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Precious, precious parking

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One of my biggest pet peeves is paying for parking mostly because I rarely carry cash with me anymore. Yet I know there are some places where paid parking just a given: sporting events, the airport, train stations, and most downtown hotels or public parking garages.

As I pull into this parking lot however, in front of the medical office I am about to enter, I am struck by a great injustice that is “parking”. I see the parking signs “Pay for Parking Here”. Right in front of a medical office. Everywhere else on this busy, primarily retail road in Ottawa the parking is free. And given that this is a medical imaging centre and a physiotherapy office, the irony is crueler than the inconvenience of digging for coins in the depths of my purse.

Across the street is ample free parking in front of Home Outfitters, Future Shop and ToysRUs and all the usual big box outlets. I think to myself, “I could just park over there, and cross this busy four lane road, and just show them, that I am NOT going to pay for parking.” But I’m in a hurry, barely on time to my medical appointment, and have to get back to the office as quickly as I can. So, I do what everyone else seems to do when visiting this office:  I pay for the parking.

I half expect to be asked to pay for the elegant blue booties I’m asked to don so that no one in the office is inconvenienced by my winter slush trail. Maybe that receptionist who shows me to the physician’s office is expecting a tip? I can assure you that ultrasound technician isn’t getting one from me after she had the gall to serve up that jelly to me (on me) stone cold! And what? No customer feedback card? Clearly, no one here is too concerned about repeat business.

What strikes me unreasonable about being forced to pay for parking here is thinking of all those who are coming to this clinic, though, because they are not so able-bodied. They’re here to improve their not-so-able body. It’s offensive that they’re being taken advantage of and being forced to pay for parking in sea of free parking lots that they really cannot access without a great deal of effort.

I think back to the days I dragged my 2 and 3-year old boys to my medical appointments when pregnant with their sister. I came across the same situation: want to eat or shop here? Your parking is free. Have a medical issue? That will be $5 an hour, please.

Clearly, our socialized healthcare does not spill over into the parking lot. Ah well. Guess I should be grateful. I can still walk; therefore, I can still dance … and still pay for parking.

Rant over.

parking

You know you’re Canadian when …

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A video I saw recently on Facebook called, “Sh%t Southern Woman Say”, filled with bless-her-heart after bless-her-heart, had me thinking of all the Canadian colloquialisms I use (bless my heart). I thought of making a really excellent video called “Sh%t Canadian Women Say” that I’m sure would go viral, but let’s just say I prefer the modest medium of writing medium to – you know – filming myself!

Without even mentioning any proclivity to anything hockey, you know you’re a Canadian when –

  • There’s more to a case of beer than the beer! I swear to God a good part of my husband’s wardrobe came with a case of beer – or rather a 2-4. His nieces refer to him as that uncle. And speaking of beer, when someone tells me the beer store is kitty-corner from the liquor store, I know exactly where that liquor store is. (Though I honestly cannot remember the last time I had to ask anyone where the liquor store was!)
  • KDCanadianisms in gastronomy are pretty universal now thanks to the internet. But I do think finding a proper poutine, tourtière, beavertails, Lay’s ketchup chips, Coffee Crisp chocolate bars, and Kraft Dinner (or KD) outside our borders is not an easy achievement.
  • Tim Horton’s coffee shops have their own lexicon entirely. You simply don’t live in this country if you don’t know what a double-double is. And of course this time of year with their Rrrrroll up the Rrrrrim to win campaign, dumpster-diving takes on entirely new meaning – for that’s what you do when you realize you’ve thrown out your Timmie’s without Rrrrolling up the Rrrrim to check out your prize (which is usually a message of pure hope: Please Play Again)!
  • It’s funny enough that the Canadian one dollar coin is called a loonie (because most in circulation have the common loon on them) but what gives with calling the two dollar coin a toonie (that’s right – it’s spelled toonie not twonie)? Most toonies have a picture of a polar bear on them (because while there might be real loons around Canada, the toon is rather rare and endangered, I guess). Are we that lazy? Could we not have called it the polar coin? “Got any polar bears on ya?”
  • When I was a teenager I never snuck a fifth of rum into a hockey game. Never! Now a mickey of rum? That’s a different story! (I just don’t remember it.)
  • And when we got married, our friends planned my husband’s ‘stag’ and my ‘doe’ – not our bachelor and bachelorette parties. CBC should consider getting in on this Bachelor TV viewing crowd with a new show. Seriously! Who wouldn’t tune into a show called The Stag! Americans would be buying satellite TV by the millions!
  • And I know I said I wouldn’t mention hockey but my kids all knew the local rink rat by his first name. In fact, they knew a few rink rats by their first names!
  • And because it’s February, and it’s minus stupid cold outside, and people are making plans for March Break (not ‘spring’ break), here’s one more final iconic Canadian activity: you don’t need to bring your tuque on your trip to Cuba!

