Menopausal Minutes

I know what you’re thinking. This is about my menopausal minutes, being many. My Many Menopausal Minutes is what I should have called this blog (4-M for short). But I am high on the brevity scale this week because I blew my neck nerves out again — so Menopausal Minutes this will be.

Normally I hashtag #menopausalmoments but the minutes are something else entirely.

After months of randomly torturing friends with video messages (to save me from typing, among other reasons), I’ve decided to keep the videos to my YouTube channel.

My what? My YouTube channel. You know, that one. The one I’ve had for two years that I never use. It saves me from typing, editing, and all the other things that go with writing a blog. Each blog takes about 3 hours. Each menopausal minute takes one minute. Curiously, reading my blog or watching my vlog, both take one minute.

There’s another reason I’ve been doing this: I think I am atrociously hideous. Really. I can barely stand to look at myself. I know we all dislike aspects of our appearances but for me, it’s visceral. I loathe myself. I loathe virtually everything about my physicality. My body, my voice, my face, my hands, my feet. Goodness knows my belly.

But don’t worry, I’m not writing all this today to make you say “aw, you look fine” because I know I look ok and frankly, something Ma Ingalls once said always sticks with me: “pretty is as pretty does.” Unless of course that’s Marmee from Little Women. Dang. I’ll have to Google that….  I know people are starving in the world, I know there’s violence everywhere. My crooked face is nothing. It’s symptomatic of other issues I have, mostly beyond my control. Things I’ve learned to manage because they can’t really be overcome. I’m wired for self-loathing so the best I can do is get on top of it and learn to make it work for me.

And so this praxis began. Learning to video myself, watch it, and not barf, cringe, and die. Part of the reason? I wanted to do podcasts with my friend Kelly and wasn’t sure how horrible I would sound. Another? Paula and I always talked about doing little chat videos. I shied away because I keep thinking I’m too ugly and all the trolls will get under my skin. Then Paula, in one of HER videos, reminded me of something very important:

Nobody cares about you

Paula Tiberius


And dadgum, she’s right.

I owe a lot of this video-shift to friends Marsha, Kelly, Paula, and always, Terri. Instagram played a big factor, too. Fourteen seconds here and there, dipping the toes. While I can’t say any of my videos — past, present, or future — are gold, they are certainly therapeutic. 

And they save me from the dreaded auto-correct

Read More...

How to Bring a Man to His Knees

This was originally written in June of 2013 under another pseudo whom I killed off. This was also written before I had a decent camera on my phone… and these pix just didn’t merit analog (at the time, or ever). Sorry. I originally wrote How to Bring a Man to His Knees when my pseudo had a syndicated weekly blog, so this post is in two parts. 

How to Bring a Man to His Knees


It’s not what you’re thinking. No metaphors running amok here. I’m talking about touching my husband’s tools.

drillFor starters: his power drill. Or as I call it: his battery drill thingie. Yes, I really do talk like that. Sorry. I forget words all the time unless I’m writing them.

My Mission

… and yes, I chose to accept it.

I wanted to build a cat condo. And until the day power tools got fancy, I could have made one. In fact, I have. Already. But it was sooo 2002 and the condo was destroyed (well, exposed onto the curb for the gleaners to dismantle and wheesh away) three moves ago. Although we move about every two years, that condo I built using a staple gun and old-fashioned screws (yes, all by hand) stood the test of time until 2010. By then I was pregnant at 45 and not really feeling like building much more than a Nutella salad. So my cats were bereft of condo and had to sleep on the piano, laptops, and rads.

Shift ahead a few years and I had two new kitties (both, at this edit three years later, are now deceased but they lived beautifully pampered lives, let me tell you): Lucy and Waffles.

They hated each other. 

Actually, my husband called Waffles “Sophie” (and a very few of you reading this will laugh because you’ll get the reference).

New kitties. No condo. But I was intrepid and finally back in town from far afield in the Great White North, so decided this was the day.

Or so I thought.

You see, in this marriage, my tools ended up being appropriated by my sons. My husband’s good stuff (and it’s all good stuff, apparently) is his. Mine is theirs, his is his. But I want to build a new condo but realized in the old days I’d just hammer and tong it manually. Now there’s some lithium battery packed thingie looking scarier than grandma’s hair-dryer .

 

cat-condo-cropped

The original condo, sporting Bing, Bob, and Gregory Twinklebear

I had to call him. It went badly.

Me: “Hi Sweetie. Just curious. How do I load your drill thingie?” I don’t waste time. I need to build and clean up before he comes home and sees what devastation I can create–or worse AND more likely–before I get distracted or lose interest.

He: “What? My drill? Why are you using my drill?”

Me: “Not using your drill sweetie. I need to know for a story.”

He: “Where does a power drill fit into the story?”

Me: “Uh, the heroine has a thing for her carpenter.” (I am truly the world’s worst liar and besides, back then, I was only writing historical).

He: “What are you building?”

Me: “Nothing. But as long as we’re talking hardware, how do I cut a sonotube? Will, say, a jigsaw do it? Or just a carpet knife? Do we have a jigsaw?”

He: “You are scaring me.”

Me: “I’m building a cat condo.”

katkondo

He: “You don’t say.” He sounds frightened unsurprised. “Do you have plans?”

Me: “Of course I have plans.”

He: “Drawn in crayon?” He’s not being rude. He knows I use the Crayola Planner for Pantser Builders. I built a shelf under the kitchen sink once (before the world changed and we photographed our every move or I’d share it here… it was awesome) plotted out with dry eraser markers on two sheets of paper towel.

Me: “Maybe. I have an ingredient list.”

He: “How did you get the sonotube into your car?” Two kids, small car. 

Me: “It wasn’t pretty. Have we maxed out the chiro?” Don’t ask. I had to get the neighbour to pull me out because I pinched a nerve in my neck driving with the seat pushed forward so I could have the seat pushed forward and lay the sonotube on the diagonal. I’m talking about Satan’s Chiro, of whom you’ve heard.

