Humour

Two guys run into each other in the doorway of a Tim Horton’s coffee shop; one leaving and one arriving. One guy says, “After you…” to which the first responds, “No, after you …”

And there ensues The Great Canadian Stand-Off where our national proclivity to politeness and addiction to Tim Horton’s coffee, collide.  You know this could go on long enough that the required twenty minutes sitting time of Timmies coffee would expire and I would have to wait for a fresh pot to brew. Someone would have to break the stalemate.

Might as well be me.

Between my thirst for a Double-Double Dark (not to mention my need to go pee after my last Double-Double Dark) and my son’s yearning for a maple dip (do you need Eh dictionary yet?), we were not above trampling Canadian ideals and pitching forth through these blocked doors.

We waited a respectable thirty seconds and one more round of “No, I insist …” and “No, really … you go first” before I barged in between them and scurried to the ladies room.

But not without voicing a quick, “’Scuse me! Sorry!” over my shoulder, of course!

Canadians.

What can you do, eh?

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.

 

Winter is coming but I’m not talking about freezing those buns.

I read recently that several major US companies have added coverage for fertility preservation procedures to their employee benefit plans. Basically, this involves extracting a woman’s eggs from her ovaries and freezing them until she is ready to have a family. Get it? You’re freezing your buns before they’re in the oven! Given the opportunity, there are so many other parts of my body that I would have frozen at a younger age had I the chance before I would even consider freezing my eggs!

Of course freezing eggs and sperm has long been medical procedures available to people –many choose to undertake the procedure before undergoing serious medical treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation. Another reason for undergoing such a procedure of course is because a woman’s ‘younger self’ eggs are more viable and healthier than her eggs at an advance maternal age, thereby leading to a healthier pregnancy and baby, all the while allowing a woman to focus on her career before having a family. Many women I know did that anyway, but I guess now there’s medical intervention available to take some of the worry out of advanced maternal conception and pregnancy. Of course, there’s no procedure available to take the worry about raising those children … other than perhaps that other cure-all that’s also pretty decent when frozen (margaritas).

We know that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but it would appear that all play and no work might get Jane fired. Perhaps this all just a little too paternalistic. Companies like Apple and Facebook are taking care of your ovaries so you can take care of the Apple and Facebook? We don’t want you having babies while you’re young and upwardly mobile so please freeze them and have your babies when you’re past your prime and no longer worth much to your organization. Just pop those eggs in the freezer next to the leftover chili – or better yet where you’ll soon be storing your pumped breast milk.

Please lets lobby for a little more gender reciprocity here too, while we’re at it. Maybe I would have liked it if my husband’s hair follicles could have been frozen and preserved for later use too.

Pretty soon we won’t have the need for the political debate over extended maternity benefits because women will just delay having their babies until their retirement – when they have nothing but time on their hands.

Think of it … mother and daughter, father and son in matching bibs … matching walkers … sharing in mushy food dinner conversations. I sense a bonding – and business – opportunity here!

I just want you to know I’m not one of those hockey moms

But sometimes I wish I was.

My daughter’s team was in a hockey tournament recently in Cornwall and alongside the usual pre-game superstitions (mostly her), chips and wine in bed (mostly me) and juicing up the Jambox (both of us), her team made it to the semi-finals of the tournament – a game that they , the Hungry Hippos,  sadly lost to hometown rivals, The Ugly Pucklings (the nicknames girls’ hockey teams give themselves is an entirely different blog post).

One of her round robin games saw them play a team from the Outaouais region just across Quebec border from Ottawa. It was not a pretty game. We tied 1-1 but not before our trainer had to tend to two Hippos who’d been checked by girls on this team (girls hockey is non-contact by rule but not always in practice), and saw the opposing team accumulate 8 minor penalties in one game. I’m don’t think my daughter’s  team accumulated 8 minor penalties in the entire season last year. To make matters worse, one of their team members accumulated 5 of those penalties, and the coach then saw it fit to nominate her for player of the game. Not only is that bad coaching and parenting, but let’s agree that that is bad everything.

It was one of those games that gives hockey a bad reputation. Thankfully, the game finished with no real havoc and no serious injury.

The havoc started when we got home from the weekend – when I get to talk about my stellar parenting.

I should have just let it go, but I was irked, and the game became the subject of our family dinner conversation on Monday evening.

“You would not  believe this team,” I shared with the boys. “Eight penalties in one game! Five to one player! And the coach gives her Player of the Game. Can you believe it?”

My son asked, “ Did you yell at the ref? Did you and another hockey mom go at it?”

That’s when it happened. I faked it. I faked the bad ass hockey mom.

“You bet I did! The refs were totally useless! And then you know what else I did? I stood up and yelled at the other parents. Oh yeah. I gave them a piece of my mind – and a piece of my hot dog. That’s when it really got going. I stood up and screamed “what kind of a goon show is this?” and one of the other hockey moms told me to shut up and then the coach of their team told me to shut up. Then, this other hockey mom and I got into it in the stands. Then you know what I did? I spit on her. Oh yeah. I spit on her. That b!tch was asking for it, you know it!”

