Into the wild

wine bottles (2)

Camping, ah, packing everything you need into a truck and going into nature to reconnect with mother earth. Er, well, how about Glamping? You know, staying at a site that has RVs and trailers with full water and electric hookups and a building with flush toilets, sinks and showers.

Still, we were out in nature all the time. Dirt covering us, bugs biting us and cold lake water and hot, hot sun. This was Osoyoos.

While my friends stayed in their trailer … let’s call them Red (girl) and Mace (guy), I went old-school in my tiny, pop-up tent. The other couple, let’s call them Scarlett & Rock, also tented, but they had cots, a bedside table and an electric fan.

Tents lie about their size

Tents are like men on dating apps. They lie about how big they are. My “two-man” tent would no sooner fit two men than I could fit into an “A” cup. It would result in bulging flesh, material stretched to the max and escaping nipples.

I can barely fit in it with all my stuff. I only unzip it enough so that I can squeeze out of the tiny opening at the bottom. I do it partly because I don’t want tons of bugs in my tent and because I’m super lazy. This means that every time I try to get out, it’s like I’m being born. When I’ve had too much to drink, my friends have to get the forceps out to extract me from the tent.

The phrase that keeps on giving

There are times in life were one phrase captures the mood of an entire trip and becomes the go-to saying for whatever is transpiring. On this recent camping trip to Osoyoos, that phrase was, “Oh, for fuck’s sake!”

It made its first appearance on the trip, uttered by an irritated red head – is there any other kind? – when her husband was lamenting the fact that he was sick. He sprawled in a camping chair, looking like any dying character from Game of Thrones, and uttered these fateful words, “My throat hurts and I don’t feel very good.”

Red eyed him with contempt and said, “Oh, for fuck’s sake! Stop being such a baby.” This shocked the other female in the group, Scarlett. Scarlett had just said to her husband, Rock, “See what a lovely marriage Red and Mace have? They have been married for a long time and support each other.”

From then on that phrase was rolled out on any occasion that remotely warranted.

  • Grown-up children showed up starving as soon as we’d all just sat down to eat a hot meal?

    “Oh, for fuck’s sake!”
     
  • Someone put a bottle of wine in the freezer to chill and accidentally leaves it in overnight?
    “Oh, for fuck’s sake!”
  • We are camping and have a freezer to accidentally leave a bottle of wine in overnight?

    “Oh, for fuck’s sake!”

Camping: an excuse to eat, drink & giggle a lot

It was a great, lazy, hazy, summer camping trip. Several days of hot sun, dirt, wine tasting, wine drinking, and swimming.

Equally enjoyable was the walk in the hot sun ending at a heavily air conditioned ice cream shop for a cool treat. Me and Red giggling hysterically like school girls when I realized (about 10 good licks into my ice cream) that I had just walked away from the counter without paying. When I jumped up to go pay I saw, soft-spoken, demure Scarlett walking towards me.

“Don’t worry, I paid for your ice cream,” she said. Then, completely deadpan, “For fuck’s sake.”

One of the best things about camping is lounging around the campsite, watching people, chatting about nothing and spending time reading. And, doing all of that while trying not to get tangled up in the dog’s chain leash whenever she decided to suddenly lunge at random dogs, people, or blowup lake toys. More than once Mace was pulled out of his camping chair and dragged in the dirt.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake!”

 

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Life not stressful enough? Try stand-up comedy! (Also a good laxative substitute)

Martina-2nd-standup-2019I did it once before, 5 years ago. I took a whirlwind stand-up comedy course and went on stage with my classmates. You can watch my first stand up comedy stint, if you like.

Last night, I did a showcase with my class mates from my recent six-class comedy course. We had an amazing audience of  mostly friends and families. It was a rush — both a jittery, heart in your throat kinda way and a, “wow, I can’t believe I’m standing here in the spotlight” kinda way.

So, here is my second stand-up comedy showcase.

If you think you are funny, I urge you to do a stand-up comedy course. Fun, terrifying and a way to connect with like-minded goofballs.

