26 February 2009
I've noticed marbles come in various sizes and shapes. Sometimes they are fuzzy orange socks, sometimes they are CD wallets, and sometimes they are eye glasses. Sometimes they are never found again, but others that I lose get found, only to be lost again and again. Pens, pieces of paper with important information on, hair doobers... I struggle with these things.
It baffles me, because what I know about myself is that my world operates best with thorough organization: everything in its place is a key requirement to my existence. But the system must be foolproof...me being the fool. This is a major reason behind my pursuit of simplicity in life: I don't want reams of paper that need to be filed, heaps of seasonal possessions that need to be rotated and stored, or little bits of things that need finicky care and sorting.
Oddly enough sometimes this means multiples of stuff. I have a pair of glasses for at work, one for in the car, and one for in the house. It's a great relief and comfort just knowing the glasses are there. And I still manage to misplace them! I am someone with a compulsive need to always know where a thing is, who also has difficulty in keeping tabs on that thing...is there a way out of this conundrum? Is there a solution?
25 February 2009
Gambling and ashes.
I was sitting in the student centre yesterday – between exams – which were really hard! – when someone dropped a pamphlet about gambling on my lap. At first I was surprised and baffled, but then I started to wonder: do I look like someone with a gambling problem? I dress the same as the other girls, though I do wear these really cute boots sometimes (I got them on sale last spring and they make me feel very tall.) and I never wear pyjama pants to school. I have firm opinions on inner wear as outer wear.
It’s true I’m often on my computer, but I’m hardly on gambling sites! I have no idea what I’d bet on anyway. I follow soccer, but the games are already stressful enough I don’t need to make them anymore exciting! I’m usually chatting with Theresa, and we’re certainly not laying odds on anything. We might occasionally say things like: I bet it’s cold out – but that can hardly qualify me for a “Hazards of Gambling and the ruin it will bring your family” pamphlet, does it? I usually mention my assignments and papers, so it even counts as school work, I’d say.
I shouldn’t let it occupy my mind as much as it has, but it has. I didn’t notice the guy give pamphlets to anyone else so he meant it specifically for me. I wonder what it means?
That wasn’t the only random thing about yesterday: my priest came to talk to me. Well, he’s not my personal priest -- he’s pastor of the parish I go to. There I was, sitting in the student centre – just a few minutes after the gambling guy made me question my character – when I looked up, and there was Father Baxter. Turns out he didn’t come on campus just to talk to me, but in walking through, he recognized my hair (which is particularly wild today) and stopped to chat. I wonder if I should have mentioned the gambling thing to him?
Anyway, he brought up the fact that Lent is starting soon. I pretended I was totally aware of it, but my heart jumped into my throat a little. That means the school year is nearly done! Ack! How does this happen? Every year, I feel like I’m just getting the hand of things academically, when it begins winding down again.
So, Lent. That’s another thing that catches me by surprise every year. I’d dearly like to prepare for it beforehand, really consider thoughtfully what to give up or what to do for these forty days. (I must also find out if Sundays count or not. It seems pretty cheap to take a break on Sundays, but then Sundays are supposed to be celebratory aren’t they? It’d be a very great challenge, but I feel like I should give up chocolate. Thing is, there are days when chocolate is a medical necessity! I’m not addicted to it, you understand, I just need it!
Writing it down makes it official, so here goes: after careful reflection, I’m going to give up chocolate, Cheezies, and Youtube. And gambling.
23 February 2009
I. Am. Exhausted. I’m too tired to put an exclamation mark on that sentence. My small nephew and not-so-small niece are at my place for a ‘sleep over’. We call it a ‘sleep over’, but there isn’t likely to be a whole lot of ‘sleep’ before morning comes. I’d forgotten how very...active... they can be, these little people.
We went to an outdoor ice rink where a great deal of time was spent plucking little bums up off the ice. Chloe was one of those skaters with the turned-in ankles who take shuffle steps with their arms waving like flags in the air; but Heathcliffe took to it like he was born wearing skates, swooping around like an ice capade... if capades used those ice walker contraptions. I didn’t do too badly myself...but then I wasn’t actually on skates. I don’t think that should count against me though because walking on ice and juggling two slippery kids is quite a challenge, believe me!
