Books Books Books

Existentialism and Google maps

If it doesn’t exist on Google maps…. is it still real? I think of this as I sit in an adorable little Korean Bistro that I have overlooked as I have driven by after work for over a year. In the mood for a restaurant one evening we decided to look it up and couldn’t find it on Google maps. “Well, its not there anymore,” says he,

“Well, yes it is because I drive by it every day”.

“Well no,  it’s not”—. and on and on it went. Eventually we chose Earl’s but we missed out on a nice cozy local restaurant. The whole area on 52nd ave. is an awful looking strip mall, colourless and dull looking from the outside. But in each of the little shops there are true exotic cultural gems that I insist anyone who lives in the NW should investigate if they haven’t already done so.

For a good long while Friday nights were Pho nights for me and my youngest at Essence of Saigon Garden. I had to look up the name because we just found it by a sense of hungriness and never even looked up at the sign to see what it was called. After we were Pho’d out we then moved two doors to the left for Indian food at Saffron. This is a delightful locally run restaurant with traditional food made by a mom with love. When we tire of Indian food I can now venture into this little Korean spot right a hop skip and a jump from the big high school. The man outside who is Korean says his favourite dish is the seafood soup. I sat inside waiting for my take out order and noticed a whole other culture inside.  How lucky to have all these little gems of restaurants all within the same vicinity I thought as I waited for my dinner. I glanced across the dull parking lot and noticed an African specialty food store and many other places that make me think of a Geode, dull on the outside but once you open it up it is sparkly and shiny and gives you a little thrill, just as you are about to peer inside.

And of course I must relate this to a great little book I read recently called My Korean Deli. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/books/review/book-review-my-korean-deli-by-ben-ryder-howe.html

The Good ol' Days

Those Happy Golden Years

I have never been to the Calgary tower. But I enjoy looking at it from the C-Train. It is tall and alien looking and when the coloured lights shine on it at night it is like it is beckoning beings from outer space to come on over and say hello. I wonder if kids hang out at the tower and just run up and down the stairs for fun. It reminds me that as a child I often would spend a whole day with a friend running through the halls of the Manitoba legislature building. It was like it was our own private castle to play in. And it was totally open to the public. I am sure the security guard loved listening to two little girls peering down over the railings saying, Hello? Hello?” Giggling as we waited to hear our echoing voices.

We desperately tried to find a stairway up to the Golden Boy. Oddly enough there was an  unlocked door to an open stairway, but it disappointed us when we found another locked door after many tiring steps. What did we imagine we would do once we got up there? Hang onto his big old golden leg as we surveyed the landscape?

I loved the large bison that flanked the staircase. I would pat them and pretend they were my pets. I was lucky enough that my own father worked there and would sometimes take me on a Sunday if he had work to do. That’s why I felt comfortable there, it was once my dad’s workplace.

I suppose the proprietary feeling I had for the Manitoba legislature building is how Ivanka Trump feels about the White House. It’s her dad’s place of work. She probably wanders around in her bathrobe and fuzzy slippers down those empty waxed floors at night, just ’cause she can. It must be fun to order pizza and give the address… ” Yes- hello ? Can you make sure to add pineapple and a side of extra sauce?, oh and just ring the bell, at the White House!”

And I am not talking politics here. I am just mentioning that we feel comfortable where our family is. Even if it is the legislature buildings or the White House . I felt comfortable in the back of my grandfather’s furrier store- Boston Furs where I would sit and watch all the men sit at their roaring sewing machines making fur hats and coats to keep all the Russian ladies warm in the cold dark winters of Winnipeg. Often on weekends, I would stand in the front window next to the mannequin, remaining still for what I imagined was hours, pretending that I was a small mannequin.

What I am saying is that I really hope that children today get the same freedoms we had as children growing up in the seventies.

Fashion

Sisterhood of the Travelling Lumber Jacket

 

log-drive

 

We have a family jacket that was inherited from someone’s grandpa. It was deemed too unattractive by their own family and I must agree. It is brown and puffy and looks as though it was worn by that famous lumberjack from the  Canadian short film The Log Driver’s Waltz.

The jacket is perfect in many ways. It is thick enough that you can put it on to chop kindling and the splinters can’t break through the fabric. It is puffy and warm and it is the first thing you grab when you have to run out in the middle of a dark night when a storm drops something on your roof and you must investigate. It is the first jacket anyone grabs to walk the dog and then to clean up after her.

