Monday, April 30, 2012

midlife monday: pause

blue trees outside Port Moody City Hall

In my various moonlightings to keep busy with my time, one of my endeavours is a newsletter for a local parenting organization which keeps member families up-to-date with events happening at their local Family Place. The newsletter comprises info from staff as well as interesting tidbits from around and about; I try to remember how lost I felt moving to a new neighbourhood with my Wee Guy in tow, and how nice it was to discover new places to play. Some of those early days were a real celebration of managing to finally get out of Pjs and into the big wide world, so I try to repay the support I got from Tri City Family Place by this volunteering.
The newsletter is very low tech, set up on a simple blogger format and emailed to subscribers. This means that if I do bow out of my volunteer role anybody else can step in without having to be a computer whizz kid.
Usually the content is very routine - where to play, what's needed in the kitchen for snacks, interesting family events coming up in the area ... apart from this month.

Family Place was extremely sorry to receive sad news last month on the sudden death of one of our playmates. We would all like to send our condolences to the family of Rhys David Lewis, who regularly attended Victoria Hall for the drop-in play program. 
I'm sure a lot of you have very happy memories of playing with Rhys - if you would like to honour his memory, his family have set up a condolences page on Facebook and donations are being taken by The Little People of BC (mail cheques to the organization at PO Box 4280, Vancouver BC V6B 3Z7, noting in memory of Rhys David Lewis) to establish an athletics legacy fund in his name.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mother's Day Tea

Mother's Day Tea:
work by (clockwise from top left)
artists Valerie Gilbert, Myrta Hayes,
Dan Severance, and Jacq Sheridan

Not wishing to scare you, but a Pretty Significant Annual Event is rolling into town again very soon.
But don't panic - here at the gift shop, we've got you covered. We have cute gifts, practical finery, luxurious presents and even the cards to complete the occasion - all in a one-stop convenient local setting.

So go on - spoil the one you love (and who wouldn't let you forget your forgetting in a hurry) with something local, unique and handmade with love. How could you say it better?

for those of you a little slow on the uptake, Mother's Day is coming up in two weeks so get your skates on!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

(yesterday's) friday forte: there is no collective noun for cats

scribbles digitally

... or is there?
According to wikipedia, collective nouns for cats a.k.a. the animal that walks by itself and therefore has no need for collectivization, include clowder, cluster, pounce or glaring. I think the last was contributed by the cats themselves in a rare moment of collective action.

Even though the wiki speaks, I don't believe that cats can be collected under a noun. They are far too solitary and independent to be thought of as other herd animals. Only when forced together for survival or by mad pet owners who insist on collecting numbers of felines under one roof will cats involuntarily associate ... in my unscientific and observational opinion. They are, as Kipling noted, by themselves.

And solitary is how I'm feeling right now as the at-home, unsalaried parent in my family. Term finished a couple of weeks ago; work experience doesn't start for another couple (but yay! I have a start date now) and I've 'sunk back' into being yet another stay-at-home parent for the meantime. As long as my family is fed and comfortable, and the house is relatively hygienic, my days are long and empty unless I invent some kind of activity to keep myself busy and occupied. In preparation I made lists of skills to acquire, projects to work on, and household admin needing to be un-shunned - in other words, I planned an anti-idleness campaign which would have worked if I hadn't seen through it in the first week and recognised it for the sham it is. None of what I had planned was, in my mind, purposeful, and what's more, I didn't see any way of determining what could be purposeful in my day-to-day. Big funk.

So I shared this feeling, out there into the ether of the internet.
Now, I must admit I've been castigated in the past for sharing, for discussing health matters, for forcing people to read about my relationship issues, for questioning my role as a stay-at-home parent, for dissecting experiences over my lifetime in this blog. I've been told to be grateful. I've been told to stop inflicting my misery on others. I've been judged selfish and ungrateful, and told to appreciate what I've got. I've been told I'm wrong but I haven't stopped, because on the flip-side of my online dialogue has been an incredible amount of support, non-judgemental understanding and generously offered insight which has resulted not only in personal progress but also in others stepping a little further along that path too. Although I live a solitary life from the morning bell to school pick-up, my online life is anything but isolated.

