Friday, July 30, 2010

I Am So HOT In Bed

Barbara: It’s true. I am smokin’ hot in bed. Four-alarm. Off the charts. A real sizzler. Too bad my husband sleeps through the whole thing.

Now, I know you know I mean literally hot. Sweaty. Icky. (Although, I will say, I think I’m kinda the other kind of hot too, but that’s for another post … if you’re interested. Or if I’m in the mood.)

Anyway. I’m not yet in menopause or in the “peri” part of it … I don’t think. What do I know? I mean, I don’t have hot flashes or day sweats or any of the other stuff Deb has warned me about (bless her heart and curse her honesty). But lately I wake up night after night just uncomfortably hot. Of course, it probably doesn’t help that I’m under a down duvet that I am loathe to throw off. My inner little kid still likes the coziness and “safety” of a substantial cover over me. And to make matters worse, my dog likes to press himself against my legs, generating even more heat and effectively shutting off the only means of escape I have if I want to throw a leg out into the cool night air. And I don’t think my husband would appreciate me yanking off the covers on his side. I guess I can consider myself lucky that he isn’t a through-the-night-cuddler. Not like a friend of mine who when she went through menopause sweated so profusely every night she drenched the sheets, but who was determined not to disengage from her cuddly and strangely oblivious husband who had a habit of clinging onto her like she was his personal life raft. Even with my mild(er) case of midnight hotness, I can’t imagine it.

So I wake up night after night and blink hotly at the ceiling in abject wonder at my body. Must it always do all the things I have been warned it will do? Must it be so bloody (no innuendo intended) predictable? It really begs the question, would I prefer to be in ignorant bliss—ie, do I want to know nothing of aging and its changes and therefore not second-guess my sudden warmth and simply assume it is the weather, the bed, or my husband? Or do I prefer to be “in the know” and realize that, yeah, I’m hot, but there’s good reason for it and it’s normal and natural and in no way needs to interfere with any other more desirable kind of hotness?

Deb: As Barb’s official MenoYoda, I can say that indeed I have been there. Moons ago now. But I actually purchased pj’s made for menopausal women that absorbed the sweat. They didn’t work as I was too hot to wear them! 

I know the old expression goes: “Horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies feel the heat.” But during menopause, I was a Clydesdale with the big old furry feet, and even they were soaked with sweat. So the only consolation I can offer my dear friend is this: When you wake up during the night and your sheets are soaked, just be grateful it ain’t pee.

Barbara: Hallelujah, MenoYoda. Once again, you have shed the light!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Deb: Why do people do the “What’s HOT, What’s NOT, What’s IN, What’s OUT” lists? They always bug me. Mostly because they inevitably include on the “NOT” and “OUT” lists things that I think are GOOD. Cool even.

Today in the paper I saw a new column entitled: “Ten Ways You Know You Are Trying Too Hard”. What? This was written by someone who calls herself a “Style Czar.” Clearly no one told her that the term Style Czar is both NOT and OUT.

Here are a few things she thinks show that you are an out of touch loser. They include: overly decorated cakes; lovely leaves that wrap the insides of vases to hide stems; arty architect-style eyeglasses; little plastic egg cups with cute designs; and octogenarian bikers. Octogenarian bikers? Was she two words short for her column? She went on to state that she hates wall words or words placed in the garden. Bad decorating idea says she. Over. Who makes these rules anyway? Like them or not, as I looked under her smug photo and onto her list, I realized that everything on it had something in common. Everything she mentioned was fun, whimsical, smile-inducing, and brave even.

Now I confess, that I am a bit of a fashion slave. I do follow fashion keenly and enjoy trends to a degree. But I have never wanted to crap on someone for something that might be considered “so last year.” And I’m sure the Czar would condemn me for using a dated phrase like “so last year”, but there it is. When we wear something or decorate with something, isn’t it the “enjoyment” of it, and not just the “current” of it. And if you are so wrapped up in the hot/not, in/out, how do you keep up for heaven’s sake? Are you frantically changing your decor weekly for fear of landing on the list?

I remember a few years back reading that pashminas were NOT and OUT. I thought really? Pashminas. Shawls? In every colour? That you can wear in every season? OUT/NOT, are they? Okay, well back to bare arms and freezing on cool nights. God forbid I should wrap myself in a pashmina and look like a tool.

Things become popular and, as soon as they do, some smuggy “Czar” has to poo all over it to make you feel that liking something that others like too is stupid. And frankly, whether you think so or not, Czary McSmuggerton, YOU are on someone’s list somewhere I bet. Your judgment and your lack of “live and let live” is so NOT.