Bless your Oh Canada, bless your heart!

heart shaped Cdn flag

The day Riberto came to yoga

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It is early morning and still dark in my makeshift yoga studio with only the dim light of a lone streetlamp streaming through my living room shutters. This sliver of light settles on my yoga mat stretched out and beckons my stiff and aching aging body. I’m a two-faced practitioner: there are mornings I love waking up early and allowing myself an hour of stillness, breathing and asana and there are other mornings where yoga and the fact that it’s 530AM just suck and I pull the covers over my head and hit the snooze for the tenth time.

This morning was of the “this sucks” variety, when I think all my yoga teachers are conspiring to convert me to kale smoothies with chia seeds. No amount of blissful shavasana will inspire me to give up pinot grigio and poutine.

I have managed to get myself onto my mat with open heart and mind even if neither of my eyes are. I do this because I know from experience that if I leave my yoga to the evening, that battle will be won by Facebook, laundry and my daughter’s Elizabethan-era food project (damn you, Grade 9 English curriculum).

I’m about halfway through this morning’s yoga routine and starting to finally feel my mind and body slowly cooperating. I open my eyes after one pose and notice a tiny fluff off to my left in the foyer. I close my eyes again and curse the shedding hairy dog mess, but when I open my eyes I notice that my “fluff” is no longer there. In fact, it’s moved an entire foot! Believe me, I am not generating enough kinetic energy here to make a feather move so I interrupt my practice and crawl on my hands and knees over to the foyer. I then realize that this is nothing close to a dust bunny dog hair fluff but is instead a frog!

A little frog the size of my thumb has somehow found its way into my home, more remarkably into my living room and even most astonishingly – uninvited – into my yoga practice! Not what I would call a Zen moment.

We stare at each other for a moment but I know I have to do something with this yoga intruder before my dogs find him and eat him – or my daughter finds him and decides to make a pet of him (which would actually be worse, I think).

I return Riberto to the wild outdoors using a soup ladle and kitchen towel. After which I think it was only fitting that I finished off my morning with bhekasana, or frog pose. I suppose Riberto was simply an emissary send to help me get it right!

The aspiring yogini and helpful frogini… Hand in hand – or hand in webbed appendage, as the case may be.

And that is my story about the day a frog came to yoga.

Namaste.

 

The Worm in the Apple

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It’s sad really. I was the apple of my kids’ eyes for what seemed like only a nanosecond. I have three kids and I was their go-to friend from birth until – well – about that time around Grade 8 where they each dropped me like a hot potato.  I suppose that’s about when independent social lives start to bloom and a mother’s presence not only is no longer necessary, it is a downright intrusion of the You Suck variety.

I frequently chaperoned field trips until returning to work outside the home and even then offered one field trip per child per school year which was happily approved and anticipated by each of my kids.  Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

I happily hosted non-birthday parties around Christmas and Halloween for all our kids and their friends. Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

We all posed for family photos at various events and important tourist shrines. Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

The eagerness to have “Mom” participate in any aspect of their lives other than stocking the frig and doing the laundry, waned considerably around Grade 8.

Initially my boys still permitted my attendance on the field trips, but disappeared with their friends upon arrival, leaving me to chaperone the girls or whichever group was last assigned to a parent. Soon thereafter field trip forms start coming home with the preamble, “But they don’t need any volunteers”, or with the box “No” already checked off next the question, “If volunteers are needed, may we contact you?”, even from my daughter.

I have become middle-school-redundant.

And so today, we are off to my daughter’s Grade 8 graduation ceremony after which is a class dance at the local RA centre.  All was going very well with our graduation planning until she learned that I was volunteering at the dance.  This elicited a “You’re kidding, right?” response from a now grown-up thirteen year-old (in all fairness, I did sign up for clean-up, thinking I could stay out of the limelight and her wrath).

Just when I thought I would have to politely decline my assistance at the dance, an email from the organizer came out suggesting the window from the kitchen to the hall would be closed and parents could (should?) keep a low-profile.

So there.

I’m not the only one!

I’ve been practicing a few dance moves though should things get a little boring.

 

 

 

Chug big or chug home…

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An unsanctioned event organized by students at one of our local high schools has raised the ire of its principal. So much so that emails have been sent home warning parents of this event and its imminent danger.  Parents have been urged to ask their children NOT to participate in this wasteful and harmful event and have been cautioned that local police have been asked to provide additional officers to enforce safety, should the event take place.

What is this undesirable event that parents should be so anxious about?

Is it an illegal swim party at a local quarry? Is it an unchaperoned bush party at one of the many local farm fields? Is it the private post-prom party across the border at a local ski resort (where most of the students will be of legal drinking age)?

No. In fact, these events (which have taken place or are about to take place on my son’s social calendar) have not been deemed sufficiently objectionable by anyone such that parents should be alerted to potential unsafe and/or illegal activity. The low-down on the street is how we get savvy to these events.

