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?