Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's Wednesday morning and all is well... or it will be

There's now one day until New Year's Eve, complete with new resolutions - or at least revamped resolutions for another year. There's a resolution that's been on my list for many a year now. There were five years where it was modified: To live a healthy lifestyle; and more often than naught that included losing weight.

This year there are a few more resolutions but they are all encompassed into one: to create a better me. Whether that includes resurrecting my workout routine (or a variation of), eating healthy or even more importantly, thinking healthy, it all comes back to one thing. Me.

Aunt Juicebox of Bacon Is My Lover fame (god, I still LOVE that blog name and wish I had thought of it myself) coined a term today that I also wished I had invented. "Today, I begin." It really struck a chord with me and for that I thank my dear Aunt for reminding me that all of these resolutions begin and end with me. I'm the one in the driver's seat. I'm the one who drives my future. I am the one who has been holding myself back, with negative talk, looking at the glass half full and looking at areas where I feel I come up short. That's been changing over the past few months and I feel poised for change. I'm not only poised; I am change.

One of my first steps is to pay the piper (sorry Juicebox, you won't be seeing a cheque in the mail!). I am stepping out and stepping up on the scale at WeightWatchers. I had been talking about it for a while, but I sealed the deal when I asked The Man for a six-month weight loss membership in lieu of the digital SLR that was way out of the budget. This is not and it's only going to help me in the long run. It's the gift that keeps on giving and it's a gift I want to give to myself.

I know that WeightWatchers is not the end-all-and-be-all. I see it as a tool. It's holding myself accountable for the decisions I make - what to put in my mouth and what to do to get the pounds off and keep them off. They say that it's not a diet but a lifestyle change, and that needs to extend to my entire life - to respect and love myself enough to give myself the very best.

So tomorrow bloggers, I am off to my first meeting. Yes, I'm starting before the New Year. There's no time like the present. A present to and for me. My lifestyle change begins with me. It begins now.

Happy 2010 everyone. I'll keep you posted on my journey.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I don't have kids. This is my kid. Or at least this was my mugwump when he was about four months old. Now, he's an even bigger mugwump who still thinks he's a lapdog - a 60 lb. lapdog with incredibly bony elbows (do dogs even have elbows?).

Much love from The Mugwump a.k.a. Kao, Boyo, Boy Wonder, or the newest nickname... Bubba

In a time of hope and love

New Year's is about all light and revelation. And hope. I found this while visiting Tia at Clever Girl Goes Blog tonight. I'm suffering from insomnia and as such, was glad for once because I discovered this gem.

I'm reposting another blog. I don't know Brandy but knows where she's coming from. She's looking for hope, for prayers and for a little certainty in an uncertain time. Please take the time to read and to pray. I'm not religious by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe in the power of hope. Without it, this world would be a small and lonely place. I'll be sending all the positive vibes I can, not just for Brandy and her most wonderful partner but for everyone dealing with a seemingly impossible situation. I am hoping for strength in numbers.

Please give this a read. It counts as one more blog of 2009, but it's also a pay it forward kind of situation.

My name is brandy. And I have a blog.

And a plea.

I use my blog to showcase the crazy I meet everyday, share the stories of the kids I teach and document my love for tequila, dairy products and the abdominal muscles of Ryan Reynolds. Rarely do I talk about personal issues on my blog- as personal as the dude that I adore (who I actually met through my blog- single ladies, let that be a very good reason to blog, the possibility of meeting someone as wonderful as my man), but I need your help. And it involves my dude.

He's a guy who made math comics for my class, so they would love learning about addition. He's the kinda guy who sends my friends gift cards when they are having hard times, who remembers every story I ever told him, who was the first person I celebrated with when I got a teaching job. He's the guy who sent flowers to me at school- dozens of my favourite pink roses just because he loves me. He's a guy who has spent a year patiently explaining (and re-explaining) everything there is to know about football during the important games when silence is preferred. He's made me word puzzles and comics and stayed up late playing Scrabble with me (even though I beat him almost every time). He's listened to me cry about school and family and jobs. He is everything I never knew I needed and everything I always knew I wanted.

The holidays have hit us hard. He's recently been told he may have something called multiple myeloma- an incurable cancer, that gives a person an average of five years of continued life. Though this news has came as a shock, he continues to be exactly who has always been- spending his time worrying about me, rather than worrying about himself. He's the most selfless individual I know- (he stayed late on Christmas Eve to work, so his co-workers could leave early) and a post like this would never be something that he would promote or encourage but when I'm overwhelmed and feeling helpless, the blogging community has always given me tremendous support and comfort, two things I desperately need at this time.

As I write this, the future is uncertain and we aren't sure what's happening. He'll need to see an oncologist soon, to verify what's going on in his body. My hope is that everyone who reads this think positive thoughts and if you are a person who prays, could you add him to your list? (You can refer to him as 'brandy's hot awesome dude'). If you don't pray, please keep him in your heart.This cancer is only a possibility and I believe that the prayers and positive thoughts of people can make sure it never becomes a reality.

I want to give a big thank you to the blog owner who scraped their original blog plans and graciously put this up. My goal is to get as many people as possible to see and read this post. If you are reading this and want to help, copy and paste my plea into your blog or send a link through twitter, so more people can keep him in their thoughts. I would be so very grateful (even more grateful than I am to my friend who first showed me the picture of Ryan Reynolds on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. If you haven't seen it, google it. You. Are. Welcome).

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Brandy.

Much love for 2010 and beyond,

When good soap turns bad

Have you ever wondered what makes a perfectly good bar of soap crack and bleed brown shit? Yeah, me too. And, if it’s soap, is it self-cleaning and do you have to worry about the brown shit. Sure, it looks bad, but is it really bad for you?

These were the questions running through my head at 2 a.m. this morning. That and who the hell would eat the KFC chicken bowls I saw advertised late at night… I mean who thinks chicken, gravy, corn and potatoes all mashed together in one bowl is appetizing? First of all, you rent corn. It goes in, it comes out. Quickly. At least for me. And whole, but that’s a detail you didn’t need to hear. Or visualize. I’m sorry.

The only thing not on my mind was sleep. I’d gotten a lot of it over the holiday. I had taken a nap on the couch on Boxing Day, because what else is there to do but fight the Boxing Day shopping fanatics and I wasn’t about to do that. So, I slept. And slept. And then when I’d had enough, I slept some more. Clearly, I was in a sleep deficit. Until last night.

I considered reading a book but the one I had on the go was a tomb. And it would be my downfall if, and this has happened to me, I would have gotten tired and realized too late, as the 700+ page book had tumbled down onto my slack-jaw face. I tried counting sheep until I remembered the old Bert and Ernie skit from the early Sesame Street days where Ernie was counting sheep, but then he changed to fire trucks and then popping balloons, so you can imagine my predicament. Fire trucks are loud and balloons remind me of clowns. Assclowns even. And I’m terrified of assclowns. Or any other clown for that matter.

The lack of sleep did help my thought process though, since I had a lot of time to think between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. A lot of time. I also realized there wasn’t a lot of time between now and the end of the year, and my goal of ending off my first blog year in style.

So, I vow to you bloggers that between now (Dec. 29) and the end of the year (that gives me up to 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31) that I will write at least one, if not two posts a day. I started this blog last May with 0 posts and I’m up to 67 posts. It’s my new goal to hit 75. That’s about 2.777 posts each week for the past six months. It’s almost three times per week and if I were on a workout schedule I’d be patting my back before kicking my ass in gear up to five days. It’s a goal and I’ve set it.

Now I’m off to buy soap, since my other new resolution is to throw out the cracked, brown shit and start afresh. Perhaps something with chamomile.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

I'm officially in the Christmas spirit.

Yes, it took me all of these weeks to get into the jingle. I'm now singing Christmas carols (amidst the showtunes) all around the house - to the cat, the dog, the Man and even to the toaster (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know). I sing at the best of times but today I reached a new octave while singing "Winter Wonderland" and "Silver Bells," two of my favourite seasonal songs. "I'll be home for Christmas" also holds a special place in my heart, but there's a secret love of mine at Christmas that I can't wait to work into my schedule.

I don't know why but The Sound of Music always seems to play at Christmas time. It's not even a true "holiday" movie. There's nary a mention of Christmas throughout the movie, yet it's a movie that I continue to associate with the holiday season.

A friend who shall remain nameless (okay, it's Anasatan) has a love-hate relationship with musicals. She loves to hate them and I love to taunt her with them. I will often break into a song and dance in the most inopportune places - walking down the aisle at the supermarket, in the mall, in the kitchen, in a dance club - wherever there are lots of people and I know Anasatan will run screaming "No, Lindabelle, not again!" Imagine walking down a busy aisle at the local Loblaws and your so-called friend breaks into the West Side Story knife fight "dance" scene. Yep, that would be me, the knife wielding, finger-snappin' freak in the condiment aisle, singing about the benefits of ketchup.

