Friday, April 30, 2010


This post is cruel of me because the product of which I will speak appears to be available only very locally. I'm guessing the principle applies anywhere though so I'm gonna go for it! It was that or more driving talk and I'm trying really hard not to bore people with that all the time.

Okay, so: I have discovered a new granola, and I've made Something Interesting with it.

Not strawberries and yogurt, because the instructions for that are right on the package if I hadn't thought of it already. Though I must say it's is pretty delicious, now that I've eaten it.

I like granola a lot, but I know myself: it's because of the sugar. Most granola has a ton of honey and stuff in it sticking the oatmeal together.

This granola is gluten free and minimally sugary. There's no oatmeal - it uses quinoa instead, plus a lot of nuts and seeds to go with the dried fruits. But what's especially interesting is that the quinoa is kind of flaked. You pour this stuff out and it's going to blend right into its new environment, sticking to everything.

Which is what gave me the idea. The other day I was craving one of those salads you make with chopped apple, grapes, nuts, and mayonnaise-like salad dressing, but I had no grapes. Or walnuts for that matter.

That's when I remembered the granola. Nuts, raisins... would it work if I blended the apple pieces with the mayo stuff and shook the granola over it?

Yes, yes it does. It is awesome, and I even served it at a lunch with guests this week and they are still speaking to me.

In fact I think I might have some for lunch again today... but first, I gotta see whether there are any more strawberries, because I want seconds on breakfast.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Shopping: it's a side effect of test prep. I mean, I have to drive someplace, right? and then I need a reward for getting out there. Yesterday's was Coraline.

Guess what I did last night while in denial about everything else that needs to get done before Friday?

I thought I would watch for the story elements, because my writing mentor recommended it to me back when it came out, and I also thought I would stare at the little clothes I saw a video of the making of, around the same time. But mostly I just stared with my jaw down. It's almost all textiles! and there was just so much to see.

I can't wait to try it with the 3D glasses it came with. But I guess I'd better get all the before-Friday stuff done today first.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't panic: be somebody else

"Nervousness is okay," my driving instructor told me on Monday. "It's a normal human reaction. Panic is not okay."

I thought that was a good window onto a healthy life - you can't really help nerves (I've tried) but you can function through them, perhaps even more effectively owing to the attention you give to whatever is making you nervous; panic is just paralyzing and not at all helpful.

He also pointed out that even if you don't personally need a particular skill, you can still use it to serve others. If you know how to swim, for example, you can save a life. So too with driving, helping out elderly neighbours or getting somebody to the hospital.

I like the idea of service, because you get so much more out of that than you put in.

The nerves vs. panic thing, too. It reminded me of my high school acting efforts, which were persistent if not brilliant, because I always seemed to do better with a good dose of stage fright.

I didn't try to go on with it because while I was super at memorizing lines and saying them expressively, I really, really didn't like the idea of becoming one with the character. I found it frightening not to just be myself. This isn't a problem for me with fiction, even when the character whose perspective I'm writing from is saying or doing things I find unsettling; somehow, I can spin out many different personalities through my fingers and never lose sight of me.

Unfortunately, right now it would be helpful to lose sight entirely. A Mary who doesn't worry about a thing but just gets on with it - that's what I need to be.

Instead I am being a lopsided Mary who worries at lot and creates even more potential for that by getting on with it anyway. 'It' being the booking of two appointments with two different driving instructors, one Saturday and one Sunday, both for highway driving (but both in my own car this time.)

After I did that yesterday, I went out and parallel parked perfectly on the first attempt, and then I bought groceries just to remind myself how nice it is not to have to walk them home, and when I got home I decided it's not worth all this stress just to have my license.

But I'm going to try anyway. Maybe I'm not any of those other Marys, but just my own worst enemy?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Progress report

Because I know everybody else is on the edge of whatever seat s/he is currently occupying about this whole Mary's Driver's License saga, I thought I'd point out that today marks one whole week since I started putting myself into the car on a daily basis.

