Tuesday, June 30, 2009

30 days hath June

Does doing a bunch of extra "green" stuff for a month really make a difference?

I think so. I've always liked having a bunch of lights on. It cheers me up and since I've lived in apartment buildings for the last 20 years, I haven't had to pay for hydro much. But doing 15 Earth Hours has made me very conscious of turning off the lights as I leave the room, and not turning on so many in the first place.

As for not buying new stuff, I'm happy with how I did, greenwise, considering I didn't buy anything unnecessary and the clothes I did buy when I sorta fell off the horse were organic, and had no packaging and were from a co-op and I remembered to bring a carrying bag. As for my attempts to not being an impulse consumer, I'm glad I didn't buy the towel, the hair extensions, or the bathmats. I sorta still want the shoes. Which of course means that if I do buy them, they're not impulse. Right? And, on occasion, I do need shoes for various occasions that are not entirely butchie.

It all sounds a bit like rationalization in my mind, but I'm also struggling with how my looks have changed in the past year. I'm wider, my eyelids are drooping (I can feel their weight, eh; it's not my imagination), and I'm just, well, different. My clothes from last year are too small, and I'm delighted to have rediscovered G00dwill because now I know I can get ordinarily expensive stuff like jackets there and they're nice, nearly new and totally great for work. I don't want to look or feel drudgie. I really don't.

In other news: Tomorrow is Canada Day! A holiday right smack in the middle of the week. Hurrah!! I read in the paper today some grumbling about its not being attached to a weekend, but I don't care; it's a gift. Charlie and I are going to go to the ROM or the AGO or something cool like that. Again, say it with me, Hurrah!!!

And, Kimmie and Wendy, check this out, see who you recognize:

Monday, June 29, 2009

The machine

I'm alternately feeling excited about my upcoming days off and long weekends, and overwhelmed at how much work there is on my plate these days.

The work is pretty much all writing, rather than editing, and the thing about that is that sometimes writing takes a lot longer, and sometimes it just doesn't come easily. I like it though, but on days (like today) I struggle to maintain my focus.

Other times, after a good stretch of rampant productivity, my brain gets rubbery and it's difficult to draw out any more material from it.

But the deadlines don't care.

Tomorrow, I have to pull off a small miracle. I had a mini panic-fest once I realized just how much I'm gonna have to churn out. I've done it before though. I have to keep telling myself that.

I've done it before means I can do it again.

I just did a little search for a cool 70s typewriter image. We used to have this exact typewriter! (photo is from this delicious website: Typewriter Museum) I did all my university essays on it, and, in fact it saved my bacon one time when I had to type up a paper during a power outage. My upstairs neighbour could hear me (it was loud cuz you had to whack it really hard), and came down to see if he could borrow it after I was done; he had a paper due the next day too and his electric was useless. Those were the days, eh? I still remember how sore my baby fingers would get. But don't you miss the ding? And the carriage return. I love typewriters.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bless me father, for I have sinned

... a lot. Or a bit. Or somewhat. Depending on the Pledge-Deity's mood today.

Our apartment this morning was hot. Like Africa hot. I-don't-think-I-can-stay-here hot. I got dressed without opening the curtains or raising the blind so as to prevent the boiling hot sun from further heating up the bedroom. I grabbed the first thing I knew wouldn't make me boil even more, a yellow sleeveless top with a keyhole thingie with a tie. Then I put on the shorts I wore home yesterday, and grabbed a pair of pants to put on when I got to work, folded them up and put them in my bag.

I got to the office, which was very air conditioned, and changed into my pants.

And checked myself in the mirror and saw - Aaaargh - A large, middle-aged rectangle woman with enormous b0s0ms with a teeny tiny head on top. I'd foolishly tucked the yellow top into my shorts, and so it was too wrinkled to wear over the unfortunately high-waisted pants, so I had to tuck them in. Oh dear. I uttered a nasty, sinful oath.

I have gained quite a lot of weight since this time a year ago. It may be the hormone funfest, it may be the meds, it may be my only-recently eschewed snacking, I dunno. I don't even know how much I weigh, but I do know that all my summer clothes are too small.

Usually I only run into wardrobe malfunction danger when I ride my bike, because I choose and pack my clothes quickly and put them on later at work, but I think I was in that dangerous cycling headspace this morning because I had to run downstairs to my bike to remove the seat in order to return it. To The Store.

