Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Now You Has Food: Post #1 - An Intro

Hi there!

Welcome to my new food blog.

I love food (probably obvious) and I love writing - so this should be fun.

I thought I'd start by telling you a little bit about myself and food, focussing on the key moments that have led me to where I am today.

I was raised by parents who loved cooking. We had home-cooked, healthy food featuring fresh ingredients on a nightly basis. While we never purely vegetarian, by the time I was 16, I had settled into the diet I maintain to this day - I'm a vegetarian who enjoys fish and dairy (octo-lacto-pesce-tarian...I think). Growing up at home, I experienced sauces made from scratch, freshly baked goods and a seemingly endless number of dishes made with excellent fruits and veggies.

As my interest in food was germinating, I got a job at a local restaurant. I worked as a busboy, dishwasher and cashier for many years of my adolescence and I always showed a lot of interest in cooking. I was fortunate that the head chef at the time took me under his wing and trained me on the job. Eventually, despite having no formal training, I was able to land a position as a line and prep cook and I held this position for a number of years while in university. I learned quite a lot about organization and time management in the kitchen that I took with me to my career as an educator. Those years in the kitchen also kept the cooking fire burning. I am quite a creative person and the combination of that plus my ever-expanding kitchen skills led to an explosion of ideas in the kitchen at home.

When I eventually left the restaurant at the age of 24, I had tired of generating 30-40 omelettes in a morning and flipping 100s of burgers and making dozens of pasta dishes. The love for food was sapped out of me and I longed to make one really great breakfast, or plan an exciting lunch or have a bunch of friends over and cook an incredible dinner. I learned a lot of techniques at the restaurant, but I was now ready to move on not only career-wise but also to cook solely for myself, my friends and my family.

Throughout my adult life I have bought cookbooks, watched every food show on television (sometimes only once), read books about food and more recently researched recipes and ingredients online.

My very first cookbook, and one that I still use frequently to this day, is the vegetarian "Bible" The Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen. I have cooked every recipe in that book multiple times and have personalized many of them over time. I have subsequently gone on to purchase a number of her other books (The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and The Heart of the Plate, to name two) as well as a number of books by the Moosewood Collective, including Sundays At The Moosewood Restaurant and Moosewood Restaurant Favourites. I don't want to mislead you in thinking that I only draw from vegetarian sources - I consult The Joy of Cooking from time to time, I flip through a Betty Crocker book that I have, I use my wife's Best of The Best here and there and I love both the Good Housekeeping cookbook and baking book that I own.

I love food TV! I remember watching Walk With Yan as a child and I used to watch food shows whenever I could find them. The birth of Food Television was exciting for me and I remember the chefs that dominated their station when it was first unveiled in Canada: Bobby Flay, Emeril, Sara Moulton, and Ming Tsai. I watched every single original Iron Chef multiple times and actually just threw out a stack of old VHS tapes full of recordings on those shows (my wife made me). I currently religiously (and somewhat shamefully) watch all of the varieties of Top Chef, Chopped, MasterChef, Guy's Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay, Sabotage Kitchen, Iron Chef America and The Next Food Network Star (can't get enough of Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson- give them their own show! I am kidding! I am kidding!). We don't get Cooking Channel in Canada, so I miss the purely instructional shows, but I do pick up hints and recipes from the reality shows (i.e. when given something sweet for a savory dish, make a gastrique).

I frequent EpicuriousAll RecipesFood.comYummly and other food websites and I have a large three-holed binder full of all of the recipes I've tried from those sites. I love the recipes online as the reviews and alterations that others have made are very helpful. My favourite newer site that I have found and have loved is 101 Cookbooks - I fully recommend it - great recipes and a fun read.

I have also read a number of great books about food - Jeffery Steingarten's are all awesome, I love Anthony Bourdain, I have read all of Mark Ruhlmann's books, Ruth Reichel's books make me hungry and envious of her way with words and I highly recommend Heat by Bill Buford among many others. These books all make me laugh and get excited about food. Jeffery Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate are two of my favourite reads of all time and I would say are among the major factors in my experimenting in the kitchen. If you haven't read those books, and you love food, you must.

So, here we are. I am a 43 year-old husband and father of two young girls. I plan, shop and cook all of the food for the family. I love finding new and different recipes that are healthy, light, ethnically-diverse and full of colour. I try to research and plan menus for the week that mix things up while also creating leftovers and sometimes lunches too. I am also trying to find meals that the whole family will enjoy (including a picky 6-year old is tough) that don't use every pot and pan in the kitchen. We are an active and busy family trying to squeeze in activities for the kids, sports, tutoring, playing games, my creative writing blog and relaxing into a busy schedule. I used to shop, cook and clean up for hours and hours and hours. In the past few years, I have shifted towards quicker meals that free up more time for everything else in life without sacrificing flavour, health and variety, because as good as a meal is that takes hours to prepare and hours to clean up, it isn't much better than one that takes a quarter of the time. We eat as few prepared items as possible and cook most meals from scratch (gotta have pizza or sushi once a week if the budget allows) all the while balancing the budget (can't have wild salmon every night).

I am going to try to put up recipes that I love, recipes that are horrible and should never be talked about again (let alone cooked) but should make for an enjoyable read, trials and experiments and my thoughts on food and diet. I am a creative writing blogger and love to laugh, so things may get occasionally funny around here, but I will try to keep the focus on food.

I hope you come back often.

Monday, December 15, 2014


After years of courtship and a whirlwind of planning, Rachel and I have finally tied the knot. The wedding, her dream wedding, was the culmination of an exhausted and exciting week filled with friends and family and fun. And we jumped on the first plane out of there and headed straight for Bermuda. I can't believe we are here right now on this incredibly beautiful beach and we are married! I look around at the spectacular view and then back at my stunning bride and I just can't believe we are actually here.

We are lying on our huge beach towels, covered in sun screen, drinking tropical drinks and enjoying some real relaxation. Lost in my thoughts and drifting in and out of sleep, I am remembering how we first met and fell in love and I know that I am such a lucky man. I roll over and look at her and nudge her. She rolls over as well and our eyes meet. We kiss and then we laugh. It is true love.

"Oh Rachel, I can't believe he are actually here and we are married!"

"I know my sweet. This is really amazing. What a journey we have been on together."

