Goodbye, Joe

25 Jul
caffeine-kilos-snapback-web-2_1I have this … friend. Let’s call him “Joe”. I’ve known him since my university days. He would help me wake up early for class and give me the energy to get through the day. He did the same thing once I started working. He always looked great but he smelled even better. I grew accustomed to that smell. 
We had a falling out when I got pregnant. I couldn’t stand to be around him. But once my daughters were born, we settled our differences and have enjoyed our relationship ever since. 
Now my doctor is telling me that I have to give him up. That’s he’s toxic to my mental health. I’ve known this for some time, but the thought of letting him go is just so hard. I’ve left him before but suffered severe headaches. Once he was back in my life, the headaches disappeared. 
But I made a promise to myself (and my doctor) and that I will definitely move on. So now I have a new friend … Herb Tea.

“Discontinued” Discontent

7 Jul
seaskisuntanlotionWhenever I fall in love with a product, the retail gods take it off the shelves. If I was given a dollar everytime this happened, I’d be rich.
I  remember my mother used to complain about this. She loved a perfume called Demi-Jour by Houbigant. Then the company stopped making it. After she passed away, all I had left was an empty bottle, which I cherished. A few years later my sister discovered that a new company now makes Demi-Jour:  Dana Classic Fragrances of New York. She got me a box for my birthday, which I covet like liquid gold. 
The same thing happened to my favorite perfume: Milles Fleurs by Crabtree & Evelyn. For some unknown reason it was discontinued in 1980, and I never liked any of their replacements. 
What is it about these long-lost products that we would love to have back? Memories of our best summer? Our first love? Our youth? If I could find a bottle of Sea & Ski suntan lotion — a 1960’s brand once more popular than Coppertone — I would take a good whiff and be transported back to my Cape Breton summers as a teenager. But it’s no longer made and all that remains is the trademark.
This happens with food, too. There was a cookie that my grandmother bought similar to Arnott’s Lemon Crisp but under another brand which I can’t for the life of me remember. I have scoured the shelves of my local store but can’t find it. It may be available in another province, in the States or even in Europe, but not here. She also kept a handful of green spearmint jelly-filled buttermints in her apron pocket. They are nowhere to be found, only the ones with blue peppermint jelly. Not a big thing, I know. But it’s a detail about this wonderful lady that I wish I could hold in my hand again. 
Now my daughter is complaining about this same phenomena: the demise of Time Out chocolate bars by Cadbury, introduced to Canada in 2001 but discontinued here due to lagging sales. Our local pita shop Extreme Pita, that stopped offering pineapple. No more chocolate peanut butter bars sold at Starbucks. Don’t know if this is a local decision or franchise wide. What does all this mean?
That I pay way too much attention to this stuff and am a sentimental, nostalgia junkie or that my taste doesn’t run with the majority of consumers out there, and anything I really like will eventually go the way of the dodo bird. 
Either way, it’s annoying. 

Dog, Interrupted

25 Jun
BowserThe original plan was to return our foster — the bouncing, bumping, body-checking 1-year old Lab Shepherd mix named Bowser — back to the shelter next week before our annual Canada Day backyard party, since the thought of a yardful of family (half of whom are allergic to dogs) and grandkids and grandnieces and grandnephews mixing with this crazy canine was just too overwhelming. The animal shelter agreed and admitted that we’ve had our hands full lately with two ‘high maintenance’ dogs back to back. Bowser is finished his run of antibiotics for kidney stones (although they never even slowed him down) and he’ll be soon ready for adoption. Hubby and I will also be babysitting more now that summer has arrived, and decided we needed a wee break from the fostering, maybe until September. 
However, hubby woke up yesterday morning finding it hard to breathe, and although he has a summer cold it had gotten a lot worse quickly, and mysteriously improved whenever he was out of the house. Our conclusion? He’s probably allergic to Bowser’s fur. 
I hadn’t prepared myself emotionally, but was forced to pack up Bowser’s things and bring him back to the shelter just before noon. I said a prayer that he’ll find the right family: owners who are committed to exercising him at least twice a day — and we’re talking 30 minutes of running beside a bike or a jogger, plus 30 minutes of chasing a ‘Chuck It’ ball. That’s what this big guy needs. 
It’s also why hubby and I are exhausted. And finding the chewed remains of two garden chair cushions, several plastic children’s toys, a life jacket and the handle of a scrub brush strewn across our lawn, despite the presence of Kongs and doggie chew toys, we’re kinda done. 
But that didn’t stop me from crying while I drove him back, or feeling like I had somehow failed him. That maybe if I’d spent more time on training or given him more walks, he wouldn’t have needed to chew my chair cushions? That if I’d vacuumed more there would have been less fur around the house?  That if I was younger and stronger and more of an ‘calm, assertive’ type like Cesar Milan that I could have handled everything better?
Except I’m not calm and assertive. I have struggled with anxiety my entire life, have a history of being a bit of a doormat (although in recent years I’ve improved in that category) tend to get excited easily and being a perfectionist, have always expected way too much of myself.
So now I feel like a big loser in the dog-fostering department, and am worried I’ve bitten off more than I can chew . If hubby is allergic to my new hobby, I’ll be forced to stop anyway, but maybe I can find a more ‘hypoallergenic’ breed. 
In the meantime, I miss my big bouncing ball of fur. 

