Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Slop Line

Went to a bakery yesterday to get bread to go with our soup and picked up what I *thought* was a package of chocolate croissants for today's breakfast.

Oftentimes when cooking/baking something it's a good idea to put a little something on top of the item to help indicate what's in it. For example, almond croissants usually have slivered almonds on top - easy enough, yes?

These croissants, much like many chocolate croissants I've seen, had nothing on top but you could see the appearance of a dark filling at the corners. Unfortunately, that dark filling was in no way chocolate-related, but instead a spinach or pesto-type substance.

It's upsetting to bite into something like spanikopita when your mouth is ready for a sweet, gooey chocolate-filled pastry. Would a single pinoli on top be too much to ask? Or a spinach leaf? Something?

Disappointed that we had no sweet gooey treats for a Sunday breakfast, we went to Tim Horton's. At 9:30 on a Sunday morning.

The drive-thru line snaked around and out of the parking lot so we went inside. The line inside was only slightly shorter, with people joining from doors on both sides of the building.

We walked in and made our way toward the end of the line that weaved back through the tables. We joined the end of the line as two guys that came in from the other door cut in front of us.

These fine boys were sportin long, stringy hair and clothes that were mostly clean and both had summer teeth. Summer over here, summer over there.

With a scowl on his face, Dirty Stringy Blond Guy said "fuck this - just like the slop line in jail." Dirty Stringy Native Guy mumbled something in return.

I micro-stepped back toward David and stayed glued to him as the line moved along. DSBG kept grumbling about one thing or another while DSNG mumbled inaudible replies. David and I talked about the idea of working the graveyard shift there - they're hiring, if you're interested.

When it was their turn to order, the tough ex-con act disappeared and they were polite and friendly to the cashier. Watching a scene like this unfold, it's difficult not to burst out laughing like it's a live Kids in the Hall sketch.

After just a short time here, I have a whole new appreciation for their show. KITH fans might remember numerous parodies of Ontario Provincial Police, like when they're lounging on the hood of the patrol car talking about doughnuts or hockey while an old woman gets mugged right in front of them.

A few weeks ago there was a terrible car accident at a strip mall - a pickup driver crashed into a sushi restaurant. The police had the parking lot closed down for three days while they worked that case. SFPD would have been done with that in 20 minutes.

Last week two people were found murdered in a home in Surrey. Someone had called 911 reporting that they heard gunshots, but the police decided not to check it out.

This place is weird and funny.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Endless ____lits

In the local paper there's an ad for Crapplebee's endless favourites - all-you-can-eat entrees, such as endless chicken fingers or endless crispy shrimp.

I told David we could go have endless riblets for only $11.99, to which he said Sure, and then we'll have the endless shitlets.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Losing My Shit

That's literally losing my belongings and coming unhinged about it, so maybe the title should be Totally Losing All My Shit. But I digress.

I turned into Sherilyn Fenn yesterday, the character she played briefly in Wild At Heart where she's wandering around the strewn car wreckage, flipping out about losing her wallet/bobby pins/scalp/brain matter.

I wandered through boxes of crap talking to myself and swearing all day long. Where the fuck did I put that fucking thing - it was just there goddamn it - fuck. Shit. That fucking thing should be with the other fucking thing but it's not, piece of shit. Fuck.

This went on all day, one outburst flowing into another, and I never did find the one fucking thing I was trying to find all fucking day; the one goddamn thing I need to work the other fucking thing that's now just sitting there, a useless fucking paperweight without the fucking thing that makes it go. Fuuuuuuuuuuck.

Fucking irritating.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ready for Teleporting

Or if not teleportation, would it be too much to ask for a direct flight from my house to wherever I want to go?

I'm done with marathon road trips for a while. They can be fun when there's time to stop for bacon maple bars along the way, but it's still too much time in the car.

I'd wanted to shave the drive time down to 12 or 13 hours, but without wearing Depends and an 80-gallon gas tank (and a jet engine in my Volvo), that will be difficult to do.