And just like sisterhood of the travelling pants; just like Lena, Bridget, Carmen and Tibby—  quite magically, it fits us all equally. Except it the case of our travelling lumberjacket we all look equally unattractive wearing it.

Sometimes when I am cleaning out our hall closet, I look at this lumpy jacket and think, I should get rid of it- but I can’t. It is our family jacket, passed down from another clan of ugly jacket wearers. In fact there may be a twin out there somewhere in BC right now, thrown on quickly over cold shoulders, on the way to shovel their driveway.

I can’t recall how many years we have kept this piece of Canadiana style, but I will tell you it still has many years left in it. And just maybe, if we hang onto it long enough, it may become a fashion statement of some kind. Lumbersexuals beware!

jacket-2

jacket

 

Click the link below for the National Film Board of Canada’s

Log Driver’s Waltz  https://www.nfb.ca/film/log_drivers_waltz/

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It’s Complicated- My relationship status update with food. by The Fat Lady

photo courtesy of imgur
photo courtesy of imgur

I can eat. I can eat a lot. I am not one of those people who easily lose my appetite. I am not a picky eater. I was brought up to stuff my face when I felt bad. My Russian baba encouraged me to enter eating contests with my two hundred  pound uncle when I was ten. Then in the next breath, she would call me fat.

And so— my relationship with food is conflicting and confusing. I read a lot about health and clean eating. I am well versed in how to feed myself and my family in a healthy way. But. I can’t stop eating the bad stuff. I am helpless. For me my food addiction is almost as bad as an addict’s drug addiction.

I have tried many different diets over the years, when I was that same perogie-eating ten-year -oid, I tried grapefruit pills to lose weight. Although looking back at some of my childhood eating problems, I realize a parent probably should have told me not to eat forty perogies at one sitting–or were they all in the background cheering me on? I am unclear about this memory. But I do still love perogies, and sometimes I eat grapefruit for breakfast.

Eating is such a basic need but our society has made it into a recreational sport. We cook to not only feed ourselves but somehow it fills a spiritual void. Food some say can feed our soul. We feed our children and we feed the birds. We can’t stop feeding each other. it is a natural instinct that has run amok. For me, eating  and snacking is like having a pleasure switch that I can’t turn off.

I read somewhere that the best way for women to lose weight is to be accountable. To join a group and have back up. No perogy will get eaten without a sister there to talk you down. “Step away from that dumpling !”she will say in an encouraging voice. “It’s okay, you’re safe here with friends. Here,have an almond instead”.

I think I may have to look into this.

Signing off, from the Fat Lady.( besides I’m out of almonds.)

Books Books Books

Good Parent or Bad Parent—do you know which category you fall into?

cea

Hanging out in the lineup at Superstore is a great place to people watch in a big city. I get to see what sort of strange-looking alien vegetables old grannies from exotic countries are buying. Sometimes I ask them what they are making with said vegetable….” my son’s favourite, bitter melon soup!” I would perhaps be lead to believe this woman is a good mother, as she is making her sons favourite dish.

The next aisle over I watch as a small girl climbs out of the large shopping cart and begins to “ help” her mom by passing her everything in the cart including the large hefty family sized bag of frozen fruit from down below. The mom patiently lets her do this and I know she is the good parent who knows that the child is helping to give her something to do besides sit and feel helpless as a parent is busy doing “chores”. The child (I could tell) felt proud, while the mom just had to stand and smile at her as she did all the work. Although I know it would have been faster if she did it herself.  I could see another child the same age fussing around with a chocolate cookie mashed into his face to keep him occupied but this apparently didn’t stop his whining. This mother was shushing and then yelling at her child who was obviously bored and full of energy… which could have been disappated through a bit of grocery handling I thought.

These two cases are obvious good parent versus bad.

Now, at a Sunday morning 90 minute yoga class the other day I was astonished to see a little girl, maybe four years old sitting alone in the waiting room. I noticed that for the first bit she sat staring at her little electronic device but later, she began to impatiently knock on the window—at who I realized were her mom and dad doing yoga together. Now—who am I to judge?

Another evening I came across a tearful young girl who lost her brother after her mom left him outside on a snow bank to teach him a lesson. They drove away and when they returned, the nine-year old was gone. The last I saw was a police cruiser searching him out. ( he was found, and is fine now.)

I am sure there are many people who will choose one side to the other. But if something did happen to your child, after you had your adult tantrum… because I assume that is what it was, then wouldn’t you be dreadfully sorry years later, posting pictures of your lost child on billboards and Facebook pages? This is a big city. Children are in need of people who put their best interests forward.

