Soup, soup, tasty soup

Well, boys and girls, it’s back to the sick bay for me.

If only I had a real-life Dr. Crusher.

She, in her fierce blue-black onesy, and camp-fire toned hair would not only cure me, but also immunize me from any other cough-flu-colds I may pick up in the future. (Somewhere around the rings of Saturn no doubt.)

Plus, on top of it all, Wil Wheaton was pretty darn cute as her son.

I like to refer to it as the Death Star's hipster little brother.

Side note about Mr. Wheaton: In one of our more, well, nerdy moves, in 2007 M and I went down to Seattle for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony, as M’s favourite author is Gene Wolfe who was being honoured that year. Gene Roddenbury was also being celebrated and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who was the man introducing him until I turned to the woman sitting next to me and stage whispered, “HOLY FRICK – IS THIS WESLEY CRUSHER?”

Little did I know that he’s now some prolific blogger and hugely popular figure in the nerdverse and highly celebrated as such. Seriously, the women seemed very off put that I was at an event at the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame and didn’t know this.

I actually got a photo with him after the celebration that ran on Startrek.com for an entire week.

Ah well, live and learn.

Last night on my way home from work my entire body seemed to go into shut-down mode. A thick fog swept its way over my brain, throughout my sinuses and down into my lungs.

My bones felt as they had been soaked in rubbing alcohol.

It was all I could do to pick up the necessary ingredients for a much needed cure-all: Jaime Oliver’s Mint Pea Soup.

I take all my cues from my little sister who is a rock star professional chef. No joke.

De-lish.

What I love so much about his recipes is just how easy they are – you make them once and it’s easy-peasy (pun intended) to memorize the ingredients and instructions – it takes absolutely no effort to put them together.

Mr. M likes to get involved.

Plus they taste so darn lovely.

The finished product.

I got home, unloaded my bags and turned on my favourite CBC radio program As it Happens.

Now, hands down, if I could have any job in the world, I’m pretty sure hosting this show would be it.

They interview the craziest, most irreverent, brilliant, interesting, heartbreaking individuals, and cover stories that can be described in pretty much the exact same way.

Last night they interviewed a city councillor from Louisiana that is working on banning pyjama pants from public places (having already passed a bylaw prohibiting the wearing of baggy pants.)

They also interviewed Michael Semple, a former EU envoy to Afghanistan, on negotiations with the Taliban, and read a story about how sheep shearers in New Zealand are trying to get their sport into the Olympics (albeit just for demonstration.)

To say that the show is scintillating and thought-provoking would be simplistic in the extreme.

It is, the best.

I think one of the biggest reasons behind why I enjoy it so much is the brilliant way in which it is structured: mixing in the odd with the important, the beautiful with the bad.

There is a very fine, very important balance to the program. No one emotion, and or sentiment is ever allowed to hold a monopoly over the stories they cover.

For one and a half hours, you get the happy, and you get the sad.

Because isn’t this how life itself, actually unfolds? From my experience, nothing is ever just good, and nothing is ever simply bad.

That’s why As it Happens is such a refreshing look at world events compared the overwhelmingly negative  emphasis that I find so pervasive in traditional news outlets. Turn on any news site – whether radio, television or online, and I promise you the focus will be on what bad thing happened, in what bad town, orchestrated by which bad individuals.

No wonder so many people chose to remain uniformed – the constant onslaught of depressing stories is enough make even the strongest individual weary of established (read: static) journalistic practices.

We already know bad things can happen. Need we be reminded every single day of this fact? I don’t even have the energy to get into how this is probably the number one reason why so many dangerous and harmful isms are so readily and easily reinforced and socially institutionalized.

There is a reason why brainwashing has remained en vogue for so long. It works.

I suppose this is also another reason why I really love CBC radio programming as a whole – the overwhelming diversity it brings to the table. And yes, I am fully aware of how nerdy this makes me (yo – Wheaton, are you hearing this? I’m encroaching on your crown so you better watch yourself!) but I really don’t care. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family that always had it on in the background, but the more I listen, the more I learn, and the more I am inspired.

Don't have CBC in your life? That, my friends, can change! Or, you know, an over-sized cat mug with pea soup also helps.

There is so much good work being done in the world, it’s just such a shame that so little of it remains unreported, and unnoticed.

But then, even just typing those words, immediately they rang false – because if these wonderful works actually went unnoticed, I have a hard time believing the world would even be running at the (somewhat limited) capacity that it is.

