Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My Heaven includes Botox

Today, I took my tired-looking self over to see Sheila Mackay, a registered nurse who works at the Facial Surgery and Cosmetic Centre of Ottawa.

Sheila is the angel who sticks needles in my face, and I love her.

She gives me Botox and Dermal Filler to fill in my craggy good looks.

A lot of people will say: "what a ridiculous thing to do" or "you look just fine the way you are; you should love yourself more" or --- and I really hate this -- "I don't need that stuff. I've earned every wrinkle."

I say, good for you. If you want to look like a topographic map, that's your right and I will defend to the death your right to look like the Canadian Shield.

It's true, I don't look that bad for 58. With the help of hair dye and makeup, I can pass for 50 even younger because I don't have a face that looks like an unmade bed. I don't smoke. I have a nap nearly every day. I eat my veggies. I exercise. And I get my eight hours in a dark, cool room without benefit of technology.

There's no secret to having good skin.

But even good skin cannot work forever.

I've begun to notice lines from the inside of my eyes that are bisecting my cheeks, leaving what is starting to look chicken filets around the nose. Also, jowls. I have nightmares about Joe Clark.

As you see from this picture, I also have a very heavy muscle between my eyes. From an early age, I knit my brow -- as Carolyn Keene used to write in Nancy Drew. It started because I didn't have nice eyelids, so I started to squint in an effort to make my eyes look bigger. Forty years later, the squint is gone, thanks to me coming to my senses, but the furrowed brow is highly prominent and not very attractive.

I could have lived with these changes but I didn't want to. I'm vain, there I said it.

Why should I look like Granny Clampett when I can look like Helen Mirren?


I don't do stupid things like take diet pills or hormone replacements. I don't spend a fortune on department store plumpers that never work.

I'm never getting plastic surgery on my face. I don't want to look like somebody grabbed my skin and hauled it behind my ears.

Instead, I get injections. They don't hurt, not as much as a teeth cleaning.

And they make me look less like a map of Mississippi.

What I had done today will go away eventually. The Botox that eases the furrowed brow will disappear in six months. The filler will stick around for 18 months. Then both will be gone.

At that point, I'll decide whether to have it done again.

Would I? Would I!

Here's why.

In the last year, I've watched three of my friends become widows. I've visited umpteen friends in the hospital who are undergoing hip and knee replacements. I've sat with friends in the doctors' offices as they've worried over whether or not they have cancer or a bad ticker.

Me, I've been lucky. Aside from a gallbladder attack, my doctor visits have all been preventative. I am not on any medication, not even for high blood pressure.

I work at it. I punish myself at the gym to keep my weight down and my heart strong. I eat kale and Greek yogurt for my innards.

So why wouldn't I do something that makes my skin feel and look better? It is the largest organ. Why shouldn't it get the same love as my kidneys?

Look, I raised three kids on a shoestring. I battled an ex for money to put the kids through college. I stared down adversity at every juncture.

Now it's me time.

Don't look at me in that tone of voice; I bite.

I'm not going to enter my geezerhood telling everybody about how much I've sacrificed.

I'm not some kind of churchy Madonna. I'm the other kind. The one with the whips and chains -- in my mind at least.

I'm not waiting to get my Green Card for Heaven.

The lineup's too long and I'm impatient.

I'm getting mine, here and now.

And it starts with Botox.

p.s. The boobs come off next...

Here's to me.
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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Wagyu Beef at Loblaws: The best meat you can't afford to buy

We walked into our Loblaws this week and there it was, as promised in the flyer, a cartload of Wagyu beef steaks with a side of  Chiliean sea bass.

The steaks were nice enough, meaty, with veins of fat running through them and the fish, well, the fish was beautiful, pristine, white like a Caribbean beach.

Wonderful. The price, however, not so much.

Each steak was selling for $59. The sea bass, which I only know about because it's featured in fancy restaurants in the movies, was $16.

At first I though it was a joke.

These are serious economic times, ladies and germs, when most of us are fishing through our pockets looking for enough money to afford steak on Saturday night at an average cost of $16 to $20 and Loblaws does this. I suppose Galen Weston is trying to appeal to the upscale folks in my neighborhood at Elmvale Acres but given the fact a lot of people are scraping by, living in high rises, cruising around in motorized wheelchairs and gas guzzling beaters -- or taking the bus -- I'm thinking that maybe Galen was a little light on his market research.

I asked the meat lady how many steaks she'd sold that day and she just shook her head.

"None," she said.

What makes matters worse is that Loblaws continues to gouge its employees, having de-unionized the lot while packaging and cutting off the heads of its long time workers, people like my friend Scottie who has worked there for more than 30 years who had his wages cut effectively by a third. He'd finally had enough last week, a bid sayonara to a fish monger job he clearly loved.

What the hell is going on at Loblaws?

