Monday, October 31, 2011

Challenge Accepted.

I follow a good number of blogs, as you will see in the right margin (scroll down). Every so often one of these blogs inspires me to do something.
  • This past weekend, Cake Wrecks inspired me to get out of the house and have some laughs and eat some cake on a Saturday afternoon. (Okay. Enticing me to eat cake really isn't such an achievement, but doing so out of the house? Where there are ... people? That's a challenge.)
  • The Bloggess (caution: salty language) and Dooce have inspired me to stop hiding my mood disorder.
  • My niece Diane mentioned a free, online photography course on her blog, Diane, Diapers and Drool, and really got me going with my camera.
  • Kristine at Wait in the Van, with her Product of Silence and my friend Stephanie, whose blog is All Things Conceivable, (and who bravely shared her struggle with infertility and is well on her way to producing a novel as well as twin girls), both inspired me to do a little creative writing. (If I didn't have four children already, Stephanie might have inspired me to have a baby!)
  • Raeanne at Everyday Rae challenges me to make positive changes for my health.
  • And, last but not least, Diane, Raeanne as well as John and Sherry at Young House Love inspired me to check out Pinterest, which is one of my new online addictions. Seriously. I lose track of time when I'm on there.
This last item is what nudged me to work on this particular post. Young House Love has challenged their readers to actually follow through on one of the items they've pinned on Pinterest.

See, Pinterest is all about eye candy: you "pin" pictures to a virtual peg board for others to see and "repin" onto their own boards. It abounds with home decor, photography, architecture, fashion, design, do-it-yourself projects ... you get the idea. The pitfall is that it's easy to collect all these things and never do anything with them. As Sherry notes, "I’ve pinned 1001 things and only done about 1% of them." 

So, taking up Sherry's challenge, today I'm going to write about one of the items I've pinned. This is one of my "boards." Some of the things on this board are funny, some are yummy, and some are just pretty, but they are all [technically] edible.
Top row: Construction cake; tomato-feta salad; pumpkin vomiting Guacamole;

Middle row: Jell-o worms; a spectacular cake; instructions to frost cupcakes;

Bottom row: instructions for setting a table; a candy "breakfast" using M&Ms; long-lasting salad-in-a-jar
Today, I decided to use this one to respond to the challenge:
It's a recipe for Freezer Cooking With Slow-Cooker Recipes
from Mama and Baby Love. Doesn't it all look tidy and efficient?

This is my version of the recipes.
It's a jpg, so you can print it, but you can't copy-and-paste the text. Sorry.

Printing Instructions:  Right-click the recipe/picture and select Open in a NEW TAB. Print from the new tab.
When I decide to take on a project, I don't always consider when would be the best moment to carry it out. When I painted our basement ceiling, I dawdled until it turned into a near catastrophe. In this case, I suddenly decided at 4:15 on a Sunday that there was no time like the present.

I made up a shopping list, hopped in the car and went to Farm Boy, the produce store nearby. Eighty-five dollars later I came home with two big bags of food, including some Hungarian paprika. That all needed paring and chopping. Did I mention that this was at dinnertime?

There was about half an hour left before dinner was ready, so Steve helped get the meat and carrots under control while I worked on the rest of the veggies and the mango [mmmm! Delicious, sweet, ripe mango].

You knew I would go all "cooking show" and lay out all the ingredients, didn't you? It felt very professional doing it that way, but it sure made for a lot of dishes.

And anyone who has seen me in the kitchen [or seen me move, for that matter] knows that I am a little on the clumsy side. This project had a LOT going on, which made for a LOT of mess.
You can tell by the streaks of flour that I had already spilled and wiped once.
Dinner was ready long before I was finished peeling, chopping, measuring and combining. In my naivete, I thought I was very close to being finished, so I told the family to go ahead and eat while I finished chopping and measuring.
Curry recipe, assembled.
I ran out of curry powder because I hadn't thought to check my spices when I did my grocery list. And I was fortunate I'd picked up the special paprika because it turned out we were out of paprika as well! As there is more than one chef in the household, I should know better than to assume we have all the "staples" in stock. 

