Sunday, December 19, 2010

Glutinous Miracles...

Hello, my friends...

Here I sit, on yet another frosty December night, surrounded by the remnants of my latest gift-wrapping blitz. Tidings of good cheer and sparkly ribbon abound! I have exciting news to share (which I will get to, in about 12 paragraphs of faux soul-searching and sardonic introspective).

I have just returned from yet another (but the final!) exhausting round of Christmas shopping. I find it astounding that even when one comes armed with a list and with a plan of attack, that you can still become beleaguered. Why? Why? Is a Chicken Dancing Elmo really going to make or break your childhood? Some would say that it might, but why are we worried about something, that for most kids, is less interesting than the box it came in?

I went to my local mall, list in hand (I did get a few things that weren't on it - I confess), expecting to spend a leisurely afternoon choosing thoughtful gifts for the people that mean most to me. Haha. Ha. Ha! This after a beautiful and quiet lunch date with Dear, Sainted Husband. I was lifted. Ready. I was giddy and singing. Excited to be prepared for Christmas. Like a grown-up. A married woman. I was so eboullient that I wished a 'Merry Christmas' and a 'Happy Diwaali' to everyone I saw!

Enter the Mall (also known as the Missing Circle of Hell). Where people are running around like squaking, headless chickens with Mastercards. Snatching up merchandise and arguing with one another. No mind: I knew that would happen. So I brought my iPod. I was wailing my favorite tunes from 'A Rosie Christmas', paying no mind, even smiling at the wailing children who usually grate upon my nerves so easily. Progress, indeed.

Until the lurching of my belly interrupted my Christmasy reverie (Note to readers: what follows...is just plain gross).  I dropped everything and charged for the bathroom... Apparently, my lunch wasn't as 'Festive' as our favorite local rotisserie claims. Because it promptly vaulted out of my belly and onto the floor....

End of festivities, friends.

However, in the true spirit of Mass Consumerism, I soldiered on (really, someone should consider giving me a medal). Marching my purchases and my face, green as our favorite Dr. Seuss character, straight up to the check-out line. I was not about to abandon the list!

Thank Goodness for Dear, Sainted Husband. He collected me from the mall and trudged home with my purchases, reassuring me that all was not lost (He, brave soul that he is, claims that I am 'gorgeous as always' when splashed with partially digested Festivity; that I smell 'wonderful', 'beautiful' and 'magnificent' (right, Dear); and that anyone who has a problem can...you know.)

He ever so kindly and patiently reminded me that I should keep up that optimism and positive attitude in mind for my pie dough making, later that night.

Right. Fuck (sorry, Mom). I forgot. Pie dough.

Fast forward about three hours and a shower later. I am happily ensconsed in my kitchen with the ingredients for said dough laid out in front of me (ever so lovingly - thank you, Saint Husband). He kisses the top of my head and says, "I know you don't like to hear this, but...(does he know me or what?) relax. Stay calm and enjoy. And in his best Julia Child-falsetto impression, he says, "you're alone in the kitchen. Who's to see?" (We've been watching a lot of 'The French Chef on DVD lately. God, I love PBS).

Then he leaves. I am left to endure the pie dough saga alone. Cue the terrifying-drudgery music.

For those of you who don't know, or don't read my blog regularly (which you should!), the last time I made pie dough, It was a mess. More specifically, I was a mess. A weeping, disconsolate, irate mess. I was so upset that my dough didn't turn out just 'perfectly delicious' (another Julia-ism) that I threw soapy water on it and tossed it in the trash. Did I mention that I have never made pie dough in my life (before then)? Uh huh. Apparently I missed the "you gotta crawl before you can walk" speech. Screw that. I was gonna sprint, straight off - and it was going to to be 'Martha Stewart Living' perfect/worthy.

Standards, much? Yes, for those of you wanting to know: I am a Capricorn. And a perfectionist.

Uh huh.

Anyway. Cue kitchen scene:

I measure the flour and salt. Add the lard....mush, mush, mush.

So far, so good.

Egg and vinegar? Check. Zen master. Add the water. Right on.  Ohhhhmmmm.

Bit by bit, I add the water mixture, with shaky hands and an overwhelming trepidation. The little voice in my head is quivering, admonishing me: "don't screw it up, don't screw it up, DON'T SCREW IT UP!"

I mix. My hands shake (really, they do. It's 8 pm. The grocery store is closed and there is no more lard. If this fails, there will be a National Emergency Situation (NES) in my tiny, little kitchen.) I mix a little more. And then just a bit more, for a little insurance. Startlingly, it looks just like pie dough. This is exactly how I imagine pie dough should look. I am so excited, I am near tears. I call Saint Husband. Actually, it was more like the bleating of a sheep being stunned prior to slaughter.

He dashes in the kitchen. Fight or flight mechanism on overdrive....

"LOOK! HOLY SHIT! IT'S PIE DOUGH!" He looks at me like I have recently grown a tail. Then he passes me a tissue.

"Of course it is, dear. Isn't that what you went in there for?" Like I was expecting chicken livers, or something. Reassured that there is no deadly fire or man-eating snake in the kitchen about to ingest his wife, he departs.

Saint Husband. A Saint, indeed. God. I love you.

 So tonight, we've experienced a Christmas miracle. There is pie dough chilling in the refrigerator. And no one's crying. Happy days!

Stay tuned: we'll see if it rolls out or not. Don't uncross your fingers just yet.

Good night, my beauties.  xo

Friday, December 17, 2010

Origami: The art of "Duh"...

Hello, lovely friends...

The DVP is calm tonight, and there is no snow. Not much to report on the silliness of Toronto drivers. Sadly. No clever musings tonight. Well, I'll see what I can do.

The weather here has been quite cold. Welcome to Canada, my friends. True North strong and free indeed. Where everyone has chapped lips and alligator elbows from January to April. Hat head and scarf static. No point in hair-doing before work, let me tell ya.

The good news is that Alligator elbows are easily cured by my favorite uber cheap lotion. Here I sit, slathered in Sugared Grapefruit body butter, happy fed and jammin' to the newest library find. Personally, I think that butter should be spread on toast, but I digress.

Family Christmas festivities are underway...or in the works. There is something about Christmas time that makes me feel like a kid for a good majority of the month of December. There are some that would argue that there isn't much change from the other eleven months of the year...

Good thing my Mother never reads this.

It seems like everyone is in a charitable frame of mind. Drivers let me pass without honking....the rental company holds my rent cheque hostage for an extra three days....people smile and wish me "Season's Greetings" while they stare....

Ah, Christmas.

There are Christmas parties at work - where people pretend to like each other even more than they do every other working day of the year... we cook lovely treats for each other and exchange gorgeous cards... then promptly return to status quo January 1.

Ah, Christmas.

Sadly, no Christmas raise. Damn. I feel like that Cratched guy. "Please. More coal." I just won't say that really, I just want a marble mortar and pestle, and those babies are not cheap. Channeling some Julia, there. I guess there's Valentine's Day.

I really have nothing to complain about. Sometimes being funny really isn't that funny. I work with a great team. For the most part, we know that we're doing something awesome each and every day and that Christmas really is no exception to the work that we do. Yay for us!

But then something happens to open your eyes to something else that you've been missing. It changes what you do, even on a level so tiny that no one else can see it.

I support people with disabilities. I work really hard each and every day to battle my own disability-realted demons. I go to work and tell the individuals that I work with that their demons are conquerable, too. Sometimes, I really wonder if I believe what I preach.

I work with one gentleman who has severe communication impairments. He has some really strange habits that put people off, and create barriers for him to make friends. I think he is fantastic. Although, I admit to a soft spot.

Yesterday, we were making Christmas decorations. I watched him cut out a super intricate pattern with a pair of giant scissors in about 30 seconds without breaking the paper. It was a marvel. I was stunned. Floored.

I took some home last night to try it. Melt-down City, friends. Holy bananas, Batman!

Such a small thing. But a marvel. I could not speak. Honestly. I had no idea I was signing with an Origami Master of the Freaking Universe. Get out. Are you kidding me?

Now, I sit here. Reflecting. Wondering how many other Freaking Awesome Things there are that I don't know about this guy (Actually, I thought about it yesterday. This blog has been percolating for a bit. Yup. New level of nerd.). Which got me to thinking - am I really doing as awesome a job as I think? Why didn't I know this already?

How many people look at me and marvel much the same way I did him, when I present a perfect Lemon Poundcake, or order my eggrolls in Mandarin (ps. Dialect Police: the lady at Mulan - the best dumpy Chinese takeaway in Toronto - speaks Mandarin)?

Which led me to reflect some more: I know how much it pisses me off to look at people and see that "oh, poor gimpy girl" look on their face. And I tell them. What if I couldn't - and I was stuck sucking up other people's stupidity for the rest of my life?

God help me. And you...

I think he thought that I was a moron for being so surprised. He had this look on his face like, "of course. Of course I can do this. Duh. Why are you so surprised? Um....duh."

And that was exactly how I felt for reacting the way I did. Duh.

Consider my socks knocked off, dude. And rightly corrected.

How's that for taking your work home with you?

Good night, my beauties. Happy Thursday night. The weekend is almost here... xo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Case Study in Battle Weariness: The Rolling Soldier

Hello, my lovelies!

