Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For me, Oatmeal was one of those things that I read about for years that was a fearful let-down when actually tasted. This was the "porridge" I'd been reading about for years? This mouth-burning, grey-brown... mush? I turned up my nose and quoth "nevermore".
Over the years, I've re-acquainted myself with it a few times. Week-long cleanses that involved eating whole grains in the morning, that sort of thing. An uneasy but cordial relationship. Most recently it made a cheap and healthy breakfast while I was on the Barkerville spring tour.

My sweetie's under doc's orders these days to get his cholesterol down, and what magic food does that, you may ask? Well, apparently oatmeal and cinnamon are both great, and as an added bonus, oats are supposed to help burn that hard-to-budge belly fat. So guess what yours truly is scarfing up for brekkie from now on? (Getting J to eat it may be harder, since he hates porridge, but I'm slowly converting to a fan of the stuff.)
Here's my secret:
  • Use good grains. For me, that means Red Mill brand grains. I use the 8-grain wheat-free variety, but I'm always open to recommendations...
  • Salt can make or break a bowl of oatmeal, say the old-timers, so I always add a pinch. Today's online opinion, however, seems to conclude that it is unnecessary.
  • Here's the clincher for me: I always add a generous serving of nuts, raisins and banana for flavour and texture. I like those items to be hot and cooked, so rather than adding them at the end I throw them in as the grains cook up. Sunflower seeds work well as the nut contingent.
  • Yesterday I was unable to find any, but when I next shop for food I will probably buy some raw hazelnuts to chop up and sprinkle on top of the oatmeal when it's done.
  • When it's all cooked up (about 7 minutes, yo. Quick!), I sprinkle cinnamon on top. Then I add a scoop of plain yoghurt and a squirt of honey or maple syrup. I will probably start putting fresh cherries on there as well, since this is the season. Tasty goodness!
I guess touring will often send you home with a renewed zeal for healthy living, since being on the road is seldom healthy in any way. Forget the nouveau rockstar "I'm travelling with my nanny, my yoga teacher, my therapist and my organic chef" scene. All four of the redboots crammed into a Volkswagon station wagon for 5 1/2 days. Competing for space in there were 2 amps, an accordion, a fiddle and a double bass! I am still in shock that we fit everything (and everyone) in. If we hadn't had a roof rack, we actually would not have succeeded. We relied on the kindness of family and friends for accommodation along the way, and boy, did they ever pull through for us! Amelia's Uncle Julian stocked the bar, fed us mountains of cheese, stayed up partying until 3am and cooked us giant greasy breakfasts for three of the 5 nights we were away. Russell's mom gave us fresh fruit and sleep when our bodies needed it most. And we had a crazy dance party at my friend Betty's house in Duncan, complete with wine and cheesecake. So as you can see, we were treated like kings, but like kings who have iron constitutions. Copious amounts of liquor, late nights, cheese and grease can take their toll. You can see pictures of us performing and cavorting here.

So anyway, this week/month/rest of my life is about clean living. Oh, and apparently it's also about adjusting to the fact that while I was away, plumbers re-directed our plumbing so that all the taps in the bathroom have been reversed. Hot is now cold and vice versa. Yes- wait for it- even in the toilet. You haven't lived until you've felt your bum warmed as you... nevermind. I don't know who they're hiring for this job, but I suspect they're discount plumbers. Thank god we're off to house-sit in North Van at the end of the week. We'll be living it up over there for a month while the plumbers bugger everything up back home.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Girl with squeezebox.This is what serendipity looks like. A few weekends ago, Amelia and I were busking at the ferry terminal on the sunshine coast. Correction: we tried to busk, but B.C. Ferries doesn't allow musicians to make money on their property (boats or land). So we were "practicing". With a violin case "coincidentally" open in front of us.
When the ferry pulled in, we headed back to our car; a lady called to me from her car as we passed. She asked me if I was looking for a new accordion. "My dad just passed away- he played accordion all his life. No one else in the family plays and I want them to go to a good home."
I said I was always on the lookout for new accordions; she took my number and said she'd call when she actually had the instruments in her possession. I didn't think she'd remember.

Yesterday she called out of the blue, said she had one of the boxes with her and would I like to have it? Today she dropped by and gave it to me. I played her a quick tune (it's a fine accordion, a welcome addition to my collection) and she had to run off to pick up her young son.

Lori-Ann, thank you for your gift. Not only for giving a complete stranger an expensive instrument, but for passing on something that your father John loved so much. It will indeed have a good home with me. I promise I'll send you pictures of your dad's squeezebox being played in many places. It may have a hard life with me (my accordions all end up being held together with duct tape), but it will be truly loved.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Boy, do I love me some Honey Nut Cheerios. J bought me a box yesterday, and I have to confess that when I went to pour myself a bowl this morning... most of them were gone. That's right, because my menu for yesterday went something like this:
  • bowl of cereal
  • bowl of cereal
  • bowl of cereal
  • bowl of cereal
  • bowl of cereal
  • salmon, salad & rice (see? I know how to eat nutritiously)
  • m+m's
  • warmed-over Chinese food leftovers (oh well, there was one healthy thing somewhere on today's menu)
  • bowl of cereal
I kid you not, that was exactly what I ate yesterday, give or take one or two bowls of cereal. Do you ever have days like that, or is that just me?

