Saturday, December 31, 2005

Perfection

I've been thinking about a new year, resolutions, and the idea of improving oneself. I remember other years when Adam would ask me around Christmas "So, what resolutions are you going to make?" I would temporarily shut down when unable to immediately come up with something. So this year, I've been trying to figure things out, and I think I've come to something significant. (Feel free to stop reading at any time; I realize that this is one of those self-indulgent sorts of posts that probably no one else is interested in.)

Perfectionism. I think that's the source of a lot of my stress and anxiety about many things. And not that I would generally categorize myself as stressed out or anxious - I think I'm pretty relaxed, even though I have trouble sitting still. I'll rephrase that more accurately - I'm relaxed about other people, and don't care if their houses are tidy or their life isn't 'perfect'. But I am not relaxed about myself - having a clean house and 'getting things done'. If I'm not working on something 'productive' (an assignment, doing the dishes, vacuuming, etc.) I feel as though I should be, and as though I'm wasting time and failing everyone by not 'getting things done'.

I initially would have thought of a very narrow definition of 'perfectionism', but after looking at this site on overcoming perfectionism, I think I have a better idea of what I'm dealing with. Not setting goals because they might be unattainable is a problem, as is shutting down and not planning anything because it might not work out anyway. (That has more to do with work than home.) Always feeling guilty about not attaining is something else that scarily describes me.

And so, in an effort to overcome perfectionism, I have come up with the following two resolutions (any more, and I may panic over getting them done):
a) I will not buy any magazines off of the stand. (Not that I buy many, but when I do I tend to buy decorating ones that show perfect houses and people and make me want more and more and more. I always hate the feeling I have after reading them, even though I enjoy them. My house does not have to, and will never be perfect.)
b) I do not have to have a clean house before I sit down to read a book or have a cup of tea. (I will never be the woman in the Starbucks ad in her perfectly scrunched socks curled up on her couch with her cup of coffee and newspaper and freshly shaven legs.)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Lovely visits

We have had a splendid and lovely time with all of our friends and family this week! And it's not over yet. Yesterday afternoon, the weather turned out to be beautiful, so we went walking on the beach where the Sara Gamp washed up. No new and interesting things had appeared as of then; the little whale that was there before has since disappeared. Roxanne took this pic of Adam and I; I think we're pretty cute! The rocks at this beach are amazing, after years of being washed over by the ocean. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dinner party

Our big Christmas dinner on Boxing Day, complete with Christmas crackers!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Flaming fondue

All day Saturday, as Adam was working away at the retail capital of Yarmouth, I was busily making preparations for a Christmas fondue to be held that evening. I started setting the table around noon, had cleaned and vacuumed all morning, and things were looking lovely. As darkness approached, I turned on the Christmas tree lights, started up the festive music, and began simmering the cider. Everyone arrived bearing gifts and smiles, and the evening began. We heated the appetizers, and settled in at the table for a leisurely fondue together. Christine started her electric fondue after we found an extension cord, and I also let her be responsible for filling the fuel in our fondue set-up, since she was experienced at it and I was not. We lit things up and started in, when suddenly there were flames jumping out from under the fondue pot. Not being the smartest hostess in the world, I had strategically placed a napkin under the pot which has read and green berries on it and was unfortunately made of paper. This quickly caught on fire, and acted as a wick to light the tablecloth on fire. Everyone had leapt up from their seats by now, as I was repeatedly asking "Can I put water on it?" Someone must have said "Yes" just to stop me from repeating myself, so I doused the fire with my glass of water. Good thing it wasn't wine, I guess.
After the flames were extinguished, we took stock of the damage. My Frenchy's tablecloth was done for - melted through. Nothing else seemed to be damaged, except for the tabletop, which now has a large whitish rough spot on it. We set the table back up and continued with our evening. We had a wonderful time.
So next time you're at our house, be sure to ask about the spot on the table. There's a good story behind it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Laughing Maeve

Is this not the cutest baby ever? I bought this hat for our friends' baby Maeve before she was born. I thought it could go either way (boy or girl) since that's coral and not pink. Adam said he would never put this hat on a boy. Good things she turned out to be beautiful Maeve!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Painted pantry

Things weren't quite finished when I took this picture, but you can sort of see the new colour for the pantry and kitchen. It's more yellow and less 'straw' than I thought it would be, but it's definitely better. Because of the light in the kitchen, it looks kind of grossly yellow. It's not really that bad. And I'm certainly not going to paint it again any time soon. :)

Christmas is coming...