I have a question about hot chocolate: how does a three year old boy get marshmallow behind his ear? I haven’t quite figured it out.
The rest of the day was quite full with a serious game of “but mommy doesn’t make it this way” at supper, ‘let’s wear everything in Auntie’s closet’, countless unending games of card war, and eyespywithmylittleeye for hours and hours, and – by far my favourite -- ‘you can’t catch me’ at bath time. Which, by the way, led to the disappointing discovery that someone has been playing with my lipstick, but I won’t say anymore about that. Except that it was quite upsetting to find it wound all the way out, and a big piece of it mashed inside the lid. I suppose I can scoop it out with a cotton swab or something, when I want to wear it, so I shouldn’t get angry about it. But you’d think a girl’s lipstick would be safe in her own bathroom!
They should be sound asleep by now – they’ve had any number of bedtime stories and told me a million silly knock-knock jokes, but I can’t get them to stop cleaning! Chloe is dusting everything in sight, and Heathcliffe is sorting my clothes. The trouble is he’s mixed clean laundry with what he found in my laundry hamper...though he did get the colours bang-on. I’m beginning to suspect they’re doing this on purpose because Chloe has just emptied the dishwasher, and that’s something she just never does without coaxing, threats, and bribes in cunning combination. I’m going to have to pull her away from organizing the kitchen cupboards and simply insist she goes to bed.
Wagh!! I’ve been in bed for an hour now, and was very nearly asleep; suddenly Heathcliffe was beside my bed, lifting my eyelid and asking for ‘cars’. He likes to watch cars on my computer – anything from Nascar to Indy, to bang-em-up derbies on Youtube. I really don’t mind showing him the cars, ‘cause I quite enjoy them too, that’s not the problem...it’s just so late, and I’m so tired, and I have to write a midterm tomorrow.
Ack! I have to write a midterm tomorrow! I can’t believe that today is tomorrow already! I totally thought I’d be able to get some studying done while the kids ate supper, or had a bath, or for sure when they went to bed. Do I stay up now and study all night, or do I get some sleep, and wake up really early in the morning? Wait a minute -- I can’t study now – we ate all the Cheezies this afternoon. That settles it...tomorrow morning it is.
Move over, Heathcliffe, I want to see this one too...
21 February 2009
20 February 2009
My sister was recently in a grocery store. She operates on a tight timeline, and really needed to get back home: the get in, get it, get out kind of shopping. Doesn't she end up in a checkout with the wackiest cashier who wanted to chat about making gnocchi from scratch for her parents who were coming to visit, and the family is Italian, so the gnocchi have to be from scratch, and had my sister ever been to Mongolia?
Mom - again in a grocery store... they are dangerous places! Enter at your own risk! - was tagged by a woman who was looking for green tea, and proceeded to lay out her health history, an interesting article she read on the subject, and that last week the tea used to be here, why do they keep moving things?
Any of us in this family could be standing in line somewhere, and even be the last person standing in line, and people will want to cross the line...in front of us. Guaranteed it will happen at least once each time. Crying baby in church? In front of us, of course. The restaurant could be empty and we'd be given the table in the middle of the floor with the wait staff circling 'round.
My sister and I had the privilege of witnessing a couple agreeing to get a divorce. During a movie. I've long since forgotten what movie we went to see, but we still talk about the couple who got a divorce at the cinema.
No doubt you have experienced similar scenarios: the random guy who sits beside you in the empty food court, the whispering rosary lady who seems to be in the Chapel whenever you are there, and how the customs line you pick is always the slowest. Keeps life interesting, doesn't it?
16 February 2009
This scene came to mind because a friend recently waged war with an enemy familiar to many women. She emerged victorious, but is battle-scarred from the experience. She will make a full recovery, I know, but it has not been the gloriously effortless experience of beauty, fun, laughter, and sunshine promised by cosmetics advertising aimed at women.
