Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Thing for January

In keeping with the New Year's resolution I "stole" from Miriam, to do something new every month and "say yes to adventure," we have the New Thing for January. I know you've all been anxious to hear about it.

It was tough to decide upon the New Thing, wanting it to be something great and amazing and so incredibly New and exciting that it would blow my mind and impress all my friends to no end.

As usual, the New Thing was an unplanned accident. But it happened just in time before the month was up. There were many New Things, actually. Ready? Here we go!

#1 Tried a New restaurant. David got food poisoning. That's an adventure, isn't it!? You *never* see that coming - a true surprise. Very cool. I emailed the restaurant to let them know we had a lovely time but the excruciating abdominal cramps that came later were kind-of a drag. They felt so bad they sent us gift certificates to come back and give them another chance. We'll just have the wine, thanks.

#2 Snowshoeing. Super Crafty and G Money came for a visit and we went snowshoeing. It was fun to be able to get into back country you just can't easily access without the snowshoes. A good workout, too, especially when running.

#3 Tried three other New restaurants. The Yaletown Brewing Company - great beer (as you might expect) - the best amber brew I've had since moving here; Granville Island Brewing Company - also good beer and fun snacks; and the Lamplighter - great atmosphere and tasty fish & chips.

#4 Visited the West Side and UBC, along with Wreck Beach - a clothing optional beach where one can also opt to purchase hash cookies from a nice lady with a cooler. We declined, but it's nice to know she's there. She was clothed, as were we. It was 35 degrees with a refreshing on-shore wind chill.

#5 Had the best cup of coffee since moving here at Cuppa Joe in Kitsilano. Great espresso AND drip coffee - twice as nice. I had way too much and was wide awake until the wee hours of the next morning.

#6 Made sauerkraut. Had to call my mom for tips, but it came out pretty good. I think I even like it now.

#7 Started watching The Dog Whisperer. I LOVE this show. If we didn't already have three cats and a parrot, I would be adopting dozens of dogs.

#8 Learned how to use a new CMS - that's Content Management System for the non geeks. It was fun to be all content managey again.

#9 Tried Take 5's coffee and was not at all impressed. Take 10, take 20, take however long you need to make it right.

#10 Tried Crest's Pro-Health toothpaste (thanks, Costco). Blech. Their Clean Night Mint product is "formulated with a unique nighttime flavour." ??? What is "nighttime flavor?" I don't know what that is, but I know it creates a terrific saliva film that could be the best non-hormonal birth control ever invented. Because I had to buy four tubes of it, I'll keep using it, but I won't like it.

I hope February ends up to be just as exciting as January! YES!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Miss Perceptions

I do it - everybody does it. You meet someone and think you get a sense for who that person is or what he/she is about.

Lately I've been made aware of perceptions others have of me. In some cases it's a result of a temporary, casual experience. In others, they've seen all sides, without filter, and they're still off base.

The former makes perfect sense, but the latter is puzzling. I'm guessing it comes down to seeing what you want to see or holding on to old ideas instead of being open to seeing the truth.

One example: I have a friend I've known for years - many, many years. He seems convinced that I only have a good time if I'm soused. Every time we get together he encourages me to drink and drink heavily. He wants me to take a cab so I can drain the bar without worry.

The funny thing about this - the few times we were out with friends many years ago, HE was the one in his cups almost every time. One night he was so blotto he couldn't support his own body weight - he was falling into his plate. We poured him into a cab, gave the cabbie $40 and sent him on his way and went back to finish dinner.

I keep telling him that I don't really enjoy drinking in that way. I have, but I was in college. These days I enjoy maintaining my composure and not puking in a dorm room sink. But in his mind, I'm not fun unless I'm drunk. How flattering!

Another example: Sometimes people assume I'm an idiot. Sometimes I am, but I try to keep that under wraps. I blame the boobs. When people see boobs, they don't see a brain. It certainly isn't in my shirt.

They give it away when they talk to me slowly and repeat things over and over again even after I've said "I understand" (repeatedly) and explain back to them what they just told me. I'm no rocket surgeon, but I can grasp basic concepts. I even know how to put on pants all by myself.