Top new year’s resolutions for pets

cat

Photo by Jae Park on Unsplash

It’s not well known but it’s a universal truth that domestic animals prescribe to the practice of setting new year’s resolutions.

Scientists have been doing some of that nifty data-collecting stuff using the best pet data sources on the planet – Gargle, Grazeazon and Facebeak. After scouring millions of posts, orders and searches, the white-coated, glasses-wearing dudes and dudettes have come up with some common resolutions for some of our pets.

See what is in store for your pet this year.

Cat resolutions

1. Irritate the dog
2. Sharpen claws on owner’s leg, preferable in the middle of the night
3. Stop chasing small red lights

Dog resolutions

1. Stand up to the cat
2. Be more cool when owner gets home
3. Catch tail

Bird resolutions

1. Poop anywhere but on newspaper in cage
2. Fly the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs
3. Kill the owner of Chick-fil-a … in under 12 parsecs

Hamster resolutions

1. Run fast on wheel late at night for optimum human sleep disruption
2. Run for US political office
3. Start keto diet

Spider resolutions

1. Sue the Web for trademark infringement
2. Improve popularity standing among humans above other arachnid family members
3. Increase production of silk for Spider-Man

Men’s resolutions

1. Eat Keto
2. Stand up to the cat
3. Become Spider-Man

Cheer on your domestic pets in their valiant efforts to maintain their New Year’s resolutions. What’s that, you ask? What are my resolutions? Hang out with more hamsters and mount a PR campaign for spiders using these popular hashtags whenever possible: #pets #influencer #funny

What are your resolutions?

Things best not forgotten

(All names have been changed to protect the guilty parties.)

At different times in our lives we all forget something or other. Numerous umbrellas, jackets, sweaters hats or gloves line lost-and-found boxes and many a person has let out a sigh of relief when someone returns their wallet or keys.

But, sometimes we forget big things. Things that are hard to lose or forget about. This tale is filled with disbelief, teamwork, perseverance, triumph and yes, even soul-searching for some.

The game & Lulu’s unorthodox choice

It was a beautiful day for a soccer game. While the field displayed muddgy (muddy + squishy) and uneven ground, it remained fairly dry after the week’s torrential downpour and that meant the game was a go. We played a good game and beat our opponents 4 to 1 — all beautiful goals that soared over the goalie’s head and billowed the net behind her.

After the game, some of us hung around to enjoy a cold beverage from the genus Wobbly and the species Pop. Random conversations happened about nothing serious or of note, with the exception of Lulu’s discussion of the clothing/book swap she attended on the weekend. Of particular note was the fact that she picked up a sex book called, “Sex brings you closer to God”. Even more interesting is that Lulu was contemplating giving it to her mother, who left the church a year ago, as a Christmas present.

Presumably, she wished to ignite a heated, divine and truly spirited conversation around the dinner table that would make more than one or two people uncomfortable. I suggested that there would be no better time than the day of our Lord’s birth to present the gift, on account of the fact that it covered off both God and birth, the result of sex. Ah, but I digress.

The shocking revelation

While getting ready to pack up our stuff we noted that someone had left a pair of sunglasses behind, and a few water bottles were forgotten too. As we were discussing who owned what, who would take what and bring it out to the next practice, Esmerelda squinted out across the soccer field.

“Um, see those four kids over their playing with the pool noodles? Aren’t they Jade’s?”

We all turned our faces in that direction even though most of us have no idea what Jade’s kids look like. We convince ourselves that they might be her kids, but that they must be with their dad, a man we see over at the playground. They appeared to be heading in that direction, but then they head off away from there. All the while involved in an epic pool noodle fight.

Lulu and her husband are leaving so we order them to ask the kids if they belong to Jade. We advise that it should be Lulu who talks to them, on account of her being a women and not a scary man. We also suggest that she not bring up the sex and God book on account of that just being creepy.

We watch from afar as she talks to them and then turns to walk to her car. We call out to her and gesticulate our burning question, “Well, what up? Jade’s kids or not?” She gives us the thumbs up and shoos in the kids in our direction.