So as soon as the store opened, I did return the bike seat and the tool thingie, and then coolly went to the women's clothing area and tried on a bunch of items.

And bought.

New things.

Four organic t-shirts, ranging in price from $12-$15. One pair of quick-dry shorts (so I don't have to wear my hub's shorts anymore), and a pair of ultra-light capris.

When I got back to the office, I googled how to look cool wearing a brooch. I had a brooch on my desk that co-incidentally matches the t-shirt I bought (and paid for while wearing it because I was too embarrassed to be seen for another minute in that tucked-in yellow-keyhole getup) and I have my fab G00dwill jacket here today, and I wanted to put the brooch on it without looking any more middle aged than I felt.

This lady's blog came to the rescue, and you have to check it out.

So I'm wearing the brooch low, replacing the button on the bottom pocket (it's a short jacket). And I just got a compliment.

I'm not sure how to feel about breaking my pledge so thoroughly. I'm trying to rationalize it by pointing out the organic stuff. Confessing hasn't really made me feel better. But I look better.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How I'm doing on my green pledges

This month was proclaimed Green Month at work. I thought it was a great idea, and I joined the team. Everyone was to make a pledge and carry it out for the month. Here's the progress on my two pledges.

Pledge I. Buy nothing new. Since June 1, I've bought four new things: two bicycle seats, both of which I'm taking back because neither of the new seats are alleviating my poor bottom's ache; a jackknifey tool thingie for hub for Father's Day, which I'm also taking back; and, just today, I purchased a new sun hat for Charlie for tomorrow - and I think it just looks too weird on him to send him out into the world with it on his adorable head. In sum: I bought four things, and I have to take them back, all four of them.

Kinda weird, eh? Like the retail forces are trying to help me fulfil my pledge. That being said, I still want a bike seat that doesn't injure my coccyx, I still want hub to have that tool thingie to replace the one that was lost, and Charlie still needs a hat (the kids' used clothing store only had teeny hats that didn't fit).

Pledge II. Do 30 Earth Hours. This meant turning off all the electric stuff (except the fridge), and gathering one's thoughts while saving some power - a la the big famous Earth Hour in March. I did 15 of them. And then I stopped. For the sake of fulfilling a pledge, I wish I'd continued. But for my own sake personally, I decided to stop. I was tired of sitting alone in the dark; it was bumming me out, like, a lot. Charlie and my hub were both on board for quite a few of them, but then hub wanted to get stuff done and Charlie eventually objected to brushing his teeth by candlelight.

So, I turned on the lights and hung out with my hub and kid.

Anybody remember this? Better yet, anybody have the 45?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First swim of the year

Here's what today looked like:
...then down.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I think that was a test

This post should be read with the sound of commercialism, globalization, and third-world manufacturing NOT being encouraged, while looking at these coins, knowing that they were not spent today.

This is the story, in five parts, of a test that I passed. But with surprising difficulty.

Part I. I've always had a hard time finding shoes that fit my funny feet properly, and that don't hurt. Even when I was little, shoes seldom fit me properly, yielding weird bumps on my heels and the sides of my feet.

My feet are small and wide with very high arches and teeny piggies. My baby toes are usually squished inside my footwear. And in recent years, I developed(?) got(?) Metatarsalgia on my left foot, which is very painful unless I wear shoes that fit and support me just so. The situation also meant I had to give away most of my shoes.

Part II. I made a pledge to not buy anything new for the month of June. So far, so good.

Part III. At lunchtime today I noticed one of my colleagues putting on her coat and grabbing her purse. She is also a dear friend and I'd eaten my lunch during a seminar, so I was keen to get outside, away from the office. I asked her where she was going, and she replied, "W1nn3rs." Before she had completed her uttering of the word, I'd grabbed my coat and umbrella. Wisely, I left my wallet behind.

Part IV. Items I saw, coveted, and decided I wanted to buy today at W1nn3rs: Cool, fun hair extensions ($8.00), a gorgeous, beautifully striped beach towel (I forget the price, but it was a deal), a lovely cream/green/beige chenille bath mat with a little mini mat ($19.00 for both), both of which would match our bathroom and I should point out that our current bathmat's rubber backing is getting kinda crumbly, and two WONDERFUL pairs of shoes that a) fit, and b) looked good, and, best of all c) didn't hurt.

