Archive for the ‘frivolity’ Category

Really tall blue people with mobile ears…

February 17, 2010

So, it has finally happened. Rumpole took me and Lookingforbeauty to see Avatar in the 3D version. The result of this screening has been an ongoing argument between Rumpole and me. He firmly states that my “inner child” has gone and left the building, leaving behind old husk of crone who is impossible to amuse. I keep telling him my “inner child” is very much with me, thank you very much, but perhaps it is a much more discriminating and discerning “inner child” than is his.

“What you really are saying, “Snakebite” (his pet name for me when he is not pleased by my reactions), is that you are of superior intellect, aren’t you?” he snarls back at me.

“Not at all, my dear one. I am just merely being me.”

Apparently this critical me is one of which he is not at all fond. You see, I committed the grave error of uttering a loud guffaw during the screening when the term ‘unobtainium’ was used to refer to a chunk of glowing, floating hunk of rock. And of course, from that point on my reactions travelled south rather quickly, to the point that no amount of visual splendour and technical brinksmanship saved the movie for me. I felt stupid being a one-eyed woman wearing 3-D glasses along with the rest of the crowd in the dark. My derriere grew roots into the plush seat and my legs started jiggling along to the beat of the Disneyfied music, all on their own. I experienced the weird sensation of sitting through a tedious video game I was never going to be able to win.

But what really got me was the blue people of attenuated Barbie and Ken physiognomy with their Anime-styled eyes, their o-so-cute mobile ears referencing their status as animal-like aliens, their cat-walk fashion loin cloths and their stylish dreads. I so lusted after an elegant and mobile braid which could magically link me with all other living creatures, like the plug on my lamp connects to a mysterious-to-me electrical source.

“Keep watching their tails,” urged Rumpole, “They are somehow important.”

I watched and watched, but could only see the tails registering various emotional states in the blue people. This was Rumpole’s second viewing of Avatar, and boy, did he get that business of the tails being important wrong!

References to Transformers, Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas abounded. The dialogue was truly lame. The story arc comic booky. The acting predictable. I confess to being thoroughly bored and made the error of telling Rumpole so.

“Well! I won’t be going to the movies again with you any time soon. This was supposed to be entertaining.” He is adamant. He will not go to the movies with me again.

Oh well! I am so shattered…Not! Those blue people did me in for popular movies. Now, if James Cameron had somehow mixed in a story line with a blue Mr. Bean or a blue M. Hulot, or the overacting goofball antics of a blue Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, there might have been some snorts of needed laughter from little old me, squinting like Popeye’s mother through the 3D Glasses.

Single in Cowtown…

March 30, 2009

Of recent weeks I have been a shut-in, and not for reasons of my own choosing. The stomach flu has felled me and kept me captive of the ‘salle de bain’ as one might politely put it. This naturally has zero amusement quotient. Friends have kept me at phone-call length, in between bouts of delivering broths of various sorts. Rumpole, too, keeps a necessary distance, going so far as to make food and libations for mainly himself so that I cannot contaminate foodstuffs he plans to ingest.

A couple of days ago Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis phoned again to check on my progress or lack thereof. Having her for a friend is like having a personal stand-up comic in attendance and on call to lift the spirits when occasion demands. She regaled me with anecdotes about a particular co-worker at the hospital rehab unit where she works. Apparently this particular chap keeps recovering stroke victims in stitches. Naturally, OLPC is also such a caregiver and provides much levity in a situation that is often fraught with frustration for patients.

So, this time I innocently enquired about any good stories and gossip which might amuse me presently and in times to follow.

“How goes Daphne’s life in Cowtown? Has she sold her house yet? Has she found herself a new man upon whom to lavish her attentions and affections?”

“You know, G,” said OLPC, “Daph hasn’t been able to get a bite on her house yet, and it’s been a year since she’s had her place up for sale. She absolutely hates Cowtown and says it has not much to recommend living there.”

“Is she still boarding the Uni’s water polo boys?”

“Oh, yeah. It keeps her out of trouble. Besides which you know what a controlling den-mother she can be.”

“This must mean she has not found a suitable man her age to hang out with,” I suggested. “I’m surprised she hasn’t given up the quest.”

