Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Pants Strike Back

Back in my Old Life, people had a habit of panicking whenever I wasn't around for any length of time. Like, any length of time. Ten minutes could be enough to set certain folk off. They'd phone a couple of times, then follow up with an email when I didn't pick up, then get my out of office response and rather than just wait the hour for my dentist appointment or whatever to wrap up, they'd start calling up other people and getting them involved in the problem. So I'd come back to three phone messages, an email saying I had three phone messages, and five people who didn't know how to solve the problem running around trying to help. It would invariably take ten times longer to delete the messages, talk everyone down from the ledge, and untangle the ensuing mess of having all those extra cooks in the kitchen - none of whom had been given the recipe - than it took to deal with the original issue.

I'm just gonna come right out and say it: my specialty is vegetation. Vegetation. Frankly, it's generally not all that pressing. I know this; you know this; why the hell didn't they know this? One of life's enduring mysteries. I've started thinking of the Vegetation Emergency as a recent entry into the long list of cryptids that humanity just can't seem to shake its belief in. I picture it being green and leafy and vaguely humanoid, shaking hands with Ogopogo and Sasquatch as they welcome it into the fold: "Hey, man, good to meet you. You really caused a stir out there today - nicely done."

I started setting my out of office response to read, "If you are suffering a Vegetation Emergency, please contact (so-and-so) for assistance. Otherwise, I will address your request when I return from the fricking dentist in thirty minutes so keep your panties on already."

(Okay, so those last thirteen words are pure fantasy, but I dearly wished from the bottom of my withered little heart that I could say them.) Not that deploying this clever message changed anything, mind you, but it did make me feel a little better to passive-aggressively point out that there is no such thing as a Vegetation Emergency. (Medium Fry asked me for an example of an oxymoron yesterday and that is precisely the example I gave her. True story.)

So fast forward to my New Life, and you can imagine my surprise when my good friend - let's call her The Boss - called me up one day as I was heading back to site after vacation and said, "Hey, I need you stop at (such-and-such) Creek on your way in. They're having a Vegetation Emergency out there."

...  "No. They're not."

"What?"

"You know better: there's no such thing."

"Well, they think they are anyway. Can you stop in?"

(I should mention at this point that I was on a pants strike at the time of this conversation - it was just too damn hot for pants for the duration of my vacation, and I wasn't quite back to work yet, sooo...)

"Um, I'm not exactly dressed for the occasion."

"Don't worry about it. Just go help them out."

"Seriously. I'm wearing a skirt."

"Haha, Wes won't mind. Tell him I said it was alright by me."

"Okay, Boss. Whatever you say. Tell him I'm on my way."

Dang.

Oh well, I thought, it'll just be Wes and maybe a couple of his helpers. I'll just pop in and pop out and no one will even know about this major safety violation and wildly inappropriate pipeline right-of-way fashion faux pas...

And this is how it came to be that I found myself on right-of-way, in a skirt and some token safety goggles, stopping dead the activities of no fewer than eleven pipeline construction workers. A trackhoe slowly creaked to a halt, mid-scoop. Three fellows who were hand-bombing some erosion berms put down their shovels and stared. The construction foreman and inspector looked up from their conversation and grinned and waved. I died a little inside.

(I should also mention that there aren't a lot of women around your typical construction spread. And none of them are wearing skirts.)

(weakly) "Uh, Boss told me you guys are having a, um, vegetation *gag* emergency?"

"Oh, yep, yep, right over here, we don't know what to do about this."

"Y'know, I was just driving back from vacation - I wouldn't normally wear - it's just that Boss said..."

"Oh, no, haha, it's great, just great. Man, this is the best thing we've seen all year! Thanks for coming out. Like, really, thanks. You're gonna be famous now."

Wouldn't you know, it turned out not to be a Vegetation Emergency after all, yet that fantastical creature still managed to follow me all the way from my Old Life to rise from the depths of someone's imagination in the middle of Saskatchewan and bite me in the ass again. Amazing.
    

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Apron Strings

I had a meeting with a financial planner last Thursday. Hey, here's something no one tells you about meeting with a financial planner: it's a lot like buying a swimsuit. So save up your self-esteem before you head in, 'cause you're gonna feel like ass afterward.

At one point during our meeting, financial planner guy said, "It's really something they should teach in school." First of all: Riiiiight. Have you met kids, buddy? It takes them two weeks to learn how to work combination locks. GICs are probably a little out of their grasp.

Secondly: Alright everyone, fess up. How many times have you said those same words about things you only learned about as an adult? In reality, there's only so much time in a day in the classroom, and reading and multiplication are pretty handy skills sooo... you're prolly gonna have to figure some stuff out on your own at some point. Exactly what those things are depends a lot on what your parents know: I'll bet Financial Planner's kids don't know a thing about edible and useful plants, for instance, but mine sure do. (Heck, Small Fry has even cottoned on to some of the salient points of taxonomy - he asked me the other day whether my glasses were in the window family.) So my kids are probably going to need financial planning advice one day, and his kids are not going to know what to wipe their butts with if they need to poop in the woods. You win; you lose.

To be totally honest, I'm always criticizing stuff Medium Fry learns in school. I don't agree with this; I think they should have taken a more nuanced approach with that; wtf is an integer? - y'know, those kinds of things. But I gotta tell ya, it wasn't until she signed up for Foods class this year that I really came into my own. I feel like - I dunno - like a Kitchen Elder or something. All sage and savvy and rocking an apron. Here are just some of the many quality things that Medium Fry has learned in my kitchen that they didn't teach her in Foods class:

- Freezer Management.
- The importance of having a designated no-garlic-or-onions spatula.
- Real vanilla. Real butter. Show that recipe some respect.
- (New cuss words - various.)
- No point putting the battery back in until the smoke clears.
- Clean As You Go.
- Nutmeg: proceed with caution.
- Whisk faster! Faster!
- Don't count your chickens before they hatch, but do count your eggs before you start cooking.
- No! You do not need to mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls!
- Okay, well, you do for this recipe, but not that last one.
- Sleep while the baby sleeps; cry while the baby cries; wash dishes while the muffins bake.
- Are you kidding? No one ever helps me wash dishes. I'm just going to sit and drink my tea awhile.
- Srsly. Put some veggies on the menu, kid.
- You don't decide what to bake; what to bake is preordained by the number of bananas turning to mush on the counter or the quantity of slightly-past-due yogurt in the fridge.
- This also applies to what to make for supper. (See 'Freezer Management.')
- When you are old enough to get PMS, you will need this recipe. Here, I'll write you out a copy myself.

Yup, my kids will grow up able to wipe their butts in the forest, swear like sailors and cook a decent meal. I think we're still ahead of the curve.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beer Garden

I got the weirdest message from an old buddy recently. Like, really old - I don't think he's ever seen me without braces. He found me through LinkedIn. If he still worked at McDonald's after all these years I would not have accepted his invitation to connect, however, it seemed as if he had embarked on a suitably high-powered professional career, so I accepted. (People seem less suspect to me if they have at least $40K in student loan debts kicking around.)

Accept!

Within minutes, I had an email in my inbox. Old Buddy jumped right in with a brief synopsis of his life for the past seventeen years - university, career, marriage, kids, divorce - and followed up with a resounding, "All the while wishing I was with you instead."

Hmm. I really need to stop equating the burden of student loan debt with any qualities more redeeming than the capacity to fill out a lot of forms.

Delete!
 
That is messed up in, like, ten different directions. First off, are you dying to meet the Fantasy Me this poor fellow has been manufacturing in his head all this time? Because I sure am. I wonder if she at all resembles the Fantasy Me who lives in my head...

I had been genuinely happy to hear from my Old Buddy, but then he lobbed this awkward L-bomb at me and I was crushed. It would have been easier to deal with if he had said I ruined his life by more active means - at least then I could apologize. But how can I be culpable for the unauthorized misrepresentation of my likeness in his fantasy life, or the passive cruelty of a teenaged me? I didn't even know how he felt.

The worst thing for me is that this shakes my belief in the possibility of friendship between men and women. Is there always an ulterior motive on the part of at least one party involved in the (ostensible) friendship? Is the true, platonic, gender-neutral relationship like the Yeti or the small batch of chili - mythical creatures, existence never proven? Have millions of years of human evolution culminated in nothing better than bilaterally symmetrical sacks of hormones that surf professional networking sites hunting for the one that got away?

