Wishing is Not Good Enough!

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!

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

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

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

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.

How to Destroy Your Blog in One Easy Step

Oh dear!

I’ve screwed up, big time.

I was uploading a new photo to my WordPress media library. The process was much slower than usual.

I noticed I had used over 30% of my available storage space. Could this be the reason it had slowed down?

Suddenly I had an idea! Things would obviously speed up if I cleared out the library, creating a virtual storage vacuum that would suck up new pictures like a Chihuahua with a breakfast sausage.

Don’t ask me why, but it made sense at the time.

I deleted hundreds of photos from my WordPress media library. I felt pretty damn good about this virtual de-cluttering, especially since I didn’t do it randomly. I deliberately deleted images I’d already used in my blog. After all, I don’t re-use photos, so why keep these ones around clogging up my library and using my finite amount storage space?

Hours after permanently deleting all these images, I visited The Sailor’s Woman.

Did you know that when photos are deleted from the WordPress media library they’re also deleted from the blog posts on which they appeared?

Neither did I.

The Sailor’s Woman has 172 posts. 148 of them, many gallery posts with multiple photos, have been wrecked.

Sobbing silently on the keyboard doesn’t seem to help.

Makin’ Bacon

"Do we have any bacon left?"

I nodded.

"Great!" said my boy. "Can I have some bacon?"

I groaned.

Let me explain: I hate bacon! Hate the smell. Hate the grease. Hate the mess. Hate the stuff!

When bacon's on the menu my sailor does the cooking, but he's still at his mother's in Powell River. (He's collecting so much good karma he should buy lottery tickets.) Potential future lottery wins aside, I was on the hook to prepare the bacon for my carnivorous boy.

A quick call to my sailor filled me in on the bacon basics. ("A slow, even heat is the way to go with bacon.")

The actual cooking wasn't too bad, but afterwards…eeew! Do you have any idea how much fat bleeds off three strips of this stuff?

I decided to pour the melted grease into an empty yogurt container. Once it hardened, I could throw it out and avoid having to deal with it.

Like many ideas, this one worked in theory, but in practice–not so much. Did you know hot bacon fat will melt a plastic yogurt container? Neither did I.

Even though I had to deal with a gross slimey mess, I got the last laugh. I cooked the last three slices of bacon today. There's no more left!

Musical Beds

We’re having a heat wave…a tropical heat wave.

Hot weather is lovely (in theory), but our Canadian home was designed to retain heat through the winter, not to stay cool in summer.

A/C? Nope. Not us.

Conditions in the Sailor household are less than optimal.

As we each search for relief, we’re playing musical beds.

My sailor moved to the basement because it’s slightly cooler down there. I attempted to migrate south along with him, but the thin droopy mattress on the sofa bed sent me scurrying back to the relative comfort of a real bed upstairs.

My boy had already taken over the master bedroom because the bedside table is big enough for his computer and the fan he keeps running nonstop. It seemed a natural transition for him to just sleep there once he’d finished playing or surfing or whatever he does.

That left my boy’s bedroom.

Sleeping in a different bed in your own house is kind of like going on vacation, except it’s not as much fun and you can’t brag about it to your friends or post pictures on Facebook.

Yesterday my sailor went back to Powell River to do some stuff for his mom.

I was awake most of the night because it was too hot to sleep and I’m always a bit jumpy when he’s not around. My sweaty eyes were finally getting sleepy when I heard a crash.

Was it downstairs or outside? Unfortunately the sleep-deprived brain is not a precise creature, so I had no idea where the bang came from.

I had two options: cower in bed hoping whoever (whatever?) was thumping around in the basement would leave of its own accord, or go downstairs to investigate.

Surprisingly I chose option two. Wielding a threatening pink Depression glass vase (the only remotely weapon-like object I could find) I crept down the stairs, confident I’d be able to deal with whatever I found–as long as it was a florist.

In the basement, I screamed like a girl when I came face to face with a huge, aggressive … daddy long legs spider. (Can the really big ones knock over boxes?)

Heart still thumping, I made myself a cup of tea and settled down to watch a few episodes of My Name is Earl because nothing soothes you in the middle of a scorching night like a steamy caffeinated beverage.

Tonight I’ll be wishing for three things: cooler temperatures, my sailor’s return and sleep, delicious sleep.