Stuff my dog taught me

and stuff I'm figuring out on my own

leaf

leafThe white board in my office looks like the wall of a prison cell, lined with stick marks as I count off the days of August. “Soon,” whispers the hopeful voice inside my head. “Soon.”

The voice whispers because it knows that I must keep my feelings on the down-low. Because in my world, there is a cult-like enthusiasm about summer and admitting that you find the whole season exhausting and stressful is a blasphemy. Yet I know that I am not alone. In the grocery store line up, women like myself make cheerful chitchat about the great weather, and trips to the cottage, and barbeque parties, but we smile through gritted teeth and everyone is stopping at the liquor store on their way home.

It is time for September…

I want to put my horribly uncomfortable strapless bras in a pile on the street and run them over with my car. Then I want to go inside and put on an outfit that covers both the cellulite on the back of my legs and the slightly wobbly flesh of my upper arms. This outfit will include at least one clothing item with pockets. It will accommodate the wearing of full-ass coverage panties. And it will cover both shoulders so that I can wear my super-comfy bra with the thick, dependable, beige straps. I get excited just thinking about it! 

I want to put a bunch of stuff in my slow cooker and have it turn into dinner while I am at work. I want to eat meat that doesn’t taste like a combination of Montreal steak spice and barbeque sauce. I want to stop feeling guilty because I never get around to making watermelon salad and end up dumping giant, hammock-shaped cuts of over-ripe fruit in the composter every week. And I want to drink a glass of wine inside, where there are no hornets circling the rim and no black flies doing the backstroke in my pinot grigio.

I want summer “vacation” to end…

There is a genuine risk that I may violently dismember the next person who talks about how they are dreading the end of summer and having to “get back to the grind”. Because I have been in “the grind” for the past two months and trust me… “the grind” is a lot harder when you are trying to figure out what to do with a 12-year-old every weekday and the summer camp you paid $400+ for now demands that you take most of Friday off work so you can show up and watch campers perform their interpretive version of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The chorine in the local pool has chewed up all of the family bathing suits and I can’t buy new ones because the stores sold out of bathing suits back in May when they began stocking the shelves with “Back to School” wear. The pretty flowers I planted in spring died at the end of July when we went to the cottage for a week and forgot to pay someone to water them, so the deck is now decorated with giant pots full of their spindly brown corpses. We’ve lost all of the beach towels and the water bottles and the sunglasses. There are six left-foot flip flops in my front porch… and they all smell like hockey bags.

It is time for September.

poop-emojis-big-poop

poop-emojis-big-poopEvery morning, I place my hand inside a small plastic bag and use my makeshift glove to pick up dog poop. On good days, Buster the Schnauzer kindly produces solid, log-like poops. On other days, he is not so kind.  This is the price I pay for having a dog. Do I enjoy cleaning up after him? Definitely not. But it’s only a few minutes of grossness in return for my enjoyment of his endlessly amusing antics and unconditional love.

There is a little crap in every relationship.

My husband is cranky for a solid hour when he first wakes up, my children are genetically incapable of picking laundry off the floor, and my dearest friend is perpetually 30-minutes late. I cannot control these things any more than I can control Buster the Schnauzer’s bowel movements. And since I am rather fond of my spouse, my daughters, and my best-y, it would seem short sighted to separate myself from them in order to avoid such minor irritations.

It must also be pointed out that I produce a fair bit of crap myself. I talk too much (constantly), drink too much (occasionally), and react loudly to any situation involving the -isms (e.g. sexism, racism, Republican-ism). My hair perpetually clogs the sink in our upstairs bathroom, I claim all money found in the dryer as my own, and I will drain someone else’s glass of water if I am thirsty.

We all have crap.

I suspect that those people who loudly proclaim that they “don’t put up with any crap” are very lonely.  I believe the secret to happiness rests not in avoiding crap but rather, in finding effective ways to deal with it. I cannot stop Buster the Schnauzer from pooping in the grass but I can make sure I always have a plastic bag in my pocket.

So I try not to have in-depth conversations with my husband in the morning. I pick one day of the week to insist that my girls clean their rooms and try to let it go the rest of the week. And I lie to my friend about the start times for movies.

