A Collection of Easter Blorts

I have not even gotten close to organizing the 1,654,895 pictures I took in England. I have decreed I need to spend some time organizing all my pictures because I have six years of memories sitting on a hard drive. Scary stuff. So Dropbox will be getting a workout soon… Once I get through the rest of my to do list.

I use to scrapbook. I have a butt-tonne of scrapbook paper and tools that I do not use, and haven’t since my daughter was born. Part of me would love to get back to it, but I also love the idea of creating some digital books with my mad (read: basic) photo editing skills. Scrapbooking feels like too much work right now. All the cutting and pasting and designing and the crafting makes me tired even thinking about it.

Much like my writing, right now. I desperately want to write, an even had some alone time over Easter to do so. I was excited to have that time, after a busy day of cleaning and shopping with a friend. I was tired, but did not want to waste the opportunity. So I dug out my keyboard and set up.

I stared at a blank page for two hours on Saturday night, starting and stopping on different ideas, eating a delivered pizza, poking my completely blocked brains until I gave up and played Heroes of Warcraft Hearthstone. (PSA: Mildly addicting. You have been warned…)

So, I have some mini blog posts I have worked on over the past few days, here for your enjoyment.

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I am secretly a Dwarf from Middle-Earth

*very off topic post today. Feeling bookish.

Husband surprised me with a date last Saturday, when I was feeling %&^$@*.  I desperately wanted to cancel, but he’d already set up the babysitter so I figured why not. It doesn’t take much effort to park my &%^ in a movie theatre seat. He dangled the one story I go back to again and again in front of me, enticing me.

Besides, the lure of Martin Freeman, the Cumbersmaug©, Aiden Turner, and Richard Armitage was too much to bear. Yes, I am easily bewitched by brooding, dramatic men from the UK. Aren’t we all? (OK so all of the British Isles, and Ireland… Love you, honey…)

We went and saw Desolation of Smaug, which is the third new movie we have seen in the past couple of months. It is nice to be able to say we are getting out of the house for no other purpose than our entertainment. Usually, if we get out of the house without the kids, we try to make practical use of the time. Boooring… I know. I am nothing if not efficient, right? So, because we’ve been trying to relax and de-stress, we’ve gotten out to see the new Thor movie, Catching Fire, and now, the latest Hobbit, one of my favorite childhood stories.

I am enjoying the Hobbit movies, and contrary to seemingly the entire Internet Hobbit fandom, enjoying the additions to the storyline. Yes, I am referring to Tauriel and Kili. If you haven’t seen the movie, I have not spoiled anything for you, I promise. Also, I am glad for the chance to see more female characters in the storyline with prominent roles. Just like I was in LOTR, with Arwen, who kicked BUTT.

I also (also?) love me a good swoon-worthy romance, and of course, beautiful people don’t hurt. I mean seriously, I think Peter Jackson had to know the panties would drop when he introduced the line of Thrain:

Tell me you don’t agree. Go on…

Photogenic dwarves aside, I am revelling in the retelling of what is, for me, one of the first big books I read that I remember. My copy of the book is quite old, and I think was purchased from a used book store in my home town. I haven’t re-read the story yet, because I want the imagery of this interpretation to sweep me away, without remembering nitpicky details of the canon. Who cares if they add stuff to the movie, that is what movies are supposed to do! Embellish, expand, bring characters that exist as imaginations in our mind to life. Create a rich world robust with the peoples in it. There was more to the Hobbit than met the eye. Tolkien knew this, his son knew this. Hence LOTR, The Simarillion, the Children of Hurin… And now the team of people helmed by Peter Jackson have worked some magic into a new generation of Middle-Earth converts, I hope.

I am thankful to him, jes sayin’, really.

The Hobbit was the first book that caught my imagination as a young reader. It was the Gateway into fantasy books for me. After that, I read anything with elves, dwarves, and halflings, orcs, goblins and ghouls. I found stories that were sweeping adventures, often with a female lead and a romantic pairing. It was an escape from reality, which for me, sometimes really, really sucked. It was an adventure.

Yup.

Now I have to wait for the final installment, which will feel like forever. Thankfully we will have the Outlander TV Series to distract me. Mmmm hmmm… Jamie and Claire FTW!

Base Zero and Metaphors

Holy *%^$balls, life went Kersplody.

Messy, happy, snotty, sick stuff everywhere. I’m still mopping up, and I am still deciding how to get through December without going bat@#$* crazy. The holidays are upon us. I have so far been able to avoid doing any cookie baking, and have done most of my shopping online. I have begun the Great House Purganization 2013, with some success. Now… If only the dust bunnies would move out (and take those darned Cheerio elves with them) and the Laundry Gods would continue to favour me, I could tackle the massive pile of baby stuff to sell, sort the toys currently lurking in the basement, and get that stain off the basement stairs carpet… We’d be almost back to base zero. Hoo! Think of the free time! Hah… Right.

I have ventured into a store or two for gift shopping, but at off-peak because I hate Christmas crowds. Also? I have no idea what to get my husband, so I am left wandering a lot, not inspired. Not a clue, honestly. And Dad? What do you want for Christmas this year? My creative batteries are on low, so let me know what would make you a happy Grandpa, and the kids and I will go get it.

