Friday, May 26, 2006

Kraft Dinner

So, I'm just doing some nutritional slumming today and eating kraft dinner for lunch (for those of you in the US, that would be the inferior non-Kraft brand maccaroni and cheese), and it reminded me of a funny story. I think of this every time I make Kraft dinner.

I used to work at this garden centre, and I was the only white employee there (and the only one born in Canada). The family that ran the place was from Taiwan, and the other employees were all from India. I usually made and ate my lunch in the office with the Taiwaneese family.

One day I was in a hurry, and didn't want to bother making a sandwich, so I grabbed a pot, a box of KD, and a little container with some milk and butter. At lunch time, my boss was curious because I was boiling some water on her hotplate. She became even more interested when I took out a box and dumped some noodles into the pot. By the time the noodles were boiled, she and a family friend who hung out at the garden centre when he was in Canada came to watch what I was going to make. I explained to them that this was the Canadian version of instant noodles, and they ooed and aahed as I took out the butter and the milk, and they watched me mix it all together. I told them I had enough that they could try some, and you could see them getting more and more excited.

Then I took out the instant cheese packet and dumped it into the pot. Their faces fell. They were dismayed and a little bit disgusted that I had put powdered cheese on the noodles. I asked them if they wanted any.

My boss shook her head and said, "Ah, Jill, you forget. I'm a good Buddhist. I don't eat cheese." She and her friend walked away, shaking their heads and chatting in Mandarin. So much for intercultural understanding and experimentation.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Tally

Yesterday, my son managed to waste quite a lot of food. Aside from the food that he requested ("I need 'nanas"), carried around the kitchen and left in unusual places (on the bottom shelf of the fridge just next to the yogurt -- "I need yoegurt"), he also managed to squander food as a result of general toddler curiosity. This peaked during the time I was trying to make supper. He pulled the apple juice out of the fridge and I grabbed it and put it on the counter. Then he knocked his booster seat off of its chair, climbed onto the chair and then onto the table. He emptied about 4 Tbsp of salt onto the table before I caught him mixing it with the juice left in his sippy cup. After I removed him from the table and cleaned up this mess, he pulled a chair up to the counter and, you guessed it, grabbed the juice container and emptied it onto the counter. I took the hand tea towel and mopped up the apple juice. I went to throw the soaking tea towel into the laundry bin in the laundry room (10 steps away from the kitchen). By the time I got back, he had managed to get the eggs out of the top shelf in the door of the fridge, remove two eggs, crack one on the floor and open the top of the other. He was poking the contents of the egg in his hand. He looked up at me happily and said "egg". I removed the egg from his hand, trying to remind myself that he's just being a healthy, curious toddler, and snatched the placemats off the table to mop up the other egg. By the time I had come back he had managed to smear the second egg all over his hands, the floor, and the nearby stack of empty yogurt containers he had tossed out of my cupboards earlier in the day. It was at this point that I decided that I was not making a stir fry after all, but rather baking some chicken, putting some rice and some frozen vegetables in pots to boil, and reading "Richard Scary's Busiest People Ever" for the thousandth time that day. After all, reading about Huckle and Lowly's busy day AGAIN was easier than cleaning up after Andrew's busy day.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Someone Please Explain . . .

I walk by this trailer once or twice a week as I go to the grocery store. And I always wonder: Is this mysteriously cloaked figure death? If so, why is he holding his head in his hand? And how is he looking at it? Or if he is a non-skeletal, etherial death figure, who is he talking to? Is he supposed to be holding the skull in a threatening way? He looks more like he's having an amiable chat. Is this his friend? His cute sidekick, Skully? Maybe he's looking at it in surprise or curiosity. But surely this is not the first skull he's ever seen. After all, he IS death. Perhaps this skull is the missing evolutionary link. Or has gold teeth. Or a particularly interesting eye socket.

In any case, I always have a little chuckle when I pass by this terrifying visage. I think his brother probably drew it for him, or his best friend in highschool. And they had been talking about getting it painted on the side of the trailer for years before they actually had the extra cash to do it. And he's probably really proud of it and thinks its the best thing ever.

Its like those vans with the unicorns and mermaids painted all over them, or the majestic elks staring at the sunset on the back window. You have to wonder: are they for real?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

You Thought I Was Joking About the Snow . . .

Here it is. This was two weeks ago. I posted this earlier, but it was consumed by the blogmonster. Its worth posting again, though. And for the record, it was 27 degrees Celsius today. I love Canadian weather.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Steven Burns -- Yes, the Blues Clues guy.