I've been mulling over this dilemma for a few weeks now - and it is a dilemma, because I have several male friends who are pretty special to me. I know I'm feeling evolved enough not to need to club them over the head and drag them back to my cave for some hot monkey love, and for all I joke about men I'm not actually convinced that they're a different species (if we prick them, do they not bleed?) so I have to assume we're all more or less on the same level. Not to mention that I would have to be a pretty insufferable bighead to go around thinking everyone who wants to occasionally catch up over a beer is secretly in love with me. (If we start catching up over Beef Wellington and red wine and a crackling fire, well, I might start to wonder, but beer - no big.) 

So I would like to propose a more nuanced solution to this conundrum: I know I try to avoid spending time with people I dislike, so let's just guess that, generally, we choose to be friends with people we like. And despite the astronomical divorce rate and how much everyone on Earth whines about their spouse, what does approximately every wedding invitation ever made say on it? 'Today I marry my best friend.' So let's also guess that, generally, we try to marry people we get along with. It seems to me that it naturally follows that some (highly variable) amount of future relationship potential exists between any pair of people who get along alright. What doesn't follow naturally is that potential being entertained or realized: the germination rate is as low as we choose to make it. And the occasional beer has not been proven - at least in my 'gardening' experience - to enhance that rate.

I remain a believer. Cheers to that.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Great Pumpkin

In keeping with his nascent criminal tendencies, Small Fry lifted a mini pumpkin from the flu immunization clinic on Halloween.

In an act that I'm sure to come to regret later as having nurtured the Seeds of Badass sprouting within him, I gave the theft a decisive "meh" and carried on with our afternoon plans. However, this long-term-poor decision has turned out in the short term to be inexplicably awesome: pumpkin rolling has become the latest craze in our house. Seems there is nary an activity into which pumpkin rolling cannot be incorporated. Yoga, dominoes, lunch - you name it, my kids are rolling a mini pumpkin around in it. And that pumpkin is truly beloved: it debuted at number 1 among the most bickered-over items in the entire household arsenal of available toys.

(I don't pretend to understand this phenomenon, but it does occur to me that the job of designing new products for children must be a deceptively difficult one.)

Although it can sometimes be hard for the recipient to grasp the honour imparted by the act - sortof like when your cat brings you a dead mouse - the granting of permission to use toys of particular importance to a child can be viewed as a proximal measure of the esteem in which the child holds a given person. (At that particular point in time, anyway - again, very cat-like.) Judging by the withering look Small Fry gave me when I initially declined his sweet little invitation to "woll my pumpkin?" in favour of finishing up the dishes I was washing, it must be a bit of a cultural thing, with adults originating on some far away planet with inscrutable norms where no one rolls pumpkins or basically has any fun at all. ("Okay, okay, jeez, I'll come roll your pumpkin, just stop looking at me like that already!")

Parenting fail. I should really know better by now.

But kids know. They get it. When someone says to them what really amounts to, 'Hey, wanna do some weird shit with me that I think is pretty rad?' there's no hesitation - they're all in. They're smashing driveways and rolling pumpkins like nobody's business. If only we could carry that enthusiasm and enjoyment of the happiness of others with us over to Planet GrownUp the world would surely be a better place.

Yesterday, Small Fry invited Neighbour Baby to both roll his pumpkin and rub his sheepie. Neighbour Baby promptly and happily - yet solemnly, as befit such an occasion - obliged. And I know Small Fry would do the same for him.

Theirs is a true bromance.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Also Bread Tags

Welcome to Frecklicious' two hundredth post! Thank you for your dedicated patronage these past years. Our celebratory extravaganza has been brought to you by Stuff That I Don't Know Why It's In My House. Let's meet our Platinum Sponsors of the event:

Only slightly less effective than knitting yourself a new sweater.



I have been collecting this for precisely four hundred years; it amounts to just under $5. In "money." Worst return on investment E-V-E-R.
I repeat: I do not own a television. What could these possibly be for?
Ah, yes. The traditional Christmas... capybara.

Gold Sponsors include: jar of capers; juicer; antique silver tea set; antique* Silver jeans (*haven't fit since before I had children); Weird Al Yankovic CD; pair of ornamental swords.

Silver Sponsors include: university graduation neck tassels; bottle of butane; every diet book ever written (mint condition); adhesive novelty moustache; orphan Gladware lids; Christmas hand towels; Christmas dish towels; Christmas regular-towels.

A big shout-out to our sponsors: thanks for helping me get over my two-hundredth-post performance anxiety! I couldn't have done it without you. Mwah.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Embossed Carbuncle

I hate when hotels book me and my field partner(s) into adjacent rooms. There is a good reason we're getting separate rooms, thank you: we just spent all day together and we would like a wee bit of separation for a few hours so we can do it all over again tomorrow - and the next day, and the next - without coming to despise one another in very short order. As for the adjacent rooms thing, well, I'd like to spare this individual even the dulcet tones of my personal activities/functions (and vice versa) in the off-hours.

* * *
1:08am: Awakened by the echoing thunder of urination in the hotel echo chamber-slash-bathroom next door. 
1:23am: Wakeful state maintained by sounds of tossing and turning. Field partner appears to have insomnia.
1:25am: Also gas.
   ...
4:40am: Thank gawd, I think she's asleep again. Just in time for us to get up and go back to work.

* * *
I just don't get it. It's almost as if the average hotel employee has never done field work before or something.

Burn!

If you have the sort of livelihood that doesn't include field work you might not be aware that there is a certain amount of insult in suggesting that someone has never done field work - amongst folks who do or have done it, anyway. What kind of insult? Well, it's sortof like Shakespearean slander: tough to put a finger on exactly. It hints at a dearth of common sense; implies a modicum of insulation from reality; excludes the target from an esoteric clique of which you, naturally, are an elite member; and smacks of an inability to comprehend the untamed majesty that is a field person. So rude, eh?

I also make this snap judgement about people who don't seem to cope well with children. Here, in a nutshell, is what field work is about: you get together a shit-ton of gear and snacks, stuff it all in an enormous vehicle, and pray for the best. There's also a ton of paperwork, safety gear, and poop schedule management, plus you're tired, grumpy and drinking a lot of coffee. Sound familiar? That's because it's exactly the same as having children. Here's a free tip: Never mind paying down your mortgage or whatever the hell it is you think is going to make you "ready" to exert your reproductive potential. If you have done field work, you are as ready as you'll ever be.

Bonus Tip: Serve or consume the exact same meals at the exact same times every day. Never be surprised by an ill-timed BM again.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

XXXIV Olympiad

Mr. Neighbour stopped by the other evening, towing Neighbour Baby (now a toddler) along with one hand and wielding an enormous, rusty Allen wrench with the other. (I later learned that these sorts of things are used for performing mechanical-type actions on vehicles, but in my present state of ignorance immediately started crafting an excuse about why I couldn't help him assemble his oversize Ikea furniture; fortunately, he interrupted my thoughts before anything to that effect came out of my mouth.)

"Hi. We found this in the bushes between the yards. Is it yours?"
(Whew!) "Um, nope."
"Okay, just thought I'd check before I tossed it out. I wouldn't want the boys getting hold of it."
"Yeah, good thinking."

Small Fry ambled over and, in his sweet little Mickey Mouse voice, chirped, "Hey, that's mine, Mommy!"
Mr. Neighbour and I exchanged a glance. "Er, it is?"
"Yep. I use it for smashing the driveway."

Let's just say that one more time for effect: I use it for smashing the driveway. Wrong on so many levels in itself, but gets even worse on closer inspection: turns out Small Fry stole the wrench from the other-side-neighbour's driveway ("It was just sitting there for a weally long time. Dey weren't using it or anything."), smashed stealthily away at the driveway when he sensed the coast was clear, and hid the evidence in the shrubbery when it wasn't.

"Smash!" said Neighbour Baby.

And, apparently, employed Neighbour Baby as an accomplice.

