Finding joy…

There is a country store both my Mom and I like to visit. It truly is a country store, surrounded by farms. They’re easily spotted by the white chicken pickup truck parked on a large mound, complete with a giant egg in the back. There’s an old tractor resting beside the gravel parking lot for the kids to play on and the porch always has decor for sale. Inside is utter chaos. The front contains shelves and bins of food topped by decor (and a cafe to the side) while the back contains so very much decor… and some bins of food and a clothing area. It is a veritable labyrinth filled with everything from cute magnets to wooden baskets. Amidst all this is always a lit birch tree. I am drawn to it every time we shop there then repelled by the seventy dollar price tag. Each time I tell myself “next visit” but that next visit with money and determination never occurs.

Then there’s Marshalls, a store both Colin and I love. They get so many beautiful items and, at Christmas, also have lit birch trees. I check the Boxing Day sales every year but haven’t had any luck. They sell out before I get there. I bought a small silver battery operated tree for my bedside table but that’s just not the same.

This year is different. Sadly Marshalls and Winners are closed due to lockdown; really sadly because I have gift cards for them. They don’t have an online store either. Amazon’s trees were okay but they didn’t qualify for free shipping (even over $35) and the shipping was $22. But Chapters… now that was a different story. Their tree was 33% off and the shipping was only $10. My finances could handle it, the bills were paid, so I clicked the order button and waited until today when it arrived.

my viewI can’t think of much else to get for this tiny apartment. My walls are decorated, I have my furniture, I have my tree ♥, and I’m good for decor. The tree was, as they put it, the icing on the cake. Now I get to focus on filling my life with the less tangible things. Writing in here, chatting with friends, reading, petting the cats, talking to family, cooking yummy food (really… I made the most delicious carrot orange ginger soup tonight and added fresh dill to it). That’s one of my, well I’d call it a resolution but it’s more of a suggestion to myself. It basically sums up to being patient with myself and treating myself with kindness and grace. I do that with everyone else so why don’t I do it with me?

The birch tree is one of those kindnesses. It’s been years coming and years postponed. It might just be a material thing but it’s something that brings me joy and leaves a smile on my face. And on a gloomy day in January, that’s worth a lot.

Best laid plans…

Anyone searching for Facebook Notes tips, they’re a few paragraphs down

tardis ornament bokehI woke this morning to a cat nibbling on my fingers. That’s not out of the ordinary, not with Lara in the apartment. She’s a lovely cat, just lacking a bit with social skills (with cats too). I wasn’t in a rush so I stayed in my cosy nightgown while I brushed my teeth and fed the cats and chatted with my Mom and made my breakfast. I’d just settled down at the computer when I decided to open my email and see if there was an update on my Amazon order. It wasn’t due until Tuesday but sometimes they come a bit early… like now when the package was two towns away… clicks refresh… and out for delivery.

This was 10am and I had plans to go shopping with a friend of mine in the late morning to early afternoon (we were kind of winging it). Obviously that needed to be delayed. But how long could it take? And so I waited… and waited… and waited… while my parcel information just sat there doing nothing.

At 3:30pm I’d long since changed my plans to shopping tomorrow instead and cancelled our afternoon walk. But I had three very ripe bananas in my fruit bowl and a good banana bread recipe in my Facebook notes. I got out one bowl and the loaf pan then decided to call up the recipe before going any further. Notes has gotten harder to find recently so I went to my profile page and down to my about section then started scrolling… and it wasn’t there. I checked again and again, still nothing. I searched all over my page on both my tablet and computer and it just. wasn’t. there. A Facebook search called up a group of people who like notes and some notes apps but not my specific notes. And I wanted those notes. My Nana’s buttercream frosting recipe was in there and she died in 2003 so it’s not like I can ask her to rewrite it. My favourite pancake recipe which the long forgotten site removed. My hot and sour soup recipe which was modified from a product recipe. They’re irreplaceable.

Finally I did a Google search and struck paydirt. After a few false starts I found this link which lets you click on “my notes”. I was overjoyed until I realized I could only read the first couple of lines; the “see more” link wasn’t working. There’s a save option but that really only worked two or three times. But if you click on “comment” it will open up the link so you can see the whole post.