The holidays are upon us. Christmas... Kwaanza... Chanukah... Solstice... Eid... Festivus for the Restivus....whatever you celebrate; may you too gain twenty pounds of holiday party fat and get an itchy sweater that you don't want.

Happy holidays to you and yours from your very favorite blogger!

I have delegated all of the less than fantastic tasks of the season (licking Christmas card envelopes) to Dear Sainted Husband to spend a few hours playing useless video games (I hear they're good for making essential neuronal connections relating to fine motor control and visual-spatial relationships. It might be a load of shit, but who cares? That's my story and I'm sticking to it!) and writing a long, boring blog that no one will read (save for Dear, Sainted Husband, whom I will park in front of the computer and bite my nails anxiously whilst he soaks it in)

I have not blogged in a while. Here I sit, hopped up on my favorite carcinogen in a can (aka Coca Cola), contemplating the big, esoteric things in life. The Don Valley Parkway is lit up like a Christmas tree on crack and Dear Sainted Husband has vacated the premises in favor of a leisurely stroll in that fresh -13 degree air...so I figure it's a good time to write.

Why is it that two inches of snow turns city drivers (most of them) into accidents waiting to happen? It seems that every night there's a backup as long as my intestines. I wonder about these people (and worry for their safety) when the real snow hits. Real snow - you know, the kind your grandparents tell you about...they walked to school in it. "Uphill. With bread bags on our feet because of the holes. If we were lucky enough to have boots. And a Coke was a nickle. If we had a nickle." You know exactly what I am talking about.

Anyway. I digress. I don't drive, so I guess I have no right to comment. But, I'm just sayin', is all.

Here at Casa Figment... we are busily preparing for Mass Consumer Day (ie. Christmas). We sent out our Christmas cards (okay, some of them), wrapped our gifts (some of those, too. We'll probably wait until 2 or 3 am Christmas Eve in reverance to tradition) and have been drooling over Christmas-related confection over which to file for divorce (or not quite - see earlier blogs, new readers).

I must be experiencing some post-academic withdrawal-Christmas shopping shock. I am a wreck. How does Santa deal with this crap?

Hire me some elves. I'm in.

Really. The "cold" (talk to me about cold at 8 am on a Monday in February in Thunder Bay) must be affecting my ability to function properly. Consider: strangely weird dreams that wake me up to my own mumblings in what I believe to be Mandarin, and cravings for things like McDonalds (barf!) "Jolly Green Apple" nugget sauce (dramatic heaving barf!).

Trust me. Don't go there. It's a lot less jolly over the toilet heaving at 3 am. Thanks, Ronald McDonald (ps. bionic slime colored jam is not for chicken, Sir! What would the great Julia Child say? Definitely not haute cuisine francaise!)

I had a dream that I was at my own funeral. (How "meaning of life" is that?) I saw everyone there - my parents, and all of my lovely friends...all of whom seemed to be rather indifferent at my passing. Anxious for the tea sandwiches and Tang.

How many times in our lives do we sit back and take stock of what we've accomplished? Does it ever measure up against what we had planned as idealistic and naive five year olds who thought that the world was our oyster?

I wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice. The Chief Justice, actually. The Big Kahuna of the Canadian legal world. Righting the legal wrongs of a justice system misaligned. I imagined myself showing up to work every day, taking on Goliath and prevailing, because it was right and just.

Pass me a barf bag.

But it set me to thinking: isn't that really what's happening with each letter I write, blog I post, debate I lose sleep over - demanding fairness and equality for everyone: on a bus, in an elevator, an accessible bathroom, old age home, blood bank, piercing parlour or at a Pride parade? It was a regular American woman who refused to give up her seat on that bus, because she refused to tolerate being treated that way - not any judge. How funny that she sat down for what is right?

Is it possible that I am right where I should be, writing letters that other people couldn't be bothered to...arguing the argument that some don't want to hear...smoothing the road less travelled for those who follow?

There are people that take each step and revolution of a wheel with me. I know that. I know who you are, and I love you. Each of you, in your own way, supplement my desire to carry on and push forward. It is for you that I fight, and for the people out there who do not have the strength to mount battle.

But let me tell you something: I was drafted.

Conscripted into a battle that appears to have nothing to do with me but with what everyone thinks is wrong with my existence.

I've been assigned a tour of duty that appears endless and the battle exhausts me. This equality soldier is tired. I feel like I need to give the battle axe to someone else for a while. It has crossed my mind more than once.

What will people say about me after I have taken my last breath? Am I to be remembered for the things that were important to me...or things that I don't even know I've done?

This year, I've been to four funerals. Each of those people fought horrible battles: three with cancer and one with life-long disability and then cancer. Every person at those funerals said something along the lines of "fought hard; never gave up".

So what of the soldier who wants to pack it in and go home? Is there a purse for the boxer who quits; a medal for the soldier who surrenders his weapon? No one ever talks about the people who fight and just can't take it anymore. No front-page spread or honorable mention for them. They're remarked upon with pity, an embarassed bashfulness.

Shakespeare - bless his heart - once said, "Some are born great; some achieve greatness; and others have it thrust upon them".

Which begs the question: which is it, and how do we know for sure?

I guess I'll have to wait to find out.

Happy Christmas; but war is not over.



My love to each of you. I am thinking of you. xo

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reach out and touch someone.

Hello, friends!

I have just arrived at my evening class - a thought provoking if not interesting discussion of Human Sexuality. Heads up, guys - the top two thirds of a woman's vagina are nerve ending free. So, all that stuff they say tidal waves and oceanic movement really is true. There's something I didn't know before, and will definitely change the way I notice men's shoes.

Moving along.

I arrived at my class tonight after a full day at work, hungry and plaintive. (I have slipped into full Betsy Ross mode - ripping up my old and bleach-stained jeans to make bow-ties. How eco friendly is that?! Totally cool, right?! I know.) Nothing like a hard day at work sewing (badly) to fire up your appetites. Thankfully, I had a most helpful co-worker offer me tasty snacks!

I bet you're wondering what this has to do with my topic of discussion. Well, upon arrriving for class, I noted a full bottle of cranberry juice and a nearly-whole cheeseburger lying on the ground. I might not have noticed it if it were not in my path to class. But I did, and it made me think.

Saint Husband and I recently did some volunteer work for an organization called 'Second Harvest' in their 'Harvest for Hunger' campaign. In case you are wondering, Second Harvest is a Toronto-based charity that provides fresh food (perishables - items that you cannot get at a food bank: meat, dairy and produce) to people in need.

I thought about that again, as I munched on my tasty, tasty snacks: how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy things like smoked Gouda, or tartes aux chocolats. And yet, there is so much waste. How many people will go hungry tonight and would have gratefully eaten that food, and be horrified at the thought of such waste?

Both Sainted Husband and I stood outside in the frigid cold last Sunday evening, soliciting donations from the community to support the Harvest for Hunger campaign that will feed many families in need. For every one dollar donation, the charity is able to provide two fresh meals. Sounds pretty economical to me! Yay, for waste saving!

Anyway...

Picture it: here's me. I am sitting outside of Sobey's on a Sunday night - a very cold night - wearing a sandwich board and a chef's hat. I am sitting in my chair holding a tin can. I am looking very shaky and cold and pathetic. Which apparently makes more people likely to part with their morning coffee money. Cool. I'll take it. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever playing into your stereotypes to help feed hungry people.

Three hours and $275 dollars later, I am walking home with Dear, Sainted Husband, discussing the experience where one particular patron stands out to mind:

There I am, standing outside looking sad and weepy with my little tin can, chatting up the customers (I did compliment more than one pair of "fantastic" [read: ugly as sin] shoes to get an extra toonie. Shameless. I know). A woman comes up to me and drops a dollar in my little can. She then comments that my fingers are blue (which they are. It was really cold.) and that "the man looking after me (Saint Husband. He is inside. There is a display inside that needs to be manned. I chose to go outside. I felt that needed to be noted.) should come out and give me his sweater."

I respond by telling her that "I'm fine", and that it really isn't much longer (It really wasn't). She proceeds to march inside and tell DSH that "that girl in the wheelchair needs a coat. She is going to die of hypothermia" (this, I heard later).

DSH comes dashing out of the store, panicking that I am gravely ill. With reassurances that my core temperature is well within normal range, I send him back with a giggle and a gentle admonishment for paying such close attention to the silliness of others.

I assume that she finished her shopping, as she comes out 40 minutes later to ask me why I'm not wearing DSH's wooly sweater, walking away, stating that I am "too nice".

Is it really possible to be too nice? Especially in relation to making your own choices...really? I'm surprised. Though, I'm not really all that surprised, given my experience with other people and their opinions of what it is that I should be doing.

Her insistence about the appropriateness of my shivering (please, Mum, if you're reading this: I was wearing socks and a coat and an extra sweater.) is rendered comical (to my mind) by the fact that she was wearing capri-length leggings, bare feet and flip flops (by the way Mum: she was not wearing a coat, either. Just so you know).

Here, I feel myself asking the same questions I always ask: what is with these people? (I know, just trying to be nice, and all that. But - I ask you: what if someone said/did that to you? Does just trying to be nice still apply?

Sounds like a double standard to me.