The appalling event that I am being warned about is the annual senior student-organized milk chugging contest.

This will be one of the most uncomfortably awkward and sensitive discussions I will have with my teenagers yet.  There’s no way all those conversations about safe sex, drugs, alcohol, academic challenges, work and money chats will serve me for this one.

I’m not sure how to handle this one. Should I go the sour milk is bad for you-route? Or, that unpasteurized milk may make you sick-schtick? How about, milk that comes from cows who’ve been injected hormones have been fed is unacceptable-deal (oh, but that’s illegal in Canada, so will probably not be too effective).  Or the time-tested, waste-not-want-not talk? No, I think I better stick to the fear tactic that always works best:  “Do you have any idea how easy it is to get addicted to milk?”

This isn’t the first time we’ll be talking about milk-chugging contests, and I can assure you, it won’t be the last.

(Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I hope I don’t get my son suspended).

milk

 

CSI – the drama I could do without

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CSIMy three children are all teenagers now and like many today, they are home from school before my husband or I are home from work.  I am generally the last to return home at the end of the day, and while my own housecleaning habits see me tidying up the kitchen before I leave for work, I am not likely to find it this way upon my return. My keen eyes are trained to decode the evidence before me and I know just what to nag about. Because my kids now know:  I am highly specialized CSI expert. I am a Cuisine Scene Investigator.

“Nobody move!” I shout, with the anticipated impact:  none of my teenagers has moved nor has any intention of moving.  Securing the scene is not as challenging they make it out to be on TV.

I begin my preliminary analysis:

I study the spatter stains and I know right away that my son has made himself a big glass of chocolate milk.

I examine the trail and I know my daughter has been into the popcorn.

I analyze the dishevelment of the dishes and I know my oldest son has emptied his lunch bag.

As I evaluate all the physical evidence and the possibilities I try not to jump to conclusions, but it hard not to.  And as I walk around collecting evidence I make sure that my kids do not interfere with my examination of the data.

“Don’t touch that!” I shout.

“But I was just about to put that away.” they lie.

“Too late! I caught you! You are now one of my suspects!”

“You should not be eating cookies right before dinner!” I bark at my son. How does she know? I see the querying look in his eyes. “You left the cookie bag completely open in the pantry!” He rolls his eyes.

“Did I not tell you that the ice cream was for dessert?” testing my daughter. How does she know? says the look in her eyes. “You could have at least rinsed off the ice cream scoop before putting it in the sink.”

Even today, I walked into the kitchen and found a half-filled coffee travel mug on the counter and know that my husband, too, is home from work. Clearly he did not pick up on the trail of evidence already before him. Clearly he is not a cuisine scene investigator – he’s just another instigator.

I finish wiping down this scene and catalog the evidence before the dogs decide to catalog it themselves (knowing the dogs they’re already accessories to many of their crimes that will go unsolved). I then begin my own cuisine scene and start making dinner. Sigh.

CSI … not for sissies … only for moms.

The rest of your life starts here …

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campus tourA few months ago I wrote a post about my eldest son’s applications to post-secondary institutions. And now with a few offers in hand, my eldest son has some decisions to make.

Much to my son’s surprise (not mine), bit by bit those offers started trickling in and we carefully picked the ones we would go and visit. Unlike the parents of many university-bound kids, I chose not to take him on road trip visiting every single post-secondary school between infinity and beyond. Instead, I promised I would take him to visit those to which he received offers, and was most keen to attend. Never having been on a single university tour myself when I was applying, I did want him to make an informed choice.  Depending on the location of these choices, however, a campus tour can set you back the price of a school year’s tuition!

The campus tour is generally pretty standard: the major academic buildings, the library or libraries if the school is large enough, at least one dorm room, at least one dining hall or the dining halls, the sports complex, and all the major support services (academic, health, etc.). It is also possible to arrange more in-depth tours with various faculties and even arrange to meet faculty members or varsity coaches. I’ve quickly realized that a good university tour guide is more than someone who can walk backwards and talk at the same time – they can make or break a prospective student and their family’s first impression.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get the uber- energetic student or recent grad that could not imagine life without this university. As annoying as their enthusiasm and university loyalty can be, the tour will not end until you know everything about the school including the words of the favourite university drinking song or have the university’s motto emblazoned on your brain. Alternatively, you may get a less enthusiastic tour guide who appears to have better things to do than make converts of wide-eyed, naïve high schoolers, and who showcases themselves and their accomplishments inviting you to come the their university so you can truly be as impressive as they have become (doing university tours for a living).

So now begins my son’s decision-making crunch time. He has ultimately has about three weeks now, to make his decision and pay his deposit (as you can guess procrastination runs in our family!). In that time, he will reflect not only on the wisdom of all that he has learned about these respective universities, but also on the words of wisdom of the tour guides.

I hope he took good notes!

 

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