One pair were coppery-coloured ballet flats. I've always always always LOVED ballet flats, but because of my metatarcal problem, most of the ones I've ever tried on hurt my feet terribly. The other pair were cool, black, awesome Hu5h Pupp13s with flowers imprinted on them. My friend did point out their similarity to the my current shoes I was holding in my hand. BUT the Puppies were about $70 cheaper than the my current ones (which are wearing out; really, and I can only get them way, way over at the Eaton Centre). The thing about W1nner5 is that it's pretty much hit and miss whether you find shoes in your size that fit, feel good, look good, don't hurt, etc., even if you don't have funny feet with the metatarsal thingie issue. And sometimes when you go back for something you didn't buy, it's gone.

Part V. I left them all. I didn't buy any of them. Not the hair, nor the towel, mats, or shoes.

I know that some people when they do the "don't buy anything new" thing exclude things like shoes and underwear and stuff like that, classifying them as necessities. But I didn't set up such a rule when I made my pledge. And it's been pretty darn easy for me up til now, largely because I don't go into the stores. I haven't so much as resisted temptation but avoided it.

I want the shoes.

My colleague, who, did I mention is also a dear friend, bought me a cafe mocha before we went back to the office.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gregory Sumner

I think I just saw William Devane walking along Bloor. Now that puts a tune in my head. Cue the sax!

Can you believe they let an opening theme go on for that long? They sure wouldn't do that today.

Commuter tips

I am at the office, my place of work. And I'm wearing a see-+hr0ugh sh1rt.

These are the perils of the cycling commuter. Every morning I pack my work clothes into my pannier, and some mornings, like this morning, I even try them on before I go to make sure the outfit works. Unfortunately, I realize now I should've opened up the curtains to shed the light on what appeared quite clearly in the ladies' washroom mirror through my new pink shirt.

I wasn't willing to walk around so exposed for very long, and wondered how I could possibly justify an emergency trip to W1nn3rs for another shirt (which would mean buying something new; not allowed). Fortunately, my co-workers here at my place of work include good old friends, and one of them graciously lent me her very chic white denim jacket.

I'm saved, and without sin!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

O beauteous Round Room, contain me

Nearly twenty years ago, back when I was working at the Maclean Hunter building at College Park, my boss told me that very nearby, in fact, on the 7th floor of the oldeer section of the building, there was an amazing old concert hall with fabulous acoustics (tho he did not use the word "fabulous" - ever).

I'd never heard of it because it'd been closed down and closed off for decades. And then what was known as (from what I can gather) the Seventh Floor of College Park was restored to it's former Art Moderne glory, and opened as the Carlu in 2003, named after its original designer, Jacques Carlu.

And this week, I got to see it for the very first time.

The conference I was attending was situated in the concert hall - it was so beautiful! And on a break, I snuck into the glorious Round Room, one of the most special, and most gloriously atmospheric spaces I have ever experienced.

Here is the main hall, looking as it looked in the 30s.
And here it is today (photo, unfortunately not taken by me, but by this talented photographer)
And, the wonderous Round Room in its day.
And now (also taken by talented fellow, but don't worry, I vow to get back there with camera). This is what it looked like to me - I was in there about 10 a.m., all alone. I had this beautiful place to myself.

As for my Earth Hours, they're coming along nicely. Some nights I've stayed awake and been able to do two. We have lots of big windows, so if there's any light outside at all, it comes in.

As for my not buying anything new, I got my dad a father's day present in my favourite old used book store. Plus we got Charlie some almost-completely brand new shoes at a second-hand kids' clothing store.

However, I did buy a brand new bike seat yesterday. I thought a lot about it beforehand, but my old one is doing me an injury, which was quite evident after riding for 3+ hours last weekend. And since my beloved bike is also my transportation to work, and it's clean transportation even compared to the Fit, I'm looking at it like I would a car repair. I'm going to try out the new seat tomorrow.

Everything's well and good, there's even a rainbow outside right this very minute. But I spoke to my mom earlier this evening and my dad spent the night in hospital, again. Don't know what's wrong. He's home, but I don't like it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Last night was almost a complete failure

... Earth-Hour-wise, that is.

Despite my best efforts, I fell asleep, after reading Charlie three stories. And I was so convinced of my future intended ability to stay awake - optimistically ignorning my record of the past week - I left a couple of lights on, and my laptop was just asleep (like me), and not shut down.

I woke up, all bleary, at about ten to 11, brushed teeth, inhaled all my various asthma substances, and went to bed again, vowing to do better next time, and comforting myself with my Buy Nothing New success of the day! Here's how it went.