We’ve also decided not to have a Christmas Open House this year. This will be the first year, since 2008, that we haven’t had one. We looked at cash, and time, and the fact that we are so stretched energy-wise that we’d be nuts to try and get the house company-clean and cook for that many people while maintaining the work/ home life schedule we have. I have to say I am completely relieved, but also sad. We love having people over, it is a chance to see as many of our friends as possible around Christmas, and provide some cheer. Plus, having 40 some odd people (17 of them kids in your basement watching TV) is quite an experience in a three-bedroom bungalow.

That said, friends are always welcome to give us a call, or come over for tea on the weekend. Just don’t mind the crumbs, constant noise, and bedlam, ok?

The past couple of weeks, truly, has been really great and really awful all at once. I have done a couple of runs, and they were awesome. I have been in the gym kicking butt. Also awesome. Missed a kick-butt Tupperware party. Not awesome.

The worst was that my wonderful, beautiful, never-replaceable Mustang Blue Running Room Run Jacket is gone/stolen (I think, since it is nowhere to be found and I was certain where I had left it). The realization, when it hit, made me break down sobbing. It was passed to me from a really awesome and inspiring friend, Ally (http://runningawaywithmyself.blogspot.ca/) and I am really at an emotional loss because that gift meant so very much to me.  I loved that jacket, it fit perfectly, and was a comfort on every run. I have to replace it, but I have to afford new running shoes too. *^&%. I am still looking for it, checking the lost and found at work periodically, but… Hope is fading.

Curse you, whomever took it out of the locker room at work, if that is what happened. CURSES UPON YOUR BLACKENED SOUL! *ahem*

Finally surfacing after my stomach flu is great, but with the massive green and red twinkling freight train of Christmas approaching, I want to dive back down. Let’s not talk about piles of snow, holes in my winter boots, tense school meetings about my son, my lack of gym visits in the past few days, or the entire family having colds all at once. I sound whiny. I’m not, really. Just tired. Really, really tired.

I think it is time to start Vitamin D and iron again. Blargh.

Finally, along with being bedridden and achy for the past few days, I’ve been thinking in metaphors, and I wrote some down in my flu-like haze. After re-reading them, I wanted to share some of them with y’all. I kind of liked them. Note, I am not sad. Ok, some of these may sound sad, or depressing, but they aren’t. Just snippets, ideas. Playing with the ideas. See after the More. ♥

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Repost: Morning Bus

In honour of my first bus ride to work in quite a while, I shall repost an entry I wrote on August 19, 2009.I rather liked it, at the time.

https://mustangsabby.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/fresh-carrots-and-berries/ is the permalink. Enjoy!

Fresh Carrots and Berries

She got on the bus this morning smiling, and stood for the twenty minute ride downtown, balancing awkwardly with each jerk forward and back. People stared into space, slept precariously in too small seats, or had the world blocked out by white headphones and music loud enough to deafen. She watched people with dark circles under their eyes, funny twitches, and frowning apathy studiously avoid interaction with one another.

No one was smiling. The sun was shining, the river beside the road was sparkling, and everywhere outside the bus people jogged, bicycled, and walked with summer fervor.

She stopped smiling.

She got off the bus amid choking exhaust, swirling people, and noisy engines. She walked through a mall full of things to buy, past evocative ads for items she would never want, and never need. She tripped on a homeless man, stubbed her toe on a sawed off street sign post, and dodged, just in time, a delivery truck pulling up to a store front. She was vibrating from the chaos around her, her urge to scream and run almost overtaking her.

The saving grace was the smell of fresh carrots and berries from a market stand, and she stopped to bask in the freshness for a moment, forgetting the concrete and garbage surrounding her. She wanted to unzip her skin right then, and walk through the reality portal, straight into the field with tilled earth and neat rows of produce, begging to be picked.

Never more than this moment did she want to go back to where she came from. To come home each night to a front porch light with moths beating themselves helplessly against the searing heat of the exposed bulb. To hear crickets outside her window in the evening, and be able to see the stars when she looks up on a cloudless night. To open her door and feel fresh, clean air on her face, and walk with fingers touching grass and flowers and wonderful growing things no matter which way she faced.

She could imagine the nicker of horses at the gate in the morning, the cluck of chickens pecking pebbles in the heat, the bleating of sheep following one another to nowhere, the soft lowing of cattle as they head to the watering hole, tails swishing flies uselessly. The buzz of bees in the flowers and apple blossoms, and the chirping of small birds in the lofty maple trees.

But reality is where she has her foot placed now, firmly on a marble curb, awaiting the change of a light to walk across. The dream of her past, and hopeful future dissipating with the blare of a stereo, and the distant whine of a siren. Funnily enough, even with the juxtaposition of where she was to where she wanted to be, she was smiling again.

Because, In her hand, was a paper bag with fresh carrots and berries.

 

Running and Cyclocross?

So. this is happening. http://www.ridewithrendall.com/events/anvil-on-foot/

My husband and I are doing it.(read: I talked him into it).

