Monthly Archives: November 2009

This is the havoc trying to write an essay in 10 hours causes

Havoc

Can you find all of the following items in this picture?

1. An afghan, keeping all of me but my fingertips warm, because the thermostat drops the heat in the middle of the day and I’m too lazy to fix it.

2. Three cups of coffee, represented by one mug.

3. Three books on Ben Jonson.

4. Five journal articles on child loss poetry, bereavement, Katherine Philips and again, Ben Jonson.

5. One Dollar store short stemmed wine glass that has seen the suicide of three therapeutic candles.

6. One page of scrawled notes.

7. One phone in the hopes that someone might call, text, or distract in some other way.

8. General other messiness, indicative of 1 month of no de-cluttering.

9. One laptop that is my life and contains a 7.5 page essay that just won’t become 8 pages.

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Vacation suggestions

M and his best man are thinking about going on a trip for reading week. It’s our last reading week and neither of us have ever taken the opportunity to go somewhere. I’m probably not invited along on this trip though, so my best friend and I are thinking about going somewhere ourselves, someplace new and exciting just for a few days.

She wants to go to New York. I’m ok with that. New York could be fun. But I’m not into high end designers and Broadway is too expensive for me. New York intimidates me with its skyscrapers and scary taxi drivers. Why would we go if we’re not willing to spend a lot of money on this trip?

So, I’m asking for suggestions! If you could take off for an extra long weekend, buy a last minute flight somewhere you’ve never been before, where would you go? Or, if you were going to New York with no money, what would you do?

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What’s next?

Every time I start researching and writing a paper, I wish I were on a career track that led to academia. That led to reading and thinking and writing.

But I’m not.

Next semester, I will be writing my last research essay of the foreseeable future.

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A Pekoe Story: Part II

I realized I never updated from this post. Everyone who really cares knows the end result anyway, but I figure it’s time for me to talk more about my cat anyway.

I took my boy to the vet. Got a good lecture about the flea collar I had on him (the vet was concerned about the well being of the children I might one day want to have. You know, poison in me, passes to poison in them. Something like that.) And a lecture about putting Pekoe on a tether in the back yard. (He must have felt like a sitting duck out there! Absolutely miserable!) And a conclusion that the throwing up was likely caused by a hair ball (here, have tuna flavoured laxative!) and the peeing was probably behavioural and I should trust Pekoe enough to let him out and officially be an inside outside cat.

So, he is. Officially. My roommates are happy, because they no longer have to fight to keep him inside when they leave the house. There have been no repeat performances of the inappropriate peeing and the only times he’s thrown up, there’s been grass in his vomit. And Pekoe is pretty much perfectly happy. He goes out, sometimes at 10 o’clock at night, spends the whole night chasing shadows in the backyard and the neighbour’s backyard, has probably made a few friends, and comes back when I step out onto the porch to call him the next morning.

His paws look like this now:

Pekoe's paw

See all that dirt and the cracks? He’s no soft-paw anymore! But he’s way more cuddly and actually sleeps through the night when he choses to spend it indoors!

In other kitty news, the other cat I called mine left my parents’ house one day and never came back like she usually does. But, I’m ok with it. It’s a fitting way for this particular girl to go. But that’s a story for another day.

 

Lady Grey

Lady Grey, ~2004-2009

 

 

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Mmm… chili in a crock pot

My favourite kitchen gadget is my crock pot. I went without one for the first two years I lived on my own off campus and I know how I did it, but I wish I hadn’t.

One day, almost two years ago, shortly after I moved into the place I live in now, I noticed the grocery store had some stock of kitchen gadgets in. They don’t always, so when they do, I like to peek at what I could have: the coffee makers, blenders, rice cookers, toasters, crock pots, deep fryers. I wanted a crock pot. Pretty badly actually. But they’re way to big for me. What am I supposed to do with 5 or 6 quartz of soup? I am one person with freezer space shared between four completely unconnected people. I can neither eat that much food nor store it.

And then, I saw it. Two quartz of delightful cuteness for less than $15. A small crock pot, perfectly sized for me! I couldn’t resist. I brought it home, imagining the soup, the chili, the stews I would make in it. I borrowed a crock pot cook book from my mom, planning to expand my repertoire beyond the standards.

Crock pot chili

Of course, things didn’t work out that way, exactly… As much as the crock pot industry might want you to believe it saves time, it really doesn’t that much. You still have to put the work into preparing food to cook. A crock pot is just an oven you can leave on when you leave the house. While in school, I tend to gravitate towards quick and easy: stir frys, chicken fingers and fries, prepackaged meat pies, plenty of granola bars, clementines and pears. And coffee. My eating habits aren’t the healthiest. And while working, I don’t have time to throw together a chili in the morning to cook for 8 hours while I’m at work.

So, my crock pot sat in its cupboard, pulled out occasionally, mostly on Sundays so that soup can cook while I’m at church, smelling delicious and perfectly warm and ready to eat when I get back. And then, I got Tuesdays and Thursdays off this semester.