At any rate, I learned something new about northern California - The State of Jefferson - never saw or heard of this before last week (I slept through school) - a small region of northern northern California/southern Oregon that would like to secede and be its own state.

If they ever get that accomplished, they're going to want to make sure they get Crescent City and Mt. Shasta in there, otherwise there won't be anything worth stopping to see in Jefferson.

This is a snapshot of Jefferson as seen from Highway 5:

Drink it in.

With this recent trip behind me, it's time to settle in for real. This morning I found a pair of flannel-lined khakis I've had for many years and now I actually need them. They're two sizes too big, but they'll do for now. I wonder how cold it's gonna be in February...

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I have to admit that I might be hormonal at this moment, or it could be an accumulation of stress, but I can't believe how sad I am about being away from the animal kids.

When I rolled into town Sunday night, I realized I wasn't going "home." No one would be at this house - there's no home here anymore - just the house.

A house that now smells like it did before we moved in - like someone else's house, with someone else's things in it. Not my house. And no one in it.

That first night, every noise I heard made me expect a cat to be right behind it. No cats. When I made pasta and put it into a bowl, I automatically thought to find a small dish for Henry. No bird.

This year has been difficult with David away for most of it. I hadn't realized until now how much more attached I'd become to the fuzzy kids. It's killing me to be away from them. I want to leave right now to race home to them. Because home is wherever they are and they aren't here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Road Trip Workout

A long drive can be difficult to get through, especially on a straight, boring highway and nothing but bad AM radio (forgot my iPod - whoops).

It was like getting through a long run - stay hydrated, eat healthy snacks and take it in phases. And talk to yourself. And make fun of Washington.

It gets old fast just sitting there. Just sitting there working your right calf, ever so slightly. You can feel your muscles turning to mush. And it also lets fatigue creep in so quietly you don't even realize it until you wake up five minutes down the road. See previous post about Washington.

To work other areas besides the right calf, try these mini-exercises and see if they don't help you stay alert (and help burn off the bacon maple bar - or five - that you inhaled before leaving Portland).

Leg Shakers
Either to your own count or to a song on the radio, shake your legs back & forth like you have to pee so bad you almost can't believe it. Count to 30 (seconds or so), rest for 5, then repeat as many sets as you like. Works the groin, upper quads & hamstrings. Makes you look anxious and disturbed to other drivers, resulting in a greater space barrier with other cars.

Leg Presses
Press your knees together for a 30 count - works the groin. Depending on your car, if you can press your knees against the door and center console, that will work the abductors and glutes. Can also help air out the crotch, and that's always a good thing.

Butt Crunches
Tense your butt muscles for a 30 count, rest for 5, then repeat two or three times. Can alternate or "super set" with Stomach Crunches for a more robust exercise.

Stomach Crunches
Tense all stomach muscles and use them to crunch your body forward slightly toward the steering wheel - hold for a 30 count, rest for 5 then repeat, or super set with Butt Crunches. Focus on the lower abdomen by "pulling" the pelvis up into the stomach. Believe me, do enough of these and you'll feel it the next day. The gentle rocking makes you appear possibly deranged, resulting in a greater space barrier with other cars.

Bicep Curls
Starting with your hand resting on your lap, make a fist and tense your entire arm as if you were holding a dumbbell in your lap, then slowly curl your imaginary dumbbell up to your chest. Do 30, rest for 5, then repeat. Switch arms and repeat. Do not - DO NOT - do both arms at the same time. You'll have to move to Washington.

Tricep Press
This one is a little difficult being that you can't get good enough extension above your head to do a traditional tricep press, but you can put both hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 and press against the wheel for a 30 count. You have to focus on tensing the triceps while pressing. Keep your hands relaxed so you can keep steering the car. Kindof important.

