Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tempting Fate

I am a fate tempter. I tempt fate on a regular basis. How, you ask? Do I jump out of airplanes, climb mountains or participate in death defying activities? No, I do none of those things.

I wear clearance shoes from Winners.

I purchased a great pair of classic black high heels for work from Winners, Anne Klein nonetheless. I loved them and wore them about 3 times a week since they went with everything. One day I noticed that the heel of the shoe was a bit wobbly, but thought nothing of it and continued on my way. A week or so later as I was getting off the elevator at work my right leg seemed quite a bit shorter than my left leg all of the sudden. I thought my heel got stuck in the crack between the elevator and the floor and continued on. Unfortunately, my right leg remained shorter, and then I realized that my shoe broke and the heel was taking a joy ride up and down in the elevator without me.

Do you have any idea how many times you have to push the ‘up’ button before the right elevator comes back? It seemed odd to all the people riding the elevators as well. I kept pushing the ‘up’ button and waiting for an elevator. Then when one arrived, I didn’t want to take it. Many nice people work in my building and they kept holding the elevator doors open for me. After explaining my situation to one of the many nice people, I realized the explanation was weirder than my not riding the elevator, so I kept silent.

Finally, the elevator that was taking part of my shoe on a joy ride arrived. I hobbled in, grabbed my heel. While trying to make a quick retreat, I ran smack into someone trying to use the elevator. I didn’t look up, I just kept going. Looking back, I should have just rode the elevator back to my office, but I was in panic mode. What was I going to do??! Then I remembered…there is a shoe repair place across the street!! In order to keep people from noticing the missing heel, I tip toed on the foot that was missing a heel. If you looked at me, it was an optical illusion – one shoe with a heel, one without! So instead of looking lopsided, I looked like I had a severe limp….you win some and you lose some….

The shoe repair guy fixed them up so they were good as new…until I was running across a busy downtown intersection in the middle of winter to make a light. At first, I thought I stepped in a hole in the street, but then I realized that there probably aren’t 4 holes in a row exactly where I am running and only on my right side. I stopped, quickly looked at my shoe and noticed I was missing quite a bit of it! That heel had fallen off once again! I turned, ran back for the heel, nearly got smooshed by a large delivery truck turning left and ended up in the intersection holding part of my shoe just as the light turned red. Just so you know, there are better ways to stop traffic!

If I weren’t a fate tempter, I would have trashed the shoes the first time they broke, but I got them cobbled together and went on wearing them as though nothing were wrong.

Aren’t we all glad that I don’t participate in death defying activities? It would just be too epic for everyone involved!! But be warned, I have been known to stir my blender while it’s blending…

*Note: I still thoroughly enjoy Winners and hold no ill regard for them…Anne Klein on the other hand, she’s got a thing or two coming from me!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Triple Grande, Non-Fat, Extra Hot Latte

If you are at work and you inadvertently spill you triple grande, non fat, extra hot latte all over your lap and chair, try not to scream. If you scream, the whole office full of men will come running over to see what is making you scream. Then you look silly while dripping with latte. If you are a more covert woman, you will stand up quickly, grab paper towels, wipe up the mess and then act as though nothing happened. After all, the dark grey skirt you were wearing won’t show much, and once it’s dry it will be like it never happened. BUT, if you are like me, you will scream because overreacting is something you do by nature and then everyone will know what happened.

After I cleaned up the latte mess, I sat in my very wet skirt shivering to death. The office is usually the temperature of a refrigerator, but when the latte isn’t extra hot any more and all over your skirt, it makes you cold...extra cold. Since I no longer had any dignity left, I opted to put on my walk to work pants rather than catch pneumonia. I am very fashionable with my red high heels, navy capri running pants and a black blouse.

Hopefully the skirt dries enough to put it back on before my meeting this afternoon!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Please Refrain...

The other morning, I got Ma’am-ed.

The college aged man handing out the free Edmonton newspaper, The Metro, decided to Ma’am me on my walk into work.

Metro Man – Morning Ma’am. Would you like a Metro?
Donloree – Uh…no. Thanks though. (I was trying to be gracious, despite the obvious Ma’am-ing)
Metro Man – Have a great day Ma’am.

Not only did he Ma’am me, but he did it twice! That morning I started out feeling peppy, but after being Ma’am-ed twice within 3 seconds, I felt old and haggard.

I don’t appreciated being Ma’am-ed. I am currently 27 years old, which is no where near the Ma’am-ing zone.

I understand that it’s hard to know what to say sometimes, but call me something other than Ma’am! Here are some options:
Hey you!
Or, better yet, perhaps don’t address me at all if the only thing you know how to do is Ma’am me!

I do have grey hair, but I dye it back to my natural color so I don’t look silly. You can Ma’am a woman when she has jet black hair and it’s obvious that she shouldn’t. When I am at that point in my life, I will appreciate being Ma’am-ed, because “Hey!”, “Hey you!”, “Lady” and “Miss” will all be demeaning and rude. But for now, please refrain from the Ma’am-ing…it’s actually quite disturbing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I am a woman, but that doesn’t mean I am silly!

The past few months have just been a whirlwind of chaos in my life. My husband and I purchased our very first home, a great condo in downtown Edmonton, and Jon has been in America for the past month attending the Global Village (it’s totally “The Apprentice” but no one gets fired and people are from all over the world). Needless to say, I have been a bit stressed out and ridiculously busy.

