Friday, 23 December 2011

Virtual Reality

A year ago I was in a dark place. 
(I may have mentioned it a few times before.)
One of the places I turned for a bit of sympathy (or at the very least similar dark places) was the interwebs.  I somehow stumbled upon a wedding planning website.  I was searching ‘life transition blogs’ and the wormhole that is the interwebs sent me to A Practical Wedding.  I was done with the wedding stuff.  So very done.  But there seemed to be a bit of a kindred community there so I stuck around. 
This virtual community led me to other smart women looking for a bit of non-partisan advice and banter, virtually.  But funnily enough, some of those ‘virtual’ ladies became very real ladies and very dear friends.  Friends that join you on a mid-week runaway to Bath.  Send corny and fabulous postcards from the MidWest.  Brave the Christmas Crazies to go ice skating.  Send you good thoughts and baked goods when you go through one of the hardest moments of your life.    
I have since moved on from the original website, but I stuck with the smart, sassy ladies.  So when some of these virtual friends decided to organize an international gift exchange.  I was on board.  I was a bit nervous.  No lie.  I wasn’t familiar with everyone taking part but they seem good seeds so why not?
I was intimidated by my giftee.  But I sallied forth to my local market and did some browsing and digging and amazingly enough found the perfect thing.  Afterwards I realized that most of the lovely ladies were crafting their gifts and I felt like I cheated a bit.  However, I decided to go with my skill set and that is not crafting.  I do however have browsing my local market down to a science. 
So I sent it off.  Realizing after the fact that I didn’t actually wrap it and feeling like a real shit.  As luck would have it, she loved it anyway.  Phew!!

Now it was time to wait for my package.  Again, the nerves.  But not about the gift.  About Royal Mail.  No gift-giving occasion goes by without the Royal Mail and I butting heads.  It has become a tradition.  I don’t mean to criticize, but how is that a country that once ruled the globe cannot manage to deliver a package five blocks. 
Wednesday, a very large package appeared at my door.  I didn’t recognize the name and suddenly realized, THIS IS IT!!!  Greedily, I dove into the green packing peanuts to find…..

Maps and Maples. 

I got over my initial giddiness and on closer examination realized that the map coasters were personalized.  They were places that were incredible meaningful to me.  HOW COOL!!!!
And lovely lady that my gifter is, she also included a bit of herself.  A map of her home state and the signature tree and accompanying syrup.  What she couldn’t have known, but which makes it all the more cool, is the personal connection I have with maple leaves. 
A maple leaf immediately takes me back to 687 Dunny Ave.   My childhood home is fronted by two huge Silver Maples.  They produced a maddening amount of leaves which in turn produced the highest and biggest leaf pile for blocks around.  (Which, let’s face it, as a kid is pretty much your entire world.) Jumping in the leaf mountain until it was reduced to a mound of leaf bits (and the following chore of having to then rake the leaf bits back into a pile and transport to the compost heap) is a fairly prominent memory of that house.   

Once again, the interwebs are proven wonderful and full of lovely ladies with not only sass, but good taste and great crafting skills. 
As my virtual-recently-turned-real-friend Anna would say, ‘HUZZAH!’

...and a very Happy Holiday season. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Holiday Hiatus

The scant 8 hours of daylight are seriously taxing my holiday cheer not to mention my writing mojo.  It took me a long time to get into the spirit and I can’t say that I am completely there, but I am trying.  The house is suitably dressed, but I’m not feeling it this year. 

I do sometimes feel as though the Christmas season gets undue attention.  I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the holiday season, but I do feel a bit sorry for other holidays that don’t get nearly as much build-up or domestic attention.  Silly and ridiculous? Perhaps.  But I can’t help feeling that Christmas is the beautiful, popular, impossibly smart and nice and funny older sister to all the other holidays and constantly stealing focus.  Through no fault of its own, of course. 
Despite this feeling, I have decked our halls and created a modest pile of gifts and menu for two.  I have watched Love Actually at least twice and finally caught The Christmas Story on TV this weekend.  I turn on the fairy lights in the kitchen and living room first thing to inject a little magic into the grey (yet no snow) days and attempt a little work. 
It was a long and hard year.  Different from the work of 2010, but hard work nonetheless.  As the year starts to wrap up I find I am prepared, if not a little frightened, for the year to come.  I feel as though there are big changes ahead.  These are exciting and scary.  As all new years and changes should be, I think.  But the excitement and butterflies lies with me.  I have the power to pull these things off, or to hide under the duvet and watch the slip away.  As wonderful as my duvet is, I think it is time I do a bit of work.  The loveliness of the duvet will be all sweeter when used a bit more sparingly.
This will not be easy, I will flail numerous times.  It’s my patented process.  But as greedy as it sounds, I want a bit more.  I have a lovely marriage and a lovely, albeit small, home and lovely degrees and lovely passport stamps and increasingly better health, but I want a smidge more for the next year.   That’s all on me. 

That being said, the holiday hiatus here will continue at least until the New Year.  There are a few ends that need to be woven into the 2011 afghan to make it a clean finish.  That means a bit of a rush to the finish, but I always do my best work under pressure (perhaps a skill that I shouldn’t cultivate as much as I do.) 
Happy Holidays to all and in case I don’t get back in time, here’s to a very Happy and Healthy End of Year and New Year!!! 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Ahh Normality

This lovely morning, as I settled in with my coffee to write the mighty return of the Reluctant Housewife, my washer started acting up.  Lights flashing, suds building, water rising, non-responsive to fevered button pushing...

I guess it's starved for attention. 

I'm not saying Pete wasn't doing laundry while I was away.  It's clear by the hanging shirts in the bathroom, that he was keeping up just fine.  However, I doubt very much he was doing a load (or more) a day. 

So now the washer, obviously desperate for attention and some TLC, is taking a time out until I have the time and patience to load another bundle of clothes in and watch as it freaks out again.  Because before I call customer support and dish out a service payment I have to exhaust all the 'troubleshooting' advice in the manual.  This could very well mean manually emptying the sudsy water when it fails again and rinsing the sudsy clothes/towels whatever in the tub again. 

I can barely stand to think of it. 

But before I tackle the washing machine I am working up the patience to wait in line at Royal Mail in order to send off our last round of Christmas presents. 

Deep breath.  AAAANNNDDDD  GO!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Balance is Restored

This is what Pete said as we snuggled in under the duvet, in our own flat, on our own couch watching our own (very tiny) TV. 
Our life can go back to its regularly scheduled monotony.  I can’t wait. 
However, as I stumbled into the house after a day of travelling that included three hours of fairly intense turbulence, 2 bouts of airplane toilet puking and about 1 million pissed-off London commuters, it felt oddly familiar.  Odd in that I caught myself second-guessing my reflex actions.  Is this actually the silverware drawer?  Has Pete switched up food storage while I was away?  And of course, it was and, he hasn’t.  But while I was unpacking and putting my stuff away I was also tidying the kitchen and house, reasserting my place in our life and daily upkeep. 
It was unconscious and completely fabulous!!  I was exhausted and achey, but I was smiling and content. 
Before the marvellous monotony sets in, I’m onto the business of an international Christmas.  We are home this season but there are cards and packages to send off before the end of the week to ensure that the post office has plenty of time to re-route everything through Newfoundland.