Monday, December 31, 2007

A word to the wise

If you're going to vigourously shake your honey mustard salad dressing, as it says to do on the bottlecap, be sure that said cap is firmly secured first. Trust me on this one.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Good point

There was the guy who was perfect in many ways, loved the right music, voted for the right person, said the most wonderful things when I most needed to hear them, and (and!) he was an amazing kisser. It was just all the stuff that happened after the kissing that made the relationship more and more difficult to rationalize, and here is where I experience a lot of hand-wringing for all my Mormon girlfriends who got married without ever having slept with their men. It's admirable, very admirable to enter into the covenant of marriage as a virgin, but what if smack dab in the middle of that first-night passion he starts quoting Al Pacino in Scarface? Or starts yodeling? Or says, "Do you mind if I turn on some Yanni?" IT COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN. This is indispensable research you have to conduct, or else you're going to spend the rest of your life faking headaches. [emphasis mine]

Quick, get a CPAP for this cat! :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Everything I need to know about life I learned by playing Spider Solitaire

  1. So much just depends on the cards you’re dealt.
  2. However, it’s next to impossible to win without taking risks.
  3. And if you’re not alert and paying attention, you’re just going through the motions and tiring out your mousing finger for no good reason.
  4. You have to think ahead.
  5. Sometimes – but not always – you can undo the mess you made.
  6. Sometimes walking away from a difficult hand and then coming back with a fresh perspective and/or a good night’s sleep can make all the difference.
  7. When you think you’re surely about to lose, some innovative, creative moves along with a good dose of persistence can actually clear things up dramatically.
  8. Getting a good start is crucial.
  9. Sometimes it’s good to just admit defeat and start all over again.
  10. Whenever possible, don’t do anything that dramatically limits your options.
  11. Always remember the object (goals) of the game.
  12. Sometimes just the right card will come at just the right moment – but you just can’t plan on it.
  13. Sometimes what lays underneath is far more valuable than what’s on the surface.
Obviously my first day without work or social obligations is being used productively! :-P

Heh heh heh

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ugh, bills

So tonight I had a flash of realization that it's the end of the year, and I had not yet even considered writing rent cheques for 2008. So I did it tonight. Well, for until next June anyway.

I know there are some rental properties that will take credit card payments, which I think would ROCK. No more cramped, longhand writing of some bizarre number over a thousand (e.g., "One thousand five hundred [and] fifty-three" dollars - although my actual rent is somewhat less than that.) For those of you whose banks do this work magically as part of your mortgage, I can only bow to your superior planning in avoiding writer's cramp.

Getting back to paying by credit card, though - can you imagine the points I could earn??????

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The year in review

So around this time of year, many bloggers take this list of 39 questions and provide their own answers. Don’t ask me who originally chose these questions, because I truly don’t know. But just for fun I thought I’d provide my own answers this year.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
Became an aunt. Went to New York City. Helped build a boardwalk. Photographed someone’s wedding (as the official photographer! Yikes!!!) Blogged almost every day.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I can’t remember last January’s resolutions, and I think that’s part of the problem. I think I was just trying to work myself out of a bad place emotionally, and just wanted to survive. Given this, I did well! :) I will definitely be putting a lot of thought over the next few weeks about my goals for the coming year.

Actually, come to think of it, I was also determined to make it to Europe this year, but instead I made a few trips to Seattle. Absolutely no regrets about that one.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister-in-law (Lisa), Steph.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I didn’t know Steph and Dom’s babies when they passed away, but I was very sad for their parents.

5. What countries did you visit?
The U.S. – four times.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
Travel to Europe. A visit by my friend Wendy from New Zealand. See also #28.

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
My brain does not work this way. I generally don’t remember dates. The last time I actually looked at a calendar on a significant day so that I could remember the date going forward it was Sept. 11, 2001.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
My volunteer work. Saving little birds’ lives and helping to build a community for people, and then getting people organized to help plant trees and build a boardwalk. I loved seeing their faces shine with the reward of giving back, and knowing that in some small way I helped to make this possible.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not remembering my biggest failure? :-0

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing too bad, thank goodness. My left knee got badly scraped up when I was in a hike in the spring, and it was kind of dramatic to walk out of the forest with blood dripping halfway down my calf. But this drama would have been entirely unnecessary had I brought my first aid kit with me on the trail.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Joe and Lisa for being amazing parents. I could not be more proud or impressed.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Firstly, I don’t let other people determine my own happiness. But that aside, I can’t help be concerned for Britney Spears; that young woman has some real psychological and psychiatric issues and desperately needs help. I truly hope she gets it.