Last minute sign up, encouragement from my running partner from the weekend, and a desire to do another 5(ish)k race before snow flies made me thump the VISA down. At only $15 a pop, its a relatively inexpensive race, and looks like a TON of fun. Obstacles and cross-country running? Bring it on!

The course is at a (former) riding facility here in Ottawa, The National Capital Equestrian Park, and is run in conjunction with a cyclocross event.We get to run the course first, then the crazy folks with bikes get a go. I plan on staying to watch a bit, and have some lunch. Hey, its kind of like a date, just with more mud. OH, and I get to run with a new friend. Double bonus!

I am going to try and get my hubs to wear his Tough Mudder head band. I am going to try not to fall and break something. Heh…

What is Cyclocross, you ask? I had no idea either, so I exercised some Google-Fu and here is a great video demonstrating it:

 

Yup, we get to run what they are going to cycle. Neat, eh?

10 Personal Running Questions

The wonderful ladies at Another Mother Runner and Beth from Shut Up + Run both posted an entry with ten personal running-related questions, and then sent the challenge out.

Although mine won’t have any fancy pictures*, I figured I would throw my hat in the ring, and try and answer them.

Best run ever?

In the small amount of time I have been running again, I would have to say the best run I have had was the first time I was able to run continuously, with no walking. It was something I had been scared to try, because I didn’t want to fail, and discourage myself, so I had shied away from it. When I did it, I hadn’t realized I did until I stopped and said “What?” when my Runkeeper spit my pace and time back at me. I promptly did a bad rendition of the Charlie Chaplin Penguin Dance and then went home. I figure I was in the zen place where my mind floats off and my running becomes automagical. Awesome.

If you count best run ever in your personal history, it would be the first time I ran a 30-second 200 metre final in grade 11. I broke the tape, and it felt so incredible. Me, the short, mousy, waif of a girl, won! Somewhere, buried in a trunk at my father’s home, is a tiny pair of Nike running spikes that someday I will pull out, and while sitting in my rocker, sipping my whisky, will show my kids. “You know, back in the day…”

Three words that describe your running?

Slow. Yup, I am slow. I have short strides, and it makes me pokey. I am anywhere from high7 minute to mid 8 minutes per kilometre. It is hard for my husband to run with me, since he runs around 6 minutes per kilometre. This is why I am nervous to run in groups.

Jiggly. When I first start out, I feel my thighs and butt jiggling (I gots junk in da trunk, yo!) hurting that little bit when they bounce and pull on muscles. It can sometimes be a little embarrassing, especially if the running paths are busy and my arse is waving hello to folks as we pass. But (butt?) once I am running, I don’t notice it.

Gradual. I have been slowly building distance and amount of time spent running. I know a lot of people would not spend as much time as I have, but I am ok with that. Gradual has meant my knees aren’t sore. Gradual has meant I have no shin splints. Gradual has also meant I was not pushing my comfort zone, so I am trying to be less gradual. (Move that jiggly arse, sista!)

Your go-to running outfit?

Wal-mart has the best running capris. They are cheap (less than $20), and have given me a summer of use with no issues. they cover my dimpled thighs, and it means I only have to shave the bottom of my legs. They do, however, look ridiculous with compression socks. I am tempted to put on suspenders when I wear them together, and yodel.

My favorite running top is an Asics tank that makes me feel strong. I love where the edge of the arm holes hit my shoulder, it gives the illusion I have biceps. When I run, I feel awesome in it, and it breathes so well. The only downside it that it is white. I should not wear white. I have small children.

And of course, my shoes. I have a love affair with Brooks Adrenalin GTS. I bought my first pair after my son was born, and just bought my third pair this year. There are not enough adjectives in the English language to explain how much I love these shoes. My feet are one with the shoe, I do not have knee pain, and dammit, I love the Brooks tagline of “Run Happy”. Yes, I am easily swayed by advertising. I am ok with this.

Quirky habit while running?

I have an overwhelming need to smile, wave and say hello to every other runner I meet on runs. maybe it is my rural roots, or perhaps my need to be accepted into this strange and clique-y club called running, but it is a compulsion. Most runners don’t respond, which gives me a sad, but some do, and it makes my day! I also love it when they have horribly pained expressions on their faces. That’s when I get to say “Hello!” in a delightfully happy and singsongy voice. Run happy, *@#$%!

Morning, midday, evening?

I love running during the day, since it is when I have time, and I can vary my route downtown. I really hate running near dark, but I have come to enjoy evening runs around my home, and my body seems to like them (ergo, more good runs at that time of day than at lunch hour). I just don’t like not making it back by dark. We don’t have streetlights on our streets in my neighbourhood. I get worried about boogeymen, man-eating rabid bears, and drivers not seeing wee me poking along.

I won’t run outside when it’s ____________

Raining. Me wet from rain while exercising = pissed off wet cat impersonation.

Worst injury—and how you got over it.

