Tuesday, April 29, 2008


My best friend has just bought her First House with her husband. She will finally have enough room for their different interests, for their two pre-teen sons, for her mother. They will, at long last, have a HOME.

Welcome, angel, to the world where you can paint the kitchen any colour you want. Welcome to the world where you can pull out that damned rosebush, simply because you don't like it. Welcome to the world where you finally have the RIGHT to ask your husband to knock a wall down if it suits your purpose.

Welcome, also, to the world where, if the sink leaks? YOU deal with it. Welcome to the world of dandelions. Welcome to the world of new roofs, new flooring, new furniture. Welcome to the world of expensive surprises, of unexpected challenges.

Home-ownership ain't pretty, but I swear to you it's worth it. It's worth it.

Felicitations, mon amie.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Theory confirmed: we ARE cursed

Over the last five years, I now see Husbandly One and I have had a string of bad luck. At first, I guess the incidents were far enough apart that I didn't make the connection. My eyes are open now, though!

2008 has been especially interesting so far. We are only four months in to this mother, and I live in financial terror of what will happen NEXT. So far this glorious year, I have totalled my car, spent $4000 on a new transmission for our truck, had the celing in our garage collapse because (apparently!) I need a new roof NOW, the deck on the front of our house has sagged under the weight of the snow and needs to be repaired / possibly replaced, we have spent approx $3,ooo sending my Step-Son to Alberta to live out the promise of "Lots of Jobs and Big Money" and then flying him back home again. I literally can't take anyomre.

Last night, we got home to a puddle of water in our bathroom. There was a big leak under the sink. Husbandly One screwed around with the pipes for an hour or so, only to come to the realization that we actually need an entire new sink.

I told this story at work this morning, and my girlfriends tried to be encouraging. "At least sinks aren't expensive, I have seen them at Costco for as little as fifty dollars."

And I was all, "Fifty dollars? What's THAT?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

and PS to my "non-Blogger" readers

I think I have changed the "comments" function so that anyone can post a reply to my posts, without being an actual "Blogger" user. Let me know, because based on my stats, there are quite a few people reading this, and I would love to hear from all of you.

Saving the world, one meal at a time

They say the little things add up, so while I didn't do anything major to mark Earth Day, the things I did do are easy enough that anyone can do them, too.

1. My office has a large window, so I kept the lights turned off for most of the day. (I tend to do that most days when it is sunny).

2. My workplace had planned (on my suggestion, blush) a book swap. Staff were encouraged to bring in books they no longer want, or take something they wanted to read. We actually planned this to coordinate with a big literary festival in our city, to encourage literacy, and it was a sheer coincidence that the first day of our book fair was Earth Day. (Get it? Re-using and recycling?) Anyway, I took in more than sixty books this morning -- okay, for me personally it was also about decluttering!-- and I plan to do a second sweep in the house tonight and come up with at least twenty more.

3. Going to live by my beloved candle light tonight, and keep the electric lights off.

4. I had leftovers for dinner tonight. Now, this one may be subtle, but it is still a part of living greener. So often in our house we have a portion or two of whatever we had for dinner left. I always save it in a Tupperware...and about a week later, I end up throwing it out because we didn't get around to eating it. Well, tonight I used leftover steak to make a wicked good sandwich, and I want to talk about that steak for a minute, to really reinforce how important it is to eat leftovers....I'm about to get long and preachy, but hell, it's my blog. And I think this is important, because all of my friends admit to leftovers frequently ending up in their trash, too.

For the sake of argument, let's say I bought Steak A, cooked it for dinner and there was enough left for another meal, but, instead of eating what was leftover another time, I bought Steak B for my next meal. And to make the illustration easier, let's say that these two steaks came from two different cows (I SWEAR this will be relevant in a minute.)

