Friday, December 29, 2006

The Nightmare After Christmas

Oh, it’s been a stressful and exhausting morning. We woke up traumatically early (OK, at 8 am) so we could take the mural to a local woodshop. It’s all painted and ready to be varnished, but the people who originally cut the wood panels cut them too big! Yeah… it’s about ¼ inch too big all around. No good. So the plan was to get it trimmed this morning so Marty could have enough time to (re)seal the edges and varnish the whole thing before we venture back to Calgary to install it. Way easier said than done, though—it’s not like a simple haircut where any mistakes will just grow back. Not. At. All.

Marty slept for maybe an hour last night—he was so nervous. Who can blame him, though? This mural measures 12 x 6 feet, and it’s taken him a whopping 150 hours of hard work to get it painted. I’m sure he had grim visions of the table saw ripping off a few layers of paint along with that cursed extra ¼ inch… just what we would need, eh?

Well, I’m happy to report that the mural emerged from the whole ordeal relatively unscathed! (Can’t say the same thing about Marty and I, though—our nerves are shot!) Aside from being a little dusty, the painting itself is fine—no chips or chunks were taken out, and everybody still has all of their fingers and such. We also managed to miss the rain when we transported the mural to the shop, so the as-of-yet unsealed paint job is still OK (I guess waking up early has its advantages…)

Marty will spend the next few days varnishing the panels (no rest for the wicked!), and when they are dry, we will be making the treacherous trek to Calgary (in our newly fixed up but still dodgy van) to get rid of it for good. Maybe I can duck into Make One for a bit while we’re there… the sale will be over, but I can always enjoy the company and a good cup of tea.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Smackdown Play-by-Play

Oh, it was a long fight, with many punches thrown. Standing in one corner like the Oscar de la Hoya of yarn stores, Make One looked cool, young, sleek, and put together. When the hulking Hogan of yarn stores threw off her cape in the other corner of the ring, though, did I detect a bit of nervousness from Make One? I couldn’t be sure.

The fight started off all flashy: the Beehive grunted and posed, showing off her substantial yarn offerings, which were packed into her costume like falsies into a Wonderbra. Everywhere you looked was yarn, yarn, yarn. Stacked floor to ceiling! Thwack! Hanging from the rafters! Ka-boom! Displayed absolutely everywhere, to the point where there was little room left to breathe! Thuga-thuga-thug!

Undeterred, Make One calmly stepped forward, narrowly avoiding a plastic chair swipe to the head. ‘Would you like a tea?’ she teased, with a sparkle in her eye. ‘Or how about a place to sit down and relax?Biff! Boff! Down went the Beehive to the floor! Dancing around a bit, Make One delighted that she had won the first round: everybody loves a plush couch to sit on, especially in a yarn store! How clever!

Slightly shaken, but determined to continue flaunting her might, Beehive stood up again and held her gloves up—ready for the next round. ‘Look at my prices!’, she bellowed, and dangled some luscious Cascade 220 in Make One’s face. ‘And these are my regular prices’, she sneered, ‘Not some flash in the pan sale’. Ka-chuck! Ratta-tat! Bikkidi-bikkidi-blammo! Make One looked upset for a brief moment, and staggered back into the ropes, but then she hammered back with her Boxing Week sale. ‘You call 10 percent off acrylic yarn a Boxing Day Sale?’, she bellowed. ‘Take that!’ 70 percent off luscious yarns! 50 percent off other luscious yarns! 40! 30! At least 20 percent off all other yarns! Bang! Boom! Brawl! Round Two: Make One. Ding!

And so it continued: Beehive would pummel and pound Make One with her impressive array of colours and textures, but Make One would rebound and then one-up her much older opponent. Make One would dodge and divert, looking more like a clever strategist than a beefed-up combatant, while Beehive would attempt to make her put her dukes up and fight, already! Back and forth, back and forth—until the final round.