My first attempt at saving was to directly copy and paste to OpenOffice. This led to a weirdly formatted document chock full of lines. So I opened WordPress and pasted in there, thus removing the formatting, then copied and pasted into Open Office. I had to add the correct formatting but at least it was legible.

It was over an hour later by the time I got all the recipes copied to my computer and I no longer wanted to bake anything. Actually I no longer wanted to even cook anything, which is why I had half an English muffin for dinner tonight. Mmm… dinner of champions!

And, while I was eating my dinner, I was messaging another friend and telling her that my package wasn’t here yet but they still had another hour left in their estimate. I flipped over to the parcel information just in time to see the page update to “delivered”. And there it was on my doormat, much too late for me to do anything today.

But tomorrow’s another day, the stores will still be there, the trail ready to be walked, the bananas waiting to be smushed. And maybe I’ll have helped someone retrieve their Facebook notes… helped save a memory. As for now, my tardis ornament is safely on the tree, I have a stack of scrapbooking pages waiting and new photo sleeves to place them in, and I’m all ready to relax.

Living in a Dollarama world…

Years ago, if someone asked me to think of a dollar store, my mind went to a dimly lit room with shelves stocked full of crap. Plastic dolls that vaguely resembled Barbie (if the lights were bad and you squinted enough). Ones with arms and legs that didn’t move and heads that popped off. Plastic wrapped note sets with pens that didn’t work and pads barely wide enough to write a single word. Plastic cars with wheels that fell off. And gaudy ceramic vases; I’m pretty sure the vases simply moved from one dollar store to the next as one store closed and another opened. I certainly never saw anyone buy one. Then I entered Dollarama.

I can’t remember why I was at that end of town. I just remember I had too much time to hang around the bus stop and not enough time to go anywhere… but there was a new dollar store right there. Right where Biway used to be. I walked in and WOW! It was bright and clean, an actual store instead of a hole in the wall. The first aisle held gift bags, nice ones at that, and real toys. I wandered up and down the aisles, keeping track of the time, and promising myself I’d go back. I definitely went back, I ended up working there.

Many years have passed since then. Dollarama’s spread a lot and improved even more. Of course their price has increased as well from a buck (or less) to $4 (or less) but I think the quality makes it worthwhile. I’ve found things that were regularly double, triple, or even quadruple the price in other stores. Same brand… same packaging. Recently Dollarama was selling RO tablet holders which were shaped like wooden bread boards. They retailed for $45, Dollarama sold them for $4. Sadly I never found any.

I raised my kids as a single Mom and never had much money. There were so many birthdays and holidays that simply wouldn’t have happened if Dollarama wasn’t there. But the events all happened with happy kids and fond memories. Dinkie cars, toy Spiderman, art sets, stuffed dolls, figurines, articulated wooden snakes… they were all loved and played with.

These days I’m in my empty nest but I’m also living off disability so money’s still tight. Luckily I found a Facebook group called Dollarama Hauls and Finds. The group is amazing. People post about the purchases they’ve made, items they’ve found, and what they’ve done with said purchases. Many include photos. My favourites are when someone goes around the store taking photos then shares forty pictures. It’s like window shopping without leaving my room.

new kitchen artI use the group to sort out what items I really want to buy, either for myself or to put away as a gift. It’s helped a lot because I know exactly where to look when I go shopping and there’s been a few items I would have missed if I hadn’t actively been searching there. The downside is there’s gorgeous items I’ve missed out on, like the aforementioned tablet holder, that I never would have known about otherwise. But I have found incredible things. Watercolour canvases, funky pop art, wooden word art, artificial succulents in clay pots, ships in glass bottles, Cuisinart wooden knife blocks… the list is extensive. My home would be almost barren if it wasn’t for Dollarama.

And tomorrow I’ll be off to another Dollarama because one thing the group has sucked me into is barnwood stickers. They are being stuck everywhere on any flat surface and I have an ugly front door to cover.