I thought all along the (now approximately two-metre square) broken area at the toe of our driveway had been disintegrating naturally due to wear and tear. I thought "shoddy workmanship." After a recent Margaret Atwood binge, heck, I even thought about asphalt-eating microbes. I thought pretty much everything but Small Fry and a stolen Allen wrench. The child is five. Imagine the dedication this took. If Neighbour Baby hadn't turned him in, he probably would have gone all Shawshank Redemption on me and tunneled his way completely out.

I had been thinking of getting Small Fry into music lessons one day soon, but it is now clear to me that he doesn't need to get any smarter - what he needs is to get way more tired. And this needs to happen in some way that will not make me even more tired than I already am, because I'm obviously not on the ball here as it is. He needs... swimming lessons. Lots of them. Every bloody day, either forever or until he moves out, whichever comes first.
 
I used to look at elite athletes with a certain amount of awe; all I can think of now is what a pain in the ass they must have been when they were kids.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Momatello

DH and I were chatting about something the other day - don't recall what exactly - and he misheard something I said as, "I've been arrested once."

Now, two things here before I carry on with the story: first, I have never been arrested; and second, this is the same fellow who found it wildly arousing when I accidentally stole a package of sewing needles from Wal-Mart. The look on his face when he heard I had not only been involved in petty theft but actually arrested for something implied that I had just stumbled on the best thing for marital relations since the Horney Crisp. Jackpot!

Unfortunately, I had to ruin the mood by confessing that I hadn't been arrested, only misunderstood. DH and I have known each other for about 12 years; surely he should realize by now that there's no way I could have kept something that exciting under wraps that long. In fact, I've often considered that perhaps being a leeetle more enigmatic might be a good... BAHAHA. Just kidding. But it did get me thinking that a sweet way to keep things fresh in a relationship would be to save up a few whopper secrets from your life and dole them out, one at a time, every 5-10 years or so. If you're lucky, your significant other will be surprised and happy - heck, maybe even turned on! - by your revelations. If you're less lucky maybe you'll find yourself suddenly alone again, in which case you get to start the fun over with someone new. Wins all around!

Hey, I'll tell you all a little secret - ready? Sometimes we let the Fries watch cartoons online. (Turned on yet? No? Dang.) See, the thing is, I haven't owned a television in over ten years. I think there are a lot of benefits to not having a boob tube kicking around but recently I've realized that there are some benefits to the ol' rectangular babysitter too - namely the opportunity to lie in for an hour on weekend mornings - so we've taken to shooing the kids off to go veg on the couch with a laptop while we stay in bed. It's been fricking marvelous. First we got Small Fry hooked up with every episode, ever, of the Ninja Turtles (there were an astonishing number of them - I was only familiar with the original "heroes in a half-shell" version); now he's on to X-Men. In addition to the excitement of sleeping in, it's also been fun to hear how Small Fry assigns superhero cartoon identities to his humble family members. He's quick enough to realize that I'm obviously Donatello (in some later version of the Ninja Turtles theme song, "the brains of the bunch" - natch), but seems a little confused by X-Men: he thinks he is Nightcrawler, when clearly I'm the coolest person in the family and should naturally have been awarded the role. ('Sides, who else but a mom could put a prehensile tail to best use? Duh.) We've been bickering about this for a couple of weekends now:

"I'm Nightcrawler and Nightcrawler only walks on his toes, see Mommy, like dis!"
"Um, I'm way better at walking on my toes than you are so I'm totally Nightcrawler."

I think I won that one, don't you? Must be 'cause I'm the brains of the bunch.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Arrrr Matey

I love you, man.
Hey, so does anyone else have a running list in your head of foods you could happily eat until you actually blew up? Pirate cookies are def high on my list. Oh gawwwd, do I ever love pirate cookies. They make me weak in the... wherever it is I keep my willpower.

I once invented a homemade recipe for pirate cookies that was even more powerful than the original, if you can believe it. Like, seventeen times more. There's a bubble universe somewhere where I'm making a killing peddling those things like crack, but in this universe I had to burn the recipe for fear of ruining my girlish figure.

And speaking of my girlish figure, it's really not. I'm mostly pretty cool with this* but I sometimes** still fret that other people might not have reached quite the same level of acceptance as I have with the ol' voluptuosity. Mostly this manifests as a general, all-encompassing suite of appearance and food-related anxieties. Y'know, nothing much. Just everything.

* not really
** perpetually

In a direct manifestation of my own irrational concerns that people are constantly judging me about what food products I am or am not purchasing or consuming, I realized that I habitually assess other people's food purchases and make snap judgements about their lifestyles and personalities. Call it grocery cart phrenology (GCP). I can't help it - the thoughts form in my mind regardless of the fact that my rational brain is fully aware that it is ridiculous. But it's tough when people play to type: college kids with a cart heaped with potato chips and 2L bottles of pop (i.e., mix); hypertanned and ripped people with two baskets (carts would be too easy) full of chicken breasts and cottage cheese; unhealthy-looking families with more or less the same pickings as the frat boys; old people with Bovril and bananas. I'll bet you a nickel that cashiers make similar inferences all the time.

Actually, I know they do - when I was a cashier, I always did. You couldn't help it; you could see the patterns. I once had an elderly regular at the grocery store where I worked come through my till with a bag of cherries - Oh, he told me, he just loved cherries. Could eat them 'til he darn near blew up. This is how the pattern went:

Day 1: bag of cherries.
Day 2: bag of cherries.
Day 3: bag of cherries and a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

Let he among us who would not have noticed that and imagined certain aspects of this fellow's life cast the first stone, but I'm pretty convinced that GCP is a common phenomenon.

Normally I try to prevent anyone conducting GCP on me by tossing confounding items like kale and lightbulbs into my cart, but I must have been in a cloud today because I didn't notice until I got to the till that my purchase consisted entirely of fem hygiene and pirate cookies. Hello! Super obvious! I grabbed a pack of gum and stuck it on the pile. Much less obvious that way that I'm bitchy and binging, right?

Oh, hell. Gum doesn't work at all as well as kale and lightbulbs. I put the gum back and added wine gums and two gossip magazines to the pile. Might as well roll with it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gym Class Heroine

Medium Fry possesses a unique ability to be simultaneously stunningly bright and stunningly ... well, stunned. We saw a bunch of kids doing a triathlon a while ago and I mused aloud that I had not been the sort of kid who would have devoted my summers to training for a triathlon. (To be clear, I am also not that sort of adult.) She concurred, then - when I asked what activities she liked to do well enough to make them into her own personal triathlon - offered up that she liked swimming, biking and running a lot and would probably do those instead.  

Instead. Of a triathlon. Oh my gawd.

Small Fry piped up that he would play, dog paddle, watch cartoons, ride his bike and eat candy for his triathlon.

Utter foolishness, I know, but the kid does have a point: having thus redefined both trei and athlos, the possibility arose for even someone like me to participate in a "triathlon". And as it turned out, once I started thinking on it I discovered that there are a great many activities I enjoy enough to devote my summers to. I like hiking, for instance. Paddling. Camping. Sex. Some light shopping. A good, brisk nap. Fine dining. Fine wining. Blogging. Singing. Carding. Golly, now that I've started listing activities I may even have to try out for the decathlon. Who knew I was such an athlete!

I even bought a swimsuit; I could start training for the hot tubbing event! Heck, let's start tonight! Or the tricky drinking-wine-while-hot-tubbing event; I'm top notch at that one too. (I then blow the rest of the competition out of the water at pretty much everything for the next 24 hours because I'm ace at the No Hangovers event and it's a rare talent to say the least.)

Well, Mrs. Pomahac, you mean and manly and overtanned grade seven girls' gym teacher you, so much for both your hypothesis that I lacked any athletic abilities and your repeated assurances that I was pretty much crap as a result. Turns out I'm awesome after all. I'd stick around to rub it in your leathery old face some more, but I've got a decathlon to run today. Starting with this post.

Mix Tape: Summer 2013

I have a life of small adventures. This works for me - I can really squeeze a lot of happiness out of day to day events. I like to think of it as a great efficiency of mine, plus it's way cheaper (not to mention safer) than any sort of dedicated thrill-seeking.