So imagine my euphoria when I realized that many people (and I mean many) share my love musicals, of one musical in particular - The Sound of Music - so much so that they will dress in costume and sing along to the movie's many memorable numbers. While I had considered going many a time, I have yet to make it. I'm so enthralled with the whole production that, in my high school flute playing days, I secured a copy of the sheet music. "My Favourite Things," "Climb Every Mountain" - no song was off-limits. Maybe to Anasatan, but not to me. The sheet music has made it through four moves, from my parents' house to my first place on my own, back to my parents' and then later to my present home. I don't have the flute anymore, but the sheet music is still there, and I know where it is at any given moment.

Just this past May, I had the chance to attend one of the final performances of The Sound of Music in downtown Toronto. No one dressed in character, but it was still magical. After all, it was a serious production. There was an actual mountain set that moved as the characters climbed the hills into Switzerland and the Von Trapp children continued to steal scene after scene. And I was right there with them singing every song, with a smile and often a tear, depending on the gravity of what was happening to the characters.

Now the day has passed into night and I find myself writing this on Christmas Eve Day. It's Christmas Eve, with no more presents left to buy. A half day at work and a 15-minute drive home (hopefully with empty roads) is all that separates me from Christmas. That, and a flip through the television channels in search of those lovely Von Trapp children.

"The sun has gone to bed and so must I."
I'll see you tomorrow bloggers. You can't miss me. I'll be the one snapping her fingers in the grocery aisle. Either that, or I'll be singing "Climb Every Mountain" to Kao, who I'm sure will be howling right along with me. Bloggers, I think I have myself a showdog in the making. Perhaps Kao and I will tag-team Anasatan to really send her over the edge. I'm sure he'll be right into it - unless Anasatan bribes him with a bone. Then, he's a traitor and I'll have to do the knife dance just for him. Consider yourself warned, Kao my boy.

Wishing for you

Merely to dream is already important in itself

I wish you endless dreams
And the furious desire to go and make some of them come true
I wish for you to love what needs to be loved
And to forget what needs to be forgotten
I wish you passions
I wish you silences
I wish you birdsong when you wake
And children’s laughter
I wish for you to resist indifference, resignation
And the negative traits of our times

Most of all… I wish for you to BE YOU.
I wish for you to be YOU.

It’s a simple thing, but it’s a wish that gets lost in all of our expectations, of ourselves and others – and we know we have them.

I’ve often been accused (perhaps accused isn’t the right word) of expecting perfection in myself and being disappointed upon finding out that others do not share the same mentality. They may expect it of me (or perhaps that’s my own mind playing tricks), but expecting of themselves is another story altogether.

This past year has been a search for me. I’m searching for many things, but moreover, I’m searching for the person I would like to be. Searching, wishing, hoping – it’s all the same. The more I search, the more questions I have. The more people ask for my opinion, the more I have to stop and think “What do I really think?”

Going with the flow is no longer the status quo. I’m sure I will ruffle feathers with my newfound “I am important” attitude – it already has. I no longer ask everyone’s opinion prior to making a decision (or I try not to) – going with the status quo even when it affects only me. I make plans and then invite others to join me, not as I did before, trying to get the consensus of what everyone else wanted to do. It’s all me, all the time. Baby.

It hasn’t been an easy haul. I’m fighting years and years of habit, of what was comfortable, of not going against the grain for fear of disappointment, not in myself, but in others. Now when I shirk away from expressing my alternate opinion the disappointment I feel is in me, for not being authentic and living my authentic self. What is comfortable and familiar is in a Battle Royale with my new, self-empowering, distinctive path.

As usual, this inspirational post does not come out of thin air, or even my imagination. I was wondering what my next post would be about – certainly not the digital SLR we can’t afford to get (the tears don’t come as freely these days) – but I wanted it to be a personal, upfront and feel-good promise. A promise to do better, aim higher and reach further than I did this year. Again, I have Ange of Signed by Ange to thank (you can visit her via my bloglist sidebar). Ange always seems to come in with just the right poem, saying or sentiment to keep me going. There are others too – I’ll steal from them too! And as long as I’m inspired to continue on this path, I will continue to raid from anywhere and anyone – a note, a poem, a message written on a bathroom wall. No place is off-limits.

The Year 2010 will probably not be 100 per cent fluffy lambs and floating cherubs. I’m not expecting a miracle, but amidst the chaos there will be authenticity, and a resistance to indifference, resignation and negative responses to the new, unapologetic Scribe. And there will be laughter and birds chirping outside of my window. Even if I have to pay them.

Here’s to an honest, in-your-face authentic 2010. I wish all of you a very happy, healthy and inspired New Year. And I wish for passions and pursuit of those passions that make each and every one of you unique. I look forward to following your travels as you hopefully enjoy mine.

Much love from the blogosphere,

Scribe (along with Kao and Bella)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Come on, gimme a hug!

To say I’m a touchy-feely person would be an under-exaggeration. Hugs are the best when given freely. But, and here’s the but, there are situations in which I reconsider whether a hug is apropos.

This debate comes up most often during the holiday season. While I have no trouble giving friends and family, and even newly made friends a hug (I search them out, really), I tend to draw the line at hugging customers. There’s a boundary there and I’m not comfortable crossing it. I even have to take a look at the whole appropriateness when it’s a work colleague, especially one who I may not work with often.

Just last week, we were talking about the need for professionalism at all levels, even when it comes to sending an email to a regular supplier or client. “You never start an email message with “Hi Karen,” said the owner during an account coordinator staff meeting. It implies friendship and that can blur the line between us and the customer. They may seem like friends now, but when something goes wrong, no matter where the fault lies, that friendship is out the window. “You can be friendly but don’t assume that this familiarity will translate well when they are not satisfied with the product or service,” she noted.

The same goes for hugs. Just this afternoon, after loading up a customer’s car with logoed soft shell jackets, hockey bags and garment bags, an order from hell that had been on the go since the River Styx was a forethought, she stepped in. At first, I was unsure and did a half-step back. What was she doing? She was taking up more of my personal space. Do I step back to let her pass? She was, after all, about to get in her car and go off to a hockey tournament in Fergus. But then she went in for the kill, throwing her familiarity, her friendship around my shoulders and bringing me into her fold.

It was a Christmas hug and I had enough sense to hug her back, though not as fully as I would Anasatan or Mags. Those are reserved for the blessed. But, I still felt unease, uneasy with this familiarity-turned friendship. A question arose: Would I be her friend if she wasn’t a customer? Even the answer was iffy. She would be a friendly acquaintance, one to shoot the breeze with if we happened to be in the same place at the same time. Would I invite her over to the now infamous Festivus Party (The Anti-Christmas Party)? Probably not.

It’s like hugging everyone in the line at the grocery store on Christmas Eve. While you may revel in the Christmas spirit, you may not be so inclined to reach across the conveyer belt and embrace the check-out cashier.

However, if the cashier were a hottie, I may have to throw caution to the wind. It is Christmas, after all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shameless promo alert!!!

Forgive me. I don't usually use this blog as a promotional vehicle, but I have to this one time. Besides, it's not even for me. It's for Kim over at Yellow Trash Diaries. She's just recently discovered her talent as a cartoonist. She's set up a fan page for the world to unveil her talents and I'd like to invite you to join.

Look for her on Facebook under Kimmie Haha. You won't be disappointed. So go now. I mean like now and join. Do it. You won't regret it.

On a side note (and another shameless promotion), I've just recently picked up my latest canvas from my art class. My friend and artist/teacher Robert J. Hurst (go to Evoked Emotions to see his work) turned the canvas into Christmas cards. I'll be posting mine in the next few days, as soon as I can get my hands on a scanner. While I lamented that my houses looked like a 5-year-old had drawn them, Robbie reported that my Christmas card got the most positive response in the Christmas card line-up. Go figure. But, I'll let you be the judge.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Step away from my ovaries

Calling Dr. Douchebag. Calling Dr. Douchebag.... your 6:20 Pap Smear appointment is here.

That's right, my friends. It's that time, the time for cold hands and even colder stirrups, along with a doctor with the bedside manner of a concrete wall. His stony facade is not his only attribute. He's also matter of fact about women's  role in today's society: to reproduce. And this is exactly what he communicated to me at my last Pap smear. His exact words: You're no spring chicken and you should be thinking now about having a baby.

That was more than a year ago, and now that I'm just that bit closer to the magical age of 40, I can imagine what will be the topic of conversation tomorrow while his hand is up my vajayjay. My situation is a litte different than it was a year and a half ago. My relationship is no longer in its freshman year, but the Man and I have talked about kids and we both agree that it is not in the cards. It's not because I'm too old. It's because I don't want them and neither does he. Will this change? I'm not sure, but I am sure that I don't want them now and I have no maternal yearning as of yet, with me on the cusp of that magical age.

