Sunday, July 24, 2011

There's not room enough for the both of us...

I am under no delusions that real-life mice are like the little mice in Cinderella and all other Disney films - cute, friendly and more than likely to break out into song at every turn. I know that if I run into a crab it's not going to be the calypso singing crustacean from the Little Mermaid. I will not invite them into my house for a visit and I will not tell them to pull up a chair to share a meal with me.

I'm a lover of all creatures, despite recent reportings of a Thumper killing. That bunny had a death wish and a crazed look in his eyes; I was doing society a favour.

I love my boxer boy, I continue to love my soccer ball cat though she has left this world, I even love the robin who visits me every morning in the garden 'though I would never consider a parakeet, cockatoo or even a budgie within the confines of my home. What I do not love is the scurry of little feet across the ground, and that is why I want to crunch their little tiny brains under my feet, take a stiletto to the cranium and poison the feck out of the little varmints.

About three years ago, well before I started this blog, I learned that I can shriek like a girl when I come into contact with a mouse, especially if it runs across the counter right in front of me. And rats... forget about it. Bubonic plague, anyone?

I live in a townhouse complex. I like my neighbours, for the most part, and because we all share a common roofline it's often in the best interest to eradicate the critters. I haven't seen any in the past two years ('cause I poisoned the crap out of the last bunch), so imagine my surprise when one ran across my patio (thankfully still outside) a week ago. Two, three, four sightings followed on a daily basis. I'm not sure if it's the same mouse or its brothers or sisters but my first instinct (to scream) came to my lips immediately. And then I wanted to kill them. To poison them. To trap them and feed them to snakes, watching their round little bodies and tiny brains devoured, digested. Gone. Oh, and I dislike snakes even more.

So, to arm myself, I called in for reinforcements. Artillery. Nuclear weapons. While they are still outside, I know when the temperature drops and snow starts to fly, they will seek heat and that heat will be in my house. The pest control came the other day to place sticky traps underneath my hollow concrete stoop. I hadn't seen any activity for a few days, so I thought it was one and that we'd got him. Not the case.

I don't know how many there are, but tonight as I was sitting out enjoying the last few rays of sunlight, I heard it. The squeak. The call of Stuart Little (whose cuter than these backyard visitors 'cause he speaks English and wears a bow tie). And then I saw his friend sent in to haul his platoon mate off of the battlefield and away to safety. And then I heard a louder squeak as both (if not more) got their tiny feet and tails stuck down on the lacquered surface of the trap.

Kao's ears were doing double duty with him cocking his head to the left and right as he heard the screams of death and the scratching and munching as the mice tried to gnaw their legs off and execute their escape. I'm just thankful he has yet to notice the mice running into the hollowed out shell of the stoop or try to get into the mouse cemetary underneath the stoop.

I think I'm also becoming accustomed to sharing the backyard space for them as I now make sure Kao is far away from them instead of screaming like a banshee first. Don't get me wrong... if one runs across my foot I will not guarantee that I will not freak out. What will do it is if the mice start sewing buttons and doing my laundry as they deliver a very cute rendition of "It's a Small World." Now that would be freaky.

Friday, July 22, 2011

We're all full up here

I have a confession to make... a lovely, guilty pleasure, sweet confession... I have spent the last two days in limbo, in a cozy space I created for myself with no ringing phones but welcome texts, hours spent in the full heat of summer with a hot dog and a garden hose. And, all I wore was a bathing suit and a cover-up as to not shock the neighbours.

My house is a bit of a mess, cereal box on the counter, bowl and spoon left suspended on the drying rack with no motion towards the cupboard. The books that I removed from my livingroom bookshelf for rearranging or packing up elsewhere still sit on the floor waiting for something - for movement, for a day out of limbo.

It's deliciously decadent. At a time when I should be scouring the job ads I've pointed my curser to other parts of the net, clicking on that site and that one over there and avoiding the sites that seem to bring disappointment, no movement.

There's another resident living with me in these days of limbo. It's a familiar face and one that comes back for visits time and time again. While familiar, it's not a welcome guest as it points out over and over again what I'm doing wrong, what I should be doing, the person I should be.

I don't know where he comes from or where he goes when he disappears from me, but each time Guilt visits it's like a constant barrage of fists in the gut. Equally timed and each jab a little bit harder than the next, Guilt pummels me until I doubt my very existence. I can't wait until he moves on.

I'm hoping I can get him to pack his bags a little longer by moving out of limbo, out of my yard, away from my garden hose and into the house where I can find a new home for my stack of books. Movement, I think, is the cure.

Just to be sure, I'm going to hang a no-vacancy sign on my door leading into my brain. There's no room for you here, I'd call. We're all full up.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

9 Days...

Christopher sitting in the red sands of the Atlantic Ocean.

