Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another list

10 books I recommend
1. The Bible (even if you don't read it from a spiritual stand point, there are some great stories in there!)
2. The Stand by Stephen King
3. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
5. Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
6. Madame Bovary by Flaubert
7. all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
8. the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
9. the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
10. The Diary of Anne Frank.
(Hmmm...most of my choices are "children's" books. Interesting.)

9 places I want to visit
1. Portugal
2. the Great Wall of China
3. Russia
4. your house
5. a private tropical beach
6. Mayan relics
7. the Egyptian pyramids
8. Northern Canada (preferably within the polar circle)
9. Dubai

8 favourite foods
1. Coffee
2. escargots
3. popcorn
4. salmon
5. asparagus
6. buffalo tenderloin
7. raw spinach
8. Corn Nuts

7 jobs I have had
1. Hotel front desk clerk
2. night auditor
3. credit manager
4. payroll manager
5. Executive housekeeper
6. Catering manager
7. interviewer for Statistics Canada.

6 stupid facts about me
1. left handed
2. famous as a proof reader at work (not so much on this blog)
3. love watching golf on TV but think the game in real life is unbearably stupid
4. hate ice cream
5. collect rocks
6. adore obscure trivia

5 every day favourites
1. coffee
2. a good laugh
3. coming home
4. a real letter in my mail box
5. hugs and kisses

4 mood lifters
1. hugs and kisses
2. my favourite blogs
3. an unexpected phone call from someone I love
4. hot bath

3 reasons to get out of bed
1. Christmas
2. "alone time"in early morning
3. need to pee

2 people I love (only two??)
1. Son
2. Husbandly One

1 thing I love about myself
1. curious

So c'mon...what does your list look like, I'd love to see it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Husbandly One hates Chinese food.

I looooooooooooove Chinese food.

I am home by myself tonight, so I hatched the decadent plan to order some Chinese take-out and have myself a little food orgy. I called a local place, told them I was ordering for delivery, and asked if they took debit-at-the-door. Oh, no problem, we take debit, credit cards, whatever you got lady. And it'll be about twenty minutes.

More than an HOUR passes, I was just about to call them back to see if something was wrong, when my phone rang. The restaurant telling me my food was ready. Ummm...great, so why isn't it HERE?

Whoever took my order did not register the fact that it was for delivery. Ok, mistakes happen. But when I double checked about the payment thing, I was told that no, they only take cash for delivery. "So, you want me to send driver?"
"Ummm, NO, because I can't pay you!!"
"But we already made it."
"If the driver can;t take cards, can I give you my credit card number over the phone??"
"No, has to be in person."
"Well then I'm sorry but don't send any food here, this is ridiculous."
"But we made the food."
"Yes, and I told you I wanted it delivered, and I told you I was going to pay by debit."
"You didn't tell me that!"
"No, of course I didn't tell YOU that, I told the man who answered the phone when I called. Ask him."
"But the food is made!!"
"And this is my problem HOW??"

So it is now 9pm, I am so hungry that I might pass out at any second, and I have just called a second restaurant to place a second order that will take another half hour. And no, they don't take debit-at-the-door either, but they did take my Visa number and all is arranged and paid for.

I don't fault the first restaurant for not having the most up-to-date technology, that ability to allow customers to pay by plastic at the door, I get the fact that it must be an expensive undertaking. But when I placed my order, I made it PERFECTLY CLEAR how I wanted to receive my order, and how I planned to pay for it. I was told "Ok!"

So instead of treating me like a bad customer who reneged on her order, how bout you deal with arsehole who answered the phone in the first place?

(and yeah yeah, I know this is a totally lame blog entry, but I'm hungry, dammit.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Finicky insult....or the shape of things to come?

Last night I realized I had some stewing beef in the fridge that was quickly going over to The Dark Side. I loathe wasting grocery money, so I immediately threw it in my crockpot with anything I could put my hands on. I knew that I would be the only one home for dinner tonight, but I figured the act of cooking the beef would buy me another few days for our family to consume it.