Esmerelda goes and speaks with them and finds out that their dad is at work nearby. By now, she’s already left a couple of voicemails for Jade, and now call the father’s work. She leaves a message there saying that we have his kids.

We were fortunate that several minutes later the dad shows up and not the RCMP. He rounds up the four kids and bundles them, and their mudgy pool noodles, into the van.Do-you-have-your-children

Forgiven but never forgotten

It’s funny, earlier, when Jade started to leave quickly after the game ended, she had said, “Sorry, gotta go, so I’ll love you and leave you.” What she probably should have said was, “Sorry gotta go, so I’ll love you and leave you with my children.”

Lessons learned

  • Ensure your husband has his eyes and ears pointed in your direction when you explain the child care situation for the day.
  • Tell your kids that dad is in charge of them today and that they better come up with a plan B for getting home.
  • Always ensure your kids have pool noodles, even if they will be nowhere near a pool.

She will of course never live this down. I, for one, am happy that this will be the topic of conversation and the butt of jokes well into the future. I believe it will release my long-standing, worst-ever comeback uttered on another mudgy field 15 years ago. An opponent, whom I had fouled, yelled at me on the field, “You’re a shitty soccer player!” And I, certified ‘fairly witty’ by my peers, stood toe-to-toe with her and released this epic let-down of a rebuke, “NO, YOU’RE  a shitty soccer player!”

 

Adolescent survivors of the 70s & 80s

strasky and hutchYou know who you are. We were the tweens and teenagers of the 70s & 80s. A time when mood rings and pet rocks were ‘in’ and 8-tracks ‘thunked’ into the player in a satisfying way right before Led Zeppelin blasted out of the speakers. Speakers that were oversized (pretty sure they were meant for the house) and wedged between the back window and the top of the back seat. Nothing like an unbolted 10-lb speaker waiting to rocket through the front seat if the brake was suddenly hit, decapitating everyone along the way.

Smoking – an activity for the whole family

And, in the 70s and 80s, everyone smoked in their cars, lots of times with the windows up and ‘hot-boxed’ their kids in the back seat. I still feel like a recovering 2-pack-a-day smoker even though I never really smoked.

If you complained that you were choking on cigarette smoke or that you were cold from the blast of wind from the open front windows, you got the cursory, “Shut up!” from older siblings who had to drive you somewhere against their will.

(Note: like any good teen of the 80s, I did sneak several cigarettes from my parents so my best friend and I could smoke in the alley. Remember Menthol cigs? Blech, why did we think that favour would make this gross habit any better?)

Driving in fast (or maybe not even so fast) cars

Recently I was reminiscing with friends about a few car moments that I remember from my childhood. One was sitting in the back seat (not wearing a seat belt, of course), leaning against the door while one of my brothers was driving down the alley by our house. I think I was about 9 or 10. The door suddenly opened and I was hanging onto the handle watching the gravel spin by underneath and knowing there was a telephone pole on a direct collision path with my door.

Being a scrawny kid, I did not have any upper body strength to pull the door shut. I started to screech and scream – okay, I’ll admit it, I was a screechy kid, but in my defense I grew up with four older brothers and sometimes you had to ESTROGEN-up to get heard – anyway, I got the usual, “Pull the fucking door closed and shut up!” The concern for my well-being was clearly secondary to being able to hear Led Zeppelin on the 8-track free from screechy baby sister noises. At the last second, before we arrived at the pole I managed to pull the door shut.

Then when I was about 15, one of my older brothers bought a TR6. Like all our cars, it was second hand and didn’t always work as expected. One hot summer day he says to me, “Wanna go for a ride in my new car?”

We’d only just backed out of the parking spot and moved about two feet forward when the loose wires that were dangling below the glove box on the passenger side connected, sparked and started to catch fire. Now, mind you it, it was probably only a small fire, maybe nothing more than the flame on a candle, but in my mind it was HUGE and everyone knows that fire + car = explosion.

If copious amounts of Magnum PI, Starsky & Hutch, CHiPS and TJ Hooker taught me nothing else it was that cars always explode …. unless the lead character is in it, that is.