I have a dear friend who is 15 years into his sobriety and over his front door he has mounted the word “Serenity” to remind himself of it whenever he goes out into the world. One of the least out of touch losers I have ever known. Go fig.

Barbara: Okay, I soooo relate to this post, Deb. I have loathed every HOT/NOT list I have ever read. Why? Because as much as I like to look smashing, I just can’t live by the latest, the trendiest, the HOTTEST. I find it too exhausting, too expensive, and frankly too boring.

And, excuse me, “octogenarian bikers” are OUT???!!!!! How can a fit older person exercising ever, ever, EVER be on any list other than “Great Accomplishments To Celebrate”??! Which reminds me how much it used to bug me back in the day (would the Czar blacklist me for that expression too?) when people would chastise aging rockers for doing what they love and live by after a certain “best-by” date. But I digress.

I am 100% with you, Deb, and your “live and let live” mantra.

PS: the beautiful cake in the photo is Deb's 50th. She thought it would illustrate the "overly decorated cake" NOT. Barbara got confused when Deb suggested it because she thought it was so totally HOT.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vulgar Habits

Barbara: As I’ve said before, I wasn’t brought up religious. My dad worked in the music industry and my mother is an abstract artist. I mean the kind of parents who are inherently pretty cool and progressive by most standards. But for some reason, I grew up with a low threshold for being vulgar.

I like vulgarity. I respect people who can lob off a good fuck (er ... you know what I mean). I’ve always been attracted to people who tell it like it is, warts and all, no precious attachment to propriety. But I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m a wimp when it comes to letting my own mouth run off. Soap would never have been needed to wash this mouth. Not for a long time anyway. And when I finally did allow a healthy little “shit” or “fuck” to pass my lips, the only one who was shocked was me.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is walking down the street with a friend as she was telling me some scandalous story of betrayal. We were maybe 11. I suddenly realized her outrage deserved a good, wanton, and commiserative blurt. My cheeks burned in anticipation of what would be my first verbal vulgarity. I opened my mouth and let loose the most scandalous words I could manage: “Oh god.” Not capital G, God –– he was pretty much a storybook character to me. But the swear word, the curse, the cuss: “god”. It was scary. And not in a delicious, wanton way. But in a spine-tingling, hair-on-end kind of way.

After my first foray, I had to work hard to keep up a healthy flow of this new-found vocabulary. It was almost a chore knowing how to properly insert that perfect swear-word like it was just another "and" or "the". But the floodgate had opened (if creakily) and I could finally be part of the in-crowd ... even if it made my stomach turn. It was sort of like getting used to the taste of beer. No part of first drinking beer was good for me. It tasted awful, I didn’t like the rush, and I burped a lot. Then I started to enjoy the rush. Then I liked the taste. Then the burping became superfluous.

Now, I’m an old-hand at swearing. But it still isn’t pretty. Fuck.

Deb: For fucking out loud, Barb, you are sooooooo not vulgar. Honestly, people, she wouldn’t say shit if her mouth was full of it. Damn it all, I try my best to be a lady, but sometimes the bastards get you down and you have to let out with a good &*%#&%**^*^*#$%F@#!

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Body Doesn't Trigger Stuff

Deb: We were at the Stratford Festival yesterday to see Peter Pan. For those of you in the area, or those who are so inclined, I highly recommend it. Magical! Our good friend, Tom, is playing Captain Hook and it is one of those blessed marriages of actor and role. When I was in the loo/washroom/powder room/toilet/bathroom (hope that covers our followers around the world), I was reminded of a blog-post I have been meaning to write for a while.

It is simply thus. My body does NOT trigger sensors. You KNOW what I am talking about. The fancy toilets that flush as soon as you stand up. And the taps that turn on as soon as your hands are in the general vicinity of the sink. Not me. Nope. Nothing. Nada. And so there I stand in the toilet hovering and swinging my derrière back and forth like a rhythm-deprived stripper. Hoping against hope that the sound of a flush will be forthcoming. If someone is waiting for my stall, I feel compelled as I exit to make excuses and drive home that fact that I have thrown out my hip trying to trigger the damn thing. And although they want to be sympathetic, their expression quickly turns sour, as they begin to realize what awaits them on the other side of the door.

Then I rush, humiliated, to the sinks, only to find the same issue as I wave my fingers frantically over the sensor. I move panic-stricken from sink to sink, like a bad semaphore, an embarrassed flush flooding my cheeks. So I lay in wait until the first wave of witnesses have left the washroom. Then I pretend to wipe the excess water off my hands with the all too dry paper towel. These loo newcomers are none the wiser. But the jig will soon be up. They will walk into the stall with expectations of cleanliness, their high hopes dashed. I’m NOT a boor, I swear. I can’t help it.