Also, the Canadian federal government, led by Stephen Harper, has been utterly shameless and ridiculous regarding climate change and numerous other issues.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, airfare, food, books.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Being an aunt to the two smartest and most adorable ever. Seeing Monika and Tracy when I’m visiting Seattle. My volunteer work.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
Everything by Michael Buble.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

This is a no-brainer. WAY happier. But I will say that even though I was going through a tough time, I learned a lot and benefited from the experience. Unfortunately, it took a while until I had the right attitude. But even that was a lesson I had to learn.

b) thinner or fatter?
About the same.

c) richer or poorer?
Richer, in more ways than one.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Maintaining focus. Sleeping. Meditating. Practicing photography. Listening to my intuition. Exercising. Biking. Hiking. Bird-watching.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Reacting like a wounded child. Giving my power to other people. Becoming entangled in others’ pointless dramas. Playing Spider Solitaire. Eating junk food.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas making two different soups (with a friend) for freezing, and then I met a group of very cool people for dinner at an Indian buffet. The food and service were great, and then we hung out in a coffee shop, where we just sat around for an hour or two enjoying each other’s company. An excellent way to spend the holiday.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?

22. How many one-night stands?
None. At night I sleep, and I do that lying down.

Seriously, nothing says “pathologically attention-seeking” to me more than discussing the number of one’s one-night stands in a public space like this.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I watched very little TV this past year, and that makes me very happy.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a poison that I will not abide in myself.

25. What was the best book you read?
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I may have mentioned that book once or twice. :)

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Marcey Hamm.

27. What did you want and get?
A little more wisdom.

28. What did you want and not get?

  • world peace
  • global social justice
  • a Democrat in the White House
  • the nation of Canada collectively giving Stephen Harper the finger
  • empowerment for women around the world
  • reverence and respect for nature and the environment by all people, governments, and corporations
  • a belly full of nutritious food for every child
  • literacy education and educational opportunity for all people

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I didn’t watch a lot of movies this year, but I did watch Dear Frankie on DVD, and thought it was wonderful. I watched Kiera Knightley’s Pride and Prejudice this year more times than I can count.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I chose to have a very quiet day on my 37th birthday. I took the day off work, worked out at the gym, sat in the steam room for a good long time, and had a lazy day afterward. It was great, but I hope my next birthday will be very different. Already planning it! :)

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Is this not the same as #28?

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
Meh, it still fits.

33. What kept you sane?
Knowing that I can control how I feel by sifting through my own thoughts, questioning the ones that make me upset to see if they’re true (e.g., “I’m helpless”, “this situation is more than I can handle”, etc.) and then choosing the ones that are true and empowering.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Jason Bateman recently blipped on my radar. Otherwise it just hasn’t been that kind of year.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Climate change.

36. Who did you miss?
Too many people. It’s hard to keep up with everybody!!!

37. Who was the best new person you met?
This is getting boring, it’s so repetitive, but my niece and nephew, Lorelai and Reece, hands down. I’ve also very much enjoyed getting to know Kate, and Rhonda from Calgary. I knew Steph, Jason and Jim before 2007, though not well. It’s been very cool to become friends with these amazing people. I'm sure I'm missing people - part of the danger once you start mentioning names. :-S

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
I’ve started to get a sense of my own empowerment, enough to be really irritated by those who insist on being victims.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Are you gonna wait for your sign, your
Stand up and fight
This is it
Make no mistake where you are
This is it
Your back’s to the corner
This is it
Don’t be a fool anymore
This is it
The waiting is over
No room to run
No way to hide
No time for wondering why
Its here
The moment is now

Okay, now here are a couple of my own questions:

40. What surprised you most in 2007?
First, chickpeas. I truly did not expect to like them, or anything made of them. Second, becoming a vegetarian again; it was almost like it chose me rather than the other way around.

41. What was your favourite website in 2007? Read some of the comments – this website is helping some people just get through the day. Dooce is now a must-read for me, and The Daily Coyote is magical.

Now your part ... you can either take these questions and post them on your own blog, or in a note on Facebook, and let me know where I can peek at your answers, or if you have other questions, you can send them to me and I'll attempt to answer them!

Happy writing! :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

What do YOU think?

