The Landlady

A Ruby Kind of Christmas

Rubys Broach
“Tell that Mushy-Fella that this one’s for him.”

Ruby, try as she might to insist that she “don’t trust that Internet”, gets a real kick out of the comments I relate to her – especially when they come from Mushy. She laughs the hardest when he begs for a photo, but won’t let me post one. She won’t let me send him one “privately”, either. She’s even made me swear not to post one after she’s, um… “gone”. That sucks, ‘cuz she is a beautiful lady and I would love to be able to share her visage with you all.

She is very proud of this broach. It belonged to her mother (and those of you familiar with “Ruby’s Mother” as depicted in The Waitress should know that I “cut her out of whole cloth”, as Ruby says – in fact, her nose is a little out of joint about that part of the story, because her mother was nothing like the woman in that story. I have promised to make up for it by posting Ruby’s “Real” Mother in another post, and I will, ‘cuz she was quite the lady, too.).

Anyway, it was Ruby’s idea to take the picture of the broach, to “tease” Mushy with. So, Mushy, there you have it. My Landlady is a great big Tease, with a capital “T”. Merry Christmas.

This particular post should have gone up on Christmas Eve – Christmas Day at the latest – but, as usual, I’m behind the times. I considered “cheating” (gasp! Me? CHEAT?!), and back-dating it, but that would be, well, cheating, wouldn’t it?

I wanted to know what Christmas was like for Ruby, when she was a girl growing up in Northland. That’s a real place, by the way, and if I even mention it to her, the stories start flowing…

Oh, our Christmases weren’t nothin’ like what you get nowadays, let me tell you! We didn’t have none of this buy, buy, buy, like the kids expect now, no Sir! I don’t blame the kids, mind you – that’s all their parents’ fault. Buy ’em everything under the sun, and then expect them not to be spoiled and cranky… Ha! Fools.

We did have a Christmas tree, though. My dad would go out into the bush and cut one down and drag it home. We’d decorate it all up with bows and popcorn strings, and sometimes we’d hang coloured paper-chains off it, if we had the makings. It’d look right pretty, too. No lights, though, on account of we didn’t have any electricity back in Northland way back then. No way to run it in, you know.

Me: Did you put candles on it?

Good God, no! My mother would have had a fit! She’da been afraid the place would burn to the ground, and it probably would’ve, too. No insurance, either, back then, so no. No candles. Still, we had the tree and it smelled so nice! Sometimes, we’d have branches strung over the tops of the windows, too, for the smell, but that was only if the tree was too big and my dad had to trim it down. Made a right mess to clean up – needles all over the place!

Me: Did you make cranberry strings?

What? No! Where’d we get cranberries from?! (laughs like I should have known better)

And we’d only get one gift. Sometimes, it would be a doll, or a skipping rope. I still remember the year I got the plaid snowpants. Oh, they were wonderful snowpants – red plaid, and real fancy. They were all the rage that year! They were fashioned after “britches” with a big flare coming down off the hips, and they tapered down tight at the ankles. I’ll never forget those snowpants ’til the day I die.

Me: Did Santa come?

Of course Santa came! Santa was Christmas when we were kids – that’s how my mother kept us in line. None of us wanted coal in our stockings, now, did we? But, that’s what we got, was a stocking – and it wasn’t stuffed full of toys and money, neither. No, it wasn’t “stuffed” at all, just lumpy-looking in the morning, and we never knew for sure until we stuck our hands in, whether or not it might be coal we’d pull out, after all.

We never did get coal, though, so we must have been pretty good kids. We’d get an apple, and almost every year we got an orange, too, which was a real treat, ‘cuz oranges were hard to come by in the winter up here back then. And we always got a couple of handfuls of those little hard striped Christmas candies. That’s what Santa brought.

After breakfast, we’d go out tobogganing if the the weather was fine, and that’s how we spent the day.

We never had a turkey, either. Seems strange, doesn’t it? I can’t truthfully imagine Christmas dinner without a turkey anymore, but we raised chickens, and my mother would kill two or three of them
(and not the way you wrote her killin’ them, either!), and that was Christmas dinner, along with potatoes and turnip and the Christmas pudding.

Sure is different nowadays.

I can just see that little house all decked out for Christmas, the table lit after dark with a coal-oil lamp, and a dim but pretty popcorn-laden evergreen in one corner. And I can smell it, along with the peanut brittle that Ruby’s mother always made, just like the little box of brittle Ruby gave to me and Ky for Christmas this year.