Time is sprinting…

Our current building does a home inspection every year and this year’s was done today. When the property manager and superintendent were leaving, I asked who I give the letter of notice to, the management office on the top floor or with the superintendents in the basement. It will be with the superintendents, who were quite surprised we were leaving. Then I realized I’m giving them my notice in three more weeks, the real start of the moving countdown. 83 days (today) seems very long. Two months doesn’t

Colin’s blissfully unconcerned about moving. He knows he’s getting a room… somewhere. Apparently someone in the John Howard Society has one but she was off for the last few days. I need to get Colin to call her tomorrow because I’m not nearly as blase as he is. He’s positive everything will turn out perfectly in the end, like this is some Disney Movie or one of his animes. But we’re not in a show and he needs to be a lot more proactive. Sadly I can’t push him into calling, it’s like moving a mountain. He’s stubborn to say the least.

Next we need to find boxes. It used to be easy. NoFrills, a Canadian grocery store, always had bins of boxes at the front of their store. We’d go in and grab the suitable ones. Now they’re selling yellow shopping bins at the front of the store. I guess free boxes were competition.  I know there’s boxes for sale at Home Depot because my sister got hers there. I’m still hoping for free boxes first.

I should have asked someone at NoFrills today what they do with their cardboard boxes now. No Frills being where Colin asked me to meet him, although honestly, it would have been better if I never went. I knew I was really anxious before I left but my psychiatrist suggested taking an ativan and immediately leaving, which I did. I might as well have taken a skittle considering my anxiety got worse instead of better. The walk to NoFrills  and back were okay seeing as we went through the park instead of down busy roads. And I made a beeline to my swing chair and giant soft carrot as soon as I got home. That helped a lot. Part of me wants to go out for a walk now because it’s gorgeous and being in the woods would be so nice. But the rest of me feels the anxiety squirming around my stomach and knows it would be one miserable struggle.

I’ve bought all sorts of things for my new apartment. Wooden cutlery rack, dishes, beautiful cutlery shaped like tree branches, candles from Bath and Bodyworks. And there’s so much more to buy. I need a new dish rack because mine is falling apart. My garbage can is a cheap one mounted inside a cabinet door and it’s breaking. We need a slim line one for the kitchen. Luckily I get the GST cheque after I move to pay for some of the odds and ends.

And it’s evening here again. The cats are all sleeping, Colin’s watching shows and me? I just don’t know.

And every passing second brings us closer and closer to moving. And then my life will start up anew.

smudge-on-my-packing-boxes

The Countdown to Christmas…

20181220_082144I think Christmas, for me, started on Thursday with breakfast in bed from Colin. He knows I always have an english muffin with peanut butter and a mug of hot chocolate every morning so attempted just that. As he was walking into the room he said, “I’m sorry, I added too much margarine”. That might be the understatement of the year. Then he saw me looking at my hot chocolate and explained the beverage exploded in the microwave, which explained both the half empty cup and the bits of cocoa powder all over the mug. Breakfast was still good though and it’s not often I get it served in bed.

 

20181221_093339That day I bought myself a present of my own for Christmas. I’d seen it at Pier One and just had to have it. It’s the perfect reminder that I matter too and deserve to follow my dreams. It goes quite nicely with the wall art although if I’d known I was going to buy the metal word art I’d have put the sticker somewhere else.

I had my friends over yesterday for an afternoon of conversation, present opening, and Christmas Crack. Kait came over with the baby and we all got our chance to hold him. And, when he got a bit overwhelmed I managed to calm him down again with a lullaby and some rocking. I can’t share any pictures from the party because they all have the baby but I can share my present.

 

20181221_145910-1These slippers are just perfect for me. They’re mermaid sequins and are glittery silver when brushed the other way. Lara was quite interested but wandered away when she realized they a) weren’t doing anything and b) weren’t edible. They’re lined with fleece and are so comfortable.

After my guests left I went out with my Mom to finish up our grocery shopping. Now everything is full to the brim with food. Other than fruits and veggies I can’t see us needing to buy anything throughout January. Definitely a good way to start off the New Year!