To make life even more exciting, I like to pretend that even the smallest adventures or uncertainties may result in dire consequences; I also like to help spice up others' lives by letting them in on the fun. Frequently, I achieve this by telling them that if I die (during whatever small adventure is on my plate for the day - checking in to a sketchy motel, for instance, or assessing a wetland guarded by a pair of protective nesting songbirds), they can have my mix tapes.

I say mix tape rather than playlist not just to date myself (we all know I'm plenty old), but because playlists lack any physical permanence and therefore - in my humble opinion - would be a pretty lousy thing to leave to someone. I heard a story of a woman who tried to gather together all her correspondence from a loved one who had passed away and was left with essentially nothing aside from occasional emails saying, 'I just texted you. Check your phone,' or, 'Did you get my text?' This is what I imagine playlists will amount to one day - a gap in the record of someone you used to know, that you have no way of filling. So I'm leaving people my mix tapes. (Which also don't precisely "exist" in a material sense [given that I never made any] but considering that the likelihood of my dying during any given small adventure is extraordinarily low, I'm sure no one will find this out and be disappointed by my duplicity.)

If mix tapes still existed anymore (do they?) it would only make sense that their contents would capture the spirit of one's life adventures. So I've been keeping a running list. For instance, a song that keeps popping into my head this summer is A Mind with a Heart of Its Own: I remember her standing in the tall grass and cattails; Away from the windows at the end of the day. That is the only line in the whole damn song that it at all applicable to my situation (i.e., spending a lot of time communing with wetlands), but it drags the rest of the song along with it so it's making the mix tape.

Sometimes when I'm Miles from Our Home, in some little town Where No One Knows Me, I'll be reminded of the interest a Red Headed Stranger (or, really, any sort of stranger) can engender amongst the locals. I'm Too Shy to really enjoy speaking with strangers but it seems they always have So Much to Say when they learn what it is I'm doing in town, and while it's wonderful that they clearly believe We're Going to Be Friends, I often find my afternoons Slip Slidin' Away. (Last week I stopped in a small town hotel to grab some lunch and ended up having an audience with the entire restaurant; this somehow led to the proprietor bringing me samples of wheat that had been affected by wheat midge - to stick in my purse, of course - and an invitation to the wedding of two people I didn't know, by another person I didn't know.) (I declined.)

By the time I get On the Road Again, I'm a little frazzled and I invariably end up Wasting Time on a Road to Nowhere. It doesn't help that I'm in a province Where the Streets Have No Name (ahem, seriously Saskatchewan - what's up with that?), but half the time the Days Go By and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (this because Where the Streets Have No Name). Which is frustrating for sure but I simply remind myself that I'm in Love with My Car [truck], plus It's a Beautiful Day, and I can't help but Smile.

Although this list lacks a strictly physical being, now that I've posted it on the interweb it's about as permanent as anything could hope to be (just ask anyone whose nude photos have made it online) and I can leave it to you in my will in good conscience. Y'know, just in case the wildlife survey I'm assisting with later today takes a fatal turn.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Spare a Dime?

Remember the old days when you used to scrounge up all your loose coins and small bills so you could buy a Slurpee or a pack of smokes, or cover the minimum charge at your favourite coffee hangout? Maybe a friend would agree to cover your minimum charge with the change from their couch if you supplied the cigarettes with the change from yours. And, oh! If you had a pocket full of cash it would practically beg to be spent so you'd very magnanimously offer to spring for both smokes and coffee for your buddy if only he'd skip school with you for the afternoon. You'd be broke again in no time and the cycle would begin anew.

It's been positively ages since I fretted about whether a restaurant was going to have a $2.50 minimum charge and in fact, I haven't so much as taken a calculator to the grocery store in years. (Having spent the first few years of Medium Fry's life wondering how I was going to afford to feed her, I take this as a pretty solid indicator that I have Arrived in life.) Yet today I relived that old boom-bust cycle; the only difference was the currency.

I've been on a real upswing lately. Many wonderful things have been happening for me; many kind and generous things have been said. Mark Twain claimed he could live for two months on a good compliment and I would have to say I feel about the same. It was this recent lode of external affirmation, fairly burning a hole in my pocket, that prompted me to go all in on a massive self-esteem blowout that had the potential to leave me emotionally destitute for months:

I went shopping for swimwear.

The swimwear department at any store is a depressing place. There's an aura of despair, a psychic black hole. You can see it in the shambles of the overstuffed returns rack; hear it in the muttered curses emanating from the adjacent change rooms; feel it in the high-test Lycra shirring. No one makes eye contact amongst the racks. No one smiles. I stood a safe distance away from the event horizon and counted my change:

You come highly recommended. We're very excited to have you on the team. I'm really looking forward to working with you! Thanks so much for all the awesome work you've done. Well-prepared deliverables. Excellent writing. Here's a paycheque to commemorate your awesomeness. (This last one has been paraphrased slightly from the original, but remains legal tender by my accounting.)

That's pretty good, I thought. But maybe I should check a little deeper to shore up resources, just in case:

You're a good mother. You have nice shoulders. You're a bit of a rare plant yourself. If I weren't already married, I'd be all up in your shit like you wouldn't believe. I hope I can be as good a parent as you one day. Best post yet!! LOVED IT!!! You really stack the dishes nice.

Fingering these coins - big and small - for luck, I went in.

Black, I thought. It's slimming. Or maybe dizzying patterns in shocking colours so it's hard to look directly at me for too long. Also full coverage - avert wardrobe malfunctions. Oooh, this one says 'full-figured', that sounds promising. What the heck, only a D cup? What kind of bullshit full-figured is that? Assholes. Oooh! Sparkles! What is this? A swim skirt? How the hell are you supposed to swim in a skirt? "Look 10 lbs lighter in 10 seconds" you say? Don't mind if I do. If that's a built in bra I'm a monkey's uncle. More black, more black...

Noticing that I had acquired quite an armload of potential candidates, I asked the sales clerk how many items I was allowed to take into the change rooms. "As many as you want," she replied jauntily, then whispered, "I know how embarrassing it is."

I looked at her 110-lb pre-pregnancy and decidedly-not-middle-aged frame and decided that she probably didn't know at all how embarrassing it was, but refrained from slapping her lest she change her mind about letting me take two dozen items into the change room.

I lost every last shred of self confidence by about the fourth item and was weeping openly by the sixth, but since I was already standing around naked in a poorly lit sea of swim separates I soldiered on. Then - around item sixteen - a breakthrough: I discovered I could regard myself in the mirror and not be consumed by self loathing in this particular ensemble. In fact, it was actually not entirely unpleasant to behold. And both the little swim bottom (black) and the swim tank (eye boggling pattern) were on sale. Perhaps the miracle of the Miraclesuit was not that it itself would render me miraculously attractive (it didn't), but that it would effect miracles if carried into the change room with me and discarded in a fit of disgust in a rubbery heap on the floor. Eureka! I had simply misunderstood the label! Thank you, Miraclesuit.








And thank you, purveyors of fine compliments in my life. Without you I would still be patiently awaiting the day when I lost those last, stubborn eighty pounds so I could buy a swim suit.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Diet, Schmiet

I am often overwhelmed by the perfect knowledge of the exact wrong-est thing to do in everyday situations. I'm not sure what this says about me, precisely, but I will take this confession as an opening to apologize in advance to my children for when I develop dementia and my civilized veneer is removed from me, thus opening the Pandora's box of a lifetime of barely-suppressed perverse humour. (Yes, I'm suppressing it dammit.) (Most of it, anyway.)

I say overwhelmed because the scenarios spring to mind with such force at times that I have to physically pause and reconsider my knee-jerk course of action. The extremely effeminate clerk at the Body Shop who instructed me to "just slip it in the bottom" upon payment likely believed I was mildly handicapped when I froze in place rather than insert my chip card into the reader. He reiterated his instructions, louder and more slowly the second time, as I choked down the politically incorrect quip that had nearly forced its way out of my mouth.

Whew, I thought. Dodged that bullet.

But how long can I maintain the lucky streak when the bullets are coming, fast and furious, from my own mind? Maybe I should avoid caffeine, that'd surely slow me down. But I'm not sure my reflexes could keep up then either. It's an arms race in there.