I’m sorry this was late – I would have rather had it posted when we were all in the spirit, instead of relieved it was finally over again for another year. Next year, God willing, Ruby will add to the story.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Silent Night” – Reba McEntire Ruby’s Favourite Christmas Carol (and version)

Artsy Fartsy Flash Video



I’ve been on “forced down-time” for the last few hours. I’m behind on a few too many things, and I was starting to get a little…. “antsy”, lets say.

So I took a Life Sabbatical for a few hours…. went driving with The Fly-Girl. Had a couple of drinks. Watched part of a ballet on the fabulous new TV that doubles as a fireplace and cried a little, that’s how beautiful it was to watch.

I don’t want to work tonight.

So I’m not gonna.

I found THIS while Stumbling around the internet, and it was The Next Best Part of My Day. So, I wanted to share it with you all. GO.

(The Best Part of My Day was the telephone call from Cardiogirl. Thanks, Betch. Shet Bag?!)

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Creep” (Acoustic) – Radiohead

Little Bits of Stupid


I never knew it had a name…

I use it to denote incredulity, sarcasm, flabbergastedness (dontcha just love it when I make up words?!) wonderment, and often, when I don’t know what else to use. I’m impressed to discover that not only is there a name for it, but an actual punctuation-markish symbol to go along with the name.

I’m impressed beyond belief. If I were a little more “Prince”, I would change my name to the symbol. At least, you’d know how to pronounce it… sort of. It would be a good “name” for me, when you think about it. I can’t count the times I’ve seen this very symbol floating above people’s heads when I’ve made a perfectly clear (to me) statement about something or other.

Anyway, read up on it….

clipped from

The interrobang (/?n’t?r?bæ?/) (?) is a rarely used, nonstandard English-language punctuation mark intended to combine the functions of the question mark (also called the interrogative point) and the exclamation mark (known in printers’ jargon as the bang). The typographical character is a superimposition of those two marks. The same effect is also frequently achieved by placing the exclamation point before or after the question mark; e.g., “How could you do such a thing!?” or “How could you do such a thing?!”

  blog it

Huh. You learn something new everyday.

Random Song for the Day: “Fingertips” – They Might Be Giants

Real Life

Licensed to Drive

Drive - photo
“A Little More Freedom”

I hold in my hand the first concrete, tangible progress in my New and Fearless Life. Today (months earlier than I expected to, I might add), I successfully completed not only my G1 Exit Driving Test, but the G2 Exit, as well.

Ontario utilizes a “graduated” licensing program. Here’s how it works, as quoted from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation Website.

Graduated Licensing for Automobile Drivers

Class G1

New drivers of passenger vehicles learn to drive with six important conditions with a G1 licence. A new driver must hold a G1 licence for a minimum of 12 months before attempting the G1 road test. This time can be reduced to eight months if you successfully complete an approved driver education course. Drivers earn more privileges after passing their G1 road test.

As a G1 driver, you are required to:

· maintain a zero blood alcohol level while driving;

· be accompanied by a fully licensed driver, who has at least four years driving experience, and a blood alcohol level of less than .05 per cent, in case he/she needs to take over the wheel;

· ensure the accompanying driver is the only other person in the front seat;

· ensure the number of passengers in the vehicle is limited to the number of working seat belts;

· refrain from driving on Ontario’s “400-series” highways or on high speed expressways such as the Queen Elizabeth Way, Don Valley Parkway, Gardiner Expressway, E.C. Row Expressway and the Conestoga Parkway;

· refrain from driving between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

Note: If your accompanying driver is a driving instructor licensed in Ontario, you may drive on any road.

I once held a valid driver’s license. I let it lapse over 15 years ago, because I no longer had a vehicle. And I was afraid to drive on this city’s whacked-out road system; a myriad of one-way streets, and 6-way intersections that resulted from a bunch of little city-sections growing into each other over the years, not to mention a huge hill in the landscape – smack-dab in the middle of town. This place is Tourist Hell – fair warning if you come to visit us. Park your car. Get a cab. I’m not kidding.