Why is it that tabloids want us to recoil in horror at the pictures of starlets without their makeup, while men don't even have to shave for special occasions anymore?
It's not enough to colour our eyelashes with gunk, but we must make them thicker and longer. My mascara is sadly out of date, because it offers only 2x the volume; the newest versions are up to 5x. I feel so inadequately mascaraed!
My sister (who shall remain nameless) had a run-in with false lashes. I think the story ended with the lashes clinging to one corner, and she needed to remove them in a public loo. Of course before someone told her that she had a spider on her face, she thought she was look-in' pret-ty fine because she had spent all that day getting ready, and the 3 days prior in plannng and preparing the perfect outfit for this event. (or as much of that time as was available with her assorted little people underfoot)
Patricia Heaton - the wonderful actress from Everybody loves Raymond - wrote an autobiography several years ago. The book cover shows her in an Oscar gown, with rubber gloves on, holding a toilet brush. The back cover shows the pins holding the gown in place just so, and the rollers poofing her hair. Not only was it good for a chuckle, but it points out the truth: the picture-perfect beauties we see in magazines and on tv have a long story, a great deal of work, and many people behind them.
I'm sure you all have your stories: how three hours before the big event, you could be found in your bathroom with hair dye dripping down your shoulders, or how you tuck your socks into your shoes just right so as to hide the holes. Do you wear trousers all winter long due to depilitation avoidance? Do you now draw in your eyebrows because of over enthusiastically plucking during those horrid thin-browed 1990s?
Maybe you have excellent and helpful tips on post-disaster recovery, like how to correct poodle fuzz when the aim was casual curls and that special someone is going to knock on the door in exactly 20 minutes. What do you do about shoes that are a smidge too big? Straps that won't stay in place? We are supposed to roll out of bed perfectly tousled, teeth gleaming, and smelling of fruits of the forest. Who can live up to that without a little unnatural help? Share!
15 February 2009
So here is the episode introducing Mrs. Bing, the nextdoor neighbour.
An Episode in the life of Martina Bellini, curly-headed nursing student
Poor Mrs. Bing. She’s just been at my door, asking if I know where her glasses are. They were sitting on the top of her head, and when I told her so, she got confused and said it was Wednesday. I don’t know what that means, because actually it’s Thursday. I wonder if I should tell her? I don’t know how important knowing the right day of the week is for her.
I call my next door neighbour Mrs. Bing (even though that isn’t her real name), because I hear her alarm clocks go off three times every day: the first one is for waking up (very, very early), the second goes off at 11:00 in the morning (I haven’t figured out why), and at 7:00pm when she watches Jeopardy. Very loudly. It’s not that the tv is loud, but she shouts the answers at Alex as if he could hear her all the way in California or wherever he is. I can tell when she gets it right because she stamps her foot on the floor and smacks her hands together with a delighted cackle. Now I’ve made her sound like a witch sort of person, which she isn’t – not at all! She’s very sweet really, just a little confused about certain things ... and very excited about Jeopardy.
Her last name is one of those full of consonants with swoops and lines all over the top and my tongue just can’t make sense of it. Where my family is from, they use mostly vowels in all their words, so I suppose I’m not genetically capable of pronouncing a name like hers. I see her name on the label beside her buzzer downstairs and try to get the sounds right, to make it sound like when she first told me her name, but I’m afraid it’s no good; so when I talk to her, she is ‘you’. Like: “Hello you, how are you today? Nice to see you again” which can be awkward at times, but our conversations usually involve her telling me long stories about what her dog has done today (she doesn’t have a dog), and me providing encouraging or sympathetic noises in the appropriate places.
She comes to my door pretty regularly, but sporadically. What I mean is, it happens only on some days, but on those days she knocks rather often, and it’s always for very random things – like this morning, asking about her glasses. A frequent question is if I know what her dog’s name is, and I always tell her it’s Rufus, just because I can see it makes her feel better to get an answer. I used to say that she didn’t have a dog, but then she would want me to go out looking for it, thinking she’d lost it.
