Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bless me Blogger, I have slacked

It has been six months since my last post.  And it's not like nothing really compelling has happened in the interim; au contraire.  I mean, jobs (and weight) have been lost (and gained), and people (yes, plural) have died. And I had yet another birthday, hurtling me headlong towards 50, or what I am considering the halfway point of my life.  Although after all the deaths this year, the majority of them the senseless, unexplainable losses of young people far in advance of what anyone would consider their's probably best to assume nothing about how I might add and divide my days.

Anyway, lots to dissect and reflect upon, and this post - this one right here - totally lacking in any actual content, only hinting at what's to come - this here is where I start.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Optimistic Gardener

Today I planted things. In egg cartons. In my kitchen.

I'm the optimistic type. Despite my many gardening failures in the past, I will persist. I actually grew beans, chard, tomatoes and zucchini last year and some of it survived to harvest.  So this year I'm taking it to the next level and "starting" my own plants. I only spent about $20 on dirt and seeds so it's a small investment compared to the plants I bought last year for significantly more money. And the pre-grown vegetables I also bought.

Three varieties of tomatoes, hot peppers, flowers, zucchini and pumpkin have all  been laid to rest in special "starter mix", moistened and covered, and hovered and prayed over.  If all goes well, by this time next month I will be ministering tenderly to well over a hundred tiny seedlings in our decrepit greenhouse shed, and be anxiously waiting till the daytime temperature climbs over +20 and I get them outside and let Mother Nature take a greater hand in their care - that chick really knows what it's doing when it comes to plants and junk.  Me?  I'm merely hopeful.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


So random and noisy, a little like me!

Transportation Tips for Mini Cupcakes

Yes, yes I know that that we've all moved on from the cupcake craze by now, and it's eye-gougingly tedious to encounter a blog post dealing with something so specific and so domestic when you are looking for insight, inspiration, drama or even just a few yuks, but here it is anyway: a very small piece of information, useful to only a few...

So I've been baking and decorating cupcakes lately - they're cute, portion-controlled, nobody gives a shit if you use a mix, and they're fairly inexpensive to churn out by the dozen for school bake sales, birthdays, work stuff, whatever.

Plus, somehow (much to my mortification) I've found myself the owner of a stacking cupcake caddy complete with carrying handle and reversible interior trays, which lets me transport three-dozen conventional-sized cupcakes. Maybe I'm just weirdly self-conscious, but I find it horribly embarassing to sashay into the school gym with this Tupperware monstrosity, looking every inch the soccer mom - I would seriously rather schlep around a ferret on a leash while wearing a 2-piece bathing suit.  But ferrets are not known for their skill or capacity in handling baked goods, so I swallow my wannabe hipster pride and just try to muster a little swagger whenever I'm on bake sale duty.

At Christmas I decided that mini cupcakes are far cuter than the full-sized ones and everyone can buy/eat more. But the cupcake carrier functioned more like a bouncy castle than a safe haven for the little guys and I ended up buying half of my contribution back at the high school concert because they were smooshed (om nom nom - oh well!)

Man, this is a lot of lead-up for a single tip with very limited relevance, so here it is, my very domestic tip for the cupcake-bakers out there:

The safest and easiest way to store and transport mini cupcakes is in styrofoam egg cartons.  Yep! Three dozen mini cupcakes (shown below) arrived safely at my workplace yesterday after being carried on the bus along with my laptop, my lunch and all my other daily necessaires. All of them survived the trip in perfect condition and were fairly easy to remove without smearing the icing.

Mini cupcakes safe and sound
And that is my tip! Thank you for bearing with me; I promise not to let this happen too often - I've got my reputation to think of.  I mean, next thing you know I could be offering up stain-removal or toilet cleaning advice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Frugalista Goes Cold Turkey

Like so many people, I fell off the wagon over the holidays.  There was temptation everywhere!

And while I certainly could be talking about food and drink, I'm not - I'm referring to my moratorium on clothes shopping for myself and a general commitment to consuming far less overall.

Of course I had to shop - buy gifts and goodies for people - so I was in and out of stores quite frequently before Christmas. I actually made out okay with the Christmas shopping, managing to get my shopping done with only ONE trip to the mall and only about four visits to the dollar store.  The rest of my purchases were made in individual stores which somehow makes me feel a little righteous.  It helped a lot to make lists and try to stick to them. Also, as a side-boast, we used only cash this Christmas for our shopping - Holla!