Every day for the past two weeks, I've called my friend Anasatan or she's called me and said two words. Today it was "9 Days!" followed by a squeal. I used to get so excited when I was younger counting down the days and sometimes hours until an exciting event. I hadn't done that in a long time - until now.

We've been planning this trip since last year and in detail since January. As of 2:45 p.m. on July 28, we will be on our flight to what I believe to be the world's smallest airport - Charlottetown, PEI. I'm sure there will be many who would tell us there are smaller airports, but I loved the fact that you could, while standing in arrivals, wave to someone in the departures "lounge." If memory serves, there is one carousel for all flights. In short, it's lovely, it's quaint and I can't wait to get there.

Prince Edward Island, and Charlottetown in particular is a breath of fresh air when you're used to a city of smog. People are friendly - like really friendly - and you'll probably get the same taxi driver for every errand. A smile will get you a hello, a wave will get you a new best friend (don't worry, Anasatan, I'm not trading you in... yet).

Now, for something that we've both been looking forward to since January, the countdown is on. T -9 days, blogosphere. We've got tentative plans, which I hope will include whale watching, jewellery making, people watching and just relaxing in general, taking the slowed existence in stride and taking a deep breath. I've been yearning for such a deep breath, and while it's possible to breathe deeply here, the air is different, the outlook is different, I'm different.

Here's proof in point that Charlottetown is friendly (or the Charlottetown Tourist Board is on the ball): when I announced on Twitter that I'm looking forward to touching down at what I think is the world's smallest airport, someone on the tourist board pounced nay leapt to welcome us personally and to spread the love. Either they're really friendly or they're pretending. I think the former is true.

Other PEI experiences I'm looking forward to (and hoping it's still the case): pop in glass bottles (there's nothing like it), Cora's within walking distance, Peakes Quay and the array of stores, bars and restaurants, the bench outside of Linda's Coffee Shop at the most dangerous intersection in Charlottetown as no one obeys traffic laws or signs... it's amazing just to sit back and people and car watch.

I might even kiss the ground, but more importantly I will breathe.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Who are ya?

Blogger is at it again... it's hiding new followers so I can't say hello, check out their blogs or even comment since I don't know whose been reading and who wants to continue reading my blog.

So, if it's you and I've been remiss in saying hello, drop me a line with a link to your blog and I'll be sure to stop on by. It's not you, it's not me - it's Blogger.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Sirloin

I'm quite enjoying the single life - being responsible for only my own well-being, coming and going freely save spending more time with Kao so he's not so lonely - so you can imagine my surprise when I considered entering into a union so delicious that I was aflush with excitement, drooling at the possibility of a rendez-vous with a piece of fresh meat.

It started this past Wednesday evening at a dinner held by an old co-worker from Cell Block C. Her and her husband had invited me to break bread with them, perhaps taking pity on me cooking for one again. As I sat down to a barbecue dinner, I looked across the table and felt a pang, a flitter of my mending heart.

He was rich, full-bodied, red-blooded, and I couldn't wait to ravish him. I raised my glass and gave a slow wink and an even slower smile to show my interest. A flirt by nature, I had forgotten how fun it was to flutter my eyelashes and use my feminine wiles.

He was the perfect companion, the strong silent type but with an aroma that spoke volumes. He wore a suit of reddish-brown, with a spicy disposition that bordered on saucy.

Our initial rendez-vous was brief but I knew I had fallen in love and announced at the table our intention to marry. My fellow Cell Block C inmate was surprised but laughed, knowing I was serious but also realizing that the union would never hold up.

I tried to savour it, hold on and lovingly caress his flank. It had been a while since I had seen such a specimen, choosing others with a more refined, blander palette. It was sometimes easier that way - less temptation and a bit less guilt. But in this case I was done for. I had succumbed.

"I love this so much I  think I want to marry it," I had announced as I slipped my knife in time and time again, stretching the culinary experience out for an hour or more. Sauteed mushrooms, summer salad with feta cheese and olive oil, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes... it was all good but nothing held my attention the way Mr. Sirloin did.

Now, three days later, I find myself yearning for him, calling him in the middle of the night as I remember how tender and loving he was - the way he fit perfectly on my fork and let me take from him time and time again with no questions, no requests and no strings.

Okay, so yes, I didn't have an encounter with a potential new partner - certainly not this soon after I'd managed to oust the Ex Man and take my house back - but it was intense nonetheless. And, it was a great break to the week, to visit with friends, talk over dinner and enjoy a piece of meat that I don't otherwise ingest. I'm sure we'll meet again, but I may have to wait. After all, I am in mourning for the last rendez-vous I had around the barbecue.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Goose crossing

They may look cute, but don't cross them!   Photo courtesy of Robin Lindsey
 I ventured out of the house and away from the computer today to do some much needed facialscaping, namely my eyebrows and my upper lip. Waxed. Gone. Deforested. I was thinking it would be just a jaunt to my favourite esthetician, a mid-day break and about 20 minutes of me time. It was so much more.