I failed to appreciate that these were real recipes, not just add-a-can-of-mushroom-soup-and-bake recipes. An hour or so later ...

Steve and the kids had finished eating, so Steve helped with the final shaking and labeling of the packages.

Stephanie, the creator of this approach, notes that, "Even with doing it this way, it was still a 3 hour affair, but during this time I was able to finish all the cooking AND the cleaning." Well, I didn't do all the cleaning (I left the bowls for Brian to put in the dishwasher),  but I did do all the shopping within that three-hour window, so I guess that's not bad.

Here's what I ended up with, per meal:
  • A full, healthy, hearty meal ready to pop into the crock-pot before I go to work and ready to eat when we get home.
  • Half an hour of prep per recipe (more than that if you include Steve's time.)
  • $14 per meal for a family of six (I added more chicken for the barbecue chicken recipe, to make sure we each got a piece).
  • Zero additives.
  • No hidden egg, wheat or dairy, which is a big deal in our household. (There is pasta in the Goulash recipe, which I could have prepared separately, but didn't)
The real test will be in the eating, of course. I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Let them eat cake!

And so we did.

Today, Jen and John from Cake Wrecks, that hilarious blog, visited Ottawa on their "Winter Underlined" book tour for their latest book:
In the lower-right corner the flash reads,
"When Prefessional Holiday Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong."
Yes, they had a typo on the cover of the book.
The publisher tried to cover it with a sticker.
I peeled my sticker off IMMEDIATELY because
I knew there was ironic goodness Under Neat That.
Emily and her friend came with me to the event. First there was the pre-show slide show. Emily and her friend aren't followers of the blog, so they hadn't seen most of the cake disasters, and there are some really side-splitting ones. (I learned today that one of their fans actually laughed so hard that he passed out.) Jen and john (who spells his name with a lower-case J) could almost be stand-up comedians, they have such fun banter and good timing.

There was, of course, the wreck-plica contest (they'll post pictures later), but I forgot my camera, so all I got were a few cell-phone pictures.
Such a cute couple. They smiled at me.
(I don't get out much.)
And one of my friends also showed up. She brought a real camera, and I accidentally photobombed her picture. Sorry, Aliza.

My parking meter expired so I didn't have time to get my purchases signed. [pout!] But it was a fun afternoon nevertheless.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Here comes the sun (du dn du du)!

And I say, "It's all right!"

This song perfectly expresses how I've felt this week. Four days ago (that's all?) I wrote a heart-on-my-sleeve post about the increasingly overwhelming depression I'd been struggling with for weeks.

I had been thinking about writing it for at least two weeks and then saved it in draft mode for a while after writing it. And even after publishing it, I debated whether to post the link to Facebook as I usually do.

But I did publish and share it because it would have felt hypocritical to do otherwise after my outspoken rant about how depression should not be veiled in shame. [Interesting: I wrote that post on October 7, 2010, almost exactly a year ago. I think I was dancing with a moderate seasonal depression at the time.]

I asked for prayers, and specifically for a quick turnaround. Let me tell you, you guys responded with support and love, and prayers. Some of you shared privately or publicly that you had your own demons. Thank you.

I want to let you know that the quick turnaround happened. As did the good meds. Still working on the psychiatrist. And I've discovered that a suddenly lifted depression is akin to rounding a bend to discover the most spectacular sunset on water.

Or that first glug of water after you've been thirsty for a while. Or a mouthful of juicy bacon. Or a really stupendous series of orgasms. [We women have it good, fellas.]

Yah, it's that good.

Mille mercis. [A thousand thank-yous.]

P.S. To anyone else out there who is struggling, it really does help to talk about it. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hyperbole and a Half: Adventures in Depression

How perfectly well timed is this? Oh, Allie, I love you. Take care of yourself.
If only it were that easy!
And is it too twisted of me to say that all the best and funniest people struggle with depression?
Hyperbole and a Half: Adventures in Depression

Monday, October 24, 2011

And then the world turns grey

UPDATE: within days of writing this post, I began feeling better. If you are suffering in silence, please reach out to someone. It makes a world of difference. You are not alone.