I just created double the landfill from purchasing two foam trays and plastic wrap. I just wasted the power from cooking another steak, instead of quickly heating up the leftovers or even eating it cold. I just compromised all of the resources used to grow and process the first cow, by not using all of it: I wasted part of the water and grain the animal ate, part of the electricity for slaughter, gasoline for transport, electricity for refrigeration, etc. I could go on forever, even down to the fact that my next grocery receipt will waste more paper and ink when it rings in Steak B.... all precious resources I could have saved by simply eating my leftovers. And left's not forget that, hello? Leftovers means I'm not wasting my money on groceries I don't need.

I feel like Dennis Miller saying, "I don't mean to get off an a rant here...", but I do want you to consider the larger ramifications of even the slightest change you make in your every day life. It is true that each of us can only make the slightest ripple in the water, but together we make a tsunami.

Happy Earth Day.

Edited to note: I also understand that eliminating animal protein from my diet completely, by becoming a vegetarian or vegan, would have a much LARGER impact on the environment. But, umm, never gonna happen. So I will do my part, my way. Make sure you do yours.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Who has the best friend in the entire world?

Umm, that would be me.

And it will always be me, unless, you know, you meet her, too, and somehow steal her from me. At which point I will hunt you down and get her back. So don't even bother.

I saw her first.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How come

nothing in our life can ever be easy? How come, a la Godfather 3, "Just when we thought we were out, they pull us back IN." ? How come we spend most of our lives being resigned to outside forces, being forced to deal with situations we either didn't create or can't afford, but somehow have to manage or pay for?

How come, ever since we decided to make a life together five years ago, we have seemingly been cursed? How come we can never catch a freaking break? Sigh.

Good thing we love each other.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Most horrifyingly bad commercial ever.

Hey, remember a few weeks ago when I told you about the commercial which was SO bad, I contemplated giving up my beloved cheese? (Ok, actual contemplation lasted less than a second and was quickly rejected.)

And remember how I told you I don't know how to hyperlink?

Well, the link below combines both facets of my personality in one easy step. But I'm warning you, it's BAD.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Random things on my mind right now

I have an overwhelming desire to knit a sweater. I've knit about a dozen sweaters in my life, but the last one was probably a decade ago. I suspect my sudden urge to knit comes from a desire to be crafty without having to be creative. I want to create, but I want to follow a pattern, damn it, instead of making decisions! (Something that scrapbooking requires, unfortunately!)

The other night I broke a nail while trying to drag my insanely barking dog back in the house. Broke it so far down that no "white" of the nail was involved, the split (and it IS a big split) is deep, deep down in the pink part of the nail, so far down that it can't even be cut. It bled a bunch at the time, and I have kept the whole thing tightly wrappped in a bandaid since then, because, if I catch that thing on something and it tears off? I might literally die from the pain.

Best laugh I've had in a long time: On the second anniversary of my Daddy's death, my Mum, Sisterly One and I watched old videos. There was one Daddy filmed of their eight week puppy, playing in the sprinkler in their freshly turned garden. You have never seen a puppy so happy or dirty dirty DIRTY, and this part of the video was right after they gave the new puppy a bath....Finally, Daddy tells my (then) ten year old sister, "Go get your mother." And after Sisterly One leaves to do as she's told, my father confides in the camera, "Wife is going to kill me" and starts cackling with laughter. He just knew the situation was too funny to stop taping. THAT was what my Dad was like.

I actually enjoy watching golf on TV, even though I think the game is pretty stupid in real life.

One of my friends says there's a new "Lost" this week. My other friend, also a Lostie, says it's next week. I don't care, just get me back to the island!

Iced Capuccino at Timothy's SUCK.

No matter what Husbandly One is looking for around the house, no matter how obscure, I always know where it is. Why is that?

What would happen if I vacuumed my dog? (Relax, I'm NOT going to vacuum my dog with a regular vacuum cleaner, okay? I don't abuse my animals. I just wonder if a person could minimize the shedding.)