I saw a button that I really liked yesterday at the Beehive. It was about the size of a 2 dollar coin, and it featured an owl set against a beautiful night sky scene. Oooooh, I breathed. What a beautiful button! Ready to end this fight for good and to slowly shift my allegiances to my new local yarn store, I stood in line to pay for this button (a recent Visa bill deterred me from purchasing anything else…) My precious, I hissed—captivated by this treasure. I waited, and I waited, and then I pondered what sort of project I would put this on. A felted bag? A front clasp for the Fantine cardigan? It would have to be something remarkable, something special, something that would show this button off like nothing else…

Then it finally came time for me to pay. ‘That will be$23.67’ said the cashier. Pardon me??!!! For a button??!!!! At that price, I’d have to fasten it to the robe of God, for chrissakes!!

Well, I left empty-handed but certain of one thing: Make One—nothing compares 2 U. I’ll probably still visit the Beehive in case of future yarn emergencies… but it will be like visiting a packrat relative over an uber-cool friend. Le sigh. SMACKDOWN!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

LYS Smackdown!!

Don’t miss the action as two local yarn stores go head to head!

In one corner, we have the reigning undisputed champ: Make One Yarn Studio in Calgary. Luscious yarns, amazing staff, creative events, free shipping, drop-in knitting circles, a funky interior, and sales that give me the cramps (in a good way)—folks, this yarn store seems to have it all, and it’s hard to believe it’s still only in its rookie year!

In the other corner, we have the challenger: Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria. Equally luscious yarns, a hip location right in the downtown core, and inexpensive Cascade 220 mean it could stand a fighting chance against Make One. But the Beehive is celebrating 100 years as a store in 2006… and it also sells shudderific Disco yarn by the bag—does it really have what it takes to sock a few punches to Make One?

Part of me hopes that we have the Rocky Balboa of yarn stores here in Victoria, given that I now live here. (Note: I have yet to see the final installment of the series, or even about 3 of the original movies, but I’m assuming that Rocky wins. Would Sly really have it any other way? I doubt it—what kind of message would that send to the kids? “Try hard and fail anyway.” But I digress…) I’d like it if I, too, had a hip local yarn store to patron—somewhere where I could lovingly fondle the wools instead of foaming at the mouth over tantalizing photos of them… Too. Far. Away.

Another part of me, though, is very reluctant to even consider the possibility of shifting allegiances (even though I did, for the record, set aside 15 years of grudging to jump on the Flames bandwagon when they finally stopped sucking so much! Then I cheered for the Oilers when the Flames bombed out of the first round in the 2006 playoffs… This year, I'm pretending that I didn't cheer for either of them-- I'm waiting to see my new bandwagon come the playoffs). I love pretty much everything about Make One, and I’m more than a little unnerved to read things like this on the Beehive website… le sigh.

Project Time "Drop-in"
5:00-7:00 pm - Fridays
$10.00 drop-in fee per session

Ten dollars??!!!!! That better come with a cheesecake or something...

Anyway, the Beehive is having a Boxing Day Sale today, so I’m going to go check it out for the first time. Will Make One continue to flatten its competition, or can the Beehive muster up enough oomph in its hundred-year-old self to lay the smack down? Get out some popcorn and put on your sweaty spandex shorts—this is gonna be one helluva fight!

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time

Well, it’s that time of the year again. The time when all the shopping madness screeches to a jarring halt and all the stores close (except for 7-11, the movie theatres, and even the Oak Bay Recreation Centre—forget what you heard about Victoria being a sleeper of a town), the time when families gather around the tree and open gifts (cross your fingers for a PJ Sparkle doll!), and the time when people like me sit down and blog…

In years past, I got into the festive spirit by fervently trying to stay awake for midnight on Christmas Eve. And no… I wasn’t waiting for Santa. Nope—I had been told that my cats would be able to talk to each other for only one minute on that one night of the year, but alas… my fourteen five-year old self could never muster up enough energy to stay up that late. Sadly, now that really late nights have become the norm for me on Christmas Eve, I don’t have any cats! Oh, that dratted scientific method… always needing to keep variables constant. Now I’ll never know the truth! (insert teen-angst-inspired sound here—I prefer a pre-teen whine à la Stephanie Tanner—how rude!).

