Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Delight was just around the corner...

... after I angrily stomped home from the subway, getting madder and madder about work, the Catholic church (why won't they ordain women, anyway!), the poor-hating right wing, the upcoming provincial election, and any old damned thing I could think of, I arrived to find Charlie and M3I waiting for me. They'd been experimenting with a geyser kit(!) - and had two bottles of diet coke and two packs of white mentos all ready to set off when I got home.

You could say my day turned around the moment I walked in our door.

The three of us went outside to the nearby schoolyard - and happened upon a fellow juggling bowling pins. Six of them, I think. Charlie thinks five. Yep, that's right - a fellow was expertly juggling a big bunch of bowling pins, as we walked across the schoolyard to set off a geyser.

As Charlie and M3I unpacked the geyser kit and pop bottles, we realized we'd forgotten a piece of tubing. I ran back across the schoolyard to get it - then, as I returned from grabbing the tubing from inside our place, I saw that the juggler had packed away his bowling pins and was setting up a tightrope between two trees.

Well, we had to watch him tightrope walk just for a bit - then it was geyser time.

Charlie set it up over a sewer grate, stuffed the tubing contraption with mentos, placed it over the open pop bottle, pulled the pin, and POW, CHHHHHHHHHH, up went a glorious brown geyser.

We all tasted what was left of the pop. Totally flat. Mentos still delicious, though.

Going for a long walk to take the edge off

Gah. I want a raise. I'm feeling churlish because we're endlessly never getting performance and salary reviews and the shiny people are getting promotions on top of promotions.

We worker bees - we're all just so well behaved. And yeah I'm grateful for many things, like so many of the people I'm working with, but there's a fair (haha - pun intended) bit of inequity going on around here with the stars getting drooled over and lavishly praised and remunerated and the worker bees just stay quietly buzzing away in the weeds.

Was it ever thus.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Life Style

I love this - I lived alone for 13 years. I love the look and the sound and the idea.

Especially, I love that crocheted blanket on her bed - that's the kinda thing I want to make:

A surpisingly productive evening

Last night, in order to
a) not sit in my usual sideways position (v. difficult, even at the dinner table!), and
b) not read-read-read so compulsively after a full day of looking at text,
I decided it best to stay off the computer.

If you're at all like me, and I know you are, you'd find this amazingly tricky. Try it for just one night.

The past two weeks or so, to end my time online, I've turned off my laptop and coloured with crayons in one of Charlie's old Supadupa colouring books. It's great fun, soothing, and even a bit compulsive, which is what I'm after to ensure I don't sneak back online.

But not going online at all is taking it to the next level. So, as it turned out, instead of being on the computer, reading endlessly as one thing leads to another, last night I:

1. Started crocheting a version of that multicoloured blanket I referred to a few days weeks ago.
2. Listened to Charlie play the piano for 20 minutes (able to engage with child rather than ignoring him).
3. Managed to NOT eat dessert.
4. Lift weights, doing some curls (only 5 lbs, then 2 lbs - hey 5+2 is the weight I want to lose! Coincidence? I think not!)
5. Get Charlie into bed with teeth brushed & flossed on time (before 10pm), and get myself into bed on time as well (before 10:30pm)

I'm looking forward to continuing tonight :o)

I bet you can do it too!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The missing link - and other weird tales of excitement

In today's exciting news (exciting to me, that is, and mind-blowing to you most likely), I've discovered the cause of my mysterious hip ailment. It came to me with a "pop" the second I woke up this morning. After months of blaming it on my office Aeron chair, my decades old injury from falling off a table, the too-soft bed up at the cottage, spending too much time on the highway driving to the cottage, too much time sitting at my desk, it's actually (duh) the way I sit. Like a modest 50s wife. Comme ├ža.

This is how I always, always, always sit (the chickie in the pink is my doppelganger, I assure you) - always on the same hip - during the times that I'm not in my office chair, in the car, in bed, etc. It's finally caught up to me, and my body seems to be cementing itself into this position, which is causing me a lot of aches and pains.

So the plan for this week - in addition to the 40 min of exercise, the healthy lunches, the no eating between meals (other than one planned snack of low-fat yogurt and berries), the walking of the nine flights of stairs) is to simply not sit like that.