Grumpy Hump Day – Why I Dislike #WW and #FF Tweets

20 May
images (1)Okay, I will not be popular on Twitter after this. Not that I was ever popular. But any popularity I did have will be zero. I’m fine with that, and here’s why.
Twice a week my email gets clogged with notices that I have been mentioned in somebody else’s tweet, or that a tweet I was mentioned in was ‘favorited’ by somebody.
Here’s what it looks like:
#WW @wannabewriter @buymybook @NELauzon @SuzieInkWell @IMSuicidal @slitMywrists @Idon’tknowyouanddon’thavetimetogettoknowyou.
I do appreciate the sentiment behind this, because sometimes the person who added my name to this long list is someone I actually know and have met, and it’s nice that I’m being thought of. But most of the time I don’t know any of these names. “But that’s the point”, you will say. “It’s about getting to know other writers and getting your name out there and creating buzz so people will buy your book, etc etc puke puke.”
Except reading a long list of names is about as exciting as watching paint dry. I used to do this when I first joined Twitter, but it seemed pointless so I stopped. Does anybody actually take the time to get to know these random strangers, i.e. visit their Twitter page, visit their website, comment on their posts, become FB friends? 
I don’t. 
I press the delete button and send these tweets straight to my SPAM folder, where they belong.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out the Novel Publicity blog. 
My time is important to me, and anything that wastes my time makes me grind my teeth. I have found Twitter to be very impersonal and therefore useless. The only thing I use it for is to make the odd announcement regarding my WIPs or to post my blogs. Any time I make a random comment the only one who retweets it or comments back is my friend and critique partner, Selena Robins, because she has to. (Kidding LOL: she’s just very supportive and very plugged in to social media, which is why she has a great presence on the net and I don’t, because I’d rather have a root canal than retweet tweets.)
Is creativity too much to expect from these #WW tweeters? Something like this might actually make me follow somebody or want to connect with them or want to read their blog:
Hey @NELauzon I read your blog and I also hate #WW. Let’s commiserate. 
Then I would feel there’s a real person behind the tweet, somebody who has taken 2 seconds to offer an opinion and let me know that maybe we have a connection.
After 2 1/2 years of regular blogging I only have SEVEN people who comment regularly. I have things in common with these people other than writing, and we have mutually supported each other in the past.
I also have quite a few lurkers who read but rarely comment, and that’s okay, I love them too ;) Hey, some people are shy, and I understand that because I’m the same way.
My point is, it takes time and effort to build relationships on social media, especially when you are inherently prone to being a hermit and dislike hanging out with tons of people in real life, never mind in a virtual world. But if I know you are reading my blog and commenting, trust me, I will read YOUR blog and comment, too. 
So please stop adding me to the #WW and #FF SPAM TRAIN, where I’m a nobody you don’t know anything about. If you really want to get to know me, tweet me something personal. Not in a weird, stalking way. Humor is good.
Grumpiness is better. 