It is interesting that in first-person writings about depression, the colours black and grey play a large role. Don't you think?

Colour, especially bright colour, must tap into something in our limbic system to which we respond spontaneously. Think of how the Wizard of Oz movie switched from black-and-white to colour when Dorothy landed in the magical land of Oz.

Katie Sokoler, a talented street artist and photographer from New York, uses her blog to express the kind of joy that colour brings. It is the exact opposite of depressed.
From Katie Sokoler's blog, Color Me Katie
Way back in the mid-1990s, I wrote an article for the Medical Post about my experience of antidepressants. It was one of the very first articles I had published. This was before the internet was "a thing." But here we are, fifteen years later, and my article* is out there, never to be drawn back in. Although this is potentially problematic when I'm looking for employment, I do stand by what I wrote back then: I made a conscious decision to live, and I am grateful that there are medications available to help me do that.

I'm referring to that article now because of this line that I wrote so long ago:
A year ago, my world was tinted tan and gray, my body a hideous cage from which I sought release. Since then I have found the freedom which was at the heart of my search. I am free of despair, free of the constant companion of self-hatred.
I've come a long way since then, but one of the unfortunate things I've learned is that, for me, that monochrome world of hopelessness is really never far away. This reality is exhausting. It is like building a house on a constantly eroding shoreline.

This fall has seen some very rainy days, literally and metaphorically. I'm doing the right things  (taking my meds, talking to my loved ones, getting out in the fresh air [I know! Me?]), but it feels like I'm losing ground. The shadow voices call to ... stop fighting it. To rest, to sleep. I know those seductive siren voices too well.

I want to leave you with assurances that I will never hurt myself, that I would never do that to my children, to my husband, but the reality is that the fucked-up chemicals in my brain have a mind of their own. (Pun intended.)

If I had cancer, I would ask unabashedly for your prayers. If I needed a kidney or bone marrow, I would send out a clarion call. For the sake of all the others out there who have been too ashamed to speak out when their disease was invisible, when the illness was mental, I will do so now: please pray for me. Specifically, pray for:
  • A good psychiatrist covered by OHIP
  • A quick turnaround
  • Good meds
Tonight, I choose to set my mind on this:
Whatever is true
whatever is honorable
whatever is right
whatever is pure
whatever is lovely
whatever is of good repute
if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise
dwell on these things.
                             ~Philippians 4:8
I'm going to head on over to Pinterest, where there is no end of uplifting things, including this.
Now, in the words of Martha Stewart, isn't that a "good thing"?

* I have no idea why they consider me a New York Voice, and I have never given permission for electronic publication of this article. Furthermore, my name is unusual enough that if anyone took half an effort to find me, he or she would succeed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just Another Caturday

If you are a cat hater, I don't want to hear about it. Just plug your ears and hum lalalalala and I won't bother you.

For the rest of you, here is what a typical Saturday looks like at our house.
Stephen does the New York Times crossword, and Elly "helps."
"Try 'mandible'," she purrs.
During lulls in the crossword, Elly nuzzles close to Steve's chest.
"Just nudge me if you get stuck," she sighs.

When she is very contented, Elly shoves her nose deep into Steve's armpit
to get a nostril full of his ultra-manly scent. She thinks she is a dog.

"Please never shower again," she meows.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Time to Weep and a Time to Laugh

I cry fairly readily. And sometimes, it's just not the thing. Fortunately for me, Steve taught me that you can sing Amazing Grace to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme song. Seriously! And the really cool thing about THAT is that you can use it to stop crying. 

Basically, it takes so much brain power to mash the two together that you are completely distracted from most things you might cry about. 

Here, I'll show you how the song goes.

See? It's also just funny. I suspect that the not-crying part is because it uses both halves of your brain. Melody is processed (according to Wikipedia) in the right secondary auditory cortex, but my understanding is that language is largely a function of the left hemisphere. In this case, we are taking words that have previously been merged with one tune (and a particular emotional context) and are transforming them into a completely different form. 

And, you can even just do it in your head. I've done it. I've also simply sung the uno dos tres from Sesame Street. It takes just enough brain power to calm me down.

