Friday, December 30, 2011

the kitchen as sleight of hand

One designer thinks that kitchens are becoming soooo sophisticated that they will ultimately reach a point where they don’t even look like a kitchen — all appliances will be concealed, and we’ll see an increase in leisure items, like recliners, TVs, video games, and so on. So I say, why not just circumvent the whole ordeal of redesigning the kitchen and add a bar fridge to the end of the sofa, and a wall oven under the coffee table, so you can cook your food right there. TV dinners and tray tables anyone?

Another designer declares that with our reduction in cooking skills — and increased reliance on packaged and freeze dried foods – we’ll need something else in the kitchen, like TV, to interest us. Otherwise the kitchen will be a bore.

Another said that the kitchen will continue to evolve as social space, whether it’s used for actual eating or not. What a novel idea, and full circle from the culinary high artform that kitchens are touted to be these days. So if we don’t actually use them for eating, why bother with $6000 stoves, and two wall ovens, and so on and so forth. All you need is a bar fridge (beside the sofa) and a microwave under the coffee table.

Bon appetito!

Tooth Fairies and Other Fantasies

This was something I wrote a few years ago, and wanted to resurrect it because it is SOOOO like my kids still:
My daughter just had three baby teeth removed at the oral surgeon’s, and in addition to the almost $1000 bucks I spent there, I now have to fork over at least $5 to slip under her pillow, so that I can save the teeth to show off at her wedding or first baby shower.

There is definitely a rite of passage that happens, though, when your kids no longer believe in such fantasies. I’m sure my shrewd 8-year-old is well aware there is no tooth fairy, as I’m sure she’s positive that Santa doesn’t exist. After all, she has an eye for design, and proportion and can easily figure out that Santa’s portly dimensions would never fit our slimline-gas insert. And she hardly batted an eye when we claimed on Christmas morning that Santa helped himself to a banana because we’d neglected to put out milk and cookies. In her letter to him, sometime in November, she asked what were the odds she’d get the Scholastics order she placed, informed him that this was just one of so many letters he would receive, and signed her name twice — printed, in case he couldn’t read the cursive.

But we continue to hold on to these fantasies, in a strange tug of war to see who — parent or child — will admit first that there is no such thing.

When my son was about 12 — just two years ago — he had been making noises about Santa that led me to believe that he no longer believed. So when he asked me outright: Mom, is Santa real? I hesitated, but given that I’m Christian and expect him to believe all sorts of things that sound fantastical and impossible through faith, I didn’t want to lie, and set myself up as an unsound authority on such matters.

So I told the truth. No, he isn’t.

But I was unprepared for the reaction — my son burst into tears, and ran to his room, sobbing. When he finally came out of his room — an hour later — he was fine and had worked it out.
What am I saying here? Tread carefully, and think ahead to what you’re going to tell your kids. In retrospect, I’m glad I did tell him, but it was hard to take at the time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Living a Better Story

I just came across Donald Miller's latest book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life” which is about taking stock of the story you are living. After his critical success, Blue Like Jazz, he was a couch potato until two Hollywood producers wanted to do a screenplay of his life. He started thinking about how he was living, and what kind of story that would be, and realized it wasn't the story he wanted to live. So he got off his butt, and made many changes.

My life isn't perfect, but it's not exactly screenplay material either. In many ways, I've been floating along, keeping my head above water, and not causing any ripples, either positively or negatively. My children are doing well, though, so I guess I must be doing something right. My writing is going reasonably well too, so must be doing something right there as well.

But who am I kidding? I hate not having things perfect. I am a certifiable perfectionist, and this is what I need to change, and I need to get real about not being perfect. That may be the real reason I gave this blog the name it has.

Sooooo if I were being honest, and really wanted to live a better story, I'd confess to being a perfectionist, and strive to change those ways.

1) not worry if someone spills something on the floor

2) invite lots of people over for dinner and feed them macaroni and cheese (with asiago of course)

3) stop writing lists of where I want to be in ten years, and consider what I'm doing now to live well and imperfectly (which are kind of the same thing)

4) stop cleaning the house or doing laundry..... hmm, well maybe not

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Look Backwards, Look Forwards

Today, I thought I'd clean out my  sent email folder, which only has a little over 12,000 emails in it! I started with the last page (from the middle of 2007), clicking each box, then scanning down the list to see if there was any I wanted to keep. A couple caught my eye -- one to my counsellor, and the other to one of the pastoral staff at my church. Opening them, I wasn't prepared for the flood of emotions -- the one to my minister told her that "things were going so smoothly on holidays, I probably wouldn't need to see her when I got home," and the one to my counsellor a few weeks later, expressed the kicked in the gut feeling of discovering that the "great holiday" was all a sham. Now, of course, I know the truth of that holiday -- the mistress waiting back home.

