Saturday, October 28, 2006

Goodbye Grandma Betty

Last night, the world lost a sweet and wonderful lady. My hubby's grandma passed away at the age of 74, after a very full and beautiful life. She was a farm wife who raised five kids, wrote a regular newspaper column that appeared in a number of Central Alberta weeklies, spent a few years in Africa in the 70's teaching farmers about new farming practices, and wrote a bunch of books about her life experiences. She was also an accomplished painter to boot.

When I met her 6 years ago, she hadn't yet had any strokes, and was still out on the farm. She drove an 80s era sports car with a T-roof, and was full of energy and spunk. I'm so glad I got to meet that lady. Because a few short months later she had a stroke, and then over the years she had another, and then another. And each one debilitated her a little bit more until she was in a wheelchair, one whole side of her body paralyzed and blind in one eye. And I could tell she was miserable not being the independent lady she used to be.

She had a massive heart attack a few days ago, and after being in the hospital in intensive care for a few days, she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Goodbye Grandma Betty. I wish I had gotten to know you better -- I can tell you left an indelible mark on those who did.

Friday, October 27, 2006

’Tis the Season?

For the first time in my life, I have started Christmas shopping early. Yes, I'm well on my way to becoming one of those annoyingly smug people who brag about being done their Christmas shopping on December 1.

Why the Christmas zeal this year? Because I don't want to waddle through the packed malls of Calgary while eight months pregnant. Usually the millions of people don't bother me, and doing all my shopping two weeks before Christmas is my M.O. But this year, I can't imagine anything I'd rather do LESS. My back is going to hurt, my feet are going to be swollen, and my gi-normous stomach is going to knock things over in crowded stores. I just know it.

Also, there's the nagging voice in the back of my head that says: What if something goes wrong and the baby comes early? What if I get sick or get stuck on bed rest or something like that? And so, with Halloween not even here yet, I have started to buy Christmas presents. And it feels really, really weird.

It also feels like I should be decorating the house. I mean, if I'm buying presents, then it must be Christmas, right? It sure looks like Christmas at all the stores I'm shopping in. Maybe I should go home and find where we put the Christmas tree…

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Letter to the couple waiting in line behind me at Safeway tonight:

In what universe did you think loudly complaining about the service was going to make the line go any faster? You got in line pretty much the same time as I did, and we couldn't have been waiting more than ten minutes. Are you really so busy at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night that you have to sigh and bitch and moan about a ten minute wait?

Didn't you see the giant help wanted sign that covered the doors on the way in? It listed about 15 positions that needed to be filled in that store. They are obviously understaffed, and maybe the employees they do have are a little overworked. I didn't see any of them standing around talking or goofing off in any way. In fact, I actually saw one guy hurry down the aisle to answer a question for a customer.

And didn't you see how bad you were making the poor check-out clerk feel as you grumbled about how slow he was? He couldn't have been more than 16 years old! And the more you grumbled about how bad the service was, the redder the poor kid got, and the more he fumbled and struggled with the items and his scanner. Don't you remember what it was like to be 16 and unsure? Have you no feelings at all?

And the customer in line directly ahead of me may have had more than 10 items, but there weren't any other counters open. He had no choice but to use the express lane. Did you have to pick on him too?

I should have turned around and said something. And as I write this I'm regretting that I didn't. Because I'm tired of the rude and self-centered people running the world. I'm tired that nobody has any patience or understanding or empathy for anybody but themselves. And I'm worried about how I'm going to teach patience, understanding and empathy to my daughter, when there are no examples from real life to reinforce them.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What's the world coming to?

On Saturday morning at 5 a.m., a 61-year-old man (who weighed 120 lbs soaking wet) was nearly beaten to death one block from my house. He was walking across the Canadian Tire parking lot and was swarmed by a group of youths who repeatedly kicked and ground his head into the pavement and left him for dead. One block from my house. Which is right next to the RCMP detachment.

We've been having troubles with youth vandalism lately, so the community was debating whether to implement a curfew for teens. City Council voted it down three weeks ago, saying that it wasn't fair to the good kids and did little to deter the bad kids from doing what they were doing. I agreed, and still do. But clearly, we gotta do SOMETHING.

Maybe we need to get rid of the lenient federal young offender laws that give kids a very minor slap on the wrist for very serious offenses. Maybe kids need to learn that there are actual consequences to their actions when they are young so they don't continue to do these things when they are older.

Or maybe we just have to accept that this kind of thing is going to happen when a city starts to grow. Maybe we have to accept that bad people are going to do bad things, and it doesn't matter how many police officers we have patrolling our streets, they can't catch them all.

I know this sounds silly to those of you living in big metropolitan cities where these things happen all the time, but this is new to me. Airdrie, at 30,000 people, is the biggest place I've lived since I went to college about a million years ago. I grew up on a farm near a town of 1500 people, then after college I moved around Alberta a lot, but all were towns of 5000 people or less. These kinds of things just didn't happen.