They may not be celebrated, but they are definitely making the world a better place.

And that makes me feel better, on the whole.

And I hope that, perhaps, just being aware of this will, like a real-life Ms. Crusher, make me just that little bit healthier.

 

Maybe she’s born with it

So I went to Joe Fresh yesterday to see if they had any quality, affordable sweaters that would help protect me from the freezing rain and harsh winds that are currently ravaging our fair city, and well, me.

These two weather-based phenomena have been the chief culprits behind the transformation of what is normally a rather rainy, temperate rainforest into an unforgiving, frozen wasteland.

I mean, we’re not exactly talking L.A. in T2 here (not by any stretch of the imagination), but seriously dudes, it’s cold.

And while there weren’t any swell sweater deals to be found, I did however make a different discovery.

Ch-ch-ch-check out that styling. Are you seeing this Vogue?

It’s seems as though Mr. Fresh (and his affiliates) are not just purveyors of clothing for budget-minded people –they also sell cosmetics, (rather decent ones at that) and as such, I was able to pick up three nail polishes (for 10 dollars!) and a new red lipstick (for six).

This made me very happy.

Now, for those of you who don’t know me, I am a lipstick kind of gal.

I don’t wear eye shadows or liners, bronzer, or lip gloss.

Sure, I wear mascara, and I love blush, and I’ll pull out the concealer when I have bags the size of China, or a zit that is threatening to take over the world – but lipstick?

Well, lipstick, and lipstick only – that’s my bag baby.

For the past two years I had it down to a pretty solid science: I owned three different colours, from three different brands, and depending on my mood, I would chose from one of the following:

–       A fierce, fluorescent pink, by Rimmel London

New year, new red.

–       A sensuous, lavender-pink, by MAC

–       A dark, wine stain-red, by Revlon

And then of course, sometime in the last month I up and lost my red, and I was devastated, and because I am currently living at 123 Frugal House, Frugal Lane, Frugal, BC, Canada, I refused to bone up the clams (yes I realized that is a horrible mixed money metaphor) to replace it.

For me, there is just something so effortlessly awesome about red lipstick. It immediately puts me in a good mood, and makes whatever I may be wearing seem one hundred times more glamorous.

It’s like playing dress up without having to find a cape and flying goggles.

I also tend to get a lot of really awesome feedback whenever I wear it, which is lovely, but hands down the most common reaction I get, again and again, is an admission from the complimenter.

I cannot even being to count the number of times someone has told me that they don’t believe they could ever wear it (red lipstick) themselves.

They’ll always be all: “But you can pull off that kind of stuff! But there is no way I could never do it myself!”

Um…what?

Who told you this? And whatever reason did you have to believe them?

Right here and now I would like to end this pervasive, persistent and completely untrue assumption that the majority of women (or men) cannot pull off this particular piece of macquillage.

Anyone who wants to wear this can, and do so swimmingly, as long as they have one thing:

LIPS.

Got lips? Perfect – we’re good to go.

Nymeria just doesn't understand. She says go for it! Or you know, I'm exhausted and feed me.

Now, for the sake of covering all my bases, let it be known that I understand the difference between not being interested in wearing a product and believing that you are somehow physically incapable of either 1.) wearing said product because 2.) wearing said product while somehow trigger hordes of petrified individuals running away in the opposite direction should they have the misfortune of setting eyes on you, again, wearing said product.

(I promise I will never say wearing said product ever again.)

(Or at least in this post.)

Did any of that make any sense?

The nub and gist of what I am trying to communicate here, is that it makes my heart really heavy when I encounter so many beautiful, brilliant women, of all ages, who live their lives (fashion, or otherwise)  according to some kind of code that dictates what they are, and are not, capable of.

When I go shopping with friends I often find myself persuading them to try on things I believe would look marvellous on them, especially if they are particularly reticent (ie. they write off) an entire style of clothing.

I of course am not immune to this way of thinking either. Surprisingly enough, the majority of times I have found myself really moving outside of my comfort zone (we are talking like, to the Russian Taiga here) have been with M.

(The man every so often has some powerful fashion aces up his sleeve.)

Mr. M aka fashion plate extraordinaire. Are you seeing this Vogue?

But I do truly believe in taking risks.

Even if it – the risk (be it a dress, a lipstick, a relationship, a road less taken, etc.) ends up not working exactly the way you imagined, isn’t it always better to have tried?

Isn’t this how we learn, and become stronger, and ultimately, become braver? Which in turn, allows for greater and more rewarding risk-taking and self-fulfilment?