Just, you know, don't do it out loud.

P.S. I do have other musical tips and tricks, but I don't think I'll be challenging Beyoncé any time soon, so don't worry.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Courtesy is a Very Good Thing

UPDATE: Now includes Home Improvement audio clip!
UDPATE: In trying to add said audio clip, this post got re-published with a new date. I don't know how to fix that. Sorry. I don't even know what date I originally published it.

This is a dung beetle. You don't really want to be a dung beetle, do you?
Source: Wikipedia
Last week I was staying in a hotel. I was also miserably sick (remember the plague I mentioned?) and decided to slip into my ratty pyjamas (hey, I was staying alone) and order room service rather than sharing my toxic self with all the other diners. I called down to the restaurant, ordered and said that I would like to charge the meal to my room. Simple, right?

Oh, you naive sweet things who hold out hope for humanity ...

They asked if I had "the green slip." [Insert "Home Improvement" Wha-UH? tune.]

Apparently, the front desk was supposed to have given me a little slip of paper indicating that I had a credit card on file for incidentals. I don't think I have EVER registered at a hotel without putting a credit card on file. (I mean, except that one time we were only staying by the hour, but this was not that kind of hotel, so I was confused.) [Update: Just kidding. I've never stayed at a by-the-hour hotel.]

I explained that I was in my pyjamas already, and she could tell by my barely audible voice that I was sick, so she agreed to contact the front desk herself to confirm that the guest in room 313 [Hmmm. Just noticed the unlucky room number. Could that explain the catastrophic health repercussions for both me and my computer?] sorry - to confirm that the guest in room 313 had a valid credit card on file. It was a courteous thing for her to do and I was grateful.

Disappointingly, I was not feeling any better the next night, but I had forgotten to stop at the front desk for the valuable green slip - I was in such a rush to collapse onto my bed. After a nap, I ordered room service again, forcing gasping words through my constricted throat, but this time the Dining Room Nazi refused to make any concessions for me. I ended up calling the front desk and gasping my request, who then delivered the coveted chit to my room. I called the dining room again and raspily [Blogger says "raspily" is not a word. Wha-UH?] confirmed that I was eligible to bill the meal to my room.

Then I hacked up a lung and collapsed into a puddle on the floor by the door, waiting for the food. I ate my meal when it came and determined that I would not stay at that hotel again as their customer focus was not up to snuff. (I had also been punted off an elevator earlier at this hotel, by a staff member.)

All of this is not to whine (well not JUST to whine), but to illustrate why I'm such a big believer in courtesy - being nice to each other. I think it is the sweetener in civilization. Things like:
  • Leaving a little extra room between your car and the one in front of you so other drivers can merge in.
  • Holding the door open for the person behind you or holding the elevator for someone who's racing to catch it.
  • Passing the sugar bowl to the person who just received his cup of coffee - without being asked.
  • Wiping the bathroom counter.
  • Stepping to the side so others can pass.
  • Anything listed on the list of 25 Manners Every Kid Should Know By Age 9
These little courtesies make such a big difference!  They take almost no effort to give, cost nothing most of the time and can affect someone's mood - and consequently the mood of the next person they encounter. I know, it's trite. It's the old "pay it forward" meme, but evidently some people haven't heard it yet.

The flip side, of course, is that I really hope karma (in the colloquial sense, not the real Hindu sense necessarily) is real. People who do the following things should come back as dung beetles:
  • Drivers who cut off other drivers or zoom ahead and cut in when there is a long line waiting.
  • People who refuse to walk single-file on narrow sidewalks when there are oncoming pedestrians.
  • People who don't clean up after their pets or children.
  • People who commit the offenses referred to in this post.
  • People who intentionally hurt other people.
So, go forth into the world and be nice to each other lest you pass your next life as a dung beetle.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Thankful for Thanksgiving

    A while ago there was a "thing" going around on Facebook where people had to guess (among other things) your favourite holiday. Mine was Thanksgiving.

    I love what it's about, I love the weather, I love the traditional turkey dinner ... It's all good.

