The Eternal Quest

25 04 2015

Some set their life’s intention to seek a wiser existence. Some seek to find inner peace. Some look for the answer to the one question that puzzles us all: what is this life lived for?

Not I friends. Not I.

My quest is simpler than all of this.

I’m just looking for the perfect sugar bowl.

You see, I’ve broken a few sugar bowls in my day. And now, the addition of granite counters in my new kitchen has made this quest feel like a weekly expedition because I’ve broken two since the reno.

I went out one day and hit up every single store in Nelson I could think that might sell sugar bowls. It was like searching for the Holy Freaking Grail of Sweetener Holders.

NO ONE HAD A SUGAR BOWL. Not a single one.

I finally found one so ugly I wouldn’t have given it to my worst enemy for a joke. It was blue and orange, patterned like the worst mu-mu Mrs Roper ever wore on Three’s Company. It sat on the sale table, woefully bearing the orange sticker of clearance. It looked ashamed of itself, and frankly, I don’t blame it. Being desperate though, I bought it. The seal around the lid was awful and Dan found that sugar crystallized and formed little hard chunks in the bowl, which he would have to scrape out with his spoon to sweeten his morning cup of coffee.

I broke the handle off that bitch a week into owning it. My eternal quest continued, while we kept using this ugly broken INEFFICIENT sugar bowl.

A spur-of-the-moment trip to Kelowna last week excited me. As we drove, I imagined the plethora of sugar bowls we might find. The colours, the shapes, the unique style. I admit I was more excited than I should have been. But hey, a girl can dream.

I hit up Pier One, Urban Barn, Home Outfitters, Bed Bath and Beyond, and finally, Home Sense. Every single store had one plane Jane sugar bowl. I’m not kidding. The lack of choice was disheartening.

But finally, deflated, I walked around a corner and found this cute white and blue sugar bowl, with a delicate lid. I picked it up and realized it matched a set of dessert plates my sister had given me. Giddy, I caressed the smooth ceramic bowl, and looked at the price. $6.99!!!! WHAAAAAA????

I almost fainted. With a suppressed glee, I bought that sugar bowl, anxiously watching the clerk wrap it up with several layers of protective paper.

I place my purchase safely under the seat and we went merrily on our way.

Upon arrival at home the next night, I revealed the sugar bowl to Oooohs and Aaaahs from everyone. I tore the plastic wrap away and proceeded to drop the lid onto the counter, where it broke in two.

FML.

 





Hey kids, it’s story time….

1 04 2015

Long, long ago, I travelled to Italy to see an old high school buddy who had moved there when we were in grade 9. I stayed with her lovely family in Firenze (Florence), ate amazing food, witnessed mind-boggling art, met all of her fun friends, toured around Europe a wee bit, met my old pen-pal in France and stayed with her family for a couple weeks. I learned a few things about myself and, yeah, I admit, got a wee bit chunky from Maria’s (seriously amazing) risotto.

How fun that time of my life was…. It is, of course, glossed over in my memory’s rose-coloured glasses. I sadly realize a lot of things were lost on my red-neck 21 year old self…. Did I even try any good wine? Hell no. Did I take an Italian lover and spend long sensual nights (and days) in his bed? Sigh… nope…. I did, however, savagely learn heaps and bounds about the Renaissance and the deep and wondrous Italian heritage. I declared myself Italian in my heart, gazing for hours at the sculptures of the Masters. It ingrained in me a sense of TIME…. The house we stayed in was hundreds and hundreds of years old…. From our bedroom window, I could see the Duomo of Firenze grazed by the “fingers of God” as the sun set. The sky was different, the air was different. I was different.

When I left, they gave me some parting gifts. One was a bottle of red wine, called Nozzole. The label was a map of Firenze and the surrounding area, which included drawings of the house where I stayed. I vowed to only open that wine upon a VERY SPECIAL OCCASION. I placed it on its side in a dark dry closet and promptly forgot about it.