No, the trouble came afterwards.  Appetite whetted by the pre-Christmas consuming, bargains everywhere and a fat stack in my wallet courtesy of my mother-in-law, I went on a little bit of a shopping bender.  Some of the details are a little hazy, but I'm fairly certain I spent the whole holidays going in and out of stores - it's the MIL's preferred pastime, so there is a tendency to overindulge when she visits. And, you know, the holidays and mother-in-law visits are not generally regarded as times of low stress, so some of the retail activity was therapeutic in nature (at least that's what I told myself when I found myself alone and aimlessly wandering the concrete aisles of the local Walmart Supercentre at 10 pm on the 27th, and then again on the 28th, returning my purchases of the previous evening and buying more things.)

I really loved it at first, I mean I REVELLED in the deliciousness of the merchandise, the fondling, the choosing, the purchase, the bringing home of the bags and the ceremonial laying out of the goods.  I've really got a problem...  I actually leave tags on new clothes just so I can experience the "thrill of the new" when I bring the garment out of my closet to wear for the first time, and remind myself of the great deal I got when I look at the tag and see that red sale price handwritten in.  (Sometimes won't even throw them out; I'll keep the tags and receipts on my dresser to look at another time, which is maybe just a little obsessive!) But after a few days, it all began to feel like some painful compulsion, like the cigarette that the addict HAS to have, even when she has strep throat (yes, speaking from personal experience here; don't judge, okay?).

But the holidays ended, the MIL went back to Winnipeg, and life returned to normal.  Except the part where I didn't just stop shopping.  I squandered three precious hours at the mall last Sunday, and again yesterday I found myself a the dollar store with nothing really critical to buy.  I can't afford to be like this, and I hate to waste my time this way.

They say that the first thing you have to do when you have an addiction is admit that you are powerless. I say bullshit!  I have all kinds of power and I'm exercising that power by stopping the shopping right now.  And I'm not even going to indulge myself by sharing the details of my various (Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Amazing deals! I can show you the receipts!) Boxing Week purchases.

From now until Easter at least, there will be no clothing purchases, no unplanned household purchases, and no trips to the drugstore or the dollar store without a list.  The fat stack's gone now anyway.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Haiku: morning kisses

morning kisses

cheeks against my lips
velvet, rubber memory
lingers the whole day

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vancougar Island

It's really different here on the little piece of land that fell off the west coast of Canada.  Different in a good way, like we can buy vegetables outside all year round and take the dog swimming in the ocean on New Year's Day, and wherever we look we can be pretty much guaranteed to cast our eyes on something breathtaking in the way of scenery.  But it's also different in ways that make a mother's guts get all knotty.

I'm not talking about how easy it is to buy high-grade organic marijuana or psychedelic mushrooms here in the world capital of pot and 'shrooms. I think you can actually purchase them at most of our local farmers markets if you know what to ask for (which, for the record, I do not.)

Nor am I referring to the ever-present high alert we're all on for THE BIG ONE, although it was a real eye-opener when I got a note home from school right after we moved here asking me to place some very specific items in a Ziploc bag and send it back with my child to be placed in the earthquake kiosk out in the playground. Oh, the thoughts that went through my head and the horrible feelings I felt, imagining that something geologically devastating would happen and our family would be separated.  I think my son's earthquake kit was the last one handed in because I couldn't quite manage to draft the optional "comfort note" without melting down.  I mean, what do you say to your child when all he wants and needs is the reassurance of a parent's presence and there's a split-wide-open fault line between you and him?  A glib "Keep Calm and Carry On" stuffed into a freezer bag with a McHappy Toy and a granola bar ain't gonna cut it.

No, the churn is to do with wild animals roaming the streets.  I did hit this deer one time, on an ordinary weeknight while driving through a residential neighborhood minding my own business - this crazy leaping creature crazily leapt in front of the Impala (ironic, no?) and I nailed him pretty hard in the hindquarters (the last thing I saw before I closed my eyes and hammered the brake pedal).