Then there's family. The parents who will forever see adult offspring as children. Seems like a universal issue. But sometimes that lens needs to come off. It's getting tiresome. I may not know who they are through and through either, but I don't act like I do and make assumptions that might make them feel like idiots. At least I try not to.

Do we ever really know anybody?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Ever get your feelings hurt and feel like you've been punched in the gut with a big log? Boy, does that ever blow.

T'was no big deal - a total misunderstanding - but lordy, I am ridiculously sensitive deep down below the stony black heart. My stomach is folded into a tight lump like a hard chunk of bubble gum.

On the plus side, it's a fantastic appetite suppressant. Seeing as how winter makes me want to eat every loaf of bread and potato I see, it's probably good timing.

It's been a very emotional day, what with the amazing history happening in D.C. And I stayed up too late last night and that makes things a little raw.

But didn't today feel different? Watching the inauguration, listening to the speech, watching the joy and elation on the faces of those who'd traveled there to see it in person - humbling and inspiring.

It felt like an enormous, collective sigh of relief - it's over. The embarrassment and incompetence of the last eight years is finally over. Wow. That feels so much better.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Like my fellow blogsters, I often neglect this medium in favor of screwing around on Facebook.

Because, I mean, there's just so much going on in my life, it's easier to keep everyone informed about critical happenings with quick, updated status messages. They're convenient, single-serving packets of info that everyone can easily digest in seconds.

To illustrate, here's a snapshot of about a week's worth of critical status messages.
  • Jennifer says The New Phone Book's Here! The New Phone Book's Here! The sun has come out! He hates these clouds!
  • Jennifer likes the sangiovese.
  • Jennifer is giddy about the new season of Flight of the Conchords.
  • Jennifer thought she knew who the 5th cylon is... but now she's not so sure. [scooby doo noise].
  • Jennifer thinks the blues in French sounds stupid. And what would the French know about the blues, anyway, with all that great food, wine and chocolate? Please.
  • Jennifer picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
  • Jennifer doesn't want to cause a panic, but there appears to be a Battlestar Gallactica marathon going on (in BC, anyway). It's back tonight! Huzzah!
  • Jennifer finds it's easier to work uninterrupted late at night, just like at an office. But I can wear my jammies here. Or a prom dress. Doesn't matter.
  • Jennifer is glad everyone got off the plane that landed in the Hudson River.
  • Jennifer is suddenly very busy. Drought or firehose - is there *no* middle ground?
  • Jennifer is waiting for the bird to shut the hell up. Maybe it's time to drug his birdy pellets.
  • Jennifer is off to the Land of Nod.
  • Jennifer is amazed that WA passed a law to rename King county for another King. The first one wasn't good enough, eh? Redonkulous.
  • Jennifer is learning a new CMS. Mmm... content management. Yummy.
  • Jennifer can say she's tried the Take 5 coffee. Meh.
  • Jennifer is off to see the wizard. The wonderful wizard of Id.
  • Jennifer is bored of the manatee-written 24 scripts. But it was fun to watch Jack punch someone in the face.
  • Jennifer just got a little nauseated watching Bush smugly talk about his time in office. Forever a vile douchebag - don't let the door hit you on the way out.
  • Jennifer is all excited about King 5 News and her imaginary favorite aunt, Jean Enerson.
  • Jennifer is thinking someone spilled a coke on a Facebook server. Shit is sloooooooooow today.
  • Jennifer can't decide what to have for breakfast.
  • Jennifer is bummed that our sweet weekend is at a close... but happy about Mickey winnin the globe. Springsteen, too!
  • Jennifer is going to be a background performer, or selected parts of her, as directed by the director.
  • Jennifer is growing increasingly peeved about the Canadian pronunciation of Yahoo. It's not yeah-hoo - it's YAH-hoo - get it right. It's not Cah-neah-duh, is it?
  • Jennifer would like to have a word with the jet stream.
  • Jennifer loves that The Wrestler was written by a former Onion Editor in Chief. Loved the movie. More Mickey!
  • Jennifer is going to see The Wrestler... I've missed that rascal Mr. Roarke. Wait, not *that* Mr. Roarke. "De plane!"
  • Jennifer says "It's "more important," not "more importantly!" Yeeeeaaaaaaaaooooooo!
As you can see, it's a wonder I found a spare few minutes to make this post. With a dance card this full, it won't be long before I have an intern taking over The Nootsmaak.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Easily Distracted

The phone rang the other night just as I was starting to make David a tiny little pizza for dinner. We rarely use that household appliance - it's always a little discombobulating when it starts making that noise it makes.