“On no!” chortled OLPC. “Daphne never gives up the quest, as long as she is breathing. After all… you realize… she is Cougar Extraordinaire. You’ve got to hear a bout the toe-sucking farmers from Canmore!!!”

“The what? The who?…. yuck, blech!”

OLPC proceeded to fill me in on Daphne immersing herself in the famous Cowtown Briar Curling Bonspiel – a mad whirl of watching teams skid flattened bowling balls down the length of ice whilst madly sweeping their brooms ahead of the coasting objects. Apparently this is a well lubricated event, with non-playing teams retiring to the on site watering hole called the Briar Patch, in between their turns on the ice.

Naturally, to a Cougar Extraordinaire, this is prime stalking grounds. Maybe easy stalking grounds. The game tends to be variously inebriated, which makes the hunting unfairly weighted in favour of the hunters, not the hunted. It so happened that Daphne bagged a whole passel of drunken farmers from Canmore, who proceeded, each in turn, to demonstrate that long-lost art of toe-sucking in public spaces. As OLPC was telling me this, I had a mad vision of Daphne, lounging at a bar table with her leg elevated onto the edge of the table, while each Canmore farmer took turns in nibbling at her stockinged toes. Hand kissing, in the French Manner, is something of which I am rather fond, but toe-sucking in the Canmore Fashion defies even my imagination.

We were laughing, helpless with mirth. Naturally, to be fair, there is something in the atmosphere of Cowtown which compels even the most decorous lass and lad to let down their hair and behave in an unthinkable manner in public. I admitted to OLPC that back thirty some years ago, while attending a three-day International Ceramics Symposium in Cowtown, I succumbed to the wild lure of the place and danced on tabletops in a number of bars on the blow-out evening after the symposium.

I never knew I had the capacity for such wanton wildness. Must have been because I was still single then. Got to spot Daphne some leeway, now, since she is once again single, although a middle aged matron with two grown children.

I do wonder how she feels whenever recounting vague memories of this toe-sampling incident. I think I might feel compelled to sign up for a body transplant so no one could ever recognize me as the scandalous recipient of such public and serial attention.

As for the farmers from Canmore, let’s hope they used plenty of mouthwash when they returned to bunk in at their hotel suite.

Still madly chortling in Suburbia…. a shocked Stepford Wife.

“Dear Heloise…”, er, I mean, “Dear Crabby…”

July 16, 2008

Oh, but we are a world of seekers after information, on how to or not do things, always on the hunt for new, novel or tried and true solutions for our many questions. Having access to a computer is a contemporary equivalent of being in possession of an encyclopaedia set for loftier bits of knowledge, of owning a book on household hints or consulting the “Dear Abby” column in the morning newspaper.

Why, just the other day, I googled some new/old knowledge on how to make my own laundry soap, whipped up a simple concoction of three ingredients and now am happily laundering away with nary a phosphate in the wake of such domestic activity. Can an old dog learn new tricks? You betcha! Especially when having a PC, an electronic oracle, to consult.

To my surprised delight, while perusing the search engine terms used to find my blogs for morning amusement, I find I have now joined, like many other blogger beavering away in obscurity, the illustrious company of “Dear Ann…Dear Abby, Dear Heloise… and er, Dear Martha”. It seems that some of my trove of lore and wisdom is sought after by a few innocents pounding away on their computer keyboards.

How have they stumbled upon my blog? Naturally, via search engine terms, which are the efficient substitute to flipping through volumes of encyclopaedias. As a giving sort of person, I shall humbly attempt to oblige these seekers. But first, I need to have a catchy ‘nom de plume’. Aha! Shall it be “Dear Crabby”? Sort of suits my persona rather well, according to Rumpole and other intimates. So “Dear Crabby” it shall be. Has a ring to it, a famous sort of ring?

First question I shall address is:  “how to avoid chafing armpits in ocean” ?????

Dear Sun, Surf and Sex;

Your question caused me to give a vigorous scratch to my scalp. Even though I search my memory, back, back into the mists of time, I cannot recall an occasion when I ever chafed my armpits in the ocean. But, of course, I am not in the habit of trying to remove armpit hair-growth by rubbing up against coral reefs, which I am told by knowledgeable sources is not a recommended method of depilation. Besides possibly hurting, this action might cause one to develop a severe infection, if perhaps the blood released into the ocean by chafing did not at first attract the attention of man-eating sharks. I suggest you don’t expose your armpits to chafing whilst playing in or near the ocean. Please exercise caution if you want to avoid unnecessary drama in your life.


