes home." I thought to myself, tucking the other little, Little Bastard in.

"I never left you alone. Ever." I said, giving my child the motherly, yet tearful stink eye as I exited the room. "Just change the goddamned channel."

"I'm 15, and you still never leave me alone." I heard him mutter, reluctantly switching from football to some stupid kid channel.

There's a reason the mommy bird pushes the baby birds out of the nest. I think about this a great deal these days, as my only child prepares to leave the nest. Part of me is ready to watch him fly – and I promise not to milk this bird analogy to death – but part of me is afraid he'll blow a wing, or wind up face to face with the neighbour's cat.

He's ready, but am I?

Becoming a mother was like a big, weird, unexpected miracle for me, and I was determined not to screw it up. "Kids come first, at all costs" became my mantra, as I turned down party invitations, and left an otherwise lucrative career to work at home. There wouldn't be a man, or an event that would take priority over this kid.

But now what?

After our embarrassed neighbour arrived to retrieve her child, I suggested to the Little Bastard that maybe I should adopt another kid. I went so far as to call Nova Scotia's Department of Community and Child Services to see if they had any potty-trained, 5-year olds with no inclination toward hockey, lyin' around. Maybe a special needs child who couldn't speak, liked to scrub floors, and mixed the perfect Caesar.

So far, they haven't called back.

Driving the Little Bastard to school this morning, I asked him if he ever wished he had a little brother or sister, and what would he honestly think about adopting one.

He was silent for a moment, then said, "Okay Mom, do the math. You get a 5-year old now and that means you'll be, like, 90 by the time that kid is through university. And what about winter tennis in Florida, or finally being able to take off to Tuscany, like you talk about all the time?"

"And besides," he said, jumping out of the car, "you hate kids."

The Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada are "dedicated to placing retired greyhounds into loving homes". Had I not been forced to recently kick one of these yet-to-be-socialized, rescued dogs in the balls, so it would release my poodle from its jaws of death – this could have been a viable option to the 24/7 commitment of raising another child.

Maybe I'll billot a burly Moosehead, to keep the fetid hockey smell alive.

Maybe I'll look into Foster Parenting.

Maybe I don't have the patience, or the heart, to take another needy creature under my flabby wing.

Or, maybe I do.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fighting for looth CHANGE.

Dear Father James Tony,

Thank you for your kind email regarding my status here on Earth.

While I am certainly not DEAD in the medical sense, perhaps you caught a glimpse of me yesterday downtown, wearing hand-me-down sweatpants, a soiled pyjama top and rubber boots. Understandable for you to think I was on the brink of freezing to death under a bridge next to my shopping cart full of cats, but I assure you I am not DEAD – although perhaps in a downward spiral after catching a glimpse of Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars.

Spiritual flat lining is a plague to even the most enlightened of lambs.

As for the $5.5 million dollars US you are claiming I have in my bank account – do you honestly think if I had $5.5 million dollars I would be walking around in the Little Bastard's filthy cast offs, wondering if Greece is going to ask the rest of the world take one up the ass, while they lie under an olive tree sipping ouzo? You must be more stunned than your spelling suggests.

I can assure you, had I even a fraction of a million dollars I would, of course, be lying in a Tuscan villa wondering if I should play tennis, or bike into town for for more Brunello. Instead, I am trying to decide if I should pay my HST, or put some oil in my furnace so I can turn the bloody heat on. It's so fucking cold in this house, a few hours in Hell is sounding rather pleasant.

So, Father James Tony, you can tell your swindling cohort spamasaurus artist, Mr. Bob Chantler, that at the present time I am indeed alive and kicking – and aside from a wet basement, a shitty wardrobe, gravitational tugging, freckles that are morphing into liver spots or Corn Flakes, and a bathroom that looks like a scene from the Reservoir Dogs – life is pretty good. Besides, I can't afford to die. At this rate, I'll be working 25 years after I am DEAD, just to catch up with Revenue Canada.

I also plan on sticking around long enough to see a few of Havenot's finest femme fatales duking it out for homelessness, December 1st at Palooka's. Fight for Change is being billed as a "fantastic night of fun and fundraising" watching 10 otherwise classy women who have enthusiastically stepped into the boxing ring to fight homelessness. I call it the ultimate cat fight and can't wait to see Meghan "The Closer" Laing and Flaunt's Kim "Upper Cut" Grant going at it like the Kardashians. Imagine Nova Scotia's sweetheart, Nancy Regan ducking and weaving as Delvina Bernard slams a right hook at her kisser. Holy shit, Father, who would want to die and miss that!? Funds raised will support Saint Leonard's Society of Nova Scotia and tickets will be available soon, so stay tuned for details.

And Father, while I appreciate that my "joy and success" remains your goal, Mrs. Teresa Hernandez, also a Christian, just picked my email address to receive an inheritance of 3.2 million pounds. And while she didn't say pounds of what, it is with profound respect (and humble submission) that Rabiu Mohamed Hassan M. Nur, a Somalian citizen, has also made a fixed deposit of the sum of 4.7 million USD in one of the banks in Burkina Faso with my name as his next of kin. All I have to do is send them my banking information.

