This New “Click and Collect” Service Means Never Having to Get Dressed!

Ain’t technology grand! A new blog post.


OMG!  I just read about the most fantastic innovation.  A grocery story has implemented a service called “Click and Collect”.  You order your groceries through an app or online, set a time when you will drive to the store where someone will bring the completed order to your car and voila – your grocery shopping is done!  The genius of this service is that you can add little notes to your order indicating your preference for brands and how ripe you want your produce (someone else now has to find those crunchy apples).  Just thinking about this makes me giddy because this service is providing me with another reason for not getting dressed every day. Continue reading “This New “Click and Collect” Service Means Never Having to Get Dressed!”

Getting Through Security With Our Fingers Crossed!

Traveling is a lot of fun; you get to see new places, meet new people, and gain new understandings about how the world works.  Loverboy and I love to travel, and we enjoy pretty much most of the experience.  There is one part of traveling the drives Loverboy a bit crazy and that is the jaunt through airport security.  He rarely makes it through security without some incident and history seems to be on repeat with every trip we take.

Over the years I have adapted my flying routine to better suit what needs to happen when you hit airport security. This includes never wearing pants that require a belt (thank you leggings!), not carrying any fluids at all, even the supposedly acceptable 100 ml size, carrying a really small purse and putting only underwear (ain’t nobody wants to search those), medications and some yummy snacks (have you seen the price of airline snacks?) in my carry-on.  When I get in line, I have everything organized to ensure that I make it through to the other end unscathed.  For some reason, Loverboy treats every foray into a security line like it is a new experience.  It is as if he can’t remember what happened the last time; he has suppressed those memories deep in his subconscious.  And every time, he becomes a marked man with the same scenario played out over and over again.

It begins with the loading of the trays.  Loverboy just dumps everything in to them and hopes for the best.  When it is his time to walk through the metal detector machine, it beeps.  Oops, he forgot to unload the change in his right pocket!  On his second attempt, the machine beeps again.  Oops, he forgot his keys in his left pocket!  Third attempt and he continues to set off the alarm, which now means he has called attention to himself, and the agents gather around to watch another agent run the wand over him.  It beeps loudly when it passes down his left arm.  The agent does a pat down and tries the wand again.  It beeps again as it passes down his left arm.  The agent looks at him puzzled until Loverboy tells him he has titanium elbow.  The agent subtly suggests he tell them that before he goes through the machine the next time, then sends him on his way.

Next, Loverboy goes to pick up his bag but is stopped by another agent.  She asks him if he has an I-Pad in his bag.  He answers in the affirmative (he forgets to take it out even though he has traveled with that I-Pad several times and knows the rules) and the agent, after giving him a withering look, disappears with his bag.  Loverboy is left standing there without any idea where his bag has gone, or if he is going to be arrested.  It is not pretty and by this time he is feeling a little stressed out.  In most situations, you would think his trials and tribulations at security would attract a crowd but everyone else is so busy trying to get through security themselves without attracting the agents’ attention that he is the least of their worries.

Now, although Loverboy is often the purveyor of his own folly, I sometimes wonder if the fact that he is a man causes him more angst.  On our last trip, our hotel prepared each of us a lovely bagged breakfast because we were flying out very early in the morning.  Our breakfasts were identical: yoghurt parfait, a banana, an apple, a breakfast bar and a juice box.  Each of us placed the bags on our trays, not knowing if they would survive the trip through security but, hoping for the best.  Mine went through no problem – nobody blinked an eye.  Loverboy’s was removed from the tray and a security agent went through it and pulled out all the things that couldn’t be saved, namely the yoghurt parfait and the juice box.  When I showed her mine, which was exactly the same, and said it had passed muster, she replied that his didn’t and he couldn’t take it.  Huh?!? I thought she would call security over to grab mine back but she just shook her head and walked away.  Some things you just don’t pursue!

Even with all of his issues with security, Loverboy still likes to travel.  I have been trying to think of ways to help Loverboy avoid these security stresses in the future and I have a few ideas for him including carrying a purse, wearing leggings, and … Okay, those suggestions aren’t going to work.   I guess, he is just going to have to figure it out on his own because he really doesn’t like me reminding him about what to do when we are standing in line.  They say failure leads to success so it has to come at some point.  Fingers crossed!




