4 November 2011


There’s a touch of Normal-itis going on around here today.

The 19 lb cat, though he has a bald patch on his back, has stopped licking. Apparently he had fleas, and is on medication. For the first time in weeks, he’s back to purring like a giant engine, lying on top of bodies, and smothering us while we sleep.

Sunshine and a Latte
Jed’s stitches came out and he’s walking around as thought he owns the neighborhood. Still sporting an undershirt (‘cus he scratches) he prances along the sidewalk soaking up admiring glances. The local crossing guard waits for our arrival, and as a greeting, hoists his ‘Stop’ sign across his substantial belly and sings ‘You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog.” Only in Leslieville does one get admired for wearing a wife-beater shirt out in public.

Jim is busy bringing home the bacon, but returns at night to a calmer home. When the back door opens, the pets run to greet him. Two clumsy bodies for the price of one - that is Jim’s Happy Hour.

I’ve finally calmed down, (now that’s it been a week since treatment), to a near-ish normal level of lunacy.  No more putting milk in the cupboard, or wondering if I’ve shrieked, rather than  spoken, into the phone. Also, I had a massage yesterday, and feel like I left some of the crazy on the table.

Last night Jed and I made a triumphant return to the dog park. Jed sprang thorough the gate as though he’d just spotted a meadow full of badgers.  I was wearing my wig and cap, and I sidled over to my one friend who knows about my Bald-itis. It had been a while since I’d been in, and most people associate me with short hair, rather than the chin length bob that I was sporting. I told my friend I was bracing myself for comments. She laughed and said not to worry, “Everyone here is too self-absorbed to notice.”

Basset Bum


3 November 2011

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

I have a lot of hats. Maybe not quite 500, like Bartholomew Cubbins, but it sure feels like it. But like young Mr Cubbins, I am rarely hatless. Often I wear two at once! Coming in from the outdoors I take off one ‘going out’ hat, to reveal my smaller ‘indoor’ hat. That way, my wig will stay covered, and I won’t have to do a self-conscious swap in public.

Our front hall is now festooned with hats. Open the closet, and it overflows with jaunty caps, eager for the right occasional. About 100 of these hats are the result of my own panic buying. Prior to baldness I over-anticipated the amount of head coverings I was going to need. What made it more seductive is the best hat store in the universe, tucked away on the 3rd floor of princess Margaret Hospital. They have a fine selection! (And the hats, though appropriate for baldies, are not specifically for that purpose. Their splendid stock is selected for it’s considerable size, excellent head coverage, and top-notch quality).

The 500 Hats of Me
Another bunch of caps were ordered on-line at 3 am from a company in Utah. They specialize in head coverings for girls like me, and while not particularly stylish, are very cozy for bed.

The remaining 300 hats (I exaggerate, of course) were gifts from my favorite people, who correctly predicted that I’d relax under the comfort of something stylish and cozy. These ones are special (Thanks Caleb!), because of the sweet consideration that went into their selection, and the understanding that an egghead needs low coverage, a generous fit, as well as a certain je ne sais quoi.

Both Bart Cubbins and I can stack our hats quite high. As he takes off one hat, another appears that is more beautiful than the last, until he reveals the final hat, which is gilded, and covered with gems.

My hat stack is a little shorter. As all the hats are removed there is a wig named Julie, which though not gilded, has some nice reddish-brown highlights. Beneath that, there is my own gilded crown. 

In itself it is a gem, and my mother says it is perfect. 

2 November 2011

Pink Flamingos

Many years ago, Jim and I went to visit his parents at their winter home near Lakeland Florida. He enticed me by misrepresenting it as a ‘Trailer Park,’ when in fact, it was something a lot more classy.  Where I was hoping to find plastic pink flamingoes and rusted hibachis, I found instead generous doublewide mobile homes with tasteful furniture.

Life there went on at it’s own cheerful step. There were card games, Mai-Tais, and a community swimming pool. (There was also a little stream with an alligator in it). And when the senoirs wanted to bust out, they could go in to town to shop, or to Hooters, for some wings!

Freedom 55!

Life was nice in that park. The big world seemed to stay outside, announcing its' presence  through newspapers, or TV. Residents set their own pace, and familiar faces walked, or rolled around (on giant tricycles), amidst laughing, euchre, and gin.

Week three of my treatment and my life is going at my own pace. Calm tasks fill the day. If so inclined (I’m not) I could learn to knit, or try a new recipe. There are books to read, friends to see, and plants that need my attention. In effect I’ve created my own little Lakeland.

Life in Little Lakeland is okay! Firstly, I rarely go downtown anymore. It really IS loud, and I’ve lost my ambition to run yellow lights and scream loudly into my cell phone. When I want to socialize I tend towards in-home rather than going out. Firstly, being out takes a lot of effort.  Secondly, there’s pressure to do my hair. And thirdly, why eat in a restuarant when I can buy a perfectly delicious (organic) chicken pie, and serve it on the sofa!

