Once A Quitter

Pat quit smoking on the weekend. Lord help us all.

I could essentially end this post right there.

He quit Saturday afternoon. It is Tuesday now. Day three. And no one is dead yet. That I know of.

Saturday he did good. Not a lot of twitching or odd behaviour. Nor a lot of coughing. Sunday was a little worse. His natural reaction every time a commercial came on TV was to get up as that was when he would normally smoke. Or when there was coffee being made. Or when his dad came over. Or just before we’d leave to go somewhere. There were a few cranky moments but he was aware of them and realized what he was doing pretty quick (we MAY have given him a few subtle hints). There was much snacking going on. MUCH. Which is better than much smoking going on. And there was also much checking of the “Quit Smoking” app that details for him minute by minute things like how much money you have saved so far, how much your red blood cells are thanking you, what percentage of your sense of taste has returned etc etc.

Monday, the bear woke up.

Things were a little more grizzly, a little less “look how I am saving my own life” rosy. Probably the best thing to happen to our household was the fact that he is spending this week working offsite in Brandon. So all of his workmates get to deal with week one, in all of its glory. I’ve never been so happy to send him off on his way as this week right here.

He sent a message while en route to Brandon. “I hate people. I hate all strangers. I hate men especially right now. I have no patience for them. For people in general.” So thats fun….for the suckers in the truck with him.

There have so far been no reports of a homicide in Brandon, no requests to bail him out of jail, and no indication of a weak moment. Day three of a cigarette-free Pat is well underway. Which, considering the fact that 90% of his colleagues smoke and they spend, ohhhh, 90% of their day on smoke-breaks, is pretty amazing. Talk about cold turkey. Talk about jumping right in. Talk about willpower. Talk about being thankful for 200km safety radius.



Being a Fan is Hard on the Heart

I have two teams. My local team, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and my NFL team, the New Orleans Saints. They are both filled with wonderfully talented and athletic people and are both kind of, well, not doing so good this year.

The Bombers have had a rough year. They did not win many games, they saw their coach get fired mid-year, they are under the rule of a GM who does not seem to really have a plan or a single good idea and they essentially have fallen apart in a glorious fashion. Their number one quarterback is not-entirely-lovingly referred to as “the Glass Quarterback” and his main skill on the field seems to be getting hurt. He knows what to do, when to do it, and HOW to do it. But instead of executing those three things, he just seems to take on the role of the tackling dummy, only its game time. And he is supposed to throw the ball. Not get hit with it still in his hands. The nubmer two QB is a firecracker that looks like he has what it takes to be great but he is young and full of too much pep and just wings it out there, forgetting that there is a playbook for a reason. He handles the ball beautifully but oftentimes it looks like he just closes his eyes and wills himself to throw the ball as far and as hard as he can and hope that someone catches it. Suffice it to say, he has become our short yardage master, putting his body through hell for the good of the team. The number three QB has shown a decent level of patience, a decent level of  skill, a decent level of ability to learn but an odd penchant for throwing the ball to people in jerseys that do not etirely resemble ours at incredibly inopportune times. Like when we are toe to toe with the end zone.

Our defence grew to be quite famous last year, they created a movement and exuded pride and confidence. And they are trying this year. I believe that. But when only 10% of your team is giving that hard, it doesn’t add up to a winning mathematical equation. The GM/coach combo let go of some amazing players this year, whether it be due to money or not, and the retiring of some of our key players hurt us on the field but you think would help us in the pocketbook. Which in turn, should have helped us retain some of our key guys. But it didn’t. The office/strategy part of the year was a messy messy pile of poo that left nearly everyone in the city calling for their heads. The new coach was thrown into the mix and considering what was crapped into his lap, he’s done ok. They’ve won a couple, lost a few, and blew their last hope for a playoff bid. But all in all, I think he’ll be a decent coach once he is given some solid players to work with and some sense of permanence with what he has in front of him.

But on Saturday afternoon, watching their playoff hopes slip away, I thought not of what it felt like as a fan and tried instead to think of what it would feel like as a player who has made it through all of their turmoil this year. And tried to think of the level of expectation everyone had of them despite all of that turmoil. And I knew that I would cheer for them till the last second of the game and when they take the field for the first time next year I will be there, cheering just as loud. Of COURSE I will be.

After every weekend, people at work always bug me for still being a fan. I don’t understand these people. If you’re a fan, you’re a fan. No? If you only cheer for them when they win, then you’re not a fan. If you decide they SUCK when they lose, then you’re not a fan. If you can’t believe you even wasted your precious time going to the game, then you’re not a fan. If you badmouth them publicly and ridicule them for even trying, then you’re definitely not a fan. 

