We Have Come to the Painful, Unmoving, Beaverless End

My Beloved Unwashed Public,

I’m writing to you from my probable death bed. This past weekend, I made the decision to try cross country skiing despite the fact that it was rumored to be the only activity more vigorous than running.

The day started off reasonably well; I questioned the girl renting Natalie* and myself the skis about her experiences.

The Great Unwashed “Has anyone ever laid down in front of your desk and perished from exhaustion after cross country skiing?”

Underpaid Youth Renting Me Equipment “Umm no?”

Strapping on our skis Natalie and I began the trail. We were quickly passed by a gentleman four decades our senior. We had only just begun the trail and already a part of me (my ego) was sore.

Then a little later on I saw this.DSC01372

“Look!” I cried “A beaver!

I paused and added more quietly “Was here.”

This led to a full minute of Natalie turning this way and that shouting “Where?! Where’s the beaver? I don’t see it.”

After that Natalie suggested that we rest for a moment. Although I no longer run marathons there’s a part of me which thinks “I can still move so I should”. When we stopped, I realized how sore my muscles were becoming and how badly I had needed the break. So I was really happy we had listened to Natalie rather than my marathon running voice. Multiple times along the trail Natalie suggested we stop for a breather. These breaks are likely the reason why I’m still with you and able to pen my last words at this moment.

After resting for a handful of minutes that first time, we soldiered on. It was around then when I noticed that even my knees were sweating. Uphill, then uphill again, perplexingly we continued uphill with no downhill in sight for many miles. Possibly eighteen. Two of my layers were soaked through with perspiration and a wet patch was becoming visible on the back of my jacket. Then we went downhill but only briefly.

At last, the end of the trail and the chalet came into view. Though Natalie and I were both exhausted beyond comprehension, we raced towards it. At the end of the trail, without speaking to one another, both of us removed our equipment and lay down face up in the snow. I felt my pulse in my face while my heart thudded almost violently in my chest, as I waited for the oft spoken of bright light to flood my vision. Once I realized I wasn’t imminently going to expire, I sat up, keenly aware of the squishing sounds that my wet clothing was making and my desire for water.

Then the horrible endurance athlete part of me spoke “Shall we do the trail again?” I asked Natalie. “I don’t want to at this moment” she replied. “Never under estimate the restorative powers of lunch” the marathon running, work horse voice in me added. Having decided that she too was not going to move towards the white light, Natalie sat up “Let’s go have lunch”.

The light reflecting off the snow filled our vision to begin with. Really it would have been only a short hop to blinding white light.

The light reflecting off the snow filled our vision to begin with. Really it would have been only a short hop to blinding white light.

For whatever reason, the evil marathon running voice that which had repeated “You aren’t dead yet – Keep moving!” all morning prevailed and Natalie and I skied the trail once more after lunch.

We spent the car ride home taking turns shaking each other out of unconsciousness. That evening I managed to stay up to the late hour of six o’clock, at which point I collapsed face down on the dining room carpet while en route to brush my teeth. Upon opening my eyes the next morning I thought “I don’t know if I can walk to the library” after sitting up I thought “I don’t know if I’m going to the library.”

Gradually over the course of the day my muscles have tightened and it’s becoming clear that this is the end. As you all are my faithful followers, I thought it best to leave you a note. My dear Unwashed public, let my demise be a lesson to you; when faced with the societal pressure to combat obesity and try a new activity, stay right where you are. Don’t move a muscle or you may end up like me, slowly stiffening into nothingness.

I leave you all my love but only half my dirt and grime (I’m taking the rest with me)

Sincerely,

The Great Unwashed

*Names have been changed even though the unnamed are likely near the end as well.

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Baby Cages

It’s Sunday. When I was small this meant one thing; baby cage. This seems like an indictment of my mother’s parenting practices but it isn’t. Growing up, all of my friends spent part of their Sundays in baby cages too.

I had better explain before the Children’s Aid Society turns up my parents’ doorstep demanding information. My parents were members of the baby boomer generation, which meant that my sister and I were a part of the after boom. In the late eighties, church was still an institution that people attended, thus the boomers and their children came in droves. Consequently the nursery of my parent’s church was overrun with babies. The walls were lined with cribs, the middle of the room was divided by a row of cribs but there were still tiny screaming people spilling out everywhere; lying on carpets, defecating on couches and spitting up into toy baskets.

