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Ducky Goes On A Trip Click Here To Comment!

I decided to take my kayaking buddy, Ducky, on this trip to Europe.  She seems to be enjoying herself.

Upon arriving, taking a moment to get organized.

Upon arriving, taking a moment to get organized.

Listen To Your Sports Gut Click Here To Comment!

I spent a significant chunk of time in the first half of 2009 working on the concept / development of a hockey skills reality TV show. My job was to produce draft after draft of the concept and to lead the pitch of the concept to lawyers and production companies.

I didn’t say much about this at the time as I had a gut feel that it wasn’t going to go anywhere. And I was right. I thought I’d learn a few things and meet some interesting people. Can’t say that it was a terrific return on investment so maybe the learning is to listen more carefully to my gut.

I did get to wear Mike Krushelnyski’s championship rings one night in a bar. That was fun. 🙂

Krusher's rings

Floozy Snortwrinkle: Challenging the Binaries Click Here To Comment!

A brilliant programmer / artist has created the ultimate random text generator. Much amusement for the nerdy, wordy, artsy geeks out there. Here is the site.  Click on the words “this application” in the middle of the letter provided.

Here is my new bio.

Floozy Snortwrinkle makes conceptual artworks, performances, installations and mixed media artworks. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, Snortwrinkle tries to grasp language. Transformed into art, language becomes an ornament. At that moment, lots of ambiguities and indistinctnesses, which are inherent to the phenomenon, come to the surface.

Her conceptual artworks demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By investigating language on a meta-level, she seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.

Her works sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the reception of their manifold layers of meaning. By emphasising aesthetics, her works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

Her works focus on the inability of communication which is used to visualise reality, the attempt of dialogue, the dissonance between form and content and the dysfunctions of language. In short, the lack of clear references are key elements in the work. Floozy Snortwrinkle currently lives and works in Dubrovnik.

 

Happy Hallowe’en Song! Click Here To Comment!

One of my “skills” as a new step parent appears to be introducing sweet innocent children to important songs that they will reference, remember and possibly be damaged by for the rest of their natural lives. This song is on my agenda for this evening – anyone remember this classic?

Great big gobs of greasy grimey gopher guts

Chopped up monkey meat

Perculated birdie’s feet

French Fried eye balls, swimming in a pool of blood

Gee, I forgot my spoon

But I brought my straw

(Slurp) – Ah!

 

Brown Paper Packages 5 comments

I was coming out of the subway the other evening, around dinnertime, and was nearly bowled over by a tall young man in a rush. He was carrying a plastic grocery bag in one hand, dangling it in the normal manner by its handles, and cradling a package carefully in his other hand. It balanced horizontally across his hand and wrist, wrapped in a brown paper bag. Likely a styrofoam container of take-out that he was being careful not to spill.

It was the brown paper bag that caught my eye. We don’t really live in a brown paper bag society anymore so when they appear, I tend to take notice.

Brown paper bags used to be the default. Ubiquitous. The entire time I was growing up, groceries were carried in heavy brown paper bags, sometimes with logos, sometimes not. You carried them in your arms, like small children, not dangling down by arm-lengthening handles. I wonder what this says about our evolutionary place that we are less inclined to carry things up close to our upper bodies and more comfortable dangling them in bags close to the ground. In what way is “dangling” more convenient than “carrying”?

In our house, brown paper grocery bags were folded and saved up for important duties like “lighting the furnace” or “lighting the garbage pile” or “collecting kindling”. Garbage sorting seems to be a new concept for urban dwellers, but on the farm we were cutting edge. We sorted into metal/glass (for hauling to the dump), non-meat food scraps (for composting, or tilling into the soil, or feeding the pigs), and everything else – paper, plastic and all other refuse – which was burned in the garbage pile. Not really the current standard, but we did have a crude jump on this whole garbage sorting business. The paper bag played a role in getting things into our house, and then getting things out. They do break down nicely when left out in the rain.

In high school, my lunch was packed in a small brown paper bag, probably its least suitable application. They were always breaking, fruit got bruised easily and the bag got soggy and useless if anything leaked. When I hear the term “brown bag lunch” – often the term organizations use for lunchtime workshops for employees – I think of squished sandwiches, licking peanut butter off of saran wrap, and orange peels.