So, I'm not DEAD, I'm LAUGHIN'!

*Just read an article in the Herald about a man who actually fell for one of these send money "I'm a widow from Ghana" scams. Come on people. Click to read the article called "Born Yesterday."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Always a bridesmaid.

"Geez mom, that's your second lemonade. You must be really thirsty."

The clock had all but run out on my deadline for Downtown Halifax's Try Something New marketing campaign. All I had to do was blow $100 bucks downtown, then blog about it, but I was short on time, patience – and worse – creatively constipated after a few false starts.

My first thought was to go pole dancing with Ruth Goldbloom. I'd never been pole dancing, let alone pole dancing with a pint-size dynamo whose tap shoes likely sparked the Halifax Explosion. Studio in Essence on Barrington Street offer pole dancing classes, and I could already picture Ruth's Order of Canada medallion swinging in the breeze as she gyrated her original hips to Superfreak. Not surprisingly, Ruth was "too busy" – what with teeing off at her Kid's Help Phone Charity Golf Tournament, while simultaneously raising millions in support of health, education, and culture. Too busy it seems, to knock back a few cold ones, strap on some pasties, and do the dirty dance downtown, avec moi.

Every party has a ladylike pooper.

My next big plan gone awry involved me, a few girlfriends, and a happy hour of laughter at my expense. Having been kicked out of high school before prom, and never having walked down the aisle – I have always wanted to try on a big pouffy dress. The bigger and pouffier the better. I called Felicity Bridal to set up an appointment for a fitting. I did my best to explain the Try Something New deadline, and that while I was not really in the market for a wedding dress, my "bridesmaids" had (cash) several daughters destined for lavish weddings in the very near future. Therefore, my "fitting" would not be a total waste of their time. Let's just say the downtown bridal boutique was less than enthusiastic, or maybe they'd seen the Bridesmaids (diarrhea scene) movie, but that'll teach me for being forthright. Fuck 'em. Next time I'll just show up in a sweaty sports bra waving a chequebook.

So now what? I scanned the Downtown Halifax directory for inspiration. Venus Envy? Too many batteries. The Press Gang Oyster Bar? Been there. Bicycle Thief? Wasn't in the mood.

That's when I saw it. Fashionably Dead. I had no idea what it was – but it pretty much summed up how I felt – so off I went to 5239 Blowers Street.

Climbing to the top of the worn staircase, a purse in a dark shop window caught my eye. "Fuck You" was emblazoned on a red heart, stitched across the otherwise normal looking handbag. This had to be it.

Everyone has likely experienced the kids who walk in front of your car at a crosswalk, usually with a crowd of other youths, all clad in ripped black clothing, sporting dreadlocks, spikes, multiple piercings, safety pins, tattoos, and a malnourished ferret. The kind of kids who make you thankful your own kid is just slovenly, and not dressed for a rave at a crematorium. The kind of kids you are tempted to run over.

Fashionably Dead is where they shop.

And while there's no doubt I would have stuck out like a boil on a virgin's butt in Felicity Bridal – imagine being immersed in a culture of Goth blackness, surrounded by spider web motifs, zippers, and spiked dog collars meant for people.

"So, what exactly is this look?" I asked the young woman behind the counter.

"Alternative." She responded, sizing me up.

I was about to ask, "Alternative to what?", but then I spotted the baby section. If you ever need a newborn onesie with skull and crossbones on it, this is the place.

"Those are really popular." The salesgirl told me, enthusiastically.

Really? I thought, considering that maybe "something new" was keeping an open mind and a closed mouth.

I poked around through tidy racks of shirts and hoodies, stretchy skirts, torn (crotchless?) bondage pants, and some dominatrix-looking corsets that I was really tempted to try on. I looked at fishnet stockings, studded belts, and a wonderful t-shirt with either Lily Munster or Morticia Addams on the front.

"So, what are the oxygen masks for?" I asked naively, peering into the glass counter showcase.

"They're respirators." She replied nonchalantly. "Just a fashion accessory."

"For your face?" I asked.

She nodded.

I learned the salesgirl's name was Lynne. She was very helpful and rather sweet underneath her daunting dreadlocks and black-edged pallor. Lynne answered all my dumb, middle-age questions politely – and as it turned out – we had something in common. Like me, she came from "away" to study at NSCAD. Like me, she was searching for something down the tributary off mainstream. Like me, she was searching for something new – far, far away from something blue.

"I'll take the purse in the window." I said.

"Really?" she asked, without saying a word.

"It's perfect." I said, handing her my Downtown Halifax Visa card.

When I got home, the Little Bastard was lying on the sofa playing Xbox. I didn't bother showing him my new, first-ever handbag – knowing he would just roll his eyes in disgust.

"Where have you been? I'm starving." He said. "What are we doing for dinner?"

Something new, I thought, dialing a cab.