To be continued…

Sorry about the drill bit, Sweetie. I didn’t know they could shatter like that. 

Read More...

Zombies, Zippos, A.S. Fenichel

Zombies, Zippos, A.S. Fenichel

I have a series of unpublished blogs based on my dreams, each blog in various states of un/edit, pending graphics and screen grabs. One I’ve promised Bueller is about a dream I had of my wearing English muffins for slippers whilst walking to Montréal with a quick stop at Toronto’s own Sneaky Dees. Yes, that old chestnut. But it was a great dream and two years later, I finally finished that blog. 

A Bic Lighter Commercial? You say.

You’ll find out in a mo’. Just enjoy.

1212

Today’s blog (ok, this is actually from 18 months ago) just came to me because I had an epiphany and epiphanies made me think of light bulbs which made me think of tealights well, there you go. Yes, synecdoche is alive and well on this blog.

zombie-zippo-01

My long-suffering friend Terri gets to receive my wee-hours texts. This was a doozy. A metaphor (as opposed to metonymy) for my pathetic writer-wannabe existence. Like bringing a knife to a gun fight or in my case, a tealight and a Bic lighter to the Zombie Apocalypse.

zombie-zippo-02

Ok, now see that last line: “I should have been carrying..” Aye, there’s the rub. The problem? I didn’t remember to save the next screen so not only have I forgotten what I should have been carrying in the dream, but I have also forgotten what I should have been carrying — here and now — in the reportage of the dream.

If you read my Früit Löps blog, you’ll know how distressing this was/is/ever shall be to me. I have meta-forgotten. And what’s worse: I spent the better part of a semi-caffeinated morning pondering what I should have been carrying. A machete? Gun? Jug of acid? Strong language? A bold and enterprising attitude? Some snark? A whole bucket of snark? 

My friend Terri would have had the answer. She likely would have said “a portable food dehydrator and a Sig P226.” See that connection I just made? Lighter? Cigarette? Sig Sauer? Dang. Terri’s good (and hopefully doesn’t mind my putting words into her mouth). A.S. Fenichel would have been armed with Victorian Kung-fu and an Hattori Hanzo sword. These are women of action, people!


My pitiful wannabe writing life takes the focus

This blog looks like I’m plugging A.S. Fenichel or Terri L Austin but the fact is, that’s the blog’s by-product but not its purpose. My pitiful wannabe writing life takes the focus. This ain’t no advertorial, cowboy bovine-herding-non-binary-specific-humanoid.

A.S. Fenichel writes a wicked good vs evil romance. I guess the correct term is “paranormal romance” but for her, I think more of a “good vs evil” moniker. Her heroines kick some serious tush. I’m pretty sure I’ve read all her books (she’s not all paranormal: some are historical, others are contemporary) and for those wanting snippets and reviews, tootle to Amazon. Pretty sure if you want a compadre for the zombie End of Days, it’d be she.

Terri is my go-to for panic-mode. Seriously, there ain’t no cliff from which she cannot talk me down. She would have reminded me of my Zippo, then showed me how to store food for the apocalypse (think I’m joking? This is one of our major topics of discussion on any given week). She may write as a pantser but she lives as a plotter.

I’ve “known” both women since their first books and have been honoured to follow them through their careers thus far. I may only have THOUGHT I had a Bic lighter but in reality, I DO have a Zippo. I just need to remember to check my pockets. 

Long have I pondered what I would have brought to the Zombie Apocalypse then realised something: I’d be eaten while I figured it out. 


Oh, and A.S. cooks a treat, too. I guess I should have been carrying some Lagostina. Weapons and vittles. What more could I want in the Zombie Apocalypse? Actually, Lagostina COULD be a weapon. Bonk bonk Trafalgars!

Terri and I don’t cook. Surely among the three of us, at least one of us would survive to write the post-scriptum to the blog. Stay tuned.


At a loss what to get people for Christmas? How about donating to the Heart & Stroke Foundation in their name?

Read More...

The Momfia Getaway

I know what you’re thinking: this is a blog about the Momfia and their daring escape from their latest caper (thus keeping their bail money for another day). You’re probably right. But the weekend has only begun and I’m not there as their designated driver. Since I don’t drink, I’d be the perfect driver for the Momfia getaway.

What this blog is really about: claustrophobia. Sure sure, there are likely other diagnoses I could invoke (I have a slew of them in my sling bag) but the main one is claustrophobia.

Let me tell you something: claustrophobia blows monkey bottoms. And while no, I can’t “just get over it,” I can write a blog about it (sitting near a window, car keys in hand). Ok, kinda joking there.

Maybe.

I have known these women for years. We’re in a birth club together (yes, we call ourselves the Momfia) and some of us have been hanging out (mostly online) since we were pregnant. I love these women. And while we’re all so geographically distant, we do our best to get together when we can.

For me, this is challenging. Almost insurmountable. Depending on distance and venue, I can do it. It all comes down to distance and venue (read: escapability). Oh wait, and body count. Distance. Venue. Body Count. Trips to IKEA? Manageable for about an hour, then I freak out (I am not good with malls, as you may recall). Trips far-ish away, to a dwelling and room-sharing (and toilet-sharing, don’t even… don’t eeeeeeeeeeven get me started)? I just can’t. It’s so painful for me. I can barely imagine it.

What makes it worse is the self-loathing and rationalizing I go through when a group event is put together. I want to see people. I know only a few of the now-69 women who make up our happy troupe since 2010. But I cannot fully express how downright physically painful it is for me to be in a confined space (yes, a ski chalet with 14 women counts as confined). And yet. And yet. It all looks so fun.

In a rare moment, I’ll thank FB for the fact that I can semi-participate while I sit at home hating myself.

There’s karaoke

I love karaoke. I have no shame. None. Doesn’t matter what key, tempo, or genre. I will sing it loud and proud. So you’d think I would be down with the get-together, right?

Nope. My total lack of singing shame has nothing to do with claustrophobia. What I wouldn’t give for Ali and me to croon I Got You, Babe, lovingly into each others’ eyes. I’d have to stand on a stool though, she’s pretty tall.