So back to the big funk and purposelessness and sharing. A couple of comments in reply to Big Funk focused my thoughts and pushed me forward, resulting in an appreciation of why I feel like this and how I can make progress out of it.  The journey is still mine alone and my route towards family work/life balance anything but conventional, but by opening myself up to some collective brain-storming I've cloud-sourced another inch of the map.

Score one for sharing. I bet if cats had thumbs they'd be texting up more important matters than collective nouns too.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

self portrait thursday: then the cat crept back

ms griz snuck into my indulgent self portrait routine this afternoon to remind me that there are much more important beings in the world :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

wordless wednesday: start the day

with momcafe Tri Cities :) at The Boathouse #portmoody

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

booster review

quayside New West
clear skies ahead?

I know some excellent bloggers, like the awesome Amber, run a regular monthly review post on their blogs which detail their achievements, funny interludes and Periods of Deep Thought. It would be a great schedule to drop into ... but I haven't.
Somehow a month is too short; my life seems to run in longer cycles. Or maybe I'm just disorganised.
But here goes.
Voila! What I achieved this semester.

  • I started publishing my Month of Eats meal plans
  • I started embroidering a power station (as you do when the nights are cold and dark)
  • I outed myself as a writer and went thus attired to a networking event
  • I took a painting lesson with the adorable Agata at Port Moody Arts Centre
  • I talked about family planning on Amber's podcast and outed mr ebb's vasectomy (oops! did it again)
  • My work was on display at Port Moody City Hall
  • I got back into doing what I used to love - public speaking, with my 6.5 minute presentation on "home is where the heart is" at Coquitlam's Pecha Kucha Night #6 (and it was as nerve-racking and as enjoyable as I remember)
  • Amber and I had a mum's only weekend away in Victoria ... and we loved it! no kids, no husbands! just cocktails galore (and i still haven't blogged about it - what is wrong with me?)
  • I dabbled in digital art and found it rather relaxing :) I might do some more when college isn't getting in the way
  • The llama farm is still just a glint in my eye
  • Spring Break happened, I taught a jewelry design class, and the Higgs Boson might be in captivity (all totally unrelated ...)
  • I passed this semester's three college courses :) (so yes, i did do some work)
  • My work's on display (again!)

... oh ... and I have a job for the summer ...

Monday, April 23, 2012

midlife monday: the unrelenting tedium of it all

Don't let anyone fool you into believing staying at home is a mystical, magical and fulfilling occupation. It isn't. It is filled with long stretches of profound boredom interspersed with ho-hum. It's the kind of boredom that begs to be filled with busy-ness projects to make you feel like you are actually doing something ... until you stop and realise that your busy-ness lacks purpose and only exists to fill in the time yawning out in front of you. Betty Friedan describes it quite accurately in The Feminine Mystique, explaining that housework will always expand to fit and overspill whatever time there is available. It's the nature of unrelentingly tedious menial tasks, such as housework. The feeling of success or achievement in this occupation is fleeting and indeed mostly absent despite its obligatory nature. There is no reward for getting through the list; there is no personal satisfaction. The only thankfulness comes from others who sigh with relief that they haven't had to do it themselves and that it doesn't intrude on their relaxation leisure hours.

The only get-around it all is to convince yourself that the task at hand is mystical, magical and vital, and that only you can do it, and therefore you do have status. Sadly the realisation of it all being an illusion is too painful to cope with, so yet another busy-ness project is born.

So, while I do have a million-and-one things which need doing around the house, I really have no enthusiasm to do them because, in the long run, finishing them will make very little difference to my own day-to-day and I'm only adding them to my list to keep myself feeling busy and thus disguise the fact that what I do is actually not particularly meaningful at all.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

what does it all mean?