They stared at me.

They know I did nothing like that at all. *Sigh*

“Well … well,” I stammered, “I wanted to do!” I said. “I’m totally going to do it next time.”

I’m such a rebel … in my dreams ….

“Ice cream, anyone?”
 

Is it just me, or does that title make you giggle too?

CBC recently reported  that Air Canada pilots were leaving pornographic material in the cockpit.  Apparently the airline’s chief pilot and director of fleet operations expressed his disappointment that he has to warn pilots again against doing so.

Again?! The airline’s chief pilot had to express his disappointment … again?! I can’t believe this is actually a recurring issue within our national airline!

Some sources say that the pilots doing so are just trying to upset their female colleagues for infiltrating what has been primarily a male-dominated role.

I’m not sure what upsets me more: knowing that the pilots may be considerably distracted while piloting the plane I’m on (and we all know the judgement of men is seriously impaired when “distracted”) or the fact that they chose the most ridiculously juvenile tactic possible to upset Air Canada’s female pilots! What are they? Twelve?!  Hopefully some of the smarter Air Canada pilots are comforting their male colleagues by telling them they’re going to get fired long before any female pilot quits over finding a porn mag!

May I also just say that this interesting journalist material contrasts sharply to the En Route magazine left for the rest of us in the cabin (not that I’m complaining).

Between this and the Jian Gomeshi debacle, Canadians are seriously getting a bad rep of late (a beaver as our national mascot certainly doesn’t help). Just to make it even juicier, the internet porn site Brazzers recently offered free membership to Air Canada pilots. Yes, Virginia, there are internet porn sites.  All the Air Canada pilot new members have to do is tweet out the porn site. Hmmm, and just how many pilots will stupid enough to take them up on that offer? Then again, if they were stupid enough to leave porn in the cockpit …

Maybe the motto per ardua ad astra (“through adversity to the stars”) needs to be modified a bit for Air Canada to per ardua cum astra (“through adversity with the stars” … the porn stars…).  It’s almost too perfect.

I for one sincerely hope that those pilots get back to the serious business of flying a plane, and leave the gender discrimination to fashion designers and household cleaning product ads. And I, for one, will be referring to it as a flight deck from now on!

Please ensure your seat belts are securely fastened, folks!

Kids today are so lucky.  They have fewer chores (because they’re so busy) and they get to go everywhere (because they’re parents feel guilty leaving them at home). Parents today are much more adventurous in travelling with their children. I realize I’m part of this culture, indulging my children in all sorts of travel adventures. In return, I hope my kids will look back upon our family travels and continue to be inspired by the world and long to see more of it … preferably on their own … soon.

So my daughter recently experienced the pinnacle of childhood adventures:  the solo voyage. As in sans parents. When family and summer scheduling conflicts prevented us from attending a much loved beach week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my daughter somehow managed to finagle an invite from her uncle to go to the beach with his family – complete with puppy dog eyes, curled lip and promises of ‘I won’t be any trouble at all …’, I have no doubt . Naturally he, being entirely defenceless to the puppy dog eyes and curled lip look, agreed.

us customsThe first significant hitch she encountered was US Customs.  I guess runaways are extremely clever these days, including those with an official consent to travel form notarized by a lawyer, signed by both parents AND carrying a return airline ticket. Evidently US customs officials are impervious to the puppy dog look and curled lip routine but good on her for trying. She fared much better with Canadian Border Services upon her return and the usual, “Are you bringing back any weapons, alcohol or tobacco?’ was replaced with “I bet you had a lot of fun! Welcome back.”

This solo adventure of hers took another unfortunate turn when Hurricane Arthur decided to take its own unfortunate turn towards the Outer Banks of North Carolina where she was staying with my brother. If anyone could turn a hurricane on its heels it would be my daughter, but alas, the Governor did not think know of her powers (primarily reserved for use at our family dinner table), and Dare County issued an evacuation order for Hatteras Island. While I am certain she had visions of a SWAT team lowering their ladders from helicopters evacuating stranded tourists such as herself, she soon found out what it really entailed: a day’s driving stuck in the worst traffic jam imaginable.

And now she is off to sleep over camp for two weeks (something she has done now for seven summers).  While there will certainly be someone there to feed her and do her laundry, I know she will return from camp grateful for a flushing toilet.

bluesfestMy sons are also on their own solo adventures this week. My 18-year old is at the national Canadian Big League Championships in Thunder Bay, Ontario (ten days of residence living at Lakehead University will be good training for his body to get used to dorm beds) and my 16-year old is experiencing Ottawa’s largest outdoor musical festival, Bluesfest 2014 (requiring him to master one of the biggest travel obstacles for today’s youth:  public transportation). Their adventures, however, will probably not be titled Adventures in Solo Travel but rather Travel in with Solo-Cup Adventures. Sigh.

So this house is just a little too quiet for me right now and I think it’s time to embark on some solo (or solo cup) travel adventures on my own. But I am a seasoned traveller, right? None of this Customs nonsense, lousy beds, public transportation woes or guilt can get in my way, right?

