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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

007-- Waiting for the Operative Word

This past Friday I woke up feeling not so perky. As the day progressed, I began to feel worse and that evening I went to the Emergency Room at St. Joseph's Hospital. They examined me, pumped me full of drugs & anti-nausea medication and they sent me on my merry way.  They told me to come back the next morning for an ultrasound.

On Saturday morning, I checked into the Diagnostic & Imaging Department of St. Joseph's. It was run the same way as the Emergency Room --you have to take a number, just like in a deli. My number was 007.  In my intense pain & feverish fog I began my James Bond-esque adventures.
After my ultrasound I was sent back to the Emergency Room.   In my haze, I hoped that I would once again see The Russian Who Was Lovely.  He was the lovely nurse who attended to me the previous evening.  When I explained to him that I had a sensitivity to morphine and that it made me extremely sick, he was so lovely and empathetic.  He hooked me up to an intravenous bag so quickly and gently that I didn't even realize that it was in.  He gave me a morphine alternative and said that he did not want to further upset my GI system.  His accent was utterly charming.

Unfortunately there was a shift change and I was attended to by Nurse No.  Nurse No examined me a total of three times.  The conversation went the same way each time and although she appeared to be taking notes of my responses, she would come back half an hour later and the conversation was repeated - much like in the movie Ground Hog day.  The worst part was around my morphine sensitivity.  She out right argued with me - 'No, you don't have a sensitivity!" and she said in a snotty tone that she would just give me anti-nausea medication.  By this time I was thoroughly annoyed and insisted that this was not acceptable.  She asks me to come out of the exam room and gets me to sit in one of the chairs that is meant for patients to give blood.  She roughly rams an IV into the smallest vein in my hand and goes off in the huff and does not acknowledge me again.
It is apparant that Nurse No is the leader of the Bond villians and I have been  labelled as an arch enemy.  Nurse No has alerted her posse of villians known as The Live & Let Lie.  The Live & Let Lie crew do just that - they let me live & lie in the reclining chair....for ten hours straight.

Thankfully I have not one, but two Miss Moneypennies at my side - my mom and my bestie Vivieen.  They interrogate The Live & Let Lie posse for answers - which range from "we have lost the test results" to "we are waiting to get the test results" to "we have the test results but we cannot locate the appendix" (true fact I swear - you cannot make this stuff up) to, the best of all, - "she has been gone for hours and we were waiting for her" - despite not having moved from the chair directly in front of the Moonraker style lair that is their nurses station...

During the waiting period we also encounter Broke Finger -- he's the man, the man with the kleptomaniac touch.  He came into the Emergency Room with a broken finger - Nurse No assigned him the largest examining room in the ER - complete with a comfy bed.  Meanwhile, there is an old lady in her 70's sitting in a chair writhing in pain being visibly ignored by Nurse No and The Live and Let Lie posse.   Broke Finger spends most of his time outside of his room meandering around the ER.  The time actually spent in the room consists of him rifling through the supplies looking for something nifty to pinch.
After 10 hours, all apparant lost results have been put together.  It is determined that my appendix has been located and it is inflamed. I will be admitted for immediate surgery. When I am moved to the ward, the quality of care is like night & day. I have two nurses in the course of my twelve hour ward stay (Jessica and Nicole) who are sweet, kind and funny.  The put a bracelet on my wrist as an indication not to give me morphine. The surgical staff who operate on me are young, casual and gorgeous. They chat & smile at me over the sides of my bed prior to entering the Operating Room looking so beautiful they look like the cast of an NBC hospital show. The surgeon personally goes & speaks to The Fella, who has taken over for my two lovely Moneypennies, and is waiting to hear the outcome of my surgery. He is so charming, even The Fella is enamoured of him. 

I appreciate that fact that I am lucky to live in Canada and do not have to take out a loan to pay for an emergency surgery.   I also appreciate the fact that Ontario Health Care has taken a budget shit kicking and that hospitals are under funded and under staffed - and I can only imagine the toll that this takes on their resources.  I can't even imagine making a living dealing with ill people and all the headaches that an Emergency Room staff must deal with on a daily basis.  However, is it to much to ask that they can show a smidge of humanity?  It can make the world of difference to someone who is ill.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Old Lady Stuff

I can remember sitting in Mrs. Allen’s eighth grade class discussing the merits of Prince’s latest hit, 1999. My classmates (accurately) predicted that in 1999, this song would be played at New Year’s party across the land.   I vividly recall, saying in earnest, “Oh no.... on New Year’s Eve 1999 I will be thirty!!!!  I will be too old to even go out for  New Year’s Eve!!!” 