The second question, even more baffling, is : “cigarette ash for facials”….????

Dear Ex-Smoker;

Please give up on the idea that cigarette ash is an ingredient in facial unguents. The “friend” who gave you the recipe is not your friend, but a hardened enemy. She was perhaps likening your complexion to the surface of a walnut dining-room table which has been besmirched by numerous white water rings and spots. This is definitely hostility being aimed at you. You may not know that one can get rid of white water rings on varnished wood surfaces by mixing a salve comprised of butter and cigarette ash. However, delicate human skin cannot well survive the application of such concoction and I highly recommend against it. Suck it up, and carry on with whatever resulting skin condition has been gifted you by a lifetime of smoking the evil weed.


Anyone else needing me to dispense with hard-won wisdom, delivered without holding back, please address your questions to “Dear Crabby”.

Novel Search Engine Terms…

July 4, 2008

How do some people find my blog? For one, mis-spelling a word leads them in this direction. Take one of today’s search Engine terms that gave me a pause, giggle and occasion to let loose some flights of fancy.

“how to pose for aural sex” led this poor bad speller to my unarguably sedate blog. This suggests a search for the safest sex ever – phone sex, I presume, although one can let the imagination roam and brain-storm for other possibilities? The posing part is intriguing. Does one pose a graceful and seductive hand to cup an ear, hang upside down, recline in sensual abandon and hang one’s head a 15 Degrees from the edge of one’s silk-sheeted bed?

Was Shakespeare suggesting the depravity of Roman populations when he wrote the wonderful beginning of Marcus Junius Brutus’ famous soliloquy – “Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your ears…”? Yeah, I know that’s a stretch and complete silliness on my part, but that is how my mind tends to work on little sleep.

Tennis Bat?

June 17, 2008

The month of June in the Central Interior of British Columbia is always a beautiful month. It comes on, tender green and warm, after a period of many months of snow and a month or so of muddy snow-melt. The wild-flowers – Indian paintbrush, orange hawk-weed, wild columbine, blue lupin and daisy – bloom in profusion in the woods and fields. In the lambent light of summery dusk, the bats flit about gorging themselves on the burgeoning flying insect populations.

June was also a month when young Renaissance Man, teenaged, back 20 or so years ago, pestered me daily to take him and his friends on tennis-playing excursions in the late afternoons and early evenings. These young bush-apes didn’t have proper tennis vocabulary nor comportment. They called tennis racquets ‘tennis bats’ and hit the courts in a weird assortment of ragged cut-off jeans and hideous patterned tee-shirts. They loped and goofed about while rallying. They also spent considerable time outside the tennis court fencing, beating about the bushes for balls they carelssly lofted over the fence in their enthusiastic abandon. They were exuberant, loud and completely entertaining to spend teaching the finer points of the game.

One lovely summer evening, we returned to the homestead after an energetic couple of hours on the courts. Mike, Renaissance Man’s buddy and sidekick came with us for after game snacks and juice. They hauled the tennis equipment from the Landcruiser into the house while I made for the kitchen to prepare their victuals. They slumped down on the living room couches, exhausted, waiting for their treats to be delivered to them. The French doors to the back of the property were wide open. We could hear Rumpole making yard-work noises outside. The dogs were nowhere to be seen, obviously keeping a watch on Rumpole’s doings out in the yard.

I delivered drinks and snacks to the boys in the living room. While I was bending over, depositing the tray on the coffee table, something flew by the region of my head. Turning to take a look, I noted a flappping black thing, mid-air, heading from the living room into the kitchen. Started making incoherent shrieks, much to the boys’ amusement.

“Look, a bat,” commented a laconic Mike.

Renaissance Man ran out to the front entry, brought back two tennis racquets, one of which he tossed to Mike and chortled, “Tennis bat. lets play.”

The boys ran around the main floor swinging with the racquets at the poor bat. It managed to not get hit in mid-air, but was labouring with panicked flits to avoid getting pasted. Finally, the poor beastie landed on the mullion of one of the French doors and clung on there, hyperventilating and trembling.

