The Ghost of Walmart

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My sailor and I went to the mall on the weekend. Normally I have to twist his toned and muscular arm to get him near any shopping venue, but he needed to get some man stuff–duct tape and batteries–so he suggested the trip.

As usual when we go shopping together, I ditched him as soon I arrived in my happy place (the mall!) It’s not that I don’t enjoy our time together–he lurks.

He follows me from shop to shop, silently observing. He’s doesn’t judge or try to control my spending (although he has been known to exclaim, “Seriously? Another purse? How many do you need?”)

Nothing takes the fun out of shopping like a lurker…nothing except being on strike.

The stores were buzzing with back to school sales and school supplies–they were everywhere! I don’t know who’s buying them as there’s still no word on when we’ll be back in class. I haven’t bought my boy’s because a stack of unused supplies in a corner collecting dust and dog hair will just depress me.

Since school supply shopping was out I drifted to the clothing and shoe stores. Big mistake! After a summer in swingy little dresses, I’m ready for cozy sweaters and socks and boots–I love me some black leather riding boots!

But not having an income changes the shopping dynamic profoundly. I was like a TV ghost–I could see the shopping action but couldn’t participate in it because I’m not in the zone with the people who get paid. It was so unsettling, I stayed away from mirrors, half afraid I wouldn’t see a reflection.

I’m luckier than many because I know we’ll have food in our tummies and a roof over our Chihuahua no matter how long this drags on.

I believe in what we’re striking for and I support my union.

I’m taking a huge financial hit to stand up for quality public education for ALL kids, not just mine.

That actually feels better than another new purse.

Wishing is Not Good Enough!

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Who hasn’t seen Helen Mirren’s gorgeous bikini shot?

She claims it wasn’t posed or planned, and I believe her. Dame Helen presents as so talented and intelligent. I don’t think she’d go to the trouble of setting up a long lens paparazzi shot if she wanted to show the world how hot she is. She’d own her hotness and get herself a magazine spread.

Did I mention Helen Mirren is 69 years-old? Yep, that’s right. This bikini babe is pensionable!

What’s her secret, you ask.

Believe it or not, Helen Mirren owes her va-va-voom figure to the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force).

My research indicates she’s a devotee of the XBX Plan, a daily twelve-minute interval training program developed by the RCAF in the early 60’s. I found it online. It’s a surprisingly complicated system of charts, multiple levels and a catchy slogan: Wishing is not good enough!

Each activity is demonstrated by glamour girls in ballet leotards. I confess I haven’t exactly read the whole thing, even though I’ve been following the program (sort of) for the past couple of weeks.

According the RCAF circa 1960, if I keep it up I’ll have enough energy to both serve my country AND mop my kitchen floor! Best of all, I won’t develop unsightly bulging muscles (whew–that’s a relief!)

Men interested in pursuing available floor mopping opportunities will be happy to learn there’s a men’s version called the 5BX Plan.

While I’m not quite ready for my bikini shot, my kitchen floor is sparkling.

Warning!!! Extreme Grossness to Follow!

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Lately we’ve had some tiny unwelcome visitors. No, our Chihuahua hasn’t invited her extended family to stay.

I’m talking fruit flies–ewww!

They seem more active at night. When I approach the kitchen sink a flock (herd? school? murder?) of these little vermin spring to action like a black blizzard.

Because I think I’m smarter than the average fruit fly, I figured I could just exterminate them by clapping my hands briskly on them as they travel through my airspace.

Well, I may be smarter than the average fruit fly, but I also have something they don’t–floaters.

For anyone unfamiliar with this wonderful peculiarity: bits of the slime inside my eyeballs have clumped together and they float through my field of vision. (Surprisingly, this is not the extreme grossness promised.) Little black dots or squiggles appear randomly. The first time I noticed one, I rushed off to the Emergency Room, certain something very bad was going on inside my head. The ER doctor shared my concern and summoned the on-call ophthalmologist who diagnosed floaters. Imagine your brain has a cursor and you’ll get an idea what it’s like.

These floaters haven’t been a handicap in the past, but I learned they impede my ability to hunt fruit flies. In the heat of the moment, I can’t differentiate a fly from a black speck that only I can see. It’s frustrating for me, but more than a little amusing for my sailor and our boy who sit and watch me dancing around the kitchen, clapping randomly in the air.

In an effort to assert my superiority over the humble fruit fly once and for all, I went to the one place they can’t access–the internet. I learned how to assemble and bait a fruit fly trap. (Cue extreme grossness!)

Get a cup and pour in some apple cider vinegar (the bait.) Snip the corner off a sandwich bag and put it over the cup, pushing the corner with the hole down towards the vinegar, making a one-way funnel for the greedy fruit flies.