Some people say its their JOB to win, they get PAID to win. Yes, true enough, they are paid to go out there and do their best and as a result, bring home a win. But tell me this, people who say that. Have you never had a bad day? Have you never failed at work, even once? Have you never sucked at something you tried to do, even though you put your whole heart into it? Thats what I thought. Only guess what, YOU don’t have the whole city shitting on you all at once when it happens to you.

Some people call me crazy. I prefer die hard.

Go Blue!

Red Red Yellow Red Red Yellow

I’m what you might call a “details person”. I notice things. I notice pretty much everything. Pat is always floored when I remember things and I often hear “How did you even know where that was? We’ve never been there before??” to which my reply is always something along the lines of “Well, we drove past it that one time, 6 years ago, when we were on our way to go buy that <insert totally random item here> at that store with the lady who kept calling you sonny.”

Its not only that I remember small details. I SEE things too. I see things that stand out to me, that I think would stand out to everyone, but they don’t. Sometimes it my OCD coming into play. And sometimes I think my detail-noticing is just me being a lil bit cray cray.

I will always notice when a group of cars are all the same shade of color. Like, 4 red cars parked beside each other, or 6 grey cars that pass by on the road. I will dump a mini pack of smarties in my hand and the only thing I will see is that there are three greens and every other color is a single. And then I will not be able to eat the greens together, always separate.

I believe I have passed this oddity on to McK. I know this because sometimes I will say “Hm, all of those cars are shades of blue” and she will reply “Yeah, I noticed that too”. Not that theres anything wrong with noticing these things, or being aware of where you are in the city, or recognizing landmarks and key things. Its not like it takes up a ton of space in the old noggin. We have memories that are like bank vaults. I remember what Pat orders from every food spot we go to. From the intricasies of his Subway order to what he takes in his Tims. And now, so does McK. She knows that this is a trait only she and I possess so she makes him write our order down every time he goes out for us. Every. Time. He is not what you would classify as a detail person. His eyes get glossy and empty when I try to “tell” him where we were that one time and where we saw that one thing and when it was that we went to that place and who it was we saw at that restaurant. He just stares at me with a blank look and asks me one more time what I want in my coffee.

3 cream, 2 sweetner. Write that down.

Don W the Third

I don’t know why we called him that, Donald W Nixon the Third. Maybe he really was a “third generation Don” or maybe his middle name was William. I don’t know why. We just did.

He was the only person outside of my family that called me by my family nickname. All my friends, even Pat, said “I’m gonna call you that now!” but no one ever did. Just Don.

“Hey Lou.”

Saying goodbye to someone who is only a year older than you is not something I want to do. Yet here we are. If anything, it makes you realize that life is fleeting, family is important, and things, well, apparently they just happen.

May your two boys grow up to be just like you.

Hey Lou.

Goodbye Don.

Nanny and Pipe

I miss my nan. I miss our visits. I miss her smile and her sparkling eyes and even her gossip. I miss making her tea in a delicate tea cup complete with saucer, the handful of grapes that were always on the table, the assortment of cookies that were always in the blue tin in the cupboard above the sink. I miss how she would put her soft hand, as delicate as her teacup, on my arm when she was telling me something she really wanted me to listen to. I miss the concern in her voice and the love in her eyes when we were trying to get pregnant and the worry she showed when my sister got pregnant before me. I miss going in to her room, seeing the two little beds with the wooden headboards, the delicate makeup table and rickety chair with the crystal jewel holders and soft bristle brush with matching hand held mirror placed perfectly on top, and the dresser that housed the rotary phone and the address books with little scraps of paper tucked in because she ran out of space under H and M (“You kids need to stop moving, I have no space left!”).

My nan was a beauty. A stunner, they’d call her today. Once she went in to the Palliative Care Home, I would visit her and wash her hair for her. We would talk about things that had been happening in each of our worlds, I would give her the latest on McK’s newest trick and she would give me the latest on the woman in the room across the hall that seems just a little bit crazy. I would make her laugh. And I would leave wondering if it was the last time I was going to go and run my fingers through her fine, grey curls and wipe the drips off the back of her neck so they didn’t run down her back and get on her cotton nightie and give her a chill.