Following some sage dieting wisdom, which suggests that no foods should be considered entirely off-limits lest one begin feeling deprived and commence binging on the forbidden items, I allow myself to express a modicum of insanity in hopes of warding off the worst of it. So blogging is like having a small slice of chocolate cake after eating all the fruits and vegetables of propriety for the day. Placing holds on two dozen romance novels with DH's library card is like a middling scoop of ice cream to accompany my cake. Making oatmeal in the hotel room coffee pot is like a humorous little cherry on top to reward myself for not skinny dipping in the hotel hot tub, which is what I really thought would be hilarious.

Unfortunately, if you know me you'll appreciate that I'm obviously a terribly unsuccessful dieter, and it is treats that are my downfall. Treats beget more treats, beget entitlement to treats, beget my going entirely, inexorably off the deep end of Treatsville. So I could strive for complete abolishment of my little appeasements, but who's to say whether that would work over the long term either? One well-placed amyloid plaque bomb or neurofibrillary trip wire - heck, even a momentarily undercaffeinated defense system! - and I could go down in a blaze of inappropriateness. 'Sides, if I held it all back all the time the people around me would be completely unprepared come the inevitable; they wouldn't know what hit them.

Again: sorry, kids. I can only hope that a childhood filled with my antics has inoculated you sufficiently against this dire future.

Monday, June 17, 2013

PPMP

No time to write these days, busy busy! But I thought I'd take a minute and show y'all a snippet of what I've been up to lately while I've been too busy to nurture my blog. I'm calling it the Prairie Poop Mushroom Project. (Entirely in my own head since I've been working alone a ton and I'm the only person around to discuss the idea with.)





 
 

So many cow pies growing so many kinds of mushrooms! Simply fascinating. It leads one to wonder what might happen in time to one's own deposits left in the Bank of Nature on certain occasions...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tipping Point

I recognize that folks need days off now and again. Why, I'm even having a few days off myself. So many days, in fact, that I may take up penning country songs as a side gig to pass the time. Right now I'm working on one called Thirteen Ripe Bananas and Time on My Hands (the Muffin Song):

Why'd I go and buy so damn many bananas?
I knew I'd feel guilty just a throwin' them away.
So I'm spending all my time home in my pyjamas
Baking a hundred thousand muffins on my holiday.

I've been pretty busy washing mixing bowls and stuff so it's not quite done yet, but I've got some sweet riffs on the whisk and a great spatula solo too. You're gonna love it.

I hope that other people who take days off don't spend them making muffins. Like my stylist, for instance. I'll be he has never made a muffin in his life, especially not on his days off**. He takes Sundays and Mondays off. I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but it's a natural true fact of life that you can't get a sate sub or a haircut on a Monday to save your soul. It's another natural true fact of life that my bangs have two lengths: okay, and FREAKING OUT - NEED A TRIM RIGHT THIS INSTANT. (I don't know why they grow that way, they just do.) Yesterday was a Monday; guess which length my bangs were when I woke up in the morning.

** Feras, you lazy arse, if you were just sitting around your kitchen making muffins while I was suffering a Hair Emergency I am going to be seriously pissed.

* * *

"Honey, what's going on up there?"
"Nothing."
"I hear a lot of snipping sounds."
"If you hear crying sounds, then you can start to worry."
"That doesn't make me feel better."
"Man, I have a ton of hair. Hey dear, could you vacuum me a little please?"
"... What?"
"COULD you VACUUM me PLEASE?"
"I heard you, I just don't understand you. What the hell are you doing?"
"Just shut up and bring the vacuum."
"Are you ever weird."

* * *

Why'd I go and cut my very own hair, Feras?
I surely could have waited for another day.
Now I'm spending all my time home in my pyjamas
Making muffins 'cause I just can't leave the house lookin' this way.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Never Knew Me A Better Time

There's a new massage place near my house advertising Swedish massage. I have no idea what is so Swedish about it, but I've never met a massage I didn't like so I figured I'd give it a try this week.

The certificates on the wall were all in German. Whoo! This place was very continental. Feeling oddly pleased that I hadn't shaved my legs in a few days, I made a mental note to eat a croissant later to round out my virtual European tour.

A sturdy blonde woman marched out of a side room and handed me a form. 'Fill sis out. Sen ve vill start. Please.'

Clearly this woman meant business. I did as I was told. 

She glanced at the form, nodded once, and strode briskly into another side room. I followed meekly. She slapped the massage table. 'You know sie pozition? Face down, bottom up?'

2 Live Crew sprang uninvited into my head.

'Um, yes?'

'Goot. You get nakit, I vill be back in von meenute.' She thrust an index finger toward my face to emphasize one minute then bustled out the door, leaving me to scramble to get nakit and properly concealed under the blanket in T minus sixty seconds.

Oddly small blanket, too. Picture a twin coverlet on a double bed. With a queen-sized occupant. I soon learned that this was not simply due to shortages in the clinic's linens budget; rather, my entire fusty North American concept of "blanket" being equal to "covering" was flawed. There would be no bashful unveiling of discrete quadrants or limbs this day, no sir. No sooner had I magicked the undersized blanket into a semblance of modesty when Frau Fingers came marching back in and whipped the whole thing right off. This lady was serious. And she could not be expected to seriously address the assorted knots and tensions of my musculature with any sort of fabric covering in the way. She even tsked at my teensy undies.

'You like some muszik? To help relax?' Maybe she could sense that I was a little uncomfortable with the unexpected amount of nudity.

'Er, yes please.'

She turned on Elton John. 'Everybody is different,' she muttered.  

What?

My musings on what she could possibly have meant by that were interrupted by the alarming realization that massage out of bounds zones in Canada are apparently six inches or so shy of where they are in Germany/Sweden/wherever the hell. But dang, she had delightfully strong hands. Was I really going to let a little bit of Puritanical squeamishness interfere with a seriously good massage? I weighed the pros and cons of the situation then, to the tune of Crocodile Rock, actively decided not to give a shit.

There was just one thing I needed to do...

* * *

'Dear, I've done something rash.'
'Wait, I know this one: is it quit your job purchase an enormous truck and get a nose piercing?'
'Um, well, that too.'
'Oh gawd there's more. Tell me it's not a tattoo.'
'Nope...'
'Whew!'
'That's not 'til September.'
'Wait, what? And where'd you get that croissant?'
'You're getting off topic here. Stay with me.'
'Okay, what have you done now?'
'I booked a massage with a German lady.'
'...'
'A real one.'
'...'
'From Germany. I think.'
'...'
'She was very aggressive.'
'...'
'I mean, like, if you had any sort of territorial boundaries marked out, like, mentally or whatever, I think they've been well and thoroughly trespassed upon.'
'...'
'Dear, don't you have anything to say? At all?'
'Are you ever weird.'
'Okay, whatever, thought you might want to know that I've been violated a little bit is all.'
'Can it be reimbursed through your health plan?'
'Well... yes.'
'I'm sure it's fine then.'

Which led me to one final task...

* * *

Unspoken Spousal Agreement No. 722: a.k.a. the Appropriateness of Inappropriate Physical Contact by Health or Personal Care Professionals and/or Other Strangers:

722 With respect to physical contact transpiring outside the spousal partnership and inside the proprietary territorial boundaries mentally or otherwise staked out on the spouse in question's corporeal being by the other spouse:
 722.1 The amount of personal grooming allowable (albeit grudgingly) prior to incurring inappropriate physical contact by health or personal care professionals and/or other strangers shall not exceed that which is routinely or occasionally conducted for the benefit of the opposite spouse.
 722.2 Creepy physical contact incurred during the course of routine medical health procedures;
    722.2.1 shall be considered unpleasant by the spouse being subjected to the procedures; and
    722.2.2 may be preceded by some baseline amount of personal grooming, pursuant to clause 722.1.
  722.3 Creepy physical contact incurred during the course of personal care or other procedures or activities not strictly medically necessary yet deemed necessary or desirable (or at the very least tolerable) by one or both spouses;
    722.3.1 shall either be considered unpleasant by the spouse being subjected to the procedures; or
    722.3.2 may be considered not unpleasant, yet only secretly so so as not to offend the opposite spouse's sensibilities, and
    722.3.3 may be preceded by some baseline amount of personal grooming, pursuant to clause 722.1; and
    722.3.4 [new in 2013!] there are no holds barred so long as any related expenditures are reimbursable under someone's extended health and benefits plan.

