Archive for November, 2010

Breaking up with spinach: a study of grief

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I woke up this morning, had breakfast and then fell asleep for six hours. Maybe this means my sleep deficit is fixed? I certainly hope so.

This is all due to what I fear might be a newly developed intolerance to either lentils or quinoa. Four of the six previous nights have been spent lying awake writhing in agony with indigestion and the only thing I can think of that those nights had in common was lentils and quinoa.

This is not outside of the realm of possibility because a few years ago I developed an intolerance to spinach that gave me the same symptoms. I had never previously had a problem with it but it suddenly started making me violently ill.

The worst part of suspecting that you’ve suddenly become allergic to something you eat all the time is that the process of coming to terms with it is difficult. I find it takes several steps:

If it’s something that you commonly eat then it’s going to take a while to recognize that you ate it every time you were sick. You’ll pass feeling ill off as being under the weather, or food poisoning or having a bit of a bug, so you’ll keep eating it and feeling bad for a long time.

Spinach? Really? No, there’s no way it’s spinach. Spinach is good for you! Who ever heard of a spinach intolerance? You do a google search that seems to confirm the fact that this is a crazy idea. You eat a lot of spinach figuring that if you just suck it up it will go away.

You find yourself asking why. Why spinach? Why couldn’t it have been something you don’t like eating? A spinach allergy is so stupid! No one’s going to believe you if you tell them you’re allergic to spinach! You get pissed off that it makes you feel so sick and that you can’t sleep because of it.

You start asking yourself what if? What if you try your spinach salad with a different dressing? What if you put it into the blender? Maybe organic would be better? What if you only have like five leaves on your salad and you mix them in with other stuff so you can’t see them? You will experiment with many ways to eat spinach and suffer the consequences.

You realize that you’re going to have to make some changes in your life and it saddens you. You will never eat that awesome hot tuna salad from the Red Onion ever again.

You give up eating spinach. You begin to avoid it in your daily life, asking at restaurants if the house greens have spinach in them. You spend a lot of time at the grocery store surveying the baskets of mixed greens, trying to decide if you should risk it and then you probably won’t.

In all likelihood it’s probably stress that is making my body reject half the food I put into it. But until this is confirmed, I’m in denial.


Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Jeez it got cold all of a sudden!

I’ve been busy working all weekend and conveniently the boiler in our part of the building stopped working sometime last week so the temperature has been slowly dropping.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been digging around trying to find half-finished knitting projects that I can complete in the minimum possible time. The first blast of winter always seems to catch me by surprise. I’m not sure why. It’s not like it happens every year, right?

Luckily we have heat at home this year. We all laugh about it now but last November was pretty miserable.

This morning on my way to work the back bus doors jammed on some snow stuck to the curb. They would neither open nor close. The bus driver just sat there. So everyone just sat there and the time passed. People got really irritated and explained to the driver that the door was stuck on the snow and that the bus had to move forward a little so the doors could move. The bus driver didn’t move or say anything. He opened the front door but closed it when no one got off. He just sat there.

Eventually a couple of guys got out and kicked down the snowbank that the door was stuck on. The doors closed. The tension in the bus didn’t dissipate. Within two stops the driver and several passengers were embroiled in a full-blown yelling match.

Nothing like some conflict to start your morning. I got to work late.


Tuesday, November 16th, 2010


I have been having a lot of trouble with our internet connection lately. It has been really unreliable and we haven’t been able to pinpoint an exact cause or solution.

I braved the line ups at the health food store the other day to buy the candied fruits above. I picked a good day because they happened to be on sale. The lady beside me was also buying fruitcake fruit so we chatted for a while. She was buying mixed peels and cherries in very specific amounts. I skipped the peels and bought pineapples and papayas instead. We never buy peels because my mom doesn’t like them and because it’s just not the way we do it.

It’s funny how particular we all get about these traditional things that we do.

At one place where I worked I had a coworker who made white fruitcakes at Christmas and injected rum into them with a syringe. She swore by this method as the best possible and most efficient means of boozing up a fruitcake. Why go through all the trouble of waiting weeks for the alcohol to soak in?

She would bake the thing a week ahead of when she needed it and then after a round of injections every 2-3 days, she’d call it done. The result was more like a pudding mash than like a cake with a heady odour that would waft out at you every time you opened the staff fridge. You could totally smell on people’s breaths if they’d been eating it.

This cake was legendary in the office. It’s actually making me feel very nostalgic about working there now.