The homemade Lynchburg Lemonade at Q Smokehouse was a bipolar marriage of tart and sweet, laced with Jack Daniels. Just what the doctor ordered after a shitty week. I briefly considered the Cobb Salad with Pulled Chicken before ordering us a Pulled Pork Sandwich and the BBQ sampler (with a side of mac 'n' cheese). I wanted the Bad Attitude BBQ sauce with jalapeño and habañero peppers, but we turned it down a notch, then settled into a comfy booth. Knowing that food I hadn't prepared was on its way, the Little Bastard was chatty and seemingly happy with my restaurant choice.

"I can't believe we've haven't been here before," he said. "I like this place."

Me too, I thought, sucking a lemon pit out of my straw. Me too.

We left Q, stepping out on to Argyle Street, so happy and full of ribs and Kentucky bourbon I could barely move.

Just then, "Jack!", a girl yelled from a sidewalk table across the street. "Helllllo beautiful!" she screamed.

"Who the hell's that?" I asked my blushing teenage beanpole covered with BBQ sauce.

He just smiled, and walked ahead through the busy, Friday night crowd.

Something new, indeed.

Q Smokehouse is located at 1580 Argyle Street. Our meal with tax and a few lemony libations was well under $50. I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Excuse me... mam?"

Jugs. Hooters. Knockers. Bazongas. Tatas. Chesticles. Headlights.

Call them what you will, but there was a set coming toward me that I simply couldn't take my eyes off.

Two helium-injected sweater girls were battling to escape from a skin tight t-shirt, as an otherwise petite, 40-something woman grazed past me at a brisk pace.

"Ridiculous," was my first thought. Bleached blonde, fake nails, and breasts that required regular touch ups with an air mattress pump from Canadian Tire.

My guesstimate was, this size-6 woman was wearing a 34 quadruple E bra, just to keep her saline sweater puppies from escaping into the neighbour's yard.

I stood there in my Russell gym shorts and sneakers, grateful that in an emergency situation, if I had to break into a gallop, say, if there were a fire, or if I were being chased – that my Nike sports bra would hold my girls down.

Then I recalled a conversation I had with a gentleman (who is now on wife #3) about blondes, and how, as a natural blonde, I found it amusing and somewhat frustrating that men couldn't tell a peroxide bottle blonde from a natural blonde – even if she whipped off her big girl panties to prove that the drapes indeed matched the carpet.

"Men don't care." was his response.

If that statement is true, and men really don't care if they're eating Velveeta or naturally-aged cheddar – then why should I care if a woman objectifies herself by morphing into Malibu Menopause Barbie.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery procedural statistics, breast augmentation is the second most commonly performed cosmetic procedure (behind liposuction). As we approach Breast Cancer Awareness month, I think of my friend Kelly, her triumphant battle with breast cancer and consequential, painful breast reconstruction surgery. I suppose the reasons "why" come in all shapes and sizes.

Just then, I heard, "S'cuse me!" and turned to see sister silicone – guns a blazin' – coming back toward me.

Shit. She read my mind. She's going to smother me with her pillows, or claw me to death with her fake nails.

"I'm going to have to ask you to move your car." she said, funbags heaving.

"I'm going to have to ask you, why?" I responded, staring at her Goodyear blimps.

"You're parked an inch from my bumper and I can't get out." she replied haughtily.

Did she says bumpers? This was too good. I walked over to see that I was at least 12 inches from her rear bumper – not only that – she had 36 inches or so between her Barbie camper and the car bumper in front of her. Clearly her depth perception had somehow been compromised. Maybe she also hadn't noticed that her cannonballs were grossly out of proportion.

There were so many things I wanted to say, but I went with a simple "No," all the while mesmerized by her lofty cantaloupes. "It's called parallel parking, and I could land a fucking helicopter in there." I said, making a circular gesture in her direction. With that, I turned and walked away – thinking how difficult it would be to do a three-point turn with a set of beach balls strapped to your chest.

Her archery days are over.

"I'll call the police!" she screamed. "I'll write down your license number!" This was a woman accustomed to getting her own way.

I chuckled – half expecting Tits on a Stick to whip a ball point pen, a cell phone, and a pistol out of her cleavage – and went about my merry way. A man, given the same circumstances, likely would have jumped at the opportunity to assist this damsel in distress – even if, underneath all the plastic and peroxide – she was a total bitch.

Tailwaggrs had my little dog all groomed and ready to go. While paying, it dawned on me – I spend way more on my dog's beauty regime than I do on my own. And it shows. I don't even let the girls at Flaunt blow dry my hair. And I obviously don't care enough to change things up.

When I returned to my parking spot a few moments later, Barbie's car was indeed gone. I was almost disappointed, geared for another in-depth conversation with her hood ornaments. I pulled away and wondered if I would have been more gracious to a different kind of woman. A woman who wouldn't resort to helplessness. A woman whose shingles matched her porch, and whose doorbells were so small you had to knock to see if anyone was home.

I double-D doubt it.

Get your hair coloured, curled and coiffed to perfection at Flaunt Salon on 2166 Windsor Street 425.0020.

Get your dog done too, at Tailwaggrs in Bedford, or in Halifax at the old Metro Dog Wash Location. 422.9364.