But now I live 15 minutes north of very rapidly expanding Calgary, where crime is getting worse and worse, and those of us who have lived around this area all our lives are shocked at how fast it has escalated. I know it's incredibly naive and unrealistic, but I liked my world better when things like this happened in other cities; not one block from my house.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pregnant Curling - not as easy as it sounds

For some reason, blogger has been freezing me out for days and not letting me log in. Perhaps it knew I was dog tired and my brain didn't work and all the stuff I wrote this week was crap, and was therefore sparing all of you from my addle-brained meanderings. But they let me in today, so I'm posting what I wrote on Thursday 'cause it was actually not that bad.

Last night, I went curling. Yep, I went curling pregnant! And boy, was that hard! Curling is my favorite sport in the whole world. If I was a gazillionaire, I would spend my days practicing at the rink, put together a team and win the Scott Tournament of Hearts every year, then head off to the Olympics every four years and beat Dordy Nordby's team out of the gold every time. Of course, I'm not nearly good enough to do that NOW. This is just my dream. (And why I would have to spend every day at the rink practicing). For now, I will settle for a regular spot with someone's team in the local Wednesday night Ladies League.

But I've gotten a little off topic. I was going to Skip for a Ladies team this year, but then I got pregnant and the team kinda fell apart. So, my boss' fiance (who put the team together) found another team and they needed a spare for the night so I jumped at the chance. I figured, how much harder could pregnant curling be? A LOT harder, as it turns out. Sweeping was okay, mostly because I learned to do it in the stone ages and prefer to sweep old style. All I had to do was get a little lower and spread-eagle a little more to make room for the bump and it was no problem at all.

But throwing the rock -- that was a different story. I have this pre-shot routine that involves bending down really low in the hack and lining up the rock exactly where I want to throw it so I can use muscle memory to always be on the broom. But I can't bend anymore. Even a little bit. I had to stay sitting up straight in the hack and guess as to where the rock needed to go. Anything that had to go to either side of the house I did a pretty good job of hitting the broom -- but anything in the middle and I was hooped. I couldn't reach over my tummy! And in the middle of making one shot in the fifth end, just as I was coming out of the hack I got a charlie-horse in my calf and fell over. I have not fallen since I was learning to curl in grade 8! (Don't worry, I was only about 5 inches off the ground and I fell on my butt so baby was fine).

At the end the very nice people who I was curling with were humoring me and telling me how good I was, but I think secretly they are worried about me coming back again next week. Oh well. I had a ton of fun, and that's all that counts really. And I absolutely LOVE hanging out with the boss' fiance. If I had more time in my schedule and she had more time in hers, I think we would spend a lot more time together. That's one of the reasons I was so sad to see our Wednesday night team fall apart. How else do you make new friends when you're 32? Oh well, there's always next year . . .…

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm old. Old, old, old.

I am old. I am one of the old people now. I am no longer one of the young people. And I know this is true because today I went to the mall. And at the mall I discovered, to my dismay, that there are several stores that I am now too old to shop in. And I discovered THAT because when I went in them, the 16-year-olds who work there gave me "the look." You know, the one that says "Hey old lady. You must have wandered in here by accident. The old people clothes are next door."

It's not like I was going to buy them. I'm visibly pregnant and would obviously not fit into them. But I only get a morning off about once every 6 months, and I was in a mall and I hadn't gone shopping in awhile and I just wanted to look. But everywhere I went, I kept getting "the look."

Perhaps it wasn't so much because I am old, but that these days I dress more for comfort than for style. I'm wearing a pair of maternity jeans that are very comfy but won't stay up for longer than 15 minutes so I constantly have to hike them up as I'm walking. And since the beautiful winter jacket I bought last year no longer does up, I've been wearing an old polar fleece jacket that I used to curl in. It's in good shape because I only wore it for a few hours once a week, and the reason why it still fits is that I bought it big enough to wear several layers underneath while I curl -- so definitely not in style anymore. But I just can't justify spending hundreds of dollars on clothes that I'm not going to wear for very long, so I'm doing my best to make do with what I've got.

So I guess that means that I'm not exactly stylish at the moment. Which makes me old. Because young Denice would not have been caught dead in public in some of the things I've been wearing, no matter what the reason. And that is how I know for sure that my 20s are definitely behind me. When you have a husband who is still in his 20s and no kids, you can fool yourself into thinking that you are still very young and hip for 32. But I think it's time I faced reality. I'm old. That and 20-year-olds probably don't use "hip" to describe themselves anymore.

Hey - come to think of it, what are 16-year-olds doing working at 11 a.m. on a Thursday anyway? Is the Calgary labour shortage so great that kids are skipping school to make the big bucks at Le Chateau? Seriously?

Monday, October 09, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things…

Since being pregnant has turned me into a sentiment sap, I decided to do the cliche thing and put together a little list of the things I am thankful for in my life (not necessarily in order) to celebrate this Thanksgiving weekend.