Isn’t this some awesome feedback loop we should focus on, not move away from?

Is this not how we should truly be getting to know ourselves?

My experience (as limited as it has been) has shown me that at the root of it all, this is how we truly find out what works, for us and what doesn’t.

Not from some silly code.

Fear of being judged, or looking silly may dictate the parameters of what we think is best for us at the beginning (of our relationships with certain looks, people, ideas, etc.) – but they don’t need to control them forever.

We just need to remember that variety is both an entertainment magazine, but more importantly, the spice of life.

One last note on my recent makeup purchases.

M says that this photo reminds him on a serial killer. We have been watching a lot of Dexter lately.

Does this colour of nail polish make me look like I’ve set up shop in the morgue, as you know, a resident?

Because as much as I really love this shade of blue, I’m kind of sold on the fact that it makes me look like a very dead (albeit very stylish) corpse.

And yet, just having written out these words, I sit here thinking whether or not my assessment of whether or not  this nail polish is working or not is viable, or skewed – are my preconceived notions of what looks good next to my (rather translucent skin) wrecking havoc with my assessment of the situation?

Heck, if I want to wear blue nail polish, I’ll find a way to make it work.

Yet between my red lips, white skin, and blue fingernails, I don’t know if I’m a fashion statement, or a political symbol.

Liberte, egalite, and Mme. Estee?

Winter is coming

This weekend Lotus Land welcomed its first big snowfall of the year.

Mister M and I awoke on Saturday morning to this:

Beauty. Truly.

It’s very rare for our snow to stick, let alone to remain pristine and, well, white. Usually the whole thing goes sideways within the first minutes of the snowfall – dirty, grey-brown slush coagulates along the sides of roads, working its way into the gutters, and into the insides of your boots.

It’s like the tar they used to show in anti-cigarette advertisements.

Where once there was symbol of health, now rests nothing but a build up of toxic sludge and disappointment.

It oozes.

Erm. I seem to have gotten off track, and quickly at that.

So sorry to have veered off into such dark territory – it won’t happen again.

So, owards now, to much better and brighter thoughts!

Like this?

Just keep an eye out for Mr. Tumnus.

Oh yeah. Just like that.

One thing that is hilarious (albeit a little exhausting) about our annual snowfall, is that people here on the west coast of Canada often have a hard time figuring out what exactly to do with themselves once white stuff starts falling from the sky.

Does this coat make me look like a Sith lord?

Some forget how to operate motor vehicles. Some walk around in bare legs and umbrellas, as if stuck in some mind- bending quagmire of confusion. Some immediately revert to cherished childhood pursuits – building snowmen, throwing snowballs, or sledding down the nearest, and steepest hill they can find.

For me – it’s all about the walks.

I want to walk among trees, each looking as if the snow has set it alight. Glimmering in the sunlight, long icicles frozen on outstretched branches, that reflect a thousand crystal prisms – like dancers.

A thousand colours changing.

A thousand thoughts reflecting.

Into the woods...

M and I do our best talking as we walk. We mull over our future, our plans, our goals, our fears. We talk about our jobs, the books we’re reading, the t.v. shows we’re watching.

We laugh about our cat.

We dissect the politics of our nation, our province, our city.

We debate the divergent discourses of neighbours to the south.

We reminisce about England.

We plan for the future.

Don't tell Plato, but we are people who watch shadows.

Sometimes it’s so crazy to think they we are not the eighteen year old girl, and twenty year old boy we were when we first met.

(We used to run from Marc’s apartment (that was very soon to become our apartment) down to the Blockbuster at 11:50 at night, in our pyjamas, racing to the doors before they closed for the evening, and rent Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and buy Oh Henry ice cream.)

But as soon as I start to think along those lines, it becomes so painfully obvious that we still are in fact those two people­ – we are those two weirdos, flying through the winter’s night in their flannel, and frost freckled faces.

Those two people had the same dreams, and hopes, and goals, and fears as we do today– sure, some may have changed, some may have gone, some may have grown, and some may be exactly the same.

It’s just that, at that time, we didn’t know how much we’d want to figure it all out together.

And so we continue to walk. Through the winter wonderland that is currently our home.

(Although I need to be much more careful, what with how slippery the road become as the temperature slides lower and lower before zero. The beautiful, blue bruise blooming on my right leg is a reminder of that.)

It’s supposed to drop to minus 13 tonight, much colder than I can remember it being for quite some time.

