Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Toodle-oo 2008

You've been quite the year, 2008. I stretched, I learned, I obsessed. I built up my art studio after a very long absence from the creative life and have started to work creatively again. I spent quality time with my son and saw him off to kindergarten. I had the summer off, something I wanted to do for a long time and it didn't even matter that it rained a lot. I got my hands dirty, in so many ways. I made some new friends and let go of one or two old ones. I had laser eye surgery and said good-bye to decades of glasses (and hello to reading glasses, but that's OK). I had some cancerous tissue cut out and have the scar to prove it. I let go of a few bad attitudes. I kept up with my exercise regimen and added yoga to my life. I adopted a neti pot and learned to love it. I've nurtured myself and been hard on myself. I've slept in, taken quiet time and done a pretty good job almost single-handedly raising my son to where he is now, a kind, generous, empathetic, funny boy of almost six. I've started the practice of getting up at 5:00 a.m. to have one precious hour to myself. I've given myself permission to take the last two weeks off of that early morning alarm. I started a blog and have been astounded at how it's added to my creative life. I've met so many wonderful people through the internet and luckily not received any nasty or derogatory comments (probably because only about 3 people read my blog, including family members). After taking ten months off of work, I found a job in these crazy and uncertain economic times, one that lets me work flexible part-time hours, so important to me and my lifestyle. I've made lots of people, as well as myself, laugh.

There is so much good that has come from this year. And one of the most important lessons was taught to me about regret, right at the end. I feel like I squeezed the most out of this year. I think I'm ready for 2009. One toe in the water, the rest of the foot on the shore, balancing. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this year so wonderful, you will never all know who you are or how much you touched my life.

This has nothing to do with art, unless it's the art of whining

After a certain amount of navel gazing I think I realize why I've been so bummed out this last week. The famous saying of only regretting the things you haven't done and not the things you have rings true here.

Back in October or November, iMan announced that we (our son and myself) could accompany him to New Zealand for a three week stay in January where he would be working for a stretch. His employer would pay our airfare and hotel. This is a place I have always wanted to travel to but considering the cost and the time, it just never was a true opportunity for me. I was excited and of course a little nervous about leaving my life behind for that long. Then just as suddenly as the trip came up it was cancelled. Not for him, but for me and our son. I was disappointed but took it in stride, not going meant not leaving a job I had only started a few months ago. A job I am grateful to have found in these economic times. But nevertheless a job and not a career. Then shortly before Christmas the opportunity was back and I had to decide quickly as plane and hotel reservations had to be made. It was my last day at work before the holiday break and when I flew the idea by my boss he was, needless to say, not thrilled. Not only is he embarking on a new working partnership himself in the new year which means a lot of PR but it also leaves him in the lurch work-wise since I was giving him virtually no warning. I wasn't surprised but I was hoping he would say how he understood that I couldn't turn down this marvelous opportunity. Well, he didn't exact say that either. So having to make a quick decision, I turned down the trip.

Just yesterday I took my son and a new friend of his and that friend's mom skating. She's a wonderful woman (hi Sally!) I only recently met despite living a block away from each other and having sons the same age. She's also a New Zealander and she mentioned in the car that it is quite likely she and her small family will be moving back there come October. I was floored partly because a new friend I've made might be leaving my life but she's moving exactly where I want to be! I don't begrudge her anything, for goodness sake it's her homeland and where her family is. All the same I felt, well gypped.

I spent a turbulent afternoon and evening letting all the feelings come and overwhelm me and trying to figure out how I churned myself up into the proper little mess that I was. I was actually jealous. I felt trapped here in a city and a climate that doesn't make me happy. And I realized that I had made the wrong choice about my trip. I should have chosen to take the trip, taken my chances with leaving the job and my boss in a pickle. Which is where the regret comes in. It is said that people only regret the things they didn't do, never the things they did. I made my decision based on fear. Apparently I read somewhere that the largest fear women have is becoming a bag lady. On the other side of the gender spectrum, I'm sure the largest or one of the largest fears men have is being homeless. And it was this base and basic fear that guided my decision.

I think I learned a lesson in all this. I am still enormously sad about not going. And I hope that next time I have such a decision to make, even if it's under the gun like this last one, that I'll choose so that I won't have regrets.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winding down

Well, this year is definitely winding down. I have been in such a rotten funk lately, I'm not sure why. I have this hovering non-sensical feeling that life is passing me by. I am grateful for so much but I feel stagnant. Maybe it's the short, dark days or the ridiculous weather. I know those two things always wear on me at this time of year. It all makes me remember back when I was much (much) younger and would go around saying, "I'm so depressed". I'd like to go back in time and slap myself across the face. Tell myself to get a grip. And I'm wondering if I'll feel like that years from now when I look back on this funk, wishing I was that kind of immature to complain to someone that I "feel so depressed". Now, I don't make to wish light of depression. I know full well that it is a serious condition. There is plenty I can do in the present moment to feel better but it's the bigger picture that is nagging away at me. I came across these ten questions apparently everyone should answer before the year is up. I'm curious, and up for the challenge so I'm going to see what comes of it for me. I'll try (almost) anything once and frankly I could use some inspiration to get me off of this attitude.

Last book of the year


I managed to polish off, "October" by Richard B. Wright in about a week. An easy read but intelligent prose. It doesn't come close to his, "Clara Callan" which I thought was brilliant but it was better than the rest of him that I read after Clara Callan. You know how it is when you discover a fabulous book then run out and try to get your hands on everything else he/she has written? This book is about death, a popular subject since, as they say, no one gets out of this alive. But in all it wasn't really depressing, considering. Not much else to say without giving the premise away.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

99 MeMe Things

I've never done a MeMe, let alone a list of 99. But I took this from Oreneta's blog and thought WTF. Consider yourself tagged if you want to be. Hopefully not too much information for you.

THE 99 THINGS MEME

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
But I wasn't happy about it. It was on the beach and the tide came in, waking me up with wet feet, luckily only wet feet!
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii. *sigh*
5. Watched a meteor shower.
Plenty of them, they are very popular here in August.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. A couple of times, always around Christmas to animal shelters.
7. Been to Disneyland/world. Once in California, twice in Florida.
8. Climbed a mountain. Nothing like Everest or Kilimanjaro but I live in a very mountainous area, so plenty to climb.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo. Not on stage, I sing all the time with my son.
11. Bungee jumped. I’d have to be sedated and bound and gagged.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. So much I want to learn with art(s).
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. Can’t prove it but….
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
We used to travel every summer to Nova Scotia when I was a kid and we’d have a sleeper car. Then when I got older I did but sat up in coach.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
Once, during a bus strike. I was foolish and very lucky.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
Yeah, but not in a long time – who wants to waste a good sick day when you’re sick?
24. Built a snow fort.
Two days ago was my last one.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping. I’m bashful
27. Run a marathon. Longest I ran was a 20 km race.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
Once in the winter too, that was amazing.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. I’m not sure where that would be.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied. Of course there are various degrees of satisfaction. I don’t think I’d be any more satisfied with millions. Less stressed out but not more satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person.
41. Sung Karaoke. I’ve been paid to not sing.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. Yes, it was horrible.
47. Had your portrait painted. A caricature, as a child.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
It’s over-rated.
53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater.