Today one of my co-workers presented me with a situation and wanted my reaction. I'm curious as to what YOU, my friends and Internet vagabonds, might think. Here it is:

James volunteers with Big Brothers, and his "little brother" is 16 years old. Let's call this kid Pete. This week, Pete walked into a local computer store and bought a laptop for $1300. It turns out that Pete's mother had given him this money so he could buy a ticket to go visit her in Hong Kong. Whoops.

James' argument is that the store should not have taken that much money from a 16-year-old kid (and a young-looking one at that) without so much as a phone call to the kid's parents. They are using this argument to try to return the laptop and to get the money back (the laptop was sold on clearance, so initially they wouldn't let Pete return it).

Please weigh in here - is expecting a clerk or store owner to not take over a thousand dollars from a 16-year-old an unreasonable or overly idealistic thing to ask? I am truly very curious to hear what you have to say.

Worst Family Feud answers

Some of these are hilarious, for example:

Question: Name something you'd buy for more than a thousand dollars.
#1 Answer: House
Worst Answer: Pleasure equipment
Those sharp, loud cackles you've been hearing? Umm, yeah, that was me. Sorry, but it's funny!


People often write me and ask how I keep my wood floors so clean when I live with a child and a dog, and my answer is that I use a technique called Suffering From a Mental Illness.
- Heather B. Armstrong


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gwyneth's Paltrow's Solo in Movie Infamous

A wonderful performance ... check it out.

Stephen Lewis on gender inequality, AIDS, and the UN

From a speech from one of the most articulate and well-informed people on the planet, well worth the read:

... one of the most startling statistics is the revelation that women now constitute 61% of the infections in Africa … close to 14 million women infected. There are no words. It’s a catastrophe rooted in gender inequality, and everyone in the highest citadels of the United Nations knows it, but virtually nothing changes.

We have a report from a High-Level Panel on UN Reform, pointing out the lamentable UN record on women, and recommending the creation of a new international agency for women. The proposal lies dormant on the order paper of the General Assembly, crying out for leadership from the Secretary General. The Deputy Secretary General has spoken, strongly and bravely although, given the inevitable and nasty internal rivalries, her words are too often given to rhetorical sleight-of-tongue.

Where is the UN Secretary General when the AIDS pandemic rages, and the women of Africa need him most? No one pretends that the women’s agency is the sole answer, but you can bet that things would not be so excruciatingly horrendous if women had an international vehicle to draw upon, with resources and voice.

So, too, women in conflict zones. My colleagues and I carefully watched the Security Council debate on Resolution 1325 just a couple of weeks ago, and have read carefully the proceedings of the Security Council debate this week on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The speeches are getting better: more feeling, more informed, more urgent (that is particularly true of the Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs; on the other hand, the Secretary General’s speech last Tuesday on the protection of civilians in armed conflict was so pro forma as to make one weep. He managed to mention Sudan , Somalia , Afghanistan , Iraq and a passing aside to Darfur . Not a syllable on the Democratic Republic of the Congo ).

When you have a savage war on women, as in the DRC, with huge implications for transmission of the AIDS virus, speeches are the road to hell. When will the United Nations actually take hold? There are suggestions cited of the Secretary General leading a new campaign to eliminate violence against women. I recently saw an early draft of this potential Secretary General initiative, and I can categorically say that in more than twenty years of association with multilateralism, I’ve rarely seen anything more vapid, fatuous and insubstantial. It was as if the illusion of progress, dressed up in the Byzantine underworld of United Nations processes was sufficient unto itself. Public relations for inconsolable grief ...

One less bigot running for president

Thank goodness. But how does such a throwback get a national and international platform for as long as he did????

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's true - they don't make insults like they used to!

See here.

A few of my favourites:

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"
Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
Mae West

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."
Groucho Marx

"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
Book review by Dorothy Parker

One of the great things about living in a world-class city

... is getting a message like this one: "My girlfriend and I have tickets to Handel's Messiah tonight, but we can't go. Do you want them?"

Hell yeah!



One of the things, since becoming a vegetarian, that always makes me pause and think, Can I really do this? And not regret it later? is the immediate recycling of glass jars. I used to keep an assortment of them under my kitchen sink to be used when I cooked meat and needed something to keep the fat and drippings. Now, not so much ... :)

Weird. But pretty awesome. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Minimal blogging tonight

... because in the mornings I can relate far too well with the calf in this video. And no, it's not because there's anyone licking me (although that could be fun, depending LOL). Rather, it's the whole I think I can muster the strength to get up sentiment, quickly followed by a faceplant. And repeat. Several times.