I had a third of a bottle of red wine that had been sitting on the counter for a week, so I threw it in. I had some carrots in the crisper, so they came in to play, too. I didn't have fresh mushrooms, so the canned version had to do. I did have fresh garlic, so I crushed four large cloves and threw them in. A few other finds in my pantry, and I had what I thought was a reasonable combination to cook today.

When I got home from work, the smell of red wine coming from my crockpot was amazing. I quickly cooked some rice and then doled myself a healthy portion of the beef mixture on top. Not bad.

Right around THAT time, I realized I didn't have any dog food in the house for Sasha. The thing I had made in the crockpot was 98% pure beef, so I took out a plate to cool, and when it was ready I put it in the dog's dish.

She was clearly excited to see that I was filling her dish. She walked straight up to it, sniffed, and then stepped back. No, c'mere baby, c'mere, look at the nummies Mummy has for you. C'mere, girl.

And then she stepped back again.

The DOG doesn't like my cooking. Can't wait til my family gets home.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Part Two: Here's what's wrong (and right) about healthcare

Welcome to Canada, that glorious land where I will swear our healthcare is better than that of the US. Why? well, obviously, because my healthcare is free and easily accessible.


Before I moved here, I lived in a "Have" province (clearly, in direct opposition to where I currently reside, a "Have Not" province.) Want to see your doctor? Call him, you'll have an appointment later this week. Don't like your doctor? Call another office, they'll have you in within two weeks, faster if it's an emergency.


I have lived in this province for SEVEN YEARS, and have not had a doctor that entire time. I am almost 39 years old, so, notwithstanding any other normal medical issue that may come up? Skipping your annual Pap test? Not such a good idea.

Oh, and both of my parents died at the age of SIXTY? Yeah, I might want to see someone.

I am currently on three separate waiting lists, trying to get a doctor to accept me as a patient. See, our medical system works like a charm if you have always lived in this province, but if you have the audacity to move in to it? I hope you doubled up on your inhaler medication before you left home, because dude? You are SCREWED. (And, just to be morbid? I called my father's doctor just after Daddy died, and essentially said, "Listen, your case load is now down by One...and you guys clearly know our family's medical history, so...can you get me in? No response.)

So tonight I cut myself on a can of dogfood. Cut myself so badly that I called my Mum for her advice. And after I tried her suggestion and it didn't work? Called the 1-800 number for our provincial "Telecare"... they're kind of the people you call when you sincerely don't know what to do, or when you have no place else to turn.

Based on what the lovely Shannon, a registered nurse told me, I need to haul ass to an after hours clinic tomorrow and get a tetanus shot. But what else the Lovely Shannon told me? There's a provincial registry I can add my name to, something I didn't know before. WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS BEFORE??

I hate to get graphic (because, hey, my MUM reads this) but in addition to the fact that the top of my left index finger doesn't seem interested in staying attached to my body? I have an expired IUD in my uterus right now, and no way to get it out, because I don't have a doctor. After seven years of waiting.

And I'm sorry, but that shit is just messed up. I deserve the same healthcare as any other Canadian, regardless of where I live. God knows my taxes pay for it.

And thank God that the lovely Shannon took the time to tell me there is something else I can do. It may just be adding my name to yet another waiting list, but at least I did it.

Edited to note: Just so we're all clear, I haven't been waiting seven years to get my IUD out, I have been waiting seven years for a doctor. The IUD expired, like two months ago, which is an inconvenience, NOT seven years ago, which would just be gross and disgusting.

Kinda like me talking about my IUD in the first place.

Monday, October 20, 2008

That AIDS guy

Listen, it is after midnight, and I only caught part of the news, but...

There's this guy, Johnson Aziga, who is being tried for first degree murder by the Canadian government, because of his reckless disregard for public safety and spreading HIV; the government says they can prove he transmitted the disease to seven women and that two of the women have since died. This is the first time our government has launched such a case.

And they are launching it because they had already issued him an order to disclose his HIV status to his future sex partners, but he ignored it. In some cases, his partners asked him about his HIV status, and the rutting bastard flat out lied to them.