It was only 20 minutes - a 5-minute drive and 15-minutes in the weedwacking chair. It was uneventful, save the momentary "Argh" moment as every follicle was ripped out of my forehead and moustache area. It was on the way home that the adventure and the laughter began.

If you live in Canada and are situated anywhere near a park or mass of water you will run into our national bird. In flight, they are beautiful. On land, they can chase, bite, honk, flap their wings, poop and can generally be a nusance. And, considering it is illegal to purposely or even accidentally kill these honking poop-machines, we have a huge population. About 15 or 20 of the population had decided they needed to cross the road - one of the busiest roads in Brampton and almost during rush hour.

There were adults, adolescents and babies - a nuclear family of Canada Geese - and amazingly traffic on both sides stopped, six lanes of traffic, to watch these majestic yet mean creatures cross. There was no honking - from the cars, that is. One I assume was the padre of the flock was on high alert, watching each of his family cross safely, honking at the stopped cars and with a glint in his eye (I could only see one) as if taunting the drivers Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry-style to make his day. "Go ahead, I dare ya, and I'll fling my whole body into the front of your car. The cops will come and you'll be done for - shackled, read your rights, taken away to spend the night in the big house." Really, it was in his eye(s).

It took 10 minutes for each bird to cross, slowly, steadily and with not a fear in the world. It was just amazing to watch. I think others thought so too as they watched the procession, no one inching forward but just staring at these brazen birds.

A change in environment

There's nothing like shedding skin, shirking off old robes and creating a look and space that is all your own. This is how I spent my weekend and subsequent days after.

I had mentioned briefly my intent to create a new living space after the Ex Man moved out. That was last week, and after looking at the empty space in the living room where his couch once sat, I got off my ass and started re-arranging - just like I'm re-arranging my life to suit my new reality.

While the paint and the tear up of the god-awful Peptol Bismol pink carpeting will have to wait, I set out to work on the changes I could make. The living room was first, and thanks to The Girl and my tremendous negotiating skills, I am now the proud owner of a new-to-me ottoman to match my sofa and to fill in the hole where the couch once sat. A re-arranging of the sofa, coffee table, tv and the addition of an already-owned bookcase and the living room has a different feel for a different kinda girl. Bookcases and china cabinets were dusted and decluttered. Books were given a new home (with some an exit out of the home), and next we were onto the bedroom.

Oh, the bedroom. The pink carpet was vacuumed within an inch of its life. The bed was moved, a new-by -my-standards dresser (thanks Anasatan, Passion Flakey and Bina) was granted residence and the leaning tower of a tall boy dresser was axed down and set out for the garbage. Clothes were sorted, folded and put away - whether in the drawers of the new dresser or in a Salvation Army bag. Everything was light, airy and fresh - just perfect for a new start.

It's amazing how uplifting it felt, a shirking off of old garments, useless armour. We grabbed the lunch we had originally forgotten to eat in our enthusiasm and splurged on an ice cream on a hot day before heading off to a birthday party with old friends. Sunday brought more purging and putting away, a well-deserved nap, a swim and barbecue, and while the day was a bit overcast, you'd never tell from the smiles on our faces.

"What a good weekend," we kept saying in between singing to the radio and laughing about how Kao had tried to attack the dreaded vacuum. And while we cleaned away the cobwebs and dust bunnies, we felt it was so much more - a move away from the old life and the opening of another better organized and intentioned life.

I've got a new spring in my step and a new place to rest my head. Things are definitely looking up.

Monday, July 11, 2011

You kiss your mother with that mouth?!?!

Re-posted from Secure Woman... it's so good not to share...

It's 7:30 a.m. and Annaliese has just woken up to get ready for school. She is 8.

Looking in the mirror, she takes in her hair, her wide set eyes, her chin before concentrating on the rest of her reflection, wishing and hoping it would miraculously change. She equates everything she sees in her skewd mirror with her self-worth. It starts with the physical and then moves onward to her personality, her flaws. Aggravated and upset, she starts to berate herself in the mirror. "You're so ugly and stupid and fat and know one likes you," she cries at the mirror, clenching her fists and blinking away her tears. She's so engrossed in her tirade that she doesn't see the wrong in what she's saying. The fists come next, laying punches in the stomach she thinks is too big, the thighs she wishes were thinner and her head where these thoughts rage day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

It may sound extreme but it's not a new scenario although it's quite alarming when an 8-year-old utters the phrases that many women tell themselves daily. We look at our faults as a long list of should haves. We should have stayed two hours at the gym instead of one, we should have not had that donut at the morning meeting, we should have gone to another college, taken another course, or should have stayed longer or worked harder at the office today. The list is exhausting and customized for each woman, but what remains consistent is the length of that list and the fact that we look on it and add to it over and over again. At 8, at 18, 28, 38, 48 and so on until we break the cycle.