I wore both knees out riding racehorses. This happened in the late 90’s, and since then, any time I have wanted to be active, eventually my left knee would swell to the size of a football, and hurt like HELL. My right just gets stiff and won’t move. Time away from sport, time away from riding, and simply not straining them have made them better. They ache when rain is coming, but so do my hips, shoulders, and c-section scar, so really I am just one big walking barometer. *bzzzrt – sabbymachine predicts rain imminent – bzzzrt*

I was nervous about running again, worried they would flare up, but so far, so good *hugs shoes*.

I felt most like a badass mother runner when _________

When I trail run, I feel kind of bad-ass, hopping tree roots and rocks. I also feel bad-ass doing hill sprints. *rawr* Am I allowed to feel bad-ass when I am soaked in sweat, panting like a dog, and people are staring at me? Heh… “Come over here, stranger person, let me hug you and cover you in my liquid awesome… Why are you running away? Oh, hello Officer.”

Next race is __________

September 23rd. My very first 5 k as a mother runner. I am expecting my kids to hold oversized signs, covered in glitter, proclaiming my awesomeness. I expect my husband will be covered in glitter from making said signs.

Potential running goal for 2013?

No potential goal here! It’s all confirmed, baby! Tough Mudder 2013 in Toronto is the biggie. If that goes well, I’ll do Montreal as well. Maybe some 5k’s, like the Canada Day Run in Kanata, the Spartan Sprint… Been toying with doing the Spartan Beast, but we’ll see. Give me some race ideas, folks! HABO, I want to try some new and exciting things!

*I don’t post personal pics of me up on this site. Did that on previous blogs, and learned a very hard lesson when the personal pictoral information was used to violate my family’s safety and privacy. I suppose there is enough here for someone to find me anyways, but so far, with no recognizeable pictures or real names, we’ve been ok.

Taking Care

Katie Squires, of Fit Mom in Barrhaven, on her Facebook feed, asked us today “How do you take care of yourself?”. She found the question via Elisa Blaha, who’s crafting/fitness/life blog is quite a lot of fun.

I was riding in the car on the way to work with husband, and I looked out the window and thought on that, being super quiet. Normally if I am quiet, my nose is stuck to my iPhone. I closed it to think more clearly. Yeah… I was also processing the fact that I got four hours of sleep in a row. Oooh baby… SLEEP! Gimme some more… Please?

*ahem*

Anywho, my thoughts were this: Have I ever quantified how I take care of myself? I know there are lots of things I do, but me, the list-maker Queen, has yet to write it all down and make sense of it. I wondered, briefly, if it might be overanalyzing something that is instinctive and simple.

I came to the conclusion it might be a great exercise in understanding where I am, and what I need to do better for myself in order to be a better mom to my children, a better wife to my husband, and a more motivated employee at my job. A check-in, so to speak, and perhaps some validation that I am on the right track with my new lifestyle. It also commits it to more than just in my head, and makes me accountable to make sure I do these things.

That’s heavy stuff, man.

So here it goes, my list (You know this was happening, y’all) of how I take care of myself. It may be a scratch-the-surface kind of list, but I think the point is to understand the activity, and let it send your brain off to think of the why’s. If you can understand the why, and it jives with your idea of happy mojo-makin’ funtimes, then it works! If you can’t understand why you do something for yourself, or realize that you do it but it doesn’t help much, or you hate it…. Well, then guess what? STOP!

  1. I exercise – I run, I am starting to do exercise classes, and plan on adding a gym routine come winter. It makes me better physically, mentally, and emotionally. ‘Nuff said, eh?
  2. I write – This blog, my creative dribblings, my career. I paint with words. It helps me express myself, something I do not always do well verbally.
  3. I take “Introvert time” – I spend short periods alone to do timesuck things like play games on my iPad, surf the Internet, read, research things I want to know more about. That time alone “playing” recharges me, makes me more patient, loving, and emotionally available to my family.
  4. I shop for myself – Online, window, or even in stores. I try not to spend too much (or nothing at all!), but that retail therapy is sometimes just the thing I need to rejuvenate my spirit. It helps me to remember the “things” I like that identify “ME”. It makes me more relaxed and re-centres my creativity. (Pinterest is very useful for this)
  5. I make lists – Yup, I do (Uhh yeah… Look, a list with an item about making lists! I am officially OCD about lists…). I organize things so that I feel less anxious about whatever it is we are about to do. If I feel stressed about situations/trips/chores/upcoming events, I make a list, and suddenly I am able to tackle the challenge. Making lists takes care of my own need for organization.
  6. I sleep – This one drives my husband nuts, because I ask him to be the parent on weekends for short stretches so I can sleep more. I think he feels it is wasteful of our family time. Since having my first child in 2008, I have been sleep deprived, and when I am tired, I hit a “wall” and my energy goes to nothing. I will never regain that sleep, I realize this. Napping helps me feel refreshed, and I am a much happier, cheerful person afterwards.

I can add to this list infinitely, but it is supposed to be a current snapshot, so those are the biggies for me right now. Six months from now, it will be different. That is also key. Taking care of yourself is a fluid thing, and must change as your life changes. Stick to the core principles like exercise and healthy living, but hey, maybe in six months I won’t need to nap so much?

Riiiight.