    I was about to narrate the ENTIRE DAY, from stewing the cranberries to leftover-izing the meal, but just decided I will spare you. Instead, you get a photo essay. Not worthy of Time magazine, but enough to give you a taste of our holiday.

    For us, the day is largely about the food. We all pitch in, chopping, paring, mincing, stuffing, and stirring.
     Then, because I like to, I decorate the table. Gold and bronze were the colour scheme this year.
    Psst! That beautiful fabric? It's a shower curtain!
    All the fabric and runners I could find were too expensive.
    The best thing about this is that you get most of the work out of the way in the morning, and then you just relax and smell the sage until it's time to cook the veggies. In the interim, the perfect thing to do is go for a walk, and enjoy the season. On American Thanksgiving, it was fun to stroll the neighbourhood and watch as everyone put up their Christmas lights. (I had no idea it was such a tradition to do that.) In Ontario, we head for the forests to look at the miracle of leaves changing colour. [I recently (re)learned that the colour is caused by sugars left behind in the leaves when the sap all runs back to the trunk/roots.]

    This year, our Thanksgiving weekend was spectacularly beautiful. A balmy mid-twenties with picturesque blue skies. Who could resist? First, we explored the forest.

    Then we wandered through the neighbourhood.
    This was my favourite picture of the day.

    We walked back into the house and were greeted by the savoury smells of sage, turkey, and celery. There was just enough time to shower and do the final prep before our guests arrived. And then I was too busy enjoying myself to take many pictures, though I did get this one of my beautiful Katie holding her boyfriend's hand.

    So I didn't get any pictures of the food all prepared and served. I never do. And that's part of why this is not a photo essay worthy of Time magazine: it ends before the climax. Ah well, you get the idea, right?

    How did you spend your Thanksgiving/Columbus Day weekend?

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Fall Colours

    I finally got my camera back from Japan(!), and have had to pretty much re-learn everything about it. It's gone fairly quickly, though, so I'm happy. Here are some of the fruits of my labours.
    I don't even know what kind of berries these are.
    A garland of (faux) berries makes our chandelier festive.

    Elly charmed me with a wink as she nestled into the pillows on my bed.
    Brian made a spectacular sandwich.
    (That's cheese dripping down the slice of bread.)
    Photographing food is surprisingly difficult.
    The following three pictures were manipulated in Photoshop, using the High Dynamic Range (HDR) automation. My first attempt (the pears) turned out quite well with almost no difficulty, but several of the ones I tried after that had "ghosts" or odd "burnt-out" spots. Still, it's a fun new technique. A lot of the dramatic landscape pictures you see have been edited with HDR software of one kind or another. Basically, it takes three or more pictures at different exposures or different "white balances" and merges them together for a picture with a lot of visual depth.
    My Sunday lunch. (It's impossible to eat a ripe pear without making a mess.)
    From the back yard. Loving these colours!
    Sedum enjoying the dappled sunlight. (Thank you again, Raeanne!)
    In case you're curious (because I always am), here is an example of how my pictures change with editing. It also shows the difference between what you can do with Picnik (which still makes a big improvement to the image) and what you can do with Photoshop. (SOOC = Straight out of the camera)
    Click to enlarge.
    So what are you doing for fun these days? 

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Nothing Lasts Forever (but the Earth and Sky)

    When we were just starting out, acquiring our first car, our first set of living room furniture, our first pots & pans, it never occurred to me that these things would wear out, need replacing. That, in short, we'd have to do this whole thing again.

    It's not that I dislike new cars or redecorating a living room, it's just that I feel like I've "ticked that box":
    Sofa? Check
    Car? Check
    Coffee table? Check
    Really good mattress? Check
    Matching plates and bowls? Check
    Good interview suit? Check
    Perfect pair of black business shoes? Check
    Perfect black dress boots? Check
    But then this happens:
    The previously perfect "chair and a half" that now
    sags and droops on the most-used side.
    Soles wear through, straps break, fabric pills or wears through. Parts wear out, paint chips, wood gets dinged and scraped.