When I started this blog, I promised myself that it would not become a platform for the way I feel about disability, disability issues, and general soap box jumping. Then, I started showing the blog to people (thank you, Social Networking site!), after the incident with Unnamed-for-fear-of-slander-suit Regional Transit Company, people said, "this is what this blog should be used for. You have a voice. It's a strong one. Use something that can reach people.

Can you feel it? That's me, reaching out. Touching you.

Did you like it? Enjoy it.

Good night, lovelies. xo

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Being the Change

Hello, friends.

I have just returned home to my most comfortable abode after a long and difficult day of academic drudgery. It's cold, dark and drizzly and I am so glad to be home, wrapped my ice cubed toes in some of dear, Sainted Husband's wooly socks, and  comitting a most delicious pork chop dinner to my waiting, rumbling belly.

Slagging off to Brampton at 5 am - not even in summer months is the sun up that early - not my first choice when it comes to Saturday morning plans. After spending a sleepless night watching Law and Order: Criminal Intent re-runs, I arose to the plaintive bleating of my alarm...

Fast-forward a few hours (and transit systems) later, and I am sitting in class talking about the difference between inclusion and integration. What joy! I admit I have a somewhat vested interest in the matter, but I must admit that I remain shocked and taken aback at the lack of passion and vested interest among other parties - namely, my fellow classmates - all of whom work in the field of disability services.

Why is it that 'inclusion' is a concept reserved specifically for the disabled population? Inclusion (albeit in my tiny mind) is a concept that involves fostering a global community where all people are involved - included. All people are recognized and celebrated for the unique gifts that they bring to our experience as human beings, and how we relate to one another.  Inclusion, valued roles and belonging are things that are sought after by the disabled community alone.

Inclusion, valued roles and belonging are prized possessions of the human condition. There are many examples throughout our history as humankind:

Women; through the feminist movement, women's lib, and the suffragette movement have fought for the right to be recognized as equal and contributory citizens, to participate in the political process, promote equal pay for equal work and the right to reproductive self-determination. To name only a few.

People of color; have fought against segregation, deep-seated hatred and racism. They also fought for the right to be recognized as equal and contributory citizens, to participate in the political process, standing together as a culture to proclaim their dreams for the future.

People who are gay, lesbian, transgendered and two spirited; they too fight against prejudice, religious/ cultural condemnation, vociferously advocating for the rights of full citizenship that heterosexuals take for granted.

Why have we failed to include all of these marginalized, disenfranchised people when we consider what it means to be inclusive? I acknowlege, right here and now, that there will always be struggle - it is unrealistic to expect utopia. There is a commonality to struggle. There is a commonality among those who experience it, and those who create it.

We all want the right to be recognized as equal and contributory citizens, to participate in the political process and to receive equal pay for equal work.

So why isn't it happening?

Some of my classmates would argue (I, by the way, dissent. Vociferously. Bleatingly.), that inclusion as a global concept - and to one that isolates people with disabilities as those needing to be included - lags because of a lack of governmental involvement...."the government needs to be more involved", "the government needs to make this more of a priority".

Sitting in class, listening, thinking of all the battles I've fought - where was the government when I was told that I didn't deserve 'to be sucking air', on a public transportation vehicle, by an employee who is paid with funding from the Ministry of Transportation (which, by the way, is governmnent)? Where was the government when my parents fought tooth and nail to keep me in my community school, to be educated along with my peers and siblings?

Why are we so keen to shirk our responsibility?

Community awareness and mobilization has nothing to do with the government. It is a grassroots movement of people, standing together to fight for what is right. Coming together as one voice, a voice that stands tall and unwavering in the face of naysayers. Stronger together - catalysts for change.

To be the change we want to see in the world.

What would have happened to Martin Luther King's dream, if he had sat by and said, "this is the government's job"? Or, Rosa Parks? If she believed that it was not her responsibility to stand up against hatred and say that what was happening was wrong....where would we be?

Parents, before the passing of Bill 82 - and still today, ffighting for alternative educational options for their disabled children, educating them in church basements, and at home...what was to become of them had parents not demanded the same entitlements afforded other children? To let "the government be more involved"?

We've seen what happens. We understand the damage that exclusion can do to a person. To a culture. To a race. CNN News reported yesterday, a teenager who comitted suicide after being outed on the internet. Where was the government in supporting him and his right to live free and unencumbered by the narrowmindedness of others?

It is our responsibility, as members of the human community. Ours. To stand behind one another, no matter what the struggle, the battle, the war. To send a message that your battle is just as important as mine, and that we are valuable allies to one another in the fight for inclusion. Where everyone belongs.

Included.

Goodnight, lovelies...xo

Thursday, September 30, 2010

People watching at the TSO

Hello, friends...


I hope that this blog entry finds you well - in good health, spirit and state of mind. At present, I can certainly claim to have a good grasp on all three - until my alarm goes off at 6.30 tomorrow morning.

I was stunned to see upon logging in this evening that I have not blogged since the end of July - oh, what shame! Therefore assuming my zealous personality, I had at once resolved to write a blog of mind-blowing depth and insight. But, it is nearly midnight, and I'm getting old. Book reviews and generalized complaints about the scandalous 'state of things' will have to wait until my next paid vacation.

Dear Sainted Husband and I have just returned from a lovely evening at the Symphony. Rather high-brow for a woman who eats Kraft Dinner, I'll admit. But, there's just something so alluring that I can't help myself....the swelling rush of a finishing crescendo...plucky, light as a feather legato strings....and, the $12 tickets certainly don't hurt anything, either....

The trick is just convincing myself that I really do in fact want to go to the Symphony after a full day at work. Sure, all is well and shiny when you're choosing random, far off dates in a season catalog, thinking, "ooh, that sounds nice. Let's go see that one". Sure. Until it actually is that far-off, random day and you've just spent all day at work, have to think about dinner, subway fare, a shower/change and what to do with that mouldy bread in the cupboard. Just for fun, throw in a sudden and intense need for sleep around, say, 4.30 pm for as long as your alarm clock can hold out.

Yes. Culture. Fantastic, isn't it? I tried very, very hard to offload my tickets to a willing friend. Shocking. No one in my under-40 subset wanted to go and listen to piano concertos for a very reasonable price ($5 intermission coffees notwithstanding).

Not wanting to disappoint my very-eager-for-a-night-out Saint Husband, I bucked up. Showered, put on clean clothes (and even makeup!) to go along with my bravest "I'm not tired at all" face. Wife of the Year, here, folks! Well, let's not forget that I wasn't about to waste perfectly good symphony tickets...

After arriving on time (I know. I was shocked, too!), we witnessed a spectacular show - Louis Lotie and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It's just too bad I was so distracted by that inconsiderate person rattling, unwrapping and jiggling their Werther's. Imagine the most beautiful sound on Earth, overpowered by the overwhelmingly irritating unwrapping of said confection...

Thanks, lady. You've got $12 tickets, too, but the difference is - I'm listening. So, please, knock it off! (Saint Husband told me later that he wanted to walk down to her, take the candy from her and stomp on it. I couldn't have been prouder!)

The only thing I love more than going to the Symphony is....people watching at the Symphony. I love watching the hard-core music buffs (you know, the ones who come with copies of the scores and their own baton) and how into it they are. Then of course, there's the elderly ladies who go to the Symphony who do so because that's what elderly ladies of a particular class just do. But, my favorite of all favorites - the young couples on a date. Girls who go the the Symphony and the men who go with them because they don't really like the Symphony but they do like the women who like it.

Like children, waiting to spend their allowances in a candy store. How cute. I just couldn't help but smile. I hope dear, Sainted Husband hasn't gotten any ideas.

Cue the maestro and roll on the timpani.

Until next time, lovelies. xo

Sunday, July 25, 2010

An eyeful from Lady Chatterley

Hello, friends - near and far, known and unknown.

Today is yet another sunshiny and gorgeous day. After sleeping in 'til noon, I'd thought it a good idea to go outside and soak up some of that lovely, fresh air. And, you know, the free Vitamin D that the sun gives away....just another penny-pinching tip from Little Miss Sunshine. Always looking out for you - and your wallet!

Packing up my wallet and my newest library find, "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawrence, we headed off to the mall for some portable insecticide (read: bug spray). While there, we ran into a neighbor of ours, from Tipperary, Ireland. He's a squat old fella, with sharp wit and a keen nose for the ladies - though I imagine there's more to it than his nose.

We talked to him for quite some time. He regaled us with tales of home, the women he's loved and the innumerable children said women have borne to him. No stranger to the dirty joke, I learned quite a few new euphamisms for everyone's favorite bedtime activity.

I'm saving them all for the next big family dinner.

Then, he told us about his wife. Disabled and diabetic, she died recently. He shared with us how they'd met, fell in love and married. He said something that struck me; stayed with me all day. He said, "all women are beautiful. I always thought my wife was gorgeous, even when everyone else thought I was crazy."

I said nothing (I know; I was shocked, too!). We chatted some more, and parted ways.

On the way to the park, I ruminated on his thoughts; talking to no-one in particular, really. It appears to me that the only chance for life-long acceptance, love and happiness for a disabled (heterosexual) woman is to marry an Irishman. Sainted Husband laughed aloud at this (as well he should have, it's funny to me now, just writing it here).