It's passive aggressive behavior is starting to worry me.

First, Loblaws plies its customers with loyalty cards, then it makes us all feel bad to shop there.

There should be a law, I say, there should be a law.

Needless to say, my husband and I left Loblaws without purchasing the Wagyu and instead went over to the Ottawa Farmers' Market where we picked up two lovely large tenderloins for $18. We wouldn't have done that a week ago, but $18 farm-to-table, while supporting our farmers seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Look, Wagyu beef is terrible for you. It's full of marbling, which means saturated fat. The friendly dietician on Loblaws staff would, or should, be telling you it's a cardiologist's worst nightmare.

It's also evidence of Japanese class warfare, coming from a place where only a small percentage of people can afford to eat meat and instead eat rice and cucumber sandwiches as their staple.

And here's a bigger question: what's going to happen to all that Wagyu when nobody buys it?

It will go into the dumpster some place, that it is a certainty.

Loblaws won't even be able to give it away to the poor because of the health hazards of serving expired meat. Oh, well, there will be some mighty fat and happy maggots at the Loblaws dumpster.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

We come here to praise Mike Duffy not bury him

Glass is half full kind of Canadians should thank Mike Duffy for the investigative journalism he's undertaken which is revealing the depth of corruption and depravity within our system of government.

For years now, Old Duff has been toiling on your behalf, posing as a political Senator, to unearth how many ways it's possible to screw the Canadian taxpayer. At times, he's even revealed that it's possible to do double duty, fingering the front orifice of Josephine Lunch Pail while putting a digit in the back end of Jimmy Conservative.

Indeed, he should win himself a Michener Award, or a Genie at the very least. Do they still give those out for enterprise journalism?

Seriously, folks, everyone who lives in Ottawa knows the system stinks -- especially Senate operations. We've had major evidence of this for years. Like the Senator who spent all his time in Mexico instead of warming his seat in the Red Chamber. How long did it take people to figure that one out? Or how many others managed to go from living in nice condos to multimillion dollar houses in Manotick within minutes of their appointment to the Senate. How many of them are registered lobbyists?

You see, people who are appointed to the Senate have, well, expectations. Most of them come from well heeled jobs in corporate Canada, or law firms or big media jobs. They believe they deserve free booze, large expense accounts and golf memberships.

You'd think they'd just won Cash For Life. Well, guess what, most of them did!

Senators have been forging documents for years, fudging their expenses, free wheeling their way around the country toiling for their respective political parties on the taxpayer dime, and everybody, everybody, everybody knew about it and did absolutely nothing.

It took Mike Duffy to belly flop in the pool and displace all the water before anybody -- the RCMP, the media, officials in the Senate, the Canadian Revenue Agency -- thought: "Holy Shit, we really need to get on top of this".

Journos are lining up to take the credit, and bows, scooping up major hardware and rewards for "uncovering" the Senate scandal. That's unfortunate. They're all trying to convince Canadians that it was their investigative journalism, but really, it was Duffy all along.

Let's buy him a round.

For it will be Duffy, not CTV news, who will take down a sitting prime minister for snoozing while the Red Chamber burned. It will be Duffy who will be personally responsible for cleaning up the Senate and its loosey goosey rules and regulations. And it will be Duffy who will be responsible for ensuring proper accounting methods are put in place.

(Though Pam Wallin does deserve an honorable mention for best hair.)

I'd say there are a lot of former Senators who are pretty happy they are dead right now. And there are many, many sitting Senators who are sending their shorts out for dry cleaning. The gravy train stops right here, right now. And there are plenty of Lucys who have some 'splaining to do.

If I were in charge of the government, I'd go further. I'd call for a pre-emptive strike on other questionable practices which are followed not just by Senators and MPs, but by journalists. If we're going to make Parliament accountable, we should shut down the Parliamentary restaurant, take away the tabs at Hy's, and make everybody eat at Tim Horton's just as we do. Also, get rid of the free parking and subsidized cafeterias.

We don't get free parking, do we? I don't know about you, but it costs me $15 every time I go downtown, so I take the bus. No little green bus picks me up.

It's time that our elected officials mirror our lives and bring their own brown bags, and pay for their own memberships at Good Life fitness. (Hey, you get points for referrals!)

Let them get hair cuts at First Choice, and go to U Frame It to get their vanity pictures framed.

And while we're at it, take away their householders, those ridiculous pieces of mail MPs send out to you and me that just end up in the recycle without being read. Let them use the Internet like the rest of us to deliver their propaganda. Dial up!

Duffy has shown us that as long as there are loopholes that we can drive a lorry through, there will be cheaters who will use the system to their own advantage and line their pockets. So let's get rid of all of them.

No more two residence rules for anybody. No more limos to drive Cabinet ministers four blocks from their condos to Parliament Hill. No more interns in short skirts and thigh gaps.

