Sunday, February 24, 2008

I is for

I couldn’t think of one particular "I" to write about.

Instead, I've listed a quick two minute list of “I” words, then tried to see what they mean to me. The blank ones are the ones that stumped me, so I've left them blank. Feel free to fill in or comment. (An Encyclopedia of Me blog)

Incredibly - curious
Innocent – what I’m not, despite accusations of naiveté by those who don't know me very well.
Incognito – what I’d like to be at times
Insecure – most of my youth
Interesting – only in my mind
Italy – favourite foreign country
Ireland – somewhere I'd like to go
Immune – to nothing
Involved – not enough
Isolated – for my sanity
Irreverent – only in my head
Indecisive – about the little things
Ignominy – not likely
Incomprehensible – to some
Ivy league – I’m not
Injured – in my youth, but healed and stronger now
Illiterate – what no one should be
Immobile – my fear in old age
Immutable – not me – I’m constantly changing
Insincere – hopefully not
Illogical – at times
Ipod – what everyone seems to have except me
Imbalanced – but striving for equilibrium
Icarus – I’d never fly too close to the sun, but wouldn’t mind a flight to Mars
Identity – finally found
Ignoble –
Ignorance – what I try to avoid
Inherent(ly) – emotional
Improbable --
Issue – with willful ignorance
Inconsequential – I hope not

Friday, February 22, 2008

Good news! The repair guy came around 2 p.m. yesterday and replaced the hot water heater. We now have a brand new Bradford White, 40 Gallon hot water heater that cost enough to pay for a vacation to Hawaii. It has a ten year parts and labour warranty, so I guess we won't be moving anytime soon.

That's my good news.

The bad news is that my son's goldfish, Hans, is not doing very well.

Apparently, he got something called Ich (or ick) which caused strange white bumps to appear around his eye and on his fins. He was treated with a salt water bath and medication and looked like he was better. Yesterday he started sitting on the bottom of the tank in the corner behind a rock castle. He just sits there, dorsal fin retracted, breathing in and out. He won't eat, swims a little when approached but otherwise, just sits on the bottom. Very sad.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Best laid plans

You know what they say about the best laid plans? It's true. Today is a case in point.

I had plans to get a pile of work done at the office, probably stay late, and go out for dinner straight from work. It happens that this is the busiest time of year for us at work and we generally expect to work late most evenings just to keep up. Today was no different.

Except . . ..

We were getting ready for work this morning when my husband mentioned that there hadn't been much hot water for his shower. Uh oh. Maybe we should check the hot water heater.

We went into the garage to check. We heard water running. Not a good sign. We turned on the light to get a better look. Lo and behold there was a stream of water flowing out the bottom of the hot water tank, into the catch container thingy, into the pipe and down the drain hole in the floor. Not a small trickle either. It was flowing as fast as an open water faucet.

Luckily, there is a sticker on the hot water tank with instructions:

Being the resident handyperson around here, I figured how to do numbers 1 and 2, skipped 3 (see 2), and figured that the darn thing was leaking - rather flowing - quite efficiently enough to dispense with number 4 and finding another hose to drain it.

Husband called the plumbing people, then went off to work.

Meanwhile, I am sitting at home waiting for the plumbing/heating repairman to arrive "sometime after 1 pm".

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sleep - Sunday Scribblings

Sleep can be


Just what the doctor ordered.

Too often

fitful and nightmarish.


More Sunday Scribblings

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

H is for Hawaii

The first time I went to Hawaii was also the first time I had been on a real vacation as an adult. By real vacation, I mean going for more than a few days away from my hometown and leaving the country. I was twenty-five years old.

The moment I stepped off the plane, it felt like I’d arrived back at some kind of ancestral, prior-life home. The warmth, humidity and fragrance of the Hawaiian air enveloped me in a comfort that no other place has given me since.

It doesn’t make any sense, but it feels like my spiritual home. I’m at ease on the islands.

Over the years, I’ve returned more times than I can remember. My husband can remember the exact month, year and duration of each trip, but for me, it all blends into an (inclusive) I-wish-we-could-stay-longer/when-can-we-go-again/planning-the-next-trip/and here-we-are-again cycle.

When our boys were young, we went almost every year. People used to ask us how on earth we could travel and vacation with young children and still enjoy ourselves – as if it were some great burden. It never occurred to us not to enjoy ourselves. Every day, we’d pack our beach paraphernalia and head off for a day at the beach, often staying until nearly sunset, at which time we’d trundle them back - one in stroller, one on daddy’s back - to the condo for dinner and bed. If they weren’t too tired, we’d stop at a favourite atrium café – juice for them, ice cold beer for dad, white wine for me.

They were sun-drenched water babies -- brown and wiry, fingers and toes wrinkled from endless hours in the water with barely a break to gobble down a sandwich or sip of juice, let alone dry off. As parents, we went from apprehensive eagle-eyed supervisors in fear of rogue waves or worse to relaxed companions and bemused observers of adolescent preening-posing as, year by year, they grew up on the sands before us.

Eventually, parental and child schedules couldn’t be reconciled and the boys (young men) stopped coming to Hawaii with us. Going on our own, we developed a different rhythm and enjoyed ourselves no less, but in a different way.