So what is your list? Jot one down, blog it, commit it to something (A napkin, your Notes app on your phone? Crayon on the back of an empty cereal box?). Be positive, don’t focus on the things you don’t do (but want to) or the things you shouldn’t do. Make your “things” affirming, motivating, and encouraging.

Something we all do is forget to take care of ourselves. Let this be an exercise in doing so. It has helped me!

Dear Food Blog…

I know you are wondering why I never visit anymore.

I hear your cries of “look at my new recipe! See my sumptuous pictures! Revel in the deliciousness!” and I tear myself away, my heart breaking, the unread count growing higher and higher in my RSS reader.

Its not that I don’t still love you, I do. Oh believe me, I do.

But right now, I can’t look at you, without feeling overwhelmed by all the problems inherent in me. I get nervous cooking and eating your recipes. Calories, fat, fibre, the dreaded carbohydrate… All give me pause, make me doubtful, which makes me cranky. can I eat that? Will it hurt me?

I can’t have a lot of the things you show me anymore, and it is hard to look through your bountiful pages without feeling bereft, grieving for the culinary life I used to have. I know I’ll get over it, and once again we will be happily planning, cooking, baking, and omnomnoming along together. Just in a different way.

But, until I figure this *%@$ out, I need to stay away, and halt the negativity every time I spy a delectable recipe I would love to try, knowing it isn’t healthy for me anymore, even tinily portioned for benefit.

I just need time. Forgive me.

Love,

Your newly Diabetic fan

I Will

Today, I will…

Run.

NOT eat anything fatty, sugary, or processed.

Refill my desk water carafe twice, and drink it.

Smile at the driver who cuts me off as I am running.

Do a Rocky pose at the end of my run, no matter who is watching. (For reals!)

Be happy.

Stop singing the Afro Circus Remix tune.

Remember to breathe.

Find rainbow socks.

Go to bed early, and sleep, not play games or read until I smoosh my face on my iPad, drooling.

Play with my kids.

Wear sunscreen.

Focus on the feeling.

Stop reading Fifty Shades of Grey(Dark, Freed), because with every page I turn, I get more and more flummoxed at how this example of horifically bad writing made it this far in popularity. Also? I want to slap the main heroine for being so stupid. Yes. STU-PID. (Ok, getting ranty now).

Not rant (see Be happy).

Privacy

I am contemplating yet again the need to take a blog private. Yet again, my family’s privacy, and our peace is in jeopardy. Once again, I am forced with the decision based on the actions of another person not respecting that privacy, not respecting my wishes.

I want to be a writer, talk about what I want, enjoy sharing, and be part of this online world.  I may not have a lot of time to blog anymore, but it is still there. I want to talk about my fears and my triumphs, I want to share my fiction writing. I want to be able to share without worry that something I say will be fodder for someone else to use against me, no matter how anonymous and ho-hum it may be.

I was trying to share as generically as possible, without using real names or other personally identifying details, but unfortunately, upon yon Google search, I was listed on a website where personal information was divulged alongside the blog URL. That has since been fixed, which makes me sad, since traffic to my blog came from this source, not all of it bad. My fault for not being dilligent enough,  I suppose, and I should not be surprised. The Internet is like a pasta strainer, full of holes you can see right through.

I don’t want to lock this blog down. I don’t want to put it away from eyes that might see it, enjoy its writing.  But if I leave it out here for all of you, I will have to deal with the consequences that this person will not leave me alone, and may try to use the information held within to cause trouble.

I am frustrated, and unsure of what to do. I could say “screw it!” and let it be, or I can add the layers of privacy necessary, hoping some people might ask to be added as trusted users. I can also start anew somewhere else again, under a new name that is completely unlike any of my old Nom de Plumes. I don’t want to do that either. I like where I am now!

I do know, even through all of this, that I can’t stop writing. That isn’t an option.

Feeling Good About Composting

Today is Blog Action Day. This year, the topic is climate change.

Climate change… To me it feels like a buzzword, a “hot topic” (no pun intended), a current trendy thing to be up-in-arms about. It is on everyone’s lips and minds as we trudge through countless articles on the melting of the Northern ice shelves, frequent “century” storms, global warming, and scientists telling us about the differences in the seasons from forty years ago. A poignant article I read recently talked about the changes to Inuit hunting because the ice goes out sooner, and stays away longer.

The screaming masses make us scramble with our re-usable shopping bags to relieve our guilt for using generic plastic bags, cars, and chemicals. We strive to be green, do our part, make sure we Recycle, Reuse, and Repurpose. Cut back our waste, eat local, eat organic, bicycle, walk, take public transit. Plant trees, buy carbon offset credits, drive a hybrid car, make our own cleaning products, and drink ethically planted and sourced coffee from a reusable tumbler.

However, I don’t think this concept of living frugally, “greenly”, and conciously is new. Celebrities push the glamorous things to do, media splashes the doom and gloom stories with experts warning us of impending catastrophe, making us all the more. It’s become trendy again, perhaps moreso than the last upswing in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but everywhere you go now, you see the colour green and slogans edicting us to Do Our Part.