Heavy brown paper bags are excellent sturdy transport for chinese food take-out because you can stack the containers in such a way that they don’t fall over easily. I like the commanding stapling of the folded top of such a package, usually with a receipt or a menu included. I like the stapling, until I impale my index finger on one of them, which almost always happens.

Things can be hidden in brown paper bags. Magazines that you don’t want your neighbours or mail carrier to see … these were famously offered in “plain brown wrappers”.  Alcoholic beverages can be “hidden” in a brown paper bag, although these days an open bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag fairly shouts “THIS ISN”T FRESHIE I’VE GOT HERE!” You can take surprise gifts to friends in a brown paper bag, pulling out the surprise and really revealing it in the moment, rather than having them guess the shape from a less mysterious form-fitting plastic bag.

(Aside: In 1976, Rita Mae Brown published a book of angry funny feminist poetry called “A Plain Brown Rapper”. Angry and funny – that’s our Rita Mae. Plain – hardly.)

Brown paper bags, and packages made from them. Low tech solutions in an increasingly high tech world. More appealing, certainly, than plastic bags and the mess we have made of trying to reduce, re-use and recycle them. There is just something refreshingly simple and almost honest about a brown paper bag. It is what it is. You can use it a few times, and then use it to start a fire without releasing carcinogins, or bury it in the ground where it will break down. Or leave it out in the rain where the same thing will happen. Or tear it up for birds to use to build nests. It is a good thing, the brown paper bag. I’d love to see more of them.

Intense 3 comments

My March break is ending now, just as so many other people are starting theirs. It has been a pretty intense couple of weeks, actually, including the so-called “break” week. It didn’t feel much like a break to me, between stacks of grading, meetings, and quick turn-arounds on proposals and such. At least I managed to keep up with hockey and gym commitments.

Speaking of which, I was really pleased to learn my BMI has shifted considerably, even though my weight has not dropped since before Christmas. I’m actually okay with staying exactly the same for almost three months in a row. It proves that I can maintain a weight once reached. I have 21 more pounds to go to my target weight. Anyway, in terms of my BMI, I’m down three units of whatever-those-units-are since last time this was done, yet I believe my actual weight is close to the same. This means that fat tissue has been converted to muscle, which is very encouraging indeed.

So, in periods of intense and demanding activity like this, I have these little recurring mental motifs, like little pieces of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I’m going to take a few minutes to jot them down here so maybe they’ll stop bugging me. My life is about to get even more intense, so this may be my only chance for a while to be in a blogging kinda mode.

Where Did All These People Come From?

I’ve said this before, out loud, many times. It always takes me by surprise how many damn people there are in the world. How can I walk around downtown, through familiar streets, and not see a single person I know, and yet pass literally hundreds of faces? I just returned from a trip out to Brampton to watch a hockey game and there were still more strangers there!!! How is this possible??? I bet if I went to any one of the hundreds of small towns and cities across Canada to watch hockey games, THOSE arenas would be filled with still more people I’ve never seen!

Of course, I’m being facetious, sort of. It really does take me aback how we can float through our lives, essentially surrounded by strangers with whom we have no connection. Yet, we count on them not to drive across the yellow line in the road and hit us head on, to keep a civil tongue in their heads in public, and to fly planes that we trustingly board.

It is a little weird when you think about it.

Molasses

Me’n’molasses go way back. On the farm where I grew up, there was a barrel of molasses sitting by the outside corner of the barn, near the entrance to the silo. It was used as an additive to the silage (corn stalks and field corn cobs and other materials left in the silo to “mature” as feed for the cattle) to aid its fermentation. But I loved to dip my fingers into the molasses as I walked by the barrel, if no one was looking. I just love the stuff.

My mom and I used to make popcorn balls as treats, especially around Hallowe’en. Our recipe involved boiling molasses, corn syrup and a dollop of vinegar until the medium ball candy stage. Then you pour the mixture over a bowl of popcorn, slather your hands with butter, stir the mixture around with your hands and then form popcorn balls. If you can keep yourself from eating the stuff, that is. Can you imagine? Two of my favourite things in one place – popcorn and molasses … HEAVEN! So much fun for kids to do, this recipe. I remember one year, grade seven or eight, I took popcorn balls to class for the Hallowe’en party. The teacher somehow dangled a row of single popcorn balls on strings from the ceiling. I think this was offered as an alternative to dunking for apples ~ we had to race to eat the popcorn balls, no hands. That was fun.

