A real wild child

I’m laughing today because when I wrote my last post on Wednesday the sky was blue, the sun was out, and I was prancing around in a skirt without any tights on underneath.

Now, the temperature is barely hovering below zero degrees, the smallest of the snowflakes flying by my office window are about the size and circumference of a cornflake, and I’m pretty sure the sun has peaced out so hard I’m like to believe that Old Man Winter has locked it up somewhere in an off the grid bomb shelter, outfitted with enough rations to survive the both zombie and nuclear apocalypses (combined.)

We may never see it ever again.

Grim times in the Maritimes here folks (except not in the Maritimes, but you know, figure of speech et. al.)

Right.

To comfort myself, I bought the biggest apple fritter known to humankind this morning for breakfast.

I don’t know if this photo does it the correct amount of justice. This thing was pretty much the size of my face.

Boy was it ever awesome.

Although I’m not a huge breakfast gal in the first place, I have been making a concerted effort to 1.) eat it (period.) 2.) eat it before 11am and 3.) choose healthy options (which on a regular day works out to yogurt and granola and many, many cut-up apples and bananas).

Which I actually really, really love.

Only today that just wasn’t going to cut it.

Hence, the fritter.

I’ve always had a pretty big (okay, massively huge) sweet tooth from as far back as I can remember.

Growing up in an incredibly healthy household was both a blessing and a curse (in the parlance of Peter Parker). I love, love to munch on greens and organically grown gourds and grains, but I also crave dessert and deep fried goodies like the fiend of all fiends.

Picture this:

I remember eating my first Dairy Queen blizzard like it was yesterday.

It was the summer of 1994. I was nine. My mother and I were in Bellingham, Washington for the Bellingham Highland Games. We were staying at a small motel with the other dancers from my dance school and H’s mother decided to treat us to ice cream and asked us what we wanted for the DQ. Most of the girls requested dipped cones, but I was curious as to what the heck a “brazier” could be (because that was always advertised on their signage outside of the restaurants) and so that’s what I ordered.

One brazier please. Thank you very much Mrs. K!

Little did I know that a brazier is a small oven. Or, as Wikipedia puts is: A brazier is a container for fire, generally taking the form of an upright standing or hanging metal bowl or box.

(In hindsight, I’m pretty happy that Mrs. K didn’t come back with a small chiminea. I would have been a little sad to receive that in lieu of an ice cream.)

Anywho, because Mrs. K wasn’t crazy (like 9 year old me. Okay, because Mrs. K wasn’t crazy like me) she either figured out that I meant blizzard, or came to such a conclusion with the help of the fifteen year old kid working behind the counter (I’m pretty sure the mean age for all Dairy Queen employees sits around 16.3)

And boy did she ever deliver.

That small, mint M&M blizzard was pretty much the pinnacle of taste bud explosion up until that point in my pre-lemon meringue life. (The meringue explosion is a post for another day).

I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

My sense memory from that whole day is so strong, it sometimes surprises me.

The day is hot, but not so to make you uncomfortable- the breeze made it tolerable, running over the small hairs on our arms, giving us gooseflesh, and tucking the stray, errant strands from our falling-apart-buns, behind our ears, or flattening them against the length of our backs.

I am wearing a too-long tank top and loose fitting shorts. I am a gangle of arms and legs, too tall, and too skinny, and I try to fold myself up as neatly as possible to take up less room on the bed.

I am squashed next to H, who is my best dance friend. She has an amazing spray of freckles across the bridge of her nose and copper-kissed hair that shimmers like polished bronze when she dances in the sun.

When I sit with my legs tucked up to my ears, I imagine that I am a grasshopper lying wait in a field of wheat , but also strawberries.

I smell like a mix of hair spray and sunscreen; the backs of my knees itch from where my garters had sat, keeping my socks from falling down as I danced. My cheeks are flushed pink, and my lips stained red – from both the sun and my mother’s makeup – these rouges the only two pieces of makeup I will consent to, despite exasperated pleas from my teacher and coach.

We are five girls, giggly and wired; a day spent flinging and swording and reeling under the bright, blinding sun is what we chatter about, mulling over our missteps, medals, trophies and tears.