Anyway, this year, Marty and I got into the festive spirit by… buying gym memberships. Not wanting to be lumped into the stampede of people working out come the new year (curse those pesky resolutions!), we decided to purchase our memberships a week early and make it seem like we’ve been sweating it out all along. Hey, I didn’t get two university degrees for nothin’… So our first workout was today. Twenty minutes on a cardio machine later, we decided we deserved a Christmas-sized bottle of Bailey’s, and the rest is history. Ten bucks says we’ll hear the cats talk—or even sing—tonight! Meow, meow, meow!

The Jingle Cats - White Christmas - video powered by Metacafe

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Solstice!

Growing up, December 21st was an exciting day to me, but mostly because it usually meant the start of Christmas holidays and only four more sleeps until Santa would come! Since I stopped caring so passionately whether Santa would pay my house a visit or not, though (I know- so jaded!), December 21st has taken on a whole new value.

Marty goes out of his way every year to make our solstice celebrations meaningful. When we still lived in Calgary, we would venture out to the Big Rock every winter solstice, set up a warm camp on the chilly ground, watch the sunset and the shooting stars, and read our tarot cards (these and these) for the seasons to come. This year, we were a long way from Okotoks, but Marty pulled through again with plans for our new solstice ‘special spot’.

We spent last evening at the Fisgard Lighthouse, which we learned has been standing in that same spot since 1860. We packed some tea and some homemade soup (ahem—made by yours truly), walked on the beach looking for crab shells and beach glass, hung out with some local deer, and listened to the ocean waves gently usher in longer days and a gradual turning back to summer.

Winter solstice is a special time for me, not only because I find the energy of the day to be quite auspicious, but also because it gives me a chance to reflect on another half-year of my life. I was born just after Summer solstice (on Kathy’s wedding anniversary!), so the winter solstice really lets me ponder how I can make the second half of my current year the best it can be. My focus for the next six months, then?

More soup, less shortbread—simple as that!

Happy solstice, everyone!

*Note: Focus has been modified from the original version-- it has been reformatted to fit this blog!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

To Be or Not To Be?

That is the question.

It’s hard to give something up when whatever it is you’re trying to wean yourself off of is right in front of you all the time. For me, this usually means sweets. Even though—in my mind—I really want to forego things like chocolate forever, I always find myself coming back to it, especially when it sits around in my house, staring me right in the face. Call me a weakling: I just can’t resist the old temptation.

This time around, even though I’m not faring so well with the crates of sweets sent here by Marty’s mom (thanks!), I find myself also struggling with trying to give up something else entirely: a nomadic lifestyle. This time around, it’s our damn van that keeps watching me intently; taunting me—are you tough enough? Do you really think you can settle down?

Our van is emblematic of a wandering lifestyle—hell, it’s even called a Nomad. It’s been with us to Montreal and back, on many camping trips, and now, out to Victoria. We had even planned to spend a whole year in it, wandering the country like a bunch of migrants. (A little thing called money is the only thing that prevented that plan from coming to fruition in October, but I’ll save that story for another time.) So when the Nomad came back from a recent tune-up officially diagnosed as unsafe to drive, I thought to myself ‘This is it. We really are settling down this time.’ It didn’t seem worth it to invest the necessary dollars into fixing it, so as our van festered in the back parking lot, with it withered my wandering desires. I was ready to settle down, and there was nothing standing in my way anymore…

Life unfolds in mysterious ways, though. You see, we have a 12’ x 6’ mural to get back to Calgary in the new year (It’s done!!!), and now we’re faced with the choice: spend our dollars on renting van after van (to get the mural back and then to retrieve our furniture from storage), or invest those same dollars into resurrecting our own van… Hmm…

Will the Nomad come back to thwart our plans to settle down? Can we stay strong and settled in the full-sized face of temptation to roam? On another note entirely, can I (please?) forget about having the last of the shortbread cookies for breakfast? Find out tomorrow (or thereabouts): same bat time, same bat channel!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monster Man

Each year, when we were growing up, my parents would buy all of us daughters a new Christmas tree ornament. They were always careful to select an ornament that reflected something meaningful about each daughter’s life in the past year, and the goal was to have each girl equipped with a stock of ornaments big enough to decorate her own tree when she moved out.