Admittedly, prior to these 7 days, I spent 3 years avoiding all opportunities to drive, so I'm far from accomplished. Still, I have made some progress. I can now

change lanes (as opposed to shrieking, signaling, and darting down the nearest side street)

make a three-point turn (though imperfectly) and

... h'mm. I can't actually think of a third thing. Drive aggressively? Is that a good one or did I pick up another bad habit while overcompensating for giving away my right of way?

Okay, let's count making an appointment for the actual test instead. May 27. That's about 30 days away, I think.

I also think 30 days is nowhere near enough. After a brief surge of confidence, plummeting optimism over the past two days of driving practise has me questioning whether I shouldn't just cancel the test altogether and let my license go.

I'm not quite sure what happened. On one of the days, I drove with a white-knuckle passenger whose navigation skills were sadly lacking, and narrowly escaped becoming part of a quite serious accident that happened about three minutes before I made a left turn into the site of it.

On the other, I drove my instructor's car on the highway, twice, even though I never did get the hang of his gas pedal and couldn't accelerate at all comfortably. I experienced moments of sheer terror in which I thought I want to stop the car right now and walk home which is just about the worst thing to think while driving in the extreme left express lane on the highway.

That one lesson alone further complicates the question:

Do I take the test in my instructor's car, which has a brake on the passenger side and a big sign on top that says Student Driver and might therefore make my examiner more comfortable or

Do I take the test in my car, which I know well, even though its turning radius is less than ideal and its visibility marginally less good, because I will almost certainly drive better in it?

Stymied by that decision, I'm not sure whether I will try driving today or not. I should. But I have a lot of other stuff to get done and out of the way and today is a good day to deal with them; also, I think I need a break after so many days of stress.

Maybe I need to keep getting back on the horse.

Or maybe I just need to eat a lot of chocolate.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Yard sale

I had most of Friday off, and it was super sunny and nice out, which kinda undermined my intention to get the taxes done (the Canadian deadline for those is April 30: looming.) When I spotted an old Singer sewing machine in my neighbours' back yard while I was taking out the recycling, well, that was pretty much that. I mean, I am a procrastinator.

They're moving, you see. To England. And they were having a yard sale on Saturday - this was the setup. And I was going to be away most of Saturday, and I am a yard sale addict, and it's pretty tough for me to resist a look at an old Singer, so I called over to see if I could do an advance shop.

That's how I managed to come home with this:

because the Singer turned out to be the same model as the one I have already. However, there was another sewing machine on offer:

It's not a Bernina, but it should give me some flexibility on the zigzag and decorative stitching front while I save up for one.

And - icing! I spotted this lovely little cup nestled in a box.

Yep, same pattern. When you're lucky, you're lucky.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just like life

Life is scary sometimes, isn't it? I mean, when you're young and you look ahead into your 20s and 30s - where will the job come from, the place to live, the person I really want to have children with? How am I going to find a way to do what I really love and get paid for it?

You can imagine those things all you want, but you won't know - you can't come close to finding out - until you're actually out there, living. And when you're in there living, you have to be able to look around and recognize that everybody else is, too. You have to know you have a right to be out there, and even if your path is different from others', you need only to follow certain unspoken rules of conduct to move freely through the masses.

Yesterday I had my first driving lesson in a little over four years, and it was just like that. Everybody has the lane they're sitting in, the space they occupy, and they all just have it granted to them. You just have to move along the road the way everybody else is, and make your turns when everybody's agreed you're next, and change your lanes when the car behind you fills the correct percentage of your rear view mirror, and then - voila! - you'll be where you were going.

Jerry agreed that I will need a ton more practice before I'm ready for a road test. I need to get out three or four times a week, he says, for at least an hour each time.

Really? I asked. I was thinking, like, every day for at least an hour.

Ummm, yes, that would be good, he said.