Much to my surprise, it was my good friends G Money and Super Crafty serenading me with "IIIIII'm coming up so you better get this party started..." See, they're coming to visit next week and thought it would be a good idea to actually speak on the telephone appliance machine, which turns out to be handy in these situations.

I was excited to chat with them and went about making David's pizza while enjoying a lively conversation, talking about all the things we might do while they're in town.

By the time I hung up the phone, the pizza was in the oven and I was cleaning up the kitchen. I kept thinking there was something I'd forgotten.... Hmm... what could it be....

Pizza sauce.

I'd just made a nice pan of cheesy bread with pepperoni on it. Cheese I could see through the oven window was all melted and way beyond catching to fix my mistake, and that was the last crust. I could have scraped it off and started over... but that seemed like SO MUCH WORK.

Wondering how I was going to fix this blunder, I skipped into the front room and explained to David that he was about to enjoy a very satisfying festival of cheese with the spicy kick of pepperoni and who in the world wouldn't love that!? My grandmother used to nick the cheesy bread from Sizzler all the time! He gave me a weird look.

I found the pizza sauce and doctored it to make a thick, tasty dipping accompaniment. If Little Caesar's can do it, anyone can.

When the pepperoni cheese bread was done, I sliced it into narrow, dip-able pieces and assembled it on a large plate around the ramekin of sauce - it looked like a perfect pub snack.

I brought it into David and said, "Hey, check out THIS fun dinner!" I thought he'd be kinda peeved but he busted out laughing. He loved it. This is when I love his inner teenage gamer side.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cooked in my Sleep

Didn't sleep well last night - the cats are killing me. Pinning me down on both sides so I can't move and turning the bed into a Mongolian BBQ.

I'm convinced that as they sleep their body temperature rises and they can direct that heat wherever they want. They *could* send it into the room and take the chill out of the air, but NO - it's all directed to me.

Last night I woke up in an uncomfortable, sweaty configuration to find the little one smack up against my stomach and the medium-large one behind my knees. It had to be 400 degrees under the covers.

If I do manage to turn over at any time, they reposition and re-pin in moments. Later during the night I woke up on my back with my hands clasped above my head behind the pillow. I had one on either side of me. Even in my sleep, I move my arms out of the way to accommodate them. How the hell are they doing this???

I turn off the heating blanket when I get into bed - I only use it to take the chill off before I get in and David can tell you, I'm no thermogenic wonder. He gets my ice-cold feet on his legs every night. I know they seek out warm snoozing spots, but that generally isn't me.

So that tells me I must smell like chicken wrapped in bacon. Or maybe it's all those times I've moved the cats around the house with my mouth.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Standing Up

This is sort-of a recurring theme for the Nootsmaak - speaking up for one's self, standing up for the right thing, even if it's uncomfortable or creates conflict.

I did it again, and while I was unsure about doing it, I'm glad I did, though it might mean things will be uncomfortable for a while.

Here's the thing - like many people, I'd rather avoid conflict - I don't seek out waves to throw under a stable boat. But I can't sit idly by when something isn't right, or if there's a chance of changing things for the better, no matter how minuscule.

Some might say "Why bother," or the Pollyanna "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Sometimes that might be appropriate, but I don't think it's realistic and seems wussy. There are ways of saying things that, while maybe unpleasant, can be productive and achieve a desired result.

I don't want to cause problems - I want to solve them. If I'm causing problems, I'd want someone to tell me. I'd want the chance to fix it. I'd like to think that's true for most people.