But where does this cycle of negative self-talk come from? It's not ingrained in our DNA, nor are we fed it while in the womb. We learn it from our environment, whether we listen to our parents talk negatively about themselves or they direct it at us. We learn it from society and its opinions on what is beautiful and worthy and what is not. And, often it's easier to look at what we think is missing in us than to list the attributes that make us unique individuals. And, it's exactly this practice of listing our pros that will break the cycle.

While many corporations still feed into our inner guilt, there are a few that step out of the box and into a way to inspire rather than tromple our psyche. It's an extreme example, but just look to the Maxwell House Optimism is Catching campaign, and in particular the commercial that shows a little girl standing in the mirror being her own cheerleader and telling everyone (and herself) exactly what she loves about herself and her life. Yes, it is extreme, but the message is dead on. Instead of berating yourself with all of the should haves and a supposed lists of negatives, be your own cheerleader and list daily the things you do like about yourself. It could be physical, but it also extends to the things you excel at - sports, school, music, art - whatever it is, celebrate it and celebrate you.

And even our faults are not as dire as you may think, and it may be what someone else thinks is endearing. That person should be you. Every foible, every asset adds up and makes us the unique individual, and that is definitely worth celebrating.

The process is hard - it's like a cult deprogramming. It takes time, practice, repetition, and sometimes you may slip. After all, you've been doing it for years. But when you do and you feel your fists clench and your teeth grind at something you don't like about yourself, remember that little girl and ask yourself if you would say the same thing to her as you would to your own mirror reflection. It's extremely easy to be a cheerleader for someone else. We can boost anyone up whose having a bad day and a barrage of bad thoughts. It's another thing to do the same for ourselves. It's about time we start.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I is a -changin'... on my own terms

I've been asking a lot of questions over the last few weeks, mostly directed internally. I'm questioning my reactions, my future, my drive and what really makes me tick. And, I've discovered a few answers.

The biggest question weighing on my mind is "where do I go, what do I do next?" It's a particularly telling question since I've been in transition for the last two months with changes to my employment status and relationship, and it's forced me to turn inwards - far more than I have ever before.

Here's what I've learned so far:

1. I'm a lot stronger than I give myself credit. I've made a lot of changes in the last few months, some forced and some not. At a time when my career life was up in the air, I found myself taking a stand on a personal front and ending a relationship that was toxic to me. Whereas before I would wait for the best time or stick my head in the sand hoping for the other person to change, I chose to say goodbye to my partner and start afresh with no apologies. I had reached my limit and took my stand.

2. The only one I'm responsible for is myself. I can't be responsible for other people's issues. This came from the Ex Man and it was a long time coming. I realized that while I am responsible for myself, I was not put on this earth to "fix" other people. Just as the changes that I'm making must come from me, other people must too make the changes for themselves. It won't stick otherwise.

3. While I do have my issues (don't we all), for the most part I really like the person I've become. My sense of humour is off-colour and may not suit everyone but I can laugh at myself and find the funny in the everyday. I'm smart, pretty and kind to others, sometimes when they don't deserve it. My laugh can sometimes be too loud (yes, I've been told) and not everyone appreciates spotted dick jokes. To them I say "walk away."

4. To truly change, I must take ownership of my part in the conflict that rages in my head. While looking inward can be scary, it's even worse to stick your head in the sand and pretend the problem does not exist at all. And, if it's change you want, embrace it. Don't pay lip service to it and expect change to come to you. Change needs a forward motion and not just hot air.

5. It's okay to say no. It's okay to put yourself first. It's okay to listen to your gut instinct. We have it for a reason and often we ignore it in the name of the common good - of what everyone else wants or expects for us.

Despite these relevations, there are still difficulties - a nagging voice in my head left over from my childhood, of expectations I perceive whether they're based in the actual world or in my own grey matter. The overall goal, however, remains the same: to learn to accept myself, to revel in the supposed flaws that make me human, and to embrace and not avoid the changes I need to make for myself.

That's where the idea for Secure Woman came about - it's a new online forum and yes, I'm hawking it. My very dear friend Anasatan and I had discussed at length the many negative messages we receive on a daily basis telling us to change this, change that, that what we're doing is not right, that we can improve by following countless steps. 10 ways to get your  man to notice you, lose 20 pounds in 10 days and get that perfect beach bod booty. You'll be better if you only did this (insert any activity here). What these step-by-step instructions fail to do is to celebrate the things that make you you, and that you as a person, as your authentic self, is a pretty neat package.

Sure, there are things we want to change. We all have our warts, but the underlying message we're trying to get across is that it's okay to love yourself - loud laugh, karaoke singing, off-colour humour and all.

Check us out at We'd love your input.