Skip to “The Loo”, My Darling

I have a major fascination with restrooms, washrooms, lavoratories, loos, washclosets, toilets – you know those places where you go – well, you know.   I know this seems like a really random thing, but having been stricken with a chronic bladder disorder (it has a medical name but I prefer to call it  “cranky bladder”) I have come to have a love/hate relationship with washrooms, which depending on their condition, add heightened stress to an already  stressful situation. I take a miracle pill three times a day that certainly helps and I am really lucky that it worked for me as 25% of the women afflicted with a “cranky bladder” get no relief whatsoever. And so when my husband (Loverboy) and I planned a trip to Ireland, the idea of traveling around and trying to locate a decent washroom was a definite concern.

The whole washroom-issue-while-traveling has probably been heightened by a trip to China I took a few years ago.  Some of the washrooms in China are quite interesting and can provide plenty of challenges for the uninitiated.  I remember my first foray into what is called a squatter.  I had traveled for 21 hours to reach my destination in Nanjing.  Upon my arrival, my hosts whisked me away to a restaurant where we shared a hot pot and some quarts of beer (therein lies the problem, as my mother would say).  By the time we were ready to leave the restaurant, I really had to use the washroom.  I made my way to one and when I got in and closed the door, I realized it was nothing more than an hole in the floor.  Now, never having had to use a hole in the floor (even the most primitive outhouse I have ever used had a seat of sorts) I was helpless to know how to even begin.  Using a squatter requires agility and skill that I certainly didn’t have, and in most instances where I was forced to use one, the results were sketchy, at best.  I needed at least four hands to deal with everything that was involved however, I was only born with two hands so that was an issue.  I won’t go into details as no one needs to have that picture in their heads but let’s just say I celebrated when I found a washroom with a “Canadian” toilet and my “cranky bladder” was very happy. After a couple of weeks in China, it did get a little easier but it was never something I was really comfortable with – kind of like using chopsticks!

So now Loverboy and I were traveling to another foreign country and I could only imagine the horrifying washrooms we would encounter.  We arrived in Ireland in the early morning hours and so couldn’t check into our hotel.  We were able to check our bags with the front desk and then found the public washrooms in the hotel.  Imagine my delight to find a beautifully clean washroom with stalls that had floor to ceiling doors.  So private and comfortable.  My “cranky bladder” felt a little less cranky with this discovery.  Our hotel was the lovely Grand Hotel in Malahide, located outside Dublin, so I figured this was an anomaly and things would go downhill from there – kind of like how the medieval bathrooms in castles worked.

Traveling across Ireland for two weeks provided me plenty of opportunities to go to washrooms, especially as there is a pub on every corner, in every city, town, village, field (well, you get the picture). Whether I was in hotels, pubs, restaurants, museums, on the bus that we traveled on, in outhouses on a farm (honestly, I could have eaten off the floor of this one!), in castles, or in gaols (jails in Irish and I was only visiting, I swear!), each and every washroom I entered was the same – meticulously clean with private stalls that my “cranky bladder” really appreciated.  Now Ireland probably doesn’t think to advertise their wonderfully clean and private washrooms as a reason to visit their country,  but I really think it is something to celebrate and share with the world. There are a lot of people out there with “cranky bladders” or other “cranky parts” that would appreciate the attention Ireland gives to its washrooms.

One of the coolest washrooms I visited (and yes, I even took a picture) was in Galway.  We had eaten lunch at the Kings Head Pub and I used the washroom before I left.  Well, five minutes later, my “cranky bladder” started to complain again.  I figured I would wait until I got on the bus but as Loverboy and I were walking down the main street, we passed a modern looking steel building (really stood out sitting among the cobble stone sidewalks and limestone cottages) with the international symbol for washroom on the doors, two for women and two for men.  My “cranky bladder” decided this was as good a place as any and so I sidled up to the door.  The cost to use the washroom was twenty cents and when I put my money in the slot, the steel door whooshed open (kind of like in a Get Smart episode) and I stepped inside, the door closing automatically behind me.  In front of me stood a modern steel toilet and on the walls were buttons and little cubby holes.  It was pretty freaky.  A voice began announcing all the features and how to use them.  You pushed a button by the toilet and toilet paper came down into one of the cubbies.  To get soap and wash your hands, you had to push other buttons and put your hands into another cubby.  As in most washroom establishments in Ireland, you used a powerful dryer (not wimpy dryers like the ones in Canada) to thoroughly dry your hands in a matter of seconds.  Very few washrooms had paper towels, obviously an environmentally friendly choice,  which probably helped keep the washrooms cleaner.  (I am always puzzled by the number of people who can’t get their paper towels into the garbage can when I visit washrooms in Canada.) The whole experience made my “cranky bladder” happy; the only worry I had was how to open the door to leave, but I finally located the exit button and with a whoosh I was out.  (I will be using this setting in a future piece of writing. This was the best twenty cent investment I ever made!)