“Don’t you guys dare to hit it!  Don’t touch it! Leave it alone!” I screamed while trying to wrap my long hair in a kitchen towel. The idea of a bat flying into my flying long hair was frightening. Eeeeek!

The commotion caused Rumpole to come into the house. “What are you guys all so exercised about? Calm down, everyone.” We were milling around the living room, boys brandishing tennis racquets, all excited, me moaning and wringing my hands.

“A bat flew into the house,” announced RM. “Mike and I were using our “tennis bats” to get it to leave.”

“Yeah! That’s a good one – get it? Tennis bat?” chortled goofy Mike.

“Poor bat,” commented Rumpole as he inspected the terrified bat on the door. ” All this screaming and mad flailing with the racquets has him completely panicked.” He went off to the bathroom, came back with a large bath towel, wrapped the bat inside and took the bundle out to the back deck. There he loosely arranged the towel to allow the bat ease of escape. I slammed shut the French doors. Through the glass we watched as the bat made his awkward climb from inside the towel, righted itself and flew off toward the sfety of the big pine behind the house. Rumpole came back inside and chided us for giving the bat a scare.

Ever since then, whenever Renaissance Man and I play tennis together, all I have to do is waggle my eyebrows meaningfully, and say “tennis bat”. We both break down in instant and helpless laughter. Somehow, Rumpole finds it difficult to share in this form of humour. He loves bats; hates tennis.

The Fur Coat…

September 15, 2007

A long time ago, I read somewhere a movie review where the shortness of the lead actor was compared to the willowy height of the leading actress as “he looked like a midget walking in a trench”. This describes perfectly how I look when wearing a fur coat.  I said so to my friend Jane when she insisted on dragging me to the furrier’s located on the first floor of Rumpole’s office building. This was back some 28 years ago, up north – a place where it made sense to wear fur coats in the winter-time.

Jane was a fashionista who loved clothes of a luxurious cloth and cut. She badly desired to own and wear a gorgeous fur coat of the latest design. She did own a dilapidated mouton coat inherited from her grandmother. It had leg of mutton sleeves which added football-player proportions to her otherwise slim build. When wearing this “poor woman’s mink” coat she looked unsteady on her thin legs which looked like inadequate stilts with which to support a bear-like bulk.

On a cold December Saturday, after having done her sheep pen  and meat rabbit hutch cleaning chores, she phoned me to request my assistance in negotiating a trade of her lamentable mouton coat for a brand new, luxe, fur coat at the downtown furrier’s. We were to meet at a nearby coffee shop to prepare ourselves for the fur-trading process.  Jane was a keen and experienced bargainer and rehearsed her methods well in advance of the actual dickering.

I buttoned myself into my favourite winter coat for casual wear – Apu’s old plaid hunting jacket that hung to below my knees and with twice rolled up sleeves kept me snug and warm at -25F winter temperatures. At the coffee shop, Jane picked her jaw up from the table surface and announced “you can’t go fur shopping looking like that!” Her grandmother’s ratty mouton coat hung from the back of her chair like a forlorn dead thing.

“Well, no matter how you look at it, we are going to a place where the hides of dead animals are displayed.  There is no sign of the carnage that accompanies the production of furs. The least you and I could do is to attend there in the roles of both the hunter and the hunted,” I responded in my best sarcastic fashion.

We drank a couple of cups of coffee. Jane rehearsed approaches toward the clerk which might incline him to give her a good trade up to the desired fashionable fur for her disreputable old one. We worked up the nerve to cross the street and brave entry to the fur salon.  I trailed after Jane into the showroom like a hunter stalking prey.

An effete young gentleman greeted us effusively as if we were “grande dames” wearing the latest in winter furs. He gave no hint of what must have been going through his mind (These two characters look fresh off the farm… if not the farm then the trap line?) Jane, in her best shopping manner, told him what kind of coat she had in mind, the colour, the cut, the kind of fur, and the occasions it was intended for.  The young clerk swanned about bringing with elegant flourish one amazing fur concoction after another. Jane tried them all on and posed graceful as a fur model in front of the three-way mirror.  I stayed in the background, unbuttoned from my hunting coat, trying to sit as prim as possible, mukluks crossed in a lady-like pose and twiddling my fingers.  My mind strayed from the fashion show on hand to the contrast of smell between the perfumed fur sales room and my memories of the reek of mink and chinchilla farms as my family had driven by them many summers ago on the way to the local swimming hole.