Umm, maybe I'm being a bit of an innocent here, but I'm pretty sure the government doesn't get involved in each HIV case in our country. So how much of a scum bag was this guy in the first place, before he killed those two women, that caused the government to attempt to step in? Because Christ alone knows who else this asshole killed. Well, here, read this...

Aziga, a native of Uganda and former research analyst with Ontario's ministry of the Attorney General was diagnosed with HIV in 1997 and was counselled by medical officials not to have unprotected sex and to inform partners of his HIV status, court heard.
In October 2002, Hamilton public health officials issued a written order to Aziga to disclose his health status to sex partners and to use condoms after he acknowledged to a public health nurse he had unprotected sex with at least one woman and had not disclosed his HIV status, Power said witnesses will testify.
Aziga was issued a second written order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act in August 2003, the Crown attorney told the court.
Despite being warned of the danger of infecting others, Aziga continued to have unprotected sex, even on the morning of his arrest, Power said the evidence will show.
Aziga and seven complainants who tested positive all share a rare strain of HIV not commonly found in North America, Power noted.

Good God, what is WRONG with people??

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gift giving? I RULE

Okay, Husbandly One's birthday isn't until Wednesday, but I'm ready. Here's what will happen:

He will open a large gift (the box started off as a case of coffee), only to discover 40 small bags of potato chips. If he digs through that, he will find another box....which contains about 100 individually wrapped peanut butter cups and yet another box. When he opens that box, he will find a staggering amount of M&M's covering yet another smaller box.

When he opens that box,he will be overwhelmed by the number of "Rocket" candy rolls concealing yet another box. That box will reveal dozens of Halloween themed chocolates...and another box.

That box is a small box of cereal, with a "prize in every box". When he digs through the cereal, he will eventually find a tiny glass vial containing a small piece of paper. When he unrolls the paper, he will find a teeny tiny picture of Bill Clinton. (representing our tickets to hear President Clinton speak at the end of November.)

I spent over $65 on candy to put this together, but I figure four things:

1) it was fun to do
2)it'll be fun to watch
3) the man DOES have a sweet tooth, and
4) Hallowe'en is a week after his birthday, so I don't have to buy Hallowe'en candy.

Financial Crisis

No no, I'm not personally in one, but, umm, collectively we're ALL in one. Not only do we all need to save money, we all need to treat our natural resources (water, oil, food) like the precious commodities they are.

Does anyone have any suggestions for my normal, middle class household to help us save money and/or reduce our impact on the environment? And please, don't tell me to Google it, I HAVE. I'm just asking if there is something you personally are doing that is working, or if you have a favourite site you turn to.

All of this has been prompted by a bit of ageism....for the first time, I am REALLY seeing that there are three distinct generations living in my house, and only one of us seems interested in saving the planet / our wallets. There's me, almost forty; Husbandly One, almost sixty; and Stepson, just on the other side of twenty.

Stepson: could care less about any of this, is not polically minded, does not consider global issues, feels he should be able to walk around the house in shorts during winter, does not pay the heating bill.

Husbandly One: actually pays the heating bill, so is often grumpy. Still, if Husbandly One feels the slightest bit chilly, he turns up the heat.

Me: the crunchy granola chick in the middle, screaming, "If you are cold, put on more clothes! The sweater is paid for already, the heat is NOT!"

I face the same issues with our soaring grocery bill. I am a big fan of eating leftovers, recipes that involve stewing beef, my crock pot, and whatever is on sale. Husbandly One is much more capricious, purchasing whatever appeals to him in the moment. I once tried menu planning/grocery shopping for a three week period and it almost destroyed his psyche. "How can we decide on Monday what we want to eat on Thrusday?"

(Irma, in the background, banging head on wall.)

So, my Internet Friends, is there anything you can suggest? I am looking for ANY way to stretch a dollar.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And one more thing

I hope all you Canadians went out and voted today. I hope all you Americans go out and vote three weeks from now. It really is important, you guys.


Here's what's wrong with health care

To recap: Husbandly One has a strange feeling in his leg last Friday so went to the outpatient department in the morning. He sat in Emergency all day, waiting to be taken to his room. He was delivered to his room at 8:30pm, but no one came to uptake him (ie, fill out the opening paperwork whixh says he is now that floor's responsibility) until 10:15 pm. It was also at that time we were told not to expect an actual doctor to come see him that weekend.