Ireland really was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.  In any direction I looked, a picture was waiting to be taken.  The scenery was breathtaking; the washrooms were phenomenal!   I know I will return to Ireland one day and it will be with the knowledge that I can skip to “the loo” without having to worry about my “cranky bladder”.  After all, there are so many other things to worry about when you visit Ireland like:

  • Where is the nearest pub?
  • What time does the traditional music start at the pub?
  • What time does the pub close?

A decent washroom needs to be the least of our worries!



Earwigs Are Not Invited

I have a real problem with some little creepy crawly earwigs that are hanging around my neighborhood.  They invite themselves over every time I fire up the barbecue.  I am not sure why they think they can just show up whenever they feel like it and I am really getting tired of their rude and unseemly behaviour.  And to make matters worse, they have misinterpreted my screaming and flailing when I see them as some kind of friendly greeting and so, they bring more of their friends and relatives to play when they think I am not looking which makes barbecue time quite stressful.

This was really getting on my nerves and so I did what any intelligent person would do and went right to my computer to do a google search on how to deal with earwigs.  Have no fear – I made sure to triangulate my research and ensure that the method I chose was approved by PETA.  I am an animal lover for the most part, but  earwigs are just really difficult to warm up to.  I mean, they aren’t all that great to look at, they are really squirmy, seem kind of slimy and those little fellas can move very fast – and could probably slide into your nose or your ears if you aren’t looking. My research was successful and I was able to uncover a strategy to deal with the earwigs that, I am happy to report, works like a charm.

What you do is fill a plastic container with some cooking oil and add the special ingredient of soy sauce because I guess even earwigs enjoy a Chinese buffet.  Put the container where the earwigs seems to be hanging out and they will make their way to the container where they will proceed to go for little swim in what to them is a delicious meal.  That’s a problem for them because apparently swimming in oil and soy sauce is not that easy.  I wouldn’t know; I have never tried it but from the number dead earwigs that have collected in the container over the last few days, that seems to be the case.  I have emptied the container every couple of days and each time it is full of earwigs.  I guess it is true that when you see one, there are thousands around the corner.

I did have a scare the first day I went out to check the container because it was no longer under the barbecue where I had placed it but had been moved out into the open.  I checked with Loverboy to see if he moved it but he denied having anything to do with it and I believe him because he doesn’t like creepy crawly critters either.  I then spent a few stressful moments trying to figure out who or what might have moved it.  Of course, my imagination ran amok as it does from time to time and I started scanning the yard for wild creatures like skunks or racoons or grizzly bears or dinosaurs. Nothing showed its face at that moment so I quickly pushed the container back under the barbecue and hoped for the best.  Luckily, the container has remained there untouched since then because obviously skunks or racoons or grizzly bears or dinosaurs don’t like creepy crawly critters in their Chinese buffet either!

Anyway, I am hopeful that the next time I barbecue, I will be able do so in peace, without having to deal with those pesky critters.  I will keep that little container under my barbecue in the event that this might encourage them to find an earwig friendly neighbourhood to live in – if there is such a thing.  Let me know if you live in such a neighbourhood and I will send them your way.  Thanks!

Pizza Saturday

My husband (aka Loverboy) and I love to eat out.  There are just certain foods that can’t be replicated at home; pizza is one of those foods. And so Loverboy and I found ourselves sitting at one of our favourite pizza joints this past Saturday. Now pizza is a meal that we  could possibly share, however we both like different toppings. I like bacon, green peppers and mushrooms (which Loverboy would never go for except when there are leftovers) and he likes the works ( which I would never go for, ever) so we each have to order our own.  I ordered a six inch (because I have a very small appetite, of course) and he ordered a nine inch because he doesn’t.

