Thursday, May 10, 2012

The 12 stages of doing a University Assignment

Stage 1:    Curiosity – what exactly do they want from us here

Stage 2:    Confidence – oh well that seems reasonable and easy to do

Stage 3:    Over confidence – I could take this perspective… link it to that and talk about this!!!!!

Stage 4:    Reality check 1.  You have gone off on a tangent   Shit.  Scrap all that and go back to step 1.
Stage 5:   Business time:  Get the books out and research

Stage 6:    Hope:  Things start to make sense, start writing.

Stage 7:    Despair - Immediately have twice the word count.  Go back to step 1.

Stage 8:   Light at the end of the tunnel - Write more, edit more, nearly there…

Stage 9:    Nihilism:  Deciding that everything you have written is crap.  You need to start again.  Return to step 1. 
Stage 10:   Reality check 2.  Realising it’s too late to start again or change it all now

Stage 11:   Final edit and proof read – it may be crap but at least you might get mercy for good spelling and grammar

Stage 12:    Submitting it with relief, not pride, and a prayer for clemency

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Treats not treatments!


After a cluster of curveballs at work left me with some niggly pain in my neck and shoulders, I decided it was time to treat myself, and made an appointment at the beauty therapist for a relaxing facial and massage. 

A young girl greeted me at the desk and ushered me through to a room with instructions to disrobe and lie on the bed under the big towels.  She was back a few minutes later, pulls a chair up to the table, produces a clipboard and pen and asks me:
With the right combination of products,
you too could be this content!

“So Claire, how do you feel about your skin?”

The question took me by surprise.  How DO I feel about my skin?  Of course, I am grateful for it.  I am glad I have it… what is she getting at here? 

“Umm…  Good?”

She looks at me intently – evidently, that was the WRONG ANSWER.  She tries again…

“What issues do you have with your skin?”

“None really, I think my skin is fine.”

 Why is she making this difficult?  Enough talky talky, more rubby rubby!!

“So what skin problems would you like me to address today?”

ARGH!  All I want to do is lie here and bliss out for a couple of hours while you rub several different kinds of goop and put warm towels on me.  That’s it.  Big words and problem solving are a couple of the things I had hoped to escape for a while by coming here,   so can we please just get started?

“ Well I booked in for a relaxing facial and massage......”

She must have thought I was one tough cookie…

“OK well let’s cleanse and then we’ll take a closer look…”

So it turns out I have a pimple and some un damage.  I don’t see these as problems that need to be rectified - I see them as part of enjoying life!  Sometimes I eat chocolate and sometimes I spend entire days in the sun and I if it gives me pimples and sun damage, I am fine with that!  In fact, life would be pretty shit without chocolate and sunshine, even if I did have flawless skin! 

The girl did a great job and I got to bliss out for a while and left the salon feeling wonderful. 

But the experience got me thinking – why are they trying to make problems out of our natural conditions?   I almost felt like I should have problems, or that the lack of a problem was a problem in itself!  And it’s not just about skincare or women -  Ads on the radio tell me that balding is now a medical issue, and in the States, there is a medication to "treat" shyness.  Wikipedia says “Therapy is the attempted remediation of a health problem, usually following a diagnosis. In the medical field, it is synonymous with the word "treatment".    
Pimples are not a health problem, shyness is not a health problem.. Cancer is a health problem!  In our effort to recognise optimal body-mind wellbeing, are we creating more problems than we are solving?   Shouldn’t we sort out the real problems first before we start making up new ones?

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Wedding Dress: To have and to hold?


When I started the hunt for my wedding dress the mission parameter was simple: Spend as little as possible, wear it and sell it.

Being a bit of a tomboy, I never saw myself in a big boofy dress so it’s a mystery how I ended up at the bridal boutique at all, but when I put on that dress I felt like a princess and heard the voices of angels singing. That was it. The methodist utilitarian voices
of my upbringing were instantly quashed by the silent but sure realization that there was no other dress in the world.
Just this one.

As I write this, the dress is hanging up in the spare room. I haven’t dry cleaned it, haven’t folded it gently into a big lavish box, tied with a big bow. I have not swathed it in the recommended acid free paper. The only thing I have done is take to it with a scrubbing brush to remove the mud from the bottom. With the considerable circumference of the hem, lining and three layers of petticoat, that was a whole day of scrubbing. Even so, it’s in pretty good condition.
So now I have this big awkward thing that doesn’t fit in the wardrobe, is too tall for the coat rack, everywhere I put it it’s in the way of something and I worry that it will get knocked down, something will get spilt on it or it will get moldy or moth ridden. There is no good place for it. So it just hangs there.

But I am not ready to sell it.

A friend recently celebrated her ten year wedding anniversary and it was a delight to see her photos – still as gorgeous and in love as the photos from their wedding day ten years ago, and looking just as beautiful in that dress.

I remember a wedding dress fashion parade the staff put on at the rest home I used to work at. Residents and staff and their families donated old wedding dresses to be worn and paraded (in chronological order) for the occasion. The oldest dress was from 1923. My Mum was the only person who could still fit into her own wedding dress to model it. I was left with the last dress after everyone else had chosen - a puffed sleeve shiny lacy thing from the 80’sthat I thought at the time was hideous and is probably a vintage treasure!
So it becomes evident that for many people, it’s more than a dress, it’s an embodiment of the optimism, love and joy you felt at the time. Possibly the biggest investment of time and money you will ever put into an item of clothing, and probably the most memorable one. What also impresses me is the amount of pride, warmth and tenderness that comes with these sharing experiences.