Pretty sure some Nancy Sinatra is going on, here. Note bottles of invigorating elixir in the lower right-hand corner. :)

Pretty sure some Nancy Sinatra is going on, here. Note bottles of invigorating elixir in the lower right-hand corner. 🙂

 

There’s just good ol’ sleepover fun

undies-02

I’m menopausal. Undies in the freezer sounds pretty good to me. 🙂

I want to be carefree like this. Like in those 80s films or even better, British comedies from 1968-1971. Capricious. Fun-loving. Anything for a dare. Poops and giggles.

But I can’t. I find it hard to breathe just thinking about being in the living room with them. All of whom I know to some extent. But those four walls, and that distance from my safe place (home)… it’s so hard. I’m someone who can’t even close the door to her own bedroom. No. Really. It freaks me out.

And the worst of it is not having a proper way to explain it. So I got up this morning and thought I’d write a love letter to my Birth Club sisters. We’ve all been through so many things together (and more to come). And I love all of you but I have to say sometimes I just can’t do it. I want to. I intend to. I generally fall through. And I’m sorry. I appreciate you’re not all sitting there waiting for me to splash up the day, but I know some of you may feel slighted, insulted even, at my seeming aloofness.

I can do one-on-one quite well. Small trips to IKEA. And while I hoped and prayed I could drive up to see you all today, I am afraid THE FEAR will take hold. If you don’t suffer from it, you cannot understand it. Hunter S. Thompson got it. 

Getting the Fear

But I know some of you get it, some don’t. We can’t all ‘get’ everything.

I confess I never understood amber teething necklaces.

Gals, I love you all and am always grateful for your friendship. Have fun. Drive safely. Take pix. Skype if you can. Mwah.

Read More...

Eye Yi Yi Yi

I know what you’re hoping, you’re praying: that this is a blog about corn chips. Particularly those from the era of the Frito Bandito song, back before colour TV and frowning on appropriation of voice was invented. Fat tasted better back then, and the hand that tipped the salt was not so stingy.

But there you’d be wrong. This is a blog about my contact lenses. But first:

The Frito Bandito Corn Chips Song

(voiced by Mel Blanc)

Blind as a Bat

I’m blind as a bat which is not to say I’m terribly ill-sighted (true: not all bats are blind, they’ve been painted with the same brush that made pigs sweat) but that I echolocate.

My husband and children and cats can all vouch for this.

You see (snicker, a pun), I lose my glasses constantly. Generally they’re on my nose but because I’m on the ewie side of 49 (meaning, I’m 49.85), I have to remove them for some tasks. My progressive lenses blow chunks because Satan’s Optometrist sold me frames too small for the human eye (I was vain, so it’s a bit my fault too). Remember Satan’s Chiro? She has an optometrist brother, and his name is self-evident.

Generally speaking, after I put my glasses down, have my “menopausal moment” and wander off to do something else, I return to where I think I left my glasses only to find the cat dipping her paws into my smoothie, sneaking a few dainty sips before she trots off, knowing I can’t tell which cat she is without my ever-loving glasses. Fiend. Last time I’ll ever adopt twins (another blog for another day). And my glasses? They are NEVER where I’ve think I’ve left them. NEVER.

Today: I was feeling jaunty. I put on my contacts. But before I tell you this story, let me tell you another.

I’ve always worn contacts. Always. I was the first kid on my block with contacts. Back then, things were simpler and contact lenses were whittled-out bingo chips. A bit harsh on the cornea but they did the trick (and now you know where the expression “rose coloured glasses” comes from…).

Did I say bingo chips? I meant hard lenses. The kind that pop out during your biology exam. I moved on to smooshy ones later.

Then I turned 40

Satan’s Optometrist. Yeah. Him. Ille sePoint blank (that doesn’t mean what you may think, by the way), he tells me my eyes are too old for contacts. That’s right, he said “too old.”

Frequent readers of this blog will know that “too old” is my trigger and my target. He notched that arrow and it flew true. I was incensed (and hurt). He wouldn’t prescribe my contacts. I was forced to wear glasses for the next nine years. Boy, am I bitter. Until….

I get a new optometrist who tells me a lot has advanced in the world of ocular bingo chips. Of course it’s all bogus one-day use bingo chips, money-grubbing capitalist piggies. Seriously people, just learn to clean your lenses. Anyhoodle, I get a pair to try and guess what?

Satan’s Optometrist was right. Either that, or my arms are too short. I had to buy cheaters so I could see anything closer than the floor. For the first time in my life, I needed reading glasses. Darn darn darny darn.

If, at first, you don’t fricasee…

Months later—today—for no real reason, I decided to try try again. Maybe it’s all neurological and my brain just needs to adjust a bit more. I have to retrain my brain to see.

So I put my lenses on (which, after nine years of little practice, is slightly more tricky than performing a heart-lung transplant with a silicone spatula, or trying to remove, clean, and reinsert a Diva Cup on a six-hour train-ride to Montréal and believe me, you will need those six hours and still live with regrets, seriously why didn’t I just wear a pad and be done with it?)….

…. and promptly lost my glasses. Yes, I lost them. Where oh where did I put my glasses because guess what, over-40 friends (younger, take note), I can’t see closer than 6 feet in these things. I wasn’t ready to give the “bifocal” contacts a try yet. And now, I’m paying the price. I walk about with more tippy-toe trepidation than a barefooted parent in Legoland.

I use my echolocation

“Where are mommy’s glasses?” I call out, hoping the sound waves bounce off the heads of my progeny who are watching game walkthroughs on YouTube. The cats are indifferent. One, I notice, is already dipping her paw into my Hello Kitty mug. Another is busy trying to kill my guitar (and that’s a left-handed guitar little miss Sally the Hutt, so don’t even THINK about knocking it over).

Sally-guitar

What? Me kill your guitar? But Mommy, I LOVE Y… hey, is that a fly?

