Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's a Wonder I Don't Starve

It is with unfortunate biological chance that I did not inherit the gifted cooking genes from my mother’s side of the family. Thankfully my husband is a genius at the stove; even his drunken snacks at 3am involve the sautéing of exotic mushrooms with avocado oil and finely diced shallots.

But when my sweetheart travels, I am left to my own devices. Knowing that there is an elevated likelihood of all the Frosted Mini-Wheats in our house disappearing this week in his absence (for lack of other pre-made ‘instant gratification’ options), he set it up that I would have a series of delicious, reheatable portions of homemade turkey soup available for the duration of my brief solitude. Before packing for a trip to Puerto Vallarta (where I will be joining him shortly), he meticulously cut the last of the turkey from the bones and boiled the carcass into a flavourful stock. The only thing I had to do after dropping him at the airport was add the contents; an easy task, for someone who isn’t a bumbling idiot with a hot pot. How could chopping carrots and scooping grains of rice possibly go wrong?

Humbly, I am the living proof that it can.

First, I determined that celery, onions and carrots were not enough legumes for me. Why not broccoli, or better yet, cabbage? The pretty purple variety…that just happens to turn turkey broth into a veritable borscht (oops number one). And exactly how much dry rice should be added to a 10-quart pot? My un-cuisine-educated guesstimate was 3 overflowing cups, which unfortunately was at least double what was necessary (oops number two). So instead of turkey soup, I’m left to consume an indigo-hued rice casserole for the next three days.

I’m praying that my fatuous housewifery is recessive…

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I know for a fact that the lore of the creative muse is not mythical. I happen to have one myself in the fetching form of an olive-skinned femme fatale. She has pillow-y lips, zooma-zoom-zoom rump cheeks and a rhythmical hip thrust that could break a man mid-mambo. Her acorn-sized, cocoa eyes are as arousing and welcoming as a sun-kissed, temperate ocean. When she graces you with a smile, your world becomes so much more than a simple oyster. She neutralizes fear; she discourages boundaries; she cleanses, sanitizes, blesses. She is heaven’s gatekeeper and the caregiver of the universe. For a reason understood only by the cosmic powers that be, she has chosen me as the apprentice friend to whom she reveals [almost, some things are sacred] all. I know both the character she has developed (what Hollywood coins ‘based on a true story’) and the resilient, but oft vulnerable, maiden beneath the cloak; the innocent, untamable, commanding, genius of an edifying wellspring.

She is my muse for many reasons, at the forefront of which is her mastery of expression. She breathes inspiration into a vacant keyboard. If she ever discontinued my complimentary access to the verbal manifestation of her emotional impulses, I fear my writing would evaporate. My ability to place two unlikely words in the same sentence would be lost to apprehension. My blog is the mosquito to her elephant; her posts are the necessary red river of platelets from which this Stream subsists.

This, my dearest Namaste, is my significantly more befitting commentary.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tears of Sweat

A word of advice: don’t read Tuesdays with Morrie at the gym. I was out of trashy, starlet-glossed magazines and the book was compact enough to fit on the reading ledger of the cross ramp. The read was quick, common and predictable. Regardless, the final chapter brought a few embarrassing tears to my already pink, puffy, salt-encrusted cheeks. Might have been an ugly scene for a crowded cardio floor if I hadn't been able to pass them off nonchalantly as sweat beads. Thus, can anyone recommend a Plan C to this hour-a-day gym rat who yearns to avoid the quick-sand monotony of her exercise routine? I can only read so much about Brangelina before I want to beat my head with my ipod and the dense content of my latest Erica Jong read is far too thick to rest motionless in front of my bouncing eyes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

31 Flavours

I have made the bold statement numerous times that every year of my life has been better than the last. It’s easy for an active, healthy, rich (according to world standards) and deeply loved woman to speak so blithely.

And then yesterday, I turned 31. This year’s birthday, falling humbly on a Monday and overshadowed by the tornado of bliss [aside, has anyone else noticed my perpetual use of this particular word?] that was my recent nuptials, provoked a moment of sober reflection. My 30th year was so bounteously saturated with blessings and joyous, epochal events that how am I to top it? In no particular order I fell in love; got engaged; got married; watched my sister cross the portable, sunlit stage as the proud new recipient of a Harvard MBA; drank a Boston lager and ate sweet potato fries with my Dad on his 60th birthday; danced a Floridian jive with my grandfather on his 80th birthday; house-warmed my punk-rocking cousin’s new fixer-upper chateau; toasted my parents in their 35th year of matrimony; earned another six figures with the sweat of my intellect; gave my aspiring-actor cousin a standing whoot following his jaw-dropping stage performance as the lead in Ionesco’s Rhinoceros; high-fived my little-miss-athlete cousin after her team won the Ontario soccer championships; dove, swam, sunbathed and hiked through a paradise half way around the world; spoke French with Parisians in Paris; met the most famous man in rugby in box seats at the World Cup; ran a half-marathon; celebrated Canada Day in Canada’s capital; and started my sparsely-visited [for now] but motivational Stream of Jessica...