The weekend's decluttering yield: - this time of a section of Charlie's room - two more boxes of stuff (videos, games, puzzles, stuffed animals) to go to Goodwill - and a box of craft materials for Artsjunktion. Also found the missing link - to the shower curtain.

Jack Layton - what's the big deal? So many people seem to be asking. One commenter on a news site, saying, "Plant him already." Here it is, the big deal, one of the most important reason so many "ordinary" people are so freaking sad about his death: He listened to and courted and paid attention to the powerless - people who are routinely marginalized and overlooked when it comes to funding, helping, or empowering.

The other parties are all about courting the powerful - how come so much all the time? It's the path that's easy - the powerful always want more power, and if you're a politician, they can sure use you and help grease their own wheels, and they grease yours.

Standing up for and listening to and and trying to empower the powerless is the eternally tougher route, but it's the only route that is going to make our society better.

And don't give me any shite about the deficit and the so-called free market. Because the right wing routinely abandons that rhetoric whenever it's convenient - like when they want to pay for a war, for more prisons (for those committing "unreported crimes", or when they dole out corporate welfare.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


And then, in the night, after a day of bad news and some ugliness, I crept into Charlie's room to cover him up. As I left to go back to bed, I heard a loud, long peel of delighted laughter coming from my sleeping boy.

Damn, life is good.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Want to pay tribute to Jack Layton? Embrace social justice

My feelings of shock of the news from this morning - that Jack Layton has died - has evolved into a need to shout out the messages he stood for. As I rode by his house this morning, I wondered if he was suffering and dying, since we hadn't heard anything from him in quite a while.

In between meetings at work, I've been reading tributes to Jack online - media and personal tributes as well - all over the place. They all call him decent, champion of the underdog, an optimist, and they talk about his humanity, decency, and how committed he was to social justice.

And then in so many of these tributes (so many that it's positively eye-rolling), they say, "though we may not have agreed with him..."

I say, why the hell not? Why do you not agree with him? What's to disagree with?

1. You disagree with his belief in social justice?
Try to tell me that injustice is better then, and live with yourself.

2. You disagree with decent benefits for the unemployed? Like screwing those who've been laid off is better?

3. You disagree with increasing budgets for social services? What, like cutting them is better? Better for who?

If you want to pay tribute to Jack Layton, agree with him. Agree with social justice.

Happy Saturday in the Big Smoke

Here's the thing I always have to rediscover when decluttering: When I start out on a Saturday morning, I should expect to feel overwhelmed, self-critical, regretful, and just bad, like I've been bad.

Next, I remember that I've not been home on a weekend since mid-June.

And then, my mind starts to clear as I forgive myself, and I isolate just ONE area to sort.

I get rolling.

It gets interesting. Omigoodness, I forgot about this cool, retro tablecloth. Ah, sheesh, I thougth I already got rid of this giant white tablecloth that's too big for our table - into the Sally Ann box it goes. Aw!!! Charlie's Winnie the Pooh costume from his first Hallowe'en. I hung it on a little ladybug hanger from a hook in our closet so M3I and I can look at it and go, "aw" for a while.

The result? Two more boxes for Goodwill and another box for Artsjunktion.

It's a happy ol' Saturday in the Big Smoke.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Found objects and furry joy

Oh what a beautiful sky we always get after a big storm. It seems funny that it could occur in the same day. In't it pretty out there?

What a great and productive weekend! Lots of time with Charlie, no "work" and lots of found objects and a furry visit.

Who knew I had a full set of watercolour paints? And a box of oil paints, including paint brushes. I think I know where I got them; it might have been a fellow I was dating, oh, let's see, about 14 years ago.

I also found a small stack of unopened mail from last autumn, six beautiful tableclothes - 4 of them charmingly retro, AND a little jewellery-making kit I've been looking for for months.

Such are the pleasures of decluttering, which I got into again this weekend in earnest.

Also, this weekend, I managed to pick up some gloves that didn't sell from the consignment store I had them in (the wonderous Singing Lady). Anna at the shop told me they've only tried selling gloves twice, without success (which means the shop returns them to you, which means you have to part with them twice!), she thinks because they have to fit, and vintage gloves tend to be small. I had four pairs returned to me - one pair, wasn't even mine, I realized once I got home, which makes it easier to pass along.

And Charlie and I went to visit our former neighbour - she saw that I'd planned on visiting the Singing Lady on Saturday, and she lives nearby, and seeing as we'd be in the neighbourhood, we got to see her and her new house.