I asked him: "what is it about you Irish men? You  really couldn't give a ----. It's never been about my wheelchair, neither was it for our Tipperarian and his lady love." I further listed several men I'd met on my travels in the Emerald Isle, all who loved and accepted me in quite the same manner. We talked (really, I talked, he agreed - beautiful conversation that!), and I asked yet again. Was it a fluke, or was there something in the Guinness?

His answer: "I think I smell a blog coming on, my love".

If current statistics are true; 96% of women with disabilities remain single and unmarried their whole lives. 50% of those that do marry subsequently divorce, which leaves 3% of the entire female disabled population who get married and stay married.

I bet every single one of them went to Ireland.

I wasn't originally going to blog. I was going to count myself lucky, roast Dear Sainted Husband a chicken and shut up about it.

Enter, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'. Well, really just Lord Chatterley. I got as far as page two (not counting Foreword, Preface and Introduction), and stopped dead in my tracks. According to D.H. Lawrence, literary officionado of his time, 'crippled people' have a 'slight vacancy in their eyes'. And I quote.

Say whaaaaaaat?

Excuse me, Mr. Lawrence, but the vacancy of which you speak is most certainly not in my eyes. It is in my mouth. Where those words used to be. You stole them, and now I'm speechless.

Apparently the whole point of this story is that poor, sad Lady Chatterley has married a man who is 'sterile' as a result of war injury and can no longer satisfy her in chambers. So, Lady Chatterley takes up with the handsome and robust groundskeeper to quench her corporeal thirst.

He is of course, the subject of many 'ilicit' bedroom scenes of 'pornographic nature' (oooh, did you do it with the lights on? Go on with your BAD self!). So says Lawrence Durrel, author of the Preface. If 'caressing the secret wonderland of her waist' is porn, then I am Pamela freaking-Anderson, okay?

For real? This is the 'literary pornography' that is banned from libraries and public reading for hundreds of years, on account of its 'moral questionability'?

Rich lady taking up with the gardner. How unoriginal. How very "Desperate Housewives". I am appalled. Actually...I'm laughing.

But still appalled.

But I must admit for one guilty, self-indulgent moment, That it made me think. I'm the poor, sad, 'sterile' Lord. Do people look at my Dear Sainted Husband and wonder? They must.

But I think, for now I need to put the book down, step away and remember that 'all women are beautiful'. Even the ones who take up with the gardener.

It's just a book, and my eyes are quite full, thank you very much.

Later, I will read...and see if I can work some of Lady Chatterley's 'moral questionability' into our friend's zingy one-liners.

So much for low-brow comedy.

All my love, friends.......xo

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cows udders and Child-beasts

Hi-dee ho, good Bloglanders!

Today, for a change, the sun is not beating down upon us in all it's lovely, sunshiny glory. It is overcast and grey. The clouds are heavy - they remind me of the udders of a milking cow - heavy, sagging and waiting to be relieved of the burdensome weight held within. So much for the picnic lunch and plans for reading in the park...

I guess there's a silver lining - even in clouds that remind me of a cow's udder. We made our daily stop at our local library branch to return the pile of DVD's we'd borrowed the previous day to get us through the cloudy - yet somehow sweltering - day, and found some gorgeous, buttery leather chairs to sit in and read the latest literary jewel.

Quite the idyllic picture, isn't it? Even those of you who aren't voracious readers want to curl up in this picture with...well, anything. Just so long as there are words. Perhaps some pictures. If you're into that. Don't you? You do. I know you do. It's okay. You don't have to tell me that your inner nerd is whooping for joy.

Well, let me ruin that for you. Imagine this gorgeous picture....close your eyes and see it, in beautiful detail. See yourself sitting there, reading - or not reading - enjoying. Now, insert about 60 of the loudest, most obnoxious, nerve-gratingly disturbing child-beasts you have ever come across with foul mouths (that would clearly put me to shame, which is quite the feat!) and the poorest (read: non-existent) manners or sense of general courtesy for the people around them that you have ever encountered in your entire life.

I am not a stereotypical singleton/child hater. I neither love them in that I-want-to-run-my-own-daycare way, nor do I belong to the children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard camp. I do expect 'please' and 'thank you' and perhaps that someone should tell you that you are in a library, so please keep your obnoxious, foul-mouthed SCREAMING to a necessary MINIMUM!

Childhood should be filled with lots of giggles, laughter and play. Please, go ahead. Play. Sometimes, even loud, obnoxious play is good too...It is my belief (however incorrect) that play should never have to include profanity as verb modifiers or adverbs. Nor does that need to occurr at the top of your lungs, kiddies!

But there are other public spaces for that - they are called parks. Why should a park be desolate and silent, and a library full of children screaming at one another and running about? Go there! It's right outside. In fact, the City spent 18 months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate this space...so that you wouldn't be here, screaming while I am trying to READ!

Of course, complaining to the over-wrought librarian is of no use whatsoever. Her response to my statement that there was no place quiet to read in a space designed for quiet reading? "Tell me about it."

Tell you about what, Madam? The noise? Clearly you can hear that. The hoardes of children - clearly under five - who are not supervised? You can see them, and you instituted that rule, babe. How the designated wheelchair spaces are filled with people who are clearly not disabled? Well, Madam librarian, before you go on at me about hidden disabilities...let me point out that this person has their feet on the table, wearing an iPod so loud that you and I can both hear it, and are apparently 'reading' 50 comic books all at once.

I get the point: this is a library, and not a daycare. You are not here to babysit the neighborhood children. But you are the adult in charge here. Act like it. Please.

Thanks for nothing, lady.

Whatever happened to the neighborhood library of my childhood? I remember it like yesterday. It was so quiet you could hear your feet touch the floor, and make the old wood floors creak. The library staff were always sure to help you with whatever you needed (and a little extra, if you were a regular), but they always made sure that the library space was treated with respect. You spoke with respect, and you spoke quietly, if at all.

I miss those days. When you could find a place to read, and lose your place in the day. I miss the libraries of my childhood.

I guess the secret joy is that you get to take a little piece home with you. Borrowing a library book to me, is like borrowing a piece of tradition. You borrow, you read, you return. I relish the satisfying 'thwack' of a book hitting the bottom of the 'returns' bin. One book down, a million more to read. Millions of pages of delicious words and gloriously satisfying knowledge. Such power to weild with a tiny little square of plastic. My library card; my sword.

Unless of course, you're reading Canadian Literature. But, I digress.

Today, while pointedly ignoring throngs of screaming child-beasts, I found the most gorgeously poignant piece of literature I've read in a long time. "Life on the Refrigerator Door" by Alice Kuipers (which, by the way, though it's classified as Can-Lit doesn't count because she was born in London, England. Phew. You're lucky, Ms. Kuipers) is a fantastic book.

I will tell you that it was so good, I read it in a couple of hours (not bad, considering its 230 pages). What I will not tell you is what it's about. You must go and read it. You will not regret it.

Write yourself a note. Post it on the refrigerator door, to remember. Put it on a little scrap of paper. Whatever. Just go and get it. Read it, and then give it to your friends so that they can read it.

Beauty.

Beauty, surrounded by screaming child-beasts. All is possible with the Almighty Library Card.

Thank goodness for cloudy days.

All my love to each of you.....xo

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Little Scraps of Paper

Hi, there, Blogland Friends!

I have missed you. It has been some time since I've last blogged...but I've thought of you. Where you are...what you're doing...why there are no comments...you know. The usual things an intermittent cyberspace blogger thinks about.

The last time I blogged, I posted a letter that I had written to a Regional Transit Company, which shall remain nameless. Due in large part to the fact that I have little desire to be sued for libelous slander. Hmm. I wonder if First Amendment rights apply to those of us in the True North, strong and free...

However, here I sit, slightly sunburned and freshly showered reflecting not upon the Human Rights Commission's decision to reject my application for consideration of violation of Human Rights, but upon a scrap of paper that I found yesterday while cleaning up mass accumulated sheaths of paper. It is an innocent little thing, a piece torn from a free local newspaper. On the back, there are ads for cruise lines, nanny-seeking families and male enhancement drugs (funny how life sort of goes in that order...) but on the front, scribbled in my own reckless cursive, appears the following: 'who are we to comment on the propriety of another person's choice of sexual expression?'

Source unknown. Maybe it was me. Maybe I read it somewhere. It does sound awfully prolific...esoteric. I will take credit for that, I think.

I often find myself writing down things that I don't want to forget (often to forget where I wrote them, and sometimes forgetting why I wrote them down exactly...but knowing there is a reason. Like, Santa Claus.)

I thought of this little innocuous scrap of paper this afternoon...while standing at the corner of Church and Yonge Streets in the blistering sun watching my very first Gay Pride Parade.

I thought of all these people - literally thousands of them - both in the Parade and watching it, who have been subject to the judgement and moral sanctimony of those around them for longer than we can even remember. People who have been subjected to the judgements of others...judgements that we have no place making, and go far beyond our right to excercise freedom of thought and opinion.

Consider: It is against the law for any man in a relationship with another man - committed or otherwise - to donate blood. If you were dying....and a pint of blood could save you, would you care at all about the person who gave it? I doubt it.