My nan died the day after I had been there to visit. She had asked me to not only wash her hair but to blow dry it and then curl it after. We spent an extra bit of time together that evening, her perched in the little chair in the tiny bathroom in her room, just watching me in the mirror. Me, giggling as I pretended to be a high falutin’ hairstylist, telling her how hot she was. “Oh go on” she’d say, but I know she loved it.

Somedays, like today, I just want to get in my car and drive over to Nanny and Pipe’s house, make myself a roast beef and cheddar sandwhich, cozy in on the big brown couch, watch the weather channel with them and catch up on all the neighbourhood gossip. Before leaving, I would lean down over her now tiny body, take her hands and give her a big fat kiss, bug Pipe one more time about being deaf which, of course, he would always hear and follow with a “Shut it you”, clean up the kitchen for them even though they always told me not to and remind them to come and lock the door behind me.

I Cook, Therefore I Cook

I like the idea of cooking. I like the result of cooking. I just don’t like DOING the cooking. See my dilemma?

I used to really suck at cooking. I had no patience, no skill and no desire to “try something new”. We had a pretty steady dinner time routine that included Pasta Monday, Chicken Burger tuesday, Perogy Wednesday, something-something Thursday and please-just-go-pick-up-dinner-tonight-dear Friday. I did not cook on weekends, virtually flat out refused to do so. Everything I made originated from a box of some kind; seasoned rice, pasta side dishes, pre-cooked chicken or beef or pork (though rarely pork). Sauces from jars, gravies from cans, burgers from the freezer, pizza from a box (or three). It was quick, it was simple, and while it wasn’t always tasty, it was quick and simple.

I believe that a lot of my distaste (see what I did there?) stems from the fact that I cook for an incredibly picky audience. McK has always had food issues so I know what I can and cannot make for her but Pat? That goes back a loooooooong way. I think I fell into a cooking rut because it was safe, he would eat it, and there would be enough for his lunch the next day. I would try, occasionally, to get creative, spice things up, and come up with a concoction based on a recipe with a picture that never looked like what I put on the plate once the smoke alarm stopped screeching. It rarely worked. The one that stands out as the catalyst of why I virtually stopped trying in the kitchen? Picture this. Dinner is served. I can tell he’s trying to choke it down. I am getting annoyed because theres nothing wrong with it in MY eyes. And he? Says “Soooo, should I throw this out or can I give it to the dog?”. Yeah. Pretty sure you can guess where I told him he could put it.

Then one fine day, two Decembers ago, he went to the doctor who told him he needed to see a nutritionist and lo, a new way of living was inflicted upon us. And it has been DELICIOUS ever since.

Basically the nutritionist told him he needed to watch his carbs because carbs become sugar which affects his blood sugar which was her main concern. So we started to shop with that in mind. Pastas and breads that gave us the most carb bang for our bucks, making sure we reduce any sugar intake and buying any and everything based on carb/sugar count. And we haven’t looked back. That’s just one way that we have changed. The real kicker in the kitchen was when I decided to follow some “clean eating” recipes. Clean eating is not a new concept. Its not really a concept at all. Its just basically eating well and eating things that don’t come out of a box, no processed junk.

I am now cooking pork and chicken and beef, things I would NEVER do before because, well, I had no idea how to do it well or how to cook it to a point where he would not find it too rubbery or too dry. I am making sauces and dips and the VEGETABLES! Ohhhh the vegetables! The biggest downside is there are NO leftovers. Ever. If there are any scraps left, they get lapped up in a hurry, if not at dinner time then later in the evening. But I’ll take no leftovers over an entire meal steaming in the garbage can.

Prior to my discovery of the whole “clean eating” thing, my tweets used to look like this. “I am trying a new fish for dinner and if he doesn’t like it I will go Mahi Mahi on his ass”. I still don’t particularly LIKE cooking, but when the result is edible, nay, delicious, it sure makes the effort worth the outcome. Last night I even made my own whipped cream for tonights dessert. No more cans of “edible oil product” for us.

I may not toss ingredients into the pan with flair or come up with something amazing on the spot, I may not know how to make a red wine reduction or have confidence when cooking steaks, but I’m getting there. What I CAN do? I can chop onions without tearing up. So yeah, I’m practically a professional over here folks.

To The Moon Alice!

This weekend a man named Felix went up to the edge of space in a tiny capsule lifted by a helium filled balloon, managed to open the door while on the cusp of our world and space, undid his seatbelt just like you and I do when we get to the store, stood out on a ledge the size of a skateboard looking 127000 feet down towards earth, saluted, and jumped off.

Ummm, McKinley? You can do ANYTHING in your lifetime babe. Anything.