I also do my best to minimize my own crap. I bought a snake-like device from Canadian Tire for getting hair out of drains, put a money jar on top of the dryer, and started lugging a water bottle around with me.   And I recently kept myself from responding to a clearly misogynistic facebook post (although that damn near killed me and I know that I cannot maintain that degree of restraint long-term without dire health consequences).

Adjustments aside, I have accepted that I come with a little crap. For example, I plan to be buried with a mid-price Malbec (Just sayin’).  And I suspect that I will always be a talker (I am from a long line of talkers).

I say a silent thank-you every day for the friends and loved ones who seem to find my crap endearing, or at least tolerable.   And to those friends and loved ones, I solemnly vow to also tolerate their crap (and to find at least some of it endearing) because…

Love means never having to say you’re sorry… just for being a little crappy.

52

52.jpgIn many cultures (NOT including mine), people seek out the wisdom of their Elders and on the morning of my 52nd birthday, I have arisen feeling wise. So, while absolutely NO ONE is seeking my wisdom, I am choosing to share it anyway.

Here are 52 things I know at age 52 (presented in random order because, at age 52, “random” is how my wisdom flows):

  1. A crying child should always be given a cookie.
  2. There are very few truly evil people in the world. But there are a lot of fools and they are just as dangerous.
  3. No room needs a white rug.
  4. There have always been bullies. The internet didn’t create them. It just made it harder to ignore them.
  5. Don’t ask for help if you can’t live with imperfection.
  6. If it is made of cotton it will shrink in the dryer. Period.
  7. Wine is good.
  8. Fart jokes are always funny.
  9. You can insist on having a child clean their own room. Or you can have a clean room. You cannot have both.
  10. It is better to be fat than hungry.
  11. The best scent on earth is the smell of a freshly bathed baby.
  12. If you need unconditional love, get a dog. Romantic love should have conditions.
  13. Everyone should be a feminist. Period.
  14. “Sorry” should always be a complete sentence. Don’t add “but”.
  15. Never trust a person who buys uncomfortable furniture.
  16. We all stress out too much over fruit flies.
  17. If the thought of watching another person clip their toenails turns you off, don’t get married.
  18. If you are wondering if you cooked enough pasta … the answer is “No”.
  19. You cannot be happy if your feet are cold.
  20. Sensible people are always appreciated but seldom asked to parties.
  21. Airports are designed by sadists.
  22. Bubble baths are delightful.
  23. Everyone should own a pair of Roots sweatpants.
  24. Avoid taking small children to restaurants that do not have crayons.
  25. Marry the person who makes you laugh the hardest.
  26. No one knows where the phone charger went. NO ONE. Don’t bother asking.
  27. Splurge on shoes.
  28. Spellcheck does not replace good spelling skills.
  29. Beach cover-ups are the best clothing invention EVER.
  30. American Republicans are scary.
  31. Sometimes you need potato chips.
  32. The flowers you buy yourself are often the most beautiful.
  33. Nothing spoils a walk with a friend like knowing they are “counting” the steps on their Fitbit.
  34. Nothing fun every happened at an event where you felt the need to wear Spanx.
  35. A house filled with love will probably have pet fur on the sofa.
  36. Women and men have completely different ideas of what “busy” looks like.
  37. An appliance with a one-year warranty will not break until month 13.
  38. Sometimes you need dessert. Even if you haven’t had dinner.
  39. A mother knows when her child hurts. Always.
  40. There is only one sure-fire way to make sure you always fit into your favourite jeans. Buy jeans that fit.
  41. Every woman deserves a pedicure.
  42. There should always be ice cream in your freezer.
  43. If you made the meal, someone else should do the dishes.
  44. Always pack more underwear than you think you will need.
  45. There is something un-nerving about people who don’t watch television.
  46. The world might have more vegetarians if it were not for pigs. Pigs are delicious.
  47. Everyone should sing, at least in the shower.
  48. No one’s romantic relationship is as great as they pretend it is.
  49. It is always happy hour somewhere.
  50. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
  51. Fun things seldom happen in tidy rooms.
  52. No one should cook on their birthday.
angryemoji

angryemojiI am not an angry person. In fact, it might be said that I possess a rather good sense of humour about life and the inconveniences that sometimes go with it. However, there are a few things that I just can’t develop a tolerance for – irritations that crawl under my flesh like fire ants.

