Last week, I had my first bath in over a decade.
Why so traumatized, you ask? Because, this, my friends, was not a good bath, with bubbles up to your neck and your favourite Ernie-and-Bert-inspired Rubber Duckie.
No, no, no.
There was no lovely book or glass of wine (although I’m really not coordinated enough for any of that kind of nonsense).
Not even the sort of lovely BAWTH that one of my favourite literary characters, Eloise, likes to take.
This was the kind of bath that your mother tells you to take.
Or rather, MY mother.
Because, I’m in my 40s, dontcha know.
You’re never too old for a little vintage, motherly, health advice.
Or, for a bath.
“With oatmeal”, she said.
“Or baking soda”, she said.
“Maybe some Epsom salts”, she said.
Possibly a cocktail of all of the above.
Yessiree, I am officially a geezer.
No Bath and Body Works jams and jellies for me.
I get to bathe with breakfast cereals and baking products.
I’m like Wilford Brimley, with hair.
This was the kind of bath you take because you have been itchy for nearly a month FOR NO GOOD REASON.
And, all the icky sticky goo and chanting of OM doesn’t make it stop.
OMMMMMMM…I’m so itchy!
And not only that but, this was the kind of BAWTH where you had to decide which third of your body to dunk in the water at a time, on account of, you are possibly eleventeen feet tall and your tub is a shallow, five-foot long, jetted, vintage relic from the late 1980s.
It was a complex dance of toes-ankles-calves for a while and then knees-thighs-abdomen for another while and then chest-shoulders-neck for an encore.
Slip sliding away. It’s not as exciting as it sounds in the song.
Who, among the regular old, pre-every-bathroom-must-be-a-spa-thing-that-we-seem-to-have-going-on-now, bathtub owners, finds this fun?
You must be blessed with some short-ness, is all I can figure. Me and my eleven-teen feet of tall-ness are jealous.
Anyhoo, this was the kind of bath where Practical Man had to set a timer in order to get me to stay in there for 20 minutes, because someone–possibly me–kept yelling, “Can I get out YET?” approximately every 32 seconds.
I am a delight to go through life with, as you can tell.
This was the kind of bath where, when I scrunched down so my shoulders could get a little of the water action–and my toes were creeping ever so elegantly up the wall towards the shower head–I was exactly eye level with the toilet.
As my friend Pippi has said, “Bathing beside the toilet is not my idea of luxury.”
Toilets figure prominently in 5-star resort brochures, I’m sure.
Um, yes and this was more of a long-term-care facility kind of bath.
Nessum Dorma is the key to life, really.
Honestly, just close your eyes and listen. You don’t need to be in a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bathtub for it to be magic.
But, after a million-zillion torturous hours, when I was finally allowed to get out, I was victorious.
I had a few hives.
Nearly a month of scratching and complaining about invisible sensations and I finally had something to show for my efforts.
I’m a little Type A that way.
Stay with me. The hives mean that maybe, possibly, I’m not imagining the itching–just having some kind of allergic reaction.
To what, I don’t know.
Or maybe…don’t you think…it might be…Nessum Dorma beside the toilet?
The basic treatment for hives is, YOU WILL NEVER GUESS:
Take a bath.
Or as I and Eloise prefer it: BAWTH.
Or baking soda.
Possibly some Epsom salts.
So says The Google.
And my mom.
Can I get out yet?
Every year, when we take the tree and decorations down, I am startled.
I don’t think I have reached the Griswold level of festive decor, so that can’t account for the Disturbing Disappearance of Decor.
Triple D – that’s a thing, right?
Yet, take away the seasonal dressing and everything suddenly looks bare and forlorn.
I guess it’s to be expected when you remove a giant conifer and acres of greenery and glittery things from your Not-So-Great Room.
(Our house was built at a time when Great Rooms were not yet a thing, so we only have an ordinary living room or as realtors probably think of it: a Not-So-Great Room.)