I need to brush up on the basics like full stops and tighter right turns and oh MAN, lane changes, and then I need to focus on a whole lotta parking. But my main problem is confidence, as in, I have none. I give my right of way too freely, I wave other cars through. I panicked and darted off to a side road when he wanted me to make a lane change on a super busy one.

Accepting all this, I made another appointment with Jerry and then went inside to book my actual test (end of May) and to sit glumly, worrying.

After supper I got back into my car and this time, instead of taking back roads, I got myself into a stream of traffic and took the nearest busy one - the one with the lane changes and the cars chronically parked in patches along the side. I changed lanes twice, and when I came to the place where I nearly had an accident last week I paid closer attention, and when I got to four way stops at almost but not quite the same time as somebody else I took my right of way and let them wait.

And you know what? I feel better.

Well, a little better, anyway.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


A friend told me years ago it's important to balance the body and mind - to be active as well as educated, to put it another way. This was news to me, since I was happy just to sit with my nose in a book for days on end, but when I started getting really active (as opposed to just walking everywhere) I did notice the difference.

The last few days I've faced up to another kind of balance: creativity vs. practicality. When I'm making things, my mind is so full of ideas I block out what's around me and eat cheese sandwiches for weeks.

Just now though, forced by tax season to take a break from all that and look around me, I can see how much has been falling apart on the administrative front. Catching all that and sorting it out, I'm noticing that I'm not snacking all the time, and I feel better. Also: I've been able to make opportunities to practice driving, which I still don't like but am getting slightly more comfortable with.

The trouble is, this is a lesson I've learned many times before, and no matter how I try, I just can't seem to balance creativity with anything. It's all writing or all designing all the time, or else it's healthy living-in-the-moment.

Maybe I just need to accept this about myself - and build in admin. breaks more frequently than once or twice a year?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crisis, solution

Yesterday I looked at the butter plate on my counter and - whoa! There was mold growing on there! I've never, ever seen mold growing on butter before, never mind mold that appears suddenly, because it definitely wasn't there 18 hours before.

When I got over the shock I thought, huh, get that butter into the bin and put the dish in the dishwasher.

Crisis: the dish came out looking like this:

The mold had somehow gotten under the glaze and discoloured it, which I am pretty sure makes it no longer food safe.

And this is a problem because - cue violins - it's one of the special plates.

I used to have this thing about collecting vintage plates and using them as my regular dishes, but I had to stop when I realized I got really crabby if the yellow plaid plate was dirty when I wanted to use it for toast, or the one with the teal and brown stripes around the rim was unavailable for cake, or the deep blue one with the ivory underside that I bought at a boot sale in England was busy under somebody else's salad when I had set my heart on it for a sandwich.

I packed them up until I could be rational (they're still there, in case you were wondering), and bought myself a plain white set, which looks really, really peaceful in my kitchen cupboard.

But when I found a stack of 9 of these plates in a second hand store for 10 cents apiece I thought, ummm, okay! because they would at least match, and there were 9, and they are an unusual size (about 6" across) which is perfect for little desserts.

That is how they became the special plates, in daily use for tea parties and desserts and little treats and, of course, butter.

And I've already broken one, so I can't really afford to lose this, which was one of the really perfect still-white no-crazing ones.

I was leaning over it and considering my options (vinegar? baking soda?) when suddenly the best one occurred to me (eBay!) and I tracked down not one but two located at a vendor near me.

Phew. Desserty crisis averted. But you better believe I didn't pay 10 cents apiece this time!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to have a clean house

There is no better way I know to produce a clean house than to invite people into it, so I did - and yesterday was the day I invited them for (hence all my ill-advised tidying while I should have been bedridden.)

I was well enough not only to not cancel, but to make scones for a tea party. Progress!

Here is what my kitchen looked like while I waited to take butterscotch brownies out of the oven; they and the Little Schoolboy chocolate-topped cookies filled in the gap on the lower tier of that cake plate combo.