My Top 10 list:

  1. The cost of popcorn at the movies (Seriously… How is that mark-up not a criminal offense?)
  2. Drivers who tailgate (Get. Off. My. Ass!)
  3. Restaurants that are scrimp-y with the wine (I don’t care how great the ambiance is.. bring me a grown-up-woman glass of wine or kiss my business good-bye)
  4. Leaky milk cartons
  5. People who put cheese back in the fridge improperly wrapped (And No… just folding over the end of the opened cheese wrapper will not work.  In the history of mankind, just folding over the end of the opened cheese wrapper has NEVER worked!)
  6. Peaches (the fruit that moves from under-ripe to over-ripe in the time it takes to have a pee)
  7. Fitted bed sheets that don’t fit (It’s written on the label for God’s sake! “Fitted”. Not “Almost Fitted” or “Maybe Fitted”. Just saying.)
  8. itunes (Why is it easier to steal music online than it is to buy it honestly?)
  9. Phone support messages (Press 1 for English. Press 1,2,3…9 for your help “options” which will be read to you super slowly… so that you will undoubtedly be unable to remember 1-4 by the time the automated voice gets to 9. Press # to repeat. Press 0 to hear the message telling you that you have pushed an incorrect option… Argh!)
  10. Hipster coffee service (I can make dinner for a family of 5 in less time that it takes a white-boy-with-dreadlocks to fill an eco-friendly paper cup with medium roast)

I could easily lengthen this list by adding on some of the “Improved” Things that Drive Me Nuts, like:

  • Front-end-loading washing machines (If you have one… you know what I mean)
  • Water-saving toilets (Is it really saving water if I have to flush three times?)
  • Energy-efficient dishwashers (They save energy by working at the pace of a 90-year-old marathoner. You start it before you go to bed and pray the coffee mugs will be clean by morning)
  • Complicated coffee makers (I just want to pour water in the top and have coffee come out the bottom. I should not need to leave the instruction manual on the counter!)
  • Gluten-free versions of foods that are supposed to be made with gluten (“Gluten-free” is code for “dry with a vague aftertaste of stamp-glue”)
  • Cable Packages (So I now require post-secondary training in order to unravel the possible channel groupings and the accompanying pricing. Yet I still can’t get Game of Thrones unless I sacrifice a significant portion of my grocery budget and at least one of my kids stops playing sports)
  • Wireless Speakers (Please just give me something with an ATTACHED power cord that plugs into a wall outlet and cannot ‘disappear’ into the cord/charger abyss that is my home)

The more I think about the things that irritate me, the longer the list becomes. And the longer the list becomes, the more irritated I get. It’s an evil cycle, really. If you aren’t careful, it is easy to become one of those people who looks at a Christmas tree and only sees the single burnt out bulb. And you don’t want to become one of THOSE people… because they are really irritating!

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img_8530So it’s 2016. And there is a full page in Canadian Living magazine dedicated to the “Working GIRL”, filled with wonderful ways for us GIRLS to mix “ladylike glamour and modern functionality”. How delightful!

Just the other day, as I was reviewing my corporate yearend with the accountant, he mentioned my lack of “ladylike glamour”. At the time, I was inclined to stuff a calculator up his behind, but now I see that he was just being diligent. Clearly, I have been neglecting my “ladylike glamour”.

A quick scan of the article tells me that “ladylike glamour” requires warm-toned metals, faux marble, and fresh white accents. How enlightening.

Upon closer perusal, I find an opportunity to “tuck small office supplies out of site” in something referred to as a “luxe globe-shaped box”. It looks like a large gold apple to me. Not sure how I would fit it into my briefcase, but I suppose that’s just a silly thought. What would a working GIRL need with a briefcase, once she was enshrined in “ladylike glamour”?

At the top of the page is an image that looks rather like a Monet painting, but I see that it is not just art. No indeed… apparently it is a removable decal I can use to “wrap my laptop in colour”. How fabulous!!! What a wonderful ice-breaker for those situations in which I turn up in a boardroom filled with middle-aged men (note: more than 75% of Fortune 500 board members are still male). Because nothing says capable businesswoman like a pink and red impressionist laptop cover.