What can a dirty girl do? I’m looking into a “trigger” implant.

Barbara: Ha! Poor thing! I, of course, have the opposite problem. I am a tall girl, not “big”, but not a waif. I set off those damn triggers just by walking into the stall. And, argh, there’s nothing like sitting on the toilet and being hosed with a flush set off by the automatic trigger. I feel myself shuddering upon shudder at the certain horror of being awash with other people’s waste. So disgusting!!! I’d rather pretend I am too loutish to flush than have the toilet turn into an unsolicited, germ-infested pseudo-bidet. Argh.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pee Ew

Barbara: Warning: this is a bodily-function post and must not be read by anyone who prefers not to think of either Deb or myself as having bodily functions (ie, my husband. Bye, sweetie, love you!)

One of the best parts about my friendship with Deb is that she gives me the straight goods from the perspective of a woman a few years older. She’s often been there and done that. You have no idea how much easier she has made this road of Aging for me with her insight and humour. In fact, paying it back and forward is one of the reasons we started this blog.

Lesson number one from Deb was that at some point in my older years I might find myself peeing arbitrarily. You know, like not in toilets, and not when I expect it. As with much of Deb’s shared wisdom, I listen, I process, and I PRAY IT WON’T HAPPEN TO ME.

So after years of hearing pee stories (some of which I hope she’ll share here because––when it’s not happening to you––pee stories are very funny), I was horrified to find myself not once but TWICE in recent days spilling urine. Now the question is—what do you do about it???

Deb: First of all, Barb, thanks for saying that I am a “few” years older. Nine, really, but God bless you for that. Here is what I do:
1. I wear a pad or liner when I have a cold for the “sneezing and coughing” pee.
2. I ALWAYS take bathroom breaks. If I can sense a bathroom within 50 paces, I go.
3. I go whether I feel like it or not. Even releasing a bit can save a nice pair of shoes.
4. I do NOT hold it in if I can help it. Thought it helped and found out that it actually makes it worse.
5. I ALWAYS carry an extra pair of undies. Sometimes they make an appearance in public when they become attached to my keys or wallet. Don’t care. Worth it.
6. I have been known to have full on “like I am sitting on the toilet” pees when I laugh. I have done this on stage, on set, and on the street. Mortifying. What I do, is just laugh some more. I mean I’ve already peed. Might as well enjoy the laugh.
7. I pray that they will come up with something simple, natural and not surgical for this issue. NOT THE SLING. For me anyway. I have heard horror stories.
8. I figure, what are you going to do? So I just laugh it off and ... uh oh….

Oh well, that’s what the extra undies are for, right?

Barbara: I have been with Deb when she has filled her panties, so to speak. For something so potentially mortifying, her humour and aplomb turn peeing into a stand-up comedy routine.

Okay, Deb, you gotta tell at least one of your tales of pee.

Deb: I have a friend who simply cannot hold it. Got caught one day. She got into her car in the parking lot of a mall. The dam was bursting. She opened the back door to shield herself as she squatted beside her driver’s side. Suddenly, mid-stream, the guy who owned the car beside her walked up to his car. She pulled herself up quickly and said, “I, uhhh, what, I, the, I’m, it’s, why, I, can’t, uhhh …” He said with a smile, “If you gotta go, you gotta go”. God love him!

I have another friend who keeps a cup in her car.

And still another who keeps diapers in the glove compartment although her kids are grown. Genius all!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Granny, I Met The Queen!

Deb: Dear Granny,

My heart was pounding as Colin and I stood in line to be presented to the Queen. I wore a hat, Granny, as I knew you would have disowned me otherwise. I also wore hose as protocol dictates, although it was very hot. It was a beautiful garden party at Rideau Hall, Granny, filled with lovely and excited women wearing a candy store of hats, and military persons adorned proudly with their medals, sparkling in the afternoon sun. White tents were bursting with canapés and cocktails and, although you were always a tea-teetotaler, I know you will forgive me, Granny, for the glass of wine I had to calm my jittery nerves.

As I watched the Queen approach, I thought of you. I thought of how much you and Grampa admired her, and I reflected on the reasons why. You were proud of the way she stepped into her position, with barely a moment to mourn her beloved father, caught between her role as Princess and Queen. You admired her sense of honour and commitment, her bravery, and her singular sense of duty to “the family business”, even when it caused her pain and humiliation over the years.

I thought of her love of animals and realized that she loves her horses and dogs partly because they never disappoint. And I wasn’t disappointed either, Granny. She was lovely in her blue hat and coat and little white gloves. And she was tiny, like you and I!