I haven’t had any molasses on my shelf for ages. This past Christmas, when I was doing all that baking, I saw a jar of blackstrap molasses at my new favourite bulk food store and it somehow fell into my cart. Molasses is an excellent source of a wide range of minerals, most especially iron and calcium. So, once or twice a week I’ve been enjoying a teaspoon or two as a treat. Yum.

I sense popcorn balls in my future.

Construction Zones Not Good For Tires

In order to get to the entrance to the underground garage for my building, you have to turn down one of two lanes. Each will take you by a construction zone.

In the past three months, I have had three “soft” tires, each turning out to have been punctured by a screw or a nail.

Hm. It is getting expensive to be living beside active construction projects. Add this to noisy and dusty and one could get quite irritated by it all. I am endeavouring to be zen about it rather than irritated. Four could send me over the edge, though.

Too Many Things

I still own too many things. I have felt strongly about this for a while now. I keep giving things away, or leaving them for others to use in the recycle room downstairs. Yet, I had a bout of consumerism this week, resulting in a new hockey bag for my gear, and three new small appliances in the kitchen. I couldn’t get the boxes and old appliances out of my place fast enough for my taste. It feels embarassing to feel like I “need” things like a griller with removable plates, or a slow cooker that I can actually clean properly. Yet, I crave pot roast. What’s a girl to do?

One of the tasks that I had hoped to do this March break, but did not get to due to the unforeseen intensity of the week, was a pass at removing yet another sweep of clothing from my closet and drawers. This kind of purge always feels wonderful, and it is easy for me to do as some stuff just doesn’t fit anymore. There is a clothing drop off for students this week at my college. They are looking for business type clothing that students can wear on job interviews. I hope I can get this done in time to drop some clothes off for this effort.

A Second Dose Of Kool-Aid (25+5) 1 comment

Recently on Facebook, people are tagging each other with the request to list 25 Random Things about themselves. This may seem odd to non-Facebookers, but it is just something that happens from time to time in that particular social networking site. And, as one friend of mine states, it is a fun way to get to know one’s friends in a way that one wouldn’t in the normal course of human events. The Internet is kinda funny that way. Over-sharing is rampant and occasionally welcome.

The zenith of tagging activity happened for me this past weekend with several friends doing the Facebook equivalent of nudging me to write my list of 25 things. I’m usually game and started to turn over the possibilities in my head.

Maybe that is what did it. I was promptly cut down Monday by a pretty horrendous migraine accompanied by a wicked sore throat. I thought at one point that my head was in labour, the pain was coming in waves like contractions. Or what I imagine to be contractions. At the height of all this, there wasn’t a creative cell in my body – it was all I could do to just lie still and suffer. Later in the day, as the pain started to drift away, I started to pluck out my rather uninspired list of 25 Things. I was writing a few lines at a time between moments of dull throbbing. I wasn’t at my best.

In the interim, feeling much better these last few days, I realized that I left a few things off that I shoulda, woulda, coulda included if I’d had my act together. So, I present the original 25 + 5 bonus Random Things.

1.    I hate (hate) feeling rushed. I especially hate rushing through things early in the morning. Throws me off balance.

2.    My hair is longer now than it has been since I was 21. It feels both awkward and liberating at the same time. I have no idea how this is going to turn out.

3.    One of the most valuable things I did in high school was take typing class in Grade Nine with Mr. Traxler whom I adored. Although I nearly failed, I am so grateful that I can type reasonably well without looking at the keys.  I wonder if there will be curriculum developed to teach keypad texting. If there is, I know someone who could teach it and it wouldn’t be me.

4.    I can, and frequently do, watch movies and tv shows multiple times.

5.    I find cooking and dreaming up recipes very grounding and relaxing.

6.    Ian Turnbull was my favourite all-time Toronto Maple Leaf.  He was Borje Salming’s defence partner. He scored five goals in one game, on February 2, 1977, a record for defensemen that still stands. I remember watching that game, 32 years ago today, and also watching the awards ceremony the game afterwards. I try to wear his number, #2, when I can but that doesn’t seem to happen often. He autographed a hat of mine before he retired. I still have it.