I claim mitigating factors, though: I had been scared and stressed the day before by the sight of my loved one inexplicably doing the Mashed Potato on our floor (update: he finally got a doctor that took this seriously: he had blood tests yesterday and he'll see a neurologist next week. Now we wait and hope that someone can figure out why this happens to him every year or so. Oh, and he can't drive until they figure it out. AND-wait for it- we just got the car fixed. Life, eh?), and I woke up yesterday feeling all dizzy and sickly. I know- what the hell is going on in this house? In fact, I began to wonder if that was exactly it: was it, in fact, the apartment that was making us feel weird? Yesterday night, after a record day of doing almost nothing (hey, it's hard to do stuff when you feel as if you were riding an amusement park ride or drinking too much all day. I had to take some anti-nausea pills just to start actually moving) I attacked the bathroom and kitchen with a vengeance. Dirt, be gone! Mold, stop growing!

If you Google "Mold" online, you can read a truly horrifying litany of all the things it can do to your health- and yes, seizures and dizziness are both on there. Now I'd be very surprised if mold was making us sick, since we are well almost all the time. But it was a good wake-up call, and our place is cleaner this morning because of it.

This is a weird post. I have some other ideas brewing; I want to write more about the concept of being "grown-up" (which includes cleaning your apartment and bugging the building manager to do some maintenance, already, and paying taxes, etc. etc). And I want to write about how an otherwise sensible woman can run 10km and spurn cigarettes, but still not manage to lose weight. And other cheerful stuff. But today I have to get ready for the big Redboot tour of Vancouver Island: practice, publicity, etc.

I want to leave you with a story of optimism, to balance out the health worries and navel-gazing that go on around here:
My friend Russ plays the double bass; we've played together for years and he's good. We'll get somewhere, and he'll just set up camp in the corner and practice quietly for ages- he doesn't show off, doesn't spout on about how music is his life, blahblahblah, he just does it, and gets better and better.
Anyway, his expensive Czech bass got stolen out of his car the other night- at his house, in his carport, and we all thought: end of story. You can file the police report, tour the pawn shops, but you'll never see it again.
Well, here's an excerpt from an email I got from Russ today: "I am really happy to say that my bass did turn up tonight from a teenager who said he 'found' it in the park. I didn't give the guy a hard time, I am just glad he brought it back."
God knows what really happened, but isn't that great?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

He was on the phone, and then suddenly, he was on the floor.

I heard a thud from the other room- the wind blew our screens over again, grrr- and called out to him: "was that the screens again?" No answer, just more thudding, so I ran over to his desk and he was on the floor, facedown in an uncomfortable position, twitching and making noise. Just a few seconds of fear before he came back to me, confused and sore, bleeding where he'd bashed his lip and nose in his fall.

My brother's dog had his annual seizure a few weeks ago, and it must be in the air because today J had his, although it's been over a year since the last one and we'd hoped like hell they'd gone away to wherever inexplicable brain weirdnesses go when they're not terrifying us.

He looks as if I hauled off and punched him one- swollen lip and nose, one side of his face red and scraped. And so the fears start again: what will he do to himself the next time? Where will he be? What if, god forbid, he's driving when it happens?
He's at the doctor, with strict instructions from me not to come home without a referral to a specialist. I'm still shaken.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Get a Job.

The sun, she is beating down as if it's August, already. We're having to take cover in our little suite; shutting the blinds, blasting the fan, keeping the light off in the fishtank to keep its temperature down. At nights, I run a cool bath and soak in my own "tank" for a few minutes; go to bed still dripping with cold bathwater so as to dry off slowly and coolly under the sheet.

I am sporting a fine tan already, even though I slather on the sunscreen. My calf muscles are tight and firm from running. I am relaxed; buying plants, cleaning the apartment, loving the outdoors.
And I am jobless and living off my savings, again.

Having just re-read some of Anne Cameron's muscular Westcoast fiction (anyone tried her? I like it, but it's often pretty depressing), I feel slightly guilty. Guilty in an artsy-fartsy, work-when-I-feel-like-it, live-for-today kinda way.
The fact is, if it weren't for the money my granny left me, I couldn't relax like this. I'd be scouring Craigslist for another low-paying retail gig for the summer. What she left me paid for an online course, a computer program I needed, a few other things. But the rest is being used as I vowed it wouldn't be: groceries, rent, life.
I don't owe much and I don't have dependents. Therefore my life is my own, and if I want to have a lazy summer, so be it. I have time to do publicity for the upcoming Redboot tour (and I've been doing tons), to practice my instruments, to make my place look decent. These are all good things. I can leave on tour, fly to the east coast for a week, have band practice without having to beg for time off from a job that doesn't pay enough anyway.

But there's a little voice that says make the most of this. Make it count. If you have no job, then make sure you're doing the tings you want and need to do. Don't waste this by sleeping in, by getting flabby, by not going to parks and on hikes whenever you can.

I intend to listen to that voice as much as possible.