Well, 1999 was thirteen years ago – needless to say that not only did I turn thirty, but forty has also come and gone.  My fourteen year old self would be very proud of the fact that I go out every year for New Year's Eve.  I think she would also be proud to know that I still spend a big part of my life discussing music. 

However, she would be utterly disgusted at the fact that I am starting to take an interest in (and actually buy) what I like to call,  Old Lady Stuff.  
Here is my top five list:

1.     Plastic Rain Hat – Wait, don’t judge me yet – hear me out. Whenever it rains, I end up looking like Rosanna-Rosannadanna.  No umbrella(ella ella eh eh eh) can protect me from this fate.  A plastic rain hat would actually help prevent this from happening, but they are so gawd awful looking I actually prefer showing up for work with my head looking like a toilet brush than to be seen in public wearing one of these hats.  However, I like the concept and I think that with a little modernization and rebranding, it could be genius.  Maybe a design tweak so they don’t look so frumpy?  Maybe a hounds-tooth trim?  Maybe a Coach insignia?  Are you with me now?  Look for me on Dragon’s Den.  I bet Arlene Dickenson would be all over it.

2.     Bundle Buggy – Yes, I own one of these.  In my defence, the purchase was made out of sheer necessity.  My underground parking is being renovated and my car has been relocated to another building a block away.  The bundle buggy helps me lug all of my groceries (yes, and shoe purchases) back to my building.  Here’s the thing – I actually love it.  In the summer I am totally going to channel my inner granny and pull it behind me when I walk downtown to the Farmer’s Market.  You will find me smack dab in the middle of all the old-lady-bundle-buggy gridlock, shoving all the youngin’s out of the way.  I can’t wait.

3.      Bunion Orthotic – Unfortunately, if I do not invest in one of these within the next year, I can kiss my days of wearing high-heels good -bye forever.  The irony is not lost on me that the reason I need one of these bad boys in the first place is from wearing towering high-heels for the past two decades.  I would only have to wear it at night – but this doesn’t help me get my head around it.  Let’s face it, even if you’ve got your ladies hoisted up in a Victoria’s Secret Angel Bra and you are wearing your sexiest undies, your partner’s eye will immediately be drawn to the bunion orthotic.

4.      Gin – If it was good enough for the Queen Mum it is good enough for me.  Gin seems to be the de rigueur Spiritz for the elderly lady.  Of course I will mix it with tonic water – and modernize it with a few cucumber slices (try it – it’s a nice twist).  I will walk around with the classic, stylish old lady scent of Chanel No. 5 and juniper berries.

5.      Botox – When the time is right I am seriously considering it.  I don’t want to look ridiculous like an episode of Ex-Wives of Rock, but maybe just a little preventative maintenance.   I figure that on the day that I am cremated, I will be so full of Botox & Gin that my funeral pyre will burn for three weeks ...minimum.

Monday, 19 November 2012

You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Bloody hell I hate November.
I hate that when I leave for work in the morning and when I come home from work in the early evening it feels like 2 o'clock in the morning. If I'm lucky, I can press my nose against my office window and soak in a wee ray of light during the day.  The lack of sunshine makes me feel a bit like a vampire.  Don't even get me started on the cold. Yes, I know, I live in Canada and I should be use to it. But I am a first generation Canadian-- so it's not like it's in my genes or anything so I didn't inherit a tolerance to the cold through natural selection. And it's not like I'm going to reproduce and pass on cold-hardy DNA to any offsprings.  The only genes that I will pass on are my DvB jeans (don't laugh Vivieen - hope that Ben is looking forward to inheriting a wardrobe full of handbags and the odd designer piece). Nope, I love the heat and sometimes (like in the month of November) I wish that I lived in the desert...well, an urban-centre desert, with trendy shoe shops and good restaurants.  

It's nights like these when I am walking home from the train that I get the urge to come home and do something daft to cheer me up. Towards the mid to end of November my thoughts turn to the upcoming holidays. The festivity of December sure gets me out of my dark, cold funk. So I usually begin the holiday festivities early...and it pisses me off when people make snarky comments like "oh, it's too early, blah, blah". So to those folks, buggar off--this stuff brightens my spirit. 

So, in honour of all the cheer dampening jerks, I look to pop culture's most famous wanna-be party pooper, The Grinch, for a bit of fun inspiration.  And what better way to lift your spirits than with funky seasonal spiritz!

                                                                      The Grinch Cocktail 

2 oz. Melon liqueur 
Squeeze lemon juice
1 tsp. simple syrup

Enjoying this fun libation is guaranteed to make your heart grow three sizes!

I have always though that Pablo looked like Max, no?