I loved this idea.

My parents’ plan to have each ornament signify both a certain year and specific daughter always got me excited to open them. ‘Oooh, I wonder what they picked out for me this time!’, I would think. There was the racket ornament for the year I joined my school’s badminton team, the saxophone one when I wowed the Jr. High PTA meeting with my stirring rendition of ‘Let’s Go Band!’, and the wind-up Noah’s Ark one for the year when I, um… had a penchant for wind-up Christian-themed toys (??! Sweet Jesus!) That one still mystifies me...

Overall, I think my parents succeeded at their goal, though the passage of time has meant that my youngest sister (the interminably cute one) is now strapped with many bunny and baby animal-themed decorations—on top of the more recent editions like the frothy mug of beer—and that I (the one who liked our orange cat, Cheddar, the most) somehow ended up with more Garfield ornaments than I care to admit (she was an old cat before she died, OK?)

Now that I have moved out, I have continued this tradition with Marty by buying a special tree ornament each year, even though we don’t actually have a full-sized Christmas tree anymore. Last year, we picked out a classy, urchin-like star decoration from a store called Kalidoscope in Calgary. I’m sure we were drawn to it because of what classy stars (or urchins) we were that year…

This year, we became smitten with the String Doll Gang ornaments. They’re made out of one continuous piece of string!! I picked out Monster Man, and Marty decided upon the Mummy. Each one represents something, though I didn’t realize it until we came home with Monster Man. (As you can tell, we've kind of strayed from the whole "make it symbolic of the past year" clause...)

“Monster Man helps you to see the beauty inside the not-so-beautiful”

Aww.... countdown to a Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Deck the Halls

Marty recently returned from a quick trip to Calgary. He flew out to retrieve some paintings to display at a local gallery in Victoria, and we used the opportunity to bring back some more essential items from our storage in Calgary. We knew that he would be driving back in our tiny Honda Civic—already weighed down by 16 or so paintings (on wood, no less)—so we only included some extreme essentials on the List of Things to Bring Back.

I really wanted to put yarn on the list—so badly, in fact—but I felt I should focus more on what we really needed right away, and yarn (sadly) didn’t make the cut (that’s what ebay and my favourite non-local yarn store are for!). What did make the cut were:

- the TV and DVD player (to take advantage of the free movies at the local library—not just crappy National Geographic ones, either- real movies that we would ordinarily want to rent from the video store!)

- our phone and answering machine. Our crappy Wal-Mart substitute just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

- My gym shoes

- Coat hangers (‘cuz, you know, actually hanging up your clothes instead of keeping them in a pile on the floor is always a good thing… especially if you have spiders in your house!)

We figured (correctly) that the Honda would be more than full with these items, so we left The List at that. What we didn’t take into consideration, though, was Marty’s family. Specifically, we neglected to take into account the (otherwise blatantly obvious) facts that Marty’s mom loves Christmas and Marty’s dad loves the Honda.

Marty came back with all of the above-mentioned items, plus two tires and an alternator for the Honda (from his dad, just in case he needed to switch the new winter tires with old summer ones on the drive home...?), a Christmas tree, a vat of homemade shortbread cookies, other festive foods (like oh, about 5 pounds of chocolate!), and a ton of Christmas presents, because we "wouldn't have a real Christmas" if he didn't bring them back to Victoria. Marty also somehow managed to squeeze in two desks, a couple of fold-up chairs, some YARN!, and a large Rubbermaid container filled with miscellaneous items. I don't know how he did it (or frankly, how the Honda made the drive home without bottoming out). I do know, though, that now we need to find creative ways to deal with our overstock of impeccable shortbread cookies (i.e. not to just pack them all back ourselves, right onto our asses!)... potluck, anyone?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Step Four, or whatever…

Well, we’ve come full circle already, here at the Ex-Nomad headquarters. Mere posts ago, I was talking about unpacking my suitcase (key word talking about unpacking it, but of course not actually unpacking it…) Now, at Marty’s insistence, unpacking this suitcase is, in fact, the number one priority. Forget ‘Step Four’ or whatever: this deed has been bumped up into the top spot on my To Do list.

