Monday, November 28, 2011

Maybe I'm Murphy Brown

So, last week it was painters.  This morning it's the crew installing the new heating system, and here I am.  Surprise!

I'm trying to stay out of the way, but still be at hand should anything happen that needs my attention.  I was using the same philosophy last week when the painters were here.  What to do when large portions of you house are unavailable to you? Well, I write.

I'm reminded of the old Murphy Brown show.  For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Murphy, played by Candice Bergen, was a journalist and news anchor.  Episodes usually focused on her work, but the scenes that took place in her home often featured Eldin Bernecky. Eldin was Murphy's house painter...for six years.  

Though I'm glad it didn't take the guys six years to paint my living room, I was pleased to have the opportunity to write with no other tasks looming. Not that there's not plenty on my to-do list. I just couldn't work on any of those items and stay out of the way.  It was quite freeing, yet I still felt like I was accomplishing something.  I'm not quite at the point where I could sit on the sofa with a novel and a box of bon-bons while other people are working.  Maybe some day.

I'm experiencing the same feelings this morning. Though it makes me anxious having other people in the house (that's another story), I'm still appreciating having this little chunk of time to do nothing but write.  I do have to go to work eventually, but in the mean time I'm out of the way while doing something I find meaningful.

According to Virginia Woolf, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." In my case, I just need to be trapped in a shared room in order to sit down at the keyboard. Of course, having money helps too.  On that note, I'm off to work!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Soy Nice?

I have trouble with poetry. I have trouble understanding it. I have trouble writing it. Imagine my surprise when I found this when sifting through old, unpublished posts:

A poem written after eating edamame for two days running, and I do mean running.

Soy foods may be good for the heart, 
Though the more I eat the more I fart,
I fart and fart til the room does reel
Glad I don't eat it with every meal!

Ummm. Really speaks for itself; doesn't it? Oh dear. I just realized what a sorry pun that is. It wasn't intentional. I promise to avoid poetry, punning and possibly soy from here on in.  

Sleeping Cougar Acres Circa 2010

It is a miserable, windy, rainy day. Just the kind of weather to make me appreciate the sunny photos in this previously unpublished post. I have no idea what I originally wanted to say with the pictures.  All I found when tidying up the blog was an untitled draft with these pictures. They were taken in August of 2010 on what was obviously a beautiful day.  As we can all use some sunshine, I'm sharing them now.  Better late than never.

I think this was the first year L tried carrots at Sleeping Cougar Acres.  I remember her being rather pleased with the crop.
Ahh, yes.  The tomato cube. Tomatoes are a challenge to grow here, so when L planted this
6 x 6 bed she placed the seedlings quite close together.  Neither of us expected the plants to take off like they did. The result was a bed of tomatoes that was
6 x 6 x 6.  The plants were so tightly packed that we had to fight our way into the centre to get at the tomatoes growing there.
L allowed me to plant an experimental bed.  I tried edamame, corn and amaranth.  You can just  see the edamame at either side of this photo.  In spite of the lush plants, the pods they produced were empty.  On the other hand, amaranth grew like crazy.
These plants grew to be about 6 feet tall. I knew I wouldn't run out of leaves, particularly when we discovered that, when cut back, amaranth puts out new shoots. I had more greens than I could use.
The amaranth flowers are just starting in this picture.   A few weeks later the little red buds grew into gorgeous burgundy plumes.  Veggies that delight the eye and the palate.  Gotta love that.
The corn plants grew to incredible heights.  They were well over 6 feet tall by the end of the season. 
Sadly, the season was too short for the few cobs to develop fully.  They plants were awesome to look at though.


It's Thursday morning. I'm not working, but others are. There are painters working in my living room and guy downstairs preparing to install our new heat pump system. I'm drinking coffee, surfing the web and tidying up the blog. I could get used to this doing nothing while others work.  I'd better not though. Gotta pay for all this stuff, but I'm enjoying it while I can.  

As I've been sifting through old blog stuff, I've found things that never got posted.  Some I've deleted.  Most of them were preliminary notes for articles that were later published. A few were false starts.  Many of  those were deleted because they were so old I've forgotten what I was trying to say.  A few I'm actually going to finish and post.  Really.  I am. I'm going to start now.  See you soon. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Am Lisa Simpson. Almost.

I have a confession.  I watch The Simpsons. Regularly. I've done so for years.

On Sunday one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, appeared as himself on the show. I loved it. Neil, as always, was wonderful, but his guest appearance wasn't the only thing that had me laughing out loud. The episode poked fun at the publishing industry, teen lit, the vampire genre, bookstore/coffee shops,  writing by committee and itself. What from that list wouldn't appeal to me? Yet with all these topics to enjoy, it was Lisa's struggle with her writing that had me laughing loudest. 

