Month: February 2013 (page 1 of 6)

Rock Royalty and the Boomer Fangirl

Dear Wendy,

Last week, a mysterious package arrived with our mail. I wasn’t expecting anything, and neither was Mitchell. We hadn’t ordered anything recently, and we didn’t recognize the return address, so we were both a bit apprehensive as we opened it. Should we be reporting this to the bomb squad?


The mystery package

Our paranoia turned out to have been misplaced. As I tore the 89 layers of packing tape away from the cardboard packaging, the light began to dawn, and I remembered: I’d known this would be coming, after all. I just wasn’t sure when it would arrive.

First out of the box, so to speak, was the t-shirt. Black, emblazoned on front and back: alt="IMAGE-Randy-Bachman-Vinyl-Tap-tour-2013"


See? There we are, first on the list: Ottawa.

Next up, the groovalicious songbook, complete with psychedelic artwork on the front:


Yes, that was an actual hairstyle back then. Also, we routinely wore bear pelts.

Followed by the VIP laminated backstage pass:


Wait, what?

Yes, backstage pass. For you see, I’ll be joining a select group who’ll arrive early at Randy Bachman’s Ottawa show tonight. We’re to convene at the box office at 6:45 sharp, where “further instructions on where you should meet the tour representative will be posted.” All very Mission Impossible, no?

Assuming we do find said tour rep, we will be escorted backstage, where we will enjoy a meet and greet with Randy himself—yes, the guy who wrote that astonishing guitar opening for American Woman when he was with the Guess Who. The guy who wrote—and sang—Taking Care of Business. Looking Out for Number One. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. She’s Come Undun. The soundtrack of our youth.

Randy Bachman is nothing short of a Canadian music superstar, and tonight, I’ll get to meet him. This is all Mitchell’s doing—he bought me the VIP package as a holiday gift, which is why I’d forgotten all this stuff would be arriving two months later. (I hadn’t forgotten the concert—I’m not that dim—just the paraphernalia.)

My heart is in my throat, Wendy. Randy Bachman has met and worked with so many musical greats, he’s a virtual encyclopedia of rock’n’roll knowledge. These days, he hosts a show called Vinyl Tap on CBC’s Radio 1, and I rarely miss an episode; it’s become a Saturday night tradition to curl up on the couch and sip our hot chocolate, while Randy takes us on a two-hour guided tour through rock history…our youth, our memories, our music.

I’m afraid today’s post is just a teaser, though.

I’ll bring you a full report of the evening’s events on Monday—because tomorrow, I’ll be busy packing to spend the weekend away with Mitchell, cashing in another holiday gift. Adrian and Rachel, bless them, got us a getaway weekend at a bed and breakfast out in the countryside, so as soon as I’m done breathing the rarefied air at tonight’s concert, I’ll be heading out to snowshoe and relax for a couple of days.

And of course, when we return from that adventure, I’ll be starting the countdown to my London visit the following week.

Oh, did we forget to mention this to our loyal readers? Yes, lovely people, it’s true—it’ll be Wendy and Karen, together at last. Much like Nitro and Glycerin, come to think of it. London may never be the same. And we have some special posts planned for the 10 days we’ll be together. Good times will be had.

And now, I must go make some hard wardrobe choices: do I wear the fangirl t-shirt tonight, or something a bit more dressy? After all, I’m heading out to meet Rock Royalty.

Wish me luck!



p.s. I almost forgot: they also sent me an official Randy Bachman guitar pick keychain. If you like, I can bring it with me when I come. You’ll definitely be the first kid on your block with this baby!


You want it? It’s yours.

Awesome Advice Central: Beer and Biddies

Dear Awesome Advice Central,

I’m a woman of a certain age—you know, above 29 but below 100—and my grown children are plotting against me.