Nylons from the Dollar Store are fabulous. Hair elastics from the Dollar Store are terrible. You win some, you lose some.

I want to see the documentary, "Jesus Camp".

Ice cream is gross.

Teaching myself how to run an "official" BBQ competition is an awful lot of fun.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Chinese Daddy

In the early eighties, Chinese cooking was the culinary rage. Millions of white North Americans jumped on the bandwagon, purchasing cheap woks and bottles of sesame oil, producing passable stirfries for their families, and considered themselves masters of this ancient art.

And then there was my house.

My father may have come to this cooking style by chance, but it quickly gained a significant part of his heart and shaped a great deal of the rest of his life. While other families were learning how to burn things in cheap woks and then douse them in soya sauce, my father invested in the finest woks and the best cleavers money could buy.... the best cleavers, by the way, were usually sold for $8 in the back aisle of a Chinese grocery store, they were NOT the $70 stainless steel versions sold at the Bay to the unsuspecting masses.

The North American fascination with Chinese cooking was shortlived, just another trend-of-the-day. Not so much in my house.

My father, a brilliant cook, truly found his niche with Chinese cooking and the Chinese way of life. At the height of his infactuation with the culture, my Mom literally went years without having to cook us dinner: in the Chinese way, my father had decided that the highest honour a person could hold was to cook and provide nourishment for his family. To him, this was a daily interaction with The Sublime. Literally a quarter of our large kitchen was dedicated to his passion, the cupboards stocked with black beans, unfamiliar oils, unusual spices in jars without English labels, shrimp chips waiting to be fried, and Chinese whiskey.

My father had a deep disdain for what restaurants called "Chinese food", those types of buffets the average person would pay $15 for to eat poor imitations of the original. I'm sure that the Chinese restauranteurs were as frustrated as my dad was with this situation, forced to crank out streotypical but profitable dishes. And so they were always happy to see my father, a white guy who knew his shit, show up towards the end of the rush . He would take me along on occasion, and I would see him explain to the server that he didn't want the shit they were serving the masses, he wanted FOOD. And 30 or 45 minutes later, the most magical things would begin appearing at our table. Fragrant vegetables. Delicious tofu dishes with a stink that would get up your nose and stay there. Broccoli and beef, that typical buffet favourite, arrived at our table completely different from what others were having. They got what was popular. We got what was real.

There was a Chinese restaurant near our house, a takeout joint that produced gallons of chicken fried rice and buckets of fried wontons each day, food my father disdained. But I remember going in with him, seating ourselves at a Formica table with paper placemats and hearing the staff whisper to each other, "Dave here. Dave here! Make for Dave!" And soon, the most magical food would appear. Chicken dishes full of bones, but full of unbelievable flavour. Beef dishes with almost no meat but lots of delicious marrow... the regular crowd demanded meat, but they knew Dave wanted REAL Chinese food, dishes with only a smatteting of animal protein for flavour.

A true Chinese chef is actually horrified by the amount of animal protein North Americans consume, but twice I experienced Chinese gluttony: once it was because the chef had got his hands on some pigeon, and the other time was because he had managed to procure an ox penis. I remember my father stumbling over the explanation of the penis to me... he may have had residual male issues about eating the thing, but I didn't. It was delicious.

My father's obsession with Chinese cooking eventually waned, but it never left. My father learned to speak Mandarin (and well I remember the night Daddy tried to order our dinner in that language, only to discover the waitress "only" spoke Cantonese!)

A few years before he died, Mum suggested they take a sabbatical & live in China for a year, Surprisingly, my father said no. I suspect it was because he knew it would just be too emotional for him, he couldn't face such beauty. I understand that, truly I do. Somethings are just too large, too MUCH.

My parents' house, by the way, is today decorated in Chinese style. Ink drawings. Shadow boxes containing writing implements. Ink pens artfully displayed.