Our Not-So-Great Room looked perfectly fine in November.
In early December, it suddenly got bulge-y with a seriously extraverted Tannenbaum and all its festive friends.
I think we might be kindred spirits, me and the Not-So-Great Room.
I feel quite bulge-y in December myself.
“Deck the Halls with crates of Toblerone“…isn’t that how that song goes?
Every year during the time when the Not-So-Great Room is still looking seriously festive, Practical Man and I head out to admire our neighbourhood lights.
First, I admire the heart he stamped in the snow of the front lawn, with our initials in it.
Then, we cruise around for a while (we used to walk when we lived in town but we’d have to be Santa to make any time, now that we live rurally), surveying the crop of Griswold-esque specimens.
I’m not really keen on the blow-up thingys, so I haven’t photographed those.
Nor the keel-over-inducing light shows (even when coordinated with music).
Give me a loaded, over-the-top, plain old, static light show any day.
Or night, as it were.
Once we have oooh’d and aaah’d for a good while, then comes the hard part.
We have to choose.
We each get one thank-you card, that we filled out before we left the house:
“Thank you for your beautiful lights. Your house was our favourite!”
We don’t sign our names. We simply slip the thank-you card into their mailbox.
It’s seriously festive and fun.
Then, we return home to our own festively-adorned, albeit slightly bulge-y Not-So-Great Room and cuddle up.
Even though I don’t think I’m quite at Griswold level of festive decor, I can still love those who are.
I’m just too lazy for that sort of outdoor, holiday hulla-balloo.
Forget the 12 Days of Christmas, I’m all about the 12 Days of Pajamas.
Happy New Year to me!
Except, that after all the Disturbing Disappearance of Decor, our Not-So-Great Room will soon look like the Nearly-Naked Room.
Naked, I say, in January.
Please agree with me that naked in Canada in January is sometimes not such a good look.
‘Tis the Season for down-filled puffy coats, thank goodness.
But, having no such down-filled puffy coats for the Not-So-Great Room, it has to spend the first parts of the new year standing around, naked.
Naked in the season of diet and exercise commercials galore.
Naked in the season of resolutions and recriminations.
After a little while, we get used to our naked, Not-So-Great Room again and can see it for all the beauty that it holds.
Unadorned and lovely, in its year-round state.
Perhaps, a lesson for us all.
So goes the vintage saying, but actually, I scream when I see old Volkswagens (giving Practical Man heart failure, in the process) and occasionally, I scream for cows. Because, they have big teeth and even bigger, hairy tongues.
The other day, I zigged when I should have zagged during lunch and the resulting coughing fit caused my body to try to faint for nearly an hour afterwards.
Dear nervous system: you are seriously high maintenance.
But, I take medication so I can (mostly) avoid having things like this happen. That is, if along with the drugs, I live a careful, don’t zig instead of zag, I’m-basically-a-Jane-Austen-character-even-though-I-don’t-wear-corsets kind of life.
Here are the BAD things about being a fainter:
- I am not, actually, a character in a Jane Austen novel. Although, I can play the pianoforte (as they called it in Jane Austen’s time) and recite long-winded poetry (okay, Alice’s Restaurant is a vintage song not a poem, but it sort of counts). Not being a Jane Austen character is unfortunate because my waist would look much smaller if I had to wear a corset. Or, if I stopped eating Wispa chocolate bars, which I obviously can’t because being a fainter, one has to have some compensatory perks in life. It’s a yin-yang sort of thing. So there. And, I’m pretty sure Jane Austen would wholeheartedly approve (and subsequently write about how a true gentleman brings offerings of “delectable sweeties”, which everyone knows–well, at least Practical Man does–is Jane Austen-ish code for: Wispa chocolate bars.)
- I have landed with my head on un-glamorous things: like toilet bowls and berber carpet and my boss’s lap. Um, yeah.