I have been Doing My Part for most of my life. I recycle avidly, I re-use as much as I can, and I also endeavour to repurpose, i.e. I buy used when I can, and donate/sell on used goods as much as I can. I try not to be a consumer (as my life changes ebb and flow, this is sometimes harder to do), and even though I do not use cloth diapers or buy only hemp/organic/cotton only clothing, I don’t buy clothing or shoes or personal items just for the sake of having them anymore. We don’t own fancy furniture, we minimize our need for “things”, and we do NOT use scented products to clean our home.

But, in all this, my favorite, and most rewarding personal action to be environmentally concious, is to compost. More precisely, I (and my husband now) plant gardens without chemicals that provide us with fruit, vegetables, and herbs that last us for the year. We keep two. One at my childhood farm, and one at our city home. I have planted and ate from gardens most of my life, and my husband, who was only familiar with flower gardening when we met, is now a convert, and amazingly, more zealous than me.

My son seems enamoured too, spending his weekends pulling carrots or beets out by the fistful, when let loose into our vegetable patch.

From the age of three, I lived on a farm with my family. In the back yard, we had a monstrous vegetable patch that every year would brim with food. Most of this food was preserved in re-usable glass jars, and fed us all winter. All the weeds and waste went into a massive compost pile that on cold mornings in the Spring and Fall, would have tendrils of steam wafting off of it. I would often sit on Saturdays at the big kitchen table, facing the back window, and watch the steam in the slanting morning sunlight, slowly munching on my toast and committing the strangely beautiful scene to memory.

I say strangely, because when I was a child, I hated that compost pile. I dreaded the inevitable chore of lugging the full compost bucket, which at one point was as big as me. I would drag it, my father’s extra-large work gloves flopping on my hands, as I tugged and trudged all the way from the back step down to the pile to heave the bucket haphazardly onto the pile. Egg shells, coffee filters and leftover bits of food with a stench that today still makes me gag involuntarily would tumble out in a jumble to rot quietly back to soil to put onto the garden bed, and roto-tilled in for next year’s crop. Paper, dog hair, leaves, dead mice from the house that the cats would present to us at the doorstep… it all went into “the pile”.

In the Fall, the pumpkins and squash that would grow from the seeds placed in the compost from meals the year before would gleam golden on the top of the patch, and it was my job to clamber up the soft, mucky pile to pick them. This compost pile, believe it or not, was as old as the farm, started when the house was built in the 1880’s. Used for the garden over the years, the bottom of it was always pure vegetable-growing gold.

We plan on digging into the now grassed over hillock to find some good dirt for our garden this Fall. It is no longer used by my father, the sole inhabitant in the house. Times have changed, and with it our patterns of composting.

We use a slat-bin close to our much smaller garden now for our garden compost, and because bears have moved into the area, we can no longer compost household kitchen waste in a big mucky, steaming pile. It goes into a black square tower-like thing, which the squirrels chew holes in every year, and we patch it with wire mesh and bolts. The bear still topples our garden bin every year, which is fine, since when he does, we simply flip it and thank him for doing some of the work for us.

So how does composting help our climate? its such a small thing, really, its a blip on the map of “things-you-can-do”.

In a simple sense, it cuts down on the waste going into the landfill, period. Less waste in the trash can means something over time. With composting, recycling, and re-using, my father puts a small bag of garbage out every two weeks at the farm. With our family of three in the city, we put out one per week. We can’t compost kitchen waste yet, which irks us. We have an extended family of raccoons living in a run down property in our vicinity, and they delight in ripping apart garbage left unlocked, and compost bins, no matter how Fort Knox-like they are. But City Green Bins are coming, and this makes us glad. It will cut back our garbage each week to perhaps a small bag, instead of a regular sized one.

But cutting down on waste is one aspect. Another is the re-using of our leftover substances, made from the Earth, returning to the Earth in some way. It in turn, helps us to replenish nutrients to our soil, and grows bigger and better vegetables and fruit without the use of chemicals.

We feel good about doing it, which is also, I think, important. As adults, we cannot effect a better world climate if the things we do are unpleasant, or hard to do.

I remind myself that when I was six, and dragging that terrible compost bucket, I did not equate the nasty chore to being environmentally concious. It was just what we did. We gardened, we recycled, we composted, we re-used, and repurposed. I hated it. it was work, and cut into my play-time.

Now I look back fondly, as we all do, and realize that I was instilled with the concepts of living green at a very young age. Perhaps I can use that knowledge, when my son gets to lug the compost bucket to the green bin someday, to make it less of a chore to be hated, and more of an accomplishment to feel good about.

Signifigant Objects

I love this idea so much I wish I had thought of it first and I must share it, pass it along, and let others see.

The idea, in summary, is this: Take objects, write a short story to go with it, auction it on Ebay, and see what happens. So far, the results are quite remarkable. The current object is a Foppish Figurine. I know you are tempted to go look, and get sucked into the stories like I am.

http://significantobjects.com/ and  http://significantobjects.com/about/ are a good place to start.

I have a giddy desire to grab some dusty, unused object from the back recesses of the boxes in our basement, like the frog costume I made for my dog the first year he was ours, or the slate with the picture of a horses on it, that an old friend brought home from Wales when I was ten. I’m even searching my desk for objects that make their place in your workspace that give away little pieces of your personality to your co-workers, without ever being too personal. A stuffed bear, a funny mug.