On my way home from work last night, I had to stop by a well-known drug-store chain - I know many of my friends know which one I'm talking about - to buy one single item.

Never in the history of my life have I ever gone in there and emerged with just the one single item I went in for. In fact, I've often become so distracted with all the New Stuff they have available to Buy there, that I've emerged with 11 new items but sans the thing I actually needed.

But last night, I did it. And it was a bit difficult. I almost grabbed a magazine, a bag of chips, a tin of almonds, and I fondled a sparkly, but cheap and ultimately disposable necklace - and left them all behind.

Then, if that wasn't virtuous enough, after I paid for my one single item, I popped it into the handy reusable grocery sack that I had stashed in my purse.

Score for Monday, June 8, at 10:50 p.m.:
Earth Hour: 0
Buy Nothing New: 1, but a really sweet 1.

And then the Earth had its own say, grabbing back the power I had wasted with my lights-left-on-snooze: the power in our building went out. For a good while, I think.

A co-incidence? I think not.
Earth Hour: 1
Buy Nothing New: 1

Monday, June 8, 2009

Free money

This morning, as I got off the subway, I stepped onto the escalator rather than the stairs so I could baby my sore knees - a consequence of yesterday's Ride. Behind me I heard a woman say, "Help the economy! Spend this loonie today!" I looked back to see her - no fooling - giving away little white cards with loonies attached to them.

People seemed to be reacting with disbelief. Me, since I had only about 45 cents on me, would've been happy to grab one of those loonie cards so I could buy myself a vanilla hazelnut coffee. But alas, I was on the escalator, heading up.

Probably a good thing I didn't get one what with my green pledges and all - though coffee is a consumable. I swear I would've recycled the coffee cup!

Buying nothing new - still on track, and I've decided to keep the Ride for Heart T-shirt and camel pack. Not sure what I'll do with it, but since I now know I can cycle close to 60 km in a day, maybe I can use it on a future, longer ride. I wore the T-shirt on the ride - it's made out of a weird "dry" fabric.

Earth hours - I'm planning to do my very best to stay awake this evening, and do the candle thing. Maybe sit on the balcony and watch the flowers grow...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good clean fun

Just looking at the pics from this morning's ride is making me emotional. It was just so very quiet, and so big, and really represented some sort of ideal that we can only achieve this one morning a year. Plus, the air in the Don Valley smelled like lilacs!

Just leaving the downtown core on the Gardiner.

Heading north on the DVP. As you can see, nobody's heading south yet. I was in the early bird group.

That is wet pavement you see in pic #3. It rained.
PS - I should include some details: I rode the 50 km route, which starts at the Dufferin bridge on the Gardiner and turns around way up at York Mills on the Don Valley Parkway. I raised $645 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

And my muscles are tired, and when I got home I had a nice long bubble bath, and I've been eating lots of protein, and I'm endlessly thirsty, and my butt is indeed sore, but I feel just great! And if I could I'd do it again next Sunday morning.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Ride ahead

Tomorrow morning at 7:15 I'll be gathering with thousands of other cyclists at the starting line of the Ride for Heart, in support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

The Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway will be free of cars, and instead crowded with the likes of us. It's a total treat to ride on these otherwise hostile highways, and the sheer thrill of this has played a big part in my decision to ride in this event again. Also, heart attacks and strokes run in my family and my husband's family, so it's an obviously worthy cause. So far, I've raised $645, which means I won two prizes (not expecting these), a cool, uber-butchie, black and red Ride shirt and a hydration pack (an odd little backpack you can fill with water and while you ride, you can drink the water from a tube; it's weird).

The forecast so far is rather lousy, but as long as it's not torrential rain, I think it'll be okay.

Earth Hours #4, #5, and #6 update
Thursday night - before I put Charlie to bed, I once again got my candle out, turned off all the lights, and even took out the bathroom nightlight. I once again read to Charlie from Frog and Toad, and as he lay his head down and drifted off, I did too, just after 9:30 p.m.

Once again, it's quite easy to cut the ol' power use when one simply sleeps through it.

Last night - same story. *Sigh*

Tonight, I'll likely do it again, since I'll be leaving our place at approximately 6 o'clock tomorrow morning, and I'll need my zeds.

Despite the fact that my Earth Hours pledge has been made easy by my early nights, it has had an effect on me and, I think, my hub. We're keeping a lot of the lights off that we'd ordinarily keep on. I'm a lighting freak; I like it to be just so, and I scramble to turn on particular lights at particular times - to make myself feel homey, I guess. But this small pledge is making me break free a bit. It's sorta like travelling; you're forced to let go of your usual comforts. And it makes you feel like you can be free of them.