The woman that owned the condo previous to me had...interesting….taste. I had to rid myself of the pre-existing living room colors of navy, bright red, tangerine and lemon yellow. It kind of looked like the circus exploded, and that really wasn’t the look I was going for. She also thought the master bedroom would be good lime and navy and that the spare room would be lovely painted purple. It hurt my head. So I painted, and painted and then painted some more – thank goodness I have so many great friends that came to my rescue.

Once I could stand in the living room and not expect Bobo the Clown to come traipsing through, I started on other projects like replacing the plastic (yes, I said plastic) bathroom sinks. Who the heck has plastic sinks? My uncle came over and helped me replace two of the three sinks, the third sink had a huge bow in it, so back to Home Depot it went. While at Home Depot, I decided to pick up a pipe wrench and the other necessary tools so I could replace the third sink all by myself. So I went in search of a customer service person to help me pick out the best pipe wrench possible. I found a short man in the plumbing section and asked for help, it went something like this:

DL: “Hello, I am looking for a pipe wrench, can you tell me where they are?”
Short Home Depot Man: “Uh…you don’t need a pipe wrench.”
DL: “Yup, I sure do. I am replacing a sink.”
Short Home Depot Man: “You’re replacing a sink.”
DL: “YES. Where are the pipe wrenches?”
Short Home Depot Man: “What kind of a sink?”
DL: “A bathroom sink.”
Short Home Depot Man: “Oh, you need a basin wrench.”
DL: “Fine, basin wrench, pipe wrench, the tool for the job – just point me in the direction of the wrenches.”
Short Home Depot Man: “Uh…I will walk you there.”
DL: Upon arrival at the wrench section I exclaimed happily, “Yup! That’s the one I need,” pointing at a pipe wrench.
Short Home Depot Man: “Nope, you need this,” (pointing to crappy looking wrench).
DL: “Uh…no. I have to disconnect the pipe at the bottom of the sink, you can’t do that with that wrench.”
Short Home Depot Man: “I don’t know what the man that is putting this in for you told you, but you don’t need a pipe wrench.”
DL: “Well, first of all I am the one putting the sink in and I do know that I need a pipe wrench.”
Short Home Depot Man: “No, you need this.”

After arguing for quite a long time about the fact that I was indeed the person that was going to be replacing the sink, he insisted on having me draw a diagram of the sink. I then had to explain how to take out and replace the sink.

Short Home Depot Man: “So, show me what you are going to do.”
DL: “Well, after I turn off the water, I am going to remove this pipe and these clamps and take out the sink. I have to tighten the pipes, here, here and here. That ‘basin wrench’ looks like it will break if I use it for that.”
Short Home Depot Man: “So you’re taking the whole sink out?”
DL: “YES! How else the heck am I going to replace the sink? I have to take it out to replace it, don’t I?”
Short Home Depot Man: “So you aren’t just changing the taps?”
DL: “No, the whole thing – the whole kit and caboodle is coming out and everything is going in new.”
Short Home Depot Man: “Oh. So you need a pipe wrench then…”

I about had an aneurysm at this point! Just because I am a girl, it doesn’t mean that I am silly! Just let me purchase what I asked for and send me on my way! For goodness sake!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another good reason to own your home…

If you own your home, you will never receive this call:

Landlord – Hi. How are you? How’s the house?
DL – Oh hello, how are you doing? The house and I are just fine. (Meanwhile, all I can think is why in the world are you calling?? You never call!)
**Uncomfortable pause in conversation**
Landlord – That’s good to hear….so are you free on Friday afternoon?
DL – Umm…my in-laws are visiting and I work, so not really….why, what’s up?
Landlord – know, just wanted to do a house inspection, my sister is here from Toronto and wants to see the house….so does Friday work for you?
DL – Not the best day for me….but I guess she’s only here for a few days, so it will have to work, right?
Landlord – Yeah…so we’ll just let ourselves in and I’ll leave a detailed checklist for you.
DL – Oh…OK…thanks?

Once I hung up, a mini panic attack started. HOUSE INSPECTION??! What’s that all about? And I’m not going to be there for the inspection – that’s horrible! I am being forced to allow some woman that I barely know and her sister to go through my home. They have free reign to look through things like my underwear drawer and medicine cabinet while I am at work. I won’t be able to hide the disorganized room that acts as our basement since we don’t have one, the cluttered storage closet, the missing paint from the molding in the master bedroom or the chip in the wall from my bike – everything is just out there in plain sight for her to view! And to top it all off, just this week my husband brought home scads and scads of paper – 6 FULL BOXES – from his office to sort and go through. I won’t be able to explain why it’s reasonable that we have 17 stacks of papers and laugh about how quirky those Hoffmans are!!

So last night I spent my evening cleaning weird things, things that people don’t clean on a regular basis. I cleaned under my kitchen sink, washed some base boards, swept under the stove, cleaned the tracks of my windows in the kitchen and dining room, rinsed out the crisper drawers in my fridge – you know the unimportant stuff that most people rarely care about, unless you’re a landlord! Then I proceeded to walk into every room and pretend that I was the landlord and her sister. I desperately tried to think like they would and have the same reaction they will have once they begin to ‘inspect’ my home. There is only one good thing in all of this; at least my tub is soap scum free. Thank you Scrubbing Bubbles! They really are as good at the bottle proclaims! I may be somewhat disorganized, but at least I am soap scum free – that’s got to be good for something! Right??!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


This morning, it took a tow truck to get me out of bed. It just didn’t seem like it was time to get up when the alarm went off at 6:30 this morning. I was warm and cozy in my bed and there was no sun streaming through the windows. I decided that my clock must be out of sorts, turned off the alarm and went back to sleep. At 7:20, I finally dragged myself out of bed after giving myself, “just 5 more minutes” of sleep. Needless to say, when I finally got up, I was extremely groggy.