There is also an “elegant small-scale metal bookcase” which is “perfect for tight spaces”. Strong implication that the average working GIRL will be in a teensy little cubby somewhere at the back of the building… not necessarily inaccurate but sad to see it assumed.

To the female editor-in-chief of Canadian Living magazine (Jes Watson) I say…. seriously?!? Are “working GIRL” and “ladylike glamour” phrases you feel represent your magazine in the 21st century? Because I am pretty sure I am your target demographic. I am a parent. I love to cook. And I enjoy a good magazine in the tub (the last bastion of magazine reading, since no one wants to drop their iphone into the bubbles!).

Yet… as a grown-ass WOMAN in 2016 I feel secure saying that I can cope with the loss of this subscription. And should I find myself in need of warm-toned metals, faux marble, or fresh white accents, I am sure I can find them online. Good bye Canadian Living.

Note: I wrote to the editor-in-chief regarding this article and must note that I received a prompt, personal response including the reasoning behind the article’s title and acknowledgement that “ladylike” was not an ideal word choice…

“I’m so sorry to hear you didn’t like our verbiage for this story. Sarah was making reference to the 1988 Melanie Griffith movie in her headline, and we felt it was clever in the context of showcasing a home office. As for the word “ladylike,” we wanted to convey the sense of women being able to have “a room of one’s own,” but you’re very right that there have been a better word choice. I’m so sorry you felt we missed the mark—we’ll keep your feedback in mind when writing future stories.”
meh-mug

 

meh-mugI care a lot about a lot of things. Global warming, oil spills, natural disasters, and the terrifying thought of Trump as president of the United States. These things make me wake up sweating in the middle of the night. My insomnia might also be caused by menopause but I prefer to think that it is related to my intellectual depth. I also fret about the health of my children, the success of my business activities, and whether or not I will ever have enough money to replace the vinyl siding on my house with wood shingles.  

Despite these worries, it seems that I am positively carefree when compared to many of my contemporaries. For example, I glide through my days with nary a thought about who might be eliminated from America’s Got Talent or The Amazing Race or Taylor Swift’s posse of gal pals. I have not lost a wink of sleep pondering the fate of John Snow’s character from Game of Thrones. And while I wish the best to whoever are currently The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, I am decidedly apathetic when it comes to their selection of mates.

I worry about wrinkles… except in July and August when I might just lay on my back deck like a turtle on a rock and let those toxic UV rays soak right into my epidermis.

I worry about my diet… except when I am hungry. When I am hungry I care only about ease of access. So if there is cut up watermelon in the fridge I will snack on it but if it’s still a giant orb of uncut fruit I will close the refrigerator door and eat nachos instead.

I have also discovered that I don’t care about anything enough to “track” it. The Fitbit seemed like fun for about an hour but now lives at the bottom of my underwear drawer beneath a pile of un-used thongs. The DietTracker app on my cell phone held my attention for less than a week because I got sick of recording every cup of coffee (30 calories). And I turned off the twitter-feed for everything related to weather because I just don’t care enough about the statistical probability of a storm currently tracking off the coast of Florida making its way up the coast to Nova Scotia. Just give me an hour’s warning so I have time to get to the liquor store.

I think I cared more when I was younger. I recall using a sick day to stay home and watch General Hospital because Luke and Laura were on the cusp of finally getting together and I needed to be in front of my television when it happened. And I remember several years when I put real thought into my Halloween costumes. Slutty nurse… slutty Grecian goddess… slutty firefighter… so many choices!

A million cliff-hangers and costume parties later, I have reached a different place in life. Note: Halloween costuming has been reduced to popping on a headband with devil horns and putting my wine in a plastic goblet that looks like it is filled with blood. It’s not that I don’t care about such things, it’s just that I don’t care enough.

That’s why I don’t buy anything that has to be drycleaned. Because I know myself. Once that sweater or dress or whatever it is becomes dirty, it’s going to lay on my closet floor for a loooong time. And if I manage to muster enough enthusiasm to take it to a drycleaner, it’s going to live there for a loooong time because out of sight is out of mind.