We’ll do it all again the next day when we head to Enumclaw, for their highland games – for their medals and trophies, their bagpipes and drums.

It’s the summer, so school seems light years away.

We are dancers, eating our ice cream – our mint chocolate, vanilla dipped, peanut parfaits, and our rag-tag card games, and ever evolving nick-names, our tartan, our seams, our slippers and lace; our dreams.

I like remembering that I am still that silly, but wild, singing, dancing, ice cream loving child.

Apple fritter anyone?

I can see your halo

Hi folks!  Welcome to the latest edition of the Friday fry-up.

First on today’s docket:

Holy fresh hell – am I ever digging Sigur Ros these days.  I cannot believe it has taken me this long to start listening to them.

Most of the reactions I’ve been getting to this news have been pretty hilarious.  The lovely M put it best when he said: “Jeeze lady.  You’re only ten years too late to the party.”

No doubt!

"Sigur who?" Asks Nymeria. (She too being late to the shindig)

Even worse, it’s not as though I didn’t know the band existed.

In my last year of undergrad I read one of the most breathtakingly beautiful books of all time – an Icelandic work entitled Angels of the Universe.  I sobbed through the last three chapters and watched as my heart broke into thousands of tiny pieces as I turned the novel’s last page.

I actually don’t know if I’ve ever been the same since.

If you ever have a chance to read it, please do.  It’s a must.

Anyways, in the lead up to exams we watched the movie that was made from the book in order to facilitate a discussion on the similarities and differences employed by the two artistic mediums.

(Or you know…kill time during the last week of school.)

I liked the film and thought they did a fair job adapting the material.  But in the end it just couldn’t live up to the overwhelming majesty, power and heart-wrenching grief of the book.

I did however find the soundtrack haunting in its melancholy.  And even though I knew many of the songs were by Sigur Ros, I just didn’t take any steps to explore the band or their discography once the course was over.

For some reason I just always lumped them together with Radiohead, a band which I cannot like no matter how hard I try (and believe me I’VE TRIED – they’re my husband’s all-time-favorite) and just assumed that Sigur Ros was the Iceland equivalent to the music that makes me want to take a bath in a tub full of razorblades.  (This pretty much sums up all my musical ventures with Mr. T. Yorke in any and all incarnations.)

And FYI – I’m all for music making me feel things, I’m just not on board with it taking me to a place where I believe that there will never be anything good about the world ever again.

Seriously dudes, to me, Radiohead are the bloody Dementors of the music world.

Good grief.

Either way, it’s all water under the bridge now.

One last note on Scandinavian tunes though – the best song ever to be featured in a movie (or perhaps indeed EVER) is Paha Vaanii by Marko Haavisto from the brilliant and hilarious The Man Without a Past by Aki Kaurismäki.

I routinely listen to this on loop as I frenetically clean my house on weekends.  I pretend to know the words and everything.  For serious, the day I arrive in Helsinki I’m going to have this song DOWN PAT.

Check it:

Number two on the dial for the fry-up is not nearly as sexy as Icelandic post-rock but, any way you slice it, just as important:

DINNER.

More specifically, those dinners where you’re not really eating a traditional “dinner” but you’ve still taken the time to prepare something totally tasty and exactly what you’ve been craving all day and you’re about to sit down to a really good book, or maybe a collection of New York Times Crosswords, or a new Parks and Recreation or even better yet, a combination of all three to be shared with the person you love more than anything in the wide world, and everything is just GOOD.

No. GREAT.

Who are we kidding here?  EXCELLENT.

And if you are alone maybe you’re eating this:

I really love nachos.

Or, perhaps you are with someone else, and you’ve both decided that breakfast for dinner is pretty much the most incredible invention of all time so you cook up some apples in butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and make chai French toast with raspberries, whipping cream and maple syrup:

Okay, this photo is terrible BUT! It tasted like heaven.

Or any incarnations of these meals:

Baked sole with homemade salsa and roasted veggies!
Homemade lasagna!

I guess for me, I used to spend so much of my life agonizing over every meal – what I was going to eat, how much I was going to eat, who I was going to eat with, what I was going to do after I ate – that I cannot help but feel totally excited and liberated just looking at these (totally crap quality, sorry peeps) photos.