After many years of wanting to say something to someone about something and not saying anything because I didn't want to complicate things, I finally said something.

I painstakingly chose every word very carefully in an effort to be kind, yet direct and straightforward. No one appreciates an underhanded slap in the face.

Despite the great care I took in how I crafted my message, it very well may backfire. But I was tired of waiting for someone else to say something and call someone on the bullshit that keeps causing a problem. Vague enough? I hope so!

I've agonized over what I said and how I said it and if it can be understood in the spirit it was intended, and will he/she appreciate that, despite the message, I care very much about trying to help and if I didn't, I wouldn't have said a word.

But all I can do is say my piece and hope for the best. He/she may be terribly offended and hate me forever. I knew that going in. If so, that's too bad, but if nothing else, he/she may think twice before pulling the same shit again.

What I *hope* for is an honest, direct exchange about the issue so we can evolve into a more productive place. But what I keep finding is, no matter how much someone says they value honest and direct communication, they have no idea what that means.

People say that all the time, but when things start to get a little sketchy, the line goes dead. I get it - conflict can be scary, but it can be incredibly productive and lead to amazing things. Like growth, change, evolution.

The key is choosing your battles wisely and knowing which conflict might truly be worth the pain it might cause.

What blows is when you try to open up an honest exchange and you get nothing back. The person on the other end doesn't seem to care enough to put forth the same effort. Or they don't know how, and that's OK - but no response at all? Not even to say "I don't know what to say?" Unacceptable.

So where does that leave things? Unresolved, for now. I keep coming back to the same thought: We all have a responsibility to speak up for the right thing. If someone doesn't like what they've heard, they have a right to refute it. But nothing is ever, ever going to change if we don't say something.

Sometimes it gets me into trouble, but sometimes it results in great things. I'm going to remain hopeful that things will work out well. If not, life goes on, and perhaps with a little less bullshit.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tonight's Event

A sort-of guest post - an email from my mom and my response:

From: Conacat [my mother]
Sent: Thursday, January 08, 2009 8:12 PM
To:[me]; [my brother Peter]; [my other brother David]
Subject: Tonight's event

Just to let you know, there was a 4.9 earthquake 1 mile south of San Bernardino at 7:50 PM tonight. All we got was a bit of a 'jello 'feeling. None of the hanging things in the house moved a bit.

No glassware clinking or other noise usually connected with an earthquake. We probably wouldn't have noticed except we were sitting in front of the TV.

We are fine and so is the house, etc.
Love, Mom

From: [me]
Sent: Thursday, January 08, 2009 10:38 PM
To: [my mother]; [my brother Peter]; [my other brother David]
Subject: RE: Tonight's event

Just to let you know – the sun came out today for the second time in a month for a total of 75 minutes. I took the gun out of my mouth so I could run out and get some pictures to prove it.

And now I’m convinced that when they show the forecast on the late news, they throw in one day (in 10) that has the partly sunny graphic – all the rest are rain/cloud graphics – and it’s a total lie.

They want people to think that someday the sun will actually come out because if they don’t cling to that tiny shred of hope for sunlight, the morgues wouldn't be able to handle the mass suicides.

There was no glassware clinking or other noise usually connected with the appearance of the sun. I probably wouldn’t have noticed except I was staring slackjawed at the TV showing a scene of a sunny neighborhood in Miami when I realized the light in the other room was coming from outside the house.

We are fine and so is the house, etc.
Love, Hazel

Monday, January 05, 2009

A New Year

Resolutions? No. Don't believe in 'em. But Sweet Mir says I should steal her resolution and do something new every month and "say yes to adventure."

I asked if we could prorate all the new things I did throughout 2008, things I could have said No to but didn't. She said No. Isn't that contrary to the spirit of the resolution?