Jane mentioned trading up from her mouton to a new below-knee length blonde mink coat. This smartly brought my wondering mind back to the situation at hand. She handed over her coat to the young man.  He appeared reluctant to lay his hands on it and held it out between his pinched thumbs and forefingers as he looked it over. With a disdainful expression on his face and holding out the coat as if he feared being sullied by its proximity to his person, he smartly marched over to a garbage can and dropped the mouton coat into it.

“No trade-in value here!” he announced as he wiped his fingers in fussy gestures against his pant legs. Poor Jane was mortified as she retrieved her coat from the garbage can, put it on and buttoned up.

The clerk turned his back on us, dismissing us. As Jane was shepherding me to the shop door, I could not resist a parting shot.

“I do need a good casual fox jacket to wear while mucking out the barn. Can you suggest a little something for me?”

To this day, Jane still has not replaced her grandmother’s mouton coat, as far as I know. It does keep her cosy and warm on those bone-freezing mornings when she does her farm chores.

The Dream Home…

August 21, 2007

There is a song from the 60s musical “The Fantasticks” that I particularly loved and these days still sing in a cracked-alto version whenever I am doing mundane chores around the house.

” Hear how the wind begins to whisper -see all the leaves go swirling by – smell how the velvet rain is falling – out where the fields are warm and dry.

Now is the time to run inside and play – now is the time to find a hideaway – where we can stay.

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can feel it; soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell; soon it’s gonna rain, what are we going to do? (Girl)

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can feel it; soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell; soon it’s gonna rain, what’ll we do with you? (Boy)

We’ll find four limbs of a tree; We’ll build four walls and a floor; we’ll bind it over with leaves and run inside to stay.

We will let it rain; we’ll not feel it; we will let it rain, rain pell mell, and we’ll not complain if it never stops at all.

We’ll live and love in these four walls; happily we’ll live and love, no cares at all; happily we’ll live and love, within our castle walls. ”  (Boy and Girl, together)

This romantic song contains all the idealism and lack of practical experience of the young, the yearning for a love that helps one transcend all difficulty. I find its delicious naivete appealing. The Girl and Boy in the musical are supposed to be in their late teens, innocent, inexperienced and full of hope.

There is no hint of the Girl spreading tried-on and discarded brand name clothing on her bedroom floor and on every available surface. Her mother does not call her into the family room to catch the latest HGTV program on tacking together a fun and fashionable teen girl’s room with cool colours and kicky accessories. No “House Porn” for the Girl in The Fantasticks.

I often wonder what kind of longing is set up in sixteen-year old girls when they peruse the flyers that fall through their home mail-slot regularly, the flyers advertising the XXX Hospital Lifestyles Lottery, where the top prize is a million dollar Dream Home fully outfitted with the latest must-have luxuries and gadgets. And only $50 to $100 buys a chance at winning this Dream Home. Of course, the money goes to a good cause – Hospital Funding – so when one gambles one has expiated lingering feelings of guilt by being assured of gambled money going for “The Public Good”.

Some good friends bought a Dream Home from a lucky winner, who really couldn’t make a life in that house, for a variety of reasons. The house was designed by an architect, had soaring windows the three floors height, was situated in a semi-rural setting and had a gorgeous view of the ocean and islands. Outside, deer wandered by and had their way with garden plantings; racoons visited after dark to search for handouts; ravens flew by in the forest during the days, calling to each other and eagles soared in the sky.

There are unexpected downsides to Dream Homes, designed for a generic Mr and Mrs Average. The location of my friends’ house necessitated a two hour commute to and from work. They lived next door to another lottery home whose new owner left the house uninhabited.  Most of the neighbours were retirees.  Provisioning the home required trips into town a fair distance away. Power outages were frequent in the wintertime.  However, they lived there for five years, until the long commute to and from work became tedious, and the children needed to be closer to amenities, jobs and friends.

Lately, lottery homes are being built in suburbs, near amenities and schools, often on golf-course developments. My sister lives in such a community, and there are a few Dream Homes built on recently developed streets in her enclave. The new row of these lottery homes goes by the name of “Street of Dreams”. 