My curtsy was perfect, but I don’t know how I managed to accompany it with a bold “Your Majesty” as I was bereft of saliva. But I did. And she smiled as our Rideau Hall guide told her that I was a long-time supporter of her and the royal family. “How lovely,” she said and waited for my response. Forgive me, Granny, as it wasn’t what Churchill might have called “my finest hour”. I am never at a loss for words, as you well know, but all I could manage through dry sticky lips and a tongue feeling as thick as my head was, “Yes, Ma’am ... I love it ... you.”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I wouldn’t have been disappointed if she had locked me in the tower right then and there. But she smiled, chatted up Colin, and moved on. Just as the feeling was coming back into my hands and feet, his Royal Highness Prince Philip started to joke and charm us. He made us feel like old friends, as is his particular gift. And I was relaxed (sort of) because he wasn’t the Queen.

Are you kidding me, Granny? The Queen!

And it was not to be left at that, as we were again presented to her in Toronto at a private reception followed by a lovely luncheon. And this time I redeemed myself. Oh yes, Granny, I pulled out all the stops, determined to fix my previous gaffe in Ottawa. I curtsied a perfect curtsy as I uttered “Your Majesty” and then I said ... NOTHING. Just smiled. Let Colin do the talking! What a concept. No words. Just smiled. It was bliss. As she turned to leave I said, “An honour to meet you, Ma’am!” And as she started to leave I thought of you smiling down at me saying, “Good, lassie”.

Barbara: Oh, Deb. This speaks volumes for your personal history and family story: the Queen has always been a very important icon for you and yours and you have done your whole family proud (as well as making the rest of us smile).

You should all know that the version of this story that I got was the acted-out one, rife with Deb’s nerves, dismay, and jitters. As you can imagine, she had me rolling in the aisles. But “hearing” it told to her Granny, who would have been so delighted and excited, is so completely endearing that it just makes me love you all the more, Deb.

Let me just add that meeting the Queen was a lifelong wish for Deb and that the visit to Toronto that Deb was invited to actually coincided with Deb’s birthday. I think we can safely say that this was the best, most memorable gift Deb has ever received!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sibling Revelry

Barbara: My sisters—I have two wonderful younger sisters who I promise you I adore—tell me that I used to ban them from my room and basement clubhouse by scattering industrial staples, tines up, all over the floor and taping signs of bloody knives to the walls. Me? But I’m so nice. So sweet, so demure. Or at least I was back then. I swear!

I have two daughters, 3 years apart, who were inseparable as youngsters, but who have gone through their own phase of bloody knives and threatening hardware. For all intents and purposes, they are the picture of lovely sweetness. But when it comes to a stolen top or a dismissive sentence, the claws can unsheathe between them in a second. I remember when the younger was 9 and her sister was 12, Younger wrote an essay about her sister for French school where she said: “On n’a plus la meme chimie,” which translates to: “We don’t have the same chemistry anymore.” It was a turning-point moment for us as their parents: “Ah, she is aware; she is mourning something.”

When I watch the occasional sibling spats now, I cringe remembering my own unfeeling teenaged behaviour toward my sisters, realizing how very, very affecting it must have been to them. They remember believing I hated them (for a year or two); I just remember how cute they were. I’m making a point, of course—I know my sisters have good memories of me in our childhood too (I hope!)—but that point comes boomeranging back when you have your own kids.

I thought I could circumvent the great sibling divide by talking my daughters through their crises, teaching them how to see their sister’s side, proposing compromises. It seemed to work—peace usually came pretty quickly, if grudgingly—and I kinda patted myself on the back for taking the time and not listening to the old adage of letting them “work it out”. But the other day, I bemoaned to my husband that maybe I did interfere too much: if I’d let them “work it out” more, they might be closer now, having learned through necessity that they are each other’s greatest allies. My husband—he really can be both sweet and wise—gave me a gentle smile and reassured me that we let them work it out plenty, that even this older-teen adversity is completely normal, that they have enough wonderful times together that the occasional spat won’t ruin them for later, and that they will become great friends when the time is right.

In other words, if I see bloody knives and sharp tines between them every now and then, they might prefer to remember instead intense bonding over invented songs on road trips, shared secrets and serious advice, or mutual hysteria when their mother mispronounces “cool” words (apparently “kootch” isn’t a class of weed, but something else entirely. Shut up.).

Just like my sisters and I did years ago, my girls are working it out.