Stay tuned!

airplane

 

Last week, I was invited to participate in a “Blog Hop” where people share three bloggers they love and then those bloggers do the same.  I was “tagged” by the spirited and hysterically funny Amy Sherman, whose laughter is as infectious as her writing is witfaced. She and the others I’ve met through various writing circles, are an inspiration to me. In this blog hop, I am asked to share my writing process. Since my blog is called The Dustbunny Chronicles, naturally I have nicknamed my writing process is The Dustbunny Way.

  1.  Why do I write what I do?I write mostly out of a sense of obligation. I have a failing memory and am trying to capture the snippets of glory my generally mundane life. Kinda like Luminosity for the Soul. I write to remember. I write so I don’t forget. I write … wait. What was the question?
  2. How does my writing differ from others in its genre?I write mostly humour through occasionally I veer off-genre. I write primarily in English, as do many in my genre but I am also fluent in Sarcastic and Cynicism. Also I tend to mock myself in my writing mostly because I have so much material but I occasional move on to mocking others (particularly my husband and my teenagers – and other people though very rarely (like the high school principal in my most recent post).
  3. How does my writing process work?My writing process begins when I have a brilliant, totally captivating and hilarious idea for a writing piece, which I then promptly forget. That’s about it. Honestly though, I work full time as a Human Resource professional and am mother of three teenagers so my writing tends to get done on a very haphazard and occasional basis, limited to evenings and weekends and when I can’t sleep.
  4. What am I working on/writing?I recently finished writing my humour memoir, Offside by a Mile – Confessions of a Hockey Mom. Someone should commission a scientific research study on the effects of Zamboni fumes on one’s memory (that’s not what the book is about but certainly how it starts!).  My book has been professionally edited but I have recently sent it to three Beta readers for a little more dicing and slicing. I’ve begun dangling query letters in front of agents but so far I am scoreless. This memoir has been a true labour of love, so one way or another it will be published, of that I am certain. I also maintain this blog as best I can to hone my writing skills for project #2 which is about …  hmmm …. (see answer to question number 3).

Now for paying it forward:  There are so many amazing humour writers out there whose work makes me and the rest of the world laugh and smile. I have a very hard time picking out three. I never miss a post by Amy and she linked up to two of my favourites as well with Sarah Hunt and Michelle Lamarca.

You will enjoy these funny women – but also maybe take a look and laugh at these three:

Cece Harbor, is the Knowledge Maven. She provides just the right amount of inspiration and motivation just when I need it!

Terri Spilman is The Laughing Mom  whom I had occasion to meet at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. She understands the power of humour (all mothers should!)!

Blunt Moms is a website for women and for moms and for those that are both! As their byline suggests, the writing (from a series of contributors) is honest, direct and surprisingly hilarious. Sometimes I cringe; sometimes I laugh out loud. That’s what being blunt is all about!

Enjoy!

~DBC

 

 

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

 

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.

ErmaThat’s what he asked me.

“Anything to declare?” asked the Canada customs official.

Such a loaded question! They should really consider rephrasing that standard question asked by border services agents of all international travelers. You’re asking a woman if she has anything to declare?!

Oh, do I ever!  Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about it! Indeed, I have something to declare!

I’ve taken a few days to reflect upon my experience and learning at a humour writers’ conference I recently attended. I now declare that I was deluged with new inspiration while at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop held bi-annually at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. By the way, you may not know this but the word deluge is a French term for being word-swarmed. But you know, there are advantages to being deluged, or word-swarmed – in addition to all the mind-blowing quotes I garnered from the speakers, I was able to pick up a few gems from the attendees too. For example:

Boom Boom Boys:
File this under “It’s Not What You Think …”. Please just know that I will be petitioning Drum Corps International to reschedule their 2016 competition not to coincide with the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop.

Beta reader:
This is not the video player predecessor to VHS, but instead an indispensable trusted confidant who will read your work and provide you with much needed feedback before publishing (but not a professional editor, qually indispensable).

The FuckItBucket:*
I-am-so-done-tormenting-myself-over– useless -crap…

The Dayton Dribbler :
Not to be confused with the University of Dayton basketball team’s March Madness success, but rather the highly over-rated Marriott shower pressure.

The Quiet Zone :
Can we not all just agree that sleep is for sissies, retirees, and that man in 14C on UA4461? Also, is probably not the best gathering place for the Boom Boom Boys.

Ermatologist, Bombeckian, Bombie, Ermite, Bombette :
One of a massive throng of several hundred women (and eighteen men) ravishingly beautiful, startling witty and extraordinarily talented writers.

 

“Ma’am, anything to declare?” the customs official repeated.

I have words to declare, sir. Enough words to sustain me through many writing projects. 

And with that, my passport is stamped – a most noteworthy and emphatic endorsement of my efforts –  and I am on my way.

This post was brought to you by a deluge of words and inspired by an amazing coffee cup.

20140415-133632.jpg

* Okay, look. I know I don’t usually swear on my blog, and actually rarely swear at all, but when I heard this phrase, I fell in love with it and can’t seem to stop thinking about it. And since I am now over the age of fifty, I can put ‘restraint’ in my FuckItBucket.

About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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