The room looked like this. But multiplied forty times over. (Photo Credit: www.dailymail.co.uk)

The room looked like this. But multiplied forty times over. (Photo Credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk)

Something had to be done. Hence someone came up with the bright idea of stacking cribs one on top of the other. This plan sounded much better than the previous suggestion which had been to stack the infants on top of one another in a weekly game of Baby Jenga.

The end effect was kind of like a book shelf with only two sections. But the piece de resistance was of course the doors. They went from the top of the compartment to the bottom and had a heavy duty lock to prevent the infants from falling out if they happened to roll against the door. The bars were spaced so that only a tiny hand would fit through. This meant that when the babies woke up, they would grip the bars and pull themselves into a sitting position then proceed to wail like tiny convicts protesting their imprisonment. The caregivers would have to remove the babies’ tiny digits from the cage bars in order to extract the children because the doors opened outwards on a hinge. However unlike prison guards they did not use batons to do this.

The middle row was of course the primo spot. (Photo Credit: drmomma.org)

The middle row was of course the primo spot. (Photo Credit: drmomma.org)

I attempted to find a photo of baby cages on the internet but this was the closest image I could get. Admittedly the only search terms I used were “vertical crib” which the Googles changed to “convertible crib” and when that didn’t turn anything up I tried “stacked cribs”. I refrained from typing “baby cage” into the Googles for fear of what it would come up with.

Eventually, when forty some odd writhing, shrieking balls of human existence no longer filled the church nursery each Sunday, the baby cages fell into disuse. By the babies that is. Toddlers like me who had spent their formative years napping in the cages frequently asked to move to the nursery so they could sit in the baby cages. For whatever reason reliving our incarcerated infancy was an exciting part of being at church. Tragically after a time, attendance in the nursery fell so low that not even the cribs that lined the walls were filled and the utility of the baby cages came into question. The doors and locks were removed and the cages were converted into storage for the Sunday school, although the baby cages will forever live on in story and memory.

The Crackhouse Chronicles 2; Mattress Warmers

I did my friend Sula’s* house a disservice in my last Crackhouse Chronicles post. Though her home is located in an area where when I pass a group of youths I silently thank them in my head for not robbing me, Sula’s home is actually quite nice. First and foremost it has Maddie, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Sula’s puppy is adorable and well trained.

Hobbies: Melting the hearts of people everywhere and providing little to no protection from street urchins. (Photo Credit: Shamelessly stolen without Sula's permission from Facebook.)

Hobbies: Melting the hearts of people everywhere and providing little to no protection from street urchins. (Photo Credit: Shamelessly stolen without Sula’s permission from Facebook.)

Also my friend who crouches in the woods at night with bears is the best host I know of. Before I arrived to house and dog sit, Sula had shampooed the carpet in front of her fireplace for me because it’s my favourite spot in the house.

The other rooms were also immaculate when I arrived. Unfortunately not so much anymore. With each passing day I’m beginning to feel more like John Candy in “Uncle Buck”; completely out of my element, surrounded by bizarre items that I have no idea how to work like the UV light that hangs above her tomato plants which turns off and on at random times throughout the day.

The first night alone was nearly fatal. Before she left, my friend taught me how to use her mattress warmer. I wasn’t aware such things existed. Living in the doctor’s house which was built in 1915, at a time when steel wool passed for insulation, I had assumed nights were times when one bundled up in eight different quilts, threw on a toque and mittens then hoped that the news about global warming was true.

Not only was Sula’s house built after the end of the First World War, I’d wager it never even saw the second. As such it was quite warm already the first evening that I was there. However fearing the chilly bedroom that my friend who crouches in bushes described, I jacked the mattress warmer up to “High” while brushing my teeth then turned it down to the lowest setting before hopping into bed.

Perhaps Sula didn’t like her Christmas gift last year, or maybe at one of our many craft nights I left a mess, or possibly that pretty smiling exterior is a mask for a trained and determined killer. Whatever the reason, I can only assume that after eating venison Sula decided the next best thing was Unwashed Flambé. At midnight I woke up in a pool of my own sweat the mattress warmer on its way to roasting me alive. The tiny spaniel next to me was paddling around on the soaked bed trying to keep her head above the salty water.

Nearly delirious with fluid loss and electrolyte deficiency, I stumbled downstairs for a glass of water and a towel to dry off the puppy that stood bedraggled and bewildered on what was now a water bed.

