Loss Vegas.

Started the morning off right.  Making healthy choices from the moment I open my eyes, and still going strong an hour later.  Solid breakfast, supplements, loads of water.  Truth be told, my standard holiday mode can get a little loose, and I have been known to be a imbibe in promiscuous doses. Total food slut. In an attempt to redeem that quality, I am setting a positive tone for a holiday where good choices will be made.  Good thing that I’m headed to Las Vegas-the Thunderdome of bad choices.

Off to the land of liquid calories and I am on self imposed budget. I mean, I’m not under duress,  I walk this path willingly. Recently I had reached out to Beth McBride, owner of Kamloops’ Herbal One. Just to ask a couple casual questions about her services. No big deal. It all happened so fast. There I am, standing on the edge of a pool, looking to dip a toe, and Beth pulled me right on into the deep end. Just get in the water already! 

It’s kind of like learning to swim; splashing and gulping and sputtering, but with a life guard on-hand. I’ve agreed to document this flail fest, and share my journey into a smaller dress size. What a daunting task. How exposing.  It helps to police one’s self when you have to hand over your food journal to a fit and gorgeous blonde woman, who scrunches her face gently when asking whether the bun I documented eating was whole grain. There’s something to be said for having someone beside yourself to be accountable to.

At the airport in Calgary, feeling pretty empowered after declining the complimentary snacks on the way from Kamloops. High on said empowerment, there may have been a breakfast sandwich. It came with little potato sidekicks, glorious little greasy nuggets, made better when plunged into ketchup. I gave half to my husband and relished in my self-restraint. Not yet anywhere near the state of Nevada and already feeling like a real winner. Nor had I really felt the potential pressures of the many caloric delights that awaited me in the City of Sin.

In general, travel is a calorie land mine. Food has an essential, vital role in survival, while good food in my world is an absolute necessity. Benjamin and I remember meals like we remember landmarks and people. It’s connected to a memory. That white fish in Kalbarri, Australia–served with avocado and sweet potato, enjoyed with a gorgeous unoaked white wine; a meal so good that I kind of drunkenly wandered into the kitchen to thank the staff.

The cannelloni with rose sauce, a glass of red wine and the accordionist in New York’s Little Italy.   Ice cold apricot cider, frito pie and freshly made California rolls in Portland; two for one margaritas in Mexico–served on the rocks with all kinds of salt, served with warm chips and guacamole. Sitting on the beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea, right next to a wedding party.  Late night, freshly made donuts in San Francisco. Poutine in Quebec. Room service in Bali, noodles and ice cream sundaes eaten in bathrobes. Fluffy scones served with cream and raspberry jam in Otarahonga, New Zealand. I once had a mocha mousse with a dense dark chocolate foundation with whipped cream and the tartest raspberry coulis that it caused me to burst into fit of giggles. I don’t even remember where I was. The feast was a part of the adventure.

Carbohydrates, chocolates, ciders and cheeses aside, a well made latte is the crowning culinary jewel. Made creamiest on the Southern Hemisphere, there is few more joyous things than a proper latte in a cozy café in a foreign place. There is no glory greater, or luxury grander than a warm mug of espresso and frothy milk in hand.

Something about the memory of feasting makes me want to cry.  It does make me cry. When I think about these moments I am imagine myself being happy. Making yummy noises and eating with my hands.  On holiday and feeling no pain. Fostering that perfect buzz where alcohol makes you feel fuzzy as a kitten.

I have lots of other fond memories: swimming in beautiful bodies of water, walking in spectacular bits of natures, relaxing on beaches, watching the sun go down while standing on a mountain–and that moment when you want to absorb that moment. Drink it in fully. Take it with you when you go. That’s the lure of travel, that’s the high. That’s when the child inside of you who longed for these adventures beams with pride. Butterfly stroke in the Indian Ocean, in a little cove off the side of the road–sun kissed and in love, everything you really need tucked in a camper van.  Somewhere between where you always wanted to be and a place you never knew existed.