Anyway, Mrs. Bing’s visits today have put me behind in my work, because I get distracted from my train of thought. I was deeply into my paper on the history of foot care earlier this afternoon, but by the time I convinced her that the glasses on her head were in fact the glasses she was looking for, I decided I should do some laundry. But I made the fatal mistake of laying down on my bed and I ended up falling asleep! I probably wouldn’t have woken up now, if I hadn’t heard Mrs. Bing calling for Rufus out of her living room window. I think I’ll make a grilled cheese.
14 February 2009
The Squire of Milpond
In his ancient woollen cardigan, he certainly was a vision of agrarian gentility, unless you observed closely his upright carriage and quiet confidence; then, surely, you would guess at his soldierly past. As our story finds him, Soldier had laid down his sword, and taken up his ploughshare as Squire some time ago; however, it will be observed by our reader that a man truly a soldier will remain so whether he be on the field or on the land.
Our setting is the quiet hamlet of Milpond - a sleepy place it was, home to decent, hardworking souls. Its name derived from the flour mill, which harnessed the power of the pond as it tumbled into the Black River, bringing regular commerce to the few local shops. Its main renown, however, came from the hops grown in the fields outlying its borders, and the resultant beers and ales. It may be for this that our Squire chose this part of the country for himself upon giving up his uniform, but he always said it was the land which drew him here.
Squire took up residence in a tidy farmhouse, well constructed and proof against the elements. It sat protected by a hillock within a small garden beyond which stretched his land. He kept some few chickens and a cow, and had plans to graze sheep, but his main delight lay in the fruit orchard and vegetable garden. Squire was partial to pickles and preserves, and his pantry was richly stocked with the bountiful gifts of his harvests.
His property was overlooked – as if guarded – by the tall spire of the Church of St. Phillip, just visible over the top of the hill at the back of his garden. His neighbours were on one side a somewhat elderly couple whose son recently married and moved into the city; and on the other, a Town doctor and his wife who had bought a country property to play at being Land Owners but spent all their time attempting to cure the local populace of their simple ways.
Milpond, though small, was thriving in its quiet way. On market days vendors enjoyed a bustling trade on the fairgrounds. There was a Musical Society and frequent Amateur Theatricals for the artistically inclined. A small and somewhat unreliable restaurant owned by a temperamental chef who relied on whim for inspiration, and an even smaller though happily reliable pub addressed the gustatory needs of the people.
All in all, it was a happy place to enjoy peaceful years – so thought our Squire each night as he looked over his land from the fence dividing garden from field. Being a sensible man, and one of extensive reading, he realized he had much to learn about his newly chosen life. Would he, for example, have to construct a ha-ha if he did acquire sheep, to keep them from intruding on his vegetables? Was it expected that he would attend every church fete in the district? And just how often must he have the Reverend to the house for sherry? Country ways were very different, it seemed than what he’d been used to. This brought to his mind the fact that country folk enjoyed their victuals at an early hour; and even now his plate was most likely waiting for him alongside a tankard of his favourite ale.
How he loved this time of the day best of all: his labour was done till the sun rose again, and now as that sun slowly drooped below the horizon, his home glowed with the warmth of lamp light and happy souls. As St. Phillip rang out the hour, Squire left his fence perch and walked with eager stomach to his supper which tonight was surely going to be the rabbit promised by cook.
Scraping loose dirt from the bottoms of his boots, he stepped over the threshold of his back door, fully prepared to enjoy his meal and the book which arrived today by the afternoon mail. He’d ordered it months ago from a book agent who specialised in military history – an area of interest not well stocked in Milpond’s small lending library. Trading boots for slippers, he called a welcome into the house to signal his arrival and the need to have both meal and beer ready.
10 February 2009
This store is a large international chain. At least I think it's international. For sure it's pan-provincial. One thing I have discovered about it, is that quality and selection vary from outlet to outlet, so you must scope out the best one in your area. You will find treasure in some of them, whereas another location will offer nothing but flip-flops.
The glad-making thing about these stores is that their merchandise is very affordable, and even better, they seem to always have a brilliant sale where they offer "everything on this wall 3 items for $10"! Of course that means you usually bring home an item you don't really like for the sake of a good bargain, but then nephews need treasure for when they play pirates; so really, I should buy 6 items, because I surely could find 4 things I really like.