I love kids and they love me. The list of honorary neices and nephews will attest to that. I'm the cool aunt, the one who takes them to the movies and concerts and the one who discusses the finer art of wrestling (I'm not sure there is a finer art lurking in that arena, but I'll debate it with my nephew and impress him with my knowledge of past and present wrestlers. It's one of the things I took away from my first marriage). But, I'm not sure if that makes me a prime candidate for baby mama status.

I do know that no amount of pressure from any doctor, especially this one, or my parents or any friend on the baby bandwagon will get me to the conclusion that I want my own kids. This is especially true while my feet are in the stirrups and the doctor is discussing why I need to procreate now while my uterus and fallopian tubes are not yet dried up.

I've been known to wake up to my early morning alarm only to turn it off and turn over for another half hour. I think it will be the same with my biological clock. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Now get your hand away from my ovaries!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My love

The Man and I have been talking Christmas lists (he might have read my blog and paid attention the hints I've been dropping all over the place). Tonight, he asked about spending limits. Limits? How can you put a limit on love, I asked. And this is my love...

I've cheated bloggers. I first reported that I yearned for the Nikon D90 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm VR Lens Kit – and all the accessories. I've since traded up, and here's why...

Isn't he beautiful? I thought so too. So you can see why I had to cheat change.

I'm not even sure how much this beauty costs. I haven't had the heart to check since I know it's a big-ticket item and one that WILL break the bank. So when the Man asked about limits, I was uncommonly silent. Am I being greedy? Yeah, kinda, since I know that my budget for his gift is nowhere near the amount he'd have to fork out for mine (if he were to succumb to all of my whinings suggestions). He asked for the least romantic gift. It's not a kitchen appliance but close: a proper chair for his computer desk.

Right now, he's using one of the kitchen chairs. While stylish and ideal for sitting at a kitchen table for an hour or two, it won't do when spending a couple of hours in front of the computer. It doesn't have armrests, which he says are necessary.

It's utilitarian vs. extravagance. He is going to get his chair, wrapped with a bow. I'll just have to wait and see if he can convince Santa to go halfsies with him on my Nikon lover.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I don't want a Slushy anymore

It is now official. It’s Winter.

How did I figure this out? The exact time when Fall turned into Winter? The biggest indicator: assholes on the road who, after a year, have forgotten how to drive in snow.

My part of Ontario was blanketed under what weather specialists call a 10-cm snowfall, starting late last night and going on into this morning’s rush hour. It’s still falling, and now it’s mixed with rain. I know Mary @ Holy Mackerel is sequestered in her home as her husband tries to get another flight out to Florida after theirs was cancelled. I feel your pain, Mary. In a Battle Royale with Florida vs. snow, I choose Florida every damn time.

I hope my drive home is not as eventful as my drive into work this morning. Not only were there crazies on the road (you know those people who thinks a little snow means to go faster than the speed limit and then brake suddenly and fishtail when they realize the traffic up ahead is not of the same mindset), but there’s also the aftermath to deal with – the slush and the sheets of ice floating off the roofs of the cars whose owners forgot or were too lazy to clear them off. For me, this morning was all about the slush and how it got inside my car.

Yes, I said inside my car. Here’s the low-down:
You know those scenes in the movies where a character gets creamed with a pie meant for someone else or a fully iced beverage? Replace the pie or drink with a vast amount of slush and the perpetrator with a semi that should not have been driving on a secondary road and you will have my roadway adventure.

It all started when a hunk of snow slid from my driver’s side mirror and splattered against my side window. And because it was packing snow, it stuck. Now I’m one for complete visibility, especially during the first snow of the season and with all those crazies out there, so I rolled down my window to remove the snow. It should have been a simple exercise. But that’s where the semi came in. And the vat of slush that came into the car and up one side of my head when the semi passed at breakneck speed.

I looked like Two-Face out of the Batman adventures. One side of my body was dry, but one was doused in a mix of snow, salt and rain, oh, and that black shit that comes off of tires. I’m just surprised I had the wherewithal to a) roll up the window, and b) know when to stop since my one eye was slushed. I felt like a Slushy Machine had exploded at the 7-11 and I was the lucky person to be pouring a drink at the time.

I don’t think this has ever happened to me before – the timing, the road conditions and winter onslaught – it was I had entered the catastrophe lottery and won. My number was up.


On an aside, the powers that be heard my prayers from the other day and despite being called in the third round of jury selection, I was spared from sitting through a full criminal court case. Just as the third group was about to enter the court to be sworn in and accepted or challenged as potential jury, we were told that the 12th final jury member had been accepted. Phew!

It did mean a day of sitting in a stale room full of other potential jurors, but the good news is it was only a day and in some way I served my civic duty.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This one's for Mags...

I couldn't resist borrowing (read stealing) this photo from a blog that I follow (A shoutout goes out to What Were You Thinking). It reminded me of an evening, a drive-thru and a walrus impersonation - just ask Mags at Simply Mags. You can head over there for the whole (or at least part) of the story.

We were in our early 20s with not a care in the world. It was after a night of dancing and drinking (none for me as the DD) and we visited a drive-thru Burger King. Mags chose the wrong time to show us her walrus impersonation and we ended up with bloodied handprints in the back window of my 1990 Nissan Micra, along with blood-spiked milk. We still laugh over it. We weren't laughing then (okay, I was) but now it's a running joke. Mags is forbidden to even touch a straw.

Monday, December 7, 2009

All I want for Christmas

I have a hard time writing Christmas lists, especially when it comes to me asking for things. I don’t want to appear greedy, so I write nothing. I do have everything that I “need” and those wants are left for me to yearn after. Do I want a digital SLR? Hell yeah, but asking for it moves into expecting it and that transfers into greediness. So instead I look to add little, inexpensive things like slippers and gift certificates to Tim Horton’s – nothing that breaks the bank as I’m sure the SLR would.

But, in the blogosphere, I can let my true list hang out and mingle with all you bloggers. So here it is, Scribe’s wish list. Some are serious, some are not. Take it with a grain of salt, or if you are so inclined, run out and grab it for me. I would surely appreciate it.

1. Nikon D90 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm VR Lens Kit – and all the accessories, including memory card – of course this has to be number one since I opened up this blog entry with it. Besides, I really want it. I mean. Really.

2. It would be an early Christmas present, but I have to ask now because it’s coming up tomorrow… please, please, please let me be excused from jury duty. I have to report to the courthouse tomorrow at 9 a.m., and because I don’t get paid for jury duty, save the scraps the Attorney-General will throw my way, I can’t afford to be off work for any length of time. They’ll dock me. They really will. They already said. Bastards.

3. A gift certificate to Weight Watchers and the gumption to go. I could ask for Santa to grant me the perfect body and the ability to eat everything I want, but I think I would just go ape-shit with that and besides, it’s not realistic and these days I’m all about realism.

4. A new job that falls into my lap, with no effort or no search on my part. Fantasy? Yes, but I don’t care. I’m not THAT into realism.

5. Slippers – yes, I actually do want them – and ones that the dog will not chew, attack or lick.

6. While I’m at it, I would like Kao to stop eating my underwear. Yes, I’ve lost another pair. I swear that dog has thumbs. And an iron gut.

7. Gift certificates to Winners, Reitman’s or any such clothing store. You don’t have to pick out the clothing yourself… I’ll be even more impressed with the certificate. Do you hear me, Mother? Absolutely no purple sweatshirts with big, honking sunflowers, or I’ll re-gift it back to you AGAIN. Learn your lessons, woman!

8. A birthday or Christmas that does not begin or end in tears, usually mine, over a snide comment from the parental units. Your job is done. Get out.

9. World peace. Yeah, I know. Everyone asks for it and most are joking about it because that’s what all the beauty queens say they want the most for this world. I want everyone to learn how to get along, accept their differences and learn from them. There’s room here for everyone.

10. People to say what they mean and mean what they say. Be honest and follow through with your promises. It may seem this is meant for our politicians, but I think we could all use that lesson.

Happy Shopping! Happy Holidays! Happy Monday, bloggers.

You have arrived

It seems that this blog has been my arena to reflect upon and admit my mistakes, idiosyncrasies and foibles. This entry is no different.

My friends all know this already, but here it is: I am directionally illiterate. I know left from right, and if I know that a certain road runs north and south I can usually gauge my surroundings. Until I get turned around. And then I’m toast.

That’s where Gypsy comes in. It’s the nickname I’ve given my GPS, a must-purchase for the directionally illiterate like myself, and I know there are others like me. I can’t be alone ‘because that would be a sad, misunderstood existence. “What do you mean you got lost again!??! You live here for Christ’s sake!” my friends would say, exasperated. But no longer.

Besides giving me directions from point A to point B and breaking it down into left and right turns, Gypsy also tells me what time I “should” arrive at any given place, along with updates along the way when I encounter those pesky automobile harassment squads. They are the motorists who pull out at the last second and decide to crawl through the intersection, never leaving me enough time to complete a turn without encountering another member of the squad. But, my favourite feature kicks in at the end of the trip – those three lovely words – you have arrived.