This summer, D and J will be coming to Hawaii with us for the first time in many years. They are coming with their significant others, neither of whom have been to the islands before. The planning and anticipation has brought back this flood of nostalgic memories. We look forward to making new ones.

It should be fun.

An Encyclopedia of Me post

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fridge Space

My fridge space alternates


Double-stacked Tupperware containers containing I-can't-remember-what, but it must be good because I saved it goodies, Styrofoam and plastic takeout holders with leftovers of last weekend's dinner out, green fuzzy science projects in saran covered bowls, Corning ware dishes with mystery meat in maybe gravy and remnants of what looks like stew, opened jars of condiments, jams and jellies ranging from full to one tablespoon left if you scrape the bottom carefully, seven-layer dip that can't be used because we have no chips, oranges and apples jockeying for in-between space amongst the foregoing because the veggie bins are full, and

Where the heck can I put the new groceries



Shrivelled apple, desiccated green onion and limp carrot in bin, half carton of skim milk, slice of week-old dry mushroom pizza, and

There's nothing to eat


A Sunday Scribblings post.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy!


February 7, 2008 to January 25, 2009 is the Year of the Rat.

If you were born in 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, you are an Earth Rat!

According to Wikipedia:

Being the first sign of the Chinese zodiacs, rats are leaders, pioneers and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. Rat people are endowed with great leadership skills and are the most highly organized, meticulous, and systematic of the twelve signs. Intelligent and cunning at the same time, rats are highly ambitious and strong-willed people who are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas, which often include money and power. They are energetic and versatile and can usually find their way around obstacles, and adapt to various environments easily. A rat's natural charm and sharp demeanor make it an appealing friend for almost anyone, but rats are usually highly exclusive and selective when choosing friends and so often have only a few very close friends whom they trust.

Whatever year you were born, eat, drink and have a happy and prosperous new year.

Gung hay fat choy!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Letter G

(Another Encyclopedia of Me blog

G is for Games
In the last decade, console games like X-Box, Nintendo 360, Playstation and Wii have overtaken pc games in popularity. But darn it all, I miss those old computer games!

They were a pain to install – drivers to download, graphics cards to tweak or upgrade – and by today's standards, they were clunky and slow. Yet I have such fond memories of them.

Okay, to look at me, you wouldn't think I was a computer game junkie. But let me tell you, I spent more hours than you might imagine, late at night (and the kids were in bed) trying to work the catapult in BIT, wandering the lonely, spooky levels of Myst, and following clues to the underworld of Grim Fandango with Manny. Hours I will never get back - but oh so much fun. The games I liked best were puzzle oriented. I wasn't good at shoot 'em up or sports games. Give me a good puzzle any day.

A few of my all-time favourites (in no particular order):

  • Myst
  • The Dig
  • King's Quest V, VI and VII
  • Buried In Time
  • The Curse of Monkey Island
  • Grim Fandango
  • Zork
. . . and I finished them all!

G is for Gorgeous George
Does anyone remember the wrestler Gorgeous George? I watched him on TV near the end of his career in the early 60s. My grandmother was a wrestling fan (don't ask) and I'd watch along with her, supposedly to translate, but you don't really need to translate wrestling do you. He died at age 48 in 1963.

G is for Girls
When we decided to start a family, I didn't want girls. In fact, I was afraid of foisting my own growing-up insecurities onto them. As it turns out, we had two boys. It worked out for the best. Now that I'm older and hopefully wiser, I'd be fine with girls – but not back then.

When I look at pictures of myself from childhood, I don't appear nearly as ugly, geeky and awkward as I thought at the time.

Girls: That's me on the left

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Foul weather friend

A Sunday Scribblings blog

It wasn't Lydia's finest moment. She lost her cool and snapped at Gail.

Gail hadn't done anything to warrant the wrath. She just happened to be the unfortunate rabbit that happened into Lydia's crosshairs at that precise moment. Gail, face flushed and tears welling up, abruptly turned and made a beeline to the ladies' room.

Sigh. Lydia went through a quick mental checklist: Should she follow and offer apologies? Let Gail have a good cry first, then apologize later (Lydia was not good at there, there pat on the back hugging consolation)? Just let it go and allow everyone think she's a bitch (which some did anyways).

Rats! She headed to the ladies' room. Inside, she found Gail in front of the mirror delicately dabbing smudges of eye makeup on her lower lids.

Lydia barely finished her opening line of, "I'm sorry. It wasn't anything you did" before Gail interjected and said it was okay. She understood perfectly: Lydia had been under a lot of strain lately, so many deadlines, so many demands on her time, and everyone knew about her man problems. No need to apologize.

Lydia hadn't expected this. Before she knew it, she was telling Gail everything shitty that had been going on in her life for the past few weeks. Egad, confiding in her! Next thing Lydia remembered was Gail's arms around her shoulders, hand pat-pat-patting her on the back and saying they should get together for coffee sometime.