    Even without the fickleness of fashion or the vagaries of personal preferences, things need to be replaced. We fight this entropy for a little while, resoling shoes, steam-cleaning upholstery, putting the chipped plates at the bottom of the stack.

    It is merely a pitiable struggle against the inexorable march of time.  Eventually, we donate the worn items to offspring setting up their own homes or to others who are just scraping by and appreciate these previously loved items.

    And it wouldn't be nearly so irritating if it didn't also apply to this middle-aged body of mine.
    New game, kids!

    Find the spots, wrinkles, bags, and lumps of which Wynn Anne writes! 
    Bonus points for finding the cluster of red blood vessels. (Click to enlarge.) 
    See if you can join all the spots to create a picture of a cow or a space ship!

    What fun!
    Hair thins and greys, skin sags in wrinkled folds, spots appear — and grow — on previously unblemished skin, lumps — LUMPS! — appear. (And, Jeff, I know you're going to chastise me for taking spectacularly unflattering photos of myself, but, guess what: this is me!)

    It gets worse; it's not just aesthetics. Joints ache, muscles weaken, and organs complain. I now have osteoarthritis in my hands, such that a gentle rap on my pinkie has me swearing, holding my hand and practicing Lamaze breathing for several minutes.

    And, of course, the mind goes.

    • About 30 minutes ago, I got out a mug, placed in it a bag for Berryblossom White tea (smells delicious), then turned on the kettle and came back to my laptop to write. 
    • About 3 minutes ago, I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water and saw my neglected mug reproaching me. 
    • About 3 seconds ago, I remembered that I wanted the drink so that I could take my pills.

    [I do concede that some of this moment-to-moment forgetfulness is simply ADHD, but still.]

    Folks, I'm not even 50 yet. I can't imagine what a sad case I'll be when I'm 80. And unlike the sofa and the car, I can't trade in my joints and neurons for an upgrade. At least, not yet. (Laura - drop the asthma research and get working on this!)

    My point is, I am resigned to this process, but I'm not happy about it. You may now call the waaah-mbulance.

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Dream Re-Runs

    Did you know that almost everyone has the dream where you're trying to drive the car from the back seat? Or the brakes are blown and you're trying not to crash and burn?

    Apparently, that's a very common dream. I suspect it has to do with feeling that life is out of control. [Pause while I google to find out.] According to the Dream Dictionary, I'm not far off.

    Cars are symbols of the real life conscious world. They are symbols of how you are progressing towards your goals. So think about the practical ways in which you have been moving towards your goals. Is the dream making some point about how well or how badly you are progressing. Are you heading in the right direction. A car at a standstill could suggest that you are taking a pause or that you have come up against some delay.

    I've had that dream many, many times. I've also repeatedly had the flying dream, and the one about crumbling teeth, which is also apparently fairly common and apparently means something about the loss of something that should be permanent (a break-up or the death of a loved one).

    But I also have a couple of other recurring dreams.

    Darling Katie, not even one day old.
    Not surprisingly, I dream about babies often. But usually it's a really stressful dream: the baby is not my own, or there are too many babies to care for, or something is wrong. It's probably normal bad-mommy anxiety still playing out. If motherhood were remotely like these dreams, I would never have had four children.

    Also an anxiety dream. The houses in my dreams are always my homes (in the dream, I mean, not in real life). They have rooms where you wouldn't expect them, are falling into disrepair, have indoor pools and secret passageways, multiple kitchens, and built-in beds. I've dreamt of cottages sinking into swamps, grand houses that could be featured in Architectural Digest, and just about everything in between. In all of these cases, things are in flux, something is incomplete (even in the mansions). I've also dreamt of my childhood home, but not often. [It was an irretrievably ill-designed house. Some day I will have to write about it, it was that bad.]

    These dreams started when we lived in Alabama and received training on what to do in case of such an emergency. In the summer, we had weekly tornado drills, with alarms. And we did have one tornado warning, meaning that tornadoes had been seen in the area. It was very frightening, and I remember hunkering in a linen closet with wee Katie, just months old, while sirens blared without stopping.