I have arrived at my destination usually on time and unscathed with no wrong turns, unless I decide that Scribe knows best and Gypsy MUST be wrong. I’ve since learned that Gypsy should be questioned only if we’re traveling through a new section of town that has yet to be registered in her network.

You have arrived. How I look forward to those three magic words. It’s an affirmation of sorts. It confirms my existence, my ability and that the course I chose was the correct one. If only life were like that.

As everyone knows, life is uncertain. One wrong turn, one wrong decision, or even the right decision at the time can put you on another path and your goals and dreams may take a detour or get lost completely. Or, they may take on a completely new form altogether, and that’s okay. It’s okay as long as you have the wherewithal to enter your new location, new vocation or new dreams into the GPS. Don’t know what those dreams are yet? Then you can’t hear those three little words, at least not yet.

There have been many changes in my life in the last year, hell, even the last five years. I changed jobs, changed “careers,” loved and lost only to embark on a new romantic adventure. Do I know where I am, what I want or which direction is north? No.

I know what I don’t want., but I don’t even know the outcome I desire, so I certainly don’t know the steps I need to get there. I know that I’m taking baby steps for now and will get braver with each success, each pin on the new map I’m in the process of creating.

I’m sure there will be a wrong turn or U-turn along the way. I’m famous for them, for self-doubt, for turning back when the destination is just up the road. But, after a few hundred or even thousand baby steps, I’m still hoping to hear those three magic words.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Practice makes an angry Scribe

"Every artist was first an amateur."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don't know where I "inherited" this trait, but I'd like to obliterate it immediately: No matter what I tackle, whether it be a painting or sport, I need to be good at it right away. There is no learning curve with me. Okay, there is, but I don't think it should exist. I believe, in my infinite wisdom, that I should be good at everything I try. The very first time. With absolutely no experience. Now you can see how I really need to change this trait. It serves me no purpose than to get me aggravated and it’s so annoying to the people around me who don’t have the same unrealistic expectations of themselves.

This trait reared its ugly head this past Sunday during my final art class. The concept was a painting that evoked winter or Christmas. Since I’m not a big Christmas person (you can pick up your chins off the floor now), I chose Winter Solstice, deciding on a snowy scene with winter sky, rolling, snow-encrusted hills, a frozen pond and – here’s the kicker – quaint, almost cartoon-like houses.

My houses looked a little like this, but worse.

The process went smoothly through the hills and over the pond, and then it came to the situating and drawing (in pencil) of the houses. I used a card as inspiration – they looked a lot like the tiny, colourful houses of PEI. I had planned include the cute elements of a bird bath and a clothing line of socks and underwear. I would have fit on Nona’s brassiere if I had the room.

I must explain that I’m not good with drawing. It doesn’t look life-like; often it’s out of proportion and doesn’t even slightly resemble what it’s meant to be. A bird bath? It’s a big circle resting on a cylinder. It looked more like Alexander Graham Bell’s first attempt at a telephone receiver.

But I soldiered on, painting the structure of the houses, windows, walkways and even that much-anticipated, frozen clothing line. And then it was time for snow. And sparkle. My art instructor ensured me that I was just missing this magic element – I couldn’t see the forest for the trees – it would all fall into place.

It didn’t. The houses looked juvenile and out of place compared to what I considered a really good backdrop of snow drifts, hills and pond. There are some 5-year-olds who, I’m sure, could have done a better job.

Why couldn’t I just spew forth a masterpiece as easily as I do with the written word? But, I had forgotten all of the not-so-pristine articles, stories and poems I had written to get to this point. I had forgotten the practice sessions. And I always do.

I’m going to borrow from that great wordsmith Emerson again with a quote that I stumbled upon: “Every artist was first an amateur.” It’s amazing I can be inspired one minute by this quote and then, relating it to my life and my abilities, throw it out the window and have myself a good old temper tantrum.

Robbie, bless his artistic heart, tried to bolster me. But I didn’t need bolstering. I needed to hear those words from Emerson: “This is your first time doing detailed work. You don’t have all the techniques yet, so stop your sniveling and get on with it.”

I’ve already warned Anasatan that this no-so-masterpiece will be her gift. From me to her. The PEI houses, no matter how juvenile, reminded me of our trips out East. I’m just glad the actual houses were not built by 5-year-olds.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Songs of joy

I'm not one to go nuts over a celebrity. I never understood those girls (and now women) who scream, cry and even faint when they even catch a glimpse of an actor, musician or full band. Hell, I don't even really follow bands around the country. Sure, if they come to Toronto and I have the funds, I will fork over the money. But I'm no band's groupie. And that's why it's weird that I actually cried over one tonight.

Yes, I shed a few tears when I heard that one of my favourite singers, Haydain Neale of JackSoul, died after a seven-month fight with lung cancer. I must have been in a sealed box these last seven months because I didn't even know about the cancer. I knew that he'd been in a serious accident while on his scooter. I knew that he was in hospital for a long time. I had caught a few clips here and there on the radio. Perhaps it's because I'm not a groupie that I didn't know every detail.

Groupie or not, I will miss Haydain's unique vocals. His voice is, sorry, was melodic and raspy at the very same time. It was souful, heartfelt and beautiful. As soon as I learned he had died, I searched out for articles on him, more to confirm the horrible, tragic news. There, his fellow musicians commented on Haydain's life and music. What resonated the most was his kindness and his dedication to his music, no matter if it wasn't always in style.

Watching him from afar and enjoying his music, I found infinite kindness and a joy of life. It rested on every note. It was so apparent and I found such solace in it that I listened to his last CD over and over and over again. And now there will be no more music and I will continue to listen to the CD over and over again so Haydain's own brand of joy does not disappear from my life.

So much for not being a groupie.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Snap, crackle, pop

You probably have visions of those cute little Rice Krispy elves pouring milk on a heap of cereal in a bowl and then bending over to listen to the Rice Krispies song. I'm not. Or, at least I'm not now.

When I first heard those three sounds, there was nary a cereal bowl in sight. There was only a chiropractic table and my seething hatred for the person who suggested I book an appointment for a consultation.

My back had been hurting for the past month or so (it still is by the way, thanks Spaff!) so being reactive as opposed to proactive, I booked an appointment to find out what the hell is wrong with me. (With my back, people, my back! My mental capacity is not under review here.) I'd never been to a chiropractor though I had been curious. I'm no longer curious. Now I know. Snap, Crackle, Pop. This is followed by a ream of expletives that would make a Tourette's Syndrome kid blush.

After getting over the initial shock of having this little girl (I say little girl, but she's my age but really, really tiny - a compact fireball) crack my back and manipulate my spine and my pelvis to where it's supposed to be and I'm feeling a bit better. I'm still a little shell-shocked and feel like I've just come out of battle, but my war wounds are on the mend. I've got ice packs on top of ice packs and now I'm extremely cautious about how I move.

I think this was the problem in the first place. I work a desk job, eight to nine hours a day sitting in the same position, twisting to get the always ringing, never answered phone, finding my shoulders consistently rising and resting closer and closer to my ears as the day goes on. Now, I must take a moment every half hour to walk around with an ice pack stuffed down the back of my pants. Not all the way - just enough that the bulk of the pack is resting on my lower back and newly adjusted pelvic region.

It sounds like I'm talking about sex, but I'm not. I enjoy sex. I enjoy massage. I do not enjoy snap, crackle, pop. Sorry guys. You're confined to my kitchen cupboard and not my boudoir or any table I might be straddling. I wonder if I'll be table dancing after the initial sessions are over? Given my dismount from my first visit, it will be on my hands and knees searching for my tear-encrusted tissues.

Snap, Crackle, Pop my ass.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Triumph, one battle at a time

You may not realize from my brilliant posts that I can sometimes (okay, most times) shrink away from conflict. I'm a coward. I don't like confrontation and will, at times, do anything to avoid it, including putting my needs and opinions on the back burner to save someone else's feelings. Hi, my name is Scribe and I am an enabler.

I go with the flow, even though that flow goes against my wishes. I'm often heard saying: "Oh, whatever you want," or being so indecisive, nervous of seeming selfish or greedy. I couldn't understand why others always got what they wanted and my "playing nicely with others" didn't seem to go as far or make me as happy.

Just this past week, I donned new clothes, shrugging on Ralph Waldo Emerson's suit of self-reliance. I quoted him (thanks again, Ange) in one of last week's posts: "My life is not an apology but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle. What I must do is all that concerns me. Not what people think." It's been so profound that I've even tacked it up to my cubicle wall for a visual reminder everyday.

The ultimate test, for me, came this past weekend. Without going into details, I went outside of my norm, so out of my comfort zone that I thought I would need a map. I gave someone two choices. One choice was ultimately what I wanted to happen. The other was a less desirable option, specifically less desirable for them. I had to be comfortable with either outcome.