Late Monday morning, a chief hematology doctor (or however you spell it) finally shows up and tells him that he is free to go, as long as he comes back that same day at 2pm for an injection, and then Tuesday (today) for one last appointment at 8am. APPOINTMENT.

Ex-Husband returns to the hospital this morning at 8am, leaving our 12 year old home alone, because, remember, he has an appointment.

Ex-Husband finally sees the doctor at 4:30pm. (Chief hematology guy again). Chief guy tells Ex-Husbnad that, in is opinion, there never WAS a blood clot this time, he thinks that the MRI picked up the scarring from the last time Ex-Husband had a blood clot. In laymen's terms, there's nothing wrong with Ex-Husband, there never was, and he spent all that time in the hospital for nothing.

Oh....yeah...right...one more small thing they need to mention. See, Chief guy wasn't actually the doctor who admitted Ex-Husband in to the hospital last Friday. No, that would be some ER doctor. So technically, Ex-Husband should never have been allowed to go home on Monday, because original docor didn't say it was okay. But, you know, original doctor is on days off. SO THEY NEED TO RE-ADMIT EX-HUSBAND TODAY SO ORIGINAL DOCTOR CAN SIGN HIM OUT ON WEDNESDAY. Even though there is nothing WRONG with him, they need him to scramble to figure out what the hell he is going to do about the 12 year old who has been home by himself all day, and apparently doesn't have a parent coming home, either. All this because they need all their stupid paperwrk filled out six ways to Sunday so they don't leave themselves open to some law suit.

Now, I have zero problem with the fact that they admitted him to the hospital in the first place; after all, blood clots can kill you. But during those days in the hospital, it's not like he actually received any medical care (he was even taking the meds he had brought with him from home, so it's not like he even got four days worth of free drugs out of the deal, and he didn't even see a doctor for the first three days). And while he was there, he was costing me (as a tax-payer) money. And taking up a bed that could have been used for someone who was actually sick. And now they won't let him leave!

This afternoon he and I discussed the idea of him just leaving against medical advice, or whatever that's called. It was very tempting, but then we both realized that if he does that, if anything ever goes wrong at any time during the rest of his life and we actually DO need to sue someone, someone will pull the fact that he checked himself out and figure out a way to blame that future trouble on this one hospital stay. (Did that make sense?)

This whole situation is so stupid I can't even see straight. (oh and don't worry, Son is with friends for the night and is being well looked afer.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Because, apparently, I need MORE drama in my life

Context: Ex-Husband planned to fly to Alberta with our Son on Saturday (yesterday) for a week of sightseeting in the Rockies, plus Thanksgiving with his own family. Much holiday joy and memory making was anticipated by all.

Reality: Friday afternoon, Ex-Husband called me in my office at 3:30pm, to tell me that he had been admitted to the hospital and I needed to jump in my truck immediately to go get Son. (Son and Ex-Husband live two hours away from me.)

Long story short, I picked up Son at their house, packed a bag for Ex-Husband, and then went to the hospital.

He has been hospitalized due to blood clots in his leg. The truly scary part about all this is that this is the third time in three years the blood clots have formed, despite the fact that he is already on several blood thinners. The damn things just keep coming back. And the damn things could kill him in the blink of an eye. He is 41 years old.

Son and I spent Friday evening with Ex-Husband, finally arriving back at their house at 11pm. Saturday morning, we were back at the hospital by 9am, and we hung out with Ex-Husband til 1pm, at which time I literally HAD to bring Son here to my house. Number One, I had been wearing the same dress, nylons, and black pumps for two days already. Number Two, my impromptu trip meant that Husandly One was back at our house sans vehicle. Number Three? STILL no sign of The Grand-Boobah-Doctor, who apparently thinks Ex-Husband's case is serious enough to warrant attention from his own self, but aparently has no interest in coming in during Thanskgiving weekend. Ex-Husband has now been in the hospital for three days, and he hasn't seen one single doctor one single time.