Sometimes first thing in the morning I don’t have the smartest thoughts. It must be because all of my synapses are not firing and only my body is awake. This morning, on my way to the shower, I looked out the window and wondered when my neighbors put a white roof on their house. I could have sworn that just yesterday it was black shingles, but I thought that they must have decided to do something crazy in the middle of the night. Once I started to brush my teeth and the fresh mint taste revived me, I realized that God decided to do something crazy in the middle of the night, not my neighbors! I abruptly pulled up the Venetian blinds in the bathroom and realized, to my dismay, that it was SNOWING outside. Yup, that’s right, snow on April 19. Oblivious to the date, the snow was happily coming down, making the world white and chilly once again up here in the arctic.

So far this year, spring has come about four times, each time tricking me in the believing that it is here to stay. Then it pulls some stunt like this! It’s so disheartening to go from riding your bike in the warm spring sun to frantically searching for your scarf and mittens so you don’t freeze while waiting for the bus! I think I have to keep an arctic-proof outfit handy at all times now. You just never know what’s going to happen up here!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hilarious Comment of the Day

This morning while I was downstairs at Starbucks for my caffeine fix, I heard the most hilarious comment I’ve heard in a long time. A stylish, well-dressed man had obviously been sent to pick up coffees for the office. He put lids on all five beverages and then asked for a drink tray. Now, if the drink trays got any closer to him, they would have bit his head off! The woman who made the drinks patiently pointed out that they were about two inches away from him while giving me a knowing look. He looked at the two of us and spouted, “Well, you put them in the Y chromosome blind spot! What do you expect?” It just struck me funny, and I laughed all the way back to my desk.

Perhaps Y chromosomes do have blind would explain so much…

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crazy Event no. 412 in the Life of Donloree

One day I hope to be a decent runner. I want to pass people while racing instead of memorizing what all the people look like from behind. In order to help me on my quest to be a better runner, I joined a hardcore running club. We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays right after work just south of downtown. Our very in shape coach is great, but she has us do workouts that involve running up and down large hills – such as Connor’s hill and Grierson hill – and then we work on our speed while running up and down them. After we finish an hour of running all over the river valley, we go back to the community league to do core exercises, such as 'the plank’! If anyone is curious, I hate the plank…

Since I live in the arctic, there is ice everywhere which results in very dangerous running conditions at times – especially up and down hills! Due to the icy conditions of yesterday, our coach planned a workout that involved over 1,000 stairs, after all, the stairs weren’t icy…I managed all the stairs, and felt the very bottom of my lungs for the first time ever in my life. There was also an odd wheezing noise that came out whenever I would reach the top of the Hotel MacDonald stairs.

I usually hate doing the core exercises, but after that work out I was happy to do any exercise that involved lying on the floor! As we were finishing up with the plank, I saw Jon poke his beaming face into the room. He came to pick me up with tickets to go see Stephen and Avi Lewis at the Shaw Conference Centre – which started in 15 minutes! I quickly changed back into my work clothes and off we went to the Shaw. I was exhausted after running up and down the Hotel MacDonald stairs 3 times and the Crowne plaza stairs 5 times, but it isn’t very often that you get to see Stephen and Avi Lewis and ask them any question you want! So off we went in a hurry.

The event started at 7:00 and we didn’t leave the Riverdale Community league until 6:55, so we were obviously quite late. Once we got into the Shaw we started quickly down the escalators. The second set of escalators is ridiculously long and on my decent I somehow tripped and went flying forward and ended up sliding head first, face down on the supremely long escalator – my laptop bag leading the way. Jon noticed that I was no longer standing beside him and grabbed my ankle so I stopping sliding towards certain death. All I could think about was my hair getting sucked down the side of the escalator and ending up at the bottom of the Shaw Conference Centre with the stairs hitting me in the face. At that moment, I recalled a frightening story my grandma had told me about a little boy getting his foot sucked down the side of an escalator while she watched in horror. I sure didn’t want my whole body sucked down the side of the escalator, so I rolled awkwardly toward the middle, still going down head first. I was so tired and frightened that I all I could do was meekly say, “Help, help, help…”

Jon came to my rescue, he jumped over my body that was strewn over most of the escalator and hefted me right side up. He saved me riding the rest of the way down head first and arriving at the bottom like a beached whale in front of important people wearing nice suits. I ripped holes in my best pair of pants and have huge scrapes from the stairs up the whole right side of my body. I look like a red and cream zebra. The worst part is my shins – who knew an escalator could cause so much bruising and such deep cuts?

Once I could breathe normally and realized that I was going to live, I was just glad that we were late. If we had been on time, who knows what tragic thing would have happened? Are you familiar with the domino theory? After all of this, we continued on to the event, ripped pants and all. I am sure I looked quite disheveled. I managed to run up and down 1,000 stairs without tripping, apparently that 1,001st stair is a doozey.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Young, Poor and Stupid

Young, poor and stupid is a bad combination. If all three characteristics are present at one time, it can lead to severe and epic things happening in a person’s life! One or two of these qualities can be overcome with fortitude and help from older, wiser people in your life, BUT if you are like my husband and I were when we were first married, something crazy needs to happen to snap you out of this dangerous frame of mind.