7.    I may have a Scrabble addiction.

8.    I may have a popcorn addiction.

9.    The thing I miss most in my new diet regimen is pasta.

10.    One of my grad students was griping last week about feeling out of the loop on something we were discussing in class. I had overheard him say earlier to his buddies that he was born in 1986 and that his earliest recollections were from 1993. He asked me if I remembered 1993. I had no response. This whole exchange bothers me more than I care to admit.

11.    My family experiences genetic hearing loss. I am not immune to this phenomenon. I’ve been advised that more sound, not less, will help preserve my hearing. In other words, the audiologist has prescribed listening to loud music regularly.

12.    I love playing hockey. I wish I could play more than my schedule currently allows.

13.    There are a few people on FB that I’ve known since we were all learning how to print with big fat pencils. They all look fit and well and happy as grown-ups. When I look at their pics, I see soccer balls and Christmas pageants and endless winter bus rides home.

14.    I have a first cousin in England with exactly the same full name (first, middle, last) as me who also insists on being called “Liz”. We were completely unaware of each other’s existence until 1999. The number of things we have in common is rather astounding and includes our sexual orientation. Beware. There are two of us.

15.    My least favourite vegetables are Brussels sprouts and lima beans.

16.    There are at least two people on my FB who should understand, first hand, why I really don’t like cucumbers. I often wonder if they had the same response to that particular summer job.

17.    I think too much. I worry too much.

18.    I have terrible luck with houseplants. My favourite colour is green but my thumb is not green in the slightest.

19.    I am often overly optimistic about how much I can get done in a day.

20.    I used to love to read and I have stacks of books around that I have started and will one day finish. I just can’t sink into a good reading rhythm anymore.

21.    When I was a pre-teen, and probably on into when I was a teen, on warm summer days, I would take a stack of 7-8 books out and sit under the gigantic maple/willow in our front yard and read. I don’t know why I felt I had to take 7-8 books for an afternoon’s read. I generally stuck to one when I got there.

22.    I love where I’m living now. I miss living in the country. Somehow, these two ideas don’t feel in opposition to each other in my head.

23.    My dream, until Grade 9 science class, was to be a veterinarian. After that, I wanted to be a rock star.

24.    I have recently concluded that if a thinking person living in this crazy messy world doesn’t find themselves challenged by something like depression from time to time, they are not to be trusted.

25.    I was not close to my father but I do find some of his weird idiom creeping into my vocabulary, such as “Put a little English on it” (elbow grease, umph) and “Do you need to look after little Mary?” (are you hungry?) and “My head is here, my ass is comin'” and “Heeeh???” (speak louder, I didn’t hear you).

26.    I have my M (for motorcycle) as well as my G class licence. At one time I owned a Kawasaki 454 LTD bike that I adored. Absolutely adored. I toured solo around the northern edge of Lake Superior on it one summer when I was about 24. I had to sell it in a moment of “let’s grow up and get serious” career focus. It is one of the few times in my life that I remember sobbing uncontrollably. My bike looked something like this:

Kawasaki 454 LTD

Kawasaki 454 LTD

I suspect that if I acquired a bike again now that I’d have to re-certify my licence or something since I haven’t ridden since 1988.

27.   In 1997, I flew to New York for three reasons. a) to see Julie Andrews perform, again, in Victor/Victoria on Broadway. b) to meet up with a bunch of Internet buddies, also Julie Andrews fans, and attend the Tonys at Radio City Music hall. c) To pitch my idea for Julie’s next big project to her producer, Tony Adams. I achieved all three.  I saw the fourth last performance Julie did before her surgery cut her singing career tragically short.  Being present at the Tonys was a thrill-of-a-lifetime. Radio City Music Hall is very big. Famous people are just regular-size. Tony Adams was charming and patient. He bought me lunch and suggested a way I could get my proposal in front of Julie herself, which of course I followed up on. But the surgery interfered straightaway and messed with destiny. Still, it was a pretty terrific weekend!

28.  I think that the experience of growing up on a farm in RURAL southwestern Ontario colours almost every aspect of my life.