Get a safe, high-quality boob, nose, ass, neck, or hand job at The Landings Surgical Centre in Halifax. Okay, maybe not a hand job, unless you hurt your hand.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Ever have one of those days where life just turned on the big ol' Hoover and sucked the bejeezus out of you – leaving the house smelling like dog hair and mouldy beach towels, while merely transferring the dust bunnies from one corner of the cluttered room to a warren of sadness suppressed under the sofa?

That was this entire week.

This wasn't even my usual pity party, where no one RSVPed and I ended up alone in the bathtub drinking Grand Marnier out of a Winnie the Pooh sippy cup.

This week was all about bad news. News I carried around like an emotionally crippled doppelgänger, who kept tapping me on the shoulder saying, "Look at them. Look at that Mom. Imagine how she feels. Bet you're glad you're not in her shoes. Wow, it must really suck to be her right now."

This week I was feeling pain that wasn't even close to being my own. I was aching for an entire family, whose lives changed on a dime. One of those families you look at and think, "what a perfect family. I can't think of anything bad to say about them, they are so bloody perfect."

Yesterday, I was hurting for one of the richest men in Havenot, because his dream of helping kids at risk fell short. Giving kids a hand up while wearing a boxing glove turned into "subsidizing gym memberships" and that wasn't good enough for Palooka's Mickey MacDonald. Knowing he's a fighter, my bet is, Mickey tries again.

This week, my heart was ripping itself out for an Alberta mom who sent her kid off to university so he would become an educated man. A man who would maybe someday change the world. Instead, he lost a stupid and deadly drinking game.

And this morning I woke up listening to CBC Radio, and the looming tenth anniversary of so much hatred and fucking stupidity – I almost pulled the covers over my head and retreated. But I didn't.

Instead, my doppelgänger and I walked the dogs in the darkness before dawn (how's that for a cliché?), then we had a coffee, then we started sorting through emails. As usual, I had one from Barb.

Barb's emails normally end with three letters.


Annoying at first, I came to expect those three letters, and now, they brighten my day. The genuine passion in those three letter equal the power of Barb Stegemann. When the rest of the world is lying under the sofa, curled up in the fetal position with the dust bunnies – Barb's making angels in the snowy waste, looking up at the stars, marvelling at the positive potential and wonder of it all.

Barb is busier than ever these days, launching her new fragrance, Vetiver of Haiti. This latest addition to her 7 Virtues line of smell-good, do-good perfumes is described as an "uplifting" fragrance. Bottled emotions, created to inspire the rest of us to get up off our fat asses and do something. Feel the pain of a total stranger, then actually do something about it. Smelling like a rose, or an orange blossom, or now vetiver, whatever that is, will help Afghanistan and Haiti rebuild, so maybe, one morning, a dirt-poor mom can kick her evil doppelgänger to the curb, make breakfast, and send her child off to school to learn something – and make a difference in this crazy world.

If Barb Stegemann ever has a pity party I want to be working the blender. But somehow, I get the feeling, that invite is never going to come. Not in this lifetime. And not unless it's a fundraiser.

So happy anniversary to 9/11. I say "happy" because, to quote Hemingway, someone who likely spent a fair deal of time drinking in the bathtub, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”


Purchase 7 Virtues fragrances at Bay Stores across Canada, at Mills Brothers in Havenot and online by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Snap goes the dragon.

"All I'm saying is you may want to consider another profession. Like hog tying. Or a women's prison guard. In fact, your resemblance to that Grese woman from the Belsen Trial is uncanny." I continued. "It's nice to see you've bobbed your hair and traded in war crimes for something more lucrative, and please excuse me for resorting to annoying acronyms, but IMFO, this whole flower arranging thing may not be your cup of Schwarztee."

The average Canadian worker spends more than 110 hours a year behind the wheel of a car, likely going to a job they hate, and back home to a filthy house. And while I no longer commute, I do spend countless hours waiting – in orthodontist's offices, rink parking lots, physiotherapists, and like this morning, at O'Regans – 35 minutes up in smoke, waiting for the courtesy shuttle that comes every ten minutes.

"Such is life." said Samuel Beckett.

Sometimes though, I look forward to waiting.

I enjoy waiting in Port Hood, Cape Breton. The best bacon and fried egg sandwich can be found at Sandeannie's Bakery – and the town has a lovely beach for strolling with the dogs.

I also rather enjoy hanging around Bridgewater. I am usually one of the slimmer people in the Zellers mall, and I have fond memories of the day I waddled in pregnant and picked up a lab-mix puppy instead of an ice cream cone.

One of my favourite places for pissing away time I'll never get back, is Bedford. In a word: Chickenburger. Who can complain about life flying by, with a mouthful of gravy-soaked white meat in a delightfully wet bun.

Across the road from the Chickenburger, Pete Luckett's little money maker is a great place to lose yourself while dropping $78 on a bag of groceries. Not only is everything exotically delicious, Pete's free samples fill you up, and take a bit of the sting out of the $35 dollar block of cheese you were too embarrassed to put back. That's okay, because Pete's friendly bootlegging boutique, Cristall & Luckett is right next door, so you can pick up a reasonably priced bottle of wine to wash down your $35 dollar cheese.