When a disillusioned Lisa discovers that her favourite series is written by cubicle-bound ghost writers she decides to write her own tween lit novel. She gets as far as "Chapter One" before the distractions set in.  I wish I could list these distractions for you.  I'm tempted to  fire up the PVR and watch the show again so I can give you an accurate summary of Lisa's non-writing process.  I'm going to resist that temptation, but I will admit that I spent a significant chunk of time this morning trying to find clips online.  Are you beginning to see some similarities here?

What do I remember? Lisa with her laptop at the coffee shop. She signs onto the internet in case she needs to do some "research" while writing her novel. (I currently have two, now three, tabs open in the browser.) Once Lisa logs on she feels that she needs to compensate the coffee shop for using its free internet, so she lines up to buy a snack.  (I had breakfast, a tea, a coffee and two snacks before I finally sat down to write.) 

Once back in her room, Lisa is distracted by a tiny spot on her window.  She is shown scrubbing at it from inside, then later from outside. If you've read this post you'll know why I found that particularly funny.  (Four tabs open.) Nothing like a speck of dirt, or fuzzy felt feet, to keep a writer from writing. 

Lisa's trials with her novel are juxtaposed with the successes of a novel-writing team. This team includes, among others, Bart, Homer and Neil.  It's Neil's job to get lunch for the group.  (Five tabs open. Six. Seven.)  I don't know how pizza delivered by "British Fonzie" isn't a distraction for the group.  It certainly would be for me. I guess my relationship with pizza isn't as strong as Homer's.    

The similarities between Lisa's writing process and mine tickled me to no end. It comforts me to know that someone out there has the same issues, even if that someone is a fictional yellow girl (or the writer(s) of a fictional yellow girl). No wonder I keep watching this show. I'm Lisa Simpson, almost.  The difference being that, unlike Lisa,  between distractions I sometimes manage to write.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

# 1 Hana Korean Restaurant

I just had the strangest dining experience.  

It wasn't the food that was strange, though it was new to me. The service and decor were well within the confines of normal. If anything, the strangeness originated in me. 

Today we tried our local Korean restaurant for the first time. I've never had Korean food before, so I didn't know what to expect. Maybe the newness allowed for what I experienced. 

Hubby ordered Man-du Guk (Korean dumpling soup) I ordered Kim-chi Bo-kum Bap (kimchi fried rice topped with a fried egg). The server was pleasant. The food was served promptly.  It looked and smelled good. Everything normal so far. 

Then I tasted the food. In some elusive way it reminded me of Ukrainian food, and not just any Ukrainian food, my Baba's Ukrainian food. I thought I was going to cry right there at the table. 

I was in no way prepared for my reaction.  How could I be? The Ukraine is nowhere near Korea. I know because I checked the atlas when I got home. Hubby thought it might be the cabbage that was triggering my reaction. Possible, though his cabbage-free dumplings had a similar impact. (The dumplings also reminded me of a Chinese restaurant we frequented in our student days, so there was a double-whammy of culinary nostalgia happening in his bowl.) 

Each bite of my meal made me feel like the Grinch on Christmas morning. I could feel my heart swelling, but in a good way, not in a congestive heart failure kind of way.  My woo-woo, meditating friends would likely call this an opening of the heart.  I think I finally understand what they are talking about.  Funny that I was able to achieve with a bowl of spicy rice what I was never able to achieve with meditation.

I'll certainly be back to the restaurant, and not just because of the gustatory/metaphysical trip down memory lane. The food was really, really good. Hubby can confirm this should you need a recommendation from a sane person.  Wholesome food made with care in a tiny kitchen. Kind of reminds me of something. Oh, yeah. My Baba. Maybe Korea and the Ukraine aren't so far apart after all.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

So Not the Queen of Clean!

(This post has not been proof-read. Posting anyway. It's my blog and I'll misspell if I want to!)

10:00 am

I should be cleaning right now. On Thursday a "Certified Energy Advisor" will be here to perform a home energy audit.  We already know the place is about as energy efficient as a sieve, so it would be nice to be able to show him a clean and tidy house. 

I won't have time to do much around here tomorrow. Today is it for cleaning if I want it done by Thursday, yet here I am.  Strange, I usually use cleaning as an excuse to avoid writing. I'd say this reversal is progress, but that would only be true if, on those days when I used cleaning to avoid writing, I were to actually clean. Usually I look at my options, get overwhelmed and end up spending hours playing Angry Birds.  (I finished Angry Birds Ham'o'ween yesterday. I guess I'm out of excuses.)

Sooooo, what am I going to do? I'm going to leave this window open, go do some cleaning and come and add to this post throughout the day as the mood strikes me.  We'll see what I end up with at the end of the day.


So my plan, as far as I had a plan, was to start with the floors.  Then I realized that in order to clean the floors I first had to find the floors.  Most of my Rocky Horror costume has now been put away. As I stored the bits and pieces from my outfit, I found bits and pieces of previous costumes that I decided to dispose of.  