I was thinking of this as I devoured a great book that gives a clear example of bad parenting at work. Read Cea Sunrise Persons two memoirs, North of Normal and Nearly Normal. You will see how a mother who truly loves her daughter really fails her by not protecting her from the world.

click link for Cea Persons webpage.

http://www.ceaperson.com/

Art

6 Guitars

 

6-guitars

I have been a fan of the reality tv series Alone. The premise is that survivalist sorts of people are plopped down in the middle of nowhere, usually Vancouver Island but this latest season, they are put in the wilds of Patagonia. They must survive on their own, until they are the last one standing, kind of a survivalist red rover if you will. Besides winning half a million dollars, many of the participants claim to want to do it for the personal sense of triumph, as in, “I can do it! I can feed myself, keep myself warm and dry and safe and not go mad for months! Alone. In the wild.”

We noticed an interesting phenomenon— that the ones who don’t create fun projects for themselves, tend to either grow bored or sit around thinking about why they should go home and how much they miss their loved ones. It is the individuals who make boats, chairs or  instruments that seem to last longer, they are amusing their minds. Their isolation is being averted by their efforts to keep their monkey minds busy.

I thought of this as I went to see an amazing show at the Lunchbox Theatre the other day. It was a one man show that involved him shifting in and out of six different personas of guitar players. There was an eighty- something -year old blues guitar player, a twenty year old rock n roller, an angst infused Jazz player, a latin musician, a folk guitarist and a country boy. It was cleverly intertwined with guitar music (obviously) and clips about their life and what made them the musicians they were today. What I gleaned from it was that they were all a little influenced by the other genres of music and that it was their pure joy of the music that made their lives worth living.

What has Alone and 6 Guitars have in common? Life can be trying. A person needs to spend it creating or doing what they really feel compelled to do. Learn it well. It will make life worth living.I am not a musician myself but I am moved by music everyday.

People need music. And people need those that create music and art. I believe our survival depends upon it.

Click the link below to learn more about 6 Guitars

http://www.sixguitars.com/about/

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Staycations Are Us

photo courtesy of imgur

Iceland-photo courtesy of imgur

We just came back from a one night staycation in Calgary. The hotel was set in the barren colourless landscape that represents the NE of Calgary in the throws of winter. The hotel was on the first floor and had no views besides a highway and the airport in the background.  But we both claimed, “who cares?”  We can pretend we are on our way to a tropical paradise, or maybe we have already arrived in Iceland or Alaska. That giant black snow pile outside the window could be a crater of sorts.

The salt water pool was ours to enjoy and played pleasant 1960s music. It was clean and large and we giggled from enjoying a glass of Layer Cake Malbec that we just had earlier in our room. The hot tub was our own too and the bright green and orange chairs were cheery to the lunar landscape outside.

We enjoyed the free soup and salad and then shared a very expensive burger in the lounge, but by sharing a twenty dollar burger- the cost didn’t seem so bad .  I went for a late-night forage for a slice of twelve-dollar cheesecake which was fun to eat in our underthings in bed.

And although this small holiday may seem expensive, really it was not. If you consider that we didn’t have to pay for a flight to a warm destination, or pay for more than one night of a hotel with food costs etc. One night in the bland cold world of the Hilton suites was fun and allowed us to escape from our life for a brief time. It was enough to rekindle our love. To listen to each other talk of what we dreamed the night before as we ate the bad free breakfast of fake scrambled eggs and triangles of deep fried potatoes with plastic bags of Louisiana hot sauce that we squeezed onto for flavour. Because spending one on one time with the one you love is what really matters. It was our Valentine’s getaway and his birthday mixed in to boot.

We marvelled that over the years our favourite holidays involved a tent and very little money. We often only traveled less than an hour or two away from our home to save on gas. But that didn’t matter. It never does. You can be happy wherever you go. It is who you go with. I have seen unhappy people on exotic vacations.

One year when our kids were both away for the weekend, we decided to pretend it was our anniversary/honeymoon. This was when we lived on a small Gulf Island. It was a heatwave and we joined the droves of tourists on the small strip of sand at Whalebone beach. We pretended that we were in Hawaii, cause why not? We had a lovely homemade meal of fresh fish tacos with homemade Pico de Gallo with tomatoes from our garden. We sipped good red wine and treated each other as you would if you had just met, with a sense of amazement that there is someone in the world that you love to talk to and swim with and eat with and be on “vacation” with in your very own house.

 

For us staycations are often the times that we remember the most. It is making the ordinary into something extraordinary.