20181222_154323Today was a quiet day. I talked to Kait for a while, which was nice and she shared some pictures of the baby via messenger. And I chatted with Colin while he worked on one of his computers. Then I wrapped the rest of the presents, with some help from the kittens, and called my girlfriend. That was a good conversation although it was pretty much my bedtime when we finished chatting. I wanted to write this blog too so I’ve swan dived over bedtime but I can sleep in tomorrow. The stocking stuffers are sorted out too for Christmas morning. I can’t believe it’s only two days away!

I’m looking so forward to Christmas! Colin and I are having a quiet Christmas Eve and then we’ve got Kait, her boyfriend, and the baby coming over for Christmas morning. And then we’re all going to my parents’ house for a big family dinner. I’m finding that the older I get, the more family means to me and I’m looking forward to seeing them all.

I hope you all have wonderful plans for the holiday, whether it’s with your birth family or chosen family. Merry Christmas!!!

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Two different types of people…

There are two different types of people in this world; those who plan for holidays early and those who say “Why are you buying presents so soon?”… right up until they change their mantra to, “OMG I can’t believe the holiday came so quickly! I barely have enough time to shop!”

I’m firmly in the first category.

Christmas presents

A few of the presents I’ve bought already

At this point I have several presents for Colin, a present for Kait, a present for the little sproglet, presents for both my nieces and one of my nephews, my Mom’s gift, and I know what I’m getting for Kait’s boyfriend. Phew! And almost every single person I mention this to is shocked because it’s so early. Why would I buy presents this soon? Like gifts have an expiration date.

Then there’s the people in my group who give me a knowing nod and smile, one that says, “You’re not alone. I have bags in the closet too.” I like talking to these people. They know the thrill of finding the perfect gift at an amazing price then tucking it away for four months.

My absolute favourite stores to shop at are Dollarama and Marshalls. Dollarama gets some amazing stuff, like that word art picture above, which was originally from Hallmark for $19.95. I love wandering the aisles in search of treasures and am thrilled to pieces when I find one. Marshalls is my favourite place for birthday cards and unique gifts. I already have the sproglet’s 2nd birthday card from there and he hasn’t even been born yet. But it was so cute!

So the earth will continue to spin and I’ll continue to buy presents months in advance. And people will continue to criticize because it’s “too soon”. And I will sit in my swing chair in December, sipping a mug of hot chocolate and thinking about all the people struggling their way through the crowds in search of the perfect gifts, and will decide that my way is a pretty good choice.

Creeping out of hibernation…

The kittens were wild things all morning. I had to lift them out of the storage container cupboard, pull them off the hutch, and coax them out of the fine china. After that Smudge went on a major grooming spree while Lara chased her tail in the bathtub. Then they proceeded to chase each other all around the apartment and over the other cats. My senior cats were decidedly confused.

Colin stayed in his room offering commentary on different videos, interspersed with his braying laughter. I miss the giggle he used to have. Meanwhile I made vegetable soup then retreated to my room to chat with friends on Facebook and to try and calm down. It’s been two weeks since my schedule changed for Christmas break and I’ve come to realize I really need one. A schedule, not Christmas, although I could use another of those too. My anxiety has been revving up and it’s hard to concentrate or get anything done.

If you want an idea what anxiety is like, picture yourself in a car driving down the road. You go around a corner and there’s a transport truck right there in your lane! The crash is imminent and you can’t stop yourself from saying “holy hell, we’re going to die”. Except there’s no car, no road, and no transport truck. There’s just that “holy hell, we’re all going to die” feeling. And it keeps coming as waves washing over you. It’s been like that for me pretty much all day. And, yes, I’ve done my breathing.

It’s been much too cold to go out for any length of time. The temperature has ranged from the -20’s to -30s. We went next door on Thursday to help a friend and, on the way over, I thought my eyeballs were going to freeze. I didn’t even know your eyes could get cold. It felt really weird. The weather is rapidly rising today and it’s supposed to be 2C tomorrow, which is a decent temperature for a winter walk. Colin’s school starts tomorrow too and my groups start up again this week. I even see my psychiatrist and I’m planning on showing him my list of questions.