So, I promptly jumped out of the car. Luckily the roof was down so I could make a clean Dukes of Hazzard exit. My brother is still laughing about that.

Playing outside

And by playing outside, I don’t me virtually outside or Pokémon Go-ing outside but outside as in touching nature and stuff.  And by playing, I mean unsupervised-play-until-someone-breaks-the-thing-we’re-playing-on-or breaks-a-bone-clear-off playing. If it’s only mostly broken, then you can keep going.

And, I also mean playing a game of hide-and-seek that traversed various parts of the neighbourhood. From peoples’ back yards, to parking lots, to quietly through unsuspecting neighbours’ basements to dark, creepy trails (more like suggestions of openings in bushes) in forests to the edge of the ocean (literally).

If you came home at night — usually in the dark after your Irish mother had been calling for you for ½ an hour and then threatened to ‘kill you’ for not answering her sooner – without sand in your shoes, blood on your elbows and knees, gum in your hair, part of someone’s tooth stuck in the back of your hand, well, you just weren’t doing it right.

What did you survive growing up in the 70s & 80s?

 

 

 

Esmeralda, Manny and the squirrel: a tale of a terrifying threesome

(This is based on a true story as told to me by Esmeralda at our MAV (mature athlete version) boot camp. I’ve loosely followed the chain of events, made up all of the dialogue as I saw fit and slipped in a wee bit of hyperbole, subtle sexual innuendo and some downright lies.)

The invitation

Well, Esmeralda was shocked when some of the neighbouhood kids knocked at the door and told her they saw a squirrel in her window, her bedroom window.

She headed upstairs and could see the squirrel’s shadow shifting in staccato movements behind the blinds.

“Manny!” she called over her shoulder, summoning her husband to come help with the situation. When he arrived, she said, “There’s a squirrel inside our room. See? It’s there behind the blinds.” Manny followed the line of her outstretched hand, finger pointing erectly toward the window.

Like most men, he didn’t truly believe his wife so he pulled the blinds up quickly to see for himself. The startled squirrel, channeling its flying squirrel cousins, leapt out towards Manny, who promptly screeched like a little girl who’s had her pigtails pulled.

The Chase

“Get it! Get it!” Esmeralda yelled as she jumped on the bed and assumed a defensive karate-like stance. She then snatched up a towel that was on the bed and held it outstretched in front of her. You might think she was going to use this to capture the squirrel, but she was really using it more like a shield. Hiding behind it, not so much like a demure damsel in an artsy French film but more like a Quentin Tarantino version of a demure damsel.

She could hear the squirrel skittering around the bedroom. At one point it landed on the bed, she eased the towel down slowly and looked at the end of the bed. Yup, there it was, beautiful thick hair, soft and sleek-looking and coming altogether at the end in an explosion of bushy tail.

Esmeralda dragged her eyes away from the creature’s body and looked into its face. Teeth bared in a sinister grin and eyes alight with panic and ferocity. Esmeralda emitted, not so much a screech like girly Manny had, but more of a guttural groan, and flash-danced her feet to expend the fearful energy that was rising. This in turn, quite fortuitously for Esmeralda, double-bounced the squirrel off the bed.

She had her eyes closed, breath held waiting for the next wave of frantic pawing and panting, but there was only silence.

The revelationsexy squirrel

“Manny?” she whispered. “Do you know where it went?”

There was a long pause, a slow exhalation of breath and then Manny finally spoke in a slow, dulcet tone, “Yes, I know where it is.”

When he said no more, Esmeralda opened her eyes. She wasn’t sure if she should scream or laugh for there was the squirrel hanging on for dear life to  Manny’s purple soccer shorts. Yes, people, claws to ass cheeks.

She glanced over to Manny’s face. He wore an expression of pain mixed with a bit of guilty pleasure. “Well,” she thought, “I knew he enjoyed 50 shades of Grey more than he let on. That’s it. I’m buying those damn handcuffs!”