55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business. And gratefully, got out of it quickly.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. Girl Guide cookies (Canada you say?)
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood.
65. Gone sky diving. See number 11.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. Not a camp, but the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.
67. Bounced a check.
I was young and foolish.
68. Flown in a helicopter. See numbers 11 and 65.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. My mother is very unsentimental and all my childhood toys went out the door one day.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt. I’d love to do this, when the time presents itself.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job. Once, then talked my boss into giving it back to me.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.
77. Broken a bone. One tiny one in my foot that had me in a cast from toe to knee for six weeks. Then on another occasion I broke my kneecap.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Flew over it in an airplane but I’ve never seen it from the ground.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car. Once, when I was young and foolish. The payments nearly crushed me.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
Yeah, and it’s not really white.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Not even a fish. Would a mosquito count if I fed it to a spider?
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life. ??? Maybe indirectly, I’m sure we all have without knowing it. I’m sure I’ve saved my son’s life at least once a day since he was born.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous. That’s over-rated too.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one. My father then my husband within ten months of each other. A very difficult year that was.
94. Had a baby. I always wanted one. Then I thought it wasn’t going to happen, then when I was 42 and least expected it, but most wanted it.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake. No, but I used to go regularly to float in isolation tanks in water with very high salt density.
97. Been involved in a law suit. Stressful.
98. Owned a cell phone. But rarely use all my allotted monthly minutes, I’m a bit of an old-fashioned user.
99. Been stung by a bee.
Once

Been there done that, got the t-shirt: 48
Wish I had: 19

No desire: 32

Up and Down

Well, I came up for air then went right back down again. I am so discombobulated - not sure what day it is. I was convinced it was Monday, then realized because Coronation Street was on in the morning it had to be Sunday. Yesterday I thought it was Sunday, Friday I thought it was Saturday until I realized I needed to post my haikus. Good grief. It's been nice sleeping in and having a quite relaxed schedule with iMan doing most of the cooking. I'm just so mixed up! Briefly, until later hopefully, here is a shot taken with my (!!!!) new Nikon D90. It's not a long lens, just a 18-55mm so I cropped it with photoshop and am quite pleased with the clarity. It's also an indoor late afternoon shot which meant using the flash, which is so very superior to the camera I was using up until December 24th. I do need to look into a zoom or maybe the 18-200 lens.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Haiku Friday

It's Haiku Friday
Thought I'd forgot, didn't you?
Happy Kwanza too


Still full with turkey
And very grateful I am
Overwhelmed with gifts


Buried 'neath paper
Be up for air tomorrow
Be peace - Be well - Be

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Funky

I've been in a kind of a funk the last few days. Seems that the impending holidays brings out the best and the worst in people. My home is a simmering pot of moodiness and gunk. Stirred up with a big wooden spoon. Images of sugar plums are dancing in my head, but a certain sadness prevails. Growing up, our home was always awash in volatile emotions, more so during holidays or special days such as birthdays or mothers day, fathers day etc. and I hate to think my son is being raised in the same kind of environment that is so...well, unnecessary. I've been working in my studio quite regularly thanks to the fact that the early morning alarm has been silent and will be for another (almost) two weeks. And that has helped, has also helped me to clarify what I want to set out as things to work on in the coming year and accomplishments to be grateful for in the past one. I like the change of calendar year. I like reflecting on the opportunities that have passed through my life and how much they have contributed to where I find myself now.

Last weekend Santa told me I looked tired (gee, thanks Santa for the honesty)and I was struck by a certain crone-ness when I realized the last 5 or 6 CDs (almost typed "albums" there) were all greatest hits or best of. That kind of did me in for a few minutes. I have to wonder how I can feel so old yet so vulnerable at the same time.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

So Excited

Yeah, I'm so excited that Christmas is only five more sleeps away. But this is another thing I'm truly excited about. Over at Creative Every Day there was a post about Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I had never heard of her, but dammit I'm excited. The post includes a YouTube video that has made me want to...well, I'll let you see for yourself. It's inspiring. This amazing lady has also written an number of children's books that have me salivating at my keyboard to order and I'm also busy over at Chapters to see what's available here. But you have to watch the video. It will make you want to get up off your keister and DO SOMETHING! I love it!

One More for Today


I couldn't resist posting this lovely shot. I must have a suspicious nature because whenever Riley sits on Santa's lap I keep my eyes peeled for where Santa's hands might wander. Or maybe it's a sign of the times or my over-protective mother hen-ness. My son walked right up to the man today, whipped out the list he had been working on for some time and posed like a fashion model with the big guy. Lovely souvenir, dontcha think?

Two Short Books

"Why is God Laughing" by Deepak Chopra was the quick read I was looking for when I picked it up. It's written very much in the style of Mitch Albom's "For One More Day", but with a little less elegance. It's a consolidation of most of the current spiritual teachings making the rounds but the real meat of the book is in the last thirty-five pages where Chopra outlines his "Path to Joy". I don't mean to sound disparaging about the book, I did enjoy another of his fiction books, Buddha. But this book seemed like it was written while he was doing something else. Not surprising considering how much he does seem to get around.

"Sharing Good Times" by Jimmy Carter was another book I bought iMan for last Christmas. The former president of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner is a man I admire. The cover of the book has a photo of him and his wife posing with fish they have caught in what looks like a lake with a mountain background. Early on in the book I had a good laugh when he talked about how his mother always thought his brother, Billy, was the most intelligent of her children. I guess that is something only a mother can know. But he is equally at home living and writing about running a presidential race as he is fishing and farming. One very interesting confession he makes is that when he was younger, he took little regard in his wife's opinion in how their life would run. It was over time and a few humorous incidents that he came to build a true mutual relationship with Rosalynn and grow to admire and respect what she brought to them as a team.
Here is a quote that sums up the main lesson of the book:

"...and really for the first time, I was beginning to consult with Rosalynn and to accommodate her ideas and preferences before final decisions were made. I learned that real sharing was much more than laboring together at the warehouse or even dancing all night with each other and with friends. It included planning in advance and later savoring our experiences. What was especially challenging but enjoyable was treating my wife - and even sometimes our boys - as equal partners, with mutual respect for their opinions and with special delight in their pleasure. This did not come easy for me."

The book has just a smattering of his political life and includes snippets about many of his varied interests such as birdwatching, fishing and travelling. It was heartening to see how a man who started off almost as a male chauvinist could evolve into an open minded man of this time. The true richness of his life came from sharing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Something's Fishy


I spent the whole day in my art studio. From about 9:30 to 4:30, coming out for an hour break at lunch and then to pick up Riley at school. Once home I got another hour in. And this is all I have to show for it:

There is incredible detail that the camera doesn't do justice for because it's a night shot and I am still working with my focus-challenged camera (I have asked Santa for a new one, but I think he, too, might have been hit by the financial crisis). It is on a measly 5 x 7, 140 lb. watercolor paper. Actually there is nothing measly about the paper; it is holding up quite well, I'm impressed because I haven't worked much with watercolor paper. I have started another collage on acrylic paper, mostly to give it a test run before my next class starts in January to see if I have the right paper for the medium. But I've digressed. I still will work this a lot more, but was curious to chronicle the process and compare what it looks like two weeks from now or hopefully, a few days from now.

