Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You Want Me To Step Off What?

“I don’t feel well.” “I hurt my shoulder at the gym.” “I got stuck in traffic.” “I had to work late.” These were excuses I had running through my head last Friday as I schemed to get out of trapeze class. As I drove downtown in the pouring rain, the “reasoning” got lamer with each passing kilometer.

The idea of flying through the air with the greatest of ease was appealing - about 25 years ago. But as I pulled up outside the Toronto Academy of Circus Arts the fun factor faded and was quickly replaced with the fear factor.

The Boyfriend and Cell Phone Boy had both gone several weeks before along with Dolly and her two friends. They had all survived so I convinced myself that I would too. It must be safe or they would have gone out of business and I was sure there would be plenty of instruction.

“You climb the ladder, step onto the platform, grab the bar with one hand, Laura will hold your belt as you reach out with the other. You bunny hop off the edge and swing out. As you swing back, tuck your knees into your chest and hook your legs over the bar. Swinging forward, let go with your hands and arch your back. Reverse, and let go falling on your butt into the net. Who is first?” That, no joke, were the instructions, safety tips and all, that we got.

“I don’t about first, but you can put my name last.” I said. So I watched as the circus hopefuls climbed the ladder and did their dances in the sky. I started to get cold feet, quite literally – that concrete floor was freezing on my bare feet! – but when my name was called I stepped onto the aluminum tower of death and climbed. I dared not looked down on my ascent as I don’t do really well on extension ladders.

Once safely on the platform I said to Laura, “now that I am here, you are never going to get me off.” She laughed and said “There hasn’t been a man yet that I couldn’t get off.” I was shocked but at least she got a laugh out of me and took my mind off the bar; for about half a second anyway.

Quick as a tick, she had me locked into place and told me to reach out with my right hand and grab the bar. My left hand was still securely (read white knuckles) wrapped around the platform structure as I reached out. “Now, hips out, shoulders back and reach out with your left.” As she stuck her hand around the belt she added “don’t worry, I’ve got you.”

Now I know that the belt around my naturally petit Scarlett O’Hara sized waist made it look even smaller and that my 6’1” frame showcases my muscular 185 lb weight in a deceptively slender manner, but the girl weighs like 10 lbs! ‘You’ve got me?’ I thought. Just add “and I won’t let go” and we’ve got the makings of a Jack and Rose tête-à-tête from Titanic.

I promised not to scream. A girl who had gone beforehand had squealed like a cat getting dragged through a pool of dogs and I was embarrassed for her. I did however, let out, what I thought was, a very manly grunt. The Boyfriend and Cell Phone Boy concede that it started manly, but rapidly increased in pitch as my body swung out. And up.

Within seconds, orders were barked from below: “Now tuck your knees.” “Hook your legs over the bar.” “Release your hands.” “Grab the bar again.” “Kick out your legs and let go.” I don’t know how I did it, but I did all of those things.

Safely in the net I took a moment to compose myself. I thought back to my “do one thing everyday that scares you” rule and put a mental tick beside it for the day. I did it two more times - with a flip at the end even – and by the third time actually enjoyed it.

I may get to that sky diving yet!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Only in Hamilton eh? Pity.

I have no desire to go to Jamaica. The government won’t allow “gay” cruise lines to dock there and, in general, they do not like the homosexuals. A few friends that I know have gone and said that it is stunning. And I must admit, from the pictures I have seen that the scenery is gorgeous – especially the waterfalls. I am a sucker for waterfalls. Maybe that is why I went to Niagara Falls three times this summer. No. That’s not it. I like those falls you find in a forest or jungle. There is something so peaceful about them.

Anyway, where I am going with this, is that a trip to Jamaica is not necessary living in southwestern Ontario. Sure sure, the weather is not as hot, but the places you can find are equally stunning. Even in Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, Lord Fauntleroy, KitKat, The Boyfriend and I packed a picnic lunch (scratch that, picnic feast) and headed out for our annual fall hike. Rattlesnake point was our stomping ground the past two years and His Lordship thought a change of scenery would be nice. So, we all pilled into Lucy and headed to Hamilton. I have to say I was a bit skeptical about the entire thing but went with the majority and man am I glad I did!

When we arrived, the park was overrun with people and we were all a bit disappointed. Being the hearty homos we are however, we were determined to make the best of it and set out on the trail. The further we walked, the thinner we got (we worked up quite a sweat) and so did the crowds. As the day wore on, our bellies started asking for food (especially mine after my annual effort to help mother nature along by knocking down dead trees) and upon our return to Lucy were shattered to learn the best picnic spot was back along the trail.

Not wanting to eat in a less than idyllic setting though, we grabbed coolers, baskets, blankets and booze and hiked back along the trail. Once a suitable table was found, we feasted like ravenous dogs. Ravenous dogs with manners of course, but, well you get the picture.