It poses some very exciting questions…  Do objects, once given a story, become more valuable than their original purchase value? Does it matter if that story is true or not? Is this an idea with staying power, or a novelty which will wear off in time?

I guess you could say it’s inspired me.

My New Book Store

There is a book store, downtown, near my work. Its a small book store, more aptly described as a hole in the wall with a fancy door. The sign isn’t flashy, nor are the window displays. Its modest, and kind of hidden. Other descriptors that come to mind are quaint, cozy, warren-like, magical, eclectic, fantastical, exciting, … I could go on.

Inside are shelves and stacks and piles  and towers of used books.  Spines stick out at all angles and levels, their titles jostling for space on the over-filled rungs. One side fiction, the other side non-fiction. But I don’t know if that organization holds sway for the whole shop. In the far corner, a closed glass curio case holds first editions that look dog-eared, and waiting for their new home with someone who cherishes possessions of value such as a much-loved antique book.

I walked in today with giddiness. I had noticed the sign while out perusing the local kitchen gadget store, and from the deep annals of my memories came the recognition of the store’s name. Its been there awhile, over 20 years, I would think. My father used to buy books here, I remember, when he worked downtown. How exciting for it to be so close! How distracting to my lunch hour time limit! How draining on my limited spending allowance…

As I walked in among the rows, that typical musty smell emanated from the books, wrapping me in a comfort that I cannot compare. It is unlike a steaming cup of coffee, or a warm sweater on a fall day. It is nothing like a strong hug, soft touch, or amorous cuddle. It is a sense of comfort that can only come from the written word, bound in leather or thick paper, begging to be taken hold of, opened, and devoured. A book held in the hand can bring relaxation and peace like chai tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I scanned the spines, looking for something to catch my eye, to say “Pick me! Oh, pick me! Take me home and run your fingers through my pages, trace my chapters, learn from my contents.”

 I am always drawn to certain types of books when I am in a used book store. It seems strange, since I love to read all types, I enjoy a good story, told well. But when I am in a used books store, I gravitate to the non-fiction sections. I relish coffee-table books, I appreciate reference books. Glossy pictures of gardens, beautiful displays of artifacts, detailed diagrams of castles, useful herbal recipes, and interesting craft procedures.

These all make my pulse quicken.

I specifically scrounge for books on Roman Britain, or British history, castles, landscapes… anything resenbling a book about mouldering old relics of a time past that brings to mind the romance of knights and Feudal society. I instinctively look for books on a period in history much maligned to be beautiful and carefree, but in fact, was barbaric, dark, and dangerous. I get giddy thinking of the books I have yet to find on Hadrian’s Wall,  Stonehenge, Dark Ages life, or ancient Christianity and its passage through the Roman Empire.

I remember once, in a wonderful used book store that is now gone, I sat in an old rickety chair, the resident cat winding her self about my legs, and I leafed through a book called “The Aurthurian Book of Days” (which happened to fall out on my toe as I rummaged the History shelf).  Every day of the year had a page, and each page had a story except as told from Le Morte D’Arthur, or other such tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I was transfixed. It made it into the pile at the check out, along with several other books on Roman antiquities, and a long-sought after book on Vindolanda.

Another time, as I was perusing, I happened across an older book on herbs. I thought it was interesting, began to open it, and then jumped for joy when I realized it was one of Jekka McVicar’s Herb books that was now out of print! The forward was by a woman named Penelope Hobhouse, another great in British Gardening books.  It seems all of the best herbal books come from Britain. I have yet to find their equal here in Canada. (Any suggestions?)

I practically ran to the cash register with that one, my eyes shining and excitment evident, my fingers wrapped around the cover tightly.  Yes, really. Books can make me that happy.

To (re)discover this small shop today, so close a walk from my office, rekindled in me the passion of the hunt for that special book to add to my collection. A book of Welsh poetry, or perhaps a glossy table book of perrenial flowers or succulents. A tome on the merits of seed propagation over cuttings, or a detailed account of some archeological dig somewhere exciting like Mai-Dun.  Or perhaps even a long sought after book on writing no longer in print! The possibilities to add to my home library are endless.

Too endless. I need more bookshelves already. So for that, a new decree. My mantra, to repeat each lunch hour.

May I resist temptation, and stick to No-More-Than-Once-A-Week.

Kilt Pin to the Rescue

My good winter jacket has lost its last button.

I really like this jacket. It is a black knee-length coat with buttons all the way up, very smart, and professional. Now removed of its buttons, it hangs open and drafty when I put it on. No more can I wrap the luxurious wool around my torso and slip the large, smooth, plastic buttons through their button-holes with a sense of security and warmth.

I have put off fixing it, knowing full well I am splendidly horrific at affixing buttons. I always over knot the thread and make a jumbled mess. The bump in the middle of the button is unmistakeable. You can tell a terrifically thumbly person attempted sewing, and failed miserably. I realize this may sound pathetic, but I have tried for most of my life to sew. I’m just not very adept at it. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is the Bob Ross of the sewing world. She can make anything. Heck, she made the veil for my wedding dress with Swarovski crystals and silk edging, and it was beautiful, and only $20! Let her loose in a Fabricland, and she is like me in a Michael’s.