Haiku Friday

This is obviously what is on my mind this morning, having just returned from driving my son and a neighbor's son to school.

It's bloody cold out
My car started this morning
Yes, there is a god

Lisa Leonard


Early this week a necklace I ordered from Lisa Leonard arrived. It was a Christmas present to myself and is more lovely than I could ever have imagined. I first saw her work from a posting at Karen's website. I went over and looked at her jewelry and craved it. It is handmade, personalized and incredibly beautiful. I chose my two words "Be" and "Peace" because they represent the fruits of so many of my struggles that have lessened in the last year due to a lot of hard work and opening of my spirit. I can't say enough about how much I love this piece. It also makes a beautiful sound when I bend over (no snide jokes, please), there is just something about it's simplicity and clean lines. Lisa Leonard rocks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good News

Yesterday was a bit of an oddball day. I'm still not sure what to make of it other than it seemed to impart a lot of good news in round about ways.

Early in the morning on my way to work, I got off the subway and in the corridor lay a homeless man, sleeping. Someone before me had taken the sandwich they had made and brought for their own lunch, nicely packaged in a tupperware style container, and left it beside his head. It was so touching. If I had had my camera I would have wanted to take a picture but in a crowd of people it probably would have looked crass. Not that I would have cared. But I thought what a wonderful testimony to the kindness of strangers.

Later that night I was out walking my dog. I heard someone calling behind me and I stopped to turn around. On the other side of the street was a teenager, running and beside me was his dog. Not leashed and obviously not very obedient. I reached down to grab the dog's collar so its owner could reclaim it but it jumped away from me and ran into the street - right into an oncoming car. I screamed and screamed like a freaking banshee, as if it was my own dog. The crunching sound of the impact is something I'll never forget, the sound that kept me waking up last night over and over again. But this is a good news story so I will hasten to finish it. The driver of the car stopped immediately to make sure that the dog had not gone under the wheels (it hadn't), but had been kind of blind-sided. The dog kept running across the street and its owner was able to grab it. I crossed the street, realized the guy was pretty young, so I checked the dog over, making sure it wasn't bleeding (it wasn't) and that it didn't have any broken bones (it didn't). I was worried it might have internal injuries but there wasn't anything concrete I could do about that unless the owner took it to the vet. And it seemed spirited enough - it took off down the street again with the owner chasing it.

What a day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five-a-Day

I saw this over here, then followed the link to over here and thought I'd join in. I'm not tagging anyone. But I like reinforcing the idea that we need to treat ourselves better. Especially women and especially as parents. We often lose ourselves in the shuffle, think that at all times our needs aren't up there high enough on the list to warrant proper attention. Since I've been treating myself better I know I am a better parent and generally a happy person.

Apparently this project originated over at Mindapples. The gist is for you to share with the world what five things you do that help keep you mentally fit. And then invite others to share with you.

Here are my five:

1) yoga and exercise, alternating days
2) creative expression
3) meditation
4) express gratitude
5) good sheets
6) Three Acres perfume stick in Amber scent (although I can't seem to find it anywhere anymore)

I've gone over by one and stopped myself because I would probably go much further and I think one of the ideas of this is to keep it simple. Some of these things sound strictly physical but they also give me a thought-thrill too so I left them on my list.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Channel My Father

Lately I have been finding myself channeling my father. One of his better attributes was being in a sickeningly good mood first thing in the morning. He was a happy early riser, a shower-singer. And couldn't stand to see anyone sleep in. For as long as I lived under his roof, the only times I was allowed to sleep in was when I was sick. All the other days of the year he would come in my room (no matter what age I was), pull back my covers and whip up the window blind singing something like, "it's a beautiful day!" Or "rise and shine!" Or "you're wasting the whole day!" He would stay in that mood until around 11:00 a.m.

Now I often find myself simply giddy with being alive. I like waking up, even at the cold and dark hour of 5:00 a.m. which is when my alarm is set for on weekdays. I have an hour to myself before the rest of the humans in my house get up and it makes me feel drunk. Mostly between 5 and 6 I attend to my dogs' bodily functions then work out or do yoga. But I feel like laughing, like I have a secret or a private joke. Some aspects of my life right now are really in the toilet but I still get in the shower and get that same feeling my father must have had. It's unexplainable. I just want to sing. About having this moment, this one free wheeling ride. And lucky for me it lasts long past 11:00 a.m. At the end of the day I look forward to getting in a hot bath with my book, climbing into bed and journaling, taking some silent time before sleep. I'm still not sure how I got here, but I like it. I think I'll stay.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Know-It-All


I bought this book for my significant other, iMan, last Christmas, kind of as a joke but also because it sounded interesting and if I read it, I might just learn a lot - a lot of what I don't know, tidbits? trivia? conversation starters? Coming in at just under 400 pages it took me two weeks to get through. The second week it was starting to wear on me, I think because it doesn't have a beginning, middle and an end. The story (although this is non-fiction) is about a 30-something male (married, Manhattan living) decides he is going to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A-ak to Zywiec. Each "chapter" is a Reader's Digest abridged version of the encyclopedia, or rather the best-of. It was laugh-out loud funny many times but like the author, I have to wonder just how much I will retain of all those facts. I'm glad I read it, I know I am never going to attempt the same feat as the author (A.J. Jacobs) but I'm just as glad to be finished with it. I'm looking forward now to some quick fiction.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Haiku Friday

Here we go again.


Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow
It's only December 12
Get me out of here

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Goldilocks and the Three Stalls

Maybe you can see where I am going with this. For the purposes of this narration, I am playing the part of Goldilocks. This is a true story. And I am sorry if I offend any one's sensibilities.

Goldilocks was finishing her work day and knew she had to take a trip to the loo before heading out into the cold for a long and snowy commute home. With the pass key to gain admittance, she opens her usual stall door. "Oh no!" she says. "I can't use this loo. This loo is stinky AND has not been flushed!"

Bang, goes the door to the stall next to her usual one. "Oh no!" she exclaims. "I can't use this loo. This loo has pee on the seat!"

Bang, goes the door to the stall next to the one that is next to her usual one. "Ah," she says with relief. "This loo is just right."

The End

Honestly, I can not fathom why people leave toilets in such horrible states. Why not flush?! Do they want the next user to admire their fibre intake? Why not wipe the seat if they splatter? Did they grow up in a barn? I can understand an urgent need to get IN to the stall. I can not understand an urgent need to get OUT of one, leaving as if there is a fire in the building. And these aren't "public toilets" where just anyone off the street can wander in. These are locked down toilets in an office complex. I live and work amongst heathens.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dark

It is a dark day here and I don't mean that the winter solstice is soon upon us. Our first snow storm. *sigh* I am afraid I didn't handle myself very well either. My son is ecstatic, I am bitchy. I hate the stuff, hate shovelling it, hate slogging through it and especially hate driving in it. The forecast was for 1 to 2 inches but at 8:00 p.m. we have accumulated about 8 to 10. And now to end a perfect day the ice pellets have started (I know this because I just came in from shovelling the driveway). The current forecast for tomorrow is for rain, turning back to freezing rain then snow again.