Time for bed, y'all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Watch as I emasculate myself

In an e-mail to a friend in a group of friends driving during this blizzard:

I want you all to be safe and sound so I can yell at you all for worrying me! ;->

Only kidding, I can't remember the last time I yelled at someone ... I've spoken sternly, though - be very afraid of my speaking sternly!!! :)
Now wouldn't you be scared of me???

Smells so good ...

... baking banana bread. Awesome banana bread. Got the recipe from the wife of a jackass trainer in Texas of whom I have no other positive memories, but they say everyone comes into your life for a reason. I guess his was the banana bread recipe. :)

ZenDenizen does NOT make my bunny cry

I've had a new visitor (an Internet vagabond, if you will) who's been leaving really great comments on various posts, which I really appreciate. Friends and Internet vagabonds, please welcome Zen to this little corner of the blogosphere!

Friends and Internet vagabonds: HI, ZEN!

Excellent work, folks!

Naturally, I've taken some time to take a look at ZenDenizen's blog, Debonair Debacles, and it's very cool! Be sure to click on the link and wander over!

One of the things you might notice is this graphic on her blog:

Oh, that's what I should have been doing all this time? Use a mix of guilt and cuteness to get more* of you to comment??? [slapping forehead] ;-D

A mini-adventure with nature

Yesterday, before the snowstorm hit, I stopped by a conservation area where they feed the birds over the winter. I had a cup or so of sunflower seeds and another handful of peanuts.

At the edge of the wooded area where all the feeders were, a chickadee literally buzzed my head. So I grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds and held out my palm – right there in the open – and immediately two chickadees were perched on my gloved hand, daintily selecting a morsel with their thin beaks before buzzing away, only to be replaced by others, and then some more. I had up to three birds on my hand, with another perched on my head (I was wearing a hood) or briefly hovering over my hand as they waited for the others to clear some landing space. I couldn't believe how brave they were.

After a few minutes, I briefly closed down “operations” so I actually walk into the shelter of the trees (there was a biting wind from the lake), and then the feeding frenzy was resumed. I quickly lost count of the chickadees. A couple of them (or was it the same one, just at different times?) would try to dominate the area around my hand so the others couldn’t get any more seeds, but I made sure that didn’t last too long. The variations in their chirps and whistles boggles my mind.

There were other birds also clearly visible in the bare trees, but none of them was brazen enough to venture close to me: nuthatches, blue jays, some kind of red-capped sparrow, and gorgeous cardinals (did you know that female cardinals are mostly grey with just a bit of red/peach? I don’t think I’d ever seen one until yesterday! There's an excellent photo of one here.).

People think that I’m a bird-watcher because of the bird rescues that I’ve done this year, but nothing could be further from the truth – I have a terrible time seeing birds when the trees are in leaf, and then if I do see them, I just don’t have any eye for the detail that would help me identify the species. The only reason why I could identify the birds that I did yesterday was that they were either very common and unmistakeable (like the chickadees, blue jays, and cardinals) or I’d seen them dead from building collisions and had time to study them up close (e.g., the nuthatch) in order to identify them for the FLAP database. But in this particular place, in the winter, in a concentrated area where they have basically been trained to have less fear of humans, THIS is my kind of bird-watching! LOL

There were several squirrels dashing around the wooded area as well, but they would not take the peanuts that I offered from my hands. (The chipmunks who definitely would, and in the summer might even climb up your pantleg to do so, were presumably hibernating.) Instead, a couple of these squirrels fastened their beady, melancholy eyes upon me as if to say, I know many people would consider me to be a pest and rodent, but if you could perhaps cast that peanut in my direction, my growling, empty belly would be endlessly grateful. Needless to say, the peanuts were gently scattered for their consumption at a safe distance. And that’s when the blue jay actually showed up, descending with raucous cries from some unknown branch in a blaze of brilliant blue, snatching up one of the peanuts and then immediately darting back up to a high branch for safety.

It was all unforgettably beautiful. I wish I could share the wonder of it with each of you.

The perfect photo for a blustery day


Now, if that doesn't melt your heart, even on a day like today, I don't know what to do with you! :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What's next????