I toured a couple of these with Martha and Jeanie, and a crowd of other people, a couple of years ago. For the life of me I could never picture Rumpole and me living in one of these houses – we’d be like the Beverly Hillbillies and never fit in. The houses are tricked out to look like a hotel of sorts. People are expected to transport themselves via their imaginations into these places. All I could imagine was endless washing and cleaning of the granite counters in the kitchen and maybe occassionally chiding Rumpole for leaving acid rings etched on the granite from his orage juice glasses.  And the bathrooms! What sane woman wants to spend her time loping around the numerous bathrooms shining chrome taps. Besides which what woman could ever keep her eyes open watching Oprah  whilst slumped on the leather theatre chairs in the Media Room, exhausted from her rounds of incessant household maintenance!

Some dream! More like a nightmare wished on the unthinking and unwary women of North America! I think The Fantasticks version of castle is much more attractive and although the song didn’t mention ensuite bathrooms with rain-head showers and water-saving toilets, one can safely assume the idea of outdoor biffies never even crossed the librettist’s mind as he plinked away on a piano trying to fit words to the melody of “Soon it’s gonna rain”.

Itching powder…

March 24, 2007

The pictures of  Lenin, Stalin and Malenkov, the Holy Trinity of Communism, projected their benign paternal smiles from their place high on the back of our classroom wall. This was 1954. It was our Russian hour. We were learning to sing “Volga”(Volga, Volga, matyradnaya, Volga, Ruszka, yareka…Nyevigyela tu pudarka, koddanszkova Kazaka…. is my bad Hungarian translated memory of this song). It was a lovely tune, full of love and longing, on the same level of feeling as “Isten Elti a Magyart” our Hungarian national anthem. I was 8 years old, one of the many faceless kids in our form. My neighbour and playmate, Tibor (Tibi) was seated quite far away from me, because we were conspiratorial and got into a lot of trouble over all kinds of stuff.

Our teacher was a drab lady, intensely serious, earnest – a real drill sergeant, I now realize trying to remember her. She didn’t demonstrate one flash of humour, ever, although she was basically kind and didn’t make extreme comparisons about our performance, to our faces, at least. However, our parents had an inside line into the classroom, it appeared, for the slightest falling down on our job as student mysteriously greeted us as a “What did you do! Why must you get singled out for blame?” on our return to home.

During recess our group tended to go absolutely wild and manic.  We badly needed to let off steam! We gossiped, plotted, teased, bucked up each other in little sub-groups. We ran around yelling and laughing.

One of the trouble-makers in class, a clever and inquisitive boy, drifted around from group to group in the schoolyard. He quietly whispered, sotto voce, and groups would grow around him. He said he had concocted some “itching powder” guaranteed to drive even the most self-controlled and calm one of us wild. Loudly we deliberated and argued as how there was no such thing, and where did he find this stuff?  He produced an envelope. It contained a mysterious white powder, which he assured us would have us all convulsing with fits of scratching if we but put a little pinch down the back of our shirts. He proposed to pass it around to all of us to try, once we were back inside the classroom. He promised the reaction of our teacher would be quite hilarious to see.

In orderly line-up, we marched back into the classroom, quietly excited that the next hour would provide some relief from the constant and repetitive drilling we had to endure while at school. Lenin, Stalin and Malenkov looked really pleased about something. Our teacher resumed teaching us fragments of the Volga song. She wrote the phrases in Cyrillic on the blackboard, then the translation in Hungarian. We copied these down as she kept repeating the correct pronounciation over and over again.  Every time she turned her back on the class to write a new phrase on the board, the envelope was passed from hand to hand, surreptitiously, the powder disributed among us all. Many kids tucked the powder down the back of their neck, while the more serious and “good” ones just passed on the envelope without taking a pinch.

Finishing the writing portion of our exercise, the teacher had us place our hands behind the small of our backs, sit up straight and begin following the written phrases on the board to sing the song. Over and over again we did this, until we really sounded quite good, I thought.  “Sing with emotion”, the teacher would exhort. We did! “Really feel the song and what it means!,she said. We tried to do this, really getting into the spirit of things.