I know there are people in the world with real problems and I shouldn't complain. But it's my party and I'll cry if I want to.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Am A Television Whore

Maybe that title is misplaced. I don't watch much television per se. The only two shows I watch regularly are Desperate Housewives and Coronation Street. But the television is on in my house a lot. For a long time it was locked on TreeHouse and the last six months or so it has been pretty much locked on Discovery Kids.

After I dropped Riley off at school one day other parents were standing around talking about t.v. Most of them don't let their kids watch much. One said her t.v. was off Monday through Thursday and even after that it was heavily regulated. Another said he had definite time restrictions for his kids. I immediately felt like a television whore. And the biggest consensus was that they didn't like the behaviour of their kids when they watched what they felt was too much. They argued, threw fits, basically unpleasant stuff.

Ironically I rely on our television for some inner peace. I don't even hear it most of the time. But when I am one-on-one with my five-year old for months at a time I need some escape to keep my sanity. It allows me time to take care of the essential, have some time to think about something other than the non-stop (bless his curious soul) questions and attention. And frankly when I say we are going to turn off the t.v. and do something else (go outside, play a game or whatever) he easily agrees and is happy to do something else. It's not like he sits like a zombie, entirely mesmerized. He is always doing something else while sort-of-watching. And we do get out of the house other than school hours. He is enrolled in swimming and music. Weather permitting (above -20 C and not wet) we go to the park, down to the waterfront, walk the dogs - plenty of things that don't involve the boob tube. He goes over to friends houses and has them over to ours.

So why do I feel a little guilty that I am letting the t.v. run too much? I am a television whore. It has been two days since my last t.v. show.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Consumer Files

At my last trip to Sephora I bought some of Philosophy's Simply Grace body lotion. And OMG I love it. I know, I'm gushing here and I don't gush easily. When it first goes on it smells a lot like the kids Coppertone we use and in a cheeky way that makes me happy because a part of my brain is thinking it's summer. As a lotion it's OK but the smell is amazing. I am a scent challenged person, cannot abide most perfumes - they give me headaches and make me nauseous but this scent is just clean. Clean clean clean. This is not an endorsement for their products, I'm not getting paid for saying how much I love them (but if anyone wants to float some money my way I am not averse to it if I really like something).

And another thing... awhile back, I think it was on Mir's blog that I discovered Wrap N Mats. They replace the lowly plastic sandwich bag so it's a no-brainer politically correct environmentally green thing to do. I ordered a couple from the Canadian distributor and they arrived within the week. Then I saw them over at Andrea's blog, who also gave them a great review. I figure I save putting about 16 plastic sandwich bags in the landfill every week, possibly more. I also ordered some from the US distributor only because they were offering different and more funky designs and they too came within 10 days. I like that the majority of them are made in the USA (some are made in China, I'm not sure why, but that's a choice you can make when you place your order) which gives it more points for buying locally. I can't kid myself and think that anything like this is going to be made in my own backyard anytime soon so buying something made on the same continent as me qualifies in my book. I've bought a number for Christmas presents (also inexpensive for me ship out because they weigh so little and pack down well). I'm doing my part to have a green Christmas.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Out-Right Theft

So here I am on Friday night, browsing some of my favorite blogs, mulling over the week. Over at Chaos Theory, Sherry has a link that sums up what is the hotbed of Canadian politics this week right here. I thought it worthy of stealing, or rather, linking - partly because I tend to be very apolitical and have a hard time getting my own artsy brain around what is going on. For anyone who gives a crap or wants to understand it in simple layman's terms I invite you to speed-read it. I guess we are making some kind of news these days.

Haiku Friday

Here's another quick and dirty one for today.

"Ho, ho, ho," I say
Buy hand-made is all the rage
Time for reflection

And another because I'm feeling so prolific at the moment.

It's cold and rainy
Vancouver's standard forecast
I wish I lived there

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The awkward hour

Once a week I have an truly awkward hour. Thursday mornings I do volunteer work at my son's school library. Naturally, I chose the day he would be in the library, wanting to observe him out of our normal context. Either that or I just needed to hang on to him a little longer before turning him over to the wild and wooly world of school. So my routine is this, walk him to school, then continue on for a little while with my dog. Putting me home with just enough time to do, oh - nothing constructive before heading off to the library. I usually have between 45 minutes and an hour to burn. After my library shift I go downtown to my job or else I would start something, leave it in mid-shift and then come back to it. Sometimes I do the Sudoku from the newspaper, sometimes I catch up on a little Coronation Street. But I always find myself a little lost, wandering around, watching the clock to make sure I'm not late. Basically, it's an awkward hour. And I'm damn happy to have it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

B-F-Z

I am happy to announce that yesterday and last night my house was a B-F-Z (barf-free zone). Although I must admit that I walked around the place with a bucket in hand and every time Riley burped I went running.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Barf-O-Rama

It's been that kind of weekend. Actually, it's been that kind of month. I knew when Riley started school in September that we would likely go through that revolving door of virus after virus. And I wasn't far off except that the whole month of November has been either one virus morphing or 30 different ones performing the onslaught. The weird side of me was keeping count briefly but I gave up somewhere around the middle of November. Since then Riley has had an ear infection (his first ever) - successively in both ears, a severely clogged sinus, an earthquake cough, a drippy, runny nose and now the barfing has begun. The first time was at the end of day at school when the office called and I dropped everything at work and basically flew and swooped in to pick him up. Then yesterday morning I was trying to get that extra half hour in between the sheets and Riley was propped up on the other side of me watching TV. Suddenly he popped up, clamped his hand over his mouth and tore out of the room. He made it to the toilet just in the nick of time. We kind of laughed about that later, him with a self-satisfying arm pump and me a little nervously.

A week ago I had a message on my answering machine from the electric company saying they would be doing work in the area on Saturday (yesterday) and that the power would cut between 8:00 am. and 4:00 pm. What they p.c. call "a scheduled interruption". Me, in a brief moment of optimism, took that to mean that somewhere between those hours we wouldn't have any electricity. No problem, I can work around that, thought the confident and quite naive me. Yesterday at 8:01 am the power went off. Before coffee, before shower, before basically anything constructive. We managed to spend most of the day out, coming back around 4:30 when it was getting dark. We giggled as we passed street after street with their Christmas or porch lights on, happy to think that the house would be warm when we got there. Instead it was cold and dark. I called the 1-800 number for hydro and their machine told me that power would be restored at 4:30. In fact is was already past 4:30. I waited a few minutes and called again and was told it would be on at 5:15. At 5:30, holding a candle up to the one non-electrically powered phone in our house I called again to find it would be only 6:30 when I could expect it back. Do you want to guess the estimated time I was told at 6:45? Well, it was 9:15 in case you're wondering. It is the end of November. I also live in Canada. These days are cold and dark. WTF? Why, I wondered, don't "scheduled interruptions" happen in July when you can cook on the Bar-b-q and it is daylight until 10:00 pm? And the house is guaranteed to be warm.
As it turns out the lights came on around 7:30 after we ate a cold supper in candlelight and relied on conversation (gee, let's talk about the 13 hour day where we just spent our every waking moment together) instead of mind-numbing TV. I was able to give Riley a hot bath and get him into bed at a decent hour clean and warm and happy. The real fun of the day began when I was settled in my own hot bath a couple of hours later, my Saturday night face mask on, book in hand. When suddenly I heard the dreaded heave and splat. Heave and splat. Heave and splat. Riley's second round of vomiting had begun. I easily gave up my hot bath, stripped him and tossed him in. The bedding required two wash cycles just to get rid of the chunks. My oh my. And my dilemma of the day was where does he sleep? I like him to sleep with me when he's sick, like to keep a close eye on him. And now his bedding was soiled right down to the core, that left my own bed with quilts and pillows that don't wash so easily. Out came the blow up bed and we camped, plastic side up (!) sleeping on towels, just in case. And I wonder why the bags under my eyes are so heavy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