"We made such a great choice coming to this little, remote island. This is so relaxing, so romantic."

"Craig, I am so happy. It was an incredible wedding and this honeymoon is the perfect ending to a year of planning."

"I agree sweetie and as I lie here next to you, I am thinking back not only on the last year leading up to our wedding, but on all of the experiences we've shared."

"We have had so many great times together, but there have been some bumps in the road - I think they have made us stronger."

"I've never been more in love with you then I am right now, at this moment, although I have to be honest, how I felt two days ago was close. Honestly, it is fairly hard to compare quantities of love."

"You are so funny! Well, just so you know regardless of any potential health concerns, I plan to do what I can to attempt to increase the love we feel for each other incrementally or exponentially each day for the remainder of our years together."

"I admire your dedication to our union and, while I'm not sure I have the imaginative capacity to envision our lives if I was to love you 200% more than I already do, I am your willing guinea pig."

"And I am your guinea pig-utilizing scientist. I can't believe this week has gone so quickly and we only have a few days left. I just wish we could freeze this moment in time. I mean not actually freeze it. I don't have the capability and even if I did, I don't think we would really want that, it would just be so cold."

"I remember the first day we met. I was sitting in the library contemplating reading books that I was actually interested in or reading books that may give others the illusion of my intelligence. I had made pile after pile of books some organized by size, some by colour and others completely randomly in the hopes that some magical combination would help me select some to take home. I remember being quite visibly and audibly frustrated by these books and their words and their perfect grammar. I so badly wanted to "join the club" and "not look out of place" and make a book pyramid if time allowed. And just when I was about to storm out of that cesspool, I saw you out of the corner of my eye."

"That's right! I was there checking out magazines on quilting. My mother, as you know now, is a quilting fanatic and required me to not only quilt with her every Tuesday evening, but to read quilting manuals, magazines, and online forums. And this was before online forums for quilting had even been created. She just had a feeling that one day a group of quilters from around the world would be able to tap into the world wide web and use it as a way to communicate, share ideas for quilts and find some like minded souls who understood them. I'm not sure how she knew, but she knew. She also knew how to guilt me into quilting with her rain or shine as it didn't matter at all since we always quilted inside anyways. The rain just didn't matter at all she always told me. So, I was there finding some new magazines, hoping to slide in a woman's magazine or at least a magazine on crocheting just for variety's sake knowing the shunning and sheer amount of evil-eyeing that would occur if I got caught."

"There were so many quilts and my first impression of your parent's house was that it was like a quilt emporium until they actually decided to open their own ma and pa quilt emporium making their house pale in comparison. My second impression of your parent's house was similar to the first just minus the quilts as they were in transit due to the emporium opening that weekend. We sat there in your mother's old sewing room amidst the discarded ill-thought-through-due-to-being unintentionally-Satanic patterns; the potentially inappropriate, oddly-shaped, scraps of material; the fallen, bent, collection of needles and all of the memories. I fell in love with you in that empty room despite being pricked with a minimum of five needles and having a laughing fit at a particularly funny piece of cloth during a brief lapse into juvenile humour. I wanted to take you away from there, to make you my own, to buy you something, maybe a new shirt or a blouse - I could never figure out if blouses fell under the category of shirts in the first place - I have always been slightly confused about this. Anyways, I knew then, that I wanted to make you mine and no number of bent, old, yet, surprisingly sharp needles could draw blood and change my mind. I mean, at some point, if there were enough needles and resulting blood, I'd probably need some sort of medical attention delaying or possibly rescheduling the courting, but I it wouldn't have changed the way I felt."

"That is beautiful and confusing, but mostly beautiful my sweet and I was your ready and willing participant in the courting. I had never been courted before - asked out? Yes. (other examples of being asked out) While courting did seem quite old-fashioned, it did give us a chance to return to the library and research the steps together. I was pretty open to being courted mostly due to the fact that I knew my way around courts in general. I mean I was average at best at sports that took place on courts, just saying I knew where the courts were and how walk around them. Not like I'm bragging or anything, I get that this is fairly basic skill and that many women are most likely equally adept at it. You just had such a way about you, it was hard to describe. I once tried to describe your way to my girlfriends and after hours of trying and trying and trying to capture you to them, I just gave up - after we ordered in pizza, drank a few bottles of wine, did our nails, sobered up and then re-did our nails - I just invited you over for them to meet in person and then they got it. It was just a much more efficient use of time for you to talk about yourself, then for me to do it, and they grilled you. The three of them launched into you like grizzled, courtroom lawyers asking every question imaginable - including some that weren't - they were that good - demanding the whole truth, threatening that anything less than the whole truth would result in pleading and pleading that you reconsider and just tell the truth unless the truth was too unbelieveable that less-than-the-whole-truth seemed more truthful than the actual truth and then some leeway would be allowed. In the end, they loved you and we shared a big group hug and then instantaneously agreed never to do that again due to greasy, pizza fingers, not-yet-dried nail polish and all of the sweat as it was like an interrogation and someone, mistakenly turned the heat up hoping to "sweat you out" not totally understanding that that was mostly an expression that didn't totally work in this scenario anyways. I would like, as an aside, to get better at describing things as you just never know when that skill may come in handy. Like maybe we will be in a burning building someday and I'll have to use my words to save the day. I don't think it will come up, but I always carry matches and a lighter with me just in case."

"That's right, you do! I became aware of this after a few weeks of dating. Initially, I thought "oh no, he's so cool, but he always has the lighter and matches so he is either a smoker, which is totally yuck, or a piro, which is not yucky in and of itself, but quite dangerous and against the law, and going to jail is yucky. I remember you were flicking your lighter on that beautiful night we walked down by the river when we encountered that old woman with the halting voice on the corner who told us about intimate details from our past that I'm sure we've told no one about including the reoccurring embarrassing doctor's appointments, first kisses and the embarrassing doctor's appointments that were a result of our inexperience with kissing, as well as your habit of standing alone in the dark and my love of watching you do so even though I honestly couldn't see a whole lot. She knew so much and it was totally impressive and completely unsettling as she laughed the entire time which she excused as saying she was recalling a funny joke from earlier that day at breakfast, which I took as a strong suggestion to serve funnier breakfasts."