If you are accustomed to a proper cream tea this may or may not repel you, but you can simulate the experience of clotted cream and jam on fresh scones with cream cheese and jam on fresh scones. Hence the jam jar on the counter and the temporarily empty glass bowl beside it.

One of my guests went right over the top and brought flowers:

I just love decorating a clean house than with flowers and very nice people who like scones and chocolate cookies and butterscotch brownies. I should really clean up more often - but next time, I'll do it while I'm healthy.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Well, I'm sick again. And as with every cold I've had since I had pneumonia a few years ago I'm neurotically assessing my lung-filling abilities, which are in fact growing more challenged than the level I noticed two days before the sore throat hit on Friday.

I will be at the doctor's by Wednesday if things don't improve, just to be sure. Because awful though it would be to have pneumonia again, it would be a lot worse to have it and not know. Seriously folks, if you don't rest it off, that stuff can kill ya.

Meanwhile, between bursts of incredibly ill-advised housekeeping, I've been lying around listening to the works of E. F. Benson courtesy of Librivox and talking, when I'm able to talk, with an English inflection.

Did you know you can volunteer to read for Librivox? I did, because you can't go to the main Librivox page without seeing the big volunteer button, but also because I keep being reminded by volunteer readers who mention where to find out how to do it too at the beginning of every chapter.

So now I'm getting kind of obsessed.

Really, this is so much a better idea for me than learning Braille so I can translate books into it for the blind, though I still think that is a fabulous volunteer idea and one I would like to do some day, perhaps later in life than Habitat For Humanity building projects, because you can do the Braille work while waiting to have knee replacement surgery.

But it's also a bad idea because I have to learn to drive now, and then I have to do some writing of fiction, and maybe even get a haircut, all of which suggests that I should not be finding fascinating new ways in which to enjoy life to the fullest that don't involve getting my current things done.

(If that makes sense, and I'm sure it does for most people reading this, and isn't that a sad thing?)

Still, it's a good idea for later, which will hopefully come sooner than usual. Meanwhile, I should go find some fresh boxes of tissue

and boil more water for tea

and wait for my lungs to start filling without my prompting them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Best before

Yesterday I replaced a battery and the new one I found in the 'frig turned out to be old - it was marked Best Before 2008. Meh, I thought, and put it in anyway. It's not like it was food, and what's the worst that could happen?

I still don't know because it worked just fine, which reminded me of other things that seem to be Best Before and really aren't.

Kathi, Karen, and TexNan will remember our mutual friend whose mother decided, after her children were old enough, to go to med school. Somebody pointed out to her that by the time she was done she'd be 45, or 50, or whatever crazy age she would be. She pointed back that if she didn't do it, then by the time she would have been done she'd be 45, or 50, or whatever crazy age.

I got braces just a few years ago instead of in my teens like I should have. The other day, looking back at old photographs, I was shocked at how crooked my teeth used to be! I'm so glad I bothered to have that done as an adult, hassle though it was, because not only do I smile for pictures now - I've had a clean bill of health from every dentist's visit since.

And then there's this ridiculous driving license situation I'm in. I had wanted to get the highway test part of it done a year or two ago so I wouldn't be in this 7-week deadline nightmare. But you know what? I would have dragged out the experience for months if I'd done that. This way I can just focus on one thing and get it done.

Which will free me up for a fabulous, relaxing summer.

And that? That is the best.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Seven weeks

Yesterday I found out that my driver's license will remain intact until June 4th no matter how many times I fail the final, 45-minute, highway-inclusive road test of the graduated licensing system where I live. However, if I retake the initial 15-minute test and fail, I'm done. I'll have to start over.


After effectively not driving for the past three years, and not having parallel parked or backed into a parking space (or even driven frontways into one located between two other cars) or changed lanes in four, I have seven weeks to become enormously comfortable and confident in my car - while it's moving among other vehicles.

At high speeds and in multiple lanes, or downtown among streetcars and jaywalking pedestrians and weaving bike messengers.