So Long At The Fair


This is a book that takes place in one day, with a fair amount of backstory. Best known for penning the Oprah book, Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwartz continues her examination of couples and what drives them together and apart. I found the backstory to be a bit distracting and confusing from time to time and didn't really see the relevance of it. In the end the relationships are unresolved and things could go any which way which I guess the author leaves up to the reader to finish in his or her own way. I would have liked to see another 100 or 150 pages taking the actual story much farther and most of the backstory relegated to the back or, the backstory cut almost entirely and this be a novella.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Haiku Friday

It is popular amongst some bloggers to post a haiku on Fridays , I thought I'd try my hand at it since it's been kind of a trying week.

Pimples, that's enough
I'm almost fifty years old
Give me a break, 'K?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas is Coming


Lately Riley has been making me sing all of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. He'll suddenly say, "on the count of three we're gonna sing Rudolph". And then he counts... After a few times it started to annoy me, then I realized he was actually watching me when I sang and he was slowly learning more than just the first and last two lines. I don't know why it's that one song that piques his interest so. But I love being the one to teach him things like this. Now I am watching his chapped lips trying to follow me, and he's almost got it all. With just a little nudging here and there he can do it but he still likes to do it with me. And I think it is finally putting me more in the spirit of the coming season. Here's a snap of him at the park a few days ago when we met up with a couple of his school friends. We put our long johns on and bundled up because with the windchill it was -14C. Cripes. Winter hasn't even officially begun yet.

Alchemy


I got some unexpected time in my studio today and took my painting for Paulette's Faces Class one step further. I'm not sure it's all that successful, I don't think portraits are for me but it was a tremendous learning time. I loved doing the collage, I know I want to do a lot more of that. I am going to put it away for awhile, I can't believe how long I've been working on just one piece, I think it's starting to get on my nerves. I'll pull it out one day and really finish it.

Oh my darlin'

I bought my first clementines of the season yesterday. I opted for the whole crate because it was only $3.99 and if I bought just a small bag it would be almost as expensive and the crated ones looked a lot better. Sweet! Well, a little tart, maybe but juicy and makes me think Christmas! My significant other, iMan, and I always dicker about which ones are better. I say the Morrocan ones are superiour, he says the Spanish ones are. So naturally, since I was doing the buying (and he's out of town) I bought the Morrocan. If I'm not careful that crate is going to be gone too soon, they are that good.

&

Yesterday Riley and I had a Kodak moment. After a deathwish trip through the Fairview shopping mall where the season is in full swing complete with parking lot disasters and kamikaze shoppers, we came home and ruined our suppers with a big bowl of buttery popcorn and watched DVDs. It was so nice doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g with my boy. I was even too lazy to set up the camera to take a picture.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hershey -vs- Cadbury

Well, Cadbury all the way of course! My Fruit and Nut Bar (no sarcastic comments, please) has no comparison. Except for maybe Caramilk, but that one makes me break out. That's what I thought until Hershey created those lovely Bliss raspberry filled thingies. Cadbury move over, the Bliss is moving in.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nineteen Minutes


Another Jodi Picoult novel came into my hands. Nineteen Minutes starts off with a bang. She is known for putting intense and controversial subjects as the focus of her books and this one I found hard to read. Not because it's poorly written or it doesn't hold my focus but because its subject is something that no one can imagine having to live through. A school shooting leaving ten dead, many more injured and lives changed forever. The perpetrator one teenage boy, a misfit, an overly sensitive outcast. I am imagining my own son, in some ways so much like the murderer. Small for his age, an easy bully target, very sensitive. Where does it all go wrong in a child's life? Can the parents be held accountable or is it just a bend of nature? It's horrific, from all points of view it is written from - the one girl who was intentionally spared, the mother of the murderer, the prosecutor, the police investigator, the murderer himself. Amongst many things it's a call to take a look at our children, about being more present in our kids lives even when they don't want us there anymore like in adolescence, probably especially in adolescence. Stop the world and get off from time to time, and acknowledge that we are all human and sometimes we as parents aren't right and don't have all the answers. As always, there is a surprise twist toward the end but this time I found slightly implausible. Also, I found an overuse of similes. But all that aside it is an intense book that left me feeling uncomfortable and slightly fearful for the future.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Content warning: words like period and mammogram inside

It's only one o'clock and the day hasn't gone quite like I envisioned it. My biennial early morning mammogram was performed by a seasoned technician, but not the angel-incarnate I have seen in the past so needless to say (especially one week before my monthly "visitor") it was rather painful. I know men undergo the indignity of prostate exams but frankly I don't think it compares to taking a breast and squishing it like a pancake between boulders. "Hold your breath they say" - by god if I didn't I would scream and if I wasn't attached to the pancake making machine I would slug someone. "Breathe" they say as the machine releases, I guess in case we are in shock and forget to. Then what was to be my leisurely stroll through Chapters was indecently interrupted by a frantic cell phone call from my cleaning service (I know, it's a luxury and I am very grateful). It seems the dog I usually enclose while they are there had gotten free of the room she was in, and all cleaning procedures were to stop until I came home and locked her up again. Did I want to reschedule? they asked. Hell no! One of the cleaners is terrified of dogs, so I understood, but it was damn inconvenient. This morning was the one time block I had until December 5 to do some Christmas shopping without my son in tow and I had a list of places to hit up before I returned to my clean house. The house really needed the full treatment. Two dogs + shedding + mud season = I leave it to your imagination. I am not a horrible housekeeper and I do clean in between their twice a month visits but sometimes it's near impossible to keep up with the hair. Then there is my day job that gets in the way of that too. And all that sitting on the sofa eating bon bons and watching the soaps. So now the dog was back in her hovel, my one option (without driving all the way back to where I started from) was - collective groan here - Wal-Mart. I try very hard to stay away and usually I can. It is the only place in this city I have found the photo paper for my Canon Selphy printer so sometimes my shadow does grace their doorstep. But I also managed to score a few of those "I-want-that-for-Christmas" things that my subconscious mind has registered while my son watches Discovery Kids (way too many commercials on that channel even though the programming is fabulous). It was amazing how I could walk through the toy aisles and not be inundated with all the crap lining the shelves but instead have "Bakugan" and "Pixos" and "Magnetix" leap off and into my basket. The marketing is that good. I mean, I'm not even watching the television and it was all stored in my brain, complete with the theme songs. I fell short in the Crayola section though, I just couldn't remember whether it was the glow paint or the glow markers that are all the rage, I guess their commercials need some revamping. I didn't entirely succumb to the Wal-Mart hypnotic swing, though. I got out of there with my dignity in tact and realized that a Toys'R'Us was just a few blocks away so I trotted on over there and did some more damage. I did get a few games that are more intelligent including the Pirate Hide and Seek (gotta love those games that require only one player) and Riley's soon to be first Where's Waldo book. So although it wasn't the morning I had worked out in my mind, it worked out in its own way. And it's all good baby!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Holdz-em-from-floppin'