Jon and I had been married for about 9 months when our ‘retro’ apartment complete with shag carpet, galley kitchen, paper thin walls and one tiny bedroom went up in rent from a reasonable $495 a month to $700 a month due to supposed renovations that were taking place. We found ourselves being slowly forced from our home due to our semi-impoverished state. For months we looked for a place that we could afford – we found nothing. Finally, after scouring the city, we found a TWO BEDROOM basement suite of a duplex for only $450 a month. It was larger and cheaper!! It felt as though we were moving into a castle. Although, it did resemble a mobile home since it was long and narrow and all the rooms went off to the left when you walked down the hallway...but there was no 40 year old shag carpet. I would feel free to take off my shoes while in my own home, what a treat!!

We burrowed into our little underground castle like two groundhogs, happy as ever to be beneath the crust of the earth, patiently waiting until spring to see our shadows. The windows were one of the more hilarious features of our new home. The ‘front windows’ were 1 foot from the ceiling and only about 18 inches tall, but stretched all 10 feet of the front room. I happily put up window treatments as though they were a full sized windows and hoped no one would notice. The 1 year old boy that lived upstairs loved my windows – after all they were at eye level for him when he was playing in the yard. It never ceased to amuse me when I was doing my dishes to see a set of chubby legs wander by and then bend over to reveal a beaming face that begged me to play with him. I knew he wanted me to come play whenever he would start to bang on the window and say “Duh, Duh, Duh!!” (Donloree is a hard name for small children, I decided my nickname of ‘Duh’ was given to me with love and just embraced it.)

When the spring thaw came that year, it came with gusto right into our living room, kitchen and dining room. It was as though we had a waterfall coming from under our kitchen sink. Waterfalls are a lovely and beautiful thing in nature, but not in your living room! We sopped up as much water as possible and tried to ward off the mildew that wanted to settle in. Our landlord, Howard, gave us some helpful advice, “Open up the windows and let the air blow through.” As if I didn’t think of that on my own. His lack of help should have been a sign to us, but we were young, poor and stupid.

That same summer, I hosted my in-laws at our new underground castle. It was a tight squeeze, but we put Jon’s grandma in our room and the other 5 of us found places to sleep wherever there was room. Let’s just say it was cozy… The first morning of their visit, I woke up in my living room, now bedroom and walked the 4 feet to the kitchen only to realize that my socks were suddenly soaking wet. During the night we had a heavy rainfall and the waterfall decided to reappear under the kitchen sink. After waking up the whole house with my loud announcement about the waterfall, I immediately dialed Howard. I was going to deal with him this time. Jon was obviously way too nice the last time nature decided to enter our home uninvited. This time Howard sent over someone to clean the carpet and dry it up for us – thank goodness someone dealt with him firmly! The rest of the time visiting with my in-laws involved dining with huge floor fans blowing our supper about and everyone walking around with their pant legs rolled up, but we made due.

One day, Howard decided to take some action against the waterfall that had taken up residence in our home. Apparently there was an issue with the weeping tiles in the foundation and some sort of protective webbing needed to be put down to keep the waterfall from reappearing. He approached us about taking care of the problem. All we needed to do was dig down to the bottom of the foundation of the house for about 12 feet, put down some of this protective webbing and then put all the dirt back into the massive hole. If we did that he would give us a month’s free rent - $450! So being as young, poor and stupid as we were, we agreed. After all, how hard could it be?

The next day Jon and a friend set out to find the bottom of the house while I was at work. I came home to find they had only made a few feet of progress. I was shocked at the slow progress they were making through the clay. Wouldn’t this be a one day project?! As the days and then the weeks went by, the hole slowly grew. I rather enjoyed the hole because Jon was at eye level with me while he was in the hole and I was in the kitchen. We would chat through the open kitchen window while he dug and I baked. Finally I heard a triumphant yell, “Weeping Tile!!” To the rest of the neighborhood it sounded like he had struck gold. I was so excited at the prospect of seeing the weeping tile that I pulled on my digging clothes and hopped in the hole with him. At this point the top of the hole was at my eyebrows. Jon and I dug like crazy to reveal all the weeping tiles we could find. As we neared completion, a movement on my left caught my attention. When I glanced over, I saw to my horror that the hole was starting to cave in on us. I immediately started to scream and claw my way out of the hole, which caused it to cave in even faster. I made such a huge commotion that the upstairs neighbors came running out and pulled me and Jon out just as the last bit of the hole fell in. We stood there in shock, unable to form proper sentences. It looked like a small earthquake had happened. We were mere seconds away from becoming artifacts for future generations to dig up!!

This event resulted in another terse call from Donloree to Howard. He immediately hired a professional digging company to do the job and they were finished in an afternoon. Even though we didn’t put the special webbing on the weeping tiles, we still got a month of free rent…mostly because I pointed out that we nearly died while in the hole.

Well, we were still young and poor, but not stupid – and it only took this:

to rid us of our stupidity.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What really is...