Deb: First off, I have to say that I know Barb’s beautiful and sweet daughters and they are aces in my book, both of them. I have actually, despite all the time I spend there, never seen them at each other’s throats. A snipe here, a sneer there, and eyes on the ceiling to be sure, but never bloody knives! But I’m glad they go at it hammer and tongs and still adore each other because I think it makes for a lifelong relationship of honesty with one another, which they will need more and more as life envelopes them.

I only have one child so he has never experienced that and I really think it would have helped him. As a result of no sibling to spar and dismiss, he is not really good at confrontation. He is only now learning to stand up for himself and, until recently, we have seen him sometimes steamrolled by good friends. I lament that he did not have a sibling relationship, but he seems to be absolutely fine with it. Always claims he is happy that he did not. But of course it might be because he doesn’t know what he is missing.

The sibling relationship is amazing. Two different people with the same genetic patterning living their young lives together under one roof. I have one brother who is six years younger than me. We are very, very close. Although during the teen years our relationship could be summed up in one sentence: “Here’s a quarter, now get lost”.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Cooking Club

Deb: I am not a member of the cooking club. I do have club privileges though because I married a cook. Which means I can use club equipment like the blender and the double boiler. But I don’t.

All my dearest friends are in the Cooking Club and I am treated to their wonderful culinary talents every time we meet. I LOVE IT! Every dish a mouth-watering masterpiece, and I always count myself lucky to have a regular seat at the trough. But sometimes, I confess, I feel left out. The club applicant whose credit rating didn’t quite measure up.

The girls in the club talk like Cooking Klingons spouting phrases like “sauté this” and “flambé that” and I nod and smile and double-check that the blade of the knife on the place setting I’m doing is correctly facing the dish. As I have said before, I know my way around a well-set table. And they appreciate it, make no mistake. They are all over me with the compliments about the centerpiece and my choice of flatware.

But I know that beneath the praise lays a pinch of pity. For although I love it, we all know that is all I can do. That, and chop––the lowliest of the bull-cook duties. Yet even when I am chopping, I can see them glancing over to make sure the veggies are the right width or that they are sliced on the correct slant. I start to panic and sweat, hoping against hope that the knife won’t slip out of my hand and slice the finger of this lowly chopper. So I finish my assigned duty and put the choppees into the bowl allotted to me and await my next instructions. I glance around to see the cooks laughing and talking about braised something with something sauce. They don’t even know I’m alive.

Is that a teaspoon on the table instead of a soupspoon? How could I have made such an obvious error? I rush to the table to fix the offending spoon. I am safe in my club. The Table Setting Club. Very exclusive. I am the only member.

Barbara: I think you won’t believe me, Deb, when I say: “I don’t pity you! This is envy all over my face! Those sidelong glances in your direction as you chop are not judgment, they are silent exhortations: Deb, for godssake, leave the food and get back to the beautifying! Sure, we want you to feel useful, but without your esthetic touch, the whole thing will be so … ordinary!”

As a self-professed member of the Cooking Club, I wish I had half your talent (and, frankly, patience) for a table-well-set. All that work in the chopping and braising and sautéing and, if it’s left to me, no lovely linens to set it off, no pretty posies of flowers or ornaments, no place cards, no elegance. I don’t even know where to begin. I hold aloft my platter of yummyness and stare at the barren table and sigh. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Deb sets not just a beautiful table but creates a spectacular environment. If it’s a special event, there is every known beautiful decoration known to man to adorn the occasion. Hell, you don’t even need to eat, it’s all so pretty.

But I will say this: I do love to cook. I love feeding people. I love the whole sensuous experience of it. And—Deb will vouch for me here—I LOOOOOOVE to eat. Beautiful table or not.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hazy Days of Summer

Barbara: I’m sure you’ve all read the now ubiquitous articles on how social networking is bogging our brains down. That we need to balance all the hyper-browsing we’re doing every day with extended periods of quiet introspection. The problem is, the reason this advice is so suddenly prevalent is because every social network is touting its wisdom. And we’re getting the message over and over because we are social networking so voraciously! 

How do we keep exploring and reading and discovering the world network if there are barely enough hours in the day for our own writing and work and living??? You all seem to do it with such grace and aplomb. Take Gae over at Trying to Stay Afloat in a Sea of Words. How the hell does she write her blogs, edit and write her novels (one soon to be published), Facebook network, raise two boys, swim the ocean, love her friends as she does, read and comment on countless other blogs, oh, and work as a lawyer??? And she’s just one example of so many of you. And to make matters more challenging for me—this year has given us one of the loveliest spring/summers we’ve had in these parts for a long time. It is everything I can do not to just turn the world off and lie in my lounger and stare at the trees for endless hours. I could even call it “quiet introspection” and claim the experts told me it was imperative for my brain. 