‘Why the rush’, you ask?

Well, Marty is convinced that the not-so-itsy-bitsy spider that showed up in our bathroom was a nomad itself. Specifically, he feels certain that this spider hitched a ride in THE SUITCASE all the way from the Czech Republic, and that the suitcase might still be harbouring more of these beasts in its depths.

Although I balk at the mere suggestion that I had anything to do with that monster of a spider being in our bathroom, his gentle accusation might have some weight to it.

a) The spider did look an awful lot like the big ones we frequently encountered in our rental suite just outside of Prague (see haunting photo of the two spiders that lived right outside our back door- YUCK!!!!)
b) During our time in the Czech Republic, both of us discovered arachnid stowaways in our bags on numerous occasions. They always seemed to find their way inside our backpacks and suitcases (again- YUCK!!!!
c) (A little secret:) I have yet to thoroughly unpack and go through my suitcase, even though we came back to Canada on September 13th. Heheh… oops!

So now I’m not sure which is worse: the thought that my suitcase (my clothes! My underwear!!!) could be incubating a whole nest of freakishly giant nomadic spiders OR the equally revolting idea that Victoria could just have the same nasty spiders that frequent Prague. If it’s the first scenario, I’ll have to go on a rapid-fire extermination rampage and deal with the psychological fallout of having SPIDERS in my UNDERWEAR, but at least the spider-sighting episodes will be contained. If it’s the second scenario, well… let’s just say, I can’t wait to bring our bed back from Calgary!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Desperate Housewife

For the first few weeks here in Victoria, I was feeling like I could conquer anything as the Mighty Matron of Meals. Over the past couple of days, though, I was struck with the unnerving sensation that, well, something might be missing. Could it be because we came here with only the bare essentials, not even enough to stock our kitchen? Could it be that I was jealous of other kitchen queens who had things like these? (Not to mention other things like plates… those are still in storage in Calgary!) No, I mulled it over for a bit and decided that even though I do miss our salad spinner and our crock pot, I’m still managing alright without them. Also, even though some mornings it does seem a tad strange to eat our toast out of a bowl, it doesn’t make a difference to how the toast tastes, so why should I let it bother me? My anxious feelings, it seemed, could only be attributed to one thing: my lack of an appropriate Kitchen Costume.

If you look at ads for 1950s kitchen gadgets— or almost any ad from the 1950s, for that matter—you’ll notice that the Woman of the House is always looking charming in a costume befitting the circumstances. She has the picnic basket and sundress for her spontaneous (if rare) outings with the girls, the pearl earrings for dinner with her husband’s boss, and most importantly, the ubiquitous apron for her time spent indoors. I decided early on in this game that if I was going to be a housewife, I might as well be one of the best (you know me, not competitive at all...) Hence, being without an apron but with the company of a great lot of mystery yarn, I took matters into my own hands.

And… Voila! I am pleased to introduce my very own Kitchen Costume! (you'll have to look above, seeing as I've yet to figure out how to upload pictures except at the top of posts...)

Knit in glorious garter stitch on very big needles with clearance mystery 'yarn'/fabric strips, this apron might never actually be worn except in this photo shoot, but believe me, it fills a gaping psychological void in the life of this no-longer-desperate housewife.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Not-So-Itsy-Bitsy-Spider

Preamble: This post contains TALK about spiders, but NO PHOTOS of spiders. Just in case you need to brace yourself or anything (not mentioning any names)

The other morning as I sat quietly reading my book, I heard a woman in the apartment hallway exclaim ‘holy shit!’. I admit that I didn’t give it much thought until I heard the next part: ‘That thing is HUGE!’ Then my ears were pricked like a cat’s and I got a wave of goosebumps. I know that she could have been referring to almost anything-- technically (the neighbour’s Buick, Christmas wreaths, etc.), but my brain—for some reason—is hard-wired to eliminate pretty much every possibility automatically, except for one: spiders.