So now I am asking myself, what would it take to sell it? What would I be giving up and what amount of money would make that worthwhile?

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to make a decision right now. I don’t’ regret buying this dress, because even if I never wear it again it is still worth every dollar I paid for it to feel as fabulous as I did on the day, and continue to feel in my photos and memories.
What did you do with your wedding dress? Do you still own it? Have you worn it or bought it out of storage since your wedding day? What about special clothing/costume you bought for other significant occasions in your life – your formal/ball gown? Graduation gown?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stop - Thief!!!


Annabel Langbein has stolen my dream life!!

She....
Lives in a cabin on Lake Wanaka
Has a huge and flourishing vegetable garden
Is smart, gorgeous and classy
Makes amazing food
Has lots of adventures

This should come with a warning...
http://tvnz.co.nz/free-range-cook/s1-e12-video-3902706

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Silent Battle

Today I celebrated a victory of sorts - a silent victory.

There is a big roll of cleaning cloth in the kitchen where I work. Yet everytime I cut a fresh piece to wipe my mess off the bench, it mysteriously disappears. There is never a cloth to use.

After a little subtle investigation I discovered that "somebody" throws the cloth out each day. Now I just think that's wasteful. Surely we can use a cloth for 3 days without a pandemic exploding. I am sure we are grown up enough to rinse the cloth after we have used it.

So yesterday I decided that if that's how they want to play it, that's how I will play it, and instead of getting a new cloth to wipe up my spillages, I just left them on the bench.

Coffee grounds, milk drips, little bits of salad that didn't make it into the bowl - just left on the bench.

And guess what - this morning there was a cloth on the bench!!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sticking it to "The Man"

Today I was the recipient of an unexpected hug.

It was from a person I have been working with on a project for work, and therefore, doubly unexpected.

She did warn me it was coming, but that only sent me into a stunned, arms-pinned-against-my-sides panic as she descended on me, and somehow it occurred to me to reciprocate. The whole thing was over fairly quickly, and to my surprise, was actually quite a pleasant experience. I felt a definite lifting of the heart.

Driving back to the office it occurred to me that once upon a time I was a prolific hugger. What happened? Some time between late adolescence and early adulthood I allowed myself to be convinced that hugging was inappropriate or unprofessional at work and somehow this spilled over into my personal life.

Well I am taking the power back! I am going to hug as many people as I can, as many times as possible!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Totally worth the calories...

My top 12 gastronomic delights from our travels in Canada, US and Hawaii...

1. Fairmont Bagels, Montreal. Blueberry, Sesame Seed, Multigran... but best eaten fresh from the oven outside the shop with the other fanatics! Thanks Johnny for introducing us to these!


2. Smoked meat sandwiches, Schwartz Deli, Montreal. Only the best smoked meat in the world could get away with such abrupt (but entertaining) waiters!



3. Poutine, Chez Claudette, Montreal. A French-Canadian staple. French fries covered with rich sweet gravy and topped with cheese curds. Basically a heart attack on a plate. But oh-so-good!



4. Beavertails, Ottawa. Deep fried pastry covered with cinnamon, sugar, and your choice of hazelnut spread, chocolate, caramel, banana and other goodies. Or just the plain and simple classic style as shown.


5. Richtree Market, Toronto. You can wander around choosing all or parts of your meal from different vendors providing the brightest and freshest of everything you could possibly imagine and they will cook it to your specifications right in front of you. Total genius.



6. Buffet de L'Antiquaire, Quebec City. Simply the best value anywhere! Good hearty traditional french canadian fare - welcome sustainance after sightseeing in -30 degrees! Just $30 for two three course meals and as for quality... the look on Ian's face says it all!

7. The Brussa-Toi Banquet, Mississauga. With plate after delicious plate Lisa and Bruno had us simultaneously praying for more and fearing it! No photos of the meal unfortunately but here is a pic of some perogies, which were served in abundance!


8. Aunt Sandra's cheeses. How does one woman come up with so many gems? Un coup de fromage! Here's one of them....

Special mention also for Aunt Sandra's mince pie!

9. Yummy Korean BBQ, Honolulu. Inside the International Market at Waikiki there is a food court with so much Hawaiian and Pacific cuisine to choose from. My nose led me to the Korean BBQ. Always trust the nose.



10. Tim Hortons hot chocolate and cinnamon roll, special mention for Ian the Iced Cappacino, Boston Creme and Canadian Maple Donuts. Here we are fresh off the plane in Vancouver, Ian reuniting with some of his best friends.

11. Buffalo Wings, The Anchor Bar, Buffalo. The home of the Buffalo Wing. There'll be no flying away after these babies.

12. Anything made by Mr Wannamaker. There was no pausing for photos at any of these meals! But the chili and spicy meatballs stand out in my memory :) Here he is with Ian in his bar, where he also mixes up a mean liquid concoction. I love this photo.



Back to the gym for me.... (sigh!)