Shoulder Raises
Starting with a bent arm raised in front of you like you're holding your mic on American Idol, fist at chin level, raise your elbow to the side, keeping your fist at chin level - like doing the Funky Chicken, just in front of you instead of at your sides. Focus on tensing the deltoids while raising your elbow - do 30 raises, rest for 5, then repeat. See above note about switching arms and repeating.

Pectoral Press
With both hands on the wheel at 9 and 3, press your hands toward each other, squeezing your pecs. Do a 30 count, rest for 5, then repeat. See above note about keeping hands relaxed.

Enough said.

Turn up the music and dance in your seat. See above notes about appearing disturbed/deranged. When making pit stops, don't use the drive through - park as far away from wherever you're stopping as you feel comfortable (with all that crap in your car), and walk vigorously to/from your destination. If desired, do jumping jacks, plyometrics, or go for a run around the rest stop/gas station/starbucks/wendy's.

Traditional road trip snacks tend to be Pringles, Gardetto's, Oreo's and such - lots of salt to ward off frequent pit stops and fat, well, because it's fat and it's good. But too much of that, and you'll be flagging by lunchtime. Some of that is good - you need the fat/calories for staying power, but too much sugar is the killer.

Keep a variety of snacks on hand - whole grain bagels, granola bars, protein bars, nuts or seeds, the bacon maple bar for extreme fat/calorie loading and the one sugar rush you shouldn't deny yourself, water and coffee.

I was surprised at how little coffee I wanted/needed for the drive. I usually have too much blood in my coffee stream, but staying hydrated with plain ol' water helped ward off fatigue better than caffeine.

It's a delicate balance - drinking just enough H2O to be hydrated but not so much that you're stopping every hour to pee behind the car. You'll have to figure out what's enough for you.

Soda can work, but I wouldn't recommend it. The sugared stuff is mostly poison and the diet stuff is all poison. It's fluid, but full of shit your body has to work to break down or use water to break down/process, negating the liquid it contains. And the acid eats your teeth.

Brain exercise is also important. Count the number of highway patrol you see by state and the overall total. Keep track of political bumper stickers. For example, 5 Obama to 2 McCain with 1 for Impeach Bush. Do the math of figuring out how long it will take to get from where you are to the next city based on your average speed. Then try to beat that. Safely, of course. Of COURSE!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Coming to America

Ever drive for 15 hours straight? I have! Yesterday I drove from Port Coquitlam to Alameda - 7am - 10pm. Whaaaahoowwww!

While I wouldn't jump up on a Sunday morning and say "Let's go driving until Monday!" it didn't totally suck. And it was pretty much stress free, thanks to constant tapping of simulated wood and quiet conversations with The Universe.

I wondered if driving through the state of Washington would be as stupid as the last time I suffered through that state, and it almost was.

There wasn't as much traffic this time, but there was a stupid amount of law enforcement all up everyone's ass. From the time I crossed the border 'til I rolled into Oregon, I counted 11 highway patrol, most of them handing out tickets.

Eleven. At 9am on a Sunday morning. What a bunch of shitty bitches.

The other stupid thing? Almost no road signs telling you which cities are coming up & how many miles to them. Because evidently no one in Washington is going anywhere, so what the fuck do they care if there are other towns somewhere and how long it might take to get to them?

You drive along and after a while you see a sign telling you "Entering [name of town]." Surprise!

And like always, Washingtonians are the worst drivers in the Pacific Northwest, possibly North America.

Just as slow and oblivious as Jenna Bush - camping in the fast lane going 50, yammering on a cell phone. See above about not going anywhere.

Even with all the signs that say "Slower traffic keep right" - they stay locked in the fast lane, holding up drivers from everywhere else in the world. It would seem they don't know how to read, either.

Oregon isn't much better when it comes to road signs, but the drivers are better, I saw only one highway patrol, and Portland has Voodoo Doughnuts - well worth the detour. It's just five minutes off Highway 5. Get the bacon maple bar - you'll thank me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ceramic Cooktops = Ass

To the inventor of the ceramic cooktop - you're an asshole. And you must love scrubbing things every day - sometimes twice a day if you're lucky. I hate your invention. You probably microwave everything.

