Viva Las Vegas!

I’ve just finished my first work week after Spring Break.

It rained constantly. Not just gentle sprinkles, but round up the animals and load them on the arc deluges.

I’m beat. My throat is sore. I’m coughing. My poor working woman’s body is achy.

The only thing that’s 100% is my appetite. I’ve eaten all the Rogers Chocolates I bought last week. (I picked up a lot of chocolate! Honking, big, “family sized” bars–vanilla milk chocolate, butter caramel, dark chocolate mint…) Last night I polished off half a pizza, eating it so fast I got a burn on the roof of my mouth. Ouch!

I don’t know why I’m eating so much. I’m not (especially) stressed, I’m not even extra hungry, but I can’t resist food.

I need a vacation. A real one, not just a quickie over the border one day visit to a Washington outlet mall.

Last year we went to Vegas. I’d share all the juicy details, but, well, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

It was hot and sunny. Wandering along a public street sucking on a huge margarita felt so foreign and so naughty that we couldn’t stop grinning at each other over our thick straws.

I have a wonderful family, a super duper little dog and a good job. I’m luckier than most.

A little sunshine would go a long way to making me believe it.

Downton Abbey

050I’m tired and bleary eyed. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning I’d sell my Chihuahua for an extra half of hour of sleep.

Well, not really. It hasn’t come to trading in beloved dogs for more sack time…yet.

The reason I’m exhausted?–season four of Downton Abbey.

D gave it to me for my birthday and I’m addicted. I tuck myself into bed, hunched over the DVD player’s tiny screen. I don’t turn it off until it becomes painful to force my tired eyes open another minute.

It’s not just when I’m supposed to be sleeping.

Yesterday I took my boy to Tae Kwon Do. Instead of racing off to Walmart to pick up a few groceries while he was martial-arting, I sat in the car watching Downton. It’s no big deal. I can get milk, eggs and apples any time, but I HAD to find out the results of Lady Edith’s recent visit to a London doctor.

Part of the attraction is Downton’s gripping story lines and engaging characters. Another is the stunning setting and costumes. But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit I like to project myself into the action. I’m Lady N, a charming cousin from the colonies who dazzles with her witty conversation. (Of course, I get to have a title. It’s my fantasy so I can leap tall buildings or discover a cure for cancer if I want. A measly ladyship doesn’t seem like to much to imagine.)

So when the alarm screams at me every morning and I drag myself out of bed to get ready for my job, I REALLY wish I was Lady N with a diligent maid delivering breakfast in bed and running my bath.

By the time I’ve had my second cup of coffee I realize that given my family’s social position (or lack of it) I’d be the maid, not the lady and I’m lucky because unlike my 1920’s self I get weekends off.

If only I could get that extra thirty minutes of zzz’s every morning, 21st century life wouldn’t be so bad.

How to Purchase a Rental Property

1. Find someone who excels in organization (sailors and other military types are gifted in this area) and leave all the dreary details to him.

Voila! In one simple step, you too, can reap the benefits of landladyship!

My sailor, AKA the detail guy, bought a binder (bright orange so it stands out from his substantial collection of other information binders) and has compiled an exhaustive collection (alphabetized, categorized and backed up digitally) of every scrap of paperwork generated in this never-ending process.

He set up the harrowing meeting with the insurance agent.

He has left messages with four different departments of the Township of Esquimalt because the seemingly benign insurance lady needs to know the date of the small addition over the car port (May 1976), the age of the oil tank (the stack of annual inspection reports from the oil company aren’t good enough–unless we know the exact age of that baby, a functioning oil tank must become landfill when we replace it with a new one), the date the original 1940’s era plumbing was replaced and intimate information regarding the upgrading of the house’s electrical system.

My sailor has dealt with the increasingly demanding emails from the lawyer’s assistant who NEEDS to know the insurance information like yesterday.

Then there’s a rental agency. Since neither of us have any experience as landlords and I have zero interest in becoming involved in this process, my sailor decided we should hire a property manager to deal with the daily nitty gritty. I’m good with that decision, but just finding someone, anyone, who isn’t away on holidays and can take us on as clients, is no small challenge.

We’ve reached the critical point where he can’t even come for a walk with me because he must wait by the phone for replies to his various messages.

I wouldn’t presume to speak for my sailor, but I for one will be glad when this process is finally over.