Grumpy Hump Day — Being a D**K Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

6 May
Yes, I’m starting a weekly grumpy blog on Wednesdays, a.k.a. Hump Day. Every other day seems to have its own theme: Manic Monday, Taco Tuesday, Throwback Thursday, Freaky Friday. So I officially pick Wednesdays as Grumpy Hump Day.
My kids used to giggle when I said ‘hump day’, and that’s when I realized the word ‘hump’ had also become a synonym for ‘sex’, but back in the dark ages, hump day always referred to Wednesdays, the middle of the work week, and according to the Urban Dictionary, it’s still “used in the context of climbing a proverbial hill to get through a tough week, closer to the weekend.”
Plus hump rhymes with grump.
I may not grump every Wednesday, but I can do whatever I want, it’s my blog.
sorryToday’s grump is about a noticeably growing number of people who never say they’re sorry. Now I’m know I’m Canadian and we are known for apologizing a lot, and maybe it’s just me, but it’s geting more rare to hear the ‘sorry’ word from acquaintenances and strangers alike.
Nobody’s perfect. I screw up all the time. I even say ‘sorry’ when somebody bumps into me. So maybe I’m more senstitive to this issue than other people. But to me, it shows an appalling lack of taking responsibility for your actions, right or wrong.
Two examples:
1) I called a local craft store who is holding DIY painting workshops on old furniture. I asked if they had any available spots for Saturday, April 25th. I heard paper shuffling, and she finally said yes, two spots on Saturday the 23rd. I said, “You mean the 25th.” She said “No, the 23rd.” We went back and forth a while, me thinking I’m crazy and rummaging through my office for a calendar while staring at the email in front of me that clearly says there’s a class on April 25th. We finally realize she is talking about Saturday, May 23rd. I repeat again that I’m interested in Saturday, April 25th. She says, “You asked about May, not April.”
I was dumbfounded. I know I didn’t ask about May, evidenced by the fact that we kept debating the 25th versus the 23rd as being a Saturday. Bottom line, there was a mix up, but did she offer an apology? No. Her final comment to me was: “Saturday April 25th? That workshop has been booked up for weeks.” Thanks, that’s all I wanted to know, MORON. And if you think I’m spending $80 for a F***ing workshop with you, you’re crazy.
2) I have an appointment at 8:30 am at the local shelter for my foster dog’s weekly vet check up. This is early for me. I’m usually just waking up at 8:30 am. I know, I’m very lucky that I’m not in the 9 to 5 rat race anymore, but I earned it. Anyways, I bring along a coffee and pull up to the foster entrance at 8:35 am. The door is locked. Even though it’s spring, I’m shivering with the cold, so I go back to my car with the dog, who is also freezing. I call the office. Of course, nobody answers and I leave a voice mail. Fifteen minutes later we’re both still waiting. I drive around back and flag down a woman in scrubs on a smoke break, and tell her my predicament. She says she’ll open the door.
When I finally get inside I’m greeted with a friendly ‘hello’ by the usual staff member as though nothing is wrong and I haven’t been kept waiting in the parking lot for 15 minutes for no apparent reason. Now I think this shelter is amazing for the work they do, and I love volunteering for them, but really? Just a quick ‘sorry about that’ would have been nice.  I don’t want to get to the point where I’m giving the animal shelter staff grief, because I know how hard they work. But I couldn’t let it go. I finally got her to admit they had a staff meeting earlier and forgot to unlock the door. Hey, shit happens. That’s really all I needed. I didn’t even care that she didn’t apologize, I just wanted an explanation.
Am I asking too much? Am I turning into a cranky bitch? Maybe people mistake an apology for a sign of weakness. But for me, it’s always been a sign of strength.
Or maybe I just need to get over myself.
 