Too afraid of a little gas-powered flame? Can't figure out how to control it with the big, controller knob? Think it's going to leap up and char your face off? It just might, if you get close enough. That's the fun factor.

More frightening to me than a big ol' gas burner on "high" is a cooktop glowing bright lava red like it's actually on fire.

But the thing that really irritates me is how EVERYTHING burns onto it, even water, requiring a vigorous scrubbing with a "safe" scrubbing thing, which is code for "it doesn't scrub for shit and you're going to work up a sweat trying to clean anything."

Every range should come with a personal scrubber monkey to keep the damn thing clean. Time to buy a grill.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wifing is OK

That's pronounced "whyfe-ing." I'm doing a fair amount of wifing these days and I have to say, I'm starting to like it.

Wifing is different than being a Lady Who Lunches, which from what I hear is a fine way to pass the time, but I'll have to work up to that.

As we settle into our new Canadian lifestyle, my day is largely filled with wifey duties such as managing the household, thinking up things to make for dinner, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the pets.

Now, you might remember an earlier post where I wigged out about the prospect of loading and unloading the dishwasher every day for the rest of my life. I pushed past that, realizing one doesn't have to load and unload the dishwasher at the same time every day, or even every day for that matter. It can be a flexible schedule. Whew! That was close.

With that situation resolved the stress disappeared and now I'm enjoying puttering around the house taking care of things, running to the store for supplies, organizing the house. I dare say, I like the wife thing.

Yesterday I realized we needed groceries so I happily went to the store and shopped. In the three weeks I've been here, I've already been to the grocery store more times than in all of last year in Alameda.

My new favorite store is spacious, very clean, has a great selection of stuff and it's never crowded (and has fantastic Muzak). Contrast that with Alameda's Trader Joe's which at anytime of any day is always loud, cramped, often out of the good stuff and crowded full of rude people. So I stopped going.

When people ask me how I lost 20lbs this year (now closer to 30), I tell them I just stopped going to the store, and it's partly true. When there's no food in the house, you don't eat very much.

There was no magic diet or silver bullet hoodia pill endorsed by Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes. David went to work in the UK for four months and I didn't feel much like eating. When I did eat, it was whatever I could make from what was left in the cupboard, like tuna and crackers. Or tuna and spaghetti. Or tuna on a fork.

By the time my appetite returned, my stomach had shrunk and there wasn't much I could fit in there. Before I knew it, none of my pants fit. Susanna made fun of me, seeing me wearing pants two sizes too big held up by a big ol' belt. It's a fine hobo look.

Then we decided to move. Try working full time and packing an entire house for a month and see if you don't lose some weight. Best workout ever and no time to cram anything into your mouth.

But now things are finally settling down and I'm a happy housewife who last night when her husband got home, cheerfully made him a ginormous cocktail then cooked him a steak dinner with baked potato and tasty salad.

As he said last night, having a stay-at-home wife is expensive, but worth it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kickass Wednesday

I dunno, maybe because I'm getting old, or the world is getting old, or we're all getting old, great days are fewer and far betweener than they used to be - or seem to be - so when one comes along, I can't help but get all giddy and sickeningly cheerful about it and want to tell the whole world what a great day today was (and still is, technically).

Nothing momentous happened - I didn't even wake up feeling particularly refreshed - but the day was great, nonetheless. Beautiful day with perfect weather, good mood, nice people, no stress.

I won't bore you with the details, but the best part of the day was watching Ninja, or Carpey Flapjack*, watch a bee buzzing around just outside the window screen.

The way his head bobbed all around, tracking his new friend who sounds just like the noises in his head - I couldn't stop smiling. I think it was the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

*He'll silently "swim" through the house and very lightly brush up against your leg - sometimes you almost don't feel it - like a giant carp. Flapjack is for being just so big and dumb, like a big dumb flapjack in a giant skillet.