I recently found myself at Pete's, killing time, working my way through one of his stool maker salads. The Little Bastard had squeezed himself in, to have something adjusted, to the tune of $150 bucks per hour, and I was enjoying my lunch, admiring the florist's kiosk situated across the way.

Metal buckets spewed beautiful gerbera daisies, roses, hydrangeas, and those tall Dr. Seuss-looking green things. As a form of gratitude for someone who had squeezed us into their busy schedule, I decided to pick up a handful of flowers.

I approached the woman at the counter, and asked if I could pick out a few flowers to make a bouquet. She did an immediate Vanna White, waving her diamond encrusted hand at the half dozen or so rigid arrangements she had lined up on the counter. "What about one of these? I just made them." she suggested, looking up at me over her half glasses. "Forty-five dollars."

I looked at the modern, low, square glass containers of folded back fronds and poisonous looking berries. My first thought was, "Well, those would be lovely if I was buying something for my gay coffee table's wedding party." Instead I said, "No... thanks... those are a little too arranged for my taste. I was just hoping for just a fistful of flowers."

"Fine." she snapped, turning her back fat on me. "Go ahead."

Fearing for my life – because although I was probably 7-inches taller, she had a good 60 or so pounds on me, plus she had a knife – I grabbed a few gerbera daisies, a rose or two, and some yellow stuff. I handed her my selections and she started pulling at them like she was plucking a chicken in a Warsaw ghetto. Not wanting to watch her manhandling such beautiful flowers, I turned and spotted a bucket of snapdragons. Selecting a sprig or two, I handed them over, adding to my purchase. She pursed her lips and said, firmly, "NO!"

"No?" I said, eyebrows raised, slowly losing my temper with middle-aged dominatrix of domesticity.

"Snapdragons, do not go with gerbera daisies!" she insisted, frothing at the mouth.

"Since fucking when?" I asked, stone faced, picking a sunflower seed out of my teeth with my tongue. Only a bitch can out-bitch a bitch.

With that, she threw down the bouquet and stormed in to the glass flower cooler and proceeded to strangle the life out of a future bride's bouquet. A young shopgirl who bore witness, stepped forward and proceeded to fashion my flowers into a perfect, loose bouquet – as if she had done so, many times before.

Moments later, Frau Florist stepped out of the cooler and began ringing up my purchase, pounding the cash register keys with her manicured talons.

"Sixty dollars." she announced, side glancing at her soldier's line up of frightened $45 dollar bouquets.

The thought of handing this bovine beast of a woman $60 bucks for such an unpleasant experience was overshadowed by the joy I knew the flowers would bring.

I paid, and as I was waiting for my receipt I said, " So... is this your shop?"

"Yes" she said, forcing a half smile.

"Good thing you have nice employees, because you don't really appear to be all that happy working with flowers." Adding, "All I'm saying is you may want to consider another profession."

But you know the rest. And I am out of time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Woman v. New.

The wanton Ivy Ho, (real name apparently) Director of Communications and Marketing with the Downtown Halifax Business Commission is at it again.

If you've stuck around long enough, you may recall last year's heave Ho misadventure with a DHBC armed VISA card, and a license to Do The Downtown or whatever the hell they called it. I called it Three Dog Night because I woke up in a pup tent necking with a golden retriever. And let's just say they closed BISH restaurant shortly after my wing man and myself graced their doorstep seeking vittles to soak up the libations we were overserved at the Casino. I personally take no responsibility.

This year's piss up, er, adventure in marketing, is entitled Big Day Downtown-Try Something New which should be interesting, because short of heroin and an Asian hermaphrodite prostitute, there's really very little at this stage of the game that I would consider "new". Some thoughts would be sneaking on to an idling cruise ship dressed up as a disoriented senior citizen, but that's not really too much of a stretch. Or, maybe I'll attempt hot wiring one of those floating turds they call submarines that we won in a poker game off Margaret Thatcher.

"New" is the tricky part, but I'm up for Ms. Ho's challenge. Why just last night I came off a 2-week cleanse and challenged myself to 2 pounds of mussels ($5 Lion's Head special) and a pound of suicide wings sloshed down with a pint or two of Schmirnoff Ice. Truly daring on a recently Mormoned tummy. After 20 years, the Lion's Head Tavern have a fancy new menu which includes a Man v Food-worthy entree called Elvis Poutine – an artery clogging array of sausage and barbiturates as well as the usual poutine fixins. Tempting – but I went for the lighter fare, with a side of blue cheese dip. I was in the mood for ass-burning spice, not "new".

So brace yourself Ivy Ho. I'll call your $100 and raise your eyebrows with my forthcoming foray into something "new" downtown.

All I need now is a wing man.

The Lion's Head Tavern is at 3081 Robie Street. Wing nights are Saturdays and Tuesdays.

Monday, August 1, 2011

One of the many reasons why I love Murray Gallant.

Have a safe drive home Murray and Teresa. You made my long weekend fly by too fast.