So if you feel the urge to chastize me for my early, week night celebration, may I just say, "You're a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwhich...with arsenic sauce!"


Thursday, 15 November 2012

In the City

I love Hamilton.  My father immigrated to Hamilton with his brother in the late 1950's  - so did my mother with her parents and sister.  Both of my parents paths lead here with the promise of a better life.  Back then, Hamilton was an economic powerhouse filled with job opportunities and vibrant communities.  Since the 1990's this city has unfortunately been in a steady decline.  It burns my ass at the ineptitude of City Hall to try to revitalize downtown Hamilton.  However, the times they are a changing thanks to artists who began opening galleries on James Street North and a grassroots movement.  The advent of the James Street Art Crawls, downtown is slowly making a comeback.   There are new businesses opening on a monthly basis.

The Fella and I spent a rare weekday off exploring the businesses of James North.

We first stopped at Ola Bakery & Pastries (230 James Street North), which came highly recommended by my friend Liz. For an early Monday afternoon, this little jem of a place was absolutely packed. They have to make some of the best sandwiches in the city (and an absolute steal at $3.25 each).  The bread is made fresh daily on site.  We accompanied them with lattes and a Portuguese custard tart which was to die for. It was creamy, sweet and had a beautiful buttery, flaky pastry.  The staff are quite brusque, but the food is so good I was willing to overlook it and plan to return soon.

Ah munna eat choo!  Too good to wait to be photographed

Also, on recommendation by Liz, we pre-ordered the piri-piri chicken to take home for dinner. You must provide them with a minimum of an hours' notice, so we placed our order and continued our exploration of James North.  Being the Instagram nerds that we are,  we spent the rest of the afternoon taking photos of James Street's urban beauty.

 I love the mix of the old and modern buildings

    My fav Christmas movie is "A Christmas Story" - love how this jewellery   shop designed their window around the theme.

 Ooh, new manicure salon!  Must come back sans Fella

Of course I had to make a stop at one of my favourite clothing stores, Blackbird Studios (161 James Street North)   It goes without saying that I cannot leave this establishment without making a purchase.   Their one of a kind creations are original and beautiful and hand made on site. I purchased this 1940's inspired "Jessica" dress. I have absolutely no where to wear this, but when you find such a great piece you have to buy it. A wedding or formal event will always come up unexpectedly & you will be prepared with a fabulous outfit.  So someone, please get married pronto, so that I can wear this little number!

A sudden heavy downpour forced us indoors to have a quick pint (oh, damn, twist our arms) at our favourite local music venue, This Ain't Hollywood.

The downpour eased into a steady drizzle, which unfortunately cut our exploration short (don't even mention using an iPhone in the rain to the Fella...long story).  So we head back to Ola Bakery to pick up our piri-piri chicken and head home to feast.  My gawd - Liz was not kidding - it was absolutely delish!!

Sunday, 11 November 2012


On Saturday night I had a much needed girlie catch up night with my bestie mates Vivieen, Robin and Diane.  I hate that our busy lives force us to plan these nights at least a month in advance but on the bright side, the planning ahead makes me look forward to it even more so.  We usually try any new establishment that has opened (provided that they have their liquour license).  Otherwise we alternate between our two fav Hamilton restaurants - La Luna and Papagayo.   Margaritas were calling our names this evening, so Papagayo won the coin toss.

Papagayo is a funky little place in downtown Hamilton that I have been frequenting for about fourteen years now. The food is always great and their dessert menu is uh-ma-zing!  Not to mention their margaritas - they stock an impressive selection of tequila - no Cuervo Gold swill.  I also love an establishment that lets us chat and laugh for an extended period of time without charging us rent.

Vivieen had her fingers & toes crossed that the orange roughy would be the daily special.  Vivieen is the kind of best mate that a girl could ever hope for--she would give you the shirt off her back, but apparently this orange roughy is so good she would stab a fork in your eye if you ordered the last one.  She actually clapped her hands with glee when she found out it was on the menu for this evening.  I had the chimichanga with the Papagayo cesar salad - with peach margaritas on the side!

Prior to our visit, I had heard that Papagayo had made some changes to their menu.  When I Googled "Papagayo" this restaurant was the first hit.  The second and third hits were very interesting.   Apparently Papagayo is a lip-syncing program designed line up mouth shapes with actual recorded sound of actors speaking. Holy smokes!  I am totally a drag queen trapped inside a woman's body.  Think about it - if I could wear a tiara and feather boa to work I would, I love a well timed bitchy comment, and hey, I dig the fellas!  Therefore lip-syncing is one of my favourite hobbies. 