No Fashion Country for Big, Old Broads

14 Mar
imageAt the age of 58, I’m classified as old whether I like it or not. I don’t feel old, but when young twentysomethings eye my grey hair I know they’re thinking, ‘she’s old’. Such is life. I’ve also borne two children and struggle with a sweet tooth, so I weigh more than I should, in the company of at least 1/3 of the population. Being a woman in menopause, my estrogen production has declined and my body fat has migrated from my buttocks, hips and thighs to my waist. Nice, huh?
I wouldn’t mind all this ‘old and fat’ business if our fashion industry recognised this reality, too. But the fashion industry has been dominated by men for a long time, and more recently by skinny women. They just don’t get it. How many old, fat, female fashion designers can you name? Do you see my point? Hip, stylish clothing is made for the young and skinny. If you’re bigger than you should be, your only choice in the majority of retail stores is to buy ugly, shapeless stuff that makes you look even bigger and older.image
I live near a big city in Canada, and the fashion I crave is almost non-existent. Shopping in the U.S. is much better, with more variety but still it’s difficult to find decent styles for OFBs (old, fat broads). If I had more sewing/designing talent, I would start a company called OFBs and make slimming, hip-looking clothing for REAL WOMEN that doesn’t end at size 10.
Listen up, Fashion Industry. You’re supposed to be the experts, you should know this already. Here are my pet peeves:
Bathing Suits – I’m tired of ugly bathing suits that make me look 88, not 58!! And enough with the stupid v-necks. Nobody wants to see 58-year-old cleavage, unless you look like Christie Brinkley. I sure don’t. But halters or simple scoop necks are very difficult to find where I usually shop. And here’s a news flash. When you’re big, your thighs rub together causing painful chaffing especially when your skin is wet. I finally found a pair of swimming ‘shorts’ in Florida, along with a swim top with a gathered neckline that minimizes the bulge at my waist. And guess what? It was the last one in the store. Trust me, I would have bought two or three otherwise. Clearly I’m not the only woman who recognizes good styling.
Tops – I waste a lot of my time searching for a top that not only covers up my flab but looks flattering. Lately my only choices have been tops that look like square table cloths with ugly patterns. And if the tops have too much of an a-line, or are too long, they can make you look pregnant. Yeah, pregnant in my 50’s, that’s the look I want. Please, let’s make a few more tops with an empire waist (just under the boobs) and a gentle flowing A-line down to the hips. Styling 101: Darts, pleats and gathering can work wonders in shaping a garment.
Fabric – clingly stretchy fabric is great for yoga pants, but for a top this fabric is a OFB’s nightmare, since it clings to flab. Please consider a little more poly cotton, which is also more breathable during hot flashes.
Dresses – same thing as tops. More darts, pleats, gathers, and empire waists. And no ruffles. Nobody over thirty should wear ruffles.
Shorts – For several years I couldn’t find bermuda length or mid-thigh length shorts in my hometown. Only capris or Daisy Dukes. Not sure what black hole these shorts styles fell into, but I finally found a nice pair — in the states, of course. My husband always complains when I shop in the states, since our dollar exchange now sucks (again). My reasoning is simple. More selection (still not enough, but more than I’m used to).
Patterns – I enjoy patterns as much as the next gal, but there’s a fine line a fifty-something woman must be aware of when choosing patterns. Is it an ‘old crone’ pattern? If you have to ask me what that is, sorry, I can’t describe it in words. Here are a few examples I came upon recently.

old lady 1old lady 2old lady 3

Be careful of Old Crone patterns. The Fashion Industry has it out for you, and wants you to look old before your time. Don’t do it! Always ask yourself, “Does this make me look old?
If enough OFBs complained we could pave the way for the younger generation coming up behind us. Because no matter how young you are now, someday you’ll be an OFB, too.

March Madness

6 Mar
Ides of MarchMarch is a mad month. College students party like crazy on a week-long break, usually on a beach, where they drink too much and indulge in general debauchery. The weather can’t decide if it’s winter or spring (at least this far north of the equator) and Mother Nature teases us with a few days of mild pseudo-spring temperatures, followed by bone-chilling Arctic winter air.  On St. Patrick’s Day people of Irish descent (and everybody else) enjoy green beer in pubs decorated with shamrocks.
The Ides of March have become a metaphor for impending doom. What is an ‘ide’, anyway? Apparently it represents the middle of a month with 31 days on the Roman calendar– in other words, March 15th: the date Julius Cesar was back-stabbed 23 times on the street by people whom he trusted. Understandably, a very bad omen.
For this grumpy blogger, March also means that time of year where I escape this dreadful Canadian winter for a while and head south to Florida, along with thousands of other Snowbirds.
Wishing you all a crazy, mad March, in whichever way you choose to spend it.

Foster

19 Feb
Chewbacca, a 6 year old Shih Tzu foster

Chewbacca, a 6 year old Shih Tzu foster

I like dogs more than most people. They have their priorities in order, live in the moment and teach us what it means to be human. 
In my former life I took care of people with heart disease. My job was important, all-consuming and never dull. Despite the incredible workload and stress, I knew I was giving back in a unique way and making a difference to the world around me, patients and co-workers alike. 
Now I write novels, which has given me a chance to explore my creative side, a part of me I ignored for too long. But it’s a solitary activity, sitting on your ass in front of a monitor all day. You live inside your head with your characters, a self-absorbed practice that can make you anti-social. Add to that cold winter weather, and many days go by where I haven’t stepped outside in several days, except to have my evening cocktail and smoke the odd cigarette — gasp, yes, I even do that occasionally — and to throw some food at the birds and squirrels in my backyard.
But I’m aware something is missing in this empty nest of mine, so I’ve decided to become a volunteer foster parent to dogs from my local animal shelter. It’s a charity close to my heart. I have time on my hands, own a big house and fenced yard and I miss walking dogs.
Chewbacca will be with us for a few weeks. He is scary skinny, and needs some meat on his bones. Whereas, I’m on a perpetual diet. If only I could give him some of my fat. But alas, the universe doesn’t work that way. 