Exercise, now, is of slower variety. Yoga, which had escalated to become a Lulu Lemon fashion show, is simple. No more twisting into a pretzel while showing off one’s flair for Sanskrit. My new mat mates roll around gently in their worn Winner’s pants, contemplating how to get themselves upright and home, without fainting.

And as for the alarm clock – I don’t need it anymore! If I don’t sleep well, it’s perfectly acceptable to have a nap during day. And no job means no getting up early. No dealing with deadlines, or super-stressed ulcer-plagued colleagues with their masseuse on speed dial. In fact, I don’t often have to rush to be anywhere. And, on most days, my friends can find me close to home, should they need me.

My own little Lakeland isn’t perfect . The real Lakeland had more cocktails, and to be honest, I never once saw Russ or Jeannie (Jim’s parents)  get tired. (In fact, they often took happy hour at the ABC Liquor Lounge, then carried on merrily to the Branch Ranch). But my home is peaceful, and  pleasant retreat. Eventually my desires will be more enthusiastic, and I will to add a few thing to my needs. So, I'm planning on holding onto the serenity, while adding flamingos, and late night TV.

1 November 2011

Smart Girls Don't Wear Chin Straps

Normally on Halloween I like to dress as something sexy. As per tradition, I head over to my sisters' house to hand out candy, so she’s free to wander the streets of High Park with her little goblin. But last night I wasn’t feeling remotely flirty, so it was Jane Goodall who headed across town, complete with a bag of monkeys and a sensible hat.

Although I would have preferred to lie under my duvet, I forced myself to find chinos, boots and a turtleneck. To complete my sexless look I had cheap blonde wig which I put in a ponytail. Wearing a wig is no problem, I’m used to it. But wearing an itchy nylon wig is something no world famous primatologist should ever have to endure. Nor should I. So I rifled through my closet to see if my own store-bought hair had come with any helpful accoutrements.  Lo and behold, there were two packages in my wig box that were waiting to be discovered. One was a ‘Fishnet Wig Cap,’  and the other, also from the ‘Hairess Corporation’, was an Adjustable Chin Strap.

Inappropriate Headgear
Who the f*ck wears a chinstrap? Fake hair is bad enough, so why advertise it by wearing a brown elastic under the chin. And this is no discreet strap. It’s as thick as an earthworm, with two gigantic clips on either end that could only be disguised by gigantic ears and an enormous head. The only human known to mankind to engage with this sort of contraption was Alice, (from the Brady Bunch), who wore a chin protector in private so that she wouldn’t get jowls. And as morose as I was feeling yesterday, I was nowhere near the point of being an architect’s maid, sequestered in a windowless room off the kitchen.

I must admit, it made me a cross. We bald ladies are vulnerable to the occasional hair crisis, but we work hard to be strong and subtle, and it cheapens all our efforts to have someone toss an ugly Adjustable Chin Strap our way, as though it’s going to save the day.  Neither Jane nor I were to be bothered with such nonsense.  We could keep our hair on just fine without the ‘Hairess Corporation’. We are resourcefull gals. And smart. All we need are brains and a Tilley hat.

Proper Jungle Attire
Fueled by something other than self-pity,  I stood proudly on my sister’s front porch, a monkey on my hip, and my hair in a sensible pony tail. Though I missed my kitten-ish outfits from previous years, I was warm, comfortable and dressed as someone brilliant.  However, none of the kids knew who I was, and many didn’t even bother looking up. They just grunted something primordial, and held open their giant pillowcases. To them I offered meagre rations. Then one beautiful princess with long blonde hair scrambled ups the stairs, guarded by her mother. “You’re Jane Goodall!” said the mom. The clever princess looked up at me, broke into a big smile,  and squealed. “ I LOVE Jane Goodall.”

Thank you pretty princess, I love you too. Have a bowl of candy.

31 October 2011

Meltdown Monday

I have a close friend (kind, generous, very funny) who works hard to make her life happy.  Some of that work includes therapy, which is great for me, since she does all the grueling analysis, pays all lot of money, then passes her knowledge my way. She’s sort of like my personal ‘self-help’ shopper. And she usually offers exactly what I need.

One of my favorite pieces of advice comes from this lovely girl, and here it is.
“Just because you’re having a meltdown doesn’t mean you're not coping”.

Now I’m not saying today’s going to be a bad day. But it is Monday, the days are getting shorter, and soon the streets will be filled with kids dressed like sleazy housewives, and aliens. The 19 lb cat has to go to the vet because he’s licking himself bald, and I packed away all my summer sandals. Sadly, I need to run a bunch of errands, even though I’d be happier under a duvet. There's not enough hand sanitzer in the world to make me feel protected,  and by the time I’ll get to Loblaws, there's a chance they’ll have run out of candy.

So I’m carrying this pearl of wisdom in my back pocket,  just in case. Because according to my friend, it doesn't matter that I may need to shove aside a few strollers filled with germy dinosaurs. As long as I get out of the Bulk Barn without really hurting anyone, I'm still coping. In my own delightful way.