Growing up, although my mom and all of us daughters were petrified of spiders, at least we had my dad to run to when one showed up in the downstairs bathroom. As my young mind gradually developed an understanding of gender roles, then, a critical distinction between men and women—for me—ultimately rested on how they respectively reacted to spiders.

E.g. (excerpted from my very own gender role taxonomy, circa 1988):

[enter spider]

Women: [Shriek!] [Flail arms!] [Run!] [Violently shake and thump arms/legs/torso/head/hair to toss any possible spider off of body!] [Yell for man to come!] or, if man is not available, [devise some ridiculous scheme, likely involving a toilet plunger, to trap and/or kill spider*] *optional

Men: [calmly take a tissue and gently lift spider onto it—send it lovingly back into the outdoors] or, in extreme situations [calmly take a tissue and kill spider—feel guilty for days, possibly weeks, afterward]

With this distinction firmly cemented in my mind, imagine my surprise when I married Marty and discovered that he is, in fact, more afraid of spiders than even I am! (i.e. He flails his arms and his legs when there’s a spider around! Whoa.) Now, I generally appreciate and applaud a good challenge of ‘ye olde’ gender roles, but to be honest, I was not prepared to have this particular gender role switcheroo’d. In fact, I was downright petrified at the thought of needing to confront a spider together, seeing as I’d likely have to be the ‘man’ of the house and actually do something about it…

This brings me back to reading my book quietly the other morning. Marty was still sleeping when the woman made her exclamation, but I was wide awake and alert to the very real possibility that there was a spider (worthy of a loud swear word, even!) right outside my door. My worst fears were confirmed when she told another neighbour who had come into the hall to see what the fuss was about, ‘There’s a huge spider here! Look at it!’ Yuck. I was relieved when I heard her say that she would take it outside (gender role REVOLUTION going on in Victoria, I tells ya!), and that—more importantly—I wouldn’t have to do anything about it.

Fast forward to tonight: Marty and I came home from a date and when I went into the washroom, I was greeted by a HUGE, ‘holy-shit’-worthy spider perched in the corner of the floor near my bathtub. The bastard had made it back inside! (Note: I refuse to even entertain the thought that there is more than one of them in the apartment building.) Upon seeing the spider, my womanly instincts kicked into full gear: ‘Shriek at it!’ they urged. ‘Flail your arms and run! Violently shake your body in case there is a spider on it! Quick!! Get the toilet plunger!’ And that’s when I remembered… oh yeah, we don’t have any furniture, let alone a plunger. Meh.

I killed it swiftly—some would even say skillfully, heartlessly—with a shoe and ate ice cream nonchalantly while Marty violently shook out his hair, clothes, and our bedding (which is on the floor, by the way- no bed, remember?). Guess somebody has to wear those eight-legged pants in the house.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sad News

I hate to be such a downer in only my third post, but I just found out today that a friend of ours from Calgary was murdered last month. We were in the midst of moving to Victoria at the time of his disappearance and death, so we had no idea what happened until now.

Marty raced on the same cycling team as Brian ('BK') for a few years. Initially, I just knew him as the guy with the souped-up bike (he always had all the latest and best parts for his bikes), but eventually, I came to know him better as the man with an unlimited supply of really big hugs (the kind that squeeze the breath out of you!) We had a nice long conversation in Edmonton last year, after he had completed a particularly challenging cyclo-cross race, and it was then that I came to appreciate his nuances a little bit more. He had been bumped really early on in the race, and he was lapped not so long afterward, but he stuck it through and finished the race. At the time, I thought he was a clown for waving cheerfully to the commissaires with each passing lap, but looking at it now, it must have taken an immense amount of courage for him to even finish the race, let alone to not take himself-- or the race-- too seriously. (I would have been the one who either gave up right away, faked a flat tire and then gave up, or finished the damn race with knotted brows, clenched teeth, and a super bad attitude. That's probably why I don't cycle... First place or bust!)