Perhaps it’s a way of procrastinating. Or maybe it’s just a way for me to enjoy my morning. But I’ve been finding myself more often waking up, eating breakfast and cooking. Last week, I cut up and fried some pork, mixed it with left over mashed potatoes, a can of creamed corn, broth, and a (bad) combination of spices to make corn chowder. (Unfortunately, the addition of onion soup mix made this a complete flop. I’m going to try to save the leftovers somehow… for now, they’re freezing.) The week before that, I made a (slightly imperfect) chili. (I learned the importance of tomato paste.)

The best part about all of this: the crock pot makes enough for about four servings for myself. Even if M is around, I’m still left with half a crock pot of good food after we’ve both had our fill. I throw it in old yogurt containers and freeze it in my fridge. When I feel like using my crock pot again, I pull something out, add whatever is appropriate and in my pantry and conveniently have four more servings, two of which go right back into the freezer!

M has a big crock pot, 6 or 7 quartz I think. I’ve done a small ham in my small crock pot, but I’m kind of looking forward to having a bigger one to try things like a roast, slow cooked in beer, or a whole chicken.

Do you have any favourite crock pot recipes?

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Theory really does make a better musician!

Background: I have my Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 8 piano. I passed it (by the skin of my teeth) when I was in Grade 11. Or was it Grade 12? Anyway. Years ago.

Saying that makes me feel old.

Since I played and passed the exam, I’ve hardly touched the piano. Sure, I’ve gone through stages of playing semi-regularly, but I haven’t been home long enough to actually improve. Weekends. Reading weeks. Christmas break. My repertoire was small and not expanding.

But I missed it. A lot. I’m a musician. I’m the one who’s singing at the top of her lungs in church, who tries to sing harmony even though she’s shy about sticking out and messing up, swaying back and forth so she can’t share the hymn book with anyone unless they hold it. I might hum while walking around campus, might whistle on my way home from Christian hymnody class. I can’t resist playing a scale when I see a piano with the lid up and the pump organ at M’s house fascinates me.

So, last year, I started looking at digital pianos, something that could fit in my car, but was reasonably good quality. When I decided I wasn’t willing to spend $2200 on it, but wasn’t going to be really happy with anything else, I gave up.

And then, I overheard a co-worker talking about selling his digital piano. I jumped on it. Bought it sight unseen. And had some mild buyer’s remorse from it. It’s 75 unweighted keys with only three dynamic ranges: p, mf, f.

It was pretty mild buyer’s remorse though. It was incredibly cheap. And you know what? It might be a piece of crap, but I don’t think I’ve played piano so much since the last week before my Grade 8 exam. My repertoire has actually grown and I can tell that I’m a better pianist.

I don’t think the latter is from having a cheap, crappy piano that I play worship music and hymns on all the time though. On a bit of a whim, I decided to take a theory course this term. It’s hard. At least, some of it is hard. I haven’t had to figure out what interval I’m hearing in years. I had forgotten the meanings of augmented and diminished chords. I’ve never known what counterpoint is. And singing with solfege syllables while conducting?

But, surprisingly, I’m doing well! Ok, maybe not on the dictation part, but the rest balances it out quite nicely. Even better, I’m noticing it in my playing. Suddenly, learning new songs (though the ones I pick are not difficult…) is coming easily to me. Chords are falling under my fingers and I’m noticing cadences and phrases more readily than I used to.

I wish I had known how theory can actually affect your playing when I was busy almost failing my piano exams.

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Athleticism versus physical fitness

When I was a kid in elementary school, I was actually an athlete. Surprised? I used to play volleyball, soccer, and even road hockey. I ran cross country and even won track and field for my division at my school every year from grade 4 or so to grade 7.

Grade 8 I was angsty and uninterested. I think that’s where the downward turn happened. I didn’t get along with the type of girls that played sports. I prefered solo activities like piano and writing. In grade 9, I quit playing soccer and turned solely to other artistic pursuits.

Sometimes, like this weekend, I regret that decision. M is athletic. He plays volleyball, hockey, badminton. This weekend, he had a volleyball tournament in Belleville. While he played and had fun, I sat on the bleachers and tried to catch enough of the game so I could at least know if they won or lost. A lot of the time, I was bored stiff. While being bored, I found myself thinking about how my life could have gone in a very different direction. What if I had stopped playing piano instead of soccer? Perhaps I would have become a team player and far more of a people person than I am.

I doubt, however, that I would be in better shape. For about 40 minutes, the length of one of M’s volleyball games, I went for a run. (Through a cemetery, at that. On Halloween.) I think, with the help of my mother, my childhood athleticism has transitioned into a desire for physical fitness. Instead of playing a sport, I’d prefer to run for an hour. I find myself competitive against myself. I enjoy walking for 25 minutes to get to school in the mornings and in the evenings.

M is athletic. I focus on being in shape. I just hope we can maintain what we’ve got as we get older.

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