“Glasses, glasses, where are you?”

I know what you’re thinking: the smart woman would have removed her contacts first, then possibly been able to see enough to find the glasses. But alas, I was feeling very sequentially monogamous this morning and I wanted to have my glasses handy the moment I popped those suckers out. Glasses off or contacts in, I regard the floor as a menancing locus of hazard. Whether riddled with hair balls, Lego, or my glasses which may or may not have fallen from something the flo … crrrruuuunchhhh

Eye yi yi yi

Here they are, dang-doodle.

The owls are not what they seem, or in my case: the cats.

Sally-glasses

Thanks to tremendous advancements made in living room radiology, I had a Blade Runner breakthrough moment.

Sally wasn’t trying to kill my guitar, she was trying to blind me as only a cat can: by looking utterly adorable.  I was so focused on her belly (and my guitar) that I missed the obvious: Sally the Hutt was hiding my glasses (which had indeed fallen) under the ample spread of her delicious, purry rolls. As Sally gets up to release a hair ball into my sandals, the truth lands quick and stinging, like a smack on my bottom from Eric Northman—if I were into such things but I’m not. Maybe. Well, who am I to sneer when I haven’t even tried it?

I fell for the oldest trick in the book: misdirection. 

Penn and Teller discuss this at length; and despite the fact that I had this knowledge, I was overcome by a massive ack-ack attack of cuteness and thus was played like a catnip mousie in the cunning paws of Sally.

I think Penn and Teller say this better than anyone and I would be remiss in my responsibility as a blogger NOT to share this knowledge with you. You probably don’t know this, but Penn & Teller may or may not be cats, they’re THAT GOOD at misdirection.

Penn & Teller – Smoking/Sleight of Hand Trick


This shaggy cat story was brought to you today by the letters Nutella and binge-watching, and by the number Hello Kitty coffee mug.

Read More...

The Dudess Abides

THE DUDESS ABIDES

I know what you’re thinking: this is a blog about The Big Lebowski. There you’d be wrong. Or are you? It’s true, my love for Sam Elliott abides, in a pure and innocent way. But as we’re both married to other people, to covet each other would be wrong. But first, since I mentioned it….

The Dudess Abides

Alrighty, that’s enough. He’s mine.

What this is about is that I’ve been super bummed. Not totally depressed (that was before, when I wasn’t writing blogs… I don’t write when I’m depressed, I write after I’m better); but I’ve been bummed on so many levels and the bumtesence has slurred my crispy self into a mindless video game-playing mushpot (not real games, but silly tower defence games like Garden Rescue: Christmas Edition; but even that eventually bummed me out and I was busted down to PRIVATE from GENERAL.

Thankfully, I have my bae Paula to hold my hand through these dark times:

 


Stole_my_tree_June17

I left her a dirge-quality voice note thereafter. The vocabulary of which, I figure, only Joan Rivers (R.I.P.) would have been bold enough to share on a blog.

But as always, despite my whining, Paula was close-by.

 

Pride_goeth_June17

I tried to explain the plants’ mission: to save the Christmas trees from the peril of marauding, thieving insects and annelids. I quickly realized this was a proverbial exercise in futility. And besides, Paula knew my malaise and my penchant for popping-off terrestrial crustaceans had something to do with each other. She’s good. My personal semiotics are not lost on her. I was fighting my own demons but needed some sort of tangible battle to express my inner turmoil.

Well, she would have said that but I like to put words into her mouth. She was going to go there, but I cut short our exchange to write the preliminary notes for this blog. Because you see.. I was suddenly all messed-up on something kinda nifty….

As I sat whimpering in my self-imposed but ill-fitting Weltanschauung (pronounce it just as it’s spelled), I discovered:

I sold a book this quarter.

KDP-June21-2016

My life, suddenly, got better. I didn’t even remember I still had a book out there. I put this travesty up as a lark one day, at least a year ago, to amuse a few colleagues. Don’t ask. If it were worthy of your scrutiny, I would have posted a cover reveal, the blog tour, reviews. You get the idea. It’s a short story collection I wrote as impudent fun one day (seriously, a cumulative one day) and posted. The characters are named for former clients who irked me. Corporate flash fiction, if you will, with a sexually inappropriate bend (to the left, if you please).

So on the very day I’m exchanging emails with a fellow walking-away-from-it-all writer, I’ll call her Dana, I discover that after I’ve turned out the lights, someone was home.

Elvis had NOT left the building.

In other words: I was still in the game. I was, once again, an author.

The prospect of holding what was left, after Amazon’s take, in my hot little hands grew almost too much for me. The answer was clear:

Paula and I had to get tattoos.

Ok, I made that up. Although we did get tattoos, they were BEFORE all this. It just felt like a nice narrative.

Having said all this, I did what any other author (I don’t really think of myself as author though) would do: I checked for a review. bupkis.

I’ll update you all if someone actually does write a review, even if it’s a troll.

So after six weeks of the blahs, I returned to the land of the inked (on two levels, for those who appreciate a pun). I may actually finish one of the other six manuscripts gracing my desktop.

Instgram_heads_June17

Or not. Maybe I’ll just count my money ($0.35 CAD) and retire.


What I’m Listening to:

I’m all about audiobooks these days. So this month it’s been:

  • Diary of A Mad Diva by Joan Rivers (read by Joan Rivers, R.I.P)
  • 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Joyce Meyer (read by Sandra McCollom)
  • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (read by Roy Datrice who is a freaking genius of a narrator)
  • Asapscience : answers to the world’s weirdest questions, most persistent rumors & unexplained phenomena by Mitchell Moffit & Greg Brown (read by the authors)

and PS to “Dana” who may be reading this… don’t worry, I’m still really out of the game. But that thrill… oh that thrill and surprise of seeing a sale… be still my foolish heart… 

Dudess_abides_June17

Read More...

Best of Bridge: Baking with My Mum

Best of Bridge: Baking with My Mum

A few things have happened in the two months (plus) since I’ve blogged. One? I was very sick. No. Really. Very sick. And it changed my life in a way I’m not quite ready to share here but I can tell you this:

I bake more.