Still, life is always better when there’s food to pick at. When I think about eating–think of changing the calcified habits that surround that ritual…it is rather tough to swallow. It feels profoundly emotional. Vulnerable even. Food is everywhere. It is social. It is a comfort. It is a gesture. It’s part of the celebration. It also has a way of really sticking to your skeletal structure over time, like tectonic layers of some truly awesome meals.

Of course, not everyday is a holiday and not every meal is yummy noise-inducing. We’ve been on holidays when eating becomes ‘something to do’.  There was this time in Planet Hollywood (yes, Planet Hollywood–my husband’s choice, not mine) in New York and the “everything deep friend platter”. We didn’t need it, it wasn’t very good, and it was kind of expensive. The server, who had up to this point been quite pleasant, brings the billfold on the table, smiles sincerely before very seriously reminding us that we were in America, and in America you tip. Ewwww.  I tip well when the moment is merited, but telling me to do something makes me not want to do it.  I wrinkled my nose at that one. It was not a minty compliment to an otherwise fine meal.  The whole thing felt like a huge mistake.

I know ‘food envy’ is a commonly known sentiment, but to me, there’s nothing worse than food regret.  I wish I never knew you calories. They weren’t special like the rest.  When the feasting makes a rather seedy affair out of a once promising romance. And the day to day act of feeding one’s self can feel like such a chore. That’s why I was so thin when I was single and living alone; I was living off of restaurant food from waitressing jobs, fruit and spoonful’s of cottage cheese, eaten out of the tub over the sink. Having a husband has been a shock to the ole eating plan. Mainly that he cooks a solid 90% of the meals that we ate. During my busy periods, if it were up to me to feed him, all he’d get is two sugar packets and apology note. I think of myself as busy now, but I used to be much busier, going straight from work to a rehearsal/meeting/project, buying food on the go. Eating what my husband made, at nine o’clock at night. Time goes by and that adds up becoming another layer you one day wish to shed. Every day that desire to change is alive and well–but then I leave my house and face the outside world. Good intentions unravel, meals are skipped, blood sugars dip, more coffee than water, and go-go-go for ten to twelve hours straight and then eating a big meal on the couch–watching Netflix with bleary eyes. Sleep, wake, repeat. Tired and over-scheduled, there were so many moments where I had to wish to make a change, but feeling stunted as to how. The wishing would evaporate like fog on a glass.

So…Las Vegas, one week into a weight loss journey. There were some wins and losses. Ate too little on the first day (should have eaten all of those hash browns!) and then was befallen by a $20.00 Michael Jackson themed drink at a Cirque du Solei show.   It was like a shot gun blast of intoxication. One minute I am enjoying the plethora of glittery dancers on stage, the next minute I realize that if I close one eye, that there are significantly less dancers on stage.

I hate getting drunk like that.  I don’t have the stamina to reach that level of drunkness and continue on with my night a la The Hangover. I just want a grilled cheese sandwich and a pillow for my head.  Due to my death by MJ cocktail, I proceeded with caution with the booze henceforth. Probably for the best.  The adage of ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ does not apply here, as the weight scale is nothing but a dirty little snitch.

On the last night of the trip, before a glamorous showgirls performance, my travel companions and I went to The Buffet. Who needs a clever name when you have every food under the sun in one room? I loaded up half my plate with salad and wandered around the space judiciously before settling in with my choices. I took two very long and luxurious laps around the space instead of getting a second plate. My arm linked into my friend’s, ogling the feast as we wandered through the edible museum. Anything you could ever want to eat was right within reach. It didn’t belong to me, I didn’t feel a responsibility to consume it. No envy, no regrets. There may have still been dessert.

Images Courtesy of the Fine People of the Internet

Vintage Grudge Match

In honour of Joan Fontaine’s birthday. Olivia de Havilland must be rather pleased with herself. #anoldiebutagoodie

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

Earlier in December Oscar winning actress Joan Fontaine passed away at the age of 96.