Merry Christmas! This was what our house looked like on Saturday evening, after the strangest snow storm on Friday night. There was tons of really heavy, wet snow along with thunder and lightning! Very strange. We went to see the Chronicles of Narnia with Christine, Annie, and Matthew in the midst of it. In the middle of the movie, the power went out. It came back on after a minute. A kid went to get a refill of his popcorn and went out the wrong door and out into the snow. Very funny.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A thick layer of dust

Well, Adam and I have been working away at repairing the kitchen walls this week, and the house now has a fine layer of dust over everything. And a thick layer over everything in the kitchen. Adam put a coat of primer on this morning, and it's covering things nicely. Hopefully I'll put on another coat of primer today after work, and if it dries super quickly (fingers crossed) I might even be able to slap on the first coat of paint. What a mess! Since the kitchen is out of commission, we have been eating out and and Matt & Annie's... they have been very hospitable and kind. But I can't wait to have things back in order to cook up a Christmas cookie storm! :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Rice Krispie Squares

It seems as though I have eaten more Rice Krispie squares in the past week than the rest of my life combined. I was picking a few things up at the grocery store one evening last week, and saw this MASSIVE box of Christmas Rice Krispies, with red and green krispies along with the regular beige-ish ones. So I thought, "Mmmm, Rice Krispie squares!" (Pause for a side note: I'm starting to sound like my mother. Count the number of times I have written "Rice Krispie". Whenever she is telling me (or anyone else) about something, she repeats the key word or words many, many times to the point where that's all you hear. For example: "I have been making your father's sandwiches from whole wheat bread. Not white bread, but whole wheat bread. Sometimes I like to eat white bread for toast, even though whole wheat bread is better for me. But I usually make your father eat whole wheat bread. I'm kind of surprised that he eats whole wheat bread on his sandwiches..." You get the idea. Another thing that I find people in general do around here is to repeat the same thing they have just told you at the end of their story. Sometimes I have to stop myself from laughing out loud when I notice it. Especially when it's something serious they're talking about and you're just waiting for the repeat line at the end. For example: "Boy, it's some snowy out there today! I'm glad I got on those winter tires. Those roads are slick! I heard on the radio that it's supposed to keep snowing tonight. Like I say, it's some snowy out today." It's as though they think you didn't catch it the first time. And maybe I look as though I didn't catch it because I'm standing there and smiling stupidly, wondering when the "Like I say..." is coming.) So I bought 1kg of Smart Choice marshmallows (they are quite lovely for being a store brand) which made one small batch (8x9) and two double batches (9x13 pans). With about 10 left over. That's a lot of marshmallows.

Now that I've taken a ridiculous amount of words to explain a very straightforward feeling of having overdosed on Rice Krispie Squares, I should at least provide the recipe. Which wasn't on the box, by the way. I googled "Rice Krispie Squares" (I'll see how many more times I can fit it in) and the first recipe that came up said "Don't you hate it when the box of Rice Krispies you bought doesn't have the recipe on it?" Yes, I do.

Rice Krispie Squares
Grease an 8x8 pan.
Over low heat in a large-ish pot, melt 32 marshmallows and 1/4 cup of margarine. When melted, add 1/2 tsp vanilla and 4 cups of Rice Krispies. Stir to mix well and press into greased pan. Easiest if you grease your hands a bit. You can also add chocolate chips, or melt some to pour over the top. You can add whatever else you like, for that matter. Dried cranberries, nuts....

OK, I'm done rambling. Maybe it's the lead paint in our house. We're busily working on the kitchen, and should have it painted this week, save the ceiling collapsing or some other unforseen and unfortunate occurrence.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Collaborative art

I've been hearing a lot lately about this "Six String Nation" thing - a project where these two guys are working together to create a fully functional guitar made from quintessentially Canadian ingredients. Hearing them talk about it on CBC radio the other day made me really think about the project, and why I absolutely love the idea behind it. The man who is creafting the guitar (George Rizsanyi - he's made guitars for the Stones) is making it from a piece of Pierre Trudeau's canoe paddle, the blade of Paul Henderson's hockey stick from the famous 1972 series, a plank from the deck of the Bluenose (yay, Nova Scotia!) and other miscellany from every province in the country. The guitar isn't a decorative art piece to represent the country, but it will function as an instrument. It's bringing people together and fostering lots of discussion about Canadian identity and art. There is also a dummy guitar called The Echo being built, which from my understanding will look the same as the 'real' one, but which is outfitted with heat and humidity monitors, a GPS system, and a bunch of other things. The idea behind this one is that it will start out with a Nova Scotian musician, he'll play it for a few days, then pass it along to someone else. The travels of the guitar can be tracked online, through the GPS system. What a cool idea!

Another art project I saw and loved at Harvest Gallery in Wolfville, NS intrigues me in a similar way. It's a large piece that is probably 6 feet long by 4 feet high. A still life of some fall vegetables was divided into a grid, and various artists were asked to reproduce a particular square of the grid in their particular medium. So the final product has sections done in silk screening, oils, weaving, and one was even fresh pumpkin! It's just seems right for art to be collaborative and represent the interconnectedness of people.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Something funny happened on the way...

... to the back corner under the bed with the vacuum cleaner extension arm thingy.

Our vacuum is an upright, purple, airplane-sounding supposedly allergen-destroying Hoover. There is a stretchy plastic arm thing that hooks into the bottom, for reaching into dark corners and vacuuming couches and such. There is also a regular beater-bar setup. So I had this arm thingy attached, the vacuum running, and I was laying on the floor and reaching way in underneath the bed to eliminate the farthest, most menacing dust bunnies.

Allow me to explain that if I were the maker of vacuum cleaners, I would ensure that when the arm thingy is engaged, the beater bar would stop. Wouldn't that make all the sense in the world? Continuing on with my story...