- I got a large, oozing, rug burn wound on my forehead the last time I fainted, from fainting off our pillow-top mattress–which is tantamount to Olympic diving. Have you seen how high North-American beds are these days? I tried to tell people that the cucumber slice-sized mess on my forehead was from stealing jewels in my alter-ego life as a cat burglar but, apparently fainting goes hand-in-hand with fibbing and tall tales.
- There isn’t a frequent fainter’s club where I get sent free stuff. Y’know, an “every fourth time you faint, you get a trip to Paris” club, or something. I think that should really be a thing. Instead, it’s “every time you faint, you lose your driver’s license“. That club is not tra-la-la at ALL.
- When people compare you to a FAINTING GOAT. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Hey, aren’t there goats on the internet or something that faint?” and get to marvel at being compared, yet again, to a farm animal that went viral because that’s just so very flattering and sweet. And, we already know how I feel about farm animals…like scary, scary cows. Jane Austen would not approve of my being lumped in with that feral lot. Neither would Mrs. Bennett. Think of the disastrous consequences to my marriage prospects!
- No one ever picks me up and carries off my teeny-tiny, waif-like, unconscious body, the way they would in a movie. I am 5’9″ and I eat Wispa bars whenever I can get my hands on them so, it’s completely sensible, of course, that people don’t try to heave me over their shoulder, because one doesn’t want to cause other people to have hernias but, I really think the faint-and-go-to-Paris (maybe, with Mr. Darcy) thing should be a thing, don’t you?
But, like other annoying life stuff, it’s not all bad. Here are the GOOD things about being a fainter:
- I feel very tra-la-la when I’m not fainting. As in, since I started taking medication, I don’t spend nearly as much time whacking my head on toilet bowls, berber carpeting or my boss’s lap. Um, yeah. Even better: I don’t spend nearly as much time WONDERING if I’m going to be whacking my head on toilet bowls, berber carpeting or my boss’s lap. This leaves my brain time to think of pithy banter I can exchange with Practical Man, a la characters in a Jane Austen novel. And, for him to roll his eyes, but never mind about that.
- When you get your driver’s license back and then Practical Man suggests that you buy the vintage car of your dreams, it is THE BEST DAY (even if there are no Wispa bars around.) Insert an ugly cry here (but don’t cry too hard because you may not know it, but, crying leads to fainting, which in turn leads to losing driver’s license and, well, this lovely circle of drama is how things go when one is afflicted with the tendency to swoon.)
- Fainting seems vintage, somehow. As in, the manner of swoony women from times gone by. This sometimes makes me feel vintage and lovely (a la Jane Austen) and sometimes makes me feel vintage and pathetic (a la Jane Austen). When it’s pathetic, I console myself with images of highly-trained, stoic male and female soldiers standing on parade and keeling over. Or, that guy from The Wiggles. I remind myself that fainting is a non-gendered, training and stoic-ignoring, international activity. Plus, in the hierarchy of diseases, this is pretty darn minor. I could be allergic to chocolate – quelle horreur! There, I’ve found my happy place again.
- I get to be sanctimonious in the manner of ex-smokers, ex-wheat eaters, ex-aerobic exercisers: because no doctor ever harasses me about high blood pressure. In fact, when they’re finished looking alarmed at how low my blood pressure is, they proceed to order me in a stern voice to “eat more salt”. Obviously, I can’t be in the middle of ages, because what chubby, 40-something human from a G10 country is told to “eat MORE salt” in this day and age? A woman living the faint-y life of a Jane Austen character, that’s who. I am also grateful that my neuro-cardiogenic syncope syndrome hasn’t been diagnosed as “female hysteria” or “neurasthenia” which, if I lived in Jane Austen’s time (or even mine, in select locales), would be a certainty.
- When you get your driver’s license back (I can’t quite emphasize this one enough) for the umpteenth time, it is THE BEST DAY AGAIN, even if there are no Wispa bars or vintage automobiles around. Although, as every frequent fainter knows, this losing/getting back/losing thing gets old really quickly, so maybe some Wispa bars will be required in the future. Or the get-a-free-trip-to-Paris thing. Yes, that one, pretty please.