This search also revealed something called the "Papagayo wind", which is a north to northeasterly wind which periodically blows through the gap in the mountain ranges of Central America.   Well, after a night at Papagayo I too have a north to northeasterly wind which periodically blows through a gap in my mountain ranges.

No wonder I have such an affinity for this place.

Highly recommend the chocolate-chilli cheesecake (sweet with an after burn)
and the tequila lime cheesecake (garnished with a drizzle of Patron)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Baby Love

Our friends Rachel & Shaun are having a baby.  Rachel is due any day now so by the time this posts, the wee bairn may have already made his/her entrance into the world.   I had asked Rachel a few months back if we could do something to celebrate the occasion.  I thought maybe the girls could get together and go to a restaurant for a nice, civilized lunch.  

Let me pause right here to offer up an apology as I know what I am about to say will offend - So here’s the thing – I am not into baby showers.  If I have attended one of yours it is because I REALLY like you.  
When our friend Rich  suggested that we should actually throw a baby shower for Rachel I was a little taken aback.   He really had no clue about what he was getting into – the cucumber sandwiches with no crusts, the inane party games, etc.  
Then I realized that Rich’s lack of knowledge of what a traditional shower entails was the beauty of the plan.  We could make it our own and totally nontraditional!  It would be potluck (cucumber sandwiches forbidden), BYOB (spirits are always a great idea) and everyone would contribute towards a gift certificate (no gift breast pumps being passed around to feign interest in). 
As for shower games – well, the fellas were quite fascinated with tales of the "nasty nappy" game.   This is the game in which chocolate bars are melted  and then smeared in a diaper.  The diaper is then passed around and the object is to guess what chocolate bar it is.  The fellas insisted that we should play this game - so that we did - we made them play as we sat back and watched the hilarity ensue.  

Here’s the other beauty of this shower.  No one at the shower has kids.  It usually turns out that I am the only person at a shower who is childless.  There is usually one or all of the following types of mom in attendance:
Milking-it Mom - The mom who publicly breastfeeds the child who is old enough to take a bus to school and who is old enough to chew steak.
Prodigy Mom – This mom has a child that does everything better, smarter and faster than any other child on the planet.  The day their child uttered their first word, Mensa knocked on their door saying that they would waive their membership exams for this wonder child.
Graphic Birth Story Mom – Usually these moms tend to be in groups.   Within five minutes of meeting you, they have you cornered telling you horrific stories about childbirth.  I have heard stories ranging from the forty stitch episiotomie to an unfortunate clotting incident in which said clot was the size of a porterhouse steak.   You know, the kind of real life facts they neglect to tell you in health class because the human race would cease to exist.
and the most annoying of all:
Disney Birth Mom – This is the mom who tells you that her birth(s) were fast and painless.  On the day she gave birth, her sheets were turned back by Disney bluebirds and chipmunks, she gave three pushes that took no more effort than squeezing out a loud fart and voila the child arrived looking like a Gerber baby (if she is also a Prodigy Mom, the president of Mensa was waiting in the delivery room to admit the Disney Gerber baby upon entry into the world).   And of course her make up and hair were perfect for the entire event.
Thanks to everyone for such a fun night.  I am still full from the potluck buffet.  A shout out to my friend Robin who introduced me to the dish that I brought.  Here's the recipe below. 
2 cooked chicken breasts (if you are lazy like me, you can buy them cooked at the rotisserie section of your grocery store)
3/4 cup of chicken wing sauce (my fav is President's Choice Buffalo wing sauce - it comes in both mild and hot)
2 - 8oz. packages of reduced fat cream cheese (you can use regular, but I tried to keep the calories down)
1/2 cup ranch dressing (I used President's Choice 3-cheese ranch)
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing (or you could skip the ranch dressing and add one cup of blue cheese)
crumbled blue cheese (optional)
shredded cheese of your choice (I used white cheddar - but you could use regular cheddar, mozzarella, fontina, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Shred chicken breasts and toss with the wing sauce.   Layer mixture in a square casserole dish.
Place the cream cheese, ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing and crumbled blue cheese (if using) in a bowl.  Mix with a beater until blended.  Layer mixture on top of the chicken .   Cover with the grated cheese (use as much or as little as you desire).
Place dish in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Allow dip to sit before serving. 
Serve with nacho scoops, carrots and celery. 
Although trying to keep it as low-cal as possible, I found that there was still a lot of grease that seeped up on top of the dish.  Simply wait until the cheese has cooled and dab the top with a paper towel to absorb the excess grease.
I made this dish the night before.   Once it had cooled I wrapped it in foil and reheated it in the microwave for five minutes prior to serving.  