I was wearing a hoodie, complete with strings around the neck. As I lay on the floor, next to the engaged beater bar, my neck was suddenly jerked over to the vacuum cleaner bottom and the strings tightened around my neck. I started yelling (I was the only one home, save for the poor cat who is terrified of the vacuum at the best of times) but to no avail. Because my neck was sucked right up to the bottom of the vacuum cleaner, I couldn't reach the on-off switch, which is toward the top of the machine. After much yelling and a few unpleasant visions of Adam coming home to find me strangled to death by the vacuum cleaner, I somehow reached the switch and turned the machine off. I pulled my strings out from around the beater bar and watched, horrified, as puffs of smoke oozed out from the bottom of the machine. The smell was actually so strong and awful that I had to open the window.

Suffice it to say that I tucked in my strings for the rest of the vacuuming experience. The vacuum seems to have recovered from its trauma, as have I.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The epitome of elegance - learning what not to say

You probably read the title of this post as "ee-pit-oh-mee".

When I was in my second year of an English degree, of all things, I was enrolled in a class called "Aging in Canadian Fiction". Great class, with a terrific prof named Stan Atherton. As part of the course, we would have weekly short presentations to do based on certain texts. One fine day, I was scheduled to do my presentation, and part of my written script was a paragraph including the phrase "the epitome of elegance". I can't remember what book or story it was from, but I most certainly remember what happened during the presentation. I had used the word "epitome" in speech for several years, but for whatever reason had never experienced it in print. I read it aloud to the class as "eh-pit-ohme". The prof very gently told me it's correct pronunciation after the presentation. I was mortified.

When I was in grade seven, I really wanted to be good friends with a certain girl (we'll call her Jane - not her real name) in my class. She was also friends with another girl from her community, and I thought that by saying something mean about the other girl, it would make her like me more. So I said "Leanne (not her real name) really is pretty ugly, isn't she?" I don't remember what Jane said to me, but I understood very clearly that that was the wrong thing to have said. I admire Jane for telling me so clearly and being loyal to her other friend. We did wind up friends - I'm not sure why she forgave me for being so cruel. I suppose I might have asked her to.

I was walking with some new-ish friends down the street not too long ago, and one of them asked me if I knew someone who lived in a house that we passed. "Yeah, she's kind of psycho," was my immediate, stupid, insensitive and unthought response. "Yeah, I was friends with her in school," the new friend responded. I could have shrunk into my shoes never to be seen again. I decided in that case to simply shut up and never mention it again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Oddities

Well, perhaps not so much oddities as gross things.

I had a wonderful day at work today (I say "at work" like I'm in one place, but that is most definitely not the case) and it started out in a hallway of an elementary school watching a kid throw up all over the floor. Poor kid - throwing up seems like something that should always be a very private kind of thing. I don't do well with vomit (maybe when we have our own kids this will change?) so I quickly scurried my student down another hallway.

Adam went for a run this morning and on the track there was a pair of pigeon wings. Just the wings. He also smelled something kind of like cooking, looked over toward the funeral home on that block, and saw the smoke pumping out of their stack. Hmmm.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wood smoke

I was taking some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies out of the oven today, when I got a whiff of something else entirely that transported me back to being about 9 years old and in back of my cabin at summer camp, hanging my bathing suit on the clothesline to dry.

This has nothing to do with the cookies or camp. My supervisor was here for a couple of days this week; we went for a drive after we were done work last night so she could see the Sara Gamp. She wasn't quite up to climbing over the beach rocks to examine it closely, but we saw it from the road. Seeing as how it is so close to my parent's house, I asked if she wanted to swing by there and see where I grew up. So we stopped in, and my mom and dad were wonderful and friendly and genuinely pleasant, not with any undertones of "why did you bring someone from the city to our house to see the mess without any warning?". It smells wonderful like wood smoke and friendly dog at their house. And then there was the awkwardness when my supervisor is telling them how well I'm doing, and they beam because it was them, after all, who brought me up, and I'm just sitting there feeling awkward and feeling as though I'm supposed to be smiling. My hair still smelled like their house when I went to bed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dining room update

This picture gives a better view of the newly painted dining room. I wish I had more 'before' shots!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mind at ease...

Apparently, Mr Gillings knows the location of the Sara Gamp. I feel better knowing that. Someone called a little while ago from Connecticut wondering about the location of the boat for possible salvage. He and Adam spoke for quite awhile. What a neat story...

Sara Gamp

Oooooooh! How cool is this? A boat called the Sara Gamp from Virginia washed up on a beach in Pembroke, a community just outside of Yarmouth, late last week. My wonderful husband Adam took a bunch of pictures. Here's the very cool part - during hurricane Wilma, a guy names Vic Gillings left from Liverpool NS, and was rescued by the Coast Guard just off of Boston because of the crazy high seas. He was hypothermic and so forth, was taken to hospital, and is fine. The boat bobbed along until it washed up here, with very minimal damage. I'm not sure how the whole salvage process works - is it a finders keepers sort of rule? Apparently Mr Gillings is a bricklayer who lives on a boat in Washington DC. I want to call and tell him we found his boat... I'm sure he'd like to know!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Speaking of good food...

This week I keep finding myself saying "I had so much amazing food!" This is as a response to "So how was the in-service last week?" You can tell what's important to me.

The first evening, a couple girls and I went to a retaurant called the Economy Shoe Shop for dinner. I ordered a lovely linguine dish with an aioli sauce and a very pleasant glass of red wine. An Australian wine... I'm not sure which one. The pasta was a tad salty, but very good on the whole. Just spicy enough that it made my nose run. Mmmm.