We were seated outside on the patio as it was a gorgeous day.  The sun was shining and the patio dining area was filling up quickly with people like us who obviously like restaurant style pizza better than what they can make at home from a box picked out of the freezer.  A restaurant is a great place to watch the comings and goings of the various diners.  Behind us were two men, obviously longtime friends, who were meeting up to have a drink and some pizza and share stories of the good old days.  Now I really wasn’t trying to eavesdrop – the tables were just very close together !  One of the men had his young son with him, a boy of about two or three years of age who was so well-behaved he deserved a medal, or a at least a free pizza (more on that later).

As the mother of two boys, who occasionally took them to restaurants, I know what I am talking about when I describe good behaviour because taking my children to restaurants was always a leap of faith.  My first born was actually very easy and eating out was a joy, however my second born was another story.   A restaurant was a venue just waiting to be explored, and then destroyed.  No linen went unsoiled, no drink unspilled!  It was always such fun and we learned quickly that the only restaurant safe for him was McDonalds.  (The washrooms there proved to be a bit of an issue but that is story for another day!). It was a whole lot less stressful because McDonalds caters to kids, there were no linens to wash and they had staff hovering around to pick up any messy spills.  As well, the price was also right!  When I see couples with an only child who behaves well in a restaurant, I can’t help but think to myself – “just wait you perfect parents until you have another – you will be replacing gourmet pizza with a cheeseburger and fry soon enough.”  If I see a couple with an only child who is not behaving, I telepathically suggest to them that McDonalds might be a better choice next time.

As we were waiting for our pizzas, a man, his face painted as a dog, entered the patio with his young daughter.  I actually had to look twice to be sure I was actually seeing what I was seeing.  It kind of made sense because the little girl had her face painted as a cat. I did make eye contact with the man once but looked away quickly when he gave me a look that said “I dare you to laugh!”  I really wouldn’t have laughed because first of all I wasn’t sure if he had all his shots, and secondly I was quite impressed with the lengths he would go to please his daughter.  Having your face painted like a dog and then going to a restaurant full of people takes a lot of chutzpah if you ask me.  You have to admire those parents who go the distance for their kids! I was left to wonder what his tattoo would look like when she grew old enough to get one, though.

Finally, the waitress served us our pizzas and she informed me that the cook had read her order incorrectly and had made me a nine inch pizza.  She graciously informed me that I would only be charged for a six inch, however.  Donnie’s eyes lit up, not because we were getting more for less, but because he knew I would not eat the whole nine inch which would mean leftovers for his midnight snack.  I have a habit of always leaving the last bite, the last slice, the last sip of anything when dining out.  Not sure why I do it but I think it is my way of saying I have a modicum of will-power. The pizza was delicious and I fought with myself to have one slice left over that the waitress promised to box up.  Just goes to show you that I am always thinking of Loverboy!

When it came time for the bill, the waitress came to the table looking rather chagrined.  She informed us that she had given our bill to the man with the little boy behind us, but that she had been able to rejig their bill so that we weren’t paying anything extra.  It was all a little confusing, especially because she handed me three bills – one for 44.80, one for 40.18 and one for 39.25.  When I looked at each one, I didn’t seen anything resembling our order and when I asked her which one was ours she gave me the one that said 44.80 which included a twelve inch pizza, a soft drink, two beer and a kids pizza. This was obviously the bill of the man whose little boy was very well behaved. Not sure why she gave me the other bills – maybe it was a test to see if I would choose the lowest one, I don’t know.  While I was looking at the bill for 44.80, probably with a very puzzled look on my face, the waitress suddenly grabbed it and the two other bills and said she would be right back.  When she did come back, she told me she had reentered our bill and handed me the updated bill that now said 34.18.  Wow, I saved ten bucks just by getting the correct bill!  And then I realized that the well-behaved young lad had actually gotten his pizza free because his father had paid for our bill which was ten dollars cheaper.  In the end, it was a just reward for the little guy’s good behaviour!  Not sure if the waitress had to make up the money but I made sure to give her a good tip so that it was a little easier to swallow.