If you are not familiar with Fontaine, perhaps you remember her sister Olivia de Haviland, who is now 97.


de Havilland is best known as stoic and sweet Melanie in “Gone with the Wind”.


Why, you couldn’t ask for a more wholesome, more selfless woman than Miss Melanie in “GWTW“; which is understandably why Scarlett O’Hara wanted to steal her husband and see her destroyed.


Olivia also starred in eight films with Errol Flynn–who was a swashbuckling seducer of the times. (The expression “in like Flynn” originated from the actor’s prowess.  In his later years he tried to write a memoir called “In Like Me”…which was rejected by publishers. A hard drinking gentleman with a penchant for morphine and and heroin, his career crumbled after a pesky statutory rape charge from…

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Pin Up Picks Zen Up

Rainy, miserable October the second. That transitional crisp, faintly Indian Summer sensibility–that too warm for your sweater by the afternoon–kind of feeling has faded considerably since the first rain fall of the autumn season.

Glad to be at home. Blanket over the lap, dog at my feet, watching the rain from the sanctity of my office window. Bad weather is delicious only if you have nowhere to go; if you are inside, fire adjacent, thick socks and an even thicker book, a hot kettle and someone to steep your tea. Throw in a Lazy Boy chair and a pastry chef, and this is literally how I’d like to die.

Like yesterday, today that was filled with challenges and annoyances. I was interrupted, disappointed, frustrated, irritated…and then I got out of bed. The day unfolded with these intermittent moments of sheer… [insert angry, lengthy snort, and clenched fist here]. I also had a good cup of coffee, hugged my husband, snuggled my dog, had fun with children and some of those laughing until crying moments with truly wonderful people. It’s a rollercoaster. Above all, good friends and co-workers do help blow the steam out of the life’s little agonies.

My husband bought me a book called the “Little Book of Mindfulness”. Rather, he placed it in front of the necklace and coffee mug I was buying in a shop in Oregon, and the sales girl added it to the tab and popped it in a bag, and didn’t eally see it again until we got home. Mint green with gold lettering, the book has small little sections that essentially repeats the message of mindfulness. All you have is right now. The only thing you have to think about right now is your breath.

So I breathe… like the ocean tide gently lapping the sand. I do this when things aren’t going my way, when I’m tired, frustrated, anxious, challenged, confronted, which is all day every day…and then I wind up sounding like a Lamaze class attendee in an 80’s sitcom. I’m huffing and puffing like some ole cartoon wolf, and all I’m trying to do is get some peace

Following a meeting, I was keen to get home to the dog and some leftover chicken. There was an accident along the normal route I take, and unthinkingly took a route that was overflowing with construction and road works. An eternity of staring at the back of a dingy trailer, creeping along Columbia Street in the rain. Breathing deeply. Focusing on the radio. Cranking up the heat on my chilly toes. Watching the windshield wipers. I wonder what the chicken is up to. How the dog is. Trying not to get annoyed, Trying to be A half hour has passed.  I’m spending my lunch break like a Zen master who placed Bronze in patience at the Mindfulness Olympics. All I have is my breath…and every fucking red light ever.

Is this grumpy girl about town thing getting a little repetitive? Look back at the blog. Note the common thread of each piece and how I’m simply finding a new, elaborate and poetic way of saying.

“I was annoyed today”.

I even started my own group, I called it ‘AA’, which stood for Annoyed & Anonymous; held the first meeting…it was just a bunch of drunks.

That annoyed me.

I do fret though, always have. I could worry professionally. My job can be quite busy and stressful. There’s always something happening, and my ‘to-do list’ is more like a ‘wish list’, of things I try to achieve in small pockets of precious time. Any other time it’s kids and noise and variables galore, and sometimes I try to do math with a symphonic explosion of a pre-school age gymnastics class: music, laughter, yelling, crying, and a sea of little voices saying such classics as: ‘Look at me, Look at me’, “Coach, Coach, Coach’, “Teacher, Teacher Teacher”, and “He/she’s Buuuudging” featuring Pitbull. It’ll be a hot new dance craze inspired by the childhood crime of one stepping into a line without waiting one’s turn. It’s very Electric Slide meets Latino heat.