The puppy looked like this. Only sopping wet and doggy paddling for her life. (Photo Credit : Once again taken without permission or regard for the world's impending desire to usurp my position as dog sitter after seeing the photos.)

The puppy looked like this. Only sopping wet and doggy paddling for her life. (Photo Credit : Once again taken without permission or regard for the world’s impending desire to usurp my position as dog sitter after seeing the photos.)

The next night I unplugged the mattress warmer fearing that like many of the other appliances in the house, it may be on a timer.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent. Or possibly me, it’s doubtful whether Sula can still be considered innocent after I spent two days re-hydrating.

Clearly Marie Antoinette Lost The French “Let Them Eat Cake” Battle

On Tuesday nights I take a French course at the university. This week I have a test, I’m feeling prepared so I’m not worried about it. Mind you I’ve felt prepared and then done poorly on my French tests before. There are some things which just don’t translate and are therefore difficult to understand.

For example, I was writing a test on portion sizes in French and the sentence was “Yes I would like a ______ of cake” and the choices were; a can, a bite or a plate. Can was obviously wrong, I’ve eaten cake in many forms but never out of a can. This is not to say that I wouldn’t happily try cake in a can and enjoy it but I crossed that option out. That left two options. I confidently wrote down “a plate” and continued to the next section.

When I got my test back the question was marked wrong. I raised my hand “Excuse me, you mismarked this question” I said to the skinny, size zero jean wearing francophone who was my instructor. He walked over and looked at my test “No” he said “that’s right, you eat a morsel of cake”.

Yes I'll take some cake.  On a plate. The plate the cake is resting on is perfect. (Photo Credit: finecooking.com)

Yes I’ll take some cake. On a plate. The plate the cake is resting on is perfect. There’s no need to wash extra dishes. (Photo Credit: finecooking.com)

I looked that model-thin, French Canadian in the eye and said “Sir, you underestimate my ability to eat cake and frankly I’m not sure I want to study a language that only permits you to consume a bite of dessert.”

I stopped talking after I was docked another mark.

Regardless I stand by my serving sizes of baked goods. I’d tell you more about my clashes with bearded teaching assistants that I outweigh but I have to figure out how to can cake now. For whatever reason that idea sounds delicious, probably because it’s Fatuary.

Showing Some Electronic Love

Dear WordPress,

I love you. Be my Valentine. I’d bring you electronic roses and candy hearts but I don’t know how to do that. I’m sure you do but in showing me how to bring your wonderful self said e-items, it would defeat the purpose of my thoughtfulness. In lieu of that I will just say thank you and profess my undying feelings of gratitude and warmth to you.

You see WordPress, my blog turned one years old on December 31st, it was terribly exciting. We didn’t have cake, real or electronic, so don’t worry you didn’t miss out. After a little over a month of blogging, last year, on this day I bought the rights to my webname. Or at least I think I did. Actually I have no idea what happened the gist of it is- twenty-six dollars was charged to my credit card and the “.wordpress” was dropped from the site when people came to visit. Although I didn’t understand the whole process, it was thrilling for me.

However at the back of my head was a niggling worry “What happens next year? Will WordPress save the domain name for me? How will I renew this?” It was all very concerning, but then this morning I received an email saying that I would keep my website and that my credit card would be charged without my having to move a muscle. It was fabulous; if I was a crier I would have shed tears of joy from relief. As it was I just danced around my kitchen like a Muppet on speed.

So thank you WordPress, you’re wonderful, I adore you. If I was in school I’d write your name and surround it with hearts on my notebooks.

As it is all I can do is draw you something in paint. I know how to use this program because my eight year old cousin showed me how.

The tutorial wasn't very long and didn't include things like body proportions.

The tutorial wasn’t very long and didn’t include things like body proportions.

The Great Unwashed

The Crackhouse Chronicles

With the news of Rob Ford’s second favourite vice next to food coming to light, crack is very in vogue here in the North right now. As such I’ve decided to trade the comforts of beer and late night greasy food that are the hallmarks of the Student Ghetto for the other end of town where only thing more plentiful than the grow ops are the muggings.

It seemed like the most appropriate way to pledge my allegiance to Toronto’s shady mayor. Not only that but I’m house and dog sitting.

My friend who crouches in the woods at night with bears has chosen to fly to the Caribbean to crouch on the beach with her mother. I’d say I’m jealous but that would be a bald face lie. Much like how mothers have to forget the pain of childbirth before considering another baby, I have to forget the pain of air travel and jet lag before thinking of going any further than around the corner.