I need to buy new bras and I'll admit I'm terrified. Usually I'll walk into a department store and just get the standard 34B in a sports bra. I hate padding, under wires and all the other cruel inventions made by someone who likely never has to wear one. Think of the medieval Madonna cone bra or the lift-and-separate. Ever been poked by an under wire that has worked its way loose? I have. It was painful and embarrassing. I have also been going about my business and looked down to see a wire sticking four inches out of the front of my sweater. There is no way to gracefully shove that hardware back in. We can put men on the moon and cameras on mars, can't we design bras that don't pinch, rise up or dig in? Or how about making them affordable? Too much to ask? Honestly, couldn't we lock five smart women in a room and keep them there until they come up with a comfortable, humane bra? Of course we wouldn't starve them or anything. We would deliver sushi, designer coffees, chocolate and vodka while they work. Until then I'll be in the department store picking up my 34Bs.

Friday, November 14, 2008

One Hundred and Thirty-six

I don't get marketing. Or metric, and I live in Canada. I grew up learning the Imperial system then they did the old switcheroo when I was in grade 7 (I think). So my basis really is in inches, cups, pounds and Fahrenheit, not centimetres, millilitres, grams and Celsius. Minutes ago I tore off the tab for a new box of tissues. The count reads "136". Now what kind of number is that for an ordinary box of tissues, I ask? Why not 140. Or 130. Or even 135. Is it the metric conversion of an American box of 150? What is in a number anyway?

MacHead

My son is a MacHead. At five he has realized that Mac is the way to go. Here's a picture of a computer he made today (notice the drawing of the apple in the middle!) :









Complete with "grossology" button at the bottom of the keyboard page. Man, that kid cracks me up.

It turned out to be a glorious day here. Sunny and only one-jacket kind of warm. After the morning of ferrying one dog to the groomer and back and another to the vet and back I managed to cut back the raspberry bushes and remove some of the fencing that protects the garden. Then I was faced with a dilemma. Do I spend the rest of the afternoon outside in the nice weather doing the obvious chores like, oh raking. Or do I do something for me inside the house. After this hair-brained week at work and a ped-day last Monday I have to admit I tossed the chores and watched my last video lesson for Paulette Insall's class. This month is just racing by and I'm not really unhappy about that. Once December is here I feel I can properly start feting Christmas. But something is a little different this year. Usually I just get by until spring arrives and with it the warmer weather, almost wishing away the time. This year I can feel myself taking each day as it comes, accepting that summer is gone and just experiencing what is going on at any given moment, weather included. I'm still frustrated that I don't get enough me time, that my creativity frequently takes a back seat. Maybe I'm growing up a little. But I no longer feel like wishing away these next months until the good weather returns. I am looking forward to just being. Ask me again how I feel when the blizzards are clouding up the windows and the sidewalks can't be seen, but for now everything is just perfectly alright.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Remembering

On November 11 at the end of the day I was driving my son to swimming lessons and I was catching up with him on what went on in his day at school. I had personally and privately observed a minute of silence at 11:00 that morning amid the chaos in the office where I work. When I was a kid in school we would all stand and hold that minute in silence, not really knowing or understanding the significance of it. So I was amazed to hear that my son had stopped at that hour and stood quietly. I am even more amazed that the teacher was able to stop a class of kindergartners half way through gym class and make them still. And even more amazing still is that our schools haven't managed to boil that tradition out of the curriculum yet. In my continuing state of astonishment a mention goes to those who refuse to wear poppies because they are against war, any war - pick one and they are against it past, present and future. I have to continually remind myself that they are allowed to express that opinion BECAUSE of the selflessness and sacrifices made by soldiers who lived and died for that very freedom and all the freedoms we largely take for granted here in modern North America. A nice story is over here at Chaos Theory and includes a YouTube video with a reading of In Flanders Fields.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Untitled

Align LeftI feel like I should pull something out of my ass to put up today. It's just been so darn busy since Sunday morning. I went into the weekend thinking I had time, could take it easy blah blah blah. I had a three day weekend with Riley home Monday for a ped day. Then Sunday hit. Tornado. And it's all good, baby. Riley has been a peach, a real pleasure and fun person to spend time with. I managed to get rid of some of my old baby stuff (crib, high chair and booster seat, jogging stroller). Basically things that have been taking up space and I was hoping to find someone to fob them off on. A comment I made last summer to a neighbor ended up bearing fruit. Or rather, bearing space in my basement and garage. I'm happy and grateful. A few of the other things I find myself grateful for today is that we haven't had snow (to speak of) yet and after looking at some weekend pictures at Kal's website that makes me very, very grateful. I am also grateful I found a financial adviser that doesn't talk down to me, returns my calls and takes all my questions as if they are intelligent ones. I am grateful I have found time for creative work lately even though the rest of this week seems like it will probably be a wash-out in that area. I am grateful we got over our last cold viruses quickly with little impact on our daily lives. I am grateful I have a job in these uncertain times. I am grateful I have friends who will listen to me even when I am tired of listening to myself. And on a more superficial note I am grateful that today when I went shopping for a pair of black pants for work, I found a really great pair (on sale too!) after trying on only two pairs (one store! Yay Gap!). But mostly I am grateful for seeing my fabulous, funny boy "on tv" tonight.I found something else recently, I think I originally saw it on Mir's website, then after ordering some I saw it again on Andrea's. I had promised to make mention of it here, but I am hoping to make Christmas presents out of these, so I kind of want to keep it secret a while longer. I am going to test-run the ones I bought for our house and if they live up to the hype I won't be able to keep my mouth shut and I'll have to blab something. I am quite thrilled there are Canadian distributors of this product, the ones I ordered last week arrived in my mail box today, no extra duties to pay at the post office, no pricey US shipping costs and no border delays. Yay Canada!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Something in the Air

I have a talent I've passed on to my son. I have the ability to find and step in poop within a five mile radius of where ever I am. My feet are like heat-seeking missiles attracted to crap. As a dog owner I'm pretty careful about picking up when we're out. I also pick up religiously in our backyard, partly because one of my dogs is a...er...scavenger and will get it practically before it hits the ground if I don't, but mostly because it's unpleasant having chunks of poo around where my child is playing. Last night we were out walking the dogs. In the dark. And I was tromping through piles of fallen leaves, kind of enjoying the mild evening and the swish and crunch underfoot. I mustn't have felt the squish underfoot because this morning when I went to put on my shoes I noticed a funny kind of smear. I lifted one shoe carefully and brought it close to sniff. Horrors! It was not only thoroughly wedged in the decorative treads on the bottom of the shoe but somehow got smeared up the side and over the top. My nice black suede moccasins (Merrills, natch) that are also my shoes to wear to work. And as if that isn't enough, as I brought the shoe close for that tell-tale sniff, my son nudged past me to get to his shoes and yes, ladies and gentlemen, mashed the shoe against my nose. It's a talent, I say. One I'm proud to share with my first and only born because his feet, too, sometimes seem to be the ones who do the seeking.