I cook and bake more.

Mostly I bake. I love to bake.

Another thing which didn’t happen to me but affected me? My friend’s mum died. My mum died going on nine years now; but today I was about to bake (peanut butter and jam squares) and it reminded me to dig up my mother’s cookbooks (my sister took the jewellery and THAT is another blog for another day: I took the cookbooks).

My friend had a rough go of it and I re-lived some of the mixed feelings one has when a parent dies: anger, frustration, denial, sorrow. I am too lazy to ask Dr Google the list of things one goes through after a death but you get the idea: it’s a bumpy ride.

But you see, for me it was different. My mother and I always had a bumpy ride of it but in her final years, as dementia took over, our relationship blossomed. I’m not trying to be funny here (usually, I try, but this time it’s just what it is). Our best years were likely her last two years. We had a beautiful relationship. Our antagonism was gone. I’d call her and every call was a joy. Even if I had called twice in the same day. She was always thrilled to hear from me and we chatted up a storm. She was jolly and happy. Sunny, for lack of a better word. Our best years. And I cherished them.

Mum-July22-2007So when she died, I mourned but I was grateful to have had that time with her. All those angry moments and horrible things that came out of my mouth. They disappeared (she forgot, and hopefully forgave) and our relationship was fresh. New. When I became a mother, I saw my mum through very different eyes. I was sad she was gone when DS1 was only seven weeks old. But she got to see him, hold him as best she could. My last photo of her is her reaching out to him. My father (now gone, too) could never look at this photo, the last ever taken of his wife of 62 years.

Only two weeks earlier we’d been out for a visit and Mum was still at home, sitting up, all seemed tickety-boo.

So today, looking for recipes for my next venture, I happened across the fabulous BEST OF BRIDGE books I filched from my parents’ house. And for the first time. Today. I saw this note:

BestOfBridge

I was kind of blown away. Maybe this isn’t profound for any of you but for me, it caused me to burst into tears.

I was touched she wrote down who gave her the book, and when. Like it was important to her. And I guess it was. To me, I remember the book, loved it. But I don’t remember ever seeing the note before and I have used this book at least 100 times.

I guess the notes appear when the child is ready.

And I got to wondering: does my mother forgive me for being such a pain-in-the-arse kid? Mouthy. Self-righteous. Troublesome. Does she forgive me? Did she, when we were at our worst fights, think in the back of her mind that one day I will understand. One day I’ll fight with my own child and suddenly “get it?” About love, fights, harsh words. And forgiveness. We never had any “talks” and never addressed any of our issues. I only told her once I loved her (and she, me) and that was just before surgery on her aorta. It was an awkward moment for us both.

So I wondered, as I looked for a recipe for orange cake (found it) tears in my eyes: could she forgive me, would she, after the fights, the shitty things I’ve said, or thought, over the years? Just because we all do it doesn’t excuse it. Would she know nine years later—even though she’s gone and I have no way to tell her—I’m sorry and that I love her?

I am thinking she knows and forgives. Anyhoodle, Mum, I love you. Thanks for all that hamburger soup (p. 129) you made for me from this cookbook when I was sick.

And everything else. Every.

 

 

 

Read More...

Früit Löps

I know what you’re thinking: you’re proud I’ve been adding fruit and fibre to my diet. I’m good that way. Oprah notwithstanding, Weight Watchers has been working for me and apparently I still get all the fruits and veggies I want, except for corn (fascists).

Eating gluten-based fruit for snackies has been a strange experience. Not the least of which: .

All the colours taste the same. A ersatz citrus hitherto unknown in this post-Higgs-Boson time-space continuum. Sweet, ephemeral, a lil bit bitter but not enough to make you make that face.

Having said all this, I want to point out this blog not really about:

Früit Löps

It’s about an article I read in New Scientist recently. Apparently, after one shakes hands, one sniffs one’s hands.

IMAG5654

Don’t believe me? Watch this.

Ok, so it was a year ago, not recently. But hey, I’m not one with the aforementioned time-space continuum.

This article perturbed me on several levels.

One: I know I don’t do this.

Two: I don’t know anyone who would do this.

Three: I threw up a little in my mouth when I read the article, nevermind watched the video.

These reactions say more about me than I would care to imagine. My latest and favourite-ist strawman hubs was brought in for a consult.

He agreed on a few points: he doesn’t do this. He’s never seen anyone who’s done this. Point the Third was left hanging though. Strangely  he wasn’t nauseous or revolted by the article or video.


It’s perhaps früitful to mention that one entire wing of my family calls me “Monk.” They’re the wing who knows me best. They’re the ones who, in the dark days, helped me get out of the house in less than two hours each day. The dark days when I carried a back pack the size of Alaska with every imaginable “necessity” tucked in. Because one never knows when one will need a change of clothes, umbrella, ziplock bags, Swiss Army knife (ok, everyone needs a Swiss Army knife but mine’s really BOSS), a week’s worth of medication, back-up shoes, a few books, a K-Way (not KY, you pervs), Purell, more Purell (for back-up), wet naps (screw you, septic systems!), a towel, granola bars, package of Fig Newtons… you get the idea.

And that was just to go to class. This was my back pack, not my school bag.


 

And the decencies had to be observed. The ritual. The order of operations. And every morning there was a very dear friend/family member (short version: I ran away from home, the neighbours took me in) waiting for me to do the rundown.

“Do I have the…”

“It’s there. I saw you pack it. You’re going to be late.”

“I need more food.”

“You’re only going to a two-hour Latin class.”

“I forgot my flashlight.” I run upstairs.

“It’s in your bag,” she calls up. “You never took it out.” She shoves me to the door. “Go,” she says. “There are only four people in your class. If you’re late, everyone will notice.”

You see? I am writing this blog and listing the items in my bag and even here I forgot the flashlight was in my bag!

Every morning this woman got me out of the house. Thankfully, psychiatry and medication took care of the rest.