"Which you have! I remember I used to sit there at breakfast, just wanting to laugh but always feeling so serious around the toast and the oatmeal, but you changed that. I still remember that day when we imagined that you were the granola and I was the milk and we spent hours having the time of our lives, first sprinkling you into a bowl and then pouring me on top and then experimenting with putting me in first and then adding you in afterwards, and even putting us both on the table and allowing the diner to choose how to combine us. We had quite the long argument about the size of the bowl to use and about how I was "playing" the milk as you wanted it to be very believable to the point where our cat might start actually licking me. That was the start of our breakfast revolution. I owe it all to you."

"Thanks. That means so much to hear that you appreciate the levity I have tried to add to our first meal of the day. I so want to see you spread your butter with glee, drink your juice with the joy of 100 hundred especially, and somewhat concerning, joyous ninjas, and devour your scrambled eggs as if the eggs were providing you with a small amount of electricity  -not enough to singe your eyebrows, or have your hair stand on end - no, just enough to give you a small shock - almost as if it was an alarm clock. In case you are worried about this, I no longer have any desire to attach electrodes to all different areas of your body and run series of tests."

"That is a relief. The sheer cost of the electrodes and the fact that we had to repeatedly shave my back which led to so many questions in the locker room especially because you insisted on shaving patterns and shapes into my back and not just any patterns and shapes - you had to choose ones that were both controversial and insulting which led to a lot of interesting looks and conversations. The locker room guys used to crowd around my back and have the most interesting discussions that were usually accompanied by ham and cheese sandwiches because one guy always had extras seeing as his wife won the lottery and purchased only ingredients for ham and cheese sandwiches which was proof that she should have slept on it first before acting so impulsively. Thankfully, the previous time she had won money she had impulsively bought a number of refrigerators and freezers, so at least they had the means to store the food. I'd be standing there half-dressed with a whole lot of guys trying to interpret my back which always made me feel a little self-conscious mostly because.....

"That makes so much sense now - I always wondered why you came home from the gym shaking and needing to hide in the corner for a few hours. I never thought much of it as I too longed to hide in the corner shaking and I figured it was one more sign that we were meant to be together."

"And we are, my sweet, we are. I can't stop thinking about that old woman. Do you recall, that she went on to tell us all about our amazing futures together raising a family, designing life-sized robots to complete a variety of tasks spanning the array from routine household tasks to totally bizarre random jobs that would be illegal in some South American countries, and spending a number of years trying hard to combine the two and either developing child-robots or robotic children or a series of poignant graphic novels that would be a hit with children and adults alike that we would base loosely on our own lives only from the perspective of everyone else as if they were trying to escape from us. I'll never forget that what she said about the love she could see in our eyes although it could have been love in one set of eyes reflected into the other. She also shared, at no extra cost, an initially uncomfortable amount of insider information about European stocks and bonds that, as time went on, seemed quite valuable."

"And I also remember when we met your friends and they couldn't stop smiling and nodding their heads to an imaginary beat. I was a little worried about them - they just wouldn't stop smiling and nodding their heads and while I wanted to ask them about it, I also didn't want to be rude and making a good first impression with your close friends was important to me. Finally, I started smiling and nodding my head as well - it was just so hard not to - I mean after a while, I just found myself joining in. I wasn't trying to mock them - not that time - any many other times through out the years I have mocked them, mostly as part of a game they enjoy playing that involves mocking each other. No, I just found, and it is obviously an area I need to work on, that it was easier to look them straight in the eyes if I was nodding at the same rate as they were and I was thinking of smiling almost like a secret handshake or a valuable currency or the handshake one would make after or right before exchange goods for valuable currency. They felt like a team and I wanted to either play on their team or be the team masseuse. And it was all for you, because I knew how important they were to you." 

"They were and are and I've never been able to figure out why. And believe me, I've spent hours researching, receiving professional and semi-professional help trying to uncover the reasons. I was going to consider non-professional help but that guy was away serving time for attempting to impersonate someone who was both taller and more attractive, which the judge felt was both misleading to potential clients and also fairly seductive."

"Friends are friends, my uncle always said. I mean he literally was always saying that. He would never shut up! Until the day they took him away to be fixed. It was only when I was much older that I was told by my mom that the person I thought was my uncle was actually just a pile of old clothes that needed ironing on top of an old cassette player."

'I recall when I met your parents for the first time and your dad just loved me and he kept on saying he wished I was his daughter and you were his son-in-law and that he didn't care if that sort of thing was illegal in our country, that is how strongly he felt."

"It's strange -  he'd been telling me this since I was a kid, that one day I'd meet a man whom he would wish was his daughter. And I wish I could say that was one of the strange things he said to me growing up, but I can't as I have been ordered by the courts not to comment any further. All I can say is that I tried my best to be his daughter and I thought that I nailed it. Not that I was deserving of the "Best Daughter" Award that my family gave out every Christmas, but I could have at least received it once, especially considering that I have no sisters and the award was never handed out due to having no eligible candidates."

"You have always been such a great daughter, as far as I can tell. I remember you not only cooked an incredible Christmas dinner but did the whole thing from scratch including building a chicken coop and raising chickens for a few years and growing very close to them, a little unhealthily close, so much so that it was so hard for you to kill one for dinner. You grew the veggies and milked the cows for cream and to make cheese. You also decided to build an entire kitchen table and hand-craft the utensils and knit the napkins and while you were at it, you tore down our pre-existing dining room and rebuilt it from the ground up using all of our trees in our backyard (including one you "borrowed" from our neighbour). It was a performance worthy of a standing ovation, except that you had mismeasured and did not make the ceiling high enough for anyone to stand. It made for a severely uncomfortable eating experience - we all needed neck appointments at the local chiropractor, but also it was such a touching and lovely holiday meal that was evidence that you love your family and that no one should joke with you about doing anything from scratch unless they were fully prepared for you to take them up on that."

"And I have learned not to joke with you about certain things too that I am tempted to, but won't bring up as we are on vacation and I did spend that entire day with you at our lawyers reading and rereading, and eventually signing under duress, that contract regarding both my physical and oral behaviour while on vacation with you. I do love to joke, but I also believe strongly in the sanctimony of contracts so much so, that one Halloween I dressed up as a contract and got visibly and viscerally angry if anyone even tried to tear or break a piece of my costume off. I did make the tactical mistake of making the contract costume completely out of chocolate. That contract costume was slightly too highbrow for my intended audience and the fact that I was 25, I realized later on, also made people fairly uncomfortable -at the time I just thought the all of the adults were put off by my cologne."