Lying awake

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

I had a really bad night’s sleep last night. I couldn’t get to sleep so I just tossed and turned for most of the night.

Finally I decided that I had to pee, got up and the cat darted inside my room.

As is usually the case when I can’t sleep, I finally doze off around 5am only to be woken up by my roommate an hour later. She talks loudly, slams doors and sings as she’s getting ready for work. The kitchen cupboards are especially wonderful because they slam multiple times before they come to a standstill.

I’ve talked to her about this before but it never seems to help. She doesn’t mean any disrespect by it. She just forgets that she lives with other people.

Shortly after that the cat commenced being an irritating shit so I had to get up to throw her out.

And then I thought I could just set my alarm back half an hour and try to squeeze out some extra sleep. But that never works. Inevitably I end up thinking about how much time I have left to sleep. The time stretches out and I become hyperaware of how much time has passed. I then become convinced that maybe the alarm isn’t on at all or I set it wrong, that it won’t go off or something and then I wake up.

And in the midst of it all, a dream about getting woken up. It was roughly 5am. I heard someone operating a leaf blower or a weed whacker so I got out of bed and found my neighbour doing noisy yardwork. This isn’t unlike him. He saw me in the window and came over, told me that he was concerned that it was large and at ground level, that someone might break in. I thanked him for his concern and assured him that things were fine.

And then I woke up again.

Night transit

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Saturday’s Remixology was good. I managed to actually catch a lot of what was said this time and it was interesting to hear Steve Pratt talk about the risks that they can take at CBC Radio 3 because it isn’t profit driven and doesn’t deal with major labels.

Their strategy seems to be to just throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. Brush your failures under the rug and keep trying new things. I’m seeing a trend here in my encounters with new media people. I like it. It’s so much more fun and permissive than the way that you ‘should’ go about doing things.

The ride home was an adventure though. I got off the skytrain and waited for my bus. Normally I would just walk. I need the exercise and I don’t like waiting at the stop.

I’d like to say that I took the bus because my mom doesn’t like me walking but really it was because my feet were sore from standing all day and after a while my shoes like to dig into my heels.

Shortly after I got on the bus a guy got on with one of the old orange Canucks jerseys and sat at the back. People asked him which name was on his back and when it was revealed to be Pavel Bure the back of the bus erupted with cheers.

Meanwhile, at the front two very drunk and comical African men kept shaking hands and introducing themselves. One kept trying to get off the bus and the other would shout “Don’t get off the bus, brother! I’ll get you downtown!” They would then introduce themselves again. At one point in time they ended up kneeling on the floor hugging each other.

It was a very eventful ten minutes of my life. I don’t think I could be a late night bus driver. I have a lot of respect for people who are.


Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

I decided to use the mealy looking little cabbage at the back of the fridge today. If I had encountered it in the store there’s no way I would have purchased it, but it came from my parents’ garden so it’s special.

Over the years this garden has yielded all sorts of amazing things, including the most amazing rhubarb in the world:

I grow good rhubarb.

But this year we were preoccupied so we missed the deadline for entries at the fair.

It’s just as well. This year wasn’t very good for gardening. We had a cold spring and then the end of the summer was really wet. A lot of stuff just didn’t grow very well. Poor yields, small vegetables.

This is the first year that we’d tried growing cabbages and we haven’t really gotten the hang of it yet. I’m not entirely sure how you go about making cabbages grow large. The cabbage in my fridge was one of the larger ones from the plot. It had holes in it and was full of woodbugs, gunk and worms that I tried to shake out of it. Oh the joys of organic produce!

Since it was homegrown I was determined to use it. I ended up pulling off and washing each leaf individually. I decided that there was no way I would eat it raw so I decided to boil the shit out of it and make borscht.

The borscht turned out really well though. I’m not entirely sure why. I must have found the ideal proportion of beets to cabbage, or perhaps it was that I bought full-fat sour cream instead of the kind that is made from skim milk. Either way, it was really good borscht. I think further experimentation is needed to determine what went right.


Monday, November 1st, 2010

I finally finished the mittens:



They didn’t take very long and they were a lot of fun to make. I want to make a pair for myself now. It wouldn’t be that hard. I’m sure if I made them in worsted they would come out somewhere around the right size.

The pattern is Goldfish by Amy Christoffers. I highly recommend it.

tyrolean stockings

I also finished a pair of socks that has taken me way too long.

Two projects down, a million more to go…