Thanks for my new golfing buddy. I smile every time I see her, and she embarrassed the hell out of the Little Bastard and his friends.


P.S. Murray, are you sure you haven't been spying on me at the golf course?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Southern comfort.

We veered off the highway just south of Petite Riviere and headed down Memory Lane.

"Mom, please tell me this leads to Halifax." the Little Bastard moaned, having just endured two days of my exuberant golf swing and gleeful gallivanting at White Point. Indeed, we'd crammed a great deal into our short time at the beach: horseshoes, ping pong, tennis, golf, and a new game I call, "Learn to Drive" with rules like: If you spill Mommy's wine, you fail.

"I need a coffee." I replied, keeping my bleary eyes on the road – partly to avoid catching his – knowing they were likely rolling back up into his head.

"There's a Tim Horton's in Bridgewater." he pleaded, "We're almost there."

"I need a real coffee." I said, pointing out Petite Riviere Vineyards as a method of distraction that used to work when he was two, and stupid.

Truth is, I was in no hurry to get home. The South Shore of Nova Scotia in July almost makes up for the north side of backass in February – where I spend most of my time huddled up in a rink parking lot. And while I had just spent a portion of my mini-vacation, emailing Premier Dexter telling him to get off his fat ass and fix the link between Yarmouth and Maine – the upside of cutting off the marine umbilical cord to this world-class tourist region is that there's literally, 'room at the inn'. There's also a lack of USA license plates and the accompanying questions overheard in local establishments. Questions like, "Is Nova Scotia a part of Canada?" and my favourite: "Is there a Saks Fifth Avenue in Bridgewater?" All spoken with an innocently ignorant, south-of-the-border twang.

First-hand knowledge of these types of questions stem from my past, as owner of Wholly Mackerel, a folk art gallery in Mahone Bay. I remember the Main Street bumper-to-bumper with tourists waving their wallets like the American flag. Today, it pains me to see so many unique restaurants, inns, and boutiques – with fewer people here to appreciate them.

"Now where are we going?" the suddenly-pissy Little Bastard asked as I veered right again. "What's the Ovens? Can I at least drive?"

We had already done Risser's boardwalk, walked the dogs on Crescent Beach, topped up on coffee and muffins at the LaHave Bakery, and waited for the car ferry to take us across the LaHave River. He figured we were homeward bound.

"There's someone I really want to see." I replied. "I want her to see you, too".

Moments later we pulled in the driveway of an old Cape, and knocked on the door.

"It's open!" yelled a familiar voice I haven't heard in... well... far too long.

Mimi Findlay, award-winning interior designer and perhaps the most creative, loving, and delightfully irreverent person I have ever met, greeted us with a big smile and a warm, "Holy fuck!"

A woman after my own heart.

You see, many moons ago, when I owned Wholly Mackerel, Mimi owned Mimi's Ocean Grill, next door. I grin (and drool a bit) thinking about her fabulously popular restaurant, and the time and space that made up the South Shore chunk of my life.

My own lifeline to the South Shore was severed by work, and distance, and a bit of sadness. The Little Bastard had spent the first four summers of his life noshing on Julien's croissants, running buck naked on a Chester beach, while I worked my ass off. He was weaned on Mimi's comfort food – pan-fried haddock and homemade focaccia – often falling asleep in my arms to the tinkling lullaby of Mimi's finger playing with the ice cubes in her vodka, after a long and busy day.

Mimi is no longer Mimi of Ocean Grill fame, having shifted her focus solely to Rhubarb Home Design. The most talented, resourceful, whimsical designer I have ever met, is working her Mimi magic, transforming cottages, houses, and boring blueprints into unique, magazine-worthy homes with character. And, she's doing it with more personality and humour than you'll ever see on HGTV.

The good news is: South Shore businesses are adapting and thriving – marketing to a more regional crowd – and staying positive. White Point is as charming as ever, and while we had to wait two minutes for a tennis court – we had our pick of tee times, and the beautiful beach practically to ourselves. This – in July – on a coastline voted one of the best in the world by National Geographic's Traveler. Too bad our government makes it so fucking difficult for people "from away" to get here.

Metallica are performing in Havenot tonight, and I can hear the distant thump thump of whatever beat you call that. Thousands of rain-soaked, heavy metal fans, wandering down a foggy Memory Lane of their own.

Thump thump. Heartbeat. Speed bump.

Slow down. Enjoy the ride.

Book an affordable escape to White Point by clicking or calling: 1.800.565.5068
Book Mimi Findlay for your design project by calling: 902.766.0333 or emailing her at:
Email Premier Dexter and tell him to get off his fat ass at:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My earliest childhood recollection? Hmmm, hey, Doc, where'd you get that light fixture?

"You need therapy."

It's amazing how many times I hear this over the course of a day, but to be honest – if I could afford the luxury of therapy and the time it would take to lie down and whine about this and that, I would likely have fewer reasons for needing therapy. And besides, crazy people get more personal space in public places. No one ever wants to cuddle up next to the lunatic mumbling about Jesus, or Vietnam, or, is it really that hard to distinguish between sweet and sour and fucking barbecue sauce!?