All my clever procrastinations are over, folks. I gotta detach myself from the keyboard and the knitting needles and transform myself into Girl Who Loves Driving!

(best wishes welcome, sigh.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Being read to

Ages ago when I knew I was going to have to spend a whole day tearing up carpet and I was sick to death of all the music I had, I went to the library and got a book on tape.

(am I dating myself here?)

I dragged my boom box

(again: okay, we're talking 1997)

over to the area in question and magically spent the day listening to the story of a British newspaperman who moved to a farm in Cornwall with his artist wife after WWII and spent the rest of his life writing about the commercial flower growing operation they ran there, in books she illustrated.

Along the way they acquired a cat, which was the point of this particular book, and I was so smitten with the angle he took on this otherwise minor event that I got a bunch of his other books out of the library to read.

Can I remember now the title or author, particularly now that I'd like to read or hear it again? Of course not.

However, I did remember how nice it was to be read to, and when some knitting friends suggested I try audiobooks rather than old movies as accompaniment to this yarn obsession that has beset me, I got more or less on it.

Which is how I ended up on the elliptical machine at my gym on Monday listening to the opening chapter of Queen Lucia, courtesy of Librivox and the recommendation of my friend Kathi. Between the music and the people walking around and my own internal monologue

(entirely related to why exactly did I forget my water bottle and how many minutes more had I programmed in already and wasn't it getting a bit warm? and so forth)

it was hard to follow, but yesterday I tried it again with my knitting in hand and - yes. Got it. Loved it.

Today: it's back to the gym, with Queen Lucia and a bottle of water. Let's hope Chapter Three gets me through more than 15 minutes of ellipticizing, shall we? And also that I remember the water bottle.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Garlic soup

I'm trying not to cry over having finished My Life in France. I enjoyed it so much, and now I have nothing to read over breakfast or lunch.

In the end, and even though French cooking is not exactly my thing, one food thing actually struck a chord with me. So much so that I picked up three heads of garlic at the fruit and veg shop yesterday.

Yep, garlic soup. Who ever heard of such a thing? Not me over here under my rock, that's for sure. I immediately envisioned roasted cloves, smashed and pureed and mixed in with chicken stock... all kinds of awesome.

Sadly I neglected to pick up a copy of any of Julia Child's cookbooks with the garlic, and could only find this recipe on Epicurious to try. It would require me to have made chicken stock first (you just know it's not going to be as good with store-bought broth) and to poach eggs.

While debating the merits of all that effort, I did a proper web search and found the Julia Child version here. This one would have me making my own mayonnaise with raw egg and olive oil. I'm sure that the egg would cook to a safe condition in the heat from the soup. Really. But... the poached egg option is looking a bit more appealing by comparison.

Now all I need is to get a wicked cold on the Friday of a weekend in which I'm going nowhere and seeing nobody (except people who really like garlic or, alternatively, vampires), preferably while all that garlic I bought is still a viable ingredient. Any chance, you think?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Technological advances

I don't usually get mail at all on Fridays, and never get mail from South Africa what with not knowing anybody there or anything, but last week:

Now who, I wondered, could possibly be writing me from South Africa?

Oh, that's who.

I can't imagine that anybody stumbling across my blog has not had approximately 53 e-mails similar to this letter in the past few years, but just in case: it's a widespread scam in which somebody claims to have access to a ton of somebody else's cash that it won't hurt anybody to take because the somebody else and all his/her heirs is/are dead now, except for that little problem of needing somebody from another country altogether to help get it out of the bank. Somebody who's willing to pay expenses and/or supply all his/her banking information up front in exchange for a cut of the cash much later.

I guess this can sound attractive to some. But after all this time, and all the ink that's been spent on it? You'd think it would have run its course by now. Instead it's still working, and well enough to justify stamps and toner and paper and envelopes, to say nothing of all that folding and stuffing sticking things on.

