Sunday, November 30, 2008


1. This morning, Husbandly One was the absolute picture of health. Before I left to drive Son back to his dad's house, the two loves of my life spent about a half hour sitting closely together on the couch, while Husbandly One explained his on-line soccer league to the boy. At 2:30, I dropped Husbandly One (perfectly healthy) at work so he could do an inventory, and drove Son out to our "swap" point, a town about half way between our two homes. By the time I got back and picked up Husbandly One up at 5pm, he had the plague. His head felt like lead, all his joints ached, and I could feel his terrbile fever by simply touching his cheek.

On our way back to the house, I said, "Stop at the drug store so I can at least get you some Neo-Citran." And he did. And THIS, friends & neighbours, is how I know that this sickness is really, really bad. Husbandly One hates pharmaceuticals in all their forms, even refused pain medication after his surgery two years ago (he did not refuse it DURING the surgery, ha ha!). So for him to allow me to feed him aspirin? He must feel like unmitigated crap.

It is almost 8pm, and I fed him the Neo-Citran around 5:15pm. He has been asleep in bed since. I'll wake him up in a few hours to check his temp again and see if he is hungry, but other than that, I want him in bed.

The side effects of this, obviously, is that I had to call Ex-Husband and warn him that Son had been in close proximity with Plague Man earlier today, and I myself am contemplating sleeping downstairs in Son's room, rather than in my own room, cuddled up to Contagion.

2. The more I read on-line about urban homesteading, the more I am convinced I need to stop gardening on my previous tiny scale, and at least move up to a small scale this year. I need to start small, I need to start humbly, and I need to start with low expectations, but I need to START. Oh, and everything I read? Leads me to read more, ha ha.

3. Bill Clinton was awesome. As I think I mentioned, his speech was on the economy. He opened by explaining in layman's terms what went wrong in the States, and how through our global inter-dependence, we were therefore going to feel it here in Canada, too, even though technically "our" economy wasn't hurt much at all. He talked about how in the last eight years, too much of the financial boon in the States was tied to only one segment, housing. Not just in terms of the mortgage crisis, but in jobs created for construction, etc. Put too much faith in to one segment and then when it goes to hell? A country collapses.

He also talked about the crisis facing the Big Three automakers. He didn't get in to how they got to this point too much, but he did talk about how they can get out of this mess. If the US gov't does indeed bail them out, then the Big Three need to prove what they are going to do differently, and he mentioned hybrid cars in particular. One of the three (I think it's GM, but I could be very wrong) has a new hybrid in development. It will get about 40 miles of driving distance to a charge (and most cars in the US are driven less that 25 miles per day) before the gasoline engine has to kick in. Now, this new hybrid is only slated to hit dealer floors in 2010, and it will cost about $40,000. Clinton questioned why this could be stepped up, and why (if the gov't bails them out) they couldn't swallow those development costs initially and offer the new car for $20 to 25 thousand, to actually make it viable for people to buy it...

He also talked about charitable giving and how, in these horrid times, it is still important for people to give. AND he taught me something about about my own country, Canada, as it relates to international relief effort.

Whenever there is a humanitarian crisis, you always hear about countries pledging aid to the affected. In the States, this food aid takes the form of loading wheat and rice on a plane, and flying it over to the affected country. But in Canada -- and I literally didn't know this-- we spend 50% of our aid budget buying locally. Which means that, if the country in crisis is, I don't know, Sri Lanka, our government buys food NEAR Sri Lanka. This allows emerging markets to flourish, allows us to get food on the scene of the disaster much more quickly, makes good international neighbours who will in future look upon trade with Canada favourably for the shot in the arm we gave their producers, etc. Plus? Rather than transport food 10,000 kilometers? Maybe it only has to be transported a few hundred kilometers.

This system has been working beautifully in Canada for several years, I learned. I FURTHER learned that when a similar plan was suggested in the States? Big Ag went CRAZY and it didn't pass.

So score one for the Canadians.

At the end of the afternoon, I was enraptured with President Clinton, Husbandly One not so much. After the past few years of Bill Clinton sound bites on CNN, Husbandly One was really hoping for a more visibly passionate speech from the President. I told him I felt the lecture WAS very passionate, and that he had to remember that Bill Clinton speaking at a political rally, trying to get people excited, was very different from a speech where he was trying to get people to think.

3. My Christmas tree is up. I handled the actual tree construction and lighting (boring, nasty activities) so that when Son got here on Friday, we could move in to the actual DECORATING, which is the fun part.