After paying for our food, Loverboy and I headed out. He happily carried with him the boxed slice of pizza, dreaming of his midnight snack, while I happily reflected on the fact that I hadn’t paid the 44.80 for our lunch as I was all ready to do so.  It was a win all around!  As my father says, ” a penny saved, is a penny earned” and I think that counts in this situation even though I really didn’t save anything, but you get my drift!

On Your Mark! Get Set! go!

My first post-retirement activity was probably not what you were expecting and I know that many of you pictured me sitting on a beach somewhere, a long tall glass of liquid refreshment in my hand and Donnie (aka Loverboy) spraying my back with sunscreen (SPF 80). Well, that scene may come in time but it was not the first place I landed. I spent a week, sleeping on an air mattress in my parent’s apartment at the Parkland in the Valley Shannex. Yup, I went straight from retirement to the old folks home!

This post-retirement stay at Shannex happened because my father, age 84, had a hip replacement. He has suffered with pain for several years but was reluctant to have surgery because he was fearful of leaving my mother alone to deal with things by herself because she has limited mobility. He has been her caregiver for over 40 years since a bad back surgery took the wind out of her sails, figuratively and literally. Once I announced my retirement a few months ago, my father, directly after congratulating me, told me he needed me to come and stay with my mother so he could have his surgery and he booked his date two days after I actually retired. He obviously was very anxious for the surgery! So much for rest and relaxation; that will come later I guess, since I now have all the time in the world.

Now Shannex is a senior’s residential facility with several buildings. My parents live in the residential suites because they can live on their own (with some assistance) and it is quite nice. I have not been to many senior’s homes but I have seen W5’s stories on the horrors that you might find at some so that is my context. Your meals are made for you in the “five star” dining room (five stars given in comparison to the food you might be served in prisons according to some of the residents, although I found the food quite tasty), there is limousine and bus service available for trips to Walmart and other exciting places and there are many fun games like bocci ball, bridge and backgammon. I hear there is even a mean game of forty fives played daily in the main lounge.

The biggest thing I noticed while at Shannex was the large number of walkers that are parked in the dining room at meal time. It is a virtual collection of every type of walker known to man. If you are not using a walker, you are in the minority. Thankfully, I am not yet needing a walker and will continue my walking and squats routine to ensure I don’t end up there in the near future. Anyway, while looking at all the walkers parked in the dining room, I got the idea that a walker race in the parking lot would be a great idea. (Darn auto correct keeps changing “walker race” to “walking race” – Apple’s employees obviously are not old enough to recognize the word “walker race” as a thing!).

I scoped out a start and finish line and plan to broach the idea with the residents once they put their hearing aids in – yup, I have learned that many of them also can’t hear well. Thankfully, I am not needing a hearing aid yet and will continue to keep my iPod at a reasonable volume while doing my walking and squats so that I don’t end up there anytime soon. I really think this race would liven things up at Parkland in the Valley and could even be replicated at other Shannex facilities around the province. It could even become a national pastime and maybe even an Olympic Sport. Of course, participants would have to sign a medical waiver and show that they actually need a walker (I know those not needing one might want to pretend and sandbag the whole shebang).

Can’t you just picture it? White haired ladies and bald men (whose hair now grows in other places) lapping around the parking lot, pushing those walkers with zest and zeal, the smell of Ben Gay permeating the air. Winning medals and then heading straight to bed to rest up for the next event, in a week or two. Anyway, I predict it will be epic. I am planning on heading back to Shannex later this week so I am going to take my proposal with me and share it with the powers that be. I am sure that it is something that will really interest them and will cause a lot of excitement among the residents. Can’t wait to yell through my bullhorn “On your mark! Get set! Go!”

We Are the Champions (Sort Of) Part IV (The Finale)

After a great night’s sleep, we were all able to rise fairly early to begin our last day in Montreal.  On the agenda was some shopping, some dining and a visit to the Just for Laughs Festival.  Fortified with Advil to counteract the chocolate martinis and wine from the night before, we  had breakfast and set out to tour the shops as we were sure there were sales to be had.

There is something about sales that makes me loose my mind. First of all, I can never find anything that fits – the size I need just never seems to be available and so I try on outfit after outfit with no success in saving money.  It is so frustrating as I want to save money!  I did end up buying a pair of casual black ankle pants but they cost me $75 so I not sure that counts as saving money!  The other ladies had more success with saving money than I did, so all was good.