Dinner at Opa! Greek Taverna was a part of our mentorship program, and I enjoyed the chicken souvlaki. Mmmmmm. Lemon-garlic marinated potatoes on the side, along with a greek salad. Another teacher and I shared the vanilla bean cheesecake for dessert. We were seated at several tables in the restaurant, and I happened to choose to sit against the wall, in the centre of the table. Meaning that there were four people to my right, and three to my left. As I chose my seat, I thought "Oh, I don't pee as often as most other people... I shouldn't have to get up and weasel my way around the chairs." Two hours later, it was a much different story as I was certain my bladder had never in my life expanded quite so much, and I tried to hold it in to avoid asking four people to scooch their chairs in. I eventually did. (Both hold it in and scooch past). But my favourite thing about Opa is the after-dinner mints. No, not mints. Candies. They are lovely little spherical candies which feel very pleasant in your mouth. Blue wrappers are licorice flavoured, but not nasty black jelly bean flavour. Yummy wonderful licorice flavour. Red wrappers mean cinnamon. Not cinnamon heart yucky plastic kind of cinnamon. Yummy wonderful cinnamon.

A retirement banquet was part of the week's festivities, and a reception was held just prior with wine and hors d'oeuvres. Coconut shrimp, mozza sticks, bacon wrapped scallops, curry chicken skewers, marinated beef skewers, zucchini sticks, and other oh-so-greasy delights were available in abundance. I partook cheerfully.

Shrimp stuffed chicken breast, snow peas, and wild rice were the menu for the meal. The appetizer was a mesclun mix salad in a cucumber bowl. I googled for a picture, but was unable to find one. It's a strip of cucumber, shaped into a ring and set up to resemble a bowl and held together by a ring of red pepper. Beautiful! An almond vinaigrette made it perfect.

Mmmmmm...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I wonder what these mean, if anything

Last night, I had a terrible night's sleep. OK, not terrible, but it was riddled with dreams about work. For a Saturday night's sleep, that's not exactly pleasant. Even with the extra hour we got because of daylight savings.

Dream sequence #1 - I was supervising a field trip with a class to a big river with one of those giant steam-powered paddle boats and I witnessed someone throwing a young boy with light brown hair over a bridge. I time travelled into the future and was watching as the body was retrieved from the river by a group of people. I was watching, but I knew I wasn't visible to them. Maybe I was a ghost.

Dream sequence #2 - It was a Friday morning, and I was getting ready for work at my Mom and Dad's (weird enough.) I was late, and frantically packed a lunch in one of those three-compartment Ziploc containers with the blue lids. There was potato salad. Then I realized that I had already packed a lunch, and was wasting my time. I rushed out of the house, and went to my first school of the day. But I was totally confused and went to the wrong school. I hadn't written anything in my agenda and didn't know where I had told people I would be, and I had no idea what to do. I was panicking when I woke up and was really hot. Maybe that was because of the fleece sheets.

I'm not sure where the second dream came from, (I don't feel quite that disorganized about work), but the first one comes from Adam telling me last night about some hikers finding a body in New Brunswick and having to take it out of the park with them. Hopefully tonight I will have more tranquil dreams. Perhaps last night's were induced by the giant pile of homemade french fries Annie made for us for supper last night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Making soap

My dear friend Annie and I made a batch of soap on Sunday afternoon. In case you're not familiar with how the process goes, it's something like this:
- Melt big globs of carefully measured smooth white greasy Crisco and some dingy brown Crisco that has been used to make french fries in a huge canning pot on the stove.
- Very carefully mix very carefully measured lye and water in another container so as to avoid permanent damage from fumes and splashes.
- Wait for the two to come to the same temperature (works better if you have thermometers that work, apparently).
- Very slowly add the lye mix to the grease. Pretend to be concerned about the other person getting splashed.
- Have your best friend stir slowly for two hours. (Just kidding, Annie!)
- Pour into a mould and tuck it in to keep it warm for a few days.
Then you should have perfect soap!
We actually had a great time and so far it looks as though the soap will turn out well. We usually hand-mill the soap, meaning we make a big batch that's unscented and has nothing else added, then we grate it, melt it again, and add the colours, scents, etc. in small batches. We were planning how we're going to package it all for Christmas gifts and such - I can't wait until it's all ready!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Eye-opening blindfolded cane travel

I'm here at the APSEA Centre for the week; it's our yearly in-service for teachers of students who are blind or visually impaired. This afternoon, myself and some other teachers who are relatively new to the field were doing O&M work (Orientation and Mobility) out and about. So off we go; a fine looking bunch. One of the ladies has a self-described "Donny Osmond purple" satin sleepshade (or blindfold; I think sleepshade is supposed to be more politically correct because you're not rendered blind by wearing one), another had a lovely lavendar one, and I was sporting a cream coloured satin number with a giant screen-printed orchid on it. But you know what? It didn't matter.
Being sighted, I have certain preconceptions when working with my students on cane travel skills. One is that they care how they appear to others. When I see that they don't, I assume it's a conscious choice. Realistically, I think that they often don't realize they are meeting up with other people along the sidewalk, mostly because people jump out of the way. And since they aren't receiving the visual information that I am, they don't know when people give them strange looks. When I was walking along the sidewalks and crossing streets, I didn't care if there might be someone wondering why I was wearing an extremely silly looking sleepshade. I was concerned about listening to the instructor and keeping my technique correct so I wouldn't end up walking across an intersection when it wasn't safe to do so, or walking into someone's front step.
Although I'm spending these hours under blindfold, I still have no idea what it is like to be blind. I know proper cane technique and how to instruct students so they can safely travel (I'm still working on the certification) but unless I become blind, I will not understand what it is like to any significant degree.