But, now that he has gone, my Mum is actually contemplating her first trip to China. I want her to go, and in many ways I NEED her to go. I want her to have the experience for herself, but I also want her to have it for Daddy.

I never did ask my father why Chinese culture affected him so deeply, and that is actually one of my life's regrets. Why, Daddy? What was it about Chinese cooking that changed you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A good thing to remember...

Sometimes you need to take matters in your own hands.

No, I'm not going to explain what I am referring to specifically (unless you are my Forest Sister). But it occurred to me tonight that I have been, in certian areas, living my life like a spectator, waiting to see what happens.

Bullshit on THAT.

If I believe in something strongly, I need to step up to the plate and make it happen. Loving this lesson.

Nothing is wrong, everything in our lives is postive and good. I just happen to think they can be more positive and gooder. (And yes, I know that's not a word, it just felt right for this moment!)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Joining you by candlelight

Guys, I was soooo not kidding about eliminating (or at least minimizing) electric light from my life.

The first time I did this in Husbandly One's presence, he was all, "Ok Irma, I get the point. Can we put the lights on now?"

Less than a week later, he is next to me, watching TV by candlelight with no comment. YAY ME. Ok, ok, we are still watching TV, still using electricity for my laptop, BUT we are doing whatever we can, such small gestures.... Doesn't hurt that this is costing us less money as well. (Which, I believe, is the only reason he's doing this. Hell, I don't care, I want to have lower bills, too!)

In other news, my mum called me the other day to invite me to share in the remembrance of the second anniversary of my dad's death...it's next Friday. Mum, Sisterly One, and I will eat the life altering macaroni & cheese Daddy always made for us, and then watch old family videos with the junkfood and beverages of our choice. Perfect.

Daddy would have loved this, would have been the first one to suggest which videos to look at, would have been the first one in the kitchen to cook our family favourites.

And even though it has been two years, and even though we have dispersed his ashes on three continents, I STILL believe he will burst through the back door, his hair in disarray from the wind, and tell us there has been a monumental mistake.

I agree, Daddy. There was a mistake, So come home now, ok?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

(thank you, David Bowie)

My BFF is about to buy her first home.

My brother and his beautiful wife are celebrating their first wedding anniversary tomorrow.

My stepson is about to start his first job he earned without his father's intercession.

My friends Maureen and Darren are only a few weeks away from taking their 16 month old son home from the hospital.

Change is never easy, but it is always worth it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hell's Kitchen

Husbandly One and I loooooooooove Gordon Ramsay, period. Last night we caught this season's premier of "Hell's Kitchen", and while we enjoyed it immensely, for the first time we also were a bit put off by the whole thing.

Examples: Chef Ramsay tries a (questionable) tartar made of raw scallop, caviar, white chocolate, and capers. We are then forced to watch him "retch" into a trash can for five minutes. And when dinner service hits a low note, and "customers" start walking out, he forces the contestants to look out at the dining room, and EVERY SINGLE PERSON has walked out...? I'm sorry, that is hokey to the Extreme. Some tables walk out? Sure. ALL tables walk out? Never going to happen, unless the TV crew tells them to.

I love this show, love the way it shows the public how our lives are lived. An angry chef? This part is true. Chefs are very passionate, and they know that everything that leaves the kitchen is attributed to THEM. So do they get short sometimes, do they get terse, do they curse? Well, DUH, of course they do. They are ALSO the loveliest, funniest, most caring people you will ever met. You don't see THAT on TV, do you?

Last night's Hell's Kitchen left a bad taste in my mouth. The producers are (I am sure) forcing Goron Ramsay to be SO over the top for ratings only, not considering how those of us in the Business will now question him for that kind of behaviour.

I have insider info from people who have worked directly with him that he is exacting, he is demanding, he is a perfectionist, but he is FAIR, he believes in his talented staff and works with them to help them attain their full potential. And while I enjoy drama on the show, I just wish I could see that side of him on TV.