It's especially funny when the dog tries to roll over on the cat ... Be sure to have your speakers on! :)

Why sometimes it's better not to drive

So I was supposed to drive to my hometown this weekend to have the big Christmas feast with my parents and relatives I haven't seen in months if not years, and then this storm started developing over Texas ... it's predicted to hit southern Ontario tomorrow (Sunday), and it's just too stupid for me to drive or to encourage anyone else to, for that matter. Instead, I can watch this video from LAST winter of idiots who didn't know enough to just STOP DRIVING. Seriously, watch it - you won't believe your eyes. (By the way, it helps when you're watching the video to understand that there's a hill involved, which is hard to tell from the camera angle, but which becomes apparent anyway by the end of the video.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

A perspective on Italy

Apparently one of my cousins is now living in Italy (which I would not have known if it were not for Facebook), and offered up this article as an insightful description of the challenges facing this proud country. Definitely worth a read. The bit about the very low birth rate reminds me of the movie, Children of Men.

An important message to share

From Dooce:

I feel like I need to say something today, right now, about my feelings toward therapy and medication, because in the last couple of months I've watched several people around me suffer needlessly because they were either too afraid or too arrogant to take care of their mental health ...

I suffer from chronic anxiety and depression, and I believe it started manifesting itself when I was in high school, maybe earlier. I didn't seek treatment, however, until my sophomore year in college ... I saw a therapist who prescribed Zoloft. That medication changed my life, lifted a dark cloud that had been tormenting me for years, and I stayed on that drug, healthy and happy and able to cope, up until Jon and I decided that we should try to get pregnant.

I never should have gone off that drug. I know this now, having suffered terrible postpartum depression that could have been avoided had I seen the red flags in my third trimester, had I taken early steps to deal with the symptoms. But three months after Leta's birth I was an inconsolable, suicidal mess. I was beyond repair, and all the drugs I tried in the following months would only make things worse: Risperdal, Ativan, Trazadone, Lamictal, Effexor, Abilify, Strattera, Klonopin, Seroquel. I couldn't sleep, couldn't unclench my jaw or hands, couldn't imagine how I would get through another ten minutes. After weeks of threatening to leave Jon if he had me committed to a hospital, I finally gave in and committed myself.

Because I was under constant supervision, my doctor in the hospital was able to give me therapeutic quantities of drugs immediately: 40mg of Prozac, 10mg of Valium, 2400mg of Neurontin. It was a combination he had given to countless women who had suffered postpartum depression, one that had worked time and time again. I felt a difference within two hours, and if you ask Jon he will tell you that when he brought Leta up to the hospital that afternoon to have lunch, he saw Heather for the first time in seven months, not that awful woman who liked to throw keys at his head. I truly believe that my doctor in the hospital saved my life. I owe that man my life.

... I still take 40mg Prozac every day, and here's where I cannot be emphatic enough, I will continue to take it or something like it for the rest of my life. I will not ever be off medication. I continue to see my therapist, not every week or even every month, but whenever I hit a road block and need someone to help me talk my way through it. Sometimes I have bad days, sometimes bad weeks, but the medication enables me to cope, to see a way out and over those times. I am not ashamed of any of this.

I think many people are afraid that if they take medication or even agree to see a therapist that they are in some way admitting failure or defeat. Or they have been told by their boyfriend or their mother or their best friend that they should buck up and get over it, and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Well then, let me be weak. Let me be a failure. Because being over here on this side, where I see and think clearly, where I'm happy to greet my child in the morning, where I can logically maneuver my way over tiny obstacles that would have previously been the end of the world, over here being a failure is a hell of a lot more enjoyable than the constant misery of suffering alone.

... All of this is to say that I am a success story. I am a victory for the mental health profession. And if you're even the tiniest bit on the fence about therapy or medication or herbs or acupuncture or prayer or meditation, whatever it is that you would turn to to try and pull your way out of sadness but are afraid to because of all that it would mean, here is this crazy woman in the Utah desert who admitted and accepted all of those horrible things about herself and in doing so found a better life.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Be sure to have the sound on.

A smile guaranteed

Just click here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Secret code

I may have mentioned once or twice that I’ve been reading Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert.

It’s a popular book. And I find that, when I read this memoir in public (say, on the subway or in the laundry room), women often check out what book I’m reading, and then smile at me in a warmly friendly manner. It’s as though my reading this book telegraphs that I, too, am a spiritual seeker, and we are members of the same tribe. Fascinating.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

funny little girl

Precious. We should all be a little more like her.