Friday, October 21, 2005

$ 35.88 later...

For those of you concerned about Virgil's well-being - the e-mail I sent to Adam after getting back from the vet:

Hi love,

35.88 for the vet; she looked up delphiniums in her book and checked Virgil over for the more serious symptoms (bloating and wobbly back legs) and he seems fine; she figures he probably just ate a small amount and is getting it out of his system. So she sent some kitty gravol to give to him 1/2 hour before eating some bland food she gave us, and some acid reflux stuff to make sure he can keep his food down. His heart and everything are fine, as is his bladder. He weighs 12 pounds, and was very well behaved. :) Hope you're having a good day at work,

Sherrie

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Revolting

I should precurse what I'm about to write by saying that I really love our cat, Virgil, very much. He is a great companion, he's very funny, and he has some good tricks in his repertoire. That said, he is also the most disgusting and revolting creature I have ever met.

The other day, I was puttering around in the garden, enjoying myself immensely. I decided to bring some of the beauty indoors, and cut some delphiniums and chinese lanterns to brighten up the house. Not having recently brushed up on my list of plants which are toxic if eaten by unintelligent pets, I was unaware that if ingested (which they were) they would cause dear kitty a great deal of gastrointestinal distress (which occurred.) This resulted in multiple messes on the floors throughout the main level of our house, which I then had to clean up and disinfect. Hardly makes for a pleasant evening.

I would be more concerned about Virgil if he showed any signs of remorse, or even illness. But he has been behaving completely normally, other than the unusual expectorant (?) bodily functions.

I have removed the offending flora from the house, and hopefully the gluttonous cat will have no lasting side effects from his experience. Good grief.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Many medieval masterpieces

The moment you've all been waiting for - the pictures from Matt and Annie's medieval wedding reception! One of October 3rd's entries has all of the written details, and the story in pictures can be found on Adam's website. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The eyes have it

My right eye. It is truly amazing how much information we receive from that small part of our body, representing such a miniscule percentage of our body as a whole. Again, I'm posting this to get a new picture in my profile, not just because I think my eyes are so great. Although they are, as far as doing their job...

"Aww. The bounce has gone from his bungee."

Adam, Annie and I went to see "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" last night at our very humble local theatre. They have recently done some renovations to the building, and have relocated the sign which announces all of the movies from high above the masses down to eye and body level. This might make sense if there was some sort of cover over the sign, but since there isn't, "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" became something like "The Exercise of Limey Sore". A new theatre is being built as I type, so hopefully they will re-think the sign height.
The movie was great, mostly because everything is so darn cute!
There is a short film before the movie, which was hilariously funny and also painfully cute: "Attached before the Wallace and Gromit film is a short film featuring the Penguins from 2005's MADAGASCAR. "A Christmas Caper" is stock full of laughs, and while some of the references seem to require knowledge of Madagascar (a film I did not see), the piece is an enjoyable 10 minutes." I agree entirely. Watch for the penguins to drink Mr T's Old Timey Nog. :)
Although I really enjoyed the film, I think I liked "A Close Shave" better. But perhaps that's only because I've watched it several times. Maybe after I've seen this one five or six times I'll prefer it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

LadyComp

Allow me to introduce you to LadyComp, my best friend for the past 3 years and 5 months. It is a birth control device which doubles as a pleasant sounding (and cool looking) alarm clock. It is 99.3% accurate, completely natural, and it is perfect for me! By taking your waking temperature (sticking the thermometer under your tongue) every morning for 30 seconds, LadyComp's computer knows when you're fertile and when you're not. Each morning, you're told if it's a red day (no sex if you're looking to avoid a baby), a yellow day (proceed with caution - I know a very cute baby who arrived because of yellow-day sex) or a green day (go ahead without any other protection because you're infertile!) It's much more reliable than traditional charting, and couldn't be easier to use. What's also very cool about it is that if you are interested in becoming a parent, you can just switch things up and know that red days are when you're most likely to conceive. There's even flashing red for ovulation. There is also a product called BabyComp which is specifically designed for people who want to conceive. (As far as I can tell, they took LadyComp and added a few lights.) And they now have something called a Pearly, which is a mini LadyComp that runs on a battery (great if you're travelling a lot). LadyComp does come with a battery pack, but the battery pack is not recommended for long-term use. Good for camping, though. I can't say enough good things about it! I don't have to take the Pill (I have many issues with the Pill) so my cycles are natural rather than synthetic ones, and it's just amazing to know what's going on with my body.