And no, I am NOT making this up, the nurses have been hinting at this ever since Ex-Husband was admitted: there is no real reason for him to be there (he could be treated as an outpatient) but they do not have the authority to release him, and he better be prepared to wait til Tuesday, as they all know that Grand-High-Poobah won't come in on the weekend.

All of which is frustrating for all of us....Ex-Husband in particular, because he is now stuck in the hospital for no real reason, with absolutely no one to come visit him and keep the boredom away. (he doesn't want to tell any of his friends or any one at work about the whole situation.) I feel terrible because I had to leave his city to bring Son here, but the fact remains I HAD to come home, I would honestly prefer to still be there so we could keep him company.

I may not be in love with my Ex-Husband, and things since we split have not always been rosy, but I will always love him, and my life will always be tied up in his. (I am listed, rightly so, as his next-of-kin, for heaven's sake.) I hope he is making it through the day without too much boredom, and I hope the emails I send him are cheering him up. (He called me this morning to let me know that he is receiving my messages, but for some reason the weird hosptial internet service won't let him reply.)

And....I really have nothing else to say. Ex-Husband, Son and I are in limbo, and so that's how I'll end this post.

Edited to add: Husbandly One insists I return to Ex-Husband's city tomorrow, whether it be to take Son home or simply so Son can visit his father. Husbandly One gets that "family" may often be a complicated, convoluted thing....but at the end of the day, it's still Family.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The best part about dealing with celebrities

In my job, I have to deal with famous people (or Famous People's People) on a regular basis. None of this fazes me in the least-- after all, they are just normal people doing their jobs-- and I do everything I can to fulfill their specific requests without judging.

Perfect example: a few years ago I had to take care of, arguably, the biggest rock band in the world. The lead singer wanted (among other things) a full sized coffee maker, Starbucks coffee, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of white wine, six local beers, six imported beers, a bottle of Scotch, a particular mineral water, and many assorted sandwiches and snack foods.

Some of the people in my organization who saw the full list snickered....if buddy needed all that for a one night stay, he must be a major alcoholic with an eating disorder, ha ha.

Noooooo....not even a little bit. Think about your own life; you come home to your house at the end of the day, and you feel like having...what? Do you want a beer, or do you want a glass of apple juice? You paw through your fridge, trying to decide between the leftover chicken or a container of yogurt. Just because you have four or five types of liquor in your house, doesn't mean you're going to drink them, does it? The point is you have a choice.

Celebrities on tour don't have a home, don't have their own creature comforts. And so yes, some of them ask for what appears at first glance to be "everything". The end result is they use about 5% of what you put in their rooms....but at least they have a choice, they get to feel like normal people, too.

I love this part of planning for celebrities more than any other. No, I don't want to meet them. No, I don't want tickets. I just want to be the one who provides what they need.

So I have this celebrity coming next week. I received her rider ("list of things she'd like") a few weeks ago, which included a particular mineral water, and today I finally spoke to her manager again.

Manager: So you can get the organic vegetables, right?
Me: Yes, it's already done.

Manager: And there's no problem about her dog?
Me: No, we're a pet friendly hotel.

Manager: Great. Oh, and don't worry about the water, I know now that it's not available in Canada.
Me: Yeah, but I have it.

(long pause)

Manager: (sputtering) What are you talking about, every place we've been in Canada they told us it's not available!
Me: It's not, they don't sell it in Canada.
Manager: Then....how.....?
Me: We called Atlanta and had it shipped. No big deal.
Manager: but but but but but but every other hotel told us they couldn't get it.
Me: Well, uh, we did.

THOSE are the moments I love, the moments when I get to show these people that my hotel rules all, that we take their needs seriously and will do whatever it takes to make sure they feel welcomed.

(And when I further told her that Atlanta had sent me way more water than I asked for, and she could have it to take with her on the tour bus for the other Canadian stops? I think I made a new best friend.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Knitting Chronicles

I am presently knitting three sweaters at the same time: for my Son, for Husbandly One, and for Step Son. The last time I knit a sweater for Son was almost ten years ago, and I have never knit for the other two. All I'm getting at is that the sight of me knitting hasn't been the norm around here.