"You used to make your own cologne and for a while it almost was a deal-breaker for me, as were many many other things. In fact, there were very few non-deal-breakers back in the beginning and I had to go out of my way to search for those things keeping us together and in the end it was that search that sealed things. It also helped that I found that abandoned baby seal which we took home and literally nursed back to health. I took care of her by day, while you went back to school to study how to care for marine life and at night we, figuratively hand-in-hand, saved that seal's life. I'll still remember the day when we could see she would be okay and you had that far off look in your eye that I need to stop looking at as it was driving me crazy - but I knew we'd always be together and that if there were bumps in the road, we'd only need to miraculously find another baby seal who was also abandoned and unwell, but not too far gone, that we could also save."

"We will always be together, my love."

"I know, my sweet. Just the other day I was comparing us to a pencil - with you being the lead part of it and me being the eraser. You always need both and their lives and roles are so intertwined that life, nae, society would crumble if they were apart. You are like a pencil - tall, thin, parts of you could snap off if you were pressed to hard to a writing surface, little kids would stick you in various holes of their bodies if their parents left them unattended for long periods of time and you are perfect vertical when standing and adorably horizontal when laying down."

"And you are just like an eraser, my dear, in that you follow me around eliminating my errors unless I happened to use pen or permanent marker or I have just posted some of my more controversial views all over the internet creating such a war of words that even the best eraser is rendered powerless. Do you remember that night when we dropped everything we were doing - you were in the midst of crossing out all of the 'm's in all of the books you owned to see if it made them more readable and I was busy sculpting assorted-sized noses out of modelling clay - and went hunting for a really large, pink eraser that could either be covered with thick woolen blankets and used as a bed for a dog that we may or may not buy in near future or carefully cut the large eraser into many many smaller erasers much in the same way a large brick of cheese can be cut into smaller cubes of cheese except that cheese is edible and once we had a ridiculously large collection of erasers we would run the risk of alienating our friends who may be quite eraser poor with the only upside being that we could have drawn little faces on each of them and acted out a predominantly eraser-featured version of HMS Pinafore."

"I love shopping for office supplies with you and I can't imagine that will ever change. In fact, as you know, I would shop for office supplies and then convert every room in our house into an office if it made you happy, which I know it would as I just happened to read some entries in your blog that stated as such. You were so bold in your vision that each room would thrive as an office and that the inhabitants who could be able to see past centuries of "needing" kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms would not only be so happy but would be lauded worldwide as revolutionaries in household design. Logistically it lacks some finesse, but I am just so taken with your spirit and your drive (as well as your choice of striped shirts) that I would decorate as you see fit. I'm sure we would struggle initially what with no running water or refrigerator or toilet, but we are such a resourceful team that I know we would not only survive, but we would thrive once we got over our dependance on conveniences such as those."

"I used to need things to be convenient in my life until the time I was travelled through Europe by train in my twenties and accidentally got off at the wrong stop and instead of visiting the amazing sites of Paris, I ended up living with a band of nomads who subsisted on a diet of fine wine, aged cheese and the most amazing homemade breads and tarts. It was with these amazing souls that I quite abruptly had to learn how to live quite differently than I was used to and when I also came to the realization that I had led such a pampered life. I felt quite silly, at the time, that it hadn't occurred to me earlier that I had been pampered while growing up, especially considering the sheer number of hours that my mom and dad spent doing it. They even had a detailed schedule for the pampering and went as far as making a set of hilarious t-shirts that they wore proudly around town that said "We Love Pampering Our Son And We Are Quite Confused That He Doesn't Even Seem To Be Aware That We Are Doing It Despite The Multiple Copies Of Printed Pampering Schedules And What With These Garish T-Shirts And All But It Isn't A Huge Surprise As He Seems To Have A Blind Spot For Sensing When Things Like Pampering And Coddling And Over-Indulging Are Going On Right In Front Of His Eyes And Maybe We Should Be Educating Him And Helping Him Become More Aware Rather Than Continuing The Pampering That Seems To Be Doing At Least As Much Harm As Good". It was quite a lot of words to put on a shirt, so the printing had to be really small and they appeared more like dresses and less like shirts, but since my dad wore the occasional dress no one who knew them even blinked an eye outside of all of the regular eye blinking that they didn't have any control over whatsoever."

"I remember that week we decided to be silent and we could only communicate through a series of eye blinking. If I remember correctly, I think it all started as me giving you the silent treatment as I was fairly displeased with how messy you left our room before you went out to hang out with your buddies down by the wharf - I never understood why they were always by the wharf and it just seemed shady to me. I mean they didn't fish, they didn't sail and they were always complaining that the smell of the ocean really bothered them. It just didn't make any sense, and yet, because of that, I admired their resolve to continue to go down there all the time and for you to hang out with them even when it meant you leaving our room a mess which often led towards silent treatments that neither of us liked. I understood that you had to leave abruptly as they were painstakingly punctual and expected everyone to arrive at the precise minute that was announced and if they didn't then they too gave the offender the silent treatment until they cleaned up the meeting room as they just hated messy rooms. So, I was giving you the silent treatment and you decided to join in as you thought it was some sort of game I was playing - in retrospect I couldn't blame you for this misreading of the situation as that was how we started all games at home - one person just started playing silently and the other person was supposed to sense that a game was beginning and join in. This only worked occasionally and was usually only successful when the two of us just happened to both be in our rec room at the same time which was very infrequent due to our strong dislike of bean bag chairs and our strange desire to buy large amounts of them and house them in our previously well-utilised rec room. So, we were both being silent and then it just went on and on and on almost like we were both daring the other to fold and to talk and the pressure was mounting for the words that finally broke the silence to be extremely profound and meaningful which was challenging at the time as we were also in the midst of a larger game we just coincidentally happened to start playing the day before that involved acting like toddlers. We silently invented a whole language consisting of only blinks of eyes and just when we were communicating better than we ever had before the phone rang and it was your banker and we just had to talk as he was a man of little patience for games especially when played with him over the phone."