Q: What do a copper circle, a copper wire with a blob at the end, a melted blob of argentium silver and a tiny bundle of melted argentium silver wires mean?

A: a new and very hot torch :)

A big improvement on the tinny microtorch I was using, but it'll take some getting used to.
Time to make a big batch of pickling solution I think!

Friday, April 20, 2012

friday forte: U.R.OK

No matter what they say - just be yourself, it's OK

Monday, April 16, 2012

midlife monday: U.R.OK

U.R.OK - a collection of motivational jewelry

Delivered these to Port Moody Arts Centre for the upcoming Inspiring Each Other exhibition (opens Thursday evening, 6-8pm). I think I may hang on to them as my motto, reminding myself that though progress may be slow I am doing OK.

This week, my first week post-semester, is taxes, post-op care for a sore and subdued, jet-lagged mr ebb (yes, really!), and taking the unwilling Griz for her annual shots. Now that I don't have assignments hanging over my head I can, theoretically, get on with All That I Have Delayed.

I would like to be a bit more constructive with my down-time (bearing in mind that I do have 180 hours of work experience to slot in this summer) than previously.
I'd like to do some real life writing, i.e., pitch some articles, and get to grips with the tiny amount of web and graphic design I've tasted so far.
I'd like to earn some money and I'd like to get back to my art.
I'd like to relax and exercise.
I'd like to accomplish a clean house for the first time in months.
I'd like to see how much I know, how much I can apply it, and is it feasible in, around and in spite of my family.

I'd like balance, contentment and happiness.
And a summer ... is this too much to expect?

Friday, April 13, 2012

friday forte: after school on Cypress

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

wordless wednesday: only notes

from last night's retro Facebook post :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

terrific tuesday: meal plan in a month

Yet another month of eats and again it's a variety-free month. I'm taking the easy way out with a lot of the meal prep as a kind of 'well done' for finishing the deadlines at the end of the semester and for getting through an insane number of holiday/ProD day/solo parenting weeks.
Days off are not holidays IMO - they're just days with same amount of work plus the boys under my feet at home.
Grump grump grump!

Week One:
  • Monday =  salade Nicoise aka whatever leaf salad plus tuna from a can, hard-boiled eggs, cheese and bread; saving gace = home-made balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • Tuesday = pizza, fries and beans (this is grocery discount night so i'll be fighting my way thru the aisles while the boys prep this at home alone)
  • Wednesday =  spaghetti cheese pie (made with cooked spaghetti mixed with a couple of whisked eggs, topped with grated cheese then baked until cheese melted)
  • Thursday = slow cooker lamb stew with butternut squash and mint (recipe: Canadian Living)
  • Friday = tinned salmon with pasta bake (as per spag cheese pie but with added fish)

Week Two:
  • Monday = beany lasagne, using baked beans from a slow cooker ribs recipe
  • Tuesday = pizza etc (yes, another freezer meal)
  • Wednesday = sausage boulangere - layers of potato, sausage, herbs and onions baked slowly in stock in the slow cooker
  • Thursday = pulled pork (slow cooker), mash and coleslaw (again from Canadian Living)
  • Friday = shepherd's pie, using left-overs
Week Three:
  • Monday =  slow cooker roast chicken 
  • Tuesday = cold roast
  • Wednesday = more left-overs!!!
  • Thursday =  baked potatoes (wrapped in foil, slow cooker on HI for the day) served with cream cheese and coleslaw 
  • Friday = tofu stir fry, using up whatever veggies need rescuing from the bottom of the fridge and whatever noodles i have left in the pantry (cordon bleu)

Week Four:
  • Monday = oven-baked risotto of some ilk
  • Tuesday = ribs and beans, mash and coleslaw
  • Wednesday = beany shepherd's pie, using beans from under the ribs plus the leftover mash
  • Thursday =  butter chicken with garlicky naan bread (freezer meal) 
  • Friday = i will endeavour to bake fish but since i have this mental block for fresh fish recipes we will probably go out for a meal
Bon appetit!