Seriously though. Nothing gets a kid’s back up more than the ole budging the line bit). There are a million little injustices in a kids day, which leads to the pinnacle of kidisms: “No fair”. To use phrase correctly, you must spread out “fair”, and add a twang and a higher octave halfway through. You really want to ramp that whine up if you want to hit a-ir just so. I get to hear aaaaaall about it as I answer calls, emails, solve problems, wipe noses, stage manage and occasionally do math and complex paperwork.

I love my job dearly, I love all those children and the entire staff. But… let’s face it, some times to really be truly productive, you wish you could shut out the world.

Yesterday was my fifth wedding anniversary. It is also the day that our dog Bluebear decided to chase after three massive deer and drop out of my husband’s sight. Benjamin calls me about ten hours into an action packed work day, as I’m about to delve into a administrative tornado heading toward me.

Earlier that day Bluebear had gotten her little paws on a vintage hat that I had saved as theatre memorabilia. Bits of blue velvet and feathers, bits of netting scattered across the office floor. It was like the murder of an exotic bird backstage at a Atlantic City Magic Show.  That pissed me off. She’s like that sometimes, you come around the corner and she’s quietly chewing the face of the Buddha you brought home from Bali. Casual as hell. She unapologetically destroys an irreplaceable item, and moves forward like it ain’t no thing. Ordinarily, she is my best buddy–my therapy dog. She is good to have around, lowers the blood pressure. I feel calmer when I’m with her.  When she stops to smell the ‘everything’ or rolls in the grass in absolute ecstasy, it forces me to pause. Dogs are very zen I find; it’s all about the moment, and in the moment it’s all good.

Unable to leave work just then, I went through the motions with this stunned, numb queasiness, hands shaking and heart pounding thinking that Bluebear was hurt, lost, dead or half way to Mexico on the back of a motorcycle. Dogs don’t know how to use pay phones…pay phones don’t even exist anymore, they’ve disappeared like record stores…which frankly is another thing that upsets me. Now she’s gone and I had been mad at her for murdering my hat. I would lavish her with many fancy accessories to eat, if only I could have her back.

Still, the show goes on, and I work until I get the call that Bluebear is safe at home. I burst into tears, which I was trying to contain; it looked like a weird involuntary watery eye sneeze. Blame it on the anxiety casserole, layers upon layers of stress, baked at 425. You’ll know it’s ready the minute I burst into flames.

Even on the not-so-dramatic-days of the stress casserole, I do get my daily servings of stress cereal, or stress stew. There’s always a mashing of factors.  I get bothered easily, get angry quickly. Like the children, small injustices drive me to aggravation. External forces cause me great distress. The news is a total buzz kill. Gun control is a disaster in the States. Stephen Harper is endangering my beloved CBC in Canada. Europe is in upheaval.  The world seems to be a mess. All that trauma and turmoil certainly puts your own small inconveniences in perspective. But then again, those are some pretty big tickets items to worry about. The environment, the economy, war, famine, disease. Bill Cosby. Kim Davis. Kim Kardashian. Donald Trump. The horror. The horror.

To be a writer and a mild disaster magnet make magic of my misfortune. When I was much younger–I had shared some sob stories with my dear-now deceased friend Monica. She would listen intently, but never grieve always laugh, saying “What a great scene that would make“. The darker the better, the more humiliating the funnier. Her tar black sense of humor helped shaped my own view of myself. I need to remember that. Even under the worst circumstances, I know that there is a funny story there.  As Nora Ephron was known to say:  ‘everything is copy’.

Perhaps it is best to follow the Tao of Ephron. Live in the moment, accepting that the present may be painful, but in the future it will be funny.

*images courtesy of the fine people of the internet*