I watched a Parade float full of couples marry along the route. I could see that same shine of love and hope in their eyes that I felt on my wedding day, even from my lowly post on the street, behind a steel barricade. How can I not stand behind two people who love each other so much that they are willing to spend their lives, perfecting that love?

I felt a strange kinship with these people...no, I am not gay. But I do know what it feels like to spend your life feeling like there is something completely beyond your control that holds you back from living the life that you want to live. And that something has everything to do with what other people think of you, and what they believe you to be.

Returning home, I was so surprised to hear people ask, 'why would you go to something like that? Are you gay or something?' Well, no. Recently married to a wonderful man, dear Sainted Husband, pretty much rules that out. But I remain taken aback. If you were struggling with something that defined you as a person and permeated your whole life, wouldn't you want people - gay, straight, bi, transsexual, black, white....whatever - to stand behind you? To say that your struggle is important because we are important to one another as members of the Human Community?

While part of Pride is the 'we're here, we're queer, get used to it' mantra, a bigger part is supporting each other and the people we love in the choices that fulfill their lives in a way that is meaningful to them.

Thank goodness for those little scraps of paper. Without them, today might have been lost in a rain of Trojans and Mardi Gras beads.

My love to you all; whomever you love and however you do it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Clambering upon the cyber-soap box...

Hello, Bloglanders!

I thought that if I were going to have a blog, I might as well use it for something good, something that has the potential to affect change.

A few weeks ago, I had an experience with regional transportation wherein I was discriminated against and abused. I thought that I would post that letter, in hopes of creating awareness...

Stand for something, or you'll fall for anything....at least that's what I was told.

Emund Burke once said, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Evil will not triumph, because I will not stand by and do nothing. I sincerely hope that after reading this, that you will stand up and do something.... for the benefit of all - not just people with disabilities...
____________________________________________________

     My name is Little Miss Sunshine. I am writing to draw your attention to an issue I believe to be of grave concern. I want to register a formal complaint regarding the conduct of persons under your employ.
     I am a regular user of the GO Transit system, and have been for some time. As a rider with a physical disability, I routinely utilize accessible service features. I have been subjected to public discrimination and humiliation and verbal abuse as a direct result of conduct of GO Transit employees.
     I am a student at Clown College in the Developmental Services Worker program. I am currently enrolled in a class there, which is offered in Brampton on Saturdays.
     Prior to enrolling in this class, I spoke with a GO Transit Customer Service agent; explained my needs and confirmed accessibility. I was assured, in the presence of others, that accessible features are available and that I could take advantage of them.
     On three prior occasions, I have travelled to Brampton via the GO bus for this class, arriving and departing at the downtown terminal with no issues.
     On April 17, 2010, however, this was not the case.
     I arrived at the Brampton terminal at 1455h. I informed the Transit worker that I required assistance advising the driver on the 1530h (Express Service to Union Station) bus that I was a passenger with special needs.
     This is in accordance with GO Transit’s Accessibility Policy requiring fifteen minutes advance notice for passengers with disabilities.
     The Brampton Transit worker was unable to do this as he, nor Brampton Transit has any connection with GO Transit. He advised me to wait at the platform and inform the driver upon arrival.
     The driver arrived late, at 1540h. He loaded all other passengers, then asked me if “they dropped me off here by mistake”.
      I stated that I wanted to board the bus. He attempted to leave.
      I asked why I was not permitted boarding. He stated that he would have to call his Supervisor.
      I informed him that I had taken the bus that morning. I stated that I paid for a ticket, and therefore demanded boarding.
      He again refused, saying that his Supervisor was en route. I asked him how he expected that I should return to Toronto if I was being denied boarding. I asked for his employee number.
      He refused to provide it. I was told that I did not have a “good enough reason” for requesting it.
      The driver began honking his horn repeatedly in the direction of a police officer across the street. He honked his horn a total of eight times, calling out to the officer.
      He stated that his Supervisor had informed him that the Brampton Terminal was not wheelchair accessible, and therefore he was not required to permit boarding.
      This assertion is in direct contradiction to statements I have received from GO representatives at Union Station, the GO Transit website, and the public schedule that is posted at Brampton Transit Terminal.
       I asked for his employee number. I asked for his employee number a total of 13 times, all of which he refused. Several times he asked me what I wanted it for, why I needed it.
       Upon being refused the thirteenth time, a female passenger stepped off of the bus and began screaming at me. Her statements are as follows:


“I paid for an Express Bus. Now I am going to be late. I am going to be late because of you. I hope that you are happy.”

“Everyone on this bus is going to be late because of you. Now I am fifteen minutes late because of your foolishness. I hope that you are happy, you selfish bitch. Are you happy now?”


“All of you crippled people are exactly the same. You don’t deserve to be sucking air.”

     The passenger in question was pointing at me, shaking her finger at me aggressively and standing far too close to me for me to feel safe. The driver made no attempts or movements to stop or interrupt her.
     I told the driver that what was happening was inappropriate and that he should not condone her behviour. He responded with the following statement:


“Speaking to you like what? She is just responding to the way that you are carrying on”.


     The entire incident was witnessed by a busload of people.
     Several passengers were disturbed to the point that they exited the bus and advised the Brampton Transit employee of the situation. On arrival at the loading bay, he took down route and bus information.
     He was also refused upon request for the driver’s employee number.
     The bus departed, the driver stating that his Supervisor was on the way, and would “deal with me”. I waited at least twenty five minutes for supervisory attention. Two additional accessible buses departed at that time, both refusing boarding, stating that “the supervisor is on the way.”
      I spoke with Mr. Bus Driver, Supervisor, Bus Operations (West Region), at 1617h. I relayed the entire incident to him.
      Mr. Bus Driver’s comments were limited, aside from the fact that he “would love to see the public schedule”, to confirm what I was told at Union Station almost a month prior to my first trip. He asked if I had one in my possession that he might look at. I did not.
     I felt as though Mr. Bus Driver's was accusing dishonesty, though he did make every effort to improve the situation and its end result for me.
     He informed the that the bus drivers are not required to provide their employee numbers, and that in future I should take note of the bus number as an alternative.
     Mr. Bus Driver’s solution to this issue was to run a separate bus to Union Station. I was loaded and boarded at the Brampton Terminal. This brings the assertion that the terminal is not accessible entirely into question.
     This should also raise important fiduciary concern for you, sir. Where is the economic sense in denying transportation to a paying ticket holder and then incurring the cost of running a separate, empty bus for the same ticket holder?
     The sensible option, of course, is the obvious one. Had I been permitted boarding, the issue in question would be non existent. It is my firm belief that the issue here lies not in the accessibility of the terminal, but the work required to ensure that vehicles that using those terminals, are made accessible.
     As C.E.O. of a company, Mr. CEO, I am sure you can understand the importance of happy customers. Happy customers are repeat customers.
      I cannot say that I will refrain from using GO Transit. This is not an existent possibility. If I cannot be a happy customer, I expect to be a customer free from abuse and discrimination. Denial of service on the basis of accessibility - when the facilities are clearly present and obvious to anyone is unacceptable.
     I will continue to advocate with respect to this issue. As a passenger, and human being, I should not be subjected abuse and discrimination as a consequence of purchasing services from your company.
     I respectfully request a written response to this complaint.
___________________________________

I welcome your thoughts.

I should also mention that italicized text has been changed to protect  the innocent...namely me, from well, unpleasant things.

I will step down from my cyber-soap box now. But I feel a certain vindication in using such a widely accessible forum for something good.

Take care, my friends. Please, stand up with one another; fight together. If it happens to one, it happens to all...

All my love to each of you.

Little Miss Sunshine...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

To tarte or not to tarte? That is the question.

Greetings, fellow bloggers...the small community of followers who read and love me.

It has been a long while since I've blogged. And I am sad for that. I get such a charge out of reading myself. There is no particularly good reason for not having done this...

So, here I go...trying to make up for the whole...not blogging...thing.

The smell of cinnamon, brown sugar and toasting pecans wafts enticingly from our kitchen. Somewhere in my brain, the neurons responsible for control of my culinary neurons have exploded and taken over the rational parts of the rest of my brain.

Thus, the coffee cake, loaves and loaves of garlic and herb bread and two tartes aux chocolats practically flying from my oven

It started with the Easter tarte au chocolat. The first.

Tarte tracker count: 1

I was playing on the Internet...instead of doing, you know, useful things when I came across the late, great Julia Child's recipe for tarte au chocolat.

Whenever I am looking at recipes, I always, always, always think, "oh, that looks so easy. I can do that." Ha-ha. How easily we underestimate our culinary abilities when staring dreamily at those glossy cookbook photos, dreaming of silken, creamy chocolate.

And so begins my ongoing internal war.

What they don't tell you in these beautiful, drool-inciting books is that there was someone who actually did all of the prep work before this chef just nonchalantly tossed his creme brulee aux amandes caramelisees together. Which is why Rachael Ray is never ever covered in flour in her recipe book photos. Bitch.

Anyway. Back to the tarte au chocolat - for which I tempered my very first egg (eggs have a disposition? Really, they should just get on with it...realize that they are part of something more beautiful than themselves. Like angry make-up sex that leads to beautiful, perfect babies). Yay! I've found that the trick to tempering eggs is to sweet talk one's husband into doing it for you.