The list of things I don’t care enough about is endless. And I am blessed with a mother-in-law who cares enough to remind me of each item on this list. On a typical visit to my home, she will graciously point out that I should, among other things:

  • Re-organize my kitchen cupboards (and perhaps clean them up a bit as well),
  • Throw out the tattered jeans my husband keeps wearing,
  • Do something about my youngest child’s table manners,
  • Stop the cat from walking on my countertops,
  • Program the universal remote so that we don’t need three ‘clickers’ in order to watch television,
  • Deal with the fruit fly situation,
  • Start pre-washing the plates before putting them in the dishwasher,
  • Stop putting carving knives, pots, pans, plastic ware, and spatulas in the dishwasher, and
  • Make everyone hang up their coats

I totally agree with her. And I care about making her happy. I just don’t care enough. Although, on a positive note, my cat has developed an avid interest in fruit flies and spends hours sitting on the countertop, swatting them off the fruit bowl… so that’s something!

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canada-heart-flagIn Canada, being “full of yourself” is frowned upon and “tooting your own horn” is practically a criminal offense. So on Canada Day, I wasn’t surprised to find facebook filled with funny, self-deprecating video clips and posts about what it means to be Canadian.

For my part, I am feeling more patriotic than usual this year. Watching American politics has made me acutely appreciative of my country and my fellow citizens, and the things that we hold dear. We are beer and poutine and fur-lined hats with ear-flaps. But we are also much more…

According to a report from the Reputation Institute (2015), Canada is the most reputable country in the world, based on a variety of environmental, political, and economic factors.

We welcome new Canadians. 20% of Canadians are foreign-born, which is the highest percentage of all G8 countries. And we rank among the best countries in the world for integration, according to the 2015 Migrant Integration Policy Index.

We are seriously funny! In fact, Montreal’s annual Just for Laughs Festival is the world’s largest comedy festival.

We are the most polite people on earth. A recent Queen’s University poll found that 90% of adult Canadians will immediately apologize if a stranger bumps into them! Sorry if that upsets any non-Canadians.

We are well-educated. The OECD Education at a Glance report (2014) says 54% of Canadian adults have a post-secondary qualification, which is the highest share in the OECD countries, where the average is 34%. Pretty impressive, eh?

We are truly “nice”. Take a look at this visual comparison between US tweets and Canadian tweets.

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We legalized same-sex marriage a long time ago. Same-sex couples have been getting married in Canada since 2005. Note to our neighbours to the South… It is no big deal… pull it together and join us in the 21st century!

We are super sexy! Have you met our Prime Minister ?!?

So today I am hanging up a giant Canadian flag, which I bought at the 100% Canadian-owned Canadian Tire! I am going to slather on a mountain of sunscreen from the 100% Canadian-owned Shopper’s Drug Mart. And I am going to hit a pub and down some 100% Canadian Labatt’s beer… Because I AM PROUD TO BE CANADIAN!

bras

In winter, I know exactly what to do with my boobs.

My only decision in the winter is whether to go with the black bra, the white bra, or the beige bra. Spoiler alert: they are all the same bra, just in different colours! My winter bra has comfortable thick straps and soft, seamless cups, and goes on sale at Sears every three or four weeks.

Nine months of the year, I amble along in my comfortable winter bra, giving little thought to my boobs. I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me.

Then summer arrives and suddenly my boobs become a problem.

Shops are filled with halter-style tops, and scoop-necked sundresses, and t-shirts so thin you can spot an outie bellybutton. And twelve-year old salesgirls share pearls of wisdom like “just go braless” or “try a bandeau” or my personal favourite… “Just go next door to Victoria’s Secret. They have the BEST strapless!” At this point, I usually just smile and nod because, God bless their perky-breasted little souls, they really have no idea what a few more decades of gravity and a slew of hungry children will do.

“Braless” is not an option for a woman my age unless the plan involves standing perfectly still for the entire day, with my back slightly arched. Note: If I am ever hired as a living mannequin, or a guard at Buckingham Palace, or an extra in a movie with a plotline about people who are frozen eternally, I will happily show up braless. But otherwise, the Sisters and I will need a little more support.