Monday, April 09, 2012

midlife monday: dilemma and indecision - maybe?

this way
decisions, decisions - the finger of truth points this-a-way

Whatever my midlife is, it's not about being a shrinking violet. Though I've never been one to follow the herd and have always yielded to dumb authority with noisy misgivings, I find that now I am much more likely to call B.S. when I sniff it out. My reaction to something that isn't right is much more visceral than it ever has been and, as I'm finding, it's better to give the old gut reaction a good hearing out before progressing in an opposing direction.

For example, I'm having real problems with the (changing) direction one of my last semester assignments is taking. The choice seems to be between a spicy exposé of a younger college student's life decisions in the form of a magazine-style profile, or the safer but rather boring string of nicely articulated facts, veering away from any form of spiced up. Implicit in that choice is a pass or a low grade/fail. I'm choosing fail over yet another restless night wrestling with my conscience.

The more I read about women and midlife and the changes wrought by impending menopausal transitions, the more I recognise myself and my feistiness. I'm not quite there yet, but my next decade has been dubbed the Feisty Fifties, followed by the Selective Sixties, emphasising that with age a woman starts to stick up more for herself.

I've started.

I feel sorry for my beleaguered boys, one of whom will be hitting his own hormonal milestones at around the same time as this opinionated old c*nt.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

please sponsor an ethical end-of-semester shindig

tomato crop
bountiful harvest aka my pitiful attempt at growing produce on a balcony

At last! The end is in sight!
I've made it through to week 14 of a 14-week semester with my hair, teeth, marbles, and blood pressure intact, all assignments duly submitted approximately on time. While my plans for celebration include spa, shop, Spring Cleaning (boo! but necessary in this pigsty) and art, my Print Futures classmate, Bryce, has more honourable intentions; he starts a two-week internship on a farm in Mexico where he'll learn first-hand about organic and fair trade produce. His employment has been organized through Fair Trade Vancouver and Discovery Organics to spread awareness about ethical sourcing.

Bryce has been writing (eloquently, as usual) about his upcoming adventure both on the blog he writes for Fair Trade Vancouver and on his own wordpress site, BrycewordsMexico, set up to raise awareness and help him drive funds for his sponsorship.

If you can help at all, please click the links for more information, subscribe to his blog for updates, and make a donation to Fair Trade Vancouver through PayPal here.
Thank you.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

you are invited ...

you are invited ...:

Friday, April 06, 2012

friday forte and the gang's all here

cartoon by my talented Wee Guy

Good Friday, so school's out, mr ebb's at home, and i'm doing laundry, homework, housework ... just another day for me; a grand old holiday for the boys.
... but ... we do get waffles this morning for breakfast (made by mr ebb) and we'll probably go skiing sometime.
Monday's a holiday too.
Oh joy!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

self portrait Thursday 5th April 2012

Golden sunshine-y kind of early evening, making the most of a quiet house before the boys get home (or, in the case of junior boy, get picked up from childcare).

Feeling - end-of-semester-ish, looking forward to getting the last assignments washed out of my hair.

Looking - golden and radiant in this pic; in reality, looking a little more washed out than norm so I need the extra gold.

Currently on my mind - the usual sense of frustration at apparently not really getting anywhere, but I can be patient. The factors which I have some control over are slowly coming together. Those over which I have no control I'm slowly bidding adieu to and putting them in the proper place in my life (she mutters cryptically).