Peeta or Gale. PEETA OR GALE?!

The fire is roaring, the cat is catting, and I sit, thinking about my future, yes, but mostly the last twenty pages of The Hunger Games.

You see, I finally got my greedy mitts on the last two books, and blew through book two and half of book three yesterday afternoon.

I read through my lunch break today and now, but for a few pages, I will finally find out how the war for Panem will end.

Sometimes the conclusion of a make believe world is just what the doctor ordered.

And if not – walk it off..

And miles to go before I sleep

Hi Friends,

Is it just me, or are any of you itching for an excellent and exciting escapade in a fantastical foreign landscape? It’s been two weeks since my return from the land of palm trees and face-lifts, and while I very much enjoy my employment here on the West coast, (I actually really do love my job) I am already daydreaming about the next big trip Monsieur M. and I will take together.

Or small trip.

There is just something undeniably awesome about international travel and intrigue…

I'm like a bird, I want to fly awaaaaaayyyyyy.

So pip pip, my passport is expiring at the end of March and I am putting together my application for a renewal.

Because everyone knows that a top spy-cum-adventurer needs two things at her disposal at all given times:

– valid passport

– excellent sense of humour and improvisation. (Okay, this might qualify as two things in some circles, so I beg of you to cut me some slack.)

A cute outfit, a quality camera and an ever present willingness to take on the unknown probably never hurt anyone either (in my experience at least.)

I’ve been surfing the internets quite a bit, researching all sorts of magnificent and mesmerizing locales – everything from Sweden to Salt Spring Island; Costa Rica to Colorado; Morocco to Montreal.

Seriously dudes, as much as I rail against the morally bankrupt ways of that ever elusive one percent (has anyone been able to find a contact number for them yet?), sometimes I can’t help imagining how lovely it would be to live with unlimited funds.

Sweet cash dollars would not only buy me many terrific trips, but countless beautiful shoes and a villa in the South of France.

(Lest you think me superficial, these are but other must-have accoutrements for said previously mentioned spy. Plus they’re pretty!!!)

This fantasy, however, always comes crashing to a (rather spectacular) halt once it veers into the territory of what I would actually have to do or condone in order to get that wealthy.

This knowledge alone would undoubtedly ruin all the splendor of that villa (and those shoes) and eventually turn me into some tragic pseudo-Lady MacBeth.

All in all, pretty darn grim.

And that is why I am happy sitting and planning out The Next Great Travel Thing! (Copyright Ethel the Dean, 2012).

In the meantime, let me share with you three snapshots of times past, spent in brilliant places, with beautiful people.

Someone once asked me: why do I love to travel? why do I need to travel? The following are just a part of the answer.

Hawaii 2007

M and I travel to Oahu’s North Shore where we stay in a beautiful one-floor, many bedroom-ed beach house with five hilarious, and very accommodating friends.

The view from our house. Heaven.

We end up sleeping on the sofa bed in the main room and I fall asleep every night to the sound of the breaking surf, just steps away from our lanai, while our friendly neighbourhood gecko makes quick work of the few flies that made it past my feverish guarding of the patio bug screen.

We go swimming with sea turtles and sting rays, eat chunks of fresh pineapple and laugh as the juice trickles down our cheeks, tan ourselves brown (such a contrast to the white of the sand) and learn that Vancouver’s Starbucks obsession doesn’t hold a flame to the ABC stores in Waikiki.

The shell my ring was hidden under.

On the third day of our visit, M asks me to accompany him on a sunset walk. There, on a beach, a few miles outside of the quaint seaside town of Haleiwa, with the sky the colour of one big Shirley temple, he asks me if I will spend the rest of my life with him.

I cry. And cry, and then I cry.

And then because he is just sitting there, looking at me, I tell him yes, of course yes.

I will.

I will until the end of the world.

Greece 2008

M and I have been married for exactly one week.

We set out on our honeymoon, travelling to a place the two of us have only read about in books (he especially, and we’re not exactly talking about contemporary literature either. I mean, say what you want about the relevancy of Ovid, et. al. but we’re not exactly getting any younger here.)

Greetings centurion!

The weather is excruciatingly hot, but we travel light, and from the moment we arrive it is as though we have been instilled with a boundless energy – so eager we are to explore and experience and indulge in the decadence of this dream-like world, that we walk until our legs our coated with a fine dust, our lips chapped dry.

We came early to get good seats.

An ancient city, a modern time.