All of these sweaters are a surprise to the recipient, and yet all three of them are in on the secret that I am knitting a sweater for someone else. Got that? Son knows I am knitting a green sweater for Husbandly One, Husbandly One knows I am knitting a red sweater for Son, and StepSon thinks the blue sweater is actually meant for his father.

I am the master of deception.

Except for the fact that I have to knit openly most evenings; I knit based on who isn't home -- or isn't expected home-- at any given time. And so, Husbandly One -- who only knows I am knitting a red sweater for Son-- has also seen me working on a blue sweater. My StepSon, who knows about the green sweater, has walked in on me as I work on the red one.

And nobody has questioned a thing.

So my question to you, dear Internet: Should I be glad they are all typical oblivious boys, or should I be pissed off that no one pays the slightest damn bit of attention to anything I do around here, as long as they all get fed?


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Countdown to the election

Ok, guys, listen up: the election is one week from today. No, not the U.S. election which is so close to my heart, but our own, somewhat boring, Canadian election.

Yes, I said boring. I have no doubt that all of the national party leaders are very passionate about our country, but....umm, yawn. (With the possible exception of NDP leader Jack Layton....not saying I would necessarily ever cast a vote for him, but I'd sure like to have him sitting at my kitchen table, telling stories with a beer in his hand. He's the leader who seems most like a person, if you get my meaning.)

But again, there's only one week left, and then all this boring boringness will go away. Yay, TV go back to regularly scheduled programming! And you know what happens then? One of these people will be leading our country. As in, "in charge of CANADA", which, as you know, is a pretty big place. And, umm, happens to be where we live. And pay taxes. And (hopefully) avoid wars.

Listen, I am the first to admit that our political process could use a little more razzle dazzle to encourage people to get involved and vote, and clearly we aren't going to get any on this campaign. But if you haven't decided who you're going to vote for, or even if you're going to vote at all?

You only have to pay attention for one week, I promise. Just give the whole process a chance for seven days. Listen to what the leaders are offering, read what the newspapers are reporting, listen to what your co-workers are saying over coffee, and then draw your own conclusions. Just for seven days, okay, you can do that standing on your head, I know it.

The right to vote is one of the things I hold closest to my heart. I don't care who you vote for, just get involved and do it. Please?

(Oh, and if you DO need me to tell you who to vote for? Email me.)

(I'm kidding, I'm kidding...)

Monday, October 6, 2008

You know what would rock?

A few positive thoughts directed at us here at Casa Floresta.

No, nothing is wrong, but I do have something on my mind that isn't all puppy dogs and rainbows.

So, just for giggles, how 'bout you send a little love my way and we'll all see what happens.

Ambiguously Yours,

Friday, October 3, 2008

The last week

Yikes, how is it possible so much time has passed since I posted??

Elton John was, quite simply, amazing. Oh no, wait, that's not what I meant: Elton John was FREAKING, LIFE-ALTERING, AMAZING.

There, I feel better.

Husbandly One and I had second row tickets, which were (watch for repetition) AMAZING for most of the concert. But four songs before the end, those of us in the front rows were encouraged to "rush" the stage. Which, hello, we did.

So there I am, literally as close to Elton John as I am to my laptop at this moment, and he pulls out a pen to sign autographs for those of us in the front row. He signed tickets, he signed purses, he signed albums, and (memorably!) he signed someone's Visa card.

And there's me in the front row, Husbandly One with his hands on my hips behind me. Did I offer up my tickets? Did I offer up my arm? Did I lift my shirt for Sir Elton to sign my bra? (hey, I saw a chick to this.)

No no, I pushed other concert-goers in front of me, trying to get THEM the right position for his attention.

My livelong path in the hospitality industry has rendered me completely incapable of taking something for myself, for me it is always about someone else.

Stupid, stupid Irma.

On the other hand...

My Mum and my StepSon were also at the concert, in the nosebleed section. They saw Husbandly One and I rush the stage, they saw us dance to the music, they saw Elton John within inches of us, they saw us as we danced three feet away from The Man.

Afterwards, Step-Son said to me, "Well, it certainly looked like the two of you had a Good Date."


Yes we did.