With a renewed urgency to make my 31st year of life equally as immaculate, I have hit the gym daily and pondered my course of action. I am the only one in control of the ante. Do I increase my mileage from 13 to 26? Do I learn a new language? Do I pursue an extracurricular degree? Do I outline the fiction novel I so abstractly claim I want to write? Or maybe, do I follow the lead of the tortoise rather than the hare and allow 30 it’s appropriate reign supreme?

All thoughts I let slide into syncopic slumber yesterday night during a romantic, crystal candlelit, pomegranate-themed, White Star infused, home-cooked birthday dinner. There are worse things than plateau-ing at the height of euphoria…

Monday, November 12, 2007

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— John McCrae

This past Sunday, after sneaking in behind the choir, I grabbed my old, familiar seat in a middle pew at the church of my childhood (because no Presbyterian chooses the front pews unless amicably forced). The sermon centered on Remembrance Day and when the congregation struck up a proud, vociferous ‘Oh Canada,’ I started to cry. It has been 13 years since I’ve been in a room full of Canadian patriots singing the anthem of my homeland and the angst with which I suddenly longed for maple leaves and frosty air hit me like a GO train.

Hence, why I will absolutely, decidedly, indubitably, positively, unquestionably, determinedly, unequivocally…be attending this event on Saturday. Group of Seven paintings and Canadian ice wine are just the extinguisher I need for my conflagrant homesickness.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Home Base

I’ve always likened myself an adventurer. I have the luxury of a job that affords me bi-weekly travel to any continental destination of my whimsical desire. This month: Toronto and Puerto Vallarta. I hop onto planes happily and frequently. Meeting new people, drinking exotic cocktails, becoming momentarily immersed into the language, cuisine and dance of foreign cities – I crave these things with constant pangs. Home for me is a comfortable resting place between voyages; a base for take off and landing.

Despite my ping-pong travel schedule, I can count on just one hand the number of times I’ve altered the latitudinal coordinates of my home base; each time never more than a long car ride away from a loved one. Yesterday, however, my sweetheart and I discussed the remote possibility of being whisked away to the land of the kiwis for the job of a lifetime. Still a direct plane flight to my parents’ peaceful California abode, but far, far away from the status quo I have built on the Atlantic Coast. With jittery nerves and a brave face I tell my love that I will follow him to the moon, because I will.

I wonder then what happens to the pangs of cultural curiosity when the adventure becomes the reality?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Art of War

My mother’s most earnest gift of wisdom she bestowed on me the eve before my wedding as we snuggled, gossiped and relieved the pent up stress of entertaining familial masses was “learn how to fight well.” This was interesting because my sweetheart and I had not yet battled over anything more intense than how many place settings are reasonable to request on our registry (what weighs stronger: the capacity of existing cabinets or a lifetime of slippery-fingered offspring?).

Her point was reiterated this evening during a lively seafood supper with my mother-in-law. She imparted the wisdom her own mother had given to her about the subtle art of cacophonous dispute and was shocked to learn that, even during our extensive travels half-way around the world, my husband and I had not argued.

This is not to say I hibernate naively behind those rosy-hued glasses through which I prefer to view my blessed life. An environment awash with hormones, differing opinions and extenuating circumstances will at some point spark the heated quarrel that we have, up to this point, so blissfully eclipsed thanks to that potent extinguisher called compromise. No matter how inconsequential the debate we listen actively, we persuade patiently, we speak at room temperature, we back-down graciously, and we always, always touch – during and after.

Thankfully, for my mother’s peace of mind, I’ve always been an exemplary student.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Gifts That Keep On Giving

There is an aura of permanence surrounding a bridal registry; gifts that are meant to survive the tides of a couple’s life together. 12 sets of dinner plates to accommodate for clumsy, unborn toddlers; 12 sets of linen placemats and pewter napkin rings to serve a slew of in-laws a gluttonous Thanksgiving dinner at the couple’s yet-constructed, yet-purchased residence; 6 sets of pillow protectors for the pillows that will send a gaggle of future house guests into restful slumber... The bride is carried across the threshold of her blissful, marital abode and is followed with such an abundance of lasting tokens of the generosity of friends and family that no closet, pantry, desk or cabinet drawer will click completely shut.

The comedy, of course, arises when the bride discovers each memento spurs within her a deep thoughtfulness for the person who sent the gift. She pours a cup of oolong and thinks of her mother’s adoring smile. She dishes a serving of Indonesian beef stew from her slow cooker [aside: she did not prepare this beef stew she is serving and thanks the stars her husband actually enjoys the art of food preparation] and applauds her grandparents for blessing her with a savour for the exotic. She sips Bordeaux from an ornate wine glass and toasts Webcowgirl. She cuddles into her cocoa/vanilla-coloured, thousand thread-count bed sheets, against warm skin, and winks virtually to her California girlfriends. She perches on the ceramic throne in preparation for a 'dainty tinkle' and laughs audibly when the baroque toilet plunger conjures images of her high school BFF...

As such, with unavoidable cliché, the bride humbly concurs with the simplicity and truth of the phrase “it is not the gift but the thought that counts."