- I am medically required to have regular ice cream. I am not medically required to have Wispa bars but, lucky for me, the doctor told me that ice cream is apparently loaded with sodium. Sodium: as in “eat MORE salt”. I am pretty sure that means that ice cream counts as first aid and preventative medicine, for me. Not only that, but, I’m positive that eating ice cream WHILE IN Paris WITH MR. DARCY (aka Practical Man) will cure me of fainting, forever.
I’m almost sure of it.
Life has been fairly crummy lately.
As in, there seem to be crumbs everywhere I look.We do not discriminate in this house when it comes to crumbs. We’ve got your garden variety bread crumbs as well as an impressive variety of Microscopic bits of Unidentified Food Objects. They’re M-UFOs and I believe in them because it’s a regular Area 51 around here on the floors, counters and stove top.
I’m in the middle of ages now on top of having worn glasses since age seven, so my vision in any direction, let alone All The Way Down to the floor, is probably not great. But, my toes are excellent crumb finders.
So are visitors, like my mother or grandmother.
And, it’s that time of year when we are tracking the outside crumbs, inside. There are bits of lawn, twigs, and ants that get carried in on our shoes and clothes, even though one of us rarely ventures out into The Nature. Somehow, none of the inside crumbs get tracked outside, which seems unfair. What’s a few crumbs in a lawn or forest? Surely The Nature wouldn’t mind absorbing some of the mess.
Even when we think the house is clean, we seem to find bits of plastic, tomato cores, elastic bands, earring backings, pretzel bits (very sharp) and blobs of chocolate (I have no idea where those come from).
Then, there are the fancy bread crumbs–the ones from Practical Man’s bread. They always make my heart stop in case they are not crumbs but have, in fact, been left by a mouse.
Not to make the sesame seed industry mad, but they sort of look similar.
Black sesame seeds that look like mouse poo–and make my heart stop–are risky. Crumbs are a health risk around these parts, little did you know. because my body tends to think it needs to get woozy and keel over, anytime there’s even a slight whiff of adrenaline floating through my blood stream. And, fainting in a pile of crumbs while a mouse navigates triumphantly around my prone body, nibbling on the spoils, doesn’t sound like a fun day to me.
Rather crummy, in fact. Ha-ha!
Turns out that the exotic crumbs are just garden-variety toasted sesame seed crumbs. But, living in the middle of The Nature, as we do, we are always on the offensive, even with over a decade of mouse-free, country living. Practical Man has a rule: if critters don’t chip in on the mortgage, they’re not allowed in the house. He’s like Gibbs in NCIS, with his rules.
I’m not really afraid of mice, though. Now, if a cow tried to break in, whoa Nellie, I’d be screaming and hanging from the chandelier (I’m sure I’d find crumbs up there, too.) And, all those people who have mocked me for being afraid of cows would be sorry, lemme tell ya. They’d be talking about The Great Cow Attack of 2015 for years to come and apologizing for ever doubting me, don’t you worry.
We do clean up after ourselves, honestly, but the crumbs seem to multiply overnight. I swear, there are crumb fairies throwing parties (and crumbs) all over the place while we’re sleeping because seriously, we wiped off that counter top before we went to bed. The unidentified goo that has stuck to the moulding on the cupboard doors? And, what is that tomato sauce blob doing on the ceiling? It’s gotta be someone else’s fault. I mean, I’m hardly flinging peanut butter around the kitchen when I make toast, now am I?
Don’t answer that.
These are the times I wish we had children.
Or a pet.
I mean, that’s one of the great joys of children and animals, isn’t it? They give you someone to blame things on.
Like, why is there a cocoa powder trail from the baking cupboard to the couch?
Surely, it’s little Beverly’s fault.
My kingdom for a little Beverly!