3 year old Kassie is going to kick the Monsters ass ~( ask )

This really must been seen to be believed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A message

Dear Friend,

Yes, you are special. You have many amazing qualities, and some of them are not even the ones you are telling me about. But your regular promotion of your own wonderfulness? Even when I know it comes from insecurity, rather than arrogance or conceit? THE LEAST ATTRACTIVE THING ABOUT YOU.




You don't have to have experience with Halo 3 to enjoy this review; I don't, and I did! (But Mom, not your sense of humour again, sorry - love you!)

Does this ring true?

It does to me ... thanks to a certain co-worker ... LOL

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Tonight, inspired by the potato soup Lisa made when I was visiting her and her family last weekend, I prepared this vegan potato and leek soup. It was very satisfying, except that the rosemary leaves, when added only at the end as per instructions, were tough and too strong in flavour. I might just leave them out entirely next time, or use dried rosemary leaves instead, whose taste is much more muted.

Along with my soup, I ate a half a pound of steamed asparagus. Did you know that not everyone’s urine acquires a nasty smell after eating asparagus? Or that some people simply cannot smell it, even if it’s there? Apparently it’s all genetic. And I’m one of the lucky ones, because one way or another, I am oblivious. It’s awesome.

And, friends and Internet vagabonds. after a long day of cleaning and chores, this is ample entertainment for me.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My latest crush

Okay, I know I'm hardly a ground-breaker here, but while I was flying to Seattle this past week, I watched an episode of Arrested Development for the first time, and I loved it! Then today I was researching the movie Juno, and stumbled onto this interview with Jason Bateman and Michael Cera. So very important question: Is it weird that I really find JB adorable and funny???

Sorting through stuff

Today’s task has been to sort through piles of STUFF that have been accumulating in my apartment: in the fruit dish, on the table near the front entrance, on my bedroom dresser, around my desk (dear god, around my desk!), on the filing cabinet, on the kitchen table. These little piles have been nagging at my consciousness – the unopened junk mail that must be opened and sorted for recycling or shredding; the TTC Metropasses that – for some stupid reason – apparently have to be saved (along with the actual receipts) in order for the cost to be deducted from my income taxes; the free greeting cards from various charities are nice enough for me to save for future use, but which I’ve yet to use because from the name on the back of the card it’s obvious that it’s free, and how tacky is that???

It’s frustrating how much time this process takes, mostly because there are so many mini-decisions to be made and sometimes the answer isn’t obvious (e.g., where do I put the latest set of free greeting cards if the drawer for greeting cards is full? Do I want to make a donation to the charity that sent me, unsolicited, more address labels? [After all, I was just looking fruitlessly for some address labels the other day.] Do I really want to save these books for the second-hand bookstore, or should I just put them out in the hallway for my neighbours to take if they like? How long after its expiration date should I actually throw out a medication?)

Then there’s the other debris, “life debris”, I guess you could call it - stuff left by my previous two roommates. One was supposedly coming back from Africa, but it’s been over a month and still no word, and I am gradually arriving at the conclusion that she may never come back (which isn’t a total tragedy as far as I’m concerned, as I’m really enjoying living alone these days). I know she’s going through a hard time, but in the meantime what do I do with her stuff? Her mail? The two boxes of bran flakes she left on top of the fridge are now in the garbage, because I think the cereal must be stale by now, and I’m certainly not going to eat it – it’s bran flakes, for crying out loud. The six or eight bottles of salad dressings and other condiments that were in the fridge are loooooong gone. The other stuff will just stay where it is for a while longer, I guess. I just hope she’s okay.

The other roommate situation ended badly, and while life has certainly been saner and less gut-churning since, I came to realize today that I actually did do care a great deal for this person. Getting “rid” of a person involves more regrets than, say, a stack of books, but my head is telling my heart that it was the healthiest possible decision for me, and that it still probably is. I found some more of her stuff in the last 10 days, and I think I will just send it off to her and leave it at that and learn to live with my disappointment.