Who knew. 


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Manicure! Manicure!

Call me sentimental but as I look ahead to my final week of work with my long-term employer, I can't help but search for any marks I made during my time with them. Or don't call me sentimental (I'm really not) but think of this as a microcosm of any of life's departures: we all want to know, what have we really left behind?

As for me, I've definitely broken some equipment in my day, so that's something. I've left a keyboard full of falafel crumbs. Innumerable pencils out on the prairies. Probably long red hairs clogging up most of the drains in the building.

A few sayings come to mind ('goat and cabbage', 'bundle the sheep', 'the Griffiths Hair Scale') - I hope those stick around. My opinion that Astragalus bisulcatus smells like hamster pee seems to have taken root. Countless photos of me at corporate events, reliably accessorized with a wine glass. Or bottle.

The savvy field technique of freezing a wet facecloth to stick in your lunch bag to keep your food cool until lunch then clean off the layers of grime at the end of the day.

Teaching wetlands folks the plant called pussytoes purely to ensure that there would always be pussy in their reports, since I know *some* people happen to find this objectionable.

Several dozen forks.

Even more reports.

And a ton of amazing friends.

This is where the mascara could really start to flow but, fortunately, it has been scientifically proven that there is life after consulting so you don't even need to believe in an official Afterlife to know that I've hardly effected much of a departure at all in the scheme of things. So call me sometime. Let's hang out.


For a good life
we just might have to weaken.
~The Hip~

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What the Fork II

As you'll recall, about fifteen months ago I brought you all into my kitchen to show you what's in my drawers. What fun we had! If I may be so bold, I'd like to suggest that it's high time we do it again:

Figure 1: Tally of common eating utensils found in my kitchen, from approximate date of purchase to present, with very little interim data (not to mention absolutely no word on methodology) to support my spurious conclusions.














I actually can't close my cutlery drawer anymore. It's overflowing.

I'd like to present you with a witty theory about the population dynamics of cutlery, but to be honest I'm rather baffled by the observed trends myself. I suppose I could speculate that the fork population - perhaps in a spate of nominative determinism - is reproducing at an alarming pace, while spooning seems a generally less effective mechanism for increasing population numbers, regardless of whether you're the big spoon or the little spoon.

And, clearly, the knife guys are finishing last. (Don't they always?)

Based on my highly scientifish calculations, I have made the following predictions:

By the year 2018, my cutlery drawer will be teeming with an unprecedented 28 forks, while (barring any unforeseen upsets) the big spoon population will maintain itself in a relatively stable fashion, little spoons will continue their slow decline, and butter knives will dip to historic lows.

By 2028, forks will be running rampant in territory historically utilized by little spoons. Butter knives will be declared Endangered and their black market value will skyrocket, ironically contributing to their continued demise.

By 2038 I will be reduced to spreading butter with my toes and will be experiencing difficulty in maintaining my old age diet of rice pudding, Ovaltine and Campbell's tomato soup due to a grievous dearth of spoons of a comfortable size for my shriveled face to accommodate.

In 2048, five years after I die of asphyxiation under a fork avalanche, a small flock of butter knives - previously considered extinct - will be observed by a group of amateur biologists. A highly successful captive breeding program, in combination with aggressive culling of local fork populations, will revive the species to its former glory. My grandchildren will regale each other about the times from their childhood when I used to spread butter on their toast with my toes for lack of a suitable utensil, and smile.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Even the Gristle, Baby

Medium Fry and her boyfriend - we'll call him 'Silent Type' - sometimes go on little dates together. He's allergic to peanuts so they can't go to the Vietnamese place near our house for safety reasons, and they're not really keen on traveling too far afield, so their choice of locations is somewhat limited. In the early days of their relationship, they went to the local 7-11 to grab nachos and Slurpees (or whatever) to eat at the park. Lately - possibly a result of inclement winter weather, income bracket increases, or Medium Fry's desperate longing for gluten since the rest of the fam went off of it - they've been hitting up the nearby pizza and pasta place, most recently a few weeks ago.

After the date Medium Fry came skipping home, cheery, enviably stuffed full of gluten, and covered ear-to-ear in pasta sauce.

"So," I said, "what'd you have for supper?"
"Spaghetti and meatballs! M'mm!"
"Ah. Thought so."
"Wow, how'd you guess, Mom?"
"O, just a hunch. What did Silent Type have?"
"A rib dinner."

Quick: name the top two worst possible date foods you can think of.

Okay, so there might have been other items on your list - bean burritos, for instance, are both messy and liable to result in certain intestinal distresses, and are therefore a major Dating Dining Don't - but if you tallied up everyone's responses Family Feud-style, I guarantee spaghetti and ribs would be on the top of the list. Those are like, 'we've been married for fifteen years and weren't looking at each other during dinner anyhow' foods. But Medium Fry and Silent Type, well, I guess they're too young to know those sorts of manufactured dating rules.

But then, who am I to talk? I haven't dated in years, and they're hanging at the steak and pizza place at least once a month. Correlation? Causation? Who can really tell? Maybe they know something I don't.

So back to that Family Feud list of white-is-the-new-black Dating Dining Do's: what am I going to order up on my next date, assuming one ever happens again?

1. Big Mac, extra pickles
2. club sandwich, extra layers
3. sloppy joes
4. lobsters. one for each hand.
5. a glass of Metamucil
6. phở 
7. spaghetti and ribs (together at last!)
8. corn on the cob 
9. A Fish Called Wanda 
10. The Old 96'er

Oooohhhh yeaaaahhh. Even the gristle, baby. Even the gristle.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Top Chef Vacation

I'm on vacation right now. Actually, nix that: my sitter is on vacation; I'm on obli-stay-cation. Which actually makes me very happy, except when people ask me what I'm doing on my "vacation". This is a lot like asking me what I'm doing on my weekend - the answer invariably sounds half-assed and makes me feel embarrassed about just how closely my life orbits the washing machine. Quit rubbing it in already.

I could lie, I suppose. (I once told a random hotel clerk that I was going to Croatia for Christmas simply because I was sick of telling people I was going to Saskatchewan.) But then there would be a web of lies for me to uphold and, frankly, ain't nobody got time for that. Plus if I was going to bother with webs of lies I would hopefully choose to do something that would be fun for more than one week, like have an affair or something, but since I can barely manage to keep track of which of my office shoes DH knows I own it's probably beyond me to remember which foreign country and/or fellow I have/not been frequenting. (Whew - I got tired and confused just writing that.) (For the record, this is the sort of thing that I think DH should find reassuring but that he probably won't. Men are so difficult to understand sometimes.)

Instead of buying more shoes - or whatever the hell I was talking about before I got confused - I have decided to do something that I can be proud of. Something I can really sink my teeth into. Something I, uh, had to do anyway. And that something is cook meals for the family unit.

But really tasty meals. (Which I actually can't help but do. I'm like Midas in an apron, I tell ya.) And then I'm going to tell you folks about it so you can know that I have indeed spent my obli-stay-cation doing something worthwhile. That is not laundry. Note that all selections are à la carte, aka "take it or go hungry" - my specialty. Here goes:


Day 1
Breakfast
Er, I can't remember what I made for breakfast yesterday morning, other than coffee. Carry on.

Lunch
Toasted Turkey and Avocado Sandwich. Thinly sliced turkey breast, smoked Canadian Gouda cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato on lightly toasted, whole grain bread, with a light, lemony aioli. Gluten-free option available.
Mango-Raspberry Smoothie. Silky mango and tart raspberries blended with fresh ginger, almond milk and honey.

Dinner
Spring Vegetable Mini Quiche. Earthy asparagus tips, mushrooms and leeks in a fluffy, Parmesan cheese and egg base. Gluten-free.
Smoked Salmon Mini Quiche. Smoked salmon, tangy chèvre and shallots in a chive and dill-infused egg base. Gluten-free.
Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette. Baby spinach leaves, toasted walnuts, chèvre, dried cranberries and vine-ripened tomatoes in a delicate raspberry dressing.
Fermented Grape Beverage. Y.E.S. 