"I tolerated my banker for years, but I never liked him. He was a humourless fellow who placed my money on an actual pedestal that required a step ladder to reach and he knew my fear of step ladders. I begged and pleaded for him to put the money in the actual bank and he laughed at my naivete and said "you know nothing of banks and you are only embarrassing yourself as well as potentially angering both the maker of the pedestal and the step ladder as well as their families and their infant children. Are you so much of an egotistical animal that you are placing your piece-of-mind over the shaming of the innocent children of the builders of pieces of furniture that I am using?!?!" I just didn't know how to respond to this - it still remains a perplexing dilemma - and he took my silence as a request to invest all of my money in Swiss cheese as he figured that someday in the near future the holes would be very valuable. I wanted to respectfully disagree, but we kept waving a piece of Swiss cheese in my face everytime I attempted to speak. But sweetie, I don't want to dwell on that right now as being with you here on this beach is just so amazing!

"I agree, my love. I mean, the beach itself is pretty unblemished and spectacular. I could imagine coming here on my own, as I have been known to do with beaches in the past, and having a wonderful time. But, there is just something about being on a beach with the one that I love that is just so special."

"For me it is like feeling complete for the first time in a long time almost as if I were a 3000-piece colourful jigsaw puzzle that had been missing one single piece, The puzzle had been done many times and always there was that slightly empty feeling as the one sole piece was just no where to be found. The couch cushions were dug under, the heating registers were checked on hand and knee and the vacuum bags were inspected, and still, no piece. Finally, the family contacted the puzzle manufactures and for a small fee received a replacement piece in the mail and the puzzle was finally completed and the family of pieces were together as one again. That is how I feel with you - you were the missing piece and, I feel quite fortunate, that I didn't have to receive you in the mail."

"I would have allowed myself to be mailed to you if that is what it would have taken to be with you. I would have also been open to flying, driving or being sent via pogo stick or a really large, sturdy kite. You may not know but my older brother was quite the kite builder and enthusiast growing up and actually fell in with a gang and dropped out of school. It is not what you think - they weren't a traditional criminal gang as many would assume and I know my ominous tone that I use when I tell this story doesn't help in that matter - no they were a renegade kite-flying group that experimented with avant-garde designs, shapes and patterns that the older generations found quite scary. My brother soon rose through the ranks to become the de facto leader of the most black-cloth-wearing, motorcycle-riding, brass-knuckle-packing gang of tough kite manufacturers any one had ever seen. When I see a kite being flown I am taken back to his youth and I miss him so much - back when he was a little, innocent boy who believed in a world of peace and chocolate cake and kites. As time went on, he only cared about kites, it's like I don't even know him any longer."

"I'm sorry my dear, I didn't know - I wouldn't have brought up the subject of kites if I'd known. But you know me so well and I can be insensitive from time to time especially when discussing things that fly or are attached to strings. It's just who I am and my therapist told me, as he dangled a variety of objects by strings while I opened up to her as some sort of desensitisation activity, that it was okay for me to be insensitive as long as I attempted to make good eye contact and smile every 5-7 minutes towards the person I was being insensitive towards."

"I was wondering why you often did smile at me, in an almost robotic fashion every 5-7 minutes. It all makes sense now. I should have just asked instead of keeping binder after binder of detailed notes and observations. I studied you as if you were a mouse in a maze, but also quite unlike that as no matter how much cajoling I did I just couldn't make you enter the maze I spent hours upon hours constructing. I thought I had made the most exciting labyrinth and I just wanted you to enter and play for a while - possibly getting lost and eating some of the cheese I left lying around, but you were too busy counting the seconds until your next smile. I did admire your sense of timing though and, though frustrated that I couldn't complete my quantitative research study, it made me love you even more."

"I remember excitedly telling my work colleagues about you and saying that I had just met the most fabulous person who made me so happy and I went on and on and on as I was so in love until I realized that I was speaking to them with my eyes closed so I could picture your face and when I open my eyes they had all switched seats and shirts as if to confuse me. I admitted to them that I was confused, but that I thought now was not the time or the place for such a state of confusion as our boss had expressly said that we limit all states of confusion to every second Friday as it would both increase our productivity and also give us something to look forward to and plan around. I just loved those Fridays. I had no idea what was going on and what anything meant, but I loved them just the same."

"I wasn't sure I was ever going to meet someone and then you came along."

"And I wasn't sure I wasn't going to just spend my life alone until I found you."

"I am so happy you found me. I was trying to position myself in such a way that someone could find me, but I also didn't want to make it too easy or obvious because I didn't want to be found by just anyone or to have everyone access me all at once. It required a lot of planning, but it was obviously all worth it. I always dreamed of meeting someone like you although I did think you'd either be shorter or wearing shiny red boots or have hairier ears. I'm not totally aware of why I always thought that, but it could have had to do with my covering my room with paintings that I made that featured
short, boot-wearing, hairy eared men as that was a phase I went through in my art work. I spent hours painting these realistic portraits and then many hours more sitting and staring at them and having amusing conversations and philosophical debates with the army of men in my work. I almost got as far as putting on an improvised show with these men, until my family staged an intervention and got me to see that they were only two-dimensional and how hard that would be to act on stage with. I was very thankful for my family stepping in and having me see that there was more to life then painting, talking and trying to make other laugh with these men, but the sheer amount of time I spent looking at them tricked my brain into thinking that Mr. Right would look just like that and when you didn't I pushed you away at first."

"I know - dates 1-4 were spent with you solely pushing me away. On date #1 I entered your house, you'd push me away. I'd wait a moment and enter again and you'd have gathered your strength and push me away again. This continued on for a few hours before I went home. On dates 2 and 3 it was very similar but you both seemed to be tiring of all of the pushing and also building up some new muscles in your arms. Finally, by date #4 you seemed to be warming up to me and my looks and my sense of humour that draws from ancient Greek sensibilities and customs. Finally on date #5 the pushing away stopped and we spent the entire 5 hour experience kissing which both excited me to no end while also yielding an expensive hospital bill. I love you, but kissing for such a long period of time is just not a good idea especially when I have medication that I need to take on the hour every hour."

"I was just so taken with you and so happy."

"I understand and so am I."

"Promise me that we will always be happy."

"Sweetie, I can't promise that. Not because I don't think we won't be happy for always, but because I promised you that I wouldn't state things in the form of a promise as you had had a bad experience with promises in the past."