You see, for many years, I’ve had a rather unusual hobby: I collect wine and beer bottles. Not full ones, you understand, but the empties. I wash them out, then store them on specially constructed racks in my basement. I reckon I’ve got at least 500,000 bottles down there now, all neatly stacked and catalogued. Actually, there’s no space down there any longer, so I’ve started filling the empty rooms in my house. It smells a bit like a brewery in here, but I don’t mind. I’m on a mission. I’ve even enlisted the help of my local university—several of their frat houses now send me all their empties, which I really appreciate.

My goal, you see, is to eventually collect enough bottles to build a glass house. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds: the bottles are laid on their sides, held in place by concrete. I just love the idea that one day, I’ll have my own house of glass…it’ll be unbelievably beautiful, and it’ll be energy-efficient, too!


My dream home…isn’t it adorable?

Anyway, my meddling children are the only fly in the proverbial ointment. Last week, they discovered that I can no longer get into the spare bedroom, as it’s crammed to the brim with bottles. Instead of applauding my ingenuity, they actually staged an intervention!

They are quite certain I’m a raging alcoholic, you see. So they gathered together as many of my friends as they could, and all of them read me letters about what my alleged “alcoholism” was doing to the family. It was quite heartbreaking, really…if it were even remotely true. Now, they’re taking turns staying with me, presumably to ensure I don’t start drinking. Nothing I can say will convince them that I’ve been a teetotaler all my life, and plan to remain one. They have watched one too many reality shows, in my opinion.

Awesome Advisors, how can I get these annoying cretins to leave me alone, and let me collect my bottles in peace? They’re really cramping my style.

Begonia Babaganouj

Dear Ms Babaganouj,

I’m afraid the jig is up.  A few weeks ago, we received a letter from your children.  you see, they expected you to contact us, as, after all, we are the Top Advice Givers in the World.  They begged us to help, and help them we shall.  In so doing, we shall also help you, you poor alcoholic weird lady with delusions.

In an effort to be fair, we did look at the video you sent, of the Argentinian man building his bottle house:

Very commendable and we wish him the best of luck.  We would do the same for you as well, but along with the letter from your children was a photo of your so-called beer bottle house.

We believe you should agree to your children’s wishes, as they only want what’s best for you.  Actually, they want two things: for you to stop drinking and also stop thinking you’re a creative soul with an ounce of talent.

Harsh, we know, but sometimes the truth hurts. Please, listen to your children and be the change that you want to see in your life.

Peace out,

Awesome Advice Central

Dear Awesome Advice Central,

I’m very concerned for my elderly mother, and think she may be losing her mind. She has joined a gang—well, she calls it her “bingo group,” but lately I’ve heard that they are actually a bunch of senior toughs who stroll around town intimidating law-abiding citizens, poking them with their canes, smacking young people with their handbags, and tipping over police boxes.

And now, dear Mama wants to buy, of all things, a motorcycle! At the ripe old age of 83, if you can imagine.

My question is: she’s been considering a Honda Goldwing, but I think she might get better value from a nice BMW. When I mention this, though, she gets very tetchy and tells me to mind my own beeswax. Then she whacks me with her purse, and storms off to her “bingo group.” I think they are a bad influence. She used to be so sweet! I want my real mummy back, AAC! What should I do?

Fred Burfle

Dear Mr. Burfle,

As you know, we don’t like to be rude here at AAC, but a question just begs to be asked and in so doing, I’m afraid we might appear a little…aggressive and annoyed.

Here goes: how old are you exactly?  If you’re over five, and I believe you are, from the “Proud and Paid-Up Member of E-Harmony” sticker on your letterhead, we must insist you grow up and stop forcing your mother to live according to your standards.

In your favour, though, is the fact that we can tell you obviously care deeply for her, so here is our advice:  tell her to go for a Harley.  There’s nothing quite like the purr of that growling engine between the thighs of an 83-year-old.  At least, that’s what our mother tells us. Why not buy one as well and join her on her “bingo” trips? You might find you enjoy it, and who knows, maybe her friends have an unmarried daughter looking for someone just like you.