I sometimes like to take pictures of the food I prepare because it is proof for how far I’ve come: that I cannot just take pride in the excellent meals I’ve prepared, but also a new strength that allows me to enjoy the excellent food I’ve prepared ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME.

Now, if only I could quit diet pop drinks I would be a bloody superwoman and my office desk wouldn’t look like this every day at 3pm.

At least I'm hydrated?

Baby steps!

AAAAANNNNNNNNDDDDD –

DANCE!

Safety dance

I was listening to CBC’s “As it Happens” last night and they replayed an interview that focused on white nose syndrome, a commonly misunderstood disease that has affected over one million bats living in eastern Canada and the United States.  I have read articles on this malady and the photos that inevitably accompany the piece are heartbreaking.   I couldn’t listen to more than a couple minutes of the show because I felt as though my heart had been placed in a vice.  In between deep breaths I kept repeating to myself, “those poor batties…those poor little batties.”

Sheesh – anyone who might have overheard me would probably have immediately written me off as “poor” and “batty” too.

But the crux of the matter is, I am very easily overwhelmed by things I read or hear about.  It’s almost as if a temporary paralysis sets in, and I am unable to concentrate on anything else.   Whatever “it” happens to be, completely derails me from my everyday mental and physical normalcy.

So, just as I cannot stand to listen about the untreatable ravaging of our little nocturnal flying friends, I also cannot get the image of my mother, sitting at her kitchen table, eating two massive pieces of toast, dancing to Maroon 5’s “Moves like Jagger” out of my head.

The difference being, of course, is that this image does not make my heart ache, but swell.

I should clarify however, she was not full on dancing – just shoulder-heavy, top half dancing, with quite a bit of arm movement thrown in for good measure.  The kind of dancing you do when you’re sitting on transit and the BSE (best song EVER) comes onto your ipod and it’s taking everything in your being not to jump up and start breaking it down, because even though no one is sitting next to you and you have a good amount of room, and really, no one is looking, and certainly no one cares, and you think you might as well go for it, you really don’t want people to stare.

In trust, it was one of the most simple, beautiful and hilarious things I have ever seen.  She had never heard the song before, and when it began to play on the radio she didn’t immediately react; my mother isn’t one to immediately burst into the shoulder swing.  (Coincidentally, we were also listening to CBC – we don’t do much else in this family.  Side note: I was having tea with a friend and I asked her if she ever listened to the station and she was like, “No, but my Dad does!” which only reinforced my belief that I may be aging prematurely.)

Anyways, there was mom, sitting, eating her toast, reading the Globe and Mail’s editorial cartoon, and as I’m watching her, I begin to see the song start to work its magic.  The song itself isn’t revolutionary, but it’s darn catchy.  It’s pretty hard to listen to it and not get a good foot tap going.   So first, I notice a finger wag, then, a head nod.  In no time, slowly but surely, and then WHAM!  Shoulders shimmying for all of Canada.

Living so far away from my family members is hard.  As much as I enjoy phone calls, skype chats and e-mails, nothing really can take the place of a face-to-face, in the flesh chin wag.  If anything, as electronic means of communication get better and better, it seems to get harder and harder to maintain individual, in person relationships.  (Also, is it just me, or to cross-Canada flight prices increase with each introduction of an iphone upgrade?)

This conceit is certainly not new, nor is it groundbreaking.   That electronic media has usurped traditional forms of communication is a horse with a “flogged” tattoo on its hide.

The one thing I can, and do take to heart in knowing this, is that the things that make it okay for me to live so far away from my loved ones is not a machine with an operating system that will be obsolete in six months, but the images of a dancing mom, or a poker playing dad, or one sister that eats hot sauce on everything and another who always asks “do you love me?” before she crushes me in a hug.

I will choose a locket with two tiny photos sitting inside it, over an electronic picture frame any day.

Pragmatic addendum: these images that live inside of me are also excellent blinders for the times when I think that 5000km aren’t enough of a buffer between myself and these individuals (but this doesn’t happen all that often.)

In the mean time, I’m going to do a little dance.  And since I’m not on transit, I’m going to give it.  Because hot damn, can I move like Mick Jagger.