They say the first time is always the hardest, especially when doing something that you've been afraid to tackle in the past. Speaking up for myself and making my needs known has been an albatross around my neck. I was afraid and because of that I rarely did it. I enabled others' bad behaviour because I didn't correct it right away. I let it fester and so did I.

It's triumph, one battle at a time. It may not be an actual battle or confrontation with another person. Often, it's me fighting my inner demons and using all my strength not to go with the status quo, as obviously what did not work before will still NOT work. Wasn't it Eleanor Roosevelt who said "Do the things you think you can not." I think I'm on the right path.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend report

It's been a weekend of aches, vomit and diarrhea and most of them haven't been mine.

I wish Bella would use a toilet... maybe then her ass would be a little cleaner

As many of you will already know, my sweet cat Bella was recently diagnosed with diabetes. We've since changed her food to the wet diabetic management cat food. It's been a month and just today (after me buying 24 cans), she's decided that her delicate system can't handle it. Unlike us humans though, she can't tell me that and decided to show me by pooping in the basement - not just any poops - the runny kind and in many places. So, I had to wash her ass and do a major clean-up around her clean litter box and into the bowels of the basement (no pun, really). This was after we stepped in some and tracked it through the house, necessitating a washing of the floors in the kitchen and foyer. So, it's back to the drawing board on what to feed her.

V is for Vomit, D is for diabetic diarrhea
If it's not the cat and her runny poo, it's Kao and his projectile vomit. Yes, Kao has spent the last two days spewing his food. The cause: a pair of trouser socks he had unearthed from the laundry basket (newly bought, thank you very much).

He had also rummaged through the garbage, and even though I'm embarrassed to admit this, he had ingested a used, yes used, sanitary napkin. There's a reason I don't use them often and this is on top of the list. So, he's been puking. Thankfully, he's kept it to the back yard, and that, my friends, is how I discovered the socks - bought at Winners the week before. Can't I keep anything nice or anything private!?!?
I mean, it's my socks and my old, bloodied pads!

The puking has stopped, thank god. But now I'm wondering what else he's ingested! I thought his underwear-eating days were over but I guess not.

Aches and pains, my back, oh my!
You remember the cleaning house I had planned for my Saturday? I manged to clean the kitchen, load the dishwasher and do a few odds and ends. My back has been killing me for the past two weeks.

At first, I thought it was from all my coughing. I had a head cold for the last two weeks, though I took no time off of work, save an hour for a doctor's appointment. I then thought that it was from the confirmed bladder/kidney infection. But, it still hurts, so much that I couldn't do everything I set out to do on Saturday. I even put myself to bed for a nap at 5:30 in the evening, thinking I would sleep for an hour and then venture out to pick up the dog food I said I would get. I slept until 3 a.m. Thankfully for Kao, the Man stepped up. Our early morning conversation is another topic for another time.

Today was better. The back still hurt but I mustered through it and ended up going to my art class, where I drew houses, did poop patrol in the backyard, made dinner, did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. Unable to sit still, I ran the duster through the living room. I even took Boyo for a walk with my friend The Girl. I bribed her with coffee and conversation.

Bathroom calamity
I don't know what made me go into the powder room later this evening. There, I discovered the toilet leak. The toilet had been running on and off for a bit. Repairs will have to wait until tomorrow, when I can call in my Jack-Of-All-Trades friend. I'm not handy and know when to call for help. The Man turned off the water to the toilet and I drained the tank. We believe it's a leak from the tank to the toilet, and hopefully, it won't take much to repair. Do these repairs ever end? It was just a year ago that my kitchen ceiling fell in, thanks to another leak in the upstairs toilet. The contractors hired to renovate the bathroom had failed to put the waxy seal between the drain and the toilet. Hopefully, this repair will be more clear-cut. In the meantime, I've wiped up the existing water and cleared around the toilet.
So, that was my shitty weekend. I tried to make the best of it and told myself that I can control the things I can (my attitude and reaction) and take a deep breath over the things I can't (like the toilet and the pukey and shitting pets).

Monday is the start of a new week and new goals. I'll endeavour to keep a clear head and an open heart.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No apologies

It’s quite temperate here for the second week in November. By now, the bitter rains have replaced the sunny sky during the day and by 4:30 p.m. the light has started to fade and we’re again driving home in the dark. Snow flurries are a reality in November too.

But not today. Today, it’s all sunshine and warm breezes, a quick smile to anyone who looks our way, open jackets and nary a boot in sight – unless it’s of the fashion kind and one that would disintegrate in an instant if it meets a snowbank.

This is what I sort of feel like today, all introspective and content. It’s a perfect day to sit in a sun-filled café, coffee in hand and magazine or book by my side. A deep breath in and an exhale, and I’m in deeper.

(Special thanks to Susannah of Petunia Face for the link to this photo)

I’ve been feeling rather introspective these days, trying to figure out what makes me happy and what doesn’t, and what steps I need to take to create myself a joyful life. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing things for me – some retail therapy perhaps? – or having a date every Sunday morning with a paintbrush, a canvas and a group of people learning how to turn their thoughts and emotions into something to hang on a wall. And, sometimes it’s cleaning house, which is on the agenda for tomorrow.

Everything has its place, or so it should. For the past six years, I’ve had tenants, renting out one bedroom and sharing the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and occasionally the living room. This also may mean a spot or area in the basement for the things that can’t fit in their one room – this also means their stuff intermingling with my stuff.

My last “roommate” and his girlfriend moved out last week. While I miss the hustle and bustle and the socializing, I like how the house feels bigger, airy, more air for me. I like how there is less “stuff” around that’s not my stuff and that I can now find a place for the items I wish to keep. Everything has a place. And so do I.

Whether it’s remaining here in this house or taking stock and moving to someplace new, I realized, in my tranquil, introspective state, that my life does serve a purpose and that I don’t need to apologize to anyone for living the life I want.

The sunlight is slowly seeping, slipping deeper into the trees, and yet I’m still breathing in the rays, feeling happy, content and designed with a purpose.

I want to thank Ange of Signed by Ange for inspiration today. The sunlight helped, but Ange egged it on with today’s gift: an excerpt from Emerson’s Self Reliance.

I do not wish to expiate but to LIVE.
My life is not an apology but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle.
What I must do is all that concerns me.
Not what the people think.

Words to live by, Ralph, words to live by.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two minutes of silence

Ahhh silence. This morning at 11 a.m., the whole office was silent. No, we weren’t feverishly working away as we usually are (bosses are in close range so I must stress this). We were remembering, each lost in her own thoughts about loved ones, friends and even strangers who served in the First and Second World Wars and others since.

I used to consider observing the two-minute silence as an inconvenience. I had work to do! I couldn’t use the phone, call across at one of my coworkers for the latest magazine revisions or even type. It was, after all, supposed to be silent. That changed after I started working at the newspaper, where I met Bill Burrell.

Almost three years ago, I interviewed this sweet old man who was a gunner in World War II. Mr. Burrell talked about his initial training, the first time he went into battle and the friends, some who came back and many more that didn’t. The one thing that stands out in my mind, besides wondering how this 84-year-old Royal Canadian Legion member continues to run the Poppy campaign, was the tears that still well up in his eyes when he talks about the war. He was the person who sat up in the bird’s nest and directed the gunner on where to shoot. At first, he felt like the king of the world, sitting up high and giving orders. That soon changed, however, as he went into more and more battles. He was the squadron’s eyes. He saw the outcome of enemy fire, on both sides. And one day, he was witness as shots from a German plane riddled the underside of his plane. It wasn’t only the plane; his gunner, friend was full of holes too.

He said it seemed like it was yesterday, and for some, it was. I know of a few people off fighting in Afghanistan right now. One friend came back a few months ago from his second tour. Another friend’s brother just shipped out.

Now, I’m not pro-war. I think there are many reasons why there is a war going on in Afghanistan. The friend who is now back from his tour put it this way: most Afghanis, the people trying to eek out a living every day want the same things for their children, their families that we want, namely education, the ability to support their family and a stop to the fighting. And it’s not just battles being carried out by the U.S. and Canadian forces – it’s the fight between the powers that be in Afghanistan, factions that want their people in power. It’s been going on for years, with the Soviet occupation and with its own people. Everyday Afghanis, like me and you, want a better life for themselves and for their families. My friend remembers what one man said to him: we don’t care who is in power but they must look after us and our own best interests.

Bill Burrell wanted the same thing too, and for that, he took up his post in his bird’s nest, trying to keep his friends safe. War is never easy, it’s never clear-cut and there are always casualties.

A few years ago, I took a trip to Amsterdam, not to partake in the fare at the many smoke-friendly pubs and bars in the area, but to visit Anne Frank’s house. I was obsessed with the whole Frank family tale when I was 12 or 13. Here were ordinary people living in an extraordinary situation – in hiding and yet still trying to make a normal life for their children.

Today, I sat silently, in reflection of our part in the world’s conflicts and in the men and women of our armed forces. I thought about Anne Frank. I thought about my aunt and uncle who both served in the war, and I thought about those families trying to make a normal life for their families. Today, I remembered that my life is ordinary and bearable, and capable of being extraordinary.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col.
John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

Monday, November 9, 2009

One whammy, two whammies, three whammies... No!