"That's right, I forgot. You are so good for me."

"And you for me."

"We will always remember this beach."

"The sand, the sun, your polka dot socks that you just won't take off for some reason that I want to ask you about but I also don't want to ruin the mood, and the aroma of amazing island cuisine."

"I am wearing the socks, if you must know, to cover up a huge surprise that I have for you later. Ready for a swim?"

"For you, I am ready for anything."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I Keep Burning My Toast

I fully understand that communication is important but I will only communicate with you if you cease calling me "Big Turk".

I didn't vote because it is my civic duty or because it's my responsibility or because I particularly like or dislike any of the candidates - I voted because...oh, I just don't know any more and I feel so alone and scared.

I want to wear clothes that cover all of my skin from head-to-toe all of the time except on Thursdays when I plan to expose my toes to the world one toe per week until I am either out of toes or get bored of this exercise.

Either mermaids are real or I'm even more confused by the women I pass on my drive to work every morning.

Chalk dust makes me sneeze, but I just can't stop breathing in all of that rich, chalky goodness.

I don't know why, but once I am in the fetal position I am whisked back to those wonderful and carefree days in the womb that would have been perfect if the WiFi reception wasn't so sketchy.

And to think you thought the bubbles were going to stop soon?!?!? You obviously don't know me, "The Bubble Guy", as well as you thought.

My body is a factory and I just happen to be looking for a new factory manager as I had to fire the last guy for attempting a mutiny and convincing the others to help him convert the factory to a parkade.

During the daytime I am but a lowly pawn moving slowly forward on the chessboard that is life, but after the sun goes down and nighttime begins, I transition into the coolest, best-dressed pawn that owns the dance floor and is admired by all.

I use and misuse dairy products to the extent that although I am not allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant I am told that all of the cows wish that I was.

Now that I've seen what I've seen and I can't unsee it no matter how hard I try, I want to see more.

I see red all of the time, just not solely in isolation. I see lots of other colours too in and around the red, but they just prefer to remain anonymous. Seeing all of the colours in juxtaposition is a much more accurate way of viewing my surroundings aside form when I retreat to my basement which is only red.

Max sounds infinitely more exciting then min, as far as settings go, but I keep burning my toast.

I long for the day when it is more socially acceptable to run my fingers through my hair in public or, failing that, to run my hair through random members of the public.

The highlight of my day is when I hear the sound of my own voice on one of the series of audio recordings I created when I installed mics throughout my house with interacting with other humans being a close second.

My doctor is a weirdo who always asks me about "if I want to get a pizza" and "have I made a decision about the pizza yet?" In related news, I'm fairly certain that he is not actually my doctor and that goes a long way towards explaining why the results of my latest blood work were both nonsensical and baring a close resemblance to a receipt from the pizza place down the block.

I was told not to duplicate my work keys. I've been told lots of things. Only some of them were about keys. The others I forgot. I have lots of keys. They make nice noises in my pockets and occasionally in my hands. I go to work where I am not meant to utilize any duplicate keys. I'm fairly certain they told me about that. I like keys. I like when they tell me things.

I am not an animal and, as way of proof, I am giving my sworn enemies scrumptious homemade chocolate chip cookies and the joke will be on them as I only used 2/3 of a teaspoon of baking soda making the cookies slightly less airy and saving me lots of money that I can put towards plotting my eventual revenge.

The pot on the stove is boiling over and I just sit at the table watching the bubbling, gooey, steamy mess as it gurgles out of the pot and all over the stove thus both ruining my breakfast and giving me a huge spill to clean up, and yet my eyes, which have not wavered from the pot as it boils away, slowly reveal my glee.

I have this dream where I am very confused and perplexed and I wander around lost, looking for someone to help me or to at least tell me what is going on. The dream goes on and on and on this way and my frustration rises and rises and rises until I come to a huge realization - I am frustrated and it's not like usual where I feel frustrated. I mean that I am actually frustrated - the human embodiment of the word. I relax a bit when I realize that no matter what I do, where I go or who I try to talk to, I am just frustrated and the more I realize that I am powerless, the more I relax and start to enjoy myself until I no longer feel frustrated and then I proceed to turn into a set of playground swings that are enjoyed by a group of little children. Suffice it to say, when I wake up, I feel slightly frustrated.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


In many ways Valerie was just like every other first-year university student. She stayed up too late, she eagerly attended class, she studied at the library, she joined some clubs and she occasionally thought about practicing witchcraft or learning to string her own guitar.

When she wasn't in class or studying, she could be found at the student lounge talking philosophy and religion with her friends or at the campus pub enjoying a drink and some dancing to ease the stress and sometimes she chased imaginary pigeons with her very real umbrella. Often she was between places as that just happens in life when you don't want to remain in one building all the time and you just have to be in transit. She never quite understood why she had to apologize for that.

She had thought about getting a job, but didn't want to take time away from her studies, so she decided to intern instead. Her lack of understanding of interning endeared her to all that knew her, although most weren't aware that that was the reason they found her endearing and there was quite the list. The list was presently at Dave's house. Her friends were, on the whole, quite unaware relative to the average group of academic-minded friends and they prided themselves upon that. Most university students have hyper-aware friends who analyze and over think every little thing so much so that they would drive her crazy. She remained sane aside from her occasional desire to either emulate or imitate an occupational therapist, whichever was easier.

She spent her time interning at the local accounting firm that she always dreamed of interning at; her parents had been worried about the total absence of creativity and fantasy in her dreams as a child. She was worried too, but only about the impact of consuming too much soy, especially during a cleanse or cleaning her bathroom using soy sauce. As a child growing up, she would walk past the accounting firm and try to see through the frosted windows just imagining the the glee and enthusiasm on the faces of the accountants and their interns. How she longed to be on the other side of that frosted glass and be the envy of the younger generation of accounting-firm-intern-dreamers. She wanted to be the object of someone's envy very badly even if it was misplaced.