It's quite a thing, owning a house - especially an older one. It's a great place - beautiful bones, lovely old wood floors, a beautiful claw-foot tub, and a new ikea kitchen and new, tight windows, AND a gigantic back yard. But, the older ones, in addition to their charm, are always money pits - the upstairs isn't insulated. Gah. It was all very seductive, until I heard that. We live very close to the income line, and any blips, even little ones, are troublesome - never mind big ones like that.

I like and appreciate the predictability of the expenses in the life of a renter; I also like that everything is in good shape in this building; it's so very well kept.

The bonus of the weekend: Charlie and I visited my old cat, Linus, who (with his copain, Lucy) went to live at my friend's place when Charlie was a baby, in order to save the lungs of my husband (& father of my child).

Lucy's passed away, and Linus is now 17. But oh joy! I love him. He's still a magnificent cat. See for yourself.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

These boots shoes feet were made for walking

I've been living in this city for almost 26 years now, and today for the first time ever I walked home from the subway station in bare feet.

No fancy reason, no bare-foot philosophy was at play, it's just that after I left the subway station my left foot cramped up quite painfully. I tried walking differently, shook my foot around, but it didn't stop the pain. Then, I just figured since it's a nice warm, dry day, I'd take my left shoe off and see if it helped.

Oh boy. Did it ever.

I walked a ways Deedle-Deedle-Dumpling-style, but then just took the shoe off the other foot to even it out - and because it felt so darn good.

I walked slowly so I could watch for broken glass, but the sidewalk was, overall, warm and smooth. And wonderful. There's an apartment building two blocks away that's on a gigantic block-wide lot with a lawn of cool, soft grass sort of like the stuff you'd have on a golf course green, only longer and therefore softer. My aunt and uncle's property, way up in Katrine when I was a kid, had that type of grass. Me and my brother loved walking on it. In bare feet, of course.

Now I know what they mean, in our national anthem, when they say, "glorious and free."

[Deedle pic from here]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Artful scarf folding

One of my very favourite websites is The Sartorialist - one day I happened upon his photo of this women - lovely!

Soon after, I happened upon an image of a woman on an 1948-issue Polish zloty bill (which you can also see on my side panels here on this page).

Now, I'd love to know how both of these women fold their beautiful scarves.

Threads of summertime

Well, hello there!

I've got all kinds of threads of thoughts and ideas in my 'ead this evening, starting with:

My mom cleaned out her yarn collection, rolled it all up, and gave it to me to give to an organization that makes this stuff available to teachers.

However, it's a big bag of f-u-n! And of course I don't want to give it away, despite my decluttering, which has taken a break over the past two months (BUT hasn't stopped! I promise! I've just been away every weekend since mid-June!).

I want to crochet - since I've relearned myself how to - something like this (photo from this page on etsy).

Also: I made a new friend. Who lives at my parents' place. Outside somewhere. Charlie and M3I spent the past two weeks up at the lake at my in-laws, since I had to come back to work - meanwhile I zipped up there on weekends - oh yeah! On the way, I'd stay over at my folks' place, where I got to hang out with a tiny version of Peter Cottontail - and he does actually have a white fluffy tail!
Here he is, hanging out in my mom's garden.

My other happy thread is that I managed to stay down here in the city, alone, without my boys, for two weeks (with the weekend visit up north to reprieve me). I had plans this year, rather than trying to sort old photographs, which is what I did last year, which resulted in my sobbing at 11:30pm on the floor of the bedroom, lonely and wretched. This year, I had friends over, I went for a bike ride and swim at the local outdoor pool, I watched movies (The Invention of Lying - good; and The Social Network - also good). Another night I went to the library and got a giant stack of magazines and lay in bed til midnight reading them. Oh, and I ate sandwiches every night for dinner. No cooking! (Not that I usually cook; M3I does. Yes, I love my life, I do.)

However, one of the sweetest moments of my entire life was such: I arrived up north to the cabin early on Saturday morning - before either Charlie or M3I had woken up. I crawled into the bed in the dark little bedroom, beside my wonderful, precious, handsome, sleepy husband; a few moments later, Charlie got up from his thermarest on the floor and crawled in beside me as well.

After soldiering through those two weeks alone in the city, I was surrounded by love.