Special occasions galore came and went. Dan and I had our first baby. Then we got married. Then I turned 30 (but I was pregnant for the second time, soooooo). Then I had that baby…. I realized one day that I just needed to drink that goddamn bottle of wine, and that was right around the time my sister turned 30.

“Well, hot damn,” I thought to myself, “perfect excuse to crack this motherfucker open.”

We had a lovely dinner together, and I brought the bottle out.

“Are you sure?” Kim asked, feeling intimidated towards this bottle of wine. As if her 30th wasn’t good enough.

“I am so sure,” I said and removed the cork.

We let it breathe. And then we poured.

What poured out wasn’t the glistening blood red liquid of a fine Italian wine, the aromas and sensuality swirling around our heads… evoking images of piazzas, Italian cigarettes, dark eyed men, thousand year old stone villas and old olive tree orchards.

No. What poured out was a chunky, vinegary hot mess of a wine gone bad.  You guys… YOU GUYS…… IT WAS BROWN.

Kim and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. I admit we actually tried a wee bit and spat it out in the sink….

All those years stored away as a special occasion reward ended up as a candle holder in my bathroom.

And I enjoy it every chance I get.

 

nozzole

 

 

 





One time…

8 02 2015

One time in high school when I think I was in grade 9, we were all in the gym for some sort of assembly.

We all filed in; everyone seating themselves on the pull-out bleachers as the generic high school popularity hierarchy dictates. Cool people there, not-so-cool people here. The in-betweens, well… they sat in between.

I found myself sitting one row above and to the right above the VERY COOL GIRLS. Directly below me, about two rows was a girl named Emma. I was generally ambivalent about Emma. I eagerly desired to be one of the VERY COOL GIRLS, but as I have said before, my high school career was at best a function in trying (and failing) to fit in and then me just giving up and accepting that high school popularity wasn’t meant for me.

But I digress. My buddy sitting next to me (another one of the NOT SO VERY COOL GIRLS) said something to me and I guffawed loudly, and unknowingly spit my gum out of my mouth. It sailed through the air and landed smack dab in the middle of Emma’s pseudo 80s girl mullet.

She reached back and touched the gum and I…. I (was and am one of those people who laugh at the most inappropriate times) collapsed into a fit of laughter that my inner I WANT TO BE COOL self started trying her damndest to get me to shut the fuck up. But no. Giggles and mirth issued forth, like a real asshole I kinda sorta was.

All the VERY COOL GIRLS noticed (naturally) and gave me a variety of dirty sneers and looks that only meant one thing.

My entrance to their club was NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

My giggles petered off, the assembly went on, I approached Emma after and tried to help her get the gum out of her hair. SO hey, Emma… wherever you are, girl I am so sorry…. I hope the peanut butter I suggested worked…

And I… I still laugh at the most inappropriate times.





Spice

26 01 2015

When I was growing up in the ‘Wood, my foray into the culinary world was about as extensive as moose steak and mashed potatoes. The most exotic meal I knew of was Jigg’s Dinner, coveted by my bestie-Newfie-transplant-friend Lisa, OR the much-drooled-over in advance of the oft-made Pepper Steak, otherwise known as The Only Thing I Ever Saw Melissa Cook. I can still hear her say “Mmmmm…. Pepper steak,” as we cooked it on Saturday afternoons. We ate mostly healthy food back when I was young, but in retrospect, it might have been a tad limited. I wouldn’t say bland as I did grow up with a lot of homemade yummy goods as well as hunted meat, but the foreign aspect, the worldly aspect, the spice aspect…… it was missing. This isn’t to say it was anyone’s fault. It was the late 70s and early 80s in a small coal mining town. It just was the way it was, good or bad.

We all used to laugh about some of the kids in our class whose parents had immigrated from India, in our 80s sadly-acceptable-racist-ways, making fun of their abundant use of curry. Hahaha, we’d laugh, wrinkling our noses at such a foreign scent, never ever knowing the wonder of that spice. There was one day I recall that I went to my friend’s house: we tried on saris, I wore glass bangles all up my arms, and ate the most amazing sweet rice I have ever tried and this strange fudgey stuff, that I think now might have been Halva. My gastronomic juices began flowing, I believe on that day…. The strangeness of the flavours and textures made me curious about food.