This worked–better than I could have hoped. I caught lots of fruit flies (shudder!)

There was a disgusting downside to the fruit fly cull: I had no idea we had so many fruit flies. Ewww!

Sign of the Times

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This my last week of freedom.

Although school isn’t scheduled to start until September 2, we’re back on the picket lines beginning Monday. I’ve drawn the early shift. It’ll be tough answering to the alarm clock, but I don’t mind getting my shifts done early.

What really concerns me is the state of public education in this province.

The government isn’t budging in their negotiations. Well, that’s not actually true. They’re moving backwards, taking things off the table at each meeting. The wage package they’re currently offering is less than it was in May and their signing bonus expired in June.

At this rate, we’ll be paying them if we ever get back to work.

But wait–it’s not all doom and gloom. There is public money available!

The government proposes to pay parents of children under thirteen $40 per day for the duration of the strike/lock out. This money is meant to cover the cost of child care and tutoring or other “educational options.” Apparently only elementary students need to keep up with their studies. High schoolers (you know, the ones preparing for university or trade school entrance) won’t generate any money for alternate educational options.

In a stunning gesture of good will the government has also lifted the lock out to allow teachers to enter schools. Yes, teachers will be able to prepare for the start of the new school year on their own time! I guess they want us primed and ready to go when they finally starve us into submission and we get back to work.

In October, we’ll hear the verdict of the government’s second expensive appeal of the case they keep losing. (Years ago the government stripped class size and composition language from the teachers’ contract. Two different courts have told them this was illegal and ordered them to fix things. Have they listened? Hell no! If you don’t like the verdict, appeal! Then appeal again… and again…)

In an effort to remain realistic, my wish for the 2014/15 school year is something we might actually get…

…new picket signs!

The old ones are pretty ratty after a couple of rainy days last June and it looks like we’ll be wearing them for quite some time.

Healthy Cookies

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A Facebook friend posted a recipe for healthy cookies.

“They’re amazing!” she gushed. “Dairy-free, egg-free, fat-free and best of all–my little boy loooves them!”

How could I resist a recipe that’s not only good for you, but kid approved? I hit the kitchen, ready to enjoy some delicious homemade goodness.

What’s left when you take away the dairy, egg and fat from cookies you ask. Not much I discovered!

These had mashed bananas, apple sauce, almond milk and oatmeal.

I didn’t have almond milk so I used skim (so much for dairy-free.) No regular apple sauce, either so I substituted one of those apple/strawberry fruit cups.

My usual breakfast is unsweetened oatmeal cooked with skim milk and topped with fruit. I happily eat it most mornings. These cookies, almost exactly the same as my go to breakfast, should have been fine.

So why were they such a disappointment? Perhaps because the flavour bar is set so much higher for homemade cookies than for oatmeal.

Will I make these again? Perhaps, but with a few changes.

I’ll add chocolate chips and toasted coconut. Chunky peanut butter, too and maybe a bag of mini M&M’s if I remember to pick them up. Oh, and a couple of eggs for a lighter texture and butter to make them melt in your mouth.

Sigh–maybe I’m just not ready to hop on the healthy eating bandwagon.

Five Fun Facts About Vikings

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We enjoyed a double dose of all things Viking when we went to the IMAX movie, Vikings: Journey to New Worlds followed by the Vikings Exhibition at the Royal BC Museum.

Here are five fun facts I learned about Vikings:

1. The only Vikings who wear horns on their helmets are the ones in cartoons or operas. The rest of them wore streamlined, horn-free helmets. Note: the lack of horns didn’t make them look any less ferocious.

2. We’re not sure why, but some of them carved deep grooves in their front teeth (ouch!) If you’re considering replicating this Viking dental technique–don’t do it! The carved teeth on the Viking skull at the museum show this fad to be less attractive than it sounds. Plus, flossing all those horizontal grooves would require a huge time committment.

3. Vikings were governed by an assembly of free people called…wait for it!…The Thing. I love the idea of calling it The Thing. You’d never forget the name! (“What’s the name of that thing?” “The Thing.”) The Thing took place at The Place. Just kidding! The Thing met at The Thingstead, which is actually a pretty cool name, too.

4. The first European born in North America was a baby Viking named Snorri Thorfinnsson, son of Gudred the Traveller. Little Snorri was born around 1005 in Vinland (thought to be present day Newfoundland). The next European baby to born in North America wouldn’t arrive for about five hundred years.

5. Vikings are wildly popular with modern-day Canadians. Both the movie and the exhibit were packed with non-Viking types soaking up the information.