Virtually identical to creating new life no? (Photo Credit: Randymayfield.com)

Virtually identical to creating new life no? (Photo Credit: Randymayfield.com)

Yes I just compared the agony of pushing a human being into existence to flying and a couple days of grumpy exhaustion. Moms of the world are free to hunt down my address and stone me. I’ll make it even easier on you by giving directions to the place I’m staying at; go across town, drive until you feel like you should lock your car doors, then turn left. At the local penitentiary turn right. There should be loiterers and shady looking individuals on most corners. I don’t suggest stopping for directions. Keep going until you see a partially dilapidated strip mall. The convenience store in there sells delectable sticky buns. Tragically they are unavailable after dusk what with the store being a hangout for the resident gang. The street is your second left after that.

My friend’s house is the one across from the grow op with the wooden board for a window and two doors down from Terrence the neighbourhood drug dealer. He gives excellent and reliable directions but word on the street is he over charges for a dime. Also Terrence spends the odd night in jail so often he isn’t at home.

You can find me there for the next week.

Happy Over Exposed Monday

So apparently I’m posting on Sundays and Mondays now. Strange, I know but luckily I’m not called “The Consistent Unwashed” so this will probably change by tomorrow.

At any rate, it’s time for Indistinguishable Mondays, a time where I delight your eyes and confound your senses with my lack of photography skills. Or maybe that’s backwards, or just completely untrue. One of the two.

This photograph was taken a decade ago when I went on a seniors cruise with my grandmother. It was three thousand old people and me. Well, if we’re being particular about it; three thousand old people, me and my breasts. This was around the time when I was still displaying my knockers at every possible occasion, by wearing tiny, low cut t-shirts. Somewhere around the middle of the trip, my grandmother got tired of the show and bought me a top “to cover my multitude of sins”.

I’ve since learned to hide my sins under cardigans.
img010 I took this photo in an art gallery. Obviously I didn’t really love the painting because I didn’t bother to center it or turn off my flash. Another possibility is my grandmother told me to snap the picture “Look at that girl, she’s wearing an adequate amount of clothing and still seems happy. You should use her as a role model.”

Happy Over Exposed Monday everyone; may your day be filled with post adolescent cleavage and or flashes of blinding light, whatever your preference.

Funnily Enough Not a Student Ghetto Chronicle- What Goes Thump-Thud-Screech in the Morning?

On Tuesday my seventeen year old truck threw a thumping, thudding, screeching fit. And then promptly broke down claiming that the temperature in the engine was too high and that I needed to check the gauges. After turning the car off and listening to the engine continue to rattle and thud against the hood, I called CAA to tow me for the second time this month .

My new BFFs. (Photo Credit: cleanaircommute.ca)

Upon arriving at the garage I had the following conversation with my mechanics.

Kindly Mechanic- “We couldn’t find anything wrong with your car, it sat and ran for half an hour in the loading dock and the guys didn’t find any parts that were broken. The only thing is the blower is nearing the end of its life.”

The Great Unwashed – “But the blower isn’t broken.”

Kindly Mechanic- “No.”

The Great Unwashed- “That’s marvelous! And not remotely what I was expecting to hear!”

Kindly Mechanic –“Unwashed* if your car was a person, they’d be a ninety-six year old who needs a new hip, has a bad back and the kind of wheezy, rasping cough that makes you think they’re going to keel over and die at any minute.”

The Great Unwashed- “Are you trying to tell me to take my car to aqua-fit and feed it dinner at four pm?”

My truck would love blowing bubbles in the water. (Photo Credit: bangory.org)

My truck would love blowing bubbles in the water. (Photo Credit: bangory.org)

Kindly Mechanic- “No. That’s not the message.”

Then the mechanic handed me my keys and directed me out of a tight parking spot that a person with any semblance of spatial reasoning could have navigated by themselves but of course I wasn’t able to and I happily drove away with the blower turned off. He didn’t elaborate further but I think I got the message; I’ve started keeping a stash of stewed prunes and fish oil in my car in case my truck feels backed up or like its paint job is a little dry.

*What with having a geriatric vehicle, my mechanics know me pretty well so I insist they drop the “Great” from my name.

This post was brought to you by the good people at my local garage, they are experts at fixing flap thingies, large thumping noises and ping-ping-squeak sounds. They are also a remarkably patient group of people. I highly recommend their services.