As I sit here at my computer, at work, I've fallen asleep about seven times, complete with drool crustingly collected at the corners of my mouth. Am I on drugs, you ask? Well, yes. Yes, I am.

They're not over-the-counter but not necessarily the kind you'd buy from a guy wearing a trenchcoat and speaking in a veiled whisper. "Hey, Meester...." They are the kind you'd get from a guy or girl in a white coat (but no straight jackets) behind the counter of your local pharmacy. Your own pharma-pusher. You can liken the doctor to the cartel bigwig, offering his product to keep ya hooked. And I'm hooked. Soon, I'll be sleeping it off. Head down. On my desk. Drooling. Oh, and don't forget the talking in my sleep. They don't call me Mona Putt-Putt for nothing.

I've been "under the weather" for the past two weeks, and no, people, it's not the swine flu. A co-worker of mine was uber concerned when I came into the office with what I describe as an covert tactical exercise in my sinuses... a head cold. No fever, no vomiting, but an extremely full head, sneezes that would rock the universe and a cough. Oh, the cough. That was about two weeks ago and I haven't stopped hacking since. In fact, I hacked so much and with such ferosity that I thought I threw my lower back out. I couldn't sit, enter or exit my car or even pee without pain.

So, to recap: major head cold and a very sore back. And then the weekend arrived and the back got worse. Maybe it was from the coughing, which is what my boss had hinted at when I told her of the last-minute doctor's appointment I managed to secure after first trying two walk-in clinics on my lunch hour. With an hour for lunch, of which I had used up 15 minutes driving to the clinic, there was no way I could sit and wait my turn for a further 45 minutes to an hour the receptionist had suggested as a wait time. And that, was just an estimate. So, I called my doctor's office and asked for the last appointment of the day. I had my suspicions. I'm pretty intuitive that way. Besides, the pain was a familiar one.

It hurts when I pee
Actually, it didn't, which is why my bladder-turned-kidney infection went undiagnosed. And that, my friends, is why my back hurt. The coughing certainly didn't help, but, as I suspected, it wasn't the main culprit.

I came home from the doctor's appointment armed with god knows what: some sort of antibiotic other than penicillin (I get hives from those lovelies), uber-strength cough syrup (so strong I neeed a prescription to get it), Advil for my sore back, tissues so I don't spray and a large bottle of Vitamin C so I'll be better prepared for the next onslaught of sickness that will go through my house and my office.

I'll be ditzier than usual for the next few days, if today is any indication. I thought everyone saw me nod off, only to jolt awake because I had dreamt that the man threw a cashew at me from a deck and hit me square, right between the eyes. Oh wait, that did happen. Perhaps I was just plotting my revenge. Better yet, I'll lick my palms and caress his face and lick every spoon and fork in the cutlery tray.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It’s a spotted dick kind of day

See dick run. See dick stop. See dick stop and look at his spotted dick.

If you don’t already know, I’m a little off-colour – so much so that the man often covers his eyes and groans and my family likes to walk on the opposite side of the road when we’re out together. I don’t take offence; I step up my game.

We were out in Niagara-on-the-Lake for Father’s Day this past June. We’d gone for lunch on a really nice patio – the weather was good, the birds were chirping and Scribe was in a good mood. It’s not like this is a rare occurrence. I’m usually quite happy most of the time. Visits with my parents can be quite taxing but I was taking it all in stride. That is, until the Spotted Dick.

I spotted a Spotted Dick in the window of a quaint British bakery. I knew what Spotted Dick was, my parents knew, but the Man had a look of dismay on his face, especially when I announced that I was hankering for a spot of Spotted Dick. Out loud, and with enough volume that several ladies from an out-of-town bus tour of the Falls turned and looked. In disgust.

In all honesty, I’ve never had a Spotted Dick before, of the canned variety or any other (I put it out there, run with it). It’s just the notion that someone would name a seemingly good dessert by that name - what could possibly have possessed them, save my delight in shocking old ladies fresh off the bus tour.

An explanation from The Straight Dope:
We just tackled the origin of "Dick" as a nickname and a few other usages--a riding whip, an apron, abbreviation for "dictionary," a policeman, a declaration, and (of course), the penis.
With all these varied usages, you got a problem with "dick" being also derived from "pudding"? My sources all pretty much agree with the derivation, without being specific how. However, I can see "pudding" become "puddink" becoming "puddick" and then just "dick."

The word "dick" has appeared in any number of strange places. Around the 1840s, "dick" was used to mean a type of hard cheese; when treacle sauce was added, it became "treacle dick", and finally when currants or raisins were added (looking like little spots), the "spotted dick" was born.

The earliest recipes for spotted dick are from 1847. For non-British readers, "spotted dick" is a boiled suet pudding, with bits of dried fruit (usually raisins or currants) that (as already noted) look like little spots.

The Oxford Companion to Food comments that, strictly speaking, "spotted dick" is made by taking a flat sheet, spreading sugar and raisins on it, then rolling it up. A similar dessert is "spotted dog," a plain cylinder of suet paste with the raisins and currants and sugar stuck into it, so that the spots are visible on the outside. Both spotted dick and spotted dog were traditionally boiled (or even steamed) in a cloth, but nowadays they are usually baked.

The dessert is slightly different in Ireland. In Ireland in the late 1800s, the tradition of yeast-bread manufacture was not strong, so most breads were raised with bicarbonate of soda and an acid, rather than with yeast, and thus called soda breads. Thus, the spotted dick in Ireland is sweet soda bread, with sugar, currants, and raisins, and it's also called the spotted dog or railway cake.

Puddink? Dink. Dick. It makes sense. Sort of.

I’m not sure what gave me the hankering for Spotted Dick today (or remembering the Father's Day incident): the name, the fit of giggles I get into every time I utter those words, or perhaps it’s the weather. It’s blustery and blowy with a hint of dampness. It reminds me of Scotland. In August. It reminds me of cobblestone streets, family, friends, tea.

It reminds me of home.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Workin' the net

I used to subscribe to the notion that if you were good at your job and worked at improving those areas needing improvement promotions, better pay and more respect would naturally follow. Call me naïve. I know I am. I also believe in fair play, holding the door open for people and treating others the way you would want to be treated. It’s a little Little House on the Prairie, or so I’ve been told, and I’ve often been left wanting and confused when a good deed of mine not only goes unnoticed but my toes are stepped on in the process. It’s a man-eat-man, eye-for-an-eye world and I guess I’m the local vegetarian, save the planet, PETA supporter who wonders why we can’t all get along. It’s because, Scribe, the world – even the animal world – doesn’t work that way. It’s survival of the fittest and if you’re not up to par, you’re snuffed out. Eradicated. Forgotten.

And so it is with a little unease that I’ve recently stepped into the arena – the networking arena – where it’s who you know and what they can do for you. I’m still uncomfortable with it. Each email and each phone call I make, I cringe upon hearing the hesitation still in my throat. “I’m wondering if I can pick your brain. If you know of anyone or any company that would fall in love with my communications and writing abilities, please, don’t pass me by – pass my name on.” At first, I approached it like I was going in for root canal. I put it off. I didn’t want to bother anyone. But then I thought if I don’t ask, then I’ll never know and I’ll still be here (in this crummy job and head space) wondering if there ever was a chance.

There is. I’ll be happy to report I’m meeting up with my friend Bij (we went out when I was even more naïve and he was still in the closet) to exchange ideas, names and numbers, and basically brainstorm my next few steps. He’s great at networking. He always has been, and he’s always had this “look at how great I am” attitude that I found annoying when we were dating. Later, I realized if he didn’t toot his own horn no one else would, and that is exactly what his attitude was all about. It got him noticed, it got him jobs and it got him promoted. I should have taken lessons from him way back then.

I’m hoping my other feelers will bring in some new fish… I mean… contacts. New opportunities. New ideas. New horizons. I’m excited and nervous at the same time just like I get when riding the roller coasters, a few seconds before the first big drop.

I’ve updated my resume and my cover letter, only to update it again and again. And, I’ve sent them out to over 15 companies to-date. Something’s gotta bite. If not, I’ll put more bait on the line.

Until then, it’s more networking – around every corner. God, I feel so tarnished, but more a part of the 21st-century than I have in a long time. Goodbye Half-Pint. Hello Donald Trump.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Isobella the Temptress

There’s nothing sexier than a robust woman cleaning herself for hours at a time. Or at least that’s what Isobella would have you believe.

She spends hours laying in the sun and stretching out her volumptuous frame, prepping herself for some serious maintenance. She doesn’t care who sees her. It’s not that she has no sense of decorum – she’s insulted if you catch her on the toilet with the door open – but for grooming, it’s an all-out lovefest and she’s oblivious to everyone and anything. That is, until recently. Sure, she still makes an attempt, but even her toiletry skills are slipping.