And then there are the things that I can’t throw away, like letters from my friend Wendy, whom I met while we were teachers in South Korea. I’m not a terribly sentimental person, and generally read the Christmas cards people send me and then promptly recycle them just to try to manage the psychological burden of even more STUFF, but Wendy’s letters from New Zealand are different. Let me put it to you this way: when I read Bridget Jones books by Helen Fielding, I kept feeling they could have been written by Wendy. Wendy and Fielding have similar comic styles, with colourful hyperbole and manic pacing. For example, in her Christmas letter I just found from last year, she writes of her highly demanding work managing a pita factory, filling wraps for schools: “We have run like Indian gods with many arms to keep up with orders …” Every year she talks about selling the factory (of which she owns a significant part), and Christmas 2006 is no exception: “ I am further motivated by the fact that it will be my last Christmas with the bakery (if it isn’t please feel free to euthanize me) …” Well, it’s almost Christmas again, and the bakery is still not sold … but don’t worry, Wendy, you and your letters most certainly will never end up on my discard pile! :)

Now back to work …

This one will be a favourite with moms

... but I think many people will enjoy it, if only for the sheer talent of this woman. For reals!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Getting cooking

I had offers and arrangements to do stuff this weekend. Some stuff I regretfully declined due to prior engagements, and then the prior engagements fell through, and I quietly rejoiced and planned an entire weekend at home. Shhhhhh ...

Don’t get me wrong – I would much prefer to hang out with my friends than go to the gym or clean my apartment, but leaving the latter things undone has left me with this nagging, uncomfortable feeling, and so this weekend will be one of organizing, prioritizing, and taking care of business (which, sadly, will take all weekend).

One of the things that I need to start doing is cooking for myself. And no, I don’t mean heating up a frozen dinner, dialing Spring Rolls for delivery, having toast with PB, or making one of the two or three vegetarian dishes I’ve been using for months.

When I was visiting Seattle last weekend, my sister-in-law inspired me with the simple but delicious potato soup that she made (kindly catering to my vegetarian preferences). She and I also ate a lot of salad and vegetables while I was there, which was excellent. I'm also keen on food right now because I am reading the wonderful, enthralling memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I have just finished the section in which she evocatively writes about experiencing food in Italy. It made me want to nurture myself with food the way that she did.

Many people ask me what I, as a vegetarian, eat for protein. Since I’m also hypoglycemic with a quite fast metabolism (i.e., I get hungry often), protein is an important part of my diet. I often eat eggs (from free-run hens, and preferably organically-fed) for breakfast, which ensures I get all my essential amino acids and also that I’m not tempted to chew off my left arm by 10:00 AM. I also eat hemp seed, protein bars (mostly just to manage my appetite), almonds, lots of beans, etc. I’m not a big tofu eater, although at times I do find it utterly delicious and flavourful; my favourite is the silky “tubu” in Korean tofu stew (soon du pu jji geh), the gastronomical bliss of which I can only adequately describe with various “mmmm mmmm” sounds and guttural noises of pleasure.

However, back in September, when I attended the Vegetarian Food Fair at Toronto’s Harbourfront, I was overwhelmed – underwhelmed, actually – with all the various soya-based concoctions offered to simulate meat. First, I don’t really miss meat. Secondly, the best simulated meat product (which really did taste like chicken!) made me so bloated and gassy with its mystery synthesized protein that I have forever sworn I will never, never, ever eat it again. I would rather eat food as close to its original form as possible, with as few additives and chemicals as possible.

With winter here in effect (if not officially), my thoughts have turned to soups and stews. Tonight I browsed through a few vegetarian cookbooks I have on hand, and I’m very excited by the variety of flavours and all-around goodness that is available to me as a vegetarian. My goal is to make at least one large pot of soup or stew a week through this winter. By choosing different recipes and experimenting with different produce, hopefully I’ll build up a good repertoire of recipes.

So – any great vegetarian soup/stew recipes to share with yours truly? Send ‘em over! :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Amazing - you must check this out

Maybe you've seen this blog about a woman who is raising a rescued coyote pup, but if not, please please do. An amazing story with gorgeous photos. It is now one of the blogs I will check on a daily basis.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Woe, woe ... whoa!

I’ve been pretty emotional since leaving Seattle. On the flight from Vancouver to Toronto, I had to stop watching No Reservations because Catherine Zeta Jones’ sister was killed in a car crash and so she had to take care of her niece and didn’t even know how to comfort her and I thought of my niece and nephew and how hard it would be for them to lose either of their parents and how I would want to be there for them in any way possible and I started to tear up on the plane which was really embarrassing …

Then today, I just kept trying to think of a way I could have a “bi-coastal lifestyle” (even though Toronto isn’t exactly coastal [Lake Ontario doesn’t really count]) that would enable me to live half the time in Toronto and the other half in Seattle … or schemes that would convince Joe and Lisa to move to Ontario … and why neither of them would work. And then I would think about all the money and vacation days that I’d be using up this year to visit them and the babies and that I wouldn’t be able to go to Italy like Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love and that even then I couldn’t just be there for Joe and Lisa when they need a babysitter and it all just sucked and I felt very sorry for myself and sad about the entire situation.