Earlier in the year, I worked for the U of A for about 6 weeks in the Faculty of Nursing. I know, I have great stamina when it comes to these new jobs. It was a decent job in many ways – I only had to work 7 hours a day, I got Christmas break off and I was close to Whyte Ave so I could fill my need to shop trendy, urban shops while on my lunch break. The biggest down side was I felt guilty for being really, really healthy…extremely healthy compared to everyone else in the hospital. I worked in a tower attached to the hospital so I had to walk past tons of sick people all day, every day. People were coughing, bleeding, sick and barely managing to push around IV poles while I jauntily went for coffee. It was enough to put a big damper on the morning Starbucks experience! Nor was I good at putting my conscience to rest. One day a woman in a wheel chair was coming back from a smoke and struggling with the front doors – so I offered to help. Well, I nearly killed her trying to push her through the doorways; it was a riotous adventure for her - she had to cling onto the wheel chair for dear life and barely managed to stay seated. Those things are really hard to push with a grande, non-fat, extra hot caramel machiatto in hand! Who knew? I think she would have rather I hadn’t helped in the end….but at least I tried, right?

During my first week there, another woman started with the Faculty of Nursing. She was about 55 years old and had moved here from Toronto with her son to help him pursue his dreams. They had previously come from the Ukraine and only had each other left for family. I met her because we both had to talk with the benefits people and sign 218 forms our first week there and ended up having the same appointment. She was lovely and genteel in so many ways. Her persona was warm and accepting, I could picture her sitting in an elegant garden sipping tea in England, but there she sat across from me while I tried not to go ADHD during the dullest 2 hour meeting of my life about all the employee benefits at the U of A. At one point during this meeting we had to choose who our benefactor would be if and when we die. These are always such uplifting moments in life. I put my husband down and she put down her son. Then the woman told us to check a box so that we could change who our benefactor may be down the road in case something in our relationship changes. I very obediently checked the box. I was half dead at that moment anyway - so who cares? She refused to check the box – why would she ever choose anyone besides her son? She was obviously shocked that someone would ever question her devotion to her son – it was given forever without condition.

She immediately latched onto me and made sure that we went for lunch together once a week and that I caught her up to date on everything that goes on in Edmonton. She asked me questions that I had no answers to – stuff about museums, cultural clubs, housing, grocery shopping, size of the city, kinds of people in the city, the many ways that Edmonton may be different than Toronto – you name it, she probably had a question about it. I found all of this to be very daunting and so I slowly found myself, “very busy” doing not that much on the days that we were supposed to go for lunch. I pulled away from her and eased my conscience by trying on $300 shoes on Whyte Ave that I would never purchase.

Then I got a new job and thought I would never see her again and that my guilt would seep away. In actuality, I’ve run into her several times and found her to be one of the most open, warm and loving people I have talked with in a long, long time. She always hugs me and kisses my cheek when she sees me. She gives her friendship freely and without restraint – just as she does her love for her son. I no longer feel guilt, just regret. I should love and be as she is, because she is as Jesus is.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Real Estate or Fake Estate?

As I continue to look for a home to purchase, I have broadened my requirements. No longer do I only want a 3 bedroom home with 1.5 bathrooms, a dining room and a decent sized living room and kitchen. I want even more! I want a home that has an actual kitchen, not a sink and 3 cupboards with a refrigerator in the living room. The bathroom has to not clash; a tub that has a cream glaze peeling away to reveal the original candy apple red color with a non-matching mustard colored toilet is over the top.

The basement must have a cement floor – basement floors that are made of dirt and have a hole in the ground that could go all the way to China only hastily covered by a piece of plywood, are not acceptable. I draw the line there. They even had the laundry down there! What woman would go do laundry down there? As soon as I went down, I came right back up – it was a very, very scary place! I also need to be able to stand up straight in the ‘den’ found in the basement. I am not an extremely tall woman, and if I have to stoop over to change the channels on the TV down there, it doesn’t qualify as a room of any sort.

Railings for open staircases have to be taller than 2 feet. There’s nothing quite like climbing a set of rickety stairs and having to bend over to hold onto the railing. My one and half foot tall niece is that only one that would find this railing useful. If the master bedroom is a ‘loft’ there must be more than one small window in the ‘loft’, the staircase going up needs have less of an incline than Mount Everest and you shouldn’t arrive in the kitchen upon decent. Although, if you can make it down the stairs without falling it would be convenient for midnight snacking!

And no longer shall I be duped by realtor mumbo jumbo! For all of you looking for a home, here’s a translation of what they are really saying so you don’t waste your time looking at horrible homes:

Investor’s Special! – Dump your hard earned money here!
First time home buyer’s special – Cheap, poorly constructed and no one has ever taken care of it. Run while you can!
Cottage – Ridiculously small.
Quaint – Old and falling apart.
Handy man’s special – Everything on the inside is broken and needs replacing.
Lovely / Gorgeous – Has multi-colored mold growing behind the tub surround and in the basement.
Character home – This home will build your character…
Great rental property – We’ve been renting it out for years! Don’t fix it up and let some poor people that can’t afford to purchase their own home live here and deal with the chaos you may or may not choose to fix.
Newly painted on the inside – The outside of the house is rotting away and you have to replace the siding and roof the day after you move in.
Excellent Opportunity – For us, that is…ahem…not you the home buyer!
Fixer Upper – At least they are being honest. I almost want to go just to see how a fixer upper is different than a “Character home”. I appreciate that they aren’t being covert about how much the house is lacking.
Ready to move into – The previous homeowners were evicted and the house was condemned, but you could move in as soon as you dump 30k into updating it so that it can pass the health inspection.
Newer wiring and hot water tank – It was updated around 1940. It’s newer than the house, so I guess technically they’re not lying….
Look no further – This listing usually doesn’t have a photo available, and after you’ve looked you won’t look any further due to the depression about the state of the homes that you’ve looked at so far.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tag - You're It!