When she wasn't interning, she enjoying throwing caution to the wind and when she tired of that, she returned to the glory of her childhood by dressing up as various Disney princesses and characters, especially Mickey Mouse. For years others made fun of her love of dressing up as a male, cartoon mouse, but as time passed, people moved on as they either found other, newer, things to make fun of or they just grew tired of it as it did get exhausting after a while as they were often relentless. It involved the hiring of several personal trainers if it was to be done well. She never quite understood her fascination with Mickey or her desire to "wear" him, and she decided that some fascinations were best left "unsolved" especially considering her credit situation and the fact that she had a term paper due on Friday.

At school, she would sit in class and take notes and then she would go to the library and take more notes, before returning home to take more notes. It was getting to the point where taking notes had become her life and as she the amount of notes grew and grew she realized that they had lost all meaning to her, what little they had started with, which was actually quite a bit. If she didn't have a pressing assignment or test on the horizon, she would return to her apartment, close the drapes and put the Mickey Mouse costume on while she went about her cleaning. She often wished she would be more dynamic and interesting while costumed, but the laundry needed folding and the dust wasn't going to sweep itself up and then there was the question of dinner. And always there was Mickey.

It had been months since she had last seen her dad without a thick pane of glass separating them. She missed her dad - he had robbed a bank and gone to jail. Or more accurately, he had been hanging out with some friends and thought they were going out for lunch only to realize, when it was too late, that they were robbing a bank instead. This sort of thing happened to him far too often, probably because he loved going out for lunch and allowed others to always choose the place. The fact that he just happened to be dressed appropriately for the heist and was carrying what appeared to be a gun with him - it was actually a lighter that just looked like a gun that he had with him as he was playing a recreational pyromaniac in a new community theatre play - didn't help his cause when the police grabbed them.

She loved him and wanted to be supportive of his hobbies, which she was, right up until he decided to progress from ceramics and stamp collecting to armed robbery, because of her absolute hatred of all forms of robbery and because he essentially turned his back on his amazing works of clay right before they were to be baked and glazed. Did he think kilns grew on trees? She really hoped he didn't. She was so angry at him for resorting to a life of crime as so many other lives were available to him at such an affordable rate.

She felt slightly better when she heard his story. He was quite confused when they passed by their usual lunch spot, even more confused when they donned black ski masks and his confusion hit it's highest level when they all stormed in through the front doors of the bank with guns demanding the combination to the safe only to realize that the bank was actually next door and that this store was just full of wigs and wig stands and the most pleasant sales lady they had ever met. His confusion subsided briefly after the bank was properly located as they waited for the combination and then rapidly rose again when they made their getaway. As an actor, he did his best to play the part as you never know who is in the audience, although he was quite disappointed when the lines demanding the combination to the safe were repeated at the actual bank as the first run through was far more realistic and gripping.

Often when she thought of her dad, she thought back to how supportive he was when she decided to pursue interning. Others, specifically her mother and grandmother, scoffed at her attempts to be a full time student as well as a part time intern mostly because they never quite got how to add fractions. Her dad always believed in her ability to balance and juggle and often to do both at the same time as long as she was not anywhere near the docks at low tide. "Docks at Low Tide" was coincidentally the name she had chosen for her autobiography as she believed the title would work on many levels once she dedicated some time to it.

Her dad helped her progress from just pretending to be an intern to actually doing it, all-the-while secretly drawing floor plans and making accurate lists of security details for local financial institutions. Some would say she turned a blind eye to his strange hobbies, while others said that we shouldn't make her feel any more self-conscious than she already does about her eye, which isn't blind, it is just a bit cloudy. Yes, he always helped her, and she hadn't returned the favour.

The lawyers and police confiscated his collection of antique pens and intricate drawings of banks claimed they were evidence, while he said that he had always had a love of floor plans and architecture and how the building that houses the most money were often the least aesthetically pleasing even when you consider how attractive some of the guards looked in their shiny boots and tailored coats. They said that he would rot behind bars and he said that he believed that was highly unlikely regardless of whether bars were involved or not as he bathed on a regular basis and was going to rot anytime soon.

He told them that he'd been used by his friends for his knowledge, while his friends thought they had made it expressly clear what they were doing; even going as far as writing out a detailed, yet simple list of what their plan was and what each person's job was. They claimed he was the mastermind and that he coerced them into it and that they really only wanted to sing beautiful harmonies and the occasional melody. Her father looked like either the biggest fool in town or at least in the top ten, which he found frustrating as he believed the methods for vote collection were totally faulty.

She often got so mad she wanted to scream, but she was usually sitting in class at the university and her professor had a class rule prohibiting screaming unless for the purposes of qualitative research. She also wanted to cry, but the accounting firm required signed written consent for all shedding of tears to be filled in triplicate a minimum of three days prior. She gritted her teeth, behind the huge comical head of the beloved cartoon mouse so that no one could see, but she sensed that Mickey did not approve of being used for such purposes.

She missed her dad so much and wished she could have been there to spend one more day with him. She often sits in the library, trying to study or write an essay, and she sees him outside the bank with his mask on and his lighter/gun in hand. She sees herself run to him to either talk him out of it or to drive the car as she is really quite fast and after making a clean getaway and taking her cut of the money, she would feel better that she saved him; just as he had saved her countless times.

If she could have been there she would have told him that she loved him and they would have gone out for ice cream just like they did when she was a child and he was more child-like. They both grew up so quickly; her because of growth spurts and he because of some discounted lifts he ordered away for. He adorably ordered random, discounted items all the time and she remembered her mother, before she left, off-loading a lot of stuff on him at low low prices that could not be beat.

She loved school, loved her work as an intern, loved her time each afternoon as Mickey Mouse and loved her father. If only she could have one more day with him, or failing that, part of a day, as that was usually all she could handle. She knew he would be free one day and they would be together again. She knew lots of things and others had to often tell her that now was not a good time for sharing. She dreamed of the day when he was released from prison and he would hold her in his arms the best he could as the Mickey Mouse costume was quite large making a normal hug between two averagely-sized humans quite difficult to say the least.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Love in Colours: Grey

The gray silk tablecloths were being placed with care on the large rounds in the banquet hall as the guests began to arrive. They stood outside the room, peering through the windows, mesmerized by the gray cloths being unfurled seemingly in slow motion. The cloths were being waved in the air as if to signal surrender if only they had been red. The past few weeks euphemisms and expressions about the end were repeatedly spoken as if to convince him everything was over, but both of them believed that the real excitement was yet to come.