As a side-note, we believe you’ve observed a very interesting phenomenon. Grannies are indeed taking over the world. We at AAC are looking forward to it, having decided years ago to sharpen our knitting needles to a point, buy black leathers, and book our tattoo appointments sometime in the next 10 years.  I’m busily embroidering a Hell’s Grannies logo right now, as a matter of fact.

We hope this helps you, best of luck, catch you on the flip side,


A week in the life

Dear Karen,

As I’m soon coming up to my first anniversary of living in London, I thought I’d take a look at what I’ve actually been up to for the past 11 months.  You’ll be happy to hear, I’m not going to bore you to tears by doing a day-by-day breakdown.  Even I’m not that cruel.

I’m going to take a look at last week and hopefully, it’ll give you an idea of the highs and lows of life in a London home.

Here goes!


I took the train from Victoria Station to Lewes, East Sussex, to visit my friend of many years, Tonita.

Leaving London by train on a foggy morning

Leaving London by train on a foggy morning

A beautiful start to the day

Still on the train, an hour later…a beautiful start to the day

I left first thing in the morning, on the 0747 train, and it was almost empty, as you can tell.  It only takes an hour to get to Lewes, more or less; that’s considered quite close to London, so many people do actually take the train to and fro every day.  I don’t know that I’d like to do it every day, but once a week?  Sure!

View from the dining room table, midday

View from the dining room table, midday

Tonita's lane.  Just a little historical information, should you care to stop and read.

I love the breezy way it’s mentioned that this building ceased to be used for its original purpose in, oh, let’s see…1361.  A mere 650 years ago.


I slept over and came back on the 0948 train, which, because it’s half-term here, was packed with little kiddies.  I was surprised to see not a single parent telling their child to stand when an adult came on the train.  I thought that was de rigeur, that the young give up their seats for the elderly, infirm, pregnant or disabled.  What I noticed was a lot of mothers studiously ignoring the adults and in turn I noticed the adults not even bothering to raise a fuss.  In our day (did I really say that?), Nana, who put the Hot into Haughty, would have raised a fuss, shot piercing looks at the parents and best of all, would have issued a proclamation in her startling vibrato about how children simply must stand for their elders.  She wouldn’t have backed down.  “Backing down”, she would have sniffed disdainfully, “is for other people, certainly not our type”.

Wednesday and Thursday

I spent these days cleaning and ironing—oh, what jolly good fun, as we say over here!  Actually, I’ve never once heard anyone say that, except in Enid Blyton radio dramas, that is.  Let us skip over those days, other than to point out that I missed my beloved musical lesson on Wednesday, due to my neglecting to write down the time in any one of 4 diaries I keep on or near by me.

Because I gave myself a bit of a scare regarding the missed lesson, I started using my Lumosity account again, in hopes of retraining my brain—I fear it’s become lazy this past year.  Perhaps that’s a sign of empty nesting?  Or perhaps it’s because of menopause or maybe, just maybe, I’m going senile.  All this has been discussed and worried over in another post, so I won’t go into it here.  However, if you wish to refresh your memory


Lars, who had been away on business, came home after 5 days away.  We shared a bottle of wine on his arrival (another reason I have no memory?  Nah, couldn’t be) and caught up on all the essentials of the week:  what the cats were up to, where our children are and what they’re doing, the upcoming weekend…the usual.

I’d been out shopping, in order to buy food for Saturday lunch; there would be 6 of us, and as I hadn’t seen 2 of them since summer, I was really looking forward to it.


A 7-hour lunch?  That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it.

A 7-hour lunch? That’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it.

One couple stayed the night, so we all fought over the best chair in the living room while watching Swedish crime dramas on TV.  Man, are the Swedes on TV ever a depressed bunch of people. I couldn’t imagine a fart joke or bottom-pinching or even simple, uncomplicated laughter from these characters. After one hour of having my heart wrenched out of my body via my larynx, I was more depressed than Sylvia Plath the day she discovered her oven wasn’t working properly. Time for bed.