Day 2
Brunch
Vegetable Panini. Tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, avocado and a caramelized shallot and basil mayonnaise layered on a chewy ciabatta bun and topped with chèvre and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Gluten-free option available, although it isn't as tasty and the bread will fall apart.
Tomato Soup. Organic tomatoes, onions and vegetable stock blended to silky perfection and shipped to your local Co-op in a handy Tetra Pak. Gluten-free.

Dinner
Unrolled Cabbage Rolls. Some say lazy, I say efficient. Everyone says 'delicious'. Also, 'it sure smells like cabbage in here'.
Perogies. Potato and cheddar perogies, pan-fried and served fully dressed with sautéed onions, shredded old Canadian cheddar and sour cream. Gluten-free, and I have to confess store-bought because working with gluten free dough makes me want to shoot someone.
Garlicky Sausage. Served with a dollop of sauerkraut.
Fermented Grain Beverage. Gluten-free option available.

Day 3
Breakfast
Egg McMomWiches. Homemade turkey sausage patties, delicately seasoned and laced with maple syrup, topped with a scrambled, farm fresh egg and sharp cheddar and served on a toasted English muffin. Gluten-free option available.
Strawberry-Papaya Smoothie. Strawberries, papaya and orange juice blended with yogurt, fresh ginger and honey.
Coffee. Organic and shade grown for a happy planet, direct fair trade for happy farmers, and plenty of it for a happy Mom.

Day ?
I haven't updated this in a couple of days and I mostly forget what I've been doing. I'll just jot down a mashup of items I can recall in no particular order and we'll move on with our lives.

Breakfasts and Brunches
Egg McMomWiches.
Fruit, Yogurt and Granola Parfaits.
Fruit Smoothies.
Spiced Pumpkin, Walnut and Cranberry Breakfast Bars.
Coffee!

Lunches and Suppers
Roasted Herbed Chicken with Asparagus and Mushrooms.
Spaghetti (Squash) and Meatballs.
International Waffle Day (March 25) Special: waffles, bacon, whipped cream, strawberries and maple syrup.
Quinoa Pizza Bites.

All items gluten-free and made and/or purchased with love - yup, not even resentment this week. Bon appétit!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

JabberSloppy

'Twas noontime and the hungry tum
Did gyre and gimble in the chest.
Enticing were the nutriments
And the pizza pie, the best!

"Beware the LunchySlop, my love!
The lips that drool, the jaws that miss,
Beware the crumb-filled lap and shun
The ruinous splatter-sauce!"
 
He took his box of lunch in hand,
Long time a table clear he sought,
So rested he in the cafeter-ee,
And sat awhile in thought.
   
And as with lunching thoughts he sat,
The LunchySlop, intending dirt, 
Revealed itself and aimed to stain
Our hero's nice clean shirt!
  
One two! One two! And 'round his head,
His hands as quick as doodle-bop,
A bib applied in the nick of time
To stop that LunchySlop!
  
"And hast thou foiled the LunchySlop?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day, no Stain-A-Way!"
She chortled in her joy.
 
'Twas noontime and the hungry tum
Did gyre and gimble in the chest
Enticing were the nutriments
And the pizza pie, the best!

To DH, who often has a little something on his shirt. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sushi Frenzy!

Y'know what I don't like? Sushi. People are ape about sushi and I just. don't. get it. It's fishy, mushy, cold and sour - seriously, could you pick four worse things to put all together into a single type of food? Probably the only thing you could do to make it worse would be to add in some "uncooked" - oh wait! Already done! Welp, that settles it. Sushi is hands-down the worst food I can think of.

Problem is, everyone else on the planet loves sushi, so I've been forced to live a lie all these years: "Oh, yeah, m'm, sushi sounds great buuuuuuuut I just had sushi for breakfast and lunch so, hey, let's go try that burger place for supper instead! Yay burgers!" But it's time for me to come out of the closet: I'm not actually washing my hair on your birthday, [insert names of endless string of friends whose birthday dinners I have brushed off], I just hate sushi. Any hair washing on your birthday or any other sushi-based special event is purely coincidental.

During one of those ill-advised conversations that couples should never have, DH told me that the one major thing he would look for in a future girlfriend if we ever broke up would be someone who likes sushi. Even my children love sushi, the little traitors. So while my kids are all "Bring us more morsels of uncooked weirdness like our future prospective new mom likes!" I'm not ashamed to say that I order off the kids' menu.

Okay, so I'm a little ashamed. I make DH order for the whole family so it's not immediately apparent that I'm the one eating only teriyaki and tempura. 

It doesn't help that they send all the regular sushi on cute little round plates, while my white people sushi comes on square plates. Yeah, I'm picking up on your little underhanded jab there: I don't like real sushi, so I'm not cool. Future Prospective New Mom, however, I'll bet she gets all the round plates. Bitch.

So back to that conversation: okay, so it's a leetle bit my fault for asking, but it's way more DH's fault for answering. Like, 90:10. Everyone knows you never actually answer those relationship trolling questions, you fake answer like your life depends on it. He completely deserves hearing about it again every time "we" have sushi, eight years (and counting) later.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Maybe She's Born With It...

Small Fry just turned five. Do you know what that means? It means I haven't slept in five years. Actually, a little longer than that because I couldn't sleep for those final few months of pregnancy either. (Care for a nap? No thanks, I gestate.) To be clear, he got a party and a cake and more Lego than you can shake a stick at, so stop feeling sorry for him that his mother is whining about his birthday and start feeling sorry for me instead. That's the real point here.

But anyway, the other thing one's youngest child's birthday means is... it's Pap test time! Yayyy! I was on time for my doctor's appointment, but - thanks to a Pineapple Express that had rolled into town the night before - my doctor was not. So I sat on the examination table wearing naught but a pale yellow flannel bib on my top half and a pale purple flannel blankie on my lower half for the better part of an hour, waiting for the doctor to arrive and chatting with the doctor's intern, who, as luck would have it, was on time. And who was not only fully and impeccably dressed, but tall, dark and fricking gorgeous as well.

Shit.

"I like your socks," I said blithely, waving my enormous cup of double-double at his ankles. "They really match my blanket." (To be fair, they really did.)

Eventually my sparkling banter died a humiliating death and the talk turned to my health. I had been batting around the idea of going the pharmaceutical route for my insomnia for a while, but somehow having an uninterrupted hour of nearly-naked time with a captive medical professional audience and a giant cup of coffee really kick-started the process for me.

At one point during my hyper-caffeinated rant the intern interrupted me. "Have you ever tried drinking chamomile tea?" he asked.

I affixed him with my most withering of Mom stares. "Five. Years. Of insomnia," I said.

I walked out of the clinic with a prescription for an antidepressant medication that has such handy off-label applications as treating insomnia. Praise be.

But not without a little interweb sleuthing first.

Turns out, in addition to treating insomnia, the medication can be used to treat anxiety, OCD, itching (?), headaches, nausea, poor appetite (whatever that is), and anorexic cats. Not even kidding about that last one. Compared to not sleeping for the rest of my life, this stuff sounded not too bad. The idea of having my appetite further "improved" certainly gave me pause - I checked my closet to see where I was currently falling along the gradient of available fat clothes - but was swiftly offset by the possible (albeit unlikely) side effect of... spontaneous orgasms.

And Sold! to the bidder with the most compelling side effect.

No wonder it cheers you up and helps you sleep. I wondered how that worked.

So the next time you're appreciating the way my giant grin, glowing complexion and not-baggy eyes really complement my matronly figure and wondering what my secret is, you can think to yourself:

Maybe She's Born With It... Maybe It's Mirtazapine.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

MWF $eek$ Weekly - w4??? - 35 (NW Calgary)

Hi there! I can't believe I'm actually trying this, but after so many failed attempts at doing this the old-fashioned way I'm still lacking that special someone in my life, so here goes nothing.

I'll start by saying that I have a very clear idea of what I'm looking for in this relationship. I'm certainly not inflexible and I don't want to frighten you off by being blunt, but I am particular about certain things. Because I'm on the rebound from a string of unsuccessful previous relationships of this nature and I don't want to have to deal with that sort of thing again, I think it's only fair to be completely up front about my needs to ensure we're both on the same page:

Kitchen - Wash pretty much everything that faces out as well as a few things that face in (microwave interior; the gross cupboard under the sink where the trash and compost live). Empty trash, wash floor, dust ceiling fan. The windows, blinds, fridge and oven are their own jobs that should be discussed separately, and if you don't look at the tops of the cupboards then I won't either. (See? Totally flexible.)