    These are panicky dreams where I don't feel safe. [No shit, Sherlock.] They reached a peak when I was going through the most tumultuous time with my mother, before our estrangement began. The worst ones are where my tornado dreams and my baby dreams meld and I am trying to save children while this murderous force bears down on us. Mercifully, these are rare.

    What about you? What are your recurring dreams, and what do you think they mean?

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Well, I never!

    A few weeks ago, my niece, Diane, shared her list of ten things you would never catch her doing. I've mulled over that myself, since then. Here's my list.

    1. Going Vegan
    I like my red meat far too much for that. And even if I gave up red meat, I'd still want meat in some form or other. And even if I had to give up meat altogether, I don't think I could ever cut out eggs and dairy. I've tried veggie burgers and found them ... icky. If I'm going to eat vegetarian food, I prefer real vegetarian like dal soup, not soy-dressed-up-as meat.

    2. Roughing It
    I am all about comfort. I like soft chairs and running water. I don't mind cottage life, so long as it has those two things. But camping? Too many bugs and not enough clean.

    3. Getting Up Early (If I Don't Have To)
    I love to sleep, especially in the mornings and at nap time. I don't like going to bed early, usually, but I've changed my habits lately and am keeping more normal hours. Except when I am engrossed in a really good book that I just can't put down. [See list item number 10.]
    I have lost track of how many times I've used this picture. 

    4. Getting Too Close to the Edge
    You'll never get a picture of me doing this:
    You could possibly find me out there at gunpoint or something, but I would absolutely not be relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. In fact, part of me hopes that picture was photoshopped because even witnessing it gives me anxiety hives. To this item, you could also add bungee jumping and parachuting. Never, ever, ever going to happen. (If I die that way, you may safely assume I have been murdered.)

    5. Travelling the World Alone
    I'm not even all that big on travel, period, though I delight in the beautiful and interesting things I see and experience when I do travel. But I always MUCH prefer these experiences when someone is with me.
    Glass-art installation, Miami Florida 2006 by Dale Chihuly 
    I would never have seen that whimsical boat full of joy if I hadn't gone on a business trip in 2006. We had an extra couple of hours at the end of our last day, and one of my colleagues suggested we visit the botanical gardens. If I'd been alone, I probably wouldn't have known about the gardens and I would likely have considered it too much bother to go. Sad, isn't it?

    6. Sleeping Naked
    Maybe it comes of growing up in a big family and then having four children, but I have tried sleeping naked, and it just doesn't work. It just feels too risky and exposed.
    [No picture for this one. You're welcome.]

    7. Adding Pepper or Hot Sauce to My Food
    I think I have the taste buds of a newborn. Gimme sweet and bland, with a few subtle flavours - even garlic and onion, but forget about the hot stuff.
    I keep pepper and hot sauce in the house for those who like them.

    8. Typing the Word "House" Correctly the First Time
    It invariably comes out "hosue." Why can't my fingers learn this correctly?
    [Can you tell I'm kind of struggling to come up with ten "nevers"?]

    9. With My Socks Pulled to Different Heights, My Table Set Incorrectly, or Any Number of Other Annoying Asymmetries or Incorrectnesses
    [Incorrectnesses is so a word!] Call me "anal-retentive," or diagnose me with OCD. Whatever the reason, there are some things I just. Can't. Let. Go. I would rather go sock-less than have wonky socks. If the table is set incorrectly, I WILL correct it, even in a restaurant. I have conceded arguments about which side the butter plate goes on, grudgingly and only because I was taking the high road. These things all give me a feeling of ease and rightness. [Also, possibly, righteousness, but I try not to be arrogant.]

    A place for everything and everything in its place.
    That'll do, Pig; that'll do.

    10. Without a Book on the Go
    I honestly can't recall the last time I didn't have a book on the go. I love to read fiction, and am always on the lookout for recommended reading. With my Kindle, to which I am addicted, I can download samples of books suggested by friends or critics, so I always have a stockpile of potential books. And if I finish reading at one in the morning? No problem: the Kindle store is always open, and my book is downloaded in seconds.

    Currently reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova,
    a captivating story written from the perspective of a woman
    with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

    So what are the ten things that you will never ...

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