This support will not come from a bandeau! The bandeau is not a bra or even a reasonable facsimile of a bra. In fact, I believe the word “bandeau” comes from the latin “band-be-low” which, loosely translated, means band of nylon sitting below your breasts. The only positive thing I can say about the bandeau is that once it slides down to its natural location, it becomes an excellent boob-sweatband. Somewhere in New York’s fashion district, there is a boardroom filled with clothing manufacturers laughing their asses off because they have managed to take the three cents worth of fabric they were selling to Walmart as a $1 headband and ship it off to Abercrombie & Fitch as a $20 bandeau. Just sayin’.

While on the subject of rip offs… let’s talk about the Victoria’s Secret strapless collection! Spoiler Alert… The “secret” is that the boobs on the Victoria’s Secret models have been surgically created to match the bras, while real boobs are much less globe-like and prone to ‘settling into’ the cups. But you don’t realize this until AFTER you have shelled out $70+ and made your way home with a gel-filled contraption so stiff that it has to be stored on a hanger because it’s too high to keep in your underwear drawer. 

For the first fifteen minutes of wearing your new Victoria’s Secret strapless bra, you will marvel at your own voluptuousness. You will also be able to perform stupid human tricks like standing pencils up in your cleavage while walking around the room. Alas, this glory is short-lived.

Soon, you will look down and realize that the Sisters have sunken to the bottom and there is now about an inch of empty space in the top of the cups. This creates an odd visual effect whereby it looks like you are wearing a t-shirt version of a suit of armour… and it’s a size too big for you! On the plus side, should it happen to rain, you will be able to collect enough liquid in your ‘gel cups’ to water all of the indoor plants when you get home!

So what is a real woman, with real boobs, to do? Well… there are really only three options.

Option one: Start shopping at old lady stores where everything has wide straps and built-in bras, which seems like a choice until you look at yourself in the dressing room mirror and realize that your Nanna was buried in a top that looks remarkably like the one you are trying on!

Option two: Wear your Victoria’s Secret strapless bra but carry a couple of bandeaus in your purse (they take up less room than a travel-size packet of Kleenex). When the Sisters start to sink, go to the nearest washroom and stuff the bottom of the cups with bandeau. Do not use the Kleenex because if it rains, you will be picking bits of wet tissue off the underside of your boobs forever… I speak from experience).

Option three:  Take the $70 you were going to spend on the bra and buy 3 bottles of cheap wine and a set of mini-lights at the Canadian Tire. Wrap the mini-lights around something in your backyard, declare it a ‘party’ and have your middle-aged women friends over instead of going out. Everyone will wear their Sears bras and non-transparent t-shirts, and have a great time!

laundryfairy

laundryfairyLaundry is a 4-step process: wash, dry, fold, put away.

So if you cram a bunch of whites… and darks… and towels… and possibly the family cat… into the washing machine and turn it on, you have not “done” the laundry. You have arguably done ¼ of the laundry (badly). And, even if it eventually makes its way to the dryer, clothing that has been left in the washing machine for days on end will smell like mouldy salsa. Just sayin’.

Besides the cat, there are several other items that I prefer not to find in the washing machine including, but certainly not limited to: banking cards, credit cards, gift cards, money (both bills and change), receipts for items I had been hoping to return, unopened mail, unread school notices, unfilled prescriptions, house keys, lip balms, those tiny containers of dental floss given out by the dentist, rolls of mints, Halloween-sized chocolate bars, ear pods, phone chargers, phone charger cords, jewellery, hair accessories, golf tees, and Visine eye drops (which, as an aside, cost nearly $20 a bottle).

As a general rule, it is best to wash only clothing, and only in quantities that allow the washing machine door to close easily.

The guidelines for using the dryer are similar in the sense that you should stick to placing only clothing in the machine. However (and here’s where it gets complicated!) not every item made of fabric should go into the dryer. For example, the lululemon corporation made a strategic decision back in its founding days, to deliberately create only garments that needed to “lay flat to dry”. So the 400 items in my house that come from lululemon must never see the inside of a dryer. Instead, they must be draped across chairs, sofas, and standing lamps, creating the visual illusion that a dozen naked yogis may be frolicking somewhere in my home.

Should one follow the advice of the teenaged staff at any of the local mall shops, it is also best not to machine dry jeans, bras, or anything made of cotton, hemp, or manmade fabrics.   This means that only towels, bed sheets, and Walmart underwear, are actually safe to put in the dryer.