Why is it that clothes manufacturers are obsessive compulsive about putting at least 4 or more tags on each garment to tell you what size it is? They seem to think that you will somehow forget the size if only the tag on the inside of the shirt that is sewn in carries this crucial information. Apparently, you need a tag to tell you about the fabric of the item, two different tags that tell you the size placed in strategic locations e.g. the waist band and the pocket, a security tag usually in a most inconvenient location that you have to remove prior to wearing/washing and my most favorite – the large 6 inch by 1.5 inch clear sticker that repeatedly tells you the size in multiple languages.

One day I was happily wearing a new pair of pants and received glances from several men and women – mostly looking at my behind. I didn’t know if I should be flattered that the pants were causing such a stir, or be upset that people had become so brazen. I just shrugged and went back to work, attended meetings, went out for lunch, took the bus home and chatted happily to a fellow co-worker while waiting for the bus. All in all, it was a very good day.

When I got home, I hung up my new pants in the closet only to notice that my butt had been announcing its size in both Spanish and English all day long! Grande, Large, Grande, Large Grande, LARGE!! Oh my holy graciousness, no one told me about it all day long – no wonder I was getting so many glances! I was officially mortified! If they had at least had the decency to snicker, I might have picked up on what was happening before 5 pm that night! Unfortunately, in this context ‘Grande’ was not referring to a medium size, like at Starbucks, it was just referring to HUGE!

The sticker had actually been removed from the front of the pant leg, but it somehow affixed itself to the rear end of my new pants. Perhaps it happened when I sat down on my bed. I don’t know; it’s all unclear to me. The mental anguish of this situation has caused lapses in my memory. The one thing I do know is that no woman needs the size of her butt announced in multiple languages all day long!

I have one question for all of society: Why didn’t you tell me??!?!

If you ever, ever, ever see a woman running around with a clear sticker stuck to her butt loudly announcing its size – TELL HER ABOUT IT!! I don’t care if you don’t know her or you think she will react in a hostile manner to you pointing out her butt – just do it! Once the shock and embarrassment wears off, she will thank you profusely, even if you aren’t around to hear about it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I'm Banking On It!

As my husband nears the completion of school in April and the stress of being closer to 30 than 20 looms, I made a decision. I decided that we should be more grown up. We should purchase a home and stop living in other people’s basements and cast off homes. With this thought in my mind, I joyfully logged onto the MLS website to see what homes were currently available in a normal person’s price range. (Although I am not normal, I operate on a normal person’s budget.) My once joy-filled heart sank as the only normal-priced homes available were one bedroom ‘condos’. I don’t know if these homes can even be considered condos. They are apartment buildings that are being renovated into condos – which means that they are going to finally rip out the shag carpet from 1963, put in a plastic tub surround in the bathroom, replace the matching olive colored stove/fridge duo and perhaps tile the mini-galley kitchen. And they are selling these one bedroom ‘condos’ for $200,000!! Somehow living in a castoff home seems better than sharing all my walls, ceilings and floors with someone else and having to save all my quarters for the shared, yet oh so convenient laundry facilities just down the hall.

Finally, I found a house that I could love. It had 10 foot ceilings, a wrap around porch, a den, a breakfast room, 3 bedrooms, a stone fireplace, lovely bathrooms with marble counter tops and it was only a mere *cough* $267,000 . Although I knew there was no possible way the Hoffmans would be able to purchase the home, I grabbed my friend and off we went to view it. Within 30 seconds of walking in the front door, I fell madly in love with it. I made the poor real estate man stay there for two hours while I ranted and raved my ecstatic feelings for the old farm house built in 1917. The basement foundation was still in great shape, but it seemed to be at odds with the rest of the house. There seemed to be a falling out of some kind – the porch was desperately trying to leave the relationship by falling off the front of the house and the rest of the house had angrily shifted a few feet to the left. I left saddened that not only I could not afford the house in the first place, but that I would have to dump another $30,000 into it to save it from toppling over and stop the leaking in the roof.

I went home dejected, yet determined to be able to purchase a home one day. Suddenly, I got the brilliant idea to go to the bank to talk to them about how to purchase a home – after all, I would eventually need them to fork out the cash, right? I dislike banks and try to avoid them. I always feel ridiculous trying to sort out finances with people that know everything about anything financial. I never know the correct answer to their questions.

Banker – So with this RRSP do you plan on trading Options and Futures?
Donloree – Umm…uh…well, what would you do?
Banker – It’s up to you, it’s your choice.
Donloree – Well, I suppose so. I didn’t know that I had an option to trade futures with other people. Is Bill Gates’ future still up for grabs?
Banker – So, that’s a no then. Ok. Next question.
Donloree – Uh, yeah, next question…

Since I had to go talk to a banker, I decided to do my best to come across as put together, professional and very smart about all things financial. I put on my demure, “yes, I am a business woman and should not be trifled with due to my high level of sophistication” look, a nice outfit and high heels and went confidently into the bank. Everyone took notice – mostly because those danged heels are so loud with the tile floors and high ceilings!! I didn’t let it faze me though - I went in, got an appointment with a banker, walked over, shook her hand while looking her straight in the eye. I was prepared and ready to face her many questions while she opened up all of my personal financial information.