Thank goodness for Saint Husband.

I am confident enough to say that my tarte was the star of the show. Without a doubt. Best finish to an Easter dinner in the history of the universe. This of course is a shiny "after" picture of the real thing, which went something like this:

Me: Did you like it, honey?
Saint Husband: Yes, it was wonderful. So good.
Me: Are you sure, or are you just saying that?
Saint Husband: Yes, darling. I am sure. It was wonderful. Fantastic! I promise you.
Me: You promise it was good...you're really not just saying that.
Saint Husband: I promise. It was very good. *Followed by forehead kiss. Which, by the way is a lot sexier than you'd think*. My love, it was wonderful.
Me: You're just saying that.

Fast forward one week. Birthday party for family friend. Family friend is a known chocolate fiend. Presto! Home made gift. And who doesn't like home made gifts with inherent potential for rapid onset diabetic coma?

Tarte count: 2.

At said birthday party, hosts of Easter dinner who claim that the tarte was so good they want another one

Tarte count: 3.

Saint Husband, keen on desserts, especially those made by his wife, wants a tarte of his own.

Tarte count: 4.

Star date: 2010 - the night before the party. Here's the scene:

The countertop is covered in flour and beaten eggs. I am panicked; downright frenzied at the thought of being unable to finish all of these tartes before I have to slag off to work and leave Saint Husband to clean up collateral damage.

Just for fun, insert a screaming, fire-like pain in my neck and shoulder with every pass of the rolling pin. I am determined to finish these tartes, and present them with just a flush of pride, and a graceful whisper of, "oh. It was nothing really. I love to cook. I really hope you like it."

But it was something. God Almighty in Heaven. It was bloody well something!

What it was? A separated shoulder, and swollen neck muscles. Doctor, staring at me increduously, says: "why would you make three pastry dough in one night?"

And I say, "would you like some tarte, doctor?"

If the proof is in the pudding, the answer is in the tarte.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All you need is love...

Hey, there, bloggers!

I now know that just because people aren't commenting on the outright hilarity of my blogs, doesn't mean that you aren't reading them. Yay! People are reading me.

So, thank you to those who are reading me, and thank you for finding me funny. If your partner finds you funny, its likely they're just hoping you'll do that thing they like. If other people laugh, then it must be funny. It's kind of like the old addage says, "if a man washes a dish, and no one sees it...did he really wash it?"

It is yet another gorgeous sunny day, of which I have chosen to waste inside, blogging. Biting the solar system that feeds me, I guess. Ah, well. Plenty of time to be outside when I am dead and buried.

Dear, Sainted Husband is out with his other mistress, the Geriatric Crap Machine (aka our dog), cementing their bond. Yesterday, I thought that she'd warmed up to me a little when we were playing catch, but then I inadvertently tossed her tennis ball over the balcony, thus quickly snatching that little glimmer of hope from my grasp.

I guess this means I am firmly ensconsed upon the I-hate-you-but-will-take-food-from-you-in-an-emergency" list.

So close, yet so far. I shall weep and moan in shame.

Saint Husband insists that she doen't actually hate me, she just loves me differently. Right. I'll keep that in mind the next time she pees on my feet.

But, his insistence upon protecting me from her urinary hatred makes me think. How often do we overlook the little things that the people in our lives do to remind us that we are loved, and special?

Consider yesterday: I was able to get several cases of carbonated beverage for the upcoming Redneck Rodeo (aka our wedding). Dear, Sainted Husband and I are crossing the street en route to our humble abode.

Of course, our "indestructible", eco-friendly, reusable grocery bags split clearly down the center, dumping  four cases of carbonated beverage on the street. So much for going green.

For whatever reason, I found this whole scenario to be contagiously, outrageously funny. I coud not stop laughing, hard as I tried.

I am sure that there is something morally reprehensible - laughing uncontrollably at someone carrying 40 liters of liquid.

But, it is what it is.

Fast forward to our livingroom. Present day, present moment....

I watched poor, Sainted Husband heft four cases of My Preferred Carbonated Beverage from the ground and haul it all home....grunting and sweating all the way.

And I have left this blog for nearly a month, so now I have forgotten what it was that I wanted to say, and the witticism with which I planned to craft them.

I do believe that the synthesized thesis of this message was that there are some people on this Earth who would do just about anyting to see you smile.

If you can....reach out. Touch that person, and their heart. Tell them how you feel. There might not be another chance.

Even if it means a belly laugh in a parking lot...surrounded by cans of liquid cancer.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Masochism: A pastry maker's tool of the trade

Buenas noches, mis amigos del Blog!

Or, in the beautiful language of English, what up homedogs?

Sadly, my blogging track-record of late remains astoundingly paltry. The demands of being the perfect wife cum (oh, there it is again!) genius graduate student and semi-motivated employee have begun to wear themselves upon me. Thus of course draining my motivation to pen lively blog entries.

After eating, sleeping and wedding planning, there remains precious little time for my beloved blogging friends. Out of sight, yet definitely not out of mind. You are loved, e-friends!

I do beg yet a thousand pardons, and kiss thy virtual feet in repentance.

Sadder still is the fact that I have been thinking about things to write about in my blog - a blog that thus far I have only one reader for. (ps. thank you, thank you, thank you! to the incredible and wonderful person who left me a comment! Special wet, sloppy kisses for your feet). I have resisted the urge to write these inklings down, not quite reaching that special level of nerdiness! Praise for me and my stupendous self restraint!

Yesterday while on the train to class, I was reading the newspaper and came across a very interesting article. And then I thought, "Hmm. Wouldn't that make good fodder for my newest blog?" Apparently not, because though I did save the article, when I returned home, there was marinara sauce all over it. As though the cosmos were reminding me...you are one step away from Dungeons and Dragons."

And that was that.

Now that another "oh-god-what-am-I-doing-here" academic term is over and packed away for future braggery, I seem to have copious amounts of time to do things that I used to do, and like, that give me a glimmer of hope in the quest for restoring my pre-academic self. Like, for example, cooking.

I am nowhere near gourmet, and do not spend time boasting about my latest gastronomical feat. I will not, however, mince words (pardon the pun). Though unspoken, this boasting and outright shameless flattery is something required of Dear, Sainted Husband, and generally also required of others who wish to continue breathing.

Second portions are always required, whether he desires them or not. And I do anticipate at least one over-emphasized compliment at the end of each meal.  Something reflecting the grandiosity of my existence and my general sunshiny presence. You know, standard stuff.

I do like to preen, after all.

I do find it surprising though, that something I find so satisfying and calming is rife with stress. Each and every culinary venture ultimately resolves itself in a screaming match wherein, I either become despondent or the kind of diva that puts Madonna to shame.

Yes, I find the trick to a satisfying meal is to choose something astoundingly complex. Fighting inherent. The preparation directions in every recipe book on the planet should be edited to reflect something like the following:

"Prep time: 20 minutes to do the actual work, and 10 minutes to find the right knife.
"Cooking time: 1 hour and 10 minutes to administer First Aid after you burn yourself trying to pass each other in your impossibly small kitchen with bubbling pot in hand.
"Fighting time: 5-10 minutes, depending on the number of times you've prepared the recipe. Allow extra time for making up and kisses, depending on length of marriage/relationship.
"Total time: 2 hours"

It is our experience that fighting is the secret ingredient. It makes everything better. Just like butter, without the cellulite and the tell-tale shiny lips.

Consider last Saturday's Cinnamon Plum Tarte. It just sounds so good, doesn't it?

I found a gourmet cookbook at my local library while pointedly ignoring the prominently featured Can-lit section.

All was going smoothly. The dough was mixed, rolled into a ball and wrapped for chilling. Calm, zen, kissy faced, the picture of a perfect marriage. Just another sickening couple who finish each other's sentences and can stand each other enough to build a meal together.

Fast forward two hours and you have the following scene:

Dough looks more like raw cookies than pastry. Unruffled, I press on. According to the "simple visual instructions" (read: pictures), the dough "rolls out easily and with litte effort, making this a good beginner's pastry dough".

Is that so?

Well. Pardon me, Chef Interrupted, but that, madam, is a bald-faced lie.

Little effort, you say? Sure, if you're like, Ina Garten or Wolfgang (fucking) Puck! (Sorry, Mom).

The short version is this: if my floured counter top was a jailcell and I was a mean (yet lonely, misguided) cellmate, this "beginner's pastry dough" would have been my bitch. A delicious, cinnamon and ginger butter-infused bitch.

After deciding that I was not going to let this go, this thing would be perfect, and would look exactly like the picture, I got MAD. Actually like, flew into a psychotic rage.

Yes, even if it killed me. Every time I bring home a new recipe book, we both secretly wonder or not I wil be buried with it.

I can see the funeral now..."almonds to almonds and yeast to yeast...we commit this body to the oven for 45 minutes at 375 degrees, or until golden bubbly."

Ba - dum - ching!

Poor dear Saint Husband sat quietly by watching his beloved turn into the Hulk. Generally beating the shit (sorry, Mom) out of this poor pastry, making gutteral noises - "ugh, UGH"-ing followed by generally heinous, abusive phrases...my personal favorite: "take that! How do you like that?"