Friday, September 05, 2008

I Love Me Some Organics

Today I stopped into an organic market just up the road from us hoping to find more probiotics. It has *everything* I could ever want in an organic/healthy/healthful/whole foody sort of way.

There was an entire wall of organic flours in every variety you could imagine, organic and fair-trade coffee, high-quality supplements, probiotics, greens formulations, natural cosmetics - everything. Everything everything everything I like/want/need from a tree-hugger store.

As Helen Madden, a well-known joyologist says, "I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT!!!"

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Doin' The Flagpole

(image from

Today was Flagpole Day! No, not run my panties up a flag pole or climb a flag pole. I got to drive to the border, cross into the U.S., get a form, then go back through Canadian Customs to get my Work Permit.

When I was told this procedure is called the "flagpole," I thought that was just a cute term used by the HR folks in David's office.

Turns out, "Flagpole" is an official immigrations term used by both the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as well as Canadian Customs.

At the U.S. Customs station, I told the uniformed lady I needed to get the right paperwork from Canada, hesitant to tell her I was "doing the flagpole," but then I said, "I guess they call it 'the flagpole,'" and she said "Oh, sure - the flagpole!"

On her little orange official paper she wrote "Flagpole" and showed me where to park and go inside to get the form I'd need for Canadian Customs.

The U.S. Customs office is all business - very brightly lit with clear queues cordoned off and stony-faced officers giving off a very serious vibe, like they might have to draw down on everyone at any moment and defend the entire border on behalf of all Americans everywhere.

I waited patiently in line until a salty officer barked at me to come to the desk. I told him which form I needed and he went about hand-writing my information on it, including the word "Flagpole," underlined, next to the reasons why I was not being admitted back into the U.S.

With my official Flagpole form in-hand, I drove over to the Canadian Customs to complete this fascinating process.

Inside the Canadian office, the vibe is totally different. The lighting is subdued, there's one general area to queue up and all the officers are talking and joking with each other. They also offer public washrooms and have vending machines with snacks & sodas. There's none of that civility provided on the U.S. side.

An agent waved me over to the counter and as soon as he started talking, it was like working with Patton Oswalt. He sounded just like him and was about as funny. He reviewed my U.S. form and laughed at how they wouldn't allow me back into the country.

I had stacks of paper and forms to hand over, so I asked him which forms he might need - he said probably none of it. He just used David's paperwork to get mine in order, gave me a temporary import form for my car (that's a whole other process/story) and sent me on my way.

It was all supposed to be very official business, but it felt like I was amongst friends. I'd totally hang out with them anytime.

Now the next customs party we get to have is officially importing our cars, which means handing over some forms and leaving our cars in the U.S. for three business days prior to *exporting* them so they can be *imported* into Canada.

Trouble is, our cars are already HERE, so that means we have to drive them back THERE and leave them, one at a time, obviously, and then we can officially import them and get that paperwork taken care of.

It would seem the U.S. Customs folks are either totally stupid or totally stoned or both, because NONE of that shit makes any sense whatsoever.

As I overheard one U.S. Customs agent say while waiting in line, "I guess I have to do something today, or make it look like I'm doing something..." No shit.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Whose Crap is This?

I keep unpacking box after box of crap and stuff and junk. Even after getting rid of so much stuff before the move, it's obvious we had no idea just how much crap, stuff and junk we actually had.

Evidently I have a bag problem. And a bit of a shoe problem. And most likely a jacket/coat problem. I knew about the shoes, but the bags and jackets were sort-of a surprise.

We had a lot of hooks in our closets in Alameda. Things have a way of blending in when they're hanging up. Very different than when piled one on top of another in a large box.

And David has a book problem. A book and games problem, but I bet that's not a surprise to anyone who knows him.

