Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Small Joys in Dark Times: Gifts to Myself

I'll try to take a break from my seething rage at the state of this particular union. We are all trying to navigate these events, and trying to preserve our sanity and nerves while voicing our outrage at what's going on. I've been thinking about how to find small joys here and there, and that for the most part (for me at least) that has been within the walls of my home - my family, my little house.

But ah! My little house. What a treasure trove of surprises it has been. There was the roof, of course. The plumbing too. And then, a few weeks ago we lost power to the entire second floor. So, I called an electrician - and bless that honest man - he told me that it sounds like the power company's fault and not something internal. So, I called the power company and they came and fixed it! Or, so I thought...

Then my dryer stopped working, and I called an appliance repair person who came and told me it was my electrics! That I only had 110v coming into my house, and then he looked outside and saw that when the power company had come and "fixed" it last week they had just taken my meter off and left it on the ground... Free electricity! So, I called the power company again, and they said I have to call an electrician to repair some external wires, but they would send a truck just to check again just in case. And they sent two trucks, and after some fiddling they fixed it all, and said I didn't have to call an electrician after all.

It has been an emotional roller coaster.

But anyway, back to my small joys. My house, with all its issues, is a joy. My husband and child are huge joys. My dog and cat: also joys.

Oh, did I tell you about the squirrels? The ones breaking into my attic? Those little bastards! Did I tell you that I, Little Miss 'fraid of Heights, have climbed onto my own roof twice to try to tackle their point of entry? This is definitely ill-advised, but I am at war with these rodents and I am prepared to win. The most recent trip roofside seems to have done the trick - or they've moved on. But I still need to go up there again just to replace some of soffit the little fuckers have tampered with.

But more joys... back to joys. I bought myself these pencils.

I love these pencils. I love Anchorman. When I saw these, I knew I had to buy them for myself. A little gift that cracks me up! The are from Earmark on Etsy.

Another gift from me to me was this cat mug.

That I bought from Keep Company Ceramics. I really love handmade mugs, and not only is this particular mug so adorable with the cats, but it's also a lovely small size and shape. In fact, I can *almost* drink a whole mug of coffee before it gets cold. Almost.

Another little cutie I bought myself was this Cabbagetown tote bag.

If you're savvy about your Toronto neighborhoods, you know Cabbagetown. If you're savvy about me, you know this is where I grew up and where my family still lives, so quite near and dear to me. These totes are from the Cabbagetown B.I.A. and I bought mine at one of the increasing number of cute shops in the neighborhood. Always nice to rep C-town when out and about.

Ok, those are my recent joyful treasures. Here's to the little thing that help us maintain our sanity in the coming months & years and always.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Women's March on Washington

Siiiiigh. Every day feel worse than the last when it comes to this new administration. I find myself seething with rage and filled with anxiety, and then I remind myself that there are many people who are going to be hit far more negatively by this than I, and I vow to myself that I will do what I can to not only resist, but to fight for change.

On Saturday I traveled to Washington DC to attend the Women's March on Washington, in what I hope is just the first of many loud messages sent to our new government.

I know you've seen a million pictures from the marches already, and mine are really not that interesting (I wasn't really trying to capture the best signs or anything). But here they are.

My sign!

Me, with my sister (center) and sister-in-law (right)

Monday, January 16, 2017

My 2017 House Goals

There is a laundry list of thing that this house needs - from major, to aesthetic. Thanks to having to put a new roof on in the first 6 months, some of the other major items will just have to wait. Hopefully they can wait... [fingers crossed, touch wood, voodoo prayer].

I do have a list of smaller, mostly aesthetic things that I'd like to get done this year that I'd like to share with you.

1. Paint the upstairs hallway.

As you can see, it's kind of weak-pee yellow. It's also peeling in some areas of the ceiling (which is the same color). I didn't think this was a priority, but it's moving up my list, because - frankly, it's weak-pee yellow. Problem is that painting that high wall over the stairs scares me. And we don't even own a ladder. I go back and forth between hire a professional and just buy a paint roller extension. Either way, it's gotta get done.

2. Blinds

This house is full of blinds. I hate blinds. They are dusty, and annoying and look crappy. I'm planning on replacing the 13 sets of blinds in the house with curtains and shades.

3. The laundry sink

Think about Pinterest. Think about those lovely laundry rooms, so organized and so white. Now, brace yourselves:

This is my laundry sink. Are you scared? It's in our unfinished basement. Take a closer look.

Are you freaking out yet? The sink, despite its ghastly appearance, is mostly functional. Well, half functional.

Yep, it's a twin concrete sink with a big honkin' crack on one side. So, it's half functional. It needs to go.