Anyway, I'm thankful that I was able to share some time with him, even though our times together make it that much harder to accept his death. It's not much of a tribute, I know, but BK: rest in peace, good soul.

Take care, everyone.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

In a pickle

I mentioned in another post that I have put my MA to good use (ha!) in the domestic sphere as of late. Unrelated as it is to my former studies, I’ve found this new lifestyle to be rather satisfying. I eagerly await Marty’s reaction when he tastes whatever I’ve concocted for us to eat that day, and then I sit back all smug when I get an ‘mmmm…’ of approval. (I’ve conveniently decided to forget for the time being that my dear mother trained both of us to articulate—even feign—enjoyment and appreciation for home-style cooking early on in our relationship. She taught us classic moves like the ‘slow down and savour’, the ‘sit back and nod your head encouragingly’, the ‘ask for seconds even if you are not hungry’, and the ever-popular ‘roll your eyes back in ecstasy while emitting a slightly muffled but long and deliberate moan’. She even made us both practice the moves in front of her until she was satisfied we would be able to survive any awkward family meals, regardless of the food served. And while I’ve delighted at seeing him fake enjoyment of many a fried dish over the years, I’d rather believe that he’s displaying the real deal when it comes to my own cooking… but I digress…)

Having so much time in the kitchen has provided me with the opportunity to try new things. I’ve started making soup stocks and freezing them until needed. I’ve made colourful salads and even taken the time to arrange them, as for a glossy photo shoot. I’ve made sauces and stews, grains and greens, but the thing I’m most excited about is the ginger. Yes, I’ve even gone ahead and pickled some ginger for sushi!

I’m a relative newcomer to the sushi scene, but I’m no stranger to ‘just saying no’ to things like aspartame and Red Dye #2 (Yellow Dye #5, however, is a different story…). Hence, when I discovered that most of the pickled ginger on the market had either been sweetened with aspartame, dyed pink (why?), or both, I made a vow to try to make my own. Of course, that was when I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown writing my thesis, so we managed with expensive organic store-bought stuff… until now! Little did Marty’s mom know that when she taught me how to pickle this fall, she was creating a pickled ginger monster! Mwa-ha-ha…

Anyway, we haven't tried this ginger yet (it still has to cure), but when we finally do, you can be assured that I'll tell you all about it (and if it's good, I'll probably try to make you buy some!) In the meantime, though, run (don't walk!) to your cupboard and see what kind of crap is in your sushi ginger...

12-Step Recovery Program

So here I am, just about ready to unpack the suitcase I’ve been living out of for months. Since running screaming out of my last apartment in April, I’ve lived temporarily in six different people’s houses and a van (aptly named a Chevy Nomad—for real), looked after 4 cats and 2 dogs, and wandered aimlessly around the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary with my beloved co-nomad, Marty. Now we are in Victoria, ready to—dare I say it?—set up camp. Forever. As in living here. Taking root. Starting a new life. Abandoning our wandering ways… Whatever you want to call it, we are starting a 12-step journey toward making Victoria our new hometown. So, if the first step was moving here, and the second step was renting an apartment, the third step should be what, unpacking my suitcase? Finding a job? WRONG!! The third step is actually (wait for it…) immersing myself wholeheartedly into the life of a housewife.


Marty is currently working on a very giant mural project, so I’ve decided to test-drive being a good (read: traditional) wife until he finishes it and delivers it to Calgary (don’t worry- it should be soon!). So, to all the people who have tsk-tsked me for getting an extra degree, foregoing babies for a career, and keeping my own (impossible to pronounce) last name, I have one thing to say: you should taste my homemade minestrone! Mmm… delicious and (wait for it again…) made from scratch!! (Imagine loopy handwriting for the ‘made from scratch’ part—curse this keyboard for its lack of teenage cursive!)

So yes, I've been busy cooking, cleaning, shopping, 'decorating' (note: we do not have any furniture yet. I'm not kidding.), and doing laundry for the time being. Maybe Step FOUR will be unpacking my suitcase...