4. Spoke to my Mum tonight. We decided that, based on the number of people who will be home for the holidays this year, major meals will be at her house. I used to have a dining room table that sat twelve, but a year ago we got rid on it, replacing it with a table for four. (We eat at our dining room table every single day, don't own a kitchen table, and the table was frankly just too big for the dining room in our tiny house.) We FURTHER decided that, instead of the crazy gift giving frenzy that has usually occurred in the past, we are going to draw names among the adults for stockings ($25 limit) and the actual gifts ($100 limit.) Children are NOT included in this rule...well, we only have one child in our extended family, Son, but the point is everyone wants to get him something and children should be the focus of gift giving. (And he hs already told me some of the things HE wants to buy for the grown ups, and I will have to budget for that, ha ha!)

5. My thermostat is set at a balmy 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Husbandly One is in bed under warm blankets, I have a blanket over my lap and am perfectly happy. I refuse to waste money and fossil fuels just so I can sit around in a t-shirt.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Oh my heavens, tomorrow is the day we will hear Bill Clinton speak IN PERSON. As a Canadian, I admired him as President, and I have adored him as an ex-president. Three years ago, Husbandly One and I almost changed family vacation plans so we could go hear him speak three hours away from our home. (We were supposed to be sixteen hours away from home in the other direction, at that time... so we made the difficult decision to go on the vacation.)

But tomorrow? I will hear a speech of his in its entirely, instead of the sound bites on CNN. And I will be in the same room.

I have made this perfectly clear on the blog in the past: celebrities don't impress me, I literally could not care less. But POLITICIANS? Totally different story,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Today was nasty cold, and while the wind wasn't fierce, it had a raw bite to it. It began snowing early this afternoon, big white flakes that melted as soon as it touched the ground. It is now 9pm, the snow is still falling, and the ground is white. My black truck is white. The street is white. Something tells me it'll all still be there tomorrow.

About an hour ago, Husbandly One felt a bit chilly so he got up to look at the thermostat. I was instantly ready with my usual argument about why he shouldn't turn up the heat....but all he did was look at it for a second, and then went in to our bedroom to get a sweater. I was stunned, unable to comprehend this bizarre sight before me. He just shrugged and said, "It's 62 degrees Fahrenheit in here, the house is warm enough."

Whuuuuuuuuuut? Where did THIS come from? I hate to say I praised him for his wise decision, because it makes it sound like I treat him like a three year old who just sat on the potty... but, well, I DID praise him.

He is exhausted after many late nights at work and many late nights watching past seasons of "Lost" with me on DVD, so just now he decided to go to bed. At 9pm, people. Between the sweater and the sleeping, I think something may be wrong with him, it's so out of character. As soon as I had him tucked in, I went back to the thermostat (my arch nemesis!) and turned it down even more to 58 degrees. I grabbed a blanket for my lap, turned off all the lights and lit a candle, and here I am now, in my pitch black cold house.

My motivation in all this is half about saving money, and half about embracing my inner granola. The amount of electricity and natural gas we waste in this house is staggering and it needs to stop. One candle that I move around with me provides more than enough light for simply sitting around. (If I was knitting or reading, I'd put a light on; I'm practical, not crazy.) And let's be honest: the TV is on, as (obviously) is my computer. This isn't about being electricity-free, and it's not about denying myself anything, it's about making conscious choices.

Yes, I prefer to set my thermostat low and adjust my clothing accordingly. If my one little body feels chilly, doesn't it make sense to warm up that BODY, instead of forcing warm air through 1500 square feet?

I have a friend who uses candles as her main source of light in order to save on electricity. Another friend laughed and said, "Yes, but candles can cost even more than using a light bulb." Apparently he never considered how often women are given candles as GIFTS. As I look around my very dimly lit livingroom and dining room, I can see 19 candles in various locations and groupings, and I didn't buy a single one of them! And be honest, YOU have candles you received as gifts, and you DON'T actually get around to burning most of them, do you? You just kind of "have" them. Well, stop looking at the damn thing and set fire to it! And turn off the lights when you do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day. One huge, emotional wallop for yours truly. I actually have a hard time articulating how I feel every November 11th, it is a big jumble of gut-wrenching sorrow, incredible patriotism, deep deep humility, fierce joy, intense thankfulness, and some more humility thrown in for good measure. Enough said.