Up until Christmas break I’d been either walking to or from my groups. Thanks to the weather this week, I should be able to continue with the walks, hopefully indefinitely, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we have another cold spell. Disappointed but not surprised.

I was too anxious to go outside today but Colin had some things to buy and went out instead. He needed a battery for starters as our smoke detector’s battery failed last night. Why do they only fail at three am? I don’t think I’ve ever, in my whole life, had a detector start beeping at 8pm. Colin needs a box of envelopes too because it looks like he’s getting reimbursed for the money he was scammed out of. Which is amazing.

And now the sun is slowly setting and Colin’s back home, bubbling over about his purchases and how he got a Steve Jobs movie just to see what they got wrong. And it’s time for me to make dinner. Tomorrow’s another day and, hopefully, a warmer and better one.

Christmas chaos…

I had three days off in a row mid November and decided that would be the perfect time to decorate for Christmas. I just needed to take down our Hallowe’en decorations and convince Jeremy to move all zir RC car bits and computer parts to somewhere more inconspicuous than our couch and dining room table.

“Jeremy, we really need to clean up…”

“That’s a great idea!” zie interrupted enthusiastically. “I really need to give my room a thorough cleaning. It’ll probably be easier if the bed wasn’t in the way…”

This was so not what I had in mind!

This was so not what I had in mind!

And off zie went, dragging even more stuff into the living room while pushing the Hallowe’en decorations to, well just about anywhere (including under the couch). Luckily zie did clean up fairly quickly and we were able to bring up the decorations from storage the following evening.

Last year I figured I’d make decorating easier by leaving the tree set up with the lights and garland already in place. That way all we needed to do was put on the decorations. What could go wrong? That question was answered almost as soon as we opened the locker door.

“Mom? Did you notice the tree?” Jeremy asked.

At first I thought zie was talking about the two loose branches dangling from the side. No big deal, they’d be easy to fix. Then I looked down. The tree went to the storage locker with four plastic feet. Now it only had three. It leaned against the wall as if it had snuck into the eggnog and rum a month too early. I have no idea where it could have found alcohol but where ever that was, it had apparently left a foot. It was nowhere to be found in the locker; we even got on our hands and knees to look under the baseboard heater. And there was no way I could put our ornaments up unless I wanted to replace them all next year. I’ve been carefully collecting ornaments for the past thirty years so that would be a distinct no.

so many bins

Jeremy insisted on taking all the bins up at once while I carried up our tree. When we got back to our apartment I hurried to put the tree into the living room then came back down our front hall to let Jeremy in. Zie let zirself inside instead.

“I could have opened that for you,” I blurted as the door banged against zir skateboard.

“I’m a strong, independent woman,” Jeremy retorted.

Jeremy tossed zir hair back and placed a hand on zir hip, holding the bins steady with the other. “I can do it myself,” zie added cockily. Alrighty then.

I propped the tree up against the bookcase and informed Jeremy we were eating before doing anything about the tree. I don’t think well when I’m hungry. Theoretically we could run across the street to Value Village. It was early enough for them to be open and they might have a tree. But we’d only had this one for a couple of years and it was still good, aside from that damn foot. Maybe I could make a foot but it would have to not only be strong enough to support the tree but also bend to fit into the groove on the base of the trunk. If only we had a metal coat hanger… I got up and hurried to the closet. We didn’t but I found a sturdy plastic hanger and Jeremy’s wire cutters.

our recycled leg

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. At least the tree skirt covers it.

tree and living room

I’d say that the decorating fiasco is over except Jeremy’s now decided to rearrange all zir bins in the hallway closet, which means zie’s dragged half the contents of the closet into the living room and, for some bizarre reason, placed a bentwood rocker onto my bed. Blackie’s enjoying sleeping under it. There’s no way on earth I’d fit.

Then there’s the chaos of shopping.