Recollecting on the general scene of things, I suppose that had I been less sweaty, red-faced, generally pissed off, and swearing like a constipated ex-lax product tester, it could possibly been even a little sexy.

Post-pastry, I called fifty-six of my closest friends to brag about the absolute perfection of this pastry dough. Like I was the first person in the world to ever make a pastry.

Even now, I sit here, puffed up and boastful.

Obvious parallels to the male sexual experience need not be underscored here. They are evident in themselves.

Morley Safer once said that " you can never have enough garlic. With enough garlic, you can eat the New York Times".

Apparently, with enough swear words, you can also eat home made spiced pastry dough.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Words that aren't as dirty in peanut butter

Hello, my blogging friends...

I trust that the evening, and my last post found you well. And if not, feel free to let me know. I am sure I can fashion you into my next post somehow. That oughtta brighten your day.

My dear sainted husband is out ensuring the adequate renal function of our geriatric dog. Therefore, I have time to post, and to offer up my musings to the world.

Poor sod. The wind is blowing a la "Wizard of Oz", out there (guess that "in like a lion out like a lamb" stuff is true, because the wind is roaring out there. I thought I learned everything I needed to know in Kindergarten. Silly me, it extends way past Kindergarten and well into Grade One).

Apparently gusts of wind have a special effect on Irishmen. In response to the literal shaking of our patio, he says, "I think I'll take the dog for a stroll."

Uh huh. Well, that's on you, baby. I'll stay here, drink this cappucino you brought me and soak up all of this lovely electric heat. Perhaps this is why the septagenarian canine we've inherited has little use for me. I'm ornamental. I serve no purpose.

Man's best friend, indeed.

Anyway, my disdain for the relative incontinence of our newest family member notwithstanding, I do have something for you.

Oh, I know. I was excited, too. But since you don't have a husband cum manservant to bring you hot, steamy, cappucino - I will wait for you to make your own. And since I now know that my mother reads this blog, I will say that cum is an actual word, with intellectual applications aside from the one you use in that diary that we've talked about.

Oh, yes. We know you've said it. But it's okay. My mother probably has, too. And for those of you naysayers out there, here's a link....come on, click it. You know you want to: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cum

Did you click it? I bet you did. Don't worry. I won't tell anyone. Thank you, dictionary.com!

A professor once told me that I often go off on tangents and say things that aren't really useful. (This of course is to say nothing of the fact that I believe that most things coming out of her mouth aren't all that useful, but...I'll have to save that for another day.) Useful or not, they are pretty funny, aren't they?  Sometimes I surprise myself with the relative humor in the things I write.

And, if you haven't noticed, I remain exceedingly modest.

I've caught my saintly manservant cum husband (oops, I did it again! Eat your heart out, Britney Spears...) reading my blog, sometimes stifling a titter, other times rolling in a full out belly laugh. At first I'd chalked this up to husbandly duties, right up there along side telling me that my Hefty bag/pashmina/costume-jewellry du moment combo causes heart shattering palpitations that are cause for medical concern.

Aw, thanks, honey. You look nice, too.

But then, he goes and does something that makes me question my manhood. My knight in shining armour....

We have visitors. Visitors who stereotypically eat cheese (but we've since found they prefer peanut butter from the Bulk Barn) with long whiskers and furry tails. It seems the regular epicurian orgasms appearing from my kitchen are of appeal to more than one class mammalia. Who knew? 

Yes, friends. We have a mouse. Though this is fairly common in highrise buildings housing thousands of people, it grosses the hell out of me. Makes me wish we had a barn cat to eat the dirty little things and not an indifferent geriatric pooch.  

You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but I guess you can't pick your rodents. Ah, city life.

Apparently this little bugger has staked out his homestead and told his other furry friends to up sticks, because it's just him. Obviously this little man has more cojones than brains, because he likes to wait until we're in bed, then eat straight out of the dog dish while squealing his delight at having pulled one over on his housemates.

Ever the Alpha male, our little Templeton's presence has aggravated my gentle "go-with-the-flow" partner in crime, Saint Husband. Last night, he decided that he'd had enough. Epicurian orgasms are not to be shared! He was taking action, not to be stopped or interfered with until our guest had been ousted.

Manly demonstrations of caveman-ly behaviour. God, it's hot in here....isn't it? Betty Friedan must be spinning in her grave.

Anyway....back to the Great Hunt.

"Ride of the Valkyries" comes to mind as the obvious soundtrack selection for this movie moment in our lives. Thank you, Wagner! I always knew that if ever I needed to tie classical music to a mouse-catching moment, this would be it. (Think, "Apocalypse Now". For those of you unfamiliar, here is a clip, featuring said composition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz3Cc7wlfkI&feature=related. You're welcome.)

Sparing all the detail, in spite of its abundant humor, I will say this: the refrigerator was moved. Saint Husband's engagement ring is bent.

The mouse lives. Safe, to live another day, to pilfer yet another morsel of kibble from our ornery dog.

The Great Hunt saved for yet another day, I remain indebted to said sainted husband for the display of white-knighthood; and therefore required to soothe and stroke his wounded and beleaguered ego.

Off we go to purchase some more peanut butter.

Even the mice have to eat, right?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The bitch is back...and she's getting married!


Buongiorno, bloggers!

My dear lovely, lovely virtual friends. May today's post find you in excellent health, happiness and marital status.

At right is a snippet from my favorite comic. Not related to what I've posted, but hilarious nonetheless. Do enjoy.

Today is a blustery cold, rainy day. Spring is coming, though. It really is. Soon, there will be picnics and ball-tossing and sun-dappled Scrabble. I cannot wait!

Today is also roughly ninety days before I commit single suicide...aka. tie the knot. Get hitched. Clasp on that ball and chain. Permanently attach my other half.

List of sarcastic euphemisms? Check. Now to the next order of business...

Usually, by this time of night, I've percolated over something long enough that I have....well, a blog to write...

Tonight, ever the blissed out picture of domesticity, we cooked together. Right after we grocery shopped....while debating the merits of granola over muesli. Aren't we interesting?


Not particularly. But, there it is, girls. The reason to rush out to get married: quibbles over which subset of cereal to purchase.

You meet the man of your dreams, steal him away from his country, his family, his girlfriend. You basically stalk him relentlessly until he relents and decides that giving you what you want is easier than filing for a restraining order.

Oh, the fairy tale that is our love. Isn't love grand? Eat your heart out, Danielle Steele.

Then of course, there's the sweaty, shaking, slightly feverish "Are you sure you're not sick?" proposal.

The ring, hastily purchased "because you like it, and it fits" from a tourist shop in the most beautiful European country you've ever laid eyes on (though that list is pretty short). Despite his protestations, you think it's the most beautiful thing ever...because you liked it, and it just...fits.

Surely the happiest sleep-deprived, cat-napping in the airport night of your life.

Everyone gushes over...well, everything.

Then, the wedding (cue theme music from 'Jaws').

As a woman in the throes of wedding planning, I remain stupefied in shock and awe at the sheer amount of energy that is literally thrown at the wedding/bridal industry. Yes, that's right. I said industry.

Think about it: somewhere out there is some poor schmuck whose livelihood literally freaking depends on your marital status! Can you imagine what those bedtime prayers sound like? I bet they sound something like this:

"Dear God/Great Bride in the Sky: please, please, please puh-leeze make sure at least one crazy Bridezilla who wants an iridescent seafoam color scheme gets engaged today. My kid needs braces, and the wire is popping out of my bra. Thank you. Amen."

This is to say nothing for the fact that the moment you get engaged, you suddenly have 10,000 relatives you've never met before, and every last one of them has an opinion on just exactly what your wedding should look like and what you should do.

God have mercy on your soul should you decide they don't make the cut when it comes to your guest list.

And why is it that all of the energy-post proposal is aimed at the woman? The message we're sending is: "Okay, so you asked. Good man! Your job is over now. Leave the rest of it up to the woman". All you have to do is ask, and suddenly...poof ! There's a wedding! Sounds like a lot of foreshadowing of what's to come: you're hungry? Ta-da: dinner! You can't find your lucky socks? Poof: one pair of Spiderman anklets!

If you're a woman who does the asking, I guess that makes you doubly screwed. Both on and off the hook. This, sadly is not as pleasant as it sounds.

Then, the blessed day arrives...pardon me while I stifle a giggle.

Forget trying to be an individual.

Oh, no. That's just not allowed. Why? Well, I am so glad you asked, Grasshopper!

Because that's just the way it's done. You must have someone else's children in your wedding party. These children, whom you may or not know, or serve to destroy perfectly good flowers, then litter with them as an announcement of your approach....for example.

It matters not if this is what you want. Because, even though this wedding is about you, your partner and your commitment to each other, no one cares what you want.

Brush off your tiara and buck up. You're about to be a married woman. This is just the beginning.

Sorry, love. I hate to break it to you. This was never about you. This is about what everyone else wants. Specifically, it's about the wedding they wanted and never got. I'm convinced this is the only reason that women wish for daughters. They'll finally get the wedding they always wanted.

Bring on the tangerine chiffon, and home-made bathtub gin. I'm ready. My dress is Scotch-guarded.

Bring. It. On. Here comes the bride, indeed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grocery shopping for your brain....little-miss-sunshine flexes her mighty Library card!