Deb and I are new to this whole blogosphere thing, so it’s still a learning process for us. I just want to tell you how often we’ve wondered in private at the amazing world you’ve shown us, how great it is to “meet” all of you from around the world, to commune with you, and to read your own brilliant blogs. No matter how different all of our daily lives might be, it seems so many of us are somehow fundamentally connected. Like those bees in their hive, gently communing as they create their marvelous honey. It’s a wonder and a comfort. 

So how do I have my cake and eat it too? The world beckons. It entices, it cajoles, it teases. I want to eat it up and lie exhausted and sated with bits of its jus on my lips. But it’s also an endless buffet that I feel myself hesitating in front of, not knowing how to take even one bite of its feast without regretting all the bites I might miss. And then there’s the quiet that used to be so easy to take advantage of—now days, weeks, months can go by without a quiet moment to be found. How do you balance it all?! 

Deb: Funny that I should be responding to this blog at the 11th hour. Barb––God bless her––had to email and remind me that my response was due. And indeed it was. But I have been summering this last 36 hours with friends at their farm, forgetting my responsibility to the blog. It is one of the only summer breaks we will have this summer and it is still less than two days. And yet I am so up to my neck, I did not even notice I was behind. I would LOVE to have even one day of nothing and no responsibility. I am craving it like a dog with a bone that she wants to bury and then sleep on for at least 36 HOURS! So I will add to Barb’s question a resounding, "Wha????????????". How do you others do it?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our Little Boy, Frisker

Deb: Frisker, our dog, is sick. He is 12 years old. He is a Cairn terrier. He is a soulful creature not given to frivolous things. He exposes his belly for a scratch to anyone who comes through the door. He lives for the sweet touch of the human, the scratchy love of an adoring creature. But he is a serious pup who seems more concerned with our investments than our attention to him. He is not like his sister, nor is he like any other pup I have known. He loves to frolic with our daily game of “gimme it”, but then he wants to settle down to a good think about our fiscal responsibility and his place in it. In essence, Frisker cannot be defined. He is still blessedly, thankfully, with us, and hanging in for all he’s worth. 

So I have decided to grant him a living funeral in this blog. It worked for Tom Sawyer and it will work for Frisker Mochrie. And even though he can’t read, I will know that I have done it and I will be able to look into his liquid, hot chocolate eyes and he will be able to see that respects have been paid. For that is what he would want. The proper speeches, protocol being adhered to, and all the trimmings that accompany it. 

He is a traditional pup, respectful of his position, but with a love that knows no bounds. Despite his accountant demeanor, Frisker is a people pup. I am sure many of you have them or have seen them. I know that Barb has a people pup in her Chaplin whom I love so very much. But this is for our Frisker, our boy’s first pup, a pup who turned our boy into a dog lover. As our boy was leaving for camp this summer, he said his goodbyes to Frisker, spending so much time with him, not knowing if he would see his dog again. And neither did we. We still don’t. 

But what I need to tell you is that our Frisker is kind and relenting, smart and wily, gentle and giving. He is a toddler of a dog one second and then all at once serious and wry. Our girl pup, Fanny, whom we equally adore for her own traits is a dog of ancient instinct who will walk the walk before she eats, circle and circle before she lays down, and grab one of her stuffed squirrels in her mouth and, with a snap of her head, break its neck. Frisker on the other hand treats the stuffies like his babies. He carries them around and protects them with his paw. Anyone who comes to our door is treated to a stuffed animal delivered personally by our Frisker. He will run to the basket and push his way through it until he finds just the right gift for the particular person at the door. We have laughed watching him push toy after toy out of his way until he finds just the right one. 

We love them both so much because they are them and because they are different. But this blog is for Frisker, fighting for his life as we fight with him. We are so filled with the whole of Frisker right now. Every breath is special and every move is the first and last move. Someone said to me yesterday, “That is why I cannot have another pet, I just can’t take the loss”. I understand that, totally. However my point of view is that I would not trade one second of pain for the many, many years of joy that we have had with our Frisky-boy. So please, pray for him or think of him because he is our boy. Our boy’s first boy. He sleeps in our bed. He is our family and we are losing him. 

Barbara: Weeping as I read this, Deb. How many times would Frisker come to me with one of his specially chosen stuffies, make his serious business known, pet my leg with his paw, and lay down at our feet while we worked in your kitchen? He is truly a beloved soul. 

It is partly thanks to Deb and her pups that we even have our Chaplin. I was never a dog person––or didn’t think I was—and Deb introduced me to the sweet pleasure of that unique relationship. I wish we didn’t have to lose them, but I wouldn’t trade one moment with these little loves either. 