I avoided Room by Emma Donoghue for years. I was put off by the disturbing subject matter. A young woman, who was abducted as a college student, struggles to make a life for herself and her young son in their prison, a small sound proof room in a garden shed.

Last weekend, I found Room on the sale table at Munro’s and I decided to give it a try. At $4.99, I’d feel okay about abandoning it if it was too intense.

Although Room was both intense and horrifying, I couldn’t put it down. I haven’t read a novel this compelling for some time and it was wonderful to rediscover the all-consuming joy of being totally caught up in a story.

Room is narrated by Jack, a five year-old whose entire life has been spent in Room with his mother, Ma.

Ma is one of the most devoted parents in literature. Facing impossible challenges, she gives Jack a loving start in life. Their routine includes daily physical activity, toys made of items like egg shells and toilet paper rolls and a regular schedule of normal activities like dusting, laundry and hair washing. Fiercely protective, she puts Jack in the wardrobe whenever their captor, Old Nick makes his frequent visits to drop off groceries and rape her.

Room begins on Jack’s fifth birthday. Old Nick’s behaviour has become increasingly cruel and Ma realizes that life in Room can’t continue much longer. She engineers a daring escape attempt.

I won’t spoil the ending. I’ll just say that in Ma and Jack, Emma Donoghue created two characters about whom I cared deeply. I think you will, too.

Me Day!

035038049051With our busy schedules, we didn’t have a chance to celebrate my recent birthday until Monday, the first day of our Spring Break holiday.

What’s better than a Monday that begins without a screaming alarm clock? A Monday when your nearest and dearest make you their number one priority. (I called it “Me Day.”)

The day was off to a roaring good start when I poured my first cup of coffee and remembered three special facts: I wasn’t going to be driving anywhere, it was St. Patrick’s Day and my Welsh mother had an Irish grandmother. Guess what that means? That’s right–Bailey’s in my coffee! It’s the best part of waking up!

I was surprisingly excited about Me Day. To fully celebrate me, I attempted to get my boys to run through the alphabet, listing a positive quality about me for each letter. Sadly, my sailor and my boy weren’t quite as enthusiastic as me. This exercise was abandoned when they generated words like annoying and bothersome.

After a relaxing walk downtown, we had lunch at the Legislative Dining Room. With its white table linens and bow tie wearing wait staff, The Leg is a blast from the the 1950’s. The menu is standard lunch fare–soups, salads and sandwiches. I had the wild salmon salad followed by the turtle torte (named for the delicious caramel pecan chocolates, not the quiet little reptiles.)

After lunch it was present time–woo hoo! My sailor gave me a silver Pyrrha talisman pendant. Not only is it lovely and meaningful, but it was made it Vancouver. I love buying local products.

Now if I can only figure out a way to celebrate Me Day again next month.

Liebster Award

imagesI’m honoured to have been nominated for a Liebster Award not once, but twice.

The two fabulous blogs to nominate me are British Blokes Cooking and Terri Lively.

This is one of those “pass it along” awards. I acknowledge the blog(s) who nominated me and then I nominate ten other blogs I love. In addition to mentioning me on their blogs and passing it along, each of the ten blogs answers ten questions.

(Although I love to talk about myself, I have come to realize that sometimes less is more, so instead of answering twenty questions–ten from British Blokes Cooking and ten from Terri Lively–I chose five from each. I hope that’s okay. I usually follow rules blindly, so this decision was a real walk on the wild side for me!)

Here are the blogs I nominate for the Liebster Award:

Unhinged and Empowered Navy Wives and Girlfriends
For Love or Fashion
A Fashion Deliberation
North Star Dixie
Mark Coakley
The Getting Old Blog

Here are the questions:

1. Sweet or savoury and which is your favourite dish in that category? No contest–it’s sweet all the way for me. Anything warm and melty will make me happy, but chocolate chip cookies or gooey brownies are particular favourites.

2. What is your favourite film or book or why? My favourite film changes. Currently it’s Skyfall. Although I love every James Bond experience, Skyfall is special because (embarrassing true confession) it’s the only one I’ve been able to follow without having to ask my sailor to explain the plot. Also, in addition to being a super duper cool spy, James Bond is an officer in the Royal Navy. As you can imagine, I’m a firm believer that every girl loves a sailor!

3. What is your favourite dish you have cooked? Mmm–chicken breast fahitas. It’s a surprisingly easy meal to make. I don’t bother with a recipe, yet I’ve never had a bad fahita experience! Plus, I love the idea of putting your own meal together at the table. For a fussy eater, it doesn’t get any better than being able to add just enough guacamole or leave off the olives altogether. I also feel good about celebrating our Chihuahua’s cultural heritage when I serve this yummy meal.