We had lunch at a restaurant with an outdoor patio on St. Catherine’s Street which is always pleasant, except when bird poop is involved.  Poor Mon Shin was sitting there, minding her own business when she felt a wet plop on her arm.  Thinking it was starting to rain, she looked down expecting to see a water drop and discovered that instead, she had been the victim of an errant bird dropping.  Not fun, however Mon Shin is very chill and just casually shook it off her arm.  Later Peppermint Patty, who had ordered a salad, discovered something very similar in her salad – well as least she thought it was that though the waitress assured her it was just an old piece of lettuce.  She was gracious enough to exchange the salad though, just to be on the safe side.

That evening we headed down to the Places des Arts to take in some of the craziness of the Just for Laughs Festival.  As we were entering the site, we met up with the same man we had walked with the night before from the Queen concert.  What are the chances of that in a city of 1.7 million people?  After a brief reunion, we were on our way.  The site was very crowded and there were acts going on everywhere.  We stopped to watch a Disney-like parade of transvestites dressed up as Disney princesses.  It was interesting and I can assure you that I will not look at a Disney princess in the same way again.  After the parade passed by we did witness a rather disturbing encounter between two men. One man had his pants pulled down to his knees and he was arguing with the other man.  We watched horrified and looked around for security but there didn’t seem to be anyone around.  The two men stopped arguing, the pants were pulled up and they went their separate ways.  It was  very disturbing!  We saw the same two men later, doing the exact same thing and realized it was one of the acts that were happening on the site.  I guess good comedy is subjective!  After we had all the laughs we could take, we headed back to our hotel to pack up and get a good night’s sleep in preparation for our next stop, Quebec City.

The drive to Quebec City was pretty uneventful.  With the two GPS’ guiding us, we were able to avoid getting lost and made it to our hotel by early afternoon.  We headed out to tour around the Old City, popping in and out of shops, discovering more ways to save money along the way.  We noticed dark clouds forming in the sky so decided it would be wise to pick up a rain poncho, just in case.  For 2.99, we were able to buy some very sexy ponchos – you know, the ones that look like a giant garbage bag with a hood.  Now Peppermint Patty, ever the practical one, determined that a little rain wasn’t going to hurt her so she decided to forego spending the 2.99. We continued on our way and ended up sitting in some bleachers watching a busker perform some dangerous feats, juggling what looked like very sharp sabers while riding a unicycle.  He was pretty entertaining.  Of course, during the show, the skies opened, but with our sexy rain ponchos, we were able to stay and watch the show.  Peppermint Patty did get a little wet but it didn’t hurt her so all was good.

We took the Funiculaire down to the lower part of Old Quebec and continued touring around.  We discovered a little shop that sold cider and other goodies and so entered to take a look around.  At the same time, a group of young teachers from British Columbia also popped in and they asked the girls working there if they allowed taste tests.  We joined in and tasted the many different types of cider that they offered and to show our appreciation for those free tastes, we even each bought a bottle of our favourite cider.  No money saved there, but I am sure the cider will be a hit at some dinner party in the future.

Our final stop in Old Quebec as at Il Teatro, a lovely restaurant just outside the gates. Mon Shin and I arrived first and asked about seating for five.  The hostess told us it would be a 15-20 minute wait as the two tables set for five were taken.  Well, fifty minutes later we were still waiting for a seat and things went downhill from there.  I won’t go into the details because I already wrote about the experience on Trip Advisor so you can read my review there but we ended up being welcomed at another restaurant, Pizza D’Youville, where we had a delicious dinner.  All’s well that ends well!

We checked into our hotel later that evening and after a good night’s sleep began the long trek home.  I have mentioned that we were using two GPS systems to keep us on track but unfortunately, we got distracted by the Backyard Barbecue Chips, licorice and M and M’s and missed a turn off somewhere.   We only realized it when the four lane highway suddenly merged into two lane highway and the GPS (which we had silenced) was frantically telling us to make a U-turn.  It all ended well and after a lovely though smelly drive through the country, we made it back to the four lane highway and the road home.  The We Are the Champions (Sort Of) Tour was coming to an end and we had made some great memories that will not be forgotten because I wrote them down!  And we are really excited because ABBA is coming to Montreal next year so we can see a Dancing Queens Tour in our future.  Stay tuned!