Natura



These are from our local Home Hardware store, and for 12.97 (plus tax, of course) I can avoid sending dryer sheets to the landfill after every load of laundry. In the box, there are two kind of tubular cloths that you toss in the dryer with your clothes, and they eliminate static (and made my towels nice and soft when I used them last night.) Here's the best part - they last for over 500 loads of laundry! At 5 loads a week, that means that they'll last for two years, which also makes them very economical. How neat is that?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Photos

Have a look at some photos from the medieval feast wedding reception my husband photographed for some close friends.
Here is another photo.

Love is all around

My Thanksgiving weekend was fabulous. I'm all warm and full-feeling about the whole thing. Spending time with people I really care about does that to me and I love it. For the rest of the week I can just bask in it. So maybe this post won't be the best written or most interesting to anyone else, but I'm so content I just have to get it out.

On Friday night, Adam and I took the ferry from Digby to Saint John and stayed with Adam's parents. The crossing was fine, except I apparently left my memory somewhere in last week. I had my weekly assignment for one of my courses due on Sunday night. Last Thursday night during class, I was going to ask if we could have a couple of extra days to work on them because of the holiday. At the end of class, our prof said "So, does anyone have any questions?" Someone asked a question. After the answer, I was going to ask when the prof said "Oh, and I'd really like to thank you all for being so good about getting your assignments in on time. It really makes things easier for me." How could I have asked for extra time after that? So, I planned on completing my assignment on the ferry, using my laptop. Friday around supper time, I packed in a blur (remembering both my pyjamas and toothbrush, my most often forgotten items) and tossed in my binder containing my assignment questions. To be a keener, I also packed another textbook which I thought I might be able to draw some information from in my responses. Perhaps I should have read the questions before leaving. When I sat down to begin working, I realized first that I had left my binder in the car on the lower deck of the ship. I scooted back down (which you're not supposed to do) and almost got locked down there as the guy mopped the steps right ahead of me as I ascended, binder in hand. I sit down with my binder and laptop, look at the questions, and realize that the actual question for assignment 4b is located in my textbook. Oh wait, not the one I brought. The one I left at home. OK... so I'll do the other ones. Oh, wait. I need internet access for 4a. I guess that one can wait. Oh... for 4c I need an answer to 4b. So I ended up e-mailing my prof on Saturday night and asking for an extension. Which she graciously granted. Packing never was my forte.

We arrived safely in SJ around midnight, and Saturday morning, we left for Fredericton and John and Connie's wedding. We also picked up pictures from the medieval backyard wedding reception the week before. They're awesome! Adam's in the process of posting them on his site; I'll put up a link when he's done. Again, Adam took the pictures, which we should have back sometime. Connie (the bride) was lovely, and the whole wedding was a sort of Thanksgiving feast-y party. Pumpkins, leaves, and fall colours were everywhere. It was glorious. And wet! It poured rain all weekend. We got to see quite a few people we hadn't in a long time, and it was just splendid to visit and catch up with them.

After the wedding festivities, we left in the very wet darkness for Yoho lake, where our dear friends the Woollins live. We spent the night with them, and I got to meet, hold, and cuddle with Maeve (see picture in earlier post). She is the most beautiful and wonderful-smelling baby around. And she's demonstrating some excellent visual behaviours, which is really neat to look for in a newborn. We had a great time and lots of laughs with Jen and Rich (I don't think Maeve gets the jokes yet. And she slept most of the time.) We had a super game of Carcassone which we all adore. On Sunday, after leaving the beautiful quietness of Yoho lake (I'm more convinced than ever that I want to live on a lake) we went back to Saint John and had an excellent Thanksgiving dinner with the fam. It was delicious, to put it mildly.

It is so nice to celebrate a holiday of thankfulness with people you're thankful for. I am so blessed!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Branding

I was thinking about the whole Frenchy's thing and why I enjoy it so much. For starters, it's cheap. For the amount you could spend on one sweater at a "real" store, you can get a season's worth of clothes. They're already broken in, and every now and then you find some new things that have never been worn. It's also really satisfying to purchase a brand name item, such as the Baby Gap bib I bought for Maeve. Not because I can boast that the item "is Gap" but because I kind of see it as a kick in the pants for sweatshop-inclined companies. I (or someone I am fond of) am wearing their clothes, which are very well-made and lovely, but only Frenchy's received my monetary support. I don't wear clothes with brand names emblazoned on them because I am not a billboard. But knowing that you have the goods without monetarily supporting the company is definitely satisfying. Then I think "Well, isn't it still promoting the company just by wearing the clothes?" I'm not sure how to eloquently respond to that, but I don't see it that way.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Just so you know...

It's OK to use words like "look" and "see" when you're talking with someone who is visually impaired or blind. It's the way we speak naturally, and it's not generally something that people will take offense to.

No, I do not know sign language. People who are visually impaired might have a hard time with that. I do know braille, though.

Visual impairment or blindness isn't a black and white sort of thing. Most people who fit into the category have some usable vision. The kind of vision they have depends totally on the particular case. People using white canes may very well have some vision - the cane is to let others know that someone has a visual impairment, as well as to provide feedback about the environment.

People can not harm their vision by using it. Of course, using it to stare at the sun will be detrimental, but general use is not going to do damage.

People without a visual impairment can not know what it's like to be blind by wearing a blindfold for ten minutes, an hour, or even a day.