Hello, Bloglanders!

I've missed you. I'd like to think that you've missed me. Due to the unavoidable nuisance of time-wasting and not so valuable classes, I wasn't able to blog last night. Ok, truthfully, I could have, but due to the exponentially shitty nature of my day and relative exhaustion, I just didn't feel like it.

Forgive me Bloggers, for I have sinned.

That being said, I think that it's safe to move along. Ok, so I've begun to realize something.

There are some people out there who think that they are smarter than they really are. There are also some people out there, who could be smarter than they are, and are not really living up to their potential.

I think that everyone falls into both of those categories at one time or another, to be sure.

Today, I think that I fall into the latter, and it makes me a little sad.

Here's why: roaming around my favorite, yet not so local library branch, I've realized that I do not read as much as I should. Yes, I know. Let us all weep in the sadness of my revelation: there are some people that can't get enough to eat, but I'm sad over the fact that I can't get enough to read.

I know that it sounds silly. Sitting here writing it, I know how silly I truly sound. I really do.

But think about it: knowlege really is power. But what do you do when that power sucks? What is a self-confessed vociferous reader like me to do when I know that a book really isn't worth turning the pages?

Would you continue to purchase a brand of power tool if you knew that it didn't perform as well as it should and generally left you feeling dissatisfied, and maybe, well...empty? Probably not. Your local Canadian Tire's hoping the opposite is true, I'm sure.

And what if that waste of page turning applies to a whole freaking genre?

For self-confessed (or maybe not confessed) lovers of Canadian Literature, beware...

I generally make concerted, strenuous effort to avoid all literature that could generally be construed as Canadian. If the Slovenian author has a Canadian great-grand cousin, I feel as though it should be avoided.

Yes, I hear you over there, weeping in shock and awe. Why, you ask? Well, Comparatively, Canadian literature generally meets the same standard as that of an afternoon soap opera. Virtually all Canadian fiction literature follows the same formula.

I know that eventually every soap hero killed off will be reincarnated....I also know that there are certain things that make Can-lit...welll...never mind.

Just ask Margaret Atwood. She wrote a whole freaking book about it (called 'Survival'. It's apt, too, because you really do have to survive this book. Check it out. about $19. Heads up to you, Ms. Atwood: people find your books boring. Reading an Atwood is like getting a filling - just hurry up and get it over with, already.)

Each 'chapter' (ha - chapter. More like 'mini manual') talks about a feature that any good Canadian novel 'must' have (like, for example, in each and every Canadian novel, someone drowns. They do. Really. They have to. It's not Canadian otherwise. What is this? A shout out to the Great Lakes Water Systems?)

Now, before you go getting your panties all in a knot, I submit that there are some writers who rise above the mediocrity. There are some who rise above the wet newspaper soppiness that is Canadian literati.

Consider, The Incident Reports by Martha Baillie. Torontonian writer who based her protagonist/heroine/librarian extraordinaire in a fictitious branch of the Toronto Public Library. So good. Weird, yet fantastic literature. No one drowns. And there's even a little sex. Nice. It's not polite, politically correct or overly verbose.

Throw in a little Rigoletto and some cabbie-boyfriend-murder mystery, and you've got yourself quite the subway read. Good on you, Ms. Baillie!

Maybe she's not Canadian-born...but we are nothing if not creatures of habit, routine and the ubiquitous comfort of monotony. Perhaps the predictability and routine of Can-lit exists to cater to our innermost desires - so deeply embedded that we have no clue they're there.

If that's not targeted marketing, I'm not sure what is.

Until next time, blogging friends. Latest library booty in hand, I'm off for a good snuggle, and a good read...

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Eager Beaver Archaeology Co.

Hello, nameless friends out there...

I have arrived, once again, to submit my thoughts to the cyber void...may they offer you something of value.

First of all, let me take a moment to wish every last one of my fellow chromosomal XX buddies out there, Happy International Women's Day! Thank you, to all of you women out there, taking care of business, sisters doin' it for themselves!

The next time you use your liquid paper, basic computer programming codes, or flat-bottomed paper bag (to name only a few...), remember that all of these things are made possible, for you, me and man-kind alike by women. So, not only has a woman made it possible for you to exist in the first place, we've also facilitated things that make your existence about a trillion times easier.

Necessity is the Mother of invention, indeed!

Man, I feel like a woman - hear me roar!

That's my little contribution to the Feminist movement for now.

Moving on...

Today is a beautiful, lovely sunny day.

The sun is setting over our living room, and the fragrant aroma of my husband's latest cooking venture wafts forth to me.

It is nearly Rockwellian in its domestic perfection. And yet - what am I doing? Blogging; to no one in particular, because no one really reads these things. Do they?

The excitement of yet another academic quarter looms. And yet - is it really excitement, or am I deceiving myself? You know what they say, "if you can convince yourself, you can convince others". Who are they anyway? And where do they get off saying such prolific things?

Perhaps I will do some poking around to see who they are. If I find out, I will surely post it here.

I wrote last night. As I am sure that you can see. And I got to thinking about the signifigance of the diary. Highly prized within our culture - a person's first hand account of every dirty little secret you can't find out during conversation around the watercooler. But are they really?

Consider 1,000 years from now. Some bright-eyed, Eager Beaver archaeologist digs up the ruins of what used to be your ultra moderne loft/studio/domecile en vogue. And among it, she finds your journal ('diary' just sounds so....childlike, doesn't it?). What would she discover about you? That you secretly (or maybe not so) coveted thy neighbor? Or that quasi-homosexual experience in college?

By the way, whatever it is that you're thinking of with that flushed smile on your face, it probably counts.

And what value would it have for the people that follow us? Would they learn from us - not to do the things that we learned to be so ashamed of that we kept it secret? I doubt it. In reality, there are just some things that are part of human nature, that cannot be unlearned, irrespective of how many times we learn the lesson.

Blogging exists for the same reason that 'social networking' does. We post our woes and wait for people to validate our experience or our thoughts. We wish to be remembered. To have a witness to our lives. We would like someone to say, "your life will not go unoticed because I will notice it. It will not go unwitnessed, because I will witness it."

But, as Ann Beattie said: "The problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring is that every day we vascillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order" (Picturing Will, 1989).

It is my hope that if ever the Eager Beaver archaeologist may stumble upon my oh-so-mature journal and not diary, that I've left something worth reading.

I guess now that I've contemplated the cosmic order of things, I can successfully move on to my next task: a thorough examination of my hangnails. Stay tuned for a thorough report!

Until next time, virtual friends...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Holy multimedia, Batman!

Hello, to all of you out there!

Thanks for tuning in for today's program, "Musings from the "educated" mind..."

First, thanks and preamble...

Ten pages of mind-numbing drivel later, here I sit. Ready to proclaim that, against all odds, I finally finished that God forsaken paper! Praise be to professors who accept electronic submissions!

I really should have finished that paper days ago - there was really nothing substantiative to it... not like it's research, or anything. I did, however take frequent breaks to play around with my favorite social networking page, send a few pontificating, yet generally useless e-mails and to follow some new and interesting blogs.

And now it's time for..."Greetings, Props and Validation of Others!"

Hello, to all my new and exciting blogspot friends out there! Thanks again, to seeallywrite for yet another thought-provoking blog entry...

Which got me to thinking...

There are literally hundreds of thousands of blogs out there. And some people have two. Two? Really? What could you possibly have to say that would warrant submission and upkeep for two blogs? I understand that this is really a lot of the pot calling the kettle black. Because, here I sit, submitting and upkeeping my very own blog. But seriously?

So, I guess the $64,000 question is, "what do I do to distinguish my blog from the other hundreds of thousands of other blogs out there?"

This is of course to say nothing of the fact that the contents of some are intensely personal. Think size, color and frequency of your last twenty bowel movements. Then add some male pattern baldness, a few Bible verses to help you cope. It makes me wonder where exactly all those journals, diaries and sparkly pens have gone.

You remember your diary, don't you? The princess and/or superhero adorned notebook with the cheap lock that your brother routinely broke into? And of course you remember feeling the outrage and humiliation of knowing that now everyone, absolutely everyone knows (insert teenage trauma of choice, here), and you'll never, ever get over it!

Where exactly has the written word gone? Why is letter writing, journalling suddenly considered avante garde?

When my husband and I were courting (such an old word, isn't it? An old word for such a young lady...), I wrote him nearly every day. And to the people around me, it just seemed so...odd. Why write, when you could e-mail or call? The information is there instantly. Immediate gratification and information sharing. But then, every once in a while, I will catch him in a private moment...re-reading those old love letters. The ones that smell of my perfume, and have travelled thousands of miles - to assure him that in spite of our separation, I carried him everywhere with me in my heart.

So, what to make of these new cyber-journals, e-love notes and 'social networking' pages? Do these mediums, while faster and likely more efficient, contribute to the kind of connections and intimate relationships that we want to make with one another as a global community? Or do they contribute to the isolation and loneliness that we feel as individual members of a faster, more efficient culture?

I shall wait here, with baited breath, for your comments. This, in turn should serve to electronically validate my thoughts and my personality (via my writing), which would save me from investing my own time and energy in ensuring that I am secure enough in myself not to need them in the first place.

Thanks to all of you in advance...

See you then. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.