4. What is your favourite dish you haven’t cooked yet? A traditional roast turkey dinner. Lucky for me, my sailor loves to get in the kitchen and create magic at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

5. Name four people (dead or alive) you’d invite to a dinner party. I’m going all literary and historical here: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest and Hadley Hemingway. (Since this dinner will be my fantasy, I get to wear a sparkly flapper dress.)

6. What are your favourite pajamas like? Bright red fleece with little dancing snowmen. What can I say? It’s Canada and it’s the winter.

7. Fame or fortune? Fortune!–enough money for a cottage in the Cotswolds, a pied a terre in Paris and a beach house in Maui

8. Peanut butter or jelly? No contest–although I have a sweet tooth, I’ve never really liked cooked berries, but peanut butter? It’s one of life’s small pleasures!

9. What’s one thing you wish you hadn’t written? Bugles Sang True–a Civil War epic in the style of Gone With the Wind that I started back in junior high. I’d elaborate on how Erica Stratford, my feisty Southern belle protagonist, could give Scarlett a run for her money, but you probably don’t give a damn.

10. What did you not write, but now wish you had? The Harry Potter series. To have Lego characters based on your fiction would be the pinnacle of writerly success.

At the Laundromat

Last weekend started with another Friday night session at the laundromat.

I’ve been going since the flood–so often that not only am I starting to recognize the regulars at the laundromat, I’ve become one myself.

There’s the grizzled older couple with a white minivan. They take up almost every machine in the place with their seven or eight loads of laundry (mainly towels and duvet covers). They work silently and efficiently, getting through their huge task with little wasted effort.

Last week I arrived as they were leaving. I was grumpy that my washing machine was still out of commission (damn flooded basement!) and may have even grunted as I hoisted my heavy laundry basket on my hip to push open the door. I’d loaded the first of my three machines when the man came back inside and handed me a crusty sweat sock.

“You dropped this in the parking lot.”

Wow! I strive to be a kind and helpful person, but I don’t think I’d have picked up someone else’s dirty sock.

There’s an older guy who wears lots of navy blue (there are no secrets in the laundromat!) and chats more than I like. He sits by the door and jumps to open it for everyone, coming or going. No one has to struggle with a heavy door and an even heavier load on his watch.

My favourite fellow laundromat-er is a handsome young man who carries his laundry in a suitcase. (Why didn’t I think of that? It’s so much more practical than a basket.) He’s all high cheekbones and dark denim with the odd white button down thrown in for contrast. Although he hasn’t directly helped me like the other regulars, he has flashed me a couple of shy grins.

I can’t overstate the moral support provided by a smile from a cute guy, even it you’re a much older sailor’s woman.

Women’s History Month and Procrastination

Oh my gosh!

I have to write something about women’s evolving role in the Canadian military before Wednesday. It has to be interesting and it must be accompanied by two relevant photos.

It’s because March is Women’s History Month. Unhinged and Empowered Navy Wives and Girlfriends, the blog on which I guest post, is focussing on women’s history in honour of our special month.

I’m a woman. I like history. I should feel affirmed and respected because my gender gets its very own month to celebrate our history and achievements. Instead I’m stressing, sweating and procrastinating.

I don’t know what to write! The clock is ticking and instead of finding inspiration, I’m back in Mr. Hanon’s grade twelve history class on that terrible day I drew a complete blank about the British North America Act, the topic of our surprise quiz, and even worse, I was too shy to talk to Malcolm, the dreamy boy who sat behind me.

The Internet, my source of information and too much international shopping, has provided reams of facts. Did you know Canadian Army Medical Corps Sisters in the First World War were nicknamed “Bluebirds” because of their colourful uniforms? Neither did I. How about the fact that Canadian Army nurses during WWII were the first in any Allied military to be given officer status? Woo hoo–go Canada! I just can’t figure out how to put this trivia into some kind of cohesive post that doesn’t read like a dry history paper.

So what am I doing? Researching and writing an interesting and entertaining post about all the dedicated and courageous women who have served our country through the years? (Shakes head shamefully) I’m engaging in a detailed Facebook discussion about which TV show to start after binge watching the final seasons of Breaking Bad. I’ve heard Dexter is good, but someone else recommends House of Cards and another, Utopia.