In summary - mostly good :)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

wordless wednesday: (empty) still life with fruit


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Art of Doll Making

dancer series: "Air"
Here's a great workshop happening soon, taught by a wonderful artist friend of mine. If you've wanted to make your own doll, or have seen any of Joy's wonderful seahorses and dancers, then please sign up for her class (details at the foot of this post). You will have a wonderful time :)

in her own words - Joy Kirkwood 

Workshop Description

Designed as a gentle and intuitive way to free up your imagination the Personal Journey Doll Workshop brings play and spontaneity back into the creative process.
Techniques taught are a combination of fibre arts, soft sculpture, and mixed media and include wrapping, knotting, sewing, weaving, and/or gluing the dolls together.
Please bring a small memento (button, shell, stone, wood, word...) as a starting point for your doll. Sewing skills are not required, supplies are included, and anyone 16 and over is welcome to attend.

Artifacts of an Active Imagination
Artist Statement
“Each art doll I create is an expression of a feeling, idea, or memory rather than a realistic facsimile of a human. These organic, enigmatic figures are formed intuitively; the elusive made real. My intent is to fuse my creative imagination with my skills as an artist to enchant both the child and adult facets of myself and others.”

Skilled in a variety of art forms (painting, drawing, and printmaking) Joy’s specialty is her mixed media figures she calls Art Dolls.
Her interest in prehistoric artifacts and art as a form of storytelling led her to create the “Personal Journey Doll Workshop” in 1995. Joy taught “Symbology and the Doll” in 2006-2007 at ACAD in Calgary AB, and has had her work showcased on HGTV’s show “That’s Clever” as well as City TV. Since then she has presented her PJD workshop at many artistic, educational, therapeutic, and spiritual centres throughout Canada.
Currently Joy lives in Coquitlam BC and continues to create, exhibit, and teach a range of art classes for adults and children.

"Honour the source, trust the process,
and delight in the results”

creativity mood board
Joy A. Kirkwood

Upcoming Personal Journey Doll Workshop
Saturday, April 14, 2012
10 am to 4 pm
Place des Arts
1120 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam, BC, V3K 1G2
To register please contact Place des Arts
Barcode #9138 
Cost $69+tax

Monday, April 02, 2012

midlife monday: currently on my night stand

Jason - such a little plane
such a little plane!

Currently enjoying;
  • Betty Friedan's feminist wake up call-to-arms, The Feminine Mystique. I admit I haven't read much feminist literature. When I was growing up, sensible girls were encouraged to think of career first and not get sucked into the marriage trap as described in Marilyn French's The Women's Room (which I read waaaay back in the early 80's). All the thinking had been done for us and the theory, as per Friedan's discourse, considered old hat. As a midlife stay-at-home mum I'm only just now going through the same kind of experience and revelation described in Feminine Mystique; even though I'm only two chapters in to the 10th anniversary edition, every second paragraph wrings a beat of recognition from me. It all makes perfect sense. Does this kind of feminism only have resonance for mothers though, I wonder?
  • Iris Krasnow's The Secret Lives of Wives finally dropped into my library account. It's been in hot demand since arriving on the shelves earlier this year and I've finally got my mitts on it. Wow! Again, only two chapters inside and already I'm nodding my head in total agreement. Krasnow interviews and animates her discussion on how marriages last with first-hand evidence from women who have stayed married through sickness and health, and not opted out of their contracts. I must admit, this is a refreshing read in the midst of so much dissolution and statistical evidence to the contrary. Currently it seems almost unfashionable not to be separated, divorced or splitting up. There seems very little popular support for staying together; it doesn't seem in vogue. Inspiring to read therefore that marriages can work, although partners do best when they admit that relationships change with age and endurance.
  • And last but not least, a lime green dino mite from Fun Factory. NB: link NSFW
    Sweet dreams :)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

family values


Me: so aunty b is getting married soon
Wee Guy: what? Again?
Me: yes, at the end of april.
Wee Guy: is that legal?
Me: yes, of course it's legal.
Wee Guy: so is she getting any new kids or stuff?
Me: I believe her fiance has a couple of grown up kids.
Wee Guy: yahoo - cousins and an uncle!

ebb and flo by pomo mama design click to shop pomo mama design online!