Honestly. It's dipping sauce. If I have to turn around and wait in line again so some pimpled moron in a paper hat... well... never mind.

And retail therapy is just not for me. The notion of heading into a mall or a boutique to somehow ease the burden of life simply baffles me. No one ever opens fire on a tennis court, or in a backyard full of roses.

Having said that, I have been dreaming of purchasing a new bicycle. A few years ago, some little prick stole our mountain bikes, and after a year or two of suppressing my anger over said theft, I decided it was time to simply "let it go" and drag my old hybrid "Mom" bike out of retirement. A quick tune-up at Jack Nauss' quirky little Bicycle Shop on Agricola, and I was good to go. Of course, the same little prick who stole our mountain bikes, also took our helmets – so I picked up a jaunty, yellow flowered Bell helmet that the Little Bastard says makes me look like I should be riding the special bus.

Nothin' wrong with special.

Riding a bicycle in Havenot is a life threatening disease, what with the lack of bicycle lanes, and lunatic drivers like myself who have a total disregard for cyclists with no knowledge of the rules of the road. Riding a bicycle carrying a swinging plastic bag full of wine bottles is just plain crazy. (And they say crazy people don't know they are crazy.) I was just about to head out and put my Canadian Tire money toward a new carrier, when I remembered there was an old wicker basket down in Lake Basement.

There is a point to this, besides, this is therapeutic for me, so piss off and stay with me.

Indeed there was a trusty, dusty old basket, but it was lacking the two straps necessary for securing it to the handlebars. I needed something strong. Something that would hold at least 750 ml. I considered cutting up an old bra, but instead, I hopped on my bike and headed to the adorable cobbler at Quinpool Shoe Repair. He knew exactly what I was looking for, and tried to fashion one out of bits of leather and an old buckle. After a gallant attempt, he conceded that I was, once again, on my own, looking for support(s).

Heading up Quinpool, I signaled and swerved into one of the trendy new cycling shops. I have been admiring the two-wheeled pieces of art they flog to eco-freindly commuters with a death wish and a line of credit. Bikes in delicious ice cream colours with matching price tags hang in the window of their "gallery". I was no longer in the market for a new bike, but maybe they had an inexpensive buckle or two.

Sporting my shiny new helmet, they were quick to spot a potential customer and were all over me like a cougar on Chardonnay. When I explained what I was looking for, the girl waltzed over to the accessories wall and grabbed a shiny package containing fancy leather toe straps with adjustable brass hardware. She proceeded to rip open the package, and went about describing how she would cut the long straps of Corinthian leather and somehow make it work.

"Isn't that a bit of overkill?" I asked. "How much are those things?"

"Only ten bucks." She replied haughtily.

"Holy fucking commies Christly Vietnam." I muttered. I just need to tie a basket to a handlebar, not bungee jump off a goddamned bridge.

"Thanks." I said. "Maybe I can find something simpler, cheaper, and far less European at Canadian Tire."

"Fine!" she snapped, angrily shoving the pricey leather straps back into the packaging. "If you want to shop at Canadian Tire, go ahead!"

No shit. Verbatim.

I spun around and thought about what I should do next. I had so many options and I was wearing a helmet, so chances are if I went for Option A: Diving back through the plate glass window and grabbing the bitch by the throat – at least my head was protected.

Instead, I held my yellow-flowered head high and walked out, past the trendy bicycles and straight to Canadian Tire, where – for $1.97 – I bought an entire bag of thin plastic straps that got the job done, perfectly.

I also popped into Patricia Graham Massage Therapy's new location at 6156 Quinpool and booked an appointment for a long, therapeutic massage.

You see, while it has been suggested that I could reap the benefits of regular therapy – truth is – the power of kindness, a little exercise, and the human touch is unparalleled.

And call me crazy, but the inner strength and peace that comes with unabashedly donning a flowered yellow helmet at this stage of the game is pretty special indeed.

Patricia Graham Massage Therapy is now at 6156 Quinpool Road.
To book an appointment call 902.576.4500 or email:

For a tune-up and your very own yellow, flowered helmet drop by Nauss Bicycles at 2533 Agricola St, Halifax, 429.0024.

For the cutest damn cobbler in town head to Quinpool Shore Repair at 6424 Quinpool Road.

Fancy bike and matching attitude, try Halifax Cycle Gallery, 6299 Quinpool Road.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who am I to judge, but really.

Dear Mr. Camping,

Please find the attached receipt for $76.25. As you can see, it's dated for May 20, 2011, or Judgement Eve, as it's likely called in your house.

Stepping out for what was supposed to be the "last supper", we went big – opting for Bubba Ray's wings on a non-half-price wing night. As you will also note, we went big on the beverages, surrendering to the rapture of the over-served. Please also find the attached taxi receipt.

Also, Harold, please watch for a parcel heading your way via Canada Post (don't hold your last breath, because what are you, 104?). If it does indeed arrive before your own personal Judgement Day, please note the package contains a large stack of unpaid bills, mostly in brown, governmental-looking envelopes. Also, please note they are unopened, so beware of doomsday-sized paper cuts. I have also given the nice lady at Revenue Canada your phone number because, quite frankly, her persistence and lack of enlightenment is starting to piss me off.