When I had been “license-less” for just shy of 10 years, the Ontario government decided to save the lives of inexperienced young drivers province-wide, along with millions of innocent bystanders, by instituting the graduated system. I learned that, because I had a perfect driving record (not difficult when you refuse to actually drive), and assuming I could get the G1 back before the 10-year mark of non-driving, I could take advantage of an “accelerated” program. I wouldn’t have to wait that year to take the road test that would net me the G2. Speaking of which…

Class G2

New drivers must hold a G2 licence for a minimum of 12 months before they can attempt the G2 road test. At this level, you have more privileges because of your driving experience. You may drive without an accompanying driver on all Ontario roads anytime. However, you are still required to:

· maintain a zero blood alcohol level while driving;

· ensure the number of passengers in the vehicle is limited to the number of working seat belts.

Our Graduated Licensing System has been a resounding success in reducing death and injury among novice drivers. Ontario research shows that new teenage drivers are almost three times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious collision when they are carrying teenage passengers. In fact, research shows the more teenage passengers, the higher the risk.

To further protect youth on our roads, effective September 1, 2005: the number of young passengers that teen G2 drivers can carry will be limited from midnight to 5 a.m. as follows:

· Initially, G2 drivers 19 or under can carry only one passenger aged 19 or under.

· After the first six months, and until the G2 driver earns a full G licence or turns 20, they can carry only three passengers aged 19 or under.

The passenger restrictions do not apply if the G2 driver is operating a motor vehicle after 5 a.m. and before midnight.

These restrictions will not apply if the G2 driver is accompanied by a full “G” licensed driver (with at least four years driving experience) in the front seat, or if the passengers are immediate family members.

Thirty-one jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. have some form of teenage passenger restrictions in effect.

Nor would I have to wait the year to take the road test that would net me my full G license. All I had to do was get in there and write the test for the “Beginner’s” or G1 license before I hit the 10th anniversary of my license expiry. Which I did, in April of 2003, with approximately 48 hours to spare.

I could have turned around and taken the G1 exit, followed by the G2 exit without the waiting periods, but I didn’t. I was chicken-shit, remember? Besides, I reasoned, I had five whole years before the G1 expired, so I could practice for awhile and become “not afraid”. The Fly-Girl even offered to take me driving anytime I wanted.

And nearly five years passed. I didn’t get behind the wheel of a car even once.

Fast forward to 2007, my Year of Fearlessness, and my grand plan of travel and blogger-meeting and mobile freelance writing and career changes and a Brand New Me. And no license. Full of fear. Strangled by fear. And now there was a deadline of April 25, 2008 before my legal shortcuts disappeared forever hanging over my head, that if I let pass, would mean I would have to wait nearly three years before I could actually live the dream.

The Old Les would have let that deadline pass and said, “Well, shit. Dead dream.”

The New-and-Improved Les made a plan and blogged a bit of it in April of this year. In October, I picked up the phone, called a local driving school and plunked down a bunch of money on the newly zero-balanced Visa card. In November I started practicing my Fearlessness.

I learned, when I got to the “in-car” portion of my course, that “fear” feels exactly the same as “excitement”. I Love Driving.

Last week, “Slappy”, my Groovy-Cool Driving Instructor, told me I was ready to take my test. I scheduled it for today (with 2 hours of obligatory in-car instruction still to go) and passed. I asked, knowing it was not remotely possible, if there was an open slot available to get back in the driver’s seat of The Fly-Girl’s minivan and take the G2 exit. I passed that an hour later.

So, in another week or so I will receive, via Canada Post, not one but two new “not-temporary” licenses. I have to remember to destroy the correct one. Or is that “destroy the incorrect one, and retain the correct one?” Or should I sell one to some non-licensed, but fearless driver? Ummmm. No. Okay, I’ll be good and not deal in shady ventures. I don’t want to turn “fear” into “excitement” behind bars.

I am now free to rent a car sometime after Christmas, and take my kid to Teeny-Tiny Town to visit Auntie Tootie. We are both very excited, and neither of us is even the least bit afraid. Independence is sweeter than chocolate.


Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Drive” – The Cars

Little Bits of Stupid

All I Want for Christmas…


All I want for Christmas… is to win this thing.

The Thinking Blog is holding a free laptop giveaway and to participate, you just have to write about it! Sponsored by Ruff PC, it is a brand new, rugged, water resistant laptop called RuffBook Tech with magnesium alloy casing built to survive under harsh conditions where ordinary laptops fail. So, this is my entry – now give me the laptop!

I NEEEEEEEEED it. I don’t wanna drag a pc around with me in an Airstream trailer. And then there’s that habit I have of dumping coffee on my electronics. Ahem.