I watch a lot of Blues Clues. In fact, I generally watch one episode a day, after nap time. If we wake up before 6am, I watch two episodes a day. Because I have an theatre background, I often wonder what Steve is thinking. I wonder if he's "on" today because he's flirting with someone in the studio. I wonder if they wrote the episode around such and such a weird thing he can do (tap dance, impersonate Elvis, etc), or if he just added it. I wonder how many of the asides are pre-written and how many he adds as he goes. I wonder how he maintains a personality while interacting with all those non-existent characters in a blue screen bubble. I wonder why he quite the show -- was he bored? were there irreconcilable differences between him and the writer / director? I wonder what happened to him -- did he go on to have a career on broadway? As a character actor? Did he burn out?

So, to satiate my curiosity, I decided to google him. And I found his website: Its actually kind of cool and funny. It turns out he's become an indie musician. I guess he can probably live off of the profits of Blues Clues reruns indefinitely, so he can basically do whatever he wants now. And he actually does have the kind of sense of humour and personality that I thought he did. He's the kind of guy I hung out with in highschool. Kind of quirky and off the wall, but in a good way, not a scary way (okay, Benji was scary, but the rest of my friends were just . . . interesting).

The question now is, when I next watch an episode of Blues Clues, will I be more or less fascinated by Steve? I'll have to get back to you on that one.

The People Living Inside My Head

No, this is not the post where I admit that I have multiple personalities. Honest. But despite not having that bizarre and fascinating disorder, I do have a number of people living inside my head. They are the characters that inhabit the worlds inside my imagination. Let me explain.

I have an overactive imagination. Ask anyone who has known me for more than, well, for a while, and they will tell you that this is the case. Some members of my family use this to reinvent reality in truly unique and startling ways. I prefer to use this skill to produce fiction.

Unfortunately, for several reasons I have lost my mometum. I have stopped writing or drawing. I can tell you the reasons for this. One, I have no time. Two, I have no space in my house that is appropriate for my writing needs (in order to write well I must have tea, candles, sheaves of paper coverd in scribbles and sketches and maps, and assorted interesting bits and pieces of debris I have picked up from various people and places that I find interesting. No, really. I do.) and contains a computer (I share my computer space with my husband who can only think effectively if there is nothing on the desk but the computer and the phone). Thirdly, I am discouraged by all my rejection slips. Forthly, I am stuck on a tricky bit of plot in my novel that I have been writing and re-writing since I was 16. Fifthly, I have stopped drawing because someone important to me made a foolish off-hand comment 12 years ago and I took it to heart (as I tend to do).

But the problem is that I haven't lost my imagination, nor have I stopped having new characters pop into my head. So all these people are waiting for me to get my act together and start or continue their dramas. Because I write out of my subconcious and intuition rather than being a plan-it-all-out-before-hand kind of writer, they can't do anything until I figure out who they are / what they are doing / what is going to happen in their story. So they stay there, looking slightly dejected. Let me tell you about them.

There is a middle aged man, sitting in an empty appartment, save for a very impressive leather chair and a phone. He is arguing with him mother.

There is a girl who has just graduated from highschool and travelled from Ontatio to B.C.'s lower mainland. She is about to start a new summer job and discover something surprising in an abandoned goat barn (the suspense of this one kills me. I always want to peek in the barn, but its very dark).

There are the four intrepid heroes stuck in the middle of their quest to recover an ancient relic. They are just about to be attacked and make a daring escape. If I can figure out how they will be discovered. And how they will escape. And how the character that keeps wanting to take over the story who is half way across the island fits into their story.

There are the two pre-teen kids who live in the Luddite colony. They are staring over a newly erected fence at the shiny, white, cube-like house that has been deposited next to their land and throwing leaves at the robotic yard keeper / guard dog.

There is the girl who works in the bazaar in a middle-easternesque part of the world. She is a white woman in a sea of brown, and she is very talented, but has yet to discover that. She just wants to buy a parrot. There is the woman who will teach her to use her gifts, fuming away at the TaleTeller, because he is late. And there is the Tale Teller, trapped in a cave. By who? Where? When? We do not know. But the small creature that is his companion does. Unfortunately, she is trapped in a cage down at the rare animal market on the other side of the bazaar.

The problem is, there is also my toddler, grabbing onto my leg, calling "mommymommymommymommy" whenever I leave his sight. There is my husband, busy with his career, needing a peaceful house. There are my friends to keep in contact with, and a new life to start in this new place. Not to mention all the quilts to be sewn, all the curtains and cushions to be made, and the wood furniture to be painted. These people live and breathe and shift around me. And I need to live in their world, the real world that surrounds me.

But in my head, its getting hard to think a clear thought anymore. The people are all clammering to be written, interrupting my thoughts and life with their assorted dilemmas. I suppose I shall have to write. One day. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the next day. Soon. Someday. . . . okay, okay, sooner than that, alright?