After all my preparation, she turned out to be the nicest possible banker in the whole wide world. She even laughed with me, not at me – nor was she demeaning in any way to our meager beginnings at trying to scrape together a down payment and pay off all our student loans. I didn’t have to start fasting and praying that she would be nice and help us out. I went home thankful and blessed that we are on the road towards getting our own home, not having to share laundry with anyone and perhaps having an actual yard to relax in during the summer and spring. Oh yeah, and most important – no more corner lot to shovel in the winter time!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cold, oh so very cold...

It’s ridiculously cold today. It’s a balmy -30 Celsius without a wind chill. The breath was wrenched out of my body when I stepped out of my front door this morning. I popped in a menthol cough drop on my way out this morning since I have a severe cold. On a normal day, it brings about a rush of fresh, cool air running through your lungs – on an arctic day your lungs seize and get a ‘brain freeze’ for about 30 seconds. Once my lungs thawed enough to gasp in some regular air, I ran to the bus shelter so that I didn’t end up a frozen lawn ornament. At this point in my morning I had two stunning revelations:

  1. When it gets this cold outside people still go to work, kids go to school, stores are open and cars still work – society doesn’t cease to function.
  2. Some people actually choose to live here – and I am one of them! What am I thinking?!??

When I first moved to Edmonton, it was summer time. It was nice, hot and the days were long and idyllic – that’s how people get sucked in! I don’t think anyone moves here in January. I recall walking through a parking lot my during my first week of living here and wondering why there were plug-ins all over the place. I merely shrugged and thought it was a Canadian oddity since I had never seen such a thing in America. Now I know it’s so that you can plug your car in because it gets so cold here that your car will turn into a block of ice if you don’t! I should have asked questions, and then turned tail and ran from the cold. This is my ninth winter here and I’m still shocked. I know, I’m a slow learner…

This morning as I walked towards my office building downtown, a well dressed man came up and asked me how well I knew Edmonton. I thought he was looking for an office building downtown or something like that. Apparently, he arrived this morning on the Grey Hound and needed to get to 149 Avenue and 97 Street. Unfortunately, his luggage got put on the wrong bus and he had to hike there without a toque (for all you Americans reading this, a toque is a stocking hat and it’s pronounced two-kuh) or scarf and only a medium weight coat. He was currently on 100 Avenue and 101 Street. It would take me about 2 hours on a summer day to make the trek; there was no way this man was going to survive. As I fished in my bag for some money to give him for a bus ride, my hand froze. I am not over stating this (as I am sometimes known to do), my hand actually had no feeling after being exposed to the elements for a mere 90 seconds! All I did was give this man $2.25, tell him to take the number 9 bus and ask the bus driver what bus to take after the number 9. Why didn’t I buy him coffee at the Starbucks we were standing in front of? Why didn’t I ask more questions and help him out more? Perhaps the cold froze my brain this morning – I wasn’t thinking straight. Now I can’t stop thinking about this man and his trek through the arctic without any of his belongings – I hope he makes it and that someone more coherent helped him out along the way.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Things in the New Year

A man came up with the idea of skiing – I am absolutely sure of it. I don’t know many women that would come up with the idea of strapping long boards to your feet, climbing thousands of feet up a sheer mountainside and then sliding down as fast as possible while trying to avoid trees, cliffs and other natural speed bumps and then doing it more than once in a lifetime with only two thin poles to assist you in not dying. I know many women that enjoy this sport – but I don’t think that I am one of them.

For New Years this year my husband and I went on a ski trip with his school to Kicking Horse Resort in Golden, BC. It was a last minute addition to our holidays, but it was FREE! I love free things, so I agreed after a few moments of contemplation. Then I promptly went out and purchased some snow pants, gloves, ski socks and a few other cold weather necessities since I start to freeze whenever the temperature drops below -8 Celsius. I realized that I would be spending some quality time face to face with immense amounts of snow, so I decided to be prepared! Any excuse to shop really.

Jon and I heard that snow blades are the way to go – so we each rented a pair on the mountain and strapped them on. Once we were all ready to start skiing I immediately had to go to the washroom. I started the hike across the lodge in my ski boots. When you rent your skis for the first time, you should have to participate in a class called, "Walking in You Boots Without Making a Fool of Yourself". You have absolutely no mobility from your big toe to your mid calf – it’s extremely difficult to not look ridiculous while walking. I clomped awkwardly and very loudly across the lodge and nearly tumbled down the stairs about three times before I reached the bottom.

Finally Jon and I started skiing…or I thought we did. We started down a hill of about a five degree incline close to the ski lift. I started to scream and panic. Jon started to sigh. We saw a ski class in action 30 feet up the small slope so I laboriously side stepped close enough to covertly eavesdrop until it became obvious that I was doing everything they were doing only 10 feet behind them. The ski instructor gave me a nasty glare, so I decided it was best to move on.

After a few more times down my ‘practice hill’, we started up the ski lift. Why don’t people explain things to you? Do I look like a woman that knows what she is doing? The ski lift has a safety bar that you are supposed to pull down so that you don’t fall off the lift. How are you supposed to know about this blessed safety feature if no one tells you? Jon and I traveled thousands of feet up the side of a mountain hanging hundreds of feet above the earth wearing slippery pants without the safety bar in place. I clung onto the side rail for dear life and tried not to lose my poles or blades. I even made a comment about how a safety bar would make the ride up the mountain way less stressful. The worst part was when the lift would stop and start to rock back and forth – it felt like we were a mere quick stop away from learning how to ‘heli-ski’ – I definitely didn’t want to learn that on my first real skiing adventure. The last time I ‘skied’ was when I was 14 years old with my youth group at Crystal Mountain. I stuck to the bunny hill and the rope tow. I eventually got up enough nerve to try a hill at the end of the day, but ended up using my skis like a sled and slid down the hill on my butt. Looking back, I realize that day can’t actually be classified as skiing. Everyone who I told this was my first day of skiing grimaced and shook their heads and told me that Kicking Horse is an expert mountain and wished me luck. Thanks. If there is one thing I am not, it’s an expert at skiing.