Things I said Yes to in 2008:
  • The biggest & most obvious - moving to Vancouver, and all the new things I've said Yes to since arriving.
  • Learning to snowboard. I didn't really want to, but thought Why Not. It's kinda fun. Probably more fun with a group of friends : (
  • Driving in the snow. Really fun.
  • Driving from PoCo to Alameda in one day. Driving back in one day. Crazy, but kinda fun.
  • Stopping in Portland on the way to Alameda to finally taste the famed bacon maple bar at Voodoo Doughnut. More than worth the detour. Can't wait to go back.
  • Making the portrait of our new Poet Laureate. (I could have chickened out on that but said YES! and I'm so glad I did - thanks again Temple of All Knowledge Agent.)
  • Hiking around the back country in Healdsburg where I saw a wild pig skull and sunburned my eyeballs. Good times. I could have turned down that job when the agent said, "It's a 'short' hike to the property." They're always lying when they say things like that.
  • Getting together with former coworkers I hadn't seen in 13 years. Weird at first, then very fun.
  • Being a model for a stock photography photoshoot. You might see me in a brochure in your doctor's office someday, hopefully for something other than STDs or the adverse affects of menopause.
  • Encouraging David to work in the UK for four months. Difficult, but a great adventure for him and I lost 20 pounds while he was gone.
  • Running the Wharf to Wharf. Not a big deal if you're in shape. I neglected to prepare and have Sweet Mir to thank for coaching me through it - one of the best days, ever.
  • Taking a job as a real estate photographer. Had zero experience but thought What the Heck. Turns out I didn't suck at it.
  • Agreeing to schedule four shoots in one day in 100+ degree weather. Amazing.
  • Purging a house-full of crap through Craigslist, Goodwill dropoffs and a garage sale. May not seem like something you have to say Yes to, but it is. You have to decide all that crap has got to go, especially when your family has been collecting it for a hundred years. The best part, I met neighbors during the garage sale I'd never met before (wonderful people who were all hiding while Bob still lived in town) and Craig Merrell, a fantastic Alameda photographer. I was even more sad to be leaving town after meeting all those great people.
  • Writing a little book. Just a wee one. It's almost done. Can't wait to start another one.
Things I said No to in 2008:
  • Shooting a vacant lot at dawn (or dusk). It's a vacant lot. Full of weeds. No view on any side of it. No amount of creative lighting will change any of those facts. Suck it - you get full-on midday sun. Really.
  • That's all I could think of.
It's not that I don't think I can keep such a resolution, I'm just kinda worn out from all the Yeses of 2008. I'm ready for some boredom. Just a little.

But for Mir, I'll make a concerted effort to not slack off. But no matter what, there will be no skydiving or eating weird stuff.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Post HoHo Holiday Roundup

duplex in winter, poco, bc, canada

Here we are on the other side - January 2nd. Christmas/Festivus came and went in a flash and New Year's blew by in a blink - BLAM - done.

It was by far our weirdest holiday yet, a thousand miles away from home in a different country (sort of) without any family nearby. First holiday EVER not spent with family in some way.

David's company took a long holiday break which we've enjoyed by sleeping in (see previous post about hibernation), staying up late, doing our favorite thing of nothing, watching fun TV, learning to snowboard, playing in the snow, shoveling snow and watching the daily cat show (not in the snow).

I thought about posting more often, but my brain also took a long holiday break. There wasn't much to say other than "It's snowing. Again." or "It's raining. Again." I think I was depressed at one point for about 20 minutes, then I had another cup of coffee and felt better.

It's not so much the snow but the absence of the sun that's starting to take a toll. The days blur together and you can't distinguish one from another. There's no energy source to draw from. Everything looks grey.

The TV provides familiar comfort, as it did last night with a Lethal Weapon marathon. Oh the mullet - Mel's awesome mullet and tight, high-wasted jeans. And the open shirts. Or no shirt. Or the sweaty/wet-no-shirt-fist-fight. Fannntastic.

When Lethal Weapon 3 started David got up and went to bed. I tried to remind him that THIS was the one with Rene Russo and she's hot but he couldn't take any more. The mullet was bigger and the writing even more unbelievable than Mel's hair, but it felt like a big warm slice of home.

Remember when those movies came out? They were SO GOOD, weren't they? Weren't they? You know you loved them - loved them ALL.

Before winter's done I'll be looking for all the bad/good TV there is. It's one of my bestest friends. Happy New Year, eh?