All of this to say? The idea of:

a) touching someone else’s hand unless they were very well-known to me and

b) sniffing their rank effluence from my offended appendage

is more than I could handle. I’m no weirdo. Shaking hands is part of our society. I can shake hands. I just have to hold my hand at a distance afterwards and scour it later. That’s why we have hydrogen peroxide.

What’s this got to do with früit löps? You must be joking. The answer is clear: they’re touching.

IMAG5617Look at that jumble! Blues and pinks bumping uglies with oranges and greens? Chaos.  

And yet, there is hope for me. I can eat these now without sorting. I can actually stick my hand into the bag and not even look at what colours I’ve pulled before I shove the sugar-laden goodness into my yap.

This, dear friends, is progress.

A bit about OCD, just a bit. It makes me insane when people talk about their clean and tidy houses and titteringly refer to their OCD. They have no clue what a prison OCD is and frankly Scarlett, keeping a tidy kitchen does not a OCD-sufferer make. Sorry to burst that bubble.

The checking, the double-checking. Getting interrupted while checking means a return to the top of the sequence to start again. The intrusive thoughts. The bizarre ritual/remedy for intrusive thoughts. Compulsions to deal with the distress. Oh, I wish my only concern was cleaning and tidying the kitchen. Some nights I would lay awake wishing that would be my only issue.

But I’m sharing this not to bum you out but to cheer you: because I ate 200gr of these motherscratching carbs the other day and it was brilliant to just shovel things into my mouth with no regard for order and ritual. Brute alimentary impulse control was my only issue and to be honest, it was worth the 14 “smart points.”

The new Weight Watchers points system, by the way, can French kiss my arse. Another blog for another day. 

I think I’ll let Paula have the penultimate word:

Screenshot_2016-03-09-14-05-23

 

And the hand-sniffing? Well, that’s just gross. But the video doesn’t lie, I suppose. Too bad the researchers just didn’t find the 1-2% who, like me (and Paula), were packing wet naps (or P12 sandpaper)

 

 

Read More...

Looking for My Lot’s Pillar of Salt

Looking for My Lot’s Pillar of Salt

A blog I kept meaning to write was to be titled “Life in the Vaseline.” But not having heard the Eagles recently, today’s blog is about about a different return of the repressed (or not). It’s one of those blogs which struck me one day thanks to my streaming a 70s station and a having husband who actually listens to lyrics.

I don’t listen to lyrics, much. And for what it’s worth, I barely made it out of 1979, musically. It’s unfortunate, therefore, that I love to sing. I tend to get the vowels right. It’s the consonants I confound, never mind the nouns and verbs. But when it comes to ululation, man I got that covered.

So there I was home with hubs and kids on a Snow Day (yesterday or last month, I forget) when I realize I’ve done Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville a huge disservice. To be fair, the song came out when I was 10. I knew little of margaritas, broken hearts, or even wasting away. But I was raised in a house abundant in devout Catholics, so I knew all about Lot’s wife.

Looking for my

 Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett

It’s always been difficult for me to listen to lyrics. I tend to hear voice as instrument so make more than my fair share of faux pas when I sing (or make song suggestions: e.g. to my brother JG for his wedding, when I suggested he and wife Alison do their first dance to Elvis Costello’s Alison… which I thought was a good idea until my sister gave me five across the eyes and explained the song to me).

Alison by Elvis Costello


Curiously, Alison also came out in 1977, same year as Margaritaville. Perhaps not my best year, from an acousto-comprehensivistus perspective.

So listening to the song, I turn to hubs and say:

“Am I the only North American adult over 40 who didn’t know this was about his drinking margaritas whilst mourning a relationship gone bad?” The epiphany was real, friends. I even had a shiver when the penny dropped.

“Yes, Sweetie,” he replied. Tenderly, I might add. “You were. Now Jimmy Buffett can close the books and move forward with his career.”

“So there is no Margaritaville qua Margaritaville? I mean, it’s not a real place?”

“No more a locus than Brigadoon,” he said, crushing me to his chest as I wept, bitterly.


 

I know there are books written about mis-heard lyrics. In fact, ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy is one I own, given to me, I now realize, pointedly.

Just for the record, I never mixed up the lyrics for Purple Haze. I have my pride.

But today’s blog is about that wondrous epiphany. Like when you’re little and you hear a dirty joke you don’t get until you’re 35. Being the youngest child–by far–in my family, I was victim to a sleazoid brother-in-law (ex-BIL for short) telling me dreadful jokes which only made sense well into adulthood (assuming I remembered them at all). I had such an epiphany for the following joke told to me when I was about 8:

Q: What’s grey and comes in quarts?

A: Elephants

You can bet I did NOT get that for a million years. Then one fateful day I’m pouring milk for my tea when the joke comes back to me like a bad burrito. I hadn’t thought of it (or my ex-BIL) in decades. I laughed and — perhaps metaphorically — spilled the milk.

What other deferred delights await me? I wondered.

A Child of the 60s and 70s

As a child of the 60s and 70s, my having watched Monty Python’s Flying Circus still randomly gives back. I recall vividly sitting in grade 10 health class and hearing the word “smegma” (warning: if you want to know what smegma is, click here but brace yourself for a photo of a dinkie) for the second time in my life and burst out laughing. Sister Annunciata was NOT amused and trying to explain And Now For Something Completely Different’s sketch No. 42 How Not To be Seen and Mrs BJ Smegma did not help my cause. 

It’s worth watching the whole segment, but for those of you pining to return to FB and click on one of the new icons (hey, drop a like on my page while you’re there), fast-forward this to about 40 seconds in.

Mrs BJ Smegma is hiding…

But back to today (or last week or a month ago) when we’re listening to Margaritaville and I’m having the penny drop. Hubs asks me “well, what did you think he was singing?”

“Well, it changed throughout the years.”

“Let me finish my tea first,” he says before he sits. “Ok, hit me.”

“At first I thought it was looking for my lost pepper and salt.”

“And then?”