Valentine’s Day: Love it or Hate it

11 Feb
Photo courtesy Jet's Pizza, www.jetspizza.com

Photo courtesy Jet’s Pizza, http://www.jetspizza.com

There are lots of reasons to hate Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re single. Amidst all the hype of promised romance, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, flashy diamond rings, flowers and lingerie, this ‘holiday’ can make you feel lonelier than ever and excluded from The Love Club.
My daughter hated Valentine’s Day for years, because her rocky personal life always seemed to leave her without a boyfriend around the middle of February. Now that she’s happily involved with someone, she’s making up for lost time. God help her significant other if he doesn’t do The Valentine Thing up to expected standards. 
Therein lies my problem with this holiday. Not only can it leave you gagging on all the contrived sentiment, but your partner’s best intentions could leave you feeling disappointed. I saw a commercial the other day that made me smile. A local pizzeria, in honor of Valentine’s Day, is offering heart-shaped pizza. I can’t figure out how I feel about this. Heart-shaped pizza? What does that say about a relationship? So your guy can pick up the phone and order out. Big deal. At least flowers are associated with love. Intrinsically speaking, there’s nothing about pizza that makes me think of love. Heartburn, maybe. 
Usually my husband buys me a nice card plus flowers or chocolates (unless I’m on a diet, then he’s limited to flowers). I don’t think I’ve ever received jewellry for Valentine’s Day, simply because it seems a bit over the top, and if I’m going to get jewellry I get it at Christmas or on my birthday, which is at the end of February and therefore overshadows Valentine’s Day. I reciprocate by buying him a nice card and chocolates or maybe a single red rose. And we might go our for dinner. 
So on the plus side, Valentine’s Day is a way for us to make a date to spend time together, and give each other reminders of how we feel. But that can happen any time of the year, not exclusively on one day in the middle of the winter. 
In her article in The Huffington Post, Susan Kraus, a therapist and mediator,  says, “Use Valentine’s Day to make your relationship stronger.” She suggests that Valentine’s Day can be a way to celebrate and acknowledge our commitment to our partners in life by taking time to ask some seldom asked questions (from a list of 10) instead of the usual, once-a-year flamboyant gestures or gifts. For example, “Tell me something that I did for you or with you this past year that made you really happy.”
I think it’s a good idea. And much more meaningful than heart-shaped pizza.
 

Going Squirrelly

10 Jan
It’s been over a year since our dog Sam died and I miss him still. We buried his ashes in the garden he loved and watched over for us. Now that he’s gone, the critters he so diligently kept away from our yard have returned in full force — birds, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons. They seem to take great pleasure in frolicking across his memorial stone (“Ding Dong the witch is dead”). Ah, the circle of life.Black-squirrel-eating-a-peanut-in-the-snow
Because of my love for animals and the lack of any pets to care for, I’ve taken to feeding these same critters Sam hated. Winters in the north are hard and long. And if I don’t feed the squirrels they’ll eat the bird seed. Besides, they’re cute.
I did a little research and found a recipe for squirrel cookies. I know what you’re thinking. 
Squirrel cookies?
IMG_2111
Recipe courtesy of http://www.squirrelnutrition.com/
There’s a long list of what squirrels shouldn’t eat, and too much peanuts and dried corn aren’t good for them. So I gathered the ingredients for the squirrel cookies, which include a lot of vegetables, baby rice cereal, pecan meal and alfalfa. The recipe called for North Atlantic Cod Liver Oil. I could only find Norwegian. I don’t know what the difference is, but I don’t think the squirrels care. 
The sad fact is, these squirrels eat better than I do. I can barely wash down Omega 3 capsules … I definitely wouldn’t want to try Cod Liver Oil.
But my eating habits (and the other vices I’m struggling with this New Year) are fodder for another blog … 

 

 

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