But it's not about the free-ranging ruminants.  It's the cougars roaming the streets of our city - that's what's giving this mom the heebie-jeebies. Five warnings in the last two days, the most recent being at the nearest intersection to the lads' school.  They're bold, these urban cougars - wandering across the main highway, hanging out at the high school, loitering in the backyards of ordinary law-abiding citizens, quite possibly bumming cigarettes from some of the kids who hang out by the video store.  Just for clarity (because the reference to approaching teenage boys may mislead the reader), I am not talking about big-haired divorced women with salon nails and pants that are a little too tight. I refer to the literal, actual large member of the cat family with massive deadly fangs and claws...

I don't like it one little bit.  My only consolation is that the warnings usually caution folks take extra care with their children and pets, and my children are a beefy 6' and a fast-moving 6'4".  I did warn them to watch out for their more petite friends though.  It doesn't matter where you live: size matters.

Note: the deer lived.  He was last seen limping off onto the adjacent golf course where, by the way, people golf every day all year round.  Even in January. Even after a couple of big bong hits. Even with the everpresent threat of giant bloodthirsty felines lurking in the rough. I told you it was different here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lethargy begets lethargy (or OMG! I WAS POISONED BY STARCH!)

Today was my first day back at work for, like, a week - same with most everyone else I suppose - and the only thing that stopped me from closing my office door and crawling under my desk immediately after arriving at the office this morning was the threat of the office mouse scurrying in and nibbling the sleeve of my new grey cashmere sweater while I drooled onto the carpet.

Too much rest over the holidays.  Not enough fresh air.  And, even though I didn't officially gain any weight, clearly there were far too many carbohydrates of all kinds consumed.

It's such a tough rut to spin out of, the deep trench of overindulgence and underactivity.  It's not even 9:00 pm tonight and I'm already in bed.

Tomorrow I will force myself to bathe in egg whites and flaxseed, and stride briskly through my neighborhood, completely naked, swinging my arms wildly while flogging myself with an evergreen bough liberated from our Christmas tree (never mind that it's an artificial tree, it'll be stimulating to the circulation all the same).

Or maybe I'll just take a salad to work and walk around the block at lunchtime.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Start the Resolution Without, wait!

Can't help it; I'm compelled to make resolutions at every socially-mandated opportunity there is to make some sort of positive change.  So this year I'm going to write (see yesterday) and read more, watch less TV, keep my floors clean and the laundry caught up.  Big change here for me; for once I'm not attempting to reinvent my entire home life - just identifying the trouble spots and taking them on.  I'll also continue the progress I've made in easing off on the consuming and the associated de-cluttering/downsizing.

And oh yes,  plan to lose about 50 pounds (30 of which I gained in the last year).

The weight loss thing grows so very tiresome, but it has to be done.  I'm completely out of pants that fit and refuse to buy more; and my feet and knees are really starting to feel it.  Like prescription-strength anti-inflammatories feeling it...  I'm too young for that, and I'm too committed to the idea of not buying bigger pants when I have so many decent pairs standing by. I must do this.

I'll share the details of my plan and progress once I get them hammered out and figure out a way to share that won't cause random blog passersby to roll their eyes and/or pass out from the very tedium of it all.

Oh yeah, John T. Meldrum, if you are reading this, know that I also resolve to be kinder to you this year; and to (if you'll forgive the expression) lean in instead of pulling away when things get tough.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Writer Should Write

I'm a writer by trade - I actually get paid to write. Fairly well in fact. And there's dental.  Imagine this: a person will call me or show up at my office door, looking for  words.  I'll conjure up a few bon mots suitable for the occasion and this person will take them gratefully, glad there's an honest-to-goodness writer on the payroll, on call for any and all wordsmithing emergencies.  And that's pretty much what I do Monday to Friday...

But I'm lucky; jobs like mine are very few and very far between.  People who write really good, thoughtful, creative and beautiful words often don't get paid at all; they do it for love or because they are compelled.   I need to acknowledge and respect that, and wear this awesome, fortunate mantle a little more proudly: take my calling a little more seriously.

So starting today, I'm writing something every day.  And no, a 140 character Tweet doesn't count, despite the rigour and discipline required to communicate thoughts and feelings in such small medium - the Tweet is really the haiku of the 21st century.  But I'm still not counting it.