Still a surprise though, the choice of regular postal service. Maybe it makes that whole 'Even though you're a complete stranger I'd like your help in a robbery' thing seem more legitimate.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Somebody else's life in France

A friend mentioned she was reading My Life in France, Julia Child's memories of the early years of her marriage (spent, oddly enough, in France) and I suddenly felt I must read it too. So I am, and I can hardly put it down!

I never saw any of Julia Child's cooking shows or other TV appearances and I'm only registering that a movie was made of this book because there's picture on the cover of my copy of Meryl Streep in a market and wearing a pink cardi on her shoulders. So that's not what grabs me. And it's not the food stuff - I have no aspirations toward that level of cooking - or the locale, really.

It's that voice. The voice of the narrator is everything for me. And it's obvious that Julia Child was a person you'd want very much to know, if you could. It's invigorating to read about somebody so passionate about a subject, and so energized about learning, and so focused on the fun of it all.

Bonus: she met a lot of artists and writers and conditions generally in postwar Paris that I know from my other reading, which grounds things for me and adds new perspective.

This book will go on my gift-giving list. But not this edition, with its Meryl Streep cover and complete lack of photos inside of the people being written about. That's a rare oversight in a memoir and what a loss it is, when those people are so fascinating.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Flat as a pancake

In addition to about a metric tonne of chocolate, there was a complete pancake crisis at my place over Easter weekend.

I'm good at pancakes, so periodically I'm called upon to make rather a lot of them, which several years ago led me to purchase a nonstick two-burner griddle for my ceramic-topped stove. Since then I've used that griddle for so many things, the nonstick stuff wore out and I had to stop using it. So with Easter looming, the pressure was on to get myself a (better) replacement.

Voila! The griddle of my dreams, complete with delicious-looking cookbook. I was a happy girl when I took that picture. Then I took off the rest of the wrapping and looked at the bottom of the griddle and realized you can't use it on a ceramic-topped stove (it doesn't make 100% contact with the heating surface and was in fact designed for a gas or electric stove; put it on a ceramic top and it will warp, thereby voiding the warranty.)

So back it went. And home I came again with the next level up at 5x the price and 6x the storage size - an actual electric griddle. Thing of beauty except for two tiny nicks in the nonstick.

So back that went. And I spent Easter doing this:

The skillet in front? Totally burnt most of the pancakes I trusted it with. So I'm still hunting for a griddle and hoping to find it before the next big gorgefest.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You know how to whistle, don't you?

Horrifying discovery of the week: whistling gives you wrinkles!

Seriously - I was teaching somebody how to whistle the other day, and standing at the mirror and puckering up I suddenly saw my parallel-universe self, a lifelong pack-a-day puffer, and realized what I'll look like at 80 if I keep it up.

This bothers me because I can whistle a tune like nobody's business, for a really long time... hours, if I'm doing something really boring.

Like the time I was Executor for a guy who had done a lot of wordworking in his day and never met a scrap of wood, metal, or elastic band he didn't think he could find a use for (wrong) and I whistled for about three days straight clearing up the mess in his basement.

Eventually his tenant told me he considers whistling to be unladylike, which I suspect was code for Please Stop, You're Slowly Driving Me Insane, but I kept going anyway. Hey, it's not like he was offering to help carry all that heavy stuff out to the Dumpster!

Anyway ever since the Mirror Incident I've been trying not to whistle. I keep catching myself and stopping, but I'm not catching myself any less frequently as the days pass. I think I might really miss whistling if I stop for reals.

Do you think it really matters if I have a lot of wrinkles in my lipstick?

Don't answer that. Even at 80 I expect I'll care.

And you know, I'll always have nose harmonica. Small mercies!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How the driving is going

So, yes. It's now April, which means I have 2 months to pass a road test or start over from scratch with my driver's license.

And though I am seriously questioning why I need a license at all given that I have barely driven since I got the one I have nearly five years ago, I did get out last night to practice. It didn't go so great.