Soon, kids sitting in front of me began to move one hand or another up their back, scratching. Others would squirm. Some pressed back into the chair and writhed about subtly. A few gave up the pretence that they were all right and began to scratch with vigour, quite noticeable. Tibi, sitting  a few rows in front of me cast back a quick grin. One girl beside me started to giggle and just couldn’t stop. Teacher looked  about the classroom and demanded to know, “What’s got into you all?” More wriggling, scraching, chuckling and giggling. The instigator piped up and said “There must be something wrong here, I feel awful and very itchy… can I please go home?” Teacher walked over and looked at the back of his neck, then proceeded to the next scratcher and did the same. She began to look concerned, worried even. Then she left the classroom and brought back the Principal. He looked over several kids’ necks, scratched his head with a “My God” kind of expression as he thought and debated about what to do with us all.  Finally, he announced that we had to leave the school and walk home quickly. “Don’t linger on the way! And stay away from people on the street”, he said.

Sure, I itched, but this was a huge bonus – freedom for the rest of the school day.  Tibi and I skipped home, singing!

Mother was drinking ersatz coffee with Tibi’s Mother.  We ran in and reported what happened.  We gave clear details and the complete truth. Our mothers checked down the backs of our shirts and discussed the red rash they noticed there. Tibi’s Mother dragged him off home. My mother was furious and ordered me to bed, no talking, no reading, no singing, no playing. So much for freedom, I thought!

As I lay grumbling in bed it occurred to me that maybe Lenin, Stalin and Malenkov really had something to smile about, up there on the back wall of our classroom.

I am still chukling about this situation, even after so long a time. And I wonder if Tibi still does too!

Glamour couples……a new fad or a tradition?

January 25, 2007

I am going to be somewhat long-winded in telling this.  Please bear with me?

“Rumpole” and I, spend mornings before he goes to work drinking coffee and reading the local rags. We are not “morning people”, although in a half-assed “Stepford Wife” fashioned way I tend to fake it and try to be a bit more chipper in order to buck up “Rumpole” who has a hard time waking up, needs his coffee  to arrive in his sleepy grasp fresh and strong.  He usually is very curious about current affairs, the economy and politics and often discusses items that pique his interest and we have great conversations that often make me think, when we are apart, about various things he has pointed out. He rarely reads feel- good stories,  articles about fashions and trends, odd bits and pieces, nor book reviews. While he reads about the weather in the papers, I look out the window.  We check things in the papers  based on our individual tendencies and often react quite differently when we discuss what has come to each of our attentions. Sometimes we are in complete agreement. Other times we debate, with varying degrees of fervour, depending largely on how we’ re feeling at the time and how we each are mulling about our upcoming activities.

This morning, I noticed a photo of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in “The Sun”. The newspapers referred to them as “Brangelina”.  Brad Pitt reminds me of a younger version “Rumpole”(when we were courting I thought R  was”Hot”.  This is a pleasant memory, but I digress).  I  never looked as good as Angelina Jolie does in this picture  (in earlier times Rumpole acted like he considered me a hottie).  I  thought a bit about this while sipping coffee and started snorting and chuckling. “Rumpole”, interrupted at his reading, asked me what I was finding to giggle about.  He had been engrossed in and alarmed by an article on new tax measures. I pointed to the Brangelina photo and said that they were sure an attractive couple. ” So, what’s your point?”, he asked rather irritably.  I told him that right then we looked like a fine pair , definitely not like a glamour couple, him with his glossy bald head and ratty bathrobe and me with my wild grey hair sticking up all over the place and my Snoopy slippers.  He looked blank for a moment and then started laughing.

“You are so silly”, “Rumpole” managed to get out between chortles. I laughed and asked him to think of neighbours who might be considered a glamour couple, even if we would not. “Consider Sherry and Harold (younger neighbours two houses over from ours). Harold is sure easy on my eyes, besides which he is to be admired as a highly skilled tradesman, hard worker and much respected, good natured and  honourable and Sherry and their kids love him. Meanwhile you, “Rumpole”, like Sherry,have said that you thought her extremely attractive, witty, very capable  and caring. You said she had ‘pluck  and character’ “.  He scratched his head, while considering this, and finally concluded that yes, Sherry and Harold were the glamour couple on our street. Laughing, I suggested that from now on we refer to them as “Sharold”, in code, to save time. We had a good laugh over this.  For a little while he stopped his fretting over news about taxes and his mood improved.  He went off and got dressed in his suit. Today he had to be sharp in court.