Pay It Forward


I was drawn to this book because of the movie, which I never saw. I figure if someone has spent millions of dollars to morph it into another media then it must be worth the read. And it was. I did find the characters to be a little stereotypical though. But it was a quick read which I always appreciate; I get such satisfaction out of finishing something I've started. Probably a side effect of parenthood. And it was a fascinating concept, of course. I almost wished it wasn't fiction and that the world might be capable of such change.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sweet

Yesterday was unusual. For me, anyway. I got up at my usual 5:00 a.m., feeling pretty good. Got the dogs out, back in, did my work out and showered, all before 6:00. Yikes. Got Riley up, he dressed quickly (egads!), ate breakfast with minimal nagging and we were out the door with plenty of time to get to him to school, also with minimal nagging and none of the usual crazy screaming such as, "We're late! Faster! Move it! Come on!" I found a good parking spot near the commuter train station. The train was on time, although a little crowded. My two metros also arrived quickly and I made it to work in under half an hour. The weather even co-operated. Then I started thinking that this scenario was a little scarey. Should I be looking skyward for falling anvils or grand pianos? My two bosses quickly wrote me cheques for my contract work for the previous month and the morning passed peacefully. I was even told I needn't come in the next day as things were a little slow. Could it get any better? A whole, unexpected day to myself! Sweet! I looked around for the hidden cameras. Again my return trip home was uneventful. I took my dog for a long walk in the sunshine, caught up on last week's Coronation Street before fetching Riley and getting him to his swimming lesson. I also paid only this:

to fill my tank. Paranoia set in. I started to feel better when I realized I had chosen locker number 13 at the pool and then when the pizza we ordered for supper came with the wrong toppings I breathed an audible sigh of relief. What I really needed was a good toe-stubbing to put things right. The planets must have been slightly askew yesterday, I hope that doesn't happen again for a good long time. (P.S. - For my American friends that 93.9 cents is per litre which means if you mulitply that by 4, you'll see what we're paying per gallon. )

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Little Chihuahua

Who is so depraved as to steal outdoor halloween decorations? A number of the things we put outside have disappeared and no, they did not blow away in the wind. Perhaps because we were out trick or treating and nobody was around to man the door? We did leave out two full bowls of candy and a pumpkin stuck all over with lollipops with the hopes that kids would help themselves and not be too greedy. Maybe some older, unchaperoned kids came along and dumped the contents in their bag all at once.

After much ado, Riley got his Chloe the Beverly Hills Chihuahua costume. Here he is looking a little like a ghoulish chihuahua, but he was happy with the way it turned out and how he looked. I'd love to see what he looked like behind his eyes.

Now that holiday is over and done with, Christmas is fore front in my mind. I have barely started my shopping and usually at this time I am almost finished. For one reason or another I am not feeling as inspired as I usually am. Maybe it's the cash flow or lack thereof, my market fears, debtors prison fears. I'll have to pull it together soon although I do like the recent surge to support handmade gifts. Some of that will fly but with little kids it's hard to not have all the bells and whistles. I don't know who we do it more for - ourselves or them.


&

I stayed up late (for me) last night and finished Jodi Picoult's "Change of Heart". I have read a few of her books, usually enjoy them because they are easy reads and aren't too fluffy. This one really made me think a lot. It discusses many aspects of religions and belief with open discussions about faith, ritual and oddly enough, the death penalty. Without giving away any of the details I'll simply say I found it thoroughly engaging and recommend it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time to waste

I must say I rather like having the clocks move back an hour. I like getting up at "six" and feeling rested. I like getting out of the house by "nine" and twirling around the grocery store and home by "eleven". I liked waking up and having it almost light out. I know I am not going to be crazy about the early sundowns, getting home from work in the dark. And the frost has finally finished off my garden. All the last stragglers that hung in there have finally given it up to the cold. I knew it was bound to happen. As of yesterday I find myself in my least favorite month of the year (next to January). November tends to be gray, bleak, cold and dark with very little to look forward to. At least December has Christmas, February has my son's birthday and by then the days start to get noticeably longer, you can often feel the heat of the sun when it's out. March you know you are in the final stretch of winter. April's rain means the snow gets washed away and the early bulbs starting showing us some much needed splashes of colour. But November? Sorry all you Scorpios but I just can't get up the energy to love this month.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cookie Interruptus

I was standing in the kitchen eating the last half of a cookie left over from lunch. Riley was in the other room talking on the phone with his favorite aunt. I guess he heard me crunching or instinctively felt he was about to miss out because he wandered in the kitchen and said, "you're not eating the last cookie from lunch, are you?!" Quite indignantly too. I felt so guilty because I had told him I would save the cookie for him. But figuring he would be happy with the gallon size plastic pumpkin full of chocolates, gummies and other canker-inducing candies that the cookie could safely be mine. So I put it back in the paper bag, knowing he'll have forgotten about it by tomorrow and days later I'll unearth it, once it has become stale. My moral dilemma is, now that he is in bed, can I finish the cookie going on the assumption that he won't look for it tomorrow or should I be a good mother and just let the wretched cookie lie.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I think therefore I blog

It's been such a crazy week that I haven't blogged because basically I haven't had the time to stop and think. There is so much going on with my job, Riley's school, Halloween (not to mention a last minute change of costume), the dogs, the freakin' wintery weather. I felt like such a grinch getting ready. Cursing running out for the pumpkins, cursing staying up late last night to clean them out getting ready to carve them this afternoon with my boy. And all the stuff and politics going on with the new job, it was hard to find the time to actually get some work done. And not a little resentment about how I haven't had a minute for anything creative since Monday morning.

Things turned around a little this afternoon. At my son's school the kids were allowed to wear their Halloween costumes after lunch. So Riley trundled home for lunch and we got him together for the afternoon. Up until last weekend he was going to be Catman (an invention of his). Which meant using his cat costume from last year with just a tweak here and there. And then he decided that he wanted to be Chloe the chihuahua from the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Now already this poor little guy is getting bullied in school and I'm thinking, "you want to go to school dressed up like a girl dog??!!" But yes, he did and he does. So we spent half the weekend running around for the bits and pieces to make the costume and I shoe-horned in time this week running around to find the smaller details for it. When I saw all the kids going into the school yard in their costumes, so in the spirit of it, and the parents who also dressed up, they too in the spirit of it I thought it was time for me to get an attitude transplant. So what if the house is a pigsty. So what if I can't find the kitchen table for all the accumulated debris that came in this week that needs attention but hasn't yet got it. So what if I'm two weeks behind in Paulette's painting class. What mattered most was seeing my little boy's face light up when another child recognized him as Chloe, the chihuahua. My whole world was right there at that moment. Children can really help you focus on what is important in the moment, if you stop to be there along with them.