4. The garden


This is my backyard. I realize it's kind of unfair of me to show pics obviously snapped in the dead of winter, when everything is dead. But there it is. Last summer, I spent many hours, and earned a million mosquito bites pulling weeds out of here, and un-planting the plants in plastic pots that the previous owners planted. Is that normal? Planting something but keeping it in the plastic pot? Maybe the realtor told them to do it. It was annoying, and I pulled them out.

I've done a bit of work already, I planted peonies, lilacs and lavender in the fall before the frost. In the coming weeks I'm going to start some herbs indoors, and this right here is to become my herb garden.

I'd like to configure some kind of patio area back there too. We don't have a patio, so I'll have to think creatively about how to accomplish that before summer.

When we first bought the house, I was also wary of how little privacy that chain link fence has, and thought hard about how to add some without building a new fence, but as time has gone by, we've gotten to know our neighbors a bit over the fence and it doesn't seem like a priority - though I am still thinking about what kind of beautiful floral bushes I might plant to make it look a little bit less like a prison yard.

5. The kitchen cabinets

This is a biggie.

I need to do something about these fug things. I admit, I've gotten kind of used to them. I have cabinet Stockholm Syndrome. We don't have the budget to renovate the kitchen right now, or even professionally re-face these cabinets, so it's likely going to be a mix of painting and replacing all the hardware. Those hinges! Yuck. The thought of this one does overwhelm me. That's a lot of hinges, and lot of handles.

Also up for immediate consideration: the pink paint and beadboard, though I'm a little bit scared of what's underneath... That part is a maybe!

So, that's my list! Do-able, right? I think? I mean, there are people out there building their own houses, so I should be able to paint my cabinets right?

Monday, January 9, 2017

A growing family (NOT what you think)

When we bought the house, I told H. that we needed three things immediately: a patio dining set, a barbecue and a dog. We got the barbecue, and patio sets are (too) expensive, so it was time for a dog.

I grew up with dogs, from my birth until the day I moved away, there was at least one dog in my house. H. has never had a dog. In fact, when we were dating, my family asked me how I could be with someone who liked neither dogs or beer. Or cheese. It was weird.

Anyway. Over the last few months I've been casually browsing adoption sites. I went back and forth: a dog is a huge commitment. A dog costs money. A dog will ruin Izzy's life. I told myself to stop looking. And then I looked some more.

H. and I didn't want a puppy. I love puppies. Everyone loves puppies! But I wasn't up for the training. But adopting an adult dog, when we have a small child and a cat in the house was near impossible. I think most rescues aren't willing to take a chance with a kid if they don't know the animal - and rightly so! So, at some point I gave in and started looking at puppies.

But, I was looking at small dogs, mostly terriers. I guess I have a "type" when it comes to dogs: that type has a beard. Like, a little, wirey beard. And weighs about 15 lbs.

So, one day I found my dog: "Benny". He was a 10-month old terrier mix. He was/is a-fecken-adorable. I wrote to the rescue agency, not even telling H. what I was up to. They wrote back, eventually, that I wasn't a fit because Benny should be with other dogs. Fine. They asked if I was interested in any of the other dogs, I looked and said no.

Then I looked again. And I saw Roxie.

Roxie was 3.5 years old. A sheltie mix. 35 lbs. Everything we were not looking for. But, she was good with kids, and cats, and she had the sweetest smiling face.

On November 8, I met her. On November 9, she moved in.

While we found her through a rescue, she came directly from her previous owners who had to give her up for heartbreaking and reasonable reasons. For us it meant we knew her entire history. We know she is great with toddlers. We know she is good with cats. It was fate.

Roxy (changed to a 'y' to match Izzy) fits right in. She is perfect for us: smart, patient, fun and loving. L. adores her, and she puts up with him. He wants to hug her and grab her and have her it next to him, and she quietly allows it. L. is learning about her boundaries, and she is the best teacher we could ask for.

And it is a lot of work: she's an energetic dog that needs long walks. She needs someone to play with her. She needs lots of love and affection and attention! But she's worth it. I love our long walks, snooping around the neighborhood each evening. I love hugging her and burying my face in her fur. I love telling her WHAT. A. GOOD. DOG. she is.

So, now we're a family of five. Izzy... is not happy. He's taking baby steps to accepting this change, but for the most part Roxy is terrified of him, and he hates her guts. He's so stubborn! I feel immense guilt about it, since he was my firstborn: my original furbaby, and I know he misses cuddling up to my face at 2 AM (because Roxy is in the bed and he won't come near). But, I'm hoping eventually he'll rejoin us as we snoop on the squirrels and the neighbors.