“And then I realized it didn’t make sense so I figured it was lost pillar of salt.”

“Of course you did.”

“But that didn’t really tie the narrative together, since he was mourning. So when I was older I decided it was more metaphoric and determined it was Lot’s Pillar of Salt — meaning the dude’s wife or girlfriend had somehow been unfaithful. He was wasting away in Margaritaville — looking for her, trying to get back together maybe. [pause] But what really is kicking me now is figuring out there isn’t a place called Margaritaville. All this time, I thought he was in Mexico. So NOW I realize he was drinking himself to death and if life didn’t suck enough, he lost his salt too. That would suck, a margarita without salt.”

“That’s your take-away? What about blew out my flip-flop?”

“Well star me, kitten. I guess I better not tell you about Life in the Vaseline.”


I’ll leave you all with a clip from The Big Lebowski

Read More...

25 Things – or — How My Fear of Terri L Austin Gave Me 10 Writing Points

25 Things – or — How My Fear of Terri L Austin Gave Me 10 Writing Points

It’s no surprise that I am a fan of Terri L Austin and her amazing ability to consistently write excellent books (and even cross genres). Nope. Anyone who knows me, knows she’s on my list.

So when I decided to wallow in self-pity about my writer’s block, she was there to put the screws to me. If I ever go into the ring, I want Terri as my corner woman. And for what it’s worth, she won’t be throwing in the towel to save my snivelling tuchus. She’ll make me go all rounds. Evil wench.

Her challenge to me, while I was whining today about my narrative plot holes (not holes really, just the one: there is no plot) was to write 25 things which could happen. No matter how strange, boring, expected, unexpected, surreal. Write 25 of them as bullets and see where they take me. I’m lazy though so am only doing 10.

And apparently I’m not to sweat it out.

Then she told me NOT to blog the situation first, but to write them then blog. But as writing somewhat transcends time, I’m totally going to cheat, write the blog first, then do the 10 (not 25) things therein.

The context? It’s an awkward murder mystery.

So, without further ado

25 THINGS - OR -

  1. I looked down to see my foot had connected with a vintage Etch-A-Sketch. What was THAT doing at a party like this?
  2. Kinkaid knew better, but the prospect of leaving a tub full of peach gelatin untouched was too much for him.
  3. In her rush to make the proverbial quick getaway, Edie stripped the gears shifting to 5th. “Hey!” I yelped. “That’s a 1965 Sunbeam Tiger. Do you know how hard it is to replace the clutch?” “Eff that,” Edi replied. “Something bigger than your blown clutch is about to ram us to Kingdom Come and your precious Tiger is not equipped with wings ….or even a parachute.”
  4. Stephanie looked embarrassed. Nutella Nutella everywhere a not a, well, what does one do with Nutella?
  5. Pom-pom sockettes? A nightstand drawer full of them, chromatically arranged into a festive rainbow of poly-cotton blend. Pom-poms facing forward. Easier to grab in a rush, I thought. No flies on this perp.
  6. Despite my best intentions, I knew I would have to ‘fess up. “Those gloves are mine,” I admitted. “But I didn’t realize they were latex.”
  7. Kinkaid held my hand tenderly, pressing a soft whisper into my wigged ear. “Don’t look now,” he said. “We’re being watched. If we wish to avoid detection, I suggest we smooch.”
  8. Finding the luge sled surprised me. I had expected skis or snow shoes. We were a long way from Taum Sauk Mountain and to the best of my knowledge, there were no luge runs there. “It’s not a luge sled,” Kinkaid offered, no doubt seeing the play of questions furrowing my brow. “It’s something quite altogether different. Definitely a third-date thing.”
  9. Mother was right, but it took me 27 years to find a reason for always carrying a canteen and set of cutlery in my purse as she suggested. “No time like the present,” I said. Kinkaid looked askance, but knew enough to hand me the baby powder. “I know how you chafe,” he said, pressing a kiss to my forehead.
  10. Being limber hath its advantages I thought as I shimmied up the laundry chute.

So that’s what I came up with and as you can see, I didn’t sweat it out.

Thank you, Terri, for making me cough out 10 (not 25, sorry) points from which to leap back into my narrative.


 

his-to-keepFor those who enjoy contemporary romance, please tootle to Amazon to pre-order Terri’s latest: HIS TO KEEP (Beauty & The Brit Series, III). http://www.amazon.com/Keep-Beauty-Brit-Terri-Austin-ebook/dp/B017HX12XG/

And if you have any ideas to add to my 25 things so I actually can reach 25, please add them in the comments.

 

Read More...

Failed Recipes # 2: Kale, Chia, Oatbran, and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

IMG-20160128-WA0023

Don’t get excited. These were for the kids. 🙁

 

You may think the title of this blog alone tells the problem: my use of the Oxford comma. Some people will tell you straight up that where I went wrong here was the use of the Oxford comma. But there you’d be wrong. I did NOT use “oatbran and chocolate” chips in my recipe. Not to get all pendantic on you or anything but I’m pretty sure (hopeful) that there is no such gustatory beast.

Screenshot_2016-01-28-09-13-16I regret to inform you all that I added kale, chia, oatbran, and chocolate chips to my pancakes yesterday. In an effort to continue to enjoy pancakes in general despite being on my Weight Stagnation Journey, I took the leftover batter from what I made for my kids and I added some fibre, protein, and omega-3 goodness.

Then — probably while I was in the loo — Shrek came by and pooped in the batter, turning it a luscious and ogre-fouled green.

When I saw what he had done, I sent a message to my organic vegetarian hippie graphic designer friend Sophia of The Blessed Type (who has my birthday card greeting as her profile photo, which is kinda meta, kinda strange) for validation and consolation. I think I heard Sophia whimper a little bit, then change her phone number. She’s probably tired of my trying to understand hippies.

Contrariwise, my friend Irene who, along with Bueller (formerly known as “Melody” on this blog), introduced me to kale, … anyhoodle, Irene wanted the recipe (and probably will actually eat it, minus the chocolate chips because Irene actually despises chocolate) and suggested I could blog about it. Will do, Irene.