The cats have a bit of a toy problem. Faux mice and tiny sparkly balls have been pulled out of the cat tree cubbies and littered all over the house. Countless more were found while unpacking and have been tossed.

All this crap seems to attract more crap - it's a friggin crap fest. I'm not even done unpacking and already I have a pile of stuff to take to Goodwill.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Housewife - Day One (Day Last?)

Today was my first official day as a housewife. After I stopped working late last month I became a full-time mover, which was way harder than any job I've ever had. That didn't feel at all like housewifing to me.

Plus, my husband was already "moved," so there wasn't much wifing going on - just being a full-time pet au pair. They'll run you ragged, those furry little bastards.

With the trailer finally unloaded last Saturday, resulting in more bruises, extreme fatigue and scuffed up limbs, now I don't feel like a mover anymore but more like a housewife. A housewife with bruises all over her inner arms, making her look like she moved to Canada to kick a nasty heroin habit.

This morning my husband got up early and went to work and I dozed for another hour before getting up to feed the cats.

With the cats fed, I scooped out all the cat boxes then cleaned and refilled Henry's water dish. As soon as I finished that task, Nikita barfed up her breakfast. After spot cleaning the carpet, it was time to make coffee. Had my coffee and checked email.

By the time I finished catching up on email it was late morning and I needed a shower. But first, the shower drain needed clearing. Drano-ed the shower, then after rinsing the poison away, got into the shower and proceeded to scrub the entire shower/tub.

With the shower finally clean and draining properly, I then showered myself, got dressed and got to work on the Boxhenge in my office, so tall it obscures the windows.

Unpacked several boxes, then took a fridge inventory to make sure dinner was covered. Thankfully we had enough on hand to not require another trip to the market. Restocking a pantry is a lot of work.

I kept unpacking boxes until David got home. That was my day. I know what you're thinking - I can see the gun barrel resting on my bottom teeth too. Because after the unpacking/nesting, what the hell am I going to do all damn day?

I emailed all my clients a message saying "HELLO! READY TO WORK - NOW!!!" Good lord please give me something to do other than load and unload the dishwasher or do laundry or scrub the toilet or vacuum or dust the blinds.

Like a scene from a corny TV show, the best part of my day was when David got home and we could talk about his job - something other than "you'll never guess what I pulled out of the tub drain today."

Even better than grown up work talk was the bike ride we took through the nearby wooded trails. Coming out the other side of a park onto a city street, we saw a guy on the corner who promptly warned us about a couple of black bears down the street.

Of course we had to ride over and check them out. We found a small gathering of neighbors chatting excitedly about the bears, though they were long gone by the time we got there.

Had a great time talking with the neighbors like we've lived here all our lives, then we finished our ride, on high alert for bears. Got home and had a nice dinner, refreshed and invigorated.

Now I just hope tomorrow's minutiae doesn't send me running for the Shelter of Her Mother's Little Helper. Can't wait 'til it's time to change the sheets!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labour Day Canadia

We went to dinner a couple of nights ago and I got to order, with a straight face, "The Ribber."

A guy was killed in Vancouver the other night - the 14th homicide in British Columbia this year. There were at least that many in Oakland last month.

Wherever there are teenage girls hanging out together, they are *always* in groups of threes. Always.

The Save-On-Foods, my favorite new grocery store, plays the very best Muzac ever heard. From Duran Duran's Girls on Film to 10cc's Dreadlock Holiday, one of my all-time favorite songs.

The people really are nice. Checking out of the Save-On-Foods, the checker asked if I had my Save-On card with me - I said no & I needed to get one. Without missing a beat, the woman in line behind me offered hers so I could get the discount. Then the woman behind her pointed out the forms to sign up for a card. No one was bunged about the line or a brief delay.

Riding my bike around town yesterday, it really did feel like I'd gone back in time to my childhood. Kids out & about playing in neighborhoods, families working in the yard together and a totally relaxed vibe everywhere.