You know Frisker is in my thoughts, Deb. But so are you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Girls' Weekend Out

Barbara: I know this is easy for some people and not-so-easy for others. As one of the latter group for most of my adult life, I want to take a moment to recommend it: take a couple of nights away with some good women. I know it’s hard to get the time off, especially if you have kids. But do whatever it takes. Offer your husband or sibling or another girlfriend a reciprocal weekend off. 

Find some place to go that fits your budget. Plan it so that you don’t have to cook all the meals: ie, you divide the duties, including wash-up, so some meals you get to laze while others toil—and vice versa, of course. Bring lots of guilty-pleasure food (in our case, chips, kettle corn, and chocolate) and wolf it guilt-free, washing it down with yummy cocktails. Bring a few really fine meals to savour with fine (or cheap) wine. 

Do not bring expectations or judgment or recrimination. Bring joy and honesty and open arms. If you’re enjoying your sojourn in nature, do as our Mohawk friend suggests and listen to the creatures you come across––because each one is there to tell you a story (and each of you may need to hear a different one). If you can’t get to the wilds, I’m sure every place has some kind of story to share, even some good ones. 

You will feel a million times better (and wiser) afterward. If someone had told me this even ten years ago, I would’ve argued that the work involved planning a weekend away without the family wasn’t worth the stress and trouble. My older self wants to tell my younger self she’s an idiot. My younger self would’ve argued I couldn’t afford it. My older self would say you don’t have to go anyplace exotic to have a good time––sleeping bags on floors will do for a weekend. My younger self would’ve asked which girlfriends would fit the bill, would fit together, would be fun. My older self would say that any good friends will do … as long as no one brings expectations or judgment or recrimination. They will fit together—maybe not perfectly or seamlessly, but willingly––because they need it as much as you. 

Deb: Barb does sing the praises of a beautiful thing. I love my gals getaways. I am sure Barb was inspired by the weekend we just had at a friend’s farm. It was glorious. Barb has recently joined the group of us and is now lured by the getaway siren-song of too much food, booze, laughter and food. Food. Had to say Food one more time because well ... Food! We are so excited to get up there and see each other, you would think we just got out of prison. And yes it is easy and sweet, we chitchat about nothing and sometimes we explore our innermost thoughts. The whole weekend feels like a big blanket of estrogen draped over our shoulders. But I’m thinking we better get busy and make a quilt because the estrogen is in short supply as the years wear on!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Deb: I am turning 56 today, July the 5th. I was born in the year 1954. I am proud of that fact and happy to tell anyone who’s interested. 

I encounter many people who do not share my brazen birthday boasting. And not just women, as stereotypes might dictate. I meet so many people who refuse to give their ages and who are shocked when I blurt mine out. 

Now I’m not saying that people should expose their ages if they don’t feel like it. It is a very personal choice and there are many reasons why someone might not want to. Me, I shout it out. Always have. And the thing is, I never wanted to be older or younger than the age I was on my birthday. I always loved the age I was right then and there. After all, It was my number and I got to own it for a whole year. It’s the day I arrived on earth for goodness sake. Wow! Lucked out. Coulda been a dung beetle or a hyena. Won the food-chain lottery with human. The sky’s the limit! 

July 5th. It’s my Birthday and I’m healthy, happy, and looking for adventure! Thank you, MY BIRTHDAY, it’s my great honour to be here. So Happy Birthday, babies, whenever yours may be. Own it out loud or own it inside ... but own it. 

Barbara: And I turn 47 tomorrow, babies! I don’t know if that’s why Deb and I work so well together, because we almost share a birthday, but it is a real gift to have someone in your life who reminds you on a daily basis to celebrate and own it! Thanks, Deb, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I will follow your lead tomorrow and be grateful that I was not born a dung beetle. 

Some of you might remember me whining about revealing my age in Aging Gracefully. Clearly, I’m getting over that particular issue. I’m getting much better at choosing to embrace who I am over worrying about what other people think (“She’s HOW old? Oh, no, she can’t do this work anymore.”). But, I will say this: I have never had a problem celebrating my birthday. I love the pomp and circumstance (and by that I mean, you know, tea and paper in bed, guiltless lolling, and a nice dinner out with my family, tee hee!). I have not yet had a huge psychological problem with becoming another year older. I like each one of my 47 years and what they mean in terms of experience. 