I seem to be gravitating toward necklaces these days, and I have noticed that the Victorian fashion of very long chains is now 'On Trend' (Think Cinderella's evil step mother...her necklace hung to her knees, just about.) But I'm curious about something: why do these very long necklaces have clasps? Is it a rule, that all adornment to be worn around the neck must have an escape route, in case you got stuck in a paper shredder, or garlic press?
It baffles me.
08 February 2009
In the Library
Here I sit, huddled over my laptop in my favourite study cubicle in the Health Sciences Library. I’ve chosen this spot carefully – I launched a campaign of reconnaissance worthy of a military manoeuvre and the result is that I have the prime spot in this whole mausoleum of a library. I have found the one spot that is both the farthest from the librarian, and still close to the washroom; I can’t be seen in any of the mirrors, and the books around me are obscure enough I’m not likely to have any but the most random people stroll behind me. There are seven or eight other little desks beside me, but this is the chair everyone wants. I bring enough gear with me to stake my claim and prevent anyone from thinking they can easily relocate me when I leave for a break.
Hmmm...I must remember to bring something other than Cheezies with me next time: they’re noisy, plus they turn my fingers bright orange which doesn’t look very scholarly. I’m afraid the librarian might evict me unless I can convince her I’m working very hard here. I’ll try frowning occasionally and flipping studiously through my books as if I’m trying to find an important reference.
Oh! Theresa is online! Yay! It’s been ages since we chatted. But I really must get this Morbid Forensics done. Or is it History of foot care that I’m supposed to be doing today? Darn it, where did I put my agenda? Oh, that reminds me, I have to write that letter to my academic advisor, too.
Rats, I’ve been here for over an hour now and I haven’t accomplished anything. Except: I did find those books on the geography of Inner Mongolia, and animal husbandry on the Steppes while wandering through the stacks. Quite interesting, really! And I ate that bag of chocolate covered almonds. They are such a good idea! Everyone knows chocolate is good for you – antioxidant or something, and almonds fight cancer, don’t they? So they’re a perfect food, really. I must remember to get more.
Well, honestly! A girl laughs a little, ever so quietly, and people look at her as if she kicked a puppy! It’s so studiously serious and quiet in here I fully expect the librarian to shush me. She looks the type to shush people. Her hair isn’t in a bun, but I’ll bet she’s wearing sensible shoes. She’s probably wearing contact lenses, and she’s got those horn-rimmed glasses at home. I’ll bet she looks at her husband over them, and shushes him, too. She goes on periodic rounds of the stacks, probably making sure none of her books are leaning against each other or not in an impeccable straight line!
This time I mean it. I will just do it, and tackle this troublesome letter. What is needed here is a little motivation, a little inspiration and it will practically write itself. Won’t it? Should I begin with ‘dear’ or with ‘to’, I wonder? It’s supposed to be an official document, so ‘to’ sounds better, but I’m hoping for a favourable response and am appealing to the kindness of their hearts, so maybe ‘dear’ is the way to go. I suppose I could do two versions and send them both, showing them I take the matter very seriously, and yet I am a real human being with a beating heart and simple needs. The humane society always sends pictures of sad-eyed puppies with their campaign appeals – maybe I should include a picture of myself...with a puppy?
I’ve been busted: while working very hard on my paper about Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults, I’ve been chatting online with Theresa, which led to silent bursts of inward laughter. I really did try to laugh through my ears, but it’s a hard skill to master and I guess what I thought was silent was maybe not so quiet and it seems to have come through my mouth after all. One of the Wonder Students sitting near me has lodged a complaint against me with the shushing librarian, who has of course shushed and warned me. If she has to shush me one more time I will have to pack my things and leave these premises “at once! And dispose of those vile orange things immediately” and did I not know that food is on no account permitted in the stacks, and do I not read the nutrition information on the packaging? Well duh! Who eats junk food based on nutrition values? What are they teaching people in library school these days?