Let's make being a Senator or MP as unfun as possible.

It's only then will we get people in office who truly want to be there for the betterment of Canadians.

Thanks Duff, thanks a lot.

Godspeed, and let 'er rip at the trial.


Monday, 14 July 2014

King Kong: Labrador Retriever Edition

For two years, Scott has been telling me that Finnigan, our Black Lab, would settle down...eventually.
At that point, all of my dreams would come true.
There would be no more menacing guests and crawling all over them, no more punching me in the face or ripping me a new butt hole when I turned my back on him. No more of that high peeled, incessant barking when he wanted out, or simply demanded attention. No more dropping saliva-coated twigs on my leg while he shook nervously.
Sometimes, Finn has been hard to love, especially during the times he's put me in real danger, like that time at the dog park when he nearly knocked out my front teeth when he hit me in the face whilst running full boar.

I had two black labs before Finn. Mandy died after eating an entire bowl of oatmeal chocolate chip muffins the babysitter had left out. Maggie was given to my friend Derik after many failed attempts at training and one scary event in the dog park when she pinned me on the grass with her teeth bared.
I swore I'd never get another one, but that was before I met Scott who I believed had magical powers over dogs like Finn.
It was an entirely wrong assumption.
Still, with Scott at my side, I remained committed to that mythical two year mark.
I simply hoped for the best and expected the worst.
Most recently, there are signs of hope.
We acquired a Kong dog toy for training purposes.
We'd bought one the year before, but Finn didn't know what to do with it, and eventually tossed it past the gate, where it was found by another grateful canine.
We decided to give a Kong another try this spring, and this time, it worked. Finnigan fell in love with the thing. He was absolutely smitten.
Since then, we've gone through three of the things. He just chomps the head off after worrying one for a couple weeks.
The good news is that Kong stands by its product, so we just go to the pet store every few weeks and get a new one.
The best news is, since the Kong arrived, Finn no longer barks or chases dogs beyond the fence. He's stopped eating Gordie's poo. And he no longer menaces the company.
The only reminder of the old Finn is incessant barking when he wants you to throw the thing, which is about every two minutes.
I'll take it.
Thanks Kong for taming the untrainable beast.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Ottawa's garbage: A simple case of Organomics

I was thinking this week that the councilors who run this city should simply go down the road to the Rideau Carleton Slots and pour all our money into the machines.
At least they'd have a chance of winning.
Anyway, it would be more fun than sinking it into a ridiculous garbage deal.

As taxpayers, we pay a lot of money to our city manager.
The man makes nearly $350,000 a year to be smart, or at least accountable.
That's more than twice as much as the mayor.
So how does he have the nerve to sit there and tell Ottawa City Council that it's not his fault that our tax money is being dumped into a sinkhole called Orgaworld, an organic waste collecting service that doesn't take most of the household waste we produce.
We pay millions to this company to take away our potato peelings, but not our diapers, lawn trimmings or dog shit (which is a natural composter). It doesn't take that stuff because it's too stinky. We have to put it in our garbage and leave it beside the barbecue for a fortnight, making sure it gets even stinkier in situ.
Kent Kirkpatrick merely shrugged when told by the city auditor that this deal smells to high heaven. It wasn't his fault. It was the fault of city staff who don't work here anymore.
That's like your kid blaming the broken vase on a poltergeist.
Isn't the city manager ultimately responsible for things like this?
When told we had to sign a 20 year deal, didn't he say, wow, that's a long time.
Can we buy a warranty, at least.
I'd hate to see his cell phone contract.
In any event, the auditor is suggesting that we break the contract and go with a cheaper service, one that will pick up all the waste. But Kirkpatrick railed at this, saying it would cost us $8 million to cancel the contract.
I wonder if he's divorced.
His wife would have taken this guy to the cleaners.
And what about the geniuses we elected? Didn't any of them question the numbers?
Surely the former staffers, who probably scored some great seats at the Sens Palace, didn't pull a diaper over their eyes.
Even Rob Ford high and drunk would have figured out that these modern day Tony Sopranos were selling Ottawa back its own real estate.
Why a 20-year deal exactly?
Why couldn't we have signed a five year deal?
Oh, I guess it's because the taxpayers are actually paying to build the facility.
That's what governments do, right?

This might be fine, except that nobody likes the Green Bin program other than a few tree huggers. Most people like their garbage to simply disappear. They don't want it stinking up their garage. They aren't crazy about the maggots in the summer and the frozen banana/coffee ground/chicken guts mess in the winter.
I don't mind it personally. I like to think that I'm doing my part by sorting my garbage though it hardly compensates for the number of people who don't do it, including all those who live in high rises that surround my neighborhood and the Shameless crew who live next door.
But this is a real cock up.
The mayor must be shaking in his support hose, thinking that he nearly got through an entire term without a scandal or an embarrassment.
Just one New York minute, Mayor Milhouse.
I'm afraid that while the former staffers are playing golf or taking their kids to Disney, Ottawa City Council will be wearing this one.
When is the election again?