 

Failed Recipes # 2: Kale, Chia, Oatbran, and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

The recipe is all so simple, really. This should make about 6 human-body friendly pancakes, plus 2 Elven-quality green slabs of drywall.

Batter

Screenshot_2016-01-28-09-13-27135 grams (1 1/8 cups) of all-purpose flour (or whatever you find, seriously… this is a gluten-free friendly recipe because you can use GF flour and the hockey-puck texture remains the same).

1 egg (or substitute w/ ground flax seed, or 2 egg whites)

245 grams of whole milk (or water or soy hippie crap) LESS the volume of aforementioned egg/eggwhites. This means, drop the egg/egg whites in (if you’re using flax seed, figure it out… nah, kidding, use about 200 grams of liquid or about 7/8 of a cup)

2 TB oil or use applesauce (I kinda slop it in, frankly)

1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder (go a bit cray cray because it has calcium, yo)

1/2 tsp of salt

1 TB of either brown sugar (whatevs… ) or white-death sugar.

1 tsp of vanilla extract

random handfuls of chocolate chips

Surely you don’t need me to tell you… ok, I will: preheat griddle blah blah.
OK, these are for the kids… make about six pancakes for the ungrateful creatures. You should have some left over. Take the remaining stuff left over and brutalize it in the name of higher health add your other ingredients.

Here we go for the win:

IMAG5522At least…. (all measurements are imprecise because I’m a “thrower” when it comes to pancakülar cooking).

1 heaping TB ground chia seeds

1 heaping TB ground kale powder

at least 15 grams of plain oatbran

Stir it up and plop, friends. Then go clean the house because these will take a while.  How long?

Well, I let the cat in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out while they cooked, so that’s at least 10 minutes.

Have you ever sat back and wondered what kale pancakes taste like? Earthy. They taste earthy. Lawny is another good word. Lawny, earthy, broccoloid.

These two pancakes have a modicum of carbs, but a goodly bit of protein, fibre, and a whole buncha vitamin A and C, for those of you fearing scurvy.

 


 

Having said all this, the pucks pancakes were actually quite edible and if you eschew syrup and butter, they can be eaten in the hand like hardtack or biscuits. But perhaps not for company. They are an acquired taste and I will be making them again.

Chocolate chips are essential, though. Like you didn’t know.

The leftovers were donated to the local Elves in my backyard, in aid of their winter home reconstruction. It seems the Elves use kale and chia pancakes as an organic and renewable source of drywall. Who knew?


 

Send A Little Love | Romance Has A Heart

I’m very happy to be part of a group of romance authors (even if I’m NOT an author… yet) who have pulled together the following project: Send a little love.

Know someone who needs a little love for Valentine’s Day? Head over to find a lovely selection of complimentary romance novels available to send to your friend as a valentine.

Ordering starts February 1st and ends February 15th; but the site is live now (and I’m uploading some new titles and authors to it the moment I finish this blog which is in 5…4…3…2..).

Read More...

When You Get “The Call”

When You Get “The Call”

First: here is how it all started.

Offline today for #coffee and a #mammogram. No, not at the same time. 🙂 #breastcancerawareness #breastcancerawarenessmonth #getthegirlscheckedladies #weightwatchers

  I know what you’re thinking. The Call. Which Call? THE Call? The Calling? Don’t call us, we’ll call you?

No. The other call.

See, I put it in lowercase now, to remove some of its power. I mean, of course, the call one gets after a mammogram. The Call. The please come back we wanna see your boobs again call. Granted, I do have rather fetching boobs, but that’s not likely why they want me back. Intellectually I know the odds are in my favour. Early detection is the key. And I had my kids late (last one when I was almost 45, and now I’m perimenopausal) so I would imagine my breasticles are chock-full of bumps and dense tissue.

But it did remind me of something:

I didn’t go when I could have. I could have gone as early as 2013 but avoidance is my watchword. I’m conflict adverse when it comes to health issues (except when they are someone else’s of course). So I did what every other woman would have done: I tip-toed to the bathroom to have a sniffle. Odds and statistics aside, you’re gonna feel that call. Then I ate a mini-Snickers (2 Weight Watchers points) and called my long-suffering hubs to tell him to get that day off so I could take the train into the Big City and eat donuts have my appointment. I’ll bring my ereader. Enjoy some subdued lighting in the waiting room. In fact, a mini-vacay. In fact, that’s how I treated my mammo trip last week. An excuse to read Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels in French:  

@******  said it was ok so it must be so. Back on the train. Mammo done. How many times can I read #LordofScoundrels by #LorettaChase ? That, my friends, is a true Zen koan — not to mention, rhetorical. Only Terri L Austin knows for sure….. And for the record… It’s not really a trashy book! 🙂

It has a great title in French: Le Prince de débauchés. It’s a favourite of my friend Terri L Austin and she passed the love onto me.   So what’s the point of today’s blog? It’s four-fold. 1 – Get things checked. 2 – Read Lord of Scoundrels 3 – Get things checked 4 – Oh, and get things checked.  


 

        Which kinda reminds me, next year is the hose-up-the-bum test. Shudder. By that point at least I will have FINALLY finished Le Prince de débauchés and moved onto Le dernier des débauchés.


 

Before you go: Last week was also when I first heard about this program to  donate one’s hair for the making of wigs. Since my hair, bizarrely, has NOT gone grey, I decided to grow my roots out and participate. So while you all think warm and fuzzy thoughts for my next mammo (curiously, November 11), please say another prayer or have another few warm and fuzzies that I don’t go grey before January 2017 so I can donate at least ONCE in my life to this worthy cause. 

And for those who can and are willing, find some information here from the Canadian Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.ca/en/get-involved/support-us/donate-your-hair/

I’m sure there’s one for my US friends. And please jump in on it! Don’t let those dudes in Moovember show us up! They only have to do it for a month, whoopie-ding. We have to grow ours out for at least a year (dye-depending). 

Read More...