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Painted Lady and a Bottle Of Wine

After sampling wine made by friends at Brew Time on Upper James Street in Hamilton (,  The Fella & I decided to experiment with making our own wine.  We decided that our first batch would be red wine.

I have a love/hate relationship with red wine -- I love it but unfortunately it is not very kind to me. It's not that it makes me sick... let's just say it doesn't make me attractive.

About 10 years ago my friend Liz & I were both single on Valentine's Day. We decided to thumb our noses at the society of coupledom & off we went to paint the town red.  With red wine that is.

We had ourselves a pretty damn fine time. Towards the end of the evening I spotted a fella who I kept seeing around town who I quite fancied. I had never spoken to him -- I would just keep bumping into him & we would smile & nod to each other. Fuelled by cheap red plonk & pent up pheromones, I walked over to him and proceeded to chat him up. I went home feeling quite proud of myself that night. Not only did my singledom keep me from being hidden away from Valentines society, but I had the courage to initiate flirting. Girl power!

Smiling to myself, I walked into my bathroom to get ready for bed. It was then, in the mirror, that I discovered that the red wine had turned my teeth black...and given me a Jack Nicholson joker mouth. I would continue to see this cute guy around town...but he never, ever, looked my way again....

Now I only drink red wine in the privacy of my own home.

Brewing your own wine was a lot different from what I had built up in my own mind.  We had the pleasure of dealing with Vic at Brewtime who gave us a crash course on the different types of grape juice, we chose the Italian Classico Amarone and he walked us through the fermentation process which literally took no more than three minutes.  And there I was all nicely pedicured in anticipation of doing a Lucy & Ethel routine!  
Eight weeks later, through the magic of fermentation, our grape juice and yeast had magically turned into wine.  Sounds kinda biblical, no?  The bottling process was way more fun.  First, they cracked open the vat and extracted some Amarone for me to taste. Not to be conceited or anything, but it was damn delicious!  

                                                        My new Christmas Tree!!!!

I had the very lovely Hannah teach me how to work the machine that transfers the wine from the vat to the bottles (which stops automatically when it reaches the top of the neck so no worry about spillage of the fine nectar) and how to work the corking machine.  Very fun!!  I felt so Falcon Crest!  
Hannah also created the groovy labels for me based on a design that I had emailed them. Lo & behold the birth of the Bitch n' Wine. 

We now have a batch of Pinot Grigio patiently going through the biblical process as I post this.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

I Melt With You

This month The Fella and I celebrate our second anniversary together. 

I met The Fella when I was in Grade 11. I needed an Arts credit and my choices were as follows:

A. Fine arts (my stick figure drawings wouldn't get me the credit that I needed);
B. Music (the only thing I can play is the stereo);
C. Gym (not sure how physical education qualifies as an Arts credit, but putting myself in a situation to be bullied by mean amazon girls was not a choice I was going to freely enter into); and
D. Dramatic Arts - The lesser of four evils. I was painfully shy in high school and I thought that this class would help me come out of my shell (I know, I know, sometimes you probably wish that I went back in it). Plus I mistakenly thought I might have access to a wardrobe department (yep mistakenly).

                                              Lisa, The Fella & Lisa (circa 1986) 

                                          Tamara, Michelle & The Lassie (circa 1986)

It was in this class where I first met The Fella. I thought he was sooo cute, but didn't have the nerve to speak to him -- the thought of performing monologues on stage in front of my peers was torture enough, yet alone the thought of trying to work up the nerve to talk to him.
I remember the first time that he spoke to me. I was sitting with Michelle (photo above) rehearsing lines and he came over to me and said "So, that new Clash album (*shakes his head in disgust*) -- Not Good!". I froze. My mind was racing with a myriad of emotions -- oh my god he is speaking to me!! -- oh my god he's speaking to me about THE CLASH!! -- oh my god he's insulting The Clash!!  (he was referring to the Cut The Crap album... so he did kinda have a point, but still..)
Flash forward two decades.  I had just gotten out of a long term relationship when Mike came back into my life.  The last thing that I was looking for was to get into another relationship, but that's the thing about life - when you look for things you never find them.  You have to let things find you and look to yourself to be open to them.  Second chances come around so rarely, sometimes you have to just jump feet first.  Thankfully I am no longer painfully shy and that I had the courage to do so.


Mike still plays the drums.  I still write.  He still thinks The Clash's "Cut The Crap" album is in fact, crap.  These days I tend to agree with that theory.  

So now we have been together for two years. And it only took 25 years to finally hook up. Better late than never.

                                                      Happy Anniversary babe.

Modern English - I Melt With You

The Clash - This Is England