Practical Man has a bevy of tools to deal with crumb invasions. He’s got sweeping tools and dusting tools, mopping tools and wiping tools. Maybe I don’t know how to use them properly. My irregular attempts at crumb removal only seem to spread them around in a broader, finer layer.
Ashes to ashes, crumbs to dust.
Sometimes, we briefly delude ourselves that we are getting a handle on the crumb situation. That all the sweeping and dusting, mopping and wiping is making headway on the invasion. Surely, all our efforts must be worth something, aren’t they?
Last night, I found crumbs in my bra.
That is to say: there were M-UFOs in my Area 51.
I think I owe The Nature an apology.
If you read this blog with any regularity, you may recall that I do tend to complain about The Nature a lot. Since childhood, I have avoided it like…well, like mosquitoes and poison ivy and frostbite and wind burn. But, I realized today that I don’t, in fact, truly dislike The Nature, as much as I sometimes think I do.
I just like the Starbucks version of nature.
I like the Frank Sinatra version.
That is, I like it my way.
Like today: today was The Nature at its sparkly winter best.
It was the kind of sunny, crisp and perfect day that we often get here in southern Ontario, Canada. The kind of day where, you can bundle up a bit and snuggle into some cozy mittens and a good coat’s hood. You can pretend that you’re in a little cave in your hood and the wind can howl but you’re all snugged up in your hood (as long as the wind is cooperating and blowing in the right direction) and you can giggle to yourself and marvel at how much better a hood is than a mere hat, even though hats are among your most favourite things in the whole world.
Then, when you get out in The Nature, you breathe the clean, cold air and act as if you totally meant to fall on your face as you skid off a patch of snow while attempting to stomp around in your–magnificent hood but, unfortunately also–boots that don’t have anywhere near enough traction.
As you were, neighbours. Nothing to see here but a woman on her keester.
Today wasn’t a snow pants day (but remind me to talk about that some other day because snow pants are one of life’s great joys that not enough adults indulge in) and it wasn’t a snowshoe day, so I was wearing my quasi-citified boots, instead of my “I mean Canadian winter business, heavy as two Godfather cement bricks boots” (which perhaps explains the falling on my face).
Anyway, triple axle achieved, I wandered back through our property, traipsing through the skiff of snow with intention, with purpose. I put stray thoughts of rabid packs of coyotes out of my mind and pretended that The Nature and I were old pals and bosom friends. Into the Woods (humming songs from the play/movie), I went.
Then, I segued onto the farmer’s lane that joins our property and walked up to the giant field.
And, not just any giant field: this is a giant field of dreams.
That is, the field that a kindly neighbour has plowed around the perimeter. It is a cross-country skiing/snowshoeing/traipsing around in your quasi-citified boots masterpiece.
So around it, I went. (If you build it, they will come–or in my case, traipse, while trying not to fall on my keester again).
Last year, The Nature was having one of its temper tantrums and the ground was covered in a thick layer of ice with a gigantic pile of snow on top for the entire winter. There was no perimeter on the field of dreams. There was only heartache and sweating and occasional hysterical laughter as we tried to snowshoe in drifts up to our hips.
But today, it was grand. All the cells and atoms and thing-a-ma-bobs in my heart and brain and elbows went “boing, boing, boing” as they filled up with sunshine and started dancing around inside me, filling up my cozy mitts and magnificent hood.
No wonder I felt a little dizzy.
I traipsed on, around and around the field I went, holding my arms out at the sides to steady me so I wouldn’t fall over while my sunshine cells did their dancing.
As you were, neighbours. Nothing to see here but a dizzy woman walking.
Then, I thought it: the thing that makes me realize I need to apologize to The Nature:
I thought these four, incredible words: “I am having fun.”
In The Nature.
And, with a gasp, I realized that today is not the first time that has happened.
As you were, neighbours. Nothing to see here but a mostly-indoor woman enjoying The Nature.