As “Rumpole” and I, “Stepford Wife,” said our goodbyes at the door this morning, I noticed he had a bit of spring in his step. He smoothed my messy hair and patted me on the bum.

I just had to write this down so I can remember this situation in the future, and it may cause me delight. And true to my silly nature, I’m wondering what Venus and Mars, that glamour couple in old times, would have had their two names condensed to, to  arrive at a version of “Brangelina”. Did whatever code neighbouring Olympians decided to shorten their names to enable Venus and Mars  to share laughter momentarily and Mars to have a spring in his step as he left the grove to go about his business? 

The next time I am walking the dog, if Sherry is out in her yard puttering about, I’ll casually mention to her that from here on in, to save time in greetings whenever we all meet , I’ll call out to them – ” Hi Sharold!”  She and Harold might get a kick out of this! 

Product development brainstorming…. ” The Spiffer”…

January 20, 2007

Pedagogical training, during the late ’60s-early ’70s, included information disseminated about then current research in Creativity. I immersed myself, along with many other teaching aspirants, into that hot-bed of theory, experimentation, learned opinion, analysis and practice. Those were heady times! (Of course, at that time,  there was not enough credit given to numerous anonymous educators who toiled unheralded for many prior years in the trenches, successfully and gracefully encouraging creative habits in thousands of students).  With missionary zeal, our generation of newly hatched teachers dispersed to school districts, armed with many techniques with which to stimulate CREATIVITY.

A most enjoyable method for stimulating fluid generation of ideas was BRAINSTORMING. One could drop all pretences of earnestness and “seriousness” and be permitted all kinds of leeway, which had systematically been  ground out of one, by years of doing, thinking, saying and making things in the “correct” or approved ways. In short, we could act in a way we had only dared when our parents or supervisors were not watching, or when we had lapses in good judgement. This sand-lot approach was to ensure that all ideas were validated, by being carefully listed on a blackboard. Potential notions were to be considered and evaluated by individuals to weed out flaky, impractical (and presumably anti-social) qualities.

One exercise that was posed for a brainstorming session :  List at least 20 uses for a brick.  Boy, does that open up some interesting possibilities to entertain!

So, a situation that stimulated my well-entrenched brainstorming habit –  My friend, M, who is the most practical and sane woman, phoned to tell me that she had gone out and bought herself a Swiffer duster kit for x dollars. On arriving home she eagerly assembled the components and whipped around like that demented woman in the TV commercials, flicking, dancing and mugging her way through her dusting chores.  She actually giggled as she admitted this! Rather sternly, I mentioned Global Warming, Throwaway Society, Conservation, Ecological Footprint, Recycling, Thrift and Frugality, blah, blah…and so forth.  My cautions fell on deaf ears. Pshaw, said she.

Being mindful of M’s good sense of humour, and her tolerance of my goofy silliness, and knowing that this evening we have an arrangement to watch a “chick-flick” together, (sans “Rumpole”, who hates movies of a feminish persuasion!) I have been madly brainstorming to come up with a replacement product for “Swiffer”, which I have decided to label as “the Spiffer” (heh, heh – to rope in impressionable consumer).

I have decided on the following parameters for the “Spiffer”.  It must be inexpensive, plentiful, readily available, self-cleaning, low-tech to both produce and use, use a natural energy source and be ecological. After making lists, considering options I have decided to use the “domestic cat” as the impetus for brainstorming for developing “the Spiffer”.

So,  I am posing the following question, which M, and any other comers may wish to adress to provide  an exhaustive list to be evaluated, later, individually, by all who wish to take part in developing the “Spiffer” product.

 List a series of reasons why a “domestic cat” is ideal to be used as a “Spiffer”.  You may wish to mention specific characteristics of cat,  the science of dust collection, positioning of the cat for optimal performence of dusting, methods of recharging the cat, resources for long-term maintenance of the cat “Spiffer”, precautions that you must follow in using your product, and ecological reasons which you may wish to list to sell this product. You may wish to include instructions for how to use the Spiffer. Doing this point-by- point helps all of us appreciate your innovativE thinking. Please share freely.

Note -” the Spiffer” is not to be copyrighted, but is to be available to all and sundry.  I promise you a Revolution in Dusting.

M – no watching “chick-flick” until you have satisfactorily completed this assignment!!!