Buy Nothing New update
I'm doing pretty well on this front. I've not done any shopping, except for today, when Charlie and I went to the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. Charlie picked out a video and a wallet, and I bought a Liz Cl@ib0rne blouse and a white J@c0b cardigan. Total $13 and change.

PS: those prizes I won for my heart and stroke fundraising - I'm suddenly thinking now I shouldn't've taken them. I've pledged to not buy anything new, right? I know I didn't buy them, but both items are new. Hmm. When I went to pick up my Ride ID sticker (you can't enter without it), I didn't realize I'd get a prize, so when they handed them to me, I was so surprised, I didn't really know what to do. I do remember, in the back of my mind, thinking, what the heck am I going to do with the hydration pack, but I was just to surprised and possibly inhibited to refuse it. I have to consider what the right thing to do is. I'm thinking maybe I should Goodwill it. But the shirt? Not sure. I kinda like it. Does that make a difference? I'll ask my hub, one of the most ethical people I know.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Joy, pride, delight and anxiety

Charlie's school concert was yesterday - all the kindergarten kids were performing a dance. Charlie's been practicing at home and for our various family members since at least March. And since the K kids didn't get included in the Holiday concert at Christmas (boo!), I was looking forward to this rather a lot.

In addition to the fact that it's a small school, so we know lots of the kids throughout the grades. (But who cares about them!)

We sat in the front row - we were there early to get a good seat - and waited. The curtain was closed, and we watched various pairs of feet gather on the stage. My husband and I fretted as we watched to find Charlie's shoes appear. Ah, there they were. Charlie was positioned front and centre of the stage. OMG!

The curtain opened, the drumming began, and our boy danced and danced. My camera takes 30 second videos, and I got four of them. Then, much too quickly, it was over, the wondrous magical kids took their bows, adorably. And the curtain closed.

I quickly plopped my camera into my bag, almost dropping it. I was so anxious I couldn't feel my arms.

Later, in the evening, before I was put him to bed, I got my candle-in-a-jar out and took the nightlight out of the bathroom, in preparation for Earth Hour #3.

I read Charlie a story from Frog and Toad, "Spring is just around the corner", and we chatted about the concert, and I told him I was proud of him. He harrumphed and smiled. And slept. And, er, so did I.

My Earth Hour Tip for Day #3. It sure is easy to keep the power off when you're asleep. Didn't even waste a match.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Earth hour, day 2

Tonight I'm posting before I head into our second earth hour of the month. Last night, I have to say I found looking into the computer screen to be rather jarring after the peace and tranquility of sitting and writing by candlelight.

As for my other pledge, I didn't do any shopping today. I shop so seldom it's not really a huge challenge. I did buy a coffee, after lunch, which was a poor choice in two ways: a) I didn't need a coffee, I really just needed to get away from my desk and go outside; and b) it made me feel totally lousy by about 5 o'clock. I had such a nasty blood sugar drop, I took the streetcar and subway home instead of my bike. Ugh. On my way to the streetcar, I was passed by two cyclists, count 'em two, talking on cell phones while riding. It's difficult to even comment.

I just put Charlie to bed. He was uncharacteristically talkative about school today, telling me that sometimes the other kids liked to make weapons, like knives and guns, and wondered if kids liked to make weapons when I was little. I also found out that another kid hit him today. Ugh.

Now, off I go to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chased by rainbows

After I put Charlie to bed, I came into the kitchen, lit a candle and washed the dishes. And then I wrote this posting - on scrap paper! with a pencil!

Pourquoi? Everyone at work is supposed to pledge an action that will benefit the environment. In a burst of enthusiasm I joined the eco task force, which then meant (as I saw it) that I needed to lead by example and do something nobody else would do.

My pledges:

a) Thirty days of "Earth Hours", which is why I washed and wrote by candle light.

b) Inspired by my super-fun trip to G00dwill last month, I decided I shall not purchase anything new (other than consumables, e.g. toothpaste, food, etc.).

So far, so good: I didn't buy anything at all today, not even a coffee, never mind new shoes. And my hub joined me in solidarity by cranking up the lantern to read by.

Now a photo: Beauty and the Beast (or, Rainbow and Highway), taken in the rear-view mirror on our way up north on Friday night.