* * *

…and David McMahon wants to know: Have you ever sworn at a computer?

Oh, please, David…! I’ve sworn at my computers, my dad’s computer, my siblings’ computers, my kid’s computer, my boss’ computer (several bosses’ computers, actually; not to mention the bosses), and the computers of hundreds of total strangers when I was supposed to be a so-called “Expert Trouble-Shooter.”

Once my new, free RuffBook is delivered, I will likely swear at it, too.

Random Song for the Day: “Amie” – Damien Rice

Real Life Zenishness...


Neglected - photo
Taken November 26, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

Some very, very important people have been neglected, that is.

Real Life, Off-Line, Dirt-Side People. People that I’ve known since I was four years old (and that’s a lot of years, and a lot of memories, ladies and gentlemen).

A week ago, I got the yearly invitation that I dread getting. The invitation from The Girls. These are the girls that kept me from getting beaten up from grade school all the way up to high school. How I managed to become part of the “in” class of people is still beyond me, but even with all my lack of social grace, these girls were my girls from Kindergarten on, and stuck with me even when I didn’t deserve them.

We’ve drifted apart over and over and over – always because I backed away – being the gutless, anti-social little ass that I am, and they have always been there anyway, whenever I needed them, if ever I called.

The Indian Princess sat with me once on a bench on Main Street in Teeny-Tiny Town, the place I was born and raised, and where she still lives. She sat with me through a long cold night when I was drunk and stupid, even though we had drifted apart, and I was afraid to go home. She talked to me for hours, and listened to me ramble on idiotically about everything and nothing, and when she thought I was sober enough to get in the house quietly, she walked me to my driveway, and watched me until the door closed, and gossipy little Teeny-Tiny Town never heard about it.

The Lawyer listened to me cry on the phone when I left my first husband in 1987. Told me I could come live up here with her ’til I got back on my feet – bought my bus ticket and met me at the station – moved a depressed and frightened ghost of a woman into her home and got me my first job in a strange new city. This, after nearly five years of no communication whatsoever.

The Fly-Girl moved herself lock, stock and barrel from four towns down the line, in the space of two days when I told her I couldn’t do this on my own anymore – cleaned my house – cooked my meals – did my laundry – kept me sane for six months until I met Ky’s dad and she thought I’d be okay, finally, before she picked up a life of her own again.

Every year, they all get together, with a few new faces tossed in, at Christmas, and I always get the call. “Come over and visit. Let’s catch up. It’s Christmas. We miss you.” Every year, I find an excuse not to go – because there are too many people there. There are too many years gone by. Too much water under the bridge. Pick your cliche; I’m sure I’ve used it. I have just not ever quite felt comfortable among them. They have always seemed a little too good for me.

I have always felt a little like an interloper. They were the Beautiful People, even at nine years old; more so in high school, and they are still the Beautiful People now. They scare me a little. I have never felt I could be like them, and I’ve never quite understood why they let me in that inner circle. I have known them, and loved them, and admired them for 37 years now, and never quite understood why they let me be among them.

This year, my Year of Fearlessness, I decided it was time to not only go to the annual get-together, but to go and enjoy myself. I accepted the invitation.

And then I chickened out.


I called The Fly-Girl on Friday afternoon and begged off. She took it well, as she does every year, and that was that.

Today (yesterday?), The Lawyer called. “I want you to come.” I gave her every long drawn-out excuse I could come up with, and she over-rode each and every one of them. She’s a lawyer, after all, and a very good one.

I caved.

The Fly-Girl picked me up (and let me drive! to The Lawyer’s house), and The Lawyer hugged me tight and gave me a beer. The Indian Princess hugged me tighter and told me I’d gained weight for a change (!!!!) and looked better than ever. The Two Little Sisters (Princesses in their own right) were there as well, looking fabulous and making me feel at home, and another old friend from school (The Angel) was also there to say hello. I decided this wasn’t so bad, after all.

Then the doorbell started ringing. Strangers started coming in. The party ended up about twelve strong (“twelve” is a terribly large crowd for me, especially when I only know four of them), and I started to wish I’d never answered the phone earlier. I snuck off to a bathroom and looked at a terrified me in the mirror and got angry.

This is not the person I want to be anymore. I want to be grateful that I still have people I love and trust after 37 years. It’s time to stop pushing them away. It’s not like they would actually go away, after all. If I’m going to get the call every year, I want to go and be happy to be among friends.