Much poorer when leaving.

Today, I had a flash internal temper-tantrum of “I don’t want to wear my husband’s over-pouffed down vest *stomp-stomp*”. The only other choice was my over-sized blue winter coat I wore last year when rotund and pregnant.  Let’s just say that it would make me look like a pygmy wearing a two-person tent, or a small child playing dress-up in Daddy’s stuff.

I really didn’t want to be the frumpalicious bag-lady walking down the main drag towards the bus station, humongous breast pump bag and lunch tote in tow, mismatched mittens and flyaway hair perfecting the ” I don’t have enough time in the morning”  look. All I need to do is sway slightly from side to side on a streetcorner, mutter and look to the heavens, and someone might give me coffee money.

In a desperate attempt to look put together at least once this week, I grabbed the errant coat off its hanger in the front hall closet and put it on. I looked down in dismay at the open front, wondering how I was going to stay warm as I walked today.

Then, I had an idea.

A pin! I could use on of my decorative pins to artfully and tastefully hold it closed! I would look eclectic! I would look fashionable! I would be warm!

I went scrambling through my jewelry, looking for a snowflake pin I thought might work. Of course, today is the day it decided to hide from me, and I could not find it anywhere. Then I searched for the horse-head cabuchon I had not worn for years, but remembered from the dark recesses of scarves gone by. It too was hiding, likely with the snowflake. Likely I will find them both tonight.

What I did find in my jewelry case amid my frantic sorting was a big, fat, slightly bent kilt pin.

I stared at it for a moment, caught between what seemed to be an impass. This was it. This was the only pin that would go through the thick wool, and hold the coat edges together strongly. I turned it over a few times. It was plain, ugly, and quite the opposite of eclectic and fashionable. But, faced with no alternative, I gamely tried it out.

It worked, and with a carefully placed scarf, no one is the wiser. This weekend I amy attempt to replace the buttons, but for now I am content to pin my jacket and put a scarf on. Its not perfect, but then again, no one is.

So now I am warm, I am fashionable, and no one is going to feel sorry for me and offer me a warm and hearty soup from Tim Hortons to ease my apparent suffering.

Although, that might be nice.

Yes, I have the T-shirt…

Yes, I am. I am blogging this.

And yes, I have the T-shirt.

It’s black, with white letters. My son thinks it is neat to look at. Given that he is 3 months old, anything with contrast ellicits gummy baby smiles and giggles. Go figure, when I wore it as a single woman, I got the same response from men who would meet me whilst I was wearing it.

It could be where the lettering is positioned, I think.

Nowadays, it is more likely to have spit-up on it, rather than spilt draft beer from a glass, but who is counting? Both smell equally as fetching after a few hours, and both are equally as fun for the wearer (i.e. Me) when spit up or spilt upon.

It seems like I have been blogging forever. But really, not that long in the scheme of the Internet, and battle-hardened folk out there may look at me and scoff mightily with the word “newbie” on their lips as they enter their second decade of blogging. Heck, some of the big-wigs out there cast a mightly large shadow, and every day, more and more blogs fill the crevices and spaces of our connected world, falling into line behind the PerezHilton’s of the world. To have a blog mean something to someone other than yourself, in my mind, is an achievement today.

I digress.

Am I a true “blogger”? I can’t edit CSS, I don’t have a following through RSS that spans the world, and really, in the end, my blogs have always been rather just a mish-mash of personal tidbits, pictures, updates and memory quizzes like “what kind of drink are you?”. Rather mundane fare in the blogoshpere (did I get that “term” right?).

But that is what a blog is about. It is about the author, and their interests, their ideas, their world.

Blogs are about sharing what you want to share with the world, one idea at a time. Whether it be exciting things like world events, or your new Jimmy Choo sandals, a blog is the reflection of the person who pounds out the words on a keyboard. In our voyeuristic world, this is the 21st century version of the diary every girl kept under their pillow, with the silly lock that any sibling could pick with a bobby pin.

Despite the knowledge that my words likely enter into the stream and get lost amongst the millions of other voices babbling towards the ocean we call the World Wide Web, I was hooked three or so years ago, and never looked back. The idea that I could grind out my Mind’s Eye, or my Brain’s fodder for all to read and comment on was too tantalizing not to try. After a little while, and some fun reflections on my own life, or lack thereof, I realized this was the creative outlet I needed at the end of the day writing “real” stuff for money. Aka, my job.

So here I am with a new platform, and a new idea. A fresh start, I guess you could say. Kind of like that feeling you get when you do a “format C:” on your hard drive, and have a fresh and shiny OS on your computer again. Sometimes you need a change or a good scrubbing to get out of a rut.

In my case, this new start is because of an affliction I have dubbed Blogger’s Block.

I need to Google that and see if anyone else has coined it yet. Likely.

So yeah, I am blogging this. What “this” is will change and grow, but it will be an exercise for me, my sanity, my creativity, and my life.

Shiny.