Once we managed not to slip off the lift and arrived at the top of the Catamount lift I had a small scale panic attack. I realized that I had to go down the hill on the boards I had happily strapped to my feet just an hour earlier. I desperately wanted Jon and I to have a happy couple experience, so I tried to smile and to ski across the hill. It took me about 15 minutes of skiing back and forth while trying to keep the panic down to make about 300 feet of progress. Jon, my husband from Saskatchewan (the flattest Province in Canada), patiently coached his stricken wife from Washington (a mountainous region in America) on the finer points of how to ski without sliding face first down the mountain. We continued our slow, very painful progress until we reached a part of the run that had a cliff off the left side and a rock wall on the right side with a steep incline. I started to slide quickly towards the cliff, so I desperately turned towards the rock face and went completely out of control – I bailed and went face first into the snow and nearly ran into the rock. Both of my ski blades flew off and I and started to shake uncontrollably from overwhelming fear and then broke down into hysterical sobbing. People we knew skied by and waved happily. Jon and I averted our faces.

My husband convinced me that it was best to keep skiing and that we couldn’t stay at that location indefinitely…no matter how warm my snow pants were. I think what really got me going was the snowboarders that kept jumping off the cliff above me and nearly landing on me. There was no safe place on the stupid mountain! After what felt like an eternity, we finally reached a point where we could see the lodge and only had a thousand or so feet to go. Earlier on the mountain I had thought this moment would be a happy one, but unfortunately for me it was a steep section of the mountain and there was nowhere to go but down. I completely lost it – tears of terror started to run down my face and I started to sob uncontrollably. I decided the best course of action was to take off my skis and slide down the last thousand feet on my butt right underneath the chair lift. After wrapping myself around one of the posts holding up the ski lift, I took off my skis and started to slide down the hill in my slippery pants. Skiers and snowboarders stopped to watch what the crazy, sobbing woman was doing. Fortunately, once again, Jon convinced me to put the skis back on for safety reasons. When I reached the bottom of the hill after 2 hours of painstaking work that would normally take about 30 minutes for an average skier, I just sat there and cried with relief. Jon just sat there bewildered.

We took a lunch break and worked on getting me to be able to breathe normally. Skiers are such friendly people! Normally I would have loved talking to the people that were there from all over the world. One woman asked how the skiing was and I couldn’t help it, I started to cry. She seemed to think that my boots were hurting my feet – I let her think that, it was less shameful than tell her that I was scared to death of the mountain. I decided it was best not to talk to anyone since I couldn't do it without crying. I just kept my eyes on the ground and tried to overcome my fear.

After another hour or so, I decided to try skiing down the mountain again. After all, I’m not a quitter! This time was better, I didn’t cry (even though I really wanted to) – but I still couldn’t stop without falling over. Once again, I guess I need the basics explained to me. Heck as if I know which ski is the downhill ski!! Apparently I had it mixed up and that was why I was unable to stop. If you put all your weight on the downhill ski – there is absolutely no way you can stop, you just keep sliding forward. How was I supposed to know which ski was the downhill ski? This sporting stuff just does not come naturally to me!!

I wanted Jon not to have a horrible ski experience with me, so I went up a third time – I even remembered to breathe and use the safety bar on the lift. We had an hour to get down the mountain. I thought that this was a reasonable amount of time since the previous time was done in less than 2 hours. Due to my mini panic attacks and falling over it took longer than expected and our departure time was looming. There was a distinct chance that we would miss our bus taking us the 15 kilometers down the mountain to our hotel. After such an epic day of skiing, the last thing I wanted to do was miss the bus ride to the hotel. We had to hurry – there was no choice but for me to go as fast as womanly possible down the steep part of the mountain. I nearly took out 3 small children and a snowboarder in my uncontrolled screaming descent down the hill. The screaming notified the more advanced skiers of my arrival and they promptly got out of the way. When I arrived at the bottom of the hill I enthusiastically ripped off my skis and happily gave them back to the rental shop. We caught the bus just as it was ready to leave. I sunk into my seat, glad that I hadn’t died during my first day of real skiing.

Let’s be honest, skiing just isn’t for me.

If these things happen to you, skiing may not the sport for you either:
  • You break out into a cold sweat when you start to slide down a miniscule incline that isn’t even part of the actual mountain.
  • You ask the ski lift operator at the bottom of the hill if you can take the lift back down if you are too afraid to ski down.
  • When someone asks you how your day of skiing is going, you break down sobbing and are unable to form proper sentences.
  • You skiing partner who is as inexperienced as you are starts to ski backwards, encouraging you to move towards him down the hill.
  • It takes you 5 times longer than the average skier to get down the mountain.
  • You find yourself sitting in a snow drift, praying for the end of the world to come so that you don’t have to finish going down the mountain.
  • And finally, the day after skiing the sorest parts of your body are your hands from your death grip on the ski poles.