Living Room - Dust everything that holds still long enough to acquire a layer; vacuum upholstery - yes, underneath the cushions too; sweep/vacuum floor, including sliding furnishings out of the way to get behind the items. The living room floor gets dusty but not dirty like the kitchen floor does so I don't think it needs to be washed every week (flexibler and flexibler) but I'd appreciate if you kept an eye out for occasions where a spot clean or damp mop would be in order.

Bathrooms - Full clean and sanitize; empty trash. The bathrooms were really my breaking point with my previous cleaner: hairballs in the corners, scummy soap dishes, streaky toilet bowls, etc. To be totally blunt, if I wanted someone to do a half-assed job I'd just nag the husband and kids to "help", for free. As it is I work a lot, I'm tired, and I want my weekends to involve more than just scrubbing toilets and nagging. Here's my gold standard for bathrooms: Someone could fall seriously ill at any moment. The bathroom should be a sanitary and welcoming place to spend the day writhing in agony.

Bedrooms - Dust; vacuum. Take these directions with a grain of salt, as one child is a Lego fiend and the other a slobby pre-teen; I fully realize that all surfaces may not be reasonably available for cleaning at all times.

Basement/Laundry Area - Lost cause. Don't bother.

Stairwell, Halls, Entryway, etc. - Vacuum, dust, etc. as necessary. Sanitize all light switches and spot clean hand prints and booger stashes wherever you may find them, but be very careful with my baseboards: if you disturb even the smallest area the chic grey tones I've decorated in will be revealed for the uniform patina of accumulated dust that they truly are. My house has about seventeen kilometres of baseboards; you will be expected to wash all them. Consider yourself warned.

I'm interested in a weekly arrangement. If you can fulfill my needs as described above, you can name your price. Age, sex and appearance couldn't matter less to me so don't worry about sending a photo.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Clean Angel

As a parent, partner and office visitation hotspot, I get very little time to myself. Very little. So little that I genuinely enjoy doing things like meticulously hanging up the delicates load to dry or scrubbing the bathrooms 'cause while I'm doing these things I'm almost, almost able to pretend I'm having a couple of minutes alone (others in the household generally avoid entering my line of sight while I'm doing housework because they think I then won't notice that I'm the only person doing housework and make them do something). I joke about having alone time in the bathroom but every parent knows this isn't actually true - the kids simply view any of my bio breaks as their having a captive audience.


Possible taglines: "Can I have some waaaaaterrrrrr?" "Which tights do you think I should wear with this?" "Where's my yellow dino with the orangeish tail?" "How do you say 'metamorphic' in French?" "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU LITTLE FREAKS WHY ARE YOU TALKING TO ME WHILE I'M PEEING FOR GAWD'S SAKE COULDN'T YOU WAIT FOR TWO FREAKING MINUTES??"

Really, the only true, solid alone time I'm guaranteed to get in life is when I'm in a bathroom stall at work at, say, 6:30am. Thank you, exceedingly small bladder, for bringing me this solace. Namaste.

But something has been interfering with my beloved alone time of late, a nasty, pervasive and cloyingly sweet something called Passive-Aggressive Bathroom Signage (PABS). In the unlikely event you've never been unwillingly subjected to the phenomenon, it goes something like this:

Laaaaadieeees! To avoid Plugging and Overflowing the toilets Please don't flush Any feminine hygiene products that are Not supposed to be flushed. Also Please don't forget to flush the Toilets. Also please remember to Check to make sure the toilet is Flushed and that the stall is clean and sparkly for the Next Person to use it! Thanks Ladies!

Laaaaadieeees! Please! Don't Forget to wash your Hands really well with Soap and Water when you're done using the Facilities! It's Flu season! Also good hygiene is Always in season! Thanks Ladies!

Laaaaadieeees! Please be a Clean Angel and wipe Up any water ! drips On the counter With Your paper towel when ! you're Done Drying your Hands! Thanks Ladies!

Gratuitous deployment of exclamation points and capitalization of random words in text are hallmarks of PABS, and if only I could get Blogger to reproduce the barely intelligible script font and flowery pink background that are also characteristic I would. These things alone are enough to wreck my mind on a given day, but when combined with the theft of my precious little alone time it really makes me snap.

I'll tell you a secret: I'm the person who routinely removes the signage. I don't even recycle it, I just flush that shit right down the toilet and then I laugh - ha ha ha! - at the Plugging and Overflowing that ensue. Y'know why? Because I've been made insane by PABS and can't be held responsible for my deep-seated feelings of aggression and rebellious rage. Plus there was no sign that told me I wasn't supposed to so clearly I couldn't have been expected to know better.

This week, there was a new development in the ladies rooms at work: laminated signs. Oh, yes. Passive-Aggressive Bathroom Signage at my office just got real.

The fourth floor counter-revolutionary cell has identified the need for similarly amped up tactics. Operative RedBot2 has proposed the following radical measures: produce our own laminated PABS. Post under cover of darkness in locations proximal to existing signage. Recommend deployment of correct grammar and punctuation, legible text and high-contrast background to further highlight ludicrous nature of existing signage. Suggested topics include:

- Have you phoned your mother lately?
- The RRSP deadline for the 2012 tax year is fast approaching.
- When was the last time you completed a breast self-exam?
- Do you contribute to charity as much as you would have people believe?
- Eat 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day for optimal health.
- What would Grandma think of that fellow you're sleeping with?
- Please do not flush non-flushable signage.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Real True Information

Why does my microwave dinner feel compelled to warn me that it may become hot when cooked (well, duh) yet gets all coy about letting me know it likely contains at least one chunk of sick gristle?

I've got thermodynamics down, thanks. And yup (the futility of the enterprise notwithstanding) I shouldn't deploy my hair dryer in the bathtub. What, everything smaller than my head is a choking hazard? Whew, thanks for letting me know.  

I get that everyone is worried about spurious legal action but in my opinion we've swung too far in that direction along the continuum - on one hand, no amount of product labeling can prevent stupidity and on the other hand ... the next generation is descended from the survivors. Maybe we shouldn't be trying so hard to keep certain people around and muddying up the gene pool (this bag of peanuts may contain peanuts? deeeeeep). However you wish to view it, I don't think we've really explored the possibility of product labels providing the average non-stupid user some real true information about the product. Now let's get on with telling us things that don't necessarily and logically follow from the nature of the product, yet would be useful to know:

"This product can burn eyes." This is on my straightening iron, but for some reason it's not on my clothes iron or my toaster or my oven, all of which also become hot and could feasibly be viewed as equal eye-burning risks. Maybe even greater if you're the sort of person who likes to check on your toast to see how it's coming along. (I am.) So tell me, manufacturer: what is it about this straightening iron that might compel me to stick it - more so than any other hot household appliance - in my eyes? That's what I'd really like to know so I can be sure to stay on guard for it.

"This product is not a substitute for parental supervision." Well shit, I bought these plastic plug in covers precisely so I wouldn't have to supervise my children, in general, ever, but fine - now that I know that, tell me where the hell I can find something that's a good substitute. I could really use a nap.

"Suggested serving." You mean there's not an entire cherry cheesecake inside this tin of condensed milk? WTF? Just kidding, I actually was able to deduce that on my very own. But I bought the damn tin because I'm extremely susceptible to suggestions of cheesecake at certain times of the month and now is one of those times. Tell me how to make this cherry cheesecake you promised me happen from this tin of condensed milk before someone gets hurt.  

Here are a few more ideas I figure might be helpful for the average consumer to know in advance:
  
- Spicy as hell.

- Your kids will never eat this.

- Your collagen is never coming back no matter how much of this or any other potion you rub on your face.

- This product might be beneficial in the long term, but it will definitely give you fish burps something fierce in the meantime.

- Not very nutritious.

- This garment will self-destruct in two washings.

- This product is not clinically proven to do anything at all.

- You probably shouldn't be eating this.

- This product is a sheer waste of twelve dollars.

- Please don't wear this. It looks terrible on you.

And possibly the saddest Real True Information of all:

- This product is only as effective as the person cleaning the bathroom with it.