Dree-e-e-e-eam, dream dream dream

I think dreams are fascinating, and I wrote one I had last night down this morning so I wouldn't forget it. It was so vivid!

I had just purchased myself a Perkins Brailler, and the bonus gift was an armchair specifically designed for people who are blind! It was a modest sort of recliner in off-white which had a brailled remote control in the arm. My friend Alison had an older brother with red hair who was blind, and because I didn't need the armchair and didn't want to carry it around with me for my students, I took it over to their house on a beautiful fall day. Her brother was sitting in the garage in his very old, broken and ratty braille recliner, and he leapt up to give me a hug when I told him that I had a new chair for him to recline in while he relaxed in the garage. Then their mom came out on the porch (which had yellow mums on the railings) drying her hands on a dish towel, and I told her about my delivery. She also gave me a big hug and was thrilled. The garage smelled like metal and gas. It was comforting.

Maybe what I do does make a difference.

Wonderful weekend

No pictures yet; my fabulous husband was the photographer at our fantastic friends' wedding reception. The event was held in their backyard near the ocean on the most stunning early October day imaginable. The theme was medieval, so mostly everyone dressed up for the occasion. There was a pig roast for the meal, dancing lessons on the lawn, and a pretty decent band. There were torches all around the tables, candles everywhere, including about 160 in Mason jars strung up around the perimeter of the lawn. After dark, it was incredible. And fireworks, too! Defnitely my favourite wedding reception so far (including my own, although that was fun as well). I'll definitely get some pictures up when we get them back. And the best part was that some great friends of ours came from Saint John (New Brunswick) for the weekend. We had a spendiferous time with them, discussing Orthodoxy and life in general. We went over to Matt and Annie's (bride and groom) for breakfast on Sunday morning and had one of the greasiest and most delicious breakfasts ever, complete with maple bacon and some awful smoked sausages. Then we went to a beautiful beach for a nice long walk, and on Sunday afternoon Matt and Annie opened their gifts. The whole event was so nice. I'm just basking in it now. Annie, Charlotte and I went to Frenchy's and I found a cute little Old Navy sleeper and a Baby Gap bib for Maeve (50 cents each), a beautiful scarf for a friend's Christmas gift (1.50) a brand new Old Navy bright red hat and scarf set (still have the tags on) and a few books (Sophie's World, Emily Post's Etiquette (gag gift). I also found a very cool pink blouse for me and a shirt for Adam.

Back to the pig roast... I'm not a vegetarian, but after that meal I can definitely understand the reasoning some people have. This giant pig was brought out on a large wooden spine board kind of thing, and it still had the head and skin on. I'm not sure what we were expecting, but it was quite disturbing. The skin was all leathery and crispy - the chef poked into it with his knife, kind of peeled it off the back, and then started scraping the fat off of the meat with the back of the knife. When he started, he was brusquely saying to his assistant "Get me gloves" because the fat was all spewy. This was all right in front of Matt, Annie and I (I was the maid of honour). They weren't really expecting it either. And the pig didn't even have an apple in its mouth, so its bottom jaw gaped floppingly open with its eyes shrivelled up and its ears poofed up like balloons. But it tasted amazing and there was a really great date sauce the chef had made to go with it that was really delicious. Look on the bright side, I guess.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Barbies

One day when I was probably about 10 or 11, I was in my bedroom with a Barbie doll I had retrieved from the depths of some piles of stuff in a closet or under my bed. I decided that even though I had never really liked Barbies at all, I wanted to have a pretend friend who I would know everything about and who I could tell everything to. It lasted all of 18 seconds. Probably because Barbies are mute. I wanted to have a companion who would only know the good things about me and would be limited to that picture. Likewise, I would only know the neat and tidy things about her; the things I imagined didn't include catching colds and bodily functions.
Blogs seem to be a way for people to present a certain image of themselves - I can post whatever information I feel like presenting, and viewers who don't know me are limited to that information. My clothes on the floor and dishes on the counter probably won't make the cut in what I write. But they're there.
That's also one of the things I like about looking at other people's blogs. I can imagine that someone's car is clean, their office is immaculate and efficient, and their bathroom isn't filled with half-empty jars and bottles. I can imagine that they lead a magazine life. A TV character's life. One with no depth, but man, is it neat.
I'm realizing more and more that it truly is the 'messy' things in life that make it interesting and that make people unique. The messiness rounds everything out and makes us human. Trying to overcome those things and 'attain' just isn't worth it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Devil's walking stick

I was outside doing some yard work this afternoon, getting a flower bed ready for a nice long sleep by clearing out all of the gout weed and trimming up the clematis and tearing down a really makeshift and ugly trellis. I am really excited for next spring and summer when I know what to expect will come up out of nowhere. Perhaps I shouldn't get my hopes up, lest I be sorely disappointed to realize that I paid too much attention to the plants and over-loved them. Hopefully that won't happen, especially not with the peonies that I missed blooming this year when I was away. This image is a Devil's Walking Stick, or Hercules' Club. It drops its branches in the fall and has a very thorny trunk. I think it's quite unique, and I'm glad we have one in the yard. Some of the other things I am excited to have are (in no particular order): daffodils, tulips, crocuses, 4 clematis, a japanese cherry tree, flowering quince, 2 snowball trees, a white lilac and a 'regular' one, a chestnut tree, japanese maple, 2 weigela, honeysuckle bush and vine, hydrangea, a dozen types of roses, a thornless raspberry patch, peonies, daylilies, lily of the valley, delphiniums, phlox, a HUGE oak tree, cedar trees, daisies, chinese lanterns, etc. Definitely a lot of work, and definitely worth it!