The Climax

Just then the Squirrel saw its moment and flung itself at the window screen and made a noisy escape. Esmeralda and Manny rushed to the window to ensure it was gone and were met with applause from all the neighbours who quite enjoyed the show.

 

 

Running stairs & the art of cat love

(The names of my friends involved have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Esmerelda, Frau Frieda, Inga, and Shirley walk into a bar….no, wait, that doesn’t happen, at least not tonight. We walk to the bridge to run stairs. Yes, on purpose.

Stairs

When they proposed this to me in the past, I thought they meant we would run up the stairs of the Cambie St. bridge and then across the bridge, down the stairs at that end, back up and across the bridge and repeat a few times. But, no, actually running stairs means running up the stairs, stop for a short gasping breath of air at the top and walk/trot down, turn around at bottom and run up the stairs, hack up parts of a lung at top, and walk/stumble down, turn around at bottom and …. you get the picture.

“How many are we doing again?” I foolishly ask. “12, it’s June now, so we need to do 12,” says Inga who is sprinting up the stairs ahead of me. “What? Why? Who made that up? This is only my third time, shouldn’t I only be doing three?”  I whine.

“You do 12. Be strong woman, but don’t smell like strong man,” Frau Frieda says as she passes me, placing a disconcertingly heavy hand on my shoulder and smelling a little Old Spicy, in my opinion.

The stairs seem okay at the start of each set, but when you get to the very last group your thighs seize and you have to convince them that there are in fact NO bear traps affixed to them. “Seriously, guys, you’re good, just run up these last batch of steep stairs for no apparent reason.”

Stopped ahead of me on the stairs I see Esmerelda talking to a man who is carrying a dog. Yes, it’s odd, we’ve seen a few people out “walking” their dogs this way. Esmerelda has had multiple knee surgeries in her life and wears two big, black braces in order to run. We joke that she often gets a lot of sympathy looks when we’re out running, or sometimes people just avert their eyes and walk at a safe distance. Maybe it’s because it looks like she should be in an episode of Dr. Who, or, more likely, Austen Powers. She’d be the villain called Legs E.

As we trot down the stairs she says, “See, you could meet single guys out here. People are always stopping me to ask about my braces and how the dial on the side works.”

“Um, so you think I should wear a fake leg brace and see if men will talk to me?” I say.

“What? I have extra brace for the leg,” says Frau Frieda from the stairs below us. “I bring for you next week, then maybe you run faster and talk less.”

Fitbits

We do some strength and stretching exercise after the stairs and Inga and Shirley talked about their last soccer game and heart rate recordings on their Fitbits. Most players hide their Fitbits under a sweatband when they play so the ref won’t make them take it off.

Shirley says she had to take it off once because of the ref, but she stuck it in-between her compression shorts (like bike shorts) and her soccer shorts – at the back, that is, near her butt. She animatedly demonstrated how she did this, well, as animated as a Brit can get.

“It totally still worked. Even recorded my heart rate!”

“What?!” I say, “You mean it actually recorded your heart rate from your ass crack?” Technology is truly amazing.

The art of cat love

On the walk back, we talk about the pug we just saw in a baby carriage, which led to a conversation about kids at Esmerelda’s school saving an injured squirrel and then to Esmerelda asking if any of us wants a kitten. She tells us that her friend has a bunch of kittens because people abandon them on her farm.

Frau Frieda notes that cats ignore the scratching posts, even if they’re laced with catnip and instead they scratch up the coffee table, the couch and even the drywall.

Esmerelda agrees and adds, “Terminator 3 can die any time now because I want new furniture.” (The cat’s name has been changed to protect privacy and keep Cativists off my case.)

“Ugh, why do people want animals that do that in their house?” I say.

Immediately Esmerelda responds, “Because of cat love. They provide love in your life.”

“Wait, you literally just said a minute ago ‘Terminator 3 can die any time now because I want new furniture.’ So does that mean you love your cat until it’s time to redecorate and then you pray for an early demise? “

Frau Frieda muses, “There are no need for prayers. Other methods work faster.”

(No cats came to their untimely death during the night, but several human stair-runners were precariously close to losing a limb to cramping.)