So, here goes:

1. My sweet hubby who spoils me rotten and treats me like the goddess I am.
2. My sweet baby girl who will arrive in January.
3. My sweet parents and sisters who have always treated me like I was the most important person in the world to them, even when I haven't been at my nicest.
4. All of my wonderful friends who I have been lucky enough to meet over the years.
5. Beautiful snowy days.
6. My cuddly soft microfibre fleece bathrobe and socks.
7. My two purring kitties who snuggle up next to me and fall asleep every night.
8. Staying in bed with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate on a cold day.
9. Baking gingerbread cookies from scratch and making the whole house smell wonderful.
10. All 10 seasons of Friends on DVD - a few of which will be with me in the hospital while I'm in labour to help me take my mind off things.
11. An ice cold bottle of Diet Coke.
12. Going for a long run or bike ride with some great music blaring in my ears.
13. Macintosh computers and the Adobe Creative Suite.
14. The excited look on my two-year-old nieces’ face when she first sees me, and squeals "Aunt Denice!"
15. A great night of curling…
16. Followed by a soak in a hot tub
17. Waking up early at Christmas time and turning the Christmas tree lights on while the house is dark and everyone else is still sleeping and quiet.
18. Waking up early in the summer and watching the sunrise at my parents' farm, while everyone else is still sleeping and quiet.
19. That awesome Quench moisturizer from Olay that actually made my perpetually itchy and dry skin go away.
20. Did I mention my sweet hubby?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Skinny Jeans, Now???

Okay, fashion powers-that-be. I have a bone to pick with you.

Why, after so many years of putting out things that did not look good on me, did you pick this year of all years to bring back skinny jeans? Non-pregnant Denice looks GREAT in skinny jeans. I am 5' 4" and all legs. And although there have been times that my legs have been much leaner than others, generally my legs tend to be my best feature.

Fashion Fiascos for me over the past 7 years or so: I am VERY short-waisted so all those low rise jeans just look like regular waist pants on me. And crop tops? Not crop tops on me. And that two year period where lime green and yellow were in? The worst colors in the world on me. Flared leg jeans were okay, but when you are only 5' 4" they don't really help make you look any taller. I could go on, and on, and on!

And now I am pregnant Denice. My thighs and ass have gotten rather bigger than they typically would be but I am okay with that, because if that's what has to happen for me to have a healthy baby, then c'est la vie. But that also means that for the short period of time that skinny jeans will be in, not only can I not wear them, I won't look good in them like I usually do either!
Because I have a feeling that when baby comes in January, I will not be one of the lucky few who can put her old jeans on a week after giving birth. I'm pretty sure it's going to take 6 or 8 months of aerobics and running and weight lifting to get this body back into it's previous shape. And by then skinny jeans will be out, and it will be back to something that looks hideous on me.

Why, why WHY?????

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

In which my dorkiness reaches new heights…

I have officially become the biggest dork in the universe.

Remember a couple weeks ago, when I wrote about my cat who was desperate to go outside? Well, he quit begging for a week or so, but he started again with a renewed vigor that I think surprised even him. He goes to the patio door in our living room, stands up on his hind feet and scratches and yowls and scratches and yowls and scratches and yowls to be let out. And when I say yowl, I mean YOWL. Deep, throaty, voluminous yowls that make me think HE thinks I'm some sort of prison warden trying to torture him. And he will carry this on for 30 minutes without stopping. He could probably go longer, but the 30 minute mark is when he breaks me and I give in.

Why can't I just let him out to roam free like a normal person would? The reasons are threefold:

1. We live really, really close to a very major Alberta highway, and I don't want my sweet kitty to get schmucked by a car. He's such a "leap before you look" kind of cat, I just don't want to take a chance and let him loose on his own.

2. The people in Airdrie have been known to leave poison out for cats who wander free and happen to wander into their yards and mess up their precious flowers.

3. The City of Airdrie is thinking about enacting a cat bylaw that will say that I CAN'T let my cat roam free even if I wanted to, so I don't want to let him get used to it and then take it away from him.

Which brings us to my aforementioned extreme dorkiness. Because I can't just let him roam free, I have resorted to taking my cat for a walk. Like a dog. With a harness and a leash and everything. There is a walking path that runs along our back yard, and we hit the path every night, stopping to sniff every blade of grass and eat every bug he can find. I always wait until it's dark, by the way, so my night owl cat gets to prowl and I don't have to run into very many people.

But I'm getting some pretty strange looks from the few people I do run into. On Saturday night, when we reached the highway pedestrian overpass, I noticed there were two boys, probably about 16 or 17 years old, standing around and I'm pretty sure smoking weed. And the first guy says, "Hey, I think that lady's walking her cat!" The second guy looks and goes, "NOOO!" And the first guy says, "Dude, she is! She's walking her cat!" Muffled laughter followed. That was the actual conversation. I'm not making this up.

So, if you see a crazy lady in Airdrie walking her cat, be kind. It's just me.