Over the next couple of weeks, they got together for coffee, then lunches and a couple of dinners. Each time, Gail was there - supportive, ever-listening and attentive. They were becoming good friends. At the end of the month, things were easing up at work. She'd received a small bonus on her last project, her relationship with John had resolved (dissolved was a better word) itself and she was heading off on vacation.

Gail saw her off at the airport and said she'd pick her up on the return.

While in Hawaii, Lydia kept in touch via email and gushed about the fabulous time she was having. She felt rejuvenated and happy. Two days before her return home, she received an email from Gail saying, sorry, but she couldn't pick her up at the airport, would she mind taking a taxi. Not a problem, they would get together later.

When she got back, she found out Gail had been transferred out of her department. Funny, Gail hadn't mentioned it. During the next week, Lydia left numerous voice messages asking when they could get together for lunch. When Gail finally responded, she apologized and said she was swamped with work – maybe another time.

They eventually met two weeks later for lunch at Cardero's. Lydia was bubbling over recounting her amazing vacation and telling Gail about the man she'd met (also from Vancouver). They'd already been on one lunch date and one dinner date. It was too early to tell, but they really seemed to get along.

During lunch, Gail was strangely subdued and distracted. At times, not seeming to listen at all and responding with an occasional sounds nice comment equivalent to the "that's lovely dear" comments from absent-minded Aunt Tillie.

It was obvious over the next weeks, that their friendship had lost its lustre. She stopped trying to contact Gail.

The last time Lydia saw Gail was at the café across from the park. Gail was with Jane, an older co-worker from the office who had just been given her pink slip and would be joining the ranks of the unemployed in two weeks. Jane was in tears and there was Gail, ever-attentive and sympathetic-looking, holding and pat-pat-patting her hand.

A foul weather friend in action.

From Best or Worst Times?:

We've all heard of fair-weather friends, those vapid souls who adore us when we are thin, rich, and healthy, but suddenly disappear the minute that illness, divorce, or job loss threatens to wreck their buzz. Less discussed -- but no less prevalent -- are foul-weather friends. These are the friends who are extremely supportive when you've lost your job or split up with your man, but become cold and distant when you start to get your life back together.

"Good friends will offer you support during hard times, but a foul-weather friend is drawn to your pain," says Judith Sills, PhD, a psychologist and author of If the Horse Is Dead, Get Off! Creating Change When You're Stuck in Your Comfort Zone (Viking, 2004)

Friday, February 01, 2008

F is for Family or Faking It

An Encylopedia of Me blog

When I grew up in the fifties and early sixties, a normal family consisted of a mother, a father and an average of 2.5 children. The ideal dream of mom and dad, kids, dog, and house in the suburb with picket fence was alive and booming along with the babies. TV shows like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver helped further promote the ideal.

Families always lived in their own house in the suburbs. They might have had problems (but funny ones), mom and dad might argue (but always made up), and the worst a teen could do was get caught smoking (cigarettes).

Jokes about the one-half children aside, any deviation from this norm was seen as an aberration.

Atypical families with divorced or single parents were looked upon with a mixture of scorn in the case of the divorced; and pity or scandalous outrage in the case of single (unwed) parents. Mostly, people didn't talk about it in polite company.

I remember when I was in third grade and the class found out the mother of one of the boys was to remarry. It was only then, that we discovered – GASP – she was Divorced! She and John had been living on their own without a father in the house! The older girls (grades five and six) spread talk about scarlet women and being loose (or was it loose scarlet women?). Whatever they were talking about, I could only conjure up the image of John's pretty mother in a red crinolined dress. Up until then, I don't think anyone even knew John didn't live with his father; and the only reason any of this came to light at all was because John had to change his surname to match that of his new father -- heaven forbid that he'd have to go through life with a different last name.

Which comes to me. I spent the better part of my childhood pretending to be like the other - what I thought to be - typical kids and their families. Like all children, I wanted to fit in and be liked. Never mind the fact that I wasn't white in a predominantly white community. I wanted friends to think that I was like them.

During my public school years, I lived with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in varying combinations and households. I only lived with both parents in a "typical" family unit until about age two when my mother died. I never lived with my father again, despite the fact he remarried and had a new family. From my recollection, I lived in seven different households for varying lengths of time by the time I finished high school. - So much for the typical family scenario. - Awhile ago, I found all my old report cards and counted five different "parent" signatures on the backs.

Given the reality of my situation, it wasn't easy learning how to fake it. But fake it, I did. If anyone asked me what my father did, I'd tell them he was a business manager. If they asked whether I had brothers and sisters, I'd say no (they were only half-siblings after all). I didn't lie – I just didn't elaborate. I never asked school friends to come over and play or the jig would have been up. I went to friends' birthday parties, but I always declined the offer to have one of my own. I soldiered on with my semi-truths until high school when it was quite obvious I was living with the family of louder and more outgoing cousins.

In retrospect, I'm sure the teachers and some of the parents knew my real background, but it would have been impolite to mention it back then.

Some people bemoan the decline of the traditional Ozzie and Harriet family. Maybe there was no such beast. Maybe there were more non-traditional families out there than we ever wanted to acknowledge. I'm glad things have changed. I'm glad we view families differently and that it's okay to say you have a single parent or a divorced parent, or that you live with relatives. No more faking it.