This afternoon, Husbandly One and I finally took a drive to the new windfarm that has been erected not far from town. A half hour of driving brought us to this amazing, amazing place. I had our camera with me, but I was so awestruck as we drove around -- and at one point, just sat in one place for ten minutes, watching the blades turn in the wind-- that I didn't take a single picture. It was so awesome, the idea that we are producing electricity by simply harnessing the power of the wind. Unreal, and so exciting!

Because it is Remembrance Day, there weren't a lot of people actually working there today (they are still installing the last three of 32 windmills). We passed through what appears to be their construction headquarters, based on the number of trailers, trucks parked, etc. And on the very edge of this area, I spied what I think is their garbage dump. It is several giant piles of wood packaging: wood pallets, massive wood boxes the size and shape of coffins, and hundreds of low wood boxes, just perfect for square foot gardening. These open boxes were 3 by 5 feet, and about ten inches tall, just sitting there, waiting for me to liberate them and grow vegetables in them!

Sadly, we didn't see anyone we could ask about these fabulous boxes, so of course I didn't take sorely tempted as I was! I ALSO saw, throughout the site, entire BALES of abandonned peat moss. Whaaaaaaat? Do you have any idea how much that stuff costs, and how good it is for your garden?? I suspect the bales of peat moss are somehow used in conjunction with the large cranes they use to construct the windmills., as they were most prevalent in areas where cranes are still operational. I ALSO saw many bales of hay, which would be fabulous in a compost pile.

Anyway, I digress. I surely did want some of that abandonned peat moss, and I surely did want those abandonned wood boxes, so when we got home I sent an email inquiry to the company that owns the wind farm, simply asking what happens to the wood boxes after the contents are unpacked, and if it would be possible for me to get permission to take and/or pay for some. We'll see how they respond to THAT question....if favourable, I will also inquire oh-so-nonchalantly regarding the hay and peat moss.

Not bad for a lazy afternoon drive!

The other news in my very boring life (yes, it is boring, I have made peace with that and learned to embrace it!) is that yesterday I discovered Husbandly One doesn't know when my birthday is!

Let me set the scene: every year on my birthday, Husbandly One leaves work during the afternoon to go shopping. When I get in our truck at the end of the day, there is always a big shopping bag in the back that I'm supposed to pretend I don't notice. When we get home, either he locks himself in our bedroom to wrap my gift, or he just hands me the shopping bag. Every year. And it BUGS me, particularly seeing how I look forward to gift GIVING very much, and so always have his birthday or Valentine's Day token ready waaaaay ahead of time, with much thought and love put in to it. It hurts me, quite frankly, that when it comes to giving ME gifts, it always feels like he forgot, that he didn't care enough to think about me ahead of time.

Yesterday, we got home from work, and he declared he needed to, umm, go get a haircut, yes, a haircut, I really have to go to it today, it can't wait, I need a haircut. And I thought, "Squeeee!!"

He came home two hours later, with several shopping bags he thinks I didn't notice, that he stashed in the basement. And he didn't HAVE a haircut. More squeeee-ing from me, because I was so excited that he was planning ahead of time to give me a gift. (Seriously, this is a FIRST)

Around 10pm last night, he re-emerged from the basement with a big, beautiful gift bag, and put it in the corner of the living room. Like, not putting it near me, just in a corner of the room where he could store it until later. I said, "Dear, you can't leave that there, the animals will get in to it." And he looked at me a little strangely, a bit perplexed.

At 11:50pm last night, I stood up and said, "Well, that's it for me, I'm going to bed."

Him: "Why now? If you wait ten minutes, it'll be your birthday."

Talk about a dash of cold water. No more squee-ing for me.

Me: "No it won't."

Him: "Yes, in ten minutes it'll be November 11th, and it'll be your birthday."

Me: "No, I ASSURE you, it will NOT. My birthday is NOT November 11!""

Stomp stomp stomp to our bedroom.

I was beyond hurt and angry, I was wild. After all these years, how can he not know when my stupid birthday is???

But sometimes God smiles on us, and gives us a gentle poke in the ribs, because by the time I made it to our room, I was giggling. Then laughing. Then in crying in mirth over how stupid I was being.

So tonight, November 11th, NOT my birthday, Husbandly One cooked me a very elaborate, very special meal. And opened a very long cherished, very rare bottle of wine. And then raised a glass to me on my "non-birthday." And as we touched glasses, I was reminded once again that he may be an idiot, but he's MY idiot, and he loves me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Divisible by ten

The other day I was trying to describe a typical winter here to a friend who lives in the States, and when it got to average temperature, I had to stop and literally use a conversion chart in order to figure out what "my" minus 12 degrees Celcius meant in "her" Fahrenheit. And I remember saying, "I'm sorry, it's my Metric upbringing, I don't understand Imperial measurements!'