This was a day of rest and long walks.  We bade a fond farewell to our friends and Lars and I went to Selfridges to buy me a small diary for my handbag.  No excuses anymore—this diary has its own dedicated pencil, which is cool enough but what sends it into the stratosphere is the fact that it’s purple.

Smythson yearly diary with cool pencil, in purple

Smythson yearly diary with cool pencil, in purple

I feel quite confident I’ll make fewer errors now I’ve got this.  Between Lumosity and Smythson, I’m set.

This week is perhaps more interesting than last—we’ve got a cat spaying on the horizon, tea with friends on Wednesday, dinner out Thursday, and then the countdown begins to your arrival next week.  It’s all go, go, go!  I can’t wait.



From playground to college: Some things don’t change

Dear Wendy,

Do you remember when your kids were about two years old, and their big fixation was “No! I do it myself!”?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about that time quite a lot.

I remember sitting with the other parents on park and playground benches, watching Adrian or Rachel toddle off to pursue their own adventures. Sometimes they’d find other kids their own age, and sit happily in the sand, digging with their plastic shovels or running their toy cars and trucks along imaginary roadways.


Wherever they were, they were always completely engrossed.

Or they’d happily climb on play structures, or just charge around the park as fast as their stubby little toddler legs could pump, running just because they could, and it felt good. They’d seem oblivious to the adults who hung along the edges, though from time to time I’d catch my little one glancing back to make sure I was still there.


A brief pause in the action

And every now and then, they’d run up to me, touch my knee for a second, allow me to wipe their nose or give them a reassuring pat on the shoulder. Then they’d be off again, intent on their own important agendas. Climbing the play structure, waiting their turn for the slide, picking dandelions to take home…or just running. Always somewhere to go, always as fast as possible.


Can’t stop to chat. Important business. BRB.

I remember this time so well, and I remember thinking how amazing it was that these small beings, who’d been born only a couple of years earlier…


Suddenly, my life had a much larger meaning…

…were suddenly striking out on their own for the first time, leaving me to sit on the perimeter and keep an eye on them from a distance. It was the first tentative moment of separation, for both of us.

I used to love those brief interludes in their new independence, when they’d dash over to me, reassure themselves that I was still there, and then dart away again, renewed and ready for more action. It seemed to me that they were recharging their emotional batteries from the Maternal Mothership, giving themselves the tiny boost in comfort they needed to go about their business of learning to be on their own in the world beyond home, the bigger world of the playground.

These days, the playground full of toddlers has been replaced with college dorms, classes, students, professors, assignments…but the pattern is a familiar one.

Texts or video calls take the place of the quick glance over the shoulder, and longer visits home offer the reassurance that while so much is changing in their lives, certain things remain solidly, comfortably, reliably the same.


Yep, still here.

Back when the kids were toddlers, they were preparing themselves for the next leap forward into independence, whether that was nursery school, kindergarten, or “big-kid play group” (aka “without Mum”).

Now, they’re doing a back-and-forth dance between school and home, as they get ready to leap into their adult lives. When that happens, “home” will be wherever they live; when they come back to visit us, it’ll be “going to visit Mum and Dad,” rather than “going back home.”

It’s a big jump they’re getting ready to make, and it’ll take a few more years of “revolving doors” before they’re fully ready to go. I have to say, I’m in no particular rush.



3 videos to inspire

Dear Readers,

We have have some beautiful videos this week, about the things that inspire us:  fulfilling childhood dreams, writing and grace under pressure.  Take a minute or two, sit the regulation number of inches or centimeters away from your computer screen, don’t spill your coffee on the keyboard, and prepare to feel inspired.  After watching, you have our permission to laze about the house, if that’s what inspires you most on a Sunday.

Inspiration for girls

Inspiration for women

Inspiration for everyone

See you Monday,

Karen & Wendy

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