Last week, she didn’t make it to her bathroom so she picked the softest, most absorbent spot and squatted – on a pair of jeans, and again on a bath towel. We’re not sure why she picked that spot, but we’re just glad that she avoided the lovely bedroom carpet that is significantly harder to clean.

Since then, she’s been monitored, prodded and probed. She’s not a happy girl and certainly not feeling like the temptress she believes herself to be. She hasn’t cooed in the last day, still reeling from the car ride, the initial consultation with the doctor and the needles and rectal probe. Oh, the rectal probe. Later today, I will have to attempt to take a urine sample. I suggested that we just squeeze out the towel, but the doctor just looked at me with one hairy eyeball, disapproving of my brand of humour.

He also suggested that Isobella is 5 lbs. on the opposite side of svelte. Her eyes opened wide at the suggestion that she cut back her food intake and step up the exercise regime. “What, and give up my life of leisure,” she pleaded with her eyes. “Not a chance. Now, go fetch me some peeled grapes, you pion.”

The next two days will tell more about Bella’s current condition. Is she lazy? Yes. Is she overweight? For a cat, yes. For a baby, not so much. But at 15, she’s so set in her ways that it will take bulldozers for her to change. It took almost that to get her out of the carrier and into the vet’s hands. She also lost clouds of her Holstein-coloured fur, which, I say, should account for at least one pound of her fighting weight.

After numerous references to her weight (yes, I know she’s fat but she’s like a soft, round, cozy ball of fur), the doctor uttered the dreaded words: diabetes. At 15 and at her weight, it’s a very real scenario. She’d have just another thing to bond over with my neice. But, unlike her, Bella has only a few good years left (if that), and I am certainly not going to have her spend her last days stuck with needles on a daily basis.

The vet was surprised, aghast even, when I said that I would say my goodbyes to her if diabetes was the reality. I would be extremely sad and probably would need a good day to cry over my girl. Okay, who am I kidding, it would be longer. But, I am not going to keep her alive for a year or two for my own benefit.

Gone are the days when pets were a member of the family, but when it was time to move on, we did just that. We had our pets put down, put out of their misery or their health turmoil. We let them go when they needed to go. Despite our attempts at humanizing our dogs, cats and even rats, they do have a shorter lifespan than we do and it’s not unimaginable that we will have to bury at least one pet in our lifetime. Insulin needles will not bring Bella back to her playful, kitten self, and I for one, will let her go in dignity and not when she’s unable to control her bodily functions. She has her pride and I’d like to keep it that way.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I think I'm having a H-ART attack

Now before you all go calling Nine-Eleven, it's not like that. Did you notice? It's not bad spelling. It's my attempt at humour. With a capital H. Did it work? No? Oh well. At least throw me a bone and give me an A for the effort.
A year after my first ever art class with my favourite artist and grandpapi to Kao, I signed up for the second round - texture - and it was fun!

It was a split second decision. I had read on his Facebook status that he was starting a new adult class --- on Sundays. I could do Sundays. Those were lazy days anyway and besides, it would be fun. So I said yes. And then I committed the cardinal sin. I missed the first class. Completely. Unknowingly. I was in Belleville visiting family and holed up in a hotel with the man and the dog, while at 11 a.m., my new classmates were learning about the project they would undertake over the next four weeks. One class per week, two to three hours at a time. And I missed it.

Thankfully, my friend knows me and my habit of saying yes to a date and then completely forgetting what that date is -- was it October 8th, 9th, 10th, 17th? Oh who knows. He gave me a make-up lesson, so I hopped in my car after work and made the 30-minute trek to the town of Norval. It's a blink and you'll miss it type of place, but so serene and the perfect backdrop to my friend's gallery-floral shop. Yes, he's both an artist and a florist, sometimes combined.

Now you have to know, I can't draw a straight line, even with a ruler. I don't know why. I just wasn't programmed that way, and that's okay because I have Robbie looking over my shoulder to tell me if my paisley swirl looks like sperm or sperm with an alien head (it did).

But, tracing I can do. And sprinkling on decorative sand over an outline outlined in glue. Next week, we apply the next layer - tinfoil - and then the real fun begins. Colour. I'm having an affair with colour and have all of these ideas of what I can do, what I can combine and the emotion or feeling I'm looking at conveying.

We'll see what comes out of it. And who knows, I may even post it here, even as proof that straight lines and Scribes do not go hand-in-hand. Besides, I don't like conforming to creating ordinary lines. I'm not an ordinary person in an ordinary life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009



It’s the tune I’ve been singing as of late. Rut. Rutter. Ruttabulous. I’m in a rut and I’m takin’ you all down with me!

I’ve actually been trying to keep my distance so no one else will catch my case of Rutamonia. My immediate family has not been so lucky. The man wonders what’s happened to his normally chipper better-half and I’m left wondering if I’m ever going to see her again. I know what Kao thinks: Ruff. Hello, hello, hello, I’m over here, with the wiggle bum. Yes, it’s me. Where’s my damn food, Beach. And that’s about it. Bella’s not even as nice.

It used to be so easy to pick myself back up and get on with it. World’s got you down? Scribe will stick a smile on her face so no one will really know she’s not as enthused as she should be. I’m tired of writing whiny, selfish blog entries – you don’t need to hear my issues – and I don’t really want to share them for fear that the information will get into the wrong hands and things will be misconstrued. I want to be the happy-go-lucky girl once again who can shrug off troubles like an overcoat.

Truth be told, I may or may not be PMSing. Some months I have it, others I don’t, and I don’t know when it’s going to strike until it’s too late and someone is minus a head. I have a really long fuse but once that fuse is gone, the bite and venom are quick. Just ask my casualties. I try to make them few and far between but some slip through the cracks of my façade and I’m sorry for that. While sometimes the rant is deserved, most times it should have been toned down a notch and gone about with more compassion.

In my house, we were not allowed PMS moments or any confrontation of any kind. Children were meant to be seen and not heard. Since I couldn’t express my true feelings, I soon adopted the passive-aggressive stance. No, it wasn’t short-changing the sheets, but it was lying at every opportunity. “Where are you going?” they would ask. “I’m going to a movie with Cath.” It was not a movie, it was a party, with no parents and probably a whole lot of weed. And beer. And boys.

Stepping out and speaking up in my house meant giving my parents the shitty cutlery, the really, really old stuff with food marks still on it. The good, restaurant-quality cutlery were given to my brother (and not myself because that would be selfish). It went unnoticed, of course, but in my pre-teen and teen heart, I felt a little better.

Today, that’s not the way to go and it’s rare that I’ll pull out the shitty cutlery. I’m all for conversation. Of course, I’m scared sometimes, especially if I’m not sure what the reaction will be. After years of gauging my parents’ moods, a part of me still cringes when I have to express my own wants, needs and frustrations, especially if I’m being critical of someone else. But until I do, how will anyone ever know.

I guess it’s why I’m telling everyone I’m in a rut – expressing my mood, my situation and my need to get the hell out of it. It may explain my mood, my behaviour and my lack of get-up-and-go. It just got up and went and I may need a GPS to find it again. But, I know it’s worth the search because I can’t continue to feed into this melancholia.

Don’t worry – I’ll be back with a more upbeat post soon. Promise. Otherwise, you can give me the shitty cutlery, and I’ll know what you mean.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Guilty or innocent - a reason to post a new blog entry

Okay, so I stole this from a friend of mine (thanks Mim!), and since I was stretching today to find something to write about, I'll plead guilty - guilty to not having an original blog idea and riding on the coat tails of another blogger. The questions are hers, but the answers are all me.

Follow along - here are the rules:

RULE 1- You can only say Guilty or Innocent
RULE 2- You are not allowed to explain anything unless someone messages you and asks!
RULE 3- Copy and paste this into your notes , delete mine and type in your answers and tag your friends to answer this.

Asked someone to marry you? Innocent
Ever kissed someone of the same sex? Guilty
Danced on a table in a bar? Innocent
Ever told a lie? Guilty
Had feelings for someone whom you can’t have back? Guilty
Kissed a picture? Innocent
Slept in until 5 PM? Guilty
Fallen asleep at work/school? Guilty
Held a snake? Guilty
Been suspended from school? Innocent
Worked at a fast food restaurant? Innocent
Stolen from a store? Guilty
Been fired from a job? Guilty
Done something you regret? Guilty
Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Guilty
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Guilty
Pee'd yourself? Guilty
Kissed in the rain? Guilty
Sat on a roof top? Innocent
Kissed someone you shouldn't? Guilty
Sang in the shower? Guilty
Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on? Guilty
Shaved your head? Innocent
Had a boxing membership? Guilty
Made a girlfriend cry? Guilty
Been in a band? Guilty
Shot a gun? Innocent
Donated Blood? Innocent
Eaten alligator meat? Guilty
Eaten cheesecake? Guilty
Still love someone you shouldn't? Guilty
Have/had a tattoo? Guilty
Liked someone, but will never tell who? Guilty
Been too honest? Guilty
Ruined a surprise? Guilty
Ate in a restaurant and got really bloated that you couldn’t walk afterwards? Guilty
Erased someone in your friends list? Guilty
Dressed in a woman’s clothes (if you’re a guy) or man’s clothes (if you’re a girl)? Guilty
Joined a pageant? Innocent
Been told that you’re handsome or beautiful by someone who totally meant what they said? Guilty
Got drunk in a bar and made out with a guy and a girl. Innocent
Had communication with an ex? Guilty
Got totally drunk on the night before an exam? Innocent
Got so angry that you cried? Guilty.