I have no idea how old that makeup is, but I'm guessing it's well past its best-before date. As ugly as that Wild Iris eyeshadow is, I'm pretty sure I'd have to pay more than a buck fifty for it if I were to to purchase it now.  

The makeup went into the trash, as did the vampire teeth. The black marks on the gums are likely ancient stains from the Elvira-brand lipstick, but why take a chance? I'm sure the Certified Energy Advisor will notice these organizational improvements right away.

In clearing the floors for cleaning I also found some library books that needed to be returned.  Good thing I had "Don't Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me" on hand when deciding to dispose of the makeup above. 

Who am I kidding? I haven't looked at any of these books. In fact, I had forgotten I had most of them.  I'm sure there's someone out there waiting to read about the inside of the Tardis. I hope they realize the effort I went to to find and return it.

By the way, Emma, if you're reading this "A is for Apron" is the sewing book I was telling you about.  Better late than never!


Obviously don't clean enough, as I couldn't find the vacuum. Once found it took me several minutes to remember how to use the attachments.  Stairs and basement now vacuumed.  This is taking longer than I thought.


Upended the dining room chairs and cleaned most of the fuzz of the felt pads on the legs.  No, not ALL the fuzz.  I'm not that obsessive.  I'm sure such attention to detail will impress.  Who needs anything more than single-glazed windows when their felt feet are fuzz free?


After all that work I was famished.  Took a lunch break with hubby, then decided to make some snacks for later, as I'm sure I'll be hungry after this afternoon's chores.  Made "Black Ball Bliss" from "Health by Chocolate". I didn't have any black sesame seeds on hand, so I rolled the balls in regular sesame seeds and shredded coconut.  My balls were less black as a result. I will not be sharing these with the Certified Energy Advisor.  Offering a stranger blissful balls of any colour can only lead to trouble. 

Of course, now I have to clean the kitchen...


Most of the dishes are done, and the kitchen and bathroom floors have been swept and mopped.  Good thing I waited until after making the blissful balls to clean the floor. There was much more coconut on the floor than I had realized.  

If I'm going to get a walk in today I'd better do it now. Otherwise, it won't happen and I won't sleep tonight.


Better start thinking about dinner soon...


Answered some emails. Oh, right, dinner.


Dinner prepared, consumed and dishes washed. Breakfast and lunch prep complete.  Still have more floors to clean, a bathroom to de-grunge and assorted other chores to do before the Thursday appointment with the Certified Energy Advisor.  Hope he appreciates the energy it took to get through this day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lurking Leads To Listening Leads To Lurking...

A strange restlessness, that may or may not have been a deeply disguised urge to write, led to my lurking on other blogs. While snooping at Life, Love, and Food I discovered a link to The Splendid Table. As I'm always looking for something to listen to while I walk, I downloaded an episode. That episode featured an interview with Stefan Gates. Glow-in-the-dark Jello and vegetable orchestras were discussed. Gates even created a parsnip kazoo while on-air.  His silliness inspired yesterday's post. It was no parsnip kazoo, but it was a start. 

The episode also had a caller asking for brunch ideas. Savoury bread pudding was suggested, which was handy as I had purchased a loaf of day-old rye bread to have with the borscht. I didn't know what I was going to do with the rest of the loaf until I heard that suggestion.  I couldn't find the recipe they discussed in the podcast, so I lurked around on other blogs until I found a recipe I could adapt to what I had in the kitchen. 

The bread pudding was OK. The results may have been better if I had stuck to the recipe. I'll definitely try again, so it wasn't a complete waste.  And if I consider that it led back here to my writing it wasn't a waste at all. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Murder, Macbeth and Borscht.

Salads are only for murderers,
Coleslaw's a fascist regime.
Don't think that they don't have feelings,
Just cause a radish can't scream.

From "Carrot Juice is Murder" by the Arrogant Worms.

This song runs through my head every time I cook beets.  It seemed particularly appropriate last night, as I prepared borscht for our dinner. The red juices dripping from my knife, across the cutting board and onto the floor. The stained hands. It's like a scene from Macbeth. 

Fortunately, the washing up was quite fun. Look, pink foam! 

No roaming the house in the middle of the night wringing stained hands.  And the recipe made enough borscht for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps.

I've been lurking around at my favourite blogs recently. When I stop writing here I tend to stop reading other blogs.  I'm sure there's a very good psychological reason for this behaviour that a skilled therapist could help me sort out. Whatever. The fact that I'm out there roaming the blogosphere leads me to believe that somewhere in the deepest, darkest places of my mind I may be thinking about writing again.  Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps.

While my subconscious continues to stew over the likelihood of my return to the world of writing, please check out the work of these three talented bloggers:  

Meghan of Making Love in the Kitchen
Rose-Anne of Life, Love, and Food
Samantha of Bikini Birthday

Hope to see you all here again soon. Maybe. Possibly. Probably.