Also arriving by courier is a load of horse shit. I think you left it by mistake, and please note, it will be arriving C.O.D.

Shame on you, Harold.

Judgement Day is finally here, and I jumped out of bed with such high hopes (and a touch of the whirlies) only to be slapped in the face with disappointment of Biblical proportions. It was like the Christmas I prayed for Santa to bring me a Chatty Cathy all over again. Instead of a talking blonde with a rip cord, I got that fucking ugly church lady of a Mrs. Beasely doll.

Judgement Day, my ass.

Oh, Mr. Camping had I known then, what I know now, I would have paid my taxes and waxed my unruly beaver. Had I know now, what I didn't know yesterday, I never would have ordered the split double-order of Jamaican Jerk and Suicide wings, washed down with a gallon of Blanc Table – working my way into the XL sweats with HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS written across the bum. Because of you, you ignorant prophet of doom, I am knee deep in unpaid bills and unwanted hair, worshipping the porcelain God. And he is very, very angry.

Oh, Mr. Camping. You are the guy who said he'd call and never did. You are the finger wagging poster boy of pea-brained piety, and likely an Oakland Raiders fan. You are the Sarah Palin of the Bible belt. You, you, you, are also laughing all the way to the Bank of the Holy Sepulchre to deposit the millions reaped from harvesting sheep.

Shame on you, Harold.

The good news is, today is happening. And, today marks the 21st birthday of Thornbloom. Yes, Harold, the optimistic leaders of the Havenotian house of interior worship are celebrating their 21st birthday, offering a generous 21% off everything until June 4th. By the looks of that tattered armchair from which you preach, you should probably go.

So, Mr. Camping, you're either having a really good chuckle right now, or, you are parked, head in hands – your boney old ass unloading a shit load of suicide wings into your porcelain holy grail. When you get a moment Harold, today, or maybe the glorious day after that, please reimburse me for expenses and suffering incurred while anticipating the end of the world as we know it.

And have a nice day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Social climbing responsibility.

Damn her.

With a mere two weeks remaining before embarking on my coming of age adventure, I have moved into what is known as the "intense" segment of my Machu Picchu ascent training. This involves shitting in the backyard, limiting myself to two squares of single-ply toilet paper, speaking only in Quechua (phrases like "Carry me, Eduardo, you filthy man donkey") and drinking lukewarm Chilean wine whilst enclosed in a urine-stained sleeping bag.

Then I get the email.

First, can I mention that the Little Bastard has decided to vocalize his own coming of age independence by announcing that he'd rather get circumcised by a palsied rabbi (I initially typed rabbit by mistake) than go to Peru – putting his size 14 foot down on my soul, just before Mother's Day.

And then I get the email.

It seems, leaving one's comfort zone and foregoing yet another opportunity to purchase RRSPs is simply not enough. And, now that I am facing the very real possibility that I may be going it alone, I'm thinkin' – why, oh why didn't the good folks at Maritime Travel encourage me to push the Tennis in Tuscany tour button before settling on 10-Day Incan Incontinent?


Then there's the email.

It seems being flawless of skin, petite, and genuinely nice, isn't enough for Elaine Shortt of Thornbloom fame. The good wife, mother, entrepreneur, and arthritis sufferer has decided she not only wants to climb Machu Pichhu without cracking a sweat – she's doing it for a good cause.

Damn her.

I am doing it... because... well... I am not sure why I am doing it – but if it's for any cause it's BECAUSE it's THERE and not HERE sitting in my jammies in Havenot wondering if the sun will ever shine again. My goal isn't raising money for a do-good worthy cause like the Arthritis Society's Joints in Motion – I just want to raise my head up off of this desk.

And, wouldn't you know it. According to Elaine's timely email, between now and August 31st, all proceeds from the sale of selected Oxo Good Grips products at Thornbloom will be donated to Arthritis research. That bitch! Oxo Good Grips, for those who are ignorant and ill informed, are easy-to- grip gadgets ergonomically designed to ease the difficulty some people may have pulling corks out of bottles and unscrewing lids from cocktail olive jars.

Not to be outdone, between now and two weeks from now, donations of any kind (flowers, Chilean wine) can be delivered to me personally – because unlike Elaine – I am perhaps not in the best of shape for climbing anything except maybe out of bed. And while I may not have arthritis now – in about 18 days, I guarantee you – I will have the worst goddamned case of arthritis and likely diarrhrea in Peruvian history.

So go ahead – feel all warm and fuzzy by contributing to Elaine's socially responsible cause. Keep in mind she is a size 2 and wouldn't know a wrinkle if it bit her on the ass. Just click on the Arthritis logo over to the right, then go about your miserable day.

I know I will.

Oh... adding insult to injury, for those who choose to make a donation of $25 or more, Thornbloom will be offering a gift of a selected Good Grips gadget; for donations of $100 or more, a Good grips salad spinner valued at $49.95. Just present your tax receipt at Thornbloom to claim your thank-you gift.