First mistake: deciding to just get out there before I talked myself out of it, with complete disregard for the time of day. Usually I go out in the morning, just after rush hour. I'm used to the traffic flow then and it didn't occur to me it would be different just before 6pm.

First clue I'd made the first mistake: looking at block-long lineup of cars waiting in the road I needed to make a left into. Right! The other rush hour!

It's a two-lane road and normally I make a left into the left lane, then quickly change lanes to the right just like I learned in driving school so I can make a right turn at the end of the block.

This time though - that row of cars blocking me from my left turn. What's the rule about that? Was I supposed to drive straight into the right lane or wait at the corner for some traffic to clear?

I opted for plan A and followed some other cars into the right lane, then compulsively checked my rear view mirror and

Hello police officer!

(and thank you for not following me with sirens flashing, because I don't quite know whether you're supposed to pull over in the middle of a busy stretch of road or go a bit farther where you won't block traffic.)

I reached my Fake-Important destination, parked perfectly, chatted with another driver who has the same kind of car I do and felt like an idjit when he asked what model year mine is and all I had retained about that was, Not one of the ones affected by the recall (and then felt vindicated when he didn't realize our car has Toyota parts in it and later models have been recalled), resisted the urge to say HA, went into a store and came out again, and headed home...

... promptly messing up my timing and nearly hitting another car.


Back in my driveway and still cursing myself, I realized I had forgotten to bring my cell phone with me - if I had hit the other car I wouldn't have been able to call anybody in panic, even.

Then I realized I had also forgotten my housekey.

Isn't it lucky that a friend with a second set was a short walk away?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Organizational intervention

Lately I've been really mad at my house for being too small and at the same time being more perfect for me than any other house that comes up for sale in my area, assuming I could justify paying about $75,000 per room for the extra space such a shift would give me, plus moving expenses. And I really can't.

So even though I usually keep Good Friday as a day of quiet reflection, this year I spent the day emptying out all the kitchen cupboards and tossing everything so old as to be unusable (how did I miss those painkillers back in 2005 when they first expired?) or coming from a time when I did things differently than I do now.

And that is the big lesson: as times change, habits change. When I was writing all the time, I baked bread a lot and made elaborate suppers, because those activities make for good mulling of plot points and character motivation. Now I'm doing textiles - more hands on, less mulling required, way less time available. I need tea and quickbreads from the grocery store in the main cupboards, not yeast.

It took about four hours to get the cupboards empty and wiped clean - depressing when you consider exactly how small a space we're talking about here.

I made some sad discoveries, like this bag that could have had anything in it...

... and turned out to have the expensive chocolate-shop treats purchased last July and immediately misplaced.

Also: some happy ones.

I forgot I had collected these vintage Pyrex sweeties, even though I used to use them all the time for all kinds of different things.

When I was partway through I could see light:

And now I am in it.

Everything that used to sit on the counter is now up in a cupboard, and honestly? Walking through the kitchen and seeing that clear space and feeling the mental freedom it gives - that's worth all the effort and then some.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

... from Vic and the chicks!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The trouble with sunny days

Sunny days are so beautiful you just want to be out in them. So it's very very important to rush blindly through the door because sunny days are the best at showing you just how dirty the house is.

And what's worse, all that happy energy you got from looking out the window at the sunshine? Totally transferable to scrubbing the doors of the kitchen cabinets and chasing dust bunnies with the vacuum.

Usually I get along just fine ignoring the house in favour of, say, watching old movies and knitting, or just staring at the computer screen or maybe answering the phone - man, you'd be amazed how many telemarketers have my number - but today, no. I had to clean.

I cleaned for almost a whole hour! before heading out for groceries. And when I came back I could see that the house is still dirty.

But on the bright side, I no longer care. And after I've had a little nap to recover from my efforts, I probably still won't. That's the other trouble with sunny days... it only takes a few hours to get used to them, and then you end up in front of the TV or computer or phone again.