So, I smartened myself up and washed my face and left the bathroom determined to enjoy the company of people who have known me nearly as long as I have known myself.

And I did. I had a wonderful time. Had a few more beer. Drew a hairy penis on the ass of The Indian Princess – being a cartoonist, after all – so she could freak out a Little Sister who had just gotten a tattoo (The Indian Princess is not into tattoos). Did some trouble-shooting on The Angel’s digital camera. Discovered that I do have a place among them. Turns out, they are a little in awe of me, too.

I discovered that, all along, I have been The Answers Girl. I’m the “intelligent” one. I’m the “brain”. If you don’t know how to fix it, or you need an answer to a question… ask Les. Because – get this – “Les is The Writer. She’ll know.”

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “God of the Sun” – America
(‘Cuz that was “Our Song” Waaaaaay Back When.)


I Might Have Just Taken My Favourite Pic of 2007

Taken November 20, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

Well, recently taken, anyway. I’ve had a time-squashing last few weeks, and have yet to get all my pics ‘shopped and uploaded. This particular one, of course, should have been posted the evening of the day I took it. I’m not sure what stopped me.

I do know that I had the same set of 30-odd photos open in Photoshop (un-shopped) and inadvertently closed the program. Twice. I think I forgot about them after that.

I want someone to pay me to sit on my ass and play on the computer all day… wait a minute… I think I have that job already. Yeah. I’m just not playing at the stuff I really want to play at. Yet. 🙂

Anyway, I need a title for it, and I’m tapped. Suggestions? Please??

Random Song for the Day: “Common People” – William Shatner (featuring Joe Jackson)

Real Life

Now, Where Was I…?

All Tuckered Out - photo
“All Tuckered Out”
Taken November 10, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

Apparently, I am becoming a bi-weekly (or is it “monthly”?) blogger. Much of the steps to this new life I’m building have had to take place off-line (I’m driving! I’m driving!), and by the time I get back in the house and get comfortable again, the evening has disappeared.

Another thing keeping me off the blog has been that my kid seems to have lost her magic powers. Yes, the TV has finally given up the ghost completely. Fabulous sound. No picture whatsoever, not even the squishy, short people we were sometimes getting. No TV does not make for a happy teenager.


I went out to visit Louie and bought a new TV; whereupon the model purchased promptly went on back-order. As Louie very generously offered free delivery (not to mention, free haul-away of the gargantuan dinosaur that just died), I didn’t mind the wait of a week.

Ky spent the week watching DVDs on my computer. Now that I’ve given the laptop over to her for her exclusive use, it’s just not good enough anymore, so she steals mine out from under me. I figured I could deal with it… what’s a week?

Well, a week in Louie’s world is about two and a half weeks in mine. It’s difficult to arrange delivery and dinosaur-hauling from an exotic island somewhere in the South Pacific, apparently. Yes, the bastard went on vacation, and during his layabouts on the beach, drink in hand, kids in the ocean, my kid somehow forgot television ever existed, having googled free full episodes of her favourite anime show (with my computer), and watching DVDs (with my computer), and doing homework (with my computer), for yet another week, and then of course it hit me square in the forehead. I could have better spent that thousand dollars on a new computer for her and cancelled the cable subscription. I may yet do that. The TV has not been delivered, after all.

In other news, The Fear of Driving was imaginary. How cool is that?! I have come to the “in-car” portion of my Driver’s Education course, and my instructor finds it difficult to believe I haven’t driven a vehicle in over 15 years. The only thing he feels needs improvement so far, is my left-turn technique – although he is impressed with my ability to avoid the inevitable-looking head-on collision with on-coming traffic that my technique seems to employ. Apparently, as opposed to the “average” driver, I do not make my turns too wide… but avoid my lane altogether and choose the other guy’s. His way of training me out of this is to slap me. I’m serious – I’ve been slapped about 30 times now. I told him I will only turn right from now on.

Other than the slapping part, I’m loving the driving. I can’t wait to buy the truck and terrorize the States (look out Suzi…)!

There is much more to say. Unfortunately, time has got away from me yet again, and I’ll have to hold off with the news, the plans, the Ruby stories, hospital/Dad disappearing acts, and my excuses for the failure of my first foray into NaNoWriMo, at least until the TV gets here.

Random Song for the Day: “The Infanta” – The Decemberists