I remembered reading something about Mike Lipkin about the importance of what you focus on, and I knew I was focusing exquisitely on the wrong stuff but honestly didn’t know how to focus on anything else other than doing my job (which I did do, by the way … the interior melodrama was between work-related tasks).

And then … I read an e-mail that changed everything – because it changed my focus. The e-mail was a mass mailout from an airline that I use, and they were having a seat sale – 50% off! And the prices were the same every day of the week during the mid-December to mid-February time period! So it actually would be possible for me to fly out Friday and come back on Monday and use only 1 or 2 vacation days for this trip, rather than the regular 3 – 4 days my trips have been so far. And it would still be cheaper! Suddenly things really opened up! I mean, with 20 or so vacation days a year, I could have several trips to Seattle and still be able to visit Europe! And, at these rates, have the money to do so! Suddenly, my life went from limitations to possibilities.

How many possibilities have I missed because I was so focused on the limitations? I think I need to change the way that I think so that I determinedly, ruthlessly, search out the opportunities. I have faith that the Universe will provide them, if I am open to them.

If I get to go back to Seattle in February, that would be great. But the bigger gain right now is the shift in my own attitudes and perceptions. It feels powerful and empowering.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Just a little negative

Friends and Internet vagabonds, I try very hard not to be negative. This is true in life as well as in my blog. I won't pretend that I'm always successful, but I do try. So, my flight can be cancelled and I have to make tracks to an entirely different terminal for a flight with another airline (where there are problems with my reservation), and I'm okay with that because I still got to Vancouver for my next flight. My luggage can just not show up at Toronto and that's okay, because this morning I listened to that still, small voice, and put my two medications in my carry-on, and everything else was non-essential.

But being separated from people I love? Especially the cutest, smartest, most charming babies ever? SUCKS AND BLOWS.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rainy, but okay

For those of you who have been following the news of the wet weather - and the resulting flooding - here in the Pacific Northwest, I am thankful to report that all is well in this neck of the woods. We've been watching the local news here, and there is a lot of flooding happening around the state and in Oregon (where wind speeds have been clocked at 129 miles per hour!). This weather is highly unusual, even for the Pacific Northwest.

Tomorrow, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will be heading back to Toronto. It's been a great trip. Lorelai and Reece are at that age when only mommy - or often daddy - will do, but I feel like we've had a chance to bond some more and it's certainly been very cool to witness their development and have chances to cuddle, tickle, and hold them. Sometime when they're older, maybe they'll be climbing all over ME and pestering me with questions, and Joe and Lisa will have to try to keep them from barging into my room, etc., and I am very much looking forward to that, but for now it's all real and as things should be, and I'm grateful just to be here.

Since I've been here and focused on babies, I've also had a really good break. No gym, no work, no running here and there, little stress, very little Internet surfing, etc. LOTS of sleep (I think about 10 hours a night!), a bit of reading, eating lots of healthy food, cleaning the kitchen and changing a diaper here and there, and mostly just living in the moment. I highly recommend it.


Originally uploaded by Noisypond.


Originally uploaded by Noisypond.


Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

I should tell you that my brother and sister-in-law are tidy people; this is just a momentary toy explosion that occurred, and frankly it was on my watch. But I love this shot because it makes me think of the seventies for some reason. Maybe because it's just classic behaviour.

(Incidentally, Reece is playing with a water bottle that has spiral pasta inside. It's a cheap toy, and a favourite one for both twins. I highly recommend it for other parents - not that I have any credentials whatsoever for making any kind of recommendation, but - you know.)

A special bond

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

My nephew the goof

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

He's half Canadian, after all ...

Feeding time at the zoo

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

Cottage cheese fingers

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

My niece

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

Family fun

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

Here's a photo of the twins' favourite past-time. It's not really racing, as much as getting to see each other have as much fun as they're having. They LOOOOOVE this game. Lorelai in particular loves riding on someone's shoulders. The glee, folks ... it's pretty spetacular.

Supermodel in the making

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

Here's Lorelai, and make no mistake - she is definitely posing for the camera. How can I be sure? Well, whenever the camera is pointed in her direction, she scrunches up her nose and grins, often pulling one side of her lip higher than the other. It's soooo cute. Not photogenic, but darling all the same.

An armful o' baby

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.