Freckled retina

An image of my fully functional right retina. How amazing is it that this is an actual photograph of my retina? I got a copy printed out so I can show it to my students when expalaining how the eye functions. There is a small freckle on my retina (just like a face freckle, only an interior one) just below my optic disc. That's the white bit - it's also what creates the blind spot that you have. Eyes and sight are so fabulous. And accommodating for the loss of vision is such a huge challenge. We take in 70% of the information about the world around us through vision. Having that sense compromised changes everything.

A few years ago

Adam took this picture of me a couple of years ago on the ferry between Digby, NS and Saint John, NB. I'm really only posting it here because that's the easiest way I can figure out how to get it in my profile.

The culprit

Currently sleeping very peacefully on the dining room floor, this is Virgil. The cat who missed his litter box last week. He spent a traumatic first year of his life at the local SPCA in a very small cage with another cat. We picked him up on a very snowy day in January, and he has been spoiled (and getting larger) ever since. He loves to jump at doorframes when you tap on them, play between the railing spindles on the staircase, and chase dry leaves around the floor. Other daily activities include rubbing up against my dark clothes for work, sleeping on Adam's bookbag, and sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen. It has been warm weather since we moved into this house, so I don't know what he's going to do when we can't open the window all the time. He's too fat to fit on the sill when the window is closed.

New addition

This is Maeve Rosa Tay, the newest addition to the Woollin family (some wonderful friends of ours). She's obviously beautiful, and she's the first baby I can really spoil and play with since she belongs to close friends. I'm quite excited about the whole thing and have bought her the cutest little hat from MEC in Apple Green & Blush! We're going to be meeting her on Thanksgiving weekend... I can't wait!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A very red room

The first room we got around to painting in our new (very old) house was the living room. We finished it a couple of weeks ago, and I think it's perfect. The colour is Benjamin Moore Raspberry Truffle ('raspberry' makes me think fuschia, but this is certainly red) and those are some of Adam's pictures on the walls. (There's a link to his sites on the right. I think he's pretty talented.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Disgusting

Would you like to know the perfect way to ruin the awesome carrot muffin breakfast you were just about to enjoy? (This happened to me this morning.) The smell of cat poop wafting into the room will do the job nicely. Which isn't really that unusual (but definitely gross), because we have the litter box quite close to the dining room because of the setup of the house. So I ask my husband to close the door so I don't smell it as I try to eat my awesome carrot muffin, and on his way he stops and looks at the floor. He then quickly walks away and says "I'm going for a run" and he's gone. Unfortunately, the cat had already gone for his run, and he missed the litter box.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Gearing up

So I participated in one of my distance university courses (no, that doesn't sound right - the courses aren't from a place called "Distance U") tonight, and I was advised by someone who knows to approach my supervisor (the advisor is my supervisor's former supervisor) about my caseload. So I've decided that tomorrow, I will do just that. And in an accurate show of how confident I am about the decision, I've decided to e-mail her about it.

Here's the situation (I don't mean to sound whiny; I'll try to simply make my point): I have a caseload of 21 visually impaired students. Three of them are braille users, nine of them have direct service (ranging from 1-8 hours/week) and the others are monthly consults. I was thinking about it, and I really think it is a disservice to the students to have one teacher doing a poor job because there is simply not enough time to do a decent one. Kind of like having a classroom with too many students. But having to travel up to an hour to see some of the students and needing time to check e-mail, make phone calls, and prepare materials - it's just not possible to do a good job. And it's difficult to say that something is beyond my capabilities.

My day started off on a fabulous note - I made my first student of the morning cry. OK, that's not entirely accurate. She didn't get her way and ended up crying and still not getting her way. But that kind of set the tone. The afternoon did end up a lot better, though - one of the students I really enjoy working with was having a great day, I felt somewhat prepared, and things just went well. Oh, except for the fire drill that took place midway through the session and I didn't know for certain where to go and talked the whole way out of the school building and forgot to close the door behind us when we left the room we were working in. At least it was a drill.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

So I caved...

Yes, you're right.

I am the one who once decried blogs as self-absorbed and said I didn't want to start one. However, after reading some that I really enjoyed, my mind may have changed a bit. Or maybe I just want to feel important.

Regardless (note the absence of an 'ir' in front), I hope for this to be a space to post bits and pieces about my life - from pictures of my newly-red living room to ones of my garden. And, of course, pictures of Virgil the fat and handsome cat. And anecdotes about my job as an Itinerant Teacher of Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired. There's always something interesting. Like the preschool instructor who referred to me as the student's "illiterate teacher" rather than "itinerant teacher".

Oh, the name! As anyone who knows me will confirm, I am a bit of a Frenchy's fanatic. Frenchy's is a local used-clothing store where I have found the vast majority of my wardrobe and lots of other things. You never know what you're going to find there, which is why it is so difficult to drive by a Frenchy's without stopping in. Hopefully it will be the same with this blog and it will be perpetually interesting.