We had a hearty sausage and kale soup (thanks for the recipe mom!) and duck rillets to start.
Then there was a delicious potato salad (lovely KitKat, lovely!) and the most gorgeous stuffed chicken breasts from Fauntleroy. We also managed to consume an entire pumpkin pie, three bottles of sparkling water and two bottles of wine.

Keep in mind this was the day after the boyfriend (that boy makes a GREAT turkey) and I had 10 people for thanksgiving. That too was a feast to be reckoned with. Mushroom and leak soup, baked sweet potatoes, turkey with wild rice stuffing, a mixture of baby carrots, zucchini and beans, mashed potatoes, asian coleslaw with pears, gravy, cranberries and of course two kinds of pumpkin pie – delicious. Our goal was to work all that off with our hike. Instead we came home to a fridge full of leftovers and added more to the pile. Gotta love the leftovers though.

This is a great tradition that I hope to continue with these wonderful folks I am honoured to call friends. Until next year boys! (Or next Thursday at least).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Th Twilight Zone. Ontario Place Edition.

I have the best niece and nephew out there. They are polite, courteous, smart, good looking (not that that is important of course, but it doesn’t hurt) and athletic. Last weekend they were in town to do the Kids of Steel Triathlon. Not a full on “official” triathlon, but one that many adults would likely not finish.

Afterwards, we decided to head down to Ontario place to see the much hyped Chinese Lantern Festival. It is worthy of the hype it has received, provided you see it at night. All the press however, means massive crowds and quite a bit of bumping about. My height gave me a clear advantage however, so I really can’t complain.

My favourite exhibit was a dragon that must be 200 feet long and is made out of china dishes. The scales are oval serving plates, the teeth are spoons and the beard is made out of tea cups. Truly amazing. Unfortunately it doesn’t do much except sit there and the longer I looked at it, the more I wanted to go for dim sum.

Fortunately however, your pass also gives you access to the Ontario place rides and being late in the evening, there were NO lines. We hit the log ride twice, with no waiting, and fell victim to the cheesy snap shot they capture as you go down the big ‘splash’. It was a good time despite (or is it because of?) the soaking we received.

We also went through the house of mazes. What spooky fun! There is a mirror maze, one made out of tubing, another of wires, a tilty floor one etc. all on different levels. At the end is a dark room with a bunch of lightweight punching bags hanging from the ceiling that you run through smashing into each other. Jackson, Emily and I hid at the end and made the rest of our party practically wet their pants.

Particularly fun to watch, was the boyfriend. He leapt about six feet in the air, landing in the arms of my sister-in-law.

We were a little disturbed as we went through the mazes. There was a little girl – picture children of the corn – who appeared out of nowhere. She kept turning back to us saying “follow me”, “I know the way” and “come on, hurry”. Once we exited, she was no where to be seen. She disappeared somewhere amongst the punching bags. Weird.

Laura hit the nail on the head when she suggested that she had probably been in there since 1942. Creepy. I wonder if you can rent that for a Halloween party?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thank you!

I have been holding off on this next blog entry as it is a bit of a milestone and I am not quite sure what to write about. 100 entries! Snaps for me. I held off, in part, hoping to hit 1000 “profile views” so I could have a 2-4-1 celebration. That number however seems to be stuck at 953. Damn you 953, damn you to H-E-double hockey sticks! I guess maybe it is time for a blog overhaul – new picture, new background, new format etc. But oh dear, that sounds like such a lot of work. Maybe just a new picture, I seem to have a few about.

What I do hope is that LightandFlaky has put at least a few smiles on a few faces and put some good food on a few tables. I look back at the entry that started it all and still laugh at the fact that I thought I could flush a peach down the toilet.

I feel compelled to temporarily digress from my usual theme and get serious for a moment. Seeing how I died yesterday and everything. Well, my namesake anyway. Driving home I turned on my old faithful 680 News to hear “….dead is Corporal Robert Mitchell and Sergeant Paul Gillam…”. Really? A Corporal? Don’t they have a title more becoming, like Lord Corporal or His Majesty Corporal? I didn’t even know I was in the military. Let alone in Afghanistan (as the reporter would later disclose).

Not having been in a uniform since air cadets, and it is true what they say about a man in uniform, I paused for a moment and started to think about our boys overseas. Harper/Chreitien and my opinions aside, this, of all things, seemed to hit home. I heard it again and again last night and this morning and it was with some relief that the middle name, (when finally revealed) was at least different.

There is, however, a grave marker in a Fergus cemetery with the name “Robert William Mitchell” so if anyone wants to sell me one at a boot sale, you know where to go find it. The dates are a little off, but that is what liquid paper is for.

I guess where I am going with this, not in a very straight line mind you, is that we here in Canada have it great. Not good or pretty good, but GREAT. Referring to another entry, we have food, pants and have not been caught on camera picking our noses. So, thank you Corporal Mitchell and Sergeant Gillam for trying to give others in the world the same freedoms we Canadians enjoy.

Happy 100 Lightandflaky!