Monday, 7 July 2014

Rogers and Fido: Liars, Liars, Pants on Fire

Morning update: I can't text anyone because the loaner phone from Fido is too small to see and the keyboard is made for rodents.

It's nearly 11 p.m. and I am in a technology conundrum.
I can't sleep having spent the better part of the day and night in consultation with Fido and Rogers about my a) crap Android phone and b) my move-over to Rogers from Bell Fibe.
Let's recap.
About a year ago, I bought a Galaxy phone and it never did work. I took it back to Fido, my carrier, and got it fixed once. But it still was crapping out on me, so I took it back again. Then I got frustrated, figuring I had a lemon phone and bought a new one, at a cost of nearly two hundred bucks, less the crappy discount.
Scott told me that the Nexus Five was the bomb, but mine was more like a fizzled firecracker. On Sunday, the damned thing stopped taking and receiving calls. Today, Scott took it back and it's in for repairs for 15 days. That leaves me with a rental, that should be in the Museum of Science and Technology. It looks like something Maxwell Smart might have tossed in a fish tank back in the Sixties.
Needless to say, I was not impressed and put Scott on the phone to see if the phone I'd just bought a month ago could be exchanged. It could not.
We were offered the waiving of a $25 fee and a discount on a new phone which just meant I would have to fork out another $300 for yet another crap phone.
Thank you, Rose, thank you very much for being a loyal subscriber to Fido.
In another galaxy, far, far, away, I engaged with Rogers Cable this evening to rectify problems associated with my switch from Bell Fibe back to Rogers. I left Rogers a year ago because the damned company lies like a Persian rug.
The switch back to Rogers was truly heart felt.  Bell Fibe kept cutting out ten to twelve times a day, usually in the middle of a compelling Roger Federer match or the end of Dexter.
The offer I was given by Rogers was that I could switch back for $110 bucks a month for a year and then my bill would rise to $150 the year after. Not bad, not bad, I thought. We signed up, and on my birthday, I received my brand spanking new Rogers cable boxes and Internet.
Unfortunately, the VIP service I had ordered had changed since I was last a subscriber.
The old service included TMN and HBO.
Not anymore.
Apparently, there are three or four versions of VIP, depending on who you talk to at Rogers.
Ours didn't include anything good, so we spent my birthday and weekend watching Big Bang Theory reruns.
We called at least a dozen times and my calls were dropped. Nobody could explain why we didn't get the services we ordered.
Tonight, I'm told we owe Rogers not $110 but $280, that our service does not include TMN and HBO, and that there was no evidence that Rogers added a credit to compensate us for switching from Bell, which tells us we have to cancel 30 days in advance.
Fortunately for us, we have our offer in writing.
We'll see what tomorrow will bring.
All I can say is bring on the competition.
Anything is better than the crap we're getting in Canada today.
Or is it?
And now this.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

General Motors: Where's the trust?

My neighbor Georgette walks a country mile twice, sometimes three times a day.
At 80, she's an active senior, a busy body, a walking, talking, griping neighborhood watch.
She knows and sees everything.
Don't mess with her.
Last week, she ambled up.
"I been in the hospital," she reported. "I got in a car accident. Look."
Her chest was swollen to twice its size, and was all black and blue and she'd been bleeding internally.
Her airbag had only partially deployed.
For the record, it was a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire.
Yesterday, we saw her again.
She'd just spent another day and night in the hospital, bleeding from her orifices.
The insurance, she says, is looking into it.
They offered her $2,500 for her car.

I come from the land of cars, St. Catharines, Ontario, a place we used to joke where everyone made sure they bought cars assembled never on a Friday. Across from the GM plant, was a spot called the Golden Pheasant -- we called it the Ruptured Duck. At noon on the dot, the barkeeper would line up draft along the bar so the worker bees could come in, down a few and get back to work.
It always made me queasy.
Still, for years, I bought from General Motors.
Not anymore.
GM has betrayed the trust of all North Americans by not standing by their cars, and not standing up to say they screwed up.
It's just business to GM.
It's not business to me.
Nor my neighbor.
Sure, other companies have defects. Toyota, Honda, Nissan -- even our beloved Subaru, a place, in full disclosure, where Scott works.
Recalls are, sadly, common place.
But only recently, companies like General Motors have been hiding those defects.
People are dying and their loved ones have to find out in the paper that it's because their car company screwed up.
Neighbors are getting their chests crushed, and nobody has bothered to tell them to bring in their cars.
Georgette didn't know.
I bet Georgette would be walking around, not bleeding internally, if she'd bought another kind of car.
Shame on you, GM management.
I ask GM: Where's the trust?