Now it's your turn. Are you guilty or innocent? Or both?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Life according to Kao

My peeps know that I love my pets, often referring to them as my “kids,” or as close to kids as I’m likely to get.

I was at the dog park a few weeks ago with Kao (pronounced Kay-O) when a fellow dog owner and park frequenter made the comment that I’ve heard before: “Oh, is the boxer yours? He’s gorgeous.” And, like time and time before, my heart swelled with pride and I said: “Thank you,” tears almost welling up in my eyes because I think Kao is just the ultimate (unless he’s eating my underwear, then he’s “Asshole.”). I thought about it for a split second and then offered up this qualifier, which caused the guy’s eyes to well up too – with laughter: “Well, I say that like he came from my loins, but can you imagine the damage he’d do to my uterus with those gangly legs!” He got the picture, you get the picture and it’s a picture I don’t want spread around too much. Or, at all. Imagine my surprise when the baby I was expecting for the past nine months not only has eyes and ears, but also paws and a tail. How the hell would I explain that to my partner, let alone the medical community?!?!

Since I gush on and on about my boy, I thought I would explain a little bit of his lineage and show you a picture of his actual dad, Zeek, with whom I fell in love and thereby started my love affair with boxers.

At approximately 68 lbs. and with a disposition of your treasured childhood teddy bear with a mischievous streak, Zeek is the ultimate. He’s loving, loyal and at five, can play with the best of them, including his own offspring. While he was gentle when they were younger, he now serves out “what-for” on a regular basis, whether it be a nip, a hefty paw on the head or a growl. He loves them but doesn’t take crap.

I had taken a four-week art class with my artist friend and Zeek’s owner. I looked forward not to getting my hands into the paints (which was fun, but frustrating because I can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler), but to share an evening or four with Zeek, who would make rounds in visiting each student, often ending up with his head on my knee as I tried to make my trees look more like leaves and less like blobs of paint.

After I picked Kao up last October (man, it’s been almost a year!), I would plan visits for my boy to bond with his dad and his “Papi,” my friend’s version of “Grandfather” without being too old-sounding. Zeek would often try to sit in my lap – a 68-lb. lap dog with a penchant for stealing kisses. Not that I minded, but the French kiss was a little too much. Sorry Zeek. Scribe don’t play that way.

You can see the family resemblance, with the black face and soft eyes. Zeek is a reverse brindle, which means more black stripes than brown, while Kao looks more like a tiger, with his dad’s black and his mom’s tawny coat. A flashy bib and boots and a small line of white on his nose and that’s Kao in a nutshell.

And he is a nut. We can’t dance in our house because he gets concerned. If he thinks we’re upset, he’ll nose our hand, kiss it and lean into your legs, like he’s giving you a prop to stand a little taller. He knows how to spell.

(Okay, I threw that in there to see if you were paying attention)

The other day he wanted to box. We were outside so I acquiesced, knowing he would stop if I said “Enough.” He’d trained more than I had, so when a jab of mine sent him into the corner, he countered with a well-executed left hook that sent my “eyes tired, just woke up” glasses across the backyard. I couldn’t get angry. It was a fair fight and the better boxer won.

I just wished he was wearing the gloves.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hey Mr. Fireman, I have your number

What's the number for nine-eleven?

For the first time in my home-owning life, I had to call the fire dept. to come rescue me.

Just after I left work, I called home to tell the fam I was on my way, but stopping off at the store to pick up more cat litter, because my 15-year-old soccer ball of a cat decided she didn't like the brand of litter I bought. Or, maybe it was the fact that it needed changing and her response was to take a dump just a step away from the box. Nice. What was even nicer was the response I got from the fam. Um, Scribe, the carbon monoxide detector is going off. What should I do? Get the feck out of the house, you nimrod! I must clarify that the man is not a nimrod. He's quite astute, but under that circumstance, he was at a loss. Is the detector working and issuing a warning? Is the detector dysfunctional? I say don't even take a chance. I'd much rather have my family breathing fresh, certified fresh air than wondering whether there is a little carbon monoxide in the mix.

I rushed home to find the man, Kao the boxer and Bella the soccer ball all in the backyard with the carbon monoxide detector still screeching. I went in (like the super-hero I am), reset it and voila! Fixed. Maybe. So I called 911 and asked for them to send the whole crew to come and investigate. You can never be too thorough. I hadn't specified that the firemen be hot, but they did not disappoint. They sent their best men (and their supervisor) to come and take a look.

In the end, all was well. Their sensors indicated not one wisp of carbon monoxide and they suggested I spend the extra money and update my 7-year-old detector, one that comes equipped with a digital read-out and a battery back-up. Oh, and put the unit upstairs because that pesky gas like to rise. Yes, Mr. Fireman. Oh, call you Jay? Well then Jay, what model would you recommend? Would you like to come back to do a follow-up? Please? They were so tall, so uniformy and authoritative that I would have done 50 push-ups and a dozen planks if they'd asked me to. They didn't (praise be to Darwin).

I tried to appear nonchallant with the man around. After all, I didn't want to give him the impression that I was all about the beefcake. I am, but I don't tend to say that outloud or at least within ear shot. I'm just kind like that.

As it stood, they were more in love with Kao than anything I could offer. And Kao was in his glory. He loves meeting new people and these were people the likes he had never seen before. Tall drinks of uniformy goodness.

So tomorrow it's all about new carbon monoxide detectors, and while I'm at it, I might as well replace all of the smoke detectors in the house. Or not - if it means another visit from Fireman Jay. Maybe next time, I'll ask him to do the push-ups. While I lay on his back. Hmmmm... (evil tenting of the fingers). Excellent!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

O is for Ostrich

A fellow blogger started off her post today with a tribute to the letter A. In it she had all nice things to say, inspiring things about the Autumn Equinox, her awesome daughter and a bunch of other images that I wish would melt like butter over my brain. Happiness through envelopment, osmosis.

My letter for this rainy Tuesday afternoon, chained to my desk at a job I wish I could leave, is O for Ostrich. O is for ostrich, and on this muggy, wild, weathery day, it’s what I want to be – stuck with my head in the sand because doing anything else would be too scary, too much, too out there. Too unknown. And I feel like I’m five, walking to my first day of kindergarten for the very first time. Alone. On the verge of something great. But what if…

It’s no secret how I feel about my job. First off, it’s just a job – it’s not my career choice to push papers around a desk and order crap that no one would ever need. It’s all the plastic crap that will end up in landfills everywhere, and if anyone at work reads this I’m sure to be kicked out of the building. Maybe that’s the incentive that I need.

I need to leave. I need to leave so bad it hurts me to get up every morning and trek the whole 12 minutes into the office to sit in front of a computer and churn out purchase order after purchase order, order confirmation after order confirmation. Did you order the courier? Yes sir. It wasn’t fast enough. It cost too much money; couldn’t you get the price down? A shipment is late. Scribe, go and find out where it is. Now. Pronto. Get on that. You’re the worst employee ever. How would you like it if you didn’t get a pay cheque for the week? Really? You really didn’t just say that to me? Oh, you did. Man, if I didn’t need this pay cheque…

That is a typical exchange over less than a week in my office, a small business run by a couple. A couple of what, you ask? I’m really not sure. A couple capable of Jekyll-and-Hyde-like characteristics? Yes. Sometimes they’re nice. Sometimes they aren’t. It depends on the mood or the situation at any given time, or even the moon. I’ve seen it. They howl and grow claws.

Yet I’m still here. What’s holding me here? Loyalty. No, not really. The ostrich? Now you’re cookin’ with steam. I used to prescribe to the notion that if nothing is done, that whatever it is that is wrong will go away if you pretend it’s not there. Not true. It gets bigger and the bigger it gets, the more stress comes. In droves. It manifests itself in inopportune places – knotted shoulders, a quick word, a snappy answer, acne and the shakes. Whatever it takes to get the head out of the sand and the body and mind in action.

I wish my blog started with A: awesome, awe-inspiring, altruistic and amorous. It’s all good. And O can be good too, if only I would send the ostrich out into the fields in search. Of myself? Sure. An extra pair of eyes never hurt.

I do not know yet what I want or what truly makes me happy in a job. I just know what I don’t want. I want a pay cheque. I don’t want my self-esteem to be the price.

O is for optimism.