Because we now use ‘high efficiency’ appliances, do not expect the towels, bed sheets, and Walmart underwear to actually be dry when the machine comes to a stop. That little bell that goes off when the cycle has been completed is just a reminder to click ‘start’ again. In the olden days of the 20th century, it took about half an hour to dry things. It now takes about an hour and a half.

When the little bell has chimed for the third time, there is an expectation that the clean, dry laundry will be removed from the machine and returned to where it came from. Urban legend speaks of a magical house fairy who performs this task in the wee hours of the night. This mythical creature also unloads the dishwasher, restocks the refrigerator, and changes the kitty litter.

Speaking on behalf of house fairies everywhere, I say, “It’s the 21st century so suck it up buttercup, and get your crap out of the dryer!”

Also note that the laundry basket is short and plastic and remarkably different than your dresser or your closet and is intended for transportation more so than storage. True story… at one point there were six laundry baskets in my house and every single one was in a bedroom, filled with jumbled masses of CLEAN laundry. Situations like this make house fairies drink in the afternoon… Just sayin’.

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Buster the schnauzer, my very bad dog, and my very best friend, is having surgery on Tuesday.  He has a disgusting lump under his armpit (do dogs have armpits?) and while it is not cancerous, it still needs to be removed.  So I have cancelled my plans for new main floor windows in favour of paying for Buster’s medical needs.  Sigh.  And I have decided to reblog this very old post because it is about the essence of Buster the schnauzer…

Let me start by telling you that my dog, Buster, is not an ‘easy’ pet.  Our entranceway looks like we have been victims of a reverse home invasion, with scratched grooves running up and down the backside of the door.  Every member of our family and almost every family friend has suffered minor injuries in Buster-related incidents, usually involving him heaving himself upon someone at the front door.  Countless Lululemon pants have been torn and our local mail carrier throws envelops in the proximity of the mailbox more often than he ventures into the actual front porch.

Buster is a German guard dog and as a standard schnauzer his kind have been bred for centuries as ‘the guardians of children’.  This is his DNA, his destiny, his cause.  As obnoxious as it may be, there is no denying that Buster’s behaviour is rooted in a deep, unending passion for us – his family.  The degree to which he loves is almost indescribable.  When you sneeze or cough, he immediately turns to you attentively… “Are you ill?”, “Is there something I can do?”, “Will you live?”  When you wake in the middle of the night, he follows you to the bathroom and sits patiently beside you while you pee.  And don’t even get me started on what happens when ‘suspicious’ people pass you on the sidewalk.  Suffice to say that they would have to be a thousand times beyond crazy to attempt physical contact!

Buster loves with passion.  He can’t get close enough to the kids.  He sleeps at the foot of my bed every night.  When you leave the house, he is devastated and when you return he rejoices as though he has been witness to a miracle.

As the Jerry McGuire monologue tells us, “we live in a cynical world”.  Sometimes all I want to do at the end of a long day is grab a glass of wine and a few moments of isolated peace in the living room, while the kids glue their eyeballs to some form of social media and my husband checks out sports scores online.  But Buster has taught me the value of passion.  Even while I’m telling him to ‘sit’ and ‘calm down’ and ‘shut the hell up’, the truth is that I am feeling uber-important.  I am the most valuable person in his world.  I am all that he wants, all that he needs, all that he is thinking about.  And that feels good.

And so the life lesson I have learned from my dog Buster is to love with passion.  I choose to wrestle one of my kids to the floor and force unwanted kisses upon them even while they giggle and protest.  I choose to watch TV shows that I don’t like just because I can watch them curled up with a kid or two on my sofa.  And I choose to sacrifice my moment with a glass of wine in favour of a trip to the yogurt place down the street, or the mall, or some other God-awful location my kids or my husband want to be.  I hug often and I hug hard.  I bestow affection in public places.  And I wave like a fool from the audience at recitals and school events.  Because I know that despite my protestations, there is nothing more glorious than Buster’s all-consuming love.  It erases the annoyances of the day and makes me feel special.  And I want my husband and my children to feel special.  So I love with passion… as Buster has taught me.

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