29.  I believe every dog deserves one hot meal a day. My dog gets her dinner with warm water and “gravy”.

30.  I am hard-pressed to think of anyone whom I know reasonably well who has not expressed at some point their feelings of exclusion, of “feeling like an outsider”.  I have heard many people express this of their relationship to a family of origin, as well as chosen family, community, workplace, social groups, etc. I wonder what we do to each other to make this phenomenon of “not fitting in” so pervasive.

Days Alive 1 comment

According to this site, I’ve been alive for 16,537 days!

My 10,000th day was February 13, 1991.
My 15,000th day was October 22, 2004.
My 20,000th day will be July 1, 2018.
My 25,000th day will be March 9, 2032.
My 30,000th day will be November 18, 2045.
My 35,000th day will be July 31, 2059.

Based on this, I estimate the following:

15,260 days – The number of days Julie Andrews has been on my radar.

13,434 – The number of days since I first picked up a guitar.

11,792 – The number of days of my longest active friendship.

9,237 – The number of days I’ve been a one or two cup a day coffee drinker. Wow – that could mean as many as 18,474 cups of coffee. Just a sec while I set up the coffee maker for cups 18,475 and 18,476.

8,631 – The number of days I’ve been “out” as a lesbian. At least to myself. More than half of my days, now.

8,393 – The number of days since I was last physically intimate with a male partner.

8,242 – The number of days since my first (of o so many) bone-crushingly achingly painful heart-break. (Cue Melissa Etheridge.)

4,589 – The number of days since the first time I saw Julie Andrews perform live on Broadway! 🙂

3,989 – The number of days since my creative mentor, Warren, died.

3,912 – The number of days since my sweet (ha!) Sidney, cat of 1,000 dreams, soulcat, hellcat, myforevercat, was euthanized due to complications resulting from feline diabetes. He was approximately 5,475 days old.

3,869 – The number of days that have passed since my Mom died. (It was a bad few months, early 1998. The days number off the same, but they sure felt heavier then.)

3,464 – The number of days since I went to the UK for the first time and discovered my lovely lesbian cousin with the same name as me!

2,604 – The number of days since the end of my last long-term relationship.

1,642 – The number of days I’ve been living at my current location.

54 – The number of days I was alive before John F. Kennedy was shot. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to know that number. 🙂

Parliamentary Logic 1 comment

Our elected representatives in Ottawa, by definition, represent the people of Canada. They are, therefore, “us”.

If parliament is suspended, or “prorogued” as the constitutional language suggests, WE have been suspended …. or “prorogued”.

We would therefore be a nation of the suspended … or, “prorogue-ees”, if you will.

Pass the sour cream.

I. Am Losing. My Mind. 10 comments

Some loyal and valiant readers will recall that I bought a watch in April that I loved. I don’t much care for loving “things” but this watch, as soon as I put it on, was mine. It was “me”. Sturdy, solid … a bit shiny.

Perhaps my readership will not remember me acquiring the watch as it was a quiet little love affair I was having with it that I got very noisy about when it ended. The watch disappeared. Lost? Stolen? Misplaced? Gone for a long walk out for milk? Hard to say. I’ve turned my apartment inside out looking for it. Gone.

After months of mourning, and watching sales, I finally took a deep breath last week and replaced the watch with a very very similar watch. Same make. Similarly sturdy, solid, shiny. My affections were immediately tranferred.

I showed my new watch off, imagining permanence and stability. I showed my students, who tired of me glancing at my phone to check the time, making me seem like a very distracted professor indeed.

Unlike other parts of my life, I’m a one-watch kinda girl. I only need one. It has to be “the” one. In watchdom, I am monogamous.

I clearly remember seeing the watch in my locker last night as I was getting dressed after working out. I remember putting it on and hearing the satisfying click of the watch band snapping into place.

This morning … gone. I have looked everywhere and I am on the verge of being late to depart to campus. Gone. I’ve looked EVERY possible place. Every pocket, every surface, every drawer it might have fallen into. I have called the gym and no watch was turned in last night, just in case my memory is truly faulty.

As I have said before, I DO NOT lose expensive things like this. This is not a $1.99 K-Mart special. I am a careful person, especially with things that matter to me.

WTF is going on here, other than the universe toying with my watch affections …????

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