But that got me thinking. The Metric system was only introduced in Canada in the early 1970's (or so I think, based on the heavy focus it received in my grades one and two curriculum) And so while we small children grasped the concept easily, we still had our parents back at home, who had been raised on the Imperial system. As such, we were brought up on both systems, to a certain degree.


I can only buy food in kilograms and have no idea what a pound of meat looks like. However, I weigh people in pounds, and have no idea what a 45 kilogram person would look like.

I know how much a litre of liquid is, but if you told me a recipe called for 400 millilitres of milk? I'd cry. Give me measurements in cups and half cups. Likewise, I want to hear about tablespoons and teaspoons, I do NOT want to hear about 45 millilitres, because (whatever that IS) surely no good can come from that.

I seriously do NOT understand the concept of a mile, you need to talk to me in kilometres. What I find funny, though, is that even here in Canada, car dealerships will declare that a vehicle gets "52 miles per gallon", and we all nod and agree that's good fuel economy, even though we have no idea what that means! Now, to be fair, "52 miles per gallon", sounds waaaaaay more impressive than "22.14 kilometres per litre", even though that's the exact conversion. (Again, had to look it up.)

And while I DO understrand distance in Metric, NEVER tell me a person is 159 centimeters tall, unless you want to confuse me to death. I think of "people height" in feet. 159 centimetres is 5'3", my own height. Hmm, that 159 sounds way more impressive, but the 5'3" sounds so dainty and petite. And, you know, understandable.

Temperature? Weather must be in Metric, but if I'm cooking, please tell me to turn the oven to 350F, Ok? And if I have a fever, don't tell me I'm up to 41 degrees Celcius, just cut to the chase and tell me it's 103F, otherwise I won't know if it's good or bad.

Am I the norm for the first generation of Metric Canadians? I think so. So now I'm going to take my 5'3" body in to my 16 degree Celsius kitchen to turn my oven to 350F so I can cook my 2 kilogram roast with one cup of onions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Loaded for a living

This afternoon, Husbandly One and I attended the Grand Tasting at the "World Wine & Food Expo" in our city. What this means, essentially, is that over 400 wines were available to sample.

We attend this event every year, for two reasons: one, to find new wines to enjoy in our home; and two (much more importantly), to find new wines to add to our wine list at work.

Husbandly One is the designated driver, but he is also the one who chooses the wine list for our hotel. He ALSO trusts my palate, so the way it works is that he makes me try the wines he is interested in. If I feel very strongly about them, he will taste them. Got that so far?

At a wine tasting event, you chose which wines you want to try (you could never get through 400 wines!) and you are given about two tablespoons of the stuff. This is just enough to fully create the nose of the wine (the way it smells) and then you taste it. In most cases, you drink about a teaspoon of it and then dump the rest out, unless it is a wine you are really interested in. At that point, you may end up drinking about a tablespoon of the stuff. And if it was good enough for me to drink a full tablespoon? THEN Husbandly One would ask for a sample and have a quick teaspoon of it.

We did a lot of work this afternoon, found some great wines to add to our list, and we did it all between 1pm and 3:30pm. And then Husbandly One said, "Okay, let's get back to the office and put our orders together."

Please understand he had tried about 15 wines in delicate little sips at this point. I, his guinea pig, had tried over seventy.

"Dude, I can't go back to work, I'm HAMMERED." In two and a half hours, I had probably consumed ten glasses of wine for heaven's sake! He found it FUNNY that I was now too intoxicated to talk to clients, even though he put me in that situation!

So here I sit at home, drunk, while he is back at work being productive. The things I do for my company....

Monday, November 3, 2008

The sun'll come out tomorrow

Yes, friends and neighbours, the US election is finally upon us. I firmly believe that Barack Obama is the next president of the United States. However, not so many years ago I was also firmly convinced that Al Gore was the next president of the United States, so let's not go there.

My personal opinions notwithstanding, I sincerely hope that any Americans reading this plan to go out and vote tomorrow. Vote for whoever you want, just go do it. (I say this from my lofty position of a Canadian, who just went through our own federal election....with the lowest voter turnout in history. Niiiiiiiiiice)

And, oh, can you BELIEVE the story about Barack Obama's grandmother?? That is just heart breaking on about 849285 levels. Prayers to their family.

Ok, that's it for tonight. Must get back to CNN...