In spite of these minor challenges, we are so happy to have Roxy with us. She is - truly - the best dog. Our Foxy Roxy.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Are you a feminist?

When I was maybe 10ish, I found a necklace in my mother's jewelry box with the letters ERA. I asked her what it meant, and she explained that it stood for the Equal Rights Amendment, which was a proposed amendment to guarantee women equal rights. In some kind of fit of childish madness/ignorance, I told her that I was not a feminist.

Can you imagine? I just simply did not know what it meant to be a feminist, and my mother and sister immediately set me straight, asking "do you believe women are equal to me?" Yes, of course I did. "Then you're a feminist." It's a simple as that.

It baffles me when people don't consider themselves feminists - women especially, but men too; though it doesn't baffle me about men, it infuriates and disgust me.

I enjoy reading feminist literature and blogs, but generally my support for feminism is just a deep-seeded belief: part of my life and thoughts and decisions, and not something that I go around shouting from the rooftops unprompted. But in today's political climate, with the incoming President, I've changed my stance. I do want to shout it from the rooftops, because I believe that women's rights and security are in danger from the government: from the very people we expect to protect us, and that these decisions are being made by men in their own interests. Or, frankly quite worse, in their own religious beliefs that I do not share and do not believe in.

I assume that I have lost no readers in saying this (mom, I assume you are still there)?

So, ugh, here we are in 2017 with what feels like a nightmare scenario from a Margaret Atwood dystopia. Last night as I was doing the dishes I thought to myself 'how did I get thrown into this terrible alternate universe?' 

After the election, I told myself to do something. Don't sit idly by and watch progress be stripped away. 

The first thing that I wanted was to show my belief in feminism clearly, and I bought the shirt above (modeled by Izzy - a feminist for sure) from Plum & Co on Etsy.

Secondly, I wanted to participate, and swiftly recruited my sister-in-law to join me at Women's March in Washington on January 21 to show the incoming administration the power in numbers when it comes to protecting women's rights. I am, admittedly, a little nervous about it. The hateful rhetoric that is becoming increasingly normalized worries me, the outright anger and misogyny, from sources you would never expect, terrifies me. But I'm putting those anxieties aside and trust that this will be a peaceful march.

Thirdly, I'm enriching myself and feeding my beliefs with some books that I hope will help me shape, and perhaps better articulate how I'm feeling. My currently reading list:

1.  We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

2. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman By Lindy West 
and my current read:
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
Have you read any of these, or are they on your list? I'd be interested to know your thoughts! Internet book club!
I'm embarrassed now when I think back to my comment from 27ish years ago - how could I ever have thought that? But, we all need to learn somewhere and sometime, so let's just hope that we can educate more voters, politicians and lawmakers before we go lose more of the progress women have made in the last 100 years...

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Oh, what a cliche. I disappear for near two months, and come January 1 I return like nothing ever happened. But what did happen? I don't know, I can blame lots of things: toddler parenthood, full-time employment, dedicated laziness. I can also blame the election, the result of which has truly sent me into a dark place. Fuck, it's bleak.

Now it's January 1. Of my goals from last year, I haven't really achieved any of them, except maybe the purge. I did save money, but then I spent it on a house. And a car. And a new f*cken roof. So, a semi-achievement, I guess.

I was on track for reading more, and I was soaring up through my Goodreads Challenge, until I moved to NJ and now I commute on a train that just makes me... soooo... sleeeepy.

So, let's rewind, or fast forward. Can we pretend 2016 never even happened? How many millions of people are on board with that idea?

2017: A New Hope.

Actually a sunset, not a sunrise.

What's on our plate for this year? Let's try:

1. Sew More.

Like last year,  I need to challenge myself more to improve my sewing skills. My sewing machine has been pretty quiet since we moved, so let's pick that back up.

2. Always Save Money.

Always. So hard.

3. Fix L's Eating Habits.

Which are bad and not improving. My approach this year is to get him involved in the cooking and preparation, in the hopes that he'll be more invested in it and will eat it.

4. Cultivate a Garden.

My backyard is a (mostly) blank slate. I did some fall planting - which I will write about soon, but I'm also planning to grow a healthy and fruitful herb garden.

5. Read More.


Now we will get into the hippy woo-woo stuff:

6. Banish (Reduce?) the Negativity.

I am a sarcastic, cynical and judgey person. I know it and I'm not all that happy about it, and I want to try and coax my thinking into a more positive, open and optimistic place. This will be hard with our incoming president, I realize. I will remain cynical, negative and closed to him and his cabinet and his handlers forever.

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