The emotions conflict -- on the one hand, a little post traumatic stress of feeling very much back in that bubble three years ago (or 8 years ago, or 12 years ago, .......) coupled with the anger at being lied to, the distress over being wrongly blamed and dissed for, well, for being me. On the other hand, a flood of relief that this is not my life anymore.

Friday, October 29, 2010


A designer friend and I were talking about her latest rash of clients. She says they are singularly difficult to deal with and she wasn't sure why. In some cases, they had been badly burned by previous contractors (losing $140K which goes to show you how much money these people are pouring into their homes, but I digress). In other cases, they were bitten by the DIY bug -- even cardiologists with insanely busy practices thought they could take on the role of contractor to save some money. That's like a contractor saying he's going to operate on himself when he develops heart disease. The other reason is that this is a narcissistic culture, and one of the defining symptoms of narcissism is to think the latest thing is the greatest. (Look at the love affair with Obama, and how they're slamming the poor guy now in spite of some very real and positive moves; look at the landslide with Ford, and one can only hope Toronto will wake up without a hangover on that decision... but I digress again). So back to the clients -- they fall madly in love with this designer or that, they must have that new kitchen no matter what, it's the only thing that will make them happy (narcissists also seem to be addicted to the new thing to relieve their deep seated unhappiness). But when the new begins to demonstrate it or they have feet of clay, they quickly get dashed to the ground, demonized for having failed the unrealistically high expectations.

When one part of any relationship -- between client and contractor, people and president, man and woman -- has these narcissistic expectations that the other will solve ALL their problems, it's doomed. In the case of the cardiologist cum contractor, my friend decided to walk away. Trust your gut, walk away.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Body of Christ, newly defined

A friend of mine at church has been suffering from kidney problems for many years -- she has been on dialysis for the past two years, a machine in her home which she has to hook up to every second day. She is courageous and has dignity, but even she was wearing thin from this. Last year she had to have one kidney removed. Because of her age, she would have waited ten years for a transplant tobecome available. Her husband wasn't a good match because he has lupus.

Her situation became somewhat known to our parish family.

A few months ago, I found out that Martin G, our quiet unassuming single library guy had volunteered one of his kidneys. When the social worker was doing his psych screening, she asked him whether he thought this would score brownie points with God. He told her that God already loved him, he didn't need to do something further to gain that reward.

Last Thursday they had the operations, and it was deemed a success on all fronts. Of course, there needs to e more time to determine how she will adapt to his kidney. Someone said, her blood, flowing through M's kidney, will give her clear urine and a new life.

It is a new, and really concrete, way of looking at the Body of Christ.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Darkness into Light brings its own Pain

This morning's reading was John ch 3, and Jesus spends a long time speaking with Nicodemus about what it means to be born again. That is, not born of flesh, but of water and spirit. I guess the apt comparison would be Adam born of flesh, and Jesus born of spirit (and flesh). Jesus, or rather John (the apostle) makes a big deal out of light, and darkness, and he picks up on Jesus' convo with Nicodemus about evil likes the dark, but to be born again, that is grow closer to God, trust him as a baby does its mother, you must come into the light.

That journey is not without pain. There are times, especially in church when my usual crust is threatening to crumble, that I let the tears flow. I wish I could say it is from joy, but more often than not it is from pain, at the memory of yet another betrayal, or mean speech, from my ex-h. Although I was pretty sure for all those years that things were going on, I wasn't prepared to rip the veil off the activity, and find out for sure, because at some level I knew that it would require action I wasn't prepared to take at the time. And so I suffered the insults and shameful behaviour within a cloak of darkness and denial. One becomes immune to this behaviour -- it piles up, without you realizing it, sort of like turning up the heat on frogs immersed in cold water. But now that the cloak comes off, and the crust on the scab is beginning to fall away, leaving behind some pretty raw feelings. Thus the tears.

Likewise my own behaviour, though. I hid in darkness, not being bold, not confronting when I should have, and so layering his sins with my own. Comfort first, even if that comfort was the legitimate kind to protect my kids from a split home. And if I'm honest, comfort for me at my age not to have to struggle along with one income. (As it turns out, I am getting quite good at managing my bills.)