She was sitting at a large table, surrounded by his colleagues, watching him up there on the stage. She couldn't believe that he was actually retiring, but she knew that she would have to believe it at some point as it was actually happening and it was meaningless to hold onto such obvious disbeliefs when the truth is so readily apparent. Could it be that time already she thought? Wasn't it just yesterday when he had just started this job in the first year after they fell in love? The answer, quite clearly, she reminded herself, was no and why did she insist on continuing to ask herself this question? She remembered the endearing self-assuredness he had as he left for work each morning when he was first starting and how that had barely changed over the years. He had been one of the fortunate ones - he loved his job and was excited to go to work. She loved his positive nature and outlook on life and felt that it was infectious as he had helped her see things more positively as well and that was quite almost definitely the best possible kind of infection or infectious disease there could be as almost all others ended with someone getting very sick. As she sat there listening to story after story about his incredible contributions to the company, she remembered a more youthful version of him in her head and it made smile. Her head was often full of different images and pictures of him and she wished she could construct a mental way of organizing them - sort of like an album with plastic pockets to store the mental photos, but she laughed at her naivete about constructing albums in her mind, especially when it came to making the plastic pockets. She couldn't believe how much time had passed, but attributed that to her inability to keep track of time very well and to how much fun they have had over the years. She watched him on stage with a pride that was unlike that of a parent or a teacher or a plastic surgeon and more like one that a wife would feel for her husband and that just made sense, she thought, as that was the nature of their relationship. Finally, it was his turn to speak and he stood and walked slowly to the lectern and made eye contact with her. He grinned, took out his notes and addressed the audience of friends and colleagues in a way that only he could - as a freestyle rap.

He sat there listening but barely hearing the speeches. It was a technique that he had honed at work over the years and could easily give a series of workshops that people would listen but not hear making the means of delivery quite challenging. His mind was drifting and he gave into the sensation as he was quite enjoying being caught up in a cloud of déjà vu because he had remembered to have a snack first. His mouth broke out into a small grin as he remembered how eager and excited and full of beans he had been as a young man when he first landed the position. He used to eat bowl after bowl of cooked beans that he had lovingly soaked overnight himself right before a shift primarily for the protein and the digestive fibre and secondarily for whatever may have coincidentally aided his performance at work. Yes, he had been annoyingly eager, and he saw that same ridiculously annoying eagerness on the young aiming-to-please-even-if-that-meant-wearing-face-paint employees he hired himself ever since he became management. Somedays he wanted to mentor these new employees and other days he lamented our modern negative view of tar-and-feathering, mostly due to his investing heavily in tar a few years ago. His eyes caught his elegant wife's in the audience. He was struck by how well she had aged and his mind quickly started listing all the ways they could benefit from that financially without completely compromising her elegance. He came up with two. He was so lucky to have her as she could have had any guy but chose him based on his humour, his unflinching love and, at least partially, due to his glass-blowing skills as she was a sucker for objects of glass, especially those that had been blown by men with senses of humour that also loved her. Even as this date on the calendar rapidly approached, it hadn't totally hit him until now - he was old and he was retiring and it had helped that he had recently started hitting himself with the calendar causing a fair amount of ripping as the calender was quite cheaply made. Finally, it was his turn to speak and he was ready to leave his mark - he wasn't sure how or where, but it would be a permanent mark, it would involve mixed media, and it would be intense, partially edible and subject to interpretation.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lay Off The Pork Already!

When I was younger I really wanted to go out with someone - it could have been almost anyone - mostly because I spent an unhealthy amount of time as an involuntary recluse and needed the exposure to fresh air as well as having the company to share my vague and hysterical theories with.

I once decided to flex all of my muscles at the same time and froze in that position for a few days until thankfully a really strong wind carried me away.

There are many ways to skin a cat and all of them are excruciatingly horrible especially for the cat and for those of us who are forced to watch as some sort of consequence that in no way is appropriate when all I did was take one cookie from the jar.

Sometimes when people yell at me so loudly, I feel like my brain is actually being penetrated but doctors tell me not to be too concerned and I'm actually starting to enjoy it a bit more now.

For all those around me I am a focal point and am growing tired of all of the attention which is making me both self-conscious and wishing I had just read the fine print more carefully.

My mind is unlike a sieve in almost every way aside from one.

I just bought a new raincoat and I have taken to wearing it for solely preventative measures which seems to work until it rains and then I am not so sure it is working as I intended.

I took a shower the other day to get clean, but only the physical dirt washed off and no matter how much I scrubbed and scrubbed I just couldn't feel psychologically clean which I'm pretty sure the soap ad claimed it would do.

I am gradually overtime increasing the number of activities I participate in ironically and, at the same time, I am noticing a gradual decrease in the number of people who will participate with me.

I have come to grips with the fact that I am just more comfortable in the comforts of my own home which is oddly not that comfortable at all as far as homes go.

Contrary to what I have grown to believe long grass does not give me a heightened feeling of security even after I have made myself a new hat.

Meters have been installed, as have valves, tubes and levers - it all works exactly according to plan aside from the fact that I have nowhere to sleep and I am worried that the constant beeping will have long-term negative side effects.

I often feel sad when I should feel happy and that makes me quite happy although I am starting to wonder if it should make me feel sad instead.

Soothing ointments sooth my painful open sores and yet, even I can only handle so much soothing in my day-to-day life before I grow a bit numb to it.

I often feel great pressure to cook my pasta perfectly al dente even though I happen to be one of the 2% of people who happen to love totally over-cooked pasta that I can eat with a straw.

My wife loves and appreciates the clean rugs and carpets at our home, but even she is starting to grow quite concerned about how often I am vacuuming and the fact that I can't stop beaming while doing so.

Instead of calling or texting or emailing you I've decided to write you page after page of emotional and gripping text in large red letters giving the illusion that I used blood even though it is just an old marker and I have decided to plaster these pages all over your bedroom to see if you want to have lunch tomorrow.

I will continue to use the semi-colon how ever I please and am more than willing to return the favour to ensure things remain fair.

Pigs are so cute and if they could talk I'm pretty sure they would say something snorty and adorable with a strong yet subtle message to "lay off the pork already".

Umbrellas just do not keep me dry enough and it makes me so frustrated and the only thing that helps me feel better is a peaceful walk in a heavy rainfall.