I don’t like shopping. I don’t like crowds or noise and shopping seems to involve an abundance of both. One of my coworkers introduced me to an online China based website where I could order all sorts of items, which means shopping in my pjs at bedtime with no crowds (other than my cats). I immediately ordered a bunch of Jeremy’s presents including a wall art sticker which looks like a window into the Minecraft realm, a Five Nights at Freddy’s brass game token, and a small RC forklift (something Jeremy’s wanted for years). I also ordered a small purple RC car which fits into a soft drink can. This was back on the first day of September. It has yet to arrive. Neither has Jeremy’s light up gaming headphones. My new strand of glimmer lights haven’t arrived either. The good news is I have enough presents for Jeremy without them. I still want zir to have them though and not just because I’ve paid for them.

The presents which did arrive here promptly were the ones I bought for my nieces. I ordered them on a Saturday and had them show up that Monday, which would have been amazing if they were supposed to arrive here and not the other side of the country. Luckily my Mom shipped them with her gifts, reasoning that three little books wouldn’t cost anything to add in.

At least our Christmas outfits are sorted out. I have decent black jeans and several sparkly sweaters while Jeremy has teal leggings and my black velvet, glitter spangled top. I get the feeling sometimes that family thinks I’m pushing zir into feminine clothes. Meanwhile I gave zir the choice of three coats yesterday at Value Village and zie went immediately for a very feminine 50’s style coat in vivid purple with a double row of gold buttons. It sadly didn’t fit but zir next choice, a soft plum, did. It looks fabulous on zir.

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I booked a day off next week to shop for stocking stuffers and one last spontaneous gift. We were at the check out on Sunday when Jeremy spotted a stuffed animal zie absolutely had to have.

“OMG Mom… I need it! Look at how cute it is! Please!!! It’s only eight dollars and it’s adorable!”

“Ask for it for Christmas,” I replied idly as I flipped over the tag. It’s a phrase I say at least once a day for three months of the year. An orange Beanie Boo cat named Muffin, it wouldn’t be that hard to find again. Right?

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This is Tabitha…

This is Muffin

This is Muffin

I’m sensing a bit more chaos ahead.

The shopping blues…

“Mom, I can’t find a clean shirt to wear,” Jeremy said ten minutes before we needed to leave for the bus.

I got rid of all my larger shirts a month ago but that didn’t stop me from frantically pawing through my shirt drawer and closet just in case I missed something, anything. I hadn’t.

Jeremy liked my black velour holiday shirt with glitter across the front but it was too small. It was also a little over dressed for Wal-Mart but if pjs are appropriate than fancy attire should be too. Jeremy finally declared my very last t-shirt to be “okay”. Zie also took my sweater, one I’d long outgrown but loved too much to give away.

Jeremy expressing zir

Jeremy expressing zir “inner cat lady”.

Both Jeremy and I approach clothes shopping with a sense of despair coupled by a frantic desire to flee, which is why we both need new shirts badly. It’s not that either of us hate clothes particularly, we simply hate what’s out there. Why on earth would a t-shirt need pleats on the back? Or a stripe of completely different fabric along the bottom (but just on the front)? Or an entire front panel that’s a different material? Rips up the side? Ties *and* rips up the side? See through material? Jeremy abandoned me halfway through the shirt section with a promise zie’d meet me at the dressing room if I found anything. Zir “if” sounded dubious. I didn’t blame zir.

I eventually found four shirts for me to try and three shirts for Jeremy before calling zir out of the electronic department. Zie dismissed all three as being too tight and too weird; I had similar complaints. Zie finished first and raced back to the electronic department, asking me to meet zir there.

The sales associate looked up from Jeremy’s pile of shirts as I walked over with mine. She leaned close, obviously concerned.

“Did you know all these shirts are from the ladies department?” she whispered.

I leaned close as well. “Yes, I know,” I whispered back. Then I walked away and collected Jeremy for grocery shopping.

I tried not to glare at the old man blatantly staring at Jeremy when I found zir by the cellphones, although, to be honest, he was so focused on Jeremy I don’t think he’d have noticed if I even stuck my tongue out at him.

I vented to Jeremy about shirts on our way home.

“All I want is a plain, simple t-shirt with maybe a picture or a saying on it. Preferably Doctor Who. That’s it!” I exclaimed. Jeremy nodded.

“All I want is a shirt that’s not too tight and pants that have pockets. Oh and both have to be purple.”

After our last round of shopping I’m thinking we might as well ask for the moon.