But there is a strange hiccup in this tra-la: I have become increasingly shy about having a party on my birthday, “forcing” people to come and celebrate with me. I truly don’t understand this turn of sentiment. I LOVE celebrating anything with other people. I love having friends over, going to their places, going out en masse, any excuse for a celebration. But strangely, over the last few years, let’s do it on any day other than my birthday. Why, I wonder. Have I lost some of my “owning it” mojo? Or am I just getting quieter? I really don’t know… 

Anyway, Deb, tomorrow I promise to “own it inside”, if not outright owning it “loud”!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lost and Found

Barbara:Have you ever lost something that was really precious to you––and you can’t figure out how the hell you lost it? 

I wear three rings to honour my marriage in this order: my wedding band, a ten-year anniversary ring, and my engagement ring. The ten-year anniversary ring was a surprise gift from my husband as we had promised no gifts that year in lieu of a trip away. But it was the morning of our anniversary, the trip had already been taken, and I was in bed, lolling. P wondered aloud what “that thing” was and while I sleepily looked around for the nefarious “thing”, he carelessly threw it at me. After my initial shudder of fear (okay, I’m highly-gullible), I saw it was actually a ring-sized box—well, I’m sure I don’t need to describe how much I like shiny things in boxes that are meant to adorn me. It was (is) beautiful and I’ve been wearing the ring ever since, as I said, between the other two rings. 

Now, I do take the rings off each night and only put them back on after all the creaming up in the morning. But to my horror a few weeks ago, I was shocked and dismayed to suddenly notice only the wedding band and engagement ring on my finger. I went to my jewelry box and the ring wasn’t there. At first, I was calm—it HAD to be somewhere. If it wasn’t on my finger, it was simply in the house somewhere. Since I always wore it between the two other rings, it couldn’t possibly have fallen off. Or could it have??? 

I looked EVERYWHERE. I emptied my jewelry box. I tore apart the area around it. I tore apart our bedroom. I shook out clothes and emptied baskets. I even opened drains and poked around. My husband was out of town and I finally broke the news to him. Obviously, he was disappointed, but he offered up some other ideas of where to look. I looked: nothing. I had other people look. Had other people take the place apart. Nothing. I was getting more and more worried, more and more hopeless. 

And yet, I kept “asking” for the ring to come back. I can’t tell you who I was asking, or what, but I asked anyway. Repeatedly. And then, just as suddenly, it returned. I was getting dressed the other day and felt my foot step on something hard and small. My heart stopped. I just KNEW it was going to be the ring. I looked down and, sure enough, under my bare foot, there was the shining, wonderful “thing”, as if bidden by a desperate woman and having decided to ease her pain and return to her after some mysterious adventure. 

I’m sure there must be a logical explanation, but I can’t think of it. Just thrilled it’s back on my finger. 

The same exact thing happened a few years ago with an engraved pen a dear friend gave me (Sistah!). As a writer, you can imagine how important both symbolically and practically a pen is. Deb had given me a gorgeous pen the year before, so Deb’s pen was my precious home pen, and I decided to use Sistah’s pen as my precious travel pen. I finished an entire re-write of my first novel with that pen at my sister’s cottage. 

And then it disappeared. 

I was beyond confused. I had taken such good care of it, putting it always in the zippered compartment of my purse. Again, all the routes were re-traced, but the pen was gone. 

So I kept asking for it back. And then one day several months later, it popped up as if nothing at all had happened. As if I hadn’t completely emptied and taken apart every inch of where it might be. As if it, too, had traveled someplace really important and came back to me the moment it had accomplished its mission. 

And now the clincher––. Wait––Deb, could you please stop reading? I can’t bear to tell you this next part, so just skip along to the end, would you? Love you! 

Okay, clincher––that fantastic, precious pen that Deb gave me? Also disappeared. After years of service. My at-home, never-to-leave-the-house, given-to-me-by-a-best-friend-to-celebrate-a-creative-triumph pen, the pen that meant so much and achieved so much, which had written countless tales, notes, and revisions, it was suddenly gone. Is still gone. And I keep calling for it! 

I try to comfort myself with the thought that, for now, it’s having some too-great adventure. And that it, too, will reappear when it’s damn well ready. And I will be here to welcome it home and listen—and write—as it tells its tale. 

Deb: We have this happen in our lives so often. The lost item reappearing in a spot that you are sure you searched. My Catholic friends call for Saint Anthony and darned if that doesn’t work for them. I have employed him a few times making sure he knew I wasn’t Catholic. But that is the beauty of the Saints. They don’t judge, they just do their job. I also sometimes feel it is our spirit guides (okay, stay with me here) reminding us that they are around us. 

So sorry about the pen. I know they are just things and I usually subscribe to that theory, but sometimes when you lose something that has meaning, it hurts. SAINT ANTHONY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Barbara: Okay, I’m gonna try it. What the hell. PS, don’t tell Saint Anthony I said “hell”.