I was lucky enough to travel a bit and I came to realize the astonishing fact that the Eye-talian spaghetti and meatballs I grew up eating (yes, absolutely DELICIOUS but still) bore no resemblance to the pasta I ate in Italy. Then I tried risotto. I was all “this is the best thing I have ever tried ever” and promptly gained 20 pounds eating gelato and chocolate and bread and pasta and mortadella. The brie in France was a creamy passion I fell in love with instantly. I tried duck for the first time. Sadly, I DIDN’T EAT ANY GOUDA IN HOLLAND! I regretfully realize now that my youth didn’t have the brains to sample more… Why didn’t I go to Spain? Or Greece? Ugh….. the mere lack of food experiences make me wistful. And eager to travel more.

I have slowly learned how to embrace cooking and the one thing that has made this a much easier path is my new gas stove, giving up fear of the unknown and just going for it. And wow, the fun I’ve had!

I enjoy cooking, I put on my iPod, pour my wine and COOK. It’s like a weird meditation for me, searing and sauteeing, chopping and peeling, dancing and adding flavour.  Salt and pepper liberally tossed around and onions softening in a melted butter orgasm.

I secretly love Anthony Bourdain. Yeah, he’s my pretend boyfriend.

The Food Channel is my weakness. I’m learning ever so slowly and my foray into the world of food, hopefully, won’t end any time soon.

So here’s to cooking, to dabbling in the unknown, to trying new things and treasuring the old.

 





Acceptance

7 12 2014

Well, it was almost a year ago that I chose my New Year’s word. Rather than go through the silliness of a resolution which literately ends up being thrown to the wayside, I took a friend’s advice and chose my Word for the year.

As soon as I saw her facebook post about choosing a word, Acceptance popped into my brain out of nowhere. I pondered it for days, wondering if any others would rear their literary and karmic head, guiding me onto a more compassionate level of human understanding. But no, Acceptance was the only one that clanged and resonated for me. At the time I thought it would be accepting others…. Acceptance of my boss’s moods, that cranky cashier, the kid who teases my daughter. Or that I was feeling left out of some of my friends’ lives, with me working almost full time and not being in their immediate circle. Or any of the other external sources of worry and fret.

No. I wasn’t prepared for the truest meaning of Acceptance; to be drawn inward like a long slow inhale. As I ventured through this year, I was met with several hurdles to cross. Mostly physical within my own body and mind. I realized as I navigated pain and a desperate feeling of being let down by my own body that I was to accept what was. It never meant that it was the way it was to be forever, and even now as I mumble my way through chronic pain and this ongoing irritation of what SHOULD be rather than what IS, I humbly realize that I must accept.

Accept it, rest and acknowledge. Accept and allow. Accept and move forward. Accept and respect. Accept and honour.

It has been a year that I met with several instances of physical issues, mostly my lower back and stomach. Throw in chronic migraines and other odd and sometimes alarming symptoms are usually met with me panicking and imagining the absolute worst. But there was that word… It just kept popping up for me, time and time again.

I accept that I will never deadlift.

I accept that my body is starting its aging process in a way that threw me for a loop.

I accept I need to nurture my self and give in to rest.

I accept I have a hard time listening to advice.

I accept that I will always have pain.

I accept that I can and will continue on with my healing.

I accept that I am still strong, just in a different way. I will never have the washboard stomach of a 20 year old, and I accept that maybe, I just don’t really need to.

I am now starting to wonder what word will blast and burrow into my mind for this upcoming year. I am anticipating it with a child’s wonder. What will my innermost self tell me what I need to know? And how will that guide me?

 

 





I’ve never been raped. But….