And here's a picture of a pumpkin supper I made this week. A while ago I started to make pictures out of Riley's meals. I was missing my art and needed to express some creativity. During my mother's last visit she was telling Riley how I used to be an artist, that I used to paint. And my beautifully observant son said, "now she paints with food". God I love that kid.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Unspeakable

About two blocks from our house, and on the way to Riley's school, there is a newly poured and solidified cement square of the sidewalk that some fresh, young wag decided to scratch in, in about a size 102 font, "F*CK YOU". Except it's spelled in full, without the asterisk. A couple of weeks ago, walking home from school, Riley stopped and read it out loud then said, "Oh Mum, that's not nice". I always blanche when he uses some of those four letter words. It's not like he doesn't hear them on occasion at home. But, you know. When he was two and wasn't yet talking I was afraid that the first words he was going to say to grandma was, "muthaf*cka" with a great big smile on his face. And the other night when I had him in the bath and we were comparing bruises, I told him how I got a nasty one on my knee from banging it on the side of the tub. And once again he said, "That's when you said, "M-F-er". Right. Well. I reminded him that I didn't like him saying "those kinds of words". It seems so out of place to have a small child use profanity. It's rare that he uses any of "those kinds of words" and we have a deal that when I do, he is supposed to call me on it. And he takes this job quite seriously. Sometimes it doesn't go over all that well with me when it happens and an apology becomes necessary when the heat of the moment passes. But getting back to the "F-Y" we pass each day on the way to and from school. Riley is getting a strange amount of pleasure out of saying "those kind of words" by claiming to be doing a simple reading exercise. They do say the darndest things.

Health Nut

Yesterday my boy asked me for tofu. (!) Actually, he asked me last week when I was cooking some fish in the same marinade that I do our tofu and he was so disappointed to find out it wasn't tofu. So this weekend I made him some and he was so excited yesterday when I started to cook it. That must be some good tofu!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What I Found Today:


Despite not picking up a pencil or a paint brush today I feel quite creative. I found this from a link from this. I've signed up, hoping that despite everything else I have going on at the same time (like Karen's class and finishing up Paulette's class) and things like oh, my day job, my boy, the dogs and even the weather, that I'll be able to participate. It just looks so appealing. It's free, go and sign up too!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Small Things

This morning I had to get my reading glasses to see a number in a phone book. Usually I manage by squinting or pulling away, or both at the same time. This morning it was impossible. And I saw bugs today. A cluster of tiny little things hovering over my half frozen jeans on the clothes line. And I wrote myself a note that I can't decipher. Sometimes it's the little things.

It's also the one year anniversary of my LuLu Lemon hoodie. Last year when my job was ending I went a little crazy buying some new clothes, clothes that would suit my upcoming house frau days plus I didn't know when I was going to be gainfully employed again and able to buy new clothes. So one of the things I bought was a rather expensive hoodie. Mind you every thing is, in my opinion, expensive in that store. I've bought a number of things in there - yoga pants, work out shorts and tops and that infamous hoodie. The pants didn't hold up well, my Costco yoga pants have turned out to be a much better buy. The shorts are OK but the tops fit strangely. Maybe I just don't have a LuLu Lemon body. But the hoodie represented the beginning of an era in my life, the return to casual wear and a more relaxed lifestyle. I can hardly believe it's been a year. And now I'm working again, gone is the relaxed lifestyle but there is a new sense of freedom with Riley in school and a couple of days a week to be creative.


&



I chewed on this book for over a week. I thought it would be a quicker read and I had been waiting for a number of months for it to be available at the library. This is definitely a book you need to take slowly. The characters are complex and for the most part strangely lovable. The ending was a little weak but I don't know how I would have ended it myself. I can see why it won the Giller. A class act.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Sometimes as a parent you have to be the bad guy. The one who says no, the one that brings the tears to the surface. The one who is very, very unpopular in the house. Single-parenting means that sometimes it seems as if you are always the bad guy. As a parent and often single-parent I can get caught up in the moment, the emotion. Sometimes my beautiful, wonderful, smart, sympathetic son just pushes my buttons and I later feel guilty for the things I say and the way I make him feel. And sometimes I get so tired of being the bad guy - either the one who says no or the rule/keeper/maker that I forget about all the times I am the good guy. All the times I say yes, all the times I make my son happy, make him sing or feel secure, trusting or loved. Can all of us parents who feel like we are too often the bad guy stand up and pat ourselves on the back and try, try, try to remember all the good times and things we do for our children?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Perfection


Isn't this just the perfect leaf? We haven't had a spectacularly colourful fall here. Alot of the trees even still have the bulk of their leaves here in the city. A few rogue maples are red and shedding. Many oaks have just browned up and dropped their leaves. The last few years the snow has arrived with many leaves still on the trees, which makes it really messy in spring. I hate to admit it but I do miss the picture-postcard kind of falls I remember from when I was younger. But it is fall, a dreary, rainy, damp day, probably what England is like in February, without the promise of spring though.


&

I finally got a better photo of my first ATC. Here it is:


And much, much better photos of the two canvases I completed for Paulette Insall's Organic Dimension class:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Flora, scraps and other bits


I am a sucker for these peonies . My neighbor gave me a pink one and a red one a few days ago and I have been floating them in bowls of water. They truly are other-worldly.It has been cold here the last few days. Cold enough for gloves in the morning and today was a 2-fleece layer day. Thank heaven for fleece. I had to scrape the car windshield Friday morning, but first I had to find my scraper. For most of the summer it was getting under my feet or under foot in the passenger seat, so do you think it could be found when I had minutes to spare to get Riley to school and me to work?! Since these peonies are so far off the ground I guess they have been spared the nightly frosts.

I just signed up for Karen's scrapbooking class that starts on November 10. I'm quite excited since I was originally inspired by her to do some scrapbooking and have slowly accumulated some supplies. Soon I'll get to put them to use. And I'll only have to juggle the end of Paulette Insall's faces class at the same time! But I am very grateful for all this creativity in my life now. After the early years of drought, wanting and missing, I now am blessed with some time to pull it together and do it. Of course, it's still a matter of making the time but it's still so exciting for me. my life blood, in a way.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This week's book

I like Jennifer Weiner. I liked In Her Shoes and Good in Bed. But I loved Goodnight Nobody. It was slightly out of the chick-lit genre, but not entirely. I liked Certain Girls a lot. It was a quick and easy read and it actually offered a few surprises. It wasn't totally predictable and although what she writes is very light fare, the author never talks down to the reader and I appreciate that. I've moved on to Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay. A Canadian novel, a Giller prize winner and not quite so light and easy. But well reviewed by the press and by other people I know who have read it.