During our time on Crete we visit King Minos’ home, pay homage to Theseus (and the Minotaur) and visit Matala, an ancient Roman graveyard.

Old spirits greeting newlyweds, teaching us the secrets to a long life, but longer lasting fame.

Switzerland 2009

Christmas in Geneva. The streets are frosted white and the mercury dips lower, and lower with each passing night. The air here in the city is so much crisper, so much cleaner than that of Birmingham, our home for the past four months.

People look healthier hear. (People sound healthier too.)

There must be something said for chocolate and cheese.

(And I’ll be the first to say it.)

We stay with M’s cousin. The way she speaks French is a bit difficult to describe. It sounds almost as though she is singing. The tone and cadence so gentle yet lively – a quality particular to the Genevois people and I love it.

On our third day in the country we travel to Bern.

The beauty packed into the city’s old town is as striking, as it is astounding. The history of this place is breathtaking to behold, but the so is the cold, as it sneaks into my boots and down my coat and around my ears.

Be still my heart.

I munch on roasted chestnuts as M and I walk to Einstein’s old apartment.

We watch out for bears. But on this day, it seems there are none to be seen.

Holding hands, we catch snowflakes on our tongues and I whisper sweet French nothings into his ear.

Just like a song.

A cup of kindness

It’s pretty crazy to think that we are only two days away from beginning a new year.

I don’t know whether time is speeding up, or if I am slowing down, but events seem to be happening at a much quicker pace, than say, ten years ago.

So, to whomever turned up the dial on the world’s treadmill, could you slow it down a tad friend? I need to catch my breath and get my bearings!

I find that doing something that really pushes your physical and mental limits is a great way to help both time run away from you, and yet somehow make it hang suspended in mid-air, like some crazed escape artist, hanging from a tightrope wire.

For instance, yesterday, M, my dad, and I climbed Mount Haystack, all 3560 feet high and 8.6 miles long of it.

DO IT.
Just a hop, skip and a jump to the summit!

It was an adventure and a half, especially seeing as though for the actual ascent we didn’t have a marked path.

I have never scrambled up so much loose rock in my life.

I have never been pricked by two different types of cacti, nor have I ever seen a coyote while mid-mountain descent ( they are usually only skulking around my backyard back home).

Nor have I ever seen a view quite like this one before:

This is the definition of man-made (and man-maintained).

We started out at 7:30am, to get a jump on the crowds (there weren’t any) and the heat (there was quite a lot of this).

It was a seriously fun, seriously taxing hike.

Other things that I learned while out on the trail:

1. Barrel-head cacti always grow leaning to the south, and look like giant prickly cucumbers.

Keep those barrels rolling. ROLL HIGH!

2. An oasis will crop up in just about the most remote, random place that you could ever imagine.

Yet not a drop to drink.

3. Making your sandwich with a tomato in it the night before is never a good idea, even if you think you’ve protected the bread with both lettuce and cheese, because the lettuce and cheese will also make it grow soggy.

I don't have a photo of my sandwich so please accept this glowing cactus.

4. I am the queen of the world.

Leo ain't got nothing on me.
A room, erm, peak with a view!

It’s quite insane to really mediate on 2012 as a tangible, real thing. I remember ringing in 2000 as if it was yesterday.

You've got to put one foot, in front of the other...

It’s not that I am weary of the new year, but more curious, filled with a subtle sense of wonderment about all the new (and completely bonkers) adventures I will embark on next.

So here, in no particular order are my resolutions for the approaching three hundred and sixty-five days:

– Run the Victoria marathon in 3:30:00 – Begin training in April, qualify for Boston in October.

– Travel, explore and take on the (sometimes scary) unknown with the love of my life, Mr. M.

MISTER M!

– Continue having a positive relationship with food and my body, because without this, there is no way I will be able to accomplish numbers 1 and 2.

I am also so happy to be writing regularly again through Rant and Roll.

Many, many thanks to all of my fabittyfabfab readers and subscribers. Your encouragement, comments and support mean the world to me! Without a doubt, you all make my little, slightly daft heart smile!

I wish you all a brilliant and beautiful coming year, free of prejudice, and bias, but always REMEMBER: should you encounter any of this in your daily life, do not despair, for after I wrench myself from the corner from whence I have curled myself up in the fetal position, I WILL TAKE THEM ON AND I WILL CRUSH THEM!!!

FOR I AM THE ERADICATOR!!!

Erm…

Smile, little heart. SMILE!

Happy New Year to you all!

– Ethel the Dean.