31 10 2014

I have been catcalled, told to smile while walking down the street, been in a bar and had my neck licked by some fucking idiot. I have felt afraid to walk home, I have feared about where I was, I have been in many situations that, later, I wondered sickly to myself “what if'”? I have had men expose their penises to me. I have had my breasts grabbed, my ass groped. I have had a man follow me home. I have been called CUNT. BITCH. SLUT.

What if that guy chose to grab me around my throat? I’m not as strong as he was, he could have pushed me down, lifted up my skirt, punched me and violated me.

What if I was raped? Would I be brave enough to report it? Would I be ashamed? Would I be believed? Maybe I was drunk, maybe my heels were too high, maybe I laughed too loud and made eye contact that was perceived as sexual. Maybe signals were sent?

Would it be my fault? Would you think so? Maybe I touched his chest while I laughed.

Maybe I smiled while tilting my face down and glancing upwards at him, the “come hither” look.

Maybe I licked my lips. Maybe I tousled my hair.

Maybe I kissed him.

All of that… all of that does NOT matter.

It is alarming to me to hear people ask questions about WHY? Why were you there? Why did you drink so much? Why did you dress like that? Why didn’t you tell anyone?

Look, we all know better. We all know the statistics. Violence against women is NOT a fable, it is NOT a ploy to demean men, it is NOT a lie. It is REAL.

The sooner everyone accepts this, and starts the long walk towards ending it, the better. Dialogue with our daughters and our sons starts now. No more slut-shaming, no more victim-blaming. No more asking why doesn’t she just leave him? Why she didn’t say anything?

No more defending someone famous because his radio career might be ruined. NO MORE.

Let’s talk. Let’s all talk about this.

Let’s start asking HOW. How can we fix this? How can we educate everyone about women’s rights and equality? How can we end the stigma of rape culture? How can we understand the cycle of abuse? How can we help?

How can we all help?

Ask yourself this.

How?





Fewer and farther between

18 10 2014

I glanced over from the kitchen today and my heart stopped for just a moment.

There it was.

For one split second, a single heartbeat, with the autumn light cast upon my daughter’s face, there echoed her smile from years ago. I saw her three-year-old smile. I saw, only for a moment, the remnants of her child’s face. In a blink of an eye, it vanished, and there she was smiling at something, her almost grown up 13 year old face, as lovely as ever, glowing and beautiful.

I froze, my heart caught, my throat squeezed, tears rose up. I recalled that fuzzy bunny of mine, her white-blonde hair and stubborn personality, her fervent love of me, her kindness and sprays of giggles that she offered up every chance she got. Her joy when she was excited relayed through a delightfully excited way of walking, kicking each step as her feet couldn’t seem to contain her spirit. My heart ached with a depth I cannot convey.

Oh my lost little ones, I do miss you both so much…. yet here now they navigate through adolescence. My son’s voice as deep as his father’s, when once it was as soft and pure and sweet as vanilla ice cream. His face now rises above mine as I speak to him. How did he get so tall? His cheeks, once so full and chubby, they beckoned for kisses and his arms, soft and hairless, wrapping around my neck for hugs. Now his face is thinner, his shoulders broad, his chin sprouting whiskers. I wondered during his toddler years what his man-face will look like and now… now I look at it daily.

It is no slight thing to watch your children grow. Wobbly newborns, smiley buddha-babies, frustratingly curious toddlers: we bear witness to their courage and faults and uniqueness as they discover who they are.

I love the age they are now, I hesitate to even ponder the idea of having babies now. We have freedoms now as a family, freedom to allow us to go zip-lining and skiing and hiking. We can all get into the truck without diaper bags and car seats and sippy cups and barf buckets. We can watch movies together that aren’t of Disney or Pixar or Dreamworks. (I can’t tell you how glad I am that I never have to watch Frozen or Cars IV or whatever is out right now, these mass-produced money-wringing Hollywood ploys). I can now see clearly who they are, though their future is as fogged up for me as it is for them.

But that treasure the Universe handed me today, that tiny immeasurable gift of what once was and what is now has resonated beyond anything I can explain. That glimpse into the past as the present gave way for just one brief touch of time gave me such bitter-sweet joy.

 

 








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